THE WORLD FOR SALE
By Gilbert Parker
I. "THE DRUSES ARE UP!" II. THE WHISPER FROM BEYOND III. CONCERNING INGOLBY AND THE TWO TOWNS IV. THE COMING OF JETHRO FAWE V. "BY THE RIVER STARZKE....IT WAS SO DONE" VI. THE UNGUARDED FIRES VII. IN WHICH THE PRISONER GOES FREE
VIII. THE SULTAN IX. MATTER AND MIND AND TWO MEN X. FOR LUCK XI. THE SENTENCE OF THE PATRIN XII. "LET THERE BE LIGHT" XIII. THE CHAIN OF THE PAST XIV. SUCH THINGS MAY NOT BE XV. THE WOMAN FROM WIND RIVER XVI. THE MAYOR FILLS AN OFFICE XVII. THE MONSEIGNEUR AND THE NOMAD XVIII. THE BEACONS XIX. THE BEEPER OF THE BRIDGE
XX. TWO LIFE PIECES XXI. THE SNARE OF THE FOWLER XXII. THE SECRET MAN XXIII. THE RETURN OF BELISARIUS XXIV. AT LONG LAST XXV. MAN PROPOSES XXVI. THE SLEEPER XXVII. THE WORLD FOR SALE
'The World for Sale' is a tale of the primitive and lonely West and North, but the primitiveness and loneliness is not like that to be found in 'Pierre and His People'. Pierre's wanderings took place in a period when civilization had made but scant marks upon the broad bosom of the prairie land, and towns and villages were few and far scattered. The Lebanon and Manitou of this story had no existence in the time of Pierre, except that where Manitou stands there was a Hudson's Bay Company's post at which Indians, half-breeds, and chance settlers occasionally gathered for trade and exchange-furs, groceries, clothing, blankets, tobacco, and other things; and in the long winters the post was as isolated as an oasis in the Sahara.
That old life was lonely and primitive, but it had its compensating balance of bright sun, wild animal life, and an air as vivid and virile as ever stirred the veins of man. Sometimes the still, bright cold was broken by a terrific storm, which ravaged, smothered, and entombed the stray traveller in ravines of death. That was in winter; but in summer, what had been called, fifty years ago, an alkali desert was an everlasting stretch of untilled soil, with unsown crops, and here and there herds of buffalo, which were stalked by alert Red Indians, half- breeds, and white pioneer hunters.
The stories in 'Pierre and His People' were true to the life of that time; the incidents in 'The World for Sale', and the whole narrative, are true to the life of a very few years ago. Railways have pierced and opened up lonely regions of the Sagalae, and there are two thriving towns where, in the days of Pierre, only stood a Hudson's Bay Company's post with its store. Now, as far as eye can see, vast fields of grain greet the eye, and houses and barns speckle the greenish brown or Tuscan yellow of the crop-covered lands, while towns like Lebanon and Manitou provide for the modern settler all the modern conveniences which science has given to civilized municipalities. Today the motor-car and the telephone are as common in such places as they are in a thriving town of the United Kingdom. After the first few days of settlement two things always appear—a school-house and a church. Probably there is no country in the world where elementary education commands the devotion and the cash of the people as in English Canada; that is why the towns of Lebanon and Manitou had from the first divergent views. Lebanon was English, progressive, and brazenly modern; Manitou was slow, reactionary, more or less indifferent to education, and strenuously Catholic, and was thus opposed to the militant Protestantism of Lebanon.
It was my idea to picture a situation in the big new West where destiny is being worked out in the making of a nation and the peopling of the wastes. I selected a very modern and unusual type of man as the central figure of my story. He was highly educated, well born, and carefully brought up. He possessed all the best elements of a young man in a new country—intelligent self-dependence, skill, daring, vision. He had an original turn of mind, and, as men are obliged to do in new countries, he looked far ahead. Yet he had to face what pioneers and reformers in old countries have to face, namely the disturbance of rooted interests. Certainly rooted interests in towns but a generation old cannot be extensive or remarkable, but if they are associated with habits and principles, they may be as deadly as those which test the qualities and wreck the careers of men in towns as old as London. The difference, however, between the old European town and the new Western town is that differences in the Western town are more likely to take physical form, as was the case in the life of Ingolby. In order to accentuate the primitive and yet highly civilized nature of the life I chose my heroine from a race and condition more unsettled and more primitive than that of Lebanon or Manitou at any time. I chose a heroine from the gipsy race, and to heighten the picture of the primitive life from which she had come I made her a convert to the settled life of civilization. I had known such a woman, older, but with the same characteristics, the same struggles, temptations, and suffering the same restriction of her life and movements by the prejudice in her veins—the prejudice of racial predilection.
Looking at the story now after its publication, I am inclined to think that the introduction of the gipsy element was too bold, yet I believe it was carefully worked out in construction, and was a legitimate, intellectual enterprise. The danger of it was that it might detract from the reality and vividness of the narrative as a picture of Western life. Most American critics of the book seem not to have been struck by this doubt which has occurred to me. They realize perhaps more faithfully than some of the English critics have done that these mad contrasts are by no means uncommon in the primitive and virile life of the West and North. Just as California in the old days, just as Ballaret in Australia drew the oddest people from every corner of the world, so Western towns, with new railways, brought strange conglomerations into the life. For instance, a town like Winnipeg has sections which represent the life of nearly every race of Europe, and towns like Lebanon and Manitou, with English and French characteristics controlling them mainly, are still as subject to outside racial influences as to inside racial antagonisms.
I believe The World for Sale shows as plainly as anything can show the vexed and conglomerate life of a Western town. It shows how racial characteristics may clash, disturb, and destroy, and yet how wisdom, tact, and lucky incident may overcome almost impossible situations. The antagonisms between Lebanon and Manitou were unwillingly and unjustly deepened by the very man who had set out to bring them together, as one of the ideals of his life, and as one of the factors of his success. Ingolby, who had everything to gain by careful going, almost wrecked his own life, and he injured the life of the two towns by impulsive acts.
The descriptions of life in the two towns are true, and the chief characters in the book are lifted out of the life as one has seen it. Men like Osterhaut and Jowett, Indians like Tekewani, doctors like Rockwell, priests like Monseigneur Fabre, ministers like Mr. Tripple, and ne'er-do-weels like Marchand may be found in many a town of the West and North. Naturally the book must lack in something of that magnetic picturesqueness and atmosphere which belongs to the people in the Province of Quebec. Western and Northern life has little of the settled charm which belongs to the old civilization of the French province. The only way to recapture that charm is to place Frenchmen in the West, and have them act and live—or try to act and live—as they do in old Quebec.
That is what I did with Pierre in my first book of fiction, Pierre and His People, but with the exception of Monseigneur Fabre there is no Frenchman in this book who fulfils, or could fulfil, the temperamental place which I have indicated. Men like Monseigneur Fabre have lived in the West, and worked and slaved like him, blest and beloved by all classes, creeds, and races. Father Lacombe was one of them. The part he played in the life of Western Canada will be written some day by one who understands how such men, celibate, and dedicated to religious life, may play a stupendous part in the development of civilization. Something of him is to be found in my description of Monseigneur Fabre.
This book was begun in 1911 and finished in 1913, a year before war broke out. It was published serially in the year 1915 and the beginning of 1916. It must, therefore, go to the public on the basis of its merits alone, and as a picture of the peace-life of the great North West.
Harvest-time was almost come, and the great new land was resting under coverlets of gold. From the rise above the town of Lebanon, there stretched out ungarnered wheat in the ear as far as sight could reach, and the place itself and the neighbouring town of Manitou on the other side of the Sagalac River were like islands washed by a topaz sea.
Standing upon the Rise, lost in the prospect, was an old, white-haired man in the cassock of a priest, with grey beard reaching nearly to the waist.
For long he surveyed the scene, and his eyes had a rapt look.
At last he spoke aloud:
"There shall be an heap of corn in the earth, high upon the hills; his fruit shall shake like Libanus, and shall be green in the city like grass upon the earth."
A smile came to his lips—a rare, benevolent smile. He had seen this expanse of teeming life when it was thought to be an alkali desert, fit only to be invaded by the Blackfeet and the Cree and the Blood Indians on a foray for food and furs. Here he had come fifty years before, and had gone West and North into the mountains in the Summer season, when the land was tremulous with light and vibrating to the hoofs of herds of buffalo as they stampeded from the hunters; and also in the Winter time, when frost was master and blizzard and drift its malignant servants.
Even yet his work was not done. In the town of Manitou he still said mass now and then, and heard the sorrows and sins of men and women, and gave them "ghostly comfort," while priests younger than himself took the burden of parish-work from his shoulders.
For a lifetime he had laboured among the Indians and the few whites and squaw-men and half-breeds, with neither settlement nor progress. Then, all at once, the railway; and people coming from all the world, and cities springing up! Now once more he was living the life of civilization, exchanging raw flesh of fish and animals and a meal of tallow or pemmican for the wheaten loaf; the Indian tepee for the warm house with the mansard roof; the crude mass beneath the trees for the refinements of a chancel and an altar covered with lace and white linen.
A flock of geese went honking over his head. His eyes smiled in memory of the countless times he had watched such flights, had seen thousands of wild ducks hurrying down a valley, had watched a family of herons stretching away to some lonely water-home. And then another sound greeted his ear. It was shrill, sharp and insistent. A great serpent was stealing out of the East and moving down upon Lebanon. It gave out puffs of smoke from its ungainly head. It shrieked in triumph as it came. It was the daily train from the East, arriving at the Sagalac River.
"These things must be," he said aloud as he looked. While he lost himself again in reminiscence, a young man came driving across the plains, passing beneath where he stood. The young man's face and figure suggested power. In his buggy was a fishing-rod.
His hat was pulled down over his eyes, but he was humming cheerfully to himself. When he saw the priest, he raised his hat respectfully, yet with an air of equality.
"Good day, Monseigneur" (this honour of the Church had come at last to the aged missionary), he said warmly. "Good day—good day!"
The priest raised his hat and murmured the name, "Ingolby." As the distance grew between them, he said sadly: "These are the men who change the West, who seize it, and divide it, and make it their own—
"'I will rejoice, and divide Sichem: and mete out the valley of Succoth.'
"Hush! Hush!" he said to himself in reproach. "These things must be. The country must be opened up. That is why I came—to bring the Truth before the trader."
Now another traveller came riding out of Lebanon towards him, galloping his horse up-hill and down. He also was young, but nothing about him suggested power, only self-indulgence. He, too, raised his hat, or rather swung it from his head in a devil-may-care way, and overdid his salutation. He did not speak. The priest's face was very grave, if not a little resentful. His salutation was reserved.
"The tyranny of gold," he murmured, "and without the mind or energy that created it. Felix was no name for him. Ingolby is a builder, perhaps a jerry-builder; but he builds."
He looked across the prairie towards the young man in the buggy.
"Sure, he is a builder. He has the Cortez eye. He sees far off, and plans big things. But Felix Marchand there—"
He stopped short.
"Such men must be, perhaps," he added. Then, after a moment, as he gazed round again upon the land of promise which he had loved so long, he murmured as one murmurs a prayer:
"Thou suferedst men to ride over our heads: we went through fire and water, and Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place."
I. "THE DRUSES ARE UP!" II. THE WHISPER FROM BEYOND III. CONCERNING INGOLBY AND THE TWO TOWNS IV. THE COMING OF JETHRO FAWE V. "BY THE RIVER STARZKE....IT WAS SO DONE" VI. THE UNGUARDED FIRES VII. IN WHICH THE PRISONER GOES FREE
"THE DRUSES ARE UP!"
"Great Scott, look at her! She's goin' to try and take 'em !" exclaimed Osterhaut, the Jack-of-all-trades at Lebanon.
"She ain't such a fool as all that. Why, no one ever done it alone. Low water, too, when every rock's got its chance at the canoe. But, my gracious, she is goin' to ride 'em!"
Jowett, the horse-dealer, had a sportsman's joy in a daring thing.
"See, old Injun Tekewani's after her! He's calling at her from the bank. He knows. He done it himself years ago when there was rips in the tribe an' he had to sew up the tears. He run them Rapids in his canoe—"
"Just as the Druse girl there is doin'—"
"An' he's done what he liked with the Blackfeet ever since."
"But she ain't a chief—what's the use of her doin' it? She's goin' straight for them. She can't turn back now. She couldn't make the bank if she wanted to. She's got to run 'em. Holy smoke, see her wavin' the paddle at Tekewani! Osterhaut, she's the limit, that petticoat—so quiet and shy and don't-look-at-me, too, with eyes like brown diamonds."
"Oh, get out, Jowett; she's all right! She'll make this country sit up some day-by gorry, she'll make Manitou and Lebanon sit up to-day if she runs the Carillon Rapids safe!"
"She's runnin' 'em all right, son. She's—by jee, well done, Miss Druse! Well done, I say—well done!" exclaimed Jowett, dancing about and waving his arms towards the adventurous girl.
The girl had reached the angry, thrashing waters where the rocks rent and tore into white ribbons the onrushing current, and her first trial had come on the instant the spitting, raging panthers of foam struck the bow of her canoe. The waters were so low that this course, which she had made once before with her friend Tekewani the Blackfeet chief, had perils not met on that desperate journey. Her canoe struck a rock slantwise, shuddered and swung round, but by a dexterous stroke she freed the frail craft. It righted and plunged forward again into fresh death-traps.
It was these new dangers which had made Tekewani try to warn her from the shore—he and the dozen braves with him: but it was characteristic of his race that, after the first warning, when she must play out the game to the bitter end, he made no further attempt to stop her. The Indians ran down the river-bank, however, with eyes intent on her headlong progress, grunting approval as she plunged safely from danger to danger.
Osterhaut and Jowett became silent, too, and, like the Indians, ran as fast as they could, over fences, through the trees, stumbling and occasionally cursing, but watching with fascinated eyes this adventuress of the North, taking chances which not one coureur-de-bois or river- driver in a thousand would take, with a five thousand-dollar prize as the lure. Why should she do it?
"Women folks are sick darn fools when they git goin'," gasped Osterhaut as he ran. "They don't care a split pea what happens when they've got the pip. Look at her—my hair's bleachin'."
"She's got the pip all right," stuttered Jowett as he plunged along; "but she's foreign, and they've all got the pip, foreign men and women both— but the women go crazy."
"She keeps pretty cool for a crazy loon, that girl. If I owned her, I'd—"
Jowett interrupted impatiently. "You'd do what old man Druse does—you'd let her be, Osterhaut. What's the good of havin' your own way with one that's the apple of your eye, if it turns her agin you? You want her to kiss you on the high cheek-bone, but if you go to play the cat-o'-nine- tails round her, the high cheek-bone gets froze. Gol blast it, look at her, son! What are the wild waves saying? They're sayin', 'This is a surprise, Miss Druse. Not quite ready for ye, Miss Druse.' My, ain't she got the luck of the old devil!"
It seemed so. More than once the canoe half jammed between the rocks, and the stern lifted up by the force of the wild current, but again the paddle made swift play, and again the cockle-shell swung clear. But now Fleda Druse was no longer on her feet. She knelt, her strong, slim brown arms bared to the shoulder, her hair blown about her forehead, her daring eyes flashing to left and right, memory of her course at work under such a strain as few can endure without chaos of mind in the end. A hundred times since the day she had run these Rapids with Tekewani, she had gone over the course in her mind, asleep and awake, forcing her brain to see again every yard of that watery way; because she knew that the day must come when she would make the journey alone. Why she would make it she did not know; she only knew that she would do it some day; and the day had come. For long it had been an obsession with her—as though some spirit whispered in her ear—"Do you hear the bells ringing at Carillon? Do you hear the river singing towards Carillon? Do you see the wild birds flying towards Carillon? Do you hear the Rapids calling—the Rapids of Carillon?"
Night and day since she had braved death with Tekewani, giving him a gun, a meerschaum pipe, and ten pounds of beautiful brown "plug" tobacco as a token of her gratitude—night and day she had heard this spirit murmuring in her ear, and always the refrain was, "Down the stream to Carillon! Shoot the Rapids of Carillon!"
Why? How should she know? Wherefore should she know? This was of the things beyond the why of the human mind. Sometimes all our lives, if we keep our souls young, and see the world as we first saw it with eyes and heart unsoiled, we hear the murmuring of the Other Self, that Self from which we separated when we entered this mortal sphere, but which followed us, invisible yet whispering inspiration to us. But sometimes we only hear It, our own soul's oracle, while yet our years are few, and we have not passed that frontier between innocence and experience, reality and pretence. Pretence it is which drives the Other Self away with wailing on its lips. Then we hear It cry in the night when, because of the trouble of life, we cannot sleep; or at the play when we are caught away from ourselves into another air than ours; when music pours around us like a soft wind from a garden of pomegranates; or when a child asks a question which brings us back to the land where everything is so true that it can be shouted from the tree-tops.
Why was Fleda Druse tempting death in the Carillon Rapids?
She had heard a whisper as she wandered among the pine-trees there at Manitou, and it said simply the one word, "Now!" She knew that she must do it; she had driven her canoe out into the resistless current to ride the Rapids of Carillon. Her Other Self had whispered to her.
Yonder, thousands of miles away in Syria, there were the Hills of Lebanon; and there was one phrase which made every Syrian heart beat faster, if he were on the march. It was, "The Druses are up!" When that wild tribe took to the saddle to war upon the Caravans and against authority, from Lebanon to Palmyra, from Jerusalem to Damascus men looked anxiously about them and rode hard to refuge.
And here also in the Far North where the River Sagalac ran a wild race to Carillon, leaving behind the new towns of Lebanon and Manitou, "the Druses were up."
The daughter of Gabriel Druse, the giant, was riding the Rapids of the Sagalac. The suspense to her and to those who watched her course—to Tekewani and his braves, to Osterhaut and Jowett—could not be long. It was a matter of minutes only, in which every second was a miracle and might be a catastrophe.
From rock to rock, from wild white water to wild white water she sped, now tossing to death as it seemed, now shooting on safely to the next test of skill and courage—on, on, till at last there was only one passage to make before the canoe would plunge into the smooth water running with great swiftness till it almost reached Carillon.
Suddenly, as she neared the last dangerous point, round which she must swing between jagged and unseen barriers of rock, her sight became for an instant dimmed, as though a cloud passed over her eyes. She had never fainted in her life, but it seemed to her now that she was hovering on unconsciousness. Commending the will and energy left, she fought the weakness down. It was as though she forced a way through tossing, buffeting shadows; as though she was shaking off from her shoulders shadowy hands which sought to detain her; as though smothering things kept choking back her breath, and darkness like clouds of wool gathered about her face. She was fighting for her life, and for years it seemed to be; though indeed it was only seconds before her will reasserted itself, and light broke again upon her way. Even on the verge of the last ambushed passage her senses came back; but they came with a stark realization of the peril ahead: it looked out of her eyes as a face shows itself at the window of a burning building.
Memory shook itself free. It pierced the tumult of waters, found the ambushed rocks, and guided the lithe brown arms and hands, so that the swift paddle drove the canoe straight onward, as a fish drives itself through a flume of dragon's teeth beneath the flood. The canoe quivered for an instant at the last cataract, then responding to Memory and Will, sped through the hidden chasm, tossed by spray and water, and swept into the swift current of smooth water below.
Fleda Druse had run the Rapids of Carillon. She could hear the bells ringing for evening service in the Catholic Church of Carillon, and bells-soft, booming bells-were ringing in her own brain. Like muffled silver these brain-bells were, and she was as one who enters into a deep forest, and hears far away in the boscage the mystic summons of forest deities. Voices from the banks of the river behind called to her— hilarious, approving, agitated voices of her Indian friends, and of Osterhaut and Jowett, those wild spectators of her adventure: but they were not wholly real. Only those soft, booming bells in her brain were real.
Shooting the Rapids of Carillon was the bridge by which she passed from the world she had left to this other. Her girlhood was ended—wondering, hovering, unrealizing girlhood. This adventure was the outward sign, the rite in the Lodge of Life which passed her from one degree of being to another.
She was safe; but now as her canoe shot onward to the town of Carillon, her senses again grew faint. Again she felt the buffeting mist, again her face was muffled in smothering folds; again great hands reached out towards her; again her eyes were drawn into a stupefying darkness; but now there was no will to fight, no energy to resist. The paddle lay inert in her fingers, her head drooped. She slowly raised her head once, twice, as though the call of the exhausted will was heard, but suddenly it fell heavily upon her breast. For a moment so, and then as the canoe shot forward on a fresh current, the lithe body sank backwards in the canoe, and lay face upward to the evening sky.
The canoe sped on, but presently it swung round and lay athwart the current, dipping and rolling.
From the banks on either side, the Indians of the Manitou Reservation and the two men from Lebanon called out and hastened on, for they saw that the girl had collapsed, and they knew only too well that her danger was not yet past. The canoe might strike against the piers of the bridge at Carillon and overturn, or it might be carried to the second cataract below the town. They were too far away to save her, but they kept shouting as they ran.
None responded to their call, but that defiance of the last cataract of the Rapids of Carillon had been seen by one who, below an eddy on the Lebanon side of the river, was steadily stringing upon maple-twigs black bass and long-nosed pike. As he sat in the shade of the trees, he had seen the plunge of the canoe into the chasm, and had held his breath in wonder and admiration. Even at that distance he knew who it was. He had seen Fleda only a few times before, for she was little abroad; but when he had seen her he had asked himself what such a face and form were doing in the Far North. It belonged to Andalusia, to the Carpathians, to Syrian villages.
"The pluck of the very devil!" he had exclaimed, as Fleda's canoe swept into the smooth current, free of the dragon's teeth; and as he had something of the devil in himself, she seemed much nearer to him than the hundreds of yards of water intervening. Presently, however, he saw her droop and sink away out of sight.
For an instant he did not realize what had happened, and then, with angry self-reproach, he flung the oars into the rowlocks of his skiff and drove down and athwart the stream with long, powerful strokes.
"That's like a woman!" he said to himself as he bent to the oars, and now and then turned his head to make sure that the canoe was still safe. "Do the trick better than a man, and then collapse like a rabbit."
He was Max Ingolby, the financier, contractor, manager of great interests, disturber of the peace of slow minds, who had come to Lebanon with the avowed object of amalgamating three railways, of making the place the swivel of all the trade and interests of the Western North; but also with the declared intention of uniting Lebanon and Manitou in one municipality, one centre of commercial and industrial power.
Men said he had bitten off more than he could chew, but he had replied that his teeth were good, and he would masticate the meal or know the reason why. He was only thirty-three, but his will was like nothing the West had seen as yet. It was sublime in its confidence, it was free from conceit, and it knew not the word despair, though once or twice it had known defeat.
Men cheered him from the shore as his skiff leaped through the water. "It's that blessed Ingolby," said Jowett, who had tried to "do" the financier in a horsedeal, and had been done instead, and was now a devout admirer and adherent of the Master Man. "I saw him driving down there this morning from Lebanon. He's been fishing at Seely's Eddy."
"When Ingolby goes fishing, there's trouble goin' on somewhere and he's stalkin' it," rejoined Osterhaut. "But, by gol, he's goin' to do this trump trick first; he's goin' to overhaul her before she gits to the bridge. Look at him swing! Hell, ain't it pretty! There you go, old Ingolby. You're right on it, even when you're fishing."
On the other-the Manitou-shore Tekewani and his braves were less talkative, but they were more concerned in the incident than Osterhaut and Jowett. They knew little or nothing of Ingolby the hustler, but they knew more of Fleda Druse and her father than all the people of Lebanon and Manitou put together. Fleda had won old Tekewani's heart when she had asked him to take her down the Rapids, for the days of adventure for him and his tribe were over. The adventure shared with this girl had brought back to the chief the old days when Indian women tanned bearskins and deerskins day in, day out, and made pemmican of the buffalo-meat; when the years were filled with hunting and war and migrant journeyings to fresh game-grounds and pastures new.
Danger faced was the one thing which could restore Tekewani's self- respect, after he had been checked and rebuked before his tribe by the Indian Commissioner for being drunk. Danger faced had restored it, and Fleda Druse had brought the danger to him as a gift.
If the canoe should crash against the piers of the bridge, if it should drift to the cataract below, if anything should happen to this white girl whom he worshipped in his heathen way, nothing could preserve his self- respect; he would pour ashes on his head and firewater down his throat.
Suddenly he and his braves stood still. They watched as one would watch an enemy a hundred times stronger than one's self. The white man's skiff was near the derelict canoe; the bridge was near also. Carillon now lined the bank of the river with its people. They ran upon the bridge, but not so fast as to reach the place where, in the nick of time, Ingolby got possession of the rolling canoe; where Fleda Druse lay waiting like a princess to be waked by the kiss of destiny.
Only five hundred yards below the bridge was the second cataract, and she would never have waked if she had been carried into it.
To Ingolby she was as beautiful as a human being could be as she lay with white face upturned, the paddle still in her hand.
"Drowning isn't good enough for her," he said, as he fastened her canoe to his skiff.
"It's been a full day's work," he added; and even in this human crisis he thought of the fish he had caught, of "the big trouble," he had been thinking out as Osterhaut had said, as well as of the girl that he was saving.
"I always have luck when I go fishing," he added presently. "I can take her back to Lebanon," he continued with a quickening look. "She'll be all right in a jiffy. I've got room for her in my buggy—and room for her in any place that belongs to me," he hastened to reflect with a curious, bashful smile.
"It's like a thing in a book," he murmured, as he neared the waiting people on the banks of Carillon, and the ringing of the vesper bells came out to him on the evening air.
"Is she dead?" some one whispered, as eager hands reached out to secure his skiff to the bank.
"As dead as I am," he answered with a laugh, and drew Fleda's canoe up alongside his skiff.
He had a strange sensation of new life, as, with delicacy and gentleness, he lifted her up in his strong arms and stepped ashore.
THE WHISPER FROM BEYOND
Ingolby had a will of his own, but it had never been really tried against a woman's will. It was, however, tried sorely when Fleda came to consciousness again in his arms and realized that a man's face was nearer to hers than any man's had ever been except that of her own father. Her eyes opened slowly, and for the instant she did not understand, but when she did, the blood stole swiftly back to her neck and face and forehead, and she started in dismay.
"Put me down," she whispered faintly.
"I'm taking you to my buggy," he replied. "I'll drive you back to Lebanon." He spoke as calmly as he could, for there was a strange fluttering of his nerves, and the crowd was pressing him.
"Put me down at once," she said peremptorily. She trembled on her feet, and swayed, and would have fallen but that Ingolby and a woman in black, who had pushed her way through the crowd with white, anxious face, caught her.
"Give her air, and stand back!" called the sharp voice of the constable of Carillon, and he heaved the people back with his powerful shoulders.
A space was cleared round the place where Fleda sat with her head against the shoulder of the stately woman in black who had come to her assistance. A dipper of water was brought, and when she had drunk it she raised her head slowly and her eyes sought those of Ingolby.
"One cannot pay for such things," she said to him, meeting his look firmly and steeling herself to thank him. Though deeply grateful, it was a trial beyond telling to be obliged to owe the debt of a life to any one, and in particular to a man of the sort to whom material gifts could not be given.
"Such things are paid for just by accepting them," he answered quickly, trying to feel that he had never held her in his arms, as she evidently desired him to feel. He had intuition, if not enough of it, for the regions where the mind of Fleda Druse dwelt.
"I couldn't very well decline, could I?" she rejoined, quick humour shooting into her eyes. "I was helpless. I never fainted before in my life."
"I am sure you will never faint again," he remarked. "We only do such things when we are very young."
She was about to reply, but paused reflectively. Her half-opened lips did not frame the words she had been impelled to speak.
Admiration was alive in his eyes. He had never seen this type of womanhood before—such energy and grace, so amply yet so lithely framed; such darkness and fairness in one living composition; such individuality, yet such intimate simplicity. Her hair was a very light brown, sweeping over a broad, low forehead, and lying, as though with a sense of modesty, on the tips of the ears, veiling them slightly. The forehead was classic in its intellectual fulness; but the skin was so fresh, even when pale as now, and with such an underglow of vitality, that the woman in her, sex and the possibilities of sex, cast a glamour over the intellect and temperament showing in every line of her contour. In contrast to the light brown of the hair was the very dark brown of the eyes and the still darker brown of the eyelashes. The face shone, the eyes burned, and the piquancy of the contrast between the soft illuminating whiteness of the skin and the flame in the eyes had fascinated many more than Ingolby.
Her figure was straight yet supple, somewhat fuller than is modern beauty, with hints of Juno-like stateliness to come; and the curves of her bust, the long lines of her limbs, were not obscured by her absolutely plain gown of soft, light-brown linen. She was tall, but not too commanding, and, as her hand was raised to fasten back a wisp of hair, there was the motion of as small a wrist and as tapering a bare arm as ever made prisoner of a man's neck.
Impulse was written in every feature, in the passionate eagerness of her body; yet the line from the forehead to the chin, and the firm shapeliness of the chin itself, gave promise of great strength of will. From the glory of the crown of hair to the curve of the high instep of a slim foot it was altogether a personality which hinted at history—at tragedy, maybe.
"She'll have a history," Madame Bulteel, who now stood beside the girl, herself a figure out of a picture by Velasquez, had said of her sadly; for she saw in Fleda's rare qualities, in her strange beauty, happenings which had nothing to do with the life she was living. So this duenna of Gabriel Druse's household, this aristocratic, silent woman was ever on the watch for some sudden revelation of a being which had not found itself, and which must find itself through perils and convulsions.
That was why, to-day, she had hesitated to leave Fleda alone and come to Carillon, to be at the bedside of a dying, friendless woman whom by chance she had come to know. In the street she had heard of what was happening on the river, and had come in time to receive Fleda from the arms of her rescuer.
"How did you get here?" Fleda asked her.
"How am I always with you when I am needed, truant?" said the other with a reproachful look. "Did you fly? You are so light, so thin, you could breathe yourself here," rejoined the girl, with a gentle, quizzical smile. "But, no," she added, "I remember, you were to be here at Carillon."
"Are you able to walk now?" asked Madame Bulteel.
"To Manitou—but of course," Fleda answered almost sharply.
After the first few minutes the crowd had fallen back. They watched her with respectful admiration from a decent distance. They had the chivalry towards woman so characteristic of the West. There was no vulgarity in their curiosity, though most of them had never seen her before. All, however, had heard of her and her father, the giant greybeard who moved and lived in an air of mystery, and apparently secret wealth, for more than once he had given large sums—large in the eyes of folks of moderate means, when charity was needed; as in the case of the floods the year before, and in the prairie-fire the year before that, when so many people were made homeless, and also when fifty men had been injured in one railway accident. On these occasions he gave disproportionately to his mode of life.
Now, when they saw that Fleda was about to move away, they drew just a little nearer, and presently one of the crowd could contain his admiration no longer. He raised a cheer.
"Three cheers for Her," he shouted, and loud hurrahs followed.
"Three cheers for Ingolby," another cried, and the noise was boisterous but not so general.
"Who shot Carillon Rapids?" another called in the formula of the West.
"She shot the Rapids," was the choral reply. "Who is she?" came the antiphon.
"Druse is her name," was the gay response. "What did she do?"
"She shot Carillon Rapids—shot 'em dead. Hooray!"
In the middle of the cheering, Osterhaut and Jowett arrived in a wagon which they had commandeered, and, about the same time, from across the bridge, came running Tekewani and his braves.
"She done it like a kingfisher," cried Osterhaut. "Manitou's got the belt."
Fleda Druse's friendly eyes were given only for one instant to Osterhaut and his friend. Her gaze became fixed on Tekewani who, silent, and with immobile face, stole towards her. In spite of the civilization which controlled him, he wore Indian moccasins and deerskin breeches, though his coat was rather like a shortened workman's blouse. He did not belong to the life about him; he was a being apart, the spirit of vanished and vanishing days.
"Tekewani—ah, Tekewani, you have come," the girl said, and her eyes smiled at him as they had not smiled at Ingolby or even at the woman in black beside her.
"How!" the chief replied, and looked at her with searching, worshipping eyes.
"Don't look at me that way, Tekewani," she said, coming close to him. "I had to do it, and I did it."
"The teeth of rock everywhere!" he rejoined reproachfully, with a gesture of awe.
"I remembered all—all. You were my master, Tekewani."
"But only once with me it was, Summer Song," he persisted. Summer Song was his name for her.
"I saw it—saw it, every foot of the way," she insisted. "I thought hard, oh, hard as the soul thinks. And I saw it all." There was something singularly akin in the nature of the girl and the Indian. She spoke to him as she never spoke to any other.
"Too much seeing, it is death," he answered. "Men die with too much seeing. I have seen them die. To look hard through deerskin curtains, to see through the rock, to behold the water beneath the earth, and the rocks beneath the black waters, it is for man to see if he has a soul, but the seeing—behold, so those die who should live!"
"I live, Tekewani, though I saw the teeth of rocks beneath the black water," she urged gently.
"Yet the half-death came—"
"I fainted, but I was not to die—it was not my time."
He shook his head gloomily. "Once it may be, but the evil spirits tempt us to death. It matters not what comes to Tekewani; he is as the leaf that falls from the stem; but for Summer Song that has far to go, it is the madness from beyond the Hills of Life."
She took his hand. "I will not do it again, Tekewani."
"How!" he said, with hand upraised, as one who greets the great in this world.
"I don't know why I did it," she added meaningly. "It was selfish. I feel that now."
The woman in black pressed her hand timidly.
"It is so for ever with the great," Tekewani answered. "It comes, also, from beyond the Hills—the will to do it. It is the spirit that whispers over the earth out of the Other Earth. No one hears it but the great. The whisper only is for this one here and that one there who is of the Few. It whispers, and the whisper must be obeyed. So it was from the beginning."
"Yes, you understand, Tekewani," she answered softly. "I did it because something whispered from the Other Earth to me."
Her head drooped a little, her eyes had a sudden shadow.
"He will understand," answered the Indian; "your father will understand," as though reading her thoughts. He had clearly read her thought, this dispossessed, illiterate Indian chieftain. Yet, was he so illiterate? Had he not read in books which so few have learned to read? His life had been broken on the rock of civilization, but his simple soul had learned some elemental truths—not many, but the essential ones, without which there is no philosophy, no understanding. He knew Fleda Druse was thinking of her father, wondering if he would understand, half-fearing, hardly hoping, dreading the moment when she must meet him face to face. She knew she had been selfish, but would Gabriel Druse understand? She raised her eyes in gratitude to the Blackfeet chief.
"I must go home," she said.
She turned to go, but as she did so, a man came swaggering down the street, broke through the crowd, and made towards her with an arm raised, a hand waving, and a leer on his face. He was a thin, rather handsome, dissolute-looking fellow of middle height and about forty, in dandified dress. His glossy black hair fell carelessly over his smooth forehead from under a soft, wide-awake hat.
"Manitou for ever!" he cried, with a flourish of his hand. "I salute the brave. I escort the brave to the gates of Manitou. I escort the brave. I escort the brave. Salut! Salut! Salut! Well done, Beauty Beauty—Beauty—Beauty, well done again!"
He held out his hand to Fleda, but she drew back with disgust. Felix Marchand, the son of old Hector Marchand, money-lender and capitalist of Manitou, had pressed his attentions upon her during the last year since he had returned from the East, bringing dissoluteness and vulgar pride with him. Women had spoiled him, money had corrupted and degraded him.
"Come, beautiful brave, it's Salut! Salut! Salut!" he said, bending towards her familiarly.
Her face flushed with anger.
"Let me pass, monsieur," she said sharply.
"Pride of Manitou—" he apostrophized, but got no farther.
Ingolby caught him by the shoulders, wheeled him round, and then flung him at the feet of Tekewani and his braves.
At this moment Tekewani's eyes had such a fire as might burn in Wotan's smithy. He was ready enough to defy the penalty of the law for assaulting a white man, but Felix Marchand was in the dust, and that would do for the moment.
With grim face Ingolby stood over the begrimed figure. "There's the river if you want more," he said. "Tekewani knows where the water's deepest." Then he turned and followed Fleda and the woman in black. Felix Marchand's face was twisted with hate as he got slowly to his feet.
"You'll eat dust before I'm done," he called after Ingolby. Then, amid the jeers of the crowd, he went back to the tavern where he had been carousing.
CONCERNING INGOLBY AND THE TWO TOWNS
A word about Max Ingolby.
He was the second son of four sons, with a father who had been a failure; but with a mother of imagination and great natural strength of brain, yet whose life had been so harried in bringing up a family on nothing at all, that there only emerged from her possibilities a great will to do the impossible things. From her had come the spirit which would not be denied.
In his boyhood Max could not have those things which lads prize—fishing- rods, cricket-bats and sleds, and all such things; but he could take most prizes at school open to competition; he could win in the running-jump, the high-jump, and the five hundred yards' race; and he could organize a picnic, or the sports of the school or town—at no cost to himself. His finance in even this limited field had been brilliant. Other people paid, and he did the work; and he did it with such ease that the others intriguing to crowd him out, suffered failure and came to him in the end to put things right.
He became the village doctor's assistant and dispenser at seventeen and induced his master to start a drug-store. He made the drug-store a success within two years, and meanwhile he studied Latin and Greek and mathematics in every spare hour he had—getting up at five in the morning, and doing as much before breakfast as others did in a whole day. His doctor loved him and helped him; a venerable Archdeacon, an Oxford graduate, gave him many hours of coaching, and he went to the University with three scholarships. These were sufficient to carry him through in three years, and there was enough profit-sharing from the drug-business he had founded on terms to shelter his mother and his younger brothers, while he took honours at the University.
There he organized all that students organize, and was called in at last by the Bursar of his college to reorganize the commissariat, which he did with such success that the college saved five thousand dollars a year. He had genius, the college people said, and after he had taken his degree with honours in classics and mathematics they offered him a professorship at two thousand dollars a year.
He laughed ironically, but yet with satisfaction, when the professorship was offered. It was all so different from what was in his mind for the future. As he looked out of the oriel window in the sweet gothic building, to the green grass and the maples and elms which made the college grounds like an old-world park, he had a vision of himself permanently in these surroundings of refinement growing venerable with years, seeing pass under his influence thousands of young men directed, developed and inspired by him.
He had, however, shaken himself free of this modest vision. He knew that such a life would act like a narcotic to his real individuality. He thirsted for contest, for the control of brain and will; he wanted to construct; he was filled with the idea of simplifying things, of economizing strength; he saw how futile was much competition, and how the big brain could command and control with ease, wasting no force, saving labour, making the things controlled bigger and better.
So it came that his face was seen no more in the oriel window. With a mere handful of dollars, and some debts, he left the world of scholarship and superior pedagogy, and went where the head offices of railways were. Railways were the symbol of progress in his mind. The railhead was the advance post of civilization. It was like Cortez and his Conquistadores overhauling and appropriating the treasures of long generations. So where should he go if not to the Railway?
His first act, when he got to his feet inside the offices of the President of a big railway, was to show the great man how two "outside" proposed lines could be made one, and then further merged into the company controlled by the millionaire in whose office he sat. He got his chance by his very audacity—the President liked audacity. In attempting this merger, however, he had his first failure, but he showed that he could think for himself, and he was made increasingly responsible. After a few years of notable service, he was offered the task of building a branch line of railway from Lebanon and Manitou north, and northwest, and on to the Coast; and he had accepted it, at the same time planning to merge certain outside lines competing with that which he had in hand. For over four years he worked night and day, steadily advancing towards his goal, breaking down opposition, manoeuvring, conciliating, fighting.
Most men loved his whimsical turn of mind, even those who were the agents of the financial clique which had fought him in their efforts to get control of the commercial, industrial, transport and banking resources of the junction city of Lebanon. In the days when vast markets would be established for Canadian wheat in Shanghai and Tokio, then these two towns of Manitou and Lebanon on the Sagalac would be like the swivel to the organization of trade of a continent.
Ingolby had worked with this end in view. In doing so he had tried to get what he wanted without trickery; to reach his goal by playing the game according to the rules, and this policy nonplussed his rivals and associates. They expected secret moves, and he laid his cards on the table. Sharp, quick, resolute and ruthless he was, however, if he knew that he was being tricked. Then he struck, and struck hard. The war of business was war and not "gollyfoxing," as he said. Selfish, stubborn and self-centred he was in much, but he had great joy in the natural and sincere, and he had a passionate love of Nature. To him the flat prairie was never ugly. Its very monotony had its own individuality. The Sagalac, even when muddy, had its own deep interest, and when it was full of logs drifting down to the sawmills, for which he had found the money by interesting capitalists in the East, he sniffed the stinging smell of the pines with elation. As the great saws in the mills, for which he had secured the capital, throwing off the spray of mangled wood, hummed and buzzed and sang, his mouth twisted in the droll smile it always wore when he talked with such as Jowett and Osterhaut, whose idiosyncrasies were like a meal to him; as he described it once to some of the big men from the East who had been behind his schemes, yet who cavilled at his ways. He was never diverted from his course by such men, and while he was loyal to those who had backed him, he vowed that he would be independent of these wooden souls in the end. They and the great bankers behind them were for monopoly; he was for organization and for economic prudence. So far they were necessary to all he did; but it was his intention to shake himself free of all monopoly in good time. One or two of his colleagues saw the drift of his policy and would have thrown him over if they could have replaced him by a man as capable, who would, at the time, consent to grow rich on their terms.
They could not understand a man who would stand for a half-hour watching a sunset, or a morning sky dappled with all the colours that shake from a prism; they were suspicious of a business-mind which could gloat over the light falling on snow-peaked mountains, while it planned a great bridge across a gorge in the same hour; of a man who would quote a verse of poetry while a flock of wild pigeons went whirring down a pine-girt valley in the shimmer of the sun.
On the occasion when he had quoted a verse of poetry to them, one of them said to him with a sidelong glance: "You seem to be dead-struck on Nature, Ingolby."
To that, with a sly quirk of the mouth, and meaning to mystify his wooden-headed questioner still more, he answered: "Dead-struck? Dead- drunk, you mean. I'm a Nature's dipsomaniac—as you can see," he added with a sly note of irony.
Then instantly he had drawn the little circle of experts into a discussion upon technical questions of railway-building and finance, which made demands upon all their resources and knowledge. In that conference he gave especial attention to the snub-souled financier who had sneered at his love of Nature. He tied his critic up in knots of self-assertion and bad logic which presently he deftly, deliberately and skilfully untied, to the delight of all the group.
"He's got as much in his ten years in the business as we've got out of half a life-time," said the chief of his admirers. This was the President who had first welcomed him into business, and introduced him to his colleagues in enterprise.
"I shouldn't be surprised if the belt flew off the wheel some day," savagely said Ingolby's snub-souled critic, whose enmity was held in check by the fact that on Ingolby, for the moment, depended the safety of the hard cash he had invested.
But the qualities which alienated an expert here and there caught the imagination of the pioneer spirits of Lebanon. Except those who, for financial reasons, were opposed to him, and must therefore pit themselves against him, as the representatives of bigger forces behind them, he was a leader of whom Lebanon was combatively proud. At last he came to the point where his merger was practically accomplished, and a problem arising out of it had to be solved. It was a problem which taxed every quality of an able mind. The situation had at last become acute, and Time, the solvent of most complications, had not quite eased the strain. Indeed, on the day that Fleda Druse had made her journey down the Carillon Rapids, Time's influence had not availed. So he had gone fishing, with millions at stake—to the despair of those who were risking all on his skill and judgment.
But that was Ingolby. Thinking was the essence of his business, not Time. As fishing was the friend of thinking, therefore he fished in Seely's Eddy, saw Fleda Druse run the Carillon Rapids, saved her from drowning, and would have brought her in pride and peace to her own home, but that she decreed otherwise.
THE COMING OF JETHRO FAWE
Gabriel Druse's house stood on a little knoll on the outskirts of the town of Manitou, backed by a grove of pines. Its front windows faced the Sagalac, and the windows behind looked into cool coverts where in old days many Indian tribes had camped; where Hudson's Bay Company's men had pitched their tents to buy the red man's furs. But the red man no longer set up his tepee in these secluded groves; the wapiti and red deer had fled to the north never to return, the snarling wolf had stolen into regions more barren; the ceremonial of the ancient people no longer made weird the lonely nights; the medicine-man's incantations, the harvest- dance, the green-corn-dance, the sun-dance had gone. The braves, their women, and their tepees had been shifted to reservations where Governments solemnly tried to teach them to till the field, and grow corn, and drive the cart to market; while yet they remembered the herds of buffalo which had pounded down the prairie like storm-clouds and given their hides for the tepee; and the swift deer whose skins made the wigwam luxurious.
Originally Manitou had been the home of Icelanders, Mennonites, and Doukhobors; settlers from lands where the conditions of earlier centuries prevailed, who, simple as they were in habits and in life, were ignorant, primitive, coarse, and none too cleanly.
They had formed an unprogressive polyglot settlement, and the place assumed a still more primeval character when the Indian Reservation was formed near by. When French Canadian settlers arrived, however, the place became less discordant to the life of a new democracy, though they did little to make it modern in the sense that Lebanon, across the river, where Ingolby lived, was modern from the day the first shack was thrown up.
Manitou showed itself antagonistic to progress; it was old-fashioned, and primitively agricultural. It looked with suspicion on the factories built after Ingolby came and on the mining propositions, which circled the place with speculation. Unlike other towns of the West, it was insanitary and uneducated; it was also given to nepotism and a primitive kind of jobbery; but, on the whole, it was honest. It was a settlement twenty years before Lebanon had a house, though the latter exceeded the population of Manitou in five years, and became the home of all adventuring spirits—land agents, company promoters, mining prospectors, railway men, politicians, saloon keepers, and up to-date dissenting preachers. Manitou was, however, full of back-water people, religious fanatics, little farmers, guides, trappers, old coureurs-de-bois, Hudson's Bay Company factors and ex-factors, half-breeds; and all the rest.
The real feud between the two towns began about the time of the arrival of Gabriel Druse, his daughter, and Madame Bulteel, the woman in black, and it had grown with great rapidity and increasing intensity. Manitou condemned the sacrilegiousness of the Protestants, whose meeting-houses were used for "socials," "tea-meetings," "strawberry festivals," and entertainments of many kinds; while comic songs were sung at the table where the solemn Love Feast was held at the quarterly meetings. At last when attempts were made to elect to Parliament an Irish lawyer who added to his impecuniousness, eloquence, a half-finished University education, and an Orangeman's prejudices of the best brand of Belfast or Derry, inter-civic strife took the form of physical violence. The great bridge built by Ingolby between the two towns might have been ten thousand yards long, so deep was the estrangement between the two places. They had only one thing in common—a curious compromise—in the person of Nathan Rockwell, an agnostic doctor, who had arrived in Lebanon with a reputation for morality somewhat clouded; though, where his patients in Manitou and Lebanon were concerned, he had been the "pink of propriety."
Rockwell had arrived in Lebanon early in its career, and had remained unimportant until a railway accident occurred at Manitou and the resident doctors were driven from the field of battle, one by death, and one by illness. Then it was that the silent, smiling, dark-skinned, cool-headed and cool-handed Rockwell stepped in, and won for himself the gratitude of all—from Monseigneur Lourde, the beloved Catholic priest, to Tekewani, the chief. This accident was followed by an epidemic.
That was at the time, also, when Fleda Druse returned from Winnipeg where she had been at school for one memorable and terrible six months, pining for her father, defying rules, and crying the night through for "the open world," as she called it. So it was that, to her father's dismay and joy in one, she had fled from school, leaving all her things behind her; and had reached home with only the clothes on her back and a few cents in her pocket.
Instantly on her return she had gone among the stricken people as fearlessly as Rockwell had done, but chiefly among the women and children; and it was said that the herbal medicine she administered was marvellous in its effect—so much so that Rockwell asked for the prescription, which she declined to give.
Thus it was that the French Canadian mothers with daughters of their own, bright-eyed brunettes, ready for the man-market, regarded with toleration the girl who took their children away for picnics down the river or into the woods, and brought them back safe and sound at the end of the day. Not that they failed to be shocked sometimes, when, on her wild Indian pony, Fleda swept through Manitou like a wind and out into the prairie, riding, as it were, to the end of the world. Try as they would, these grateful mothers of Manitou, they could not get as near to Fleda Druse as their children did, and they were vast distances from her father.
"There, there, look at him," said old Madame Thibadeau to her neighbour Christine Brisson—"look at him with his great grey-beard, and his eyes like black fires, and that head of hair like a bundle of burnt flax! He comes from the place no man ever saw, that's sure."
"Ah, surelee, men don't grow so tall in any Christian country," announced Christine Brisson, her head nodding sagely. "I've seen the pictures in the books, and there's nobody so tall and that looks like him—not anywhere since Adam."
"Nom de pipe, sometimes-trulee, sometimes, I look up there at where he lives, and I think I see a thousand men on horses ride out of the woods behind his house and down here to gobble us all up. That's the way I feel. It's fancy, but I can't help that." Dame Thibadeau rested her hands—on her huge stomach as though the idea had its origin there.
"I've seen a lot of fancies come to pass," gloomily returned her friend. "It's a funny world. I don't know what to make of its sometimes."
"And that girl of his, the strangest creature, as proud as a peacock, but then as kind as kind to the children—of a good heart, surelee. They say she has plenty of gold rings and pearls and bracelets, and all like that. Babette Courton, she saw them when she went to sew. Why doesn't Ma'm'selle wear them?"
Christine looked wise and smoothed out her apron as though it was a parchment. "With such queer ones, who knows? But, yes, as you say, she has a kind heart. The children, well, they follow her everywhere."
"Not the children only," sagely added the other. "From Lebanon they come, the men, and plenty here, too; and there's that Felix Marchand, the worst of all in Manitou or anywhere."
"I'd look sharp if Felix Marchand followed me," remarked Christine. "There are more papooses at the Reservation since he come back, and over in Lebanon—!" She whispered darkly to her friend, and they nodded knowingly.
"If he plays pranks in Manitou he'll get his throat cut, for sure. Even with Protes'ants and Injuns it's bad enough," remarked Dame Thibadeau, panting with the thought of it.
"He doesn't even leave the Doukhobors alone. There's—" Again Christine whispered, and again that ugly look came to their faces which belongs to the thought of forbidden things.
"Felix Marchand'll have much money—bad penny as he is," continued Christine in her normal voice. "He'll have more money than he can put in all the trouser legs he has. Old Hector, his father, has enough for a gover'ment. But that M'sieu' Felix will get his throat cut if he follows Ma'm'selle Druse about too much. She hates him—I've seen when they met. Old man Druse'll make trouble. He don't look as he does for nothing."
"Ah, that's so. One day, we shall see what we shall see," murmured Christine, and waved a hand to a friend in the street.
This conversation happened on the evening of the day that Fleda Druse shot the Carillon Rapids alone. An hour after the two gossips had had their say Gabriel Druse paced up and down the veranda of his house, stopping now and then to view the tumbling, hurrying Sagalac, or to dwell upon the sunset which crimsoned and bronzed the western sky. His walk had an air of impatience; he seemed disturbed of mind and restless of body.
He gave an impression of great force. He would have been picked out of a multitude, not alone because of his remarkable height, but because he had an air of command and the aloofness which shows a man sufficient unto himself.
As he stood gazing reflectively into the sunset, a strange, plaintive, birdlike note pierced the still evening air. His head lifted quickly, yet he did not look in the direction of the sound, which came from the woods behind the house. He did not stir, and his eyes half-closed, as though he hesitated what to do. The call was not that of a bird familiar to the Western world. It had a melancholy softness like that of the bell-bird of the Australian bush. Yet, in the insistence of the note, it was, too, a challenge or a summons.
Three times during the past week he had heard it—once as he went by the market-place of Manitou; once as he returned in the dusk from Tekewani's Reservation, and once at dawn from the woods behind the house. His present restlessness and suppressed agitation had been the result.
It was a call he knew well. It was like a voice from a dead world. It asked, he knew, for an answering call, yet he had not given it. It was seven days since he first heard it in the market-place, and in that seven days he had realized that nothing in this world which has ever been, really ceases to be. Presently, the call was repeated. On the three former occasions there had been no repetition. The call had trembled in the air but once and had died away into unbroken silence. Now, however, it rang out with an added poignancy. It was like a bird calling to its vanished mate.
With sudden resolution Druse turned. Leaving the veranda, he walked slowly behind the house into the woods and stood still under the branches of a great cedar. Raising his head, a strange, solemn note came from his lips; but the voice died away in a sharp broken sound which was more human than birdlike, which had the shrill insistence of authority. The call to him had been almost ventriloquial in its nature. His lips had not moved at all.
There was silence for a moment after he had called into the void, as it were, and then there appeared suddenly from behind a clump of juniper, a young man of dark face and upright bearing. He made a slow obeisance with a gesture suggestive of the Oriental world, yet not like the usual gesture of the East Indian, the Turk or the Persian; it was composite of all.
He could not have been more than twenty-five years of age. He was so sparely made, and his face being clean-shaven, he looked even younger. His clothes were the clothes of the Western man; and yet there was a manner of wearing them, there were touches which were evidence to the watchful observer that he was of other spheres. His wide, felt, Western hat had a droop on one side and a broken treatment of the crown, which of itself was enough to show him a stranger to the prairie, while his brown velveteen jacket, held by its two lowest buttons, was reminiscent of an un-English life. His eyes alone would have announced him as of some foreign race, though he was like none of the foreigners who had been the pioneers of Manitou. Unlike as he and Gabriel Druse were in height, build, and movement, still there was something akin in them both.
After a short silence evidently disconcerting to him, "Blessing and hail, my Ry," he said in a low tone. He spoke in a strange language and with a voice rougher than his looks would have suggested.
The old man made a haughty gesture of impatience. "What do you want with me, my Romany 'chal'?" he asked sharply.—[A glossary of Romany words will be found at the end of the book.]
The young man replied hastily. He seemed to speak by rote. His manner was too eager to suit the impressiveness of his words. "The sheep are without a shepherd," he said. "The young men marry among the Gorgios, or they are lost in the cities and return no more to the tents and the fields and the road. There is disorder in all the world among the Romanys. The ancient ways are forgotten. Our people gather and settle upon the land and live as the Gorgios live. They forget the way beneath the trees, they lose their skill in horses. If the fountain is choked, how shall the water run?"
A cold sneer came to the face of Gabriel Druse. "The way beneath the trees!" he growled. "The way of the open road is enough. The way beneath the trees is the way of the thief, and the skill of the horse is the skill to cheat."
"There is no other way. It has been the way of the Romany since the time of Timur Beg and centuries beyond Timur, so it is told. One man and all men must do as the tribe has done since the beginning."
The old man pulled at his beard angrily. "You do not talk like a Romany, but like a Gorgio of the schools."
The young man's manner became more confident as he replied. "Thinking on what was to come to me, I read in the books as the Gorgio reads. I sat in my tent and worked with a pen; I saw in the printed sheets what the world was doing every day. This I did because of what was to come."
"And have you read of me in the printed sheets? Did they tell you where I was to be found?" Gabriel Druse's eyes were angry, his manner was authoritative.
The young man stretched out his hands eloquently. "Hail and blessing, my Ry, was there need of printed pages to tell me that? Is not everything known of the Ry to the Romany people without the written or printed thing? How does the wind go? How does the star sweep across the sky? Does not the whisper pass as the lightning flashes? Have you forgotten all, my Ry? Is there a Romany camp at Scutari? Shall it not know what is the news of the Bailies of Scotland and the Caravans by the Tagus? It is known always where my lord is. All the Romanys everywhere know it, and many hundreds have come hither from overseas. They are east, they are south, they are west."
He made gesture towards these three points of the compass. A dark frown came upon the old man's forehead. "I ordered that none should seek to follow, that I be left in peace till my pilgrimage was done. Even as the first pilgrims of our people in the days of Timur Beg in India, so I have come forth from among you all till the time be fulfilled."
There was a crafty look in the old man's eyes as he spoke, and ages of dubious reasoning and purpose showed in their velvet depths.
"No one has sought me but you in all these years," he continued. "Who are you that you should come? I did not call, and there was my command that none should call to me."
A bolder look grew in the other's face. His carriage gained in ease. "There is trouble everywhere—in Italy, in Spain, in France, in England, in Russia, in mother India"—he made a gesture of salutation and bowed low—"and our rites and mysteries are like water spilt upon the ground. If the hand be cut off, how shall the body move? That is how it is. You are vanished, my lord, and the body dies."
The old man plucked his beard again fiercely and his words came with guttural force. "That is fool's talk. In the past I was never everywhere at once. When I was in Russia, I was not in Greece; when I was in England, I was not in Portugal. I was always 'vanished' from one place to another, yet the body lived."
"But your word was passed along the roads everywhere, my Ry. Your tongue was not still from sunrise to the end of the day. Your call was heard always, now here, now there, and the Romanys were one; they held together."
The old man's face darkened still more and his eyes flashed fire. "These are lies you are telling, and they will choke you, my Romany 'chal'. Am I deceived, I who have known more liars than any man under the sky? Am I to be fooled, who have seen so many fools in their folly? There is roguery in you, or I have never seen roguery."
"I am a true Romany, my Ry," the other answered with an air of courage and a little defiance also.
"You are a rogue and a liar, that is sure. These wailings are your own. The Romany goes on his way as he has gone these hundreds of years. If I am silent, my people will wait until I speak again; if they see me not they will wait till I enter their camps once more. Why are you here? Speak, rogue and liar." The wrathful old man, sure in his reading of the youth, towered above him commandingly. It almost seemed as though he would do him bodily harm, so threatening was his attitude, but the young Romany raised his head, and with a note of triumph said:
"I have come for my own, as it is my right."
"What is your own?"
"What has been yours until now, my Ry."
A grey look stole slowly up the strong face of the exiled leader, for his mind suddenly read the truth behind the young man's confident words.
"What is mine is always mine," he answered roughly. "Speak! What is it I have that you come for?"
The young man braced himself and put a hand upon his lips. "I come for your daughter, my Ry." The old man suddenly regained his composure, and authority spoke in his bearing and his words. "What have you to do with my daughter?"
"She was married to me when I was seven years of age, as my Ry knows. I am the son of Lemuel Fawe—Jethro Fawe is my name. For three thousand pounds it was so arranged. On his death-bed three thousand pounds did my father give to you for this betrothal. I was but a child, yet I remembered, and my kinsmen remembered, for it is their honour also. I am the son of Lemuel Fawe, the husband of Fleda, daughter of Gabriel Druse, King and Duke and Earl of all the Romanys; and I come for my own."
Something very like a sigh of relief came from Gabriel Druse's lips, but the anger in his face did not pass, and a rigid pride made the distance between them endless. He looked like a patriarch giving judgment as he raised his hand and pointed with a menacing finger at Jethro Fawe, his Romany subject—and, according to the laws of the Romany tribes, his son- in-law. It did not matter that the girl—but three years of age when it happened—had no memory of the day when the chiefs and great people assembled outside the tent of Lemuel Fawe when he lay dying, and, by the simple act of stepping over a branch of hazel, the two children were married: if Romany law and custom were to abide, then the two now were man and wife. Did not Lemuel Fawe, the old-time rival of Gabriel Druse for the kinship of the Romanys, the claimant whose family had been rulers of the Romanys for generations before the Druses gained ascendancy—did not Fawe, dying, seek to secure for his son by marriage what he had failed to get for himself by other means?
All these things had at one time been part of Gabriel Druse's covenant of life, until one year in England, when Fleda, at twelve years of age, was taken ill and would have died, but that a great lady descended upon their camp, took the girl to her own house, and there nursed and tended her, giving her the best medical aid the world could produce, so that the girl lived, and with her passionate nature loved the Lady Barrowdale as she might have loved her own mother, had that mother lived and she had ever known her. And when the Lady Barrowdale sickened and died of the same sickness which had nearly been her own death, the promise she made then overrode all other covenants made for her. She had promised the great lady who had given her own widowed, childless life for her own, that she would not remain a Gipsy, that she would not marry a Gipsy, but that if ever she gave herself to any man it would be to a Gorgio, a European, who travelled oftenest "the open road" leading to his own door. The years which had passed since those tragic days in Gloucestershire had seen the shadows of that dark episode pass, but the pledge had remained; and Gabriel Druse had kept his word to the dead, because of the vow made to the woman who had given her life for the life of a Romany lass.
The Romany tribes of all the nations did not know why their Ry had hidden himself in the New World; they did not know that the girl had for ever forsworn their race, and would never become head of all the Romanys, solving the problem of the rival dynasties by linking her life with that of Jethro Fawe. But Jethro Fawe had come to claim his own.
Now Gabriel Druse's eyes followed his own menacing finger with sharp insistence. In the past such a look had been in his eyes when he had sentenced men to death. They had not died by the gallows or the sword or the bullet, but they had died as commanded, and none had questioned his decree. None asked where or how the thing was done when a fire sprang up in a field, or a quarry, or on a lonely heath or hill-top, and on the pyre were all the belongings of the condemned, being resolved into dust as their owner had been made earth again.
"Son of Lemuel Fawe," the old man said, his voice rough with authority, "but that you are of the Blood, you should die now for this disobedience. When the time is fulfilled, I will return. Until then, my daughter and I are as those who have no people. Begone! Nothing that is here belongs to you. Begone, and come no more!"
"I have come for my own—for my Romany 'chi', and I will not go without her. I am blood of the Blood, and she is mine."
"You have not seen her," said the old man craftily, and fighting hard against the wrath consuming him, though he liked the young man's spirit. "She has changed. She is no longer Romany."
"I have seen her, and her beauty is like the rose and the palm."
"When have you seen her since the day before the tent of Lemuel Fawe now seventeen years ago?" There was an uneasy note in the commanding tone.
"I have seen her three times of late, and the last time I saw her was an hour or so since, when she rode the Rapids of Carillon."
The old man started, his lips parted, but for a moment he did not speak. At last words came. "The Rapids—speak. What have you heard, Jethro, son of Lemuel?"
"I did not hear, I saw her shoot the Rapids. I ran to follow. At Carillon I saw her arrive. She was in the arms of a Gorgio of Lebanon— Ingolby is his name."
A malediction burst from Gabriel Druse's lips, words sharp and terrible in their intensity. For the first time since they had met the young man blanched. The savage was alive in the giant.
"Speak. Tell all," Druse said, with hands clenching.
Swiftly the young man told all he had seen, and described how he had run all the way—four miles—from Carillon, arriving before Fleda and her Indian escort.
He had hardly finished his tale, shrinking, as he told it, from the fierceness of his chief, when a voice called from the direction of the house.
"Father—father," it cried.
A change passed over the old man's face. It cleared as the face of the sun clears when a cloud drives past and is gone. The transformation was startling. Without further glance at his companion, he moved swiftly towards the house. Once more Fleda's voice called, and before he could answer they were face to face.
She stood radiant and elate, and seemed not apprehensive of disfavour or reproach. Behind her was Tekewani and his braves.
"You have heard?" she asked reading her father's face.
"I have heard. Have you no heart?" he answered. "If the Rapids had drowned you!"
She came close to him and ran her fingers through his beard tenderly. "I was not born to be drowned," she said softly.
Now that she was a long distance from Ingolby, the fact that a man had held her in his arms left no shadow on her face. Ingolby was now only part of her triumph of the Rapids. She tossed a hand affectionately towards Tekewani and his braves.
"How!" said Gabriel Druse, and made a gesture of salutation to the Indian chief.
"How!" answered Tekewani, and raised his arm high in response. An instant afterwards Tekewani and his followers were gone their ways.
Suddenly Fleda's eyes rested on the young Romany who was now standing at a little distance away. Apprehension came to her face. She felt her heart stand still and her hands grow cold, she knew not why. But she saw that the man was a Romany.
Her father turned sharply. A storm gathered in his face once more, and a murderous look came into his eyes.
"Who is he?" Fleda asked, scarce above a whisper, and she noted the insistent, amorous look of the stranger.
"He says he is your husband," answered her father harshly.
"BY THE RIVER STARZKE . . . IT WAS SO DONE"
There was absolute silence for a moment. The two men fixed their gaze upon the girl. The fear which had first come to her face passed suddenly, and a will, new-born and fearless, possessed it. Yesterday this will had been only a trembling, undisciplined force, but since then she had been passed through the tests which her own soul, or Destiny, had set for her, and she had emerged a woman, confident and understanding, if tremulous. In days gone by her adventurous, lonely spirit had driven her to the prairies, savagely riding her Indian pony through the streets of Manitou and out on the North Trail, or south through coulees, or westward into the great woods, looking for what: she never found.
Her spirit was no longer the vague thing driving here and there with pleasant torture. It had found freedom and light; what the Romany folk call its own 'tan', its home, though it be but home of each day's trek. That wild spirit was now a force which understood itself in a new if uncompleted way. It was a sword free from its scabbard.
The adventure of the Carillon Rapids had been a kind of deliverance of an unborn thing which, desiring the overworld, had found it. A few hours ago the face of Ingolby, as she waked to consciousness in his arms, had taught her something suddenly; and the face of Felix Marchand had taught her even more. Something new and strange had happened to her, and her father's uncouth but piercing mind saw the change in her. Her quick, fluttering moods, her careless, undirected energy, her wistful waywardness, had of late troubled and vexed him, called on capacities in him which he did not possess; but now he was suddenly aware that she had emerged from passionate inconsistencies and in some good sense had found herself.
Like a wind she had swept out of childhood into a woman's world where the eyes saw things unseen before, a world how many thousand leagues in the future; and here in a flash, also, she was swept like a wind back again to a time before there was even conscious childhood—a dim, distant time when she lived and ate and slept for ever in the field or the vale, in the quarry, beside the hedge, or on the edge of harvest-fields; when she was carried in strong arms, or sat in the shelter of a man's breast as a horse cantered down a glade, under an ardent sky, amid blooms never seen since then. She was whisked back into that distant, unreal world by the figure of a young Romany standing beside a spruce-tree, and by her father's voice which uttered the startling words: "He says he is your husband!"
Indignation and a bitter pride looked out of her eyes, as she heard the preposterous claim—as though she were some wild dweller of the jungle being called by her savage mate back to the lair she had forsaken.
"Since when were you my husband?" she asked Jethro Fawe composedly.
Her quiet scorn brought a quiver to his spirit; for he was of a people to whom anger and passion were part of every relationship of life, its stimulus and its recreation, its expression of the individual.
His eyelids trembled, but he drew himself together. "Seventeen years ago by the River Starzke in the Roumelian country, it was so done," he replied stubbornly. "You were sealed to me, as my Ry here knows, and as you will remember, if you fix your mind upon it. It was beyond the city of Starzke three leagues, under the brown scarp of the Dragbad Hills. It was in the morning when the sun was by a quarter of its course. It happened before my father's tent, the tent of Lemuel Fawe. There you and I were sealed before our Romany folk. For three thousand pounds which my father gave to your father, you—"
With a swift gesture she stopped him. Walking close up to him, she looked him full in the eyes. There was a contemptuous pride in her face which forced him to lower his eyelids sulkily.
He would have understood a torrent of words—to him that would have regulated the true value of the situation; but this disdainful composure embarrassed him. He had come prepared for trouble and difficulty, but he had rather more determination than most of his class and people, and his spirit of adventure was high. Now that he had seen the girl who was his own according to Romany law, he felt he had been a hundred times justified in demanding her from her father, according to the pledge and bond of so many years ago. He had nothing to lose but his life, and he had risked that before. This old man, the head of the Romany folk, had the bulk of the fortune which had been his own father's and he had the logic of lucre which is the most convincing of all logic. Yet with the girl holding his eyes commandingly, he was conscious that he was asking more than a Romany lass to share his 'tan', to go wandering from Romany people to Romany people, king and queen of them all when Gabriel Druse had passed away. Fleda Druse would be a queen of queens, but there was that queenliness in her now which was not Romany—something which was Gorgio, which was caste, which made a shivering distance between them.
As he had spoken, she saw it all as he described it. Vaguely, cloudily, the scene passed before her. Now and again in the passing years had filmy impressions floated before her mind of a swift-flowing river and high crags, and wooded hills and tents and horsemen and shouting, and a lad that held her hand, and banners waved over their heads, and galloping and shouting, and then a sudden quiet, and many men and women gathered about a tent, and a wailing thereafter. After which, in her faint remembrance, there seemed to fall a mist, and a space of blankness, and then a starting up from a bed, and looking out of the doors of a tent, where many people gathered about a great fire, whose flames licked the heavens, and seemed to devour a Romany tent standing alone with a Romany wagon full of its household things.