Part 1 out of 6
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A TALE OF SASKATCHEWAN
by RALPH CONNOR
In Western Canada there is to be seen to-day that most fascinating
of all human phenomena, the making of a nation. Out of breeds
diverse in traditions, in ideals, in speech, and in manner of life,
Saxon and Slav, Teuton, Celt and Gaul, one people is being made.
The blood strains of great races will mingle in the blood of a race
greater than the greatest of them all.
It would be our wisdom to grip these peoples to us with living
hooks of justice and charity till all lines of national cleavage
disappear, and in the Entity of our Canadian national life, and in
the Unity of our world-wide Empire, we fuse into a people whose
strength will endure the slow shock of time for the honour of our
name, for the good of mankind, and for the glory of Almighty God.
WINNIPEG, CANADA, 1909.
I THE CITY ON THE PLAIN
II WHERE EAST MEETS WEST
III THE MARRIAGE OF ANKA
IV THE UNBIDDEN GUEST
V THE PATRIOT'S HEART
VI THE GRIP OF BRITISH LAW
VIII THE PRICE OF VENGEANCE
IX BROTHER AND SISTER
X JACK FRENCH OF THE NIGHTHAWK RANCH
XI THE EDMONTON TRAIL
XII THE MAKING OF A MAN
XIV THE BREAK
XV THE MAIDEN OF THE BROWN HAIR
XVI HOW KALMAN FOUND HIS MINE
XVII THE FIGHT FOR THE MINE
XVIII FOR FREEDOM AND FOR LOVE
XIX MR FOREIGNER
THE CITY ON THE PLAIN
Not far from the centre of the American Continent, midway between
the oceans east and west, midway between the Gulf and the Arctic
Sea, on the rim of a plain, snow swept in winter, flower decked in
summer, but, whether in winter or in summer, beautiful in its
sunlit glory, stands Winnipeg, the cosmopolitan capital of the last
of the Anglo Saxon Empires,--Winnipeg, City of the Plain, which
from the eyes of the world cannot be hid. Miles away, secure in
her sea-girt isle, is old London, port of all seas; miles away,
breasting the beat of the Atlantic, sits New York, capital of the
New World, and mart of the world, Old and New; far away to the west
lie the mighty cities of the Orient, Peking and Hong Kong, Tokio
and Yokohama; and fair across the highway of the world's commerce
sits Winnipeg, Empress of the Prairies. Her Trans-Continental
railways thrust themselves in every direction,--south into the
American Republic, east to the ports of the Atlantic, west to the
Pacific, and north to the Great Inland Sea.
To her gates and to her deep-soiled tributary prairies she draws
from all lands peoples of all tribes and tongues, smitten with two
great race passions, the lust for liberty, and the lust for land.
By hundreds and tens of hundreds they stream in and through this
hospitable city, Saxon and Celt and Slav, each eager on his own
quest, each paying his toll to the new land as he comes and goes,
for good or for ill, but whether more for good than for ill only
A hundred years ago, where now stands the thronging city, stood the
lonely trading-post of The Honourable, The Hudson's Bay Company.
To this post in their birch bark canoes came the half-breed trapper
and the Indian hunter, with their priceless bales of furs to be
bartered for blankets and beads, for pemmican and bacon, for powder
and ball, and for the thousand and one articles of commerce that
piled the store shelves from cellar to roof.
Fifty years ago, about the lonely post a little settlement had
gathered--a band of sturdy Scots. Those dour and doughty pioneers
of peoples had planted on the Red River their homes upon their
little "strip" farms--a rampart of civilization against the wide,
wild prairie, the home of the buffalo, and camp ground of the
hunters of the plain.
Twenty-five years ago, in the early eighties, a little city had
fairly dug its roots into the black soil, refusing to be swept away
by that cyclone of financial frenzy known over the Continent as the
"boom of '81," and holding on with abundant courage and invincible
hope, had gathered to itself what of strength it could, until by
1884 it had come to assume an appearance of enduring solidity.
hitherto accessible from the world by the river and the railroad
from the south, in this year the city began to cast eager eyes
eastward, and to listen for the rumble of the first trans-
continental train, which was to bind the Provinces of Canada into a
Dominion, and make Winnipeg into one of the cities of the world.
Trade by the river died, but meantime the railway from the south
kept pouring in a steady stream of immigration, which distributed
itself according to its character and in obedience to the laws of
affinity, the French Canadian finding a congenial home across the
Red River in old St. Boniface, while his English-speaking fellow-
citizen, careless of the limits of nationality, ranged whither his
fancy called him. With these, at first in small and then in larger
groups, from Central and South Eastern Europe, came people strange
in costume and in speech; and holding close by one another as if in
terror of the perils and the loneliness of the unknown land, they
segregated into colonies tight knit by ties of blood and common
Already, close to the railway tracks and in the more unfashionable
northern section of the little city, a huddling cluster of little
black shacks gave such a colony shelter. With a sprinkling of
Germans, Italians and Swiss, it was almost solidly Slav. Slavs of
all varieties from all provinces and speaking all dialects were
there to be found: Slavs from Little Russia and from Great Russia,
the alert Polak, the heavy Croatian, the haughty Magyar, and
occasionally the stalwart Dalmatian from the Adriatic, in speech
mostly Ruthenian, in religion orthodox Greek Catholic or Uniat and
Roman Catholic. By their non-discriminating Anglo-Saxon fellow-
citizens they are called Galicians, or by the unlearned, with an
echo of Paul's Epistle in their minds, "Galatians." There they
pack together in their little shacks of boards and tar-paper, with
pent roofs of old tobacco tins or of slabs or of that same useful
but unsightly tar-paper, crowding each other in close irregular
groups as if the whole wide prairie were not there inviting them.
From the number of their huts they seem a colony of no great size,
but the census taker, counting ten or twenty to a hut, is surprised
to find them run up into hundreds. During the summer months they
are found far away in the colonies of their kinsfolk, here and
there planted upon the prairie, or out in gangs where new lines of
railway are in construction, the joy of the contractor's heart,
glad to exchange their steady, uncomplaining toil for the uncertain,
spasmodic labour of their English-speaking rivals. But winter finds
them once more crowding back into the little black shacks in the
foreign quarter of the city, drawn thither by their traditionary
social instincts, or driven by economic necessities. All they ask
is bed space on the floor or, for a higher price, on the home-made
bunks that line the walls, and a woman to cook the food they bring
to her; or, failing such a happy arrangement, a stove on which they
may boil their varied stews of beans or barley, beets or rice or
cabbage, with such scraps of pork or beef from the neck or flank as
they can beg or buy at low price from the slaughter houses, but ever
with the inevitable seasoning of garlic, lacking which no Galician
dish is palatable. Fortunate indeed is the owner of a shack, who,
devoid of hygienic scruples and disdainful of city sanitary laws,
reaps a rich harvest from his fellow-countrymen, who herd together
under his pent roof. Here and there a house surrendered by its
former Anglo-Saxon owner to the "Polak" invasion, falls into the
hands of an enterprising foreigner, and becomes to the happy
possessor a veritable gold mine.
Such a house had come into the possession of Paulina Koval. Three
years ago, with two children she had come to the city, and to the
surprise of her neighbours who had travelled with her from Hungary,
had purchased this house, which the owner was only too glad to
sell. How the slow-witted Paulina had managed so clever a
transaction no one quite understood, but every one knew that in the
deal Rosenblatt, financial agent to the foreign colony, had lent
his shrewd assistance. Rosenblatt had known Paulina in the home
land, and on her arrival in the new country had hastened to proffer
his good offices, arranging the purchase of her house and guiding
her, not only in financial matters, but in things domestic as well.
It was due to Rosenblatt that the little cottage became the most
populous dwelling in the colony. It was his genius that had turned
the cellar, with its mud floor, into a dormitory capable of giving
bed space to twenty or twenty-five Galicians, and still left room
for the tin stove on which to cook their stews. Upon his advice,
too, the partitions by which the cottage had been divided into
kitchen, parlour, and bed rooms, were with one exception removed as
unnecessary and interfering unduly with the most economic use of
valuable floor space. Upon the floor of the main room, some
sixteen feet by twelve, under Rosenblatt's manipulation, twenty
boarders regularly spread their blankets, and were it not for the
space demanded by the stove and the door, whose presence he deeply
regretted, this ingenious manipulator could have provided for some
fifteen additional beds. Beyond the partition, which as a
concession to Rosenblatt's finer sensibilities was allowed to
remain, was Paulina's boudoir, eight feet by twelve, where she and
her two children occupied a roomy bed in one corner. In the
original plan of the cottage four feet had been taken from this
boudoir for closet purposes, which closet now served as a store
room for Paulina's superfluous and altogether wonderful wardrobe.
After a few weeks' experiment, Rosenblatt, under pressure of an
exuberant hospitality, sought to persuade Paulina that, at the
sacrifice of some comfort and at the expense of a certain degree of
privacy, the unoccupied floor space of her boudoir might be placed
at the disposal of a selected number of her countrymen, who for the
additional comfort thus secured, this room being less exposed to
the biting wind from the door, would not object to pay a higher
price. Against this arrangement poor Paulina made feeble protest,
not so much on her own account as for the sake of the children.
"Children!" cried Rosenblatt. "What are they to you? They are not
"No, they are not my children, but they are my man's, and I must
keep them for him. He would not like men to sleep in the same room
"What can harm them here? I will come myself and be their
protector," cried the chivalrous Rosenblatt. "And see, here is the
very thing! We will make for them a bed in this snug little
closet. It is most fortunate, and they will be quite comfortable."
Still in Paulina's slow-moving mind lingered some doubt as to the
propriety of the suggested arrangement. "But why should men come
in here? I do not need the money. My man will send money every
"Ah!" cried the alert and startled Rosenblatt, "every month! Ah!
very good! But this house, you will remember, is not all paid for,
and those English people are terrible with their laws. Oh, truly
terrible!" continued the solicitous agent. "They would turn you
and your children out into the snow. Ah, what a struggle I had
only last month with them!"
The mere memory of that experience sent a shudder of horror through
Rosenblatt's substantial frame, so that Paulina hastened to
surrender, and soon Rosenblatt with three of his patrons, selected
for their more gentle manners and for their ability to pay, were
installed as night lodgers in the inner room at the rate of five
dollars per month. This rate he considered as extremely reasonable,
considering that those of the outer room paid three dollars, while
for the luxury of the cellar accommodation two dollars was the rate.
WHERE EAST MEETS WEST
The considerate thoughtfulness of Rosenblatt relieved Paulina of
the necessity of collecting these monthly dues, to her great joy,
for it was far beyond her mental capacity to compute, first in
Galician and then in Canadian money, the amount that each should
pay; and besides, as Rosenblatt was careful to point out, how could
she deal with defaulters, who, after accumulating a serious
indebtedness, might roll up their blankets and without a word of
warning fade away into the winter night? Indeed, with all her
agent's care, it not unfrequently happened that a lodger, securing
a job in one of the cordwood camps, would disappear, leaving behind
him only his empty space upon the floor and his debt upon the
books, which Rosenblatt kept with scrupulous care. Occasionally it
happened, however, that, as in all bookkeeping, a mistake would
creep in. This was unfortunately the case with young Jacob
Wassyl's account, of whose perfidy Paulina made loud complaints to
his friends, who straightway remonstrated with Jacob upon his
return from the camp. It was then that Jacob's indignant
protestations caused an examination of Rosenblatt's books,
whereupon that gentleman laboured with great diligence to make
abundantly clear to all how the obliteration of a single letter had
led to the mistake. It was a striking testimony to his fine sense
of honour that Rosenblatt insisted that Jacob, Paulina, and indeed
the whole company, should make the fullest investigation of his
books and satisfy themselves of his unimpeachable integrity. In a
private interview with Paulina, however, his rage passed all
bounds, and it was only Paulina's tearful entreaties that induced
him to continue to act as her agent, and not even her tears had
moved him had not Paulina solemnly sworn that never again would she
allow her blundering crudity to insert itself into the delicate
finesse of Rosenblatt's financial operations. Thenceforward all
went harmoniously enough, Paulina toiling with unremitting
diligence at her daily tasks, so that she might make the monthly
payments upon her house, and meet the rapacious demands of those
terrible English people, with their taxes and interest and legal
exactions, which Rosenblatt, with meritorious meekness, sought to
satisfy. So engrossed, indeed, was that excellent gentleman in
this service that he could hardly find time to give suitable over-
sight to his own building operations, in which, by the erection of
shack after shack, he sought to meet the ever growing demands of
the foreign colony.
Before a year had gone it caused Rosenblatt no small annoyance that
while he was thus struggling to keep pace with the demands upon his
time and energy, Paulina, with lamentable lack of consideration,
should find it necessary to pause in her scrubbing, washing, and
baking, long enough to give birth to a fine healthy boy. Paulina's
need brought her help and a friend in the person of Mrs. Fitzpatrick,
who lived a few doors away in the only house that had been able to
resist the Galician invasion. It had not escaped Mrs. Fitzpatrick's
eye nor her kindly heart, as Paulina moved in and out about her
duties, that she would ere long pass into that mysterious valley of
life and death where a woman needs a woman's help; and so when the
hour came, Mrs. Fitzpatrick, with fine contempt of "haythen" skill
and efficiency, came upon the scene and took command. It took her
only a few moments to clear from the house the men who with stolid
indifference to the sacred rights of privacy due to the event were
lounging about. Swinging the broom which she had brought with her,
she almost literally swept them forth, flinging their belongings out
into the snow. Not even Rosenblatt, who lingered about, did she
suffer to remain.
"Y're wife will not be nadin' ye, I'm thinkin', for a while. Ye
can just wait till I can bring ye wurrd av y're babby," she said,
pushing him, not unkindly, from the room.
Rosenblatt, whose knowledge of English was sufficient to enable him
to catch her meaning, began a vigorous protest:
"Eet ees not my woman," he exclaimed.
"Eat, is it!" replied Mrs. Fitzpatrick, taking him up sharply.
"Indade ye can eat where ye can get it. Faith, it's a man ye are,
sure enough, that can niver forget y're stomach! An' y're wife
comin' till her sorrow!"
"Eet ees not my--" stormily began Rosenblatt.
"Out wid ye," cried Mrs. Fitzpatrick, impatiently waving her big
red hands before his face. "Howly Mother! It's the wurrld's
wonder how a dacent woman cud put up wid ye!"
And leaving him in sputtering rage, she turned to her duty, aiding,
with gentle touch and tender though meaningless words, her sister
woman through her hour of anguish.
In three days Paulina was again in her place and at her work, and
within a week her household was re-established in its normal
condition. The baby, rolled up in an old quilt and laid upon her
bed, received little attention except when the pangs of hunger
wrung lusty protests from his vigorous lungs, and had it not been
for Mrs. Fitzpatrick's frequent visits, the unwelcome little human
atom would have fared badly enough. For the first two weeks of its
life the motherly-hearted Irish woman gave an hour every day to the
bathing and dressing of the babe, while Irma, the little girl of
Paulina's household, watched in wide-eyed wonder and delight;
watched to such purpose, indeed, that before the two weeks had gone
Mrs. Fitzpatrick felt that to the little girl's eager and capable
hands the baby might safely be entrusted.
"It's the ould-fashioned little thing she is," she confided to her
husband, Timothy. "Tin years, an' she has more sinse in the hair
outside av her head than that woman has in the brains inside av
hers. It's aisy seen she's no mother of hers--ye can niver get
canary burrds from owls' eggs. And the strength of her," she
continued, to the admiring and sympathetic Timothy, "wid her white
face and her burnin' brown eyes!"
And so it came that every day, no matter to what depths the
thermometer might fall, the little white-faced, white-haired
Russian girl with the "burnin'" brown eyes brought Paulina's baby
to be inspected by Mrs. Fitzpatrick's critical eye. Before a year
had passed Irma had won an assured place in the admiration and
affection of not only Mrs. Fitzpatrick, but of her husband,
Timothy, as well.
But of Paulina the same could not be said, for with the passing
months she steadily descended in the scale of Mrs. Fitzpatrick's
regard. Paulina was undoubtedly slovenly. Her attempts at
housekeeping--if housekeeping it could be called--were utterly
contemptible in the eyes of Mrs. Fitzpatrick. These defects,
however, might have been pardoned, and with patience and
perseverance might have been removed, but there were conditions in
Paulina's domestic relations that Mrs. Fitzpatrick could not
forgive. The economic arrangements which turned Paulina's room
into a public dormitory were abhorrent to the Irish woman's sense
of decency. Often had she turned the full tide of her voluble
invective upon Paulina, who, though conscious that all was not
well--for no one could mistake the flash of Mrs. Fitzpatrick's eye
nor the stridency of her voice--received Mrs. Fitzpatrick's
indignant criticism with a patient smile. Mrs. Fitzpatrick,
despairing of success in her efforts with Paulina, called in the
aid of Anka Kusmuk, who, as domestic in the New West Hotel where
Mrs. Fitzpatrick served as charwoman two days in the week, had
become more or less expert in the colloquial English of her
environment. Together they laboured with Paulina, but with little
effect. She was quite unmoved, because quite unconscious, of moral
shock. It disturbed Mrs. Fitzpatrick not a little to discover
during the progress of her missionary labours that even Anka, of
whose goodness she was thoroughly assured, did not appear to share
her horror of Paulina's moral condition. It was the East meeting
the West, the Slav facing the Anglo-Saxon. Between their points of
view stretched generations of moral development. It was not a
question of absolute moral character so much as a question of moral
standards. The vastness of this distinction in standards was
beginning to dawn upon Mrs. Fitzpatrick, and she was prepared to
view Paulina's insensibility to moral distinctions in a more
lenient light, when a new idea suddenly struck her:
"But y're man; how does he stand it? Tell me that."
The two Galician women gazed at each other in silence. At length
Anka replied with manifest reluctance:
"She got no man here. Her man in Russia."
"What!" exclaimed Mrs. Fitzpatrick in a terrible voice. "An' do ye
mane to say! An' that Rosenblatt--is he not her husband? Howly
Mother of God," she continued in an awed tone of voice, "an' is
this the woman I've been havin' to do wid!"
The wrath, the scorn, the repulsion in her eyes, her face, her
whole attitude, revealed to the unhappy Paulina what no words could
have conveyed. Under her sallow skin the red blood of shame slowly
mounted. At that moment she saw herself and her life as never
before. The wrathful scorn of this indignant woman pierced like a
lightning bolt to the depths of her sluggish moral sense and
awakened it to new vitality. For a few moments she stood silent
and with face aflame, and then, turning slowly, passed into her
house. It was the beginning of Paulina's redemption.
THE MARRIAGE OF ANKA
The withdrawing of Mrs. Fitzpatrick from Paulina's life meant a
serious diminution in interest for the unhappy Paulina, but with
the characteristic uncomplaining patience of her race she plodded
on with the daily routine at washing, baking, cleaning, mending,
that filled up her days. There was no break in the unvarying
monotony of her existence. She gave what care she could to the two
children that had been entrusted to her keeping, and to her baby.
It was well for her that Irma, whose devotion to the infant became
an absorbing passion, developed a rare skill in the care of the
child, and it was well for them all that the ban placed by Mrs.
Fitzpatrick upon Paulina's house was withdrawn as far as Irma and
the baby were concerned, for every day the little maid presented
her charge to the wise and watchful scrutiny of Mrs. Fitzpatrick.
The last days of 1884, however, brought an event that cast a glow
of colour over the life of Paulina and the whole foreign colony.
This event was none other than the marriage of Anka Kusmuk and
Jacob Wassyl, Paulina's most popular lodger. A wedding is a great
human event. To the principals the event becomes the pivot of
existence; to the relatives and friends it is at once the
consummation of a series of happenings that have absorbed their
anxious and amused attention, and the point of departure for a new
phase of existence offering infinite possibilities in the way of
speculation. But even for the casual onlooker a wedding furnishes
a pleasant arrest of the ordinary course of life, and lets in upon
the dull grey of the commonplace certain gleams of glory from the
golden days of glowing youth, or from beyond the mysterious planes
of experience yet to be.
All this and more Anka's wedding was to Paulina and her people. It
added greatly to Paulina's joy and to her sense of importance that
her house was selected to be the scene of the momentous event. For
long weeks Paulina's house became the life centre of the colony,
and as the day drew nigh every boarder was conscious of a certain
reflected glory. It is no wonder that the selecting of Paulina's
house for the wedding feast gave offence to Anka's tried friend and
patron, Mrs. Fitzpatrick. To that lady it seemed that in selecting
Paulina's house for her wedding Anka was accepting Paulina's
standard of morals and condoning her offences, and it only added to
her grief that Anka took the matter so lightly.
"I'm just affronted at ye, Anka," she complained, "that ye can step
inside the woman's dure."
"Ah, cut it out!" cried Anka, rejoicing in her command of the
vernacular. "Sure, Paulina is no good, you bet; but see, look at
her house--dere is no Rutenian house like dat, so beeg. Ah!" she
continued rapturously, "you come an' see me and Jacob dance de
'czardas,' wit Arnud on de cymbal. Dat Arnud he's come from de old
country, an' he's de whole show, de whole brass band on de park."
To Anka it seemed an unnecessary and foolish sacrifice to the
demands of decency that she should forego the joy of a real czardas
to the music of Arnud accompanying the usual violins.
"Ye can have it," sniffed Mrs. Fitzpatrick with emphatic disdain;
all the more emphatic that she was conscious, distinctly conscious,
of a strong desire to witness this special feature of the
festivities. "I've nothing agin you, Anka, for it's a good gurrl
ye are, but me and me family is respectable, an' that father
Mulligan can tell ye, for his own mother's cousin was married till
the brother of me father's uncle, an' niver a fut of me will go
beyant the dure of that scut, Paulina." And Mrs. Fitzpatrick,
resting her hands upon her hips, stood the living embodiment of
hostility to any suggested compromise with sin.
But while determined to maintain at all costs this attitude toward
Paulina and her doings, her warmhearted interest in Anka's wedding
made her very ready with offers of assistance in preparing for the
"It's not much I know about y're Polak atin'," she said, "but I can
make a batch of pork pies that wud tempt the heart of the lowly
Moses himsilf, an' I can give ye a bilin' of pitaties that Timothy
can fetch to the house for ye."
This generous offer Anka gladly accepted, for Mrs. Fitzpatrick's
pork pies, she knew from experience, were such as might indeed have
tempted so respectable a patriarch as Moses himself to mortal sin.
The "bilin' of pitaties," which Anka knew would be prepared in no
ordinary pot, but in Mrs. Fitzpatrick's ample wash boiler, was none
the less acceptable, for Anka could easily imagine how effective
such a contribution would be in the early stages of the feast in
dulling the keen edge of the Galician appetite.
The preparation for the wedding feast, which might be prolonged for
the greater part of three days, was in itself an undertaking
requiring careful planning and no small degree of executive ability;
for the popularity of both bride and groom would be sufficient to
insure the presence of the whole colony, but especially the reputed
wealth of the bride, who, it was well known, had been saving with
careful economy her wages at the New West Hotel for the past three
years, would most certainly create a demand for a feast upon a scale
of more than ordinary magnificence, and Anka was determined that in
providing for the feast this demand should be fully satisfied.
For a long time she was torn between two conflicting desires: on
the one hand she longed to appear garbed in all the glory of the
Western girl's most modern bridal attire; on the other she coveted
the honour of providing a feast that would live for years in the
memory of all who might be privileged to be present. Both she
could not accomplish, and she wisely chose the latter; for she
shrewdly reasoned that, while the Western bridal garb would
certainly set forth her charms in a new and ravishing style, the
glory of that triumph would be short-lived at best, and it would
excite the envy of the younger members of her own sex and the
criticism of the older and more conservative of her compatriots.
She was further moved to this decision by the thought that inasmuch
as Jacob and she had it in mind to open a restaurant and hotel as
soon as sufficient money was in hand, it was important that they
should stand well with the community, and nothing would so insure
popularity as abundant and good eating and drinking. So to the
preparation of a feast that would at once bring her immediate glory
and future profit, Anka set her shrewd wits. The providing of the
raw materials for the feast was to her an easy matter, for her
experience in the New West Hotel had taught her how to expend to
the best advantage her carefully hoarded wages. The difficulty was
with the cooking. Clearly Paulina could not be expected to attend
to this, for although her skill with certain soups and stews was
undoubted, for the finer achievements of the culinary art Paulina
was totally unfitted. To overcome this difficulty, Anka hit upon
the simple but very effective expedient of entrusting to her
neighbours, who would later be her guests, the preparing of certain
dishes according to their various abilities and inclinations,
keeping close account in her own shrewd mind of what each one might
be supposed to produce from the materials furnished, and
stimulating in her assistants the laudable ambition to achieve the
very best results. Hence, in generous quantities she distributed
flour for bread and cakes in many varieties, rice and beans and
barley, which were to form the staple portion of the stews, cabbage
and beets and onions in smaller measure--for at this season of the
year the price was high--sides of pork, ropes of sausages, and
roasts of beef from neck and flank. Through the good offices of
the butcher boy that supplied the New West Hotel, purchased with
Anka's shyest smile and glance, were secured a considerable
accumulation of shank bones and ham bones, pork ribs and ribs of
beef, and other scraps too often despised by the Anglo-Saxon
housekeeper, all of which would prove of the greatest value in the
enrichment of the soups. For puddings there were apples and
prunes, raisins and cranberries. The cook of the New West Hotel,
catching something of Anka's generous enthusiasms offered pies by
the dozen, and even the proprietor himself, learning of the
preparations and progress, could think of nothing so appropriate to
the occasion as a case of Irish whiskey. This, however, Anka,
after some deliberation, declined, suggesting beer instead, and
giving as a reason her experience, namely, that "whiskey make too
quick fight, you bet." A fight was inevitable, but it would be a
sad misfortune if this necessary part of the festivities should
occur too early in the programme.
Gradually, during the days of the week immediately preceding the
ceremony, there began to accumulate in the shacks about, viands of
great diversity, which were stored in shelves, in cupboards,--where
there were any,--under beds, and indeed in any and every available
receptacle. The puddings, soups and stews, which, after all, were
to form the main portion of the eating, were deposited in empty
beer kegs, of which every shack could readily furnish a few, and
set out to freeze, in which condition they would preserve their
perfect flavour. Such diligence and such prudence did Anka show in
the supervision of all these arrangements, that when the day before
the feast arrived, on making her final round of inspection,
everything was discovered to be in readiness for the morrow, with
the single exception that the beer had not arrived. But this was
no over-sight on the part of Jacob, to whom this portion of the
feast had been entrusted. It was rather due to a prudence born of
experience that the beer should be ordered to be delivered at the
latest possible hour. A single beer keg is an object of consuming
interest to the Galician and subjects his sense of honour to a very
considerable strain; the known presence of a dray load of beer kegs
in the neighbourhood would almost certainly intensify the strain
beyond the breaking point. But as the shadows of evening began to
gather, the great brewery dray with its splendid horses and its
load of kegs piled high, drew up to Paulina's door. Without loss
of time, and under the supervision of Rosenblatt and Jacob himself,
the beer kegs were carried by the willing hands of Paulina's
boarders down to the cellar, piled high against the walls, and
carefully counted. There they were safe enough, for every man, not
only among the boarders but in the whole colony, who expected to be
present at the feast, having contributed his dollar toward the
purchase of the beer, constituted himself a guardian against the
possible depredations of his neighbours. Not a beer keg from this
common store was to be touched until after the ceremony, when every
man should have a fair start. For the preliminary celebrations
during the evening and night preceding the wedding day the beer
furnished by the proprietor of the New West Hotel would prove
It was considered a most fortunate circumstance both by the bride
and groom-elect, that there should have appeared in the city, the
week before, a priest of the Greek Catholic faith, for though in
case of need they could have secured the offices of a Roman priest
from St. Boniface, across the river, the ceremonial would thereby
have been shorn of much of its picturesqueness and efficacy. Anka
and her people had little regard for the services of a Church to
which they owed only nominal allegiance.
The wedding day dawned clear, bright, and not too cold to forbid a
great gathering of the people outside Paulina's house, who stood
reverently joining with those who had been fortunate enough to
secure a place in Paulina's main room, which had been cleared of
all beds and furniture, and transformed for the time being into a
chapel. The Slav is a religious man, intensely, and if need be,
fiercely, religious; hence these people, having been deprived for
long months of the services of their Church, joined with eager and
devout reverence in the responses to the prayers of the priest,
kneeling in the snow unmoved by and apparently unconscious of the
somewhat scornful levity of the curious crowd of onlookers that
speedily gathered about them. For more than two hours the
religious part of the ceremony continued, but there was no sign of
abating interest or of waning devotion; rather did the religious
feeling appear to deepen as the service advanced. At length there
floated through the open window the weirdly beautiful and stately
marriage chant, in which the people joined in deep-toned guttural
fervour, then the benediction, and the ceremony was over.
Immediately there was a movement toward the cellar, where
Rosenblatt, assisted by a score of helpers, began to knock in the
heads of the beer kegs and to hand about tin cups of beer for the
first drinking of the bride's health. Beautiful indeed, in her
husband's eyes and the eyes of all who beheld her, appeared Anka as
she stood with Jacob in the doorway, radiant in the semi-barbaric
splendour of her Slavonic ancestry.
This first formal health-drinking ceremony over, from within
Paulina's house and from shacks roundabout, women appeared with
pots and pails, from which, without undue haste, but without undue
delay, men filled tin cups and tin pans with stews rich, luscious,
and garlic flavoured. The feast was on; the Slav's hour of rapture
had come. From pot to keg and from keg to pot the happy crowd
would continue to pass in alternating moods of joy, until the acme
of bliss would be attained when Jacob, leading forth and up and
down his lace-decked bride, would fling the proud challenge to one
and all that his bride was the fairest and dearest of all brides
Thus with full ceremonial, with abundance of good eating, and with
multitudinous libations, Anka was wed.
THE UNBIDDEN GUEST
The northbound train on the Northern Pacific Line was running away
behind her time. A Dakota blizzard had held her up for five hours,
and there was little chance of making time against a heavy wind
and a drifted rail. The train was crowded with passengers, all
impatient at the delay, as is usual with passengers. The most
restless, if not the most impatient, of those in the first-class
car was a foreign-looking gentleman, tall, dark, and with military
carriage. A grizzled moustache with ends waxed to a needle point
and an imperial accentuated his foreign military appearance. At
every pause the train made at the little wayside stations, this
gentleman became visibly more impatient, pulling out his watch,
consulting his time table, and cursing the delay.
Occasionally he glanced out through the window across the white
plain that stretched level to the horizon, specked here and there
by infrequent little black shacks and by huge stacks of straw half
buried in snow. Suddenly his attention was arrested by a trim line
of small buildings cosily ensconced behind a plantation of poplars
and Manitoba maples.
"What are those structures?" he enquired of his neighbour in
careful book English, and with slightly foreign accent.
"What? That bunch of buildings. That is a Mennonite village," was
"Yes," replied his neighbour. "Dutch, or Russian, or something."
"Yes, Russian," answered the stranger quickly. "That is Russian,
surely," he continued, pointing eagerly to the trim and cosy group
of buildings. "These Mennonites, are they prosperous--ah--
"You bet! They make money where other folks would starve. They
know what they're doing. They picked out this land that everybody
else was passing over--the very best in the country--and they are
making money hand over fist. Mighty poor spenders, though. They
won't buy nothing; eat what they can't sell off the farm."
"Aha," ejaculated the stranger, with a smile.
"Yes, they sell everything, grain, hogs, eggs, butter, and live on
cabbages, cheese, bread."
"Aha," repeated the stranger, again with evident approval.
"They are honest, though," continued his neighbour judicially; "we
sell them implements."
"Ah, implements?" enquired the stranger.
"Yes, ploughs, drills, binders, you know."
"Ah, so, implements," said the stranger, evidently making a mental
note of the word. "And they pay you?"
"Yes, they are good pay, mighty good pay. They are good settlers,
"Not good for soldiers, eh?" laughed the stranger.
"Soldiers? No, I guess not. But we don't want soldiers."
"What? You have no soldiers? No garrisons?"
"No, what do we want soldiers for in this country? We want farmers
and lots of them."
The stranger was apparently much struck with this remark. He
pursued the subject with keen interest. If there were no soldiers,
how was order preserved? What happened in the case of riots? What
about the collecting of taxes?
"Riots? There ain't no riots in this country. What would we riot
for? We're too busy. And taxes? There ain't no taxes except for
"Not for churches?" enquired the foreigner.
"No, every man supports his own church or no church at all if he
likes it better."
The foreigner was deeply impressed. What a country it was, to be
sure! No soldiers, no riots, no taxes, and churches only for those
who wanted them! He made diligent enquiry as to the Mennonite
settlements, where they were placed, their size, the character of
the people and all things pertaining to them. But when questioned
in regard to himself or his own affairs, he at once became
reticent. He was a citizen of many countries. He was travelling
for pleasure and to gather knowledge. Yes, he might one day settle
in the country, but not now. He relapsed into silence, sitting
with his head fallen forward upon his breast, and so sat till the
brakeman passing through shouted, "Winnipeg! All change!" Then he
rose, thanked with stiff and formal politeness his seat-mate for
his courtesy, put on his long overcoat lined with lambskin and
adorned with braid, placed his lambskin cap upon his head, and so
stood looking more than ever like a military man.
The station platform at Winnipeg was the scene of uproar and
confusion. Railway baggagemen and porters, with warning cries,
pushed their trucks through the crowd. Hotel runners shouted the
rates and names of their hotels. Express men and cab drivers
vociferously solicited custom. Citizens, heedless of every one,
pushed their eager way through the crowd to welcome friends and
relatives. It was a busy, bustling, confusing scene. But the
stranger stood unembarrassed, as if quite accustomed to move amid
jostling crowds, casting quick, sharp glances hither and thither.
Gradually the platform cleared. The hotel runners marched off in
triumph with their victims, and express drivers and cab men drove
off with their fares, and only a scattering few were left behind.
At one end of the platform stood two men in sheepskin coats and
caps. The stranger slowly moved toward them. As he drew near, the
men glanced at first carelessly, then more earnestly at him. For a
few moments he stood gazing down the street, then said, as if to
himself, in the Russian tongue, "The wind blows from the north
Instantly the men came to rigid attention.
"And the snow lies deep," replied one, raising his hand in salute.
"But spring will come, brother," replied the stranger.
One of the men came quickly toward him, took his hand and kissed
"Fool!" said the stranger, drawing away his hand, and sweeping his
sharp glance round the platform. "The bear that hunts in the open
is himself soon hunted."
"Ha, ha," laughed the other man loudly, "in this country there is
no hunting, brother."
"Fool!" said the stranger again in a low, stern voice. "Where game
is, there is always hunting."
"How can we serve? What does my brother wish?" replied the man.
"I wish the house of Paulina Koval. Do you know where it is?"
"Yes, we know, but--" the men hesitated, looking at each other.
"There is no place for our brother in Paulina Koval's house," said
the one who had spoken first. "Paulina has no room. Her house is
full with her children and with many boarders."
"Indeed," said the stranger, "and how many?"
"Well," replied the other, counting upon his fingers, "there is
Paulina and her three children, and--"
"Two children," corrected the stranger sharply.
"No, three children. Yes, three." He paused in his enumeration as
if struck by a belated thought. "It is three children, Joseph?" he
proceeded, turning to his friend.
Joseph confirmed his memory. "Yes, Simon, three; the girl, the boy
and the baby."
The stranger was clearly perplexed and disturbed.
"Go on," he said curtly.
"There is Paulina and the three children, and Rosenblatt, and--"
"Rosenblatt!" The word shot from the stranger's lips with the
vehemence of a bullet from a rifle. "Rosenblatt in her house!
S-s-s-o-o-o!" He thrust his face forward into the speaker's with
a long hissing sound, so fiercely venomous that the man fell back
a pace. Quickly the stranger recovered himself. "Look you,
brothers, I need a room for a few days, anywhere, a small room, and
I can pay well."
"My house," said the man named Joseph, "is yours, but there are six
men with me."
Quickly the other took it up. "My poor house is small, two
children, but if the Elder brother would accept?"
"I will accept, my friend," said the stranger. "You shall lose
nothing by it." He took up the bag that he had placed beside him
on the platform, saying briefly, "Lead the way."
"Your pardon, brother," said Simon, taking the bag from him, "this
is the way."
Northward across the railway tracks and up the street for two
blocks, then westward they turned, toward the open prairie. After
walking some minutes, Simon pointed to a huddling group of shacks
startlingly black against the dazzling snow.
"There," he cried with a laugh, "there is little Russia."
"Not Russia," said Joseph, "Galicia."
The stranger stood still, gazing at the little shacks, and letting
his eye wander across the dazzling plain, tinted now with crimson
and with gold from the setting sun, to the horizon. Then pointing
to the shacks he said, "That is Canada. Yonder," sweeping his hand
toward the plain, "is Siberia. But," turning suddenly upon the
men, "what are you?"
"We are free men," said Joseph. "We are Canadians."
"We are Canadians," answered Simon more slowly. "But here," laying
his hand over his heart, "here is always Russia and our brothers of
The stranger turned a keen glance upon him. "I believe you," he
said. "No Russian can forget his fatherland. No Russian can
forget his brother." His eyes were lit with a dreamy light, as he
gazed far beyond the plain and the glowing horizon.
At the door of the little black shack Simon halted the party.
"Pardon, I will prepare for my brother," he said.
As he opened the door a cloud of steaming odours rushed forth to
meet them. The stranger drew back and turned his face again to the
horizon, drawing deep breaths of the crisp air, purified by its
sweep of a thousand miles over snow clad prairie.
"Ah," he said, "wonderful! wonderful! Yes, that is Russia, that
air, that sky, that plain."
After some minutes Simon returned.
"Enter," he said, bowing low. "This is your house, brother; we are
It was a familiar Russian salutation.
"No," said the stranger, quickly stretching out his hand. "No
slaves in this land, thank God! but brothers all."
"Your brothers truly," said Simon, dropping on his knee and kissing
the outstretched hand. "Lena," he called to his wife, who stood
modestly at the other side of the room, "this is the Elder of our
Lena came forward, dropped on her knees and kissed the outstretched
"Come, Margaret," she cried, drawing her little girl of six toward
the stranger, "come and salute the master."
Little Margaret came forward and offered her hand, looking up with
brave shyness into the stranger's face.
"Shame! shame!" said Lena, horrified. "Kneel down! Kneel down!"
"She does not understand how to salute," said her father with an
"Aha, so," cried the stranger, looking curiously at the little
girl. "Where did you learn to shake hands?"
"In school," said the child in English.
"In school?" replied the stranger in the same language. "You go to
school. What school?"
"The public school, sir."
"And do they not teach you to kneel when you salute in the public
"No, sir, we never kneel."
"What then do you learn there?"
"We sing, and read, and write, and march, and sew."
"Aha!" cried the stranger delighted. "You learn many things. And
what do you pay for all this?" he said in Russian to the father.
"Wonderful!" cried the stranger. "And who taught her English?"
"No one. She just learned it from the children."
"Aha, that is good."
The father and mother stood struggling with their pride in their
little girl. A sound of shouting and of singing made the stranger
turn toward the window.
"What is that?" he cried.
"A wedding," replied Simon. "There is a great wedding at Paulina's.
Every one is there."
"At Paulina's?" said the stranger. "And you, why are you not
"We are no friends of Rosenblatt."
"Rosenblatt? And what has he to do with it?"
"Rosenblatt," said Joseph sullenly, "is master in Paulina's home."
"Aha! He is master, and you are no friends of his," returned the
stranger. "Tell me why this is so?"
"We are Russian, he is Bukowinian; he hires men to the railroad, we
hire ourselves; he has a store, we buy in the Canadian stores,
therefore, he hates us."
The stranger nodded his head, comprehending the situation.
"And so you are not invited to the wedding."
"No, we are not invited to the wedding," said Joseph in a tone of
"And they are your friends who are being married?"
"And there is good eating and drinking?"
"Yes," cried Joseph eagerly. "Such a feast! Such a load of beer!
And such a dance!"
"It is a pity," said the stranger, "to miss it all. You fear this
Rosenblatt," he continued, with a hardly perceptible sneer.
"Fear!" cried Simon. "No! But one does not enter a shut door."
"Aha, but think of it," said the stranger, "the feasting and the
dancing, and the beer! I would go to this wedding feast myself,
were I not a stranger. I would go if I knew the bride."
"We will take our brother," cried Joseph eagerly. "Our friends
will welcome him."
"I like not Rosenblatt."
"But Rosenblatt will be too drunk by this time," suggested the
"Not he," replied Simon. "He never gets drunk where there is a
chance to gather a dollar."
"But the feast is free?"
"Yes, the feast is free, but there is always money going. There
is betting and there is the music for the dancing, which is
Rosenblatt's. He has hired Arnud and his cymbal and the violins,
and the dancers must pay."
"Aha, very clever," replied the stranger. "This Rosenblatt is a
shrewd man. He will be a great man in this city. He will be your
lord some day."
The eyes of both men gleamed at his jibes. "Aha," the stranger
continued, "he will make you serve him by his money. Canada is,
indeed, a free country, but there will be master and slaves here,
It was a sore spot to the men, for the mastery of Rosenblatt was no
imagination, but a grim reality. It was with difficulty that any
man could get a good job unless by Rosenblatt's agency. It was
Rosenblatt who contracted for the Galician labour. One might hate
Rosenblatt, or despise him, but it was impossible to ignore him.
"What say you, my brothers," said the stranger, "shall we attend
The men were eager to go. Why should Rosenblatt stand in their
way? Were they not good friends of Jacob and Anka? Was not every
home in the colony open to a stranger, and especially a stranger of
rank? Simon swallowed his pride and led the way to Paulina's
There was no need of a guide to the house where the feasting was in
progress. The shouting and singing of the revellers hailed them
from afar, and as they drew near, the crowd about the door
indicated the house of mirth. Joseph and Simon were welcomed with
overflowing hospitality and mugs of beer. But when they turned to
introduce the stranger, they found that he had disappeared, nor
could they discover him anywhere in the crowd. In their search for
him, they came upon Rosenblatt, who at once assailed them.
"How come you Slovaks here?" he cried contemptuously.
"Where the trough is, there the pigs will come," laughed one of his
"I come to do honour to my friend, Jacob Wassyl," said Simon in a
"Of course," cried a number of friendly voices. "And why not?
That is quite right"
"Jacob Wassyl wants none of you here," shouted Rosenblatt over the
"Who speaks for Jacob Wassyl?" cried a voice. It was Jacob
himself, standing in the door, wet with sweat, flushed with dancing
and exhilarated with the beer and with all the ardours of his
wedding day. For that day at least, Jacob owned the world.
"What?" he cried, "is it my friend Simon Ketzel and my friend
"We were not invited to come to your wedding, Jacob Wassyl,"
replied Simon, "but we desired to honour your bride and yourself."
"Aye, and so you shall. You are welcome, Simon Ketzel. You are
welcome, Joseph Pinkas. Who says you are not?" he continued,
turning defiantly to Rosenblatt.
Rosenblatt hesitated, and then grunted out something that sounded
like "Slovak swine!"
"Slovak!" cried Jacob with generous enthusiasm. "We are all
Slovak. We are all Polak. We are all Galician. We are all
brothers. Any man who says no, is no friend of Jacob Wassyl."
Shouts of approval rose from the excited crowd.
"Come, brothers," shouted Jacob to Simon and Joseph, "come in.
There is abundant eating. Make way for my friends!" He crowded
back through the door, taking especial delight in honouring the men
despised of Rosenblatt.
The room was packed with steaming, swaying, roaring dancers, both
men and women, all reeking with sweat and garlic. Upon a platform
in a corner between two violins, sat Arnud before his cymbal,
resplendent in frilled shirt and embroidered vest, thundering on
his instrument the favourite songs of the dancers, shouting now and
then in unison with the melody that pattered out in metallic rain
from the instrument before him. For four hours and more, with
intervals sufficient only to quench their thirst, the players had
kept up their interminable accompaniment to dance and song. It was
clearly no place for hungry men. Jacob pushed his way toward the
"Ho! Paulina!" he shouted, "two plates for men who have not
"Have not eaten!" The startling statement quickened Paulina's slow
movements almost to a run. "Here, here," she said, "bring them to
the window at the back."
Another struggle and Jacob with his guests were receiving through
the window two basins filled with luscious steaming stew.
As they turned away with their generous host, a man with a heavy
black beard appeared at the window.
"Another hungry man, Paulina," he said quietly in the Galician
"Holy Virgin! Where have these hungry men been?" cried Paulina,
hurrying with another basin to the window.
The man fumbled and hesitated as he took the dish.
"I have been far away," he said, speaking now in the Russian
tongue, in a low and tense voice.
Paulina started. The man caught her by the wrist.
"Quiet!" he said. "Speak no word, Paulina."
The woman paled beneath the dirt and tan upon her face.
"Who is it?" she whispered with parched lips.
"You know it is Michael Kalmar, your husband. Come forth. I wait
behind yon hut. No word to any man."
"You mean to kill me," she said, her fat body shaking as if with
"Bah! You Sow! Who would kill a sow? Come forth, I say. Delay
He disappeared at once behind the neighbouring shack. Paulina,
trembling so that her fingers could hardly pin the shawl she put
over her head, made her way through the crowd. A few moments she
stood before her door, as if uncertain which way to turn, her limbs
trembling, her breath coming like sobs. In this plight Rosenblatt
came upon her.
"What is the matter with you, Paulina?" he cried. "What is your
A swift change came over her.
"I am no dog of yours," she said, her sullen face flaming with
"What do you mean?" cried Rosenblatt. "Get into your house, cat!"
"Yes! cat!" cried the woman, rushing at him with fingers extended.
One swift swoop she made at his face, bringing skin and hair on her
nails. Rosenblatt turned, and crying, "She is mad! She is mad!"
made for the shelter of the cellar, followed by the shouts and
jeers of the men standing about.
Raging, at the door Paulina sought entrance, crying, "I was a good
woman. He made me bad." Then turning away, she walked slowly to
the back of her house and passed behind the neighbouring shack
where the man stood waiting her.
With dragging steps she approached, till within touch of him, when,
falling down upon her knees in the snow, she put her head upon his
"Get up, fool," he cried harshly.
She rose and stood with her chin upon her breast.
"My children!" said the man. "Where are my children?"
She pointed towards the house of her neighbour, Mrs. Fitzpatrick.
"With a neighbour woman," she said, and turned herself toward him
again with head bowed down.
"And yours?" he hissed.
She shuddered violently.
"Speak," he said in a voice low, calm and terrible. "Do you wish
me to kill you where you stand?"
"Yes," she said, throwing her shawl over her face, "kill me! Kill
me now! It will be good to die!"
With a curse, his hand went to his side. He stood looking at her
quietly for a few moments as if deliberating.
"No," he said at length, "it is not worth while. You are no wife
of mine. Do you hear?"
She gave no sign.
"You are Rosenblatt's swine. Let him use you."
Another shudder shook her.
"Oh, my lord!" she moaned, "kill me. Let me die!"
"Bah!" He spat on the snow. "Die, when I have done with you,
perhaps. Take me where we can be alone. Go."
She glanced about at the shacks standing black and without sign of
"Come," she said, leading the way.
He followed her to a shack which stood on the outskirts of the
colony. She pushed open the door and stood back.
"Go in," he said savagely. "Now a light."
He struck a match. Paulina found a candle which he lit and placed
on a box that stood in the corner.
"Cover that window," he commanded.
She took a quilt from the bed and pinned it up. For a long time he
stood motionless in the centre of the room, while she knelt at his
feet. Then he spoke with some deliberation.
"It is possible I shall kill you to-night, so speak truly to me in
the name of God and of the Holy Virgin. I ask you of my children.
My girl is eleven years old. Have you protected her? Or is she--
She threw off her shawl, pulled up her sleeves.
"See," she cried, "my back is like that. Your daughter is safe."
Livid bars of purple striped her arms. The man gazed down at her.
"You swear this by the Holy Cross?" he said solemnly.
She pulled a little iron cross from her breast and kissed it, then
looked up at him with dog's eyes of entreaty.
"Oh, my lord!" she began. "I could not save myself. I was a
stranger. He took my money. We had no home."
"Stop, liar," he thundered, "I gave you money when you left
"Yes, I paid it for the house, and still there was more to pay."
"Liar again!" he hissed; "I sent you money every month. I have
your receipts for it."
"I had no money from you," she said humbly. "He forced me to have
men sleep in my house and in my room, or lose my home. And the
children, what could I do? They could not go out into the snow."
"You got no money from me?" he enquired.
Again she kissed the little cross. "I swear it. And what could I
"Do!" cried the man, his voice choked with rage. "Do! You could
"And the children?"
He was silent, looking down upon her. He began to realize the
helplessness of her plight. In a strange land, she found herself
without friends, and charged with the support of two children.
The money he had given her she had invested in a house, through
Rosenblatt, who insisted that payments were still due. No wonder
he had terrified her into submission to his plans.
While his contempt remained, her husband's rage grew less. After a
long silence he said, "Listen. This feast will last two days?"
"Yes, there is food and drink for two days."
"In two days my work here will be done. Then I go back. I must go
back. My children! my children! what of my children? My dead
Olga's children!" He began to pace the room. He forgot the woman
on the floor. "Oh, fatherland! My fatherland!" he cried in a
voice broken with passionate grief, "must I sacrifice these too for
thee? God in heaven! Father, mother, brother, home, wife, all I
have given. Must I give my children, too?" His strong dark face
was working fiercely. His voice came harsh and broken. "No, no!
By all the saints, no! I will keep my children for Olga's sake. I
will let my wretched country go. What matter to me? I will make a
new home in this free land and forget. Ah, God! Forget? I can
never forget! These plains!" He tore aside the quilt from the
window and stooping looked out upon the prairie. "These plains say
Russia! This gleaming snow, Russia! Ah! Ah! Ah! I cannot
forget, while I live, my people, my fatherland. I have suffered
too much to forget. God forget me, if I forget!" He fell on his
knees before the window, dry sobs shaking his powerful frame. He
rose and began again to stride up and down, his hands locked before
him. Suddenly he stood quite still, making mighty efforts to
regain command of himself. For some moments he stood thus rigid.
The woman, who had been kneeling all the while, crept to his feet.
"My lord will give his children to me," she said in a low voice.
"You!" he cried, drawing back from her. "You! What could you do
"I could die for them," she said simply, "and for my lord."
"For me! Ha!" His voice carried unutterable scorn.
She cowered back to the floor.
"My children I can slay, but I will leave them in no house of
"Oh!" she cried, clasping her hands upon her breast and swaying
backwards and forwards upon her knees, "I will be a good woman. I
will sin no more. Rosenblatt I shall send--"
"Rosenblatt!" cried the man with a fierce laugh. "After two days
Rosenblatt will not be here."
"You will--?" gasped the woman.
"He will die," said the man quietly.
"Oh, my lord! Let me kill him! It would be easy for me at night
when he sleeps. But you they will take and hang. In this country
no one escapes. Oh! Do not you kill him. Let me."
Breathlessly she pleaded, holding him by the feet. He spurned her
"Peace, fool! He is for none other than me. It is an old score.
Ah, yes," he continued between his teeth, "it is an old score. It
will be sweet to feel him slowly die with my fingers in his
"But they will take you," cried the woman.
"Bah! They could not hold me in Siberia, and think you they can in
this land? But the children," he mused. "Rosenblatt away." With
a sudden resolve he turned to the woman. "Woman," he said, in a
voice stern and low, "could you--"
She threw herself once more at his feet in a passion of entreaty.
"Oh, my lord! Let me live for them, for them--and--for you!"
"For me?" he said coldly. "No. You have dishonoured my name. You
are wife of mine no longer. Do you hear this?"
"Yes, yes," she panted, "I hear. I know. I ask nothing for
myself. But the children, your children. I would live for them,
would die for them!"
He turned from her and gazed through the window, pondering. That
she would be faithful to the children he well knew. That she would
gladly die for him, he was equally certain. With Rosenblatt
removed, the house would be rid of the cause of her fall and her
shame. There was no one else in this strange land to whom he could
trust his children. Should death or exile take him in his work--
and these were always his companions--his children would be quite
alone. Once more he turned and looked down upon the kneeling
woman. He had no love for her. He had never loved her. Simply as
a matter of convenience he had married her, that she might care for
the children of his dead wife whom he had loved with undying and
"Paulina," he said solemnly, but the contempt was gone from his
voice, "you are henceforth no wife of mine; but my children I give
into your care."
Hitherto, during the whole interview, she had shed no tear, but at
these words of his she flung her arms about his knees and burst
into a passion of weeping.
"Oh, my lord! My dear lord! Oh, my lord! my lord!" she sobbed,
wildly kissing his very boots.
He drew away from her and sat down upon a bench.
"Listen," he said. "I will send you money. You will require to
take no man into your house for your support. Is there any one to
whom I could send the money for you?"
She thought for a few moments.
"There is one," she said, "but she does not love me. She will come
no longer into my house. She thinks me a bad woman." Her voice
sank low. Her face flamed a dark red.
"Aha," said the man, "I would see that woman. To-morrow you will
bring me to her. At dusk to-morrow I will pass your house. You
will meet me. Now go."
She remained kneeling in her place. Then she crawled nearer his
"Oh, my lord!" she sobbed, "I have done wrong. Will you not beat
me? Beat me till the blood runs down. He was too strong for me.
I was afraid for the children. I had no place to go. I did a
great wrong. If my lord would but beat me till the blood runs
down, it would be a joy to me."
It was the cry of justice making itself heard through her dull
soul. It was the instinctive demand for atonement. It was the
unconscious appeal for reinstatement to the privileges of wifehood.
"Woman," he said sternly, "a man may beat his wife. He will not
strike a woman that is nothing to him. Go."
Once more she clutched his feet, kissing them. Then she rose and
without a word went out into the dusky night. She had entered upon
the rugged path of penitence, the only path to peace for the
After she had gone, the man stepped to the door and looked after
her as if meditating her recall.
"Bah!" he said at length, "she is nothing to me. Let her go."
He put out the light, closed the door and passing through the crowd
of revellers, went off to Simon's house.
THE PATRIOT'S HEART
The inside of Paulina's house was a wreck. The remains of benches
and chairs and tables mingled with fragments of vessels of
different sorts strewn upon the filth-littered floor, the windows
broken, the door between the outer and inner rooms torn from its
hinges, all this debris, together with the battered, bruised and
bloody human shapes lying amidst their filth, gave eloquent
testimony to the tempestuous character of the proceedings of the
The scene that greeted Paulina's eyes in the early grey of the
morning might well have struck a stouter heart than hers with
dismay; for her house had the look of having been swept by a
tornado, and Paulina's heart was anything but stout that morning.
The sudden appearance of her husband had at first stricken her with
horrible fear, the fear of death; but this fear had passed into a
more dreadful horror, that of repudiation.
Seven years ago, when Michael Kalmar had condescended to make her
his wife, her whole soul had gone forth to him in a passion of
adoring love that had invested him in a halo of glory. He became
her god thenceforth to worship and to serve. Her infidelity meant
no diminution of this passion. Withdrawn from her husband's
influence, left without any sign of his existence for two years or
more, subjected to the machinations of the subtle and unscrupulous
Rosenblatt, the soul in her had died, the animal had lived and
triumphed. The sound of her husband's voice last night had
summoned into vivid life her dead soul. Her god had moved into the
range of her vision, and immediately she was his again, soul and
body. Hence her sudden fury at Rosenblatt; hence, too, the utter
self-abandonment in her appeal to her husband. But now he had cast
her off. The gates of Heaven, swinging open before her ravished
eyes for a few brief moments, had closed to her forever. Small
wonder that she brought a heavy heart to the righting of her
disordered home, and well for her that Anka with her hearty, cheery
courage stood at her side that morning.
Together they set themselves to clear away the filth and the
wreckage, human and otherwise. Of the human wreckage Anka made
short work. Stepping out into the frosty air, she returned with a
pail of snow.
"Here, you sluggards," she cried, bestowing generous handfuls upon
their sodden faces, "up with you, and out. The day is fine and
dinner will soon be here."
Grunting, growling, cursing, the men rose, stretched themselves
with prodigious yawning, and bundled out into the frosty air.
"Get yourselves ready for dinner," cried Anka after them. "The
best is yet to come, and then the dance."
Down into the cellar they went, stiff and sore and still growling,
dipped their hands and heads into icy water, and after a
perfunctory toilet and a mug of beer or two all round, they were
ready for a renewal of the festivities. There was no breakfast,
but as the day wore on, from the shacks about came women with
provisions for the renewal of the feast. For Anka, wise woman, had
kept some of the more special dishes for the second day. But as
for the beer, though there were still some kegs left, they were few
enough to give Jacob Wassyl concern. It would be both a misfortune
and a disgrace if the beer should fail before the marriage feast
was over. The case was serious enough. Jacob Wassyl's own money
was spent, the guests had all contributed their share, Rosenblatt
would sooner surrender blood than money, and Jacob was not yet
sufficiently established as a husband to appeal to his wife for
It was through Simon Ketzel that deliverance came, or rather
through Simon's guest, who, learning that the beer was like to
fail, passed Simon a bill, saying, "It would be sad if disgrace
should come to your friends. Let there be plenty of beer. Buy
what is necessary and keep the rest in payment for my lodging. And
of my part in this not a word to any man."
As a result, in the late afternoon a dray load of beer kegs
appeared at Paulina's back door, to the unspeakable relief of Jacob
and of his guests as well, who had begun to share his anxiety and
to look forward to an evening of drouth and gloom.
As for Simon Ketzel, he found himself at once upon the very crest
of a wave of popularity, for through the driver of the dray it
became known that it was Simon that had come so splendidly to the
Relieved of anxiety, the revellers gave themselves with fresh and
reckless zest to the duty of assuring beyond all shadow of doubt,
the good health of the bride and the groom, and of every one in
general in flowing mugs of beer. Throughout the afternoon, men and
women, and even boys and girls, ate and drank, danced and sang to
the limit of their ability.
As the evening darkened, and while this carouse was at its height,
Paulina, with a shawl over her head, slipped out of the house and
through the crowd, and so on to the outskirts of the colony, where
she found her husband impatiently waiting her.
"You are late," he said harshly.
"I could not find Kalman."
"Kalman! My boy! And where would he be?" exclaimed her husband
with a shade of anxiety in his voice.
"He was with me in the house. I could not keep him from the men,
and they will give him beer."
"Beer to that child?" snarled her husband.
"Yes, they make him sing and dance, and they give him beer. He is
wonderful," said Paulina.
Even as she spoke, a boy's voice rose clear and full in a Hungarian
love song, to the wild accompaniment of the cymbal.
"Hush!" said the man holding up his hand.
At the first sound of that high, clear voice, the bacchanalian
shoutings and roarings fell silent, and the wild weird song,
throbbing with passion, rose and fell upon the still evening air.
After each verse, the whole chorus of deep, harsh voices swelled
high over the wailing violins and Arnud's clanging cymbal.
"Good," muttered the man when the song had ceased. "Now get him."
"I shall bring him to yonder house," said Paulina, pointing to the
dwelling of Mrs. Fitzpatrick, whither in a few minutes she was seen
half dragging, half carrying a boy of eight, who kept kicking and
scratching vigorously, and pouring forth a torrent of English
"Hush, Kalman," said Paulina in Galician, vainly trying to quiet
the child. "The gentleman will be ashamed of you."
"I do not care for any gentleman," screamed Kalman. "He is a black
devil," glancing at the black bearded man who stood waiting them at
the door of the Fitzpatrick dwelling.
"Hush, hush, you bad boy!" exclaimed Paulina, horrified, laying her
hand over the boy's mouth.
The man turned his back upon them, pulled off his black beard,
thrust it into his pocket, gave his mustaches a quick turn and
faced about upon them. This transformation froze the boy's fury
into silence. He shrank back to his mother's side.
"Is it the devil?" he whispered to his mother in Galician.
"Kalman," said the man quietly, in the Russian language, "come to
me. I am your father."
The boy gazed at him fearful and perplexed.
"He does not understand," said Paulina in Russian.
"Kalman," repeated his father, using the Galician speech, "come to
me. I am your father."
The boy hesitated, looking fixedly at his father. But three years
had wiped out the memory of that face.
"Come, you little Cossack," said his father, smiling at him.
"Come, have you forgotten all your rides?"
The boy suddenly started, as if waking from sleep. The words
evidently set the grey matter moving along old brain tracks. He
walked toward his father, took the hand outstretched to him, and
kissed it again and again.
"Aha, my son, you remember me," said the father exultantly.
"Yes," said the boy in English, "I remember the ride on the black
The man lifted the boy in his strong arms, kissed him again and
again, then setting him down said to Paulina, "Let us go in."
Paulina stepped forward and knocked at the door. Mrs. Fitzpatrick
answered the knock and, seeing Paulina, was about to shut the door
upon her face, when Paulina put up her hand.
"Look," she cried, pointing to the man, who stood back in the
shadow, "Irma fadder."
"What d'ye say?" enquired Mrs. Fitzpatrick.
"Irma fadder," repeated Paulina, pointing to Kalmar.
"Is my daughter Irma in your house?" said he, stepping forward.
"Yer daughter, is it?" said Mrs. Fitzpatrick, looking sharply into
the foreigner's face. "An' if she's yer daughter it's yersilf that
should ashamed av it fer the way ye've desarted the lot o' thim."
"Is it permitted that I see my daughter Irma?" said the man
Mrs. Fitzpatrick scanned his face suspiciously, then called, "Irma
darlin', come here an' tell me who this is. Give the babby to Tim
there, an' come away."
A girl of between eleven and twelve, tall for her age, with pale
face, two thick braids of yellow hair, and wonderful eyes "burnin'
brown," as Mrs. Fitzpatrick said, came to the door and looked out
upon the man. For some time they gazed steadily each into the
"Irma, my child," said Kalmar in English, "you know me?"
But the girl stood gazing in perplexity.
"Irma! Child of my soul!" cried the man, in the Russian tongue,
"do you not remember your father?" He stepped from the shadow to
where the light from the open door could fall upon his face and
stood with arms outstretched.
At once the girl's face changed, and with a cry, "It is my fadder!"
she threw herself at him.
Her father caught her and held her fast, saying not a word, but
covering her face with kisses.
"Come in, come in to the warm," cried the kindhearted Irish woman,
wiping her eyes. "Come in out o' the cold." And with eager
hospitality she hurried the father and children into the house.
As they passed in, Paulina turned away. Before Mrs. Fitzpatrick
shut the door, Irma caught her arm and whispered in her ear.
"Paulina, is it? Let her shtop--" She paused, looking at the
"Your pardon?" he enquired with a bow.
"It's Paulina," said Mrs. Fitzpatrick, her voice carrying the full
measure of her contempt for the unhappy creature who stood half
turning away from the door.
"Ah, let her go. It is no difference. She is a sow. Let her go."
"Thin she's not your wife at all?" said Mrs. Fitzpatrick, her wrath
rising at this discovery of further deception in Paulina.
He shrugged his shoulders. "She was once. I married her. She is
wife no longer. Let her go."
His contemptuous indifference turned Mrs. Fitzpatrick's wrath upon
"An' it's yersilf that ought to take shame to yersilf fer the way
ye've treated her, an' so ye should!"
The man waved his hand as if to brush aside a matter of quite
"It matters not," he repeated. "She is only a cow."
"Let her come in," whispered Irma, laying her hand again on Mrs.
"Sure she will," cried the Irish woman; "come in here, you poor,
Irma sprang down the steps, spoke a few hurried words in Galician.
Poor Paulina hesitated, her eyes upon her husband's face. He made
a contemptuous motion with his hand as if calling a dog to heel.
Immediately, like a dog, the woman crept in and sat far away from
the fire in a corner of the room.
"Ye'll pardon me," said Mrs. Fitzpatrick to Kalmar, "fer not axin'
ye in at the first; but indade, an' it's more your blame than mine,
fer sorra a bit o' thim takes afther ye."
"They do not resemble me, you mean?" said the father. "No, they
are the likeness of their mother." As he spoke he pulled out a
leather case, opened it and passed it to Mrs. Fitzpatrick.
"Aw, will ye look at that now!" she cried, gazing at the beautiful
miniature. "An' the purty face av her. Sure, it's a rale queen
she was, an' that's no lie. An' the girl is goin' to be the very
spit av her. An' the bye, he's got her blue eyes an' her bright
hair. It's aisy seen where they git their looks," she added,
glancing at him.
"Mind yer manners, now thin," growled Tim, who was very considerably
impressed by the military carriage and the evident "quality" of
"Yes, the children have the likeness of their mother," said the
father in a voice soft and reminiscent. "It is in their behalf I
am here to-night, Madam--what shall I have the honour to name you?"
"Me name, is it?" cried Mrs. Fitzpatrick. "Mishtress Timothy
Fitzpatrick, Monaghan that was, the Monaghans o' Ballinghalereen,
an owld family, poor as Job's turkey, but proud as the divil, an'
wance the glory o' Mayo. An' this," she added, indicating her
spouse with a jerk of her thumb, "is Timothy Fitzpatrick, me
husband, a dacent man in his way. Timothy, where's yer manners?
Shtand up an' do yer duty."
Tim struggled to his feet, embarrassed with the burden of Paulina's
baby, and pulled his forelock.
"And my name," said the Russian, answering Timothy's salutation
with a profound bow, "is Michael Kalmar, with respect to you and
Mrs. Fitzpatrick was evidently impressed.
"An' proud I am to see ye in me house," she said, answering his bow
with a curtsey. "Tim, ye owl ye! Why don't ye hand his honour a
chair? Did ye niver git the air o' a gintleman before?"
It took some minutes to get the company settled, owing to the
reluctance of the Russian to seat himself while the lady was
standing, and the equal reluctance of Mrs. Fitzpatrick to take her
seat until she had comfortably settled her guest.
"I come to you, Mrs. Vichpatrick, on behalf of my children."
"An' fine childer they are, barrin' the lad is a bit av a limb
In courteous and carefully studied English, Kalmar told his need.
His affairs called him to Europe. He might be gone a year, perhaps
more. He needed some one to care for his children. Paulina,
though nothing to him now, would be faithful in caring for them, as
far as food, clothing and shelter were concerned. She would
dismiss her boarders. There had never been need of her taking
boarders, but for the fraud of a wicked man. It was at this point
that he needed help. Would Mrs. Fitzpatrick permit him to send her
money from time to time which should be applied to the support of
Paulina and the children. He would also pay her for her trouble.
At this Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who had been listening impatiently for
some moments, broke forth upon him.
"Ye can kape yer money," she cried wrathfully. "What sort av a man
are ye, at all, at all, that ye sind yer helpless childer to a
strange land with a scut like that?"
"Paulina was an honest woman once," he interposed.
"An' what for," she continued wrathfully, "are ye lavin' thim now
among a pack o' haythen? Look at that girl now, what'll come to
her in that bloody pack o' thieves an' blackguards, d'ye think?
Howly Joseph! It's mesilf that kapes wakin' benights to listen fer
the screams av her. Why don't ye shtay like a man by yer childer
an' tell me that?"
"My affairs--" began the Russian, with a touch of hauteur in his
"An' what affairs have ye needin' ye more than yer childer? Tell
me that, will ye?"
And truth to tell, Mrs. Fitzpatrick's indignation blazed forth not
only on behalf of the children, but on behalf of the unfortunate
Paulina as well, whom, in spite of herself, she pitied.
"What sort av a heart have ye, at all, at all?"
"A heart!" cried the Russian, rising from his chair. "Madam, my
heart is for my country. But you would not understand. My country
"Yer counthry!" repeated Mrs. Fitzpatrick with scorn. "An' what
counthry is that?"
"Russia," said the man with dignity, "my native land."
"Rooshia! An' a bloody country it is," answered Mrs. Fitzpatrick
"Yes, Russia," he cried, "my bloody country! You are correct.
Red with the blood of my countrymen, the blood of my kindred this
hundred years and more." His voice was low but vibrant with
passion. "You cannot understand. Why should I tell you?"
At this juncture Timothy sprang to his feet.
"Sit ye down, dear man, sit ye down! Shut yer clapper, Nora! Sure
it's mesilf that knows a paythriot whin I sees 'im. Tear-an-ages!
Give me yer hand, me boy. Sit ye down an' tell us about it. We're
all the same kind here. Niver fear for the woman, she's the worst
o' the lot. Tell us, dear man. Be the light that shines! it's
mesilf that's thirsty to hear."
The Russian gazed at the shining eyes of the little Irishman as if
he had gone mad. Then, as if the light had broken upon him, he
cried, "Aha, you are of Ireland. You, too, are fighting the
"Hooray, me boy!" shouted Tim, "an' it's the thrue word ye've
shpoke, an' niver a lie in the skin av it. Oireland foriver! Be
the howly St. Patrick an' all the saints, I am wid ye an' agin
ivery government that's iver robbed an honest man. Go on, me boy,
tell us yer tale."
Timothy was undoubtedly excited. The traditions of a hundred years
of fierce rebellion against the oppression of the "bloody tyrant"
were beating at his brain and in his heart. The Russian caught
fire from him and launched forth upon his tale. For a full hour,
now sitting in his chair, now raging up and down the room, now in a
voice deep, calm and terrible, now broken and hoarse with sobs, he
recounted deeds of blood and fire that made Ireland's struggle and
Ireland's wrongs seem nursery rhymes.
Timothy listened to the terrible story in an ecstasy of alternating
joy and fury, according to the nature of the episode related. It
was like living again the glorious days of the moonlighters and the
rackrenters in dear old Ireland. The tale came to an abrupt end.
"An' thin what happened?" cried Timothy.
"Then," said the Russian quietly, "then it was Siberia."
"Siberia! The Hivins be about us!" said Tim in an awed voice.
"But ye got away?"
"I am here," he replied simply.
"Be the sowl of Moses, ye are! An' wud ye go back agin?" cried Tim
"Wud he!" said Nora, with ineffable scorn. "Wud a herrin' swim?
By coorse he'll go back. An' what's more, ye can sind the money to
me an' I'll see that the childer gets the good av it, if I've to
wring the neck av that black haythen, Rosenblatt, like a chicken."
"You will take the money for my children?" enquired the Russian.
"I will that."
He stretched out his hand impulsively. She placed hers in it. He
raised it to his lips, bending low as if it had been the lily white
hand of the fairest lady in the land, instead of the fat, rough,
red hand of an old Irish washer-woman.
"Sure, it's mighty bad taste ye have," said Tim with a sly laugh.
"It's not her hand I'd be kissin'."
"Bad luck to ye! Have ye no manners?" said Nora, jerking away her
hand in confusion.
"I thank you with all my heart," said Kalmar, gravely bowing with
his hand upon his heart. "And will you now and then look over--
overlook--oversee--ah yes, oversee this little girl?"
"Listen to me now," cried Mrs. Fitzpatrick. "Can she clear out
thim men from her room?" nodding her head toward Paulina.
"There will be no men in her house."
"Can she kape thim out? She's only a wake craythur anyway."
"Paulina," said her husband.
She came forward and, taking his hand, kissed it, Mrs. Fitzpatrick
looking on in disgust.
"This woman asks can you keep the men out of your room," he said in
"I will keep them out," she said simply.
"Aye, but can she?" said Mrs. Fitzpatrick, to whom her answer had
"I can kill them in the night," said Paulina, in a voice of quiet
but concentrated passion.
"The saints in Hivin be above us! I belave her," said Mrs.
Fitzpatrick, with a new respect for Paulina. "But fer the love o'
Hivin, tell her there is no killin' in this counthry, an' more's
the pity when ye see some men that's left to run about."
"She will keep the children safe with her life," said Kalmar. "She
had no money before, and she was told I was dead. But it matters
not. She is nothing to me. But she will keep my children with her
His trust in her, his contempt for her, awakened in Mrs.
Fitzpatrick a kind of hostility toward him, and of pity for the
wretched woman whom, while he trusted, he so despised.
"Come an' take an air o' the fire, Paulina," she said not unkindly.
"It's cold forninst the door."
Pauhina, while she understood not the words, caught the meaning of
the gesture, but especially of the tone. She drew near, caught the
Irish woman's hand in hers and kissed it.
"Hut!" said Mrs. Fitzpatrick, drawing away her hand. "Sit down,
The Russian rose to his feet.
"I must now depart. I have still a little work to accomplish.
To-morrow I leave the city. Permit me now to bid my children
He turned to the girl, who held Paulina's baby asleep in her arms.
"Irma," he said in Russian, "I am going to leave you."
The girl rose, placed the sleeping baby on the bed, and coming to
her father's side, stood looking up into his face, her wonderful
brown eyes shining with tears she was too brave to shed.
He drew her to him.
"I am going to leave you," he repeated in Russian. "In one year,