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A Mountain Woman by Elia W. Peattie

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by the fifties, the soldiers lay dead in the
trenches without the fort, and many a gay
French voyageur, who had thought to go
singing down the Missouri on his fur-laden
raft in the springtime, would never again
see the lights of St. Louis, or the coin of
the mighty Choteau company.

It had been a winter of tragedies. The
rigors of the weather and the scourge of
the disease had been fought with Indian
charm and with Catholic prayer. Both
were equally unavailing. If a man was
taken sick at the fort they put him in a
warm room, brought him a jug of water
once a day, and left him to find out what his
constitution was worth. Generally he re-
covered; for the surgeon's supplies had
been exhausted early in the year. But the
Indians, in their torment, rushed into the
river through the ice, and returned to roll
themselves in their blankets and die in
ungroaning stoicism.

Every one had grown bitter and hard.
The knives of the trappers were sharp, and
not one whit sharper than their tempers.
Some one said that the friendly Pawnees
were conspiring with the Sioux, who were
always treacherous, to sack the settlement.
The trappers doubted this. They and the
Pawnees had been friends many years, and
they had together killed the Sioux in four
famous battles on the Platte. Yet -- who
knows? There was pestilence in the air,
and it had somehow got into men's souls as
well as their bodies.

So, at least, Father de Smet said. He
alone did not despair. He alone tried
neither charm nor curse. He dressed him
an altar in the wilderness, and he prayed at
it -- but not for impossible things. When
in a day's journey you come across two
lodges of Indians, sixty souls in each, lying
dead and distorted from the plague in their
desolate tepees, you do not pray, if you are
a man like Father de Smet. You go on to
the next lodge where the living yet are, and
teach them how to avoid death.

Besides, when you are young, it is much
easier to act than to pray. When the chil-
dren cried for food, Father de Smet took
down the rifle from the wall and went out
with it, coming back only when he could
feed the hungry. There were places where
the prairie was black with buffalo, and the
shy deer showed their delicate heads among
the leafless willows of the Papillion. When
they -- the children -- were cold, this young
man brought in baskets of buffalo chips
from the prairie and built them a fire, or he
hung more skins up at the entrance to the
tepees. If he wanted to cross a river and
had no boat at hand, he leaped the uncertain
ice, or, in clear current, swam, with his
clothes on his head in a bundle.

A wonderful traveller for the time was
Father de Smet. Twice he had gone as far
as the land of the Flathead nation, and he
could climb mountain passes as well as any
guide of the Rockies. He had built a dozen
missions, lying all the way from the Colum-
bia to the Kaw. He had always a jest at
his tongue's end, and served it out with as
much readiness as a prayer; and he had,
withal, an arm trained to do execution.
Every man on the plains understood the
art of self-preservation. Even in Cainsville,
over by the council ground of the western
tribes, which was quite the most civilized
place for hundreds of miles, life was uncer-
tain when the boats came from St. Louis
with bad whiskey in their holds. But no one
dared take liberties with the holy father.
The thrust from his shoulder was straight
and sure, and his fist was hard.

Yet it was not the sinner that Father de
Smet meant to crush. He always supple-
mented his acts of physical prowess with
that explanation. It was the sin that he
struck at from the shoulder -- and may not
even an anointed one strike at sin?

Father de Smet could draw a fine line,
too, between the things which were bad in
themselves, and the things which were only
extrinsically bad. For example, there were
the soups of Mademoiselle Ninon. Mam'selle
herself was not above reproach, but her soups
were. Mademoiselle Ninon was the only
Parisian thing in the settlement. And she
was certainly to be avoided -- which was per-
haps the reason that no one avoided her. It
was four years since she had seen Paris. She
was sixteen then, and she followed the for-
tunes of a certain adventurer who found it
advisable to sail for Montreal. Ninon had
been bored back in Paris, it being dull in the
mantua-making shop of Madame Guittar. If
she had been a man she would have taken
to navigation, and might have made herself
famous by sailing to some unknown part of
the New World. Being a woman, she took a
lover who was going to New France, and for-
got to weep when he found an early and vio-
lent death. And there were others at hand,
and Ninon sailed around the cold blue lakes,
past Sault St. Marie, and made her way
across the portages to the Mississippi, and
so down to the sacred rock of St. Louis.
That was a merry place. Ninon had fault
to find neither with the wine nor the dances.
They were all that one could have desired,
and there was no limit to either of them.
But still, after a time, even this grew tire-
some to one of Ninon's spirit, and she took
the first opportunity to sail up the Missouri
with a certain young trapper connected with
the great fur company, and so found her-
self at Cainsville, with the blue bluffs rising
to the east of her, and the low white
stretches of the river flats undulating down
to where the sluggish stream wound its way
southward capriciously.

Ninon soon tired of her trapper. For
one thing she found out that he was a
coward. She saw him run once in a buffalo
fight. That was when the Pawnee stood
still with a blanket stretched wide in a gaudy
square, and caught the head of the mad
animal fairly in the tough fabric; his mus-
tang's legs trembled under him, but he did
not move, -- for a mustang is the soul of an
Indian, and obeys each thought; the Indian
himself felt his heart pounding at his ribs;
but once with that garment fast over the
baffled eyes of the struggling brute, the
rest was only a matter of judicious knife-
thrusts. Ninon saw this. She rode past
her lover, and snatched the twisted bullion
cord from his hat that she had braided and
put there, and that night she tied it on the
hat of the Pawnee who had killed the buffalo.

The Pawnees were rather proud of the
episode, and as for the Frenchmen, they did
not mind. The French have always been
very adaptable in America. Ninon was
universally popular.

And so were her soups.

Every man has his price. Father de
Smet's was the soups of Mademoiselle Ninon.
Fancy! If you have an educated palate and
are obliged to eat the strong distillation of
buffalo meat, cooked in a pot which has
been wiped out with the greasy petticoat of
a squaw! When Ninon came down from
St. Louis she brought with her a great
box containing neither clothes, furniture,
nor trinkets, but something much more
wonderful! It was a marvellous compound-
ing of spices and seasonings. The aromatic
liquids she set before the enchanted men of
the settlement bore no more relation to
ordinary buffalo soup than Chateaubrand's
Indian maidens did to one of the Paw-
nee girls, who slouched about the settle-
ment with noxious tresses and sullen slavish
coquetries.

Father de Smet would not at any time
have called Ninon a scarlet woman. But
when he ate the dish of soup or tasted the
hot corn-cakes that she invariably invited
him to partake of as he passed her little
house, he refrained with all the charity of
a true Christian and an accomplished epicure
from even thinking her such. And he re-
membered the words of the Saviour, "Let
him who is without sin among you cast the
first stone."

To Father de Smet's healthy nature
nothing seemed more superfluous than sin.
And he was averse to thinking that any
committed deeds of which he need be
ashamed. So it was his habit, especially if
the day was pleasant and his own thoughts
happy, to say to himself when he saw one
of the wild young trappers leaving the cabin
of Mademoiselle Ninon: "He has been
for some of the good woman's hot cakes,"
till he grew quite to believe that the only
attractions that the adroit Frenchwoman
possessed were of a gastronomic nature.

To tell the truth, the attractions of Made-
moiselle Ninon were varied. To begin
with, she was the only thing in that wilder-
ness to suggest home. Ninon had a genius
for home-making. Her cabin, in which she
cooked, slept, ate, lived, had become a
boudoir.

The walls were hung with rare and beau-
tiful skins; the very floor made rich with
huge bear robes, their permeating odors
subdued by heavy perfumes brought, like
the spices, from St. Louis. The bed, in day-
time, was a couch of beaver-skins; the fire-
place had branching antlers above it, on
which were hung some of the evidences of
the fair Ninon's coquetry, such as silken
scarves, of the sort the voyageurs from the
far north wore; and necklaces made by the
Indians of the Pacific coast and brought to
Ninon by -- but it is not polite to inquire
into these matters. There were little moc-
casins also, much decorated with porcupine-
quills, one pair of which Father de Smet
had brought from the Flathead nation, and
presented to Ninon that time when she
nursed him through a frightful run of fever.
She would take no money for her patient
services.

"Father," said she, gravely, when he
offered it to her, "I am not myself virtuous.
But I have the distinction of having pre-
served the only virtuous creature in the
settlement for further usefulness. Some-
times, perhaps, you will pray for Ninon."

Father de Smet never forgot those prayers.

These were wild times, mind you. No
use to keep your skirts coldly clean if you
wished to be of help. These men were sub-
duing a continent. Their primitive qualities
came out. Courage, endurance, sacrifice,
suffering without complaint, friendship to
the death, indomitable hatred, unfaltering
hope, deep-seated greed, splendid gayety
-- it takes these things to subdue a conti-
nent. Vice is also an incidental, -- that is
to say, what one calls vice. This is because
it is the custom to measure these men as if
they were governed by the laws of civili-
zation, where there is neither law nor
civilization.

This much is certain: gentlemen cannot
conquer a country. They tried gentlemen
back in Virginia, and they died, partly from
lack of intellect, but mostly from lack of
energy. After the yeomen have fought the
conquering fight, it is well enough to bring
in gentlemen, who are sometimes clever
lawmakers, and who look well on thrones
or in presidential chairs.

But to return to the winter of the small-
pox. It was then that the priest and Ninon
grew to know each other well. They be-
came acquainted first in the cabin where
four of the trappers lay tossing in delirium.
The horrible smell of disease weighted the
air. Outside wet snow fell continuously
and the clouds seemed to rest only a few
feet above the sullen bluffs. The room was
bare of comforts, and very dirty. Ninon
looked about with disgust.

"You pray," said she to the priest, "and
I will clean the room."

"Not so," returned the broad-shouldered
father, smilingly, "we will both clean the
room." Thus it came that they scrubbed
the floor together, and made the chimney
so that it would not smoke, and washed the
blankets on the beds, and kept the wood-
pile high. They also devised ventilators,
and let in fresh air without exposing the
patients. They had no medicine, but they
continually rubbed the suffering men with
bear's grease.

"It's better than medicine," said Ninon,
after the tenth day, as, wan with watching, she
held the cool hand of one of the recovering
men in her own. "If we had had medicines
we should have killed these men."

"You are a woman of remarkable sense,"
said the holy father, who was eating a dish
of corn-meal and milk that Ninon had just
prepared, "and a woman also of Christian
courage."

"Christian courage?" echoed Ninon; "do
you think that is what you call it? I am
not afraid, no, not I; but it is not Christian
courage. You mistake in calling it that."
There were tears in her eyes. The priest
saw them.

"God lead you at last into peaceful ways,"
said he, softly, lifting one hand in blessing.
"Your vigil is ended. Go to your home
and sleep. You know the value of the
temporal life that God has given to man.
In the hours of the night, Ninon, think of
the value of eternal life, which it is also
His to give."

Ninon stared at him a moment with a
dawning horror in her eyes.

Then she pointed to the table.

"Whatever you do," said she, "don't
forget the bear's grease." And she went
out laughing. The priest did not pause
to recommend her soul to further blessing.
He obeyed her directions.

March was wearing away tediously. The
river was not yet open, and the belated
boats with needed supplies were moored
far down the river. Many of the reduced
settlers were dependent on the meat the
Indians brought them for sustenance. The
mud made the roads almost impassable; for
the frost lay in a solid bed six inches below
the surface, and all above that was semi-
liquid muck. Snow and rain alternated,
and the frightful disease did not cease its
ravages.

The priest got little sleep. Now he was
at the bed of a little half-breed child,
smoothing the straight black locks from
the narrow brow; now at the cot of some
hulking trapper, who wept at the pain, but
died finally with a grin of bravado on his
lips; now in a foul tepee, where some grave
Pawnee wrapped his mantle about him, and
gazed with prophetic and unflinching eyes
into the land of the hereafter.

The little school that the priest started
had been long since abandoned. It was only
the preservation of life that one thought of
in these days. And recklessness had made
the men desperate. To the ravages of dis-
ease were added horrible murders. Moral
health is always low when physical health
is so.

Give a nation two winters of grippe, and
it will have an epidemic of suicide. Give
it starvation and small-pox, and it will have
a contagion of murders. There are subtle
laws underlying these things, -- laws which
the physicians think they can explain; but
they are mistaken. The reason is not so
material as it seems.

But spring was near in spite of falling
snow and the dirty ice in the river. There
was not even a flushing of the willow twigs
to tell it by, nor a clearing of the leaden
sky, -- only the almanac. Yet all men
were looking forward to it The trappers
put in the feeble days of convalescence,
making long rafts on which to pile the
skins dried over winter, -- a fine variety,
worth all but their weight in gold. Money
was easily got in those days; but there
are circumstances under which money is
valueless.

Father de Smet thought of this the day
before Easter, as he plunged through the
mud of the winding street in his bearskin
gaiters. Stout were his legs, firm his lungs,
as he turned to breathe in the west wind;
clear his sharp and humorous eyes. He
was going to the little chapel where the
mission school had previously been held.
Here was a rude pulpit, and back of it a
much-disfigured virgin, dressed in turkey-
red calico. Two cheap candles in their tin
sticks guarded this figure, and beneath, on
the floor, was spread an otter-skin of perfect
beauty. The seats were of pine, without
backs, and the wind whistled through the
chinks between the logs. Moreover, the
place was dirty. Lenten service had been
out of the question. The living had neither
time nor strength to come to worship; and
the dead were not given the honor of a
burial from church in these times of terror.
The priest looked about him in dismay, the
place was so utterly forsaken; yet to let
Easter go by without recognition was not
to his liking. He had been the night before
to every house in the settlement, bidding
the people to come to devotions on Sunday
morning. He knew that not one of them
would refuse his invitation. There was no
hero larger in the eyes of these unfortunates
than the simple priest who walked among
them with his unpretentious piety. The
promises were given with whispered bless-
ings, and there were voices that broke in
making them, and hands that shook with
honest gratitude. The priest, remembering
these things, and all the awful suffering of
the winter, determined to make the ser-
vice symbolic, indeed, of the resurrection
and the life, -- the annual resurrection and
life that comes each year, a palpable miracle,
to teach the dullest that God reigns.

"How are you going to trim the altar?"
cried a voice behind him.

He turned, startled, and in the doorway
stood Mademoiselle Ninon, her short skirt
belted with a red silk scarf, -- the token of
some trapper, -- her ankles protected with
fringed leggins, her head covered with a be-
ribboned hat of felt, such as the voyageurs
wore.

"Our devotions will be the only decora-
tions we can hang on it. But gratitude is
better than blossoms, and humanity more
beautiful than green wreaths," said the
father, gently.

It was a curious thing, and one that he
had often noticed himself; he gave this
woman -- unworthy as she was -- the best
of his simple thoughts.

Ninon tiptoed toward the priest with one
finger coquettishly raised to insure secrecy.

"You will never believe it," she whis-
pered, "no one would believe it! But the
fact is, father, I have two lilies."

"Lilies," cried the priest, incredulously,
"two lilies?"

"That's what I say, father -- two marvel-
lously fair lilies with little sceptres of gold in
them, and leaves as white as snow. The bulbs
were brought me last autumn by --; that
is to say, they were brought from St. Louis.
Only now have they blossomed. Heavens,
how I have watched the buds! I have said
to myself every morning for a fortnight:
'Will they open in time for the good
father's Easter morning service?' Then I
said: 'They will open too soon. Buds,' I
have cried to them, 'do not dare to open yet,
or you will be horribly passée by Easter.
Have the kindness, will you, to save your-
selves for a great event.' And they did it;
yes, father, you may not believe, but no
later than this morning these sensible
flowers opened up their leaves boldly, quite
conscious that they were doing the right
thing, and to-morrow, if you please, they
will be here. And they will perfume the
whole place; yes."

She stopped suddenly, and relaxed her
vivacious expression for one of pain.

"You are certainly ill," cried the priest.
"Rest yourself." He tried to push her on
to one of the seats; but a sort of convulsive
rigidity came over her, very alarming to
look at.

"You are worn out," her companion said
gravely. "And you are chilled."

"Yes, I'm cold," confessed Ninon. "But
I had to come to tell you about the lilies.
But, do you see, I never could bring myself
to put them in this room as it is now. It
would be too absurd to place them among
this dirt. We must clean the place."

"The place will be cleaned. I will see to
it. But as for you, go home and care for
yourself." Ninon started toward the door
with an uncertain step. Suddenly she came
back.

"It is too funny," she said, " that red
calico there on the Virgin. Father, I have
some laces which were my mother's, who
was a good woman, and which have never
been worn by me. They are all I have to
remember France by and the days when I
was -- different. If I might be permitted --"
she hesitated and looked timidly at the priest.

"'She hath done what she could,'" mur-
mured Father de Smet, softly. "Bring your
laces, Ninon." He would have added:
"Thy sins be forgiven thee." But un-
fortunately, at this moment, Pierre came
lounging down the street, through the mud,
fresh from Fort Laramie. His rifle was
slung across his back, and a full game-bag
revealed the fact that he had amused him-
self on his way. His curly and wind-bleached
hair blew out in time-torn banners from the
edge of his wide hat. His piercing, black
eyes were those of a man who drinks deep,
fights hard, and lives always in the open air.
Wild animals have such eyes, only there is
this difference: the viciousness of an
animal is natural; at least one-half of the
viciousness of man is artificial and devised.

When Ninon saw the frost-reddened face
of this gallant of the plains, she gave a little
cry of delight, and the color rushed back
into her face. The trapper saw her, and
gave a rude shout of welcome. The next
moment, he had swung her clear of the
chapel steps; and then the two went down
the street together, Pierre pausing only long
enough to doff his hat to the priest.

"The Virgin will wear no fresh laces,"
said the priest, with some bitterness; but he
was mistaken. An hour later, Ninon was
back, not only with a box of laces, but also
with a collection of cosmetics, with which
she proceeded to make startling the scratched
and faded face of the wooden Virgin, who
wore, after the completion of Ninon's labors,
a decidedly piquant and saucy expression.
The very manner in which the laces were
draped had a suggestion of Ninon's still
unforgotten art as a maker of millinery, and
was really a very good presentment of Paris
fashions four years past. Pierre, meantime,
amused himself by filling up the chinks in
the logs with fresh mud, -- a commodity of
which there was no lack, -- and others of
the neighbors, incited by these extraordinary
efforts, washed the dirt from seats, floor, and
windows, and brought furs with which to make
presentable the floor about the pulpit.

Father de Smet worked harder than any
of them. In his happy enthusiasm he chose
to think this energy on the part of the others
was prompted by piety, though well he
knew it was only a refuge from the insuffer-
able ennui that pervaded the place. Ninon
suddenly came up to him with a white face.

"I am not well," she said. Her teeth
were chattering, and her eyes had a little
blue glaze over them. "I am going home.
In the morning I will send the lilies."

The priest caught her by the hand.

"Ninon," he whispered, "it is on my soul
not to let you go to-night. Something tells
me that the hour of your salvation is come.
Women worse than you, Ninon, have come
to lead holy lives. Pray, Ninon, pray to
the Mother of Sorrows, who knows the suf-
ferings and sins of the heart." He pointed
to the befrilled and highly fashionable Virgin
with her rouge-stained cheeks.

Ninon shrank from him, and the same
convulsive rigidity he had noticed before,
held her immovable. A moment later, she
was on the street again, and the priest,
watching her down the street, saw her enter
her cabin with Pierre.

.......

It was past midnight when the priest was
awakened from his sleep by a knock on the
door. He wrapped his great buffalo-coat
about him, and answered the summons.
Without in the damp darkness stood Pierre.

"Father," he cried, "Ninon has sent for
you. Since she left you, she has been very
ill. I have done what I could; but now she
hardly speaks, but I make out that she
wants you." Ten minutes later, they were
in Ninon's cabin. When Father de Smet
looked at her he knew she was dying. He
had seen the Indians like that many times
during the winter. It was the plague, but
driven in to prey upon the system by the
exposure. The Parisienne's teeth were set,
but she managed to smile upon her visitor
as he threw off his coat and bent over her.
He poured some whiskey for her; but she
could not get the liquid over her throat.

"Do not," she said fiercely between those
set white teeth, "do not forget the lilies." She
sank back and fixed her glazing eyes on the
antlers, and kept them there watching those
dangling silken scarves, while the priest, in
haste, spoke the words for the departing soul.

The next morning she lay dead among
those half barbaric relics of her coquetry,
and two white lilies with hearts of gold
shed perfume from an altar in a wilderness.

Up the Gulch

"GO West?" sighed Kate. "Why,
yes! I'd like to go West."

She looked at the babies, who were play-
ing on the floor with their father, and
sighed again.

"You've got to go somewhere, you know,
Kate. It might as well be west as in any
other direction. And this is such a chance!
We can't have mamma lying around on
sofas without any roses in her cheeks, can
we?" He put this last to the children,
who, being yet at the age when they talked
in "Early English," as their father called
it, made a clamorous but inarticulate reply.

Major Shelly, the grandfather of these
very young persons, stroked his mustache
and looked indulgent.

"Show almost human intelligence, don't
they?" said their father, as he lay flat on
his back and permitted the babies to climb
over him.

"Ya-as," drawled the major. "They do.
Don't see how you account for it, Jack."

Jack roared, and the lips of the babies
trembled with fear.

Their mother said nothing. She was on
the sofa, her hands lying inert, her eyes
fixed on her rosy babies with an expression
which her father-in-law and her husband
tried hard not to notice.

It was not easy to tell why Kate was
ailing. Of course, the babies were young,
but there were other reasons.

"I believe you're too happy," Jack some-
times said to her. "Try not to be quite so
happy, Kate. At least, try not to take
your happiness so seriously. Please don't
adore me so; I'm only a commonplace
fellow. And the babies -- they're not
going to blow away."

But Kate continued to look with intense
eyes at her little world, and to draw into
it with loving and generous hands all who
were willing to come.

"Kate is just like a kite," Jack explained
to his father, the major; "she can't keep
afloat without just so many bobs."

Kate's "bobs" were the unfortunates she
collected around her. These absorbed her
strength. She felt their misery with sym-
pathies that were abnormal. The very
laborer in the streets felt his toil less
keenly than she, as she watched the drops
gather on his brow.

"Is life worth keeping at the cost of a
lot like that?" she would ask. She felt
ashamed of her own ease. She apologized
for her own serene and perfect happiness.
She even felt sorry for those mothers who
had not children as radiantly beautiful as
her own.

"Kate must have a change," the major
had given out. He was going West on
business and insisted on taking her with
him. Jack looked doubtful. He wasn't
sure how he would get along without Kate
to look after everything. Secretly, he had
an idea that servants were a kind of wild
animal that had to be fed by an experienced
keeper. But when the time came, he kissed
her good-by in as jocular a manner as he
could summon, and refused to see the tears
that gathered in her eyes.

Until Chicago was reached, there was
nothing very different from that which
Kate had been in the habit of seeing.
After that, she set herself to watch for
Western characteristics. She felt that she
would know them as soon as she saw them.

"I expected to be stirred up and shocked,"
she explained to the major. But somehow,
the Western type did not appear. Common-
place women with worn faces -- browned
and seamed, though not aged -- were at
the stations, waiting for something or some
one. Men with a hurried, nervous air
were everywhere. Kate looked in vain for
the gayety and heartiness which she had
always associated with the West.

After they got beyond the timber country
and rode hour after hour on a tract smooth
as a becalmed ocean, she gave herself up to
the feeling of immeasurable vastness which
took possession of her. The sun rolled out
of the sky into oblivion with a frantic, head-
long haste. Nothing softened the aspect
of its wrath. Near, red, familiar, it seemed
to visibly bowl along the heavens. In the
morning it rose as baldly as it had set.
And back and forth over the awful plain
blew the winds, -- blew from east to west
and back again, strong as if fresh from the
chambers of their birth, full of elemental
scents and of mighty murmurings.

"This is the West!" Kate cried, again
and again.

The major listened to her unsmilingly.
It always seemed to him a waste of muscu-
lar energy to smile. He did not talk much.
Conversation had never appealed to him in
the light of an art. He spoke when there
was a direction or a command to be given,
or an inquiry to be made. The major, if
the truth must be known, was material.
Things that he could taste, touch, see,
appealed to him. He had been a volunteer
in the civil war, -- a volunteer with a good
record, -- which he never mentioned; and,
having acquitted himself decently, let the
matter go without asking reprisal or pay-
ment for what he had freely given. He
went into business and sold cereal foods.

"I believe in useful things," the major
expressed himself. "Oatmeal, wheat, --
men have to have them. God intended
they should. There's Jack -- my son --
Jack Shelly -- lawyer. What's the use of
litigation? God didn't design litigation.
It doesn't do anybody any good. It isn't
justice you get. It's something entirely
different, -- a verdict according to law.
They say Jack's clever. But I'm mighty
glad I sell wheat."

He didn't sell it as a speculator, how-
ever. That wasn't his way.

"I earn what I make," he often said; and
he had grown rich in the selling of his
wholesome foods.

. . . . . . .

Helena lies among round, brown hills.
Above it is a sky of deep and illimitable
blue. In the streets are crumbs of gold,
but it no longer pays to mine for these;
because, as real estate, the property is more
valuable. It is a place of fictitious values.
There is excitement in the air. Men have
the faces of speculators. Every laborer is
patient at his task because he cherishes a
hope that some day he will be a million-
naire. There is hospitality, and cordiality
and good fellowship, and an undeniable
democracy. There is wealth and luxurious
living. There is even culture, -- but it is
obtruded as a sort of novelty; it is not
accepted as a matter of course.

Kate and the major were driven over two
or three miles of dusty, hard road to a dis-
tant hotel, which stands in the midst of
greenness, -- in an oasis. Immediately
above the green sward that surrounds it the
brown hills rise, the grass scorched by the
sun.

Kate yielded herself to the almost absurd
luxury of the place with ease and compla-
cency. She took kindly to the great veran-
das. She adapted herself to the elaborate
and ill-assorted meals. She bathed in the
marvellous pool, warm with the heat of
eternal fires in mid-earth. This pool was
covered with a picturesque Moorish struct-
ure, and at one end a cascade tumbled, over
which the sun, coming through colored win-
dows, made a mimic prism in the white
spray. The life was not unendurable. The
major was seldom with her, being obliged
to go about his business; and Kate amused
herself by driving over the hills, by watch-
ing the inhabitants, by wondering about the
lives in the great, pretentious, unhomelike
houses with their treeless yards and their
closed shutters. The sunlight, white as
the glare on Arabian sands, penetrated
everywhere. It seemed to fairly scorch the
eye-balls.

"Oh, we're West, now," Kate said, exult-
antly. "I've seen a thousand types. But
yet -- not quite THE type -- not the imper-
sonation of simplicity and daring that I was
looking for."

The major didn't know quite what she
was talking about. But he acquiesced.
All he cared about was to see her grow
stronger; and that she was doing every day.
She was growing amazingly lovely, too, --
at least the major thought so. Every one
looked at her; but that was, perhaps, be-
cause she was such a sylph of a woman.
Beside the stalwart major, she looked like a
fairy princess.

One day she suddenly realized the fact
that she had had a companion on the
veranda for several mornings. Of course,
there were a great many persons -- invalids,
largely -- sitting about, but one of them
had been obtruding himself persistently
into her consciousness. It was not that he
was rude; it was only that he was thinking
about her. A person with a temperament
like Kate's could not long be oblivious to a
thing like that; and she furtively observed
the offender with that genius for psycho-
logical perception which was at once her
greatest danger and her charm.

The man was dressed with a childish
attempt at display. His shirt-front was
decorated with a diamond, and his cuff-
buttons were of onyx with diamond settings.
His clothes were expensive and perceptibly
new, and he often changed his costumes,
but with a noticeable disregard for pro-
priety. He was very conscious of his silk
hat, and frequently wiped it with a handker-
chief on which his monogram was worked
in blue.

When the 'busses brought up their loads,
he was always on hand to watch the new-
comers. He took a long time at his din-
ners, and appeared to order a great deal and
eat very little. There were card-rooms and
a billiard-hall, not to mention a bowling-
alley and a tennis-court, where the other
guests of the hotel spent much time. But
this man never visited them. He sat often
with one of the late reviews in his hand,
looking as if he intended giving his atten-
tion to it at any moment. But after he had
scrupulously cut the leaves with a little
carved ivory paper-cutter, he sat staring
straight before him with the book open, but
unread, in his hand.

Kate took more interest in this melan-
choly, middle-aged man than she would
have done if she had not been on the out-
look for her Western type, -- the man who
was to combine all the qualities of chivalry,
daring, bombast, and generosity, seasoned
with piquant grammar, which she firmly
believed to be the real thing. But notwith-
standing this kindly and somewhat curious
interest, she might never have made his
acquaintance if it had not been for a rather
unpleasant adventure.

The major was "closing up a deal" and
had hurried away after breakfast, and Kate,
in the luxury of convalescence, half-reclined
in a great chair on the veranda and watched
the dusky blue mist twining itself around
the brown hills. She was not thinking
of the babies; she was not worrying about
home; she was not longing for anything, or
even indulging in a dream. That vacuous
content which engrosses the body after long
indisposition, held her imperatively. Sud-
denly she was aroused from this happy con-
dition of nothingness by the spectacle of
an enormous bull-dog approaching her with
threatening teeth. She had noticed the
monster often in his kennel near the sta-
bles, and it was well understood that he was
never to be permitted his freedom. Now he
walked toward her with a solid step and an
alarming deliberateness. Kate sat still and
tried to assure herself that he meant no mis-
chief, but by the time the great body had
made itself felt on the skirt of her gown she
could restrain her fear no longer, and gave
a nervous cry of alarm. The brute answered
with a growl. If he had lacked provocation
before, he considered that he had it now.
He showed his teeth and flung his detestable
body upon her; and Kate felt herself grow-
ing dizzy with fear. But just then an arm
was interposed and the dog was flung back.
There was a momentary struggle. Some
gentlemen came hurrying out of the office;
and as they beat the dog back to its retreat,
Kate summoned words from her parched
throat to thank her benefactor.

It was the melancholy man with the new
clothes. This morning he was dressed in
a suit of the lightest gray, with a white
marseilles waistcoat, over which his glitter-
ing chain shone ostentatiously. White
tennis-shoes, a white rose in his button-
hole, and a white straw hat in his hand com-
pleted a toilet over which much time had
evidently been spent. Kate noted these
details as she held out her hand.

"I may have been alarmed without cause,"
she said; "but I was horribly frightened.
Thank you so much for coming to my res-
cue. And I think, if you would add to your
kindness by getting me a glass of water --"

When he came back, his hand was trem-
bling a little; and as Kate looked up to
learn the cause, she saw that his face was
flushed. He was embarrassed. She decided
that he was not accustomed to the society
of ladies. "Brutes like that dog ain't no
place in th' world -- that's my opinion.
There are some bad things we can't help
havin' aroun'; but a bull-dog ain't one
of 'em."

"I quite agree with you," Kate acqui-
esced, as she drank the water. "But as
this is the first unpleasant experience of
any kind that I have had since I came
here, I don't feel that I have any right to
complain."

"You're here fur yur health?"

"Yes. And I am getting it. You're
not an invalid, I imagine?"

"No -- no-op. I'm here be -- well, I've
thought fur a long time I'd like t' stay at
this here hotel."

"Indeed!"

"Yes. I've been up th' gulch these fif-
teen years. Bin livin' on a shelf of black rock.
Th' sun got 'round 'bout ten. Couldn't
make a thing grow." The man was look-
ing off toward the hills, with an expression
of deep sadness in his eyes. "Didn't
never live in a place where nothin' 'd
grow, did you? I took geraniums up thar
time an' time agin. Red ones. Made me
think of mother; she's in Germany. Watered
'em mornin' an' night. Th' damned things
died."

The oath slipped out with an artless un-
consciousness, and there was a little moist-
ure in his eyes. Kate felt she ought to
bring the conversation to a close. She
wondered what Jack would say if he saw
her talking with a perfect stranger who used
oaths! She would have gone into the house
but for something that caught her eye. It
was the hand of the man; that hand was
a bludgeon. All grace and flexibility had
gone out of it, and it had become a mere
instrument of toil. It was seamed and
misshapen; yet it had been carefully mani-
cured, and the pointed nails looked fantastic
and animal-like. A great seal-ring bore an
elaborate monogram, while the little finger
displayed a collection of diamonds and
emeralds truly dazzling to behold. An
impulse of humanity and a sort of artistic
curiosity, much stronger than her discretion,
urged Kate to continue her conversation.

"What were you doing up the gulch?"
she said.

The man leaned back in his chair and
regarded her a moment before answering.
He realized the significance of her question.
He took it as a sign that she was willing
to be friendly. A look of gratitude, almost
tender, sprang into his eyes, -- dull gray
eyes, they were, with a kindliness for their
only recommendation.

"Makin' my pile," he replied. "I've
been in these parts twenty years. When I
come here, I thought I was goin' to make a
fortune right off. I had all th' money that
mother could give me, and I lost everything I
had in three months. I went up th' gulch."
He paused, and wiped his forehead with his
handkerchief.

There was something in his remark and the
intonation which made Kate say softly:

"I suppose you've had a hard time of it."

"Thar you were!" he cried. "Thar was
th' rock -- risin', risin', black! At th'
bottom wus th' creek, howlin' day an'
night! Lonesome! Gee! No one t' talk
to. Of course, th' men. Had some with
me always. They didn't talk. It's too --
too quiet t' talk much. They played cards.
Curious, but I never played cards. Don't
think I'd find it amusin'. No, I worked.
Came down here once in six months or
three months. Had t' come -- grub-staked
th' men, you know. Did you ever eat salt
pork?" He turned to Kate suddenly with
this question.

"Why, yes; a few times. Did you have
it?"

"Nothin' else, much. I used t' think of
th' things mother cooked. Mother under-
stood cookin', if ever a woman did. I'll
never forget th' dinner she gave me th' day
I came away. A woman ought t' cook. I
hear American women don't go in much
for cookin'."

"Oh, I think that's a mistake," Kate
hastened to interrupt. "All that I know un-
derstand how to serve excellent dinners. Of
course, they may not cook them themselves,
but I think they could if it were necessary."

"Hum!" He picked up a long glove that
had fallen from Kate's lap and fingered it
before returning it.

"I s'pose you cook?"

"I make a specialty of salads and sor-
bets," smiled Kate. "I guess I could roast
meat and make bread; but circumstances
have not yet compelled me to do it. But
I've a theory that an American woman can
do anything she puts her mind to."

The man laughed out loud, -- a laugh
quite out of proportion to the mild good
humor of the remark; but it was evident
that he could no longer conceal his delight
at this companionship.

"How about raisin' flowers?" he asked.
"Are you strong on that?"

"I've only to look at a plant to make
it grow," Kate cried, with enthusiasm.
"When my friends are in despair over a
plant, they bring it to me, and I just pet it
a little, and it brightens up. I've the most
wonderful fernery you ever saw. It's green,
summer and winter. Hundreds of people
stop and look up at it, it is so green and
enticing, there above the city streets."

"What city?"

"Philadelphia."

"Mother's jest that way. She has a gar-
den of roses. And the mignonette --"

But he broke off suddenly, and sat once
more staring before him.

"But not a damned thing," he added, with
poetic pensiveness, "would grow in that
gulch."

"Why did you stay there so long?" asked
Kate, after a little pause in which she man-
aged to regain her waning courage.

"Bad luck. You never see a place with
so many false leads. To-day you'd get a
streak that looked big. To-morrow you'd
find it a pocket. One night I'd go t' bed
with my heart goin' like a race-horse.
Next night it would be ploddin' along like
a winded burro. Don't know what made
me stick t' it. It was hot there, too! And
cold! Always roastin' ur freezin'. It'd
been different if I'd had any one t' help me
stand it. But th' men were always findin'
fault. They blamed me fur everythin'. I
used t' lie awake at night an' hear 'em
talkin' me over. It made me lonesome, I
tell you! Thar wasn't no one! Mother
used t' write. But I never told her th'
truth. She ain't a suspicion of what I've
been a-goin' through."

Kate sat and looked at him in silence.
His face was seamed, though far from old.
His body was awkward, but impressed her
with a sense of magnificent strength.

"I couldn't ask no woman t' share my
hard times," he resumed after a time. "I
always said when I got a woman, it was
goin' t' be t' make her happy. It wer'n't
t' be t' ask her t' drudge."

There was another silence. This man
out of the solitude seemed to be elated past
expression at his new companionship. He
looked with appreciation at the little pointed
toes of Kate's slippers, as they glanced from
below the skirt of her dainty organdie. He
noted the band of pearls on her finger. His
eyes rested long on the daisies at her waist.
The wind tossed up little curls of her warm
brown hair. Her eyes suffused with inter-
est, her tender mouth seemed ready to lend
itself to any emotion, and withal she was
so small, so compact, so exquisite. The
man wiped his forehead again, in mere
exuberance.

"Here's my card," he said, very solemnly,
as he drew an engraved bit of pasteboard
from its leather case. Kate bowed and
took it.

"Mr. Peter Roeder," she read.
"I've no card," she said. "My name is
Shelly. I'm here for my health, as I told
you." She rose at this point, and held out
her hand. "I must thank you once more
for your kindness," she said.

His eyes fastened on hers with an appeal
for a less formal word. There was something
almost terrible in their silent eloquence.

"I hope we may meet again," she said.

Mr. Peter Roeder made a very low and
awkward bow, and opened the door into the
corridor for her.

That evening the major announced that he
was obliged to go to Seattle. The journey
was not an inviting one; Kate was well
placed where she was, and he decided to
leave her.

She was well enough now to take longer
drives; and she found strange, lonely can-
yons, wild and beautiful, where yellow
waters burst through rocky barriers with roar
and fury, -- tortuous, terrible places, such
as she had never dreamed of. Coming back
from one of these drives, two days after
her conversation on the piazza with Peter
Roeder, she met him riding a massive roan.
He sat the animal with that air of perfect
unconsciousness which is the attribute of
the Western man, and his attire, even to
his English stock, was faultless, -- faultily
faultless.

"I hope you won't object to havin' me
ride beside you," he said, wheeling his
horse. To tell the truth, Kate did not
object. She was a little dull, and had been
conscious all the morning of that peculiar
physical depression which marks the begin-
ning of a fit of homesickness.

"The wind gits a fine sweep," said
Roeder, after having obtained the permis-
sion he desired. "Now in the gulch we
either had a dead stagnation, or else the
wind was tearin' up and down like a wild
beast."

Kate did not reply, and they went on
together, facing the riotous wind.

"You can't guess how queer it seems t'
be here," he said, confidentially. "It seems
t' me as if I had come from some other
planet. Thar don't rightly seem t' be no
place fur me. I tell you what it's like.
It's as if I'd come down t' enlist in th'
ranks, an' found 'em full, -- every man
marchin' along in his place, an' no place
left fur me."

Kate could not find a reply.

"I ain't a friend, -- not a friend! I ain't
complainin'. It ain't th' fault of any one
-- but myself. You don' know what a
durned fool I've bin. Someway, up thar in
th' gulch I got t' seemin' so sort of impor-
tant t' myself, and my makin' my stake
seemed such a big thing, that I thought I
had only t' come down here t' Helena t'
have folks want t' know me. I didn't
particular want th' money because it wus
money. But out here you work fur it, jest
as you work fur other things in other places,
-- jest because every one is workin' fur it,
and it's the man who gets th' most that
beats. It ain't that they are any more
greedy than men anywhere else. My pile's
a pretty good-sized one. An' it's likely to
be bigger; but no one else seems t' care.
Th' paper printed some pieces about it.
Some of th' men came round t' see me;
but I saw their game. I said I guessed
I'd look further fur my acquaintances. I
ain't spoken to a lady, -- not a real lady,
you know, -- t' talk with, friendly like, but
you, fur -- years."

His face flushed in that sudden way again.
They were passing some of those preten-
tious houses which rise in the midst of
Helena's ragged streets with such an extra-
neous air, and Kate leaned forward to look
at them. The driver, seeing her interest,
drew up the horses for a moment.

"Fine, fine!" ejaculated Roeder. "But
they ain't got no garden. A house don't
seem anythin' t' me without a garden.
Do you know what I think would be th'
most beautiful thing in th' world? A
baby in a rose-garden! Do you know, I
ain't had a baby in my hands, excep' Ned
Ramsey's little kid, once, for ten year!"

Kate's face shone with sympathy.

"How dreadful!" she cried. "I couldn't
live without a baby about."

"Like babies, do you? Well, well.
Boys? Like boys?"

"Not a bit better than girls," said Kate,
stoutly.

"I like boys," responded Roeder, with
conviction. "My mother liked boys. She
had three girls, but she liked me a damned
sight the best."

Kate laughed outright.

"Why do you swear?" she said. "I
never heard a man swear before, -- at least,
not one with whom I was talking. That's
one of your gulch habits. You must get
over it."

Roeder's blond face turned scarlet.

"You must excuse me," he pleaded.
"I'll cure myself of it! Jest give me a
chance."

This was a little more personal than Kate
approved of, and she raised her parasol to
conceal her annoyance. It was a brilliant
little fluff of a thing which looked as if it
were made of butterflies' wings. Roeder
touched it with awe.

"You have sech beautiful things," he
said. "I didn't know women wore sech
nice things. Now that dress -- it's like
-- I don't know what it's like." It was a
simple little taffeta, with warp and woof of
azure and of cream, and gay knots of ribbon
about it.

"We have the advantage of men," she
said. "I often think one of the greatest
drawbacks to being a man would be the
sombre clothes. I like to wear the prettiest
things that can be found."

"Lace?" queried Roeder. "Do you like
lace?"

"I should say so! Did you ever see a
woman who didn't?"

"Hu -- um! These women I've known
don't know lace, -- these wives of th' men
out here. They're th' only kind I've seen
this long time."

"Oh, of course, but I mean --"

"I know what you mean. My mother has
a chest full of linen an' lace. She showed
it t' me th' day I left. 'Peter,' she said,
'some day you bring a wife home with you,
an' I'll give you that lace an' that linen.'
An' I'm goin' t' do it, too," he said quietly.

"I hope so," said Kate, with her eyes
moist. "I hope you will, and that your
mother will be very happy."

. . . . . . .

There was a hop at the hotel that night,
and it was almost a matter of courtesy for
Kate to go. Ladies were in demand, for
there were not very many of them at the
hotel. Every one was expected to do his
best to make it a success; and Kate, not at
all averse to a waltz or two, dressed herself
for the occasion with her habitual striving
after artistic effect. She was one of those
women who make a picture of themselves as
naturally as a bird sings. She had an opal
necklace which Jack had given her because,
he said, she had as many moods as an opal
had colors; and she wore this with a crépe
gown, the tint of the green lights in her
necklace. A box of flowers came for her as
she was dressing; they were Puritan roses,
and Peter Roeder's card was in the midst
of them. She was used to having flowers
given her. It would have seemed remark-
able if some one had not sent her a bouquet
when she was going to a ball.

"I shall dance but twice," she said to
those who sought her for a partner.
"Neither more nor less."

"Ain't you goin' t' dance with me at
all?" Roeder managed to say to her in the
midst of her laughing altercation with the
gentlemen.

"Dance with you!" cried Kate. "How
do men learn to dance when they are up a
gulch?"

"I ken dance," he said stubbornly. He
was mortified at her chaffing.

"Then you may have the second waltz, "
she said, in quick contrition. "Now you
other gentlemen have been dancing any
number of times these last fifteen years.
But Mr. Roeder is just back from a hard
campaign, -- a campaign against fate. My
second waltz is his. And I shall dance my
best."

It happened to be just the right sort of
speech. The women tried good-naturedly
to make Roeder's evening a pleasant one.
They were filled with compassion for a man
who had not enjoyed the society of their sex
for fifteen years. They found much amuse-
ment in leading him through the square
dances, the forms of which were utterly
unknown to him. But he waltzed with a
sort of serious alertness that was not so bad
as it might have been.

Kate danced well. Her slight body
seemed as full of the spirit of the waltz as
a thrush's body is of song. Peter Roeder
moved along with her in a maze, only half-
answering her questions, his gray eyes full
of mystery.

Once they stopped for a moment, and he
looked down at her, as with flushed face she
stood smiling and waving her gossamer fan,
each motion stirring the frail leaves of the
roses he had sent her.

"It's cur'ous," he said softly, "but I keep
thinkin' about that black gulch."

"Forget it," she said. "Why do you
think of a gulch when --" She stopped
with a sudden recollection that he was not
used to persiflage. But he anticipated what
she was about to say.

"Why think of the gulch when you are
here?" he said. "Why, because it is only
th' gulch that seems real. All this, -- these
pleasant, polite people, this beautiful room,
th' flowers everywhere, and you, and me as
I am, seem as if I was dreamin'. Thar
ain't anything in it all that is like what I
thought it would be."

"Not as you thought it would be?"

"No. Different. I thought it would be
-- well, I thought th' people would not be
quite so high-toned. I hope you don't mind
that word."

"Not in the least," she said. " It's a mu-
sical term. It applies very well to people."

They took up the dance again and waltzed
breathlessly till the close. Kate was tired;
the exertion had been a little more than she
had bargained for. She sat very still on the
veranda under the white glare of an electric
ball, and let Roeder do the talking. Her
thoughts, in spite of the entertainment she
was deriving from her present experiences,
would go back to the babies. She saw them
tucked well in bed, each in a little iron crib,
with the muslin curtains shielding their rosy
faces from the light. She wondered if Jack
were reading alone in the library or was at
the club, or perhaps at the summer con-
cert, with the swell of the violins in his
ears. Jack did so love music. As she
thought how delicate his perceptions were,
how he responded to everything most subtle
in nature and in art, of how life itself was
a fine art with him, and joy a thing to be
cultivated, she turned with a sense of deep
compassion to the simple man by her side.
His rough face looked a little more unat-
tractive than usual. His evening clothes
were almost grotesque. His face wore a
look of solitude, of hunger.

"What were you saying?" she said,
dreamily. "I beg your pardon."

"I was sayin' how I used t' dream of
sittin' on the steps of a hotel like this, and
not havin' a thing t' do. When I used t'
come down here out of the gulch, and see
men who had had good dinners, an' good
baths, sittin' around smokin', with money
t' go over there t' th' bookstan' an' get any-
thin' they'd want, it used t' seem t' me
about all a single man could wish fur."

"Well, you've got it all now."

"But I didn't any of th' time suppose
that would satisfy a man long. Only I was
so darned tired I couldn't help wantin' t'
rest. But I'm not so selfish ur s' narrow
as to be satisfied with THAT. No, I'm not
goin' t' spend m' pile that way -- quite!"

He laughed out loud, and then sat in
silence watching Kate as she lay back
wearily in her chair.

"I've got t' have that there garden," he
said, laughingly. "Got t' get them roses.
An' I'll have a big bath-house, -- plenty of
springs in this country. You ken have a
bath here that won't freeze summer NOR
winter. An' a baby! I've got t' have a
baby. He'll go with th' roses an' th'
bath." He laughed again heartily.

"It's a queer joke, isn't it?" Roeder
asked. "Talkin' about my baby, an' I
haven't even a wife." His face flushed and
he turned his eyes away.

"Have I shown you the pictures of my
babies?" Kate inquired. "You'd like my
boy, I know. And my girl is just like me,
-- in miniature."

There was a silence. She looked up
after a moment. Roeder appeared to be
examining the monogram on his ring as if
he had never seen it before.

"I didn't understand that you were mar-
ried," he said gently.

"Didn't you? I don't think you ever
called me by any name at all, or I should
have noticed your mistake and set you right.
Yes, I'm married. I came out here to get
strong for the babies."

"Got a boy an' a girl, eh?"

"Yes."

"How old's th' boy?"

"Five."

"An' th' girl?"

"She'll soon be four."

"An' yer husband -- he's livin'?"

"I should say so! I'm a very happy
woman, Mr. Roeder. If only I were
stronger!"

"Yer lookin' much better," he said,
gravely, "than when you come. You'll be
all right."

The moon began to come up scarlet
beyond the eastern hills. The two watched
it in silence. Kate had a feeling of guilt,
as if she had been hurting some helpless
thing.

"I was in hopes," he said, suddenly, in a
voice that seemed abrupt and shrill, "thet
you'd see fit t' stay here."

"Here in Helena? Oh, no!"

"I was thinkin' I'd offer you that two
hundred thousand dollars, if you'd stay."

"Mr. Roeder! You don't mean --
surely --"

"Why, yes. Why not?" He spoke
rather doggedly. "I'll never see no other
woman like you. You're different from
others. How good you've been t' me!"

"Good! I'm afraid I've been very bad
-- at least, very stupid."

"I say, now -- your husband's good t'
you, ain't he?"

"He is the kindest man that ever lived."

"Oh, well, I didn't know."

A rather awkward pause followed which
was broken by Roeder.

"I don't see jest what I'm goin' t' do
with that thar two hundred thousand dol-
lars," he said, mournfully.

"Do with it? Why, live with it! Send
some to your mother."

"Oh, I've done that. Five thousand
dollars. It don't seem much here; but it'll
seem a lot t' her. I'd send her more, only
it would've bothered her."

"Then there is your house, -- the house
with the bath-room. But I suppose you'll
have other rooms?"

Peter laughed a little in spite of himself.

"I guess I won't have a house," he said.
"An' I couldn't make a garden alone."

"Hire a man to help you." Kate was
trembling, but she kept talking gayly. She
was praying that nothing very serious would
happen. There was an undercurrent of som-
breness in the man's manner that frightened
her.

"I guess I'll jest have t' keep on
dreamin' of that boy playin' with th' roses."

"No, no," cried Kate; "he will come
true some day! I know he'll come true."

Peter got up and stood by her chair.

"You don't know nothin' about it," he
said. "You don't know, an' you can't know
what it's bin t' me t' talk with you. Here
I come out of a place where there ain't no
sound but the water and the pines. Years
come an' go. Still no sound. Only
thinkin', thinkin', thinkin'! Missin' all
th' things men care fur! Dreamin' of a
time when I sh'd strike th' pile. Then I
seed home, wife, a boy, flowers, everythin'.
You're so beautiful, an' you're so good.
You've a way of pickin' a man's heart right
out of him. First time I set my eyes on
you I thought you were th' nicest thing I
ever see! And how little you are! That
hand of yours, -- look at it, -- it's like a
leaf! An' how easy you smile. Up th'
gulch we didn't smile; we laughed, but
gen'ly because some one got in a fix. Then
your voice! Ah, I've thought fur years
that some day I might hear a voice like
that! Don't you go! Sit still! I'm not
blamin' you fur anythin'; but I may
never, 's long's I live, find any one who
will understand things th' way you under-
stand 'em. Here! I tell you about that
gulch an' you see that gulch. You know
how th' rain sounded thar, an' how th'
shack looked, an' th' life I led, an' all th'
thoughts I had, an' th' long nights, an'
th' times when -- but never mind. I know
you know it all. I saw it in yer eyes. I
tell you of mother, an' you see 'er. You
know 'er old German face, an' 'er proud
ways, an' her pride in me, an' how she
would think I wuz awfully rich. An' you
see how she would give out them linens, all
marked fur my wife, an' how I would sit
an' watch her doin' it, an' -- you see every-
thing. I know you do. I could feel you
doin' it. Then I say to myself: 'Here is
th' one woman in th' world made fur me.
Whatever I have, she shall have. I'll
spend my life waitin' on her. She'll tell
me all th' things I ought t' know, an' hev
missed knowin'; she'll read t' me; she'll
be patient when she finds how dull I've
grown. And thar'll be th' boy --'"

He seized her hand and wrung it, and was
gone. Kate saw him no more that night.

The next morning the major returned.
Kate threw her arms around his neck and
wept.

"I want the babies," she explained when
the major showed his consternation. "Don't
mind my crying. You ought to be used to
seeing me cry by this time. I must get
home, that's all. I must see Jack."

So that night they started.

At the door of the carriage stood Peter
Roeder, waiting.

"I'm going t' ride down with you," he
said. The major looked nonplussed.

Kate got in and the major followed.

"Come," she said to Roeder. He sat
opposite and looked at her as if he would
fasten her image on his mind.

"You remember," he said after a time,
"that I told you I used t' dream of sittin' on
the veranda of th' hotel and havin' nothin'
t' do?"

"Yes."

"Well, I don't think I care fur it. I've
had a month of it. I'm goin' back up
th' gulch."

"No!" cried Kate, instinctively reaching
out her hands toward him.

"Why not? I guess you don't know me.
I knew that somewhere I'd find a friend. I
found that friend; an' now I'm alone
again. It's pretty quiet up thar in the
gulch; but I'll try it."

"No, no. Go to Europe; go to see your
mother."

"I thought about that a good deal, a
while ago. But I don't seem t' have no
heart fur it now. I feel as if I'd be safer
in th' gulch."

"Safer?"

"The world looks pretty big. It's safe
and close in th' gulch."

At the station the major went to look
after the trunks, and Roeder put Kate in
her seat.

"I wanted t' give you something " he
said, seating himself beside her, "but I
didn't dare."

"Oh, my dear friend," she cried, laying
her little gloved hand on his red and knotted
one, "don't go back into the shadow. Do
not return to that terrible silence. Wait.
Have patience. Fate has brought you
wealth. It will bring you love."

"I've somethin' to ask," he said, paying
no attention to her appeal. "You must
answer it. If we 'a' met long ago, an' you
hadn't a husband or -- anythin' -- do you
think you'd've loved me then?"

She felt herself turning white.

"No," she said softly. "I could never
have loved you, my dear friend. We are
not the same. Believe me, there is a
woman somewhere who will love you; but
I am not that woman -- nor could I have
ever been."

The train was starting. The major came
bustling in.

"Well, good-by," said Roeder, holding
out his hand to Kate.

"Good-by," she cried. "Don't go back
up the gulch."

"Oh," he said, reassuringly, "don't you
worry about me, my -- don't worry. The
gulch is a nice, quiet place. An' you know
what I told you about th' ranks all bein'
full. Good-by." The train was well under
way. He sprang off, and stood on the
platform waving his handkerchief.

"Well, Kate," said the major, seating
himself down comfortably and adjusting his
travelling cap, "did you find the Western
type?"

"I don't quite know," said she, slowly.
"But I have made the discovery that a
human soul is much the same wherever you
meet it."

"Dear me! You haven't been meeting
a soul, have you?" the major said, face-
tiously, unbuckling his travelling-bag. "I'll
tell Jack."

"No, I'll tell Jack. And he'll feel
quite as badly as I do to think that I could
do nothing for its proper adjustment."

The major's face took on a look of com-
prehension.

"Was that the soul," he asked, "that just
came down in the carriage with us?"

"That was it," assented Kate. "It was
born; it has had its mortal day; and it
has gone back up the gulch."

A Michigan Man

A PINE forest is nature's expression of
solemnity and solitude. Sunlight,
rivers, cascades, people, music, laughter, or
dancing could not make it gay. With its
unceasing reverberations and its eternal
shadows, it is as awful and as holy as a
cathedral.

Thirty good fellows working together by
day and drinking together by night can keep
up but a moody imitation of jollity. Spend
twenty-five of your forty years, as Luther
Dallas did, in this perennial gloom, and
your soul -- that which enjoys, aspires,
competes -- will be drugged as deep as if
you had quaffed the cup of oblivion.
Luther Dallas was counted one of the most
experienced axe-men in the northern camps.
He could fell a tree with the swift surety of
an executioner, and in revenge for his many
arboral murders the woodland had taken
captive his mind, captured and chained it
as Prospero did Ariel. The resounding
footsteps of Progress driven on so merci-
lessly in this mad age could not reach his
fastness. It did not concern him that men
were thinking, investigating, inventing.
His senses responded only to the sonorous
music of the woods; a steadfast wind ring-
ing metallic melody from the pine-tops con-
tented him as the sound of the sea does the
sailor; and dear as the odors of the ocean to
the mariner were the resinous scents of the
forest to him. Like a sailor, too, he had
his superstitions. He had a presentiment
that he was to die by one of these trees, --
that some day, in chopping, the tree would
fall upon and crush him as it did his father
the day they brought him back to the camp
on a litter of pine boughs.

One day the gang-boss noticed a tree that
Dallas had left standing in a most unwood-
manlike manner in the section which was
allotted to him.

"What in thunder is that standing there
for?" he asked.

Dallas raised his eyes to the pine, tower-
ing in stern dignity a hundred feet above
them.

"Well," he said feebly, "I noticed it, but
kind-a left it t' the last."

"Cut it down to-morrow," was the
response.

The wind was rising, and the tree mut-
tered savagely. Luther thought it sounded
like a menace, and turned pale. No trou-
ble has yet been found that will keep a man
awake in the keen air of the pineries after
he has been swinging his axe all day, but
the sleep of the chopper was so broken with
disturbing dreams that night that the beads
gathered on his brow, and twice he cried
aloud. He ate his coarse flap-jacks in the
morning and escaped from the smoky shanty
as soon as he could.

"It'll bring bad luck, I'm afraid," he
muttered as he went to get his axe from the
rack. He was as fond of his axe as a soldier
of his musket, but to-day he shouldered it
with reluctance. He felt like a man with
his destiny before him. The tree stood
like a sentinel. He raised his axe, once,
twice, a dozen times, but could not bring
himself to make a cut in the bark. He
walked backwards a few steps and looked up.
The funereal green seemed to grow darker
and darker till it became black. It was the
embodiment of sorrow. Was it not shaking
giant arms at him? Did it not cry out in
angry challenge? Luther did not try to
laugh at his fears; he had never seen any
humor in life. A gust of wind had some-
way crept through the dense barricade of
foliage that flanked the clearing, and struck
him with an icy chill. He looked at the
sky; the day was advancing rapidly. He
went at his work with an energy as deter-
mined as despair. The axe in his practised
hand made clean straight cuts in the trunk,
now on this side, now on that. His task
was not an easy one, but he finished it with
wonderful expedition. After the chopping
was finished, the tree stood firm a moment;
then, as the tensely-strained fibres began a
weird moaning, he sprang aside, and stood
waiting. In the distance he saw two men
hewing a log. The axe-man sent them a
shout and threw up his arms for them to
look. The tree stood out clear and beauti-
ful against the gray sky; the men ceased
their work and watched it. The vibrations
became more violent, and the sounds they
produced grew louder and louder till they
reached a shrill wild cry. There came a
pause, then a deep shuddering groan. The
topmost branches began to move slowly, the
whole stately bulk swayed, and then shot
towards the ground. The gigantic trunk
bounded from the stump, recoiled like a
cannon, crashed down, and lay conquered,
with a roar as of an earthquake, in a cloud
of flying twigs and chips.

When the dust had cleared away, the men
at the log on the outside of the clearing
could not see Luther. They ran to the

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