Part 2 out of 5
crowd of men, women, children, and dogs congregated at the foot of
the long stone pier alongside which the ship would lie for two or
three hours at each high tide. Philip stopped among a number of
Crees and half-breeds, and laid a detaining hand upon Gregson's
"This is near enough, if you don't want to make yourself
conspicuous," he said.
The York boat was returning. Philip pulled a cigar from his pocket
and lighted it. He felt his heart throbbing excitedly as the boat
drew nearer. He looked at Gregson. The artist was taking short,
quick puffs on his cigarette, and Philip wondered at the evident
eagerness with which he was watching the approaching craft.
Until the boat ran close up under the pier its sail hid the
occupants. While the canvas still fluttered in the light wind
Bludsoe sprang from the bow out upon the rocks with a rope. Three
or four of his men followed. With a rattle of blocks and rings the
sheet dropped like a huge white curtain, and Philip took a step
forward, scarce restraining the exclamation that forced itself to
his lips at the picture which it revealed. Standing on the broad
rail, her slender form poised for the quick upward step, one hand
extended to Bludsoe, was Eileen Brokaw! In another instant she was
upon the pier, facing the strange people before her, while her
father clambered out of the boat behind. There was a smile of
expectancy on her lips as she scanned the dark, silent faces of
the forest people. Philip knew that she was looking for him. His
pulse quickened. He turned for a moment to see the effect of the
girl's appearance upon Gregson.
The artist's two hands had gripped his arm. They closed now until
his fingers were like cords of steel. His face was white, his lips
set into thin lines. For a breath he stood thus, while Miss
Brokaw's scrutiny traveled nearer to them. Then, suddenly, he
released his hold and darted back among the half-breeds and
Indians, his face turning to Philip's in one quick, warning
He was not a moment too soon, for scarce had he gone when Miss
Brokaw caught sight of Philip's tall form at the foot of the pier.
Philip did not see the signal which she gave him. He was staring
at the line of faces ahead of him. Two people had worked their way
through that line, and suddenly every muscle in his body became
tense with excitement and joy. They were Pierre and Jeanne!
He caught his breath at what happened then. He saw Jeanne falter
for a moment. He noticed that she was now dressed like the others
about her, and that Pierre, who stood at her shoulder, was no
longer the fine gentleman of the rock. The half-breed bent over
her, as if whispering to her, and then Jeanne ran out from those
about her to Eileen, her beautiful face flushed with joy and
welcome as she reached out her arms to the other woman. Philip saw
a sudden startled look leap into Miss Brokaw's face, but it was
gone as quickly as it appeared. She stared at the forest girl,
drew herself haughtily erect, and, with a word which he could not
hear, turned to Bludsoe and her father. For an instant Jeanne
stood as if some one had struck her a blow. Then, slowly, she
turned. The flush was gone from her face. Her beautiful mouth was
quivering, and Philip fancied that he could hear the low sobbing
of her breath. With a cry in which he uttered no name, but which
was meant for her, he sprang forward into the clear space of the
pier. She saw him, and darted back among her people. He would have
followed, but Miss Brokaw was coming to him now, her hand held out
to him, and a step behind were Brokaw and the factor.
"Philip!" she cried.
He spoke no word as he crushed her hand. The hot grip of his
fingers, the deep flush in his face, was interpreted by her as a
welcome which it did not require speech to strengthen. He shook
hands with Brokaw, and as the three followed after the factor his
eyes sought vainly for Pierre and Jeanne.
They were gone, and he felt suddenly a thrill of repugnance at the
gentle pressure of Eileen Brokaw's hand upon his arm.
Philip did not see the hundred staring eyes that followed in
wonderment the tall, beautiful girl who walked at his side. He
knew that Miss Brokaw was talking and laughing, and that he was
nodding his head and answering her, while his brain raged for an
idea that would give him an excuse for leaving her to follow
Jeanne and Pierre. The facts that Gregson had left him so
strangely, that Eileen had come with her father, and that, instead
of clearing up the mystery in which they were so deeply involved,
the arrival of the London ship had even more hopelessly entangled
them, were forgotten for the moment in the desire to intercept
Jeanne and Pierre before they could leave Churchill. Miss Brokaw
herself unconsciously gave him the opportunity for which he was
"You don't look very happy, Philip," she exclaimed, in a chiding
voice, meant only for his ears. "I thought--perhaps--my coming
would make you glad."
Philip caught eagerly at the half question in her voice.
"I feared you would notice it," he said, quickly. "I was afraid
you would think me indifferent because I did not go out to meet
you in the boat, and because I stood hidden at the end of the pier
when you landed. But I was looking for a man. I have been hunting
for him for a long time. And I saw his face just as we came
through the crowd. That is why I am--am rattled," he laughed.
"Will you excuse me if I go back? Can you find some excuse for the
others? I will return in a few minutes, and then you will not say
that I am unhappy."
Miss Brokaw drew her hand from his arm.
"Surely I will excuse you," she cried. "Hurry, or you may lose
him. I would like to go with you if it is going to be exciting."
Philip turned to Brokaw and the factor, who were close behind
"I am compelled to leave you here," he explained. "I have excused
myself to Miss Brokaw, and will rejoin you almost immediately."
He lost no time in hurrying back to the shore of the Bay. As he
had expected, Jeanne and her companion were no longer in sight.
There was only one direction in which they could have disappeared
so quickly, and this was toward the cliff. Once hidden by the
fringe of forest, he hastened his steps until he was almost
running. He had reached the base of the huge mass of rock that
rose up from the sea, when down the narrow trail that led to the
cliff there came a figure to meet him. It was an Indian boy, and
he advanced to question him. If Jeanne and Pierre had passed that
way the boy must surely have seen them.
Before he had spoken the lad ran toward him, holding out something
in his hand. The question on Philip's lips changed to an
exclamation of joy when he recognized the handkerchief which he
had dropped upon the rock a few nights before, or one so near like
it that he could not have told them apart. It was tied into a
knot, and he felt the crumpling of paper under the pressure of his
fingers. He almost tore the bit of lace and linen in his eagerness
to rescue the paper, which a moment later he held in his fingers.
Three short lines, written in a fine, old-fashioned hand, were all
that it held for him. But they were sufficient to set his heart,
Will Monsieur come to the top of the rock to-night, some time
between the hours of nine and ten.
There was no signature to the note, but Philip knew that only
Jeanne could have written it, for the letters were almost of
miscroscopic smallness, as delicate as the bit of lace in which
they had been delivered, and of a quaintness of style which added
still more to the bewildering mystery which already surrounded
these people. He read the lines half a dozen times, and then
turned to find that the Indian boy was slipping sway through the
"Here--you," he commanded, in English. "Come back!"
The boy's white teeth gleamed in a laugh as he waved his hand and
leaped farther away. From Philip his eyes shifted in a quick,
searching glance to the top of the cliff. In a flash Philip
followed its direction. He understood the meaning of the look.
From the cliff Jeanne and Pierre had seen his approach, and their
meeting with the Indian boy had made it possible for them to
intercept him in this manner. They were probably looking down upon
him now, and in the gladness of the moment Philip laughed up at
the bare rocks and waved his cap above his head as a signal of his
acceptance of the strange invitation he had received.
Vaguely he wondered why they had set the meeting for that night,
when in three or four minutes he could have joined them up there
in broad day. But the central tangle of the mystery that had grown
up about him during the past few days was too perplexing to
embroider with such a minor detail as this, and he turned back
toward Churchill with the feeling that everything was working in
his favor. During the next few hours he would clear up the tangle,
and in addition to that he would meet Jeanne and Pierre. It was
the thought of Jeanne, and not of the surprises which he was about
to explain, that stirred his blood as he hurried back to the Fort.
It was his intention to return to Eileen and her father. But he
changed this. He would first hunt up Gregson and begin his work
there. He knew that the artist would be expecting him, and he went
directly to the cabin, escaping notice by following along the
fringe of the forest.
Gregson was pacing back and forth across the cabin floor when
Philip arrived. His steps were quick and excited. His hands were
thrust deep in his trousers pockets. The butts of innumerable
half-smoked cigarettes lay scattered under his feet. He ceased his
restless movement upon his companion's interruption, and for a
moment or two gazed at Philip in blank silence.
"Well," he said, at last, "have you got anything to say?"
"Nothing," said Philip. "It's beyond me, Greggy. For Heaven's sake
give me an explanation!"
There was nothing womanish in the hard lines of Gregson's face
now. He spoke with the suggestion of a sneer.
"You knew--all the time," he said, coldly. "You knew that Miss
Brokaw and the girl whom I drew were one and the same person. What
was the object of your little sensation?"
Philip ignored his question. He stepped quickly up to Gregson and
seized him by the arm.
"It is impossible!" he cried, in a low voice. "They cannot be the
same person. That ship out there has not touched land since she
left Halifax. Until she hove in sight off Churchill she hasn't
been within two hundred miles of a coast this side of Hudson's
Strait. Miss Brokaw is as new to this country as you. It is beyond
all reason to suppose anything else."
"Nevertheless," said Gregson, quietly, "it was Miss Brokaw whom I
saw the other day, and that is Miss Brokaw's picture."
He pointed to the sketch, and freed his arm to light another
cigarette. There was a peculiar tone of finality in his voice
which warned Philip that no amount of logic or arguing on his part
would change his friend's belief. Gregson looked at him over his
"It was Miss Brokaw," he said again. "Perhaps it is within reason
to suppose that she came to Churchill in a balloon, dropped into
town for luncheon, and departed in a balloon, descending by some
miraculous chance aboard the ship that was bringing her father.
However it may have happened, she was in Churchill a few days ago.
On that hypothesis I am going to work, and as a consequence I am
going to ask you for the indefinite loan of the Lord Fitzhugh
letter. Will you give me your word to say nothing of that letter--
for a few days?"
"It is almost necessary to show it to Brokaw," hesitated Philip.
"Almost--but not quite," Gregson caught him up. "Brokaw knows the
seriousness of the situation without that letter. See here, Phil--
you go out and fight, and let me handle this end of the business.
Don't reveal me to the Brokaws. I don't want to meet--her--yet,
though God knows if it wasn't for my confounded friendship for you
I'd go over there with you this minute. She was even more
beautiful than when I saw her--before."
"Then there is a difference," laughed Philip, meaningly.
"Not a difference, but a little better view," corrected the
"Now, if we could only find the other girl, what a mess you'd be
in, Greggy! By George, but this is beginning to have its humorous
as well as its tragic side. I'd give a thousand dollars to have
this other golden-haired beauty appear upon the scene!"
"I'll give a thousand if you produce her," retorted Gregson.
"Good!" laughed Philip, holding out a hand. "I'll report again
this afternoon or to-night."
Inwardly he felt himself in no humorous mood as he retraced his
steps to Churchill. He had thought to begin his work of clearing
up the puzzling situation with Gregson, and Gregson had failed him
completely by his persistence in the belief that Miss Brokaw was
the girl whose face he had seen more than a week before. Was it
possible, after all, that the ship had touched at some point up
the coast? The supposition was preposterous. Yet before rejoining
the Brokaws he sought out the captain and found that the company's
vessel had come directly from Halifax without a change or stop in
her regular course. The word of the company's captain cleared up
his doubts in one direction; it mystified him more than ever in
another. He was convinced that Gregson had not seen Miss Brokaw
until that morning. But who was Eileen's double? Where was she at
this moment? What peculiar combination of circumstance had drawn
them both to Churchill at this particularly significant time? It
was impossible for him not to associate the girl whom Gregson had
encountered, and who so closely resembled Eileen, with Lord
Fitzhugh and the plot against his company. And it struck him with
a certain feeling of dread that, if his suspicions were true,
Jeanne and Pierre must also be mixed up in the affair. For had not
Jeanne, in her error, greeted Eileen as though she were a dear
He went directly to the factor's house, and knocked at the door
opening into the rooms occupied by Brokaw and his daughter. Brokaw
admitted him, and at Philip's searching glance about the room he
nodded toward a closed inner door and said:
"Eileen is resting. It's been a hard trip on her, Phil, and she
hasn't slept for two consecutive nights since we left Halifax."
Philip's keen glance told him that Brokaw himself had not slept
much. The promoter's eyes were heavy, with little puffy bags under
them. But otherwise he betrayed no signs of unrest or lack of
rest. He motioned Philip to a chair close to a huge fireplace in
which a pile of birch was leaping into flame, offered him a cigar,
and plunged immediately into business.
"It's hell, Philip," he said, in a hard, quiet voice, as though he
were restraining an outburst of passion with effort. "In another
three months we'd have been on a working basis, earning dividends.
I've even gone to the point of making contracts that show us five
hundred per cent, profit. And now--this!"
He dashed his half-burned cigar into the fire, and viciously bit
the end from another.
Philip was lighting his own, and there was a moment's silence,
broken sharply by the financier.
"Are your men prepared to fight?"
"If it's necessary," replied Philip. "We can at least depend upon
a part of them, especially the men at Blind Indian Lake. But--this
fighting--Why do you think it will come to that? If there is
fighting we are ruined."
"If the people rise against us in a body--yes, we are ruined. That
is what we must not permit. It is our one chance. I have done
everything in my power to beat this movement against us down
south, and have failed. Our enemies are completely masked. They
have won popular sentiment through the newspapers. Their next move
is to strike directly at us. Whatever is to happen will happen
soon. The plan is to attack us, to destroy our property, and the
movement is to be advertised as a retaliation for heinous outrages
perpetrated by our men. It is possible that the attack will not be
by northerners alone, but by men brought in for the purpose. The
result will be the same--if it succeeds. The attack is planned to
be a surprise. Our one chance is to meet it, to completely
frustrate it--to strike an overwhelming blow, and to capture
enough of our assailants to give us the evidence we must have."
Brokaw was excited. He emphasized his words with angry sweeps of
his arms. He clenched his fists, and his face grew red. He was not
like the old, shrewd, indomitable Brokaw, completely master of
himself, never revealing himself beyond the unruffled veil of his
self-possession, and Philip was surprised. He had expected that
Brokaw's wily brain would bring with it half a dozen schemes for
the quiet undoing of their enemies. And now here was Brokaw, the
man who always hedged himself in with legal breast-works--who
never revealed himself to the shot of his enemies--enlisting
himself for a fight in the open! Philip had told Gregson that
there would be a fight. He was firmly convinced that there would
be a fight. But he had never believed that Brokaw would come to
join in it. He leaned toward the financier, his face flushed a
little by the warmth of the fire and by the knowledge that Brokaw
was relinquishing the situation entirely into his hands. If it
came to fighting, he would win. He was confident of himself there.
"What will be the result if we win?" he asked.
"If we secure those who will give the evidence we need--evidence
that the movement against us is a plot to destroy our company, the
government will stand by us," replied Brokaw. "I have sounded the
situation there. I have filed a formal declaration to the effect
that such a movement is on foot, and have received a promise that
the commissioner of police will investigate the matter. But before
that happens our enemies will strike. There is no time for red
tape or investigations. We must achieve our own salvation. And to
achieve that we must fight."
"And if we lose?"
Brokaw lifted his hands and shoulders with a significant gesture.
"The moral effect will be tremendous," he said. "It will be shown
that the entire north is inimical to our company, and the
government will withdraw our option. We will be ruined. Our
stockholders will lose every cent invested."
In moments of mental energy Philip was restless. He rose from his
chair now and moved softly back and forth across the carpeted
floor of the big room, shrouded in tobacco smoke. Should he break
his word to Gregson and tell Brokaw of Lord Fitzhugh? But, on
second thought, what good would come of it? Brokaw was already
aware of the seriousness of the situation. In some one of his
unaccountable ways he had learned that their enemies were to
strike almost immediately, and his own revelation of the Fitzhugh
letters would but strengthen this evidence. He would keep his
faith with Gregson for the promised day or two. For an hour the
two men were alone in the room. At the end of that time their
plans were settled. The next morning Philip would leave for Blind
Indian Lake and prepare for war. Brokaw would follow two or three
A heavy weight seemed lifted from Philip's shoulders when he left
Brokaw. After months of worry and weeks of physical inaction he
saw his way clear for the first time. And for the first time, too,
something seemed to have come into his life that filled him with a
strange exhilaration, and made him forgetful of the gloom that had
settled over him during these last months. That night he would see
Jeanne. His body thrilled at the thought, until for a time he
forgot that he would also see and talk with Eileen. A few days
before he had told Gregson that it would be suicidal to fight the
northerners; now he was eager for action, eager to begin and end
the affair--to win or lose. If he had stopped to analyze the
change in himself he would have found that the beautiful girl whom
he had first seen on the moonlit rock was at the bottom of it. And
yet Jeanne was a northerner, one of those against whom his actions
must be directed. But he had confidence in himself, confidence in
what that night would bring forth. He was like one freed from a
bondage that had oppressed him for a long time, and the fact that
he might be compelled to fight Jeanne's own people did not destroy
his hopefulness, the new joy and excitement that he had found in
life. As he hurried back to his cabin he told himself that both
Jeanne and Pierre had read what he had sent to them in the
handkerchief; their response was a proof that they understood him,
and deep down a voice kept telling him that if it came to fighting
they three, Pierre, Jeanne, and himself, would rise or fall
together. A few hours had transformed him into Gregson's old
appreciation of the fighting man. Long and tedious months of
diplomacy, of political intrigue, of bribery and dishonest
financiering, in which he had played but the part of a helpless
machine, were gone. Now he held the whip-hand; Brokaw had
acknowledged his own surrender. He was to fight--a clean, fair
fight on his part, and his blood leaped in every vein like
marshaling armies. That nights on the rock, he would reveal
himself frankly to Pierre and Jeanne. He would tell them of the
plot to disrupt the company, and of the work ahead of him. And
He thrust open the door of his cabin, eager to enlist Gregson in
his enthusiasm. The artist was not in. Philip noticed that the
cartridge-belt and the revolver which usually hung over Gregson's
bunk were gone. He never entered the cabin without looking at the
sketch of Eileen Brokaw. Something about it seemed to fascinate
him, to challenge his presence. Now it was missing from the wall.
He threw off his coat and hat, filled his pipe, and began
gathering up his few possessions, ready for packing. It was noon
before he was through, and Gregson had not returned. He boiled
himself some coffee and sat down to wait. At five o'clock he was
to eat supper with the Brokaws and the factor; Eileen, through her
father, had asked him to join her an hour or two earlier in the
big room. He waited until four, and then left a brief note for
Gregson upon the table.
It was growing dusk in the forest. From the top of the ridge
Philip caught the last red glow of the sun, sinking far to the
south and west. A faint radiance of it still swept over his head
and mingled with the thickening gray gloom of the northern sea.
Across the dip in the Bay the huge, white-capped cliff seemed to
loom nearer and more gigantic in the whimsical light. For a few
moments a red bar shot across it, and as the golden fire faded and
died away Philip could not but think it was like a torch beckoning
to him. A few hours more, and where that light had been he would
see Jeanne. And now, down there, Eileen was waiting for him.
His pulse quickened as he passed beyond the ancient fort, over the
burial-place of the dead, and into Churchill. He met no one at the
factor's, and the door leading into Miss Brokaw's room was partly
ajar. A great fire was burning in the fireplace, and he saw Eileen
seated in the rich glow of it, smiling at him as he entered. He
closed the door, and when he turned she had risen and was holding
out her hands to him. She had dressed for him, almost as on that
night of the Brokaw ball. In the flashing play of the fire her
exquisite arms and shoulders shone with dazzling beauty; her eyes
laughed at him; her hair rippled in a golden flood. Faintly there
came to him, filling the room slowly, tingling his nerves, the
sweet scent of heliotrope--the perfume that had filled his
nostrils on that other night, a long time ago, the sweet scent
that had come to him in the handkerchief dropped on the rock, the
breath of the bit of lace that had bound Jeanne's hair!
Eileen moved toward him. "Philip," she said, "now are you glad to
Her voice broke the spell that had held him for a moment.
"I am glad to see you," he cried, quickly, seizing both her hands.
"Only I haven't quite yet awakened from my dream. It seems too
wonderful, almost unreal. Are you the old Eileen who used to
shudder when I told you of a bit of jungle and wild beasts, and
who laughed at me because I loved to sleep out-of-doors and tramp
mountains, instead of decently behaving myself at home? I demand
an explanation. It must be a wonderful change--"
"There has been a change," she interrupted him. "Sit down, Philip
--there!" She nestled herself on a stool, close to his feet, and
looked up at him, her hands clasped under her chin, radiantly
lovely. "You told me once that girls like me simply fluttered over
the top of life like butterflies; that we couldn't understand
life, or live it, until somewhere--at some time--we came into
touch with nature. Do you remember? I was consumed with rage then
--at your frankness, at what I considered your impertinence. I
couldn't get what you said out of my mind. And I'm trying it."
"And you like it?" He put the question almost eagerly.
"Yes." She was looking at him steadily, her beautiful gray eyes
meeting his own in a silence that stirred him deeply. He had never
seen her more beautiful. Was it the firelight on her face, the
crimson leapings of the flames, that gave her skin a richer hue?
Was it the mingling of fire and shadow that darkened her cheeks?
An impulse made him utter the words which passed through his mind.
"You have already tried it," he said. "I can see the effects of it
in your face. It would take weeks in the forests to do that."
The gray eyes faltered; the flush deepened.
"Yes, I have tried it. I spent a half of the summer at our cottage
on the lake."
"But it is not tan," he persisted, thrilled for a moment by the
discoveries he was making. "It is the wind; it is the open; it is
the smoke of camp-fires; it is the elixir of balsam and cedar and
pine. That is what I see in your face--unless it is the fire."
"It is the fire, partly," she said. "And the rest is the wind and
the open of the seas we have come across, and the sting of
icebergs. Ugh: my face feels like nettles!"
She rubbed her cheeks with her two hands, and then held up one
hand to Philip.
"Look," she said. "It's as rough as sand-paper. Isn't that a
change? I didn't even wear gloves on the ship. I'm an enthusiast.
I'm going down there with you, and I'm going to fight. Now have
you got anything to say against me, Mr. Philip?"
There was a lightness in her words, and yet not in her voice. In
her manner was an uneasiness, mingled with an almost childish
eagerness for him to answer, which Philip could not understand. He
fancied that once or twice he had caught the faintest sign of a
break in her voice.
"You really mean to hazard this adventure?" he cried, softly, in
his astonishment. "You, whom wild horses couldn't drag into the
wilderness, as you once told me!"
"Yes," she affirmed, drawing her stool back out of the increasing
heat of the fire. Her face was almost entirely in shadow now, and
she did not look at Philip. "I am beginning to--to love
adventure," she went on, in an even voice. "It was an adventure
coming up. And when we landed down there something curious
happened. Did you see a girl who thought that she knew me--"
She stopped, and a sudden flash of the fire lit up her eyes, fixed
on him intently from between her shielding hands.
"I saw her run out and speak to you," said Philip, his heart
beating at double-quick. He leaned over so that he was looking
squarely into Miss Brokaw's face.
"Did you know her?" she asked.
"I have seen her only twice--once before she spoke to you."
"If I meet her again I shall apologize," said Eileen. "It was her
mistake, and she startled me. When she ran out to me like that,
and held out her hands I--I thought of beggars."
"Beggars!" almost shouted Philip. "A beggar!" He caught himself
with a laugh, and to cover his sudden emotion turned to lay a
fresh piece of birch on the fire. "We don't have beggars up here."
The door opened behind them and Brokaw entered. Philip's face was
red when he greeted him. For half an hour after that he cursed
himself for not being as clever as Gregson. He knew that there was
a change in Eileen Brokaw, a change which nature had not worked
alone, as she wished him to believe. Then, and at supper, he tried
to fathom her. At times he detected the metallic ring of what was
unreal and make-believe in what she said; at other times she
seemed stirred by emotions which added immeasurably to the
sweetness and truthfulness of her voice. She was nervous. He found
her eyes frequently seeking her father's face, and more than once
they were filled with a mysterious questioning, as if within
Brokaw's brain there lurked hidden things which were new to her,
and which she was struggling to understand. She no longer held the
old fascination for Philip, and yet he conceded that she was more
beautiful than ever. Until to-night he had never seen the shadow
of sadness in her eyes; he had never seen them darken as they
darkened now, when she listened with almost feverish interest to
the words which passed between himself and Brokaw. He was certain
that it was not a whim that had brought her into the north. It was
impossible for him to believe that he had piqued at her vanity
until she had leaped into action, as she had suggested to him
while they were sitting before the fire. Could it be that she had
accompanied her father because he--Philip Whittemore--was in the
The thought drew a slow flush into his face, and his uneasiness
increased when he knew that she was looking at him. He was glad
when it came time for cigars, and Eileen excused herself. He
opened the door for her, and told her that he probably would not
see her again until morning, as he had an important engagement for
the evening. She gave him her hand, and for a moment he felt the
clinging of her fingers about his own.
"Good night," she whispered.
She drew her hand half away, and then, suddenly, raised her eyes
straight to his own. They were calm, quiet, beautiful, and yet
there came a quick little catch in her throat as she leaned so
close to him that she touched his breast, and said:
"It will be best--best for everything--everybody--if you can
influence father to stay at Fort Churchill."
She did not wait for him to reply, but hurried toward her room.
For a moment Philip stared after her in amazement. Then he took a
step as if to follow her, to call her back. The impulse left him
as quickly as it came, and he rejoined Brokaw and the factor.
He looked at his watch. It was seven o'clock. At half-past seven
he shook hands with the two men, lighted a fresh cigar, and passed
out into the night. It was early for his meeting with Pierre and
Jeanne, but he went down to the shore and walked slowly in the
direction of the cliff. He was still an hour early when he arrived
at the great rock, and sat down, with his face turned to the sea.
It was a white, radiant night, such as he had seen in the tropics.
Only here, in the north, his vision reached to greater distances.
Churchill lay lifeless in its pool of light; the ship hung like a
black silhouette in the distance, with a cloud of jet-black smoke
rising straight up from its funnels, and spreading out high up
against the sky, a huge, ebon monster that cast its shadow for
half a mile over the Bay. The shadow held Philip's eyes. Now it
was like a gigantic face, now like a monster beast--now it reached
out in the form of a great threatening hand, as though somewhere
in the mystery of the north it sought a spirit-victim as potent as
Then the spell of it was broken. From the end of the shadow, which
reached almost to the base of the cliff on which Philip sat, there
came a sound. It was a clear, metallic sound that left the
vibration of steel in the air, and Philip leaned over the edge of
the rock. Below him the shadow was broken into a pool of rippling
starlight. He heard the faint dip of paddles, and suddenly a canoe
shot from the shadow out into the clear light of the moon and
It was a large canoe. In it he could make out four figures. Three
of them were paddling; the fourth sat motionless in the bow. They
passed under him swiftly, guiding their canoe so that it was soon
hidden in the shelter of the cliff. By the faint reflections cast
by the disturbed water, Philip saw that the occupants of the canoe
had made an effort to conceal themselves by following the course
of the dense shadow. Only the chance sound had led him to observe
Under ordinary circumstances the passing of a strange canoe at
night would have had no significance for him. But at the present
time it troubled him. The manner of its approach through the
shadow, the strange quiet of its occupants, the stealth with which
they had shot the canoe under the cliff, were all unusual. Could
the incident have anything to do with Jeanne and Pierre?
He waited until he heard the tiny bell in his watch tinkle the
half-hour, and then he set out slowly over the moonlit rocks to
the north. Jeanne and Pierre would surely come from that
direction. It was impossible to miss them. He walked without sound
in his moccasins, keeping close to the edge of the cliff so that
he could look out over the Bay. Two or three hundred yards beyond
the big rock the sea-wall swung in sharply, disclosing the open
water, like a still, silvery sheet, for a mile or more. Philip
scanned it for the canoe, but as far as he could see there was not
For a quarter of a mile he walked over the rocks, then returned.
It was nine o'clock. The moment had arrived for the appearance of
Jeanne and Pierre. He resumed his patrol of the cliff, and with
each moment his nervousness increased. What if Jeanne failed him?
What if she did not come to the rock? The mere thought made his
heart sink with a sudden painful throb. Until now the fear that
Jeanne might disappoint him, that she might not keep the tryst,
had not entered his head. His faith in this girl, whom he had seen
but twice, was supreme.
A second and a third time he patrolled the quarter mile of cliff.
Again his watch tinkled the half-hour, and he knew that the last
minutes of the appointed time had come.
The third and last time he went beyond the quarter-mile limit,
searching in the white distances beyond. A low wind was rising
from the Bay; it rustled in the spruce and balsam tops of the
forest that reached up to the barren whiteness of the rock plateau
on which he stood; under him he heard, growing more and more
distinct, the moaning wash of the swelling tide. A moment of
despair possessed him, and he felt that he had lost.
Suddenly the wind brought to him a different sound--a shout far
down the cliff, a second cry, and then the scream of a woman,
deadened by the wash of the sea and the increasing sweep of the
wind among the trees.
He stood for a moment powerless, listening. The wind lulled, and
the woman's cry now came to him again--a voice that was filled
with terror rising in a wild appeal for help. With an answering
shout he ran like a swift-footed animal along the cliff. It was
Jeanne who was calling! Who else but Jeanne would be out there in
the gray night--Jeanne and Pierre? He listened as he ran, but
there came no other sound. At last he stopped, and drew in a great
breath, to send out a shout that would reach their ears.
Above the fierce beating of his heart, the throbbing intake of his
breath, he heard sounds which were not of the wind or the sea. He
ran on, and suddenly the cliff dropped from under his feet, and he
found himself on the edge of a great rift in the wall of rock,
looking across upon a strange scene. In the brilliant moonlight,
with his back against a rock, stood Pierre, his glistening rapier
in his hand, his thin, lithe body bent for the attack of three men
who faced him. It was but a moment's tableau. The men rushed in.
Muffled cries, blows, a single clash of steel, and Pierre's voice
rose above the sound of conflict. "For the love of God, give me
help, M'sieur!" He had seen Philip rush up to the edge of the
break in the cliff, and as he fought he cried out again.
"Shoot, M'sieur! In a moment it will be too late!"
Philip had drawn his heavy revolver. He watched for an
opportunity. The men were fighting now so that Pierre had been
forced between his assailants and the breach in the wall. There
was no chance to fire without hitting him.
"Run, Pierre!" shouted Philip. "Run--"
He fired once, over the heads of the fighters, and as Pierre
suddenly darted to one side in obedience to his command there came
for the first time a shot from the other side. The bullet whistled
close to his ears. A second shot, and Pierre fell down like one
dead among the rocks. Again Philip fired--a third and a fourth
time, and one of the three who were disappearing in the white
gloom stumbled over a rock, and fell as Pierre had fallen. His
companions stopped, picked him up, and staggered on with him.
Philip's last shot missed, and before he could reload they were
lost among the upheaved masses of the cliff.
"Pierre!" he called. "Ho! Pierre Couchee!"
There was no answer from the other side.
He ran along the edge of the break, and in the direction of the
forest he found a place where he could descend. In his haste he
fell; his hands were scratched, blood flowed from a cut in his
forehead when he dragged himself up to the face of the cliff
again. He tried to shout when he saw a figure drag itself up from
among the rocks, but his almost superhuman exertions had left him
voiceless. His wind whistled from between his parted lips when he
came to Pierre.
Pierre was supporting himself against a rock. His face was
streaming with blood. In his hand he held what remained of the
rapier, which had broken off close to the hilt. His eyes were
blazing like a madman's, and his face was twisted with an agony
that sent a thrill of horror through Philip.
"My hurt is nothing--nothing-M'sieur!" he gasped, understanding
the look in Philip's face. "It is Jeanne! They have gone--gone
with Jeanne!" The rapier slipped from his hand and he slid weakly
down against the rock. Philip dropped upon his knees, and with his
handkerchief began wiping the blood from the half-breed's face.
For a few moments Pierre's head hung limp against his shoulder.
"What is it, Pierre?" he urged. "Tell me--quick! They have gone
Pierre's body grew rigid. With one great effort he seemed to
marshal all of his strength, and straightened himself.
"Listen, M'sieur," he said, speaking calmly. "They set upon us as
we were going to meet you at the rock. There were four. One of
them is dead--back there. The others--with Jeanne--have gone in
the canoe. It is death--worse than death--for her--"
His body writhed. In a passion he strove to rise to his feet. Then
with a groan he sank back, and for a moment Philip thought he was
"I will go, Pierre," he cried. "I will bring her back. I swear
Pierre's hand detained him as he went to rise.
"At the next break--there is a canoe. They have gone for the
Pierre's voice was growing weaker. In a spasm of sudden fear at
the dizziness which was turning the night black for him he
clutched at Philip's arm.
"If you save her, M'sieur, do not bring her back," he whispered,
hoarsely. "Take her to Fort o' God. Lose not an hour--not a
minute. Trust no one. Hide yourselves. Fight--kill--but take her
to Fort o' God! You will do this--M'sieur--you promise--"
He fell back limp. Philip lowered him gently, holding his head so
that he could look into the staring eyes that were still open and
"I will go, Pierre," he said. "I will take her to Fort o' God. And
A shadow was creeping over Pierre's eyes. He was still fighting to
understand, fighting to hold for another breath or two the
consciousness that was fast slipping from him.
"Listen," cried Philip, striving to rouse him. "You will not die.
The bullet grazed your head, and the wound has already stopped
bleeding. To-morrow you must go to Churchill and hunt up a man
named Gregson--the man I was with when you and Jeanne came to see
the ship. Tell him that an important thing has happened, and that
he must tell the others I have gone to the camps. He will
understand. Tell him--tell him--"
He struggled to find some final word for Gregson. Pierre still
looked at him, his eyes half closed now.
Philip bent close down.
"Tell him," he said, "that I am on the trail of Lord Fitzhugh!"
Scarcely had he uttered the name when Pierre's closing eyes shot
open. A groaning cry burst from his lips, and, as if that name had
aroused the last spark of life and strength within him into
action, he wrenched himself from Philip's arms, striving to speak.
A trickle of fresh blood ran over his face. Incoherent sounds
rattled in his throat, and then, overcome by his effort, he
dropped back unconscious. Philip wound his handkerchief about the
wounded man's head and straightened out his limbs. Then he rose to
his feet and reloaded his revolver. His hands were steady now. His
brain was clear; the enervating thrill of excitement had gone from
his body. Only his heart beat like a racing engine.
He turned and ran in the direction which Pierre's assailants had
taken, his head lowered, his revolver held in front of him, on a
level with his breast. He had not gone a hundred yards when
something stopped him. In his path, with its face turned straight
up to the moonlit sky, lay the body of a man. For an instant
Philip bent over it. The broken blade of Pierre's rapier glistened
under the man's throat. One lifeless hand clutched at it, as
though in the last moment of life he had tried to draw it forth.
The face was distorted, the eyes were still open, the lips parted.
Death had come with terrible suddenness.
Philip bent lower, and stared into the face of the dead man. Where
had he seen that face before?
Suddenly he remembered. He drew back, and a cold sweat seemed to
break out all at once over his face and body. This man who lay
with the broken blade of Pierre Couchee's rapier in his breast had
come ashore from the London ship that day in company with Eileen
and her father!
For a space he was overwhelmed by the discovery. Everything that
had happened--the scene upon the rock when he first met Jeanne,
the arrival of the ship, the moment's tableau on the pier when
Jeanne and Eileen stood face to face--rushed upon him now as he
gazed down into the staring eyes at his feet. What did it all
mean? Why had Lord Fitzhugh's name been sufficient to drag the
half-breed back from the brink of unconsciousness? What
significance was there in this strange combination of
circumstances that persisted in drawing Pierre and Jeanne into the
plot that threatened himself? Had there been truth, after all, in
those last words that he impressed upon the fainting senses of
Pierre Couchee's message to Gregson?
He waited to answer none of the questions that leaped through his
brain. To-morrow some one would find Pierre, or Pierre would crawl
down into Churchill. And then there would be the dead man to
account for. He shuddered as he returned his revolver into his
holster and braced his limbs. It was an unpleasant task, but he
knew that it must be done--to save Pierre. He lifted the body
clear of the rocks, and bending under its weight carried it to the
edge of the cliff. Far below sounded the wash of the sea. He
shoved his burden over the edge, and listened. After a moment
there came a dull splash.
Then he hastened on, as Pierre had guided him.
Soon Philip slackened his pace, and looked anxiously ahead of him.
From where he stood the cliff sloped down to a white strip of
beach that reached out into the night as far as he could see,
hemmed close in by the black gloom of the forest. Half-way down
the slope the moonlight was cut by a dark streak, and he found
this to be the second break. He had no difficulty in descending.
Its sides were smooth, as though worn by water. At the bottom
white, dry sand slipped under his feet. He made his way between
the walls, and darkness shut him in. The trail grew rougher. Near
the shore he stumbled blindly among huge rocks and piles of
crumbling slate, wondering why Jeanne and Pierre had come this way
when they might have taken a smoother road. Close to the stony
beach, where the light was a little better, he made out the canoe
which Pierre had drawn into the shadows.
Not until he had dragged it into the moonlight at the edge of the
water did he see that it was equipped as if for a long journey.
Close to the stern was a bulging pack, with a rifle strapped
across it. Two or three smaller caribou-skin bags lay in the
center of the canoe. In the bow was a thick nest of bearskin, and
he knew that this was for Jeanne.
Cautiously Philip launched himself, and with silent sweeps of the
paddle that made scarcely the sound of a ripple in the water set
out in the direction of Churchill. Jeanne's captors had a
considerable start of him, but he felt confident of his ability to
overtake them shortly if Pierre had spoken with truth when he said
that they would head for the Churchill River. He had observed the
caution with which Pierre's assailants had approached the cliff,
and he was sure that they would double that caution in their
return, especially as their attack had been interrupted at the
last moment. For this reason he paddled without great haste,
keeping well within the concealment of the precipitous shore, with
his ears and eyes keenly alive to discover a sign of those who
were ahead of him.
Opposite the rock where Pierre and Jeanne were to have met him he
stopped and stood up in the canoe. The wind had dispelled the
smoke shadow. Between him and the distant ship lay an unclouded
sea. Two-thirds of the distance to the vessel he made out the
larger canoe, rising and falling with the smooth undulations of
the tide. He sank upon his knees again and unstrapped Pierre's
rifle. There was a cartridge in the chamber. He made sure that the
magazine was loaded, and resumed his paddling.
His mind worked rapidly. Within half an hour, if he desired, he
could overtake the other canoe. And what then? There were three to
one, if it came to a fight--and how could he rescue Jeanne without
a fight? His blood was pounding eagerly, almost with pleasure at
the promise of what was ahead of him, and he laughed softly to
himself as he thought of the odds.
The ship loomed nearer; the canoe vanished behind it. A brief
stop, a dozen words of explanation, and Philip knew that he could
secure assistance from the vessel. After all, would that not be
the wisest course for him to pursue? For a moment he hesitated,
and paddled more slowly. If others joined with him in the rescue
of Jeanne what excuse could he offer for not bringing her back to
Churchill? What would happen if he returned with her? Why had
Pierre roused himself from something that was almost death to
entreat him to take Jeanne to Fort o' God?
At the thought of Fort o' God a new strength leaped into his arms
and body, urging him on to cope with the situation single-handed.
If he rescued Jeanne alone, and went on with her as he had
promised Pierre, many things that were puzzling him would be
explained. It occurred to him again that Jeanne and Pierre might
be the key to the mysterious plot that promised to crash out the
life of the enterprise he had founded in the north. He found
reasons for this belief. Why had Lord Fitzhugh's name had such a
startling effect upon Pierre? Why was one of his assailants a man
fresh from the London ship that had borne Eileen Brokaw and her
father as passengers? He felt that Jeanne could explain these
things, as well as her brother. She could explain the strange
scene on the pier, when for a moment she had stood crushed and
startled before Eileen. She could clear up the mystery of
Gregson's sketch, for if there were two Eileen Brokaws, Jeanne
would know. With these arguments he convinced himself that he
should go on alone. Yet, behind them there was another and more
powerful motive. He confessed to himself that he would willingly
accept double the chances against him to achieve Jeanne's rescue
without assistance and to accompany her to Fort o' God. The
thought of their being together, of the girl's companionship--
perhaps for days--thrilled him with exquisite anticipation. An
hour or so ago he had been satisfied in the assurance that he
would see her for a few minutes on the cliff. Since then fate had
played his way. Jeanne was his own, to save, to defend, to carry
on to Fort o' God.
Not for a moment did he hesitate at the danger ahead of him, and
yet his pursuit was filled with caution. Gregson, the diplomat,
would have seen the necessity of halting at the ship for help;
Philip was confident in himself. He knew that he would have at
least three against him, for he was satisfied that the man whom he
had wounded on the cliff was still in fighting trim. There might
be others whom he had not taken into account.
He passed so close under the stern of the ship that his canoe
scraped against her side. For a few minutes the vessel had
obstructed his view, but now he saw again, a quarter of a mile
distant, the craft which he was pursuing. Jeanne's captors were
heading straight for the river, and as the canoe was now partly
broadside to him he could easily make out the figures in her, but
not distinctly enough to make sure of their number. He shoved out
boldly into the moonlight, and, instead of following in his former
course, he turned at a sharp angle in the direction of the shore.
If the others saw him, which was probable, they would think that
he was making a landing from the ship. Once he was in the deep
fringe of shadow along the shore he could redouble his exertions
and draw nearer to them without being observed.
No sooner had he readied the sheltering gloom than he bent to his
paddle and the light birch-bark fairly hissed through the water.
Not until he found himself abreast of the pursued did it occur to
him that he could beat them out to the mouth of the Churchill and
lie in wait for them. Every stroke of his paddle widened the
distant between him and the larger canoe. Fifteen minutes later he
reached the edge of the huge delta of wild rice and reeds through
which the sluggish volume of the river emptied into the Bay. The
chances were that the approaching canoe would take the nearest
channel into the main stream, and Philip concealed himself so that
it would have to pass within twenty yards of him.
From his ambuscade he looked out upon the approaching canoe. He
was puzzled by the slowness of its progress. At times it seemed to
stand still, and he could distinguish no movement at all among its
occupants. At first he thought they were undecided as to which
course to pursue, but a few minutes more sufficed to show that
this was not the reason for their desultory advance. The canoe was
headed for the first channel. The solution came when a low but
clear whistle signaled over the water. Almost instantly there came
a responsive whistle from up the channel.
Philip drew a quick breath, and a new sensation brought his teeth
together in sudden perplexity. It looked as though he had a bigger
fight before him than he had anticipated.
At the signal from up-stream he heard the quick dip of paddles,
and the canoe cut swiftly toward him. He drew back the hammer of
Pierre's rule, and cleared a little space through the reeds and
grass so that his view into the channel was unobstructed. Three or
four well-directed shots, a quick dash out into the stream, and
he would possess Jeanne. This was his first thought. It was
followed by others, rapid as lightning, that restrained his
eagerness. The night-glow was treacherous to shoot by. What if he
should miss, or hit Jeanne--or in the sudden commotion and
destruction of his shots the canoe should be overturned? A single
error, the slightest mishap to himself, would mean the
annihilation of his hopes. Even if he succeeded in directing his
shots with accuracy, both himself and Jeanne would almost
immediately be under fire from those above.
He dropped back again behind the screen of reeds. The canoe drew
nearer. A moment more and it was almost abreast of him, and his
heart pounded like a swiftly beating hammer when he saw Jeanne in
the stern. She was leaning back as though unconscious. He could
see nothing of her face, but as the canoe passed within ten yards
of his hiding-place he saw the dark glow of her disheveled hair,
which fell thickly over the object against which she was resting.
It was but a moment's view, and they were gone. He had not looked
at the three men in the canoe. His whole being was centered upon
Jeanne. He had seen no sign of life--no movement in her body, not
the flutter of a hand, and all his fears leaped like brands of
burning fire into his brain. He thought of the inhuman plot which
Lord Fitzhugh's letter had revealed; in the same breath Pierre
Couchee's words rang in his ears--"It is death--worse than death
Was Jeanne the first victim of that diabolical scheme to awaken
the wrath of the northland? In the madness which possessed him now
Philip shoved out his canoe while there was still danger of
discovery. Fortunately none of the pursued glanced back, and a
turn in the channel soon hid them from view. Philip had recovered
his self-possession by the time he reached the turn. He assured
himself that Jeanne was unharmed as yet, and that when he saw her
she had probably fainted from excitement and terror. Her fate
still lay before her, somewhere in the deep and undisturbed
forests up the Churchill. His one hope was to remain undiscovered
and to rescue her at the last moment when she was taken ashore by
He followed, close up against the reeds, never trusting himself
out of the shadows. After a little he heard voices, and a second
canoe appeared. There was a short pause, and the two canoes
continued side by side up the channel. A quarter of an hour
brought both the pursuers and the pursued into the main stream,
which lay in black gloom between forest walls that cut out all
light but the shimmer of the stars.
No longer could Philip see those ahead of him, but he guided
himself by occasional voices and the dip of paddles. At times,
when the stream narrowed and the forest walls gave him deeper
shelter, he drew perilously near with the hope of overhearing what
was said, but he caught only an occasional word or two. He
listened in vain for Jeanne's voice. Once he heard her name
spoken, and it was followed by a low laugh from some one in the
canoe that had waited at the mouth of the Churchill. A dozen times
during the first half-hour after they entered the main stream
Philip heard this same laughing voice.
After a time there fell a silence upon those ahead. No sound rose
above the steady dip of paddles, and the speed of the two canoes
increased. Suddenly, from far up the river, there came a voice,
faintly at first, but growing steadily louder, singing one of the
wild half-breed songs of the forest. The voice broke the silence
of those in the canoes. They ceased paddling, and Philip stopped.
He heard low words, and after a few moments the paddling was
resumed, and the canoes turned in toward the shore. Philip
followed their movement, dropping fifty yards farther down the
stream, and thrust big birch-bark alongside a thick balsam that
had fallen into the river.
The singing voice approached rapidly. Five minutes later a long
company canoe floated down out of the gloom. It passed so near
that Philip could see the picturesque figure in the stern paddling
and singing. In the bow kneeled an Indian working in stoic
silence. Between them, in the body of the canoe, sat two men whom
he knew at a glance were white men. The strangers and their craft
slipped by with the quickness of a shadow.
Again Philip heard movements above him, and once more he took up
the pursuit. He wondered why Jeanne had not called for help when
the company canoe passed. If she was not hurt or unconscious, her
captors had been forced to hold a handkerchief or a brutal hand
over her mouth, perhaps at her throat! His blood grew hot with
rage at the thought.
For three-quarters of an hour longer the swift paddling up-stream
continued without interruption. Then the river widened into a
small lake, and Philip was compelled to hold back until the two
canoes, which he could see clearly now, had passed over the
By the time he dared to follow, Jeanne's captors were a quarter of
a mile ahead of him. He no longer heard their paddles when he
entered the stream at the upper end of the lake, and he bent to
his work with greater energy and less caution. Five minutes--ten
minutes passed, and he saw nothing, heard nothing. His strokes
grew more powerful and the canoe shot through the water with the
swift cleavage of a knife. A perspiration began to gather on his
face, and a sudden chilling fear entered him. Another five minutes
and he stopped. The river swept out ahead of him, broad and clear,
for a quarter of a mile. There was no sign of the canoes!
For a few moments he remained motionless, drifting back with the
slow current of the stream, stunned by the thought that he had
allowed Jeanne's captors to escape him. Had they heard him and
dropped in to shore to let him pass? He swung his canoe about and
headed down-stream. In that case he could not miss them, if he
used caution. But if they had turned into some creek hidden in the
gloom--were even now picking their way through a secret channel
that led back from the river--
A groan burst from his lips as he thought of Jeanne. In that half
mile of river he could surely find where the canoes had gone, but
it might be too late. He went down in mid-stream, searching the
shadows of both shores. His heart sank like lead when he came to
the lake. There was but one thing to do now, and he ran his canoe
close along the right-hand shore, looking for an opening. His
progress was slow. A dozen times he entangled himself in masses of
reeds and rice, or thrust himself under over-hanging tree-tops
and vines to investigate the deeper gloom beyond. He had returned
two-thirds of the distance to the straight-water where he had
given up the pursuit when the bow of his canoe ran upon a smooth,
sandy bar that shelved out thirty or forty feet from the shore.
Scarcely had he felt the grate of sand when with a powerful shove
he sent his canoe back, and almost in the same instant Pierre's
rifle leveled menacingly shoreward. Drawn up high and dry on the
sand-bar were the two canoes.
For a space Philip expected that his appearance would be the
signal for some movement ashore; but as he drifted slowly away,
his rifle still leveled, he was filled more and more with the
belief that he had not been discovered. He allowed himself to
drift until he knew that he was hidden in the shadows, and then
quietly worked himself in to shore. Making no sound, he pulled
himself up the bank and crept among the trees toward the bar.
There was no one guarding the canoes. He heard no sound of voice,
no crackling of brush or movement of reeds. For a full minute he
crouched and listened. Then he crept nearer and found where both
reeds and brush were trampled down into a path that led away from
His heart gave a bound of joy, and he darted along the path,
holding his rifle ready for instant use. The trail wound through
the tall grass of a dry swamp meadow and, two hundred yards beyond
the river, plunged into a forest. He had barely entered this when
he saw the glow of a fire. It was only a short distance ahead,
hidden in a deep hollow that completely concealed its existence
from the keenest eyes that might pass along the river. Stealing
cautiously to the crest of the little knoll between him and the
light, Philip found himself within fifty feet of a camp.
A big canvas tent was the first thing to come within his vision.
The fire was built against this face of a rock in front of this,
and over the fire hovered a man dragging out beds of coals with a
forked stick. Almost at the same moment a second man appeared from
the tent, bearing two huge skillets in one hand and a big pot in
the other. At a glance Philip knew that they were preparing to
cook a meal, and that it was for many instead of two. Wildly he
searched the firelit spaces and the shadows for a sign of Jeanne.
He saw nothing. She was not in the camp. The five or six men who
had fled up the river with her were not there. His fingers dug
deep in the earth under him at the discovery, and once more
appalling fears overwhelmed him. Perhaps she had already met her
fate a little deeper in the forest.
He crept over the edge of the knoll and worked himself down
through the low bush on the opposite side, which would bring him
within a dozen feet of the man over the fire. There he would have
them at his mercy, and at the point of his revolver would compel
them to tell him where Jeanne had been taken. The advantage was
all in his favor. It would not be difficult to make them prisoners
and leave them secured while he followed after their companions.
He was intent only upon his plan, and did not take his eyes from
the men over the fire. He came to the end of the bush, and
crouched with head and shoulders exposed, his revolver in his
hand. Suddenly a sound close to the tent startled him. It was a
low cough. The men over the fire made no movement to look behind
them, but Philip turned.
In the shadow of a tree, which had concealed her until now, sat
Jeanne. She was tense and straight. Her white face was turned to
him. Her beautiful eyes glowed like stars. Her lips were parted;
he could see her quick, excited breathing. She saw him! She knew
him! He could see the joy of hope in her face and that she was
crushing back an impulse to cry out to him, even as he was
restraining his own mad desire to shout out his defiance and joy.
And there in the firelight, his face illumined, and oblivious for
the moment of the presence of the two men, Philip straightened
himself and held out his arms with a glad smile to Jeanne.
Hardly had he turned to the men, ready to spring out upon them,
when there came a terrific interruption. There was a sudden crash
in the brush behind him, a menacing snarl, and a huge wolfish
brute launched itself at his throat. The swift instinct of self-
preservation turned the weapon intended for the men over the fire
upon this unexpected assailant. The snarling fangs of the husky
were gleaming in his face and the animal's body was against the
muzzle of his revolver when Philip fired. Though he escaped the
fangs, he could not ward off the impact of the dog's body, and in
another moment he was sprawling upon his back in the light of the
camp. Before Philip could recover himself Jeanne's startled guards
were upon him. Flung back, he still possessed his pistol, and
pulled the trigger blindly. The report was muffled and sickening.
At the same moment a heavy blow fell upon his head, and a furious
weight crushed him back to the ground. He dropped his revolver.
His brain reeled; his muscles relaxed. He felt his assailant's
fingers at his throat, and their menace brought back every ounce
of fighting strength in his body. For a moment he lay still, his
eyes closed, the warm blood flowing over his face. He had worked
this game once before, years ago. He even thought of that time
now, as he lay upon his back. It had worked then, and it worked
now. The choking fingers at his throat loosened; the weight lifted
itself a little from his chest. The lone guard thought that he was
unconscious, and Jeanne, who had staggered to her feet, thought
that he was dead.
It was her cry, terrible, filled with agony and despair, that
urged him into action an instant too soon. His foe was still
partly on his guard, rising with a caution born of more than one
wilderness episode, when with a quick movement Philip closed with
him. Locked in a deadly grip, they rolled upon the ground; and,
with a feeling of despair which had never entered into his soul
before, the terrible truth came to Philip that the old strength
was gone from his arms and that with each added exertion he was
growing weaker. For a moment he saw Jeanne. She stood almost above
them, her hands clutched at her breast. And as he looked, she
suddenly turned and ran to the fire. An instant more and she was
back, a red-hot brand in her hand. Philip saw it flash close to
his eyes, felt the heat of it; and then a scream, animal-like in
its ferocity and pain, burst from the lips of his antagonist. The
man reeled backward, clutching at his thick neck, where Jeanne had
thrust the burning stick. Philip rose to his knees. His fist shot
out like lightning against the other's jaw, and the second guard
fell back in a limp heap.
Even as the blow fell, a loud shout came from close back in the
forest, followed by the crashing of many feet tearing through the
Philip and Jeanne stood face to face in the firelight.
"Quick!" he cried. "We must hurry!"
He bent over to pick up his revolver from the ground. His movement
was followed by a low sob of pain. Jeanne was swaying as though
about to faint. She fell in a crumpled heap before he could reach
"You are hurt!" he exclaimed. "Jeanne! Jeanne!"
He was upon his knees beside her, crying out her name, half
holding her in his arms.
"No, no! I am not hurt--much," she replied, trying to recover
herself. "It is my ankle. I sprained it--on the cliff. Now--"
She became heavier against his arm. Her eyes were limpid with
Rising, Philip caught her in his arms. The crashing of brush was
within pistol-shot distance of them, but in that moment he felt no
fear. Life leaped back into his veins. He wanted to shout back his
defiance as he ran with Jeanne along the path to the river. He
could feel her pulsing against him. His lips were in her hair. Her
heart was beating wildly against his own. One of her arms was
about his shoulder, her hand against his neck. Life, love, the joy
of possession swept through him in burning floods, and it seemed
in these first moments of his contact with Jeanne, in the first
sound of her voice speaking to him, that the passionate language
of his soul must escape through his lips. For this moment he had
risked his life, had taken a hundred chances; he had anticipated,
and yet he had not dreamed beyond a hundredth part of what it
would mean for him. He looked down into the white face of the girl
as he ran. Her beautiful eyes were open to him. Her lips were
parted; her cheek lay against his breast. He did not realize how
close he was holding her until, at last, he stopped where he had
hidden the canoe. Then he felt her beating and throbbing against
him, as he had felt the quivering life of a frightened bird
imprisoned in his hands. She drew a deep breath when he opened his
arms, and lifted her head. Her loose hair swept over his breast
He spoke no word as he placed her in the canoe. Not a whisper
passed between them as the canoe sped swiftly from the shore. A
hundred yards down the stream Philip headed straight across the
river and plunged into the shadows along the opposite bank.
Jeanne was close to him. He could hear her breathing. Suddenly he
felt the touch of her hand.
"M'sieur, I must ask--about Pierre!"
There was the thrill of fear in the low words. She leaned back,
her face a pale shadow in the deep gloom; and Philip bent over
until he felt her breath, and the sweetness of her hair filled his
nostrils. Quickly he whispered what had happened. He told her that
Pierre was hurt, but not badly, and that he had promised to take
her on to Fort o' God.
"It is up the Churchill?" he questioned.
"Yes," she whispered.
They heard voices now, and almost opposite them they saw shadowy
figures running out to the canoes upon the sand-bar.
"They will think that we are escaping toward Churchill," said
Philip, gloatingly. "It is the nearest refuge. See--"
One of the canoes was launched, and shot swiftly down the river. A
moment later the second followed. The dip of paddles died away,
and Philip laughed softly and joyously.
"They will hunt for us from now until morning between here and the
Bay. And then they will look for you again in Churchill."
Philip was conscious, almost without seeing, that Jeanne had bowed
her head in her arms and that she was giving way now to the
terrific strain which she had been under. Not until he heard a low
sob, which she strove hard to choke back in her throat, did he
dare to lean over again and touch her. Whatever was throbbing in
his heart, he knew that he must hide it now.
"You read the letter?" he asked, softly.
"Then you know--that you are safe with me!"
There was pride and strength, the ring of triumph in his voice. It
was the voice of a man thrilled by his own strength, by the warmth
of a great love, by the knowledge that he was the protector of a
creature dearer to him than all else on earth. The truth of it set
Jeanne quivering. She reached out until in the darkness her two
hands found one of Philip's, and for a moment she held his paddle
motionless in midair.
"Thank you, M'sieur," she whispered. "I trust you, as I would
All the words that women had ever spoken to him were as nothing to
those few that fell softly from Jeanne's lips; in the clinging
pressure of her fingers as she uttered them were the concentrated
joys of all that he had dreamed of in the touch of women. He knelt
silent, motionless, until her hands left his own.
"I am to take you to Fort o' God," he said, fighting to keep the
tremble of joy out of his voice. "And you--you must guide me."
"It is far up the Churchill," she replied, understanding the
question he intended. "It is two hundred miles from the Bay."
He put his strength into his paddle for ten minutes, and then ran
the canoe into shore fully half a mile above the sand-bar. He
stepped out into water up to his knees.
"We must risk a little time here to attend to your injured ankle,"
he explained. "Then you can arrange yourself comfortably among
these robes in the bow. Shall I carry you?"
"You can--help," said Jeanne. She gave him her hand and made an
effort to rise. Instantly she sank back with a sob of pain.
It was strange that her pain should fill him with a wonderful joy.
He knew that she was suffering, that she could not walk or stand
alone. And yet, back at the camp, she had risen in her torture and
had come to his rescue. She could not bear her own weight now, but
then she had run to him and had fought for him. The knowledge that
she had done this, and for him, filled him with an exquisite
"I must carry you," he said, speaking to her with the calm
decision that he might have voiced to a little child. His tone
reassured her, and she made no remonstrance when he lifted her in
his arms. For a brief moment she lay against him again, and when
he lowered her upon the bank his hand accidentally touched the
soft warmth of her face.
"My specialty is sprains," he said, speaking a little lightly to
raise her spirits for the instant's ordeal through which she must
pass. "I have doctored half a dozen during the last three months.
You must take off your moccasin and your stocking, and I will make
He drew a big handkerchief from his pocket and dipped it in the
water. Then he searched along the shore for a dozen paces, until
he found an Indian willow. With his knife he scraped off a handful
of bark, soaked it in water, crushed it between his hands, and
returned to her. Jeanne's little foot lay naked in the starlight.
"It will hurt just a moment," he said, gently. "But it is the only
cure. To-morrow it will be strong enough for you to stand upon.
Can you bear a little hurt?"
He knelt before her and looked up, scarce daring to touch her foot
before she spoke.
"I may cry," she said.
Her voice fluttered, but it gave him permission. He folded the wet
handkerchief in the form of a bandage, with the willow bark spread
over it. Then, very gently, he seized her foot in one hand and her
ankle in the other.
"It will hurt just a little," he soothed. "Only a moment."
His fingers tightened. He put into them the whole strength of his
grip, pulling downward on the foot and upward on the ankle until,
with a low cry, Jeanne flung her hands over his.
"There, it is done," he laughed, nervously. He wrapped the bandage
around so tightly that Jeanne could not move her foot, and tied it
with strips of cloth. Then he turned to the canoe while she drew
on her stocking and moccasin.
He was trembling. A maddening joy pounded in his brain. Jeanne's
voice came to him sweetly, with a shyness in it that made him feel
like a boy. He was glad that the night concealed his face. He
would have given worlds to have seen Jeanne's.
"I am ready," she said.
He carried her to the bow of the canoe and fixed her among the
robes, arranging a place for her head so that she might sleep if
she wished. For the first time the light was so that he could see
her plainly as she nestled back in the place made for her. Their
eyes met for a moment.
"You must sleep," he urged. "I shall paddle all night."
"You are sure that Pierre is not badly hurt?" she asked,
tremulously. "You--you would not--keep the truth from me?"
"He was not more than stunned," assured Philip. "It is impossible
that his wound should prove serious. Only there was no time to
lose, and I came without him. He will follow us soon."
He took his position in the stern, and Jeanne lay back among the
bearskins. For a long time after that Philip paddled in silence.
He had hoped that Jeanne would give him an opportunity to continue
their conversation, in spite of his advice to her to secure what
rest she could. But there came no promise from the bow of the
canoe. After half an hour he guessed that Jeanne had taken him at
his word, and was asleep.
It was disappointing, and yet there came a pleasurable throb with
his disappointment. Jeanne trusted him. She was sleeping under his
protection as sweetly as a child. Fear of her enemies no longer
kept her awake or filled her with terror. This night, under these
stars, with the wilderness all about them, she had given herself
into his keeping. His cheeks burned. He dipped his paddle
noiselessly, so that he might not interrupt her slumber. Each
moment added to the fullness of his joy, and he wished that he
might only see her face, hidden in the darkness of her hair and
The silence no longer seemed a silence to him. It was filled with
the beating of his heart, the singing of his love, a gentle sigh
now and then that came like a deeper breath between Jeanne's sweet
lips. It was a silence that pulsated with a voiceless and
intoxicating life for him, and he was happy. In these moments,
when even their voices were stilled, Jeanne belonged to him, and
to him alone. He could feel the warmth of her presence. He felt
still the thrill of her breast against his own, the touch of her
hair upon his lips, the gentle clinging of her arms. The spirit of
her moved, and sat awake, and talked with him, just as the old
spirit of his dreams had communed with him a thousand times in his
loneliness. Dreams were at an end. Now had come reality.
He looked up into the sky. The moon had dropped below the
southwestern forests, and there were only the stars above him,
filling a gray-blue vault in which there was not even the
lingering mist of a cloud. It was a beautifully clear night, and
he wondered how the light fell so that it did not reveal Jeanne in
her nest. The thought that came to him then set his heart tingling
and made his face radiant. Even the stars were guarding Jeanne,
and refused to disclose the mystery of her slumber. He laughed
within himself. His being throbbed, and suddenly a voice seemed to
cry softly, trembling in its joy:
"Jeanne! Jeanne! My beloved Jeanne!"
With horror Philip caught himself too late. He had spoken the
words aloud. For an instant reality had transformed itself into
the old dream, and his dream-spirit had called to its mate for the
first time in words. Appalled at what he had said, Philip bent
over and listened. He heard Jeanne's breathing. It was deeper than
before. She was surely asleep!
He straightened himself and resumed his paddling. He was glad now
that he had spoken. Jeanne seemed nearer to him after those words.
Before this night he never realized how beautiful the wilderness
was, how complete it could be. It had offered him visions of new
life, but these visions had never quite shut out the memories of
old pain. He watched and listened. The water rippled behind his
canoe; it trickled in a soothing cadence after each dip of his
paddle; he heard the gentle murmur of it among the reeds and
grasses, and now and then the gurgling laughter of it, like the
faintest tinkling of dainty bells. He had never understood it
before; he had never joined in its happiness. The night sounds
came to him with a different meaning, filled him with different
sensations. As he slipped quietly around a bend in the river he
heard a splashing ahead of him, and knew that a moose was feeding,
belly-deep, in the water. At other times the sound would have set
his fingers itching for a rifle, but now it was a part of the
music of the night. Later he heard the crashing of a heavy body
along the shore and in the distance the lonely howl of a wolf. He
listened to the sounds with a quiet pleasure instead of creeping
thrills which they once sent through him. Every sound spoke of
Jeanne--of Jeanne and her world, into which each stroke of his
paddle carried them a little deeper.
And yet the truth could not but come to him that Jeanne was but a
stranger. She was a creature of mystery, as she lay there asleep
in the bow of the canoe; he loved her, and yet he did not know
her. He confessed to himself, as the night lengthened, that he
would be glad when morning came. Jeanne would clear up a half of
his perplexities then, perhaps all of them. He would at least
learn more about herself and the reason for the attack at Fort
He paddled for another hour, and then looked at his watch by the
light of a match. It was three o'clock.
Jeanne had not moved, but as the match burned out between his
fingers she startled him by speaking.
"Is it nearly morning, M'sieur?"
"An hour until dawn," said Philip. "You have been sleeping a long
time--" Her name was on his lips, but he found it a little more
difficult to speak now. And yet there was a gentleness in Jeanne's
"M'SIEUR" which encouraged him. "Are you getting hungry?" he
"Pierre and my father always ask me that when THEY are starving,"
replied Jeanne, sitting erect in her nest so that Philip saw her
face and the shimmer of her hair. "There is everything to eat in
the pack, M'sieur Philip, even to a bottle of olives."
"Good!" cried Philip, delighted, "But won't you please cut out
that 'm'sieur?' My greatest weakness is a desire to be called by
my first name. Will you?"
"If it pleases you," said Jeanne. "There is everything there to
eat, and I will make you a cup of coffee, M'sieur--"
There was a ripple of laughter in the girl's voice. Philip fairly
"You were prepared for this journey," he said. "You were going to
leave after you saw me on the rock. I have been wondering why--why
you took enough interest in me--"
He knew that he was blundering, and in the darkness his face
turned red. Jeanne's tact was delightful.
"We were curious about you," she said, with bewitching candor.
"Pierre is the most inquisitive creature in the world, and I
wanted to thank you for returning my handkerchief. I'm sorry you
didn't find a bit of lace which I lost at the same time!"
"I did!" exclaimed Philip.
He bit his tongue, and cursed himself at this fresh break. Jeanne
was silent. After a moment she said:
"Shall I make you some coffee?"
"Will you be able to do it? Your foot--"
"I had forgotten that," she said. "It doesn't hurt any more. But I
can show you how."
Her unaffected ingenuousness, the sweetness of her voice, the
simplicity and ease of her manner delighted Philip, and at the
same time filled him with amazement. He had never met a forest
girl like Jeanne. Her beauty, her queen-like bearing, when she had
stood with Pierre on the rock, had puzzled him and filled him with
admiration. But now her voice, the music of her words, her
quickness of perception added tenfold to those impressions. It
might have been Miss Brokaw who was sitting there in the bow
talking to him, only Jeanne's voice was sweeter than Miss
Brokaw's; and even in the lightest of the words she had spoken
there was a tone of sincerity and truth. It flashed upon Philip
that Jeanne might have stepped from a convent school, where gentle
voices had taught her and language was formed in the ripe fullness
of music. In a moment he believed that something like this had
"We will go ashore," he said, searching for an open space. "This
must be tedious to you, if you are not accustomed to it."
"Accustomed to it, M'sieur--Philip!" exclaimed Jeanne, catching
herself. "I was born here!"
"In the wilderness?"
"At Fort o' God."
"You have not always lived there?"
For a brief space Jeanne was silent.
"Yes, always, M'sieur. I am eighteen years old, and this is the
first time that I have ever seen what you people call
civilization. It is my first visit to Fort Churchill. It is the
first time I have ever been away from Fort o' God."
Jeanne's voice was low and subdued. It rang with truth. In it
there was something that was almost tragedy. For a breath or two
Philip's heart seemed to stop its beating, and he leaned far over,
looking straight and questioningly into the beautiful face that
met his own. In that moment the world had opened and engulfed him
in a wonder which at first his mind could not comprehend.
The canoe ran among the reeds, with its bow to the shore. Philip's
astonishment still held him motionless.
"A little while ago you asked me if I would tell you anything but
--but--the truth," he stammered, trying to find words to express
himself, "and this--"
"Is the truth," interrupted Jeanne, a little coolly. "Why should I
tell you an untruth, M'sieur?"
Philip had asked himself that same question shortly after their
first meeting on the cliff. And now in the girl's question there
was sounded a warning for him to be more discreet.
"I did not mean that," he cried, quickly. "Please forgive me.
Only--it is so wonderful, so almost IMPOSSIBLE to believe. Do you
know what I thought of for three-quarters of the night after I
left you and Pierre on the rock? It was of years--centuries ago. I
put you and Pierre back there. It seemed as though you had come to
me from out of another world, that you had strayed from the
chivalry and beauty of some royal court, that a queen's painter
might have known and made a picture of you, as I saw you there,
but that to me you were only the vision of a dream. And now you
say that you have always lived here!"
He saw Jeanne's eyes glowing. She had lifted herself from among
the bearskins and was leaning toward him. Her face was quivering
with emotion; her whole being seemed concentrated on his words.
"M'sieur--Philip--did we seem--like that?" she asked, tremulously.
"Yes, or I would not have written the letter," replied Philip. He
leaned forward over the pack, and his face was close to Jeanne's.
"I had just passed over the place where men and women of a century
or two ago were buried, and when I saw you and Pierre I thought of
them; of Mademoiselle D'Arcon, who left a prince to follow her
lover to a grave back there at Churchill, and I wondered if
"Grosellier!" cried the girl.
She was breathing quickly, excitedly. Suddenly she drew back with
a little, nervous laugh.
"I am glad you thought of us like THAT," she added. "It was
Grosellier, le grand chevalier, who first lived at Fort o' God!"
Philip could no longer restrain himself. He forgot that the canoe
was lying motionless among the reeds and that they were to go
ashore. In a voice that trembled with his eagerness to be
understood, to win her confidence, he told her fully of what had
happened that night on the cliff. He repeated Pierre's
instructions to him, described his terrible fear for her, and in
it all withheld but one thing--the name of Lord Fitzhugh Lee.
Jeanne listened to him without a word. She sat as erect as one of
the slender reeds among which the canoe was hidden. Her dark eyes
never left his face. They seemed to have grown darker when he
"May the great God reward you for what you have done," she said,
in a low voice, quivering with a suppressed passion. "You are
brave, M'sieur Philip--as brave as I have dreamed of men being."
Philip's heart throbbed with delight, and yet he said quickly:
"It isn't THAT. I have done nothing--nothing more than Pierre
would have done for me. But don't you understand? If there is to
be a reward for the little I have given--I could ask for nothing
greater than your confidence and Pierre's. There are reasons, and
perhaps if I told you those you would understand."
"I do understand, without further explanation," answered Jeanne,
in the same low, strained voice. "You fought for Pierre on the
cliff, and you have saved--me. We owe you everything, even our
lives. I understand, M'sieur Philip," she said, more softly,
leaning still nearer to him; "but I can tell you nothing."
"You prefer to leave that to Pierre," he said a little hurt. "I
beg your pardon."
"No, no! I don't mean that!" she cried, quickly. "You
misunderstand me. I mean that you know as much of this whole
affair as I do, that you know what I know, and perhaps more."
The emotion which she had suppressed burst forth now in a choking
sob. She recovered herself in an instant, her eyes still upon
"It was only a whim of mine that took us to Churchill," she went
on, before he could find words to say. "It is Pierre's secret why
we lived in our own camp and went down into Churchill but once--
when the ship came in. I do not know the reason for the attack. I
can only guess--"
"And your guess--"
Jeanne drew back. For a moment she did not speak. Then she said,
without a note of harshness in her voice, but with the finality of
"Father may tell you that when we reach Fort o' God!"
And then she suddenly leaned toward him again and held out both
"If you only could know how I thank you!" she exclaimed,
For a moment Philip held her hands. He felt them trembling. In
Jeanne's eyes he saw the glisten of tears.
"Circumstances have come about so strangely," he said, his heart
palpitating at the warm pressure of her fingers, "that I half
believed you and Pierre could help me in--in an affair of my own.
I would give a great deal to find a certain person, and after the
attack on the cliff, and what Pierre said, I thought--"
He hesitated, and Jeanne gently drew her hands from him.
"I thought that you might know him," he finished. "His name is
Lord Fitzhugh Lee."
Jeanne gave no sign that she had heard the name before. The
question in her eyes remained unchanged.
"We have never heard of him at Fort o' God," she said.
Philip shoved the canoe more firmly upon the shore and stepped
over the side.
"This Fort o' God must be a wonderful place," he said, as he bent
over to help her. "You have aroused something in me I never
thought I possessed before--a tremendous curiosity."
"It is a wonderful place, M'sieur Philip," replied the girl,
holding up her hands to him. "But why should you guess it?"
"Because of you," laughed Philip. "I am half convinced that you
take a wicked delight in bewildering me."
He found Jeanne a comfortable spot on the bank, brought her one of
the bearskins, and began collecting a pile of dry reeds and wood.
"I am sure of it," he went on. He struck a match, and the reeds
flared into flame, lighting up his face,
Jeanne gave a startled cry.
"You are hurt!" she exclaimed. "Your face is red with blood."
Philip jumped back.
"I had forgotten that. I'll wash my face."
He waded into the edge of the water and began scrubbing himself.
When he returned, Jeanne looked at him closely. The fire illumined
her pale face. She had gathered her beautiful hair in a thick
braid, which fell over her shoulder. She appeared lovelier to him
now than when he had first seen her in the night-glow on the
cliff. She was dressed the same. He observed that the filmy bit of
lace about her slender throat was torn, and that one side of her
short buckskin skirt was covered with half-dried splashes of mud.
His blood rose at these signs of the rough treatment of those who
had attacked her. It reached fever-heat when, coming nearer, he
saw a livid bruise on her forehead close up under her hair.
"They struck you?" he demanded.
He stood with his hands clenched. She smiled up at him.
"It was my fault," she explained. "I'm afraid I gave them a good
deal of trouble on the cliff."
She laughed outright at the fierceness in Philip's face, and so
sweet was the sound of it to him that his hands relaxed and he
laughed with her.
"So help me, you're a brick!" he cried.
"There are pots and kettles and coffee and things to eat in the
pack, M'sieur Philip," reminded Jeanne, softly, as he still
remained staring down upon her.
Philip turned to the canoe, with a laugh that was like a boy's. He
threw the pack at Jeanne's feet and unstrapped it. Together they
sorted out the things they wanted, and Philip cut crotched sticks
on which he suspended two pots of water over the fire. He found
himself whistling as he gathered an armful of wood along the
shore. When he came back Jeanne had opened a bottle of olives and
was nibbling at one, while she held out another to him on the end
of a fork.
"I love olives," she said. "Won't you have one?"
He accepted the thing, and ate it joyously, though he hated
"Where did you acquire the taste?" he asked. "I thought it took a
course at college to make one like 'em."
"I've been to college," answered Jeanne, quietly. There was a glow
in her cheeks now, a swift flash of tantalizing fun in her eyes,
as she fished after another olive. "I have been a student--a
TENERIS ANNIS," she added, and he stood stupefied.
"That's Latin!" he gasped.
"Oui, M'sieur. Wollen Sie noch eine Olive haben?"
Laughter rippled in her throat. She held out another olive to him,
her face aglow. Firelight danced in her hair, flooding its darker
shadows with lights of red and gold.
"I was sure of it," he exclaimed, convinced. "That's post-graduate
Latin and senior German, or I'm as mad as a March hare! Where--
where did you go to school?"
"At Fort o' God. Quick, M'sieur Philip, the water is boiling
Philip sprang to the fire. Jeanne handed him coffee, and set out
cold meat and bread. For the first time that night he pulled out
his pipe and filled it with tobacco.
"You don't mind if I smoke, do you, Miss Jeanne?" he groaned.
"Under some circumstances tobacco is the only thing that will hold
me up. Do you know that you are shaking my confidence in you?"
"I have told you nothing but the truth," retorted Jeanne,
innocently. She was still busying herself over the pack, but
Philip caught the slightest gleam of her laughing teeth.
"You are making fun of me," he remonstrated. "Tell me--where is
this Fort o' God, and what is it?"
"It is far up the Churchill, M'sieur Philip. It is a log chateau,
built hundreds and hundreds of years ago, I guess. My father,
Pierre, and I, with one other, live there alone among the savages.
I have never been so far away from home before."
"I suppose," said Philip, "that the savages up your way converse
in Latin, Greek, and German--"
"Latin, FRENCH, and German," corrected Jeanne. "We haven't added a
Greek course yet."
"I know of a girl," mused Philip, as though speaking to himself,
"who spent five years in a girls' college, and she can talk
nothing but light English. Her name is Eileen Brokaw."
Jeanne looked up, but only to point to the coffee.
"It is done," she advised, "unless you like it bitter."
Philip knew that Jeanne was watching him as he lifted the coffee
from the fire and placed the pot on the ground to cool. His mind
was in a hopeless tangle--a riot of things he would like to say,
throbbing with a hundred questions he would like to ask, one after
another. And yet Jeanne seemed bewitchingly unconscious of his
uneasiness. Not one of his references to names and events so vital
to himself had in any way produced a change in her. Was she, after
all, innocent of all knowledge in the things he wished to know?
Was it possible that she was entirely ignorant as to the identity
of the men who had attacked Pierre and herself on the cliff? Was
it true that she did not know Eileen Brokaw, that she had never
heard of Lord Fitzhugh Lee, and that she had always lived among
the wild people of the north? By what miracle performed here in
the heart of a savage world could this girl talk to him in German
and Latin? Was she making fun of him? He turned to look at her and
found her dark, clear eyes upon him. She smiled at him in a tired
little way, and he saw nothing but sweetness and truth in her
face. In an instant every suspicion was swept away. He felt like a
criminal for having doubted her; and for a moment he was on the
point of confessing to her what had been in his thoughts. He
restrained himself, and went to the river to wash the pot-black
from his hands. Jeanne was a mystery to him, a mystery that
delighted him and filled him each moment with a deeper love. He
saw the life and freedom of the forests in her every movement--in
the gesture of her hands, the bird-like poise of her pretty head,
the lithe grace of her slender body. She breathed the forests. It
glowed in her eyes, in the rich red of her lips, and revealed its
beauty and strength in the unconfined wealth of her gold-brown
hair. In a dozen ways he could see her primitiveness, her kinship
to the wilderness. She had told him the truth. Her eyes smiled
truth at him as he came up the bank. No other woman's eyes had
ever looked at him like hers; none had he seen so beautiful. And
yet in them he saw nothing that she would not have expressed in
words--companionship, trust, thankfulness that he was there to
care for her. Such eyes as those belonged only to the wilderness,
brimming with the flawless beauty of an undefiled nature. He had
seen them, but not so beautiful, in Cree women. He thought of
Eileen Brokaw's eyes as he looked at Jeanne's. They were very
beautiful, but they were DIFFERENT. Jeanne's could not lie.
On a white napkin Jeanne had spread out cold meat, bread, pickles,
and cheese, and Philip brought her the coffee. He noticed that she
was resting a little of her weight upon her injured ankle.
"Better?" he asked, indicating the bandaged ankle with a nod of
"Much," replied Jeanne, as tersely. "I'm going to try standing
upon it in a few minutes. But not now. I'm starved."
She gave him his coffee and began eating with a relish that made
him want to sit back and watch her. Instead, he joined her; and
they ate like two hungry children. It was when she turned him out
a second cup of coffee that Philip noticed her hand tremble a
"If Pierre was here we would be quite happy, M'sieur Philip," she
said, uneasily. "I can't understand why he asked you to run away
with me to Fort o' God. If he is not badly hurt, as you have told
me, why do we not hide and wait for him? He would overtake us
"There--there was no time to talk over plans," answered Philip,
inwardly embarrassed for a moment by the unexpectedness of
Jeanne's question. A vision of Pierre, bleeding and unconscious on
the cliff, leaped into his mind, and the thought that he had lied