Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Landloper by Holman Day

Part 7 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download The Landloper pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

supposed he was a rich man. I always had everything that money could
furnish. When he found that I was interested in the law he sent me to
schools at home and abroad and ordered me to take my time and go to
the bottom of all."

"Well, I reckon you did," stated Converse. "If ever I saw a chap with
the true legal mind you have it, polished and pointed. You came into
this state and saw a solution for a problem which has blocked us for
twenty-five years. It's good law! And we will have a legislature that
will pass it. But when did you find out that your father had taken
other folks' money?"

"I came home and insisted on going to work in the office. Then he told
me. The settlement was due and had been called for. He was obliged to
tell me. And he tried to convince me that he had not taken the money
for my sake. He was willing to appear in my eyes a thief without
excuse. But I knew. I had selfishly accepted it all without thought--
and only half grateful. Young men are thoughtless, sir."

"Your father seems to have been quixotic after his own fashion,
Thornton. I think I remember some of his traits when he was in school.
But as old Hard-Times Brewster used to say, 'We are all poor, queer
critters and some be queerer than the others!' So you were a little
queerer than your father, eh, and tried to square matters by a worse
piece of folly?"

"It may have been folly. Perhaps it was. But I did not stop to argue
or reason. That money had been spent on me. I accepted the blame. I
said nothing to my father. I wrote letters to the persons who had
lost. I told them that I had taken the money as my father's agent--
without his knowledge. I said I had deceived him as well as them. And
then, so that I might not perjure myself on the witness-stand or have
the truth gimleted out of me by lawyers, I put on rags and hid myself
among the thousands who trudge the highways and ride the trusses of
freight-cars. And no one has come to me and put heavy hand on my
shoulder and said, 'I want you!' But some one will come if I remain
here. I am going to hide myself again."

"I say it has all been a piece of folly," insisted Converse. "Dear
folly! Yes, almost noble folly! But it must end, my boy. I suppose
your father is back there toiling to repay those men from whom he took

"I suppose so, Mr. Converse. But he has not been disgraced in the eyes
of the public."

"There's where your noble folly has made its mistake. You have doubled
his grief, Thornton. Just sit there a moment and ponder. You will
understand what I mean."

"I have understood--I have pondered--but I have not had the courage to
go back. At least, they could not say to him that his son was in
prison. He has escaped that grief."

"And has endured a heavier one, my boy. I'm afraid you're a poor
counselor in your own affairs." He came across the room to Bristol and
slapped the bowed shoulder. "Now you have found a better one. I have
taken your case."

The young man looked up into the kindly features of his adviser and
was only half convinced.

"Don't you realize how easy it will be for you to make money from this
time on? You don't? Well, let me tell you. As soon as you can be
admitted to the bar in this state I'm going to make you my law
partner. Hold on! I'm doing you no especial favor--I'm putting into my
office a man who had the legal acumen to devise a plan to break the
unholy clutch of plunderers who have had this state by the throat for
a quarter of a century. I'm simply grabbing you before somebody else
gets you. I expect to be governor of this state, and I want my law
business looked after by a man who is able to keep up the reputation
of the firm. But first of all, my boy, you and I are going back to
your home. I think you'll find me a fairly good lawyer in
straightening out tangles. I'll know just how to talk to those folks
out there. And then you're coming back here with me and face this
state as yourself and help me fight the legislation we want put
through to enactment--and be damned to 'em!" He put his arm about the
young man's shoulders and drew him to his feet. "It has been a hard
day for you, my boy. There are some hard things ahead of you. You must
go to bed. The morning will bring comfort and good counsel."

But when Bristol started toward the door Converse restrained him
gently and led him toward the stairs which led up from the big

"You're home, my boy--right here--you're home here from this time on!
This is your other home until your father needs you more than I do. I
have been pretty lonely in this house for a good many years without
realizing just what was the matter with me."

"After all, you have only my word for what I am and what I have done,"
expostulated Bristol.

"Oh no, I have the evidence of my eyes and ears and my own common

Bristol pressed the hand stretched forth to him.

"I'm not going to talk to you any more to-night," stated the host,
when they were on the upper landing. "It will all seem different in
the morning. It's going to be all right after this, Thornton. I'm
sorry I haven't a wife. A woman understands how to listen to troubles
better than a man. Is your mother alive?"

"No, Mr. Converse."

"I might have known that. You would not have allowed a mother to
suffer--your folly would never have gone so far. You would have been
home long before this. Ah, well, my boy, some woman will know how to
comfort you some day for all you have endured. Good night!"

The young man knew that Zelie Dionne had been right in what she said;
he did not require the added opinion of the state's most eminent



Colonel Symonds Dodd sat at his desk in the First National block and
clutched helplessly at the dragging ends of events. He failed to get
firm hold on anything and irefully informed Judge Warren that the
whole situation was a "damnation nightmare."

"Well," affirmed the judge, who had been pricked in his legal pride by
his master's tongue, "the Consolidated has eaten some pretty hearty
meals. It's no wonder it is having bad dreams right now."

"You're squatting down like an old rooster in a dust-heap," raged the
colonel, too angry to be choice in his language. "You, a twenty-five-
thousand-dollar lawyer, come in here to me and say that you can't
block the confiscatory scheme of a bounder--a nobody--a black-leg
stranger in this state!"

"I'll carry on the fight if you order me to do so," said the
corporation lawyer. "That's my business. We can lobby in the next
legislature. We can fight the laws that Archer Converse's legislature
is bound to pass, for they're after us, Colonel Dodd. We can carry the
thing to the highest tribunal--and then we can fight the appraisals on
every water-plant in the state, but--"

"Well, but what?"

"One by one they'll pry loose every finger we have got hooked on to
our proposition. I have submitted that water-district plan to the acid
test, Colonel. It was my duty to do it. A lawyer must keep cool while
his bosses curse and disparage. I have the opinions of the law
departments of three leading colleges on the scheme. They all say that
such a plan, if properly safeguarded by constitutional law, will get
by every blockade we can erect. Now if you want to spend money I'll
help you spend all you care to appropriate," concluded the judge,

"We'll fight," was the dictum of the master.

"Then I take it that you have definitely decided to give up your
political control, Colonel! A certain amount of popularity is needed
to cinch any man in politics. You're going to be the most unpopular
man in this state if you start in to fight every town and city simply
for the purpose of piling up costs and clubbing them away from their
own as long as you have the muscle to do it."

"I don't care about politics--politics has gone to the devil in this
state already. They'll get tired of chasing fox-fires through a swamp
following after such lah-de-dahs as Arch Converse, and will come back
and be good. I'll wait for 'em to come back. But in the mean time I'm
going to have the courts say whether our property can be confiscated.
I'll take a few pelts while they're trying it on!"

Judge Warren bowed stiffly and retired from the interview.

Day after day passed and Colonel Dodd was more than ever convinced
that the nightmare was continuing. Politicians agreed with him--all of
them with amazement, many of them with wrath.

Because the Honorable Archer Converse and the man who had called
himself Walker Farr had dropped completely out of sight, leaving no
explanation of any sort.

"They didn't even tell /me/," confessed Daniel Breed, "and I'm their
chief fugler, and here's the November election right plunk on top of
us--and even the Apostle Paul would have to do at least four weeks of
spry campaigning in this state to be sure of being elected if a state
committee was getting ready to lay down on him like ours seems to be
doing. I'm jogafferbasted. I can't express myself no other way."

Mr. Breed, in moments of especial anxiety and despondency when he
reviewed the situation, darkly hinted that the grand jury ought to
look into the thing. The Consolidated had done about everything up to
date except assassinate and abduct, he averred, and everybody knew
Colonel Dodd's present state of mind.

However, Colonel Dodd did receive Miss Kate Kilgour politely when she
came to him; he had always held her in estimation next to the bouquets
in his office.

"I have come to you," she explained, "because I could not get the
information anywhere else. I have tried. I do not want to bother you,

The girl was pitifully broken, her voice trembled.

"Well, well, what is it?" he demanded, impatiently, and yet with a
touch of kindly tolerance. "You needn't be afraid of me even if you
did leave me in hop-and-jump style, Miss Kilgour."

"Where is your nephew, Richard?"

And then, in spite of his assuring statement, Miss Kilgour /was/
afraid of him.

His square face was suffused with red, he thwacked his fist on his
desk and leaped out of his chair and stamped away from her, cursing

"Who sent you here to ask me that question?" he shouted, advancing on
her from the window.

"It's my own business--I came on my own account," she stammered.

"How comes it to be your business, miss?"

"I gave him my promise to marry him."

"If you did you made a devil of a mistake; I can tell you that, young

"I realize it, Colonel Dodd. I want to know where he is. I want to
take back that promise."

He controlled himself and stared at her. "Take my advice and consider
your contract with Richard Dodd annulled--for good and sufficient
reasons, Miss Kilgour. I don't want to say any more. I can't say any
more. This thing touches me on a sore spot. Don't be afraid. I'm not
angry at you. But just forget that fellow and go on about your own

"I will do so, Colonel Dodd, after I have settled certain business
with him."

"What business?"

"I cannot tell you."

"You'll have to tell me," he insisted, roughly. "I'm now engaged in
looking into my nephew's affairs. I want all the information I can

"I can only ask you--implore you to tell me where he is."

"I'd like to know, myself," he retorted, bluntly. "I'd give
considerable to know. You needn't look at me as if you think I'm
lying! Now you may as well be frank with me, Miss Kilgour. I'm going
to be frank with you. I have always found you to be a young woman of
prudence and caution. I'll take a chance and tell you something which
I have been keeping to myself. I want you to know why you needn't feel
bound to keep any promise you have made to my nephew. He has played a
despicable trick on me, his own uncle, after all the help I have given
him. He practically stole five thousand dollars from me and has run
away, and I don't know where he is. Now, what have you to tell me?"

"I want to put this in his hands, sir." She produced a packet, at
which the colonel peered with curiosity. "You will certainly find out
where he is. I want you to give it to him."

"Oh, love-letters, eh?"

"No, sir!"

With shaking fingers she untied the cord and displayed the contents.
The packet was money, many bills stacked neatly, and the size of the
bundle made the colonel open his eyes very wide.

"We--I--we owe it to him, sir. There are five thousand dollars here."

"So that's what he did with my money, eh? Well, I'll take it."

"I don't think it is your money, Colonel Dodd. I have good reason to
feel sure that it is not. I have not seen your nephew since the day of
the convention, and then only at a distance. And this money--it was
borrowed a long time ago."

"Borrowed by whom--by you?"

"No, sir. I cannot tell you the circumstances. I simply want you to
give it back to him. I shall feel that I am released from my

"Look here, my dear young woman," said the colonel, with all his
masterful firmness, "there are going to be no more riddles here. You
must tell me the truth. I must have it--hear? Otherwise I shall take
steps to make you tell--and that may not be as confidential as a chat
here with me. I propose to know about my nephew's affairs, I inform
you once again!"

"My mother borrowed this money from him. She was in trouble. He helped

"Your mother needs a guardian. I beg your pardon! But I thought she
had had her lesson once before in her life. So my nephew loaned money
to your mother! Where did he get that money?"

"I do not--"

"Hold on! Wait before you say that, Miss Kilgour. I'll not endure
falsehoods from anybody just now. I have been lied to too much lately.
This is a matter of my own nephew. I command you to tell me the

She hesitated a long time, her countenance expressing her agony. "I
haven't any right to betray him, sir."

"He did not get five thousand dollars by any honest means. The
reputation of the family is in jeopardy just now, Miss Kilgour. I want
to protect it for my own sake. He confessed to you, didn't he?"


"I can better understand your sense of obligation now. When a man
commits a crime for a woman she gets some fool notions into her head
about standing by him. I know my nephew's extravagances, Miss Kilgour.
He had to steal to get five thousand dollars for your mother. There is
just one handy place where he could steal. He took that money from the
state treasury. He has told you so. Am I not right?"


Colonel Dodd turned his back on her and looked up at his bouquets.

Perspiration streaked his thick neck. His jowls trembled. She pitied
this man, even in her own tribulation. She had never seen him moved

"How did you get this money, Miss Kilgour?" he asked, after a time,
his voice very low.

"Must I tell you?"

"Certainly. We are going to the bottom of this thing."

"I received a little legacy from my aunt a few years ago--I had put it
away in the bank. I had saved some money from the wages I got here. My
mother--I am sorry to say that she has been vain and extravagant, sir
--she had wasted money on jewels and dress, and now she has sold
everything. We have disposed of all our furniture and have gone to
board in a very cheap place. I have been able to make out the amount
of the debt. Here it is!" She placed it on his desk beside the flabby
hand which lay there.

He did not speak for a long time. "I am sorry for you," he said at
last. "This is a wicked thing. But I know better than to tell you to
keep this money."

"Thank you," she said, quietly. "I know you understand!"

"I will put it in the place where it belongs. That's all!"

And when he kept his broad back to her she went out of the office, her
feet making no sound on the thick carpet.



A good lawyer can accomplish much when men are willing to listen to
reason and to accept the proffer of reparation!

"All going to show," declared the Honorable Archer Converse to his
young protege, after they had parted at last from Morgan Bristol in
the Western city, "that a thistle doesn't hurt much, after all, if you
grab it with all your might and vim. We have found honest gentlemen
here, thank God! It has been made plain to me, my boy, that they all
knew you better than you knew yourself and that's why they waited so
patiently. But, oh, that folly of yours!" However, he patted Thornton
Bristol's shoulder when he said it. "It's a good thing for a young man
to have a healthy debt when he starts out--a debt that's a joy to pay.
Just look on it as an incentive, boy! You simply mortgaged your

"I am glad that I have been called on to pay for what I wasted,"
declared Bristol. "And I am not sorry, Mr. Converse, that my folly led
me out into the byways of this world. I'll know how to appreciate the
rest of life more highly."

"Needs a hot fire to make good steel--that's so," agreed his mentor.
"And speaking of fire--I reckon we're going to find it almighty hot
when we get back to the place where we're expected. Now that we're
leaving affairs all serene behind us, you must let me do a little
careful thinking about how to meet the situation that's ahead of us."

Archer Converse reappeared in his home city as unobtrusively as he had
left it and he held the polished shield of his urbane reserve over any
vulnerable points which darts of questions might attack.

Mr. Breed, assuring himself that he had certain personal rights in the
matter, came with a veritable lance of interrogation, and thrust

"It is the custom when a man has been nominated never to close an eye
or leave the job for a minute. You have broke over all rules and I
have been doing my best to fix up a story to account for it," stated
Mr. Breed.

"Thank you," returned Mr. Converse. "No doubt you have done a very
good job."

"I done the best I could without knowing what I was talking about."

"And the general comment--the run of talk was--what?"

"General talk was that you didn't seem to be worrying much about the

Mr. Converse turned a benignant smile on his new law partner.

"It's generally conceded, then, that I feel sure of being elected?"

"Why, they think you wouldn't have skyhooted off unless you were

"Exactly! That attitude of mine takes care of the band-wagon crowd.
They have climbed aboard, I'm told."

"Yes," admitted Mr. Breed. "But the state committee has taken
advantage and has laid down on ye!"

"Breed, you run along and tell the chairman of that committee--from
me--that unless he gets busy with his crowd in every county of this
state inside of twenty-four hours I'll come out with a public
statement that I have been forced to run my own campaign in behalf of
the people. You don't think there'd be any doubt about my election
after that statement, do you?"

"Not a bit," confessed Mr. Breed. "You're more of a politician than I
had any idea of. Excuse me for any other kind of remarks. I'll go
shoot a little hot lead in that chairman's left ear."

"Ordinary intelligence and common honesty," commented the Honorable
Archer Converse when Mr. Breed had departed. "They are such new
elements in running politics in this state that they seem to the crowd
to be a brand-new variety of political astuteness, Thornton! I'm not
going to be quite as frank and honest in some other statements I'm
about to make, under the circumstances. I don't believe my conscience
is going to trouble me a bit. We'll go over, if you please, and have a
word or two with Colonel Symonds Dodd."

Mr. Converse's secretary prefaced that call by a telephoned request
for an appointment, and therefore Mr. Peter Briggs led them directly
into the presence of the colonel.

"This is my friend and law partner, Mr. Thornton Bristol," said
Converse, apparently and blandly unconscious that he was tossing at
the magnate something much in the nature of a bomb.

Colonel Dodd came forward in his chair, his hands clutching the carved
mahogany of the desk in front of him.

"Oh, I beg your pardon, Colonel," purred Mr. Converse, amiably. "I
forget that you are not as familiar with Mr. Bristol's identity as I
am. You have known him merely as a stranger who has called himself
Walker Farr."

"Yes, and he has registered himself on the voting-lists as Walker
Farr," blustered Colonel Dodd. "Mr. Converse, something will drop in
your camp before long--and it won't be rose-leaves!"

Mr. Converse fixed a penetrating gaze on the angry man.

"Colonel," he said, with meaning, "you are probably well aware that in
politics many things are done for a certain purpose--and many of those
things are a bit off color so far as the strict law is concerned. If
you particularly care about digging up the past of politics in this
state I will come with my own little shovel and assist with great

"You're making an ass of me with this peek-a-boo business."

"Mr. Bristol," continued the nominee, with composure, "after long
study abroad and at home has devoted himself enthusiastically to study
in sociology and economics, and has preferred to gain his knowledge
about conditions by first-hand observation. He came into this state in
pursuit of his object, and by force of circumstances was drawn into
our state upheaval."

"Much more deeply than I intended to be drawn, Colonel Dodd," stated
the young man, with dignity. "I think you will remember that I said as
much to you in an interview we had. I called myself a Voice, if you
will recollect, and humbly begged you to attend to certain reforms.
Your refusal, and the manner with which you refused, rather forced me
into your affairs."

"And I give you warning right here and now," blustered the colonel,
"that I'm going to force myself into /your/ affairs. I'm going to have
you investigated from puppyhood to the present, Mr. Whatever-your-name

"We may as well issue general warnings--all of us," said Mr. Converse.
"I have prepared a statement for the newspapers regarding my friend,
Mr. Bristol, and he will add a statement of his own relative to his
project in regard to water districts. If you care to malign Mr.
Bristol on the heels of that, Colonel, you may go ahead. But if you
choose weapons of that sort in the conduct of this campaign we shall
be forced to use a few cudgels of our own--for instance, we might be
able to give the people considerable information as to how the state
departments have been managed under your general direction. The funds
of the state treasury--"

Converse was about to mention the matter of the usufruct of the
state's money deposited in the colonel's banks for the benefit of the

Colonel Dodd pulled himself out of his chair and exhibited instant and
alarmed confusion. "We'd better make it a gentlemen's campaign," he
broke in.

"Very well," agreed Mr. Converse, politely. "And now that we are
proceeding toward such an amicable understanding, will you allow me to
express the hope that the Consolidated will meet us half-way in regard
to the legislation that is inevitable? I have no desire to use any of
my powers as the governor of this state to embarrass your interests;
let us trust that we can get to a prompt adjustment in the matter of
the water-plants. As a lawyer of some experience, I have to inform
you, Colonel Dodd, that the cities and towns of this state are going
to own their own systems. The city of Marion proposes to fight the
first test case through. You are a heavy taxpayer--I trust you will
not help to run your city into debt which is needless."

"I will confer with you," admitted the colonel, his manner subdued.

"I will ask you to confer with Mr. Bristol, my partner. He will have
full charge of the litigation. I am assured that the next city
government meeting will attend to the matter of choosing him as
counsel, with a suitable retaining fee," said Mr. Converse, with
pride. "I will appreciate it personally and as chief executive if your
interests will favor the matter. It will be better all around."

Colonel Dodd did not reply. But there was much significance in his bow
as they retired.

"I trust I did not intimate that I was employing any sort of threats,"
said Mr. Converse, when he and Bristol were on their way down-stairs.

"I think he understood, sir."

"His suggestion that we have a gentlemen's campaign was very
significant, coming from Colonel Symonds Dodd. The outlook is very
hopeful," stated the nominee. "We'll see the state committee chairman
to-morrow, Thornton. I feel quite sure that he will have our
speechmaking routes laid out. Mr. Breed is very convincing--sometimes
--when he discusses the political situation."

When they were at the foot of the steps of the Mellicite Club, the
young man begged permission to go about some affairs of his own.

"But your own affairs must wait, my boy," insisted Converse. "The
party claims you from now on."

"I will do my duty, sir," said Bristol, smiling; "but this evening I
must have for myself."

"I have invited some gentlemen to dine with us. It's an important

"The conference I hope to have, Mr. Converse, will be the most
important one of my life."

The lawyer blinked, trying to understand.

"I will tell you to-morrow--I trust it will be the happiest news I
ever told to any person--I will tell you first." He hesitated. "You
have always given me good advice, sir. One night you told me that only
a woman can listen with perfect sympathy and comfort a man's troubles

Converse came close, put his hands on the young man's shoulders and
studied him with intent regard. "My boy," he said, "go along--and God
go with you!"

Bristol tore his hand from the lawyer's clasp and hurried away.

But at the Trelawny he did not find the Kilgours' name on the
directory board. The elevator man, the janitor, the manager, told him
the same story with the same indifference. The Kilgours had sold their
possessions and had removed--they had left no address.

Bristol walked the streets and cursed the stilted folly that had made
his farewell to her a parting in which he had pledged nothing, had
promised nothing, had left no hopes for the future. He was not
consoled by the thought that his farewell to her had been for her own
sake, as he had viewed his situation. In the depths of his despair,
when he had released her hand at the little gate, he had grimly
sacrificed himself--had resolved to save her from himself by final and
complete separation.

And thinking of that parting at the little gate, hardly realizing
where his wanderings led him, he went down to the great mills which
were dark and silent under the shadows of the evening.

Old Etienne had brought a lamp from Mother Maillet's kitchen and had
set it on the stoop. He was whittling, and a little boy snuggled
close, fixing intent regard on the work.

The evening was bland after a balmy day of Indian summer.

Bristol stopped at the fence and called greeting.

The old man peered anxiously, shielding his eyes from the light of the

"M'sieu'! M'sieu'!" He stammered, brokenly, gasping as he spoke the
words. His wrinkled face worked as if he were trying to keep back the
tears. His voice choked.

"You are surprised to see me back here, Etienne--is that it?"

"I am not surprised, m'sieu'. I knew you would come back. I am glad--
that's why the tear come up in my eye. I cannot help that."

"You are working late, Uncle Etienne."

"/Oui/, the odders are gone home. But this leetle boy--I take care
till his modder come from the shop. But you shall come in here,

"I cannot stop, Etienne. I am--" He could not finish the sentence. He
turned to go.

"I say you shall come in. You must come queeck!" The old man spoke in
a shrill whisper. He put aside his knife and stick and hurried to the
fence. He reached and caught Bristol's sleeve. "Ba gar!" he declared,
with as much impatience as anybody had ever heard in the tone of
Etienne Provancher, "even the poor habitant boy in the Tadousac
country know better how to love the nice girl as what you do, M'sieu'

"My name is not Farr; it is--"

"I don't care what your name be," snapped the old man. "Tell me that
some odder time. It's what /you/ be--that's what I care! And you don't
be good to nice girl."

"I don't understand."

"You go back there and rap on Modder Maillet's front door and then you
understand! I'm only poor mans, m'sieu', but I shall talk to you like
I spoke to the mans in the /hotel de ville/--and I shall not be scare
when I am right."

"Look here, Etienne! What do you mean?"

"/La belle/ ma'm'selle--ba gar! you have to be hit with brick bang--
dat fine, pretty lady--she what tell me the good word to say to you
about the bad folks--you must know she leeve now in the good woman's

Now it was Bristol's turn to grasp Etienne's arm. He shook the old

"Miss Kilgour--here? Speak up! Don't be so slow!"

"I have speak up. Odderwise you go off and be a big fool some more,"
retorted the rack-tender, boldly. "She's in there. She come here to
live because somet'ing has made her very poor--and very sad. And her
modder she cry all the time. And /la belle/ ma'm'selle she come to the
big tree and she ask me many things--"

While the old man chattered Bristol was yanking impatiently at the
catch of the gate. He could not find the latch in the dark and so he
kicked off a few more pickets from Mother Maillet's much-abused fence.
He crawled through and bumped against old Etienne, thrusting him from
the path, checking the flow of information.

The young man leaped up the steps, to the plain dismay of the little
boy, and beat upon the door.

"It is I, Kate!" he called. "I have come back."

When she opened the door--half timorous, half eager, wholly beside
herself--he took her in his arms and kissed her, paying no heed to the
goggling eyes of childhood or the averted gaze of old age.

"But you left no word for me. Did you believe me when I said I would
not come back?"

"I knew you would come back," she sobbed. "So I came here. I knew you
would find me here."

Etienne drew near apologetically and picked up the little boy.

"Oh, my own girl, I have so much to tell you!" the lover murmured. "I
know you will listen."

"We have so much to tell each other," she said, her hands against his

The old man puffed out the lamp and set it to one side and tiptoed
away, the child in his arms.

"You ke'p your head under my coat--just so," he commanded the
struggling and inquisitive youngster. "Your modder would not like to
have you breath in so much night air. We go find her!"

He heard the murmur of eager voices behind him, and then the door of
Mother Maillet's house was shut softly--and that left all the world


Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest