Part 3 out of 5
to Jeanne and must still make her believe what was half false
sickened him. There was, after all, a chance that Pierre would
never again come up the Churchill. "Perhaps Pierre thought we
would be hotly pursued," he went on, seeing no escape from the
demand in the girl's eyes. "In that event it would be best for me
to get you to Fort o' God as quickly as possible. You must
remember that Pierre was thinking of you. He can care for himself.
It may take him two or three days to get back the strength of--of
his arm," he finished, blindly.
"He was wounded in the arm?"
"And on the head," said Philip. "It was only a scalp wound,
however--nothing at all, except that it dazed him a little at the
Jeanne pointed to the reflection of the fire on the river.
"If we should be pursued?" she suggested.
"There is no danger," assured Philip, though he had left the flap
of his revolver holster unbuttoned. "They will search for us
between their camp and Churchill."
"Citius venit periculum cum contemnitur," remonstrated Jeanne,
She was pale, but Philip saw that she was making a tremendous
effort to appear brave and cheerful.
"Perhaps you are right," laughed Philip, "but I swear that I don't
know what you mean. I suppose you picked that lingo up among the
He caught the faintest gleam of Jeanne's white teeth again as she
bent her head.
"I have a tutor at home," she explained, softly. "You shall meet
him when we reach Fort o' God. He is the most wonderful man in the
Her words sent a strange chill through Philip. They were filled
with an exquisite tenderness, a pride that sent her eyes back to
his, glowing. The questions that he had meant to ask died and
faded away. He thought of her words of a few minutes before, when
he had asked about Fort o' God. She had said, "My father, Pierre,
and I, WITH ONE OTHER, live there alone." The OTHER was the tutor,
the man who had come from civilization to teach this beautiful
girl those things which had amazed him, and this man was THE MOST
WONDERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD. He had no excuse for the feelings
which were aroused in him. Only he knew, as he rose to his feet,
that a part of his old burden seemed suddenly to have returned to
his shoulders, and the old loneliness was beating at the door of
his heart. He rearranged the pack in silence, and the strength and
joy of life were gone from his arms when he helped Jeanne back to
her place among the bear-skins. He did not notice that her eyes
were watching him curiously, or that her lips trembled once or
twice, as if about to speak words which never came. Jeanne, as
well as he, seemed to have discovered something which neither
dared to reveal in that last five minutes on the shore.
"There is one thing that I must know," said Philip, when they were
about to start, "and that is where to find Fort o' God? Is it on
"It is on the Little Churchill, M'sieur, near Waskiaowaka Lake."
Darkness concealed the effect of her words upon Philip. For a
moment he stared like one struck dumb. He stifled the exclamation
that rose to his lips. He felt himself trembling. He knew that if
he spoke his voice would betray him.
NEAR WASKIAOWAKA LAKE! And Waskiaowaka was within thirty miles of
his own camp on the Blind Indian! If a bomb had burst under his
feet he could not have been more amazed than at this information,
given to him in Jeanne's quiet voice. Fort o' God--within thirty
miles of the scene where very soon he was to fight the great
battle of his life! He dug his paddle into the water and sent the
canoe hissing up the river. His blood pounded like that of a
racehorse on the home-stretch. Of all the things that had
happened, of all he had learned, this was the most significant.
Every thought ran like a separate powder-flash to a single idea,
to one great, overpowering question. Were Fort o' God and its
people the key to the plot against himself and his company? Was it
the rendezvous of those who were striving to work his ruin? Doubt,
suspicion, almost belief came to him in those few moments, in
spite of himself.
He looked at Jeanne. The gray dawn was breaking, and now light
followed swiftly and dissolved the last mist. In the chill of
early morning, when with the approach of the sun a cold,
uncomfortable sweat rises heavily from the earth and water, Jeanne
had drawn one of the bearskins closely about her. Her head was
bare. Her hair, glistening with damp, clung in heavy masses about
her face. There was a bewitching childishness about her, a
pathetic appeal to him in the forlorn little picture she made--so
helpless, and yet so confident in him. Every energy in him leaped
up in defiance of the revolution which for a few moments had
stirred within him. And Jeanne, as though she had read the working
of his mind, looked straight at him and smiled, with a little
purring note in her throat that took the place of a thousand
words. It was such a smile, and yet not one of love, which puts
the strength of ten men in one man's arms; and Philip laughed back
at her, every chord in his body responding in joyous vibration to
the delicate note that had come with it. No matter what events
might find their birth at Fort o' God, Jeanne was innocent of all
knowledge of plot or wrong-doing. Once for all Philip convinced
himself of this.
The thought that came to him, as he looked at Jeanne, found voice
through his lips.
"Do you know," he said, "if I never saw you again I would always
have three pictures of you in my memory. I would never forget how
you looked when I first saw you on the cliff--or as I see you now,
wrapped in your bearskins. Only--I would think of you--as you
"And the third picture?" questioned Jeanne, little guessing what
was in his mind. "Would that be at the fire, when I burned the bad
man's neck--or--or when--"
She stopped herself, and pouted her mouth in sudden vexation,
while a flush which Philip could easily see rose in her cheeks.
"When I doctored your foot?" he finished, rather unchivalrously,
chuckling in his delight at her pretty discomfiture. "No, that
wouldn't be the third, Miss Jeanne. The other scene which I shall
never forget was that on the stone pier at Churchill, when you met
a beautiful girl who was coming off the ship."
The blood leaped to Jeanne's face. Her soft lips tightened. A
sudden movement, and the bearskin slipped from her shoulders,
leaving her leaning a little forward, her eyes blazing. A dozen
words had transformed her from the child he had fancied her to a
woman quivering with some powerful emotion, her beautiful head
proud and erect, her nostrils dilating with the quickness of her
"That was a mistake," she said. There was no sign of passion in
her voice. It trembled a little, but that was all. "It was a
mistake, M'sieur Philip. I thought that I knew her, and--and I
was wrong. You--you must not remember THAT!"
"I am no better than a wild beast," groaned Philip, hating
himself. "I'm the biggest idiot in the world when it comes to
saying the wrong thing, I never miss a chance. I didn't mean to
say anything--that would hurt--"
"You haven't," interrupted the girl, quickly, seeing the distress
in his face. "You haven't said a thing that's wrong. Only I don't
want you to remember THAT picture. I want you to think of me as--
as--I burned the bad man's neck."
She was laughing now, though her breast was rising and falling a
little excitedly and the deep color was still in her cheeks.
"Will you?" she entreated.
"Until I die," he exclaimed.
She was fumbling under the luggage, and dragged forth a second
"I've had an easy time with you, M'sieur Philip," she said,
turning so that she was kneeling with her back to him. "Pierre
makes me work. Always I kneel here, in the bow, and paddle. I am
ashamed of myself. You have worked all night."
"And I feel as fresh as though I had slept for a week," declared
Philip, his eyes devouring the slim figure a paddle's length in
front of him.
For an hour they continued up the river, with scarcely a word
between them to break the silence. Their paddles rose and fell
with a rhythmic motion; the water rippled like low music under
their canoe; the spell of the silent shores, of voiceless beauty,
of the wilderness awakening into day appealed to them both and
held them quiet. The sun broke faintly through the drawn mists
behind. Its first rays lighted up Jeanne's rumpled hair, so that
her heavy braid, partly undone and falling upon the luggage behind
her, shone in rich and changing colors that fascinated Philip. He
had thought that Jeanne's hair was very dark, but he saw now that
it was filled with the rare life of a Titian head, running from
red to gold and dark brown, with changing shadows and flashes of
light. It was beautiful. And Jeanne, as he looked at her, he
thought to be the most beautiful thing on earth. The movement of
her arms, the graceful, sinuous twists of her slender body as she
put her strength upon the paddle, the poise of her head, the
piquant tilt to her chin whenever she turned so that he caught a
half profile of her flushed, eager face all filled his cup of
admiration to overflowing. And he found himself wondering,
suddenly, how this girl could be a sister to Pierre Couchee. He
saw in her no sign of French or half-breed blood. Her hair was
fine and soft, and waved about her ears and where it fell loose
upon the back. The color in her cheeks was as delicate as the
tints of the bakneesh flower. She had rolled up her broad cuffs to
give her greater freedom in paddling, and her arms shone white and
firm, glistening with the wet drip of the paddle. He was marveling
at her relationship to Pierre when she looked back at him, her
face aglow with exercise and the spice of the morning, and he saw
the sunlight as blue as the sky above him in her eyes. If he had
not known, he would have sworn that there was not a drop of
Pierre's blood in her veins.
"We are coming to the first rapids, M'sieur Philip," she
announced. "It is just beyond that ugly mountain of rock ahead of
us, and we will have a quarter-mile portage. It is filled with
great stones and so swift that Pierre and I nearly wrecked
ourselves coming down."
It was the most that had been said since the beginning of that
wonderful hour that had come before the first gleam of sunrise,
and Philip, laying his paddle athwart the canoe, stretched himself
and yawned, as though he had just awakened.
"Poor boy," said Jeanne; and it struck him that her words were
strangely like those which Eileen might have spoken had she been
there, only an artless comradeship replaced what would have been
Miss Brokaw's tone of intimacy. She added, with genuine sympathy
in her face and voice: "You must be exhausted, M'sieur Philip. If
you were Pierre I should insist upon going ashore for a number of
hours. Pierre obeys me when we are together. He calls me his
captain. Won't you let me command you?"
"If you will let me call you--my captain," replied Philip. "Only
there is one thing--one reservation. We must go on. Command me in
everything else, but we must go on--for a time. To-night I will
sleep. I will sleep like the dead. So, My Captain," he laughed,
"may I have your permission to work to-day?"
Jeanne was turning the bow shoreward. Her back was turned to him
"You have no pity on me," she pouted. "Pierre would be good to me,
and we would fish all day in that pretty pool over there. I'll bet
it's full of trout."
Her words, her manner of speaking them, was a new revelation to
Philip. She was delightful. He laughed, and his voice rang out in
the clear morning like a school-boy's. Jeanne pretended that she
saw nothing to laugh at, and no sooner had the canoe touched shore
than she sprang lightly out, not waiting for his assistance. With
a laughing cry, she stumbled and fell. Philip was at her side in
"You shouldn't have done that," he objected. "I am your doctor,
and I insist that your foot is not well."
"But it is!" cried Jeanne, and he saw that there was laughter
instead of pain in her eyes. "It's the bandage. My right foot
feels like that of a Chinese debutante. Ugh! I'm going to undo
"You've been to China, too," mused Philip, half to himself.
"I know that it's filled with yellow girls, and that they squeeze
their feet like this," said Jeanne, unlacing her moccasin. "My
tutor and I have just finished a delightful trip along the Great
Wall. We'd go to Peking, in an automobile, if I wasn't afraid."
Philip's groan was audible. He went to the canoe, and Jeanne's red
lips curled in a merriment which it was hard for her too suppress.
Philip did not see. When he had unloaded the canoe and turned,
Jeanne was walking slowly back and forth, limping a little.
"It's all right," she said, answering the question on his lips. "I
don't feel any pain at all, but my foot's asleep. Won't you please
unstrap the small pack? I'm going to make my toilet while you are
gone with the canoe."
Half an hour later Philip unshouldered the canoe at the upper end
of the rapids. His own toilet articles were back in the cabin with
Gregson, but he took a wash in the river and combed his hair with
his fingers. When he returned, there was a transformation in
Jeanne. Her beautiful hair was done up in shining coils. She had
changed her bedraggled skirt for another of soft, yellow buckskin.
At her throat she wore a fluffy mass of crimson stuff which seemed
to reflect a richer rose-flush in her cheeks. A curious thought
came to Philip as he looked at her. Like a flash the memory of a
certain night came to him--when it had taken Miss Brokaw and her
maid two hours to make a toilet for a ball. And Jeanne, in the
heart of a wilderness, had made herself more beautiful than
Eileen. He imagined, as she stood before him, a little embarrassed
by the admiration in his eyes, the sensation Jeanne would create
in a ballroom at home. And then he laughed--laughed joyously at
thoughts which he could not reveal to Jeanne, and which she, by
some quick intuition, knew that she should not ask him to express.
Twice again Philip made the portage, accompanied the second time
by Jeanne, who insisted on carrying a small pack and two paddles.
In spite of his determination and splendid physique, Philip began
to feel the effects of the tremendous strain which he had been
under for so long. He counted back and found that he had slept but
six hours in the last forty-eight. There was a warning ache in his
shoulders and a gnawing pain in the bones of his forearms. But he
knew that he had not yet made sufficient headway up the Churchill.
It would not be difficult for him to make a camp far enough back
in the bush to avoid discovery; but, at the same time, if he and
Jeanne were pursued, the stop would give their enemies a chance to
get ahead of them. This danger he wished to escape.
He flattered himself that Jeanne saw no signs of his weakening. He
did not know that Jeanne put more and more effort into her paddle,
until her arms and body ached, because she saw the truth.
The Churchill narrowed and its current became swifter as they
progressed. Five portages were made between sunrise and eleven
o'clock. They ate dinner at the fifth, and rested for two hours.
Then the journey was resumed. It was three o'clock when Jeanne
dropped her paddle and turned to Philip. There were deep lines in
his face. He smiled, but there was more of haggard misery than
cheer in the smile. There was an unnatural flush in his cheeks,
and he began to feel a burning pain where the blow had fallen upon
his head before. For a full half-minute Jeanne looked at him
without speaking. "Philip," she said--and it was the first time
she had spoken his name in this way, "I insist upon going ashore
immediately. If you do not land--now--in that opening ahead, I
shall jump out, and you can go on alone."
"As you say--my Captain Jeanne," surrendered Philip, a little
Jeanne guided the canoe to the shore, and was the first to spring
out, while Philip steadied the light craft with his paddle. She
pointed to the luggage.
"We will want the tent--everything," she said, "because we are
going to camp here until to-morrow."
Once on shore, Philip's dizziness left him. He pulled the canoe
high up on the bank, and then Jeanne and he set off, side by side,
to explore the high, wooded ground back from the river. They
followed a well-worn moose trail, and two or three hundred yards
from the stream came upon a small opening cluttered by great rocks
and surrounded by clumps of birch, spruce, and banskian pine. The
moose trail crossed this rough open space; and, following it to
the opposite side, Philip and Jeanne came upon a clear, rippling
little stream, scarcely two yards in width, hidden in places under
thick caribou moss and jungles of seedling pines. It was an ideal
camping spot, and Jeanne gave a little cry of delight when they
found the cold water of the creek.
Philip then returned to the river, concealed the canoe, covered up
all traces of their landing, and began to carry the camping outfit
back to the open. The small silk tent for Jeanne's use he set up
in a little grassy corner of the clearing, and built their fire a
dozen paces from it. With a sort of thrilling pleasure he began
cutting balsam boughs for Jeanne's bed. He cut armful after
armful, and it was growing dusk in the forest by the time he was
done. In the glow and the heat of the fire Jeanne's cheeks were as
pink as an apple. She had turned a big flat rock into a table, and
as she busied herself about this she burst suddenly into a soft
ripple of song; then, remembering that it was not Pierre who was
near her, she stopped. Philip, with his last armful of bedding,
was directly behind her, and he laughed happily at her over the
green mass of balsam when she turned and saw him looking at her.
"You like this?" he asked.
"It is glorious!" cried Jeanne, her eyes flashing. She seemed to
grow taller before him, and stood with her head thrown back, lips
parted, gazing upon the wilderness about her. "It is glorious!"
she repeated, breathing deeply. "There is nothing in the whole
world that could make me give this up, M'sieur Philip. I was born
in it. I want to die in it. Only--"
Her face clouded for a moment as her eyes rested upon his.
"Your civilization is coming north to spoil it all," she added,
and turned to the rock table.
Philip dropped his load.
"Supper is ready," she said, and the cloud had passed.
It was Jeanne's first reference to his own people, to the invasion
of civilization into the north, and there recurred to Philip the
words in which she had cried out her hatred against Churchill. But
Jeanne did not betray herself again. She was quiet while they were
eating, and Philip saw that she was very tired. When they had
finished, they sat for a few minutes watching the lowering flames
of the fire. Darkness had gathered about them. Their faces and the
rock were illumined more and more faintly as the embers died down.
A silence fell upon them. In the banskians close behind them an
owl hooted softly, a cautious, drumming note, as though the night-
bird possessed still a fear of the newly dead day. The brush gave
out sound--voices infinitesimally small, strange quiverings,
rustlings that might have been made by wind, by breath, by
shadows, almost. Overhead the tips of the spruce and tall pines
whispered among themselves, as they never commune by day. Spirits
seemed to move among them, sending down to Jeanne's and Philip's
listening ears a restful, sleepy murmur. Farther back there
sounded a deep sniff, where a moose, traveling the well-worn
trail, stopped in sudden fear and wonder at the strange man-scent
which came to its nostrils. And still farther, from some little
lake nameless and undiscovered in the black depths of the forest
to the south, a great northern loon sent out its cowardly cry of
defiance to all night things, and then plunged deep under water,
as though frightened into the depths by its own mad jargon. The
fire died lower. Philip moved a little nearer to the girl, whose
breathing he could hear.
"Jeanne," he said, softly, fighting to keep himself from touching
her hand, "I know what you mean--I understand. Two years ago I
gave up civilization for this. I am glad that I wrote to you as I
did, for now you will believe me and know that I understand. I
love this world up here as you love it. I am never going back
Jeanne was silent.
"But there is one thing, at least one--which I cannot understand
in you," he went on, nerving himself for what might come a moment
later. "You are of this world--you hate civilization--and yet you
have brought a man into the north to teach you its ways. I mean
this man who you say is the most wonderful man in the world."
He waited, trembling. It seemed an eternity before Jeanne
answered. And then she said:
"He is my father, M'sieur Philip."
Philip could not speak. Darkness hid him from Jeanne. She did not
see that which leaped into his face, and that for a moment he was
on the point of flinging himself at her feet.
"You spoke of yourself, of Pierre, of your father, and of one
other at Fort o' God," said Philip. "I thought that he--the other
--was your tutor."
"No, it is Pierre's sister," replied Jeanne.
"Your sister! You have a sister?"
He could hear Jeanne catch her breath.
"Listen, M'sieur,'" she said, after a moment. "I must tell you a
little about Pierre, a story of something that happened a long,
long time ago. It was in the middle of a terrible winter, and
Pierre was then a boy. One day he was out hunting and he came upon
a trail--the trail of a woman who had dragged herself through the
snow in her moccasined feet. It was far out upon a barren, where
there was no life, and he followed. He found her, M'sieur, and she
was dead. She had died from cold and starvation. An hour sooner he
might have saved her, for, wrapped up close against her breast, he
found a little child--a baby girl, and she was alive. He brought
her to Fort o' God, M'sieur--to a noble man who lived there almost
alone; and there, through all these years, she has lived and grown
up. And no one knows who her mother was, or who her father was,
and so it happens that Pierre, who found her, is her brother, and
the man who has loved her and cared for her is her father."
"And she is the other at Fort o' God--Pierre's sister," said
Jeanne rose from the rock and moved toward the tent, glimmering
indistinctly in the night. Her voice came back chokingly.
"No, M'sieur. Pierre's real sister is at Fort o' God. I am the one
whom he found out on the barren."
To the night sounds there was added a heart-broken sob, and Jeanne
disappeared in the tent.
Philip sat where Jeanne had left him. He was powerless to move or
to say a word that might have recalled her. Her own grief,
quivering in that one piteous sob, overwhelmed him. It held him
mute and listening, with the hope that each instant the tent-flap
might open and Jeanne reappear. And yet if she came he had no
words to say. Unwittingly he had probed deep into one of those
wounds that never heal, and he realized that to ask forgiveness
would be but another blunder. He almost groaned as he thought of
what he had done. In his desire to understand, to know more about
Jeanne, he had driven her into a corner. What he had forced from
her he might have learned a little later from Pierre or from the
father at Fort o' God. He thought that Jeanne must despise him
now, for he had taken advantage of her helplessness and his own
position. He had saved her from her enemies; and in return she had
opened her heart, naked and bleeding, to his eyes. What she had
told him was not a voluntary confidence; it was a confession wrung
from her by the rack of his questionings--the confession that she
was a waif-child, that Pierre was not her brother, and that the
man at Fort o' God was not her father. He had gone to the very
depths of that which was sacred to herself and those whom she
He rose and stirred the fire, and stray ends of birch leaped into
flame, lighting his pale face. He wanted to go to the tent, kneel
there where Jeanne could hear him, and tell her that it was all a
mistake. Yet he knew that this could not be, neither the next day
nor the next, for to plead extenuation for himself would be to
reveal his love. Two or three times he had been on the point of
revealing that love. Only now, after what had happened, did it
occur to him that to disclose his heart to Jeanne would be the
greatest crime he could commit. She was alone with him in the
heart of a wilderness, dependent upon him, upon his honor. He
shivered when he thought how narrow had been his escape, how short
a time he had known her, and how in that brief spell he had given
himself up to an almost insane hope. To him Jeanne was not a
stranger. She was the embodiment, in flesh and blood, of the
spirit which had been his companion for so long. He loved her more
than ever now, for Jeanne the lost child of the snows was more the
earthly revelation of his beloved spirit than Jeanne the sister of
Pierre. But--what was he to Jeanne?
He left the fire and went to the pile of balsam which he had
spread out between two rocks for his bed. He lay down and pulled
Pierre's blanket over him, but his fatigue and his desire for
sleep seemed to have left him, and it was a long time before
slumber finally drove from him the thought of what he had done.
After that he did not move. He heard none of the sounds of the
night. A little owl, the devil-witch, screamed horribly overhead
and awakened Jeanne, who sat up for a few moments in her balsam
bed, white-faced and shivering. But Philip slept. Long afterward
something warm awakened him, and he opened his eyes, thinking that
it was the glow of the fire in his face. It was the sun. He heard
a sound which brought him quickly into consciousness of day. It
was Jeanne singing softly over beyond the rocks.
He had dreaded the coming of morning, when he would have to face
Jeanne. His guilt hung heavily upon him. But the sound of her
voice, low and sweet, filled with the carroling happiness of a
bird, brought a glad smile to his lips. After all, Jeanne had
understood him. She had forgiven him, if she had not forgotten.
For the first time he noticed the height of the sun, and he sat
bolt upright. Jeanne saw his head and shoulders pop over the top
of the rocks, and she laughed at him from their stone table.
"I've been keeping breakfast for over an hour, M'sieur Philip,"
she cried. "Hurry down to the creek and wash yourself, or I shall
eat all alone!"
Philip rose stupidly and looked at his watch.
"Eight o'clock!" he gasped. "We should have been ten miles on the
way by this time!"
Jeanne was still laughing at him. Like sunlight she dispelled his
gloom of the night before. A glance around the camp showed him
that she must have been awake for at least two hours. The packs
were filled and strapped. The silken tent was down and folded. She
had gathered wood, built the fire, and cooked breakfast while he
slept. And now she stood a dozen paces from him, blushing a little
at his amazed stare, waiting for him.
"It's deuced good of you, Miss Jeanne!" he exclaimed. "I don't
deserve such kindness from you."
"Oh!" said Jeanne, and that was all. She bent over the fire, and
Philip went to the creek.
He was determined now to maintain a more certain hold upon
himself. As he doused his face in the cold water his resolutions
formed themselves. For the next few days he would forget
everything but the one fact that Jeanne was in his care; he would
not hurt her again or compel her confidence.
It was after nine o'clock before they were upon the river. They
paddled without a rest until twelve. After lunch Philip
confiscated Jeanne's paddle and made her sit facing him in the
The afternoon passed like a dream to Philip, He did not refer
again to Fort o' God or the people there; he did not speak again
of Eileen Brokaw, of Lord Fitzhugh, or of Pierre. He talked of
himself and of those things which had once been his life. He told
of his mother and his father, who had died, and of the little
sister, whom he had worshiped, but who had gone with the others.
He bared his loneliness to her as he would have told them to the
sister, had she lived; and Jeanne's soft blue eyes were filled
with tenderness and sympathy. And then he talked of Gregson's
world. Within himself he called it no longer his own.
It was Jeanne who questioned now. She asked about cities and great
people, about books and WOMEN. Her knowledge amazed Philip. She
might have visited the Louvre. One would have guessed that she had
walked in the streets of Paris, Berlin, and London. She spoke of
Johnson, of Dickens, and of Balzac as though they had died but
yesterday. She was like one who had been everywhere and yet saw
everything through a veil that bewildered her. In her simplicity
she unfolded herself to Philip, leaf by leaf, petal by petal, like
the morning apios that surrenders its mysteries to the sun. She
knew the world which he had come from, its people, its cities, its
greatness; and yet her knowledge was like that of the blind. She
knew, but she had never seen; and in her wistfulness to see as HE
could see there was a sweetness and a pathos which made every
fiber in his body sing with a quiet and thrilling joy. He knew,
now, that the man who was at Fort o' God must, indeed, be the most
wonderful man in the world. For out of a child of the snows, of
the forest, of a savage desolation, he had made Jeanne. And Jeanne
The afternoon passed, and they made thirty miles before they
camped for the night. They traveled the next day, and the one that
followed. On the afternoon of the fourth they were approaching Big
Thunder Rapids, close to the influx of the Little Churchill, sixty
miles from Fort o' God.
These days, too, passed for Philip with joyous swiftness; swiftly
because they were too short for him. His life, now, was Jeanne.
Each day she became a more vital part of him. She crept into his
soul until there was no longer left room for any other thought
than of her. And yet his happiness was tampered by a thing which,
if not grief, depressed and saddened him at times. Two days more
and they would be at Fort o' God, and there Jeanne would be no
longer his own, as she was now. Even the wilderness has its
conventionality, and at Fort o' God their comradeship would end. A
day of rest, two at the most, and he would leave for the camp on
Blind Indian Lake. As the time drew nearer when they would be but
friends and no longer comrades, Philip could not always hide the
signs of gloom which weighed upon him. He revealed nothing in
words; but now and then Jeanne had caught him when the fears at
his heart betrayed themselves in his face. Jeanne became happier
as their journey approached its end. She was alive every moment,
joyous, expectant, looking ahead to Fort o' God; and this in
itself was a bitterness to Philip, though he knew that he was a
fool for allowing it to be so. He reasoned, with dull, masculine
wit, that if Jeanne cared for him at all she would not be so
anxious for their comradeship to end. But these moods, when they
came, passed quickly. And on this afternoon of the fourth day they
passed away entirely, for in an instant there came a solution to
it all. They had known each other but four days, yet that brief
time had encompassed what might not have been in as many years.
Life, smooth, uneventful, develops friendship slowly; an hour of
the unusual may lay bare a soul. Philip thought of Eileen Brokaw,
whose heart was still a closed mystery to him; who was a stranger,
in spite of the years he had known her. In four days he had known
Jeanne a lifetime; in those four days Jeanne had learned more of
him than Eileen Brokaw could ever know. So he arrived at the
resolution which made him, too, look eagerly ahead to the end of
the journey. At Fort o' God he would tell Jeanne of his love.
Jeanne was looking at him when the determination came. She saw the
gloom pass, a flush mount into his face; and when he saw her eyes
upon him he laughed, without knowing why.
"If it is so funny," she said, "please tell me."
It was a temptation, but he resisted it.
"It is a secret," he said, "which I shall keep until we reach Fort
Jeanne turned her face up-stream to listen. A dozen times she had
done this during the last half-hour, and Philip had listened with
her. At first they had heard a distant murmur, rising as they
advanced, like an autumn wind that grows stronger each moment in
the tree-tops. The murmur was steady now, without the variations
of a wind. It was the distant roaring of the rocks and rushing
floods of Big Thunder Rapids. It grew steadily from a murmur to a
moan, from a moan to rumbling thunder. The current became so swift
that Philip was compelled to use all his strength to force the
canoe ahead. A few moments later he turned into shore.
From where they landed, a worn trail led up to one of the
precipitous walls of rock and shut in the Big Thunder Rapids.
Everything about them was rock. The trail was over rock, worn
smooth by the countless feet of centuries--clawed feet, naked
feet, moccasined feet, the feet of white men. It was the Great
Portage, for animal as well as man. Philip went up with the pack,
and Jeanne followed behind him. The thunder increased. It roared
in their ears until they could no longer hear their own voices.
Directly above the rapids the trail was narrow, scarcely eight
feet in width, shut in on the land side by a mountain wall, on the
other by the precipice. Philip looked behind, and saw Jeanne
hugging close to the wall. Her face was white, her eyes shone with
terror and awe. He spoke to her, but she saw only the movement of
his lips. Then he put down his pack and went close to the edge of
Sixty feet below him was the Big Thunder, a chaos of lashing foam,
of slippery, black-capped rocks bobbing and grimacing amid the
rushing torrents like monsters playing at hide-and-seek. Now one
rose high, as though thrust up out of chaos by giant hands; then
it sank back, and milk-white foam swirled softly over the place
where it had been. There seemed to be life in the chaos--a grim,
terrible life whose voice was a thunder that never died. For a few
moments Philip stood fascinated by the scene below him. Then he
felt a touch upon his arm. It was Jeanne. She stood beside him
quivering, dead-white, Almost daring to take the final step.
Philip caught her hands firmly in his own, and Jeanne looked over.
Then she darted back and hovered, shuddering, near the wall.
The portage was a short one, scarce two hundred yards in length,
and at the upper end was a small green meadow in which river
voyagers camped. It still lacked two hours of dusk when Philip
carried over the last of the luggage.
"We will not camp here," he said to Jeanne pointing to the remains
of numerous fires and remembering Pierre's exhortation. "It is too
public, as you might say. Besides, that noise makes me deaf."
"Let us hurry," she said. "I'm--I'm afraid of THAT!"
Philip carried the canoe down to the river, and Jeanne followed
with the bearskins. The current was soft and sluggish, with tiny
maelstroms gurgling up here and there, like air-bubbles in boiling
syrup. He only half launched the canoe, and Jeanne remained while
he went for another load. The dip, kept green by the water of a
spring, was a pistol-shot from the river. Philip looked back from
the crest and saw Jeanne leaning over the canoe. Then he descended
into the meadow, whistling. He had reached the packs when to his
ears there seemed to come a sound that rose faintly above the roar
of the water in the chasm. He straightened himself and listened.
The cry came twice--his own name, piercing, agonizing, rising
above the thunder of the floods. He heard no more, but raced up
the slope of the dip. From the crest he stared down to where
Jeanne had been. She was gone. The canoe was gone. A terrible fear
swept upon him, and for an instant he turned faint. Jeanne's cry
came to him again.
Like a madman he dashed up the rocky trail to the chasm, calling
to Jeanne, shrieking to her, telling her that he was coming. He
reached the edge of the precipice and looked down. Below him was
the canoe and Jeanne. She was fighting futilely against the
resistless flood; he saw her paddle wrenched suddenly from her
hands, and as it went swirling beyond her reach she cried out his
name again. Philip shouted, and the girl's white face was turned
up to him. Fifty yards ahead of her were the first of the rocks.
In another minute, even less, Jeanne would be dashed to pieces
before his eyes. Thoughts, swifter than light, flashed through his
mind. He could do nothing for her, for it seemed impossible that
any living creature could exist amid the maelstroms and rocks
ahead. And yet she was calling to him. She was reaching up her
arms to him. She had faith in him, even in the face of death.
There was no M'SIEUR to that cry now, only a moaning, sobbing
prayer filled with his name.
"I'm coming, Jeanne!" he shouted. "I'm coming! Hold fast to the
He ran ahead, stripping off his coat. A little below the first
rocks a stunted banskian grew out of an earthy fissure in the
cliff, with its lower branches dipping within a dozen feet of the
stream. He climbed out on this with the quickness of a squirrel,
and hung to a limb with both hands, ready to drop alongside the
canoe. There was one chance, and only one, of saving Jeanne. It
was a chance out of a thousand--ten thousand. If he could drop at
the right moment, seize the stern of the canoe, and make a rudder
of himself, he could keep the craft from turning broadside and
might possibly guide it between the rocks below. This one hope was
destroyed as quickly as it was born. The canoe crashed against the
first rock. A smother of foam rose about it and he saw Jeanne
suddenly engulfed and lost. Then she reappeared, almost under him,
and he launched himself downward, clutching at her dress with his
hands. By a supreme effort he caught her around the waist with his
left arm, so that his right was free.
Ahead of them was a boiling sea of white, even more terrible than
when they had looked down upon it from above. The rocks were
hidden by mist and foam; their roar was deafening. Between Philip
and the awful maelstrom of death there was a quieter space of
water, black, sullen, and swift--the power itself, rushing on to
whip itself into ribbons among the taunting rocks that barred its
way to the sea. In that space Philip looked at Jeanne. Her face
was against his breast. Her eyes met his own, and In that last
moment, face to face with death, love leaped above all fear. They
were about to die, and Jeanne would die in his arms. She was his
now--forever. His hold tightened. Her face came nearer. He wanted
to shout, to let her know what he had meant to say at Fort o' God.
But his voice would have been like a whisper in a hurricane. Could
Jeanne understand? The wall of foam was almost in their faces.
Suddenly he bent down, crushed his face to hers, and kissed her
again and again. Then, as the maelstrom engulfed them, he swung
his own body to take the brunt of the shock.
He no longer reasoned beyond one thing. He must keep his body
between Jeanne and the rocks. He would be crushed, beaten to
pieces, made unrecognizable, but Jeanne would be only drowned. He
fought to keep himself half under her, with his head and shoulders
in advance. When he felt the floods sucking him under, he thrust
her upward. He fought, and did not know what happened. Only there
was the crashing of a thousand cannon in his ears, and he seemed
to live through an eternity. They thundered about him, against
him, ahead of him, and then more and more behind. He felt no pain,
no shock. It was the SOUND that he seemed to be fighting; in the
buffeting of his body against the rocks there was the painlessness
of a knife-thrust delivered amid the roar of battle. And the sound
receded. It was thundering in retreat, and a curious thought came
to him. Providence had delivered him through the maelstrom. He had
not struck the rocks. He was saved. And in his arms he held
It was day when he began the fight, broad day. And now it was
night. He felt earth, under his feet, and he knew that he had
brought Jeanne ashore. He heard her voice speaking his name; and
he was so glad that he laughed and sobbed like a babbling idiot.
It was dark, and he was tired. He sank down, and he could feel
Jeanne's arms striving to hold him up, and he could still hear her
voice. But nothing could keep him from sleeping. And during that
sleep he had visions. Now it was day, and he saw Jeanne's face
over him; again it was night, and he heard only the roaring of the
flood. Again he heard voices, Jeanne's voice and a man's, and he
wondered who the man could be. It was a strange sleep filled with
strange dreams. But at last the dreams seemed to go. He lost
himself. He awoke, and the night had turned into day. He was in a
tent, and the sun was gleaming on the outside. It had been a
curious dream, and he sat up astonished.
There was a man sitting beside him. It was Pierre.
"Thank God, M'sieur!" he heard. "We have been waiting for this.
You are saved!"
"Pierre!" he gasped.
Memory returned to him. He was awake. He felt weak, but he knew
that what he saw was not the vision of a dream.
"I came the day after you went through the rapids," explained
Pierre, seeing his amazement. "You saved Jeanne. She was not hurt.
But you were badly bruised, M'sieur, and you have been in a
"No. She cared for you until I came. She is sleeping now."
"I have not been this way--very long, have I, Pierre?"
"I came yesterday," said Pierre. He bent over Philip, and added:
"You must remain quiet for a little longer, M'sieur. I have
brought you a letter from M'sieur Gregson, and when you read that
I will have some broth made for you."
Philip took the letter and opened it as Pierre went quietly out of
the tent. Gregson had written him but a few lines. He wrote:
MY DEAR PHIL,--I hope you'll forgive me. But I'm tired of this
mess. I was never cut out for the woods, and so I'm going to
dismiss myself, leaving all best wishes behind for you. Go in and
fight. You're a devil for fighting, and will surely win. I'll only
be in the way. So I'm going back with the ship, which leaves in
three or four days. Was going to tell you this on the night you
disappeared. Am sorry I couldn't shake hands with you before I
left. Write and let me know how things come out. As ever,
Stunned, Philip dropped the letter. He lifted his eyes, and a
strange cry burst from his lips. Nothing that Gregson had written
could have wrung that cry from him. It was Jeanne. She stood in
the open door of the tent. But it was not the Jeanne he had known.
A terrible grief was written in her face. Her lips were bloodless,
her eyes lusterless; deep suffering seemed to have put hollows in
her cheeks. In a moment she had fallen upon her knees beside him
and clasped one of his hands in both of her own.
"I am so glad," she whispered, chokingly.
For an instant she pressed his hands to her face.
"I am so glad--"
She rose to her feet, swaying slightly. She turned to the door,
and Philip could hear her sobbing as she left him.
Not until the silken flap of the tent had fallen behind Jeanne did
power of movement and speech return to Philip. He called her name
and straggled to a sitting posture. Then he staggered to his feet.
He could scarcely stand. Shooting pains passed like flashes of
electricity through his body. His right arm was numb and stiff,
and he found that it was thickly bandaged. His head ached, his
legs could hardly support him. He went to raise his left hand to
his head, but stopped it in front of him, while a slow smile of
understanding crept over his face. It was swollen and covered with
livid bruises. He wondered if his body looked that way, and sank
down exhausted upon his balsam bed. A minute later Pierre returned
with a cup of broth in his hand.
Philip looked at him with less feverish eyes now. There was an
unaccountable change in the half-breed's appearance, as there had
been in Jeanne's. His face seemed thinner. There was a deep gloom
in his eyes, a dejected droop to his shoulders. Philip accepted
the broth, and drank it slowly, without speaking. He felt
strengthened. Then he looked steadily at Pierre. The old pride had
fallen from Pierre like a mask. His eyes dropped under Philip's
Philip held up a hand.
The half-breed grasped it and waited. His lips tightened.
"What is the matter?" demanded Philip. "What has happened to
Jeanne? You say she was not hurt--"
"By the rocks, M'sieur," interrupted Pierre, quickly, kneeling
beside Philip. "Listen. It is best that I tell you. You are a man,
you will understand, without being told all. From Churchill I
brought news which it was necessary for me to tell Jeanne. It was
terrible news, and she is distressed under its weight. Your honor
will not allow you to inquire further, M'sieur. I can tell you no
more than this--that it is a grief which belongs to but one person
on earth--herself. I ask you to help me. Be blind to her
unhappiness, M'sieur. Believe that it is the distress of the peril
through which she has passed. A little later I will tell you all,
and you will understand. But it is impossible now. I confide this
much in you--I ask you this--because--"
Pierre's eyes were half closed, and he looked as though unseeing
over Philip's head.
"I ask you this," he repeated, softly, "because I have guessed--
that you love her."
A cry of joy burst from Philip's lips.
"I do, Pierre--I do--I do--"
"I have guessed it," said Pierre. "You will help me--to save her!"
"Then you will go with us to Fort o' God, and from there you will
go at once to your camp on Blind Indian Lake."
Philip felt the sweat breaking out over his face. He was still
weak. His voice was unnatural, and trembled.
"You know--" he gasped.
"Yes, I know, M'sieur," replied Pierre. "I know that you are in
charge there, and Jeanne knows. We knew who you were before we
appointed to meet you on the cliff. You must return to your men."
Philip was silent. For the moment every hope was crushed within
He looked at Pierre. The half-breed's eyes were glowing, his
haggard cheeks were flushed.
"And this is necessary?"
"It is absolutely necessary, M'sieur."
"Then I will go. But first, Pierre, I must know a little more. I
cannot go entirely blind. Do they fear my men--at Fort o' God?"
"One more question, Pierre. Who is Lord Fitzhugh Lee?"
For an instant Pierre's eyes widened. They grew black, and burned
with a strange, threatening fire. He rose slowly to his feet, and
placed both hands upon Philip's shoulders. For a full minute the
two men stared into each other's face. Then Pierre spoke. His
voice was soft and low, scarcely above a murmur, but it was filled
with something that struck a chill to Philip's heart.
"I would kill you before I would answer that question, M'sieur,"
he said. "No other person has ever done for Jeanne and I what you
have done. We owe you more than we can ever repay. Yet if you
insist upon an answer to that question you make of me an enemy; if
you breathe that name to Jeanne, you turn her away from you
Without another word he left the tent.
For many minutes Philip sat motionless where Pierre had left him.
The earth seemed suddenly to have dropped from under his feet,
leaving him in an illimitable chaos of mind. Gregson had deserted
him, with almost no word of explanation, and he would have staked
his life upon Gregson's loyalty. Under other circumstances his
unaccountable action would have been a serious blow. But now it
was overshadowed by the mysterious change that had come over
Jeanne. A few hours before she had been happy, laughing and
singing as they drew nearer to Fort o' God; each hour had added to
the brightness of her eyes, the gladness in her voice. The change
had come with Pierre. and at the bottom of it all was Lord
Fitzhugh Lee. Pierre had warned him not to mention Lord Fitzhugh's
name to Jeanne, and yet only a short time before he had spoken the
name boldly before Jeanne, and she had betrayed no sign of
recognition or of fear. More than that, she had assured him that
she had never heard the name before, that it was not known at Fort
Philip bowed his head in his hands, and his fingers clutched in
his hair. What did it all mean? He went back to the scene on the
cliff, when Pierre had roused himself at the sound of the name; he
thought of all that had happened since Gregson had come to
Churchill, and the result was a delirium of thought that made his
temples throb. He was sure--now--of but few things. He loved
Jeanne--loved her more than he had ever dreamed that he could love
a woman, and he believed that it would be impossible for her to
tell him a falsehood. He was confident that she had never heard of
Lord Fitzhugh until Pierre overtook them in their flight from
Churchill. He could see but one thing to do, and that was to
follow Pierre's advice, accepting his promise that in the end
everything would come out right. He had faith in Pierre.
He rose to his feet and went to the tent-flap. An embarrassing
thought came to him, and he stopped, a flush of feverish color
suddenly mounting into his pale cheeks. He had kissed Jeanne in
the chasm, when death thundered in their faces. He had kissed her
again and again, and in those kisses he had declared his love. He
was glad, and yet sorry; the knowledge that she must know of his
love filled him with happiness, and yet with it there was the
feeling that it would place a distance between him and Jeanne.
Jeanne was the first to see him when he came out of the tent. She
was sitting beside a small balsam shelter, and Pierre was busy
over a fire, with his back turned to them. For a moment the two
looked at each other in silence, and then Jeanne came toward him,
holding out one of her hands. He saw that she was making a strong
effort to appear natural, but there was something in his own face
that made her attempt a poor one. The hand that she gave him
trembled. Her lips quivered. For the first time her eyes failed to
meet his own in their limpid frankness.
"Pierre has told you what happened," she said. "It was a miracle,
and I owe you my life. I have had my punishment for being so
careless." She tried to laugh at him now, and drew her hand away.
"I wasn't beaten against the rocks, like you, but--"
"It was terrible," interrupted Philip, remembering Pierre's words,
and eager to put her at ease. "You have stood up under it
beautifully. I am afraid of after effects. You must not collapse
under the strain now."
Pierre heard his last words and a smile flashed over his dark face
as he encountered Philip's glance.
"It is true, M'sieur," he said. "I know of no other woman who
would have stood up under such a thing as Jeanne has done. MON
DIEU, when I found a part of the canoe wreckage far below I
thought that both of you were dead!"
Philip began to feel that he had foolishly overestimated his
strength. There was a weakness in his limbs that surprised him,
and a sudden chill replaced the fever in his blood. Jeanne placed
her hand upon his arm and thrust him gently toward the tent.
"You must not exert yourself," she said, watching the pallor in
his face. "You must be quiet, until after dinner."
He obeyed the pressure of her hand. Pierre followed into the tent,
and for a moment he was compelled to lean heavily upon the half-
"It is the reaction, M'sieur," said Pierre. "You are weak after
the fever. If you could sleep--"
"I can," murmured Philip, dizzily, dropping upon his balsam. "But,
"I have something--to say to you--no questions--"
"Not now, M'sieur."
Philip heard the rustling of the flap, and Pierre was gone. He
felt more comfortable lying down. Dizziness and nausea left him,
and he slept. It was the deep, refreshing sleep that always
follows the awakening from fever. When he awoke he felt like his
old self, and went outside. Pierre was alone; a blanket was drawn
across the front of the balsam shelter, and the half-breed nodded
toward it in response to Philip's inquiring glance.
Philip ate lightly of the food which Pierre had ready for him.
When he had finished he leaned close to him, and said:
"You have warned me to ask no questions, and I am going to ask
none. But you have not forbidden me to tell you things which I
know. I am going to talk to you about Lord Fitzhugh Lee."
Pierre's dark eyes flashed.
"Listen!" demanded Philip. "I seek your confidence no further. But
I shall tell you what I know of Lord Fitzhugh Lee, if it makes us
fight. Do you understand? I insist upon this because you have as
good as told me that this man is your enemy, and that he is at the
bottom of Jeanne's trouble. He is also my enemy. And after I have
told you why--you may change your determination to keep me a
stranger to your trouble. If not--well, you can hold your tongue
then as well as now."
Quickly, without moving his eyes from Pierre's face, Philip told
his own story of Lord Fitzhugh Lee. And as he continued a strange
change came over the half-breed. When he came to the letters
revealing the plot to turn the northerners against his company a
low cry escaped Pierre's lips. His eyes seemed starting from his
head. Drops of sweat burst out upon his face. His fingers worked
convulsively, something rose in his throat and choked him. When
Philip had done he buried his face in his hands. For a few moments
he remained thus, and then suddenly looked up. Livid spots burned
in his cheeks, and he fairly hissed at Philip.
"M'sieur, if this is not the truth--if this is a lie--"
He stopped. Something in Philip's eyes told him to go no further.
He was fearless, and he saw more than fearlessness in Philip's
face. Such men believe, when they come together.
"It is the truth," said Philip.
With a low, strained laugh Pierre held out his hand as a pledge of
"I believe in you, M'sieur," he said, and it seemed an effort for
him to speak. "Do you know what I would have thought, if you had
told this to Jeanne before I came?"
"I would have thought, M'sieur, that she threw herself purposely
into the death of the Big Thunder rocks."
"My God, you mean--"
"That is all, M'sieur. I can say no more. Ah, there is Jeanne!" he
cried, more loudly. "Now we will take down the tent, and go."
Jeanne stood a dozen steps behind them when Philip turned. She
greeted him with a smile, and hastened to assist Pierre in
gathering up the things about the camp. Philip was not blind to
her efforts to evade him. He could see that it was a relief to her
when they were at last in Pierre's canoe, and headed up the river.
They traveled till late in the evening, and set up Jeanne's tent
by starlight. The journey was continued at dawn. Late the
following afternoon the Little Churchill swept through a low,
woodless country, called the White Fox Barren. It was a narrow
barren and across it lay the forest and the ridge mountains.
Behind these mountains and the forest the sun was setting. Above
all else there rose out of the gathering gloom of evening a single
ridge, a towering mass of rock which caught the last glow of the
sun, and blazed like a signal-fire.
The canoe stopped. Jeanne and Pierre both gazed toward the great
Then Jeanne, who was in the bow, turned her face to Philip, and
the glow of the rock itself suffused her cheeks as she pointed
over the barren.
"M'sieur Philip," she said, "there is Fort o' God!"
There was a low tremble in Jeanne's voice. The canoe swung
broadside to the slow current, and Philip looked in astonishment
at the change in Pierre. The tired half-breed had uncovered his
head, and knelt with his face turned to that last crimson glow in
the sky, like one in prayer. But his eyes were open, there was a
smile on his lips, and he was breathing quickly. Pride and joy
came where there had been the lines of grief and exhaustion. His
shoulders were thrown back, his head erect, and the fire of the
distant rock reflected itself in his eyes. From him Philip turned,
so that he could look into Jeanne's face. The girl, too, had
changed. Again these two were the Pierre and Jeanne whom he had
seen that first night on the moonlit cliff. Pierre seemed no
longer the half-breed, but the prince of the rapier and broad
cuffs; and Jeanne, smiling proudly at Philip, made him an
exquisite little courtesy from her cramped seat in the bow, and
"M'sieur Philip, welcome to Fort o' God!"
"Thank you," he said, and stared toward the sun-capped rock.
He could see nothing but the rock, the black forests, and the
desolate barren stretching between. Fort o' God, unless it was the
rock itself, was still a mystery hidden in the gathering gloom.
The canoe began moving slowly onward, and Jeanne turned so that
her eyes searched the stream ahead. A thick wall of stunted forest
shut out the barren from their view; the stream grew narrower, and
on the opposite side a barren ridge, threatening them with torn
and upheaved masses of rock, flung the heavy shadows of evening
down upon them. No one spoke. Philip could hear Pierre breathing
behind him: something in the intense quiet--in the awesome effect
which their approach to Fort o' God had upon these two--sent
strange little thrills shooting through his body. He listened, and
heard nothing, not even the howl of a dog. The stillness was
oppressive, and the darkness thickened about them. For half an
hour they continued, and then Pierre headed the canoe into a
narrow creek, thrusting it through a thick growth of wild rice and
Balsam and cedar and swamp hazel shut them in. Overhead the tall
cedars interlaced, and hid the pale light of the sky. Philip could
just make out Jeanne ahead of him.
And then, suddenly, there came a wonderful change. They shot out
of the darkness, as if from a tunnel, but so quietly that one a
dozen feet away could not have heard the ripple of Pierre's
paddle. Almost in their faces rose a huge black bulk, and in that
blackness three or four yellow lights gleamed like mellow stars.
The canoe touched noiselessly upon sand. Pierre sprang out, still
without sound. Jeanne followed, with a whispered word. Philip was
Pierre pulled the canoe up, and Jeanne came to Philip. She held
out her two hands. Her face shone white in the gloom, and there
was a look in her beautiful eyes, as she stood for a moment almost
touching him, that set his heart jumping. She let her hands lie in
his while she spoke.
"We have not even alarmed the dogs, M'sieur Philip," she
whispered. "Is not that splendid? I am going to surprise father,
and you will go with Pierre. I will see you a little later, and--"
She rose on tiptoe, and her face was dangerously close to his own.
"And you are very, very welcome to Fort o' God, M'sieur."
She slipped away into the darkness, and Pierre stood beside
Philip. His white teeth were gleaming strangely, and he said in a
"M'sieur, that is the first time that I have ever heard those
words spoken at Fort o' God. We welcome no man here who has your
blood and your civilization in his veins. You are greater than a
With a sudden exclamation Philip turned upon Pierre.
"And that is the reason for Jeanne's surprise?" he said. "She
wishes to pave a way for me. I begin to understand!"
"It is true that you might not have received that welcome which
you are certain to receive now from the master of Fort o' God,"
replied Pierre, frankly. "So we will go in quietly, and make no
disturbance, while your way is being paved, as you call it."
He walked ahead, with Philip following so closely that he could
have touched him. He made out more distinctly now the lines of the
huge black edifice from which the lights shone. It was a massive
structure of logs, two stories high, a half of it almost
completely hidden in the impenetrable shadow of a great wall of
rock. Philip's eyes traveled up this wall, and he was convinced
that he stood under the rock upon whose towering crest he had seen
the last reflection of the evening sun. About him there were no
signs of life or of other habitation. Pierre moved swiftly. They
passed under a small lighted window that was a foot above Philip's
head, and turned around the corner of the building. Here all was
Pierre went straight to a door, and uttered at low word of
satisfaction when he found that it was not barred. He opened it,
and reached out a guiding hand to Philip's arm. Philip entered,
and the door closed softly behind him. He felt the flow of warm
air in his face, and his moccasined feet trod upon something soft
and velvety. Faintly, as though coming from a great distance, he
heard a voice singing. It was a woman's voice, but he knew that it
was not Jeanne's.
In spite of himself his heart was beating excitedly. The mystery
of Fort o' God was about him, warm and subtle, like a strange
spirit, sending through him the thrill of anticipation, a hundred
fancies, little fears. Pierre advanced, still guiding him; then he
stopped, and chuckled softly in the darkness. The distant voice
had stopped singing, and there came in place of it the loud
barking of a dog, an unintelligible sound of a voice, and then
quiet. Jeanne had sprung her surprise.
Pierre led the way to another room.
"This is to be your room, M'sieur," he explained. "Make yourself
comfortable. I have no doubt that the master of Fort o' God will
wish to see you very soon."
He struck a match as he spoke, and lighted a lamp. A moment more
and he was gone.
Philip looked about him. He was in a room fully twenty feet
square, furnished in a manner that drew from him an audible gasp
of astonishment. At one end of the room was a massive mahogany
bed, screened by heavy curtains which were looped back by silken
cords. Near the bed was an old-fashioned mahogany dresser, with a
diamond-shaped mirror, and in front of it a straight-backed chair
adorned with the grotesque carving of an ancient and long-dead
fashion. About him, everywhere, were the evidences of luxury and
of age. The big lamp, which gave a brilliant light, was of
hammered brass; the base of its square pedestal was partly hidden
in the rumples of a heavy damask spread which covered the table on
which it rested. The table itself was old, spindle-legged, glowing
with the mellow luster endowed by many passing generations--a
relic of the days when the originator of its fashion became the
favorite of a capricious and beautiful queen. Soft rugs were upon
the floor; from the walls, papered and hung with odd bits of
tapestry, strange faces looked down upon Philip from out of heavy
gilded frames; faces grim, pale, shadowed; men with plaited
ruffles and curls; women with powdered hair, who gazed down upon
him haughtily, as if they wondered at his intrusion.
One picture was turned with its face to the wall.
Philip sank into a huge arm-chair, cushioned with velvet, and
dropped his cap upon the floor. And this was Fort o' God! He
scarcely breathed. He was back two centuries, and he stared, as if
each moment he expected some manifestation of life in what he saw.
He had dreamed his dream over the dead at Churchill; here it was
reality--almost; it lacked but a breath, a movement, a flutter of
life in the dead faces that looked down upon him. He gazed up at
them again, and laughed a little nervously. Then he fixed his eyes
on the opposite wall. One of the pictures was moving. The thought
in his brain had given birth to the movement he had imagined. It
was a woman's face in the picture, young and beautiful, and it
nodded to him, one moment radiant with light, the next caught in
shadows that cast over it a gloom. He jumped from his chair and
went so that he stood directly under it.
A current of warm air shot up into his face from the floor. It was
this air that was causing movement in the picture, and he looked
down. What he discovered broke the spell he was under. About him
were the relics of age, of a life long dead. Rubens might have sat
in that room, and mourned over his handiwork, lost in a
wilderness. The stingy Louis might have recognized in the spindle-
legged table a bit of his predecessor's extravagance, which he had
sold for the good of the exchequer of France; a Gobelin might have
reclaimed one of the woven landscapes on the wall, a Grosellier
himself have issued from behind the curtained bed. Philip himself,
in that environment, was the stranger. It was the current of warm
air which brought him back from the eighteenth to the twentieth
century. Under his feet was a furnace!
Even the master of Fort o' God, stern and forbidding as Philip
began to imagine him, might have laughed at the look which came
into his face. Grosellier, the cavalier, had he appeared, Philip
would have accepted with the same confidence that he had accepted
Jeanne and Pierre. But--a furnace! He thrust his hands deep in his
pockets, a trick which was always the last convincing evidence of
his perplexity, and walked slowly around the room. There were two
books on the table. One, bound in faded red vellum, was a Greek
Anthology, the other Drummond's Ascent of Man. There were other
books on a quaintly carved shelf, under the picture which had been
turned to the wall. He ran over the titles. There were a number of
French novels, Ely's Socialism, Sir Thomas More's Utopia, St.
Pierre's Paul and Virginia, and a dozen other volumes; there were
Balzac and Hugo, and Dante's Divine Comedy. Amid this array, like
a black sheep lost among the angels, was a finger-worn and faded
little volume bearing the name Camille. Something about this one
book, so strangely out of place in its present company, aroused
Philip's curiosity. It bore the name, too, which he had found
worked in the corner of Jeanne's handkerchief. In a way, the
presence of this book gave him a sort of shock, and he took it in
his hands, and opened the cover. Under his fingers were pages
yellow and frayed with age, and in an ancient type, once black,
the title, The Meaning of God. In a large masculine hand some one
had written under this title the accompanying words; "A black skin
often contains a white soul; a woman's beauty, hell."
Philip replaced the book with a feeling of awe. Something in those
words, brutal in their truth--something in the strange whim that
had placed a pearl of purity within the faded and worn mask of the
condemned, seemed to speak to him of a tragedy that might be a key
to the mystery of Fort o' God. From the books he looked up at the
picture which had been turned to the wall. The temptation to see
what was hidden overcame him, and he turned the frame over. Then
he stepped back with a low cry of pleasure.
From out of the proscribed canvas there smiled down upon him a
face of bewildering beauty. It was the face of a young woman, a
stranger among its companions, because it was of the present.
Philip stepped to one side, so that the light from the lamp shone
from behind him, and he wondered if the picture had been condemned
to hang with its face to the wall because it typified the existent
rather than the past. He looked more closely, and drew back step
by step, until he was in the proper focus to bring out every
expression in the lovely face. In the picture he saw each moment a
greater resemblance to Jeanne. The eyes, the hair, the sweetness
of the mouth, the smile, brought to him a vision of Jeanne
herself. The woman in the picture was older than Jeanne, and his
first thought was that it must be a sister, or her mother. It came
to him in the next breath that this would be impossible, for
Jeanne had been found by Pierre in the deep snows, on her dead
mother's breast. And this was a painting of life, of youth, of
beauty, and not of death and starvation.
He returned the forbidden picture to the position in which he had
found it against the wall, half ashamed of the act and thoughts
into which his curiosity had led him. And yet, after all, it was
not curiosity. He told himself that as he washed himself and
groomed his disheveled clothes.
An hour had passed when he heard a low tap at the door, and Pierre
came in. In that time the half-breed had undergone a
transformation. He was dressed in an exquisite coat of yellow
buckskin, with the same old-fashioned cuffs he had worn when
Philip first saw him, trousers of the same material, buckled below
the knees, and boot-moccasins with flaring tops. He wore a new
rapier at his waist, and his glossy black hair was brushed
smoothly back, and fell loose upon his shoulders. It was the
courtier, and not Pierre the half-breed, who bowed to Philip.
"M'sieur, are you ready?" he asked.
"Yes," replied Philip.
"Then we will go to M'sieur d'Arcambal, the master of Fort o'
They passed out into the hall, which was faintly illumined now, so
that Philip caught glimpses of deep shadows and massive doors as
he followed behind Pierre. They turned into a second hall, at the
end of which was an open door through which came a flood of light.
At this door Pierre stopped, and with a bow allowed his companion
to pass in ahead of him. The next moment Philip stood in a room
twice as large as the one he had left. It was brilliantly lighted
by three or four lamps; he had only an instant's vision of
numberless shelves loaded with books, of walls covered with
pictures, of a ponderous table in front of him, and then he heard
A man stepped out from beside the door, and he stood face to face
with the master of Fort o' God.
He was an old man. Beard and hair were white. He was as tall as
Philip; his shoulders were broader; his chest massive; and as he
stood under the light of one of the hanging lamps, his face
shining with a pale glow, one hand upon his breast, the other
extended, it seemed to Philip that all of the greatness and past
glory of Fort o' God, whatever they may have been, were
personified in the man he beheld. He was dressed in soft buckskin,
like Pierre. His hair and beard grew in wild disorder, and from
under shaggy eyebrows there burned a pair of deep-set eyes of the
color of blue steel. He was a man to inspire awe; old, and yet
young; white-haired, gray-faced, and yet a giant. One might have
expected from between his bearded lips a voice as thrilling as his
appearance; a rumbling voice, deep-chested, sonorous--and it would
have caused no surprise. It was the voice that surprised Philip
more than the man. It was low, and trembling with an agitation
which even strength and pride could not control.
"Philip Whittemore, I am Henry d'Arcambal. May God bless you for
what you have done!"
A hand of iron gripped his own. And then, before Philip had found
words to say, the master of Fort o' God suddenly placed his arms
about his shoulders and embraced him. Their shoulders touched.
Their faces were close. The two men who loved Jeanne d'Arcambal
above all else on earth gazed for a silent moment into each
"They have told me," said D'Arcambal, softly. "You have brought my
Jeanne home through death. Accept a father's blessing, and with
He stepped back, and swept his arms about the great room.
"Everything--everything--would have gone with her," he said. "If
you had let her die, I should have died. My God, what peril she
was in! In saving her you saved me. So you are welcome here, as a
son. For the first time since my Jeanne was a babe Fort o' God
offers itself to a man who is a stranger and its hospitality is
yours so long as its walls hang together. And as they have done
this for upward of two hundred years, M'sieur Philip, we may
conclude that our friendship is to be without end."
He clasped Philip's hands again, and two tears coursed down his
gray cheeks. It was difficult for Philip to restrain the joy his
words produced, which, coming from the lips of Jeanne's father,
lifted him suddenly into a paradise of hope. For many reasons he
had come to expect a none too warm reception at Fort o' God; he
had looked ahead to the place with a grim sort of fear, scarcely
definable; and here Jeanne's father was opening his arms to him.
Pierre was unapproachable; Jeanne herself was a mystery, filling
him alternately with hope and despair; D'Arcambal had accepted him
as a son. He could find no words adequate to his emotion; none
that could describe his own happiness, unless it was in a bold
avowal of his love for the girl he had saved. And this his good
sense told him not to make, at the present moment.
"Any man would have done as much for your daughter," he said at
last, "and I am happy that I was the fortunate one to render her
"You are wrong," said D'Arcambal, taking him by the arm. "You are
one out of a thousand. It takes a MAN to go through the Big
Thunder and come out at the other end alive. I know of only one
other who has done that in the last twenty years, and that other
is Henry d'Arcambal himself. We three, you, Jeanne, and I, have
alone triumphed over those monsters of death. All others have
died. It seems like a strange pointing of the hand of God."
"We three!" he exclaimed.
"We three," said the old man, "and for that reason you are a part
of Fort o' God."
He led Philip deeper into the great room, and Philip saw that
almost all the space along the walls of the huge room was occupied
by shelves upon shelves of books, masses of papers, piles of
magazines shoulder-high, scores of maps and paintings. The massive
table was covered with books; there were piles on smaller tables;
chairs, and the floor itself, covered with the skins of a score of
wild beasts, were littered with them. At the far end of the room
he saw deeper and darker shelves, where gleamed faintly in the
lamplight row upon row of vials and bottles and strange
instruments of steel and glass. A scientist in the wilderness--a
student exiled in a desolation! These were the thoughts that
leaped into his mind, and he knew that in this room Jeanne had
been created; that here, between these centuries-old walls, amid
an environment of strange silence, of whispering age, her visions
of the world had come. Here, separated from all her kind, God,
Nature, and a father had made her of their handiwork.
The old man pointed Philip to a chair near the large table, and
sat down close to him. At his feet was a stool covered with
silvery lynx-skin, and D'Arcambal looked at this, his strong, grim
face relaxing into a gentle smile of happiness.
"There is where Jeanne sits--at my feet," he said. "It has been
her place for many years. When she is not there I am lost. Life
ceases. This room has been our world. To-night you are in Fort o'
God; to-morrow you will see D'Arcambal House. You have heard of
that, perhaps, but never of Fort o' God. That belongs to Jeanne
and me, to Pierre--and you. Fort o' God is the heart, the soul,
the life's blood of D'Arcambal House. It is this room and two or
three others. D'Arcambal House is our barrier. When strangers
come, they see D'Arcambal House; plain rooms, of rough wood;
quarters such as you have seen at posts and stations; the mask
which gives no hint of what is hidden within. It is there that we
live to the world; it is here that we live to ourselves. Jeanne
has my permission to tell you whatever she wishes, a little later.
But I am curious, and being an old man must be humored first. I am
still trembling. You must tell me what happened to Jeanne."
For an hour they talked, and Philip went over one by one the
events as they had occurred since the fight on the cliff, omitting
only such things as he thought that Jeanne and Pierre might wish
to keep secret to themselves. At the end of that hour he was
certain that D'Arcambal was unaware of the dark cloud that had
suddenly come into Jeanne's life. The old man's brow was knitted
with deep lines, and his powerful jaws were set hard, as Philip
told of the ambush, of the wounding of Pierre, and the flight of
his assailants with his daughter. It was to get money, the old man
thought. The half-breed had suggested that, and Jeanne herself had
given it as her opinion. Why else should they have been attacked
at Churchill? Such things had occurred before, he told Philip. The
little daughter of the factor at Nelson House had been stolen, and
held for ransom. With a hundred questions he wrung from Philip
every detail of the second fight and of the struggle for life in
the rapids. He betrayed no physical excitement, even in those
moments of Philip's description when Jeanne hung between life and
death; but in his eyes there was the glow of red-hot fires. At
last there came to interrupt them the low, musical tinkling of a
bell under the table.
D'Arcambal's face lighted up suddenly.
"Ah, I had forgotten," he exclaimed. "Pardon me, Philip. Dinner
has been awaiting us this last half-hour; and besides--"
He reached out and touched a tiny button, which Philip had not
"I am selfish."
He had hardly ceased speaking when footsteps sounded in the hall,
and in spite of every resolution he had made to guard himself
against any betrayal of the emotions burning in his breast, Philip
sprang to his feet. Jeanne had come in under the glow of the lamps
and stood now a dozen feet from him, a vision so exquisitely
lovely that he saw nothing of those who entered behind her, nor
heard D'Arcambal's low, happy laugh at his side. It seemed to him
for a moment as if there had suddenly appeared before him the face
of the picture that was turned against the wall, only more
beautiful now, radiant with the glow of living flesh and blood.
But there was something even more startling than this resemblance.
In this moment Jeanne was the fulfilment of his dream; she had
come to him from out of another world. She was dressed in an old-
fashioned gown of pure white, a fabric so delicate that it seemed
to float about her slender form, responsive to every breath she
drew. Her white shoulders revealed themselves above masses of
filmy lace that fell upon her bosom; her slender arms, girlish
rather than womanly in their beauty, were bare. Her hair was bound
up in shining coils about her head, with a single flower nestling
amid a little cluster of curls that fell upon her neck. After his
first movement, Philip recovered himself by a strong effort. He
bowed low to conceal the flush in his face. Jeanne swept him a
little courtesy, and then ran past him, with the eagerness of any
modern child, into the outstretched arms of her father.
Laughter and joy rumbled in the beard of the master of Fort o' God
as he looked over Jeanne's head at Philip.
"And this is what you have saved for me," he said.
Then he looked beyond, and for the first time Philip realized
there were others in the room. One was Pierre; the other a pretty,
dark-faced girl, with hair that glistened like a raven's wing in
Jeanne left her father's arms and gave her hand to Philip.
"M'sieur Philip, this is my sister, Mademoiselle Couchee," she
Pierre's sister gave Philip her hand, and behind them D'Arcambal
laughed softly in his beard again, and said:
"To-morrow, in D'Arcambal House, you may call her Otille, Philip.
But to-night we are in Fort o' God. Oh, Jeanne, Jeanne, what a
witch you are!"
"An angel!" breathed Philip, but no one heard him.
"And this witch," added the old man, "you are to take in to
supper, M'sieur Philip. To night I suppose that I must call you
m'sieur, but to-morrow, when I have on my leather leggings and my
skin cap, I will call you Phil, or Tom, Dick, or Harry, just as I
please. This is the first time, sir, that my Jeanne has ever gone
in to dinner on another arm than mine or Pierre's. And so I may be
a little jealous. Proceed."
As Jeanne's hand rested in his arm, and they went into the hall,
Philip could not restrain himself from whispering:
"I am glad--of that."
"And the dress, M'sieur Philip!" exclaimed D'Arcambal behind them,
in the voice of a happy boy. "It is an honor to escort that, to
say nothing of the silly girl that's in it. That dress, sir,
belonged to a beautiful lady who was called Camille, and who died
over a century ago."
"Father, please do be good!" protested Jeanne. "Remember!"
"Ah, so I will," said her father. "I had forgotten that you were
to tell M'sieur Philip these things."
They entered another room illuminated by a single huge lamp
suspended above a table spread with silver and fine linen. The
room was as great a surprise as the other two had been. It
contained no chairs. What Philip mentally designated as benches,
with deep cushion seats of greenish leather, were arranged about
the table. These same curious seats furnished other parts of the
room. From the pictures on the walls to the ancient helmet and
cuirass that stood up like a legless sentinel in one corner, this
room, like the others, breathed of extreme age. Over a big open
fireplace, in which half a dozen birch logs were burning, hung a
number of old-fashioned weapons; a flintlock, a pair of obsolete
French dueling pistols, a short rapier similar to that which
Pierre wore, and two long swords. Philip noticed that about each
of the dueling pistols was tied a bow of ribbon, dull and faded,
as though the passing of generations had robbed them of beauty and
color, to be replaced by the somberness of age.
During the meal Philip could not but observe that Jeanne was
laboring under some mysterious strain. Her cheeks were brilliantly
flushed, and her eyes were filled with a lustrous brightness that
he had never seen in them before. Their beauty was almost
feverish. Several times he caught a strange little tremor of her
white shoulders, as though a sudden chill had passed through her.
He discovered, too, that Pierre was observing these things, and
that there was something forced in the half-breed's cheerfulness.
But D'Arcambal and Otille seemed completely oblivious of any
change. Their happiness overflowed. Philip thought of his last
supper at Churchill, with Eileen Brokaw and her father. Miss
Brokaw had acted strangely then, and had struggled to hide some
secret grief or excitement, as Jeanne was struggling now.
He was glad when the meal was finished, and the master of Fort o'
God rose from his seat. At D'Arcambal's movement his eyes caught
Jeanne's, and then he saw that Pierre was looking sharply at him.
"Jeanne owes you an apology--and an explanation, M'sieur Philip,"
said D'Arcambal, resting a hand upon Jeanne's head. "We are going
to retire, and she will initiate you into the fold of Fort o'
Pierre and Otille followed him from the room. For the first time
in an hour Jeanne laughed frankly at Philip.
"There isn't much to explain, M'sieur Philip," she said, rising
from her seat. "You know pretty nearly all there is to know about
Fort o' God now. Only I am sure that I did not appear to value
your confidence very much--a little while ago. It must have seemed
ungrateful in me, indeed, to have told you so little about myself
and my home, after what you did for Pierre and me. But I have
father's permission now. It is the second time that he has ever
given it to me."
"And I don't want to hear," exclaimed Philip, bluntly. "I have
been more or less of a brute, Miss Jeanne. I know enough about
Fort o' God. It is a glorious place. You owe me nothing, and for
"But I insist," interrupted the girl. "Do you mean to say that you
do not care to listen, when this is the second time in my life
that I have had the opportunity of talking about my home? And the
first--didn't give me any pleasure. This will."
A shadow came into Jeanne's eyes. She motioned him to a seat
beside her in front of the fire. Her nearness, the touch of her
dress, the sweet perfume of her presence, thrilled him. He felt
that the moment was near when the whole world as he knew it was to
slip away from him, leaving him in a paradise, or a chaos of
despair. Jeanne looked up at the dueling pistols. The firelight
trembled in the soft folds of lace over her bosom; it glistened in
her hair, and lighted her face with a gentle glow.
"There isn't much to explain," she said again, in a voice so low
that it was hardly more than a whisper. "But what little there is
I want you to know, so that when you go away you will understand.
More than two hundred years ago a band of gentlemen adventurers
were sent over into this country by Prince Rupert to form the
Hudson's Bay Company. That is history, and you know more of it,
probably, than I. One of these men was Le Chevalier Grosellier.
One summer he came up the Churchill, and stopped at the great rock
on which we saw the sun setting to-night, and which was called the
Sun Rock by the Indians. He was struck by the beauty of the place,
and when he went back to France it was with the plan of returning
to build himself a chateau in the wilderness. Two or three years
later he did this, and called the place Fort o' God. For more than
a century, M'sieur, Fort o' God was a place of revel and pleasure
in the heart of this desolation. Early in the nineteenth century
it passed into the hands of a man by the name of D'Arcy, and it is
said that at one time it housed twenty gentlemen and as many
ladies of France for one whole season. Its history is obscure, and
mostly lost. But for a long time after D'Arcy came it was a place
of adventure, of pleasure, and of mystery, very little of which
remains to-day. Those are his pistols above the fire. He was
killed by one of them out there beside the big rock, in a quarrel
with one of his guests over a woman. We think--here--from letters
that we have found, that her name was Camille. There is a chest in
my room filled with linen that bears her name. This dress came
from that chest. I have to be careful of them, as they tear very
easily. After D'Arcy the place was almost forgotten and remained
so until nearly forty years ago when my father came into
possession of it. That, M'sieur, is the very simple story of Fort
o' God. Its old name is forgotten. It lives only with us. Others
know it as D'Arcambal House."
"Yes, I have heard of that," said Philip.
He waited for Jeanne, and saw that her fingers were nervously
twisting a bit of ribbon in her lap.
"Of course, that is uninteresting," she continued. "You can almost
guess the rest. We have lived here--alone. Not one of us has ever
felt the desire to leave this little world of ours. It is curious
--you may scarcely believe what I say--but it is true that we look
out upon your big world and laugh at it and dislike it. I guess--
that I have been taught to hate it--since I can remember."
There was a little tremble in Jeanne's voice, an instant's
quivering of her chin. Philip looked from her face into the fire,
and stared hard, choking back words which were ready to burst from
his lips. In place of them he said, with a touch of bitterness in
"And I have grown to hate my world, Jeanne. It has compelled me to
hate it. That is why I spoke to you that night on the cliff at
"I have sometimes thought that I have been very wrong," said the
girl. "I have never seen this other world. I know nothing of it,
except as I have been taught. I have no right to hate it, and yet
I do. I have never wanted to see it. I have never cared to know
the people who lived in it. I wish that I could understand, but I
cannot; except that father has made for us, for Pierre and Otille
and me, this little world at Fort o' God, and has taught us to
fear the other. I know that there is no other man in the whole
world like my father, and that what he has done must be best. It
is his pride that we bring your world to our doors, but that we
never go to it; he says that we know more about that world than
the people who live there, which of course cannot be so. And so we
have grown up amid the old memories, the pictures, and the dead
romances of Fort o' God. We have taken pleasure in living as we
do--in making for ourselves our own little social codes, our
childish aristocracy, our make-believe world. It is the spirit of
Fort o' God that lives with us, and makes us content; the shadow-
faces of men and women who once filled these rooms with life and
pleasure, and whose memory seems to have passed into our keeping
alone. I know them all; many of their names, all of their faces. I
have a daguerreotype of Camille Poitiers, and she must have been
very beautiful. There are the tiniest slippers in the world in her
chest, and ribbons like those which are tied about the pistols.
There is a painting of D'Arcy in your room. It is the picture next
to the one that has its face turned to the wall."
She rose to her feet, and Philip stood beside her. There was a
mist in her eyes as she held out her hand to him.
"I--I--would like to have you--see that picture," she whispered.
Philip could not speak. He held the hand Jeanne had given him as
they passed through the long, dimly lighted halls. At the open
door to his room they stopped, and he could feel Jeanne trembling.
"You will tell me--the truth?" she begged, like a child. "You will
tell me what you think--of the picture?"
She went in ahead of him and turned the frame so that the face in
the picture smiled down upon them in all of its luring loveliness.
There was something pathetic in the girl's attitude now. She stood
under the picture, facing Philip, and there was a tense eagerness
in her eyes, a light that was almost supplication, a crying out of
her soul to him in a breathless moment that seemed hovering
between pain and joy. It was Jeanne, an older Jeanne, that looked
from out of the picture, smiling, inviting admiration, bewildering
hi her beauty; it was Jeanne, the child, waiting for him in flesh
and blood to speak, her eyes big and dark, her breath coming
quickly, her hands buried in the deep lace on her bosom. A low
word came to Philip's lips, and then he laughed softly. It was a
laugh, almost under his breath, which sweeps up now and then from
a soul in a joy--an emotion--which is unutterable in words. But to
Jeanne it was different. Her dark eyes grew hurt and wounded, two
great tears ran down her paling cheeks, and suddenly she buried
her face in her hands and with a sobbing cry turned from him, with
her head bowed under the smiling face above.
"And you--you hate it, too!" she sobbed. "They all hate it--
Pierre--father--all--all hate it. It must--it must be bad. They
hate her--every one--but me. And--I love her so!"
Her slender form shook with sobs. For a moment Philip stood like
one struck dumb. Then he sprang to her and caught her close in his
"Jeanne--Jeanne--listen," he cried. "To-night I looked at that
picture before I went to see your father, and I loved it because
it is like you. Jeanne, my darling, I love you--I love you--"
She was panting against his breast. He covered her face with
kisses. Her sweet lips were not turned from him, and there filled
her eyes a sudden light that made him almost sob in his happiness.
"I love you, I love you," he repeated, again and again, and he
could find no other words than those.
For an instant her arms clung about his shoulders, and then,
suddenly, they strained against him, and she tore herself free,
and, with a cry so pathetic that it seemed as though her heart had
broken in that moment, she fled from him, and out of the room.
Philip stood where Jeanne had left him, his arms half reaching out
to the vacant door through which she had fled, his lips parted as
if to call her name, and yet motionless, dumb. A moment before he
was intoxicated by a joy that was almost madness. He had held
Jeanne in his arms; he had looked into her eyes, filled with
surrender under his caresses and his avowal of love. For a moment
he had possessed her, and now he was alone. The cry that had wrung
itself from her lips, breaking in upon his happiness like a blow,
still rang in his ears, and there was something in the exquisite
pain of it that left him in torment. Heart and soul, every drop of
blood in him, had leaped in the joy of that glorious moment, when
Jeanne's eyes and sweet lips had accepted his love, and her arms
had clung about his shoulders. Now these things had been struck
dead within him. He felt again the fierce pressure of Jeanne's
arms as she had thrust him away, he saw the fright and torture
that had leaped into her eyes as she sprang from him, as though
his touch had suddenly become a sacrilege. He lowered his arms
slowly, and went to the hall. It was empty. He heard no sound, and
closed the door.
It was so still that he could hear the excited throbbing of his
own heart. He looked at the picture again, and a strange fancy
impressed him with the idea that it was no longer smiling at him,
but that its eyes were turned to the door through which Jeanne had
disappeared. He moved his position, and the illusion was gone. It
was Jeanne looking down upon him again, an older and happier
Jeanne than the one whom he loved. For the first time he examined
it closely. In one corner of the canvas he found the artist's
name, Bourret, and after it the date, 1888. Could it be the
picture of Jeanne's mother? He told himself that it was
impossible, for Jeanne's mother had been found dead in the snow,
five years later than the date of the canvas, and Pierre, the
half-breed, had buried her somewhere out on the barren, so that
she was a mystery to all but him. Even the master of Fort o' God,
to whom he had brought the child, had never seen the woman upon
whose cold breast Pierre had found the little Jeanne.
With nervous hands he replaced the picture with its face to the
wall, and began to pace up and down the room, wondering if
D'Arcambal would send for him. He had hope of seeing Jeanne again
that night. He felt sure that she had gone to her room, and that
even D'Arcambal might not know that he was alone. In that event he
had a long night ahead of him, filled with hours of sleeplessness
and torment. He waited for three-quarters of an hour, and then the
idea came to him that he might discover some plausible excuse for
seeking out his host. He was about to act upon this mental
suggestion when he heard a low rustling in the hall, followed by a
distinct and yet timid knock. It was not a man's knock, and filled
with the hope that Jeanne had returned, Philip hastened to the
door and opened it.
He heard soft footsteps retreating rapidly down the hall, but the
lights were out, and he could see nothing. Something had fallen at
his feet, and he bent down to pick it up. The object was a small,
square envelope; and re-entering his room he saw his own name
written across it in Jeanne's delicate hand. His heart beat with
hope as he opened the note. What he read brought a gray pallor
into his face:
MONSIEUR PHILIP,--If you cannot forget what I have done, please at
least try to forgive me. No woman in the world could value your
love more than I, for circumstances have proven to me the strength
and honor of the man who gives it. And yet it is as impossible for
me to accept it as it would be for me to give up Fort o' God, my
father, or my life, though I cannot tell you why. And this, I
know, you will not ask. After what has happened to-night it will
be impossible for me to see you again, and I must ask you, as one
who values your friendship among the highest things in my life, to
leave Fort o' God. No one must know what has passed between us.
You will go--in the morning. And with you there will always be my
The paper dropped from between Philip's fingers and fell to the
floor. Three or four times in his life Philip had received blows
that had made him sick--physical blows. He felt now as though one
of these blows had descended upon him, turning things black before
his eyes. He staggered to the big chair and dropped into it,
staring at the bit of white paper on the floor. If one had spoken
to him he would not have heard. Gregson, in these moments, might
have laughed a little nervously, smoked innumerable cigarettes,
and laid plans for a continuance of the battle to-morrow. But
Philip was a fighter of men, and not of women. He had declared his
love, he had laid open his soul to Jeanne, and to a heart like his
own, simple in its language, boundless in its sincerity, this was
all that could be done. Jeanne's refusal of his love was the end--
for him. He accepted his fate without argument. In an instant he
would have fought ten men--a hundred, naked-handed, if such a
fight would have given him a chance of winning Jeanne; he would
have died, laughing, happy, if it had been in a struggle for her.
But Jeanne herself had dealt him the blow.
For a long time he sat motionless in the chair facing the picture
on the wall. Then he rose to his feet, picked up the note, and
went to one of the little square windows that looked out into the
night. The moon had risen, and the sky was full of stars. He knew
that he was looking into the north, for the pale shimmer of the
aurora was in his face. He saw the black edge of the spruce
forest; the barren stretched out, pale and ghostly, into the night
He made an effort to open the window, but it was wedged tightly in
its heavy sill. He crossed the room, opened the door, and went
silently down the hall to the door through which Pierre had led
him a few hours before. It was not locked, and he passed out into
the night. The fresh air was like a tonic, and he walked swiftly
out into the moonlit spaces, until he found himself in the deep
shadow of the Sun Rock that towered like a sentinel giant above
his head. He made his way around its huge base, and then stopped,
close to where they had landed in the canoe. There was another
canoe drawn up beside Pierre's, and two figures stood out clear in
One of these was a man, the other a woman, and as Philip stopped,
wondering at the scene, the man advanced to the woman and caught
her in his embrace. He heard a voice, low and expostulating, which
sounded like Otille's, and in spite of his own misery Philip
smiled at this other love which had found its way to Fort o' God.