Part 1 out of 6
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[Illustration: "There are a hundred men beating the mountain to find you"]
The Wild Olive
By the author of
The Inner Shrine
Grosset & Dunlap
Published by Arrangement with Harper & Brothers
Copyright, 1910, by Harper & Brothers
All Rights Reserved
Published May, 1910
Printed in the United States of America
Finding himself in the level wood-road, whose open aisle drew a long,
straight streak across the sky, still luminous with the late-lingering
Adirondack twilight, the tall young fugitive, hatless, coatless, and
barefooted, paused a minute for reflection. As he paused, he listened; but
all distinctiveness of sound was lost in the play of the wind, up hill and
down dale, through chasm and over crag, in those uncounted leagues of
forest. It was only a summer wind, soft and from the south; but its murmur
had the sweep of the eternal breath, while, when it waxed in power, it
rose like the swell of some great cosmic organ. Through the pines and in
the underbrush it whispered and crackled and crashed, with a variety of
effect strangely bewildering to the young man's city-nurtured senses.
There were minutes when he felt that not only the four country constables
whom he had escaped were about to burst upon him, but that weird armies of
gnomes were ready to trample him down.
Out of the confusion of wood-noises, in which his unpractised ear could
distinguish nothing, he waited for a repetition of the shots which a few
hours ago had been the protest of his guards; but, none coming, he sped on
again. He weighed the danger of running in the open against the
opportunities for speed, and decided in favor of the latter. Hitherto, in
accordance with a woodcraft invented to meet the emergency, and entirely
his own, he had avoided anything in the nature of a road or a pathway, in
order to take advantage of the tracklessness which formed his obvious
protection; but now he judged the moment come for putting actual space
between his pursuers and himself. How near, or how far behind him, they
might be he could not guess. If he had covered ground, they would have
covered it too, since they were men born to the mountains, while he had
been bred in towns. His hope lay in the possibility that in this
wilderness he might be lost to their ken, as a mote is lost in the
air--though he built something on the chance that, in sympathy with the
feeling in his favor pervading the simpler population of the region, they
had given negative connivance to his escape. These thoughts, far from
stimulating a false confidence, urged him to greater speed.
And yet, even as he fled, he had a consciousness of abandoning
something--perhaps of deserting something--which brought a strain of
regret into this minute of desperate excitement. Without having had time
to count the cost or reckon the result, he felt he was giving up the
fight. He, or his counsel for him, had contested the ground with all the
resourceful ingenuity known to the American legal practitioner. He was
told that, in spite of the seeming finality of what had happened that
morning, there were still loopholes through which the defence might be
carried on. In the space of a few hours Fate had offered him the choice
between two courses, neither of them fertile in promises of success. The
one was long and tedious, with a possibility of ultimate justification;
the other short and speedy, with the accepted imputation of guilt. He had
chosen the latter--instinctively and on the spur of the moment; and while
he might have repeated at leisure the decision he had made in haste, he
knew even now that he was leaving the ways and means of proving his
innocence behind him. The perception came, not as the result of a process
of thought, but as a regretful, scarcely detected sensation.
He had dashed at first into the broken country, hilly rather than
mountainous, which from the shores of Lake Champlain gradually gathers
strength, as it rolls inland, to toss up the crests of the Adirondacks.
Here, burying himself in the woods, he skirted the unkempt farms, whose
cottage lights, just beginning to burn, served him as signals to keep
farther off. When forced to cross one of the sterile fields, he crawled
low, blotting himself out among the bowlders. At times a patch of tall,
tasselled Indian corn, interlaced with wandering pumpkin vines, gave him
cover, till he regained the shelter of the vast Appalachian mother-forest
which, after climbing Cumberlands, Alleghanies, Catskills, and
Adirondacks, here clambers down, in long reaches of ash and maple, juniper
and pine, toward the lowlands of the north.
As far as he had yet been able to formulate a plan of flight, it was to
seek his safety among the hills. The necessity of the instant was driving
him toward the open country and the lake, but he hoped to double soon upon
his tracks, finding his way back to the lumber camps, whose friendly
spiriting from bunk-house to bunk-house would baffle pursuit. Once he had
gained even a few hours' security, he would be able to some extent to pick
and choose his way.
He steered himself by the peak of Graytop, black against the last
coral-tinted glow of the sunset, as a sailor steers by a star. There was
further assurance that he was not losing himself or wandering in a circle,
when from some chance outlook he ventured to glance backward and saw the
pinnacle of Windy Mountain or the dome of the Pilot straight behind him.
There lay the natural retreats of the lynx, the bear, and the outlaw like
himself; and, as he fled farther from them, it was with the same frenzied
instinct to return that the driven stag must feel toward the bed of fern
from which he has been roused. But, for the minute, there was one
imperative necessity--to go on--to go on anywhere, anyhow, so long as it
took him far enough from the spot where masked men had loosed the
handcuffs from his wrists and stray shots had come ringing after him. In
his path there were lakelets, which he swam, and streams, which he forded.
Over the low hills he scrambled through an undergrowth so dense that even
the snake or the squirrel might have avoided it, to find some easier way.
Now and then, as he dragged himself up the more barren ascents, the loose
soil gave way beneath his steps in miniature avalanches of stone and sand,
over which he crept, clinging to tufts of grass or lightly rooted
saplings, to rise at last with hands scratched and feet bleeding. Then, on
again!--frantically, as the hare runs and as the crow flies, without
swerving--on, with the sole aim of gaining time and covering distance!
He was not a native of the mountains. Though in the two years spent among
them he had come to acknowledge their charm, it was only as a man learns
to love an alien mistress, whose alternating moods of savagery and
softness hold him with a spell of which he is half afraid. More than any
one suspected or he could have explained, his reckless life had been the
rebellion of his man-trained, urban instinct against the domination of
this supreme earth-force, to which he was of no more value than a falling
leaf or a dissolving cloud. Even now, as he flung himself on the forest's
protection, it was not with the solace of the son returning to the mother;
it was rather as a man might take refuge from a lion in a mammoth cavern,
where the darkness only conceals dangers.
After the struggle with crude nature the smooth, grass-carpeted
wagon-track brought him more than a physical sense of comfort. It not only
made his flight swift and easy, but it had been marked out by man, for
man's purposes and to meet man's need. It was the result of a human
intelligence; it led to a human goal. It was possible that it might lead
even him into touch with human sympathies With the thought, he became
conscious all at once that he was famished and fatigued. Up to the present
he had been as little aware of a body as a spirit on its way between two
worlds. It had ached and sweated and bled; but he had not noticed it. The
electric fluid could not have seemed more tireless or iron more insensate.
But now, when the hardship was somewhat relaxed, he was forced back on the
perception that he was faint and hungry His speed slackened; his shoulders
sagged; the long second wind, which had lasted so well, began to shorten.
For the first time it occurred to him to wonder how long his strength
would hold out.
It was then that he noticed a deflection of the wood-road toward the
north, and down over the brow of the plateau on which for a mile or two
its evenness had been sustained. It was a new sign that it was tending
toward some habitation. Half an hour ago he would have taken this to mean
that he must dash into the forest again; but half an hour ago he had not
been hungry. He did not say to himself that he would venture to any man's
door and ask for bread. So far as he knew, he would never venture to any
man's door again; nevertheless, he kept on, down-hill, and down-hill
nearer and nearer the lake, and farther and farther from the mountain and
the lairs of safety.
Suddenly, at a turning, when he was not expecting it, the wood-road
emerged into a rough clearing. Once more he stopped to reflect and take
his bearings. It had grown so dark that there was little danger in doing
so; though, as he peered into the gloom, his nerves were still taut with
the expectation of shot or capture from behind. Straining his eyes, he
made out a few acres that had been cleared for their timber, after which
Nature had been allowed to take her own way again, in unruly growths of
saplings, tangles of wild vines, and clumps of magenta fireweed.
Without quite knowing why he did so, he crept down the slope, feeling his
way among the stumps, and stooping low, lest his white shirt, wet and
clinging limply to his body, might betray him to some keen-eyed marksman.
Presently one of the old root-hedges, common to the countryside, barred
his path--a queer, twisted line of long, gray tentacles that had once
sucked sustenance from the soil, but now reached up idly into a barren
element, where the wild grape was covering their grotesque nakedness with
masses of kindly beauty. Below him he saw lights shining clearly like the
planets, or faintly like the mere star-dust of the sky, while between the
two degrees of brightness he knew there must lie the bosom of the lake. He
had come to the little fringe of towns that clings to the borders of
Champlain, here with the Adirondacks behind him, and there with the
mountains of Vermont, but keeping close to the great, safe waterway, as
though distrusting the ruggedness of both.
It was a moment at which to renew his alarm in this proximity to human
dwellings. Like the tiger that has ventured beyond the edge of the jungle,
he must slink back at the sight of fire. He turned himself slowly, looking
up the heights from which he had come down, as they rolled behind him,
mysterious and hostile, in the growing darkness. Even the sky, from which
it seemed impossible for the daylight ever to depart, now had an angry red
glare in it.
He took a step or two toward the forest, and paused again, still staring
upward. Where was he going? Where _could_ he go? The question presented
itself with an odd pertinence that drew his set, beardless lips into a
kind of smile. When he had first made his rush outward the one thing that
seemed to him essential was to be free; but now he was forced to ask
himself: For what purpose? Of what use was it to be as free as wind if he
was to be as homeless? It was not merely that he was homeless for the
moment; that was nothing; the overwhelming reflection was that he, Norrie
Ford, could never have a home at all--that there was scarcely a spot
within the borders of civilized mankind where the law would not hunt him
This view of his situation was so apparent and yet so new that it held him
stock-still, gazing into space. He was free--but free only to crawl back
into the jungle and lie down in it, like a wild beast.
"But I'm not a wild beast," he protested, inwardly. "I'm a man--with
human rights. By God, I'll never let them go!"
He wheeled round again, toward the lower lands and the lake. The lights
glowed more brightly as the darkness deepened, each lamp shining from some
little nest, where men and women were busied with the small tasks and
interests that made life. This was liberty! This was what he had a claim
upon! All his instincts were civilized, domestic. He would not go back to
the forest, to herd with wild nature, when he had a right to lie down
among his kind. He had slept in the open hundreds of times; but it had
been from choice. There had been pleasure then, in waking to the smell of
balsam and opening his eyes upon the stars. But to do the same thing from
compulsion, because men had closed up their ranks and ejected him from
their midst, was an outrage he would not accept. In the darkness his head
went up, while his eyes burned with a fire more intense than that of any
of the mild beacons from the towns below, as he strode back to the old
root-hedge and leaped it.
He felt the imprudence, not to say the uselessness, of the movement, as he
made it; and yet he kept on, finding himself in a field in which cows and
horses were startled from their munching by his footstep. It was another
degree nearer to the organized life in which he was entitled to a place.
Shielded by a shrubbery of sleeping goldenrod, he stole down the slope,
making his way to the lane along which the beasts went out to pasture and
came home. Following the trail, he passed a meadow, a potato-field, and a
patch of Indian corn, till the scent of flowers told him he was coming on
a garden. A minute later, low, velvety domes of clipped yew rose in the
foreground, and he knew himself to be in touch with the civilization that
clung, like a hardy vine, to the coves and promontories of the lake, while
its tendrils withered as soon as they were flung up toward the mountains.
Only a few steps more, and, between the yews, he saw the light streaming
from the open doors and windows of a house.
It was such a house as, during the two years he had spent up in the high
timber-lands, he had caught sight of only on the rare occasions when he
came within the precincts of a town--a house whose outward aspect, even at
night, suggested something of taste, means, and social position for its
occupants. Slipping nearer still, he saw curtains fluttering in the breeze
of the August evening, and Virginia creeper dropping in heavily massed
garlands from the roof of a columned veranda. A French window was open to
the floor, and within, he could see vaguely, people were seated.
The scene was simple enough, but to the fugitive it had a kind of
sacredness. It was like a glimpse into the heaven he has lost caught by a
fallen angel. For the moment he forgot his hunger and weakness, in this
feast for the heart and eyes. It was with something of the pleasure of
recognizing long-absent faces that he traced the line of a sofa against
the wall, and stated to himself that there was a row of prints hanging
above it. There had been no such details as these to note in his cell, nor
yet in the courtroom which for months had constituted his only change of
outlook Insensibly to himself, he crept nearer, drawn by the sheer spell
Finding a gate leading into the garden, he opened it softly, leaving it
so, in order to secure his retreat. From the shelter of one of the
rounded yew-trees he could make his observations more at ease. He
perceived now that the house stood on a terrace, and turned the garden
front, its more secluded aspect, in his direction. The high hedges, common
in these lakeside villages, screened it from the road; while the open
French window threw a shaft of brightness down the yew-tree walk, casting
the rest of the garden into gloom.
To Norrie Ford, peeping furtively from behind one of the domes of clipped
foliage, there was exasperation in the fact that his new position gave him
no glimpse of the people in the room. His hunger to see them became for
the minute more insistent than that for food. They represented that human
society from which he had waked one morning to find himself cut off, as a
rock is cut off by seismic convulsion from the mainland of which it has
formed a part. It was in a sort of effort to span the gulf separating him
from his own past that he peered now into this room, whose inmates were
only passing the hours between the evening meal and bedtime. That people
could sit tranquilly reading books or playing games filled him with a kind
When he considered it safe he slipped along to what he hoped would prove a
better point of view, but, finding it no more advantageous, he darted to
still another. The light lured him as it might lure an insect of the
night, till presently he stood on the very steps of the terrace. He knew
the danger of his situation, but he could not bring himself to turn and
steal away till he had fixed the picture of that cheerful interior firmly
on his memory. The risk was great, but the glimpse of life was worth it.
With powers of observation quickened by his plight, he noted that the
home was just such a one as that from which he had sprung--one where old
engravings hung on the walls, while books filled the shelves, and papers
and periodicals strewed the tables. The furnishings spoke of comfort and a
modest dignity. Obliquely in his line of vision he could see two children,
seated at a table and poring over a picture-book The boy, a manly urchin,
might have been fourteen, the girl a year or two younger. Her curls fell
over the hand and arm supporting her cheek, so that Ford could only guess
at the blue eyes concealed behind them. Now and then the boy turned a page
before she was ready, whereupon followed pretty cries of protestation. It
was perhaps this mimic quarrel that called forth a remark from some one
sitting within the shadow.
"Evie dear, it's time to go to bed. Billy, I don't believe they let you
stay up as late as this at home."
"Oh yes, they do," came Billy's answer, given with sturdy assurance. "I
often stay up till nine."
"Well, it's half past now; so you'd both better come and say good-night."
With one foot resting on the turf and the other raised to the first step
of the terrace, as he stood with folded arms, Ford watched the little
scene, in which the children closed their book, pushed back their chairs,
and crossed the room to say good-night to the two who were seated in the
shadow. The boy came first, with hands thrust into his trousers pockets in
a kind of grave nonchalance. The little girl fluttered along behind, but
broke her journey across the room by stepping into the opening of the long
window and looking out into the night. Ford stood breathless and
motionless, expecting her to see him and cry out. But she turned away and
danced again into the shadow, after which he saw her no more. The silence
that fell within the room told him that the elders were left alone.
Stealthily, like a thief, Ford crept up the steps and over the turf of the
terrace. The rising of the wind at that minute drowned all sound of his
movements, so that he was tempted right on to the veranda, where a coarse
matting deadened his tread. He dared not hold himself upright on this
dangerous ground, but, crouching low, he was blotted from sight, while he
himself could see what passed within. He would only, he said, look once
more into kindly human faces and steal away as he came.
He could perceive now that the lady who had spoken was an invalid
reclining in a long chair, lightly covered with a rug. A fragile, dainty
little creature, her laces, trinkets, and rings revealed her as one
clinging to the elegancies of another phase of life, though Fate had sent
her to live, and perhaps to die, here on the edge of the wilderness. He
made the same observation with regard to the man who sat with his back to
the window. He was in informal evening dress--a circumstance that, in this
land of more or less primitive simplicity, spoke of a sense of exile. He
was slight and middle-aged, and though his face was hidden, Ford received
the impression of having seen him already, but from another point of view.
His habit of using a magnifying-glass as, with some difficulty, he read a
newspaper in the light of a green-shaded lamp, seemed to Ford especially
familiar, though more pressing thoughts kept him from trying to remember
where and when he had seen some one do the same thing within the recent
As he crouched by the window watching them, it came into his mind that
they were just the sort of people of whom he had least need to be afraid.
The sordid tragedy up in the mountains had probably interested them
little, and in any case they could not as yet have heard of his escape. If
he broke in on them and demanded food, they would give it to him as to
some common desperado, and be glad to let him go. If there was any one to
inspire terror, it was he, with his height, and youth, and wildness of
aspect. He was thinking out the most natural method of playing some small
comedy of violence, when suddenly the man threw down the paper with a
sigh. On the instant the lady spoke, as though she had been awaiting her
"I don't see why you should feel so about it," she said, making an effort
to control a cough. "You must have foreseen something of this sort when
you took up the law."
The answer reached Ford's ears only as a murmur, but he guessed its import
from the response.
"True," she returned, when he had spoken, "to foresee possibilities is one
thing, and to meet them is another; but the anticipation does something to
nerve one for the necessity when it comes."
Again there was a murmur in which Ford could distinguish nothing, but
again her reply told him what it meant.
"The right and the wrong, as I understand it," she went on, "is something
with which you have nothing to do. Your part is to administer the law, not
to judge of how it works."
Once more Ford was unable to catch what was said in reply, but once more
the lady's speech enlightened him.
"That's the worst of it? Possibly; but it's also the best of it; for since
it relieves you of responsibility it's foolish for you to feel remorse."
What was the motive of these remarks? Ford found himself possessed of a
strange curiosity to know. He pressed as closely as he dared to the open
door, but for the moment nothing more was said. In the silence that
followed he began again to wonder how he could best make his demand for
food, when a sound from behind startled him. It was the sound which, among
all others, caused him the wildest alarm--that of a human footstep. His
next movement came from the same blind impulse that sends a hunted fox to
take refuge in a church--eager only for the instant's safety. He had
sprung to his feet, cleared the threshold, and leaped into the room,
before the reflection came to him that, if he was caught, he must at least
be caught game. Wheeling round toward the window-door through which he had
entered, he stood defiantly, awaiting his pursuers, and heedless of the
astonished eyes fixed upon him. It was not till some seconds had gone by,
and he realized that he was not followed, that he glanced about the room.
When he did so it was to ignore the woman, in order to concentrate all his
gaze on the little, iron-gray man who, still seated, stared at him, with
lips parted. In his own turn, Norrie Ford was dumb and wide-eyed in
amazement It was a long minute before either spoke.
The monosyllable came simultaneously from each. The little woman got to
her feet in alarm. There was inquiry as well as terror in her
face--inquiry to which her husband felt prompted to respond.
"This is the man," he said, in a voice of forced calmness,
"whom--whom--we've been talking about."
"Not the man--you--?"
"Yes," he nodded, "the man I--I--sentenced to death--this morning."
Mrs. Wayne went to the door, but on Ford's assurance that her child had
nothing to fear from him, she paused with her hand on the knob to look in
curiosity at this wild young man, whose doom lent him a kind of
fascination. Again, for a minute, all three were silent in the excess of
their surprise. Wayne himself sat rigid, gazing up at the new-comer with
strained eyes blurred with partial blindness. Though slightly built and
delicate, he was not physically timid; and as the seconds went by he was
able to form an idea as to what had happened. He himself, in view of the
tumultuous sympathy displayed by hunters and lumber-jacks with the man who
passed for their boon companion, had advised Ford's removal from the
pretty toy prison of the county-town to the stronger one at Plattsville.
It was clear that the prisoner had been helped to escape, either before
the change had been effected or while it was taking place. There was
nothing surprising in that; the astonishing thing was that the fugitive
should have found his way to this house above all others. Mrs. Wayne
seemed to think so too, for it was she who spoke first, in a tone which
she tried to make peremptory, in spite of its tremor of fear.
"What did you come here for?"
Ford looked at her for the first time--in a blankness not without a dull
element of pleasure. It was at least two or three years since he had seen
anything so dainty--not, in fact, since his own mother died. At all times
his mind worked slowly, so that he found nothing to reply till she
repeated her question with a show of increased severity.
"I came here for protection," he said then.
His hesitation and bewildered air imparted assurance to his still
"Isn't it an odd place in which to look for that?" Wayne asked, in an
excitement, he strove to subdue.
The question was the stimulus Ford needed in order to get his wits into
"No," he replied, slowly; "I've a right to protection from the man who
sentenced me to death for a crime of which he knows me innocent."
Wayne concealed a start by smoothing the newspaper over his crossed knees,
but he was unable to keep a shade of thickness out of his voice as he
"You had a fair trial. You were found guilty. You have had the benefit of
all the resources allowed by the law. You have no right to say I know you
to be innocent."
Wholly spent, Ford dropped into a chair from which one of the children had
risen. With his arm hanging limply over the back he sat staring haggardly
at the judge, as though finding nothing to say.
"I have a right to read any man's mind," he muttered, after a long pause,
"when it's as transparent as yours. No one had any doubt as to your
convictions--after your charge."
"That has nothing to do with it. If I charged in your favor, it was
because I wanted you to have the benefit of every possible plea. When
those pleas were found insufficient by a jury of your peers--"
Ford emitted a sound that might have been a laugh, had there been mirth in
"A jury of my peers! A lot of thick-headed country tradesmen, prejudiced
against me from the start because I'd sometimes kicked up a row in their
town! They weren't my peers any more than they were yours!"
"The law assumes all men to be equal--"
"Just as it assumes all men to be intelligent--only they're not. The law
is a very fine theory. The chief thing to be, said against it is that five
times out of ten it leaves human nature out of account. I'm condemned to
death, not because I killed a man, but because you lawyers won't admit
that your theory doesn't work."
He began to speak more easily, with the energy born of his desperate
situation and his sense of wrong. He sat up straighter; the air of
dejection with which he had sunk to the chair slipped from him; his gray
eyes, of the kind called "honest," shot out glances of protest. The elder
man found himself once more struggling against the wave of sympathy which
at times in the court-room had been almost too strong for him. He was
forced to intrench himself mentally within the system he served before
bracing himself to reply.
"I can't keep you from having your opinion--"
"Nor can I save you from having yours. Look at me, judge!" He was bolt
upright now, throwing his arms wide with a gesture in which there was more
appeal than indignation "Look at me! I'm a strong, healthy-bodied,
healthy-minded fellow of twenty-four; but I'm drenched to the skin, I'm
half naked, I'm nearly dead with hunger, I'm an outlaw for life--and
you're responsible for it all."
It was Wayne's turn for protest, and though he winced, he spoke sharply.
"I had my duty to perform--"
"Good God, man, don't sit there and call that thing your duty! You're
something more than a wheel in a machine. You were a human being before
you were a judge. With your convictions you should have come down from the
bench and washed your hands of the whole affair. The very action would
have given me a chance--"
"You mustn't speak like that to my husband," Mrs. Wayne broke in,
indignantly, from the doorway. "If you only knew what he has suffered on
"Is it anything like what I've suffered on his?"
"I dare say it's worse. He has scarcely slept or eaten since he knew he
would have to pass that dreadful sen--"
"Come! come!" Wayne exclaimed, in the impatient tone of a man who puts an
end to a useless discussion. "We can't spend time on this subject any
longer. I'm not on my defence--"
"You _are_ on your defence," Ford declared, instantly. "Even your wife
puts you there. We're not in a courtroom as we were this morning.
Circumstantial evidence means nothing to us in this isolated house, where
you're no longer the judge, as I'm no longer the prisoner. We're just two
naked human beings, stripped of everything but their inborn rights--and I
"Well--what are they?"
"They're simple enough. I claim the right to have something to eat, and to
go my way without being molested--or betrayed. You'll admit I'm not
"You may have the food," Mrs. Wayne said, in a tone not without
compassion. "I'll go and get it."
For a minute or two there was no sound but that of her cough, as she sped
down a passage. Before speaking, Wayne passed his hand across his brow as
though in an effort to clear his mental vision.
"No; you don't seem to be asking much. But, as a matter of fact, you're
demanding my pledge to my country. I undertook to administer its laws--"
Ford sprang up.
"You've done it," he cried, "and I'm the result! You've administered the
law right up to its hilt, and your duty as a judge is performed. Surely
you're free now to think of yourself as a man and to treat me as one."
"I might do that, and still think you a man dangerous to leave at large."
"But do you?"
"That's my affair. Whatever your opinion of the courts that have judged
your case, I must accept their verdict."
"In your official capacity--yes; but not here, as host to the poor dog who
comes under your roof for shelter. My rights are sacred. Even the wild
He paused abruptly. Over Wayne's shoulder, through the window still open
to the terrace, he saw a figure cross the darkness. Could his pursuers be
waiting outside for their chance to spring on him? A perceptible fraction
of a second went by before he told himself he must have been mistaken.
"Even the wild Arab would think them so," he concluded, his glance
shifting rapidly between the judge and the window open behind him.
"But I'm not a wild Arab," Wayne replied. "My first duty is toward my
country and its organized society."
"I don't think so. Your first duty is toward the man you know you've
sentenced wrongly. Fate has shown you an unusual mercy in giving you a
chance to help him."
"I can be sorry for the sentence and yet feel that I could not have acted
"Then what are you going to do now?"
"What would you expect me to do but hand you back to justice?"
There was a suggestion of physical disdain in the tone of the laconic
question, as well as in the look he fixed on the neat, middle-aged man
doing his best to be cool and collected Wayne glanced over his shoulder
toward the telephone on the wall. Norrie Ford understood and spoke
"Yes; you could ring up the police at Greenport, but I could strangle you
before you crossed the floor."
"So you could; but would you? If you did, should you be any better off?
Should you be as well off as you are now? As it is, there is a possibility
of a miscarriage of justice, of which one day you may get the benefit.
There would be no such possibility then. You would be tracked down within
"Oh, you needn't argue; I've no intention--" Once more he paused. The same
shadow had flitted across the dark space outside, this time with a
distinct flutter of a white dress. He could only think it was some one
getting help together; and while he went on to finish his sentence in
words, all his subconscious faculties were at work, seeking an escape from
the trap in which he was taken.
"I've no intention of doing violence unless I'm driven to it--"
"But if you are driven to it--?"
"I've a right to defend myself. Organized society, as you call it, has put
me where it has no further claim upon me. I must fight against it
single-handed--and I'll do it. I shall spare neither man nor woman--nor
_woman_"--he raised his voice so as to be heard outside--"who stands in my
He threw back his head and looked defiantly out into the night. As if in
response to this challenge a tall, white figure suddenly emerged from the
darkness and stood plainly before him.
It was a girl, whose movements were curiously quick and silent, as she
beckoned to him, over the head of the judge, who sat with his back toward
"Then all the more reason why society should protect itself against you,"
Wayne began again; but Ford was no longer listening. His attention was
wholly fixed on the girl, who continued to beckon noiselessly, fluttering
for an instant close to the threshold of the room, then withdrawing
suddenly to the very edge of the terrace, waving a white scarf in token
that he should follow her. She had repeated her action again and again,
beckoning with renewed insistence, before he understood and made up his
"I don't say that I refuse to help you," Wayne was saying. "My sympathy
with you is very sincere. If I can get your sentence commuted--In fact, a
reprieve is almost certain--"
With a dash as lithe and sudden as that which had brought him in, Ford was
out on the terrace, following the white dress and the waving scarf which
were already disappearing down the yew-tree walk. The girl's flight over
grass and gravel was like nothing so much as that of a bird skimming
through the air. Ford's own steps crunched loudly on the stillness of the
night, so that if any one lay in ambush he knew he could not escape. He
was prepared to hear shots come ringing from any quarter, but he ran on
with the indifference of a soldier grown used to battle, intent on keeping
up with the shadow fleeing before him.
He followed her through the garden gate he himself had left open, and down
the lane leading to the pasture. At the point where he had entered it from
the right, she turned to the left, keeping away from the mountains and
parallel with the lake. There was no moon, but the night was clear; and no
sound but that of the shrill, sustained chorus of insect life.
Beyond the pasture the lane became nothing but a path, zigzagging up a
hillside between patches of Indian corn. The girl sped over it so lightly
that Ford would have found it hard to keep her in sight if from time to
time she had not paused and waited. When he came near enough to see the
outlines of her form she flew on again, less like a living woman than a
From the top of the hill he could see the dull gleam of the lake with its
girdle of lamp-lit towns. Here the woodland began again; not the main body
of the forest, but one of its long arms, thrust down over hill and valley,
twisting its way in among villages and farm lands. That which had been a
path now become a trail, along which the girl flitted with the ease of
habit and familiarity.
In the concentration of his effort to keep the moving white spot in view
Ford lost count of time. Similarly he had little notion of the distance
they were covering. He guessed that they had been ten or fifteen minutes
on the way, and that they might have gone a mile, when, after waiting for
him to come almost near enough to speak to her, she began moving in a
direction at an acute angle to that by which they had come. At the same
time he perceived that they were on the side of a low wooded mountain and
that they were beating their way round it.
All at once they emerged on a tiny clearing--a grassy ledge on the slope.
Through the starlight he could see the hillside break away steeply into a
vaporous gorge, while above him the mountain raised a black dome amid the
serried points of the sky-line. The dryad-like creature beckoned him
forward with her scarf, until suddenly she stopped with the decisive pause
of one who has reached her goal. Coming up with her, he saw her unlock the
door of a small cabin, which had hitherto not detached itself from the
"Go in," she whispered. "Don't strike a light. There are biscuits
somewhere, in a box. Grope for them. There's a couch in a corner."
Without allowing him to speak, she forced him gently over the threshold
and closed the door upon him. Standing inside in the darkness, he heard
the grating of her key in the lock, and the rustle of her skirts as she
From the heavy sleep of fatigue Ford woke with the twittering of birds
that announces the dawn. His first thought before opening his eyes, that
he was still in his cell, was dispelled by the silky touch of the Sorrento
rugs on which he lay. He fingered them again and again in a kind of
wonder, while his still half-slumbering senses struggled for the memory of
what had happened, and the realization of where he was. When at last he
was able to reconstruct the events of the preceding night, he raised
himself on his elbow and peered about him in the dim morning twilight.
The object he discerned most readily was an easel, giving him the secret
of his refuge. On the wooden walls of the cabin, which was fairly
spacious, water-color sketches were pinned at intervals, while on the
mantelpiece above a bricked fireplace one or two stood framed. Over the
mantelpiece a pair of snow-shoes were crossed as decorations, between
which hung a view of the city of Quebec. On a lay-figure in a corner was
thrown carelessly the sort of blanket coat worn by Canadians during winter
sports. Paints and palettes were arranged on a table by the wall, and on a
desk in the middle of the room were writing materials and books. More
books stood in a small suspended bookcase. Beside a comfortable
reading-chair one or two magazines lay on the floor. His gaze travelled
last to the large apron, or pinafore, on a peg fastened in a door
immediately beside his couch. The door suggested an inner room, and he got
up promptly to explore it. It proved to be cramped and dark, lighted only
from the larger apartment, which in its turn had but the one high north
window of the ordinary studio. The small room was little more than a shed
or "lean-to", serving the purposes of kitchen and storeroom combined. The
arrangements of the whole cabin showed that some one had built it with a
view to passing in seclusion a few days at a time without forsaking the
simpler amenities of civilized life; and it was clear that that "some one"
was a woman. What interested Ford chiefly for the moment was the discovery
of a sealed glass jar of water, from which he was able to slake his twenty
Returning to the room in which he had slept, he drew back the green silk
curtain covering the north light in order to take his bearings. As he had
guessed on the previous night, the slope on which the cabin was perched
broke steeply down into a wooded gorge, beyond which the lower hills
rolled in decreasing magnitude to the shore of Champlain, visible from
this point of view in glimpses, less as an inland sea than like a chain of
lakelets. Sunrise over Vermont flooded the waters with tints of rose and
saffron, but made of the Green Mountains a long, gigantic mass of
purple-black twisting its jagged outline toward the north into the Hog's
Back and the Camel's Hump with a kind of monstrous grace. To the east, in
New York, the Adirondacks, with the sunlight full upon them, shot up
jade-colored peaks into the electric blue--the scarred pyramid of Graytop
standing forth dark, detached, and alone, like a battered veteran
In an access of conscious hatred of this vast panoramic beauty which had
become the background of his tragedy, Ford pulled the curtain into place
again and turned once more to the interior of the room. It began to seem
more strange to him the more it grew familiar. Why was he here? How long
was he to stay? How was he to get away again? Had this girl caught him
like a rat in a trap, or did she mean well by him? If, as he supposed, she
was Wayne's daughter, she would probably not be slow in carrying out her
father's plan of handing him back to justice--and yet his mind refused to
connect the wraith of the night before with either police work or
betrayal. Her appearance had been so dim and fleeting that he could have
fancied her the dryad of a dream, had it not been for his surroundings.
He began to examine them once more, inspecting the water-colors on the
wall one by one, in search of some clew to her personality. The first
sketch was of a nun in a convent garden--the background vaguely French,
and yet with a difference. The next was of a trapper, or voyageur, pushing
a canoe into the waters of a wild northern lake. The next was a group of
wigwams with squaws and children in the foreground. Then came more nuns;
then more voyageurs with their canoes; then more Indians and wigwams It
occurred to Ford that the nuns might have been painted from life, the
voyageurs and Indians from imagination He turned to the two framed
drawings on the chimney-piece Both represented winter scenes. In the one a
sturdy voyageur was conveying his wife and small personal belongings
across the frozen snow on a sled drawn by a team of dogs. In the other a
woman, apparently the same woman as in the preceding sketch, had fallen in
the midst of a blinding storm, while a tall man of European
aspect--decidedly not the voyageur--was standing beside her with a baby in
his arms. These were clearly fancy pictures, and, so it seemed to Ford,
the work of one who was trying to recapture some almost forgotten memory.
In any case he was too deeply engrossed by his own situation to dwell on
He wheeled round again toward the centre of the room, impatiently casting
about him for something to eat. The tin box, from which he had devoured
all the biscuits, lay empty on the floor, but he picked it up and ate
hungrily the few crumbs sticking in its corners. He ransacked the small
dark room in the hope of finding more, but vainly. As far as he could see,
the cabin had never been used for the purpose it was meant to serve, nor
ever occupied for more than a few hours at a time. It had probably been
built in a caprice that had passed with its completion. He guessed
something from the fact that there was no visible attempt to sketch the
scene before the door, though the site had evidently been chosen for its
He had nothing by which to measure time, but he knew that precious hours
which he might have utilized for escape were passing. He began to chafe at
the delay. With the impulse of youth to be active, he longed to be out,
where he could at least use his feet. His clothes had dried upon him; in
spite of his hunger he was refreshed by his night's sleep; he was
convinced that, once in the open, he could elude capture. He pulled back
the curtain again in order to reconnoitre. It was well to be as familiar
as possible with the immediate lay of the land, so as to avail himself of
any advantages it might offer.
The colors of sunrise had disappeared, and he judged that it must be
seven or eight o'clock. Between the rifts of the lower hills the lake was
flashing silver, while where Vermont had been nothing but a mass of
shadow, blue-green mountains were emerging in a triple row, from which the
last veils of vapor were being dragged up into the firmament On the left,
the Adirondacks were receding into translucent dimness, in a lilac haze of
With an effort to get back the woodcraft suddenly inspired by his first
dash for freedom, he ran his eye over the landscape, noting the points
with which he was familiar. To the west, in a niche between Graytop and
the double peak of Windy Mountain, he could place the county-town; to the
north, beyond the pretty headlands and the shining coves, the prison of
Plattsville was waiting to receive him. Farther to the north was Canada;
and to the south the great waterway led toward the populous mazes of New
With an impatience bordering on nervousness he realized that these general
facts did not help him. He must avoid the prison and the county-town, of
course; while both New York and Canada offered him ultimate chances. But
his most pressing dangers lurked in the immediate foreground; and there he
could see nothing but an unsuggestive slope of ash and pine. The rapidity
of instinct by which last night he had known exactly what to do gave place
this morning to his slower and more characteristic mental processes.
He was still gazing outward in perplexity, when, through the trees beyond
the grassy ledge, he caught the flicker of something white. He pressed
closer to the pane for a better view, and a few seconds later a girl, whom
he recognized as the nymph of last night, came out of the forest,
followed by a fawn-colored collie. She walked smoothly and swiftly,
carrying a large basket with her right hand, while with her left she
motioned him away from the window. He stepped back, leaping to the door as
she unlocked it, in order to relieve her of her burden.
"You mustn't do that," she said, speaking quickly. "You mustn't look out
of the window or come to the door. There are a hundred men beating the
mountain to find you."
She closed the door and locked it on the inside. While Ford lifted her
basket to the desk in the centre of the room she drew the green curtain
hastily, covering the window. Her movements were so rapid that he could
catch no glimpse of her face, though he had time to note again the curious
silence that marked her acts. The dog emitted a low growl.
"You must go in here," she said, decisively, throwing open the door of the
inner room. "You mustn't speak or look out unless I tell you. I'll bring
you your breakfast presently. Lie down, Micmac."
The gesture by which she forced him across the threshold was compelling
rather than commanding. Before he realized that he had obeyed her, he was
standing alone in the darkness, with the sound of a low voice of liquid
quality echoing in his ears. Of her face he had got only the hint of dark
eyes flashing with an eager, non-Caucasian brightness--eyes that drew
their fire from a source alien to that of any Aryan race.
But he brushed that impression away as foolish. Her words had the
unmistakable note of cultivation, while a glance at her person showed her
to be a lady. He could see, too, that her dress, though simple, was
according to the standard of means and fashion. She was no Pocahontas;
and yet the thought of Pocahontas came to him. Certainly there was in her
tones, as well as in her movements, something akin to this vast aboriginal
nature around him, out of which she seemed to spring as the human element
in its beauty.
He was still thinking of this when the door opened and she came in again,
carrying a plate piled high with cold meat and bread-and-butter.
"I'm sorry it's only this," she smiled, as she placed it before him; "but
I had to take what I could get--and what wouldn't be missed. I'll try to
do better in future."
He noted the matter-of-fact tone in which she uttered the concluding
words, as though they were to have plenty of time together; but for the
moment he was too fiercely hungry to speak. For a few seconds she stood
off, watching him eat, after which she withdrew, with the light swiftness
that characterized all her motions.
He had nearly finished his meal when she returned again.
"I've brought you these," she said, not without a touch of shyness,
against which she struggled by making her tone as commonplace as possible.
"I shall bring you more things by degrees."
On a chair beside that on which he was sitting she laid a pair of
slippers, a pair of socks, a shirt, a collar, and a tie.
He jumped up hastily, less in surprise than in confusion.
"I can't take anything of Judge Wayne's--" he began to stammer; but she
"I understand your feelings about that," she said, simply. "They're not
Judge Wayne's; they were my father's. I have plenty more."
In his relief at finding she was not Wayne's daughter he spoke awkwardly.
"Your father? Is he--dead?"
"Yes; he's dead. You needn't be afraid to take the things. He would have
liked to help a man--in your position."
"In my position? Then you know--who I am?"
"Yes; you're Norrie Ford. I saw that as soon as I chanced on the terrace
"And you're not afraid of me?"
"I am--a little," she admitted; "but that doesn't matter."
"You needn't be--" he began to explain, but she checked him again.
"We mustn't talk now. I must shut the door and leave you in the dark all
day. Men will be passing by, and they mustn't hear you. I shall be
painting in the studio, so that they won't suspect anything, if you keep
Allowing him no opportunity to speak again, she closed the door, leaving
him once more in darkness. Sitting in the constraint she imposed upon him,
he could hear her moving in the outer room, where, owing to the lightness
of the wooden partition, it was not difficult to guess what she was doing
at any given moment. He knew when she opened the outer door and moved the
easel toward the entrance. He knew when she took down the apron from its
peg and pinned it on. He knew when she drew up a chair and pretended to
set to work. In the hour or two of silence that ensued he was sure that,
whatever she might be doing with her brush, she was keeping eye and ear
alert in his defence.
Who was she? What interest had she in his fate? What power had raised her
up to help him? Even yet he had scarcely seen her face; but he had
received an impression of intelligence. He was sure she was no more than a
girl--certainly not twenty--and yet she acted with the decision of
maturity. At the same time there was about her that suggestion of a wild
origin--that something not wholly tamed to the dictates of civilized
life--which persisted in his imagination, even if he could not verify it
Twice in the course of the morning he heard voices. Men spoke to her
through the open doorway, and she replied. Once he distinguished her
"Oh no," she called out to some one at a distance. "I'm not afraid. He
won't do me any harm. I've got Micmac with me. I often stay here all day,
but I shall go home early. Thanks," she added, in response to some further
hint. "I'd rather not have any one here. I never can paint unless I'm
Her tone was light, and Ford fancied that as she spoke she smiled at the
passers-by who had thought it right to warn her against himself; but when,
a few minutes later, she pushed open the door softly, the gravity that
seemed more natural to her had returned.
"Several parties of men have gone by," she whispered. "They have no
suspicion. They won't have, if you keep still. They think you have slipped
away from here, and have gone back toward the lumber camps. This is your
lunch," she continued, hastily, placing more food before him. "It will
have to be your dinner, too. It will be safer for me not to come into this
room again to-day. You must not go out into the studio till you're sure
it's dark. No noise. No light. I've put an extra rug on the couch in case
you're chilly in the night."
She spoke breathlessly, in whispers, and, having finished, slipped away.
"You're awfully good," he whispered back. "Won't you tell me your name?"
"Hush!" she warned him, as she closed the door.
He stood still in the darkness, leaving his food untasted, listening to
the soft rustle of her movements beyond the wall. Except that he heard no
more voices, the afternoon passed like the morning. At the end of what
seemed to him interminable hours he knew by acute attention that she hung
her apron on its peg, put on her hat, and took up her basket, while Micmac
rose and shook himself. Presently she closed the door of the cabin and
locked it on the outside. He fancied he could almost hear her step as she
sped over the grass and into the forest. Only then did the tension of his
nerves relax, as, dropping to his chair in the darkness, he began to eat.
The two or three days that followed were much like the first. Each morning
she came early, bringing him food, and such articles of clothing as she
thought he could wear. By degrees she provided him with a complete change
of raiment, and though the fit was tolerable, they laughed together at the
transformation produced in him. It was the first time he had seen her
smile, and even in the obscurity of the inner room where she still kept
him secluded he noted the vividness with which her habitually grave
features lighted up. Micmac, too, became friendly, inferring with the
instinct of his race that Ford was an object to be guarded.
"No one would know you now," the girl declared, surveying him with
"Were these things all your father's?" he asked, with a new attempt to
penetrate the mystery of her personality.
"Yes," she returned, absently, continuing her inspection of him. "They
were sent to me, and I kept them. I never knew why I did; but I suppose it
"He must have been a tall man?" Ford hazarded, again.
"Yes, he must have been," she returned, unwarily. Then, feeling that the
admission required some explanation, she added, with a touch of
embarrassment, "I never saw him--not that I can remember."
"Then he died a long time ago?"
Her reply came reluctantly, after some delay:
"Not so very long--about four years ago now."
"And yet you hadn't seen him since you were a child?"
"There were reasons. We mustn't talk. Some one may pass and hear us."
He could see that her hurry in finishing the small tasks she had come in
to perform for him arose not so much from precaution as from a desire to
escape from this particular subject.
"I suppose you could tell me his name?" he persisted.
Her hands moved deftly, producing order among the things he had left in
confusion, but she remained silent. It was a silence in which he
recognized an element of protest though he ignored it.
"You could tell me his name?" he asked, again.
"His name," she said, at last, "wouldn't convey anything to you. It
wouldn't do you any good to know it."
"It would gratify my curiosity. I should think you might do as much as
that for me."
"I'm doing a great deal for you as it is. I don't think you should ask for
Her tone was one of reproach rather than of annoyance, and he was left
with a sense of having committed an indiscretion. The consciousness
brought with it the perception that in a measure he was growing used to
his position. He was beginning to take it for granted that this girl
should come and minister to his wants. She herself did it so simply, so
much as a matter of course, that the circumstance lost much of its
strangeness. Now and then he could detect some confusion in her manner as
she served him, but he could see too that she surmounted it, in view of
the fact that for him the situation was one of life and death. She was
clearly not indifferent to elementary social usages; she only saw that the
case was one in which they did not obtain. In his long, unoccupied hours
of darkness it distracted his thoughts from his own peril to speculate
about her; and when she appeared his questions were the more blunt because
of the small opportunity she allowed for asking them.
"Won't they miss you at home?" he inquired, on the next occasion when she
entered his cell.
She paused with a look of surprise.
"At home? Where do you mean?"
"Why--where you live; where your mother lives."
"My mother died a few months after I was born."
"Oh! But even so, you live somewhere, don't you?"
"I do; but they don't miss me there, if that's what you want to know."
"I was only afraid," he said, apologetically, "that you were giving me too
much of your time."
"I've nothing else to do with it. I shall be only too glad if I can help
you to escape."
"Why? Why should you care about me?"
"I don't," she said, simply; "at least, I don't know that I do."
"Oh, then you're helping me just--on general principles?"
"Well," he smiled, "mayn't I ask why, again?"
"Because I don't like the law."
"You mean that you don't like the law as a whole?--or--or this law in
"I don't like any law. I don't like anything about it. But," she added,
resorting to her usual method of escape, "we mustn't talk any more now.
Some men passed here this morning, and they may be coming back. They've
given up looking for you; they are convinced you're up in the lumber
camps, but all the same we must be careful still."
He had no further speech with her that day, and the next she remained at
the cabin little more than an hour.
"It's just as well for me not to excite curiosity," she explained to him
before leaving; "and you needn't be uneasy now. They've stopped the hunt
altogether. They say there's not a spot within a radius of ten miles of
Greenport that they haven't searched. It would never occur to any one that
you could be here. Every one knows me; and so the thought that I could be
helping you would be the last in their minds."
"And have you no remorse at betraying their confidence?"
She shook her head. "Most of them," she declared, "are very well pleased
to think you've got away; and even if they weren't I should never feel
remorse for helping any one to evade the law."
"You seem to have a great objection to the law."
"Well, haven't you?"
"Yes; but in my case it's comprehensible."
"So it is in mine--if you only knew."
"Perhaps," he said, looking at her steadily, "this is as good a time as
any to assure you that the law has done me wrong."
He waited for her to say something; but as she stroked Micmac's head in
silence, he continued.
"I never committed the crime of which they found me guilty."
He waited again for some intimation of her confidence.
"Their string of circumstantial evidence was plausible enough, I admit.
The only weak point about it was that it wasn't true."
Even through the obscurity of his refuge he could feel the suspension of
expression in her bearing, and could imagine it bringing a kind of eclipse
over her eyes.
"He was very cruel to you--your uncle?--wasn't he?" she asked, at last.
"He was very cantankerous; but that wouldn't be a reason for shooting him
in his sleep--whatever I may have said when in a rage."
"I should think it might be."
He started. If it were not for the necessity of making no noise he would
"Are you so bloodthirsty--?" he began.
"Oh no, I'm not; but I should think it is what a man would do. My father
wouldn't have submitted to it. I know he killed one man; and he may have
killed two or three."
Ford whistled under his breath.
"So that," he said, after a pause, "your objection to the law
"My objection to the law is because it is unjust. The world is full of
injustice," she added, indignantly, "and the laws men live by create it."
"And your aim is to defeat them?"
"I can't talk any more now," she said, reverting to an explanatory tone of
voice. "I must go. I've arranged everything for you for the day. If you
are very quiet you can sit in the studio and read; but you mustn't look
out at the window, or even draw back the curtain. If you hear a step
outside, you must creep in here and shut the door. And you needn't be
impatient; because I'm going to spend the day working out a plan for your
But when she appeared next morning she declined to give details of the
plan she had in mind. She preferred to work it out alone, she said, and
give him the outlines only when she had settled them. It chanced to be a
day of drenching summer rain, and Ford, with a renewed effort to get some
clew to her identity, expressed his surprise that she should have been
allowed to venture out.
"Oh, no one worries about what I do," she said, indifferently "I go about
as I choose."
"So much the better for me," he laughed. "That's how you came to be
wandering on old Wayne's terrace, just in the nick of time. What stumps me
is the promptness with which you thought of stowing me away."
"It wasn't promptness, exactly. As a matter of fact, I had worked the
whole thing out beforehand."
His eyebrows went up incredulously. "For me?"
"No, not for you; for anybody. Ever since my guardian allowed me to build
the studio--last year--I've imagined how easy it would be for some--some
hunted person to stay hidden here, almost indefinitely. I've tried to
fancy it, when I've had nothing better to do."
"You don't seem to have had anything better to do very often," he
observed, glancing about the cabin.
"If you mean that I haven't painted much, that's quite true. I thought I
couldn't do without a studio--till I got one. But when I've come here, I'm
afraid it's generally been to--to indulge in day-dreams."
"Day-dreams of helping prisoners to escape. It wouldn't be every girl's
fancy, but it's not for me to complain of that."
"My father would have wanted me to do it," she declared, as if in
self-justification. "A woman once helped him to get out of prison."
"Good for her! Who was she?"
Having asked the question lightly, in a boyish impulse to talk, he was
surprised to see her show signs of embarrassment.
"She was my mother," she said, after an interval in which she seemed to be
making up her mind to give the information.
In the manifest difficulty she had in speaking, Ford sprang to her aid.
"That's like the old story of Gilbert à Becket--Thomas à Becket's father,
The historical reference was received in silence, as she bent over the
small task she had in hand.
"He married the woman who helped him out of prison," Ford went on, for her
She raised her head and faced him.
"It wasn't like the story of Gilbert à Becket," she said, quietly.
It took some seconds of Ford's slow thinking to puzzle out the meaning of
this. Even then he might have pondered in vain had it not been for the
flush that gradually over-spread her features, and brought what he called
the wild glint into her eyes. When he understood, he reddened in his own
turn, making matters worse.
"I beg your pardon," he stammered. "I never thought--"
"You needn't beg my pardon," she interrupted, speaking with a catch in her
breath. "I wanted you to know.... You've asked me so many questions that
it seemed as if I was ashamed of my father and mother when I didn't
answer.... I'm not ashamed of them.... I'd rather you knew.... Every one
does--who knows me."
Half unconsciously he glanced up at the framed sketches on the
chimney-piece. Her eyes followed him, and she spoke instantly:
"You're quite right. I meant that--for them."
They were standing in the studio, into which she had allowed him to come
from the stifling darkness of the inner room, on the ground that the rain
protected them against intrusion from outside. During their conversation
she had been placing the easel and arranging the work which formed her
pretext for being there, while Micmac, stretched on the floor, with his
head between his paws, kept a half-sleepy eye on both of them.
"Your father was a Canadian, then?" he ventured to ask, as she seated
herself with a palette in her hand.
"He was a Virginian. My mother was the wife of a French-Canadian voyageur.
I believe she had a strain of Indian blood. The voyageurs and their
families generally have."
Having recovered her self-possession, she made her statements in the
matter-of-fact tone she used to hide embarrassment flicking a little color
into the sketch before her as she spoke. Ford seated himself at a
distance, gazing at her with a kind of fascination. Here, then, was the
clew to that something untamed which persisted through all the effects of
training and education, as a wild flavor will last in a carefully
cultivated fruit. His curiosity about her was so intense that,
notwithstanding the difficulty with which she stated her facts, it
overcame his prompting to spare her.
"And yet," he said, after a long pause, in which he seemed to be
assimilating the information she had given him--"and yet I don't see how
that explains _you_."
"I suppose it doesn't--not any more than your situation explains you."
"My situation explains me perfectly, because I'm the victim of a wrong."
"Well, so am I--in another way. I'm made to suffer because I'm the
daughter of my parents."
"That's a rotten shame," he exclaimed, in boyish sympathy "It isn't your
"Of course it isn't," she smiled, wistfully. "And yet I'd rather suffer
with the parents I have than be happy with any others."
"I suppose that's natural," he admitted, doubtfully.
"I wish I knew more about them," she went on, continuing to give light
touches to the work before her, and now and then leaning back to get the
effect. "I never understood why my father was in prison in Canada."
"Perhaps it was when he killed the man," Ford suggested.
"No; that was in Virginia--at least, the first one. His people didn't like
it. That was the reason for his leaving home. He hated a settled life; and
so he wandered away into the northwest of Canada. It was in the days when
they first began to build the railways there--when there were almost no
people except the trappers and the voyageurs. I was born on the very
shores of Hudson Bay."
"But you didn't stay there?"
"No. I was only a very little child--not old enough to remember--when my
father sent me down to Quebec, to the Ursuline nuns. He never saw me
again. I lived with them till four years ago. I'm eighteen now."
"Why didn't he send you to his people? Hadn't he sisters?--or anything
"He tried to, but they wouldn't have anything to do with me."
It was clearly a relief to her to talk about herself. He guessed that she
rarely had an opportunity of opening her heart to any one. Not till this
morning had he seen her in the full light of day; and, though but an
immature judge, he fancied her features had settled themselves into lines
of reserve and pride from which in happier circumstances they might have
been free. Her way of twisting her dark hair--which waved over the brows
from a central parting--into the simplest kind of knot gave her an air of
sedateness beyond her years. But what he noticed in her particularly was
her eyes--not so much because they were wild, dark eyes, with the peculiar
fleeing expression of startled forest things, as because of the pleading,
apologetic look that comes into the eyes of forest things when they stand
at bay. It was when--for seconds only--the pupils shone with a jet-like
blaze that he caught what he called the non-Aryan effect; but that glow
died out quickly, leaving something of the fugitive appeal which Hawthorne
saw in the eyes of Beatrice Cenci.
"He offered his sisters a great deal of money," she sighed, "but they
wouldn't take me."
"Oh? So he had money?"
"He was one of the first Americans to make money in the Canadian
northwest; but that was after my mother died. She died in the snow, on a
journey--like that sketch above the fireplace. I've been told that it
changed my father's life. He had been what they call wild before that--but
he wasn't so any more. He grew very hard-working and serious. He was one
of the pioneers of that country--one of the very first to see its
possibilities. That was how he made his money; and when he died he left it
to me. I believe it's a good deal."
"Didn't you hate being in the convent?" he asked, suddenly "I should."
"N-no; not exactly. I wasn't unhappy. The Sisters were kind to me. Some of
them spoiled me. It wasn't until after my father died, and I began to
realize--who I was, that I grew restless. I felt I should never be happy
until I was among people of my own kind."
"And how did you get there?"
She smiled faintly to herself before answering.
"I never did. There are no people of my kind."
Embarrassed by the stress she seemed inclined to lay on this circumstance,
he grasped at the first thought that might divert her from it.
"So you live with a guardian! How do you like that?"
"I should like it well enough if he did--that is, if his wife did. You
see," she tried to explain, "she's very sweet and gentle, and all that,
but she's devoted to the proprieties of life, and I seem to represent to
her--its improprieties. I know it's a trial to her to keep me, and so, in
a way, it's a trial to me to stay."
"Why do you stay, then?"
"For one reason, because I can't help myself. I have to do what the law
"I see. The law again!"
"Yes; the law again. But I've other reasons besides that."
"Well, I'm very fond of their little girl, for one thing. She's the
greatest darling in the world, and the only creature, except my dog, that
"What's her name?"
The question drove her to painting with closer attention to her work. Ford
followed something of the progress of her thought by watching the just
perceptible contraction of her brows into a little frown, and the setting
of her lips into a curve of determination. They were handsome lips, mobile
and sensitive--lips that might easily have been disdainful had not the
inner spirit softened them with a tremor--or it might have been a
"It isn't worth while to tell you that," she said, after long reflection.
"It will be safer for you in the end not to know any of our names at all."
"Still--if I escape--I should like to know them."
"If you escape, you may be able to find out."
"Oh, well," he said, with assumed indifference, "since you don't want to
Going on with her painting, she allowed the subject to drop; but to him
the opportunity for conversation was too rare a thing to neglect. Not only
was his youthful impulse toward social self-expression normally strong,
but his pleasure in talking to a lady--a girl--was undeniable. Sometimes
in his moments of solitary meditation he said to himself that she was "not
his type of girl"; but the fact that he had been deprived of feminine
society for nearly three years made him ready to fall in love with any
one. If he did not precisely fall in love with this girl, it was only
because the situation precluded sentiment; and yet it was pleasant to sit
and watch her paint, and even torment her with his questions.
"So the little girl is one reason for your staying here. What's another?"
She betrayed her own taste for social communion by the readiness with
which she answered him--
"I don't know that I ought to tell you that; and yet I might as well. It's
just this: they're not very well off--so I can help. Naturally I like
"You can help by footing the bills. That's all very fine if you enjoy it,
but everybody wouldn't."
"They would if they were in my position," she insisted. "When you can help
in any way it gives you a sense of being of use to some one. I'd rather
that people needed me, even if they didn't want me, than that they
shouldn't need me at all."
"They need your money," he declared, with a young man's outspokenness.
"But that's something, isn't it? When you've no place in the world you're
glad enough to get one, even if you have to buy it. My guardian and his
wife mayn't care much to have me, but it's some satisfaction to know that
they'd get along much worse if I weren't here."
"So should I," he laughed. "What I'm to do when I'm turned adrift without
you, Heaven only knows. It's curious--the effect imprisonment has on you.
It takes away your self-reliance. It gives you a helpless feeling, like a
baby. You want to be free--and yet you're almost afraid of the open air."
He was so much at home with her now that, sitting carelessly astride of
his chair, with his arms folded on the back, he felt a fraternal element
in their mutual relation. She bent more closely over her work, and spoke
without looking up.
"Oh, you'll get along all right. You're that sort."
"That's easy to say."
"You may find it easy to do." Her next words, uttered while she continued
to flick color into her sketch, caused him to jump with astonishment. "I'd
go to the Argentine."
"Why not say the moon?"
"For one reason, because the moon is inaccessible."
"So is the Argentine--for me."
"Oh no, it isn't. Other people have reached it."
"Yes: but they weren't in my fix."
"Some of them were probably in worse."
There was a pause, during which she seemed absorbed in her work, while
Ford sat meditatively whistling under his breath.
"What put the Argentine into your head?" he asked, at last.
"Because I happen to know a good deal about it. Everybody says it's the
country of new opportunities. I know people who've lived there. The little
girl I was speaking of just now--whom I'm so fond of--was born there. Her
father is dead since then, and her mother is married again."
He continued to meditate, emitting the same tuneless, abstracted sound,
just above his breath.
"I know the name of an American firm out there," she went on. "It's
Stephens and Jarrott. It's a very good firm to work for. I've often heard
that. And Mr. Jarrott has helped ever so many--stranded people."
"I should be just his sort, then."
His laugh, as he sprang to his feet, seemed to dismiss an impossible
subject; and yet as he lay on his couch that evening in the lampless
darkness the name of Stephens and Jarrott obtruded itself into his visions
of this girl, who stood between him and peril because she "disliked the
law," He wondered how far it was dislike, and how far jealous pain. In
her eagerness to buy the domestic place she had not inherited she reminded
him of something he had read--or heard--of the wild olive being grafted
into the olive of the orchard. Well, that would come in the natural course
of events. Some fine fellow, worthy to be her mate, would see to it. He
was not without a pleasant belief that in happier circumstances he himself
might have had the qualifications for the task. He wondered again what her
name was. He ran through the catalogue of the names he himself would have
chosen for a heroine--Gladys, Ethel, Mildred Millicent!--none of them
seemed to suit her. He tried again. Margaret, Beatrice, Lucy, Joan! Joan
possibly--or he said to himself, in the last inconsequential thoughts as
he fell asleep, it might be--the Wild Olive.
As the days passed, one much like another, and the retreat seemed more and
more secure, it was natural that Ford's thoughts should dwell less on his
own danger and more on the girl who filled his immediate horizon. The care
with which she foresaw his wants, the ingenuity with which she met them,
the dignity and simplicity with which she carried herself through
incidents that to a less delicate tact must have been difficult, would
have excited his admiration in any case, even if the namelessness which
helped to make her an impersonal element in the episode had not stirred
his imagination. He was obliged to remind himself often that she was "not
his type of girl," in order to confine his heart within the limits which
the situation imposed.
It worried him, therefore, it even hurt him, that in spite of all the
openings he had given her, she had never offered him a sign of her belief
in his innocence. For this reason he took the first occasion when she was
seated at her easel, with the dog lying at her feet, to lay his case
He told her of his overindulged boyhood, as the only child of a wealthy
New York merchant. He outlined his profitless years at the university,
where a too free use of money had hindered work. He narrated the disasters
that had left him at the age of two-and-twenty to begin life for
himself--his father's bankruptcy, followed by the death of both his
parents within the year. He had been eager to start in at the foot of the
ladder and work his way upward, when the proposal was made which proved
Old Chris Ford, his great-uncle, known throughout the Adirondack region as
"the lumber king," had offered to take him, train him to the lumber
business, and make him his heir. An eccentric, childless widower, commonly
believed to have broken his wife's heart by sheer bitterness of tongue,
old Chris Ford was hated, feared, and flattered by the relatives and
time-servers who hoped ultimately to profit by his favor. Norrie Ford
neither flattered nor feared his powerful kinsman, but he hated him with
the best. His own instincts were city born and bred. He was conscious,
too, of that aptitude with which the typical New-Yorker is supposed to
come into being--the capacity to make money. He would have preferred to
make it on his own ground and in his own way; and had it not been for the
counsels of those who wished him well, he would have replied to his
great-uncle's offer with a courteous "No." Wiser heads than his pointed
out the folly of such a course as that; and so, reluctantly, he entered on
In the two years that followed he could not see what purpose he served
other than that of a mark for the old man's poisoned wit. He was taught
nothing, and paid nothing, and given nothing to do. He slept under his
great-uncle's roof and ate at his table, but the sharp tongue made the bed
hard to lie on and the bread difficult to swallow down. Idleness
reawakened the propensity to vicious habits which he thought he had
outlived, while the rough society of the lumber camps, in which he sought
to relieve the tedium of time, extended him the welcome which Falstaff
and his comrades gave Prince Hal.
The revolt of his self-respect was on the eve of bringing this phase of
his existence to an end when the low farce turned into tragedy. Old Chris
Ford was found dead in his bed--shot in his sleep. On the premises there
had been but three persons, one of whom must have committed the
crime--Norrie Ford, and Jacob and Amalia Gramm. Jacob and Amalia Gramm had
been the old man's servants for thirty years. Their faithfulness put them
beyond suspicion. The possibility of their guilt, having been considered,
was dismissed with few formalities. The conviction of Norrie Ford became
easy after that--the more respectable people of the neighborhood being
agreed that from the evidence presented no other deduction could be drawn.
The very fact that the old man, by his provocation of the lad, so
thoroughly deserved his fate made the manner in which he met with it the
clearer. Even Norrie Ford's friends, the hunters and the lumbermen,
admitted as much as that, though they were determined that he should never
suffer for so meritorious an act as long as they could give him a fighting
chance for freedom.
The girl listened to Ford's narrative with some degree of interest, though
it contained nothing new to her. She could not have lived at Greenport
during the period of his trial without being familiar with it all. But
when he came to explanations in his own defence she followed listlessly.
Though she leaned back in her chair, and courteously stopped painting,
while he talked so earnestly, the light in her eyes faded to a lustreless
gleam, like that of the black pearl. His perception that her thoughts were
wandering gave him a queer sensation of speaking into a medium in which
his voice could not carry, cutting short his arguments, and bringing him
to his conclusion more hurriedly than he had intended.
"I wanted you to know I didn't do it," he finished, in a tone which begged
for some expression of her belief, "because you've done so much to help
"Oh, but I should have helped you just the same, whether you had done it
"But I suppose it makes some difference to you," he cried, impatiently,
"to know that I didn't."
"I suppose it would," she admitted, slowly, "if I thought much about it."
"Well, won't you think?" he pleaded---"just to oblige me."
"Perhaps I will, when you're gone; but at present I have to give my mind
to getting you away. It was to talk about that that I came this morning."
Had she wanted to slip out of giving an opinion on the subject of his
guilt, she could not have found a better exit. The means of his ultimate
escape engrossed him even more than the theme of his innocence. When she
spoke again all his faculties were concentrated into one keen point of
"I think the time has come for you to--go."
If her voice trembled on the last word, he did not notice it. The pose of
his body, the lines of his face, the glint of his gray eyes, were alive
"Go?" he asked, just audibly. "When?"
"I'll tell you that then."
"Why can't you tell me now?"
"I could if I was sure you wouldn't raise objections, but I know you
"Then there are objections to be raised?"
"There are objections to everything. There's no plan of escape that won't
expose you to a good many risks. I'd rather you didn't see them in
"But isn't it well to be prepared beforehand?"
"You'll have plenty of time for preparation--after you've started. If that
seems mysterious to you now, you'll know what I mean by it when I come
to-morrow. I shall be here in the afternoon at six."
With this information Ford was obliged to be content, spending a sleepless
night and an impatient day, waiting for the time appointed.
She came punctually. For the first time she was not followed by her dog.
The only change in her appearance he could see was a short skirt of rough
material instead of her usual linen or muslin.
"Are we going through the woods?" he asked.
"Not far. I shall take you by the trail that led to this spot before I
built the cabin and made the path." As she spoke she surveyed him. "You'll
do," she smiled at last. "In those flannels, and with your beard, no one
would know you for the Norrie Ford of three weeks ago."
It was easy for him to ascribe the glow in her eyes and the quiver in her
voice to the excitement of the moment; for he could see that she had the
spirit of adventure. Perhaps it was to conceal some embarrassment under
his regard that she spoke again, hurriedly.
"We've no time to lose. You needn't take anything from here. We'd better
He followed her over the threshold, and as she turned to lock the cabin
he had time to throw a glance of farewell over the familiar hills, now
transmuted into a haze of amethyst under the westering sun. A second later
he heard her quick "Come on!" as she struck into the barely perceptible
path that led upward, around the shoulder of the mountain.
It was a stiff bit of climbing, but she sped along with the dryad-like
ease she had displayed on the night when she led him to the cabin. Beneath
the primeval growth of ash and pine there was an underbrush so dense that
no one but a creature gifted with the inherited instinct of the woods
could have found the invisible, sinuous line alone possible to the feet.
But it was there, and she traced it--never pausing never speaking, and
only looking back from time to time to assure herself that he was in
sight, until they reached the top of the dome-shaped hill.
They came out suddenly on a rocky terrace, beneath which, a mile below,
Champlain was spread out in great part of its length, from the dim bluff
of Crown Point to the far-away, cloud-like mountains of Canada.
"You can sit down a minute here," she said, as he came up.
They found seats among the low scattered bowlders, but neither spoke. It
was a moment at which to understand the jewelled imagery of the Seer of
the Apocalypse. Jasper, jacinth, chalcedony, emerald, chrysoprasus, were
suggested by the still bosom of the lake, towered round by
light-reflecting mountains. The triple tier of the Vermont shore was
bottle-green at its base, indigo in the middle height, while its summit
was a pale undulation of evanescent blue against the jade and topaz of the
"The steamer _Empress of Erin_," the girl said, with what seemed like
abruptness, "will sail from Montreal on the twenty-eighth, and from Quebec
on the twenty-ninth. From Rimouski, at the mouth of the river St.
Lawrence, she will sail on the thirtieth, to touch nowhere else till she
reaches Ireland. You will take her at Rimouski."
There was a silence, during which he tried to absorb this startling
"And from here to Rimouski?" he asked, at last.
"From here to Rimouski," she replied, with a gesture toward the lake,
"your way is there."
There was another silence, while his eyes travelled the long,
rainbow-colored lake, up to the faint line of mountains where it faded
into a mist of bluish-green and gold.
"I see the way," he said then, "but I don't see the means of taking it."
"You'll find that in good time. In the mean while you'd better take this."
From her jacket she drew a paper, which she passed to him. "That's your
ticket. You'll see," she laughed, apologetically, "that I've taken for you
what they call a suite, and I've done it for this reason. They're keeping
a lookout for you on every tramp ship from New York, on every cattle-ship
from Boston, and on every grain-ship from Montreal; but they're not
looking for you in the most expensive cabins of the most expensive liners.
They know you've no money; and if you get out of the country at all, they
expect it will be as a stoker or a stow-away They'll never think you're
driving in cabs and staying at the best hotels."
"But I shan't be," he said, simply.
"Oh yes, you will. You'll need money, of course; and I've brought it.
You'll need a good deal; so I've brought plenty."
She drew out a pocketbook and held it toward him. He looked at it,
reddening, but made no attempt to take it.
"I can't--I can't--go as far as that," he stammered, hoarsely.
"You mean," she returned, quickly, "that you hesitate to take money from a
woman. I thought you might. But it isn't from a woman; it's from a man.
It's from my father. He would have liked to do it. He would have wanted me
to do it. They keep putting it in the bank for me--just to spend--but I
never need it. What can I do with money in a place like Greenport? Here,
take it," she urged, thrusting it into his hands. "You know very well it
isn't a matter of choice, but of life or death."
With her own fingers she clasped his upon it, drawing back and coloring at
her boldness. For the first time in their weeks of intercourse she saw in
him a touch of emotion The phlegmatism by which he had hitherto concealed
his inward suffering seemed suddenly to desert him. He looked at her with
lips quivering, while his eyes filled. His weakness only nerved her to be
stronger, sending her for refuge back into the commonplace.
"They'll expect you at Rimouski, because your luggage will already have
gone on board at Montreal. Yes," she continued, in reply to his
astonishment, "I've forwarded all the trunks and boxes that came to me
from my father. I told my guardian I was sending them to be stored--and I
am, for you'll store them for me in London when you've done with them.
Here are the keys."
He made no attempt to refuse them, and she hurried on.
"I sent the trunks for two reasons; first, because there might be things
in them you could use till you get something better; and then I wanted to
prevent suspicion arising from your sailing without luggage. Every little
thing of that sort counts. The trunks have 'H.S.' painted in white letters
on them; so that you'll have no difficulty in knowing them at sight. I've
put a name with the same initials on the ticket. You'd better use it till
you feel it safe to take your own again."
"What name?" he asked, with eager curiosity, beginning to take the ticket
out of its envelope.
"Never mind now," she said, quickly. "It's just a name--any name. You can
look at it afterward. We'd better go on."
She made as though she would move, but he detained her.
"Wait a minute. So your name begins with S!"
"Like a good many others," she smiled.
"Then tell me what it is. Don't let me go away without knowing it. You
can't think what it means to me."
"I should think you'd see what it means to me."
"I don't. What harm can it do you?"
"If you don't see, I'm afraid I can't explain. To be nameless is--- how
shall I say it?--a sort of protection to me. In helping you, and taking
care of you, I've done what almost any really nice girl would have shrunk
from. There are plenty of people who would say is was wrong. And in a
way--a way I could never make you understand, unless you understand
already--it's a relief to me that you don't know who I am. And even that
"When this little episode is over"--her voice trembled, and it was not
without some blinking of the eyes that she was able to begin again--"when
this little episode is over, it will be better for us both--for you as
well as for me--to know as little about it as possible. The danger isn't
past by any means; but it's a kind of danger in which ignorance can be
made to look a good deal like innocence. I shan't know anything about you
after you've gone, and you know nothing whatever about me."
"That's what I complain of. Suppose I pull the thing off, and make a
success of myself somewhere else, how should I communicate with you
"Why should you communicate with me at all?"
"To pay you back your money, for one thing--"
"Oh, that doesn't matter."
"Perhaps it doesn't from your point of view; but it does from mine. But it
wouldn't be my only reason in any case."
Something in his voice and in his eyes warned her to rise and interrupt
"I'm afraid we haven't time to talk about it now," she said, hurriedly.
"We really must be going on."
"I'm not going to talk about it now," he declared, rising in his turn. "I
said it would be a reason for my wanting to communicate with you again. I
shall want to tell you something then; though perhaps by that time you
won't want to hear it."
"Hadn't we better wait and see?"
"That's what I shall have to do; but how can I come back to you at all if
I don't know who you are?"
"I shall have to leave that to your ingenuity," she laughed, with an
attempt to treat the matter lightly. "In the mean time we must hurry on.
It's absolutely necessary that you should set out by sunset."
She glided into the invisible trail running down the lakeside slope of the
mountain, so that he was obliged to follow her. As they had climbed up,
so they descended--the girl steadily and silently in advance. The region
was dotted with farms; but she kept to the shelter of the woodland, and
before he expected it they found themselves at the water's edge. A canoe
drawn up in a cove gave him the first clear hint of her intentions.
It was a pretty little cove, enclosed by two tiny headlands, forming a
miniature landlocked bay, hidden from view of the lake beyond. Trees
leaned over it and into it, while the canoe rested on a yard-long beach of
"I see," he remarked, after she had allowed him to take his own
observations. "You want me to go over to Burlington and catch a train to
She shook her head, smiling, as he thought, rather tremulously.
"I'm afraid I've planned a much longer journey for you. Come and see the
preparations I've made." They stepped to the side of the canoe, so as to
look down into it. "That," she pursued, pointing to a small suit-case
forward of the middle thwart, "will enable you to look like an ordinary
traveller after you've landed. And that," she added, indicating a package
in the stern, "contains nothing more nor less than sandwiches. Those are
bottles of mineral water. The small objects are a corkscrew, a glass, a
railway timetable a cheap compass, and a cheaper watch. In addition you'll
find a map of the lake, which you can consult tomorrow morning, after
you've paddled all night through the part with which you're most
"Where am I going?" he asked, huskily, avoiding her eyes. The nonchalance
of her tone had not deceived him, and he thought it well not to let their
"You'll keep to the middle of the lake and go on steadily. You'll have
all Champlain to yourself to-night, and in daylight there's no reason why
you shouldn't pass for an ordinary sportsman. All the same, you had better
rest by day, and go on again in the evening. You'll find lots of little
secluded coves where you can pull up the canoe and be quite undisturbed.
I'd do that, if I were you."
He nodded to show that he understood her.
"When you look at the map," she went on, "you'll find that I've traced a
route for you, after you get above Plattsville. You'll see that it will
take you past the little French-Canadian village of Deux Etoiles. You
can't mistake it, because there's a lighthouse, with a revolving light, on
a rock, just off the shore. You'll be in Canada then. You'd better time
yourself to go by about nightfall."
He nodded his agreement with her again, and she continued.
"About a mile above the lighthouse, and close in by the eastern shore,
just where the lake becomes very narrow, there are two little islands
lying close together. You'll take them as a landmark, because immediately
opposite them, on the mainland, there's a stretch of forest running for a
good many miles. There you can land finally. You must drag the canoe right
up into the wood, and hide it as well as you can. It's my own canoe, so
that it can lie there till it drops to pieces. Is all that quite clear to
Once more he nodded, not trusting himself to speak. Again the sight of his
emotion braced her to make her tone more matter-of-fact than ever.
"Now, then," she went on, "if you consult the map you'll see that an old
wood-road runs through the forest, and comes out at the station of Saint
Jean du Clou Noir. There you can get a train to Quebec.... The road begins
nearly opposite the two little islands I spoke of.... I don't think
you'll have any difficulty in finding it.... It's about seven miles to the
station.... You could walk that easily enough through the night.... I've
marked a very good train on the time-table--a train that stops at Saint
Jean du Clou Noir at seven thirty-five ..."
A choking sensation warned her to stop, but she retained the power to
smile. The sun had set, and the slow northern night was beginning to close
in. Across the lake the mountains of Vermont were receding into deep
purple uniformity, while over the crimson of the west a veil of filmy
black was falling, as though dropped in mid-flight by the angel of the
dark. Here and there through the dead-turquoise green of the sky one could
detect the pale glimmer of a star.
"You must go now," she whispered. He began to move the canoe into the
"I haven't thanked you," he began, unsteadily, holding the canoe by the
bow, "because you wouldn't let me. As a matter of fact, I don't know how
to do it--adequately. But if I live at all, my life will belong to you.
That's all I can say. My life will be a thing for you to dispose of. If
you ever have need of it--"
"I shan't have," she said, hastily, "but I'll remember what you say."
"Thanks; that's all I ask. For the present I can only hope for the chance
of making my promise good."
She said nothing in reply, and after a minute's silence he entered the
canoe. She steadied it herself to allow him to step in. It was not till he
had done so and had knelt down with the paddle in his hand that, moved by