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The Purchase Price by Emerson Hough

Part 3 out of 6

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cornice up and over somewhere, over the edge of the eaves, finding
some sort of holding ground. It served to support her weight at
least until she felt the ladder underfoot. At this in turn she
clutched as she dropped lower, but frail and rotten as it was, it
supported her but slightly. The next instant she felt, herself

[Illustration: She grasped wildly at the screen of ivy.]

She dropped out and down, struck heavily, and had but consciousness
enough left to half-rise. Before her eyes shone scores of little
pointed lights. Then her senses passed away, and all went sweetly,
smoothly and soothingly black about her....After ages, there came
faint sounds of running feet. There was a sort of struggle of some
sort, it seemed, in her first returning consciousness. Her first
distinct feeling was one of wonder that Dunwody himself should be
the first to bend over her, and that on his face there should seem
surprise, regret, grief. How could he feign such things? She
pushed at his face, panting, silent.

Jeanne now was there--Jeanne, tearful, excited, wringing her hands,
offering aid; but in spite of Jeanne, Dunwody raised Josephine in
his arms. As he did so he felt her wince. Her arm dropped
loosely. "Good God! It is broken!" he cried. "Oh, why did you do
this? Why did you? You poor girl, you poor girl! And it was all
my fault--my fault!" Then suddenly, "Sally!--Eleazar!" he cried.

They came running now from all sides. Between them they carried
Josephine back to her room and placed her once more upon her couch.

"Saddle up, Eleazar," commanded Dunwody. "Get a
doctor--Jamieson--from St. Genevieve as fast as you can. The
lady's arm is broken."

"Pardon, Monsieur," he began, "but it is far for St. Genevieve.
Me, I have set h'arm before now. Suppose I set heem now, then go
for the doc'?"

"Could you do that?" demanded Dunwody.

"Somehow, yes, me," answered Eleazar. Dunwody nodded. Without
further speech the old man rolled up his sleeves and addressed
himself to his task. Not without skill, he approached the broken
ends of the ulna, which was fractured above the wrist. Having done
this without much difficulty he called out for splints, and when
some pieces of thin wood were brought him he had them shaped to his
needs, adjusted about them his bandage and made all fast. His
patient made no sound of suffering. She only panted, like a
frightened bird held in the hand, although the sobbing of Jeanne
filled the room. The forehead of Dunwody was beaded. He said
nothing, not even when they had finished all they now could do to
make her comfortable.

"_Au revoir_, Mademoiselle," said Eleazar, at length. "I go now
for those doc'."

A moment later the room was cleared, none but Dunwody remaining.
At last, then, they were alone together.

"Go away! Bring me Jeanne!" she cried at him. His lips only

"May I not have Jeanne?" she wailed again.

"Yes, you shall have Jeanne--you shall have anything you want," he
answered at length, quietly. "Only get well. Forgive me all this
if you can."

Josephine's lips trembled. "May I go?" she demanded of him.

There was a strange gentleness in his voice. "You're hurt. It
would be impossible for you to go now. Don't be afraid. Don't!

She looked at him keenly, in spite of her suffering. There seemed
some change about him. At length, heavily, his head sunk, he left
the room.

Jeanne herself, sobbing, tearful, withal overjoyed, rejoined her
mistress. The two embraced as was best possible. As her senses
cleared, a sort of relief came over Josephine. Now, she began to
reason, for the time she was shielded by this infirmity; comforted
also by the presence of one as weak and helpless as herself.

"It's an ill wind, Jeanne, which blows no one good," she smiled
bravely. "See, now we are together again."

"Madame!" gulped Jeanne. "Madame!"

"Fie, fie, Jeanne! In time we shall be away from here."

"Madame, I like it not--this house. Something here is wrong. We
must fly!"

"But, Jeanne, I am helpless. We must wait, now."

All that night and till morning of the next day they waited, alone,
Dunwody not appearing, though continually old Sally brought up
proofs of his solicitousness. At last there came the sound of
hoofs on the gravel road, and there alighted at the door,
dust-covered and weary, old Eleazar and Jamieson, the doctor of St.
Genevieve. These were met by the master of Tallwoods himself.

"Listen now, Jamieson," said Dunwody, "You're here by my call. You
understand me, and understand the rules of your own profession.
Ask no questions here. Your patient has broken an arm--there has
been an accident. That's all you need to know, I think. Your job
is to get her well, as soon as you can. You're a doctor, not a
lawyer; that's all."

He led the way to the door of Josephine's room, and the doctor,
stained with travel as he was, entered. He was an old man, gray
and lean, consumed in his time by fevers and chills, in the
treatment of which he was perhaps more skilful than in surgery. He
approached the couch not unkindly and stood in preliminary
professional scrutiny of his patient. The face turned toward him,
framed in its dark roll of hair, caused him to start with surprise.
Even thus flushed in the fever of pain, it seemed to him no face
ever was more beautiful. Who was she? How came she here? In
spite of Dunwody's command many questions sprang to his own mind,
almost to his lips. Yet now he only gently took up the bandaged

"Pardon, my dear," he said quietly. "I must unwrap these bandages,
to see how well Eleazar has done his work--you know, these doctors
are jealous of each other! So now, easy, easy!"

He unrolled the rude bandages which, if not professionally applied,
at least had held their own. He examined the splints, hummed to
himself meantime.

"Fine!" he exclaimed. "Excellent! Now indeed I shall be jealous.
The old man has done a job as good as I could have done myself!
There was no need of my coming at all. But I'm glad I came, my

"But you aren't going away. Doctor--you will not go back!"

He pursed a lip as he gazed down over his steel bowed glasses. "I
ought to get back, my dear, because I have other patients, don't
you see, and it's a long ride. Why can't you let me go? You're
young and healthy as a wild deer. You're a perfectly splendid
girl. Why, you'll be out of this in a couple of weeks. How did
you happen to fall that way?"

[Illustration: Why can't you let me go?]

She nodded toward the window. "I fell out--there--I was

"Yes, yes, of course--sleep walking, eh?"

Jamieson took snuff very vigorously. "Don't do it again. But
pshaw! If I were as young and strong as you are, I'd have my arm
broken twice a week, just for fun."

"Doctor, you're going!" she exclaimed. "But you must do something
for me--you must be my friend."

"Certainly, my dear, why not? But how can I help you? Dunwody's
pledged me to professional secrecy, you know." He grinned, "Not
that even Warv' Dunwody can run me very much."

He looked down at her, frowning, but at that moment turned to the
door as he heard Dunwody's step.

"How do you find the patient, Doctor?" asked Dunwody. Jamieson
moved a hand in cheerful gesture to his patient.

"Good-by, my dear. Just get well, now. I'm coming back, and then
we'll have a talk. Be good, now, and don't walk in your sleep any
more." He took Dunwody by the shoulder and led him out.

"I don't like this, Dunwody," he said, when they were out of
earshot of the room. "What's going on here? I'm your doctor, as we
both know; but I'm your friend, too. And we both know that I'm a
gentleman, and you ought to be. That's a lady there. She's in
trouble--she's scared e'en a'most to death. Why? Now listen. I
don't help in that sort of work, my boy. What's up here? I've
helped you before, and I've held your secrets; but I don't go into
the business of making any more secrets, d'ye see?"

"There aren't going to be any more, Jamieson," rejoined Dunwody
slowly. "I've got to keep hers. You needn't keep mine if you
don't feel like it. Get her well, that's all. This is no place
for her. As for me, as you know very well, there isn't any place
anywhere for me."

The old doctor sighed. "Brace up to it, my son. But play the game
fair. If it comes to a case of being kind to yourself or kind to a
woman, why, take a gamble, and try being kind to the woman. They
need it. I'm coming back: but now I must be getting on. First,
I'm going to get something to eat. Where's the whisky?"

Dunwody for the time left him, and began moodily to pace apart, up
and down the gallery. Here presently he was approached by Jeanne,
the maid.

"Madame will speak to you!" announced that person loftily, and
turned away scornfully before he had time to reply. Eager,
surprised, he hastened up the stair and once more was at her
bedside. "Yes?" he said. "Did you wish me for anything?"

Josephine pushed herself back against the head board of the bed,
half supported by pillows. With her free hand she attempted to put
back a fallen lock of dark hair. It was not care for her personal
appearance which animated her, however, although her costume,
arranged by her maid, now was that of the sick chamber. "Jeanne,"
she said, "go to the armoire, yonder. Bring me what you find
there. Wait," she added to Dunwody. "I've something to show you,
something to ask you, yes."

Jeanne turned, over her arm now the old and worn garments which
Sally earlier had attempted to remove.

"What are these?" exclaimed Josephine of the man who stood by.

He made no reply, but took the faded silks in his own hands,
looking at them curiously, as though he himself saw something
unexpected, inexplicable.

"What are they, sir? Whose were they? You told me once you were
alone here."

"I am," he answered. "Look. These are years old, years, years

"What are they? Whose were they?" she reiterated.

"They are grave clothes," he said simply, and looked her in the
face. "Do you wish to know more?"

"Is she--was she--is she out there?" He knew she meant to ask, in
the graveyard of the family.

"Why do you wish to know?" he inquired quietly. "Is it because you
are a woman?"

"I am here because I am a woman. Well, then."

He looked at her, still silently, for a time. "She is dead," he
said slowly. "Can't you let her lie dead?"

"No. Is she out there? Tell me."


"Is she dead? Who was she?"

"I have told you, I am alone here. I have told you, I've been
alone, all my life, until you came. Isn't that enough?"

"Yes, you've said that; but that was not the truth."

"It depends upon what you mean by the truth."

"The man who could do what you have done with me would not stop at
anything. How could I believe a word you said?" Then, on the
instant, much as she had cause to hate him, she half regretted her
speech. She saw a swift flush spring to his cheek under the thin
florid skin. He moved his lips, but did not speak. It was quite a
while before he made reply.

"That isn't just," he said quietly. "I wouldn't lie to you, not
even to get you. If that's the way you feel about me, I reckon
there couldn't, after all, be much between us. I've got all the
sins and faults of the world, but not just that one. I don't lie."

"Then tell me."

"No. You've not earned it. What would be the use, if you didn't
believe what I said?"

He held up the faded things before his eyes, turning them over
calmly, looking at them directly, unshrinkingly. She could not
read what was in his mind. Either he had courage or long
accustomedness, she thought.

"I asked Sally," she half smiled.


"And I'll ask her again. I don't want--I can't have, a--a room
which belongs to another woman, which has belonged to another.
I've not, all my life, been used to--that sort of place, myself,
you see."

"You are entitled to first place. Madam, wherever you are. I
don't know what you have been." He pointed to her own garments,
which lay across a chair. "You don't know what she has been;" he
indicated these that he held in his hand. "Very well. What could
a mere liar, a coward, do to arrange an understanding between two
women so mysterious? You sprang from the earth, from the sea,
somewhere, I do not know how. You are the first woman for me. Is
it not enough?"

"I told Sally, it might have been a sister, your mother--"

"Dead long ago. Out there." He nodded to the window.

"Which?" she demanded.

He turned to her full now, and put out a hand, touching the
coverlid timidly almost. "You are ill," he said. "Your eyes
shine. I know. It's the fever. It isn't any time now for you to
talk. Besides, until you believe me, I can not talk with you any
more. I've been a little rough, maybe, I don't know; but as God
made this world, those trees, that sun yonder, I never said a word
to you yet that wasn't true. I've never wanted of you what wasn't
right, in my own creed. Sometimes we have to frame up a creed all
for ourselves, don't you know that? The world isn't always run on
the same lines everywhere. It's different, in places."

"Will you tell me all about it--about her, sometime?"

"If you are going away, why should you ask that? If you are going
to be nothing to me, in all the world, what right have you to ask
that of me? You would not have the right I've had in speaking to
you as I have. That was right. It was the right of love. I love
you! I don't care if all the world knows it. Let that girl there
hear if she likes. I've said, we belong together, and it seems
truth to me, the very truth; yes, and the very right itself. But
some way, we hurt each other, don't we? Look at you, there,
suffering. My fault. And I'd rather it had cost me a limb than to
see you hurt that way. It cuts my heart. I can't rest over it.
And you hurt me, too, I reckon, about as bad as anything can.
Maybe you hurt me more than you know. But as to our rights to
anything back of the curtain that's before us, before your life and
mine, why, I can't begin until something else has begun. It's not
right, unless that other is right, that I've told you. We belong
together in the one big way, first. That's the premise. That's
the one great thing. What difference about the rest, future or

"You've not been much among women," she said.

"Very little."

"You don't understand them."

"I don't reckon anybody does."

"Jeanne told me that she heard, last night, a child crying, here in
this house."

"Could it not have been a negro child?" He smiled at her, even as
he stood under inquisition.

She noticed that his face now seemed pale. The bones of the cheeks
stood out more now. He showed more gravity. Freed of his red
fighting flush, the, flame of passion gone out of his eyes, he
seemed more dignified, more of a man than had hitherto been
apparent to her.

"_Non_! _Non_!" cried out Jeanne, who had benefited unnoticed to
an extent undreamed hitherto in her experience in matter delicate
between man and maid. Her mistress raised a hand. She herself had
almost forgotten that Jeanne was in the room. "_Non_! _Non_!"
reiterated that young person. "Eet was no neegaire child, _pas de
tout, jamais de la vie_! I know those neegaire voice. It was a
voice white, Madame, Monsieur! Apparently it wept. Perhaps it had

A sort of grim uncovering of his teeth was Dunwody's smile. He
made no comment. His face was whiter than before.

"Whose child was it?" demanded Josephine, motioning to the garments
he still held in his hands. "Hers?" He shook his head slowly.




"Oh, well, I suppose it was some servant's--though the overseer,
Jeanne says, lives across the fields, there. And there would not
be any negroes living here in the house, in any case?"


"Was it--was it--yours?"

"I have no child. There will never be any for me in the
world--except--under--" But now the flush came back into his face.
Confused, he turned, and gently laid down the faded silks across a
chair back, pulling it even with the one where lay Josephine's
richer and more modern robes. He looked at the two grimly, sadly,
shook his head and walked out of the room.

"Madame!" exclaimed Jeanne, "it was divine! But, _quelle mystere_!"



Dunwody joined Jamieson below, and the latter now called for his
horse, the two walking together toward the door. They hardly had
reached the gallery when there became audible the sound of
hoof-beats rapidly approaching up the road across the lawn. A
party of four horsemen appeared, all riding hard.

[Illustration: A party of four horsemen appeared.]

"Who're they?" inquired the doctor. "Didn't see any of them on the
road as I came in."

"They look familiar," commented Dunwody. "That's Jones, and that's
Judge Clayton, down below--why, I just left both of them on the
boat the other day! It's Desha and Yates with them, from the other
side of the county. There must be something up."

He advanced to meet the visitors. "Good morning, gentlemen. Light
down, and come in."

All four got down, shook hands with Dunwody, gave their reins to
servants, and joined him on his invitation to enter. Jamieson was
known to all of them.

"Well, Colonel Dunwody," began the Honorable William Jones, "you
didn't expect to see us so soon, did you? Reckon you'd ought to be
all the gladder.

"You live here, my dear Colonel," he continued, looking about him,
"in much the same state and seclusion remarked by Mr. Gibbon in his
immortal work on the _Decline and Fall of Rome_--where he described
the castles of them ancient days, located back in the mountainous
regions. But it ain't no Roman road you've got, out thar."

"I was going to remark," interrupted Judge Clayton, "that Colonel
Dunwody has anticipated all the modern requirements of hospitality
as well as embodied all those of ancient sort. Thank you, I shall
taste your bourbon, Colonel, with gladness. It is a long ride in
from the river; but, following out our friend's thought, why do you
live away back in here, when all your best plantations are down
below? We don't see you twice a year, any more."

"Well," said the owner of Tallwoods, "my father might be better
able to answer that question if he were alive. He built this for a
summer place, and I use it all the year. I found the place here,
and it always seemed too big to move away. We set three meals a
day, even back here in the hills, and there's quite a bunch of
leaves we can put on the table. The only drawback is, we don't see
much company. I'm mighty glad to see you, and I'm going to keep
you here now, until--"

"Until something pops open," remarked the Honorable William, over
the rim of his glass. Dunwody's neighbors nodded also.

Their host looked at them for a moment. "Are you here on any
special errand--but of course there must be something of the sort,
to bring you two gentlemen so close on my trail."

"We met up with these gentlemen down at the river," began Yates,
"and from what they done told us, we thought we'd all better ride
in along together, and have a little talk with you. Looks like
there might be trouble in these parts before long."

"What sort of trouble?"

"It's this-a-way," broke in the Honorable William Jones. "The
jedge an' I laid off at Cairo when you-all went on through. Next
day, along comes a steamer from up-river, an' she's full of
northern men, headed west; a damned sight more like a fightin' army
than so many settlers. They're goin' out into the purairie country
beyant, an' _I_ think it's just on the early-bird principle, to
hold it ag'inst settlers from this state. They're a lot of those
damned black abolitionists, that's what they are! What's more,
that Lily gal of the jedge's here, she's got away agin--she turned
up missin' at Cairo, too--an' she taken up with this bunch of
Yankees, an' is mighty apt to git clar off."

Judge Clayton nodded gravely. "The whole North is stirred up and
bound to make trouble. These men seem to have taken the girl in
without hesitation. They don't intend to stand by any compromise,
at least. The question is, what are we going to do about it? We
can't stand here and see our property taken away by armed invaders,
in this way. And yet--"

"It looks," he added slowly, a moment later, "just as Thomas
Jefferson said long ago, as though this country had the wolf by the
ear, and could neither hold it nor let it go. For myself--and
setting aside this personal matter, which is at worst only the loss
of a worthless girl--I admit I fear that this slavery wolf is going
to mean trouble--big trouble--both for the South and the North,
before long."

"Douglas, over there in Illinois, hasn't brought up anything in
Congress yet that's stuck," broke in the ever-ready Jones. "Old
Caroliny and Mississip'--them's the ones! Their conventions show
where we're goin' to stand at. We'll let the wolf go, and take
holt in a brand new place, that's exactly what we'll do!"

Dunwody remained silent for a time. Doctor Jamieson took snuff,
and looked quietly from one to the other. "You can count me in,
gentlemen," said he.

Silence fell as he went on. "If they mean fight, let them have
fight. If we let in one army of abolitionists out here, to run off
our property, another will follow. As soon as the railroad gets as
far west as the Missouri River, they'll come out in swarms; and
they will take that new country away from us. That's what they

"The South has been swindled all along the line," he exclaimed,
rising and smiting a fist into a palm. "We got Texas, yes, but it
had to be by war. We've been juggled out of California, which
ought to have been a southern state. We don't want these deserts
of Utah and New Mexico, for they won't raise cotton. When we try
to get into Cuba, the North and all the rest of the world protests.
We are cut off from growth to the south by Mexico. On the west we
have these Indians located. The whole upper West is air-tight
abolitionist by national law. Now, where shall we go? These
abolitionists are even wedging in west of us. This damned
compromise line ought to be cut off the map. We ought to have a
chance to grow!"

Strange enough such speech sounds to-day,--speech demanding growth
for a part of a country, denying it for the whole, speech ignoring
the nationalist tendency so soon to overwhelm all bounds, all
creeds in the making of a mighty America that should be a home for
all the nations. But as the gray-headed old doctor went on he only
voiced what was the earnest conviction of many of the ablest men of
his time, both of the South and the North.

"The South has been robbed. We paid our share of the cost of this
last war, in blood and in money! We paid for our share in the new
territory won for the Union! And now they deny us any share of it!
A little band of ranters, of fanatics, undertake to tell a great
country what it shall do, what it shall think,--no matter even if
that is against our own interests and against our traditions!
Gentlemen, it's invasion, that's what it is, and that's my answer,
so far as my honest conscience and all my wisdom go. It's war!
What's the next thing to do? Judge, we can take back your
girl--the legal right to do that is clean. But we all know that
that may be only a beginning."

"To me, sir," ventured Judge Clayton, "the legal side of this is
very clear, leaving aside our right to recover my property. They
are trying to shove their fanatical beliefs down our throats with
rifle barrels. We never used to stand that sort of thing down
here. I don't think we will begin it now!"

The Honorable William Jones helped himself to whisky, altogether
forgetting his principle of taking but one drink a day. "If them
damned abolitionists would only stay at home, we could afford to
sit quiet an' let 'em howl; but when they come into our dooryard
an' begin to howl, it's time somethin' ought to be did. I 'low
we'll have to fight."

"We will fight," said Dunwody slowly and gravely. A faint picture
of the possible future was passing before his mind.

"What boat are these men using?" asked Doctor Jamieson, turning to
young Desha.

"Little old scow named the _Helen Bell_. She can't steam up-stream
a hundred miles a week. She ties up every night. We can easy
catch her, up above St. Genevieve, if we ride fast."

"That looks feasible to me," remarked Judge Clayton, and the others
nodded their approval.

Judge Clayton dropped into a seat, as he replaced his glass on the
nearest table. "By the way, Colonel Dunwody," said he, "there was
something right strange happened on the Vernon, coming down the
Ohio, and I thought maybe you could help us figure it out. There
was another disappearance--that extraordinarily beautiful young
lady who was there--you remember her? No one knew what became of
her. When I heard about that Lily girl's escape, I sent my men
with the two bucks on down home, with instructions for a little
training, so they would not try the underground again right soon.
But now--"

"Now about that Lily girl," interrupted the Honorable William Jones,
who had once more forgotten his temperance resolutions,--"But hello,
Colonel, what's this, wha-a-at's this?"

He picked up and exposed to view a small object which he saw lying
on the hall floor. It was a small pin of shell and silver, such as
ladies sometimes used for fastening the hair.

"Somehow, I got the idea you was a bachelor man," went on the
Honorable William cheerfully. "Thought you lived here all alone in
solitary splenjure; never looked at a woman in your whole life in
the whole memory of man. But, looky-here, now, what's this?"

Dunwody, suddenly confused, could only wonder whether his face
showed what he really felt. His guest continued his investigation.

"An' looky-there on the table!" pointing, where some servant
apparently had placed, yet another article of ladies' apparel,
dropped by accident, a dainty glove of make such as no servant of
that country ever saw, much less used. "Come now," blithely went
on the gentleman from Belmont. "Things is lookin' mighty
suspicious, mighty suspicious. Why didn't you tell us when you-all
was married?"

A sudden start might have drawn attention to Judge Clayton, but he
controlled himself. And if a slight smile assailed his lips, at
least he was able to suppress it. Nothing, however, could suppress
the curiosity of the able student of Roman history. "I'll just
take a little prowl around," said he.

He was rewarded in his search. A little hair-pin lay at the first
step of the stair. He fell upon it with uproarious glee.

"Trail's gittin' hot," said he. "I reckon I'll go on up."

"No!" cried Dunwody suddenly, and sprang to the foot of the stair.
"Please!--that is,--" he hesitated. "If you will kindly wait a
moment, I will have the servants put your room in order for you
before you go up."

"Oho!" cried the Honorable William. "Don't want us to find out a
single thing! House o' mystery, ah, ha! Doctor here, too! Tell
us, anybody died here to-day?"

Doctor Jamieson answered by quietly stepping to the side of
Dunwody. Judge Clayton, without comment, joined them, and the
three edged in between the exhilarated gentleman and the stairway
which he sought to ascend.

"I was just saying, gentlemen," remarked Judge Clayton quietly,
"that I was sure it would give us all much pleasure to take a
stroll around these beautiful grounds with Colonel Dunwody."

He looked Dunwody calmly in the eye, and the latter knew he had a
friend. He knew perfectly well that Judge Clayton did not for an
instant suppose that these articles ever had belonged to any
servant. On the contrary; it was possible he remembered where and
in whose possession he had seen them before. But nothing more was
said about the beautiful young lady of the _Mount Vernon_.

"You have a beautiful place here, Colonel Dunwody, beautiful!" said
Clayton carelessly, casting an arm over the other's shoulders and
leading the way to the front door. "It reminds me of our old
family home back in Virginia. Come, gentlemen; let us have a more
careful look at so well-chosen a locality. It is improved--improved,
gentlemen, as well as it originally was chosen. But look at those



To the heated imagination of the Honorable William Jones something
still remained to be explained, and he remained anxious to continue
the conversation on the topic foremost in his mind.

"Look around here, gentlemen," said he, extending an eloquent arm.
"Behold them mountings. Look at them trees surrounding this valley
of secrets. The spoils of war belongs to him that has fit--the
captives of the bow and spear are his'n. How said Brennus the
Gaul, when he done vanquished Rome? 'Woe to the conquered!' said
he. 'Woe to them that has fell to our arms!' Now it's the same
right here. Look at--"

"I was just going to remark," suavely broke in Judge Clayton, "that
of the many mountain views of our southern country, this seems to
me one of the most satisfactory. I have never seen a more restful
scene than this, nor a morning more beautiful. But, Missouri!" he
added almost with mournfulness. "What a record of strife and

Dunwody nodded. "As when Missouri was admitted, for instance," he
said smilingly.

"Precisely!" rejoined Clayton, biting meditatively at a plucked
grass stem. "The South gets a state, the North demands one! When
Missouri came in, Illinois also was admitted--one free against one
slave state. Politics,--nothing more. Missouri would break the
balance of power if she came alone and unpaired as a slave state,
so the North paired her with Maine, and let her in, with a string
tied to her! Slavery already existed here, as in all these other
states that had been admitted with it existent. What the North
tried to do was to abolish slavery where it had _already_ existed,
legally, and under the full permission of the Constitution. All of
the Louisiana Purchase had slavery when we bought it, and under the
Constitution Congress could not legislate slavery _out_ of it."

The younger men of the party listened to him gravely, even eagerly.
Regarding the personal arbitrament of arms which they now faced,
they were indifferent; but always they were ready to hear the
arguments pro and con of that day, when indeed this loosely
organized republic had the giant wolf of slavery by the ear.

"But they claimed the right of the moral law!" said Dunwody finally.

"The moral law! Who is the judge of that? Governments are not run
by that. If we overthrow our whole system of jurisprudence, why,
I've nothing to say. That's anarchy, not government. The South is
growing faster relatively than the North. The politicians on both
sides are scared about the balance of power, and they're simply
taking advantage of this cry of morality. They're putting the
moralists out as cat's-paws to the fire!" Judge Clayton almost
abandoned his usual calm.

"I imagine," ventured Doctor Jamieson, "that Missouri had as good a
right to come in unrestricted as Louisiana had in 1812, or Arkansas
in 1836."

"That argument was admitted by statesmen, but it was denied by
politicians: I make a distinction between the two," commented

"Yes," rejoined Judge Clayton. "The politicians of the House,
controlled by the North, would not give up the intention to
regulate us into a place where it could hold us down. 'Very well,'
said the Senate--and there were a few statesmen in the Senate
the--'then you shall not have Maine admitted on your own side of
the line!' And that was how Missouri sneaked into this Union--this
state, one of the richest parts of the Union--by virtue of a
compromise which even waited until Maine was ready to come in!
Talk of principles--it was _politics_, and nothing less. That's
your Missouri Compromise; but has the North ever considered it so
sacred? She's stuck to it when it was good politics, and forgotten
it when that was more to her interest. The Supreme Court of the
United States will declare the whole Missouri Compromise
unconstitutional at no late date. And what it is going to do with
Mr. Clay's compromise, of this year, the Lord only knows."

It was young Yates who at length ventured to interrupt in his soft
and drawling tones, "I don't see how the No'th can charge us up
with much. Whenever they get into trouble and want help in a
trade, or a fight, or a argument, why, they come south!"

Doctor Jamieson calmly took snuff. "Time was, when we first came
in as a state," said he, "that we didn't take these attempts of the
North to regulate us any too tamely."

[Illustration: Doctor Jamieson calmly took snuff.]

"I don't know about that," commented Judge Clayton. "Your 'moral
law,' your 'higher law,' gentlemen, I don't find in my legal
reading. It was personal liberty that took every man west, but
we've stood and stickled for the actual law, and we've been robbed
under it: robbed as a state, and now they want to rob us as
individuals. Gentlemen, these men are carrying off a girl of mine
worth, say fifteen hundred to two thousand. I say deliberately
that, when these armed invaders come to cross this state with
purposes such as that, there is full process of law under which
they can be turned back. For instance, you, Colonel Dunwody, are a
United States marshal. I've the honor to represent the Judiciary
of this state. We haven't time now to put the matter in the hands
of the courts or of the legislature. But it seems to me--"

"Men," said young Desha tersely, "we're wastin' time. We've made
our medicine. Let's hit the war trail."

Dunwody smiled at him. "You boys are hot-headed," said he.

"To hell with the Constitution!" exclaimed the Honorable William
Jones suddenly.

"Well, it's one Constitution against the other, anyhow," said
Clayton. "You can see the intent of the North now plainly enough.
Indiana openly says she's going to make the Fugitive Slave Act
impossible of enforcement. All over the North they call it immoral
and unchristian--they reserve the right of interpreting both the
Bible and the Constitution for us--as though we weren't grown men
ourselves. That's the sort of law there is back of this boat load
of fools down there."

"Men, we're wastin' time!" repeated young Desha.

"Get the horses!" ordered Dunwody of the nearest black.



It was twilight when the little cavalcade from Tallwoods arrived at
the old river town of St. Genevieve. The peaceful inhabitants,
most of them of the old French strain, looked out in amazement at
the jaded horses, the hard-faced men. By this time the original
half dozen riders had received reinforcements at different
plantations, so that a band of perhaps thirty armed men had
assembled. It had needed little more for the average listener than
a word telling the news.

Brief inquiry at St. Genevieve informed them that the little
steamer _Helen Bell_ had passed the town front that day soon after
noon. As she depended almost as much upon poles and lines for her
up-stream progress as upon her steam, it was thought likely she
would tie up for the night at some point not more than ten or
twelve miles up-stream. Dunwody therefore determined to ride
across the river bed at its shortest distance, in the attempt to
intercept the steamer, relying upon chance to secure small boats
near at hand should they be necessary. His men by this time were
glad enough to dismount and take some sort of refreshment before
this last stage of their journey.

It was dark when again they mounted, and the old river road, full
of wash-outs, stumps and roots, made going slow after the moon had
sunk. They had, however, no great distance to ride. At a point
ten miles up the river they came upon a small huddle of fishermen's
huts. At one of these Dunwody knocked, and the frightened tenant,
at first almost speechless at the sight of so many armed men,
stammeringly informed him that the steamer had passed late that
evening and was, in his belief, tied up at a little towhead island
not more than half a mile up-stream.

"What boats have you got here?" demanded Dunwody.

"No boat at all, Monsieur," rejoined the habitant.

"Maybe so four, five feesh boat, that's hall."

"Bring them out!" was the terse order.

They dismounted and, leaving their horses tied in the wood at the
roadside, they went to the water's edge and presently embarked, a
half dozen men in each of as many long river skiffs, of the type
used by the fishermen in carrying out their nets. Dunwody and
Clayton were in the foremost boat and each pulled an oar. The
little flotilla crawled up-stream slowly, hugging the bank and
keeping to the shadows. At last they were opposite a low,
willow-covered island, and within a narrow channel where the water,
confined between two banks, flowed with swifter current. At
length, at Dunwody's quiet signal, all the boats paused, the crews
holding fast to the overhanging branches of the trees on the main
shore of the river.

"She's out there, just across yonder island," he whispered. "I
think I can see her stack now. She must be tied up close. We can
slip in on this side, make a landing and get aboard her before she
can stop us, if we're careful. Keep perfectly quiet. Follow us,
boys. Come on, Clayton."

Silently they all cast loose and, each boat taking its own time,
crossed the narrow channel, heading upstream, so as to make the
landing as nearly opposite the steamer as possible. They crawled
out through the mud, and hauled up their boats to safe places along
shore. Then, each man looking to his own weapons, they came
together under the cover of the willows. Dunwody again addressed

"We must slip across there, seventy or eighty yards or so, and get
under the side of her before they know we're here," he said in low
tones. "Let no one fire a shot until I order it. If there's going
to be any shooting, be sure and let them begin it. When we get
across and leave cover, you'd better spread out a little. Keep
down low, and don't shoot unless you have to. Remember that. Come
on, now."

Inside the first fringe of the tangled and heavy willows, the mud
lay deep in a long, half-drained pool of water which stood in the
middle of the willow-covered fiat. Into this, silently as they
could, they were obliged to plunge, wading across, sometimes waist
deep. In spite of the noise thus made there was no challenge, and
the little body of men, re-forming into an irregular line,
presently arrived at the outer edge of the willow flat. Here, in
the light which hung above the river's surface, they could see the
bulk of the steamer looming almost in their faces. She had her
landing planks out, and here and there along the narrow sand beach
a smouldering ember or so showed where little fires had been made.
As a matter of fact, more than half of the men of the boat had
preferred to sleep on shore. Their muffled bodies, covered in
their blankets, might even now be seen here and there.

Although the sound of splashing and struggling in the water and mud
had not raised any of these sleepers, now all at once, as though by
some intuition, the whole bivouac sprang into life. The presence
of so many men could not be concealed.

"Who goes there?" came a military call from the boat. "Halt!
Halt!" came from the line of sleepers suddenly awakened. In an
instant both parties were under arms.

It spoke well for the temper of the men with Dunwody, perhaps
better for his serious counsel of them, that none of them made any
answer. Silently, like so many shadows, they dropped down to the

"What was that, Kammerer?" cried a voice on the boat, calling down
to some one on the shore.

"There are men here," was the answer. "Somebody's out there."

The night was now astir. Men half clothed, but fully armed, now
lined up along the beach, along the gunwale of the boat.
Apparently there were some twenty or more of them in all.

"River pirates, likely," said the leader, who had now come down the
gang-plank. "Fall in, men! Fall in!" His voice rang sharp and
clear, like that of an officer.

"Line up along this beach, and get down low!" he commanded. "Hold
your fire! Hold!--What do you mean?--What are you doing?" His
voice rose into a scream.

Some one had fired a shot. At once the thicket was filled with
armed men. Some unknown member of the boat party, standing on the
deck behind the leader, had fired at a movement seen in the willows
twenty yards away. The aim was true. A groan was answer to the
shot, even before the exclamation of the leader was made. Young
Desha fell back, shot through the body. His friends at first did
not know that any one had been hurt, but to lie still under fire
ill suited their wild temper. With a common impulse, and without
order, they emptied their guns into the mass of dark figures ranged
along the beach. The air was filled with shouts and curses. The
attacking party advanced. The narrow beach of sand and mud was
covered with a struggling mass of fighting men, of which neither
party knew the nature of the other, and where the combatants could
scarce tell friend from foe.

"Get in, men!" cried Dunwody. "Go on! Take the boat!" He pressed
on slowly, Judge Clayton at his side, and they two passed on up the
gang-plank and into the boat itself. The leader of the boat
forces, who had retired again to the steamer deck, faced them here.
It was Dunwody himself who reached out, caught him in a fell grip
and took away from him his rifle.

"Call your men off!" he cried. "Do you all want to get killed?"

"You pirates!" exclaimed the boat leader as soon as he could get
his breath. "What do you mean by firing on us here? We're
peaceable men and on our own business."

Dunwody stood supporting himself on his rifle, the stock of it
under his arm. "You call this peace!" he said. "We didn't intend
to attack you. We're after a fugitive slave. I'm a United States
marshal. You've killed some of our men, and you fired, first.
You've no right--Who are you?" he cried, suddenly pushing closer to
his prisoner in the half light. "I thought I knew your voice!
You--Carlisle--What are you doing here?"

[Illustration: "Who are you?" he cried suddenly.]

"I'm about my business," rejoined that young officer curtly. "I've
been on your trail."

"Well, you've found me," said Dunwody grimly. "You may wish you

The Northerner was not in the least subdued, and remained fearless
as before. "That's fine talk!" he said. "Why haven't we a right
here? We're on a navigable stream of the United States, in free
waters and in a free country, and we're free to do as we propose.
We're under a free flag. What do you mean by firing into us?"

"You're not navigating the river at all," retorted Judge Clayton.
"You're tied up to Missouri soil. The real channel of the river is
away out yonder, and you know it. We're inside our right in
boarding you. We want to know who you are and what you are doing
here, an army officer, at the head of men armed in this way. We're
going to search this boat. You've got property of mine on board,
and we've the legal right to take it, and we're going to take it.
You've killed some of our posse."

"You're pirates!" reiterated the northern, leader. "You're border
ruffians, and you want to take this boat. You'll have to account
for this."

"We are ready to account for it," said Dunwody. "Throw down your
arms, or we will kill every man of you. At once!"

He swung heavily back on his support as he spoke. Clayton caught
him by the arm. "You're hit, Dunwody!" he said in a low voice.

"Yes, a little," answered the other. "Don't say anything." Slowly
he pushed on, directly up to Carlisle, who faced him fearless as
ever. "Tell your men to throw down their guns!" demanded Dunwody
once more.

"Attention, company!" called out the young Northerner. "Stack

Silently, in the dark, even in the confusion, the beleaguered men
grouped together and leaned their rifles against this or that
support. Silently they ranged themselves, some on the deck, some
still upon the shore.

"Get lights now, at once!" commanded Dunwody. "We've got men hurt
here. We'll have to do something at once. Jamieson!" he cried
out. "Are you hurt?"

"I'm all right," answered Doctor Jamieson out of the darkness.
"Not a scratch. But there's a lot of our fellows down."

"Take care of them," said Dunwody. "We'll attend to the rest of
this business after that."



A dismal sight enough was presented when finally a few half-hearted
torches were pressed into use to produce a scant illumination.
What had been a commonplace scene now was become one of tragedy.
The bank of this willow-covered island had assumed the appearance
of a hostile shore. Combat, collision, war had taken the place of
recent peace and silence. The night seemed ominous, as though not
even these incidents were more than the beginning of others yet
more serious soon to come.

Out of the confusion at last there might have been heard the voice
of Dunwody, calling again for Jamieson. There was work for the
surgeon when the dead and injured of both sides at last were
brought aboard the little steamer and ranged in a ghastly common
row along the narrow deck. "Take care of them, Jamieson," said
Dunwody shortly. He himself leaned against the rail.

"You're hurt yourself, Dunwody," exclaimed Jamieson, the blood
dripping from his fingers when he half rose. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing--I got a nick in my leg, I think, but I'm all right. See
to the others."

Jamieson bent over the body of young Desha, who had been first to
suffer here on the debated ground of Missouri. He had been shot
through the upper body and had died with little suffering. Of the
assailing party two others also were beyond aid, one a young
planter who had joined the party some miles back beyond St.
Genevieve, the other a sallow example of the "poor white trash" who
made a certain part of the population of the lower country. Of
these both were shot through the head, and death did not at once
relieve them. They both lay groaning dully. Jamieson passed them
swiftly by. The tally showed that of the Missourians three had
been killed, four badly wounded, besides the slight wound of
Dunwody and that of a planter by the name of Sanders, who had been
shot through the arm.

Of the boat party, smaller in the first place though well armed,
the loss had been slightly less. Two men had been killed outright
and three others badly wounded, of these one, probably, fatally
hurt. To all of these Jamieson ministered as best he might. The
deck was wet with blood. Silent and saddened spectators, the
attacking party stood ranged along the rail on the side next to the
shore. On the opposite side were the sullen defenders.

Carlisle, the leader of the boat party, stood silent, with lips
tightly compressed, not far from where Dunwody leaned against the
rail. He made no comment on the scene and was apparently not
unused to such spectacles. Occasionally he bent over, the better
to observe the results of the surgeon's work, but he ventured no
comment and indulged in no recriminations. His slight but erect
figure was military now in its formality. His face was not
handsome, but the straight eyes showed fearless. The brow was
strong, the nose straight and firm. Once he removed his
"wideawake" hat and passed a hand through the heavy tangle of his
reddish hair. The face was that of a fanatic. It was later not
unknown in yet bloodier fighting.

The night faded after all, at last. Along the level of the water's
surface came some glints from the eastern sky. The horizon paled
slightly. At last a haggard dawn came to light the scene. The
shadows of the willow flat opened, and there lay exposed what now
was a coast possessed by embattled forces.

"Captain," began Dunwody at last, turning to the commander of the
boat forces. "We will be leaving before long. As to you, you will
have to turn back. You will take your boat down-stream, if you

"It's not as I please," rejoined the other. "You order us back
from our journey at your own peril."

"Why argue the matter?" said Dunwody dully. "It would do no good.
We're as much in earnest as you are about it, and we have beaten
you. You belong to the army, but these are not enlisted men, and
you're not carrying out any orders."

"That part of the argument is plain," rejoined the young officer.
"But you are mistaken if you think you can order me. I'm an
officer, and I'm on my own way, and I am, therefore, under orders.
I was following a prisoner late in my charge when I fell in with
this party bound up the river, to the Kansas front."

"The courts may take all that up. This is Missouri soil."

"It's no case for courts," answered the other sternly. "This will
come before the court of God Himself."

A bitter smile played over the face of the Missourian. "You
preach. Yet you yourself are lawless as the worst law-breakers.
Who made our laws--you, or the whole people of this country? And
if God is your court, why did you have no better aid to-night.
It's the long arm wins. You see, we will fight."

"That I agree. It's force that wins, but not brute force. You
will see."

"Argument!" exclaimed Dunwody. "The answer is here at our
feet--it's in blood."

"So be it then!" said the other solemnly. "If it means war, let it
be war. I admit that we have a fugitive slave on board--a young
woman--I suppose that was the excuse for your attack."

"It was the cause of it; and we intend to take her," answered
Dunwody. "We didn't intend to use violence unless it was
necessary. But as to you, will you take your boat below and out of
this country?"

"I will not."

"Very well, then, we'll take you from your own boat, and we'll make
her pay the penalty."

"By what right?"

"By the right of the long arm, since you insist."

"You would make us prisoners--without any process of law whatever!"

"You can thresh that out in your own courts later, if you like,"
said Dunwody. "Meantime, we'll see if I can't find a place that
will hold you."

"Jamieson," he called out an instant later; "Clayton; come here.
Take the roll of these men," he went on. "If any of them want to
drop the thing at this point and go back, let them give parole.
They'll have to agree to leave and never come back here again."

"That's an outrage!" broke out the northern leader. "You and your
band of ruffians--you talk as though you owned this state, as
though this river weren't made as a highway of this continent.
Don't you know that not even a river can be owned by an entire

"We own this part of it to-day," rejoined Dunwody simply. "This is
our judiciary. These are our legislators whom you see." He
slapped his rifle stock, touched a revolver butt at his belt. "You
left the highway when you tied up to our shores. The temper of my
men is such that you are lucky to have a parole offered to you.
You deserve not the treatment of soldiers, but of spies. You
disgrace your uniform. These men are only fools. But what do they
say, Clayton?" he demanded turning to the latter as he finally

"They consider the expedition at an end," returned the Judge.
"Three of them want to go on home to St. Louis. Yates yonder is
in favor of hanging them all. The boys are bitter about losing

Dunwody looked the young leader calmly in the face. "You hear,"
said he. "But you shall see that we are not such ruffians at
heart, in spite of all. It's my intention to conclude this matter
as decently as possible."

"The others are willing to return," continued Judge Clayton. "They
want to know what their captain intends."

"Their captain does not intend to surrender," rejoined the latter
fearlessly. "Let those desert who like."

"I am with you, Captain," quietly said a tall young man, of German
accent, who had been foremost in the fighting.

[Illustration: "I am with you, Captain."]

"Good, Lieutenant Kammerer, I knew you'd stick," commented the

"As to the boat, Judge Clayton," resumed Dunwody, "what shall we do
with her?"

"Burned boats tell no tales," here called out young Yates

"You hear," said Dunwody. "My men are not children."

"It's piracy, that's all," rejoined the young leader,

"Not in the least, sir," broke in Judge Clayton. "We'll burn her
here, tied to this bank on Missouri soil. The river fell during
the night--some inches in all--she's hard aground on the shore."

"Fall in, men!" commanded Dunwody suddenly. "Jamieson, fix up my
leg, the best you can. It'll have to take its chances, for we're
in a hurry. About the paroled men, get them in the rowboats and
set them loose. Get your crippled men off the boat at once,
Jamieson. This couple of prisoners I am going to take home with
me. The rest can go.

"But there's one thing we've forgotten--where's that girl?" He
turned to the northern leader.

"She's below, in the cabin."

"Go get her, Clayton," commanded Dunwody. "We'll have to be quick

Clayton found his way down the narrow companionway and in the
darkness of the unlighted lower deck fumbled for the lock of the
cabin. When he threw open the door he found the interior dimly
lighted by the low window. At first he could make out nothing, but
at last got a glimpse of a figure at the farther side of the little
room. "Who's there!" he demanded, weapon ready.

There was no answer, but slowly, wearily, with unspeakable sadness
in every gesture, there rose the figure of the girl Lily, around
whose fortunes had centered all these turbulent scenes.

In the confusion which followed, no one had a clear conception of
all the events which concluded this tragic encounter. Dunwody,
Jamieson and Clayton cleared the men from the decks of the boat.
The wounded hobbled to a place of shelter. The dead were laid out
in a long and ghastly row at the edge of the willow grove.
Meantime, busy hands brought dried brush and piled it up against
the side of the boat as she lay against the bank, the leader in
this being the Honorable William Jones, who now mysteriously
reappeared, after a temporary absence which had not been noted.
The faint light of a match showed in the dim dawn. There came a
puff of smoke or so, a tiny crackling. A denser burst of smoke
pierced through the light flames. Soon the fire settled to its
work, eating in even against the damp planking of the boat. The
drier railings caught, the deck floors, the sides of the cabin. In
half an hour the _Helen Bell_, early border transport, was a mass
of flames. In a quarter-hour more, her stacks had fallen overboard
and the hulk lay consumed half to the water-line.

[Illustration: Soon the fire settled to its work.]



The arrival of the four visitors at Tallwoods, and their departure
so soon thereafter, were events of course not unknown to Josephine,
but only conjecture could exist in her mind as to the real nature
of the errand in either case. Jeanne, her maid, speculated as to
this openly.

"That docteur also, he is now gone," said she, ruefully. "But yet,
behold the better opportunity for us to escape, Madame. Ah, were
it not for the injury of madame, I should say, let us at once set
out--we could follow the road."

"But they will return!" exclaimed her mistress. "We can not tell
how long they will be gone. And, Jeanne, I suffer."

"Ah, my poor angel! You suffer! It is criminal! We dare not
start. But believe me, Madame, even so, it is not all misfortune.
Suppose we remain; suppose Monsieur Dunwodee comes back? You
suffer. He has pity. Pity is then your friend. In that itself
are you most strong. Content yourself to be weak and helpless for
a time. Not even that brute, that assassin, that criminal, dare
offend you now, Madame. But--of course he is impossible for one
like madame; yet I have delight to hear even a brute, an assassin,
make such love! _Ah, mon Dieu_!"

Jeanne pursed a lip impartially. "_Mon Dieu_! And he was
_repressed_, by reason of my presence. He was restrained, none the
less, by this raiment here of another, so mysterious. Ah, if he--"

"_Tais-toi donc_, Jeanne!" exclaimed her mistress. "No more! We
shall stay until to-morrow, at least."

And so the day passed. The sleepy life of the old plantation went
on about them in silence. As a wild animal pursued, oppressed, but
for the time left alone in some hiding-place, gains greater courage
with each moment of freedom from pursuit, so Josephine St. Auban
gained a groundless hope with the passing of the hours. Even the
long night at length rolled away. Jeanne slept in her mistress'
room. Nothing occurred to disturb their rest.

It was evening of the second day, and the shadows again were lying
long across the valley, when there came slowly filing into view
along the turn of the road the band of returning riders. At their
head was the tall form of Dunwody, the others following,
straggling, drooping in their saddles as though from long hours of
exertion. The cavalcade slowly approached and drew up at the front
door. As they dismounted the faces of all showed haggard, worn and

"There has been combat, Madame!" whispered Jeanne. "See, he has
been hurt. Look--those others!"

Dunwody got out of his saddle with difficulty. He limped as he
stood now. A slender man near him got down unaided, a tall
German-looking man followed suit. The group broke apart and showed
a girl, riding, bound. Some one undid the bonds and helped her to
the ground.

All of these things were apparent from the vantage ground of the
upper story window, but Josephine, unwilling to play at spying, saw
none of it. At last, however, an exclamation from Jeanne caused
her to hasten to the window. "_Mon Dieu_, Madame! Madame,
look--it is that officer--it is Monsieur le Capitaine Carlisle!
Look! why then--"

[Illustration: An exclamation from Jeanne caused her to hasten.]

With no more than a glance, her mistress turned, flung open the
door of the room, hurried down the stair, passed out of the hall
and so fronted these newcomers at the gallery. They stood silent
as they saw her. She herself was first to speak.

"What are you doing with that woman?" she demanded.

They all stood in silence, looking at her, at this apparition of a
woman--a young and beautiful woman--here at Tallwoods, where none
had known of any woman these many years. Clayton himself made no
comment. The Honorable William Jones smiled broadly. Dunwody
removed his hat. "Gentlemen," said he, "this is the Countess St.
Auban, who has come to see these parts of our country. Madam," he
added, "this is Judge Clayton. He was on the _Mount Vernon_ with
us. Lieutenant Kammerer, I think, is the name of this gentleman
who came down here to teach us a few things. There has been some
fighting. Mr. Yates--Mr. Jones. And this gentleman"--he stepped
back so that Carlisle might come into view--"I think you already

"I knowed it! I knowed it!" broke in the Honorable William Jones.
"I seen all along there was a woman in this house. I said--"

Josephine turned to him a swift glance. "There is a lady in this

"Yes," broke out Carlisle, "and all of you remember it. Don't I
know! Madam, what are you doing here?"

"Kind words from my former jailer? So!" She rewarded him none too
much for his quick sympathy. Then, relenting; "But at least you
were better than this new jailer. Are you, too, a prisoner? I
can't understand all this."

"But you're hurt. Madam," began Carlisle. "How is that? Have you
also been attacked by these ruffians? I did not dream Dunwody was
actually so much a ruffian."

"Madam," said Dunwody slowly turning to her, "I can't exchange
words now. There has been an encounter, as I said. There have
been men killed, and some of us have been hurt. The northern
abolitionists have made their first attack on southern soil. This
gentleman is an army officer. I'm a United States marshal, and as
a prisoner he's safe in talking. He has come here on his own moral
initiative, in the interest of what you call freedom. You two
should be friends once more. But would you mind helping me make
these people comfortable as we can?"

"You are hurt, yourself, then!" she said, turning toward him,
seeing him wince as he started up the step.

"No;" he said curtly, "it's nothing."

"That girl yonder--ah! she has been whipped! My God in Heaven.
What is to be next, in this wilderness! Is there indeed here no
law, no justice?"

The deep voice of the German, Kammerer, broke in. "Thank God in
Heaven, at least you are a woman!" he said, turning to her.

"A woman! Why thank God for that? Here, at least, a woman's sole
privilege is insult and abuse."

The others heard but did not all understand her taunt. Tears
sprang to the eyes of young Carlisle. "Don't talk so!" was all he
could exclaim, feeling himself not wholly innocent of reproach.
Dunwody's face flushed a deep red. He made no answer except to
call aloud for the old house servant, Sally, who presently appeared.

"Madam," said Dunwody, in a low voice, limping forward toward
Josephine, "you and I must declare some sort of truce. The world
has all gone helter-skelter. What'll become of us I don't know;
but we need a woman here now."

She gazed at him steadily, but made no reply. Growling, he turned
away and limped up the steps, beckoning the others to follow into
the hall.

They entered, awkward, silent, and stood about, none knowing what
was best to do. Dunwody, luckless and unhappy as he was, still
remembered something of his place as host, and would have led them,
friends and enemies, into the dining-room beyond in search of some
refreshment. He limped forward, without any support. In the door
between the hall and the farther room there lay a mounted rug, of a
bear skin. He tripped at its edge and fell, catching vainly at the
door. A sharp exclamation escaped him. He did not at once rise.
It was the arm of his prisoner, Carlisle, who aided him. "You are
hurt, sir."

"No, no, go away!" exclaimed Dunwody, as he struggled to his feet.

"One bone's gone," he said presently in a low tone to Clayton. "I
broke it when I fell that time."

A curious moment of doubt and indecision was at hand. The men,
captors and captives, looked blankly at one another. It was the
mind of a woman which first rose to this occasion. In an instant
Josephine, with a sudden exclamation, flung aside indecision.

"Jeanne' Sally!" she called. "Show these gentlemen to their
rooms," naming Clayton and Jones. "Sir," she said to Dunwody,
whose injury she did not guess to be so severe, "you must lie down.
Gentlemen, pass into the other room, there, if you please." She
motioned to the two prisoners, and stepped to Dunwody's side.

"I can't have this," he broke out suddenly. "You're hurt,
yourself. Go to your room. I tell you, it's nothing."

"Be quiet," she said, close at his ear. "I'm not afraid of you



In this strange house party, a truce was tacitly agreed. It seemed
sufficient that the future for the time should take care of itself.
Dunwody's injury left Clayton practically leader of the
Missourians. His party gravitated toward him, while opposite sat
the two prisoners, Carlisle and Kammerer, composed and silent, now
and then exchanging a glance with each other, but making no spoken

Dunwody, in his own room, was looking into the seriousness of his
injury, with the old trapper Eleazar, once more summoned as
readiest physician. Eleazar shook his head when he had stripped
off the first bloody bandages from the limb. "She'll been broke,"
was his dictum. "She'll been bad broke. We mus' have docteur
soon." For half an hour the old man did the best he could,
cleansing and rebandaging.

"We _mus_' have _docteur_!" complained he, mindful of Jamieson, far
away, busy with cases as bad as this.

For half an hour or so Josephine remained in her own room above,
having done all she could to establish some sort of order. All at
once to her strained senses there seemed to flash some apprehension
of a coming danger. She rose, tiptoed to her door, looked down. A
moment later she turned, and caught up an old pistol which hung on
the wall near the door in the narrow hallway. Silently and swiftly
she stepped forward to the head of the stair.

What she saw now was this: Carlisle and Kammerer, themselves now
armed with weapons carelessly left in the lower hall, had passed
unnoticed from the dining-room, and now were tiptoeing down the
hall toward the door of Dunwody's apartment. Clayton and his men,
dulled with loss of sleep, had allowed them to leave the main room,
and these two, soldiers by training, had resolved to turn the
tables and take possession of the place. Their plans were at the
point of success. They had almost reached the door of Dunwody's
room, weapons in hand, when from above they heard a sharp command.

"Halt, there!" a woman cried to them.

They turned and looked up, arrested by the unmistakable quality in
the tones. They saw her leaning against the baluster of the stair,
one arm bound tightly to her side, the other resting a revolver
barrel along the baluster and glancing down it with a fearless eye.
She took a step or two lower down the stair, sliding the weapon
with her. "What are you doing there?" she demanded.

A half-humorous twist came to the mouth of Carlisle. He answered
quietly, as he raised a hand for silence:

"Just about what you might expect us to do. We're trying to take
care of ourselves. But how about yourself? I thought you were
with us, Madam. I had heard that you--"

"Come," she answered, lowering the weapon and stepping swiftly down
the stairs. "Come outside, where we can talk."

The three now passed out the open front door to the wide gallery,
which lay in the dim twilight untenanted. Kammerer kept his eyes
still on the muzzle of the revolver. Carlisle laughed. "That's
right, Kammerer," said he. "Be careful when a woman gets the drop
on you. She'll shoot quicker than a man, because she doesn't know
any better. I don't doubt you had a reason for stopping us,
Madam," said he; "but what?--that puzzles me."

"How came you here?" she demanded. "You left me. I don't know
anything about what's going on. I'm all at sea."

"So are we all, Madam. But I'll tell you all I know. I left you
for several reasons. I knew my main errand with you was done. My
post is out beyond, up the Missouri. I was on my way there when I
got orders to take you with me, as you know. I concluded to drop
off and send a telegraphic report to Washington, and to ask consent
to go on out to my post. I saw your note to Dunwody. You had then
chosen a new jailer. I thought, since he was better known in this
country than myself, your reputation would be safer in his hands
than mine. But as soon as I left, I began to think it over, and I
resolved to follow after you, not as a jailer but as a friend. I
met a little party of northern men, going out to the Kansas
country; and I knew Lieutenant Kammerer, here, at St. Louis. We
all thought alike. That girl yonder pleaded so hard that we took
her on with us, at Cairo. She was bound to get away. When we tied
up for the night, above St. Genevieve, we were attacked by these
Missourians here. I had intended to leave the boat, for now I knew
where you were. Lily told me you were taken--handled rudely--like
a slave--that you--Well then, I knew it was Dunwody.

"Of course, I was going to kill him. In the night none of us knew
who made up the party that fired on us. There were half a dozen
men killed, more than that many wounded, and we are prisoners here,
as you see. I suppose that's about all. But then, good God!
Madam, why break up our attempt to escape? Aren't you with us?
And how did you get hurt?"

She told him, simply, there had been accident.

"Are you of the revolutionists, Madam?" demanded the big German

"Yes!" she wheeled upon him. "I am from Europe. I am for liberty."

"Come, then," said Kammerer, quietly reaching out and taking away
the revolver from her hand. "We're friends. How came you to be in
this country, here?"

She smiled at him bitterly. "Because of my zeal. There were
powers who wanted me out of Washington. Ask Captain Carlisle as to
that. But this man I met later on the boat, as you know.
He--brought me here--as you have heard!"

"It iss outrage!" broke in Kammerer. "It iss crime!"

"We'll call him to account," interrupted Carlisle. "Why did you
stop us? We'd have killed him the next minute. I'll kill him yet."

"I was afraid you _would_ kill him," she said simply.

"Well, why not? What has he done to us,--our men,--to you?"

"I could not see it done."

"You'll see worse done. We'll do it yet. You must not stand in
our way." His hand closed over his own revolver butt, and he made
a half motion forward.

"No!" she said, and stepped before him.

Carlisle would have put her aside. "What do you mean? They'll be
out here in a minute,--we'll have to fight if they catch us here.
Do you want to see us killed? Quick! Out of the way!" His voice,
raucous in anger, rasped at her ears, low as it was pitched.

"No," she still replied. "Let me do the thinking. Keep quiet!
I'll get you out. There's been blood enough shed now."

"You are magnificent, Madam!" said Carlisle. "But you are
visionary. Get out of our way. I claim him. Leave him to me."

"No, I claim him myself. Leave him to me!"

"In God's name, what next!" exclaimed the young Northerner
bitterly. "Are we all mad? Haven't you had trouble enough already
with this man? You don't make yourself clear. What do you want of

"I'm entirely clear about it myself. I can't get away from here
now, but I'm safe here now. For all of you to stay would mean
trouble, certainly. If those men knew you were planning escape
there would be more men killed. But you don't belong here. Very
well. I'm obliged to stay for a time. So, I'm just going to take
the position of commander. I'm just going to parole you two.
You're free to go if you like!"

Carlisle turned toward the big German, Kammerer, and broke into a
laugh. "Did you ever see anything like this?" he demanded. But
the assent of the other shone in his eyes.

"The lady hass right," he said. "What she said iss wise, if it can
be done."

"But, Madam, what will become of _you_?" said Carlisle at last.
Her answer was instant. She turned back to the door.

"Judge Clayton!" she called out, loud and clear. "Mr. Yates! All
of you, come here!"

The inner doors opened, and they ran out at her call. Some of them
had been asleep, leaning back in their chairs against the wall.
The confusion of their approach now aroused all the house. There
appeared also the tall form of Dunwody himself, leaning on a rifle
barrel for a crutch. All these paused in the hall or on the
gallery, close to the great door. Dunwody's frown was unmistakable
enough, when he saw the three grouped outside, the two prisoners

"There's been plotting here!" he cried. "What's up? Get your
arms, men! Cover them, quick!"

"Wait!" said Carlisle quietly. "We're armed, and we've got you
covered." His weapon and that of Kammerer shone gray in the half
light. Dunwody threw himself against the doorpost with a growl of

"You've been plotting against us!" he said to Josephine grimly.

"You are unjust, as usual, Sir," said Carlisle hotly. "On the
contrary, she just kept us from killing you--which by all the
rights of God and man we ought to have done,--and will do, some

"What do you mean?" demanded Dunwody dully. "You--she saved--"

"It iss the truth," assented Kammerer, in his turn. "It wass the
lady who hass saved you. She hass spoken for peace and not for
bloodshed. You owe to her your life."

"My life!" he said, turning toward her. "You--"

"I've assumed command here," interrupted Josephine calmly. "I've
paroled these gentlemen."

"Indeed!" said Dunwody sarcastically. "That's very nice, for

She went on unperturbed. "I'm going to set them free. Judge
Clayton and Mr. Jones and you others, too, must go on home. You
will have to surrender to the courts. These men are going to leave
the state. All of you must disperse--at once."

"And you yourself,--" began Dunwody grimly; "what do you plan?"

"I remain. I am a hostage. It will now be known where I am. You
will be responsible for me, now. I fancy that will suit Washington
as well as to detain Captain Carlisle as my jailer any longer. If
I thought I needed him, I would not let him go. We are all of us
going to be under parole, don't you see?"

"Is it your wish that we should give parole in these circumstances,
Dunwody?" Judge Clayton himself smiled rather sardonically.

"I don't see why not, after all," said Dunwody, at length, slowly.
"I don't see why that isn't about as wise as anything we can do.
The law will do the rest of this work, and we must all be ready for
it, as she says. Only one thing, gentlemen, before we part. As to
this young lady here, I'll kill the first man, friend or foe, who
raises a breath against her. Do I make myself plain? Put down
your guns, then. I won't turn any man away, not even an enemy.
Have you eaten, gentlemen? Are you rested enough to go to-night?"

An hour later clattering hoofs once more resounded along the
Tallwoods road.



Leaning against the pillar of the gallery, Dunwody watched them
all, old friends, late foes, depart. Josephine St. Auban stood not
far away. He turned to her, and her gaze fell upon his face, now
haggard and gaunt. He had ridden sixty miles since the previous
sun, half the distance wounded as he was; had been without sleep
for thirty-six hours, without food for almost as long, and now was
suffering with an aggravated wound.

"You are ill," she said to him impulsively. "You're badly hurt."

"Aren't you glad to see me suffer?" he asked grimly.

"I am not glad to see any one suffer."

"Well, never mind about me. But now, you, yourself. Didn't I tell
you to go to your room and rest?"

She was pale, the corners of her mouth were drawn, her eyes were
duller. Neither had she slept. She also suffered, even now. Yet
her courage matched his own. She smiled.

"It makes me crawl, all the way through, to see a woman hurt that
way. Why did you try to climb out of that window? You weren't
walking in your sleep."

"I was trying to get away from you. I thought you were coming. I
thought I heard you--at the door." She looked him full in the face,
searching it for sign of guilt, of confusion. "Was it not enough?"
she added.

The frown on his face only deepened. "That was not true," said he.
"I never came to your door. It was Sally you heard. I'll
confess--I sent her, to get away those--those clothes you saw. I
didn't want--you to see them."

"I believe you!" she said, low, as if she spoke to herself. "Yes,
I understand now."

"Why don't you say I'm lying to you?"

"Because you are not lying. Because you tell me the truth, and I
know it. I was mistaken."

"How do you know? Why forgive me? I don't want you to forgive me.
You don't understand the madness--"

"What hope could there be in a particular madness such as that?"
He could see her eyes turned on him steadily. He turned away,

"I am degraded for ever."

"Tell me," she flashed out upon him suddenly; "what did you think
then of _me_, there on the boat? How did you dare--"

"I don't think I had any conclusion--I only wanted you. I just
couldn't think of your going away, that was all. I'd never seen a
woman like you, I'll never hope to see another your equal in all my
life. And you sent for me, told me to come, said you needed help.
I didn't know what you were. But I didn't care what you were,
either. I don't care now. Your past might be what you liked, you
might be what you are not, and it would make no difference to me.
I wanted you. I'll never in all my life cease to want you. Who
you are or what you are is nothing to me."

[Illustration: "I'll never in all my life cease to want you."]

"But what is the right thing to do now?" he resumed, after a time.
"Parole? Hostage? I don't need to tell you I'm the prisoner now.
My future, my character, are absolutely in your hands. The fact
that I have insulted a woman can be proved. It is with you, what
revenge you will take. As a lawyer, I point out to you that the
courts are open. You easily can obtain redress there against
Warville Dunwody. And your relatives or friends will of course
hold me accountable."

"Then you fear me?"

"No. What comes, comes. I am afraid of no one in the world but my
own self. I fear only the dread of facing life--of looking about
me here, in my own home, and not seeing, not hearing you.

"But you haven't told me what you wish," he added; raising his eyes
at last; "nor what you intend to do. Tell me, when will your
lawyers call on me?"

"Never at all," she answered at last.

"What do you mean?" he demanded. "To set me quit so easily? Oh,

"Never fear. You shall pay me ransom, and heavily."

"Ransom? Parole? Hostages? How do you mean?"

"What ransom you pay me must be out of yourself, out of your own
character. I shall exact it a hundredfold, in shame, in regret, of
you. Do you hold any of that ready to pay your debtor?"

He shook his head. "No, I'll never regret. But you don't know me,
do you? My fortune is adequate."

"So is mine," she rejoined. "I could perhaps buy some of your
property, if it were for sale. But I want more than money of you."

"Who are you?" demanded he suddenly, reverting to the old puzzle
regarding her.

A sadness came upon her averted face. "Only a bit of flotsam on
the human wave. How small we all are, any of us! And there's so
much to be done!"

Half stumbling, he shifted his position, leaning his weight against
the tall pillar of the gallery. He could see her plainly. In the
light from the hall half her features were now thrown into
Rembrandt lighting. The roll of dark hair framed her face,
highbred, aristocratic, yet wholly human and sweet. Gravity sat on
all her features; a woman for thought, said they. A woman for
dreams; so declared the fineness of brow and temple and cheek and
chin, the hand--which, lifted now for an instant, lingered at her
throat. But a woman for love! so said every throb of the pulse of
the man regarding her. And now, most of all, pity of her just
because she was woman was the thought first in his soul. Already
he was beginning to pay, and as she had said!

"You don't answer me," said he, at length, gently. "I can imagine
your ambitions; but I don't learn enough of _you_."

"No," said she, with a deep breath. "As you said, we part, each
with secrets untold. To you, I am of no consequence. Very well.
I was born, no matter where, but free and equal to yourself, I
fancy. I came here in the pursuit of life and liberty, and of the
days of my remaining unhappiness. I suppose this must be your

"You speak, at least, as though you had studied life--and history."

"I have lived. And I have seen some history made--for a cause.
Sir, a great cause. Men will fight for that again, here, on this
soil, not under man-made laws, but under a higher and greater law.
You love my body. You do not love my mind. I love them, both.
Yes, I am student of the law. Humanity! Is it not larger than we?
Is this narrow, selfish life of yours all you can see--of life--of
this law?"

"Yes," said Dunwody, grinning painfully. "I reckon maybe it was
one of those 'higher law' abolitionists that shot me!"

"Shot? What do you mean?" Forgetting philosophy, she turned
swiftly. Yet even as she spoke she now for the first time caught
sight of the dark rimmed rent in his trousers leg, noted the uneasy
fashion in which he held his weight.

"No one told me you were hurt--I thought you only tired, or perhaps
bruised by some accident--when you fell, in there."

"No; shot," he replied. "Shot right in here, through the edge of
the bone. When I tripped and fell, there in the hall, I broke the
bone short off--it was only nicked at first."

"And you have been standing here, talking to me, with _that_?" She
stepped to him swiftly and placed a hand under his arm. "You must
go in. Come. Can you walk?"

Through his nerves, racked as they were, there swept a flood of
joy, more sweet than that of any drug. He could see the blown hair
about her ears, see the round of her neck, the curve of her body as
she bent to aid him, putting her free arm under his, forgetful of
everything in her woman's wish to allay suffering, to brood, to
protect, to increase life. They passed through the door toward the
foot of the stairs. Here she turned to him.

"The pain is very great?" she inquired.

"The pain at thinking of your going away is very great," he
answered. One hand on the newel post, he bent down, his head on
his arm for an instant. "Oh, you're making me _pay_!" he groaned.
But the next moment he turned on her defiantly. "I'll not learn!
If this was the only way for me to meet you, then I'll not regret a
single thing I've done. I'll not! I'll not! I'll not pay! It
all comes back to me, just what I said before. What couldn't we
do, _together_?--I need you--I need you!"

"You must go to your room. You've been standing for an hour."

"But I've been with you. I can't hope for another hour like this.
You'll be leaving me. But I'd live the hour over again--in hell
with you!"

"I told you, when we all gave parole, that I would exact my price
of you, in regret, in remorse."

"You shall not have it in regret, I'll not regret. But I'm paying!
See, I'm telling you you may go, that you must go--away from me."



Eleazar proved a faithful messenger once more. Before the evening
shadows had greatly lengthened, three figures appeared at the
lower end of the approach to Tallwoods mansion house. Jeanne, as
usual looking out from their window, saw these.

"It is the old man, Madame," she commented. "And yes, _Monsieur le
Docteur_ at last--thank the _Bon Dieu_! But one other--who is

[Illustration: "It is the old man, Madame," commented Jeanne.]

It was a very worn and weary doctor who presently swung out of his
saddle at the gallery step. His clothing was stained with mud, his
very shoulders drooping with fatigue. In the past few days he
scarcely had slept, but had been here and there attending to the
wants of surviving sufferers of the boat encounter. None the less
he smiled as he held out his hand to Josephine.

"How is my patient?" he inquired. "Plumb well, of course. And how
about this new one--I thought I fixed him up before he came home.
I've been grunting at Eleazar all the way, telling him it's all
foolishness, my coming away out here--he could have fixed Dunwody's
leg up, somehow. I suppose you know the old man's son, Hector. He
came along for good measure, I reckon."

The young man referred to now advanced, made a leg and pulled a
black forelock. He was a strapping youth, attired in the latest
fashion of French St. Genevieve. He bowed to this lady; but at the
same time, the glance he cast at her French waiting-maid was
evidence enough of the actuating cause of his journey. He had
heard somewhat of these strangers at Tallwoods house.

"I'll been forget to tell the _docteur_ h'all about Mr. Dunwodee,"
began Eleazar.

"What business have you to forget!" demanded Jamieson sternly.
"Has anything gone wrong?"

"_Mon pere_," began Hector, "I'll tol' him, if he didn't tell the
_docteur_ about how Monsieur Dunwodee he'll broke it his leg some

"What's that?" The doctor whirled upon him.

"It's quite true," said Josephine. "He had a fall, here in the
house. He thinks he has broken the injured bone. I didn't know
for a long time that he had been shot. He stood out here last
night talking to me."

"_Stood_ out here--_talking_ to you--with his leg broken
through--the front bone? Couldn't you have any mercy? You didn't
have to _use_ that broken wrist, but he--standing around--"

"He did not tell me, until the last moment. He said he thought he
had a little fever and believed he would take a little quinine."

"Oh, quinine--a Missourian would take that to save his immortal
soul--and quite as well as to take it for a broken bone like that.
I did the best I could with it--out there in the dark, but it
wasn't half dressed. Come--" He motioned Josephine to follow him
to Dunwody's room.

Eleazar had slunk away about the house, but Hector, left alone with
Jeanne, improved the shining hour. In a few moments he had
informed her that he was most happy to see one so beautiful, one,
moreover, who spoke his own tongue--although perhaps, it was true,
not quite as that tongue was spoken in Canada. As for himself, he
was a cooper, and had a most excellent business, yonder at St.
Genevieve. But the society of St. Genevieve--ah, well! And so on,
very swimmingly.

In the sick chamber Jamieson advanced with one glance at Dunwody's
fevered face. "What's up, Dunwody?" said he. "What has gone
wrong? Easy now, never mind."

He shook his head over the results of his first scrutiny. He
turned to Josephine, "Have you ever seen anybody hurt?"

"I've been on two battlefields," said she. "I've nursed a little."

Dunwody turned to her a face whose eyes now were glazed with
suffering. He nodded to Jamieson without any word.

"Sally, get some hot water, quick!" called out Jamieson in the
hall. "So, now, old man, let's see."

He stripped the covering quite down and bared the lower limb,
removing the bandage which he had originally applied. For a moment
he looked at the angry wound. Then he pulled back the covering,
and turned away.

"Well, well, what is it?" croaked Dunwody hoarsely, half-rising on
his crumpled pillow. Jamieson did not reply. "I fell, out there
in the hall. Weight must have come on the bad place in the leg. I
think the bone snapped."

"I think so too! That mightn't have been so bad--but then you
stood a while on that bad leg, eh? Now look here, Dunwody; do you
know what shape you are in now?"

"No, I only know it hurts."

"If that leg were mine, do you know what I'd do with it?"

"No; but it isn't yours."

"Well, I'd have it off--as quick as it could come, that's all. If
you don't, you'll lose your life."

"You don't mean that?" whispered Dunwody tensely, after a time.
"You don't mean that, Doctor?"

"I mean every word I say. It's blood poisoning."

The only answer his patient made was to reach a slow hand under his
pillow and draw out a long-barreled revolver, which he laid upon
the bed beside him.

"I didn't think you such a coward," ruminated Jamieson, rubbing his

"If you think I'm afraid of the hurt of it, I'll let you do your
work first, and I'll do mine afterward," gasped Dunwody slowly.
"But I'm not going to live a cripple. I'll not be maimed."

They looked each other firmly in the face.

"Is it so bad as all that, Doctor?" demanded Josephine. Her answer
was a sad look from the gray old eyes. "Blood poison. Some kind
of an aggravation. It's traveling fast."

Josephine gazed down at the bulky figure lying there prone, so
lately full of rugged ferocity, now so weak and helpless. Her eye
fell on the weapon lying on the bed. She gently removed it.

"That was what he preferred to my skill," commented Jamieson.

Dunwody turned, his gaze on Josephine now. "You don't belong here,
now," said he at length. "You'd better go away."

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