Infomotions, Inc.The Translation of a Savage, Complete / Parker, Gilbert, 1860-1932



Author: Parker, Gilbert, 1860-1932
Title: The Translation of a Savage, Complete
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): lali; marion; armour; greyhope; richard; captain vidall; lady haldwell; lambert; general armour; frank; frank armour; francis armour; julia sherwood; indian
Contributor(s): Bright, Mynors, 1818-1883 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 54,062 words (really short) Grade range: 8-10 (high school) Readability score: 68 (easy)
Identifier: etext6214
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Title: The Translation of a Savage, Complete

Author: Gilbert Parker

Release Date: October 18, 2006 [EBook #6214]

Language: English

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*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE TRANSLATION OF A SAVAGE, ***




Produced by David Widger





THE TRANSLATION OF A SAVAGE, Complete

By Gilbert Parker



CONTENTS

Volume 1.
I.        HIS GREAT MISTAKE
II.       A DIFFICULT SITUATION
III.      OUT OF THE NORTH
IV.       IN THE NAME OF THE FAMILY
V.        AN AWKWARD HALF-HOUR

Volume 2.
VI.       THE PASSING OF THE YEARS
VII.      A COURT-MARTIAL
VIII.     TO EVERY MAN HIS HOUR

Volume 3.
IX.       THE FAITH OF COMRADES
X.        "THOU KNOWEST THE SECRETS OF OUR HEARTS"
XI.       UPON THE HIGHWAY
XII.      "THE CHASE OF THE YELLOW SWAN"
XIII.     A LIVING POEM
XIV.      ON THE EDGE OF A FUTURE
XV.       THE END OF THE TRAIL




INTRODUCTION

The Translation of a Savage was written in the early autumn of 1893, at
Hampstead Heath, where for over twenty years I have gone, now and then,
when I wished to be in an atmosphere conducive to composition. Hampstead
is one of the parts of London which has as yet been scarcely invaded by
the lodging-house keeper. It is very difficult to get apartments at
Hampstead; it is essentially a residential place; and, like Chelsea, has
literary and artistic character all its own. I think I have seen more
people carrying books in their hands at Hampstead than in any other spot
in England; and there it was, perched above London, with eyes looking
towards the Atlantic over the leagues of land and the thousand leagues of
sea, that I wrote 'The Translation of a Savage'. It was written, as it
were, in one concentrated effort, a ceaseless writing. It was, in effect,
what the Daily Chronicle said of 'When Valmond Came to Pontiac', a tour
de force. It belonged to a genre which compelled me to dispose of a thing
in one continuous effort, or the impulse, impetus, and fulness of
movement was gone. The writing of a book of the kind admitted of no
invasion from extraneous sources, and that was why, while writing 'The
Translation of a Savage' at Hampstead, my letters were only delivered to
me once a week. I saw no friends, for no one knew where I was; but I
walked the heights, I practised with my golf clubs on the Heath, and I
sat in the early autumn evenings looking out at London in that agony of
energy which its myriad lives represented. It was a good time.

The story had a basis of fact; the main incident was true. It happened,
however, in Michigan rather than in Canada; but I placed the incident in
Canada where it was just as true to the life. I was living in
Hertfordshire at the time of writing the story, and that is why the
English scenes were worked out in Hertfordshire and in London. When I had
finished the tale, there came over me suddenly a kind of feeling that the
incident was too bold and maybe too crude to be believed, and I was
almost tempted to consign it to the flames; but the editor of 'The
English Illustrated Magazine', Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke, took a wholly
different view, and eagerly published it. The judgment of the press was
favourable,--highly so--and I was as much surprised as pleased when Mr.
George Moore, in the Hogarth Club one night, in 1894, said to me: "There
is a really remarkable play in that book of yours, 'The Translation, of a
Savage'." I had not thought up to that time that my work was of the kind
which would appeal to George Moore, but he was always making discoveries.
Meeting him in Pall Mall one day, he said to me: "My dear fellow, I have
made a great discovery. I have been reading the Old Testament. It is
magnificent. In the mass of its incoherence it has a series of the most
marvellous stories. Do you remember--" etc. Then he came home and had tea
with me, revelling, in the meantime, on having discovered the Bible!

I cannot feel that 'The Translation of a Savage' has any significance
beyond the truthfulness with which I believe it describes the
transformation, or rather the evolution, of a primitive character into a
character with an intelligence of perception and a sympathy which is
generally supposed to be the outcome of long processes of civilisation
and culture. The book has so many friends--this has been sufficiently
established by the very large sale it has had in cheap editions--that I
am still disposed to feel it was an inevitable manifestation in the
progress of my art, such as it is. People of diverse conditions of life
have found in it something to interest and to stimulate. One of the most
volcanic of the Labour members in the House of Commons told me that the
violence of his opposition to me in debate on a certain bill was greatly
moderated by the fact that I had written 'The Translation of a Savage';
while a certain rather grave duke remarked to me concerning the character
of Lali that "She would have been all right anywhere." I am bound to say
that he was a duke who, while a young man, knew the wilds of Canada and
the United States almost as well as I know Westminster.




THE TRANSLATION OF A SAVAGE




CHAPTER I

HIS GREAT MISTAKE

It appeared that Armour had made the great mistake of his life. When
people came to know, they said that to have done it when sober had shown
him possessed of a kind of maliciousness and cynicism almost pardonable,
but to do it when tipsy proved him merely weak and foolish. But the fact
is, he was less tipsy at the time than was imagined; and he could have
answered to more malice and cynicism than was credited to him. To those
who know the world it is not singular that, of the two, Armour was
thought to have made the mistake and had the misfortune, or that people
wasted their pity and their scorn upon him alone. Apparently they did not
see that the woman was to be pitied. He had married her; and she was only
an Indian girl from Fort Charles of the Hudson's Bay Company, with a
little honest white blood in her veins. Nobody, not even her own people,
felt that she had anything at stake, or was in danger of unhappiness, or
was other than a person who had ludicrously come to bear the name of Mrs.
Francis Armour. If any one had said in justification that she loved the
man, the answer would have been that plenty of Indian women had loved
white men, but had not married them, and yet the population of
half-breeds went on increasing.

Frank Armour had been a popular man in London. His club might be found in
the vicinity of Pall Mall, his father's name was high and honoured in the
Army List, one of his brothers had served with Wolseley in Africa, and
Frank himself, having no profession, but with a taste for business and
investment, had gone to Canada with some such intention as Lord Selkirk's
in the early part of the century. He owned large shares in the Hudson's
Bay Company, and when he travelled through the North-West country,
prospecting, he was received most hospitably. Of an inquiring and
gregarious nature he went as much among the half-breeds--or 'metis', as
they are called--and Indians as among the officers of the Hudson's Bay
Company and the white settlers. He had ever been credited with having a
philosophical turn of mind; and this was accompanied by a certain strain
of impulsiveness or daring. He had been accustomed all his life to make
up his mind quickly and, because he was well enough off to bear the
consequences of momentary rashness in commercial investments, he was not
counted among the transgressors. He had his own fortune; he was not
drawing upon a common purse. It was a different matter when he trafficked
rashly in the family name so far as to marry the daughter of
Eye-of-the-Moon, the Indian chief.

He was tolerably happy when he went to the Hudson's Bay country; for Miss
Julia Sherwood was his promised wife, and she, if poor, was notably
beautiful and of good family. His people had not looked quite kindly on
this engagement; they had, indeed, tried in many ways to prevent it;
partly because of Miss Sherwood's poverty, and also because they knew
that Lady Agnes Martling had long cared for him, and was most happily
endowed with wealth and good looks also. When he left for Canada they
were inwardly glad (they imagined that something might occur to end the
engagement)--all except Richard, the wiseacre of the family, the
book-man, the drone, who preferred living at Greyhope, their
Hertfordshire home, the year through, to spending half the time in
Cavendish Square. Richard was very fond of Frank, admiring him immensely
for his buxom strength and cleverness, and not a little, too, for that
very rashness which had brought him such havoc at last.

Richard was not, as Frank used to say, "perfectly sound on his
pins,"--that is, he was slightly lame, but he was right at heart. He was
an immense reader, but made little use of what he read. He had an
abundant humour, and remembered every anecdote he ever heard. He was kind
to the poor, walked much, talked to himself as he walked, and was known
by the humble sort as "a'centric." But he had a wise head, and he foresaw
danger to Frank's happiness when he went away. While others had gossiped
and manoeuvred and were busily idle, he had watched things. He saw that
Frank was dear to Julia in proportion to the distance between her and
young Lord Haldwell, whose father had done something remarkable in guns
or torpedoes and was rewarded with a lordship and an uncommonly large
fortune. He also saw that, after Frank left, the distance between Lord
Haldwell and Julia became distinctly less--they were both staying at
Greyhope. Julia Sherwood was a remarkably clever girl. Though he felt it
his duty to speak to her for his brother,--a difficult and delicate
matter, he thought it would come better from his mother.

But when he took action it was too late. Miss Sherwood naively declared
that she had not known her own heart, and that she did not care for Frank
any more. She wept a little, and was soothed by motherly Mrs. Armour, who
was inwardly glad, though she knew the matter would cause Frank pain; and
even General Armour could not help showing slight satisfaction, though he
was innocent of any deliberate action to separate the two. Straightway
Miss Sherwood despatched a letter to the wilds of Canada, and for a week
was an unengaged young person. But she was no doubt consoled by the fact
that for some time past she had had complete control of Lord Haldwell's
emotions. At the end of the week her perceptions were justified by Lord
Haldwell's proposal, which, with admirable tact and obvious demureness,
was accepted.

Now, Frank Armour was wandering much in the wilds, so that his letters
and papers went careering about after him, and some that came first were
last to reach him. That was how he received a newspaper announcing the
marriage of Lord Haldwell and Julia Sherwood at the same time that her
letter, written in estimable English and with admirable feeling, came,
begging for a release from their engagement, and, towards its close,
assuming, with a charming regret, that all was over, and that the last
word had been said between them.

Armour was sitting in the trader's room at Fort Charles when the carrier
came with the mails. He had had some successful days hunting buffalo with
Eye-of-the-Moon and a little band of metis, had had a long pow-wow in
Eye-of-the-Moon's lodge, had chatted gaily with Lali the daughter, and
was now prepared to enjoy heartily the arrears of correspondence and news
before him. He ran his hand through the letters and papers, intending to
classify them immediately, according to such handwriting as he recognised
and the dates on the envelopes. But, as he did so, he saw a newspaper
from which the wrapper was partly torn. He also saw a note in the margin
directing him to a certain page. The note was in Richard's handwriting.
He opened the paper at the page indicated and saw the account of the
marriage! His teeth clinched on his cigar, his face turned white, the
paper fell from his fingers. He gasped, his hands spread out nervously,
then caught the table and held it as though to steady himself.

The trader rose. "You are ill," he said. "Have you bad news?" He glanced
towards the paper. Slowly Armour folded the paper up, and then rose
unsteadily. "Gordon," he said, "give me a glass of brandy."

He turned towards the cupboard in the room. The trader opened it, took
out a bottle, and put it on the table beside Armour, together with a
glass and some water. Armour poured out a stiff draught, added a very
little water, and drank it. He drew a great sigh, and stood looking at
the paper.

"Is there anything I can do for you, Mr. Armour?" urged the trader.

"Nothing, thank you, nothing at all. Just leave the brandy here, will
you? I feel knocked about, and I have to go through the rest of these
letters."

He ran his fingers through the pile, turning it over hastily, as if
searching for something. The trader understood. He was a cool-headed
Scotsman; he knew that there were some things best not inquired into, and
that men must have their bad hours alone. He glanced at the brandy
debatingly, but presently turned and left the room in silence. In his own
mind, however, he wished he might have taken the brandy without being
discourteous. Armour had discovered Miss Sherwood's letter. Before he
opened it he took a little more brandy. Then he sat down and read it
deliberately. The liquor had steadied him. The fingers of one hand even
drummed on the table. But the face was drawn, the eyes were hard, and the
look of him was altogether pinched. After he had finished this, he looked
for others from the same hand. He found none. Then he picked out those
from his mother and father. He read them grimly. Once he paused as he
read his mother's letter, and took a gulp of plain brandy. There was
something very like a sneer on his face when he finished reading. He read
the hollowness of the sympathy extended to him; he understood the far
from adroit references to Lady Agnes Martling. He was very bitter. He
opened no more letters, but took up the Morning Post again, and read it
slowly through. The look of his face was not pleasant. There was a small
looking-glass opposite him. He caught sight of himself in it. He drew his
hand across his eyes and forehead, as though he was in a miserable dream.
He looked again; he could not recognise himself.

He then bundled the letters and papers into his despatch-box. His
attention was drawn to one letter. He picked it up. It was from Richard.
He started to break the seal, but paused. The strain of the event was too
much; he winced. He determined not to read it then, to wait until he had
recovered himself. He laughed now painfully. It had been better for
him--it had, maybe, averted what people were used to term his
tragedy--had he read his brother's letter at that moment. For Richard
Armour was a sensible man, notwithstanding his peculiarities; and perhaps
the most sensible words he ever wrote were in that letter thrust
unceremoniously into Frank Armour's pocket. Armour had received a
terrible blow. He read his life backwards. He had no future. The liquor
he had drunk had not fevered him, it had not wildly excited him; it
merely drew him up to a point where he could put a sudden impulse into
practice without flinching. He was bitter against his people; he credited
them with more interference than was actual. He felt that happiness had
gone out of his life and left him hopeless. As we said, he was a man of
quick decisions. He would have made a dashing but reckless soldier; he
was not without the elements of the gamester. It is possible that there
was in him also a strain of cruelty, undeveloped but radical. Life so far
had evolved the best in him; he had been cheery and candid. Now he
travelled back into new avenues of his mind and found strange, aboriginal
passions, fully adapted to the present situation. Vulgar anger and
reproaches were not after his nature. He suddenly found sources of
refined but desperate retaliation. He drew upon them. He would do
something to humiliate his people and the girl who had spoiled his life.
Some one thing! It should be absolute and lasting, it should show how low
had fallen his opinion of women, of whom Julia Sherwood had once been
chiefest to him. In that he would show his scorn of her. He would bring
down the pride of his family, who, he believed, had helped, out of mere
selfishness, to tumble his happiness into the shambles.

He was older by years than an hour ago. But he was not without the
faculty of humour; that was why he did not become very excited; it was
also why he determined upon a comedy which should have all the elements
of tragedy. Perhaps, however, he would have hesitated to carry his
purposes to immediate conclusions, were it not that the very gods seemed
to play his game with him. For, while he stood there, looking out into
the yard of the fort, a Protestant missionary passed the window. The
Protestant missionary, as he is found at such places as Fort Charles, is
not a strictly superior person. A Jesuit might have been of advantage to
Frank Armour at that moment. The Protestant missionary is not above
comfortable assurances of gold. So that when Armour summoned this one in,
and told him what was required of him, and slipped a generous gift of the
Queen's coin into his hand, he smiled vaguely and was willing to do what
he was bidden. Had he been a Jesuit, who is sworn to poverty, and more
often than not a man of birth and education, he might have influenced
Frank Armour and prevented the notable mishap and scandal. As it was,
Armour took more brandy.

Then he went down to Eye-of-the-Moon's lodge. A few hours afterwards the
missionary met him there. The next morning Lali, the daughter of
Eye-of-the-Moon, and the chieftainess of a portion of her father's tribe,
whose grandfather had been a white man, was introduced to the Hudson's
Bay country as Mrs. Frank Armour. But that was not all. Indeed, as it
stood, it was very little. He had only made his comedy possible as yet;
now the play itself was to come. He had carried his scheme through boldly
so far. He would not flinch in carrying it out to the last letter. He
brought his wife down to the Great Lakes immediately, scarcely resting
day or night. There he engaged an ordinary but reliable woman, to whom he
gave instructions, and sent the pair to the coast. He instructed his
solicitor at Montreal to procure passages for Mrs. Francis Armour and
maid for Liverpool. Then, by letters, he instructed his solicitor in
London to meet Mrs. Francis Armour and maid at Liverpool and take them to
Greyhope in Hertfordshire--that is, if General Armour and Mrs. Armour, or
some representative of the family, did not meet them when they landed
from the steamship.

Presently he sat down and wrote to his father and mother, and asked them
to meet his wife and her maid when they arrived by the steamer Aphrodite.
He did not explain to them in precise detail his feelings on Miss Julia
Sherwood's marriage, nor did he go into full particulars as to the
personality of Mrs. Frank Armour; but he did say that, because he knew
they were anxious that he should marry "acceptably," he had married into
the aristocracy, the oldest aristocracy of America; and because he also
knew they wished him to marry wealth, he sent them a wife rich in
virtues--native, unspoiled virtues. He hoped that they would take her to
their hearts and cherish her. He knew their firm principles of honour,
and that he could trust them to be kind to his wife until he returned to
share the affection which he was sure would be given to her. It was not
his intention to return to England for some time yet. He had work to do
in connection with his proposed colony; and a wife--even a native
wife--could not well be a companion in the circumstances. Besides,
Lali--his wife's name was Lali!--would be better occupied in learning the
peculiarities of the life in which her future would be cast. It was
possible they would find her an apt pupil. Of this they could not
complain, that she was untravelled; for she had ridden a horse, bareback,
half across the continent. They could not cavil at her education, for she
knew several languages--aboriginal languages--of the North. She had
merely to learn the dialect of English society, and how to carry with
acceptable form the costumes of the race to which she was going. Her own
costume was picturesque, but it might appear unusual in London society.
Still, they could use their own judgment about that.

Then, when she was gone beyond recall, he chanced one day to put on the
coat he wore when the letters and paper declaring his misfortune came to
him. He found his brother's letter; he opened it and read it. It was the
letter of a man who knew how to appreciate at their proper value the
misfortunes, as the fortunes, of life. While Frank Armour read he came to
feel for the first time that his brother Richard had suffered, maybe,
from some such misery as had come to him through Julia Sherwood. It was a
dispassionate, manly letter, relieved by gentle wit, and hinting with
careful kindness that a sudden blow was better for a man than a lifelong
thorn in his side. Of Julia Sherwood he had nothing particularly bitter
to say. He delicately suggested that she had acted according to her
nature, and that in the see-saw of life Frank had had a sore blow; but
this was to be borne. The letter did not say too much; it did not magnify
the difficulty, it did not depreciate it. It did not even directly
counsel; it was wholesomely, tenderly judicial. Indirectly, it dwelt upon
the steadiness and manliness of Frank's character; directly, lightly, and
without rhetoric, it enlarged upon their own comradeship. It ran over
pleasantly the days of their boyhood, when they were hardly ever
separated. It made distinct, yet with no obvious purpose, how good were
friendship and confidence--which might be the most unselfish thing in the
world--between two men. With the letter before him Frank Armour saw his
act in a new light.

As we said, it is possible if he had read it on the day when his trouble
came to him, he had not married Lali, or sent her to England on this--to
her--involuntary mission of revenge. It is possible, also, that there
came to him the first vague conception of the wrong he had done this
Indian girl, who undoubtedly married him because she cared for him after
her heathen fashion, while he had married her for nothing that was
commendable; not even for passion, which may be pardoned, nor for vanity,
which has its virtues. He had had his hour with circumstance;
circumstance would have its hour with him in due course. Yet there was no
extraordinary revulsion. He was still angry, cynical, and very sore. He
would see the play out with a consistent firmness. He almost managed a
smile when a letter was handed to him some weeks later, bearing his
solicitor's assurance that Mrs. Frank Armour and her maid had been safely
bestowed on the Aphrodite for England. This was the first act in his
tragic comedy.




CHAPTER II

A DIFFICULT SITUATION

When Mrs. Frank Armour arrived at Montreal she still wore her Indian
costume of clean, well-broidered buckskin, moccasins, and leggings, all
surmounted by a blanket. It was not a distinguished costume, but it
seemed suitable to its wearer. Mr. Armour's agent was in a quandary. He
had received no instructions regarding her dress. He felt, of course,
that, as Mrs. Frank Armour, she should put off these garments, and dress,
so far as was possible, in accordance with her new position. But when he
spoke about it to Mackenzie, the elderly maid and companion, he found
that Mr. Armour had said that his wife was to arrive in England dressed
as she was. He saw something ulterior in the matter, but it was not his
province to interfere. And so Mrs. Frank Armour was a passenger by the
Aphrodite in her buckskin garments.

What she thought of it all is not quite easy to say. It is possible that
at first she only considered that she was the wife of a white man,--a
thing to be desired, and that the man she loved was hers for ever--a
matter of indefinable joy to her. That he was sending her to England did
not fret her, because it was his will, and he knew what was best. Busy
with her contented and yet somewhat dazed thoughts of him,--she was too
happy to be very active mentally, even if it had been the characteristic
of her race,--she was not at first aware how much notice she excited, and
how strange a figure she was in this staring city. When it did dawn upon
her she shrank a little, but still was placid, preferring to sit with her
hands folded in her lap, idly watching things. She appeared oblivious
that she was the wife of a man of family and rank; she was only thinking
that the man was hers--all hers. He had treated her kindly enough in the
days they were together, but she had not been a great deal with him,
because they travelled fast, and his duties were many, or he made them
so--but the latter possibility did not occur to her.

When he had hastily bidden her farewell at Port Arthur he had kissed her
and said: "Good-bye, my wife." She was not yet acute enough in the
inflections of Saxon speech to catch the satire--almost involuntary--in
the last two words. She remembered the words, however, and the kiss, and
she was quite satisfied. To what she was going she did not speculate. He
was sending her: that was enough.

The woman given to her as maid had been well chosen. Armour had done this
carefully. She was Scotch, was reserved, had a certain amount of
shrewdness, would obey instructions, and do her duty carefully. What she
thought about the whole matter she kept to herself; even the solicitor at
Montreal could not find out. She had her instructions clear in her mind;
she was determined to carry them out to the letter--for which she was
already well paid, and was like to be better paid; because Armour had
arranged that she should continue to be with his wife after they got to
England. She understood well the language of Lali's tribe, and because
Lali's English was limited she would be indispensable in England.

Mackenzie, therefore, had responsibility, and if she was not elated over
it, she still knew the importance of her position, and had enough
practical vanity to make her an efficient servant and companion. She
already felt that she had got her position in life, from which she was to
go out no more for ever. She had been brought up in the shadow of Alnwick
Castle, and she knew what was due to her charge--by other people; herself
only should have liberty with her. She was taking Lali to the home of
General Armour, and that must be kept constantly before her mind.
Therefore, from the day they set foot on the Aphrodite, she kept her
place beside Mrs. Armour, sitting with her,--they walked very
little,--and scarcely ever speaking, either to her or to the curious
passengers. Presently the passengers became more inquisitive, and made
many attempts at being friendly; but these received little encouragement.
It had become known who the Indian girl was, and many wild tales went
about as to her marriage with Francis Armour. Now it was maintained she
had saved his life at an outbreak of her tribe; again, that she had found
him dying in the woods and had nursed him back to life and health; yet
again, that she was a chieftainess, a successful claimant against the
Hudson's Bay Company--and so on.

There were several on board who knew the Armours well by name, and two
who knew them personally. One was Mr. Edward Lambert, a barrister of the
Middle Temple, and the other was Mrs. Townley, a widow, a member of a
well-known Hertfordshire family, who, on a pleasant journey in Scotland,
had met, conquered, and married a wealthy young American, and had been
left alone in the world, by no means portionless, eighteen months before.
Lambert knew Richard Armour well, and when, from Francis Armour's
solicitor, with whom he was acquainted, he heard, just before they
started, who the Indian girl was, he was greatly shocked and sorry. He
guessed at once the motive, the madness, of this marriage. But he kept
his information and his opinions mostly to himself, except in so far as
it seemed only due to friendship to contradict the numberless idle
stories going about. After the first day at sea he came to know Mrs.
Townley, and when he discovered that they had many common friends and
that she knew the Armours, he spoke a little more freely to her regarding
the Indian wife, and told her what he believed was the cause of the
marriage.

Mrs. Townley was a woman--a girl--of uncommon gentleness of disposition,
and, in spite of her troubles, inclined to view life with a sunny eye.
She had known of Frank Armour's engagement with Miss Julia Sherwood, but
she had never heard the sequel. If this was the sequel--well, it had to
be faced. But she was almost tremulous with sympathy when she remembered
Mrs. Armour, and Frank's gay, fashionable sister, Marion, and
contemplated the arrival of this Indian girl at Greyhope. She had always
liked Frank Armour, but this made her angry with him; for, on second
thoughts, she was not more sorry for him and for his people than for
Lali, the wife. She had the true instinct of womanhood, and she supposed
that a heathen like this could have feelings to be hurt and a life to be
wounded as herself or another. At least she saw what was possible in the
future when this Indian girl came to understand her position--only to be
accomplished by contact with the new life, so different from her past.
Both she and Lambert decided that she was very fine-looking, not
withstanding her costume. She was slim and well built, with modest bust
and shapely feet and ankles. Her eyes were large, meditative, and
intelligent, her features distinguished. She was a goodly product of her
race, being descended from a line of chiefs and chieftainesses--broken
only in the case of her grandfather, as has been mentioned. Her hands
(the two kindly inquisitors decided) were almost her best point. They
were perfectly made, slim, yet plump, the fingers tapering, the wrist
supple. Mrs. Townley then and there decided that the girl had
possibilities. But here she was, an Indian, with few signs of
civilisation or of that breeding which seems to white people the only
breeding fit for earth or heaven.

Mrs. Townley did not need Lambert's suggestion that she should try to
approach the girl, make friends with her, and prepare her in some slight
degree for the strange career before her.

Mrs. Townley had an infinite amount of tact. She knew it was best to
approach the attendant first. This she did, and, to the surprise of other
lady-passengers, received no rebuff. Her advance was not, however, rapid.
Mackenzie had had her instructions. When she found that Mrs. Townley knew
Francis Armour and his people, she thawed a little more, and then, very
hesitatingly, she introduced her to the Indian wife. Mrs. Townley smiled
her best--and there were many who knew how attractive she could be at
such a moment. There was a slight pause, in which Lali looked at her
meditatively, earnestly, and then those beautiful wild fingers glided
out, and caught her hand, and held it; but she spoke no word. She only
looked inquiringly, seriously, at her new-found friend, and presently
dropped the blanket away from her, and sat up firmly, as though she felt
she was not altogether an alien now, and had a right to hold herself
proudly among white people, as she did in her own country and with her
own tribe, who had greatly admired her. Certainly Mrs. Townley could find
no fault with the woman as an Indian. She had taste, carried her clothes
well, and was superbly fresh in appearance, though her hair still bore
very slight traces of the grease which even the most aristocratic Indians
use.

But Lali would not talk. Mrs. Townley was anxious that the girl should be
dressed in European costume, and offered to lend and rearrange dresses of
her own, but she came in collision with Mr. Armour's instructions. So she
had to assume a merely kind and comforting attitude. The wife had not the
slightest idea where she was going, and even when Mackenzie, at Mrs.
Townley's oft-repeated request, explained very briefly and
unpicturesquely, she only looked incredulous or unconcerned. Yet the
ship, its curious passengers, the dining saloon, the music, the sea, and
all, had given her suggestions of what was to come. They had expected
that at table she would be awkward and ignorant to a degree. But she had
at times eaten at the trader's table at Fort Charles, and had learned how
to use a knife and fork. She had also been a favourite with the trader's
wife, who had taught her very many civilised things. Her English, though
far from abundant, was good. Those, therefore, who were curious and rude
enough to stare at her were probably disappointed to find that she ate
like "any Christom man."

"How do you think the Armours will receive her?" said Lambert to Mrs.
Townley, of whose judgment on short acquaintance he had come to entertain
a high opinion.

Mrs. Townley had a pretty way of putting her head to one side and
speaking very piquantly. She had had it as a girl; she had not lost it as
a woman, any more than she had lost a soft little spontaneous laugh which
was one of her unusual charms--for few women can laugh audibly with
effect. She laughed very softly now, and, her sense of humour supervening
for the moment, she said:

"Really, you have asked me a conundrum. I fancy I see Mrs. Armour's face
when she gets the news,--at the breakfast-table, of course, and gives a
little shriek, and says: 'General! oh, General!' But it is all very
shocking, you know," she added, in a lower voice. "Still I think they
will receive her and do the best they can for her; because, you see,
there she is, married hard and fast. She bears the Armour name, and is
likely to make them all very unhappy, indeed, if she determines to
retaliate upon them for any neglect."

"Yes. But how to retaliate, Mrs. Townley?" Lambert had not a suggestive
mind.

"Well, for instance, suppose they sent her away into seclusion,--with
Frank's consent, another serious question,--and she should take the
notion to fly her retirement, and appear inopportunely at some social
function clothed as she is now! I fancy her blanket would be a wet one in
such a case--if you will pardon the little joke."

Lambert sighed. "Poor Frank--poor devil!" he said, almost beneath his
breath.

"And wherefore poor Frank? Do you think he or the Armours of Greyhope are
the only ones at stake in this? What about this poor girl? Just think why
he married her, if our suspicions are right,--and then imagine her
feelings when she wakes to the truth over there, as some time she is sure
to do!"

Then Lambert began to see the matter in a different light, and his
sympathy for Francis Armour grew less as his pity for the girl increased.
In fact, the day before they got to Liverpool he swore at Armour more
than once, and was anxious concerning the reception of the heathen wife
by her white relatives.

Had he been present at a certain scene at Greyhope a day or two before,
he would have been still more anxious. It was the custom, at breakfast,
for Mrs. Armour to open her husband's letters and read them while he was
engaged with his newspaper, and hand to him afterwards those that were
important. This morning Marion noticed a letter from Frank amongst the
pile, and, without a word, pounced upon it. She was curious--as any woman
would be--to see how he took Miss Sherwood's action. Her father was deep
in his paper at the time. Her mother was reading other letters. Marion
read the first few lines with a feeling of almost painful wonder, the
words were so curious, cynical, and cold.

Richard sat opposite her. He also was engaged with his paper, but,
chancing to glance up, he saw that she was becoming very pale, and that
the letter trembled in her fingers. Being a little short-sighted, he was
not near enough to see the handwriting. He did not speak yet. He watched.
Presently, seeing her grow more excited, he touched her foot under the
table. She looked up, and caught his eye. She gasped slightly. She gave
him a warning look, and turned away from her mother. Then she went on
reading to the bitter end.

Presently a little cry escaped her against her will. At that her mother
looked up, but she only saw her daughter's back, as she rose hurriedly
from the table, saying that she would return in a moment. Mrs. Armour,
however, had been startled. She knew that Marion had been reading a
letter, and, with a mother's instinct, her thoughts were instantly on
Frank. She spoke quickly, almost sharply:

"Marion, come here."

Richard had risen. He came round the table, and, as the girl obeyed her
mother, took the letter from her fingers and hastily glanced over it.
Mrs. Armour came forward and took her daughter's arm. "Marion," she said,
"there is something wrong--with Frank. What is it?"

General Armour was now looking up at them all, curiously, questioningly,
through his glasses, his paper laid down, his hands resting on the table.

Marion could not answer. She was sick with regret, vexation, and shame;
at the first flush, death--for Frank--had been preferable to this. She
had a considerable store of vanity; she was not very philosophical.
Besides, she was not married; and what Captain Vidall, her devoted
admirer and possible husband, would think of this heathenish alliance was
not a cheer ful thought to her. She choked down a sob, and waved her hand
towards Richard to answer for her. He was pale too, but cool. He
understood the case instantly; he made up his mind instantly also as to
what ought to be--must be--done.

"Well, mother," he said, "it is about Frank. But he is all right; that
is, he is alive and well-in body. But he has arranged a hateful little
embarrassment for us--he is married."

"Married!" exclaimed his mother faintly. "Oh, poor Lady Agnes!"

Marion sniffed a little viciously at this.

"Married? Married?" said his father. "Well, what about it? eh? what about
it?"

The mother wrung her hands. "Oh, I know it is something
dreadful--dreadful! He has married some horrible wild person, or
something."

Richard, miserable as he was, remained calm. "Well," said he, "I don't
know about her being horrible. Frank is silent on that point; but she is
wild enough--a wild Indian, in fact."

"Indian? Indian? Good God--a red nigger!" cried General Armour harshly,
starting to his feet.

"An Indian? a wild Indian?" Mrs. Armour whispered faintly, as she dropped
into a chair.

"And she'll be here in two or three days," fluttered Marion hysterically.

Meanwhile Richard had hastily picked up the Times. "She is due here the
day after to-morrow," he said deliberately. "Frank is as decisive as he
is rash. Well, it's a melancholy tit-for-tat."

"What do you mean by tit-for-tat?" cried his father angrily.

"Oh, I mean that--that we tried to hasten Julia's marriage--with the
other fellow, and he is giving us one in return; and you will all agree
that it's a pretty permanent one."

The old soldier recovered himself, and was beside his wife in an instant.
He took her hand. "Don't fret about it, wife," he said; "it's an ugly
business, but we must put up with it. The boy was out of his head. We are
old, now, my dear, but there was a time when we should have resented such
a thing as much as Frank--though not in the same fashion, perhaps--not in
the same fashion." The old man pressed his lips hard to keep down his
emotion.

"Oh, how could he--how could he!" said his mother: "we meant everything
for the best."

"It is always dangerous business meddling with lovers' affairs," rejoined
Richard. "Lovers take themselves very seriously indeed, and--well, here
the thing is! Now, who will go and fetch her from Liverpool? I should say
that both my father and my mother ought to go."

Thus Richard took it for granted that they would receive Frank's Indian
wife into their home. He intended that, so far as he was concerned, there
should be no doubt upon the question from the beginning.

"Never--she shall never come here!" said Marion, with flashing eyes; "a
common squaw, with greasy hair, and blankets, and big mouth, and black
teeth, who eats with her fingers and grunts! If she does, if she is
brought to Greyhope, I will never show my face in the world again. Frank
married the animal: why does he ship her home to us? Why didn't he come
with her? Why does he not take her to a home of his own? Why should he
send her here, to turn our house into a menagerie?"

Marion drew her skirt back, as if the common squaw, with her blankets and
grease, was at that moment near her.

"Well, you see," continued Richard, "that is just it. As I said, Frank
arranged this little complication with a trifling amount of malice. No
doubt he didn't come with her because he wished to test the family
loyalty and hospitality; but a postscript to this letter says that his
solicitor has instructions to meet his wife at Liverpool, and bring her
on here in case we fail to show her proper courtesy."

General Armour here spoke. "He has carried the war of retaliation very
far indeed, but men do mad things when their blood is up, as I have seen
often. That doesn't alter our clear duty in the matter. If the woman were
bad, or shameful, it would be a different thing; if--"

Marion interrupted: "She has ridden bareback across the continent like a
jockey,--like a common jockey, and she wears a blanket, and she doesn't
know a word of English, and she will sit on the floor!"

"Well," said her father, "all these things are not sins, and she must be
taught better."

"Joseph, how can you?" said Mrs. Armour indignantly. "She cannot, she
shall not come here. Think of Marion. Think of our position."

She hid her troubled, tear-stained face behind her handkerchief. At the
same time she grasped her husband's hand. She knew that he was right. She
honoured him in her heart for the position he had taken, but she could
not resist the natural impulse of a woman where her taste and convention
were shocked.

The old man was very pale, but there was no mistaking his determination.
He had been more indignant than any of them, at first, but he had an
unusual sense of justice when he got face to face with it, as Richard had
here helped him to do. "We do not know that the woman has done any
wrong," he said. "As for our name and position, they, thank God! are
where a mad marriage cannot unseat them. We have had much prosperity in
the world, my wife; we have had neither death nor dishonour; we--"

"If this isn't dishonour, father, what is?" Marion flashed out.

He answered calmly. "My daughter, it is a great misfortune, it will
probably be a lifelong trial, but it is not necessarily dishonour."

"You never can make a scandal less by trying to hide it," said Richard,
backing up his father. "It is all pretty awkward, but I daresay we shall
get some amusement out of it in the end."

"Richard," said his mother through her tears, "you are flippant and
unkind!"

"Indeed, mother," was his reply, "I never was more serious in my life.
When I spoke of amusement, I meant comedy merely, not fun--the thing that
looks like tragedy and has a happy ending. That is what I mean, mother,
nothing more."

"You are always so very deep, Richard," remarked Marion ironically, "and
care so very little how the rest of us feel about things. You have no
family pride. If you had married a squaw, we shouldn't have been
surprised. You could have camped in the grounds with your wild woman, and
never have been missed--by the world," she hastened to add, for she saw a
sudden pain in his face.

He turned from them all a little wearily, and limped over to the window.
He stood looking out into the limes where he and Frank had played when
boys. He put his finger up, his unhandsome finger, and caught away some
moisture from his eyes. He did not dare to let them see his face, nor yet
to speak. Marion had cut deeper than she knew, and he would carry the
wound for many a day before it healed.

But his sister felt instantly how cruel she had been, as she saw him limp
away, and caught sight of the bowed shoulders and the prematurely grey
hair. Her heart smote her. She ran over, and impulsively put her hands on
his shoulder. "Oh, Dick," she said, "forgive me, Dick! I didn't mean it.
I was angry and foolish and hateful."

He took one of her hands as it rested on his shoulder, she standing
partly behind him, and raised it to his lips, but he did not turn to her;
he could not.

"It is all right--all right," he said; "it doesn't make any difference.
Let us think of Frank and what we have got to do. Let us stand together,
Marion; that is best."

But her tears were dropping on his shoulder, as her forehead rested on
her hand. He knew now that, whatever Frank's wife was, she would not have
an absolute enemy here; for when Marion cried her heart was soft. She was
clay in the hands of the potter whom we call Mercy--more often a stranger
to the hearts of women than of men. At the other side of the room also
the father and mother, tearless now, watched these two; and the mother
saw her duty better and with less rebelliousness. She had felt it from
the first, but she could not bring her mind to do it. They held each
other's hands in silence. Presently General Armour said: "Richard, your
mother and I will go to Liverpool to meet Frank's wife."

Marion shuddered a little, and her hands closed on Richard's shoulder,
but she said nothing.




CHAPTER III

OUT OF THE NORTH

It was a beautiful day--which was so much in favour of Mrs. Frank Armour
in relation to her husband's people. General Armour and his wife had come
down from London by the latest train possible, that their suspense at
Liverpool might be short. They said little to each other, but when they
did speak it was of things very different from the skeleton which they
expected to put into the family cupboard presently. Each was trying to
spare the other. It was very touching. They naturally looked upon the
matter in its most unpromising light, because an Indian was an Indian,
and this unknown savage from Fort Charles was in violent contrast to such
desirable persons as Lady Agnes Martling. Not that the Armours were
zealous for mere money and title, but the thing itself was altogether a
propos, as Mrs. Armour had more naively than correctly put it. The
general, whose knowledge of character and the circumstances of life was
considerable, had worked out the thing with much accuracy. He had
declared to Richard, in their quiet talk upon the subject, that Frank
must have been anything but sober when he did it. He had previously
called it a policy of retaliation; so that now he was very near the
truth. When they arrived at the dock at Liverpool, the Aphrodite was just
making into the harbour.

"Egad," said General Armour to himself, "Sebastopol was easier than this;
for fighting I know, and being peppered I know, by Jews, Greeks,
infidels, and heretics; but to take a savage to my arms and do for her
what her godfathers and godmothers never did, is worse than the devil's
dance at Delhi."

What Mrs. Armour, who was not quite so definite as her husband, thought,
it would be hard to tell; but probably grief for, and indignation at, her
son, were uppermost in her mind. She had quite determined upon her
course. None could better carry that high, neutral look of social
superiority than she.

Please Heaven, she said to herself, no one should see that her equanimity
was shaken. They had brought one servant with them, who had been gravely
and yet conventionally informed that his young master's wife, an Indian
chieftainess, was expected. There are few family troubles but find their
way to servants' hall with an uncomfortable speed; for, whether or not
stone walls have ears, certainly men-servants and maid-servants have eyes
that serve for ears, and ears that do more than their bounden duty.
Boulter, the footman, knew his business. When informed of the coming of
Mrs. Francis Armour, the Indian chieftainess, his face was absolutely
expressionless; his "Yessir" was as mechanical as usual. On the dock he
was marble--indifferent. When the passengers began to land, he showed no
excitement. He was decorously alert. When the crucial moment came, he was
imperturbable. Boulter was an excellent servant. So said Edward Lambert
to himself after the event; so, likewise, said Mrs. Townley to herself
when the thing was over; so declared General Armour many a time after,
and once very emphatically, just before he raised Boulter's wages.

As the boat neared Liverpool, Lambert and Mrs. Townley grew nervous. The
truth regarding the Indian wife had become known among the passengers,
and most were very curious--some in a well-bred fashion, some
intrusively, vulgarly. Mackenzie, Lali's companion, like Boulter, was
expressionless in face. She had her duty to do, paid for liberally, and
she would do it. Lali might have had a more presentable and dignified
attendant, but not one more worthy. It was noticeable that the captain of
the ship and all the officers had been markedly courteous to Mrs. Armour
throughout the voyage, but, to their credit, not ostentatiously so. When
the vessel was brought to anchor and the passengers were being put upon
the tender, the captain came and made his respectful adieus, as though
Lali were a lady of title in her own right, and not an Indian girl
married to a man acting under the influence of brandy and malice. General
Armour and Mrs. Armour were always grateful to Lambert and Mrs. Townley
for the part they played in this desperate little comedy. They stood
still and watchful as the passengers came ashore one by one. They saw
that they were the centre of unusual interest, but General Armour was
used to bearing himself with a grim kind of indifference in public, and
his wife was calm, and so somewhat disappointed those who probably
expected the old officer and his wife to be distressed. Frank Armour's
solicitor was also there, but, with good taste, he held aloof. The two
needed all their courage, however, when they saw a figure in buckskin and
blanket step upon the deck, attended by a very ordinary, austere, and
shabbily-dressed Scotswoman. But immediately behind them were Edward
Lambert and Mrs. Townley, and these, with their simple tact, naturalness,
and freedom from any sort of embarrassment, acted as foils, and relieved
the situation.

General Armour advanced, hat in hand. "You are my son's wife?" he said
courteously to this being in a blanket.

She looked up and shook her head slightly, for she did not quite
understand; but she recognised his likeness to her husband, and presently
she smiled up musingly. Mackenzie repeated to her what General Armour had
said. She nodded now, a flash of pleasure lighting up her face, and she
slid out her beautiful hand to him. The general took it and pressed it
mechanically, his lips twitching slightly. He pressed it far harder than
he meant, for his feelings were at tension. She winced slightly, and
involuntarily thrust out her other hand, as if to relieve his pressure.
As she did so the blanket fell away from her head and shoulders. Lambert,
with excellent intuition, caught it, and threw it across his arm. Then,
quickly, and without embarrassment, he and Mrs. Townley greeted General
Armour, who returned the greetings gravely, but in a singular,
confidential tone, which showed his gratitude. Then he raised his hat
again to Lali, and said: "Come and let me introduce you--to your
husband's mother."

The falling back of that blanket had saved the situation; for when the
girl stood without it in her buckskin garments there was a dignity in her
bearing which carried off the bizarre event. There was timidity in her
face, and yet a kind of pride too, though she was only a savage. The
case, even at this critical moment, did not seem quite hopeless. When
they came to Mrs. Armour, Lali shrank away timidly from the look in the
mother's eyes, and, shivering slightly, looked round for her blanket. But
Lambert had deftly passed it on to the footman. Presently Mrs. Armour
took both the girl's hands in hers (perhaps she did it because the eyes
of the public were on her, but that is neither here nor there--she did
it), and kissed her on the cheek. Then they moved away to a closed
carriage.

And that was the second act in Frank Armour's comedy of errors.




CHAPTER IV

IN THE NAME OF THE FAMILY

The journey from Liverpool to Greyhope was passed in comparative silence.
The Armours had a compartment to themselves, and they made the Indian
girl as comfortable as possible without self-consciousness, without any
artificial politeness. So far, what they had done was a matter of duty,
not of will; but they had done their duty naturally all their lives, and
it was natural to them now. They had no personal feelings towards the
girl one way or another, as yet. It was trying to them that people stared
into the compartment at different stations. It presently dawned upon
General Armour that it might also be trying to their charge. Neither he
nor his wife had taken into account the possibility of the girl having
feelings to be hurt. But he had noticed Lali shrink visibly and flush
slightly when some one stared harder than usual, and this troubled him.
It opened up a possibility. He began indefinitely to see that they were
not the only factors in the equation. He was probably a little vexed that
he had not seen it before; for he wished to be a just man. He was wont to
quote with more or less austerity--chiefly the result of his professional
life--this:

   "For justice, all place a temple, and all season summer."

And, man of war as he was, he had another saying which was much in his
mouth; and he lived up to it with considerable sincerity:

     "Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
     To silence envious tongues."

He whispered to his wife. It would have been hard to tell from her look
what she thought of the matter, but presently she changed seats with her
husband, that he might, by holding his newspaper at a certain angle,
shield the girl from intrusive gazers.

At every station the same scene was enacted. And inquisitive people must
have been surprised to see how monotonously ordinary was the manner of
the three white people in the compartment. Suddenly, at a station near
London, General Armour gave a start, and used a strong expression under
his breath. Glancing at the "Marriage" column, he saw a notice to the
effect that on a certain day of a certain month, Francis Gilbert, the son
of General Joseph Armour, C.B., of Greyhope, Hertfordshire, and Cavendish
Square, was married to Lali, the daughter of Eye-of-the-Moon, chief of
the Bloods, at her father's lodge in the Saskatchewan Valley. This had
been inserted by Frank Armour's solicitor, according to his instructions,
on the day that the Aphrodite was due at Liverpool. General Armour did
not at first intend to show this to his wife, but on second thought he
did, because he knew she would eventually come to know of it, and also
because she saw that something had moved him. She silently reached out
her hand for the paper. He handed it to her, pointing to the notice.

Mrs. Armour was unhappy, but her self-possession was admirable, and she
said nothing. She turned her face to the window, and sat for a long time
looking out. She did not turn to the others, for her eyes were full of
tears, and she did not dare to wipe them away, nor yet to let them be
seen. She let them dry there. She was thinking of her son, her favourite
son, for whom she had been so ambitious, and for whom, so far as she
could, and retain her self-respect, she had delicately intrigued, that he
might happily and befittingly marry. She knew that in the matter of his
engagement she had not done what was best for him, but how could she have
guessed that this would be the result? She also was sure that when the
first flush of his anger and disappointment had passed, and he came to
view this thing with cooler mind, he would repent deeply--for a whole
lifetime. She was convinced that he had not married this savage for
anything which could make marriage endurable. Under the weight of the
thought she was likely to forget that the young alien wife might have
lost terribly in the event also.

The arrival at Euston and the departure from St. Pancras were rather
painful all round, for, though there was no waiting at either place, the
appearance of an Indian girl in native costume was uncommon enough, even
in cosmopolitan London, to draw much attention. Besides, the placards of
the evening papers were blazoned with such announcements as this:

             A RED INDIAN GIRL
              MARRIED INTO
           AN ENGLISH COUNTY FAMILY.

Some one had telegraphed particulars--distorted particulars--over from
Liverpool, and all the evening sheets had their portion of extravagance
and sensation. General Armour became a little more erect and austere as
he caught sight of these placards, and Mrs. Armour groaned inwardly; but
their faces were inscrutable, and they quietly conducted their charge,
minus her blanket, to the train which was to take them to St. Albans, and
were soon wheeling homeward.

At Euston they parted with Lambert and Mrs. Townley, who quite simply and
conventionally bade good-bye to them and their Indian daughter-in-law.
Lali had grown to like Mrs. Townley, and when they parted she spoke a few
words quickly in her own tongue, and then immediately was confused,
because she remembered that she could not be understood. But presently
she said in halting English that the face of her white friend was good,
and she hoped that she would come one time and sit beside her in her
wigwam, for she would be sad till her husband travelled to her.

Mrs. Townley made some polite reply in simple English, pressed the girl's
hand sympathetically, and hurried away. Before she parted from Mr.
Lambert, however, she said, with a pretty touch of cynicism: "I think I
see Marion Armour listening to her sister-in-law issue invitations to her
wigwam. I am afraid I should be rather depressed myself if I had to be
sisterly to a wigwam lady."

"But I say, Mrs. Townley," rejoined Lambert seriously, as he loitered at
the steps of her carriage, "I shouldn't be surprised if my Lady Wigwam--a
rather apt and striking title, by the way--turned out better than we
think. She carried herself rippingly without the blanket, and I never saw
a more beautiful hand in my life--but one," he added, as his fingers at
that moment closed on hers, and held them tightly, in spite of the
indignant little effort at withdrawal. "She may yet be able to give them
all points in dignity and that kind of thing, and pay Master Frank back
in his own coin. I do not see, after all, that he is the martyr."

Lambert's voice got softer, for he still held Mrs. Townley's fingers, the
footman not having the matter in his eye,--and then he spoke still more
seriously on sentimental affairs of his own, in which he evidently hoped
she would take some interest. Indeed, it is hard to tell how far the case
might have been pushed if she had not suddenly looked a little forbidding
and imperious. For even people of no notable height, with soft features,
dark brown eyes, and a delightful little laugh, may appear rather regal
at times. Lambert did not quite understand why she should take this
attitude. If he had been as keen regarding his own affairs of the
affections as in the case of Frank Armour and his Indian bride, he had
known that every woman has in her mind the occasion when she should and
when she should not be wooed, and nothing disappoints her more than a
declaration at a time which is not her time. If it does not fall out as
she wishes it, retrospect, a dear thing to a woman, is spoiled. Many a
man has been sent to the right-about because he has ventured his proposal
at the wrong time. What would have occurred to Lambert it is hard to
tell; but he saw that something was wrong, and stopped in time.

When General Armour and his party reached Greyhope it was late in the
evening. The girl seemed tired and confused by the events of the day, and
did as she was directed, indifferently, limply. But when they entered the
gates of Greyhope and travelled up the long avenue of limes, she looked
round her somewhat eagerly, and drew a long sigh, maybe of relief or
pleasure. She presently stretched out a hand almost caressingly to the
thick trees and the grass, and said aloud: "Oh, the beautiful trees and
the long grass!" There was a whirr of birds' wings among the branches,
and then, presently, there rose from a distance the sweet, gurgling
whistle of the nightingale. A smile as of reminiscence crossed her face.
Then she said, as if to herself: "It is the same. I shall not die. I hear
the birds' wings, and one is singing. It is pleasant to sleep in the long
grass when the nights are summer, and to hang your cradle in the trees."

She had asked for her own blanket, refusing a rug, when they left St.
Albans, and it had been given to her. She drew it about her now with a
feeling of comfort, and seemed to lose the horrible sense of strangeness
which had almost convulsed her when she was put into the carriage at the
railway station. Her reserve had hidden much of what she really felt; but
the drive through the limes had shown General Armour and his wife that
they had to do with a nature having capacities for sensitive feeling;
which, it is sometimes thought, is only the prerogative of certain
well-bred civilisations.

But it was impossible that they should yet, or for many a day, feel any
sense of kinship with this aboriginal girl. Presently the carriage drew
up to the doorway, which was instantly opened to them. A broad belt of
light streamed out upon the stone steps. Far back in the hall stood
Marion, one hand upon the balustrade of the staircase, the other tightly
held at her side, as if to nerve herself for the meeting. The eyes of the
Indian girl pierced the light, and, as if by a strange instinct, found
those of Marion, even before she left the carriage. Lali felt vaguely
that here was her possible enemy. As she stepped out of the carriage,
General Armour's hand under her elbow to assist her, she drew her blanket
something more closely about her, and so proceeded up the steps. The
composure of the servants was, in the circumstances, remarkable. It
needed to have been, for the courage displayed by Lali's two new
guardians during the day almost faltered at the threshold of their own
home. Any sign of surprise or amusement on the part of the domestics
would have given them some painful moments subsequently. But all was
perfectly decorous. Marion still stood motionless, almost dazed, The
group advanced into the hall, and there paused, as if waiting for her.

At that moment Richard came out of the study at her right hand, took her
arm, and said quietly: "Come along, Marion. Let us be as brave as our
father and mother."

She gave a hard little gasp and seemed to awake as from a dream. She
quickly glided forwards ahead of him, kissed her mother and father almost
abruptly, then turned to the young wife with a scrutinising eye.
"Marion," said her father, "this is your sister." Marion stood
hesitating, confused.

"Marion, dear," repeated her mother ceremoniously, "this is your
brother's wife.--Lali, this is your husband's sister, Marion."

Mackenzie translated the words swiftly to the girl, and her eyes flashed
wide. Then in a low voice she said in English: "Yes, Marion, How!"

It is probable that neither Marion nor any one present knew quite the
meaning of 'How', save Richard, and he could not suppress a smile, it
sounded so absurd and aboriginal. But at this exclamation Marion once
more came to herself. She could not possibly go so far as her mother did
at the dock and kiss this savage, but, with a rather sudden grasp of the
hand, she said, a little hysterically, for her brain was going round like
a wheel,--"Wo-won't you let me take your blanket?" and forthwith laid
hold of it with tremulous politeness.

The question sounded, for the instant, so ludicrous to Richard that, in
spite of the distressing situation, he had to choke back a laugh. Years
afterwards, if he wished for any momentary revenge upon Marion (and he
had a keen sense of wordy retaliation), he simply said: "Wo-won't you let
me take your blanket?"

Of course the Indian girl did not understand, but she submitted to the
removal of this uncommon mantle, and stood forth a less trying sight to
Marion's eyes; for, as we said before, her buckskin costume set off
softly the good outlines of her form.

The Indian girl's eyes wandered from Marion to Richard. They wandered
from anxiety, doubt, and a bitter kind of reserve, to cordiality,
sympathy, and a grave kind of humour. Instantly the girl knew that she
had in eccentric Richard Armour a frank friend. Unlike as he was to his
brother, there was still in their eyes the same friendliness and
humanity. That is, it was the same look that Frank carried when he first
came to her father's lodge.

Richard held out his hand with a cordial little laugh and said: "Ah, ah,
very glad, very glad! Just in time for supper. Come along. How is Frank,
eh? how is Frank? Just so; just so. Pleasant journey, I suppose?" He
shook her hand warmly three or four times, and, as he held it, placed his
left hand over it and patted it patriarchally, as was his custom with all
the children and all the old ladies that he knew.

"Richard," said his mother, in a studiously neutral voice, "you might see
about the wine."

Then Richard appeared to recover himself, and did as he was requested,
but not until his brother's wife had said to him in English, as they
courteously drew her towards the staircase: "Oh, my brother Richard,
How!"

But the first strain and suspense were now over for the family, and it is
probable that never had they felt such relief as when they sat down
behind closed doors in their own rooms for a short respite, while the
Indian girl was closeted alone with Mackenzie and a trusted maid, in what
she called her wigwam.




CHAPTER V

AN AWKWARD HALF-HOUR

It is just as well, perhaps, that the matter had become notorious.
Otherwise the Armours had lived in that unpleasant condition of being
constantly "discovered." It was simply a case of aiming at absolute
secrecy, which had been frustrated by Frank himself, or bold and
unembarrassed acknowledgment and an attempt to carry things off with a
high hand. The latter course was the only one possible. It had originally
been Richard's idea, appropriated by General Armour, and accepted by Mrs.
Armour and Marion with what grace was possible. The publication of the
event prepared their friends, and precluded the necessity for reserve.
What the friends did not know was whether they ought or ought not to
commiserate the Armours. It was a difficult position. A death, an
accident, a lost reputation, would have been easy to them; concerning
these there could be no doubt. But an Indian daughter-in-law, a person in
moccasins, was scarcely a thing to be congratulated upon; and yet
sympathy and consolation might be much misplaced; no one could tell how
the Armours would take it. For even their closest acquaintances knew what
kind of delicate hauteur was possible to them. Even the "'centric"
Richard, who visited the cottages of the poor, carrying soup and luxuries
of many kinds, accompanying them with the most wholesome advice a single
man ever gave to families and the heads of families, whose laugh was so
cheery and spontaneous,--and face so uncommonly grave and sad at
times,--had a faculty for manner. With astonishing suddenness he could
raise insurmountable barriers; and people, not of his order, who
occasionally presumed on his simplicity of life and habits, found
themselves put distinctly ill at ease by a quiet, curious look in his
eye. No man was ever more the recluse and at the same time the man of the
world. He had had his bitter little comedy of life, but it was different
from that of his brother Frank. It was buried very deep; not one of his
family knew of it: Edward Lambert, and one or two others who had good
reason never to speak of it, were the only persons possessing his secret.

But all England knew of Frank's mesalliance. And the question was, What
would people do? They very properly did nothing at first. They waited to
see how the Armours would act: they did not congratulate; they did not
console; that was left to those papers which chanced to resent General
Armour's politics, and those others which were emotional and sensational
on every subject--particularly so where women were concerned.

It was the beginning of the season, but the Armours had decided that
they would not go to town. That is, the general and his wife were not
going. They felt that they ought to be at Greyhope with their
daughter-in-law--which was to their credit. Regarding Marion they had
nothing to say. Mrs. Armour inclined to her going to town for the season,
to visit Mrs. Townley, who had thoughtfully written to her, saying that
she was very lonely, and begging Mrs. Armour to let her come, if she
would. She said that of course Marion would see much of her people in
town just the same. Mrs. Townley was a very clever and tactful woman.

She guessed that General Armour and his wife were not likely to come to
town, but that must not appear, and the invitation should be on a
different basis--as it was.

It is probable that Marion saw through the delicate plot, but that did
not make her like Mrs. Townley less. These little pieces of art make life
possible, these tender fictions!

Marion was, however, not in good humour; she was nervous and a little
petulant. She had a high-strung temperament, a sensitive perception of
the fitness of things, and a horror of what was gauche; and she would, in
brief, make a rather austere person if the lines of life did not run in
her favour. She had something of Frank's impulsiveness and temper; it
would have been a great blessing to her if she had had a portion of
Richard's philosophical humour also. She was at a point of tension--her
mother and Richard could see that. She was anxious--though for the world
she would not have had it thought so--regarding Captain Vidall. She had
never cared for anybody but him; it was possible she never would. But he
did not know this, and she was not absolutely sure that his evident but
as yet informal love would stand this strain--which shows how people very
honourable and perfect-minded in themselves may allow a large margin to
other people who are presumably honourable and perfect-minded also. There
was no engagement between them, and he was not bound in any way, and
could, therefore, without slashing the hem of the code, retire without
any apology; but they had had that unspoken understanding which most
people who love each other show even before a word of declaration has
passed their lips. If he withdrew because of this scandal there might be
some awkward hours for Frank Armour's wife at Greyhope; but, more than
that, there would be a very hard-hearted young lady to play her part in
the deceitful world; she would be as merciless as she could be.
Naturally, being young, she exaggerated the importance of the event, and
brooded on it. It was different with her father and mother. They were
shocked and indignant at first, but when the first scene had been faced
they began to make the best of things all round. That is, they proceeded
at once to turn the North American Indian into a European--a matter of no
little difficulty. A governess was discussed; but General Armour did not
like the idea, and Richard opposed it heartily. She must be taught
English and educated, and made possible in "Christian clothing," as Mrs.
Armour put it. Of the education they almost despaired--all save Richard;
time, instruction, vanity, and a dressmaker might do much as to the
other.

The evening of her arrival, Lali would not, with any urging, put on
clothes of Marion's which had been sent in to her. And the next morning
it was still the same.

She came into the breakfast-room dressed still in buckskin and moccasins,
and though the grease had been taken out of her hair it was still combed
flat. Mrs. Armour had tried to influence her through Mackenzie, but to no
purpose. She was placidly stubborn.

It had been unwisely told her by Mackenzie that they were Marion's
clothes. They scarcely took in the fact that the girl had pride, that she
was the daughter of a chief, and a chieftainess herself, and that it was
far from happy to offer her Marion's clothes to wear.

Now, Richard, when he was a lad, had been on a journey to the South Seas,
and had learned some of the peculiarities of the native mind, and he did
not suppose that American Indians differed very much from certain
well-bred Polynesians in little matters of form and good taste. When his
mother told him what had occurred before Lali entered the breakfast-room,
he went directly to what he believed was the cause, and advised tact with
conciliation. He also pointed out that Lali was something taller than
Marion, and that she might be possessed of that general trait of
humanity-vanity. Mrs. Armour had not yet got used to thinking of the girl
in another manner than an intrusive being of a lower order, who was there
to try their patience, but also to do their bidding. She had yet to grasp
the fact that, being her son's wife, she must have, therefore, a position
in the house, exercising a certain authority over the servants, who, to
Mrs. Armour, at first seemed of superior stuff. But Richard said to her:
"Mother, I fancy you don't quite grasp the position. The girl is the
daughter of a chief, and the descendant of a family of chiefs, perhaps
through many generations. In her own land she has been used to respect,
and has been looked up to pretty generally. Her garments are, I fancy,
considered very smart in the Hudson's Bay country; and a finely decorated
blanket like hers is expensive up there. You see, we have to take the
thing by comparison; so please give the girl a chance."

And Mrs. Armour answered wearily, "I suppose you are right, Richard; you
generally are in the end, though why you should be I do not know, for you
never see anything of the world any more, and you moon about among the
cottagers. I suppose it's your native sense and the books you read."

Richard laughed softly, but there was a queer ring in the laugh, and he
came over stumblingly and put his arm round his mother's shoulder. "Never
mind how I get such sense as I have, mother; I have so much time to
think, it would be a wonder if I hadn't some. But I think we had better
try to study her, and coax her along, and not fob her off as a very
inferior person, or we shall have our hands full in earnest. My opinion
is, she has got that which will save her and us too--a very high spirit,
which only needs opportunity to develop into a remarkable thing; and,
take my word for it, mother, if we treat her as a chieftainess, or
princess, or whatever she is, and not simply as a dusky person, we shall
come off better and she will come off better in the long run. She is not
darker than a Spaniard, anyhow." At this point Marion entered the room,
and her mother rehearsed briefly to her what their talk had been. Marion
had had little sleep, and she only lifted her eyebrows at them at first.
She was in little mood for conciliation. She remembered all at once that
at supper the evening before her sister-in-law had said How! to the
butler, and had eaten the mayonnaise with a dessert spoon. But presently,
because she saw they waited for her to speak, she said, with a little
flutter of maliciousness: "Wouldn't it be well for Richard--he has plenty
of time, and we are also likely to have it now--to put us all through a
course of instruction for the training of chieftainesses? And when do you
think she will be ready for a drawing-room--Her Majesty Queen Victoria's,
or ours?"

"Marion!" said Mrs. Armour severely; but Richard came round to her, and,
with his fresh, child-like humour, put his arm round her waist and added
"Marion, I'd be willing to bet--if I were in the habit of betting--my
shaky old pins here against a lock of your hair that you may present her
at any drawing-room--ours or Queen Victoria's--in two years, if we go at
it right; and it would serve Master Frank very well if we turned her out
something, after all."

To which Mrs. Armour responded almost eagerly: "I wish it were only
possible, Richard. And what you say is true, I suppose, that she is of
rank in her own country, whatever value that may have."

Richard saw his advantage. "Well, mother," he said, "a chieftainess is a
chieftainess, and I don't know but to announce her as such, and--"

"And be proud of it, as it were," put in Marion, "and pose her, and make
her a prize--a Pocahontas, wasn't it?--and go on pretending world without
end!" Marion's voice was still slightly grating, but there was in it too
a faint sound of hope. "Perhaps," she said to herself, "Richard is
right."

At this point the door opened and Lali entered, shown in by Colvin, her
newly-appointed maid, and followed by Mackenzie, and, as we said, dressed
still in her heathenish garments. She had a strong sense of dignity, for
she stood still and waited. Perhaps nothing could have impressed Marion
more. Had Lali been subservient simply, an entirely passive,
unintelligent creature, she would probably have tyrannised over her in a
soft, persistent fashion, and despised her generally. But Mrs. Armour and
Marion saw that this stranger might become very troublesome indeed, if
her temper were to have play. They were aware of capacities for passion
in those dark eyes, so musing yet so active in expression, which moved
swiftly from one object to another and then suddenly became resolute.

Both mother and daughter came forward, and held out their hands, wishing
her a pleasant good-morning, and were followed by Richard, and
immediately by General Armour, who had entered soon after her. She had
been keen enough to read (if a little vaguely) behind the scenes, and her
mind was wakening slowly to the peculiarity of the position she occupied.
The place awed her, and had broken her rest by perplexing her mind, and
she sat down to the breakfast-table with a strange hunted look in her
face. But opposite to her was a window opening to the ground, and beyond
it were the limes and beeches and a wide perfect sward and far away a
little lake, on which swans and wild fowl fluttered. Presently, as she
sat silent, eating little, her eyes lifted to the window. They flashed
instantly, her face lighted up with a weird kind of charm, and suddenly
she got to her feet with Indian exclamations on her lips, and, as if
unconscious of them all, went swiftly to the window and out of it, waving
her hands up and down once or twice to the trees and the sunlight.

"What did she say?" said Mrs. Armour, rising with the others.

"She said," replied Mackenzie, as she hurried towards the window, "that
they were her beautiful woods, and there were wild birds flying and
swimming in the water, as in her own country."

By this time all were at the window, Richard arriving last, and the
Indian girl turned on them, her body all quivering with excitement,
laughed a low, bird-like laugh, and then, clapping her hands above her
head, she swung round and ran like a deer towards the lake, shaking her
head back as an animal does when fleeing from his pursuers. She would
scarcely have been recognised as the same placid, speechless woman in a
blanket who sat with folded hands day after day on the Aphrodite.

The watchers turned and looked at each other in wonder. Truly, their task
of civilising a savage would not lack in interest. The old general was
better pleased, however, at this display of activity and excitement than
at yesterday's taciturnity. He loved spirit, even if it had to be
subdued, and he thought on the instant that he might possibly come to
look upon the fair savage as an actual and not a nominal daughter-in-law.
He had a keen appreciation of courage, and he thought he saw in her face,
as she turned upon them, a look of defiance or daring, and nothing could
have got at his nature quicker. If the case had not been so near to his
own hearthstone he would have chuckled. As it was, he said
good-humouredly that Mackenzie and Marion should go and bring her back.
But Mackenzie was already at that duty. Mrs. Armour had had the presence
of mind to send for Colvin; but presently, when the general spoke, she
thought it better that Marion should go, and counselled returning to
breakfast and not making the matter of too much importance. This they
did, Richard very reluctantly; while Marion, rather pleased than not at
the spirit shown by the strange girl, ran away over the grass towards the
lake, where Lali had now stopped. There was a little bridge at one point
where the lake narrowed, and Lali, evidently seeing it all at once, went
towards it, and ran up on it, standing poised above the water about the
middle of it. For an instant an unpleasant possibility came into Marion's
mind: suppose the excited girl intended suicide! She shivered as she
thought of it, and yet--! She put that horribly cruel and selfish thought
away from her with an indignant word at herself. She had passed
Mackenzie, and came first to the lake. Here she slackened, and waved her
hand playfully to the girl, so as not to frighten her; and then with a
forced laugh came up panting on the bridge, and was presently by Lali's
side. Lali eyed her a little furtively, but, seeing that Marion was much
inclined to be pleasant, she nodded to her, said some Indian words
hastily, and spread out her hands towards the water. As she did so,
Marion noticed again the beauty of those hands and the graceful character
of the gesture, so much so that she forgot the flat hair and the unstayed
body, and the rather broad feet, and the delicate duskiness, which had so
worked upon her in imagination and in fact the evening before. She put
her hand kindly on that long slim hand stretched out beside her, and,
because she knew not what else to speak, and because the tongue is very
perverse at times,--saying the opposite of what is expected,--she herself
blundered out, "How! How! Lali."

Perhaps Lali was as much surprised at the remark as Marion herself, and
certainly very much more delighted. The sound of those familiar words,
spoken by accident as they were, opened the way to a better
understanding, as nothing else could possibly have done. Marion was
annoyed with herself, and yet amused too. If her mind had been perfectly
assured regarding Captain Vidall, it is probable that then and there a
peculiar, a genial, comradeship would have been formed. As it was, Marion
found this little event more endurable than she expected. She also found
that Lali, when she laughed in pleasant acknowledgment of that How! had
remarkably white and regular teeth. Indeed, Marion Armour began to
discover some estimable points in the appearance of her savage
sister-in-law. Marion remarked to herself that Lali might be a rather
striking person, if she were dressed, as her mother said, in Christian
garments, could speak the English language well--and was somebody else's
sister-in-law.

At this point Mackenzie came breathlessly to the bridge, and called out a
little sharply to Lali, rebuking her. In this Mackenzie made a mistake;
for not only did Lali draw herself up with considerable dignity, but
Marion, noticing the masterful nature of the tone, instantly said:
"Mackenzie, you must remember that you are speaking to Mrs. Francis
Armour, and that her position in General Armour's house is the same as
mine. I hope it is not necessary to say anything more, Mackenzie."

Mackenzie flushed. She was a sensible woman, she knew that she had done
wrong, and she said very promptly: "I am very sorry, miss. I was
flustered, and I expect I haven't got used to speaking to--to Mrs. Armour
as I'll be sure to do in the future."

As she spoke, two or three deer came trotting out of the beeches down to
the lake side. If Lali was pleased and excited before, she was
overwhelmed now. Her breath came in quick little gasps; she laughed; she
tossed her hands; she seemed to become dizzy with delight; and presently,
as if this new link with, and reminder of, her past, had moved her as one
little expects a savage heart to be moved, two tears gathered in her
eyes, then slid down her cheek unheeded, and dried there in the sunlight,
as she still gazed at the deer. Marion, at first surprised, was now
touched, as she could not have thought it possible concerning this wild
creature, and her hand went out and caught Lali's gently. At this genuine
act of sympathy, instinctively felt by Lali, the stranger in a strange
land, husbanded and yet a widow, there came a flood of tears, and,
dropping on her knees, she leaned against the low railing of the bridge
and wept silently. So passionless was her grief it seemed the more
pathetic, and Marion dropped on her knees beside her, put her arm round
her shoulder, and said: "Poor girl! Poor girl!"

At that Lali caught her hand, and held it, repeating after her the words:
"Poor girl! Poor girl!"

She did not quite understand them, but she remembered that once just
before she parted from her husband at the Great Lakes he had said those
very words. If the fates had apparently given things into Frank Armour's
hands when he sacrificed this girl to his revenge, they were evidently
inclined to play a game which would eventually defeat his purpose, wicked
as it had been in effect if not in absolute motive. What the end of this
attempt to engraft the Indian girl upon the strictest convention of
English social life would have been had her introduction not been at
Greyhope, where faint likenesses to her past surrounded her, it is hard
to conjecture. But, from present appearances, it would seem that Richard
Armour was not wholly a false prophet; for the savage had shown herself
that morning to possess, in their crudeness, some striking qualities of
character. Given character, many things are possible, even to those who
are not of the elect.

This was the beginning of better things. Lali seemed to the Armours not
quite so impossible now. Had she been of the very common order of Indian
"pure and simple," the task had resolved itself into making a common
savage into a very common European. But, whatever Lali was, it was
abundantly evident that she must be reckoned with at all points, and that
she was more likely to become a very startling figure in the Armour
household than a mere encumbrance to be blushed for, whose eternal
absence were preferable to her company.

Years after that first morning Marion caught herself shuddering at the
thought that came to her when she saw Lali hovering on the bridge.
Whatever Marion's faults were, she had a fine dislike of anything that
seemed unfair. She had not ridden to hounds for nothing. She had at heart
the sportsman's instinct. It was upon this basis, indeed, that Richard
appealed to her in the first trying days of Lali's life among them. To
oppose your will to Marion on the basis of superior knowledge was only to
turn her into a rebel; and a very effective rebel she made; for she had a
pretty gift at the retort courteous, and she could take as much, and as
well, as she gave. She rebelled at first at assisting in Lali's
education, though by fits and starts she would teach her English words,
and help her to form long sentences, and was, on the whole, quite
patient. But Lali's real instructors were Mrs. Armour and Richard--, her
best, Richard.

The first few days she made but little progress, for everything was
strange to her, and things made her giddy--the servants, the formal
routine, the handsome furnishings, Marion's music, the great house, the
many precise personal duties set for her, to be got through at stated
times; and Mrs. Armour's rather grand manner. But there was the relief to
this, else the girl had pined terribly for her native woods and prairies;
this was the park, the deer, the lake, the hares, and birds. While she
sat saying over after Mrs. Armour words and phrases in English, or was
being shown how she must put on and wear the clothes which a dressmaker
from Regent Street had been brought to make, her eyes would wander
dreamily to the trees and the lake and the grass. They soon discovered
that she would pay no attention and was straightway difficult to teach if
she was not placed where she could look out on the park. They had no
choice, for though her resistance was never active it was nevertheless
effective.

Presently she got on very swiftly with Richard. For he, with instinct
worthy of a woman, turned their lessons upon her own country and Frank.
This cost him something, but it had its reward. There was no more
listlessness. Previously Frank's name had scarcely been spoken to her.
Mrs. Armour would have hours of hesitation and impotent regret before she
brought herself to speak of her son to his Indian wife. Marion tried to
do it a few times and failed; the general did it with rather a forced
voice and manner, because he saw that his wife was very tender upon the
point. But Richard, who never knew self-consciousness, spoke freely of
Frank when he spoke at all; and it was seeing Lali's eyes brighten and
her look earnestly fixed on him when he chanced to mention Frank's name,
that determined him on his new method of instruction. It had its dangers,
but he had calculated them all. The girl must be educated at all costs.
The sooner that occurred the sooner would she see her own position and
try to adapt herself to her responsibilities, and face the real state of
her husband's attitude towards her.

He succeeded admirably. Striving to tell him about her past life, and
ready to talk endlessly about her husband, of his prowess in the hunt, of
his strength and beauty, she also strove to find English words for the
purpose, and Richard supplied them with uncommon willingness. He humoured
her so far as to learn many Indian words and phrases, but he was chary of
his use of them, and tried hard to make her appreciative of her new life
and surroundings. He watched her waking slowly to an understanding of the
life, and of all that it involved. It gave him a kind of fear, too,
because she was sensitive, and there was the possible danger of her
growing disheartened or desperate, and doing some mad thing in the hour
that she wakened to the secret behind her marriage.

His apprehensions were not without cause. For slowly there came into
Lali's mind the element of comparison. She became conscious of it one day
when some neighbouring people called at Greyhope. Mrs. Armour, in her
sense of duty, which she had rigidly set before her, introduced Lali into
the drawing-room. The visitors veiled their curiosity and said some
pleasant casual things to the young wife, but she saw the half-curious,
half-furtive glances, she caught a sidelong glance and smile, and when
they were gone she took to looking at herself in a mirror, a thing she
could scarcely be persuaded to do before. She saw the difference between
her carriage and theirs, her manner of wearing her clothes and theirs,
her complexion and theirs. She exaggerated the difference. She brooded on
it. Now she sat downcast and timid, and hunted in face, as on the first
evening she came; now she appeared restless and excited.

If Mrs. Armour was not exactly sympathetic with her, she was quiet and
forbearing, and General Armour, like Richard, tried to draw her out--but
not on the same subjects. He dwelt upon what she did; the walks she took
in the park, those hours in the afternoon when, with Mackenzie or Colvin,
she vanished into the beeches, making friends with the birds and deer and
swans. But most of all she loved to go to the stables. She was, however,
asked not to go unless Richard or General Armour was with her. She loved
horses, and these were a wonder to her. She had never known any but the
wild, ungroomed Indian pony, on which she had ridden in every fashion and
over every kind of country. Mrs. Armour sent for a riding-master, and had
riding-costumes made for her. It was intended that she should ride every
day as soon as she seemed sufficiently presentable. This did not appear
so very far off, for she improved daily in appearance. Her hair was
growing finer, and was made up in the modest prevailing fashion; her
skin, no longer exposed to an inclement climate, and subject to the
utmost care, was smoother and fairer; her feet, encased in fine,
well-made boots, looked much smaller; her waist was shaped to fashion,
and she was very straight and lissom. So many things she did jarred on
her relatives, that they were not fully aware of the great improvement in
her appearance. Even Richard admitted her trying at times.

Marion went up to town to stay with Mrs. Townley, and there had to face a
good deal of curiosity. People looked at her sometimes as if it was she
and not Lali that was an Indian. But she carried things off bravely
enough, and answered those kind inquiries, which one's friends make when
we are in embarrassing situations, with answers so calm and pleasant that
people did not know what to think.

"Yes," she said, in reply to Lady Balwood, "her sister-in-law might be in
town later in the year, perhaps before the season was over: she could not
tell. She was tired after her long voyage, and she preferred the quiet of
Greyhope; she was fond of riding and country-life; but still she would
come to town for a time." And so on.

"Ah, dear me, how charming! And doesn't she resent her husband's
absence--during the honeymoon? or did the honeymoon occur before she came
over to England?" And Lady Balwood tried to say it all playfully, and
certainly said it something loudly. She had daughters.

But Marion was perfectly prepared. Her face did not change expression.
"Yes, they had had their honeymoon on the prairies; Frank was so
fascinated with the life and the people. He had not come home at once,
because he was making she did not know how great a fortune over there in
investments, and so Mrs. Armour came on before him, and, of course, as
soon as he could get away from his business, he would follow his wife."

And though Marion smiled, her heart was very hot, and she could have
slain Lady Balwood in her tracks. Lady Balwood then nodded a little
patronisingly, and babbled that "she hoped so much to see Mrs. Francis
Armour. She must be so very interesting, the papers said so much about
her."

Now, while this conversation was going on, some one stood not far behind
Marion, who seemed much interested in her and what she said. But Marion
did not see this person. She was startled presently, however, to hear a
strong voice say softly over her shoulder: "What a charming woman Lady
Balwood is! And so ingenuous!"

She was grateful, tremulous, proud. Why had he--Captain Vidall--kept out
of the way all these weeks, just when she needed him most, just when he
should have played the part of a man? Then she was feeling twinges at the
heart, too. She had seen Lady Agnes Martling that afternoon, and had
noticed how the news had worn on her. She felt how much better it had
been had Frank come quietly home and married her, instead of doing the
wild, scandalous thing that was making so many heart-burnings. A few
minutes ago she had longed for a chance to say something delicately acid
to Lady Haldwell, once Julia Sherwood, who was there. Now there was a
chance to give her bitter spirit tongue. She was glad--she dared not
think how glad--to hear that voice again; but she was angry too, and he
should suffer for it--the more so because she recognised in the tone, and
afterwards in his face, that he was still absorbingly interested in her.
There was a little burst of thanksgiving in her heart, and then she
prepared a very notable commination service in her mind.

This meeting had been deftly arranged by Mrs. Townley, with the help of
Edward Lambert, who now held her fingers with a kind of vanity of
possession whenever he bade her good-bye or met her. Captain Vidall had,
in fact, been out of the country, had only been back a week, and had only
heard of Frank Armour's mesalliance from Lambert at an At Home
forty-eight hours before. Mrs. Townley guessed what was really at the
bottom of Marion's occasional bitterness, and, piecing together many
little things dropped casually by her friend, had come to the conclusion
that the happiness of two people was at stake.

When Marion shook hands with Captain Vidall she had herself exceedingly
well under control. She looked at him in slight surprise, and casually
remarked that they had not chanced to meet lately in the run of
small-and-earlies. She appeared to be unconscious that he had been out of
the country, and also that she had been till very recently indeed at
Greyhope. He hastened to assure her that he had been away, and to lay
siege to this unexpected barrier. He knew all about Frank's affair, and,
though it troubled him, he did not see why it should make any difference
in his regard for Frank's sister. Fastidious as he was in all things, he
was fastidiously deferential. Not an exquisite, he had all that vanity as
to appearance so usual with the military man; himself of the most perfect
temper and sweetness of manner and conduct, the unusual disturbed him.
Not possessed of a vivid imagination, he could scarcely conjure up this
Indian bride at Greyhope.

But face to face with Marion Armour he saw what troubled his mind, and he
determined he would not meet her irony with irony, her assumed
indifference with indifference. He had learned one of the most important
lessons of life--never to quarrel with a woman. Whoever has so far erred
has been foolish indeed. It is the worst of policy, to say nothing of its
being the worst of art; and life should never be without art. It is
absurd to be perfectly natural; anything, anybody can be that. Well,
Captain Hume Vidall was something of an artist, more, however, in
principle than by temperament. He refused to recognise the rather
malicious adroitness with which Marion turned his remarks again upon
himself, twisted out of all semblance. He was very patient. He inquired
quietly, and as if honestly interested, about Frank, and said--because he
thought it safest as well as most reasonable--that, naturally, they must
have been surprised at his marrying a native; but he himself had seen
some such marriages turn out very well--in Japan, India, the South Sea
Islands, and Canada. He assumed that Marion's sister-in-law was
beautiful, and then disarmed Marion by saying that he thought of going
down to Greyhope immediately, to call on General Armour and Mrs. Armour,
and wondered if she was going back before the end of the season.

Quick as Marion was, this was said so quietly that she did not quite see
the drift of it. She had intended staying in London to the end of the
season, not because she enjoyed it, but because she was determined to
face Frank's marriage at every quarter, and have it over, once for all,
so far as herself was concerned. But now, taken slightly aback, she said,
almost without thinking, that she would probably go back soon--she was
not quite sure; but certainly her father and mother would be glad to see
Captain Vidall at any time.

Then, without any apparent relevancy, he asked her if Mrs. Frank Armour
still wore her Indian costume. In any one else the question had seemed
impertinent; in him it had a touch of confidence, of the privilege of
close friendship. Then he said, with a meditative look and a very calm,
retrospective voice, that he was once very much in love with a native
girl in India, and might have become permanently devoted to her, were it
not for the accident of his being ordered back to England summarily.

This was a piece of news which cut two ways. In the first place it
lessened the extraordinary character of Frank's marriage, and it roused
in her an immediate curiosity--which a woman always feels in the past
"affairs" of her lover, or possible lover. Vidall did not take pains to
impress her with the fact that the matter occurred when he was almost a
boy; and it was when her earnest inquisition had drawn from him, bit by
bit, the circumstances of the case, and she had forgotten many parts of
her commination service and to preserve an effective neutrality in tone,
that she became aware he was speaking ancient history. Then it was too
late to draw back.

They had threaded their way through the crowd into the conservatory,
where they were quite alone, and there, with only a little pyramid of
hydrangeas between them, which she could not help but notice chimed well
with the colour of her dress, he dropped his voice a little lower, and
then suddenly said, his eyes hard on her: "I want your permission to go
to Greyhope."

The tone drew her eyes hastily to his, and, seeing, she dropped them
again. Vidall had a strong will, and, what is of more consequence, a
peculiarly attractive voice. It had a vibration which made some of his
words organ-like in sound. She felt the influence of it. She said a
little faintly, her fingers toying with a hydrangea: "I am afraid I do
not understand. There is no reason why you should not go to Greyhope
without my permission."

"I cannot go without it," he persisted. "I am waiting for my commission
from you."

She dropped her hand from the flower with a little impatient motion. She
was tired, her head ached, she wanted to be alone. "Why are you
enigmatical?" she said. Then quickly: "I wish I knew what is in your
mind. You play with words so."

She scarcely knew what she said. A woman who loves a man very much is not
quick to take in the absolute declaration of that man's love on the
instant; it is too wonderful for her. He felt his check flush with hers,
he drew her look again to his. "Marion! Marion!" he said. That was all.

"Oh, hush, some one is coming!" was her quick, throbbing reply. When they
parted a half-hour later, he said to her: "Will you give me my commission
to go to Greyhope?"

"Oh no, I cannot," she said very gravely; "but come to Greyhope-when I go
back."

"And when will that be?" he said, smiling, yet a little ruefully too.

"Please ask Mrs. Townley," she replied; "she is coming also."

Marion, knew what that commission to go to Greyhope meant. But she
determined that he should see Lali first, before anything irrevocable was
done. She still looked upon Frank's marriage as a scandal. Well, Captain
Vidall should face it in all its crudeness. So, in a week or less, Marion
and Mrs. Townley were in Greyhope.

Two months had gone since Lali arrived in England, and yet no letter had
come to her, or to any of them, from Frank. Frank's solicitor in London
had written him fully of her arrival, and he had had a reply, with
further instructions regarding money to be placed to General Armour's
credit for the benefit of his wife. Lali, as she became Europeanised,
also awoke to the forms and ceremonies of her new life. She had overheard
Frank's father and mother wondering, and fretting as they wondered, why
they had not received any word from him. General Armour had even called
him a scoundrel, which sent Frank's mother into tears. Then Lali had
questioned Mackenzie and Colvin, for she had increasing shrewdness, and
she began to feel her actual position. She resented General Armour's
imputation, but in her heart she began to pine and wonder. At times, too,
she was fitful, and was not to be drawn out. But she went on improving in
personal appearance and manner and in learning the English language. Mrs.
Townley's appearance marked a change in her. When they met she suddenly
stood still and trembled. When Mrs. Townley came to her and took her hand
and kissed her, she shivered, and then caught her about the shoulders
lightly, but was silent. After a little she said: "Come--come to my
wigwam, and talk with me."

She said it with a strange little smile, for now she recognised that the
word wigwam was not to be used in her new life. But Mrs. Townley
whispered: "Ask Marion to come too."

Lali hesitated, and then said, a little maliciously: "Marion, will you
come to my wigwam?"

Marion ran to her, caught her about the waist, and replied gaily: "Yes,
we will have a pow-wow--is that right--is pow-wow right?"

The Indian girl shook her head with a pretty vagueness, and vanished with
them. General Armour walked up and down the room briskly, then turned on
his wife and said: "Wife, it was a brutal thing: Frank doesn't deserve to
be--the father of her child."

But Lali had moods--singular moods. She indulged in one three days after
the arrival of Marion and Mrs. Townley. She had learned to ride with the
side-saddle, and wore her riding-dress admirably. Nowhere did she show to
better advantage. She had taken to riding now with General Armour on the
country roads. On this day Captain Vidall was expected, he having written
to ask that he might come. What trouble Lali had with one of the servants
that morning was never thoroughly explained, but certain it is, she came
to have a crude notion of why Frank Armour married her. The servant was
dismissed duly, but that was after the contre-temps.

It was late afternoon. Everybody had been busy, because one or two other
guests were expected besides Captain Vidall. Lali had kept to herself,
sending word through Richard that she would not "be English," as she
vaguely put it, that day. She had sent Mackenzie on some mission. She sat
on the floor of her room, as she used to sit on the ground in her
father's lodge. Her head was bowed in her hands, and her arms rested on
her knees. Her body swayed to and fro. Presently all motion ceased. She
became perfectly still. She looked before her as if studying something.

Her eyes immediately flashed. She rose quickly to her feet, went to her
wardrobe, and took out her Indian costume and blanket, with which she
could never be induced to part. Almost feverishly she took off the
clothes she wore and hastily threw them from her. Then she put on the
buckskin clothes in which she had journeyed to England, drew down her
hair as she used to wear it, fastened round her waist a long red sash
which had been given her by a governor of the Hudson's Bay Company when
he had visited her father's country, threw her blanket round her
shoulders, and then eyed herself in the great mirror in the room. What
she saw evidently did not please her perfectly, for she stretched out her
hands and looked at them; she shook her head at herself and put her hand
to her cheeks and pinched them, they were not so brown as they once were,
then she thrust out her foot. She drew it back quickly in disdain.
Immediately she caught the fashionable slippers from her feet and threw
them among the discarded garments. She looked at herself again. Still she
was not satisfied, but she threw up her arms, as with a sense of pleasure
and freedom, and laughed at herself. She pushed out her moccasined foot,
tapped the floor with it, nodded towards it, and said a word or two in
her own language. She heard some one in the next room, possibly
Mackenzie. She stepped to the door leading into the hall, opened it, went
out, travelled its length, ran down a back hallway, out into the park,
towards the stables, her blanket, as her hair, flying behind her.

She entered the stables, made for a horse that she had ridden much, put a
bridle on him, led him out before any one had seen her, and, catching him
by the mane, suddenly threw herself on him at a bound, and, giving him a
tap with a short whip she had caught up in the stable, headed him for the
main avenue and the open road. Then a stableman saw her and ran after,
but he might as well have tried to follow the wind. He forthwith
proceeded to saddle another horse. Boulter also saw her as she passed the
house, and, running in, told Mrs. Armour and the general. They both ran
to the window and saw dashing down the avenue--a picture out of Fenimore
Cooper; a saddleless horse with a rider whose fingers merely touched the
bridle, riding as on a journey of life and death.

"My God, it's Lali! She's mad--she's mad! She is striking that horse! It
will bolt! It will kill her!" cried the general.

Then he rushed for a horse to follow her. Mrs. Armour's hands clasped
painfully. For an instant she had almost the same thought as had Marion
on the first morning of Lali's coming; but that passed, and left her
gazing helplessly after the horse-woman. The flying blanket had
frightened the blooded horse, and he made desperate efforts to fulfil the
general's predictions.

Lali soon found that she had miscalculated. She was not riding an Indian
pony, but a crazed, high-strung horse. As they flew, she sitting superbly
and tugging at the bridle, the party coming from the railway station
entered the great gate, accompanied by Richard and Marion. In a moment
they sighted this wild pair bearing down upon them with a terrible
swiftness.

As Marion recognised Lali she turned pale and cried out, rising in her
seat. Instinctively Captain Vidall knew who it was, though he could not
guess the cause of the singular circumstance. He saw that the horse had
bolted, but also that the rider seemed entirely fearless. "Why, in
Heaven's name," he said between his teeth, "doesn't she let go that
blanket!"

At that moment Lali did let it go, and the horse dashed by them, making
hard for the gate. "Turn the horses round and follow her," said Vidall to
the driver. While this was doing, Marion caught sight of her father
riding hard down the avenue. He passed them, and called to them to hurry
on after him.

Lali had not the slightest sense of fear, but she knew that the horse had
gone mad. When they passed through the gate and swerved into the road, a
less practised rider would have been thrown. She sat like wax. The pace
was incredible for a mile, and though General Armour rode well, he was
far behind.

Suddenly a trap appeared in the road in front of them, and the driver,
seeing the runaway, set his horses at right angles to the road. It served
the purpose only to provide another danger. Not far from where the trap
was drawn, and between it and the runaway, was a lane, which ended at a
farmyard in a cul-de-sac. The horse swerved into it, not slacking its
pace, and in the fraction of a minute came to the farmyard.

But now the fever was in Lali's blood. She did not care whether she lived
or died. A high hedge formed the cul-de-sac. When she saw the horse
slacking she cut it savagely across the head twice with a whip, and drove
him at the green wall. He was of too good make to refuse it, stiff as it
was. He rose to it magnificently, and cleared it; but almost as he struck
the ground squarely, he staggered and fell--the girl beneath him. He had
burst a blood-vessel. The ground was soft and wet; the weight of the
horse prevented her from getting free. She felt its hoof striking in its
death-struggles, and once her shoulder was struck. Instinctively she
buried her face in the mud, and her arms covered her head.

And then she knew no more.

When she came to, she was in the carriage within the gates of Greyhope,
and Marion was bending over her. She suddenly tried to lift herself, but
could not. Presently she saw another face--that of General Armour. It was
stern, and yet his eyes were swimming as he looked at her.

"How!" she said to him--"How!" and fainted again.

     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

     Being young, she exaggerated the importance of the event
     His duties were many, or he made them so
     Men must have their bad hours alone
     Most important lessons of life--never to quarrel with a woman
     Sympathy and consolation might be much misplaced
     These little pieces of art make life possible
     Think of our position
     Who never knew self-consciousness
     You never can make a scandal less by trying to hide it




THE TRANSLATION OF A SAVAGE

By Gilbert Parker

Volume 2.

     VI.    THE PASSING OF THE YEARS
     VII.   A COURT-MARTIAL
     VIII.   TO EVERY MAN HIS HOUR
     IX.    THE FAITH OF COMRADES




CHAPTER VI

THE PASSING OF THE YEARS

Lali's recovery was not rapid. A change had come upon her. With that
strange ride had gone the last strong flicker of the desire for savage
life in her. She knew now the position she held towards her husband: that
he had never loved her; that she was only an instrument for unworthy
retaliation. So soon as she could speak after her accident, she told them
that they must not write to him and tell him of it. She also made them
promise that they would give him no news of her at all, save that she was
well. They could not refuse to promise; they felt she had the right to
demand much more than that. They had begun to care for her for herself,
and when the months went by, and one day there was a hush about her room,
and anxiety, and then relief, in the faces of all, they came to care for
her still more for the sake of her child.

As the weeks passed, the fair-haired child grew more and more like his
father; but if Lali thought of her husband they never knew it by anything
she said, for she would not speak of him. She also made them promise that
they would not write to him of the child's birth. Richard, with his sense
of justice, and knowing how much the woman had been wronged, said that in
all this she had done quite right; that Frank, if he had done his duty
after marrying her, should have come with her. And because they all felt
that Richard had been her best friend as well as their own, they called
the child after him. This also was Lali's wish. Coincident with her
motherhood there came to Lali a new purpose. She had not lived with the
Armours without absorbing some of their fine social sense and dignity.
This, added to the native instinct of pride in her, gave her a new
ambition. As hour by hour her child grew dear to her, so hour by hour her
husband grew away from her. She schooled herself against him.--At times
she thought she hated him. She felt she could never forgive him, but she
would prove to him that it was she who had made the mistake of her life
in marrying him; that she had been wronged, not he; and that his sin
would face him with reproach and punishment one day. Richard's prophecy
was likely to come true: she would defeat very perfectly indeed Frank's
intentions. After the child was born, so soon as she was able, she
renewed her studies with Richard and Mrs. Armour. She read every morning
for hours; she rode; she practised all those graceful arts of the toilet
which belong to the social convention; she showed an unexpected faculty
for singing, and practised it faithfully; and she begged Mrs. Armour and
Marion to correct her at every point where correction seemed necessary.
When the child was two years old, they all went to London, something
against Lali's personal feelings, but quite in accord with what she felt
her duty.

Richard was left behind at Greyhope. For the first time in eighteen
months he was alone with his old quiet duties and recreations. During
that time he had not neglected his pensioners,--his poor, sick, halt, and
blind, but a deeper, larger interest had come into his life in the person
of Lali. During all that time she had seldom been out of his sight, never
out of his influence and tutelage. His days had been full, his every hour
had been given a keen, responsible interest. As if by tacit consent,
every incident or development of Lali's life was influenced by his
judgment and decision. He had been more to her than General Armour, Mrs.
Armour, or Marion. Schooled as he was in all the ways of the world, he
had at the same time a mind as sensitive as a woman's, an indescribable
gentleness, a persuasive temperament. Since, years before, he had
withdrawn from the social world and become a recluse, many of his finer
qualities had gone into an indulgent seclusion. He had once loved the
world and the gay life of London, but some untoward event, coupled with a
radical love of retirement, had sent him into years of isolation at
Greyhope.

His tutelar relations with Lali had reopened many an old spring of
sensation and experience. Her shy dependency, her innocent
inquisitiveness, had searched out his remotest sympathies. In teaching
her he had himself been re-taught. Before she came he had been satisfied
with the quiet usefulness and studious ease of his life. But in her
presence something of his old youthfulness came back, some reflection of
the ardent hopes of his young manhood. He did not notice the change in
himself. He only knew that his life was very full. He read later at
nights, he rose earlier in the morning. But unconsciously to himself, he
was undergoing a change. The more a man's sympathies and emotions are
active, the less is he the philosopher. It is only when one has withdrawn
from the more personal influence of the emotions that one's philosophy
may be trusted. One may be interested in mankind and still be
philosophical--may be, as it were, the priest and confessor to all
comers. But let one be touched in some vital corner in one's nature, and
the high, faultless impartiality is gone. In proportion as Richard's
interest in Lali had grown, the universal quality of his sympathy had
declined. Man is only man. Not that his benefactions as lord-bountiful in
the parish had grown perfunctory, but the calm detail of his interest was
not so definite. He was the same, yet not the same.

He was not aware of any difference in himself. He did not know that he
looked younger by ten years. Such is the effect of mere personal sympathy
upon a man's look and bearing. When, therefore, one bright May morning,
the family at Greyhope, himself excluded, was ready to start for London,
he had no thought but that he would drop back into his old silent life,
as it was before Lali came, and his brother's child was born. He was not
conscious that he was very restless that morning; he scarcely was aware
that he had got up two hours earlier than usual. At the breakfast-table
he was cheerful and alert. After breakfast he amused himself in playing
with the child till the carriage was brought round. It was such a morning
as does not come a dozen times a year in England. The sweet, moist air
blew from the meadows and up through the lime trees with a warm,
insinuating gladness. The lawn sloped delightfully away to the flowered
embrasures of the park, and a fragrant abundance of flowers met the eye
and cheered the senses. While Richard loitered on the steps with the
child and its nurse, more excited than he knew, Lali came out and stood
beside him. At the moment Richard was looking into the distance. He did
not hear her when she came. She stood near him for a moment, and did not
speak. Her eyes followed the direction of his look, and idled tenderly
with the prospect before her. She did not even notice the child. The same
thought was in the mind of both--with a difference. Richard was wondering
how any one could choose to change the sweet dignity of that rural life
for the flaring, hurried delights of London and the season. He had
thought this a thousand times, and yet, though he would have been little
willing to acknowledge it, his conviction was not so impregnable as it
had been.

Mrs. Francis Armour was stepping from the known to the unknown. She was
leaving the precincts of a life in which, socially, she had been born
again. Its sweetness and benign quietness had all worked upon her nature
and origin to change her. In that it was an out-door life, full of
freshness and open-air vigour, it was not antagonistic to her past. Upon
this sympathetic basis had been imposed the conditions of a fine social
decorum. The conditions must still exist. But how would it be when she
was withdrawn from this peaceful activity of nature and set down among
"those garish lights" in Cavendish Square and Piccadilly? She hardly knew
to what she was going as yet. There had been a few social functions at
Greyhope since she had come, but that could give her, after all, but
little idea of the swing and pressure of London life.

At this moment she was lingering over the scene before her. She was
wondering with the naive wonder of an awakened mind. She had intended
many times of late saying to Richard all the native gratitude she felt;
yet somehow she had never been able to say it. The moment of parting had
come.

"What are you thinking of, Richard?" she said now. He started and turned
towards her.

"I hardly know," he answered. "My thoughts were drifting."

"Richard," she said abruptly, "I want to thank you."

"Thank me for what, Lali?" he questioned.

"To thank you, Richard, for everything--since I came, over three years
ago."

He broke out into a soft little laugh, then, with his old good-natured
manner, caught her hand as he did the first night she came to Greyhope,
patted it in a fatherly fashion, and said:

"It is the wrong way about, Lali; I ought to be thanking you, not you me.
Why, look what a stupid old fogy I was then, toddling about the place
with too much time on my hands, reading a lot and forgetting everything;
and here you came in, gave me something to do, made the little I know of
any use, and ran a pretty gold wire down the rusty fiddle of life. If
there are any speeches of gratitude to be made, they are mine, they are
mine."

"Richard," she said very quietly and gravely, "I owe you more than I can
ever say--in English. You have taught me to speak in your tongue enough
for all the usual things of life, but one can only speak from the depths
of one's heart in one's native tongue. And see," she added, with a
painful little smile, "how strange it would sound if I were to tell you
all I thought in the language of my people--of my people, whom I shall
never see again. Richard, can you understand what it must be to have a
father whom one is never likely to see again--whom, if one did see again,
something painful would happen? We grow away from people against our
will; we feel the same towards them, but they cannot feel the same
towards us; for their world is in another hemisphere. We want to love
them, and we love, remember, and are glad to meet them again, but they
feel that we are unfamiliar, and, because we have grown different
outwardly, they seem to miss some chord that used to ring. Richard,
I--I--" She paused.

"Yes, Lali," he assented--"yes, I understand you so far; but speak out."

"I am not happy," she said. "I never shall be happy. I have my child, and
that is all I have. I cannot go back to the life in which I was born; I
must go on as I am, a stranger among a strange people, pitied, suffered,
cared for a little--and that is all."

The nurse had drawn away a little distance with the child. The rest of
the family were making their preparations inside the house. There was no
one near to watch the singular little drama.

"You should not say that," he added; "we all feel you to be one of us."

"But all your world does not feel me to be one of them," she rejoined.

"We shall see about that when you go up to town. You are a bit morbid,
Lali. I don't wonder at your feeling a little shy; but then you will
simply carry things before you--now you take my word for it! For I know
London pretty well."

She held out her ungloved hands.

"Do they compare with the white hands of the ladies you know?" she said.

"They are about the finest hands I have ever seen," he replied. "You
can't see yourself, sister of mine."

"I do not care very much to see myself," she said. "If I had not a maid I
expect I should look very shiftless, for I don't care to look in a
mirror. My only mirror used to be a stream of water in summer," she
added, "and a corner of a looking-glass got from the Hudson's Bay fort in
the winter."

"Well, you are missing a lot of enjoyment," he said, "if you do not use
your mirror much. The rest of us can appreciate what you would see
there."

She reached out and touched his arm.

"Do you like to look at me?" she questioned, with a strange simple
candour.

For the first time in many a year, Richard Armour blushed like a girl
fresh from school. The question had come so suddenly, it had gone so
quickly into a sensitive corner of his nature, that he lost command of
himself for the instant, yet had little idea why the command was lost. He
touched the fingers on his arm affectionately.

"Like to look at you--like to look at you? Why, of course we all like to
look at you. You are very fine and handsome and interesting."

"Richard," she said, drawing her hands away, "is that why you like to
look at me?"

He had recovered himself. He laughed in his old hearty way, and said:

"Yes, yes; why, of course! Come, let us go and see the boy," he added,
taking her arm and hurrying her down the steps. "Come and let us see
Richard Joseph, the pride of all the Armours."

She moved beside him in a kind of dream. She had learned much since she
came to Greyhope, and yet she could not at that moment have told exactly
why she asked Richard the question that had confused him, nor did she
know quite what lay behind the question. But every problem which has life
works itself out to its appointed end, if fumbling human fingers do not
meddle with it. Half the miseries of this world are caused by forcing
issues, in every problem of the affections, the emotions, and the soul.
There is a law working with which there should be no tampering, lest in
foolish interruption come only confusion and disaster. Against every such
question there should be written the one word, "Wait."

Richard Armour stooped over the child. "A beauty," he said, "a perfect
little gentleman. Like Richard Joseph Armour there is none," he added.

"Whom do you think he looks like, Richard?" she asked. This was a
question she had never asked before since the child was born. Whom the
child looked like every one knew; but within the past year and a half
Francis Armour's name had seldom been mentioned, and never in connection
with the child. The child's mother asked the question with a strange
quietness. Richard answered it without hesitation.

"The child looks like Frank," he said. "As like him as can be."

"I am glad," she said, "for all your sakes."

"You are very deep this morning, Lali," Richard said, with a kind of
helplessness. "Frank will be pretty proud of the youngster when he comes
back. But he won't be prouder of him than I am."

"I know that," she said. "Won't you be lonely without the boy--and me,
Richard?"

Again the question went home. "Lonely? I should think I would," he said.
"I should think I would. But then, you see, school is over, and the
master stays behind and makes up the marks. You will find London a
jollier master than I am, Lali. There'll be lots of shows, and plenty to
do, and smart frocks, and no end of feeds and frolics; and that is more
amusing than studying three hours a day with a dry old stick like me. I
tell you what, when Frank comes--"

She interrupted him. "Do not speak of that," she said. Then, with a
sudden burst of feeling, though her words were scarcely audible: "I owe
you everything, Richard--everything that is good. I owe him nothing,
Richard--nothing but what is bitter."

"Hush, hush," he said; "you must not speak that way. Lali, I want to say
to you--"

At that moment General Armour, Mrs. Armour, and Marion appeared on the
door-step, and the carriage came wheeling up the drive. What Richard
intended to say was left unsaid. The chances were it never would be said.

"Well, well," said General Armour, calling down at them, "escort his
imperial highness to the chariot which awaits him, and then ho! for
London town. Come along, my daughter," he said to Lali; "come up here and
take the last whiff of Greyhope that you will have for six months. Dear,
dear, what lunatics we all are, to be sure! Why, we're as happy as little
birds in their nests out in the decent country, and yet we scamper off to
a smoky old city by the Thames to rush along with the world, instead of
sitting high and far away from it and watching it go by. God bless my
soul, I'm old enough to know better! Well, let me help you in, my dear,"
he added to his wife; "and in you go, Marion; and in you go, your
imperial highness"--he passed the child awkwardly in to Marion; "and in
you go, my daughter," he added, as he handed Lali in, pressing her hand
with a brusque fatherliness as he did so. He then got in after them.

Richard came to the side of the carriage and bade them all good-bye one
by one. Lali gave him her hand, but did not speak a word. He called a
cheerful adieu, the horses were whipped up, and in a moment Richard was
left alone on the steps of the house. He stood for a time looking, then
he turned to go into the house, but changed his mind, sat down, lit a
cigar, and did not move from his seat until he was summoned to his lonely
luncheon.

Nobody thought much of leaving Richard behind at Greyhope. It seemed the
natural thing to do. But still he had not been left alone--entirely
alone--for three years or more.

The days and weeks went on. If Richard had been accounted eccentric
before, there was far greater cause for the term now. Life dragged. Too
much had been taken out of his life all at once; for, in the first place,
the family had been drawn together more during the trouble which Lali's
advent had brought; then the child and its mother, his pupil, were gone
also. He wandered about in a kind of vague unrest. The hardest thing in
this world to get used to is the absence of a familiar footstep and the
cheerful greeting of a familiar eye. And the man with no chick or child
feels even the absence of his dog from the hearth-rug when he returns
from a journey or his day's work. It gives him a sense of strangeness and
loss. But when it is the voice of a woman and the hand of a child that is
missed, you can back no speculation upon that man's mood or mind or
conduct. There is no influence like the influence of habit, and that is
how, when the minds of people are at one, physical distances and
differences, no matter how great, are invisible, or at least not obvious.

Richard Armour was a sensible man; but when one morning he suddenly
packed a portmanteau and went up to town to Cavendish Square, the act
might be considered from two sides of the equation. If he came back to
enter again into the social life which, for so many years, he had
abjured, it was not very sensible, because the world never welcomes its
deserters; it might, if men and women grew younger instead of older. If
he came to see his family, or because he hungered for his godchild, or
because--but we are hurrying the situation. It were wiser not to state
the problem yet. The afternoon that he arrived at Cavendish Square all
his family were out except his brother's wife. Lali was in the
drawing-room, receiving a visitor who had asked for Mrs. Armour and Mrs.
Francis Armour. The visitor was received by Mrs. Francis Armour. The
visitor knew that Mrs. Armour was not at home. She had by chance seen her
and Marion in Bond Street, and was not seen by them. She straightway got
into her carriage and drove up to Cavendish Square, hoping to find Mrs.
Francis Armour at home. There had been house-parties at Greyhope since
Lali had come there to live, but this visitor, though once an intimate
friend of the family, had never been a guest.

The visitor was Lady Haldwell, once Miss Julia Sherwood, who had made
possible what was called Francis Armour's tragedy. Since Lali had come to
town Lady Haldwell had seen her, but had never met her. She was not at
heart wicked, but there are few women who can resist an opportunity of
anatomising and reckoning up the merits and demerits of a woman who has
married an old lover. When that woman is in the position of Lali, the
situation has an unusual piquancy and interest. Hence Lady Haldwell's
journey of inquisition to Cavendish Square.

As Richard passed the drawing-room door to ascend the stairs, he
recognised the voices.

Once a sort of heathen, as Mrs. Francis Armour had been, she still could
grasp the situation with considerable clearness. There is nothing keener
than one woman's instinct regarding another woman, where a man is
concerned. Mrs. Francis Armour received Lady Haldwell with a quiet
stateliness, which, if it did not astonish her, gave her sufficient
warning that matters were not, in this little comedy, to be all her own
way.

Thrown upon the mere resources of wit and language, Mrs. Francis Armour
must have been at a disadvantage. For Lady Haldwell had a good gift of
speech, a pretty talent for epithet, and no unnecessary tenderness. She
bore Lali no malice. She was too decorous and high for that. In her mind
the wife of the man she had discarded was a mere commonplace catastrophe,
to be viewed without horror, maybe with pity. She had heard the alien
spoken well of by some people; others had seemed indignant that the
Armours should try to push "a red woman" into English society. Truth is,
the Armours did not try at all to push her. For over three years they had
let society talk. They had not entertained largely in Cavendish Square
since Lali came, and those invited to Greyhope had a chance to refuse the
invitations if they chose. Most people did not choose to decline them.
But Lady Haldwell was not of that number. She had never been invited. But
now in town, when entertainment must be more general, she and the Armours
were prepared for social interchange.

Behind Lady Haldwell's visit curiosity chiefly ran. She was in a way
sorry for Frank Armour, for she had been fond of him after a fashion,
always fonder of him than of Lord Haldwell. She had married with her
fingers holding the scales of advantage; and Lord Haldwell dressed well,
was immensely rich, and the title had a charm.

When Mrs. Francis Armour met her with her strange, impressive dignity,
she was the slightest bit confused, but not outwardly. She had not
expected it. At first Lali did not know who her visitor was. She had not
caught the name distinctly from the servant.

Presently Lady Haldwell said, as Lali gave her hand "I am Lady Haldwell.
As Miss Sherwood I was an old friend of your husband."

A scornful glitter came into Mrs. Armour's eyes--a peculiar touch of
burnished gold, an effect of the light at a certain angle of the lens. It
gave for the instant an uncanny look to the face, almost something
malicious. She guessed why this woman had come. She knew the whole
history of the past, and it touched her in a tender spot. She knew she
was had at an advantage. Before her was a woman perfectly trained in the
fine social life to which she was born, whose equanimity was as regular
as her features. Herself was by nature a creature of impulse, of the
woods and streams and open life. The social convention had been
engrafted. As yet she was used to thinking and speaking with all candour.
She was to have her training in the charms of superficiality, but that
was to come; and when it came she would not be an unskilful apprentice.
Perhaps the latent subtlety of her race came to help her natural candour
at the moment. For she said at once, in a slow, quiet tone:

"I never heard my husband speak of you. Will you sit down?"

"And Mrs. Armour and Marion are not in? No, I suppose your husband did
not speak much of his old friends."

The attack was studied and cruel. But Lady Haldwell had been stung by
Mrs. Armour's remark, and it piqued her that this was possible.

"Well, yes, he spoke of some of his friends, but not of you."

"Indeed! That is strange."

"There was no necessity," said Mrs. Armour quietly.

"Of discussing me? I suppose not. But by some chance--"

"It was just as well, perhaps, not to anticipate the pleasure of our
meeting."

Lady Haldwell was surprised. She had not expected this cleverness. They
talked casually for a little time, the visitor trying in vain to
delicately give the conversation a personal turn. At last, a little
foolishly, she grew bolder, with a needless selfishness.

"So old a friend of your husband as I am, I am hopeful you and I may be
friends also."

Mrs. Armour saw the move.

"You are very kind," she said conventionally, and offered a cup of tea.

Lady Haldwell now ventured unwisely. She was nettled at the other's
self-possession.

"But then, in a way, I have been your friend for a long time, Mrs.
Armour."

The point was veiled in a vague tone, but Mrs. Armour understood. Her
reply was not wanting. "Any one who has been a friend to my husband has,
naturally, claims upon me."

Lady Haldwell, in spite of herself, chafed. There was a subtlety in the
woman before her not to be reckoned with lightly.

"And if an enemy?" she said, smiling.

A strange smile also flickered across Mrs. Armour's face as she said:

"If an enemy of my husband called, and was penitent, I should--offer her
tea, no doubt."

"That is, in this country; but in your own country, which, I believe, is
different, what would you do?" Mrs. Armour looked steadily and coldly
into her visitor's eyes.

"In my country enemies do not compel us to be polite."

"By calling on you?" Lady Haldwell was growing a little reckless. "But
then, that is a savage country. We are different here. I suppose,
however, your husband told you of these things, so that you were not
surprised. And when does he come? His stay is protracted. Let me see, how
long is it? Ah yes, near four years." Here she became altogether
reckless, which she regretted afterwards, for she knew, after all, what
was due herself. "He will comeback, I suppose?"

Lady Haldwell was no coward, else she had hesitated before speaking in
that way before this woman, in whose blood was the wildness of the
heroical North. Perhaps she guessed the passion in Lali's breast, perhaps
not. In any case she would have said what she listed at the moment.

Wild as were the passions in Lali's breast, she thought on the instant of
her child, of what Richard Armour would say; for he had often talked to
her about not showing her emotions and passions, had told her that
violence of all kinds was not wise or proper. Her fingers ached to grasp
this beautiful, exasperating woman by the throat. But after an effort at
calmness she remained still and silent, looking at her visitor with a
scornful dignity. Lady Haldwell presently rose,--she could not endure the
furnace of that look,--and said good-bye. She turned towards the door.
Mrs. Armour remained immovable. At that instant, however, some one
stepped from behind a large screen just inside the door. It was Richard
Armour. He was pale, and on his face was a sternness the like of which
this and perhaps only one other woman had ever seen on him. He
interrupted her.

"Lady Haldwell has a fine talent for irony," he said, "but she does not
always use it wisely. In a man it would bear another name, and from a man
it would be differently received." He came close to her. "You are a brave
woman," he said, "or you would have been more careful. Of course you knew
that my mother and sister were not at home?"

She smiled languidly. "And why 'of course'?"

"I do not know that; only I know that I think so; and I also think that
my brother Frank's worst misfortune did not occur when Miss Julia
Sherwood trafficked without compunction in his happiness."

"Don't be oracular, my dear Richard Armour," she replied. "You are
trying, really. This seems almost melodramatic; and melodrama is bad
enough at Drury Lane."

"You are not a good friend even to yourself," he answered.

"What a discoverer you are! And how much in earnest! Do come back to the
world, Mr. Armour; you would be a relief, a new sensation."

"I fancy I shall come back, if only to see the 'engineer hoist with his
own'--torpedo."

He paused before the last word to give it point, for her husband's father
had made his money out of torpedoes. She felt the sting in spite of
herself, and she saw the point.

"And then we will talk it over at the end of the season," he added, "and
compare notes. Good-afternoon."

"You stake much on your hazard," she said, glancing back at Lali, who
still stood immovable. "Au revoir!" She left the room. Richard heard the
door close after her and the servant retire. Then he turned to Lali.

As he did so, she ran forward to him with a cry. "Oh, Richard, Richard!"
she exclaimed, with a sob, threw her arms over his shoulder, and let her
forehead drop on his breast. Then came a sudden impulse in his blood.
Long after he shuddered when he remembered what he thought at that
instant; what he wished to do; what rich madness possessed him. He knew
now why he had come to town; he also knew why he must not stay, or, if
staying, what must be his course.

He took her gently by the arm and led her to a chair, speaking cheerily
to her. Then he sat down beside her, and all at once again, her face wet
and burning, she flung herself forward on her knees beside him, and clung
to him.

"Oh, Richard, I am glad you have come," she said. "I would have killed
her if I had not thought of you. I want you to stay; I am always better
when you are with me. I have missed you, and I know that baby misses you
too."

He had his cue. He rose, trembling a little. "Come, come," he said
heartily, "it's all right, it's all right-my sister. Let us go and see
the youngster. There, dry your eyes, and forget all about that woman. She
is only envious of you. Come, for his imperial highness!"

She was in a tumult of feeling. It was seldom that she had shown emotion
in the past two years, and it was the more ample when it did break forth.
But she dried her eyes, and together they went to the nursery. She
dismissed the nurse and they were left alone by the sleeping child. She
knelt at the head of the little cot, and touched the child's forehead
with her lips. He stooped down also beside it.

"He's a grand little fellow," he said. "Lali," he continued presently,
"it is time Frank came home. I am going to write for him. If he does not
come at once, I shall go and fetch him."

"Never! never!" Her eyes flashed angrily. "Promise that you will not. Let
him come when he is ready.

"He does not, care." She shuddered a little.

"But he will care when he comes, and you--you care for him, Lali?"

Again she shuddered, and a whiteness ran under the hot excitement of her
cheeks. She said nothing, but looked up at him, then dropped her face in
her hands.

"You do care for him, Lali," he said earnestly, almost solemnly, his lips
twitching slightly. "You must care for him; it is his right; and he
will--I swear to you I know he will--care for you."

In his own mind there was another thought, a hard, strange thought; and
it had to do with the possibility of his brother not caring for this
wife.

Still she did not speak.

"To a good woman, with a good husband," he continued, "there is no
one--there should be no one--like the father of her child. And no woman
ever loved her child more than you do yours." He knew that this was
special pleading.

She trembled, and then dropped her cheek beside the child's. "I want
Frank to be happy," he went on; "there is no one I care more for than for
Frank."

She lifted her face to him now, in it a strange light. Then her look ran
to confusion, and she seemed to read all that he meant to convey. He knew
she did. He touched her shoulder.

"You must do the best you can every way, for Frank's sake, for all our
sakes. I will help you--God knows I will--all I can."

"Ah, yes, yes," she whispered, from the child's pillow.

He could see the flame in her cheek. "I understand." She put out her hand
to him, but did not look up. "Leave me alone with my baby, Richard," she
pleaded.

He took her hand and pressed it again and again in his old, unconscious
way. Then he let it go, and went slowly to the door. There he turned and
looked back at her. He mastered the hot thought in him. "God help me!"
she murmured from the cot. The next morning Richard went back to
Greyhope.




CHAPTER VII

A COURT-MARTIAL

It was hard to tell, save for a certain deliberateness of speech and a
colour a little more pronounced than that of a Spanish woman, that Mrs.
Frank Armour had not been brought up in England. She had a kind of grave
sweetness and distant charm which made her notable at any table or in any
ballroom. Indeed, it soon became apparent that she was to be the pleasant
talk, the interest of the season. This was tolerably comforting to the
Armours. Again Richard's prophecy had been fulfilled, and as he sat alone
at Greyhope and read the Morning Post, noticing Lali's name at
distinguished gatherings, or, picking up the World, saw how the
lion-hunters talked extravagantly of her, he took some satisfaction to
himself that he had foreseen her triumph where others looked for her
downfall. Lali herself was not elated; it gratified her, but she had been
an angel, and a very unsatisfactory one, if it had not done so. As her
confidence grew (though outwardly she had never appeared to lack it
greatly), she did not hesitate to speak of herself as an Indian, her
country as a good country, and her people as a noble if dispossessed
race; all the more so if she thought reference to her nationality and
past was being rather conspicuously avoided. She had asked General Armour
for an interview with her husband's solicitor. This was granted. When she
met the solicitor, she asked him to send no newspaper to her husband
containing any reference to herself, nor yet to mention her in his
letters.

She had never directly received a line from him but once, and that was
after she had come to know the truth about his marriage with her. She
could read in the conventional sentences, made simple as for a child, the
strained politeness, and his absolute silence as to whether or not a
child had been born to them, the utter absence of affection for her. She
had also induced General Armour and his wife to give her husband's
solicitor no information regarding the birth of the child. There was thus
apparently no more inducement for him to hurry back to England than there
was when he had sent her off on his mission of retaliation, which had
been such an ignominious failure. For the humiliation of his family had
been short-lived, the affront to Lady Haldwell nothing at all. The
Armours had not been human if they had failed to enjoy their
daughter-in-law's success. Although they never, perhaps, would quite
recover the disappointment concerning Lady Agnes Martling, the result was
so much better than they in their cheerfulest moments dared hope for,
that they appeared genuinely content.

To their grandchild they were devotedly attached. Marion was his faithful
slave and admirer, so much so that Captain Vidall, who now and then was
permitted to see the child, declared himself jealous. He and Marion were
to be married soon. The wedding had been delayed owing to his enforced
absence abroad. Mrs. Edward Lambert, once Mrs. Townley, shyly regretted
in Lali's presence that the child, or one as sweet, was not hers. Her
husband evidently shared her opinion, from the extraordinary notice he
took of it when his wife was not present. Not that Richard Joseph Armour,
Jun., was always en evidence, but when asked for by his faithful friends
and admirers he was amiably produced.

Meanwhile, Frank Armour across the sea was engaged with many things. His
business concerns had not prospered prodigiously, chiefly because his
judgment, like his temper, had grown somewhat uncertain. His popularity
in the Hudson's Bay country had been at some tension since he had shipped
his wife away to England. Even the ordinary savage mind saw something
unusual and undomestic in it, and the general hospitality declined a
little. Armour did not immediately guess the cause; but one day, about a
year after his wife had gone, he found occasion to reprove a half-breed,
by name Jacques Pontiac; and Jacques, with more honesty than politeness,
said some hard words, and asked how much he paid for his English hired
devils to kill his wife. Strange to say, he did not resent this startling
remark. It set him thinking. He began to blame himself for not having
written oftener to his people--and to his wife. He wondered how far his
revenge had succeeded. He was most ashamed of it now. He knew that he had
done a dishonourable thing. The more he thought upon it the more angry
with himself he became. Yet he dreaded to go back to England and face it
all: the reproach of his people; the amusement of society; his wife
herself. He never attempted to picture her as a civilised being. He
scarcely knew her when he married her. She knew him much better, for
primitive people are quicker in the play of their passions, and she had
come to love him before he had begun to notice her at all.

Presently he ate his heart out with mortification. To be yoked for ever
to--a savage! It was horrible. And their children? It was strange he had
not thought of that before. Children? He shrugged his shoulders. There
might possibly be a child, but children--never! But he doubted even
regarding a child, for no word had come to him concerning that
possibility. He was even most puzzled at the tone and substance of their
letters. From the beginning there had been no reproaches, no excitement,
no railing, but studied kindness and conventional statements, through
which Mrs. Armour's solicitous affection scarcely ever peeped. He had
shot his bolt, and got--consideration, almost imperturbability. They
appeared to treat the matter as though he were a wild youth who would not
yet mend his ways. He read over their infrequent letters to him; his to
them had been still more infrequent. In one there was the statement that
"she was progressing favourably with her English"; in another, that "she
was riding a good deal"; again, that "she appeared anxious to adapt
herself to her new life."

At all these he whistled a little to himself, and smiled bitterly. Then,
all at once, he got up and straightway burned them all. He again tried to
put the matter behind him for the present, knowing that he must face it
one day, and staving off its reality as long as possible. He did his
utmost to be philosophical and say his quid refert, but it was easier
tried than done; for Jacques Pontiac's words kept rankling in his mind,
and he found himself carrying round a vague load, which made him
abstracted occasionally, and often a little reckless in action and
speech. In hunting bear and moose he had proved himself more daring than
the oldest hunter, and proportionately successful. He paid his servants
well, but was sharp with them.

He made long, hard expeditions, defying the weather as the hardiest of
prairie and mountain men mostly hesitate to defy it; he bought up much
land, then, dissatisfied, sold it again at a loss, but subsequently made
final arrangements for establishing a very large farm. When he once
became actually interested in this he shook off something of his
moodiness and settled himself to develop the thing. He had good talent
for initiative and administration, and at last, in the time when his wife
was a feature of the London season, he found his scheme in working order,
and the necessity of going to England was forced upon him.

Actually he wished that the absolute necessity had presented itself
before. There was always the moral necessity, of course--but then! Here
now was a business need; and he must go. Yet he did not fix a day or make
definite arrangements. He could hardly have believed himself such a
coward. With liberal emphasis he called himself a sneak, and one day at
Fort Charles sat down to write to his solicitor in Montreal to say that
he would come on at once. Still he hesitated. As he sat there thinking,
Eye-of-the-Moon, his father-in-law, opened the door quietly and entered.
He had avoided the chief ever since he had come back to Fort Charles, and
practically had not spoken to him for a year. Armour flushed slightly
with annoyance. But presently, with a touch of his old humour, he rose,
held out his hand, and said ironically: "Well, father-in-law, it's about
time we had a big talk, isn't it? We're not very intimate for such close
relatives."

The old Indian did not fully understand the meaning or the tone of
Armour's speech, but he said "How!" and, reaching out his hand for the
pipe offered him, lighted it, and sat down, smoking in silence. Armour
waited; but, seeing that the other was not yet moved to talk, he turned
to his letter again. After a time, Eye-of-the-Moon said gravely, getting
to his feet: "Brother!"

Armour looked up, then rose also. The Indian bowed to him courteously,
then sat down again. Armour threw a leg over a corner of the table and
waited.

"Brother," said the Indian presently, "you are of the great race that
conquers us. You come and take our land and our game, and we at last have
to beg of you for food and shelter. Then you take our daughters, and we
know not where they go. They are gone like the down from the thistle. We
see them not, but you remain. And men say evil things. There are bad
words abroad. Brother, what have you done with my daughter?"

Had the Indian come and stormed, begged money of him, sponged on him, or
abused him, he had taken it very calmly--he would, in fact, have been
superior. But there was dignity in the chief's manner; there was
solemnity in his speech; his voice conveyed resoluteness and earnestness,
which the stoic calm of his face might not have suggested; and Armour
felt that he had no advantage at all. Besides, Armour had a conscience,
though he had played some rare tricks with it of late, and it needed more
hardihood than he possessed to face this old man down. And why face him
down? Lali was his daughter, blood of his blood, the chieftainess of one
branch of his people, honoured at least among these poor savages, and the
old man had a right to ask, as asked another more famous, "Where is my
daughter?"

His hands in his pockets, Armour sat silent for a minute, eyeing his
boot, as he swung his leg to and fro. Presently he said:
"Eye-of-the-Moon, I don't think I can talk as poetically as you, even in
my own language, and I shall not try. But I should like to ask you this:
Do you believe any harm has come to your daughter--to my wife?"

The old Indian forgot to blow the tobacco-smoke from his mouth, and, as
he sat debating, lips slightly apart, it came leaking out in little
trailing clouds and gave a strange appearance to his iron-featured face.
He looked steadily at Armour, and said: "You are of those who rule in
your land,"--here Armour protested,--"you have much gold to buy and sell.
I am a chief," he drew himself up,--"I am poor: we speak with the
straight tongue; it is cowards who lie. Speak deep as from the heart, my
brother, and tell me where my daughter is."

Armour could not but respect the chief for the way this request was put,
but still it galled him to think that he was under suspicion of having
done any bodily injury to his wife, so he quietly persisted: "Do you
think I have done Lali any harm?"

"The thing is strange," replied the other. "You are of those who are
great among your people. You married a daughter of a red man. Then she
was yours for less than one moon, and you sent her far away, and you
stayed. Her father was as a dog in your sight. Do men whose hearts are
clear act so? They have said strange things of you. I have not believed;
but it is good I know all, that I may say to the tale-bearers, 'You have
crooked tongues.'"

Armour sat for a moment longer, his face turned to the open window. He
was perfectly still, but he had become grave. He was about to reply to
the chief, when the trader entered the room hurriedly with a newspaper in
his hand. He paused abruptly when he saw Eye-of-the-Moon. Armour felt
that the trader had something important to communicate. He guessed it was
in the paper. He mutely held out his hand for it. The trader handed it to
him hesitatingly, at the same time pointing to a paragraph, and saying:
"It is nearly two years old, as you see. I chanced upon it by accident
to-day."

It was a copy of a London evening paper, containing a somewhat
sensational account of Lali's accident. It said that she was in a
critical condition. This time Armour did not ask for brandy, but the
trader put it out beside him. He shook his head. "Gordon," he said
presently, "I shall leave here in the morning. Please send my men to me."

The trader whispered to him: "She was all right, of course, long ago, Mr.
Armour, or you would have heard."

Armour looked at the date of the paper. He had several letters from
England of a later date, and these said nothing of her illness. It
bewildered him, made him uneasy. Perhaps the first real sense of his duty
as a husband came home to him there. For the first time he was anxious
about the woman for her own sake. The trader had left the room.

"What a scoundrel I've been!" said Armour between his teeth, oblivious,
for the moment, of Eye-of-the-Moon's presence. Presently, bethinking
himself, he turned to the Indian. "I've been debating," he said.
"Eye-of-the-Moon, my wife is in England, at my father's home. I am going
to her. Men have lied in thinking I would do her any injury,
but--but--never mind, the harm was of another kind. It isn't wise for a
white man and an Indian to marry, but when they are married--well, they
must live as man and wife should live, and, as I said, I am going to my
wife."

To say all this to a common Indian, whose only property was a dozen
ponies and a couple of tepees, required something very like moral
courage; but then Armour had not been exercising moral courage during the
last year or so, and its exercise was profitable to him. The next morning
he was on his way to Montreal, and Eye-of-the-Moon was the richest chief
in British North America, at that moment, by five thousand dollars or so.




CHAPTER VIII

TO EVERY MAN HIS HOUR

It was the close of the season: many people had left town, but
festivities were still on. To a stranger the season might have seemed at
its height. The Armours were giving a large party in Cavendish Square
before going back again to Greyhope, where, for the sake of Lali and her
child, they intended to remain during the rest of the summer, in
preference to going on the Continent or to Scotland. The only
unsatisfactory feature of Lali's season was the absence of her husband.
Naturally there were those who said strange things regarding Frank
Armour's stay in America; but it was pretty generally known that he was
engaged in land speculations, and his club friends, who perhaps took the
pleasantest view of the matter, said that he was very wise indeed, if a
little cowardly, in staying abroad until his wife was educated and ready
to take her position in society. There was one thing on which they were
all agreed: Mrs. Frank Armour either had a mind superior to the charms of
their sex, or was incapable of that vanity which hath many suitors, and
says: "So far shalt thou go, and--" The fact is, Mrs. Frank Armour's mind
was superior. She had only one object--to triumph over her husband
grandly, as a woman righteously might. She had vanity, of course, but it
was not ignoble. She kept one thing in view; she lived for it.

Her translation had been successful. There were times when she remembered
her father, the wild days on the prairies, the buffalo-hunt, tracking the
deer, tribal battles, the long silent hours of the winter, and the warm
summer nights when she slept in the prairie grass or camped with her
people in the trough of a great landwave. Sometimes the hunger for its
freedom, and its idleness, and its sport, came to her greatly; but she
thought of her child, and she put it from her. She was ambitious for him;
she was keen to prove her worth as a wife against her husband's
unworthiness. This perhaps saved her. She might have lost had her life
been without this motive.

The very morning of this notable reception, General Armour had received a
note from Frank Armour's solicitor, saying that his son was likely to
arrive in London from America that day or the next. Frank had written to
his people no word of his coming; to his wife, as we have said, he had
not written for months; and before he started back he would not write,
because he wished to make what amends he could in person. He expected to
find her improved, of course, but still he could only think of her as an
Indian, showing her common prairie origin. His knowledge of her before
their marriage had been particularly brief; she was little more in his
eyes than a thousand other Indian women, save that she was
better-looking, was whiter than most, and had finer features. He could
not very clearly remember the tones of her voice, because after marriage,
and before he had sent her to England, he had seen little or nothing of
her.

When General Armour received the news of Frank's return he told his wife
and Marion, and they consulted together whether it were good to let Lali
know at once. He might arrive that evening. If so, the position would be
awkward, because it was impossible to tell how it might affect her. If
they did tell her, and Frank happened not to arrive, it might unnerve her
so as to make her appearance in the evening doubtful. Richard, the
wiseacre, the inexhaustible Richard, was caring for his cottagers and
cutting the leaves of new books--his chiefest pleasure--at Greyhope. They
felt it was a matter they ought to be able to decide for themselves, but
still it was the last evening of Lali's stay in town, and they did not
care to take any risk. Strange to say, they had come to take pride in
their son's wife; for even General and Mrs. Armour, high-minded and of
serene social status as they were, seemed not quite insensible to the
pleasure of being an axle on which a system of social notoriety revolved.

At the opportune moment Captain Vidall was announced, and, because he and
Marion were soon to carry but one name between them, he was called into
family consultation. It is somewhat singular that in this case the women
were quite wrong and the men were quite right. For General Armour and
Captain Vidall were for silence until Frank came, if he came that day, or
for telling her the following morning, when the function was over. And
the men prevailed.

Marion was much excited all day; she had given orders that Frank's room
should be made ready, but for whom she gave no information. While Lali
was dressing for the evening, something excited and nervous, she entered
her room. They were now the best of friends. The years had seen many
shifting scenes in their companionship; they had been as often at war as
at peace; but they had respected each other, each after her own fashion;
and now they had a real and mutual regard. Lali's was a slim, lithe
figure, wearing its fashionable robes with an air of possession; and the
face above it, if not entirely beautiful, had a strange, warm
fascination. The girl had not been a chieftainess for nothing. A look of
quiet command was there, but also a far-away expression which gave a
faint look of sadness even when a smile was at the lips. The smile itself
did not come quickly, it grew; but above it all was hair of perfect
brown, most rare,--setting off her face as a plume does a helmet. She
showed no surprise when Marion entered. She welcomed her with a smile and
outstretched hand, but said nothing.

"Lali," said Marion somewhat abruptly,--she scarcely knew why she said
it,--"are you happy?"

It was strange how the Indian girl had taken on those little manners of
society which convey so much by inflection. She lifted her eyebrows at
Marion, and said presently, in a soft, deliberate voice, "Come, Marion,
we will go and see little Richard; then I shall be happy."

She linked her arm through Marion's. Marion drummed her fingers lightly
on the beautiful arm, and then fell to wondering what she should say
next. They passed into the room where the child lay sleeping; they went
to his little bed, and Lali stretched out her hand gently, touching the
curls of the child. Running a finger through one delicately, she said,
with a still softer tone than before: "Why should not one be happy?"

Marion looked up slowly into her eyes, let a hand fall on her shoulder
gently, and replied: "Lali, do you never wish Frank to come?"

Lali's fingers came from the child, the colour mounted slowly to her
forehead, and she drew the girl away again into the other room. Then she
turned and faced Marion, a deep fire in her eyes, and said, in a whisper
almost hoarse in its intensity: "Yes; I wish he would come to-night."

She looked harder yet at Marion; then, with a flash of pride and her
hands clasping before her, she drew herself up, and added: "Am I not
worthy to be his wife now? Am I not beautiful--for a savage?"

There was no common vanity in the action. It had a noble kind of
wistfulness, and a serenity that entirely redeemed it. Marion dated her
own happiness from the time when Lali met her accident, for in the
evening of that disastrous day she issued to Captain Hume Vidall a
commission which he could never--wished never--to resign. Since then she
had been at her best,--we are all more or less selfish creatures,--and
had grown gentler, curbing the delicate imperiousness of her nature, and
frankly, and without the least pique, taken a secondary position of
interest in the household, occasioned by Lali's popularity. She looked
Lali up and down with a glance in which many feelings met, and then,
catching her hands warmly, she lifted them, put them on her own
shoulders, and said: "My dear beautiful savage, you are fit and worthy to
be Queen of England; and Frank, when he comes--"

"Hush!" said the other dreamily, and put a finger on Marion's lips. "I
know what you are going to say, but I do not wish to hear it. He did not
love me then. He used me--" She shuddered, put her hands to her eyes with
a pained, trembling motion, then threw her head back with a quick sigh.
"But I will not speak of it. Come, we are for the dance, Marion. It is
the last, to-night. To-morrow--" She paused, looking straight before her,
lost in thought.

"Yes, to-morrow, Lali?"

"I do not know about to-morrow," was the reply. "Strange things come to
me."

Marion longed to tell her then and there the great news, but she was
afraid to do so, and was, moreover, withheld by the remembrance that it
had been agreed she should not be told. She said nothing.

At eleven o'clock the rooms were filled. For the fag end of the season,
people seemed unusually brilliant. The evening itself was not so hot as
common, and there was an extra array of distinguished guests. Marion was
nervous all the evening, though she showed little of it, being most
prettily employed in making people pleased with themselves. Mrs. Armour
also was not free from apprehension. In reply to inquiries concerning her
son she said, as she had often said during the season, that he might be
back at any time now. Lali had answered always in the same fashion, and
had shown no sign that his continued absence was singular. As the evening
wore on, the probability of Frank's appearance seemed less; and the
Armours began to breathe more freely.

Frank had, however, arrived. He had driven straight from Euston to
Cavendish Square, but, seeing the house lighted up, and guests arriving,
he had a sudden feeling of uncertainty. He ordered the cabman to take him
to his club. There he put himself in evening-dress, and drove back again
to the house. He entered quietly. At the moment the hall was almost
deserted; people were mostly in the ballroom and supper-room. He paused a
moment, biting his moustache as if in perplexity. A strange timidity came
on him. All his old dash and self-possession seemed to have forsaken him.
Presently, seeing a number of people entering the hall, he made for the
staircase, and went hastily up. Mechanically he went to his own room, and
found it lighted. Flowers were set about, and everything was made ready
as for a guest. He sat down, not thinking, but dazed.

Glancing up, he saw his face in a mirror. It was bronzed, but it looked
rather old and careworn. He shrugged a shoulder at that. Then, in the
mirror, he saw also something else. It startled him so that he sat
perfectly still for a moment looking at it. It was some one laughing at
him over his shoulder--a child! He got to his feet and turned round. On
the table was a very large photograph of a smiling child--with his eyes,
his face. He caught the chair-arm, and stood looking at it a little
wildly. Then he laughed a strange laugh, and the tears leaped to his
eyes. He caught the picture in his hands, and kissed it,--very foolishly,
men not fathers might think,--and read the name beneath, Richard Joseph
Armour; and again, beneath that, the date of birth. He then put it back
on the table and sat looking at it-looking, and forgetting, and
remembering.

Presently, the door opened, and some one entered. It was Marion. She had
seen him pass through the hall; she had then gone and told her father and
mother, to prepare them, and had followed him upstairs. He did not hear
her. She stepped softly forwards. "Frank!" she said--"Frank!" and laid a
hand on his shoulder. He started up and turned his face on her.

Then he caught her hands and kissed her. "Marion!" he said, and he could
say no more. But presently he pointed towards the photograph.

She nodded her head. "Yes, it is your child, Frank. Though, of course,
you don't deserve it. . . . Frank dear," she added, "I am glad--we shall
all be glad-to have you back; but you are a wicked man." She felt she
must say that.

Now he only nodded, and still looked at the portrait. "Where is--my
wife?" he added presently.

"She is in the ballroom." Marion was wondering what was best to do.

He caught his thumb-nail in his teeth. He winced in spite of himself. "I
will go to her," he said, "and then--the baby."

"I am glad," she replied, "that you have so much sense of justice left,
Frank: the wife first, the baby afterwards. But do you think you deserve
either?"

He became moody, and made an impatient gesture. "Lady Agnes Martling is
here, and also Lady Haldwell," she persisted cruelly. She did not mind,
because she knew he would have enough to compensate him afterwards.

"Marion," he said, "say it all, and let me have it over. Say what you
like, and I'll not whimper. I'll face it. But I want to see my child."

She was sorry for him. She had really wanted to see how much he was
capable of feeling in the matter.

"Wait here, Frank," she said. "That will be best; and I will bring your
wife to you."

He said nothing, but assented with a motion of the hand, and she left him
where he was. He braced himself for the interview. Assuredly a man loses
something of natural courage and self-confidence when he has done a thing
of which he should be, and is, ashamed.

It seemed a long time (it was in reality but a couple of minutes) before
the door opened again, and Marion said: "Frank, your wife!" and then
retreated.

The door closed, leaving a stately figure standing just inside it. The
figure did not move forwards, but stood there, full of life and fine
excitement, but very still also.

Frank Armour was confounded. He came forwards slowly, looking hard. Was
this distinguished, handsome, reproachful woman his wife--Lali, the
Indian girl, whom he had married in a fit of pique and brandy? He could
hardly believe his eyes; and yet hers looked out at him with something
that he remembered too, together with something which he did not
remember, making him uneasy. Clearly, his great mistake had turned from
ashes into fruit. "Lali!" he said, and held out his hand.

She reached out hers courteously, but her fingers gave him no response.

"We have many things to say to each other," she said, "but they cannot be
said now. I shall be missed from the ballroom."

"Missed from the ballroom!" He almost laughed to think how strange this
sounded in his ears. As if interpreting his thought, she added: "You see,
it is our last affair of the season, and we are all anxious to do our
duty perfectly. Will you go down with me? We can talk afterwards."

Her continued self-possession utterly confused him. She had utterly
confused Marion also, when told that her husband was in the house. She
had had presentiments, and, besides, she had been schooling herself for
this hour for a long time. She turned towards the door.

"But," he asked, like a supplicant, "our child! I want to see the boy."

She lifted her eyebrows, then, seeing the photograph of the baby on the
table, understood how he knew. "Come with me, then," she said, with a
little more feeling.

She led the way along the landing, and paused at her door. "Remember that
we have to appear amongst the guests directly," she said, as though to
warn him against any demonstration. Then they entered. She went over to
the cot and drew back the fleecy curtain from over the sleeping boy's
head. His fingers hungered to take his child to his arms. "He is
magnificent--magnificent!" he said, with a great pride. "Why did you
never let me know of it?"

"How could I tell what you would do?" she calmly replied. "You married
me--wickedly, and used me wickedly afterwards; and I loved the child."

"You loved the child," he repeated after her. "Lali," he added, "I don't
deserve it, but forgive me, if you can--for the child's sake."

"We had better go below," she calmly replied. "We have both duties to do.
You will of course--appear with me--before them?"

The slight irony in the tone cut him horribly. He offered his arm in
silence. They passed on to the staircase.

"It is necessary," she said, "to appear cheerful before one's guests."

She had him at an advantage at every point. "We will be cheerful, then,"
was his reply, spoken with a grim kind of humour. "You have learned it
all, haven't you?" he added.

They were just entering the ballroom. "Yes, with your kind help--and
absence," she replied.

The surprise of the guests was somewhat diminished by the fact that
Marion, telling General Armour and his wife first of Frank's return,
industriously sent the news buzzing about the room.

The two went straight to Frank's father and mother. Their parts were all
excellently played. Then Frank mingled among the guests, being very
heartily greeted, and heard congratulations on all sides. Old club
friends rallied him as a deserter, and new acquaintances flocked about
him; and presently he awakened to the fact that his Indian wife had been
an interest of the season, was not the least admired person present. It
was altogether too good luck for him; but he had an uncomfortable
conviction that he had a long path of penance to walk before he could
hope to enjoy it.

All at once he met Lady Haldwell, who, in spite of all, still accepted
invitations to General Armour's house--the strange scene between Lali and
herself never having been disclosed to the family. He had nothing but
bitterness in his heart for her, but he spoke a few smooth words, and she
languidly congratulated him on his bronzed appearance. He asked for a
dance, but she had not one to give him. As she was leaving, she suddenly
turned as though she had forgotten something, and looking at him, said:
"I forgot to congratulate you on your marriage. I hope it is not too
late?"

He bowed. "Your congratulations are so sincere," he said, "that they
would be a propos late or early." When he stood with his wife whilst the
guests were leaving, and saw with what manner she carried it all off,--as
though she had been born in the good land of good breeding,--he was moved
alternately with wonder and shame--shame that he had intended this noble
creature as a sacrifice to his ugly temper and spite.

When all the guests were gone and the family stood alone in the
drawing-room, a silence suddenly fell amongst them. Presently Marion said
to her mother in a half-whisper, "I wish Richard were here."

They all felt the extreme awkwardness of the situation, especially when
Lali bade General Armour, Mrs. Armour, and Marion good-night, and then,
turning to her husband, said, "Good-night"--she did not even speak his
name. "Perhaps you would care to ride to-morrow morning? I always go to
the Park at ten, and this will be my last ride of the season."

Had she written out an elaborate proclamation of her intended attitude
towards her husband, it could not have more clearly conveyed her mind
than this little speech, delivered as to a most friendly acquaintance.
General Armour pulled his moustache fiercely, and, it is possible,
enjoyed the situation, despite its peril. Mrs. Armour turned to the
mantel and seemed tremulously engaged in arranging some bric-a-brac.
Marion, however, with a fine instinct, slid her arm through that of Lali,
and gently said: "Yes, of course Frank will be glad of a ride in the
Park. He used to ride with me every morning. But let us go, us three, and
kiss the baby good-night--'good-night till we meet in the morning.'"

She linked her arm now through Frank's, and as she did so he replied to
Lali: "I shall be glad to ride in the morning, but--"

"But we can arrange it at breakfast," said his wife hurriedly. At the
same time she allowed herself to be drawn away to the hall with her
husband.

He was very angry, but he knew he had no right to be so. He choked back
his wrath and moved on amiably enough, and suddenly the fashion in which
the tables had been turned on him struck him with its tragic comedy, and
he involuntarily smiled. His sense of humour saved him from words and
acts which might possibly have made the matter a pure tragedy after all.
He loosed his arm from Marion's.

"I must bid father and mother good-night. Then I will join you both--'in
the court of the king.'"  And he turned and went back, and said to his
father as he kissed his mother: "I am had at an advantage, General."

"And serves you right, my boy. You had the odds with you, but she has
captured them like a born soldier." His mother said to him gently:
"Frank, you blamed us, but remember that we wished only your good. Take
my advice, dear, and try to love your wife and win her confidence."

"Love her--try to love her!" he said. "I shall easily do that. But the
other--?" He shook his head a little, though what he meant perhaps he did
not know quite himself, and then followed Marion and Lali upstairs.
Marion had tried to escape from Lali, but was told that she must stay;
and the three met at the child's cot. Marion stooped down and kissed its
forehead. Frank stooped also and kissed its cheek. Then the wife kissed
the other cheek. The child slept peacefully on. "You can always see the
baby here before breakfast, if you choose," said Lali; and she held out
her hand again in good-night. At this point Marion stole away, in spite
of Lah's quick little cry of "Wait, Marion!" and the two were left alone
again.

"I am very tired," she said. "I would rather not talk to-night." The
dismissal was evident.

He took her hand, held it an instant, and presently said: "I will not
detain you, but I would ask you, Lali, to remember that you are my wife.
Nothing can alter that."

"Still we are only strangers, as you know," she quietly rejoined.

"You forget the days we were together--after we were married," he
cautiously urged.

"I am not the same girl, . . . you killed her. . . We have to start
again. . . . I know all."

"You know that in my wretched anger and madness I--"

"Oh, please do not speak of it," she said; "it is so bad even in
thought."

"But will you never forgive me, and care for me? We have to live our
lives together."

"Pray let us not speak of it now," she said, in a weary voice; then,
breathlessly: "It is of much more consequence that you should love
me--and the child."

He drew himself up with a choking sigh, and spread out his arms to her.
"Oh, my wife!" he exclaimed.

"No, no," she cried, "this is unreasonable; we know so little of each
other. . . . Good-night, again."

He turned at the door, came back, and, stooping, kissed the child on the
lips. Then he said: "You are right. I deserve to suffer. . . .
Good-night."

But when he was gone she dropped on her knees, and kissed the child many
times on the lips also.

     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

     If fumbling human fingers do not meddle with it
     Miseries of this world are caused by forcing issues
     Reading a lot and forgetting everything
     The world never welcomes its deserters
     There is no influence like the influence of habit
     There should be written the one word, "Wait."
     Training in the charms of superficiality
     We grow away from people against our will
     We speak with the straight tongue; it is cowards who lie




THE TRANSLATION OF A SAVAGE

By Gilbert Parker

Volume 3.

     IX.    THE FAITH OF COMRADES
     X.    "THOU KNOWEST THE SECRETS OF OUR HEARTS"
     XI.    UPON THE HIGHWAY
     XII.   "THE CHASE OF THE YELLOW SWAN"
     XIII.   A LIVING POEM
     XIV.   ON THE EDGE OF A FUTURE
     XV.    THE END OF THE TRAIL




CHAPTER IX

THE FAITH OF COMRADES

When Francis Armour left his wife's room he did not go to his own, but
quietly descended the stairs, went to the library, and sat down. The
loneliest thing in the world is to be tete-a-tete with one's conscience.
A man may have a bad hour with an enemy, a sad hour with a friend, a
peaceful hour with himself, but when the little dwarf, conscience,
perches upon every hillock of remembrance and makes slow signs--those
strange symbols of the language of the soul--to him, no slave upon the
tread-mill suffers more.

The butler came in to see if anything was required, but Armour only
greeted him silently and waved him away. His brain was painfully alert,
his memory singularly awake. It seemed that the incident of this hour had
so opened up every channel of his intelligence that all his life ran past
him in fantastic panorama, as by that illumination which comes to the
drowning man. He seemed under some strange spell. Once or twice he rose,
rubbed his eyes, and looked round the room--the room where as a boy he
had spent idle hours, where as a student he had been in the hands of his
tutor, and as a young man had found recreations such as belong to
ambitious and ardent youth. Every corner was familiar. Nothing was
changed. The books upon the shelves were as they were placed twenty years
ago. And yet he did not seem a part of it. It did not seem natural to
him. He was in an atmosphere of strangeness--that atmosphere which
surrounds a man, as by a cloud, when some crisis comes upon him and his
life seems to stand still, whirling upon its narrow base, while the world
appears at an interminable distance, even as to a deaf man who sees yet
cannot hear.

There came home to him at that moment with a force indescribable the
shamelessness of the act he committed four years ago. He had thought to
come back to miserable humiliation. For four years he had refused to do
his duty as a man towards an innocent woman,--a woman, though in part a
savage,--now transformed into a gentle, noble creature of delight and
goodness. How had he deserved it? He had sown the storm, it was but just
that he should reap the whirlwind; he had scattered thistles, could he
expect to gather grapes? He knew that the sympathy of all his father's
house was not with him, but with the woman he had wronged. He was glad it
was so. Looking back now, it seemed so poor and paltry a thing that he, a
man, should stoop to revenge himself upon those who had given him birth,
as a kind of insult to the woman who had lightly set him aside, and
should use for that purpose a helpless, confiding girl. To revenge one's
self for wrong to one's self is but a common passion, which has little
dignity; to avenge some one whom one has loved, man or woman,--and,
before all, woman,--has some touch of nobility, is redeemed by loyalty.
For his act there was not one word of defence to be made, and he was not
prepared to make it.

The cigars and liquors were beside him, but he did not touch them. He
seemed very far away from the ordinary details of his life: he knew he
had before him hard travel, and he was not confident of the end. He could
not tell how long he sat there.--After, a time the ticking of the clock
seemed painfully loud to him. Now and again he heard a cab rattling
through the Square, and the foolish song of some drunken loiterer in the
night caused him to start painfully. Everything jarred on him. Once he
got up, went to the window, and looked out. The moon was shining full on
the Square. He wondered if it would be well for him to go out and find
some quiet to his nerves in walking. He did so. Out in the Square he
looked up to his wife's window. It was lighted. Long time he walked up
and down, his eyes on the window. It held him like a charm. Once he
leaned against the iron railings of the garden and looked up, not moving
for a time. Presently he saw the curtain of the window raised, and
against the dim light of the room was outlined the figure of his wife. He
knew it. She stood for a moment looking out into the night. She could not
see him, nor could he see her features at all plainly, but he knew that
she, like him, was alone with the catastrophe which his wickedness had
sent upon her. Soon the curtain was drawn down again, and then he went
once more to the house and took his old seat beside the table. He fell to
brooding, and at last, exhausted, dropped to a troubled sleep. He woke
with a start. Some one was in the room. He heard a step behind him. He
came to his feet quickly, a wild light in his eyes. He faced his brother
Richard.

Late in the afternoon Marion had telegraphed to Richard that Frank was
coming. He had been away visiting some poor and sick people, and when he
came back to Greyhope it was too late to catch the train. But the horses
were harnessed straightway, and he was driven into town, a three-hours'
drive. He had left the horses at the stables, and, having a latch-key,
had come in quietly. He had seen the light in the study, and guessed who
was there. He entered, and saw his brother asleep. He watched him for a
moment and studied him. Then he moved away to take off his hat, and, as
he did so, stumbled slightly. Then it was Frank waked, and for the first
time in five years they looked each other in the eyes. They both stood
immovable for a moment, and then Richard caught Frank's hand in both of
his and said: "God bless you, my boy! I am glad you are back."

"Dick! Dick!" was the reply, and Frank's other hand clutched Richard's
shoulder in his strong emotion. They stood silent for a moment longer,
and then Richard recovered himself. He waved his hand to the chairs. The
strain of the situation was a little painful for them both. Men are shy
with each other where their emotions are in play.

"Why, my boy," he said, waving a hand to the spirits and liqueurs, "full
bottles and unopened boxes? Tut, tut! here's a pretty how-d'ye-do. Is
this the way you toast the home quarters? You're a fine soldier for an
old mess!"

So saying, he poured out some whiskey, then opened the box of cigars and
pushed them towards his brother. He did not care particularly to drink or
smoke himself, but a man--an Englishman--is a strange creature. He is
most natural and at ease when he is engaged in eating and drinking. He
relieves every trying situation by some frivolous and selfish occupation,
as of dismembering a partridge, or mixing a punch.

"Well, Frank," said his brother, "now what have you to say for yourself?
Why didn't you come long ago? You have played the adventurer for five
years, and what have you to show for it? Have you a fortune?" Frank shook
his head, and twisted a shoulder. "What have you done that is worth the
doing, then?"

"Nothing that I intended to do, Dick," was the grave reply.

"Yes, I imagined that. You have seen them, have you?" he added, in a
softer voice.

Frank blew a great cloud of smoke about his face, and through it he said:
"Yes, I have seen a damned sight more than I deserved to see."

"Oh, of course; I know that, my boy; but, so far as I can see, in another
direction you are getting quite what you deserve: your wife and child are
upstairs--you are here."

He paused, was silent for a moment, then leaned over, caught his
brother's arm, and said, in a low, strenuous voice: "Frank Armour, you
laid a hateful little plot for us. It wasn't manly, but we forgave it and
did the best we could. But see here, Frank, take my word for it, you have
had a lot of luck. There isn't one woman out of ten thousand that would
have stood the test as your wife has stood it; injured at the start,
constant neglect, temptation--" he paused. "My boy, did you ever think of
that, of the temptation to a woman neglected by her husband? The
temptation to men? Yes, you have had a lot of luck. There has been a
special providence for you, my boy; but not for your sake. God doesn't
love neglectful husbands, but I think He is pretty sorry for neglected
wives."

Frank was very still. His head drooped, the cigar hung unheeded in his
fingers for a moment, and he said at last: "Dick, old boy, I've thought
it all over to-night since I came back--everything that you've said. I
have not a word of defence to make, but, by heaven! I'm going to win my
wife's love if I can, and when I do it I'll make up for all my cursed
foolishness--see if I don't."

"That sounds well, Frank," was the quiet reply. "I like to hear you talk
that way. You would be very foolish if you did not. What do you think of
the child?"

"Can you ask me what I think? He is a splendid little fellow."

"Take care of him, then--take good care of him: you may never have
another," was the grim rejoinder. Frank winced. His brother rose, took
his arm, and said: "Let us go to our rooms, Frank. There will be time
enough to talk later, and I am not so young as I once was."

Truth to say, Richard Armour was not so young as he seemed a few months
before. His shoulders were a little stooped, he was greyer about the
temples. The little bit of cynicism which had appeared in that remark
about the care of the child showed also in the lines of his mouth; yet
his eyes had the same old true, honest look. But a man cannot be hit in
mortal places once or twice in his life without its being etched on his
face or dropped like a pinch of aloe from his tongue.

Still they sat and talked much longer, Frank showing better than when his
brother came, Richard gone grey and tired. At last Richard rose and
motioned towards the window. "See, Frank," he said, "it is morning." Then
he went and lifted the blind. The grey, unpurged air oozed on the glass.
The light was breaking over the tops of the houses. A crossing-sweeper
early to his task, or holding the key of the street, went pottering by,
and a policeman glanced up at them as he passed. Richard drew down the
curtain again.

"Dick," said Frank suddenly, "you look old. I wonder if I have changed as
much?"

Six months before, Frank Armour would have said hat his brother looked
young.

"Oh, you look young enough, Frank," was the reply. "But I am a good deal
older than I was five years ago. . . Come, let us go to bed."




CHAPTER X

THOU KNOWEST THE SECRETS OF OUR HEARTS

And Lali? How had the night gone for her? When she rose from the child's
cot, where her lips had caught the warmth that her husband had left on
them, she stood for a moment bewildered in the middle of the room. She
looked at the door out of which he had gone, her bosom beating hard, her
heart throbbing so that it hurt her--that she could have cried out from
mere physical pain. The wifedom in her was plundering the wild stores of
her generous soul for the man, for--as Richard had said that day, that
memorable day!--the father of her child. But the woman, the pure
translated woman, who was born anew when this frail life in its pink and
white glory crept out into the dazzling world, shrank back, as any girl
might shrink that had not known marriage. This child had come--from
what?--She shuddered now--how many times had she done so since she first
waked to the vulgar sacrilege of her marriage? She knew now that every
good mother, when her first child is born, takes it in her arms, and, all
her agony gone, and the ineffable peace of delivered motherhood come,
speaks the name of its father, and calls it his child. But--she
remembered it now--when her child was born, this little waif, the fruit
of a man's hot, malicious hour, she wrapped it in her arms, pressed its
delicate flesh to the silken folds of her bosom, and weeping, whispered
only: "My child, my little, little child!"

She had never, as many a wife far from her husband has done, talked to
her child of its father, told it of his beauty and his virtues, arrayed
it day by day in sweet linen and pretty adornments, as if he were just
then knocking at her door; she had never imagined what he would say when
he did come. What could such a father think of his child, born of a woman
whose very life he had intended as an insult? No, she had loved it for
father and mother also. She had tried to be good, a good mother, living a
life unutterably lonely, hard in all that it involved of study, new duty,
translation, and burial of primitive emotions. And with all the care and
tearful watchfulness that had been needed, she had grown so proud, so
exacting--exacting for her child, proud for herself.

How could she know now that this hasty declaration of affection was
anything more than the mere man in him? Years ago she had not been able
to judge between love and insult--what guarantee had she here? Did he
think that she could believe in him? She was not the woman he had
married, he was not the man she had married. He had deceived her
basely--she had been a common chattel. She had been miserable
enough--could she give herself over to his flying emotions again so
suddenly?

She paced the room, her face now in her hands, her hands now clasping and
wringing before her. Her wifely duty? She straightened to that. Duty! She
was first and before all a good, unpolluted woman. No, no, it could not
be. Love him? Again she shrank. Then came flooding on her that afternoon
when she had flung herself on Richard's breast, and all those hundred
days of happiness in Richard's company--Richard the considerate, the
strong, who had stood so by his honour in an hour of peril.

Now as she thought of it a hot wave shivered through all her body, and
tingled to her hair. Her face again dropped in her hands, and, as on that
other day, she knelt beside the cot, and, bursting into tears, said
through her sobs: "My baby, my own dear baby! Oh, that we could go
away--away--and never come back again!"

She did not know how intense her sobs were. They waked the child from its
delicate sleep; its blue eyes opened wide and wise all on the instant,
its round soft arm ran up to its mother's neck, and it said: "Don't c'y!
I want to s'eep wif you! I'se so s'eepy!"

She caught the child to her wet face, smiled at it through her tears,
went with it to her own bed, put it away in the deep whiteness, kissed
it, and fondled it away again into the heaven of sleep. When this was
done she felt calmer. How she hungered over it! This--this could not be
denied her. This, at least, was all hers, without clause or reservation,
an absolute love, and an absolute right.

She disrobed and drew in beside the child, and its little dewy cheek
touching her breast seemed to ease the ache in her soul.

But sleep would not come. All the past four years trooped by, with their
thousand incidents magnified in the sharp, throbbing light of her mind,
and at last she knew and saw clearly what was before her, what trials,
what duty, and what honour demanded--her honour.

Richard? Once for all she gently put him away from her into that infinite
distance of fine respect which a good woman can feel, who has known what
she and Richard had known--and set aside. But he had made for her so high
a standard, that for one to be measured thereby was a severe challenge.

Could Frank come even to that measure? She dared not try to answer the
question. She feared, she shrank, she grew sick at heart. She did not
reckon with that other thing, that powerful, infinite influence which
ties a woman, she knows not how or why, to the man who led her to the
world of motherhood. Through all the wrongs which she may suffer by him,
there runs this cable of unhappy attraction, testified to by how many
sorrowful lives!

But Lali was trying to think it out, not only to feel, and she did not
count that subterranean force which must play its part in this new
situation in her drama of life. Could she love him? She crept away out of
the haven where her child was, put on her dressing-gown, went to the
window, and looked out upon the night, all unconscious that her husband
was looking at her from the Square below. Love him?--Love him?--Love him?
Could she? Did he love her? Her eyes wandered over the Square. Nowhere
else was there a light, but a chimney-flue was creaking somewhere. It
jarred on her so that she shrank. Then all at once she smiled to think
how she had changed. Four years ago she could have slept amid the hammers
of a foundry. The noise ceased. Her eyes passed from the cloud of trees
in the Square to the sky-all stars, and restful deep blue. That--that was
the same. How she knew it! Orion and Ashtaroth, and Mars and the
Pleiades, and the long trail of the Milky Way. As a little child hanging
in the trees, or sprawled beside a tepee, she had made friends with them
all, even as she learned and loved all the signs of the earth
beneath--the twist of a blade of grass, the portent in the cry of a
river-hen, the colour of a star, the smell of a wind. She had known
Nature then, now she knew men. And knowing them, and having suffered, and
sick at heart as she was, standing by this window in the dead of night,
the cry that shook her softly was not of her new life, but of the old,
primitive, child-like.

'Pasagathe, omarki kethose kolokani vorgantha pestorondikat Oni.'

"A spear hath pierced me, and the smart of the nettle is in my wound.
Maker of the soft night, bind my wounds with sleep, lest I cry out and be
a coward and unworthy."

Again and again, unconsciously, the words passed from her lips

'Vorganthe, pestorondikat Oni.'

At last she let down the blind, came to the bed, and once more gathered
her child in her arms with an infinite hunger. This love was hers--rich,
untrammelled, and so sacred. No matter what came, and she did not know
what would come, she had the child. There was a kind of ecstasy in it,
and she lay and trembled with the feeling, but at last fell into a
troubled sleep.

She waked suddenly to hear footsteps passing her door. She listened. One
footstep was heavier than the other--heavier and a little stumbling; she
recognised them, Frank and Richard. In that moment her heart hardened.
Frank Armour must tread a difficult road.




CHAPTER XI

UPON THE HIGHWAY

Frank visited the child in the morning, and was received with a casual
interest. Richard Joseph Armour was fastidious, was not to be won at the
grand gallop. Besides, he had just had a visit from his uncle, and the
good taste of that gay time was yet in his mouth. He did not resent the
embraces, but he did not respond to them, and he straightened himself
with relief when the assault was over. Some one was paying homage to him,
that was all he knew; but for his own satisfaction and pleasure he
preferred as yet his old comrades, Edward Lambert, Captain Vidall,
General Armour, and, above all, Richard. He only showed real interest at
the last, when he asked, as it were in compromise, if his father would
give him a sword. No one had ever talked to him of his father, and he had
no instinct for him so far as could be seen. The sword was, therefore,
after the manner of a concession. Frank rashly promised it, and was
promptly told by Marion that it couldn't be; and she was backed by
Captain Vidall, who said it had already been tabooed, and Frank wasn't to
come in and ask for favours or expect them.

The husband and wife met at breakfast. He was down first. When his wife
entered, he came to her, they touched hands, and she presently took a
seat beside him. More than once he paused suddenly in his eating, when he
thought of his inexplicable case. He was now face to face with a reversed
situation. He had once picked up a pebble from the brown dirt of a
prairie, that he might toss it into the pool of this home life; and he
had tossed it, and from the sweet bath there had come out a precious
stone, which he longed to wear, and knew that he could not--not yet. He
could have coerced a lower being, but for his manhood's sake--he had
risen to that now, it is curious how the dignity of fatherhood helps to
make a man--he could not coerce here, and if he did, he knew that the
product would be disaster.

He listened to her talk with Marion and Captain Vidall. Her voice was
musical, balanced, her language breathed; it had manner, and an
indescribable cadence of intelligence, joined to a deliberation, which
touched her off with distinction. When she spoke to him--and she seemed
to do that as by studied intention and with tact at certain
intervals--her manner was composed and kind. She had resolved on her
part. She asked him about his journey over, about his plans for the day,
and if he had decided to ride with her in the Park,--he could have the
general's mount, she was sure, for the general was not going that
day,--and would he mind doing a little errand for her afterwards in
Regent Street, for the child--she feared she herself would not have time?

Just then General Armour entered, and, passing behind her, kissed her on
the cheek, dropping his hand on Frank's shoulder at the same time with a
hearty greeting. Of course, Frank could have his mount, he said. Mrs.
Armour did not come down, but she sent word by Richard, who entered last,
that she would be glad to see Frank for a moment before he left for the
Park. As of old, Richard took both Lali's hands in his, patted them, and
cheerily said:

"Well, well, Lali, we've got the wild man home again safe and sound,
haven't we--the same old vagabond? We'll have to turn him into a
Christian again--'For while the lamp holds out to burn'--"

He did not give her time to reply, but their eyes met honestly, kindly,
and from the look they both passed into life and time again with a fresh
courage. She did not know, nor did he, how near they had been to an
abyss; and neither ever knew. One furtive glance at the moment, one
hesitating pressure of the hand, one movement of the head from each
other's gaze, and there had been unhappiness for them all. But they were
safe.

In the Park, Frank and his wife talked little. They met many who greeted
them cordially, and numbers of Frank's old club friends summoned him to
the sacred fires at his earliest opportunity. The two talked chiefly of
the people they met, and Frank thrilled with admiration at his wife's
gentle judgment of everybody.

"The true thing, absolutely the true thing," he said; and he was
conscious, too, that her instincts were right and searching, for once or
twice he saw her face chill a little when they met one or two men whose
reputations as chevaliers des dames were pronounced. These men had had
one or two confusing minutes with Lali in their time.

"How splendidly you ride!" he said, as he came up swiftly to her, after
having chatted for a moment with Edward Lambert. "You sit like wax, and
so entirely easy."

"Thank you," she said. "I suppose I really like it too well to ride
badly, and then I began young on horses not so good as Musket
here--bareback, too!" she added, with a little soft irony.

He thought--she did not, however--that she was referring to that first
letter he sent home to his people, when he consigned her, like any other
awkward freight, to their care. He flushed to his eyes. It cut him deep,
but her eyes only had a distant, dreamy look which conveyed nothing of
the sting in her words. Like most men, he had a touch of vanity too, and
he might have resented the words vaguely, had he not remembered his talk
with his mother an hour before.

She had begged him to have patience, she had made him promise that he
would not in any circumstance say an ungentle or bitter thing, that he
would bide the effort of constant devotion, and his love of the child.
Especially must he try to reach her through love of the child.

By which it will be seen that Mrs. Armour had come to some wisdom by
reason of her love for Frank's wife and child.

"My son," she had said, "through the child is the surest way, believe me;
for only a mother can understand what that means, how much and how far it
goes. You are a father, but until last night you never had the flush of
that love in your veins. You stand yet only at the door of that life
which has done more to guide, save, instruct, and deepen your wife's life
than anything else, though your brother Richard--to whom you owe a debt
that you can never repay--has done much in deed. Be wise, my dear, as I
have learned a little to be since first your wife came. All might easily
have gone wrong. It has all gone well; and we, my son, have tried to do
our duty lovingly, consistently, to dear Lali and the child."

She made him promise that he would wait, that he would not try to hurry
his wife's affection for him by any spoken or insistent claim. "For,
Frank dear," she said, "you are only legally married, not morally, not as
God can bless--not yet. But I pray that what will sanctify all may come
soon, very soon, to the joy of us all. But again--and I cannot say it too
prayerfully--do not force one little claim that your marriage gave you,
but prove yourself to her, who has cause to distrust you so much. Will
you forgive your mother, my dear, for speaking to you?"

He had told her then that what she had asked he had intended as his own
course, yet what she had said would keep it in his mind always, for he
was sure it was right. Mrs. Armour had then embraced him, and they
parted. Dealing with Lali had taught them all much of the human heart
that they had never known before, and the result thereof was wisdom.

They talked casually enough for the rest of the ride, and before they
parted at the door Frank received his commission for Regent Street, and
accepted it with delight, as a schoolboy might a gift. He was absurdly
grateful for any favours from her, any sign of her companionship. They
met at luncheon; then, because Lali had to keep an engagement in Eaton
Square, they parted again, and Frank and Richard took a walk, after a
long hour with the child, who still so hungered for his sword that Frank
disobeyed orders, and dragged Richard off to Oxford Street to get one. He
was reduced to a beatific attitude of submission, for he knew that he had
few odds with him now, and that he must live by virtue of new virtues. He
was no longer proud of himself in any way, and he knew that no one else
was, or rather he felt so, and that was just the same.

He talked of the boy, he talked of his wife, he laid plans, he tore them
down, he built them up again, he asked advice, he did not wait to hear
it, but rambled on, excited, eager. Truth is, there had suddenly been
lifted from his mind the dread and shadow of four years. Wherever he had
gone, whatever he had been or done, that dread shadow had followed him,
and now to know that instead of having to endure a hell he had to win a
heaven, and to feel as if his brain had been opened and a mass of vapours
and naughty little mannikins of remorse had been let out, was a trifle
intoxicating even to a man of his usual vigour and early acquaintance
with exciting things.

"Dick, Dick!" he said enthusiastically, "you've been royal. You always
were better than any chap I ever knew. You're always doing for others.
Hang it, Dick, where does your fun come in? Nobody seems ever to do
anything for you."

Richard gave his arm a squeeze. "Never mind about me, boy. I've had all
the fun I want, and all I'm likely to get, and so long as you're all
willing to have me around, I'm satisfied. There's always a lot to do
among the people in the village, one way and another, and I've a heap of
reading on, and what more does a fellow want?"

"You didn't always feel that way, Dick?"

"No. You see, at different times in life you want different kinds of
pleasures. I've had a good many kinds, and the present kind is about as
satisfactory as any."

"But, Dick, you ought to get married. You've got coin, you've got sense,
you're a bit distinguished-looking, and I'll back your heart against a
thousand bishops. You've never been in danger of making a fool of
yourself as I have. Why didn't you--why don't you--get married?"

Richard patted his brother's shoulder.

"Married, boy? Married? I've got too much on my hands. I've got to bring
you up yet. And when that's done I shall have to write a book called 'How
to bring up a Parent.' Then I've got to help bring your boy up, as I've
done these last three years and more. I've got to think of that boy for a
long while yet, for I know him better than you do, and I shall need some
of my coin to carry out my plans."

"God bless you, Dick! Bring me up as you will, only bring her along too;
and as for the boy, you're far more his father than I am. And mother says
that it's you that's given me the wife I've got now--so what can I
say?--what can I say?"

It was the middle of the Green Park, and Richard turned and clasped Frank
by both shoulders.

"Say? Say that you'll stand by the thing you swore to one mad day in the
West as well as any man that ever lived--'to have and to hold, to love
and to cherish from this day forth till death us do part, Amen.'"

Richard's voice was low and full of a strange, searching something.

Frank, wondering at this great affection and fondness of his brother,
looked him in the eyes warmly, solemnly, and replied: "For richer or for
poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health--so help me
God, and her kindness and forgiveness!"




CHAPTER XII

"THE CHASE OF THE YELLOW SWAN"

Frank and Lali did not meet until dinner was announced. The conversation
at dinner was mainly upon the return to Greyhope, which was fixed for the
following morning, and it was deftly kept gay and superficial by Marion
and Richard and Captain Vidall, until General Armour became reminiscent,
and held the interest of the table through a dozen little incidents of
camp and barrack life until the ladies rose. There had been an engagement
for late in the evening, but it had been given up because of Frank's
home-coming, and there was to be a family gathering merely--for Captain
Vidall was now as much one of the family as Frank or Richard, by virtue
of his approaching marriage with Marion. The men left alone, General
Armour questioned Frank freely about life in the Hudson's Bay country,
and the conversation ran on idly till it was time to join the ladies.

When they reached the drawing-room, Marion was seated at the piano,
playing a rhapsody of Raff's, and Mrs. Armour and Lali were seated side
by side. Frank thrilled at seeing his wife's hand in his mother's. Marion
nodded over the piano at the men, and presently played a snatch of
Carmen, then wandered off into the barbaric strength of Tannhauser, and
as suddenly again into the ballet music of Faust.

"Why so wilful, my girl?" asked her father, who had a keen taste for
music. "Why this tangle? Let us have something definite."

Marion sprang up from the piano. "I can't. I'm not definite myself
to-night." Then, turning to Lali: "Lali dear, sing something--do! Sing my
favourite, 'The Chase of the Yellow Swan.'"

This was a song which in the later days at Greyhope, Lali had sung for
Marion, first in her own language, with the few notes of an Indian chant,
and afterwards, by the help of the celebrated musician who had taught her
both music and singing, both of which she had learned but slowly, it was
translated and set to music. Lali looked Marion steadily in the eyes for
a moment and then rose. It cost her something to do this thing, for while
she had often talked much and long with Richard about that old life, it
now seemed as if she were to sing it to one who would not quite
understand why she should sing it at all, or what was her real attitude
towards her past--that she looked upon it from the infinite distance of
affectionate pity, knowledge, and indescribable change, and yet loved the
inspiring atmosphere and mystery of that lonely North, which once in the
veins never leaves it--never. Would he understand that she was feeling,
not the common detail of the lodge and the camp-fire and the Company's
post, but the deep spirit of Nature, filtering through the senses in a
thousand ways--the wild ducks' flight, the sweet smell of the balsam, the
exquisite gallop of the deer, the powder of the frost, the sun and snow
and blue plains of water, the thrilling eternity of plain and the
splendid steps of the hills, which led away by stair and entresol to the
Kimash Hills, the Hills of the Mighty Men?

She did not know what he would think, and again on second thought she
determined to make him, by this song, contrast her as she was when he
married her, and now--how she herself could look upon that past
unabashed, speak of it without blushing, sing of it with pride, having
reached a point where she could look down and say: "This was the way by
which I came."

She rose, and was accompanied to the piano by General Armour, Frank
admiring her soft, springing steps, her figure so girlish and lissom. She
paused for a little before she began. Her eyes showed for a moment over
the piano, deep, burning, in-looking; then they veiled; her fingers
touched the keys, wandered over them in a few strange, soft chords,
paused, wandered again, more firmly and very intimately, and then she
sang. Her voice was a good contralto, well balanced, true, of no great
range, but within its compass melodious, and having some inexpressible
charm of temperament. Frank did not need to strain his ears to hear the
words; every one came clear, searching, delicately valued:

       "In the flash of the singing dawn,
        At the door of the Great One,
        The joy of his lodge knelt down,
        Knelt down, and her hair in the sun
        Shone like showering dust,
        And her eyes were as eyes of the fawn.
        And she cried to her lord,
        'O my lord, O my life,
        From the desert I come;
        From the hills of the Dawn.'
        And he lifted the curtain and said,
        'Hast thou seen It, the Yellow Swan?'

       "And she lifted her head, and her eyes
        Were as lights in the dark,
        And her hands folded slow on her breast,
        And her face was as one who has seen
        The gods and the place where they dwell;
        And she said: 'Is it meet that I kneel,
        That I kneel as I speak to my lord?'
        And he answered her: 'Nay, but to stand,
        And to sit by my side;
        But speak, thou hast followed the trail,
        Hast thou found It, the Yellow Swan?'

       "And she stood as a queen, and her voice
        Was as one who hath seen the Hills,
        The Hills of the Mighty Men,
        And hath heard them cry in the night,
        Hath heard them call in the dawn,
        Hath seen It, the Yellow Swan.
        And she said: 'It is not for my lord;'
        And she murmured, 'I cannot tell,
        But my lord must go as I went,
        And my lord must come as I came,
        And my lord shall be wise.'

       "And he cried in his wrath,
        'What is thine, it is mine,
        And thine eyes are my eyes
        Thou shalt speak of the Yellow Swan!'
        But she answered him: 'Nay, though I die.
        I have lain in the nest of the Swan,
        I have heard, I have known;
        When thine eyes too have seen,
        When thine ears too have heard,
        Thou shalt do with me then as thou wilt!'

       "And he lifted his hand to strike,
        And he straightened his spear to slay,
        But a great light struck on his eyes,
        And he heard the rushing of wings,
        And his long spear fell from his hand,
        And a terrible stillness came.
        And when the spell passed from his eyes,
        He stood in his doorway alone,
        And gone was the queen of his soul,
        And gone was the Yellow Swan."

Frank Armour listened as in a dream. The song had the wild swing of
savage life, the deep sweetness of a monotone, but it had also the fine
intelligence, the subtle allusiveness of romance. He could read between
the lines. The allegory touched him where his nerves were sensitive.
Where she had gone he could not go until his eyes had seen and known what
hers had seen and known; he could not grasp his happiness all in a
moment; she was no longer at his feet, but equal with him, and wiser than
he. She had not meant the song to be allusive when she began, but to
speak to him through it by singing the heathen song as his own sister
might sing it. As the song went on, however, she felt the inherent
suggestion in it, so that when she had finished it required all her
strength to get up calmly, come among them again, and listen to their
praises and thanks. She had no particular wish to be alone with Frank
just yet, but the others soon arranged themselves so that the husband and
wife were left in a cosey corner of the room.

Lali's heart fluttered a little at first, for the day had been trying,
and she was not as strong as she could wish. Admirably as she had gone
through the season, it had worn on her, and her constitution had become
sensitive and delicate, while yet strong. The life had almost refined her
too much. Always on the watch that she should do exactly as Marion or
Mrs. Armour, always so sensitive as to what was required of her, always
preparing for this very time, now that it had come, and her heart and
mind were strong, her body seemed to weaken. Once or twice during the day
she had felt a little faint, but it had passed off, and she had scolded
herself. She did not wish a serious talk with her husband to-night, but
she saw now that it was inevitable.

He said to her as he sat down beside her: "You sing very well indeed. The
song is full of meaning, and you bring it all out."

"I am glad you like it," she responded conventionally. "Of course it's an
unusual song for an English drawing-room."

"As you sing it, it would be beautiful and acceptable anywhere, Lali."

"Thank you again," she answered, closing and unclosing her fan, her eyes
wandering to where Mrs. Armour was. She wished she could escape, for she
did not feel like talking, and yet though the man was her husband she
could not say that she was too tired to talk; she must be polite. Then,
with a little dainty malice: "It is more interesting, though, in the
vernacular--and costume!"

"Not unless you sang it so," he answered gallantly, and with a kind of
earnestness.

"You have not forgotten the way of London men," she rejoined.

"Perhaps that is well, for I do not know the way of women," he said, with
a faint bitterness. "Yet, I don't speak unadvisedly in this,"--here he
meant to be a little bold and bring the talk to the past,--"for I heard
you sing that song once before."

She turned on him half puzzled, a little nervous. "Where did you hear me
sing it?"

He had made up his mind, wisely enough, to speak with much openness and
some tact also, if possible. "It was on the Glow Worm River at the Clip
Claw Hills. I came into your father's camp one evening in the autumn,
hungry and tired and knocked about. I was given the next tent to yours.
It was night, and just before I turned in I heard your voice singing. I
couldn't understand much of the language, but I had the sense of it, and
I know it when I hear it again."

"Yes, I remember singing it that night," she said. "Next day was the
Feast of the Yellow Swan."

Her eyes presently became dreamy, and her face took on a distant, rapt
look. She sat looking straight before her for a moment.

He did not speak, for he interpreted the look aright, and he was going to
be patient, to wait.

"Tell me of my father," she said. "You have been kind to him?"

He winced a little. "When I left Fort Charles he was very well," he said,
"and he asked me to tell you to come some day. He also has sent you a
half-dozen silver-fox skins, a sash, and moccasins made by his own hands.
The things are not yet unpacked."

Moccasins?--She remembered when last she had moccasins on her feet--the
day she rode the horse at the quick-set hedge, and nearly lost her life.
How very distant that all was, and yet how near too! Suddenly she
remembered also why she took that mad ride, and her heart hardened a
little.

"You have been kind to my father since I left?" she asked.

He met her eyes steadily. "No, not always; not more than I have been kind
to you. But at the last, yes." Suddenly his voice became intensely direct
and honest. "Lali," he continued, "there is much that I want to say to
you." She waved her hand in a wearied fashion. "I want to tell you that I
would do the hardest penance if I could wipe out these last four years."

"Penance?" she said dreamily--"penance? What guarantee of happiness would
that be? One would not wish another to do penance if--"

She paused.

"I understand," he said--"if one cared--if one loved. Yes, I understand.
But that does not alter the force or meaning of the wish. I swear to you
that I repent with all my heart--the first wrong to you, the long
absence--the neglect--everything."

She turned slowly to him. "Everything-Everything?" she repeated after
him. "Do you understand what that means? Do you know a woman's heart? No.
Do you know what a shameful neglect is at the most pitiful time in your
life? No. How can a man know! He has a thousand things--the woman has
nothing, nothing at all except the refuge of home, that for which she
gave up everything!"

Presently she broke off, and something sprang up and caught her in the
throat. Years of indignation were at work in her. "I have had a home,"
she said, in a low, thrilling voice--"a good home; but what did that cost
you? Not one honest sentiment of pity, kindness, or solicitude. You
clothed me, fed me, abandoned me, as--how can one say it? Do I not know,
if coming back you had found me as you expected to find me, what the
result would have been? Do I not know? You would have endured me if I did
not thrust myself upon you, for you have after all a sense of legal duty,
a kind of stubborn honour. But you would have made my life such that some
day one or both of us would have died suddenly. For"--she looked him with
a hot clearness in the eyes--"for there is just so much that a woman can
bear. I wish this talk had not come now, but, since it has come, it is
better to speak plainly. You see, you misunderstand. A heathen has a
heart as another--has a life to be spoiled or made happy as another. Had
there been one honest passion in your treatment of me--in your marrying
me--there would be something on which to base mutual respect, which is
more or less necessary when one is expected to love. But--but I will not
speak more of it, for it chokes me, the insult to me, not as I was, but
as I am. Then it would probably have driven me mad, if I had known; now
it eats into my life like rust."

He made a motion as if to take her hands, but lifting them away quietly
she said: "You forget that there are others present, as well as the fact
that we can talk better without demonstration."

He was about to speak, but she stopped him. "No, wait," she said; "for I
want to say a little more. I was only an Indian girl, but you must
remember that I had also in my veins good white blood, Scotch blood.
Perhaps it was that which drew me to you then--for Lali the Indian girl
loved you. Life had been to me pleasant enough--without care, without
misery, open, strong and free; our people were not as those others which
had learned the white man's vices. We loved the hunt, the camp-fires, the
sacred feasts, the legends of the Mighty Men; and the earth was a good
friend, whom we knew as the child knows its mother."

She paused. Something seemed to arrest her attention. Frank followed her
eyes. She was watching Captain Vidall and Marion. He guessed what she was
thinking--how different her own wooing had been from theirs, how
concerning her courtship she had not one sweet memory--the thing that
keeps alive more love and loyalty in this world than anything else.
Presently General Armour joined them, and Frank's opportunity was over
for the present.

Captain Vidall and Marion were engaged in a very earnest conversation,
though it might not appear so to observers.

"Come, now, Marion," he said protestingly, "don't be impossible. Please
give the day a name. Don't you think we've waited about long enough?"

"There was a man in the Bible who served seven years."

"I've served over three in India since I met you at the well, and that
counts double. Why so particular to a day? It's a bit Jewish. Anyhow,
that seven years was rough on Rachel."

"How, Hume? Because she got passee?"

"Well, that counted; but do you suppose that Jew was going to put in
those seven years without interest? Don't you believe it. Rachel paid
capital and interest back, or Jacob was no Jew. Tell me, Marion, when
shall it be?"

"Hume, for a man who has trifled away years in India, you are strangely
impatient."

"Mrs. Lambert says that I have the sweetest disposition."

"My dear sir!"

"Don't look at me like that at this distance, or I shall have to wear
goggles, as the man did who went courting the Sun."

"How supremely ridiculous you are! And I thought you such a sensible,
serious man."

"Mrs. Lambert put that in your head. We used to meet at the annual
dinners of the Bible Society."

"Why do you tell me such stuff?"

"It's a fact. Her father and my aunt were in that swim, and we were
sympathisers."

"Mercenary people!"

"It worked very well in her case; not so well in mine. But we conceived a
profound respect for each other then. But tell me, Marion, when is it to
be? Why put off the inevitable?"

"It isn't inevitable--and I'm only twenty-three."

          "Only twenty-three,
          And as good fish in the sea"

he responded, laughing. "Yes, but you've set the precedent for a
courtship of four years and a bit, and what man could face it?"

"You did."

"Yes, but I wasn't advertised of the fact beforehand. Suppose I had seen
the notice at the start: 'This mortgage cannot be raised inside of four
years--and a bit!' There's a limit to human endurance."

"Why shouldn't I hold to the number, but alter the years to days?"

"You wouldn't dare. A woman must live up to her reputation."

"Indeed? What an ambition!"

"And a man to his manners."

"An unknown quantity."

"And a lover to his promises."

"A book of jokes." Marion had developed a taste for satire.

"Which reminds me of Lady Halwood and Mrs. Lambert. Lady Halwood was more
impertinent than usual the other day at the Sinclairs' show, and had a
little fling at Mrs. Lambert. The talk turned on gowns. Lady Halwood was
much interested at once. She has a weakness that way. 'Why,' said she, 'I
like these fashions this year, but I'm not sure that they suit me.
They're the same as when the Queen came to the throne.' 'Well,' said Mrs.
Lambert sweetly, 'if they suited you then--' There was an audible titter,
and Mrs. Lambert had an enemy for life."

"I don't see the point of your story in this connection."

"No? Well, it was merely to suggest that if you had to live up to this
scheme of four-years' probation, other people besides lovers would make
up books of jokes, and--"

"That's like a man--to threaten."

"Yes, I threaten--on my knees."

"Hume, how long do you think Frank will have to wait?"

They were sitting where they had a good view of the husband and wife, and
Vidall, after a moment, said: "I don't know. She has waited four years,
too; now it looks as if, like Jacob, she was going to gather in her
shekels of interest compounded."

"It isn't going to be a bit pleasant to watch."

"But you won't be here to see."

Marion ignored the suggestion. "She seems to have hardened since he came
yesterday. I hardly know her; and yet she looks awfully worn to-night,
don't you think?"

"Yes, as if she had to keep a hand on herself. But it'll come out all
right in the end, you'll see."

"Yes, of course; but she might be sensible and fall in love with Frank at
once. That's what she did when--"

"When she didn't know man."

"Yes, but where would you all be if we women acted on what we know of
you?"

"On our knees chiefly, as I am. Remember this, Marion, that half a sinner
is better than no man."

"You mean that no man is better than half a saint?"

"How you must admire me!"

"Why?"

"As you are about to name the day, I assume that I'm a whole saint in
your eyes."

"St. Augustine!"

"Who was he?"

"A man that reformed."

"Before or after marriage?"

"Before, I suppose."

"I don't think he died happy."

"Why not?"

"I've a faint recollection that he was boiled."

"Don't be horrid. What has that to do with it?"

"Nothing, perhaps. But he probably broke out again after marriage, and
sank at last into that caldron. That's what it means by being-steeped in
crime."

"How utterly nonsensical you are!"

"I feel light-headed. You've been at sea, on a yacht becalmed, haven't
you? when along comes a groundswell, and as you rock in the sun there
comes trouble, and your head goes round like a top? Now, that's my case.
I've been becalmed four years, and while I pray for a little wind to take
me--home, you rock me in the trough of uncertainty. Suspense is very gall
and wormwood. You know what the jailer said to the criminal who was
hanging on a reprieve: 'Rope deferred maketh the heart sick.' Marion,
give me the hour, or give me the rope."

"The rope enough to hang yourself?"

She suddenly reached up and pulled a hair from her head. She laid it in
his hand-a long brown silken thread. "Hume," she said airily yet gently,
"there is the rope. Can you love me for a month of Sundays?"

"Yes, for ever and a day!"

"I will cancel the day, and take your bond for the rest. I will be
generous. I will marry you in two months-and a day."

"My dearest girl!"--he drew her hand into both of his--"I can't have you
more generous than myself, I'll throw off the month." But his eyes were
shining very seriously, though his mouth smiled.

"Two months and a day," she repeated.

"We must all bundle off to Greyhope to-morrow," came General Armour's
voice across the room. "Down comes the baby, cradle and all."

Lali rose. "I am very tired," she said; "I think I will say good-night."

"I'll go and see the boy with you," Frank said, rising also.

Lali turned towards Marion. Marion's face was flushed, and had a sweet,
happy confusion. With a low, trembling good-night to Captain Vidall, a
hurried kiss on her mother's cheek, and a tip-toed caress on her father's
head, she ran and linked her arm in Lali's, and together they proceeded
to the child's room. Richard was there when they arrived, mending a
broken toy. Two hours later, the brothers parted at Frank's door.

"Reaping the whirlwind, Dick?" Frank said, dropping his hand on his
brother's arm.

Richard pointed to the child's room.

"Nonsense! Do you want all the world at once? You are reaping the
forgiveness of your sins." Somehow Richard's voice was a little stern.

"I was thinking of my devilry, Dick. That's the whirlwind--here!" His
hand dropped on his breast.

"That's where it ought to be. Good-night."

"Good-night."




CHAPTER XIII

A LIVING POEM


Part of Frank's most trying interview, next to the meeting with his wife,
was that with Mackenzie, who had been his special commissioner in the
movement of his masquerade. Mackenzie also had learned a great deal since
she had brought Lali--home. She, like others, had come to care truly for
the sweet barbarian, and served her with a grim kind of reverence. Just
in proportion as this had increased, her respect for Frank had decreased.
No man can keep a front of dignity in the face of an unbecoming action.
However, Mackenzie had her moment, and when it was over, the new life
began at no general disadvantage to Frank. To all save the immediate
family Frank and Lali were a companionable husband and wife. She rode
with him, occasionally walked with him, now and again sang to him, and
they appeared in the streets of St. Albans and at the Abbey together, and
oftener still in the village church near, where the Armours of many
generations were proclaimed of much account in the solid virtues of tomb
and tablet.

The day had gone by when Lali attracted any especial notice among the
villagers, and she enjoyed the quiet beauty and earnestness of the
service. But she received a shock one Sunday. She had been nervous all
the week, she could not tell why, and others remarked how her face had
taken on a new sensitiveness, a delicate anxiety, and that her strength
was not what it had been. As, for instance, after riding she required to
rest, a thing before unknown, and she often lay down for an hour before
dinner. Then, too, at table once she grew suddenly pale and swayed
against Edward Lambert, who was sitting next to her. She would not,
however, leave the table, but sat the dinner out, to Frank's
apprehension. He was devoted, but it was clear to Marion and her mother
at least that his attentions were trying to her. They seemed to put her
under an obligation which to meet was a trial. There is nothing more
wearing to a woman than affectionate attentions from a man who has claims
upon her, but whom she does not love. These same attentions from one who
has no claims give her a thrill of pleasure. It is useless to ask for
justice in such a matter. These things are governed by no law; and
rightly so, else the world would be in good time a loveless multitude,
held together only by the hungering ties of parent and child.

But this Sunday wherein Lali received a shock. She did not know that the
banns for Marion's and Captain Vidall's marriage were to be announced,
and at the time her thoughts were far away. She was recalled to herself
by the clergyman's voice pronouncing their names, and saying: "If any of
you do know cause or just impediment why these two people should not be
joined together in the bonds of holy matrimony, ye are to declare it."
All at once there came back to her her own marriage when the Protestant
missionary, in his nasal monotone, mumbled these very words, not as if he
expected that any human being would, or could, offer objection.

She almost sprang from her seat now. Her nerves all at once came to such
a tension that she could have cried out. Why had there been no one there
at her marriage to say: "I forbid it"? How shameful it had all been! And
the first kiss her husband had given her had the flavour of brandy! If
she could but turn back the hands upon the clock of Time! Under the
influence of the music and the excited condition of her nerves, the event
became magnified, distorted; it burned into her brain. It was not made
less poignant by the sermon from the text: "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin."
When the words were first announced in the original, it sounded like her
own language, save that it was softer, and her heart throbbed fast. Then
came the interpretation: "Thou art weighed in the balance and found
wanting."

Then suddenly swept over her a new feeling, one she had never felt
before. Up to this point a determination to justify her child, to reverse
the verdict of the world, to turn her husband's sin upon himself, had
made her defiant, even bitter; in all things eager to live up to her new
life, to the standard that Richard had by manner and suggestion, rather
than by words, laid down for her. But now there came in upon her a flood
of despair. At best she was only of this race through one-third of her
parentage, and education and refinement and all things could do no more
than make her possible. There must always be in the record: "She was of a
strange people. She was born in a wigwam." She did not know that failing
health was really the cause of this lapse of self-confidence, this
growing self-depreciation, this languor for which she could not account.
She found that she could not toss the child and frolic with it as she had
done; she was conscious that within a month there had stolen upon her the
desire to be much alone, to avoid noises and bustle--it irritated her.
She found herself thinking more and more of her father, her father to
whom she had never written one line since she had left the North. She had
had good reasons for not writing--writing could do no good whatever,
particularly to a man who could not read, and who would not have
understood her new life if he had read. Yet now she seemed not to know
why she had not written, and to blame herself for neglect and
forgetfulness. It weighed on her. Why had she ever been taken from the
place of tamarack-trees and the sweeping prairie grass? No, no, she was
not, after all, fit for this life. She had been mistaken, and Richard had
been mistaken--Richard, who was so wise. The London season? Ah! that was
because people had found a novelty, and herself of better manners than
had been expected.

The house was now full of preparations for the wedding. It stared her in
the face every day, almost every hour. Dressmakers, milliners, tailors,
and all those other necessary people. Did the others think what all this
meant to her? It was impossible that they should. When Marion came back
from town at night and told of her trials among the dressmakers, when she
asked the general opinion and sometimes individual judgment, she could
not know that it was at the expense of Lali's nerves.

Lali, when she married, had changed her moccasins, combed her hair, and
put on a fine red belt, and that was all. She was not envious now, not at
all. But somehow it all was a deadly kind of evidence against herself and
her marriage. Her reproach was public, the world knew it, and no woman
can forgive a public shame, even was it brought about by a man she loved,
or loves. Her chiefest property in life is her self-esteem and her name
before the world. Rob her of these, and her heaven has fallen, and if a
man has shifted the foundations of her peace, there is no forgiveness for
him till her Paradise has been reconquered. So busy were all the others
that they did not see how her strength was failing. There were three
weeks between the day the banns were announced and the day of the
wedding, which was to be in the village church, not in town; for, as
Marion said, she had seen too many marriages for one day's triumph and
criticism; she wanted hers where there would be neither triumph nor
criticism, but among people who had known her from her childhood up. A
happy romance had raised Marion's point of view.

Meanwhile Frank was winning the confidence of his own child, who,
however, ranked Richard higher always, and became to a degree his
father's tyrant. But Frank's nature was undergoing a change. His point of
view also had enlarged. The suffering, bitterness, and humiliation of his
life in the North had done him good. He was being disciplined to take his
position as a husband and father, but he sometimes grew heavy-hearted
when he saw how his attentions oppressed his wife, and had it not been
for Richard he might probably have brought on disaster, for the position
was trying to all concerned. A few days before the wedding Edward Lambert
and his wife arrived, and he, Captain Vidall, and Frank Armour took rides
and walks together, or set the world right in the billiard-room. Richard
seldom joined them, though their efforts to induce him to do so were
many. He had his pensioners, his books, his pipe, and "the boy," and he
had returned in all respects, in so far as could be seen, to his old
life, save for the new and larger interest of his nephew.

One evening the three men with General Armour were all gathered in the
billiard-room. Conversation had been general and without particular
force, as it always is when merely civic or political matters are under
view. But some one gave a social twist to the talk, and presently they
were launched upon that sea where every man provides his own chart, or he
is a very worm and no man. Each man had been differently trained, each
viewed life from a different stand-point, and yet each had been brought
up in the same social atmosphere, in the same social sets, had imbibed
the same traditions, been moved generally by the same public
considerations.

"But there's little to be said for a man who doesn't, outwardly at least,
live up to the social necessity," said Lambert.

"And keep the Ten Commandments in the vulgar tongue," rejoined Vidall.

"I've lived seventy-odd years, and I've knocked about a good deal in my
time," said the general, "but I've never found that you could make a
breach of social necessity, as you call it, without paying for it one way
or another. The trouble with us when we're young is that we want to get
more out of life than there really is in it. There is not much in it,
after all. You can stand just so much fighting, just so much work, just
so much emotion--and you can stand less emotion than anything else. I'm
sure more men and women break up from a hydrostatic pressure of emotion
than from anything else. Upon my soul, that's so."

"You are right, General," said Lambert. "The steady way is the best way.
The world is a passable place, if a fellow has a decent income by
inheritance, or can earn a big one, but to be really contented to earn
money it must be a big one, otherwise he is far better pleased to take
the small inherited income. It has a lot of dignity, which the other can
only bring when it is large."

"That's only true in this country; it's not true in America," said Frank,
"for there the man who doesn't earn money is looked upon as a muff, and
is treated as such. A small inherited income is thought to be a trifle
enervating. But there is a country of emotions, if you like. The American
heart is worn upon the American sleeve, and the American mind is the most
active thing in this world. That's why they grow old so young."

"I met a woman a year or so ago at dinner," said Vidall, "who looked
forty. She looked it, and she acted it. She was younger than any woman
present, but she seemed older. There was a kind of hopeless languor about
her which struck me as pathetic. Yet she had been beautiful, and might
even have been so when I saw her, if it hadn't been for that look. It was
the look of a person who had no interest in things. And the person who
has no interest in things is the person who once had a great deal of
interest in things, who had too passionate an interest. The revulsion is
always terrible. Too much romance is deadly. It is as false a stimulant
as opium or alcohol, and leaves a corresponding mark. Well, I heard her
history. She was married at fifteen--ran away to be married; and in spite
of the fact that a railway accident nearly took her husband from her on
the night of her marriage--one would have thought that would make a
strong bond--she was soon alive to the attentions that are given a pretty
and--considerate woman. At a ball at Naples, her husband, having in vain
tried to induce her to go home, picked her up under his arm and carried
her out of the ballroom. Then came a couple of years of opium-eating,
fierce social excitement, divorce, new marriage, and so on, until her
husband agreeably decided to live in Nice, while she lived somewhere
else. Four days after I had met her at the dinner I saw her again. I
could scarcely believe my eyes. The woman had changed completely. She was
young again-twenty-five, in face and carriage, in the eye and hand, in
step and voice."

"Who was the man?" suggested Frank Armour. "A man about her own age, or a
little more, but who was an infant beside her in knowledge of the world."
"She was in love with the fellow? It was a grande passion?" asked
Lambert.

"In love with him? No, not at all. It was a momentary revival of an
old-possibility."

"You mean that such women never really love?"

"Perhaps once, Frank, but only after a fashion. The rest was mere
imitation of their first impulses."

"And this woman?"

"Well, the end came sooner than I expected. I tell you I was shocked at
the look in her face when I saw it again. That light had flickered out;
the sensitive alertness of hand, eye, voice, and carriage had died away;
lines had settled in the face, and the face itself had gone cold, with
that hard, cold passiveness which comes from exhausted emotions and a
closed heart. The jewels she wore might have been put upon a statue with
equal effect."

"It seems to me that we might pitch into men in these things and not make
women the dreadful examples," said a voice from the corner. It was the
voice of Richard, who had but just entered.

"My dear Dick," said his father, "men don't make such frightful examples,
because these things mean less to men than they do to women. Romance is
an incident to a man; he can even come through an affaire with no ideals
gone, with his mental fineness unimpaired; but it is different with a
woman. She has more emotion than mind, else there were no cradles in the
land. Her standards are set by the rules of the heart, and when she has
broken these rules she has lost her standard too. But to come back, it is
true, I think, as I said, that man or woman must not expect too much out
of life, but be satisfied with what they can get within the normal
courses of society and convention and home, and the end thereof is
peace--yes, upon my soul, it's peace."

There was something very fine in the blunt, honest words of the old man,
whose name had ever been sweet with honour.

"And the chief thing is that a man live up to his own standard," said
Lambert. "Isn't that so, Dick?--you're the wise man."

"Every man should have laws of his own, I should think; commandments of
his own, for every man has a different set of circumstances wherein to
work--or worry."

"The wisest man I ever knew," said Frank, dropping his cigar, "was a
little French-Canadian trapper up in the Saskatchewan country. A priest
asked him one day what was the best thing in life, and he answered: 'For
a young man's mind to be old, and an old man's heart to be young.' The
priest asked him how that could be. And he said: 'Good food, a good woman
to teach him when he is young, and a child to teach him when he is old.'
Then the priest said: 'What about the Church and the love of God?' The
little man thought a little, and then said: 'Well, it is the same--the
love of man and woman came first in the world, then the child, then God
in the garden.' Afterwards he made a little speech of good-bye to us, for
we were going to the south while he remained in a fork of the Far Off
River. It was like some ancient blessing: that we should always have a
safe tent and no sorrow as we travelled; that we should always have a
cache for our food, and food for our cache; that we should never find a
tree that would not give sap, nor a field that would not grow grain; that
our bees should not freeze in winter, and that the honey should be thick,
and the comb break like snow in the teeth; that we keep hearts like the
morning, and that we come slow to the Four Corners where man says
Good-night."

Each of the other men present wondered at that instant if Frank Armour
would, or could, have said this with the same feelings two months before.
He seemed almost transformed.

"It reminds me," said the general, "of an inscription from an Egyptian
monument which an officer of the First put into English verse for me
years ago:

     "Fair be the garden where their loves shall dwell,
     Safe be the highway where their feet may go,
     Rich be the fields wherein their hands may toil,
     The fountains many where their good wines flow.
     Full be their harvest-bins with corn and oil,
     To sorrow may their humour be a foil;
     Quick be their hearts all wise delights to know,
     Tardy their footsteps to the gate Farewell."

There was a moment's silence after he had finished, and then there was
noise without, a sound of pattering feet; the door flew open, and in ran
a little figure in white--young Richard in his bed-gown, who had broken
away from his nurse, and had made his way to the billiard-room, where he
knew his uncle had gone.

The child's face was flashing with mischief and adventure. He ran in
among the group, and stretched out his hands with a little fighting air.
His uncle Richard made a step towards him, but he ran back; his father
made as if to take him in his arms, but he evaded him. Presently the door
opened, the nurse entered, the child sprang from among the group, and ran
with a laughing defiance to the farthest end of the room, and, leaning
his chin on the billiard-table, flashed a look of defiant humour at his
pursuer. Presently the door opened again, and the figure of the mother
appeared. All at once the child's face altered; he stood perfectly still,
and waited for his mother to come to him. Lali had not spoken, and she
did not speak until, lifting the child, she came the length of the
billiard-table and faced them.

"I beg your pardon," she said, "for intruding; but Richard has led us a
dance, and I suppose the mother may go where her child goes."

"The mother and the child are always welcome wherever they go," said
General Armour quietly.

All the men had risen to their feet, and they made a kind of semicircle
before her. The white-robed child had clasped its arms about her neck,
and nestled its face against hers, as if, with perfect satisfaction, it
had got to the end of its adventure; but the look of humour was still in
the eyes as they ran from Richard to his father and back again.

Frank Armour stepped forwards and took the child's hand, as it rested on
the mother's shoulder. Lali's face underwent a slight change as her
husband's fingers touched her neck.

"I must go," she said. "I hope I have not broken up a serious
conversation--or were you not so serious after all?" she said, glancing
archly at General Armour. "We were talking of women," said Lambert.

"The subject is wide," replied Lali, "and the speakers many. One would
think some wisdom might be got in such a case."

"Believe me, we were not trying to understand the subject," said Captain
Vidall; "the most that a mere man can do is to appreciate it."

"There are some things that are hidden from the struggling mind of man,
and are revealed unto babes and the mothers of babes," said General
Armour gravely, as, reaching out his hands, he took the child from the
mother's arms, kissed it full upon the lips, and added: "Men do not
understand women, because men's minds have not been trained in the same
school. When once a man has mastered the very alphabet of motherhood,
then he shall have mastered the mind of woman; but I, at least, refuse to
say that I do not understand, from the stand-point of modern cynicism."

"Ah, General, General!" said Lambert, "we have lost the chivalric way of
saying things, which belongs to your generation."

By this time the wife had reached the door. She turned and held out her
arms for the child. General Armour came and placed the boy where he had
found it, and, with eyes suddenly filling, laid both his hands upon
Lali's and they clasped the child, and said: "It is worth while to have
lived so long and to have seen so much." Her eyes met his in a wistful,
anxious expression, shifted to those of her husband, dropped to the
cheeks of the child, and with the whispered word, which no one, not even
the general, heard, she passed from the room, the nurse following her.

Perhaps some of the most striking contrasts are achieved in the least
melodramatic way. The sudden incursion of the child and its mother into
the group, the effect of their presence, and their soft departure,
leaving behind them, as it were, a trail of light, changed the whole
atmosphere of the room, as though some new life had been breathed into
it, charged each mind with new sensations, and gave each figure new
attitude. Not a man present but had had his full swing with the world,
none worse than most men, none better than most, save that each had
latent in him a good sense of honour concerning all civic and domestic
virtues. They were not men of sentimentality; they were not accustomed to
exposing their hearts upon their sleeve, but each, as the door closed,
recognised that something for one instant had come in among them, had
made their past conversation to appear meagre, crude, and lacking in both
height and depth. Somehow, they seemed to feel, although no words
expressed the thought, that for an instant they were in the presence of a
wisdom greater than any wisdom of a man's smoking-room.

"It is wonderful, wonderful," said the general slowly, and no man asked
him why he said it, or what was wonderful. But Richard, sitting apart,
watched Frank's face acutely, himself wondering when the hour would come
that the wife would forgive her husband, and this situation so fraught
with danger would be relieved.




CHAPTER XIV

ON THE EDGE OF A FUTURE

At last the day of the wedding came, a beautiful September day, which may
be more beautiful in uncertain England than anywhere else. Lali had been
strangely quiet all the day before, and she had also seemed strangely
delicate. Perhaps, or perhaps not, she felt the crisis was approaching.
It is probable that when the mind has been strained for a long time, and
the heart and body suffered much, one sees a calamity vaguely, and cannot
define it; appreciates it, and does not know it. She came to Marion's
room about a half-hour before they were to start for the church. Marion
was already dressed and ready, save for the few final touches, which,
though they have been given a dozen times, must still again be given just
before the bride starts for the church. Such is the anxious mind of women
on these occasions. The two stood and looked at each other a moment, each
wondering what were the thoughts of the other. Lali was struck by that
high, proud look over which lay a glamour of infinite satisfaction, of
sweetness, which comes to every good woman's face when she goes to the
altar in a marriage which is not contingent on the rise or fall in
stocks, or a satisfactory settlement. Marion, looking, saw, as if it had
been revealed to her all at once, the intense and miraculous change which
had come over the young wife, even within the past two months. Indeed,
she had changed as much within that time as within all the previous four
years--that is, she had been brought to a certain point in her education
and experience, where without a newer and deeper influence she could go
no further. That newer and deeper influence had come, and the result
thereof was a woman standing upon the verge of the real tragedy to her
life, which was not in having married the man, but in facing that
marriage with her new intelligence and a transformed soul. Men can face
that sort of thing with a kind of philosophy, not because men are better
or wiser, but because it really means less to them. They have resources
of life, they can bury themselves in their ambitions good or bad, but a
woman can only bury herself in her affections, unless her heart has been
closed; and in that case she herself has lost much of what made her
adorable. And while she may go on with the closed heart and become a
saint, even saintship is hardly sufficient to compensate any man or woman
for a half-lived life. The only thing worth doing in this world is to
live life according to one's convictions--and one's heart. He or she who
sells that fine independence for a mess of pottage, no matter if the mess
be spiced, sells, as the Master said, the immortal part of him.

And so Lali, just here on the edge of Marion's future, looking into that
mirror, was catching the reflection of her own life. When two women come
so near that, like the lovers in the Tempest, they have changed eyes, in
so far as to read each other's hearts, even indifferently, which is much
where two women are concerned, there is only one resource, and that is to
fall into each other's arms, and to weep if it be convenient, or to hold
their tears for a more fitting occasion; and most people will admit that
tears need not add to a bride's beauty.

Marion might, therefore, be pardoned if she had her tears in her throat
and not in her eyes, and Lali, if they arose for a moment no higher than
her heart. But they did fall into each other's arms despite veils and
orange blossoms, and somehow Marion had the feeling for Lali that she had
on that first day at Greyhope, four years ago, when standing on the
bridge, the girl looked down into the water, tears dropping on her hands,
and Marion said to her: "Poor girl! poor girl!" The situations were the
same, because Lali had come to a new phase of her life, and what that
phase would be who could tell-happiness or despair?

The usual person might think that Lali was placing herself and her wifely
affection at a rather high price, but then it is about the only thing
that a woman can place high, even though she be one-third a white woman
and two-thirds an Indian. Here was a beautiful woman, who had run the
gamut of a London season, who had played a pretty social part, admirably
trained therefor by one of the best and most cultured families of
England. Besides, why should any woman sell her affections even to her
husband, bargain away her love, the one thing that sanctifies "what God
hath joined let no man put asunder"? Lali was primitive, she was unlike
so many in a trivial world, but she was right. She might suffer, she
might die, but, after all, there are many things worse than that. Man is
born in a day, and he dies in a day, and the thing is easily over; but to
have a sick heart for three-fourths of one's lifetime is simply to have
death renewed every morning; and life at that price is not worth living.
In this sensitive age we are desperately anxious to save life, as if it
was the really great thing in the world; but in the good, strong times of
the earth--and in these times, indeed, when necessity knows its hour--men
held their lives as lightly as a bird upon the housetop which any chance
stone might drop.

It is possible that at this moment the two women understood each other
better than they had ever done, and respected each other more. Lali,
recovering herself, spoke a few soft words of congratulation, and then
appeared to busy herself in putting little touches to Marion's dress,
that soft persuasion of fingers which does so much to coax mere cloth
into a sort of living harmony with the body.

They had no more words of confidence, but in the porch of the church,
Marion, as she passed Lali, caught the slender fingers in her own and
pressed them tenderly. Marion was giving comfort, and yet if she had been
asked why she could not have told. She did not try to define it further
than to say to herself that she herself was having almost too much
happiness. The village was en fete, and peasants lined the street leading
to the church, ready with their hearty God-bless-you's. Lali sat between
her husband and Mrs. Armour, apparently impassive until there came the
question: "Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?" and General
Armour's voice came clear and strong: "I do." Then a soft little cry
broke from her, and she shivered slightly. Mrs. Armour did not notice,
but Frank and Mrs. Lambert heard and saw, and both were afterwards
watchful and solicitous. Frank caught Mrs. Lambert's eye, and it said, to
a little motion of the head: "Do not appear to notice."

Lali was as if in a dream. She never took her eyes from the group at the
altar until the end, and the two, now man and wife, turned to go into the
vestry. Then she appeared to sink away into herself for a moment, before
she fell into conversation with the others, as they moved towards the
vestry.

"It was beautiful, wasn't it?" ventured Edward Lambert.

"The most beautiful wedding I ever saw," she answered, with a little
shadow of meaning; and Lambert guessed that it was the only one she had
seen since she came to England.

"How well Vidall looked," said Frank, "and as proud as a sultan. Did you
hear what he said, as Marion came up the aisle?"

"No," responded Lambert.

"He said, 'By Jove, isn't she fine!' He didn't seem conscious that other
people were present."

"Well, if a man hasn't some inspirations on his wedding-day when is he to
have them?" said Mrs. Lambert. "For my part, I think that the woman
always does that sort of thing better than a man. It is her really great
occasion, and she masters it--the comedy is all hers." They were just
then entering the vestry.

"Or the tragedy, as the case may be," said Lali quietly, smiling at
Marion. She had, as it were, recovered herself, and her words had come
with that airy, impersonal tone which permits nothing of what is said in
it to be taken seriously. Something said by the others had recalled her
to herself, and she was now returned very suddenly to the old position of
alertness and social finesse. Something icy seemed to pass over her, and
she immediately lost all self-consciousness, and began to speak to her
husband with less reserve than she had shown since he had come. But he
was not deceived. He saw that at that very instant she was further away
from him than she had ever been. He sighed, in spite of himself, as Lali,
with well-turned words, said some loving greetings to Marion, and then
talked a moment with Captain Vidall.

"Who can understand a woman?" said Lambert to his wife meaningly.

"Whoever will," she answered. "How do you mean?"

"Whoever will wait like the saint upon the pillar, will suffer like the
traveller in the desert; serve like a slave, and demand like a king; have
patience greater than Job; love ceaseless as a fountain in the hills; who
sees in the darkness and is not afraid of light; who distrusts not,
neither believes, but stands ready to be taught; who is prepared for a
kiss this hour and a reproach the next; who turneth neither to right nor
left at her words, but hath an unswerving eye--these shall understand a
woman."

"I never knew you so philosophical. Where did you get this deliverance on
the subject?"

"May not even a woman have a moment of inspiration?"

"I should expect that of my wife."

"And I should expect that of my husband. It is trite to say that men are
vain; I shall remark that they sit so much in their own light that they
are surprised if another being crosses their disc."

"You always were clever, my dear, and you always were twice too good for
me."

"Well, every woman--worth the knowing--is a missionary."

"Where does Lali come in?"

"Can you ask? To justify the claims of womanhood in spite of race--and
all."

"To bring one man to a sense of the duty of sex to sex, eh?"

"Truly. And is she not doing it well? See her now." They were now just
leaving the church, and Lali had taken General Armour's arm, while
Richard led his mother to the carriage.

Lali was moving with a little touch of grandeur in her manner and a more
than ordinary deliberation. She had had a moment of great weakness, and
then there had come the reaction--carried almost too far by the force of
the will. She was indeed straining herself too far. Four years of tension
were culminating.

"See her now, Edward," repeated Mrs. Lambert. "Yes, but if I'm not
mistaken, my dear, she is doing so well that she's going to pieces. She's
overstrung to-day. If it were you, you'd be in hysterics."

"I believe you are right," was the grave reply. "There will be an end to
this comedy one way or another very soon."

A moment afterwards they were in a carriage rolling away to Greyhope.




CHAPTER XV

THE END OF THE TRAIL

When Marion was about leaving with her husband for the railway station,
she sought out Lali, and found her standing half hidden by the curtains
of a window, looking out at little Richard, who was parading his pony up
and down before the house. An unutterable sweetness looked out of
Marion's eyes. She had found, as it seemed to her, and as so many have
believed until their lives' end, the secret of existence. Lali saw the
glistening joy, and responded to it, just as it was in her being to
respond to every change of nature--that sensitiveness was in her as deep
as being.

"You are very happy, dear?" she said to Marion. "You cannot think how
happy, Lali. And I want to say that I feel sure that you will yet be as
happy, even happier than I. Oh, it will come--it will come. And you have
the boy now-so fine, so good."

Lali looked out to where little Richard disported himself; her eyes
shone, and she turned with a responsive but still sad smile to Marion.
"Marion," she said gently, "the other should have come before he came."
"Frank loves you, Lali."

"Who knows? And then, oh, I cannot tell! How can one force one's heart?
No, no! One has to wait, and wait, even if the heart grows harder, and
one gets hopeless."

Marion kissed her on the cheek and smiled. "Some day soon the heart will
open up, and then such a flood will pour out! See, Lali. I am going now,
and our lives won't run together so much again ever, perhaps. But I want
to tell you now that your coming to us has done me a world of
good--helped me to be a wiser girl; and I ought to be a better woman for
it. Good-bye."

They were calling to her, and with a hurried embrace the two parted, and
in a few moments the bride and bridegroom were on their way to the new
life. As the carriage disappeared in a turn of the limes, Lali vanished
also to her room. She was not seen at dinner. Mackenzie came to say that
she was not very well, and that she would keep to her room. Frank sent
several times during the evening to inquire after her, and was told that
she was resting comfortably. He did not try to see her, and in this was
wise. He had now fallen into a habit of delicate consideration, which
brought its own reward. He had given up hope of winning her heart or
confidence by storm, and had followed his finer and better instincts--had
come to the point where he made no claims, and even in his own mind stood
upon no rights. His mother brought him word from Lali before he retired,
to say that she was sorry she could not see him, but giving him a message
and a commission into town the following morning for their son. Her tact
had grown is her strength had declined. There is something in failing
health--ill-health without disease--which sharpens and refines the
faculties, and makes the temper exquisitely sensitive--that is, with
people of a certain good sort. The aplomb and spirited manner in which
Lali had borne herself at the wedding and after, was the last flicker of
her old strength, and of the second phase in her married life. The end of
the first phase came with the ride at the quick-set hedge, this with a
less intent but as active a temper.

The next morning she did not appear at breakfast, but sent a message to
Frank to say that she was better, and adding another commission for town.
All day, save for an hour on the balcony, she kept to her room, and lay
down for the greater part of the afternoon. In the evening, when Frank
returned, his mother sent for him, and frankly told him that she thought
it would be better for him to go away for a few weeks or so; that Lali
was in a languid, nervous state, and she thought that by the time he got
back--if he would go--she would be better, and that better things would
come for him.

Frank was no longer the vain, selfish fellow who had married
Lali--something of the best in him was at work. He understood, and
suggested a couple of weeks with Richard at their little place in
Scotland. Also, he saw his wife for a little while that evening. She had
been lying down, but she disposed herself in a deep chair before he
entered. He was a little shocked to see, as it were all at once, how
delicate she looked. He came and sat down near her, and after a few
moments of friendly talk, in which he spoke solicitously of her health,
he told her that he thought of going up to Scotland with Richard for a
few weeks, if she saw no objection.

She did not quite understand why he was going. She thought that perhaps
he felt the strain of the situation, and that a little absence would be
good for both. This pleased her. She did not shrink, as she had so often
done since his return, when he laid his hand on hers for an instant, as
he asked her if she were willing that he should go. Sometimes in the past
few weeks she had almost hated him. Now she was a little sorry for him,
but she said that of course he must go; that no doubt it was good that he
should go, and so on, in gentle, allusive phrases. The next evening she
came down to dinner, and was more like herself as she was before Frank
came back, but she ate little, and before the men came into the
drawing-room she had excused herself, and retired; at which Mrs. Lambert
shook her head apprehensively at herself, and made up her mind to stay at
Greyhope longer than she intended.

Which was good for all concerned; for, two nights after Frank and Richard
had gone, Mackenzie hurried down to the drawing-room with the news that
Lali had been found in a faint on her chamber floor. That was the
beginning of weeks of anxiety, in which Mrs. Lambert was to Mrs. Armour
what Marion would have been, and more; and both to Lali all that mother
and sister could be.

Their patient was unlike any other that they had known. Feverish, she had
no fever; with a gentle, hacking cough, she had no lung trouble; nervous,
she still was oblivious to very much that went on around her; hungering
often for her child, she would not let him remain long with her when he
came. Her sleep was broken, and she sometimes talked to herself, whether
consciously or unconsciously they did not know. The doctor had no
remedies but tonics--he did not understand the case; but he gently
ventured the opinion that it was mostly a matter of race, that she was
pining because civilisation had been infused into her veins--the old
insufficient theory.

"Stuff and nonsense!" said General Armour, when his wife told him. "The
girl bloomed till Frank came back. God bless my soul! she's falling in
love, and doesn't know what it is."

He was only partly right, perhaps, but he was nearer the truth than the
dealer in quinine and a cheap philosophy of life. "She'll come around all
right, you'll see. Decline--decline be hanged! The girl shall live,--damn
it, she shall!" he blurted out, as his wife's eyes filled with tears.

Mrs. Lambert was much of the same mind as the general, but went further.
She said to Mrs. Armour that in all her life she had never seen so sweet
a character, so sensitive a mind--a mind whose sorrow was imagination.
And therein the little lady showed herself a person of wisdom. For none
of them had yet reckoned with that one great element in Lali's
character--that thing which is the birthright of all who own the North
for a mother, the awe of imagination, the awe and the pain, which in its
finest expression comes near, very near, to the supernatural. Lali's mind
was all pictures; she never thought of things in words, she saw them; and
everything in her life arrayed itself in a scene before her, made vivid
by her sensitive soul, so much more sensitive now with health failing,
the spirit wearing out the body. There was her malady--the sick heart and
mind.

A new sickness wore upon her. It had not touched her from the day she
left the North until she sang "The Chase of the Yellow Swan" that first
evening after Frank's return. Ever since then her father was much in her
mind--the memory of her childhood, and its sweet, inspiring friendship
with Nature. All the roughness and coarseness of the life was refined in
her memory by the exquisite atmosphere of the North, the good sweet
earth, the strong bracing wind, the camaraderie of trees and streams and
grass and animals. And in it all stood her father, whom she had left
alone, in that interminable interval between the old life and the new.

Had she done right? She had cut him off, as if he had never been--her
people, her country also; and for what? For this--for this sinking sense,
this failing body, this wear and tear of mind and heart, this constant
study to be possible where she had once been declared by the world to be
impossible.

One night she lay sleeping after a rather feverish day, when it was
thought best to keep the child from her. Suddenly she waked, and sat up.
Looking straight before her, she said:

"I will arise, and will go to my Father, and will say unto Him, Father, I
have sinned against heaven and before Thee, and am no more worthy to be
called Thy son."

She said nothing more than this, and presently lay back, with eyes wide
open, gazing before her. Like this she lay all night long, a strange,
aching look in her face. There had come upon her the sudden impulse to
leave it all, and go back to her father. But the child--that gave her
pause. Towards morning she fell asleep, and slept far on into the day, a
thing that had not occurred for a long time.

At noon a letter arrived for her. It came into General Armour's hands,
and he, seeing that it bore the stamp of the Hudson's Bay Company, with
the legend, From Fort St. Charles, concluded that it was news of Lali's
father. Then came the question whether the letter should be given to her.
The general was for doing so, and he prevailed. If it were bad news, he
said, it might raise her out of her present apathy and by changing the
play of her emotions do her good in the end.

The letter was given to her in the afternoon. She took it apathetically,
but presently, seeing where it was from, she opened it hurriedly with a
little cry which was very like a moan too. There were two letters inside
one from the factor at Fort Charles in English, and one from her father
in the Indian language. She read her father's letter first, the other
fluttered to her feet from her lap. General Armour, looking down, saw a
sentence in it which, he felt, warranted him in picking it up, reading
it, and retaining it, his face settling into painful lines as he did so.
Days afterwards, Lali read her father's letter to Mrs. Armour. It ran:

               My daughter,

         Lali, the sweet noise of the Spring:

   Thy father speaks.

   I have seen more than half a hundred moons come like the sickle and
   go like the eye of a running buck, swelling with fire, but I hear
   not thy voice at my tent door since the first one came and went.

   Thou art gone.

   Thy face was like the sun on running water; thy hand hung on thy
   wrists like the ear of a young deer; thy foot was as soft on the
   grass as the rain on a child's cheek; thy words were like snow in
   summer, which melts in richness on the hot earth. Thy bow and arrow
   hang lonely upon the wall, and thy empty cup is beside the pot.

   Thou art gone.

   Thou hast become great with a great race, and that is well. Our
   race is not great, and shall not be, until the hour when the Mighty
   Men of the Kimash Hills arise from their sleep and possess the land
   again.

   Thou art gone.

   But thou hast seen many worlds, and thou hast learned great things,
   and thou and I shall meet no more; for how shall the wise kneel at
   the feet of the foolish, as thou didst kneel once at thy father's
   feet?

   Thou art gone.

   High on the Clip Claw Hills the trees are green, in the Plain of the
   Rolling Stars the wings of the wild fowl are many, and fine is the
   mist upon Goldfly Lake; and the heart of Eye-of-the-Moon is strong.

   Thou art here.

   The trail is open to the White Valley, and the Scarlet Hunter hath
   saved me, when my feet strayed in the plains and my eyes were
   blinded.

   Thou art here.

   I have friends on the Far Off River who show me the yards where the
   musk-ox gather; I have found the gardens of the young sable, and my
   tents are full of store.

   Thou art here.

   In the morning my spirit is light, and I have harvest where I would
   gather, and the stubble is for my foes. In the evening my limbs are
   heavy, and I am at rest in my blanket. The hunt is mine and sleep
   is mine, and my soul is cheerful when I remember thee.

   Thou art here.

   I have built for thee a place where thy spirit comes. I hear thee
   when thou callest to me, and I kneel outside the door, for thou art
   wise, and thou speakest to me; but thee as thou art in a far land I
   shall see no more. This is my word to thee, that thou mayst know
   that I am not alone. Thou shalt not come again, as thou once went;
   it is not meet. But by these other ways I will speak to thee.

   Thou art here.

   Farewell. I have spoken.

Lali finished reading, and then slowly folded up the letter. The writing
was that of the wife of the factor at Fort Charles--she knew it. She sat
for a minute looking straight before her. She read her father's allegory.
Barbarian in so much as her father was, he had beaten this thing out with
the hammer of wisdom. He missed her, but she must not come back; she had
outgrown the old life--he knew it and she was with him in spirit, in his
memory; she understood his picturesque phrases, borrowed from the large,
affluent world about him. Something of the righteousness and magnanimity
of this letter passed into her, giving her for an instant a sort of
peace. She had needed it--needed it to justify herself, and she had been
justified. To return was impossible--she had known that all along, though
she had not admitted it; the struggle had been but a kind of remorse,
after all. That her father should come to her was also impossible--it was
neither for her happiness nor his. She had been two different persons in
her life, and the first was only a memory to the second. The father had
solved the problem for her. He too was now a memory that she could think
on with pleasure, as associated with the girl she once was. He had been
well provided for by her husband, and General Armour put his hand on hers
gently and said:

"Lali, without your permission I have read this other letter."

She did not appear curious. She was thinking still of her father's letter
to her. She nodded abstractedly. "Lali," he continued, "this says that
your father wished that letter to be written to you just as he said it at
the Fort, on the day of the Feast of the Yellow Swan. He stood up--the
factor writes so here--and said that he had been thinking much for years,
and that the time had come when he must speak to his daughter over the
seas--"

General Armour paused. Lali inclined her head, smiled wistfully, and held
up the letter for him to see. The general continued:

"So he spoke as has been written to you, and then they had the Feast of
the Yellow Swan, and that night--" He paused again, but presently, his
voice a little husky, he went on: "That night he set out on a long
journey,"--he lifted the letter and looked at it, then met the serious
eyes of his daughter-in-law, "on a long journey to the Hills of the
Mighty Men; and, my dear, he never came back; for, as he said, there was
peace in the White Valley, and he would rest till the world should come
to its Spring again, and the noise of its coming should be in his ears.
Those, Lali, are his very words."

His hand closed on hers, he reached out and took the other hand, from
which the paper fluttered, and clasped both tight in his own firm grasp.

"My daughter," he said, "you have another father." With a low cry, like
that of a fawn struck in the throat, she slid forward on her knees beside
him, and buried her face on his arm. She understood. Her father was dead.
Mrs. Armour came forward, and, kneeling also, drew the dark head to her
bosom. Then that flood came which sweeps away the rust that gathers in
the eyes and breaks through the closed dikes of the heart.

Hours after, when she had fallen into a deep sleep, General Armour and
his wife met outside her bedroom door.

"I shall not leave her," Mrs. Armour said. "Send for Frank. His time has
almost come."

But it would not have come so soon had not something else occurred. The
day that he came back from Scotland he entered his wife's room, prepared
for a change in her, yet he did not find so much to make him happy as he
had hoped. She received him with a gentleness which touched him, she let
her hand rest in his, she seemed glad to have him with her. All bars had
been cast down between them, but he knew that she had not given him all,
and she knew it also. But she hoped he did not know, and she dreaded the
hour when he would speak out of his now full heart. He did not yet urge
his affection on her, he was simply devoted, and watchful, and tender,
and delightedly hopeful.

But one night she came tapping at his door. When he opened it, she said:
"Oh come, come! Richard is ill! I have sent for the doctor."

Henceforth she was her old self again, with a transformed spirit, her
motherhood spending itself in a thousand ways. She who was weak bodily
became now much stronger; the light of new vigour came to her eyes; she
and her husband, in the common peril, worked together, thinking little of
themselves, and all of the child. The last stage of the journey to
happiness was being passed, and if it was not obvious to themselves, the
others, Marion and Captain Vidall included, saw it.

One anxious day, after the family doctor had left the sick child's room,
Marion, turning to the father and mother, said: "Greyhope will be itself
again. I will go and tell Richard that the danger is over."

As she turned to do so, Richard entered the room. "I have seen the
doctor," he began, "and the little chap is going to pull along like a
house afire."

Tapping Frank affectionately on the arm, he was about to continue, but he
saw what stopped him. He saw the last move in Frank Armour's
tragic-comedy. He and Marion left the room as quickly as was possible to
him, for, as he said himself, he was "slow at a quick march"; and a
moment afterwards the wife heard without demur her husband's tale of love
for her.

Yet, as if to remind him of the wrong he had done, Heaven never granted
Frank Armour another child.

     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

     Every man should have laws of his own
     Flood came which sweeps away the rust that gathers in the eyes
     How can one force one's heart? No, no! One has to wait
     Man or woman must not expect too much out of life
     May be more beautiful in uncertain England than anywhere else
     Men are shy with each other where their emotions are in play
     Prepared for a kiss this hour and a reproach the next
     Romance is an incident to a man
     Simply to have death renewed every morning
     To sorrow may their humour be a foil
     We want to get more out of life than there really is in it
     Who can understand a woman?
     Worth while to have lived so long and to have seen so much

     ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS FOR THE ENTIRE "TRANSLATION OF A SAVAGE":

     Being young, she exaggerated the importance of the event
     Every man should have laws of his own
     Flood came which sweeps away the rust that gathers in the eyes
     His duties were many, or he made them so
     How can one force one's heart? No, no! One has to wait
     If fumbling human fingers do not meddle with it
     Man or woman must not expect too much out of life
     May be more beautiful in uncertain England than anywhere else
     Men must have their bad hours alone
     Men are shy with each other where their emotions are in play
     Miseries of this world are caused by forcing issues
     Most important lessons of life--never to quarrel with a woman
     Prepared for a kiss this hour and a reproach the next
     Reading a lot and forgetting everything
     Romance is an incident to a man
     Simply to have death renewed every morning
     Sympathy and consolation might be much misplaced
     The world never welcomes its deserters
     There should be written the one word, "Wait."
     There is no influence like the influence of habit
     These little pieces of art make life possible
     Think of our position
     To sorrow may their humour be a foil
     Training in the charms of superficiality
     We grow away from people against our will
     We want to get more out of life than there really is in it
     We speak with the straight tongue; it is cowards who lie
     Who never knew self-consciousness
     Who can understand a woman?
     Worth while to have lived so long and to have seen so much
     You never can make a scandal less by trying to hide it





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