Part 1 out of 3
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THE HERALDS OF FAME
BY ROBERT BARR
AUTHOR OF "A WOMAN INTERVENES," "IN THE MIDST OF ALARMS," "THE FACE AND
THE MASK," "FROM WHOSE BOURNE," ETC.
WITH FRONTISPIECE BY E. FREDERICK
John Trenton, artist, put the finishing touches to the letter he was
writing, and then read it over to himself. It ran as follows:--
"MY DEAR ED.,
"I sail for England on the 27th. But before I leave I want to have
another look at the Shawenegan Falls. Their roar has been in my ears
ever since I left there. That tremendous hillside of foam is before my
eyes night and day. The sketches I took are not at all satisfactory, so
this time I will bring my camera with me, and try to get some snapshots
at the falls.
"Now, what I ask is this. I want you to hold that canoe for me against
all comers for Tuesday. Also, those two expert half-breeds. Tell them I
am coming, and that there is money in it if they take me up and back as
safely as they did before. I don't suppose there will be much demand for
the canoe on that day; in fact, it astonishes me that Americans, who
appreciate the good things of our country better than we do ourselves,
practically know nothing of this superb cataract right at their own
doors. I suppose your new canoe is not finished yet, and as the others
are up in the woods I write so that you will keep this particular craft
for me. I do not wish to take any risks, as I leave so soon. Please drop
me a note to this hotel at Quebec, and I will meet you in Le Gres on
Tuesday morning at daybreak.
Mason was a millionaire and a lumber king, but every one called him
Ed. He owned baronial estates in the pine woods, and saw-mills without
number. Trenton had brought a letter of introduction to him from
a mutual friend in Quebec, who had urged the artist to visit the
Shawenegan Falls. He heard the Englishman inquire about the cataract,
and told him that he knew the man who would give him every facility
for reaching the falls. Trenton's acquaintance with Mason was about a
fortnight old, but already they were the firmest of friends. Any one who
appreciated the Shawenegan Falls found a ready path to the heart of the
big lumberman. It was almost impossible to reach the falls without the
assistance of Mr. Mason. However, he was no monopolist. Any person
wishing to visit the cataract got a canoe from the lumber king free
of all cost, except a tip to the two boatmen who acted as guides and
watermen. The artist had not long to wait for his answer. It was--
"My DEAR JOHN,
"The canoe is yours; the boatmen are yours: and the Shawenegan is yours
for Tuesday. Also,
"I am yours,
On Monday evening John Trenton stepped off the C.P.R. train at Three
Rivers. With a roughing-it suit on, and his camera slung over his
shoulders, no one would have taken him for the successful landscape
artist who on Piccadilly was somewhat particular about his attire.
John Trenton was not yet R.A., nor even A.R.A., but all his friends
would tell you that, if the Royal Academy was not governed by a clique,
he would have been admitted long ago, and that anyhow it was only a
question of time. In fact, John admitted this to himself, but to no one
He entered the ramshackle 'bus, and was driven a long distance through
very sandy streets to the hotel on the St. Lawrence, and, securing a
room, made arrangements to be called before daybreak. He engaged the
same driver who had taken him out to "The Greys," as it was, locally
called, on the occasion of his-former visit.
The morning was cold and dark. Trenton found the buckboard at the door,
and he put his camera under the one seat--a kind of a box for the
holding of bits of harness and other odds and ends. As he buttoned up
his overcoat he noticed that a great white steamer had come in the
night, and was tied up in front of the hotel.
"The Montreal boat," explained the driver.
As they drove along the silent streets of Three Rivers, Trenton called
to mind how, on the former occasion, he thought the Lower Canada
buckboard by all odds, the most uncomfortable vehicle he had ever ridden
in, and he felt that his present experience was going to corroborate
this first impression. The seat was set in the centre, between the front
and back wheels, on springy boards, and every time the conveyance jolted
over a log--a not unfrequent occurrence--the seat went down and the back
bent forward, as if to throw him over on the heels of the patient horse.
The road at first was long and straight and sandy, but during the latter
part of the ride there were plenty of hills, up many of which a plank
roadway ran; so that loads which it would be impossible to take through
the deep sand, might be hauled up the steep incline.
At first the houses they passed had a dark and deserted look; then a
light twinkled here and there. The early habitant was making his fire.
As daylight began gradually to bring out the landscape, the sharp sound
of the distant axe was heard. The early habitant was laying in his day's
supply of firewood.
"Do you notice how the dawn slowly materialises the landscape?" said the
artist to the boy beside him.
The boy saw nothing wonderful about that. Daylight always did it.
"Then it is not unusual in these parts? You see, I am very seldom up at
The boy wished that was his case.
"Does it not remind you of a photographer in a dark room carefully
developing a landscape plate? Not one of those rapid plates, you know,
but a slow, deliberate plate."
No, it didn't remind him of anything of the kind. He had never seen
either a slow or a rapid plate developed.
"Then you have no prejudices as to which is the best developer,
pyrogallic acid or ferrous oxalate, not to mention such recent
decoctions as eikonogen, quinol, and other?"
No, the boy had none.
"Well, that's what I like. I like a young man whose mind is open to
The boy was not a conversational success. He evidently did not enter
into the spirit of the artist's remarks. He said most people got off at
that point and walked to warm up, and asked Trenton if he would not like
to follow their example.
"No, my boy," said the Englishman, "I don't think I shall. You see, I
have paid for this ride, and I want to get all I can out of it. I shall
shiver here and try to get the worth of my money. But with you it is
different. If you want to get down, do so. I will drive."
The boy willingly handed over the reins, and sprang out on the road.
Trenton, who was a boy himself that morning, at once whipped up the
horse and dashed down the hill to get away from the driver. When a good
half-mile had been worried out of the astonished animal, Trenton looked
back to see the driver come panting after. The young man was calmly
sitting on the back part of the buckboard, and when the horse began to
walk again, the boy slid off, and, without a smile on his face, trotted
along at the side.
"That fellow has evidently a quiet sense of humour, although he is so
careful not to show it," said Trenton to himself.
On reaching the hilltop, they caught a glimpse of the rim of the sun
rising gloriously over the treetops on the other side of the St. Maurice
River. Trenton stopped the horse, and the boy looked up to see what was
wrong. He could not imagine any one stopping merely to look at the sun.
"Isn't that splendid?" cried Trenton, with a deep breath, as he watched
the great globe slowly ascend into the sky. The distant branches of the
trees were delicately etched against its glowing surface, and seemed to
cling to it like tendrils, slipping further and further down as the sun
leisurely disentangled itself, and at last stood in its incomparable
grandeur full above the forest.
The woods all around had on their marvellous autumn tints, and now the
sun added a living lustre to them that made the landscape more brilliant
than anything the artist had ever seen before.
"Ye gods!" he cried enthusiastically, "that scene is worth coming from
England to have one glimpse of."
"See here," said the driver, "if you want to catch Ed. Mason before he's
gone to the woods you'll have to hurry up. It's getting late."
"True, O driver. You have brought me from the sun to the earth. Have you
ever heard of the person who fell from the sun to the earth?"
No, he hadn't.
"Well, that was before your time. You will never take such a tumble. I--I
suppose they don't worship the sun in these parts?"
No, they didn't.
"When you come to think of it, that is very strange. Have you ever
reflected that it is always in warm countries they worship the sun? Now,
I should think ought to be just the other way about. Do you know that
when I got on with you this morning I was eighty years old, every day of
it. What do you think my age is now?"
"Eighty years, sir."
"Not a bit of it. I'm eighteen. The sun did it. And yet they claim there
is no fountain of youth. What fools people are, my boy!"
The young man looked at his fare slyly, and cordially agreed with him.
"You certainly _have_ a concealed sense of humour," said the artist.
They wound down a deep cut in the hill, and got a view of the lumber
village--their destination. The roar of the waters tumbling over the
granite rocks--the rocks from which the village takes its name--came up
the ravine. The broad river swept in a great semicircle to their right,
and its dark waters were flecked with the foam of the small falls near
the village, and the great cataract miles up the river. It promised to
be a perfect autumn day. The sky, which had seemed to Trenton overcast
when they started, was now one deep dome of blue without even the
suggestion of a cloud.
The buckboard drew up at the gate of the house in which Mr. Mason lived
when he was in the lumber village, although his home was at Three
Rivers. The old Frenchwoman, Mason's housekeeper, opened the door for
Trenton, and he remembered as he went in how the exquisite cleanliness
of everything had impressed him during his former visit. She smiled
as she recognised the genial Englishman. She had not forgotten his
compliments in her own language on her housekeeping some months before,
and perhaps she also remembered his liberality. Mr. Mason, she said, had
gone to the river to see after the canoe, leaving word that he would
return in a few minutes. Trenton, who knew the house, opened the door at
his right, to enter the sitting-room and leave there his morning wraps,
which the increasing warmth rendered no longer necessary. As he burst
into the room in his impetuous way, he was taken aback to see standing
at the window, looking out towards the river, a tall young woman.
Without changing her position, she looked slowly around at the intruder.
Trenton's first thought was a hasty wish that he were better dressed.
His roughing-it costume, which up to that time had seemed so
comfortable, now appeared uncouth and out of place. He felt as if he had
suddenly found himself in a London drawing-room with a shooting-jacket
on. But this sensation was quickly effaced by the look which the beauty
gave him over her shoulder. Trenton, in all his experience, had
never encountered such a glance of indignant scorn. It was a look of
resentment and contempt, with just a dash of feminine reproach in it.
"What have I done?" thought the unhappy man; then he stammered aloud,
"I--I--really--I beg your pardon. I thought the--ah--room was empty."
The imperious young woman made no reply. She turned to the window again,
and Trenton backed out of the room as best he could.
"Well!" he said to himself, as he breathed with relief the outside air
again, "that was the rudest thing I ever knew a lady to do. She _is_ a
lady, there is no doubt of that. There is nothing of the backwoods
about her. But she might at least have answered me. What have I done, I
wonder? It must be something terrible and utterly unforgivable, whatever
it is. Great heavens!" he murmured, aghast at the thought, "I hope that
girl isn't going up to the Shawenegan Falls."
Trenton was no ladies' man. The presence of women always disconcerted
him, and made him feel awkward and boorish. He had been too much of a
student in higher art to acquire the smaller art of the drawing-room. He
felt ill at ease in society, and seemed to have a fatal predilection
for saying the wrong thing, and suffered the torture afterwards of
remembering what the right thing would have been.
Trenton stood at the gate for a moment, hoping Mason would come.
Suddenly he remembered with confusion that he was directly in range of
those disdainful eyes in the parlour, and he beat a hasty retreat toward
the old mill that stood by the falls. The roar of the turbulent water
over the granite rocks had a soothing effect on the soul of the man who
knew he was a criminal, yet could not for the life of him tell what his
crime had been. Then he wandered up the river-bank toward where he saw
the two half-breeds placing the canoe in the still water at the further
end of the village. Half-way there he was relieved to meet the genial
Ed. Mason, who greeted him, as Trenton thought, with a somewhat
overwrought effusion. There evidently was something on the genial Ed.'s
"Hello, old man," he cried, shaking Trenton warmly by the hand. "Been
here long? Well, I declare, I'm glad to see you. Going to have a
splendid day for it, aren't you? Yes, sir, I _am_ glad to see you."
"When a man says that twice in one breath, a fellow begins to doubt him.
Now, you good-natured humbug, what's the matter? What have I done? How
did you find me out? Who turned Queen's evidence? Look here, Edward
Mason, why are you _not_ glad to see me?"
"Nonsense; you know I am. No one could be more welcome. By the way, my
wife's here. You never met her, I think?"
"I saw a young lady remarkably----"
"No, no; that is Miss ---- By the way, Trenton, I want you to do me a
favour, now that I think of it. Of course the canoe is yours for to-day,
but that young woman wants to go up to the Shawenegan. You wouldn't mind
her going up with you, would you? You see, I have no other canoe to-day,
and she can't stay till to-morrow."
"I shall be delighted, I'm sure," answered Trenton. But he didn't look
Eva Sommerton, of Boston, knew that she lived in the right portion of
that justly celebrated city, and this knowledge was evident in the
poise of her queenly head, and in every movement of her graceful form.
Blundering foreigners--foreigners as far as Boston is concerned,
although they may be citizens of the United States--considered Boston
to be a large city, with commerce and railroads and busy streets and
enterprising newspapers, but the true Bostonian knows that this view is
very incorrect. The real Boston is penetrated by no railroads. Even
the jingle of the street-car bell does not disturb the silence of the
streets of this select city. It is to the ordinary Boston what the
empty, out-of-season London is to the rest of the busy metropolis. The
stranger, jostled by the throng, may not notice that London is empty,
but his lordship, if he happens during the deserted period to pass
through, knows there is not a soul in town.
Miss Sommerton had many delusions, but fortunately for her peace of mind
she had never yet met a candid friend with courage enough to tell her
so. It would have required more bravery than the ordinary society person
possesses to tell Miss Sommerton about any of her faults. The young
gentlemen of her acquaintance claimed that she had no faults, and if her
lady friends thought otherwise, they reserved the expression of such
opinions for social gatherings not graced by the presence of Miss
Eva Sommerton thought she was not proud, or if there was any tinge of
pride in her character, it was pride of the necessary and proper sort.
She also possessed the vain belief that true merit was the one
essential, but if true merit had had the misfortune to be presented
to Miss Sommerton without an introduction of a strictly unimpeachable
nature, there is every reason to fear true merit would not have had the
exquisite privilege of basking in the smiles of that young Bostonian.
But perhaps her chief delusion was the belief that she was an artist.
She had learned all that Boston could teach of drawing, and this thin
veneer had received a beautiful foreign polish abroad. Her friends
pronounced her sketches really wonderful. Perhaps if Miss Sommerton's
entire capital had been something less than her half-yearly income, she
might have made a name for herself; but the rich man gets a foretaste of
the scriptural difficulty awaiting him at the gates of heaven, when he
endeavours to achieve an earthly success, the price of which is hard
labour, and not hard cash.
We are told that pride must have a fall, and there came an episode in
Miss Sommerton's career as an artist which was a rude shock to her
self-complacency. Having purchased a landscape by a celebrated artist
whose work she had long admired, she at last ventured to write to him
and enclose some of her own sketches, with a request for a candid
judgment of them--that is, she _said_ she wanted a candid judgment of
The reply seemed to her so ungentlemanly, and so harsh, that, in her
vexation and anger, she tore the letter to shreds and stamped her pretty
foot with a vehemence which would have shocked those who knew her only
as the dignified and self-possessed Miss Eva Sommerton.
Then she looked at her libelled sketches, and somehow they did not
appear to be quite so faultless as she had supposed them to be.
This inspection was followed by a thoughtful and tearful period of
meditation; and finally, with contriteness, the young woman picked up
from her studio floor the shreds of the letter and pasted them carefully
together on a white sheet of paper, in which form she still preserved
the first honest opinion she had ever received.
In the seclusion of her aesthetic studio Miss Sommerton made a heroic
resolve to work hard. Her life was to be consecrated to art. She would
win reluctant recognition from the masters. Under all this wave of
heroic resolution was an under-current of determination to get even with
the artist who had treated her work so contemptuously.
Few of us quite live up to our best intentions, and Miss Sommerton
was no exception to the rule. She did not work as devotedly as she had
hoped to do, nor did she become a recluse from society. A year after she
sent to the artist some sketches which she had taken in Quebec--some
unknown waterfalls, some wild river scenery--and received from him a
warmer letter of commendation than she had hoped for. He remembered
her former sketches, and now saw a great improvement. If the waterfall
sketches were not exaggerations, he would like to see the originals.
Where were they? The lady was proud of her discoveries in the almost
unknown land of Northern Quebec, and she wrote a long letter telling all
about them, and a polite note of thanks for the information ended the
Miss Sommerton's favourite discovery was that tremendous downward plunge
of the St. Maurice, the Falls of Shawenegan. She had sketched it from a
dozen different standpoints, and raved about it to her friends, if such
a dignified young person as Miss Sommerton could be said to rave over
anything. Some Boston people, on her recommendation, had visited the
falls, but their account of the journey made so much of the difficulties
and discomforts, and so little of the magnificence of the cataract, that
our amateur artist resolved to keep the falls, as it were, to herself.
She made yearly pilgrimages to the St. Maurice, and came to have a kind
of idea of possession which always amused Mr. Mason. She seemed to
resent the fact that others went to look at the falls, and, worse than
all, took picnic baskets there, actually lunching on its sacred shores,
leaving empty champagne bottles and boxes of sardines that had evidently
broken some one's favourite knife in the opening. This particular summer
she had driven out to "The Greys," but finding that a party was going up
in canoes every day that week, she promptly ordered her driver to take
her back to Three Rivers, saying to Mr. Mason she would return when she
could have the falls to herself."
"You remind me of Miss Porter," said the lumber king.
"Miss Porter! Who is she?"
"When Miss Porter visited England and saw Mr. Gladstone, he asked her if
she had ever seen the Niagara Falls. 'Seen them?' she answered. 'Why, I
"What did she mean by that? I confess I don't see the point, or perhaps
it isn't a joke."
"Oh yes, it is. You mustn't slight my good stories in that way. She
meant just what she said. I believe the Porter family own, or did
own, Goat Island, and, I suppose, the other bank, and, therefore,
the American Fall. The joke--I do dislike to have to explain
jokes, especially to you cool, unsympathising Bostonians--is the
ridiculousness of any mere human person claiming to own such a thing as
the Niagara Falls. I believe, though, that you are quite equal to it--I
"Thank you, Mr. Mason."
"I knew you would be grateful when I made myself clearly understood.
Now, what I was going to propose is this. You should apply to the
Canadian Government for possession of the Shawenegan. I think they would
let it go at a reasonable figure. They look on it merely as an annoying
impediment to the navigation of the river, and an obstruction which
has caused them to spend some thousands of dollars in building a slide
by the side of it, so that the logs may come down safely."
"If I owned it, the slide is the first thing I would destroy."
"What? And ruin the lumber industry of the Upper St. Maurice? Oh, you
wouldn't do such a thing! If that is your idea, I give you fair warning
that I will oppose your claims with all the arts of the lobbyist. If
you want to become the private owner of the falls, you should tell the
Government that you have some thoughts of encouraging the industries of
the province by building a mill----"
"Yes; why not? Indeed, I have half a notion to put a saw-mill there
myself. It always grieves me to see so much magnificent power going to
"Oh, seriously, Mr. Mason, you would never think of committing such an
act of sacrilege?"
"Sacrilege, indeed! I like that. Why, the man who makes one saw-mill hum
where no mill ever hummed before is a benefactor to his species. Don't
they teach political economy at Boston? I thought you liked saw-mills.
You drew a very pretty picture of the one down the stream."
"I admire a _ruined_ saw-mill, as that one was; but not one in a state
of activity, or of eruption, as a person might say."
"Well, won't you go up to the falls to-day, Miss Sommerton? I assure you
we have a most unexceptionable party. Why, one of them is a Government
official. Think of that!"
"I refuse to think of it; or, if I do think of it, I refuse to be
dazzled by his magnificence. I want to see the Shawenegan, not a picnic
"You wrong them, really you do, Miss Sommerton, believe me. You have got
your dates mixed. It is the champagne party that goes to-day. The beer
crowd is not due until to-morrow."
"The principle is the same."
"The price of the refreshment is not. I speak as a man of bitter
experience. Let's see. If recollection holds her throne, I think there
was a young lady from New England--I forget the name of the town at
the moment--who took a lunch with her the last time she went to the
Shawenegan. I merely give this as my impression, you know. I am open to
"Certainly, I took a lunch. I always do. I would to-day if I were going
up there, and Mrs. Mason would give me some sandwiches. You would give
me a lunch, wouldn't you, dear?"
"I'll tell them to get it ready now, if you will only stay," replied
that lady, on being appealed to.
"No, it isn't the lunch I object to. I object to people going there
merely _for_ the lunch. I go for the scenery; the lunch is incidental."
"When you get the deed of the falls, I'll tell you what we'll do," put
in Mason. "We will have a band of trained Indians stationed at the
landing, and they will allow no one to disembark who does not express
himself in sufficiently ecstatic terms about the great cataract. You
will draw up a set of adjectives, which I will give to the Indians,
instructing them to allow no one to land who does not use at least three
out of five of them in referring to the falls. People whose eloquent
appreciation does not reach the required altitude will have to stay
there till it does, that's all. We will treat them as we do our
juries--starve them into a verdict, and the right verdict at that."
"Don't mind him, Eva. He is just trying to exasperate you. Think of what
I have to put up with. He goes on like that all the time," said Mrs.
"Really, my dear, your flattery confuses me. You can't persuade any one
that I keep up this brilliancy in the privacy of my own house. It is
only turned on for company."
"Why, Mr. Mason, I didn't think you looked on me as company. I thought I
enjoyed the friendship of the Mason family."
"Oh, you do, you do indeed! The company I referred to was the official
party which has just gone to the falls. This is some of the brilliancy
left over. But, really, you had better stay after coming all this
"Yes, do, Eva. Let me go back with you to the Three Rivers, and then you
stay with me till next week, when you can visit the falls all alone. It
is very pleasant at Three Rivers just now. And besides, we can go for a
day's shopping at Montreal."
"I wish I could."
"Why, of course you can," said Mason. Imagine the delight of smuggling
your purchases back to Boston. Confess that this is a pleasure you
hadn't thought of."
"I admit the fascination of it all, but you see I am with a party that
has gone on to Quebec, and I just got away for a day. I am to meet them
there to-night or to-morrow morning. But I will return in the autumn,
Mrs. Mason, when it is too late for the picnics. Then, Mr. Mason, take
warning. I mean to have a canoe to myself, or--well, you know the way we
Bostonians treated you Britishers once upon a time."
"Distinctly. But we will return good for evil, and give you warm tea
instead of the cold mixture you so foolishly brewed in the harbour."
As the buckboard disappeared around the corner, and Mr. and Mrs. Mason
walked back to the house, the lady said--
"What a strange girl Eva is."
"Very. Don't she strike you as being a trifle selfish?"
"Selfish? Eva Sommerton? Why, what could make you think such a thing?
What an absurd idea! You cannot imagine how kind she was to me when I
"Who could help it, my dear? I would have been so myself if I had
happened to meet you there."
"Now, Ed., don't be absurd."
"There is something absurd in being kind to a person's wife, isn't
there? Well, it struck me her objection to any one else being at the
falls, when her ladyship was there, might seem--not to me, of course,
but to an outsider--a trifle selfish."
"Oh, you don't understand her at all. She has an artistic temperament,
and she is quite right in wishing to be alone. Now, Ed., when she does
come again I want you to keep anyone else from going up there. Don't
forget it, as you do most of the things I tell you. Say to anybody who
wants to go up that the canoes are out of repair."
"Oh, I can't say that, you know. Anything this side of a crime I am
willing to commit; but to perjure myself, no, not for Venice. Can you
think of any other method that will combine duplicity with a clear
conscience? I'll tell you what I'll do. I will have the canoe drawn up,
and gently, but firmly, slit it with my knife. One of the men can mend
it in ten minutes. Then I can look even the official from Quebec in the
face, and tell him truly that the canoe will not hold water. I suppose
as long as my story will hold water you and Miss Sommerton will not
"If the canoe is ready for her when she comes, I shall be satisfied.
Please to remember I am going to spend a week or two in Boston next
"Oh ho, that's it, is it? Then it was not pure philanthropy----"
"Pure nonsense, Ed. I want the canoe to be ready, that's all."
When Mrs. Mason received the letter from Miss Sommerton, stating the
time the young woman intended to pay her visit to the Shawenegan, she
gave the letter to her husband, and reminded him of the necessity of
keeping the canoe for that particular date. As the particular date was
some weeks off, and as Ed. Mason was a man who never crossed a stream
until he came to it, he said, "All right," put the letter in his inside
pocket, and the next time he thought of it was on the fine autumn
afternoon--Monday afternoon--when he saw Mrs. Mason drive up to the
door of his lumber-woods residence with Miss Eva Sommerton in the buggy
beside her. The young lady wondered, as Mr. Mason helped her out, if
that genial gentleman, whom she regarded as the most fortunate of men,
had in reality some secret, gnawing sorrow the world knew not of.
"Why, Ed., you look ill," exclaimed Mrs. Mason; "is there anything the
"Oh, it is nothing--at least, not of much consequence. A little business
worry, that's all."
"Has there been any trouble?"
"Oh no--at the least, not _yet_."
"Trouble about the men, is it?"
"No, not about the men," said the unfortunate gentleman, with a somewhat
unnecessary emphasis on the last word.
"Oh, Mr. Mason, I am afraid I have come at a wrong time. If so, don't
hesitate to tell me. If I can do anything to help you, I hope I may be
"You have come just at the right time," said the lumberman, "and you are
very welcome, I assure you. If I find I need help, as perhaps I may, you
will be reminded of your promise."
To put off as long as possible the evil time of meeting his wife,
Mason went with the man to see the horse put away, and he lingered an
unnecessarily long time in ascertaining that everything was right in the
stable. The man was astonished to find his master so particular that
afternoon. A crisis may be postponed, but it can rarely be avoided
altogether, and knowing he had to face the inevitable sooner or later,
the unhappy man, with a sigh, betook himself to the house, where he
found his wife impatiently waiting for him. She closed the door and
"Now, Ed., what's the matter?"
"Where's Miss Sommerton?" was the somewhat irrelevant reply.
"She has gone to her room. Ed, don't keep me in suspense. What is
"You remember John Trenton, who was here in the summer?"
"I remember hearing you speak of him. I didn't meet him, you know."
"Oh, that's so. Neither you did. You see, he's an awful good fellow,
Trenton is--that is, for an Englishman."
"Well, what has Trenton to do with the trouble?"
"Everything, my dear--everything."
"I see how it is. Trenton visited the Shawenegan?"
"And he wants to go there again?"
"And you have gone and promised him the canoe for to morrow?"
"The intuition of woman, my dear, is the most wonderful thing on earth."
"It is not half so wonderful as the negligence-of man--I won't say the
"Thank you, Jennie, for not saying it, but I really think I would feel
better if you did."
"Now, what are you going to do about it?"
"Well, my dear, strange as it may appear, that very question has been
racking my brain for the last ten minutes. Now, what would you do in my
"Oh, I couldn't be in your position."
"No, that's so, Jennie. Excuse me for suggesting the possibility. I
really think this trouble has affected my mind a little. But if you had
a husband--if a sensible woman like you _could_ have a husband who got
himself into such a position--what would you advise him to do?"
"Now, Ed., don't joke. It's too serious."
"My dear, no one on earth can have such a realisation of its seriousness
as I have at this moment. I feel as Mark Twain did with that novel he
never finished. I have brought things to a point where I can't go any
further. The game seems blocked. I wonder if Miss Sommerton would accept
ten thousand feet of lumber f.o.b. and call it square."
"Really, Ed., if you can't talk sensibly, I have nothing further to say."
"Well, as I said, the strain is getting too much for me. Now, don't
go away, Jennie. Here is what I am thinking of doing. I'll speak to
Trenton. He won't mind Miss Sommerton's going in the canoe with him. In
fact, I should think he would rather like it."
"Dear me, Ed., is that all the progress you've made? I am not troubling
myself about Mr. Trenton. The difficulty will be with Eva. Do you think
for a moment she will go if she imagined herself under obligations to a
stranger for the canoe? Can't you get Mr. Trenton to put off his visit
until the day after tomorrow? It isn't long to wait."
"No, that is impossible. You see, he has just time to catch his steamer
as it is. No, he has the promise in writing, while Miss Sommerton has no
legal evidence if this thing ever gets into the courts. Trenton has my
written promise. You see, I did not remember the two dates were the
same. When I wrote to Trenton----"
"Ed., don't try to excuse yourself. You had her letter in your pocket,
you know you had. This is a matter for which there is no excuse, and it
cannot be explained away."
"That's so, Jennie. I am down in the depths once more. I shall not try
to crawl out again--at least, not while my wife is looking."
"No, your plan will not work. I don't know that any will. There is only
one thing to try, and it is this--Miss Sommerton must think that the
canoe is hers. You must appeal to her generosity to let Mr. Trenton go
"Won't you make the appeal, Jen?"
"No, I will not. In the first place she'll be sorry for you, because you
will make such a bungle of it. Trial is your only hope."
"Oh, if success lies in bungling, I will succeed."
"Don't be too sure. I suppose that man will be here by daybreak
"Not so bad as that, Jennie. You always try to put the worst face on
things. He won't be here till sunrise at the earliest."
"I will ask Eva to come down."
"You needn't hurry just because of me. Besides, I would like a few
moments to prepare myself for my fate. Even a murderer is given a little
"Not a moment, Ed. We had better get this thing settled as soon as
"Perhaps you are right," he murmured, with a deep sigh. "Well, if we
Britishers, as Miss S. calls us, ever faced the Americans with as faint
a heart as I do now, I don't wonder we got licked."
"Don't say 'licked,' Ed."
"I believe it's historical. Oh, I see. You object to the word, not to
the allegation. Well, I won't cavil about that. All my sympathy just now
is concentrated on one unfortunate Britisher. My dear, let the sacrifice
Mrs. Mason went to the stairway and called--
"Eva, dear, can you come down for a moment? We want you to help us out
of a difficulty."
Miss Sommerton appeared smilingly, smoothing down the front of the dress
that had taken the place of the one she travelled in. She advanced
towards Mason with sweet compassion in her eyes, and that ill-fated
man thought he had never seen any one look so altogether
charming--excepting, of course, his own wife in her youthful days. She
seemed to have smoothed away all the Boston stiffness as she smoothed
"Oh, Mr. Mason," she said, sympathetically, as she approached, "I am
so sorry anything has happened to trouble you, and I do hope I am not
"Indeed, you are not, Miss Eva. In fact, your sympathy has taken away
half the trouble already, and I want to beg of you to help me off with
the other half."
A glance at his wife's face showed him that he had not made a bad
"Miss Sommerton, you said you would like to kelp me. Now I am going to
appeal to you. I throw myself on your mercy."
There was a slight frown on Mrs. Mason's face, and her husband felt that
he was perhaps appealing too much.
"In fact, the truth is, my wife gave me----"
Here a cough interrupted him, and he paused and ran his hand through
his hair. "Pray don't mind me, Mr. Mason," said Miss Sommerton, "if you
would rather not tell----"
"Oh, but I must; that is, I want you to know."
He glanced at his wife, but there was no help there, so he plunged in
"To tell the truth, there is a friend of mine who wants to go to the
falls tomorrow. He sails for Europe immediately, and has no other day."
The Boston rigidity perceptibly returned.
"Oh, if that is all, you needn't have had a moment's trouble. I can just
as well put off my visit."
"Oh, can you?" cried Mason, joyously.
His wife sat down in the rocking-chair with a sigh of despair. Her
infatuated husband thought he was getting along famously.
"Then your friends are not waiting for you at Quebec this time, and you
can stay a day or two with us."
"Eva's friends are at Montreal, Edward, and she cannot stay."
"Oh, then--why, then, to-morrow's _your_ only day, too?"
"It doesn't matter in the least, Mr. Mason. I shall be most glad to put
off my visit to oblige your friend--no, I didn't mean that," she cried,
seeing the look of anguish on Mason's face, "it is to oblige you. Now,
am I not good?"
"No, you are cruel," replied Mason. "You are going up to the falls. I
insist on that. Let's take that as settled. The canoe is yours." He
caught an encouraging look from his wife. "If you want to torture me you
will say you will not go. If you want to do me the greatest of favours,
you will let my friend go in the canoe with you to the landing."
"What! go alone with a stranger?" cried Miss Sommerton, freezingly.
"No, the Indians will be there, you know."
"Oh, I didn't expect to paddle the canoe myself."
"I don't know about that. You strike me as a girl who would paddle her
own canoe pretty well."
"Now, Edward," said his wife. "He wants to take some photographs of the
"Photographs? Why, Ed., I thought you said he was an artist."
"Isn't a photographer an artist?"
"You know he isn't."
"Well, my dear, you know they put on their signs, 'artist--photographer,
pictures taken in cloudy weather.' But he's an amateur photographer; an
amateur is not so bad as a professional, is he, Miss Sommerton?"
"I think he's worse, if there is any choice. A professional at least
takes good pictures, such as they are."
"He is an elderly gentleman, and I am sure----"
"Oh, is he?" cried Miss Sommerton; "then the matter is settled. He shall
go. I thought it was some young fop of an amateur photographer."
"Oh, quite elderly. His hair is grey, or badly tinged at least."
The frown on Mrs. Sommerton's brow cleared away, and she smiled in a
manner that was cheering to the heart of her suppliant. He thought it
reminded him of the sun breaking through the clouds over the hills
beyond the St. Maurice.
"Why, Mr. Mason, how selfishly I've been acting, haven't I? You really
must forgive me. It is so funny, too, making you beg for a seat in your
"Oh no, it's your canoe--that is, after twelve o'clock to-night. That's
when your contract begins."
"The arrangement does not seem to me quite regular; but, then, this
is the Canadian woods, and not Boston. But, I want to make my little
proviso. I do not wish to be introduced to this man; he must have no
excuse for beginning a conversation with me. I don't want to talk
"Heroic resolution," murmured Mason.
"So, I do not wish to see the gentleman until I go into the canoe. You
can be conveniently absent. Mrs. Perrault will take me down there; she
speaks no English, and it is not likely he can speak French."
"We can arrange that."
"Then it is settled, and all I hope for is a good day to-morrow."
Mrs. Mason sprang up and kissed the fair Bostonian, and Mason felt a
sensation of joyous freedom that recalled his youthful days when a
half-holiday was announced.
"Oh, it is too good of you," said the elder lady.
"Not a bit of it," whispered Miss Sommerton; "I hate the man before I
have seen him."
When John Trenton came in to breakfast, he found his friend Mason
waiting for him. That genial gentleman was evidently ill at ease, but he
said in an offhand way--
"The ladies have already breakfasted. They are busily engaged in the
preparations for the trip, and so you and I can have a snack together,
and then we will go and see to the canoe."
After breakfast they went together to the river, and found the canoe and
the two half-breeds waiting for them. A couple of rugs were spread on
the bottom of the canoe rising over the two slanting boards which served
as backs to the lowly seats.
"Now," said Mason with a blush, for he always told a necessary lie with
some compunction, "I shall have to go and see to one of my men who was
injured in the mill this morning. You had better take your place in the
canoe, and wait for your passenger, who, as is usual with ladies, will
probably be a little late. I think you should sit in the back seat, as
you are the heavier of the two. I presume you remember what I told you
about sitting in a canoe? Get in with caution while these two men hold
the side of it; sit down carefully, and keep steady, no matter what
happens. Perhaps you may as well put your camera here at the back, or in
"No," said Trenton, "I shall keep it slung over my shoulder. It isn't
heavy, and I am always afraid of forgetting it if I leave it anywhere."
Trenton got cautiously into the canoe, while Mason bustled off with
a very guilty feeling at his heart. He never thought of blaming Miss
Sommerton for the course she had taken, and the dilemma into which she
placed him, for he felt that the fault was entirely his own.
John Trenton pulled out his pipe, and, absent-mindedly, stuffed it full
of tobacco. Just as he was about to light it, he remembered there was to
be a lady in the party, and so with a grimace of disappointment he put
the loaded pipe into his pocket again.
It was the most lovely time of the year. The sun was still warm, but the
dreaded black fly and other insect pests of the region had disappeared
before the sharp frosts that occurred every night. The hilly banks of
the St. Maurice were covered with unbroken forest, and "the woods of
autumn all around, the vale had put their glory on." Presently Trenton
saw Miss Sommerton, accompanied by old Mrs. Perrault, coming over the
brow of the hill. He attempted to rise, in order to assist the lady to a
seat in the canoe, when the half-breed-said in French--:
"Better sit still. It is safer. We will help the lady."
Miss Sommerton was talking rapidly in French--with rather overdone
eagerness--to Mrs. Perrault. She took no notice of her fellow-voyager as
she lightly stepped exactly in the centre of the canoe, and sank down on
the rug in front of him, with the ease of one thoroughly accustomed to
that somewhat treacherous craft. The two stalwart boatmen--one at the
prow, the other at the stern of the canoe--with swift and dexterous
strokes, shot it out into the stream. Trenton could not but admire the
knowledge of these two men and their dexterous use of it. Here they
were on a swiftly flowing river, with a small fall behind them and a
tremendous cataract several miles in front, yet these two men, by their
knowledge of the currents, managed to work their way up stream with the
least possible amount of physical exertion. The St. Maurice at this
point is about half a mile wide, with an island here and there, and now
and then a touch of rapids. Sometimes the men would dash right across
the river to the opposite bank, and there fall in with a miniature Gulf
Stream that would carry them onward without exertion. Sometimes they
were near the densely wooded shore, sometimes in the center of the
river. The half-breed who stood behind Trenton, leant over to him, and
"You can now smoke if you like, the wind is down stream."
Naturally, Mr. Trenton wished to smoke. The requesting of permission to
do so, it struck him, might open the way to conversation. He was not an
ardent conversationalist, but it seemed to him rather ridiculous that
two persons should thus travel together in a canoe without saying a word
to each other.
"I beg your pardon, madam," he began; "but would you have any objection
to my smoking? I am ashamed to confess that I am a slave to the
There was a moment or two of silence, broken only by the regular dip of
the paddle, then Miss Sommerton said, "If you wish to desecrate this
lovely spot by smoking, I presume anything I can say will not prevent
Trenton was amazed at the rudeness of this reply, and his face flushed
with anger. Finally he said, "You must have a very poor opinion of me!"
Miss Sommerton answered tartly, "I have no opinion whatever of you."
Then, with womanly inconsistency, she proceeded to deliver her opinion,
saying, "A man who would smoke here would smoke in a cathedral."
"I think you are wrong there," said Mr. Trenton, calmly. "I would smoke
here, but I would not think of smoking in a cathedral. Neither would I
smoke in the humblest log-cabin chapel."
"Sir," said Miss Sommerton, turning partly round, "I came to the St.
Maurice for the purpose of viewing its scenery. I hoped to see it alone.
I have been disappointed in that, but I must insist on seeing it in
silence. I do not wish to carry on a conversation, nor do I wish to
enter into a discussion on any subject whatever. I am sorry to have to
say this, but it seems to be necessary."
Her remarks so astonished Trenton that he found it impossible to get
angrier than he had been when she first spoke. In fact, he found his
anger receding rather than augmenting. It was something so entirely
new to meet a lady who had such an utter disregard for the rules of
politeness that obtain in any civilized society that Mr. Trenton felt he
was having a unique and valuable experience.
"Will you pardon me," he said, with apparent submissiveness--"will you
pardon me if I disregard your request sufficiently to humbly beg
forgiveness for having spoken to you in the first place?"
To this Miss Sommerton made no reply, and the canoe glided along.
After going up the river for a few miles the boatmen came to a difficult
part of the voyage. Here the river was divided by an island. The dark
waters moved with great swiftness, and with the smoothness of oil, over
the concealed rocks, breaking into foam at the foot of the rapids. Now
for the first time the Indians had hard work. For quite half an hour
they paddled as if in despair, and the canoe moved upward inch by inch.
It was not only hard work, but it was work that did not allow of a
moment's rest until it was finished, Should the paddles pause but an
instant, the canoe would be swept to the bottom of the rapids. When
at last the craft floated into the still water above the rapids, the
boatmen rested and mopped the perspiration from their brows. Then,
without a word, they resumed their steady, easy swing of the paddle. In
a short time the canoe drew up at a landing, from which a path ascended
the steep hill among the trees. The silence was broken only by the deep,
distant, low roar of the Shawenegen Falls. Mr. Trenton sat in his place,
while the half-breeds held the canoe steady. Miss Sommerton rose and
stepped with firm, self-reliant tread on the landing. Without looking
backward she proceeded up the steep hill, and disappeared among the
dense foliage. Then Trenton leisurely got out of the canoe.
"You had a hard time of it up that rapid," said the artist in French to
the boatmen. "Here is a five-dollar bill to divide when you get down;
and, if you bring us safely back, I shall have another ready for you."
The men were profusely grateful, as indeed they had a right to be, for
the most they expected was a dollar each as a fee.
"Ah," said the elder, "if we had gentlemen like you to take up every
day," and he gave an expressive shrug.
"You shouldn't take such a sordid view of the matter," said the artist.
"I should think you would find great pleasure in taking up parties of
handsome ladies such as I understand now and then visit the falls."
"Ah," said the boatman, "it is very nice, of course; but, except from
Miss Sommerton, we don't get much."
"Really," said the artist; "and who is Miss Sommerton, pray?"
The half-breed nodded up the path.
"Oh, indeed, that is her name. I did not know."
"Yes," said the man, "she is very generous, and she always brings us
tobacco in her pocket--good tobacco."
"Tobacco!" cried the artist. "The arrant hypocrite. She gives you
tobacco, does she? Did you understand what we were talking about coming
The younger half-breed was about to say "Yes," and a gleam of
intelligence came into his face; but a frown on the other's brow checked
him, and the elder gravely shook his head.
"We do not understand English," he said.
As Trenton walked slowly up the steep hillside, he said to himself,
"That young woman does not seem to have the slightest spark of gratitude
in her composition. Here I have been good-natured enough, to share my
canoe with her, yet she treats me as if I were some low ruffian instead
of a gentleman."
As Miss Sommerton was approaching the Shawenegan Falls, she said to
herself, "What an insufferable cad that man is? Mr. Mason doubtless told
him that he was indebted to me for being allowed to come in the canoe,
and yet, although he must see I do not wish to talk with him, he tried
to force conversation on me."
Miss Sommerton walked rapidly along the very imperfect woodland path,
which was completely shaded by the overhanging trees. After a walk
of nearly a mile, the path suddenly ended at the top of a tremendous
precipice of granite, and opposite this point the great hillside of
tumbling white foam plunged for ever downward. At the foot of the falls
the waters flung themselves against the massive granite barrier, and
then, turning at a right angle, plunged downward in a series of wild
rapids that completely eclipsed in picturesqueness and grandeur and
force even the famous rapids at Niagara. Contemplating this incomparable
scene, Miss Sommerton forgot all about her objectionable travelling
companion. She sat down on a fallen log, placing her sketch-book on her
lap, but it lay there idly as, unconscious of the passing time, she
gazed dreamily at the great falls and listened to their vibrating
deafening roar. Suddenly the consciousness of some one near startled
her from her reverie. She sprang to her feet, and had so completely
forgotten her companion that she stared at him for a moment in dumb
amazement. He stood back some distance from her, and beside him on its
slender tripod was placed a natty little camera. Connected with the
instantaneous shutter was a long black rubber tube almost as thin as a
string. The bulb of this instantaneous attachment Mr. Trenton held in
his hand, and the instant Miss Sommerton turned around, the little
shutter, as if in defiance of her, gave a snap, and she knew her picture
had been taken, and also that she was the principal object in the
"You have photographed me, sir!" cried the young woman, with her eyes
"I have photographed the falls, or, at least, I hope I have," replied
"But my picture is in the foreground. You must destroy that plate."
"You will excuse me, Miss Sommerton, if I tell you I shall do nothing of
the kind. It is very unusual with me to deny the request of a lady, but
in this case I must do so. This is the last plate I have, and it may be
the one successful picture of the lot. I shall, therefore, not destroy
"Then, sir, you are not a gentleman!" cried the impetuous young lady,
her face aflame with anger.
"I never claimed to be one," answered Trenton, calmly.
"I shall appeal to Mr. Mason; perhaps he has some means of making you
understand that you are not allowed to take a lady's photograph without
her permission, and in defiance of her wishes."
"Will you allow me to explain why it is unnecessary to destroy the
plate? If you understand anything about photography, you must be aware
of the fact----"
"I am happy to say I know nothing of photography, and I desire to know
nothing of it. I will not hear any explanation from you, sir. You have
refused to destroy the plate. That is enough for me. Your conduct to-day
has been entirely contemptible. In the first place you have forced
yourself, through Mr. Mason, into my company. The canoe was mine for
to-day, and you knew it. I granted you permission to come, but I made it
a proviso that there should be no conversation. Now, I shall return in
the canoe alone, and I shall pay the boatmen to come back for you this
evening." With this she swept indignantly past Mr. Trenton, leaving the
unfortunate man for the second or third time that day too much
dumbfounded to reply. She marched down the path toward the landing.
Arriving at the canoe, she told the boatmen they would have to return
for Mr. Trenton; that she was going back alone, and she would pay them
handsomely for their extra trip. Even the additional pay offered did not
seem to quite satisfy the two half-breeds.
"It will be nearly dark before we can get back," grumbled the elder
"That does not matter," replied Miss Sommerton, shortly.
"But it is dangerous going down the river at night."
"That does not matter," was again the reply.
"But he has nothing----"
"The longer you stand talking here the longer it will be before you get
back. If you are afraid for the safety of the gentleman, pray stay here
with him and give me the paddle--I will take the boat down alone."
The boatman said nothing more, but shot the canoe out from the landing
and proceeded rapidly down the stream.
Miss Sommerton meditated bitterly on the disappointments and annoyances
of the day. Once fairly away, conscience began to trouble her, and she
remembered that the gentleman so unceremoniously left in the woods
without any possibility of getting away was a man whom Mr. Mason, her
friend, evidently desired very much to please. Little had been said by
the boatmen, merely a brief word of command now and then from the elder
who stood in the stern, until they passed down the rapids. Then Miss
Sommerton caught a grumbling word in French which made her heart stand
"What is that you said?" she cried to the elder boatman.
He did not answer, but solemnly paddled onward.
"Answer me," demanded Miss Sommerton. "What is that you said about the
gentleman who went up with us this morning?"
"I said," replied the half-breed, with a grim severity that even the
remembrance of gifts of tobacco could not mitigate, "that the canoe
belonged to him today."
"How dare you say such a thing! The canoe was mine. Mr. Mason gave it to
me. It was mine for to-day."
"I know nothing about that," returned the boatman doggedly; "but I do
know that three days ago Mr. Mason came to me with this gentleman's
letter in his hand and said, 'Pierre, Mr. Trenton is to have the canoe
for Tuesday. See it is in good order, and no one else is to have it for
that day.' That is what Mr. Mason said, and when they were down at the
canoe this morning, Mr. Mason asked Mr. Trenton if he would let you go
up to the falls in his canoe, and he said 'Yes.'"
Miss Sommerton sat there too horrified to speak. A wild resentment
against the duplicity of Ed. Mason arose for a moment in her heart, but
it speedily sank as she viewed her own conduct in the light of this
astounding revelation. She had abused an unknown gentleman like a
pickpocket, and had finally gone off with his canoe, leaving him
marooned, as it were, to whose courtesy she was indebted for being there
at all. Overcome by the thoughts that crowded so quickly upon her, she
buried her face in her hands and wept. But this was only for an instant.
Raising her head again, with the imperious air characteristic of her,
she said to the boatman--
"Turn back at once, please."
"We are almost there now," he answered, amazed at the feminine
inconsistency of the command.
"Turn back at once, I say. You are not too tired to paddle up the river
again, are you?"
"No, madame," he answered, "but it is so useless; we are almost there.
We shall land you, and then the canoe will go up lighter."
"I wish to go with you. Do what I tell you, and I will pay you."
The stolid boatman gave the command; the man at the bow paddled one way,
while the man at the stern paddled another, and the canoe swung round
The sun had gone down when Miss Sommerton put her foot once more on the
"We will go and search for him," said the boatman.
"Stay where you are," she commanded, and disappeared swiftly up the
path. Expecting to find him still at the falls, she faced the prospect
of a good mile of rough walking in the gathering darkness without
flinching. But at the brow of the hill, within hearing distance of the
landing, she found the man of whom she was in search. In her agony of
mind Miss Sommerton had expected to come upon him pacing moodily up and
down before the falls, meditating on the ingratitude of womankind. She
discovered him in a much less romantic attitude. He was lying at full
length below a white birch-tree, with his camera-box under his head for
a pillow. It was evident he had seen enough of the Shawenegan Falls for
one day, and doubtless, because of the morning's early rising, and the
day's long journey, had fallen soundly asleep. His soft felt hat lay on
the ground beside him. Miss Sommerton looked at him for a moment, and
thought bitterly of Mason's additional perjury in swearing that he was
an elderly man. True, his hair was tinged with grey at the temples, but
there was nothing elderly about his appearance. Miss Sommerton saw that
he was a handsome man, and wondered this had escaped her notice before,
forgetting that she had scarcely deigned to look at him. She thought he
had spoken to her with inexcusable bluntness at the falls, in refusing
to destroy his plate; but she now remembered with compunction that he
had made no allusion to his ownership of the boat for that day, while
she had boasted that it was hers. She determined to return and send one
of the boatmen up to awaken him, but at that moment Trenton suddenly
opened his eyes, as a person often does when some one looks at him
in his sleep. He sprang quickly to his feet, and put up his hand in
bewilderment to remove his hat, but found it wasn't there. Then he
laughed uncomfortably, stooping to pick it up again.
"I--I--I wasn't expecting visitors," he stammered--
"Why did you not tell me," she said, "that Mr. Mason had promised you
the boat for the day?"
"Good gracious!" cried Trenton, "has Ed. Mason told you that?"
"I have not seen Mr. Mason," she replied; "I found it out by catching an
accidental remark made by one of the boat-men. I desire very humbly to
apologise to you for my conduct."
"Oh, that doesn't matter at all, I assure you."
"What! My conduct doesn't?"
"No, I didn't mean quite that; but I ---- Of course, you did treat me
rather abruptly; but then, you know, I saw how it was. You looked on me
as an interloper, as it were, and I think you were quite justified, you
know, in speaking as you did. I am a very poor hand at conversing with
ladies, even at my best, and I am not at my best to-day. I had to get
up too early, so there is no doubt what I said was said very awkwardly
indeed. But it really doesn't matter, you know--that is, it doesn't
matter about anything you said."
"I think it matters very much--at least, it matters very much to me. I
shall always regret having treated you as I did, and I hope you will
forgive me for having done so."
"Oh, that's all right," said Mr. Trenton, swinging his camera over his
shoulder. "It is getting dark, Miss Sommerton; I think we should hurry
down to the canoe."
As they walked down the hill together, he continued--
"I wish you would let me give you a little lesson in photography, if you
"I have very little interest in photography, especially amateur
photography," replied Miss Sommerton, with a partial return of her old
"Oh, I don't wish to make an amateur photographer of you. You sketch
very nicely, and--"
"How do you know that?" asked Miss Sommerton, turning quickly towards
him: "you have never seen any of my sketches."
"Ah, well," stammered Trenton, "no--that is--you know--are not those
water-colours in Mason's house yours?"
"Mr. Mason has some of my sketches. I didn't know you had seen them."
"Well, as I was saying," continued Trenton, "I have no desire to convert
you to the beauties of amateur photography. I admit the results in many
cases are very bad. I am afraid if you saw the pictures I take myself
you would not be much in love with the art. But what I wish to say is in
mitigation of my refusal to destroy the plate when you asked me to."
"Oh, I beg you will not mention that, or refer to anything at all I have
said to you. I assure you it pains me very much, and you know I have
apologised once or twice already."
"Oh, it isn't that. The apology should come from me; but I thought I
would like to explain why it is that I did not take your picture, as you
thought I did."
"Not take my picture? Why I _saw_ you take it. You admitted yourself you
"Well, you see, that is what I want to explain. I took your picture, and
then again I didn't take it. This is how it is with amateur photography.
Your picture on the plate will be a mere shadow, a dim outline, nothing
more. No one can tell who it is. You see, it is utterly impossible to
take a dark object and one in pure white at the instantaneous snap. If
the picture of the falls is at all correct, as I expect it will be, then
your picture will be nothing but a shadow unrecognisable by any one."
"But they do take pictures with the cataract as a background, do they
not? I am sure I have seen photos of groups taken at Niagara Falls; in
fact, I have seen groups being posed in public for that purpose, and
very silly they looked, I must say. I presume that is one of the things
that has prejudiced me so much against the camera."
"Those pictures, Miss Sommerton, are not genuine; they are not at all
what they pretend to be. The prints that you have seen are the results
of the manipulation of two separate plates, one of the plates containing
the group or the person photographed, and the other an instantaneous
picture of the falls. If you look closely at one of those pictures you
will see a little halo of light or dark around the person photographed.
That, to an experienced photographer, shows the double printing. In
fact, it is double dealing all round. The deluded victim of the camera
imagines that the pictures he gets of the falls, with himself in the
foreground, is really a picture of the falls taken at the time he is
being photographed. Whereas, in the picture actually taken of him, the
falls themselves are hopelessly over-exposed, and do not appear at all
on the plate. So with the instantaneous picture I took; there will
really be nothing of you on that plate that you would recognise as
yourself. That was why I refused to destroy it."
"I am afraid," said Miss Sommerton, sadly, "you are trying to make my
punishment harder and harder. I believe in reality you are very cruel.
You know how badly I feel about the whole matter, and now even the one
little point that apparently gave me any excuse is taken away by your
"Candidly, Miss Sommerton, I am more of a culprit than you imagine, and
I suppose it is the tortures of a guilty conscience that caused me to
make this explanation. I shall now confess without reserve. As you sat
there with your head in your hand looking at the falls, I deliberately
and with malice aforethought took a timed picture, which, if developed,
will reveal you exactly as you sat, and which will not show the falls at
Miss Sommerton walked in silence beside him, and he could not tell just
how angry she might be. Finally he said, "I shall destroy that plate, if
you order me to."
Miss Sommerton made no reply, until they were nearly at the canoe. Then
she looked up at him with a smile, and said, "I think it a pity to
destroy any pictures you have had such trouble to obtain."
"Thank you, Miss Sommerton," said the artist. He helped her into the
canoe in the gathering dusk, and then sat down himself. But neither of
them saw the look of anxiety on the face of the elder boatman. He knew
the River St. Maurice.
From the words the elder boatman rapidly addressed to the younger, it
was evident to Mr. Trenton that the half-breed was anxious to pass the
rapids before it became very much darker.
The landing is at the edge of comparatively still water. At the bottom
of the falls the river turns an acute angle and flows to the west. At
the landing it turns with equal abruptness, and flows south.
The short westward section of the river from the falls to the point
where they landed is a wild, turbulent rapid, in which no boat can live
for a moment. From the Point downwards, although the water is covered
with foam, only one dangerous place has to be passed. Toward that spot
the stalwart half-breeds bent all their energy in forcing the canoe down
with the current. The canoe shot over the darkening rapid with the speed
of an arrow. If but one or two persons had been in it, the chances are
the passage would have been made in safety. As it was one wrong turn of
the paddle by the younger half-breed did the mischief. The bottom barely
touched a sharp-pointed hidden rock, and in an instant the canoe was
slit open as with a knife.
As he sat there Trenton felt the cold water rise around him with a
quickness that prevented his doing anything, even if he had known what
"Sit still!" cried the elder boatman; and then to the younger he shouted
sharply, "The shore!"
They were almost under the hanging trees when the four found themselves
in the water. Trenton grasped an overhanging branch with one hand, and
with the other caught Miss Sommerton by the arm. For a moment it was
doubtful whether the branch would hold. The current was very swift, and
it threw each of them against the rock bank, and bent the branch down
into the water.
"Catch hold of me!" cried Trenton. "Catch hold of my coat; I need both
Miss Sommerton, who had acted with commendable bravery throughout, did
as she was directed. Trenton, with his released hand, worked himself
slowly up the branch, hand over hand, and finally catching a sapling
that grew close to the water's edge, with a firm hold, reached down and
helped Miss Sommerton on the bank. Then he slowly drew himself up to a
safe position and looked around for any signs of the boatmen. He shouted
loudly, but there was no answer.
"Are they drowned, do you think?" asked Miss Sommerton, anxiously.
"No, I don't suppose they are; I don't think you _could_ drown a
half-breed. They have done their best to drown us, and as we have
escaped I see no reason why they should drown."
"Oh, it's all my fault! all my fault!" wailed Miss Sommerton.
"It is, indeed," answered Trenton, briefly.
She tried to straighten herself up, but, too wet and chilled and limp to
be heroic, she sank on a rock and began to cry.
"Please don't do that," said the artist, softly. "Of course I shouldn't
have agreed with you. I beg pardon for having done so, but now that we
are here, you are not to shirk your share of the duties. I want you to
search around and get materials for a fire."
"Search around?" cried Miss Sommerton dolefully.
"Yes, search around. Hunt, as you Americans say. You have got us into
this scrape, so I don't propose you shall sit calmly by and not take any
of the consequences."
"Do you mean to insult me, Mr. Trenton, now that I am helpless?"
"If it is an insult to ask you to get up and gather some wood and bring
it here, then I do mean to insult you most emphatically. I shall gather
some, too, for we shall need a quantity of it."
Miss Sommerton rose indignantly, and was on the point of threatening to
leave the place, when a moment's reflection showed her that she didn't
know where to go, and remembering she was not as brave in the darkness
and in the woods as in Boston, she meekly set about the search for dry
twigs and sticks. Flinging down the bundle near the heap Trenton had
already collected, the young woman burst into a laugh.
"Do you see anything particularly funny in the situation?" asked
Trenton, with chattering teeth. "I confess I do not."
"The funniness of the situation is that we should gather wood, when, if
there is a match in your pocket, it must be so wet as to be useless."
"Oh, not at all. You must remember I come from a very damp climate, and
we take care of our matches there. I have been in the water before now
on a tramp, and my matches are in a silver case warranted to keep out
the wet." As he said this Trenton struck a light, and applied it to the
small twigs and dry autumn leaves. The flames flashed up through the
larger sticks, and in a very few moments a cheering fire was blazing,
over which Trenton threw armful after armful of the wood he had
"Now," said the artist, "if you will take off what outer wraps you have
on, we can spread them here, and dry them. Then if you sit, first facing
the fire and next with your back to it, and maintain a sort of rotatory
motion, it will not be long before you are reasonably dry and warm."
Miss Sommerton laughed, but there was not much merriment in her
"Was there ever anything so supremely ridiculous?" she said. "A
gentleman from England gathering sticks, and a lady from Boston gyrating
before the fire. I am glad you are not a newspaper man, for you might be
tempted to write about the situation for some sensational paper."
"How do you know I am not a journalist?"
"Well, I hope you are not. I thought you were a photographer."
"Oh, not a professional photographer, you know."
"I am sorry; I prefer the professional to the amateur."
"I like to hear you say that."
"Why? It is not very complimentary, I am sure."
"The very reason I like to hear you say it. If you were complimentary
I would be afraid you were going to take a chill and be ill after this
disaster; but now that you are yourself again, I have no such fear."
"Myself again!" blazed the young woman. "What do you know about me?
How do you know whether I am myself or somebody else? I am sure our
acquaintance has been very short."
"Counted by time, yes. But an incident like this, in the wilderness,
does more to form a friendship, or the reverse, than years of ordinary
acquaintance in Boston or London. You ask how I know that you are
yourself. Shall I tell you?"
"If you please."
"Well, I imagine you are a young lady who has been spoilt. I think
probably you are rich, and have had a good deal of your own way in this
world. In fact, I take it for granted that you have never met any one
who frankly told you your faults. Even if such good fortune had been
yours, I doubt if you would have profited by it. A snub would have
been the reward of the courageous person who told Miss Sommerton her
"I presume you have courage enough to tell me my faults without the fear
of a snub before your eyes."
"I have the courage, yes. You see I have already, received the snub
three or four times, and it has lost its terrors for me."
"In that case, will you be kind enough to tell me what you consider my
"If you wish me to."
"I do wish it."
"Well, then, one of them is inordinate pride."
"Do you think pride a fault?"
"It is not usually reckoned one of the virtues."
"In this country, Mr. Trenton, we consider that every person should have
a certain amount of pride,"
"A certain amount may be all right. It depends entirely on how much the
certain amount is."
"Well, now for fault No. 2."
"Fault No. 2 is a disregard on your part for the feelings of others.
This arises, I imagine, partly from fault No. 1. You are in the habit of
classing the great mass of the public very much beneath you in intellect
and other qualities, and you forget that persons whom you may perhaps
dislike, have feelings which you have no right to ignore."
"I presume you refer to this morning," said Miss Sommerton, seriously.
"I apologised for that two or three times, I think. I have always
understood that a gentleman regards an apology from another gentleman as
blotting out the original offence. Why should he not regard it in the
same light when it comes from a woman?"
"Oh, now you are making a personal matter of it. I am talking in an
entirely impersonal sense. I am merely giving you, with brutal rudeness,
opinions formed on a very short acquaintance. Remember, I have done so
at your own request."
"I am very much obliged to you, I am sure. I think you are more than
half right. I hope the list is not much longer."
"No, the list ends there. I suppose you imagine that I am one of the
rudest men you ever met?"
"No, we generally expect rudeness from Englishmen."
"Oh, do you really? Then I am only keeping up the reputation my
country-men have already acquired in America. Have you had the
pleasure of meeting a rude Englishman before?"
"No, I can't say that I have. Most Englishmen I have met have been what
we call very gentlemanly indeed. But the rudest letter I ever received
was from an Englishman; not only rude, but ungrateful, for I had bought
at a very high price one of his landscapes. He was John Trenton, the
artist, of London. Do you know him?"
"Yes," hesitated Trenton, "I know him. I may say I know him very well.
In fact, he is a namesake of mine."
"Why, how curious it is I had never thought of that. Is your first name
J----, the same as his?"
"Not a relative, is he?"
"Well, no. I don't think I can call him a relative. I don't know that I
can even go so far as to call him my friend, but he is an acquaintance."
"Oh, tell me about him," cried Miss Sommerton, enthusiastically. "He
is one of the Englishmen I have longed very much to meet."
"Then you forgave him his rude letter?"
"Oh, I forgave that long ago. I don't know that it was rude, after all.
It was truthful. I presume the truth offended me."
"Well," said Trenton, "truth has to be handled very delicately, or it is
apt to give offence. You bought a landscape of his, did you? Which one,
do you remember?"
"It was a picture of the Thames valley."
"Ah, I don't recall it at the moment. A rather hackneyed subject, too.
Probably he sent it to America because he couldn't sell it in England."
"Oh, I suppose you think we buy anything here that the English refuse, I
beg to inform you this picture had a place in the Royal Academy, and was
very highly spoken of by the critics. I bought it in England."
"Oh yes, I remember it now, 'The Thames at Sonning.' Still, it was a
hackneyed subject, although reasonably well treated."
"Reasonably well! I think it one of the finest landscape pictures of the
"Well, in that at least Trenton would agree with you."
"He is very conceited, you mean?"
"Even his enemies admit that."
"I don't believe it. I don't believe a man of such talent could be so
"Then, Miss Sommerton, allow me to say you have very little knowledge of
human nature. It is only reasonable that a great man should know he is
a great man. Most of our great men are conceited. I would like to see
Trenton's letter to you. I could then have a good deal of amusement at
his expense when I get back."
"Well, in that case I can assure you that you will never see the
"Ah, you destroyed it, did you?"
"Not for that reason."
"Then you _did_ destroy it?"
"I tore it up, but on second thoughts I pasted it together again, and
have it still."
"In that case, why should you object to showing me the letter?"
"Well, because I think it rather unusual for a lady to be asked by a
gentleman show him a letter that has been written to her by another
"In matters of the heart that is true; but in matters of art it is not."
"Is that intended for a pun?"
"It is as near to one as I ever allow myself to come, I should like very
much to see Mr. Trenton's letter. It was probably brutally rude. I know
the man, you see."
"It was nothing of the sort," replied Miss Sommerton, hotly. "It was a
truthful, well-meant letter."
"And yet you tore it up?"
"But that was the first impulse. The pasting it together was the
"And you will not show it to me?"
"No, I will not."
"Did you answer it?"
"I will tell you nothing more about it. I am sorry I spoke of the letter
at all. You don't appreciate Mr. Trenton's work."
"Oh, I beg your pardon, I do. He has no greater admirer in England than
I am--except himself, of course."
"I suppose it makes no difference to you to know that I don't like a
remark like that."
"Oh, I thought it would please you. You see, with the exception of
myself, Mr. Trenton is about the rudest man in England. In fact, I begin
to suspect it was Mr. Trenton's letter that led you to a wholesale
condemning of the English race, for you admit the Englishmen you have
met were not rude."
"You forget I have met you since then."
"Well bowled, as we say in cricket."
"Has Mr. Trenton many friends in London?"
"Not a great number. He is a man who sticks rather closely to his work,
and, as I said before, he prides himself on telling the truth. That
doesn't do in London any more than it does in Boston."
"Well, I honour him for it."
"Oh, certainly; everybody does in the abstract. But it is not a quality
that tends to the making or the keeping of friends, you know."
"If you see Mr. Trenton when you return, I wish you would tell him there
is a lady in America who is a friend of his; and if he has any pictures
the people over there do not appreciate, ask him to send them to Boston,
and his friend will buy them."
"Then you must be rich, for his pictures bring very good prices, even in
"Yes," said Miss Sommerton, "I am rich."
"Well, I suppose it's very jolly to be rich," replied the artist, with a
"You are not rich, then, I imagine?"
"No, I am not. That is, not compared with your American fortunes. I have
enough of money to let me roam around the world if I wish to, and get
half drowned in the St. Maurice River."
"Oh, is it not strange that we have heard nothing from those boatmen?
You surely don't imagine they could have been drowned?"
"I hardly think so. Still, it is quite possible."
"Oh, don't say that; it makes me feel like a murderer."
"Well, I think it was a good deal your fault, don't you know." Miss
Sommerton looked at him.
"Have I not been punished enough already?" she said.
"For the death of two men--if they are dead? Bless me! no. Do you
imagine for a moment there is any relation between the punishment and
Miss Sommertan buried her face in her hands.
"Oh, I take that back," said Trenton. "I didn't mean to say such a
"It is the truth--it is the truth!" wailed the young woman. "Do you
honestly think they did not reach the shore?"
"Of course they did. If you want to know what has happened, I'll tell
you exactly, and back my opinion by a bet if you like. An Englishman is
always ready to back his opinion, you know. Those two men swam with the
current until they came to some landing-place. They evidently think we
are drowned. Nevertheless, they are now making their way through the
woods to the settlement. Then comes the hubbub. Mason will stir up the
neighbourhood, and the men who are back from the woods with the other
canoes will be roused and pressed into service, and some time to-night
we will be rescued."
"Oh, I hope that is the case," cried Miss Sommerton, looking brightly at
"It is the case. Will you bet about it?"
"I never bet," said Miss Sommerton.
"Ah, well, you miss a good deal of fun then. You see I am a bit of a
mind reader. I can tell just about where the men are now."
"I don't believe much in mind reading."
"Don't you? Shall I give you a specimen of it? Take that letter we have
spoken so much about. If you think it over in your mind I will read you
the letter--not word for word, perhaps, but I shall give you gist of it,
"Do you remember it?"
"I have it with me."
"Oh, have you? Then, if you wish to preserve it, you should spread it
out upon the ground to dry before the fire."
"There is no need of my producing the letter," replied Miss Sommerton;
"I remember every word it."
"Very well, just think it over in your mind, and see if I cannot repeat
it. Are you thinking about it?"
"Yes, I am thinking about it."
"Here goes, then. 'Miss Edith Sommerton----'"
"Wrong," said that young lady.
"The Sommerton is right, is it not?"
"Yes, but the first name is not."
"What is it, then?"
"I shall not tell you."
"Oh, very well. Miss Sommerton,--'I have some hesitation in answering
your letter.' Oh, by the way, I forgot the address. That is the first
sentence of the letter, but the address is some number which I cannot
quite see, 'Beacon Street, Boston.' Is there any such street in that
"There is," said Miss Sommerton. "What a question to ask."
"Ah, then Beacon Street is one of the principal streets, is it?"
"One of them? It is _the_ street. It is Boston."
"Very good. I will now proceed with the letter. 'I have some hesitation
in answering your letter, because the sketches you send are so bad, that
it seems to me no one could seriously forward them to an artist for
criticism. However, if you really desire criticism, and if the pictures
are sent in good faith, I may say I see in them no merit whatever, not
even good drawing; while the colours are put on in a way that would seem
to indicate you have not yet learned the fundamental principle of mixing
the paints. If you are thinking of earning a livelihood with your
pencil, I strongly advise you to abandon the idea. But if you are a lady
of leisure and wealth, I suppose there is no harm in your continuing as
long as you see fit.--Yours truly, JOHN TRENTON.'"
Miss Sommerton, whose eyes had opened wider and wider as this reading
went on, said sharply--
"He has shown you the letter. You have seen it before it was sent."
"I admit that," said the artist.
"Well--I will believe all you like to say about Mr. John Trenton."
"Now, stop a moment; do not be too sweeping in your denunciation of him.
I know that Mr. Trenton showed the letter to no one."
"Why, I thought you said a moment ago that he showed it to you."
"He did. Yet no one but himself saw the letter."
The young lady sprang to her feet.
"Are you, then, John Trenton, the artist?"
"Miss Sommerton, I have to plead guilty."
Miss Eva Sommerton and Mr. John Trenton stood on opposite sides of the
blazing fire and looked at each other. A faint smile hovered around the
lips of the artist, but Miss Sommerton's face was very serious. She was
the first to speak.
"It seems to me," she said, "that there is something about all this that
smacks of false pretences."
"On my part, Miss Sommerton?"
"Certainly on your part. You must have known all along that I was the
person who had written the letter to you. I think, when you found that
out, you should have spoken of it."
"Then you do not give me credit for the honesty of speaking now. You
ought to know that I need not have spoken at all, unless I wished to be
very honest about the matter."
"Yes, there is that to be said in your favour, of course."
"Well, Miss Sommerton, I hope you will consider anything that happens to
be in my favour. You see, we are really old friends, after all."
"Old enemies, you mean."
"Oh, I don't know about that. I would rather look on myself as your
friend than your enemy."
"The letter you wrote me was not a very friendly one."
"I am not so sure. We differ on that point, you know."
"I am afraid we differ on almost every point."
"No, I differ with you there again. Still, I must admit I would prefer
being your enemy----"
"To being my friend?" said Miss Sommerton, quickly.
"No, to being entirely indifferent to you."
"Really, Mr. Trenton, we are getting along very rapidly, are we not?"
said the young lady, without looking up at him.
"Now, I am pleased to be able to agree with you there, Miss Sommerton.
As I said before, an incident like this does more to ripen acquaintance
or friendship, or----" The young man hesitated, and did not complete his
"Well," said the artist, after a pause, "which is it to be, friends or
"It shall be exactly as you say," she replied.
"If you leave the choice to me, I shall say friends. Let us shake hands
She held out her hand frankly to him as he crossed over to her side,
and as he took it in his own, a strange thrill passed through him, and
acting on the impulse of the moment, he drew her toward him and kissed
"How dare you!" she cried, drawing herself indignantly from him. "Do you
think I am some backwoods girl who is flattered by your preference after
a day's acquaintance?"
"Not a day's acquaintance, Miss Sommerton--a year, two years, ten years.
In fact, I feel as though I had known you all my life."
"You certainly act as if you had. I did think for some time past that
you were a gentleman. But you take advantage now of my unprotected
"Miss Sommerton, let me humbly apologise!"
"I shall not accept your apology. It cannot be apologised for. I must
ask you not to speak to me again until Mr. Mason comes. You may consider
yourself very fortunate when I tell you I shall say nothing of what has
passed to Mr. Mason when he arrives."
John Trenton made no reply, but gathered another armful of wood and
flung it on the fire.
Miss Sommerton sat very dejectedly looking at the embers.
For half an hour neither of them said anything.
Suddenly Trenton jumped up and listened intently.
"What is it?" cried Miss Sommerton, startled by his action.