Part 3 out of 7
preserve us, it's little Patsy. Tim, ye'll 'av to be spakin' to that
child for the swearin'. Listen to the oaths av 'im. The Lord forgive
Tim strode to the door, followed by his wife.
"Phat the blank, blank is this yellin' about? Phat d'ye mane
swearin' loike that, Patsy? Oi'll knock yer blank little head aff if
Oi catch ye swearin' agin."
"I don't care," stormed little Patsy, quite unafraid of his father
when the other children fled. "It's that blank, blank Batcheese an'
Tim there. They keep teasin' me an' Mayan all the time"
"Let me catch yez, ye little divils!" shouted Carroll after the
children, who had got off to a safe distance. "Go on, Marion, an'
sing phat ye loike. It's loike a burrd ye are, an' Oi loikes t' hear
ye. An' Patsy, too, eh?"
He took the little cripple up in his arms very gently and held him
for some minutes.
"You're a big man, dad, aint ye?" said Patsy, putting his puny arm
round his father's hairy neck. "An' ye can lick the hull town, can't
"Who wuz tellin' ye that, Patsy?" asked his father, with a smile.
"I heard ye meself last week when the big row was on."
"Ye did, be dad! Thin Oi'm thinkin' ye do be hearin' too much."
"But ye can, dad, can't ye?" persisted the boy.
"Well, Oi'll stick to phat Oi said, anyway, Patsy boy," replied his
"An' I'll be a big man like you, dad, some day, an' lick the hull
town, won't I?" asked Patsy eagerly.
His father shuddered and held him close to his breast.
"I will, dad, won't I?" persisted the lad, the little face turned
anxiously toward his father.
"Whisht now, laddie. Sure an' ye'll be the clivir man some day,"
said the big man huskily, while his wife turned her face toward the
"But they said I'd niver lick anybody," persisted Patsy. "An' that's
a blank lie, isn't it, dad?"
The man's face grew black with wrath. He poured out fierce oaths.
"Let me catch thim. Oi'll break their backs, the blank, blank little
cowards! Niver ye heed thim. Ye'll be a betther man thin any av
thim, Patsy avick, an' that ye will. An' they'll all be standin'
bare-headed afore ye some day. But Patsy, darlin', Oi want ye to
give up the swearin' and listen to Marion yonder, who'll be afther
tellin' ye good things an' cliver things."
"But, dad," persisted the little boy, "won't I beó"
"Hush now, Patsy," said his father hurriedly. "Don't ye want to go
on the pony with Marion? Come on now, an' Oi'll put ye up."
"Oh, goody, goody!" shouted little Patsy, his pale, beautiful face
aglow with delight.
"Poor little manny!" groaned Carroll to his wife, looking after the
pair as they rode off up the trail. "It's not many ye'll be after
lickin', except with yer tongue."
"But, begorra," said his wife, "that's the lickin' that hurts,
afther all. An' it's harrd tellin' what'll be comin' till the lad."
Her husband turned without more words and went into the house.
Meantime Marion and Patsy were enjoying their canter.
"Take me up to the Jumping Rock," said the boy, and they took the
trail that wound up the west side of the lake.
"There now, Patsy," said Marion, when they had arrived at a smooth
shelf of rock that rose sheer out of the blue water of the lake,
"I'll put you by the big spruce there, and you can see all over the
lake and everywhere."
She slipped off the pony, carefully lifted the boy down and set him
leaning against a big spruce pine that grew seemingly up out of the
bare rock and leaned far out over the water. This was the swimming
place for the boys and men of the village; and an ideal place it
was, for off the rock or out of the overhanging limbs the swimmers
could dive without fear into the clear, deep water below.
"There now, Patsy," said the girl after she had picketed her pony,
"shall I tell you a story?"
"No. Sing, Mayan, I like you to sing."
But just as the girl was about to begin he cried, "Who's that
comin', Mayan?" pointing down the trail.
The keen eyes of the lad had descried a horseman far away where the
long slope rose to the horizen.
"I don't know," answered the girl. "Who is it, Patsy? A cowboy?"
"No," said Patsy, after waiting for a few minutes, "I think it's
"No, Patsy, that can't be. You know Perault went out with father
"Yes, it is," insisted Patsy. "That's father's pony. That's Rat-
tail, I know."
The girl stood up and gazed anxiously at the approaching rider.
"Surely it can't be Perault," she said to herself. "What can have
She unhitched her horse, rolled up her picket rope, and stood
waiting with disturbed face. As the rider drew near she called,
"Perault! Ho, Perault!"
"Hola!" exclaimed Perault, a wizened, tough-looking little
Frenchman, pulling up his pony with a jerk "Bo jou, Mam'selle," he
added, taking off his hat.
Perault's manner is reassuring, indeed quite gay.
"What is it, Perault? Why are you come back? Where is father?" The
girl's lips were white.
"Coming," said Perault nonchalantly, pointing up the trail. "We
strak de bad luck, Mam'selle, so we start heem again."
"Tell me, Perault," said the girl, turning her piercing black eyes
on his face, "tell me truly, is father hurt?"
"Oui, for sure," said Perault with an exaggeration of carelessness
which did not escape the keen eyes fastened on his face, "dat ole
boss, you know, he blam-fool. Hees 'fraid noting. Hees try for sweem
de Black Dog on de crossing below. De Black Dog hees full over hees
bank, an' boil, boil, lak one kettle. De ole boss he say 'Perault,
we mak de passage, eh?' 'No,' I say, 'we try noder crossing.' 'How
far?' he say. 'Two--tree mile' 'Guess try heem here,' he say, an' no
matter how I say heem be blam-fool for try, dat ole boss hees laf
small, leele laf an' mak de start. Well, dat pony hees going nice
an' slow troo de water over de bank, but wen he struk dat fas water,
poof! wheez! dat pony hees upset hessef, by gar! Hees trow hees feet
out on de water. Bymbe hees come all right for a meenit. Den dat
fool pony hees miss de crossing. Hees go dreef down de stream where
de high bank hees imposseeb. Mon Dieu! Das mak me scare. I do'no
what I do. I stan' an' yell lak one beeg fool me. Up come beeg
feller on buckboard on noder side. Beeg blam-fool jus' lak boss. Not
'fraid noting. Hees trow rope cross saddle. De ole boss hees win'
heem roun' de horn. Poof! das upset dat pony once more. Hees trow
hees feet up on water, catch ole boss on head an' arm, knock heem
right off to blazes. 'Good bye,' I say, 'I not see heem more.' Beeg
feller hees loose dat rope, ron down on de bank hitching rope on
willow tree an' roun' hees own shoulder an' jump on reever way down
on bend an' wait for ole boss. For me? I mak dis pony cross ver'
queek. Not know how, an' pass on de noder side. I see beeg feller,
hees hol' de ole boss on hees coat collar wit bees teef, by gar! an'
sweem lak ottar. Sap-r-r-e! Not long before I pull on dat rope an'
get bot on shore. Beeg feller hees all right. De ole boss hees lie
white, white and still. I cry on my eye bad. 'Go get someting for
dreenk,' say beeg feller, 'queek.' Sac-r-re! beeg fool messef! Bah!
Good for noting! I fin' brandy, an' leele tam, tree-four minute, de
ole boss bees sit up all right. Le Bon Dieu hees do good turn dat
time, for sure. Send beeg feller along all right."
The girl stood listening to Perault's dramatic tale, her face
"Is father not hurt at all, then?" she asked.
"Non. Hees tough ole man, dat boss," said Perault. Then he added
lightly, "Oh! hees broke some small bone--what you call?--on de
collar, dere. Dat noting 'tall."
"Oh, Perault!" exclaimed the girl. "You're not telling me the truth.
You're keeping back something. My father is hurt."
"Non, for sure," said Perault, putting his hand over his heart.
"Hees broke dat bone on de collar. Dat noting 'tall. He not ride
ver' well, so hees come on beeg feller's buckboard. Dat's fine beeg
feller! Mon Dieu! hees not 'fraid noting! Beeg blam-fool jus' lak
boss." No higher commendation was possible from Perault.
"But why is father coming back then?" asked the girl anxiously.
"Mais oui! Bah! Dat leele fool pony got hisself dron on de Black
Dog, an' all hees stuff, so de ole boss he mus' come back for more
pony an' more stuff."
"When will they be here, Perault?" asked the girl quietly.
"Ver' soon. One--two hour. But," said Perault with some hesitation,
"de ole boss better go on bed leele spell, mebbe."
Then the girl knew that Perault had not told her the worst, turning
impatiently from him, she lifted little Patsy on to the saddle and,
disdaining Perault's offered help, sprang on herself and set off
toward the village about a mile away at full gallop.
"Das mighty smart girl," said Perault, scratching his head as he set
off after her as fast as his jaded pony could follow. "Can't mak
fool on her."
Half way to the village stood the old Prospector's house, almost
hidden in a bluff of poplar and spruce. A little further on was
Perault's shack. At her father's door the girl waited.
"Perault," she said quietly, "I left the key at your house. Will you
get it for me while I take Patsy home?"
"Bon," said Perault eagerly. "I get heem an' mak fire."
"Thank you, Perault," she replied kindly. "I'll be right back."
But it took some time to get Patsy persuaded to allow her to depart,
and by the time she had returned she found Perault had the fire lit
and Josie, his bright-eyed, pretty, little wife, busy airing the
bed-clothes and flitting about seeking opportunities to show her
"Ma pauvre enfant!" she exclaimed, running to Marion as she entered
and putting her arms about her.
"Josie," warned Perault gruffly, "shut up you. You go for mak fool
But Josie paid no attention to her husband and continued petting the
"Josie," cried Marion, fixing her eyes upon the Frenchwoman's kindly
face, "tell me, is my father badly hurt? Perault would not tell me
"Non, ma petite, dat hur's not so ver' bad, but de cole water--das
bad ting for fader, sure."
The cloud of gloom on the girl's face deepened. She turned away
toward the door and saying, "I'll go and get some crocuses," she
mounted her pony and rode off toward the Jumping Rock.
Within half an hour the girl came galloping back.
"Josie," she cried excitedly, springing off her pony, "they're
coming. I saw them up the trail."
She tossed her flowers on the table and hurried to arrange them in
basins, cups, old tin cans, and all available vessels, till the
whole house seemed to be running over with those first and most
exquisite prairie spring-flowers. And for many following days the
spring-flowers filled the house with their own hope and cheer, when
hope and cheer were both sorely, needed.
There stood at the door Perault, Josie, and Marion, waiting for
Shock and the Old Prospector to drive up. The contrast between the
two men in the buckboard was striking. The one, a young man with
muscular frame, a strong, fresh face innocent of worldly wisdom and
marked by the frankness of an unspoiled faith in men and things; the
other, an old man, tall, slight, with a face worn and weary,
delicately, featured and kindly enough, but with a mask of
inscrutable reserve tinged with that distrust of men and things that
comes of a bitter experience of the world's falsities. For fifty
years Walter Mowbray had looked out of the piercing black eyes that
gleamed like coals of fire through his pallid face upon a world that
had continuously allured and mocked him. The piercing eyes were
those of an enthusiast, not to say fanatic. The fire in them still
burned deep and bright. The indomitable spirit, refusing to accept
defeat, still lived and hoped with a persistence at once
extraordinary and pathetic.
A gleam of light shot across his pale impassive face as his eyes
fell upon his daughter who, in the presence of a stranger, shrank
back behind Josie. He beckoned her to him.
"Come, my daughter," he said in a clear, musical voice.
Then she forgot her shyness and threw herself at him.
"Oh, father!" she cried in a low, smothered voice, her whole frame
shaking as she clung to him.
For a single instant the old man held her to him, his pale face once
more illumined by that momentary gleam, then loosening her arms from
his neck, he said in calm tones, in which mingled surprise,
raillery, almost rebuke, "Why, my child, this is indeed an
extraordinary welcome home."
At the tone the girl shrank back, and with marvellous self-control
regained her ordinary quiet manner.
"You are hurt, father," she said so quietly that her father glanced
with quick surprise at her. He hardly knew as yet this daughter of
his, who had come to him only two months ago, and whom for fifteen
years he had not seen.
"A mere touch," he answered carelessly. "A broken collar-bone,
inconvenient, but neither painful nor dangerous, and an additional
touch of rheumatism, which, though extremely annoying, will prove
only temporary. After a few days of your nursing we shall be able to
resume our march, eh, Perault?"
"Oui! bon! dat so," said Perault, grinning his eager acquiescence.
"De ole boss he stop for noting."
"But now we shall get with all speed between the blankets, my girl.
Hot blankets, Josie, eh?"
"Oui, certainment, tout suite!" cried Josie, darting into the house.
The old man began carefully to raise himself off the seat of the
"Ha!" catching his breath. "Rather sharp, that, Mr. Macgregor. Oh! I
forgot. Pardon me," he continued, with fine, old-time courtesy.
"Permit me to introduce you to my daughter. Marion, this is Mr.
Macgregor, but for whose timely and heroic assistance I might even
now be tumbling about at the fitful fancy of the Black Dog. We both
have cause to be grateful to him."
With a surprised cry the girl who, during her father's words, had
been looking at him with a white face and staring eyes, sprang
towards Shock, who was standing at the pony's head, seized his hand
between hers, kissed it passionately, flung it away, and returned
hurriedly to her father's side.
"It was nothing at all," said Shock, when he had recovered from his
confusion. "Any one would have done it, and besides--"
"Not many men would have had the strength to do it," interrupted the
Old Prospector, "and few men the nerve to try. We will not forget
it, sir, I trust."
"Besides," continued Shock, addressing the girl, "I owe something to
your father, for I was helplessly lost when he found me."
With a wave of his hand the old man brushed aside Shock's statement
as of no importance.
"We shall hope for opportunity to show our gratitude, Mr.
Macgregor," he said, his clear voice taking a deeper tone than
usual. "Now," he continued briskly, "let us proceed with this
somewhat serious business of getting into blankets. Just lift my
feet round, my daughter. Ah! The long ride has stiffened the joints.
Oh! One moment, my dear." The old man's face was wet and ghastly
pale, and his breath came in quick gasps. "A difficult operation,
Mr. Macgregor," he said apologetically, "but we shall accomplish it
in time. Wait, my dear, I fancy I shall do better without your
assistance. At least, I shall be relieved of uncertainty as to
responsibility for my pains. An important consideration, Mr.
Macgregor. Uncertainty adds much to the sum of human suffering. Now,
if I can swing my legs about. Ah-h-h! Most humiliating experience,
Mr. Macgregor, the arriving at the limit of one's strength. But one
not uncommon in life, and finally inevitable," continued the old
philosopher, only the ghastly hue of his mask-like face giving token
of the agony he was enduring.
Then Shock came to him.
"Let me carry you," he said. "It will give you less pain, I am
"Well, it can hardly give more."
"Put your arms about my neck. There. Now don't try to help
"Most sound advice. I surrender," said the old man, his philosophic
tone in striking contrast to his ghastly face. "But one most
difficult to accept."
Gently, easily, as if he had been a child, Shock lifted him from the
buckboard, carried him into the house and laid him upon his bed. The
old man was faint with his pain.
"Thank you, sir--that was distinctly easier. You are--a mighty man.
Perault! I think--I--"
His voice faded away into silence and his head fell back. The girl
sprang forward with a cry of fear, but Shock was before her.
"The brandy, Perault! Quick!" he said. "Don't fear, Miss Mowbray, he
will soon be all right."
The girl glanced into Shock's face and at once grew calm again.
Soon, under the stimulus of the brandy, the old man revived.
"Ah!" he said, drawing a long breath and looking with a faint
apologetic smile at the anxious faces about, "pardon my alarming
you. I am getting old. The long drive and the somewhat severe pain
weakened me, I fear."
"Indeed, you have no need to apologise. It is more than I could have
stood," said Shock in genuine admiration.
"Thank you," said the old man. "Now we shall get into blankets. I
have the greatest faith in blankets, sir; the greatest faith. I have
rolled myself in wet blankets in mid-winter when suffering from a
severe cold, and have come forth perfectly recovered. You remember
the Elk Valley, Perault?"
"Oui, for sure. I say dat tam ole boss blam-fool. Hees cough! cough!
ver' bad. Nex' mornin', by gar! he's all right."
"And will be again soon, Perault, my boy, by the help of these same
blankets," said the old man confidently. "But how to negotiate the
business is the question now."
"Let me try, sir. I have had some little experience in helping men
with broken bones and the like," said Shock.
"You're at least entitled to confidence, Mr. Macgregor," replied the
Old Prospector. "Faith is the reflection of experience. I resign
myself into your hands."
In half an hour, with Perault's assistance, Shock had the old man
between heated blankets, exhausted with pain, but resting
"Mr. Macgregor," said the old man, taking Shock by the hand, "I have
found that life sooner or later brings opportunity to discharge
every obligation. Such an opportunity I shall eagerly await."
"I have done no more than any man should," replied Shock simply.
"And I am only glad to have had the chance."
"Chance!" echoed the Old Prospector. "I have found that we make our
chances, sir. But now you will require lodging. I regret I cannot
offer you hospitality. Perault, go down to the Stopping Place,
present my compliments to Carroll and ask him to give Mr. Macgregor
the best accommodation he has. The best is none too good. And,
Perault, we shall need another pony and a new outfit. In a few days
we must be on the move again. See Carroll about these things and
report. Meantime, Mr. Macgregor, you will remain with us to tea."
"Carroll!" exclaimed Perault in a tone of disgust. "Dat man no good
'tall. I get you one pony cheap. Dat Carroll he's one beeg tief."
The little Frenchman's eyes glittered with hate.
"Perault," replied the Old Prospector quietly, "I quite understand
you have your own quarrel with Carroll, but these are my affairs.
Carroll will not cheat me."
"Ah! Bah!" spat Perault in a vicious undertone of disgust. "De ole
boss he blam-fool. He not see noting." And Perault departed,
grumbling and swearing, to make his deal with Carroll.
Timothy Carroll was a man altogether remarkable, even in that
country of remarkable men. Of his past history little was known. At
one time a Hudson Bay trader, then a freighter. At present he "ran"
the Loon Lake Stopping Place and a livery stable, took contracts in
freight, and conducted a general trading business in horses, cattle-
-anything, in short, that could be bought and sold in that country.
A man of powerful physique and great shrewdness, he easily dominated
the community of Loon Lake. He was a curious mixture of incongruous
characteristics. At the same time many a poor fellow had found in
him a friend in sickness or "in hard luck," and by his wife and
family he was adored. His tenderness for little lame Patsy was the
marvel of all who knew the terrible Tim Carroll. He had a furious
temper, and in wrath was truly terrifying, while in matters of trade
he was cool, cunning, and unscrupulous. Few men had ever dared to
face his rage, and few had ever worsted him in a "deal." No wonder
Perault, who had experienced both the fury of his rage and the
unscrupulousness of his trading methods, approached him with
reluctance. But, though Perault had suffered at the hands of the big
Irishman, the chief cause of his hatred was not personal. He knew,
what many others in the community suspected, that for years Carroll
had systematically robbed and had contributed largely to the ruin of
his "old boss." Walter Mowbray was haunted by one enslaving vice. He
was by temperament and by habit a gambler. It was this vice that had
been his ruin. In the madness of his passion he had risked and lost,
one fatal night in the old land, the funds of the financial
institution of which he was the trusted and honoured head. In the
agony of his shame he had fled from his home, leaving in her grave
his broken-hearted wife, and abandoning to the care of his maiden
sister his little girl of a year old, and had sought, in the
feverish search for gold, relief from haunting memory, redemption
for himself, and provision for his child. In his prospecting
experiments success had attended him. He developed in a marvellous
degree the prospector's instinct, for instinct it appeared to be;
and many of the important prospects, and some of the most valuable
mines in Southern British Columbia, had been discovered by him.
It was at this point that Carroll took a hand. Acting in collusion
with the expert agent for the British American Gold and Silver
Mining Company, he had bought for hundreds of dollars and sold for
thousands the Old Prospector's claims. Not that the old man had lost
that financial ability or that knowledge of human nature that had
given him his high place in former days, but he was possessed of a
dream of wealth so vast that ordinary fortunes shrank into
insignificance in comparison. He had fallen under the spell of an
Indian tale of a lost river of fabulous wealth in gold that
disturbed all his sense of value. In one of his prospecting tours he
had come upon an old Indian hunter, torn by a grizzly and dying. For
weeks he nursed the old Indian in his camp with tender but
unavailing care. In gratitude, the dying man had told of the lost
river that flowed over rocks and sands sown with gold. In his young
days the Indian had seen the river and had gathered its "yellow sand
and stones"; in later years, however, when he had come to know
something of the value of this "yellow sand and stones" he had
sought the river, but in vain. A mountain peak in one vast slide had
filled up the valley, diverted the course of the river, and changed
the whole face of the country. For many summers the Indian had
sought with the unfaltering patience of his race the bed of the lost
river, and at length, that very summer, he had discovered it. Deep
down in a side canyon in the bed of a trickling brook he had found
"yellow sand and stones" similar to those of the lost river of his
youth. As the dying Indian poured out from his buckskin bag the
glittering sand and rusty bits of rock, there entered into the Old
Prospector the terrible gold-lust that for thirteen years burned as
a fever in his bones and lured him on through perils and privations,
over mountains and along canyons, making him insensible to storms
and frosts and burning suns, and that even now, old man as he was,
worn and broken, still burned with unquenchable flame.
Under the spell of that dream of wealth he found it easy to pay his
"debts of honour" to Carroll with mining claims, which, however
valuable in themselves, were to him paltry in comparison with the
wealth of the Lost River, to which every year brought him nearer,
and which one day he was sure he would possess. That Carroll and his
confederate robbed him he knew well enough, but finding Carroll
useful to him, both in the way of outfitting his annual expeditions
and in providing means for the gratifying of his life-long gambling
passion, by which the deadly monotony of the long winter days and
nights was relieved, he tolerated while he scorned him and his
Not so Perault, whose devotion to his "ole boss" was equalled only
by his hate of those who robbed while they derided him, and he set
himself to the task of thwarting their nefarious schemes. For this
Perault had incurred the savage wrath of Carroll, and more than once
had sufered bodily injury at his hands.
The Stopping Place was filled with men from the ranges, freighters
from the trail, and the nondescript driftwood that the waves of
civilisation cast up upon those far-away shores of human society.
With all of them Perault was a favourite. Carroll was out when he
entered. On all sides he was greeted with exclamations of surprise,
pleasure, and curiosity, for all knew that he had set out upon
another "annual fool hunt," as the Prospector's yearly expedition
was called. "Hello, Rainy, what's happened?" "Got yer gold dust?"
"Goin' to retire, Rainy?" "The Old Prospector struck his river yit?"
greeted him on every side.
"Oui, by gar! He struck heem, for sure," grinned Perault.
"What? The Lost River?" "What? His mine?" chorused the crowd,
awakened to more than ordinary interest.
"Non, not Los' River, but los' man, blank near." And Perault went on
to describe, with dramatic fervour and appropriate gesticulation,
the scene at the Black Dog, bringing out into strong relief his own
helplessness and stupidity, and the cool daring of the stranger who
had snatched his "ole boss" out of the jaws of the Black Dog.
"By Jove!" exclaimed a rancher when the narrative was finished, "not
bad, that. Who was the chap, Rainy?"
"Do' no me. Tink he's one what you call pries'. Your Protestan'
"What, a preacher?" cried the rancher. "Not he. They're not made
"I don't know about that, Sinclair," said another rancher. "There's
Father Mike, you know."
"That's so," said Sinclair. "But there are hardly two of that kind
on the same range."
"Fadder Mike!" sniffed Perault contemptuously. "Dat beeg feller hees
roll Fadder Mike up in one beeg bunch an' stick heem in hees pocket.
Dat feller he's not 'fraid noting. Beeg blam-fool, jus' lak ole
boss, for sure."
"I guess he must be good stuff, Rainy, if you put him in that
"Dat's hees place," averred Rainy with emphasis. "Jus' lak ole
At this point Carroll came in.
"Hello, Perault!" he said. "What the blank, blank are ye doin'
Perault spat deliberately into the ash-pan, tipped back his chair
without looking at the big Irishman, and answered coolly.
"Me? After one pack pony an' some outfit for de ole boss."
"Pony an' outfit, is it?" shouted Carroll. "What the blank, blank
d'ye mane? What 'av ye done wid that pack pony av moine, an' where's
yer blank ould fool av a boss?"
Carroll was working himself up into a fine rage.
"De boss, he's in bed," replied Perault coolly. "De pony, he's in de
Black Dog Reever, guess."
"The Black Dog? What the blank, blank d'ye mane, anyway? Why don't
ye answer? Blank ye f'r a cursed crapeau of a Frenchman? Is that
pony of moine drowned?"
"Mebbe," said Perault, shrugging his shoulders, "unless he leev
under de water lak one mush-rat."
"Blank yer impudence," roared Carroll, "to be sittin' there laughin'
in me face at the loss av me property. It's no better than a pack of
thieves ye are."
"Tieves!" answered Perault, in quick anger. "Dere's one beeg, black,
hairy tief not far 'way dat's got hees money for dat pony two--three
Choking with rage, Carroll took one step toward him, kicked his
chair clean from under him, and deposited the Frenchman on the floor
amid a shout of laughter from the crowd. In blazing wrath Perault
was on his feet with a bound, and, swinging his chair around his
head, hurled it full in the face of his enemy. Carroll caught it on
his arm and came rushing at the Frenchman.
"You one beeg black tief," shrieked Perault, drawing a knife and
striking savagely at the big Irishman. As he delivered his blow
Carroll caught him by the wrist, wrenched the knife from his grasp,
seizing him by the throat proceeded to choke him. The crowd stood
looking on, hesitating to interfere. A fight was understood in that
country to be the business of no man save those immediately
concerned. Besides this, Carroll was dreaded for his great strength
and his furious temper, and no man cared to imperil his life by
"Blank yer cursed soul!" cried Carroll through his clenched teeth.
"It's this Oi've been waintin' f'r many a day, an' now by the powers
Oi'll be takin' the life of yez, so Oi will."
His threat would undoubtedly have been carried out, for Perault was
bent far back, his face was black, and his tongue protruded from his
wide opens mouth. But at this moment the door opened and Shock
quietly stepped in. For a single instant he stood gazing in
amazement upon the strange scene, then stepping quickly behind
Carroll, whose back was toward the door, he caught his wrist.
"You are killing the man," he said quietly.
"Oi am that same!" hissed Carroll, his eyes bloodshot with the light
of murder in them. "An' by all the powers of hell Oi'll be havin'
yer heart's blood if ye don't kape aff."
"Indeed, then, he's too small a man for you, and as to myself, we
can see about that later," said Shock quietly.
He closed his fingers on the wrist he held. The hand gripping
Perault's throat opened quickly, allowing the Frenchman to fall to
the floor. Swinging round with a hoarse cry, the big Irishman aimed
a terrific blow at Shock's head. But Shock, catching the blow on his
arm, drew Carroll sharply toward him, at the same time giving a
quick downward twist to the wrist he held, a trick of the Japanese
wrestlers the 'Varsity men had been wont to practise. There was a
slight crack, a howl of pain, and Carroll sank writhing on the
floor, with Shock's grip still on his wrist.
"Let me up," he roared.
"Will you let the little man alone?" asked Shock quietly.
"Let me up, blank ye! It's yer heart's blood will pay for this."
"Will you leave the little man alone?" asked Shock in a relentlessly
"Yis, yis," groaned Carroll. "Me wrist's bruk, so it is. But Oi'll
be afther doin' f'r yez, ye blank, blank--"
Carroll's profanity flowed in a copious stream.
"As to that," said Shock, quietly stepping back from him, "we can
discuss that later; but it is a shame for a man like you to be
choking a little chap like that."
The old football scrimmage smile was on Shock's face as he stood
waiting for Carroll to rise. The whole incident had occurred so
unexpectedly and so suddenly that the crowd about stood amazed,
quite unable to realise just what had happened.
After a time the big Irishman slowly rose, holding his wounded wrist
and grinding out curses. Then suddenly seizing with his uninjured
hand the chair which Perault had thrown at him, he raised it aloft
and with a wild yell brought it down upon Shock's head. With his
yell mingled a shrill cry. It was little Patsy. He had stolen in
behind his father, and with eyes growing wider and wider had stood
listening to his father's groans and curses.
Gradually the meaning of the scene dawned upon little Patsy's mind.
His father had been hurt, and there stood the man who had hurt him.
In a fury the little lad hurtled across the room, and just as his
father delivered his terrific blow he threw himself, with crutch
uplifted, at the astonished Shock and right in the way of the
Instead of starting back to avoid the blow, as he might easily have
done, Shock without a moment's hesitation sprang towards the child,
taking the full weight of the blow upon' his arm and head, but
without entirely saving Patsy. Together they fell, Shock bleeding
profusely from a deep cut on the head.
Two men sprang to his aid, while Carroll stood stupidly gazing down
upon the white face of the little boy.
"Never mind me," said Shock, recovering consciousness quickly, "look
to the child. Is he hurt?"
"He's dead, I guess," said Sinclair.
"It's a lie!" cried Carroll, in a hoarse voice. "It's a blank lie, I
His face was white and his terrible eyes, so lately suffused with
the light of murder, were filled with startled terror. He dropped
beside his child and lifted him in his arms, crying softly, "Patsy,
boy Aw, now Patsy, darlin'. Spake to me, Patsy"
But the long lashes lay quietly upon the white cheeks, and the
little form remained limp and still. Carroll lifted an amazed and
terror-stricken face to the company.
"What have I done? Sure he's not dead!" he said in an awed whisper.
"No, no," said Shock, wiping the blood out of his eyes and leaning
over the little white face. "Water, Perault, and brandy," he cried.
The men who had stood aghast at the tragic ending of what had been
simply a row of more than ordinary interest now hastened to give
help. Water and brandy were immediately at hand. Ignoring his own
wound, Shock bathed the face and hands of the unconscious child, but
there was no sign of life.
"Guess he's gone out, right enough," said a cowboy.
"Liar! Liar! Blank your cursed soul for a liar!" cried Carroll, in a
tone of agony.
"Man, man!" said Shock, in a stern, solemn voice, "would you provoke
the Almighty to anger with your oaths? You ought rather to beseech
His mercy for your own soul. Why should He give your child to the
care of such a man as you? Give me the lad."
Without a word of remonstrance Carroll allowed Shock to lift the
lifeless child and carry him into the open air, where, laying him on
the ground, he began to vigorously chafe his hands and feet. After
some minutes of bathing and rubbing the eyelids began to flutter and
the breath to come in gentle sighs.
"Brandy now, Perault," said Shock. "There now, laddie. Thank God, he
is coming to!"
"Dad, dad, where's dad?" said little Patsy faintly, opening his
eyes. "I want dad."
"Here! Here! Patsy mannie," cried his father quickly, coming from
behind the crowd where he had been standing dazed and stupid. "Stand
back there! Let me have my boy," he added savagely.
He swept both Perault and Shock angrily aside, gathered the little
lad tenderly in his arms and strode off into the house, the white
face of the child resting on his father's shoulder and his golden
curls mingling with the black, coarse masses of his father's hair
"Well, I'll be blanked!" said one of the men. "Wouldn't that pall
"Blank cantankerous cuss!" said the cowboy. "Never a `thank you' for
gittin' half killed in place of his kid."
Perault walked up to Shock, and offering his hand, said in a voice
husky and broken, "Dat's two for you dis even'--me an' dat leele
feller. For me--I can't spik my heart," smiting himself on the
breast, "but my heart--dat's your own now, by gar!" He wrung Shock's
hand in both of his and turned quickly away. But before he had taken
many steps he returned, saying, "Come on wit me! I feex up your
head." And without further words Shock and Perault passed into the
The men looked at each other in silence for a time, then the cowboy
said with unusual emphasis, "Boys, he's white! He's blanked white!"
THE TURF MEET
The great brown shadows of the rolling hills had quite filled the
hollows between and were slowly climbing up the western slope of
every undulation when Shock reached the lip of the broad river bed
in which lay, the little fort town.
The white clump of buildings standing by themselves he knew to be
the barracks of the North-West Mounted Police. The flag floating
above showed that, as well as the air of military neatness about
The town straggled along two intersecting streets, and then frayed
out over the flats in isolated and dejected-looking shacks. The more
imposing building on the main street Shock guessed were the hotels
and stores. One of the latter he recognised from its flag as that of
the ancient and honourable Hudson's Bay Company. On a back street
here and there stood a house surrounded by a garden and scrubby
trees, a pathetic attempt to reproduce in this treeless country what
in other lands had been fondly called home.
Away on every side stretched the vast sweep of rolling prairie to
where the amber of the sky-line mingled with the grey blue of the
How insignificant, how miserable and wretched in the midst of this
expanse of sky and earth, seemed the huddling bunch of dejected
buildings, and yet the whole interest of heaven above and earth
around centred in those straggling shacks, for they were the abodes
From feasting his heart upon the marvellous beauty of the expanse of
rounded hills, with their variegation of sunlight and shadow, and
the expanse of cloudless sky, deep blue overhead and shading by
indefinable transitions through blues and purples into pearl greys
and rose tints, and at last into glorious yellow gold at the
horizon, Shock, with almost a shudder, turned his eyes to the little
ragged town beneath him. How marvellous the works of God! How ugly
the things man makes!
It was partly the infinitude of this contrast that wrought in Shock
a feeling of depression as he followed the trail winding down the
long slope toward the town. As he became aware of this depression,
he took himself severely to task.
"What's the matter with me, anyway?" he asked himself impatiently.
"I'm not afraid of them." And yet he had a suspicion that it was
just this that troubled him. He was afraid. The feeling was not one
with which he was unfamiliar. Often before a big match he had been
shamefully conscious of this same nervous fear. He remembered how
his heart had seemed too big for his body, till he felt it in his
throat. But he remembered now, with no small comfort, that once the
ball was kicked his heart had always gone back to its place and its
work and gave him no further concern, and to-day he hoped this might
be his experience again.
It was a great day at the Fort, nothing less than the Spring Meeting
of the South Alberta Turf Association; and in that horse country,
where men were known by their horses rather than by personal
characteristics, the meeting of the Turf Association easily took
precedence over all other events, social or political.
This spring, to the interest naturally centring in the races, there
was added a special interest, in that, behind the horses entered for
the Association Cup, there gathered intense local feeling. The three
favourites were representative horses. The money of the police and
all the Fort contingent in the community had been placed on the
long, rangey thoroughbred, Foxhall, an imported racer who had been
fast enough to lose money in the great racing circuits of the East,
but who was believed to be fast enough to win money here in the
The district about the fort town was divided into two sections, the
east and the west. In the eastern section the farming industry was
carried on to an almost equal extent with ranching; in the west, up
among the hills, there was ranching pure and simple. Between the two
sections a strong rivalry existed. In this contest the east had
"banked" on Captain Hal Harricomb, rancher and gentleman farmer, and
his black Demon. The western men, all ranchers, who despised and
hated farmers and everything pertaining to them, were all ranged
behind the Swallow, a dainty little bay mare, bred, owned, and
ridden by a young Englishman, Victor Stanton, known throughout the
Albertas, south and north, as "The Kid," or, affectionately, "The
Kiddie," admired for his superb riding, his reckless generosity, his
cool courage, and loved for his gentle, generous heart.
Already two heats had been run, one going to the Demon and one to
the Swallow, Foxhall sustaining his Eastern reputation as a money-
The excitement of the day had gradually grown in intensity, and now
was concentrated in the final heat of the Association Cup race.
All unconscious of this excitement and of the tremendous issues at
stake, Shock sent his little cayuse peacefully trotting along the
trail to where it met the main street. The street was lined on
either side with men and horses. Something was evidently going on,
but what Shock could not see.
But no sooner had he turned up the street than there was a fierce
outburst of yells, oaths, and execrations, and at the same moment he
heard behind him the pounding of hoofs.
Hastily glancing over his shoulder, he saw thundering down upon him
half a dozen or more mounted men. In vain he tugged at his cayuse.
The little brute allowed his stubborn head to be hauled round close
to the shaft, but declined to remove his body; and, indeed, had he
been ever so eager, there would hardly have been time. A big black
horse was plunging wildly not more than ten feet behind him. A
fierce oath, a shower of dust and gravel in his face, a flash of
legs and hoofs, and the big black was lifted clear over Shock and
his cayuse, and was off again down the street between the lines of
"Here, blank your blank head! Git off the course! Don't you know
When Shock came to himself, he was aware that a tall, lanky cowboy
in chaps, woollen shirt, and stiff, broad-brimmed hat was pounding
his cayuse over the head with his heavy whip.
Shock never knew how it happened. All he remembered was a quick rush
of blood to his brain, a mad desire to punish the man who was
brutally beating his pony, and then standing by the shaft of his
buck-board waiting for the man to get up.
"Gad, sir!" exclaimed a voice over his shoulder, "that was a clever
throw!" There was genuine admiration in the voice.
Shock looked up and saw an old gentleman, with white, close-cropped
hair and moustache and erect military form, regarding him with
admiration. He was riding a stout hunter, docked in English style.
"And served you perfectly right, Ike," continued the old gentleman.
"What business have you to strike any man's horse?"
"What the blank blank is he doing on the course?" said Ike
wrathfully, as he slowly rose from the ground and came toward Shock.
"I say, stranger," he said, coming over near to Shock and looking
him carefully in the eye, "I'll give you twenty-five dollars if you
do that agin. You took me unbeknownst. Now, git to work."
Shock's heart had got back to its right place and was beating its
steady beat. The old scrimmage smile was on his face.
"But I do not want to do it again, and I did take you unawares."
"Look-a-here," said Ike, touching Shock with his forefinger on the
breast, "do you think you kin do it agin? "
"Don't know that I could," said Shock quietly. "But I do know that I
do not intend to try. And, in fact, I do not know how it was done."
"Ikey does," drawled a voice.
There was a delighted roar from the crowd that had gathered round.
Ike looked round the circle of grinning men for a second or two.
"Say," he said slowly, "if any blank, blank son of a she-ape thinks
he knows how to do that trick when I'm a-watchin', here's his
opportunity right naouw--fer fun, or fer money, or," lowering his
voice and thrusting forward his face a little, "fer blood."
The laugh died out from the crowd. There was a silence for a moment
or two, and then the same voice drawled, "Nobody's hungry, I guess,
Ikey," and Ike turned from them with a grunt of contempt.
"Now," he said, coming back to Shock, "I'd like to hear you talk."
Ike threw himself into an attitude of defence, but Shock's position
never changed, nor did the smile fade from his face.
"I have nothing to say except that I do not know how it happened. I
saw my horse being abused, and--well, I acted a little hastily, I
"Hastily!" exclaimed the old gentleman, who had remained in the
crowd. "Nonsense! Perfectly right, I say, and Ike knows it. What
would you do, Ike, if you saw a fellow pounding Slipper over the
"Poundin' Slipper?" said Ike slowly, pausing to turn his quid of
tobacco in his cheek. "Poundin' Slipper," he repeated with even
greater deliberation. "Knock his blank face into the back of his
"Then it seems to me, Ike, you were let off easy." The old gentleman
smiled grimly down upon the cowboy, who was still wrathful, but more
puzzled than wrathful. The smiling man at the pony's head looked so
thoroughly good-natured that it was hard to push a quarrel, but
still Ike's dignity had been injured.
"What I beg to remark is," he continued, returning to the attack,
"kin he do it agin? Does he have any lingerin' suspicion that he is
capable of that act?" Ike reserved his best English for serious
occasions. "If he does, I'm willin' he should extemporise at it."
"Good man, Ikey!" drawled the voice again from the crowd. "I'll back
Ikey to his last pant's button."
Shock stood silent and smiling, while Ike stood facing him, more and
more puzzled. Shock was an entirely new experience. He would not
fight, he would not run away, he would not even get angry.
At this point the old gentleman interfered.
"Now, Ikey," he said, "it is time you were learning some manners.
This gentleman is no pugilist. He has neither the desire nor the
intention of fighting you, which is perhaps all the better for you.
That is a poor way to treat a stranger the first day he arrives in
our town. Perhaps you will allow me to be of some service to you,"
he said, turning to Shock.
"Thank you," said Shock simply. "I am in need of a doctor first of
all. Two of my friends at Loon Lake are very ill. Is there a doctor
in this town?"
"There is," replied the old gentleman. "Dr. Burton. But I very much
fear that he will hardly be fit for service to-day. Unfortunately,
our doctor, though a remarkably clever practitioner, is not always--
well, to be quite frank, he is very frequently drunk. Get him sober
and he will do you good service."
"How shall I accomplish that?" asked Shock, with a feeling of
despair in his heart, thinking of the Old Prospector in his pain and
of little Patsy lying in semi-unconsciousness in the back room of
the Loon Creek Stopping Place. "I must have a doctor. I cannot go
back without one."
"Then," said the old gentleman, "you will need to kidnap him and
wait till he sobers off."
"I shall try," said Shock quietly.
The old gentleman stared at him.
"By Jove!" he said, "I believe you mean to. And if you do, you'll
"Can you direct me to the house of Mr. Macfarren?" inquired Shock.
"Certainly. That is his house among the trees," pointing to a
cottage with a verandah about it, which stood back some distance
from the main street. "But if you wish to see Mr. Macfarren, you
will find him down at the other end of the street at the finishing
post. He will be very busily engaged at the present, however, being
one of the judges in this race, and if it is not of immediate
importance I would advise your waiting till the race is over. But
stay, here he comes. The man in the centre is Mr. Macfarren."
As he spoke he pointed to a tall man, with a long, grizzled beard,
riding a pony, followed by two younger men splendidly mounted. The
elder of these was a man strongly built, face open and honest, but
showing signs of hard living. He rode a powerful black horse, whose
temper showed in his fierce snatching at the bit. Just now the horse
was covered with foam, reddened at the flanks and mouth with blood.
His companion was much younger, a mere boy, indeed. His fair hair,
blue eyes, and smooth face accentuated his youthful appearance. It
was his youthful face and boyish manner that gave him his name among
the cattle men, and his place in their hearts. But though they
called him "The Kid," and often "The Kiddie," and thought of him
with admiring and caressing tenderness, no man of them failed to
give him full respect; for boy as he was, he had a man's nerve, a
man's grip, his muscles were all steel, and with all his smiling
gentleness none of them would think of taking a liberty with him.
Earlier in the day he had won from a dozen competitors that most
coveted of all honours in the ranching country, The Bucking Belt,
for he had ridden for the full hundred yards without "touching
leather," the OUTLAW specially imported from the other side.
As the three men rode up the rider of the black horse was heard to
say, "That's the fellow that nearly spilled me. And if Demon hadn't
been mighty quick in recovering, it would have been a blank nasty
"I say," said Macfarren, in a loud, blustering tone, "don't you know
enough to keep off a race-course when a race is being run?"
Shock was much taken aback at this greeting.
"I beg your pardon, but I didn't know this was a race-course, nor
did I know that a race was on."
"The deuce you didn't! Hadn't you eyes to see?"
To this Shock made no reply, but taking a letter from his pocket
said quietly, "You are Mr. Macfarren, I believe. I have a letter for
you from Mr. McIntyre."
At this the other two rode away. Mr. Macfarren opened the letter
with a scowl. As he read the flush on his face deepened.
"What the deuce does this mean?" he burst out, in an angry tone. "I
wrote both the Superintendent and McIntyre last week that it was a
piece of folly to plant a man here, that we didn't require and
didn't want a man. The community is well supplied already with
church services, and as far as the Presbyterians are concerned, they
would find the support of a minister an intolerable burden."
For a moment or two Shock stood in speechless amazement. It was
disconcerting in the extreme to be told by the man upon whom he had
chiefly depended for support and counsel that he was not wanted.
"Your letters would not have reached them in time, I suppose," he
said at last.
"Well, that's the fact, at any rate," replied Macfarren roughly. "We
won't want a minister. We are thoroughly well supplied. We don't
need one, and we cannot support one."
He was turning away without further words when he was arrested by
the sharp and peremptory voice of the old gentleman, who had
remained behind Shock during the conversation.
"Macfarren, this gentleman is a stranger, I presume. Will you kindly
"Oh--ah--certainly," said Macfarren, wheeling his pony and looking
rather ashamed. "Mr." looking at the letter.
"Macgregor," said Shock quietly.
"Mr. Macgregor, this is General Brady, one of our leading ranchers."
"I am delighted to make your acquaintance, sir," said General Brady,
shaking Shock warmly by the hand. "You will find us rough and wild,
but, sir, I am glad to say we are not all a blank lot of boors."
"Thank you, sir," said Shock, with a sudden flush on his face.
"Oh--ah--certainly we are glad to have you visit our town," said
Macfarren, as if trying to atone for his former rudeness. "And, of
course, it is no fault of yours, Mr.--ah--"
"Macgregor," said the General shortly.
"Yes, Mr. Macgregor. There's a deuce of a mistake been made, but I
take it you will not suffer. There are plenty of--ah--positions--
places, I believe, where you will find--ah--opportunity. But if you
will excuse me, I am busy for the moment. I shall doubtless see you
again before you leave."
Shock bowed in silence.
"Blank cad!" muttered the General. Then turning to Shock he said,
with hearty interest showing in his tone, "Where do you put up, Mr.
"I do not know the town at all. I shall have to look about for a
boarding place of some kind, I suppose." Shock's smile was rather
The General was evidently interested in this stranger, and touched
by his forlorn condition.
"The Royal there," pointing down the street, "is the best hotel.
They do you there not so badly. They may give you accommodation for
a night, but I fancy it will be rather difficult to find a boarding
house. But," he added heartily, "why not come to me in the meantime?
Mrs. Brady and myself will be most happy to have you visit us for a
few weeks, till you find quarters. I have, unfortunately, an
engagement that will keep me late in town to-night, else I should
insist on your accompanying me at once--an engagement which I cannot
well break. In short, this is our annual spring meeting of the Turf
Association, and there is in connection with it some sort of social
function to wind the thing up to-night, and Mrs. Brady, being one of
the patronesses, and I myself being more or less interested--the
president of the Association, indeed--we cannot avoid putting in an
appearance. And indeed, we enjoy it, sir. We thoroughly enjoy it. It
brings to our present crude and somewhat limited life a little bit
of the past. But to-morrow I shall be glad to ride down for you,
sir, and bring you up to my little place."
The cordial kindness of this stranger, upon whom he had no claim,
touched Shock greatly.
"Thank you again," he said. "I cannot tell you how much I feel your
kindness. But if you will allow me, I would rather accept your
invitation later. I feel I must get settled to my work at once. I
have been long on the way, and my work is waiting me." Then, after a
pause, he added simply, "But your kindness makes me think of a word
I have read, 'I was a stranger, and ye took me in.'"
The General bowed in silence, and seeing that Shock was not to be
persuaded, shook hands with him once more. "Come when you will, sir,
and stay as long as you can. The sooner you come and the longer you
stay, the better we shall be pleased." And with another courteous
bow the General rode off to attend to his duties as President of the
As Shock turned back to his buckboard he found Ike waiting him. Ike
had been an interested witness of all that had taken place, and
while his sympathy had gone completely with Shock and against
Macfarren, he had not been quite able to shake off the feeling of
humiliation under which he suffered.
"Say, stranger," he said, touching Shock on the shoulder, and
speaking in a low and almost respectful tone, "there aint a man in
the Territories has ever put the dust onto Ike Iveson's pants.
Here's twenty-five dollars," diving deep into his hip pocket and
pulling out a plug of tobacco, a knife, and a roll of bills, "which
is a standin' offer to any man who can circumvent that there trick.
And I want to say," he continued, with a subdued eagerness in his
tone, "I'll make it fifty if you do it agin."
Ike's tone was persuasive. There was nothing of resentment in it. It
was the tone of a man who had come upon an interesting and puzzling
experience, and was anxious to investigate.
"No," said Shock, backing away from Ike, "I cannot take that.
Besides, it was not a fair throw."
"Well," said Ike, much mollified, "that's so, that's so. And I
consider it something handsome in you sayin' so. But that offer
"All right," said Shock, smiling a little more broadly. "I'll
remember. And when I want fifty dollars very badly I may come to
you. But," he added, looking Ike up and down, "I'll have to be
pretty hard pushed before I try."
"It's a bargain, stranger," said Ikey, offering a languid hand.
Shock grasped it warmly. A slight tremour ran over Ike's lanky frame
as Shock's hand closed on his.
"Je--roo--sa--lem!" he ejaculated, drawing in his breath, as Shock
turned away. "I'll be ready fer you next time. I prefer a grizzly
myself." He looked down at his finger nails. "Didn't expect to see
'em on," he observed. "And say, boys," turning to the crowd, "I
surmise he's a preacher, a blank fire-escape."
At once Ike became the object of various comments. "--A preacher,
Ike? Say, you'll have to change your ways and go to meetin'."
"What's Ikey's church, anyway?"
"Don't know as I ever heard."
"Oh, Ikey aint mean, he treats 'em all the same."
"Well, I guess Ikey'll have to dust toward the skyline."
Ike listened for a time unmoved, and then drawled out quietly, "What
I want to remark to you jay birds is, that if ever you have any
misunderstandin' with that there ascension ladder, he'll make you
say more prayers in a minute than you've said for the last ten years
of your mortal life. And if ever he gits after you the only thing
that'll save you will be your dust."
So saying Ike slouched off down the street, keeping his eye on
Shock's buckboard. He watched him go into the Royal and in a few
minutes come out again, followed him to the International, and soon
after to the Ranchers' Roost.
"Guess he's purty nigh tangled up now," said Ikey, with considerable
satisfaction. He had a scheme of his own in mind. "There aint a six-
foot hole in this hull town, and he'd take purty nigh seven. Now,
what's his next move?"
Shock appeared undecided. There was evidently no place for him in
the town. He had a deepening sense of being not wanted. The town was
humming with life, but in that life there was no place for him.
Awakening a strange sense of fellowship the word came to him, "He
was rejected of men."
"I WAS A STRANGER, AND YE TOOK ME IN"
As Shock stood, uncertain as to his next move, he noticed that out
of the confused mingling of men and horses order began to appear.
The course was once more being cleared. The final heat, which the
Swallow had won, and which had been protested by the owner of the
Demon, on the ground that his course had been blocked by Shock and
his cayuse, was to be run again. Shock was too much occupied with
his own disappointment and uncertainty to take much interest in the
contest that was the occasion of such intense excitement to the
throngs on the street. With languid indifference he watched the
course being cleared and the competitors canter back to the starting
point. Behind them followed a cavalcade of horsemen on all sorts of
mounts, from the shaggy little cayuse, with diminishing rump, to the
magnificent thoroughbred stallion, stall-fed and shining. In the
final heat it was the custom for all the horsemen in the crowd to
join at a safe distance behind the contestants, in a wild and
Shock's attention was arrested and his interest quickened by the
appearance of Ike in the crowd, riding a hard-looking, bony,
buckskin broncho, which he guessed to be Slipper.
In a short time the Demon and the Swallow were in their places. Far
behind them bunched the motley crowd of horsemen.
The start was to be by the pistol shot, and from the scratch. So
intense was the stillness of the excited crowd that, although the
starting point was more than half a mile out on the prairie, the
crack of the pistol was clearly heard.
In immediate echo the cry arose, "They're off! They're off!" and
necks were strained to catch a glimpse of the first that should
appear where the course took a slight turn.
In a few seconds the two leading horses are seen, the riders low
over their necks, and behind them, almost hidden by the dust, the
crowd of yelling, waving, shooting horsemen.
The Demon is leading, the Swallow close on his flank. As they come
within clear view the experienced eyes of the crowd see that while
the Demon, though as yet untouched by whip or spur, is doing all
that is in him, the Swallow is holding him easily. On all sides the
men of the west raise a paean of victory, "The Swallow! The Swallow!
Good boy, Kiddie! Let her go! Let her go!" "You've got him
standing!" "Bully boy!"
Fifty yards from the winning post The Kid leans over his mare's neck
and shakes out his fluttering reins. Like the bird whose name she
bears the Swallow darts to the front, a length ahead. In vain the
Captain calls to the Demon, plying fiercely whip and spur. With
nostrils distended and blood-red, with eyes starting from their
sockets, and mouth foaming bloody froth, the noble animal responds
and essays his final attempt.
It is a magnificent effort. Slowly he creeps up to the Swallow's
flank, but beyond that he cannot make an inch, and so they remain to
the winning post.
Down the street behind the leaders, yelling wild oaths, shooting off
their guns, flinging hats in the air, and all enveloped in a cloud
of dust, thunders the pursuing cavalcade.
Just as the Swallow shoots to the front, out from the cloud of dust
behind, with his cowboy hat high in one hand and his reins
fluttering loosely in the other, Ike emerges on his beloved Slipper.
At every bound the buckskin gains upon the runners in front, but
when level with the Demon, Ike steadies him down, for he would not
be guilty of the bad taste of "shoving his nose into another man's
fight," nor would he deprive the little mare, who carried the
fortunes of the men of the west, of the glory of her victory.
The riot that follows the race passes description. The men from the
west go mad. About The Kid and his little mare they surge in a wave
of frantic enthusiasm. Into the Ranchers' Roost they carry the rider
to wash down the dust, while as many as can find room for a hand get
vigorously to work upon the Swallow.
After the riot had somewhat subsided and the street had become
partially clear, side by side, threading their way through the
crowd, appeared the two competitors for the Cup. On all sides they
were greeted with renewed cheers, and under the excitement of the
hour they abandoned the customary reserve of the cowboy, and began
performing what seemed to Shock impossible feats of horsemanship.
"I bet you I'll ride her into the Roost, Captain," cried The Kiddie.
"Done, for the drinks!" replied the Captain.
The boy cantered his mare across the street.
"Out of the way there!" he cried. "Out of the way, you fellows! I'm
As he spoke he put the little mare straight at the flight of steps
leading up to the door of the Roost. The crowd parted hastily, but
the Swallow balked and swerved, and but for the fine horsemanship of
the rider he would have been thrown.
With an oath, the Kid took hold of his horse again, and riding
carelessly, faced her once more at the steps. But again she plunged,
reared, swung round, and set off at a run down the street.
The lad rode her easily back, brought her up to the steps at a walk,
quieted her with voice and hand, and then, cantering across the
street, came back again at an easy lope to the steps. The mare made
as if to balk again.
"Up, girl!" cried the boy, lifting her with the rein; and then, as
she rose, touching her with the spur, Like a cat the little mare
clambered up the steps, and before she could change her mind she
found herself through the door, standing in the bar-room with her
rider on her back.
Through the outer entrance thronged the crowd of men, giving vent to
their admiration in yells and oaths, and lining up at the bar waited
for the payment of the bet.
Shock, who had been singularly attracted by the handsome, boyish
face of the rider, walked up to the door and stood looking in, his
great form towering above the crowd of men that swayed and jostled,
chaffing and swearing, inside. As he stood looking at the boy,
sitting his horse with such careless grace, and listening with
pleased and smiling face to the varied and picturesque profanity in
which the crowd were expressing their admiration, the words of his
Convener came to his mind, "They may not want you, but they need
"Yes," he muttered to himself, "they need me, or, someone better."
A great pity for the lad filled his heart and overflowed from his
The boy caught the look. With a gay laugh he cried, "I would drink
to your very good health, sir!" his high, clear voice penetrating
the din and bringing the crowd to silence. "But why carry so grave a
face at such a joyous moment?" He lifted his glass over his head and
bowed low to Shock.
Arrested by his words, the crowd turned their eyes toward the man
that stood in the door, waiting in silence for his reply.
A quick flush rose to Shock's face, but without moving his eyes from
the gay, laughing face of the boy, he said in a clear, steady voice,
"I thank you, sir, for your courtesy, and I ask your pardon if my
face was grave. I was thinking of your mother."
As if someone had stricken him the boy swayed over his horse's neck,
but in a moment recovering himself he sat up straight, and lifting
high his glass, he said reverently, as if he had been toasting the
Queen: "Gentlemen, my mother! God bless her!"
"God bless her!" echoed the men.
Drinking off the glass he dismounted and, followed by the cheers of
the crowd, led his horse out of the room and down the steps, and
Meantime Shock went in search of the doctor. In a corner of the
International bar he found him in s drunken sleep. After vain
efforts to wake him, without more ado Shock lifted him in his arms,
carried him out to the buckboard and drove away, followed by the
jibes and compliments of the astonished crowd.
But what to do with him was the question. There was no room for
himself, much less for his charge, in any of the hotels or stopping
"May as well begin now," Shock said to himself, and drove out to a
little bluff of poplars at the river bank near the town, and
prepared to camp.
He disposed of the doctor by laying him in the back of his
buckboard, covered with the buffalo. He unhitched and tethered the
pony, and, according to his crude notions of what a camp should be,
began to make his preparations. With very considerable difficulty,
he first of all started a fire.
"Hello! Rather chilly for campin' out yit?"
He looked up and saw Ike.
"I guess you aint lived much out of doors," continued his visitor,
glancing at the apology for a fire, and noticing the absence of
everything in camp-making that distinguishes the experienced camper.
"No, this is my first camp," said Shock. "But I suppose every man
must make a beginning."
"Yes," agreed Ike, "when he's got to. But I have a lingerin'
suspicion that you'd be better inside to-night. It aint goin' to be
"Oh, I'll be all right," replied Shock cheerfully.
"I have a small tent, a couple of coats, a pair of blankets, and my
pony has got his oats."
"Yes," drawled Ike, regarding the cayuse with contemptuous eyes,
"he's all right. You can't kill them fellers. But, as I remarked,
you'd be better inside."
He walked around the buckboard and his eyes fell upon the doctor.
"What the--" Ike checked himself, either out of deference to Shock's
profession or more likely from sheer amazement.
He turned down the buffalo, gazed at the sleeping figure with long
and grave interest, then lifting his head he remarked with
impressive solemnity, "Well, I be chawed and swallered! You HAVE got
him, eh? Now, how did you do it?"
"Well," said Shock, "it was not difficult. I found him asleep in the
International. I carried him out, and there he is."
"Say," said Ike, looking at Shock with dawning admiration in his
eyes, "you're a bird! Is there anythin' else you want in that town?
Guess not, else it would be here. The General said you'd kidnap him,
and he was right. Now, what you goin' to do when he comes to? There
aint much shelter in this bluff, and when he wakes he'll need
someone to set up with him, sure. He's a terror, a dog-goned
"Oh, we'll manage," said Shock lightly. "I mean to start early in
"Before he gets up, eh? As I remarked before, you're a bird!"
For some moments Ike hung about the camp, poking the fire, evidently
somewhat disturbed in his mind. Finally he said in a hesitating
tone, "It aint much to offer any man, but my shack kin hold two men
as well as one, and I guess three could squeeze in, specially if the
third is in the condition he's in," nodding toward the doctor. "We
kin lay him on the floor. Of course, it aint done up with no picters
and hangin's, but it keeps out the breeze, and there aint no bugs,
Shock's experience of Western shacks had not been sufficiently
varied and extensive to enable him to appreciate to the full this
last commendation of Ike's.
Ike's hesitation in making the offer determined Shock.
"Thank you very much," he said cordially. "I shall be delighted to
go with you."
"All right, let's git," said Ike, proceeding to hitch up the pony,
while Shock gathered his stuff together. In a few minutes they were
ready to start.
"Guess he'll ride comfortable where he is," said Ike. "You can't
kill a drunk man. Strange, aint it?"
It was growing dusk as they drove through the town, but the streets,
the hotel stoops, and bars were filled with men in various stages of
intoxication. As they caught sight of Ike and recognised his
companion, they indulged themselves in various facetious remarks.
"Hello, Ike. Goin' to meetin'?"
"No," retorted Ike shortly. "Goin' to school fer manners. Want to
"Ikey's got religion. Caught on to the fire-escape you bet."
"No, he's goin' to learn that rasslin' trick."
"Ikey's showin' the stranger the town. He's on for a bust, you bet."
"Blank lot of jay birds," said Ike grimly, in a low tone. "I'll
see'em later. You'd think they'd never seen a stranger before."
"That is all for me, I suppose, Ike," said Shock apologetically.
"Don't you worry. It won't give me any grey hair." Ike emphasised
his indifference by tilting his hat till it struck on the extreme
back of his head, and lounging back in his seat with his feet on the
"They all seen you givin' me that h'ist this afternoon," he
continued, "and they can't get over that we aint fightin'. And," he
added, hitting the hub of the wheel with a stream of tobacco juice,
"it is a rather remarkable reminiscence."
Ike had a fondness for words not usually current among the cowboys,
and in consequence his English was more or less reminiscent, and
often phonetic rather than etymoligical.
Ike's shack stood at the further side of the town. Upon entering
Shock discovered that it needed no apology for its appearance. The
board walls were adorned with illustrations from magazines and
papers, miscellaneous and without taint of prejudice, the Sunday
Magazine and the Police Gazette having places of equal honour. On
the wall, too, were nailed heads of mountain sheep and goats, of
wapiti and other deer, proclaiming Ike a hunter.
Everything in the shack was conspicuously clean, from the pots,
pans, and cooking utensils, which hung on a row of nails behind the
stove, to the dish-cloth, which was spread carefully to dry over the
dishpan. Had Shock's experience of bachelors' shacks and bachelors'
dishes been larger, he would have been more profoundly impressed
with that cooking outfit, and especially with the dish-cloth. As it
was, the dishcloth gave Shock a sense of security and comfort.
Depositing the doctor upon a buffalo skin on the floor in the
corner, with a pillow under his head, they proceeded to their
duties, Ike to prepare the evening meal, and Shock to unpack his
stuff, wondering all the while how this cowboy had come to hunt him
up and treat him with such generous hospitality.
This mystery was explained as they sat about the fire after the tea-
dishes had been most carefully washed and set away, Ike smoking and
"That old skunk rather turned you down, I guess," remarked Ike,
after a long silence; "that old Macfarren, I mean," in answer to
Shock's look of enquiry.
"I was surprised, I confess," replied Shock. "You see, I was led to
believe that he was waiting for me, and I was depending upon him.
Now, I really do not know what to think."
"Movin' out, perhaps?" said Ike, casting a sharp look at him from
out of his half-closed eyes.
"What? Leave this post, do you mean?" said Shock, his indignant
surprise showing in his tone. "No, sir. At least, not till my chief
A gleam shot out from under Ike's lowered eyelids.
"The old fellow'll make it hot for you, if you don't move. Guess he
expects you to move," said Ike quietly.
"Move!" cried Shock again, stirred at the remembrance of Macfarren's
treatment that afternoon. "Would you?"
"See him blanked first," said Ike quietly.
"So will I," said Shock emphatically. "I mean," correcting himself
hastily, "see him saved first."
"Eh? Oh--well, guess he needs some. He needs manners, anyhow. He'll
worry you, I guess. You see, he surmises he's the entire bunch, but
a man's opinion of himself don't really affect the size of his hat
Shock felt the opportunity to be golden for the gathering of
information about men and things in the country where his work was
to be done. He felt that to see life through the eyes of a man like
Ike, who represented a large and potent element in the community,
would be valuable indeed.
It was difficult to make Ike talk, but by careful suggestions,
rather than by questioning, Ike was finally led to talk, and Shock
began to catch glimpses of a world quite new to him, and altogether
wonderful. He made the astounding discovery that things that had all
his life formed the basis of his thinking were to Ike and his
fellows not so much unimportant as irrelevant; and as for the great
spiritual verities which lay at the root of all Shock's mental and,
indeed, physical activities, furnishing motive and determining
direction, these to Ike were quite remote from all practical living.
What had God to do with rounding up cattle, or broncho-busting, or
horse-trading? True, the elemental virtues of justice, truth,
charity, and loyalty were as potent over Ike as over Shock, but
their moral standards were so widely different that these very
virtues could hardly be classified in the same categories. Truth was
sacred, but lying was one thing and horse-swapping another, and if a
man was "white to the back" what more would you ask, even though at
poker he could clean you out of your whole outfit? Hitherto, a man
who paid no respect to the decencies of religion Shock had regarded
as "a heathen man and a publican," but with Ike religion, with all
its great credos, with all its customs, had simply no bearing. Shock
had not talked long with Ike until he began to feel that he must
readjust not only his whole system of theology, but even his moral
standards, and he began to wonder how the few sermons and addresses
he had garnered from his ministry in the city wards would do for Ike
and his people. He was making the discovery that climate changes the
complexion, not only of men, but of habits of thought and action.
As Shock was finding his way to new adjustments and new standards he
was incidentally finding his way into a new feeling of brotherhood
as well. The lines of cleavage which had hitherto determined his
interests and affinities were being obliterated. The fictitious and
accidental were fading out under this new atmosphere, and the great
lines of sheer humanity were coming to stand out with startling
clearness. Up to this time creed and class had largely determined
both his interest and his responsibility, but now, apart from class
and creed, men became interesting, and for men he began to feel
responsibility. He realised as never before that a man was the great
asset of the universe--not his clothes, material, social or
It was this new feeling of interest and responsibility that made him
ask, "Who was that lad that rode the winning horse to-day?"
"That chap?" replied Ike. "He's my boss. The Kid, they call him."
Men of laconic speech say much by tone and gesture, and often by
silence. In Ike's tone Shock read contempt, admiration, pity.
"A rancher?" he enquired.
"Well, he's got a ranch, and horses and cattle on it, like the rest
of 'em. But ranchin'--" Ike's silence was more than sufficient.
"Well," said Shock, with admiring emphasis, "he seems to be able to
"Ride! I should surmise! Ride! That kid could ride anythin' from a
he-goat to a rampagin', highpottopotamus. Why, look here!" Ike waged
enthusiastic. "He's been two years in this country, and he's got us
all licked good and quiet. Why, he could give points to any cattle-
man in Alberta."
"Well, what's the matter with him?"
"Money!" said Ike wrathfully. "Some blamed fool uncle at home--he's
got no parents, I understand--keeps a-sendin' him money.
Consequently, every remittance he cuts things loose, with everyone
in sight a-helpin' him."
"What a shame!" cried Shock. "He has a nice face. I just like to
look at him."
"That's right!" answered Ike, with no waning of his enthusiasm.
"He's white--but he's soft. Makes me so blank mad! He don't know
they're playin' him, and makin' him pay for the game. The only
question is, will he hold out longer'n his money."
"Why! hasn't he any friends here who would remonstrate with him?"
"Remonstrate! Remonstrate!" Ike rolled the word under his tongue as
if it felt good. "You try to remonstrate, and see him look at you,
and then smile, till you feel like a cluckin' hen that has lost her
nest. Not any for me, thank you. But it's a blank pity! He's a white
kiddie, he is."
"And that friend of his who was riding with him--who is he?"
"Harricomb--Captain Hal Harricomb, they call him. Good sort of
fellow, too, but lazy--and considerable money. Goin' at a pretty
good lick. Wife pulls him up, I guess. Good thing for him, too.
Lives up by the General's--old gent, you know, sat by when you set
me down out yonder. Mighty slick, too. Wasn't on to you, though."
"No," Shock hastened to say, "it was a fluke of course. General
Brady, you mean. Yes, he was very kind, indeed."
"Oh, the General's a gentleman, you bet! Horse ranch. Not very big,
but makes it go."
"Could not a man like the General, now, help that young fellow--what
is his name?"
"His name? Well, he goes by 'The Kid.' His name's Stanton, I think.
Yes, Stanton--Vic Stanton. Though he never gets it."
"Well, could not the General help him?" repeated Shock.
"Help The Kid? Not he, nor anyone else. When a horse with blood in
him gets a-goin', why, he's got to go till his wind gives out,
unless you throw him right down, and that's resky. You've got to
wait his time. Then's your chance. And that reminds me," said Ike,
rising and knocking the lashes out of his pipe, "that I've got a job
on hand. There'll be doin's to-night there after the happy time is
Shock looked mystified.
"They'll get the ladies off, you know, and then the fun'll begin."
Ike winked a long, significant wink. "Yes. Lit'rary Society, you
know. A little game in the back room."
"And are you going to play, Ike?"
"Not to-night, thank you. I aint no saint, but I aint a blank fool
altogether, and to-night I got to keep level. To-day's the boss's
remittance day. He's got his cheque, I've heard, and they're goin'
to roll him."
"Yes, clean him out. So I surmise it'd be wise for me to be on
"Why, what have you got to do with it, Ike?"
Ike paused for a few moments, while he filled his pipe, preparatory
to going out.
"Well, that's what I don't right know. It aint any of my own
business. Course he's my boss, but it aint that. Somehow, that
Kiddie has got a hitch onto my innards, and I can't let him get
away. He's got such a blank slick way with him that he makes you
feel like doin' the things you hate to do. Why, when he smiles at
you the sun begins to shine. That's so. Why, you saw that race this
"Yes, the last heat."
"Well, did you observe Slipper come in?"
"Well, yes, I did. And I could not understand why Slipper was not
running. Why didn't you run him, Ike?"
"Why?" said Ike, "that's what I don't know. There aint nothin' on
four legs with horsehide on in these here Territories that can make
Slipper take dust, but then--well, I knowed he had money on the
Swallow. But I guess I must be goin'."
"But what are you going to do?"
"Oh, I'll fall down somewheres and go to sleep. You see lots of
things when you're asleep, providin' you know how to accomplish it."
"Shall I go with you?" asked Shock.
Ike regarded him curiously.
"Guess you wouldn't care to be mixed up in this kind of thing. But
blame it, if I don't think you'd stay with it if it was in your
line, which it aint."
"But suppose you get into difficulty."
"Well," said Ike, smiling a slow smile, "when I want you I'll send
for you," and with that he passed out into the night.
Till long after midnight Shock sat over the fire pondering the
events of the day, and trying to make real to himself the strange
series of happenings that had marked his introduction to his work in
this country. His life for the last month had been so unlike
anything in his past as to seem quite unnatural.
As he sat thus musing over the past and planning for the future, a
knock came to the door, and almost immediately there came in a
little man, short and squat, with humped shoulders, bushy, grizzled
hair and beard, through which peered sharp little black eyes. His
head and face and eyes made one think of a little Scotch terrier.
"Ye're the meenister?" he said briefly.
"Yes," replied Shock, greatly surprised at his visitor, but warming
to the Scotch voice.
"Aye. Ye're wanted."
"Wanted? By whom?"
"The man that lives in this hoose. He's deein', I'm thinkin'."
"Dying!" said Shock, starting up and seizing his hat. "What! Ike?"
"Aye, Ike. He's verra ill."
"Go on, then," said Shock. "Quick!"
"Aye, quick it is." And the little man, without further words,
plunged into the darkness. A few minutes' swift walk through the
black night brought them to the Ranchers' Roost. There, in a corner
of the room at the back of the bar, he found Ike lying almost
unconscious, and apparently very ill.
"Why, what's the matter?" cried Shock, dropping on his knees beside
Ike. But Ike seemed stupefied, and mumbled a few incoherent words.
Shock caught the words, "the gang," and "dope."
He looked in an agony of helplessness at the little Scotchman, who
stood by looking down upon the sick man with face quite unmoved.
"Do you know what he says?" enquired Shock.
"He's no sayin' much," said the little Scotchman calmly.
Again Ike tried to speak, and this time Shock caught the words, "The
boss--gang's got him--Smiley Simmons--back room--fetch him."
"What does he mean?" cried Shock.
"It's ha-r-r-d to tell that," said the little Scotchman. "He's
talkin' about some boss or other."
"Oh, yes, I know what that means. He is referring to his boss, young
"Oh, ay!" said the little Scotchman, with a light breaking on his
face. "I saw the bodies. They've gaen o'er to the creature
"Show me the way," said Shock. "Quick!"
"Come, then," said the little Scotchman, leading once more into the
Some distance down the street stood Smiley--or as some preferred to
call him Slimy--Simmons' general store. At the back of the store
there was a side door.
"They're in yonder," said the little Scotchman, and disappeared.
Shock knocked at the door, but there was no response. He turned the
handle, opened the door, and walking in found himself in the back of
the store, in a room dimly lighted by a hanging lantern. Seated on a
stool at a high desk, evidently busy with his ledger, sat a man,
tall, slender, and wiry. He had a sharp, thin face, with high
forehead, protruding nose, and receding chin. The moment he spoke
Shock discovered at once how it was he came by his nickname.
His smile was the most striking characteristic of his manner.
Indeed, so permanent and pervasive did his smile appear, that it
seemed almost to be a fixed feature of his face.
He came forward to Shock, rubbing his hands.
"Ah, good evening," he said, in a most insinuating voice. "Is there
anything I can do for you?"
"Yes," said Shock, instinctively shrinking from him. "I want to see
"Mr. Stanton--Mr. Stanton? Let me see. I saw Mr. Stanton some hours
ago. Let me think. Was it at the International? Yes, I think it was
the International. No, in the Royal. I have no doubt you will find
him there. I shall be pleased to show you, for I see you are a
stranger. We are always delighted to see strangers and we try to
make them welcome to our town."
He moved toward the door as he spoke. Shock knew at once he was
"Mr. Stanton is not at the Royal. I have been informed he is in this
"In this building?" murmured Smiley, in a puzzled tone. "In this
building?" He glanced up at the ceiling as if expecting to see the
missing man there. "Strange," he continued. "Now, I have been here
for some time, for hours, indeed. I am a busy man, Mr.--"
"Macgregor," replied Shock.
"Mr. Macgregor. I find it necessary to pursue my avocation into the
hours we generally devote to slumber. And to-day business has been
unusually interrupted. But I have failed to notice Mr. Stanton
At the further end of the room Shock's eyes fell upon a door,
through the cracks of which a light was shining.
"It is possible," said Shock, "he is in that room," pointing to the
"Hardly, my dear sir, hardly."
But even as he spoke a voice, loud and clear, rang out. "Now, my
dear fellow, go to the deuce. That comes to me."
The reply Shock could not catch.
"I think," he said, turning to Smiley, "we shall find Mr. Stanton in
As he spoke he walked toward the door. But Smiley slipped before
"Pardon me, my dear sir, that is a private room--some friends of
mine who would greatly dislike being disturbed. I am exceedingly
sorry I cannot oblige you."
"I must see Mr. Stanton", said Shock, putting his hand upon the door
"My dear sir," said Simmons, his thin lips drawn back over his
yellow teeth, "I regret to say it is impossible. If Mr. Stanton is
in there--mark me, I say IF he is in there, which is extremely
unlikely--but if he is in there, he would be very unwilling to be
disturbed at this hour. However, since you are so anxious, I shall
take him a message."
As Smiley said this he bowed with an air of gracious condescension,
as if he expected Shock to be profoundly impressed with this
concession to his persistence. But Shock was not at all impressed.
"I cannot wait longer," he said. "It is a matter of life and death.
I must enter that room."
"My dear sir," said Simmons, rubbing his hands, his smile becoming
more and more expansive, "this is my house, that door is my door. If
you break it, I should be grieved to have to exact the full penalty
of the law."
Shock hesitated. He had never willingly broken a law in his life. It
would be a most unfortunate beginning for his mission in this town,
and, after all, what business had he to interfere? If this young
fool was determined to waste his money, let him do so.
But he thought of Ike, and the entreaty in his voice as he whispered
out his broken words, and he thought of the look of reverence and
love on the lad's face that afternoon when he gave his toast, "My
mother? God bless her!" Shock's face set hard.
"I must see him," he said simply, but with such an air of
determination that Simmons weakened.
"Well, if you wait a few minutes," replied Smiley, "I will see if he
will speak to you."