Part 5 out of 5
wonderful mystery of death, and he wondered if it was her spirit
that had been with him more than one lonely night, when his camp-
fire was low; if it was her presence that had filled him with
transcendent dreams of hope and love, coming to him that night
beside the rock at Churchill, and leading him at last to Jeanne,
for whom she had given up her life. He heard again the rising of
the wind outside and the beating of the storm against the window,
and he went softly to see if his vision could penetrate into the
white, twisting gloom beyond the glass. For many minutes he stood,
seeing nothing. And then he heard a sound, and turned to see
Jeanne and her father standing in the door. Glory was in the face
of the master of Fort o' God. He seemed not to see Philip--he
seemed to see nothing but the picture that was turned against the
wall. He strode across the room, his great shoulders straightened,
his shaggy head erect, and with the pride of one revealing first
to human eyes the masterpiece of his soul and life he turned the
picture so that the radiant face of the wife and mother looked
down upon him. And was it fancy that for a fleeting moment the
smile left the beautiful lips, and a light, soft and luminous,
pleading for love and forgiveness, filled the eyes of Jeanne's
mother? Philip trembled. Jeanne came across to him silently, and
crept into his arms. And then, slowly, the master of Fort o' God
turned toward them and stretched out both of his great arms.
"My children!" he said.
All that night the storm came out of the north and east. Hours
after Jeanne and her father had left him Philip went quietly from
his room, passed down the hall, and opened the outer door. He
could hear the gale whistling over the top of the great rock, and
moaning in the spruce and cedar forest, and he closed the door
after him, and buried himself in the darkness and wind. He bowed
his head to the stinging snow, which came like blasts of steeled
shot, and hurried into the shelter of the Sun Rock, and stood
there after that listening to the wildness of the storm and the
strange whistling of the wind cutting itself to pieces far over
his head. Since man had first beheld that rock such storms as this
had come and gone for countless generations. Two hundred years and
more had passed since Grosellier first looked out upon a wondrous
world from its summit. And yet this storm--to-night--whistling
and moaning about him, filling all space with its grief, its
triumph, and its madness, seemed to be for him--and for him alone.
His heart answered to it. His soul trembled to the marvelous
meaning of it. To-night this storm was his own. He was a part of a
world which he would never leave. Here, beside the great Sun Rock
of the Crees, he had found home, life, happiness, his God. Here,
henceforth through all time, he would live with his beloved
Jeanne, dreaming no dreams that went beyond the peace of the
mountains and the forests. He lifted his face to where the storm
swept above him, and for an instant he fancied that high up on the
ragged edge of the rock there might have stood Pierre, with his
great, gaping, hungry heart, filled with pain and yearning,
staring off into the face of the Almighty. And he fancied, too,
that beside him there hovered the wife and mother. And then he
looked to Fort o' God. The lights were out. Quiet, if not sleep,
had fallen upon all life within. And it seemed to Philip, as he
went back again through the storm, that in the moaning tumult of
the night there was music instead of sadness.
He did not sleep until nearly morning. And when he awoke he found
that the storm had passed, and that over a world of spotless white
there had risen a brilliant sun. He looked out from his window,
and saw the top of the Sun Rock glistening in a golden fire, and
where the forest trees had twisted and moaned there were now
unending canopies of snow, so that it seemed as though the storm,
in passing, had left behind only light, and beauty, and happiness
for all living things.
Trembling with the joy of this, Philip went to his door, and from
the door down the hall, and where the light of the sun blazed
through a window near to the great room where he expected to find
the master of Fort o' God, there stood Jeanne. And as she heard
him coming, and turned toward him, all the glory and beauty of the
wondrous day was in her face and hair. Like an angel she stood
waiting for him, pale and yet flushing a little, her eyes shining
and yearning for him, her soul in the tremble of the single word
on her sweet lips.
No more--and yet against each other their hearts told what it was
futile for their lips to attempt. They looked out through the
window. Beyond that window, as far as the vision could reach,
swept the barrens, over which Pierre had brought the little
Jeanne. Something sobbing rose in the girl's throat. She lifted
her eyes, swimming with love and tears, to Philip, and from his
breast she reached up both hands gently to his face.
"They will bring Pierre--to-day---" she whispered.
"We will bury him out yonder," she said, stroking his face, and he
knew that she meant out in the barren, where the mother lay.
He bowed his face close down against hers to hide the woman's
weakness that was bringing a misty film into his eyes.
"You love me," she whispered. "You love me--love me--and you will
never take me away, but will stay with me always. You will stay
here--dear--in my beautiful world--we two--alone--"
"For ever and for ever," he murmured.
They heard a step, firm and vibrant with the strength of a new
life, and they knew that it was the master of Fort o' God.
"Always--we two--forever," whispered Philip again.