Runnion Finds The Singing People





"No Creek" Lee came into the trading-post on the following morning,

and found Gale attending store as if nothing unusual had occurred.



"Say! What's this about you and Stark? I hear you had a horrible

run-in, and that you split him up the back like a quail."



"We had a row," admitted the trader. "It's been a long time working

out, and last night it came to a head."



"Lord-ee! And to think of Ben Stark's bein' licked! Why, the whole

camp's talkin' about it! They say he emptied two six-shooters at

you, but you kept a-comin', and when you did get to him you just

carved your initials on him like he was a bass-wood tree. Say, John,

he's a goner, sure."



"Do you mean he's--passing out?"



"Oh no! I reckon he'll get well, from what I hear, though he won't

let nobody come near him except old Doc; but he's lost a battle, and

that ends him. Don't you savvy? Whenever a killer quits second best,

it breaks his hoodoo. Why, there's been men laying for him these

twenty years, from here to the Rio Grande, and every feller he ever

bested will hear of this and begin to grease his holster; then the

first shave-tail desperado that meets him will spit in his eye, just

to make a name for himself. No, sir! He's a spent shell. He's got to

fight all his battles over again, and this time the other feller

will open the ball. Oh, I've seen it happen before. You killed him

last night, just as sure as if you'd hung up his hide to dry, and he

knows it."



"I'm a peaceable man," said Gale, on the defensive. "I had to do

it."



"I know! I know! There was witnesses--this dress-maker at the fort

seen it, so I hear."



The other acquiesced silently.



"Well! Well! Ben Stark licked! I can't get over that. It must 'a'

been somethin' powerful strong to make you do it, John." It was as

close to a question as the miner dared come, although he was avid

with curiosity, and, like the entire town, was in a fret to know

what lay back of this midnight encounter, concerning which the most

exaggerated rumors were rife. These stories grew the more grotesque

and ridiculous the longer the truth remained hidden, for Stark could

not be seen, and neither Gale nor Burrell would speak. All that the

people knew was that one lay wounded to death behind the dumb walls

of his cabin, and that the other had brought him down. When the old

man vouchsafed no more than a nod to his question, the prospector

inquired:



"Where's Poleon? I've got news for him from the creek."



"I don't know; he's gone."



"Back soon?"



"I don't know. Why?"



"His laymen have give up. They've cross-cut his ground and the pay

ain't there, so they've quit work for good."



"He drew a blank, eh?"



"Worse'n that--three of them. The creek is spotteder than a leopard.

Runnion's men, for instance, are into it bigger than a house, while

Poleon's people can't raise a color. I call it tough luck--yes,

worse'n tough: it's hard-biled and pickled. To them as has shall it

be given, and to them as hasn't shall be took even what they 'ain't

got, as the poet says. Look at Necia! She'll be richer than a cream

puff. Guess I'll step around and see her."



"She's gone," said the trader, wearily, turning his haggard face

from the prospector.



"Gone! Where?"



"Up-river with Runnion. They got her away from me last night."



"Sufferin' snakes!" ejaculated Lee. "So that's why!" Then he added,

simply, "Let's go and git her, John."



The trader looked at him queerly.



"Maybe I won't--on the first boat! I'm eating my heart out hour by

hour waiting--waiting--waiting for some kind of a craft to come, and

so is Burrell."



"What's he got to do with it?" said the one-eyed miner, jealously.

"Can't you and me bring her back?"



"He'll marry her! God, won't there never be a boat!"



For the hundredth time that morning he went to the door of the post

and strained his eyes down-stream.



"Well, well! Them two goin' to be married," said Lee. "Stark licked,

and Necia goin' to be married--all at once. I hate to see it, John;

he ain't good enough; she could 'a' done a heap better. There's a

lot of reg'lar men around here, and she could 'a' had her pick. Of

course, always bein' broke like a dog myself, I 'ain't kept up my

personal appearance like I'd ought, but I've got some new clothes

now, and you wouldn't know me. I bought 'em off a tenderfoot with

cold feet, but they're the goods, and you'd see a big improvement in

me."



"He's a good man," said Gale. "Better than you or me, and he's all

torn up over this. I never saw a man act so. When he learned about

it I thought he'd go mad--he's haunted the river-bank ever since,

raging about for some means of following her, and if I hadn't fairly

held him he'd have set out single-handed."



"I'm still strong in the belief that Necia could have bettered her

hand by stayin' out awhile longer," declared Lee, stubbornly; "but

if she wants a soldier, why, we'll get one for her, only I'd rather

have got her somethin' real good and pronounced in the military

line--like an agitant-gen'ral or a walkin' delegate."



While they were talking Burrell came in, and "No Creek" saw that the

night had affected the youth even more than it had Gale, or at least

he showed the marks more plainly, for his face was drawn, his eyes

were sunken as if from hunger, and his whole body seemed to have

fallen away till his uniform hung upon him loose, unkempt, and

careless. It was as if hope had been a thing of avoirdupois, and

when taken away had caused a shrinkage. He had interrogated Stark

again after getting the doctor, but the man had only cursed at him,

declaring that his daughter was out of reach, where he would take

care to keep her, and torturing the lover anew by linking Runnion's

name with the girl's till the young man fled from the sound of the

monster's voice back to his own quarters. He strove to keep the

image of Runnion out of his mind, for his reason could not endure

it. At such times he cried aloud, cursing in a way that was utterly

strange to a God-fearing man, only to break off and rush to the

other extreme, praying blindly, beseechingly, for the girl's safe-

keeping. At intervals an unholy impulse almost drove him to Stark's

cabin to finish the work Gale had begun, to do it coldly as a matter

of justice, for was he not the one who had put Necia into the hands

of that ruffian? Greeting Lee mechanically, he said to Gale:



"I can't wait much longer," and sank wearily into a seat. Almost the

next instant he was on his feet again, saying to the trader, as he

had said it a score of times already: "Runnion comes to me, Gale!

You understand he's mine, don't you?"



The old man nodded. "Yes! You can take him."



"Well, who do I git?" asked Lee.



"You can't come along," the trader said. "We may have to follow the

hound clean to the States. Think of your mine--"



"To hell with the mine!" exploded the shaggy prospector. "I reckon

I'm kind of a daddy to your gal, and I'm goin' to be in at the

finish."



Back and forth paced the Lieutenant restlessly, pausing every now

and then to peer down the river. Suddenly he uttered a cry, and with

a bound Gale was beside him, Lee at his shoulder.



"Look! Over the point! Down yonder! I saw smoke!"



The three stared at the distant forest fringe that masked the bend

of the river until their eyes ached, and the dark-green grew black

and wavered indistinctly.



"You're tired, my boy," said Gale.



"Wait!"



They obeyed, and finally over the tree-tops saw a faint streamer of

black.



"It is! It is!" cried the soldier. "I'm going for my war bag." And

before the steamboat had hove into sight he was back with his scanty

bundle of baggage, behaving like one daft, talking and laughing and

running here and there. Lee watched him closely, then went behind

the bar and poured out a stiff glass of whiskey, which he made

Burrell drink. To Gale he whispered, a moment later:



"Keep your eye on him, John--he'll go mad at this rate."



They waited, it seemed interminably, until at last a white hull

slowly rounded the point, then shaped a course across the current

towards the other bank, where the water was less swift. As it came

fully into sight, Gale swore aloud in despair:



"It's the Mission boat!"



"Well, what of that?" said Burrell. "We'll hire it--buy it--take

it!"



"It's no use; she ain't got but three dog-power to her engines," Lee

explained. "She's a down-river boat--has to run with the current to

move."



"We can't use her," Gale gave in, reluctantly. "She'd only lose time

for us. We've got to wait for one of the A. C. boats."



"Wait!" cried Burrell. "Good God! we've done nothing but wait, WAIT,

WAIT! Let's do something!"



"You go back yonder and set down," commanded Lee. "We'll have a boat

before long."



The arrival of the tiny Mission steamer was never of sufficient

importance to draw a crowd to the riverbank, so the impatient men at

the post relaxed interest in her as she came creeping up abreast of

the town. It was little Johnny Gale who first saw Necia and Poleon

on board, for he had recognized Father Barnum's craft at a distance,

and stationed himself at the bank hand-in-hand with Molly to bid the

good, kind old man welcome.



The men inside the house did not hear the boy crying Necia's name,

for his voice was small, and they had gone to the rear of the store.



"Understand! You leave Runnion to me," Burrell was saying. "No man

shall lay hands on him except me--" His voice trailed away; he rose

slowly to his feet, a strange light on his face. The others turned

to see what sight had drawn his eyes. In the opening, all splendid

with the golden sunlight, stood Necia and Poleon Doret, who had her

by the hand--and she was smiling!



Gale uttered a great cry and went to meet them, but the soldier

could move nothing save his lips, and stood dazed and disbelieving.

He saw them dimly coming towards him, and heard Poleon's voice as if

at a great distance, saw that the Frenchman's eyes were upon him,

and that his words were directed to him.



"I bring her back to you, M'sieu'!"



Doret laid Necia's hand in that of her lover, and Burrell saw her

smiling shyly up at him. Something gripped him chokingly, and he

could utter no sound. There was nothing to say-she was here, safe,

smiling, that was all. And the girl, beholding the glory in his

eyes, understood.



Gale caught her away from him then, and buried her in his arms.



A woman came running into the store, and, seeing the group, paused

at the door--a shapeless, silent, shawled figure in silhouette

against the day. The trader brought the girl to her foster-mother,

who began to talk in her own tongue with a rapidity none of them had

ever heard before, her voice as tender as some wild bird's song;

then the two women went away together around the store into the

house. Poleon had told Necia all the amazing story that had come to

him that direful night, all that he had overheard, all that he knew,

and much that he guessed.



The priest came into the store shortly, and the men fell upon him

for information, for nothing was to be gained from Poleon, who

seemed strangely fagged and weary, and who had said but little.



"Yes, yes, yes!" laughed Father Barnum. "I'll tell you all I know,

of course, but first I must meet Lieutenant Burrell and take him by

the hand."



The story did not lose in his telling, particularly when he came to

describe the fight on the gravel bar which no man had seen, and of

which Poleon had told him little; but the good priest was of a

militant turn, and his blue eyes glittered and flashed like an old

crusader's.



"It was a wondrous combat," he declared, with all the spirit of a

spectator, "for Poleon advanced bare-handed and beat him down even

as the man fired into his face. It is due to the goodness and mercy

of God that he was spared a single wound from this desperado--a

miracle vouchsafed because of his clean heart and his righteous

cause."



"But where is Runnion?" broke in Burrell.



"Nursing his injuries at some wood-cutter's camp, no doubt; but God

be praised for that double spirit of generosity and forgiveness

which prompted our Poleon to spare the wretch. No finer thing have I

known in all my life, Doret, even though you have ever been an

ungodly fellow."



The Frenchman moved uneasily.



"Wal, I don' know; he ain' fight so dam' hard."



"You couldn't find no trace of him?" said Lee.



"No trace whatever," Father Barnum replied; "but he will surely

reach some place of refuge where we can pick him up, for the days

are still mild and the woods full of berries, and, as you know, the

streams overflow with salmon, which he can kill with a stick. Why, a

man might live a fortnight without inconvenience!"



"I'll be on the lookout for him," said the Lieutenant, grimly. "To-

night I'll send Thomas and a couple of men down the river."



When the voluble old priest had at last exhausted his narrative he

requested of Burrell the privilege of a few words, and drew him

apart from the others. His face was shrewdly wrinkled and warm with

understanding.



"I had a long conversation with my little girl, for she is like a

daughter to me, and I discovered the depth of her love for you. Do

you think you are worthy of her?"



"No."



"Do you love her as much as you should?"



"As much as I can. They don't make words or numbers big enough to

tell you how dear she is to me."



"Then why delay? To-morrow I leave again, and one never knows what a

day may bring forth."



"But Stark?" the young man cried. "He's her father, you know; he's

like a madman, and she's still under age."



"I know very little of law outside of the Church," the Father

observed, "but, as I understand it, if she marries before he forbids

her, the law will hold him powerless. Now, he has never made himself

known to her, he has never forbidden her anything; and although my

conclusion may not be correct, I believe it is, and you have a

chance if you make haste. At your age, my boy, I never needed a

spur."



"A spur? Good Lord! I'm from Kentucky."



"Once she is yours before God, your hold will be stronger in the

eyes of men. If I am wrong, and he takes her from you--well, may

some other priest re-wed you two--I sha'n't!"



"Don't worry," laughed Burrell, ablaze at the thought. "You're the

only preacher who'll kiss my bride, for I'm a jealous man, and all

the Starks and all the fathers in the world won't get her away from

me. Do you think she'll do it?"



"A woman in love will do anything."



Burrell seized the little man by the hand. "If I had known more law

you needn't have given me this hint."



"I must go now to this Stark," said the Father; "he may need me. But

first I shall talk with Necia. Poor child, she is in a difficult

position, standing between the love of John Gale and the loyalty she

owes her father. I--I fear I cannot counsel her as well as I ought,

for I am very weak and human. You had better come with me; perhaps

the plea of a lover may have more weight than the voice of reason."

As they started towards the house, he continued, energetically:

"Young man, I'm beginning to live once more. Do you know, sometimes

I think I was not designed for this vocation, and, just between you

and me, there was a day when--" He paused and coughed a trifle, then

said, sharply, "Well, what are you waiting for?"



Together they went into the trader's house.



Back in the store there was silence after the priest and the soldier

went out, which Gale broke at last:



"This forgiveness talk is all right, I suppose--but I WANT

RUNNION!"



"We'll git him, too," growled Lee, at which Poleon uttered a curt

exclamation:



"No!"



"Why not?" said the miner.



"Wal," the Canadian drawled, slowly, then paused to light the

cigarette he had rolled in a bit of wrapping-paper, inhaled the

smoke deeply to the bottom of his lungs, held it there a moment, and

blew it out through mouth and nostrils before adding, "you'll jus'

be wastin' tam'!"



Gale looked up from beneath his thatch of brow, and asked, quietly:



"Why?"



"You 'member--story I tol' you wan day, two, t'ree mont' ago,"

Poleon remarked, with apparent evasion, "'bout Johnny Platt w'at I

ketch on de Porcupine all et up by skeeter-bugs?"



"I do," answered Gale.



"Wal,"--he met their eyes squarely, then drew another long breath

from his cigarette--"I'm jus' hopin' nobody don' pick it up dis

Runnion feller de same way. Mebbe dey fin' hees han's tie' behin'

'im wit' piece of hees shirt-"



"Good God!" cried the trader, starting to his feet. "You--you--"



"--of course, I'm jus' s'posin'. He was feel purty good w'en I lef'.

He was feel so good I tak' hees coat for keepin' off dem bugs from

me, biccause I lef it my own shirt on de canoe. He's nice feller dat

way; he give up easy. Ba gosh! I never see worse place for

skeeters!"



Gale fell silent, and "No Creek" Lee began to swear in little,

useless, ineffective oaths, which were but two ways of showing

similar emotions. Then the former stepped up and laid a big hand

upon Poleon's shoulder.



"That saves us quite a trip," he said, but "No Creek" Lee continued

to swear softly.



It seemed that Poleon's wish was to be gratified, for no news of the

missing man came through in the days that followed. Only at a

fishing village far down the river, where a few native families had

staked their nets and weirs for salmon, a hunter told a strange tale

to his brothers--a tale of the white man's idiosyncrasies. In sooth,

they were a strange people, he observed, surpassing wise in many

things, yet ignorant and childish in all others, else why should a

half-naked man go wandering idly through the thickets holding a

knotted rag behind his back, and that when the glades were dense and

the moss-chinks filled with the singing people who lived for blood?

The elders of the village nodded their heads sagely, and commended

the hunter for holding aloof from the inert body, for the

foolishness of this man was past belief, and--well, his people were

swift and cruel in their vengeance, and sometimes doubted an

Indian's word, wherefore it were best to pay no heed to their ways

and say nothing. But they continued to wonder why.



Father Barnum found the three still talking in the store when he had

finished an hour's counsel with Necia, so came straight to the

point. It was work that delighted his soul, for he loved the girl,

and had formed a strong admiration for Burrell. Two of them took his

announcement quietly, the other cried out strenuous objections. It

was the one-eyed miner.



"Right away! Not on your life! It's too onexpected. You've got to

hold 'em apart for an hour, anyhow, till I get dressed." He slid

down from his seat upon the counter. "What do you reckon I got all

them clothes for?"



"Come as you are," urged the Father, but Lee fought his point

desperately.



"I'll bust it up if you don't gimme time. What's an hour or two when

they've got a life sentence comin' to 'em. Dammit, you jest ought to

see them clothes!" And by very force of his vociferations he

succeeded in exacting the promise of a brief stay in the proceedings

before he bolted out, the rags of his yellow mackinaw flapping

excitedly.



The priest returned to Necia, leaving the trader and Poleon alone.



"I s'pose it's best," said the former.



"Yes!"



"Beats the deuce, though, how things work out, don't it?"



"I'm glad for see dis day," said the Frenchman. "He's good man, an'

he ain' never goin' to hurt her none." He paused. "Dere's jus' wan

t'ing I want for ask it of you, John--you 'member dat day we stop on

de birch grove, an' you spik 'bout her an' tol' me dose story 'bout

her moder? Wal, I was dreamin' dat tam', so I'm goin' ask it you now

don' never tell her w'at I said."



"Doesn't she know, my boy?"



"No; I ain' never spoke 'bout love. She t'inks I'm broder wit' her,

an'--dat's w'at I am, ba Gar!" He could not hold his voice even--it

broke with him; but he avoided the old man's gaze. Gale took him by

the shoulders.



"There ain't nothing so cruel in the world as a gentle woman," said

he; "but she wouldn't hurt you for all the world, Poleon; only the

blaze of this other thing has blinded her. She can't see nothing for

the light of this new love of hers."



"I know! Dat's w'y--nobody onderstan's but you an' me--"



Gale looked out through the open door, past the sun-lit river which

came from a land of mystery and vanished into a valley of

forgetfulness, past the forest and the hills, in his deep-set eyes

the light of a wondrous love that had lived with him these many

weary years, and said:



"Nobody else CAN understand but me--I know how it is. I had even a

harder thing to bear, for you'll know she's happy at least, while I-

-" His voice trembled, but, after a pause, he continued: "They

neither of them understand what you've done for them, for it was you

that brought her back; but some time they'll learn how great their

debt is and thank you. It'll take them years and years, however, and

when they do they'll tell their babes of you, Poleon, so that your

name will never die. I loved her mother, but I don't think I could

have done what you did."



"She's purty hard t'ing, for sure, but I ain' t'ink 'bout Poleon

Doret none w'en I'm doin' it. No, I'm t'ink 'bout her all de tarn'.

She's li'l' gal, an' I'm beeg, strong feller w'at don' matter much

an' w'at ain' know much--'cept singin', an' lovin' her. I'm see for

sure now dat I ain' fit for her--I'm beeg, rough, fightin' feller

w'at can't read, an' she's de beam of sunlight w'at blin' my eyes."



"If I was a fool I'd say you'd forget in time, but I've lived my

life in the open, and I know you won't. I didn't."



"I don' want to forget," the brown man cried, hurriedly. "Le bon

Dieu would not let me forget--it's all I've got to keep wit' me w'en

I'm lookin' for my 'New Countree.'"



"You're not goin' to look for that 'New Country' any more," Gale

replied.



"To-day," said the other, quietly.



"No."



"To-day! Dis affernoon! De blood in me is callin' for travel, John.

I'm livin' here on dis place five year dis fall, an' dat's long

tarn' for voyageur. I'm hongry for hear de axe in de woods an' de

moose blow at sundown. I want for see the camp-fire t'rough de brush

w'en I come from trap de fox an' dem little wild fellers. I want to

smell smoke in de dusk. My work she's finish here, so I'm paddle

away to-day, an' I'll fin' dat place dis tam', for sure--she's over

dere." He raised his long arm and pointed to the dim mountains that

hid the valley of the Koyukuk, the valley that called good men and

strong, year after year, and took them to itself, while in his face

the trader saw the hunger of his race, the unslaked longing for the

wilderness, the driving desire that led them ever North and West,

and, seeing it, he knew the man would go.



"Have you heard the news from the creeks?"



"No."



"Your claims are blanks; your men have quit."



The Frenchman shook his head sadly, then smiled--a wistful little

smile.



"Wal, it's better I lose dan you--or Necia; I ain' de lucky kin',

dat's all; an', affer all, w'at good to me is riche gol'-mine? I

ain' got no use for money--any more."



They stood in the doorway together, two rugged, stalwart figures,

different in blood and birth and every other thing, yet brothers

withal, whom the ebb and flow of the far places had thrown together

and now drew apart again. And they were sad, these two, for their

love was deeper than comes to other people, and they knew this was

farewell; so they remained thus side by side, two dumb, sorrowful

men, until they were addressed by a person who hurried from the

town.



He came as an apparition bearing the voice of "No Creek" Lee, the

mining king, but in no other way showing sign or symbol of their old

friend. Its style of face and curious outfit were utterly foreign to

the miner, for he had been bearded with the robust, unkempt growth

of many years, tanned to a leathery hue, and garbed perennially in

the habit of a scarecrow, while this creature was shaved and clipped

and curried, and the clothes it stood up in were of many startling

hues. Its face was scraped so clean of whiskers as to be a pallid

white, but lack of adornment ended at this point and the rest was

overladen wondrously, while from the centre of the half-brown, half-

white face the long, red nose of Lee ran out. Beside it rolled his

lonesome eye, alive with excitement.



He came up with a strut, illumining the landscape, and inquired:



"Well, how do I look?"



"I'm darned if I know," said Gale. "But it's plumb unusual."



"These here shoes leak," said the spectacle, pulling up his baggy

trousers to display his tan footgear, "because they was made for dry

goin'--that's why they left the tops off; but they've got a nice,

healthy color, ain't they? As a whole, it seems to me I'm sort of

nifty." He revolved slowly before their admiring gaze, and while to

one versed in the manners of the Far East it would have been evident

that the original owner of these clothes had come from somewhere

beyond the Susquehanna, and had either been a football player or had

travelled with a glee club, to these three Northmen it seemed merely

that here was the modish echo of a distant civilization.



"Wat's de matter on your face?" said Poleon. "You been fightin'?"



"I ain't shaved in a long time, and this here excitement has kind of

shattered my nerves. I didn't have no lookin'-glass, neither, in my

shack, so I had to use a lard-can cover. Does it look bad?"



"Not to my way of thinkin'," said Gale, allaying "No Creek's"

anxiety. "It's more desp'rate than bad, but it sort of adds

expression." At which the miner's pride burst bounds.



"I'll kindly ask you to note the shirt--ten dollars a copy, that's

all! I got it from the little Jew down yon. der. See them red spear-

heads on the boosum? 'Flower dee Lizzies,' which means 'calla

lilies' in French. Every one of 'em cost me four bits. On the level-

-how am I?"



"I never see no harness jus' lak it mese'f!" exclaimed Doret. "You

look good 'nough for tin-horn gambler. Say, don' you wear no necktie

wit' dem kin' of clothes?"



"No, sir! Not me. I'm a rude, rough miner, and I dress the part.

Low-cut, blushin' shoes and straw hats I can stand for, likewise

collars--they go hand-in-hand with pay-streaks; but a necktie ain't

neither wore for warmth nor protection; it's a pomp and a vanity,

and I'm a plain man without conceit. Now, let's proceed with the

obsequies."



It was a very simple, unpretentious ceremony that took place inside

the long, low house of logs, and yet it was a wonderful thing to the

dark, shy maid who hearkened so breathlessly beside the man she had

singled out--the clean-cut man in uniform, who stood so straight and

tall, making response in a voice that had neither fear nor weakness

in it. When they had done he turned and took her reverently in his

arms and kissed her before them all; then she went and stood beside

Gale and the red wife who was no wife, and said, simply:



"I am very happy."



The old man stooped, and for the first time in her memory pressed

his lips to hers, then went out into the sunlight, where he might be

alone with himself and the memory of that other Merridy, the woman

who, to him, was more than all the women of the world; the woman

who, each day and night, came to him, and with whom he had kept

faith. The burden she had laid upon him had been heavy, but he had

borne it long and uncomplainingly; and now he was very glad, for he

had kept his covenant.



The first word of the wedding was borne by Father Barnum, who went

alone to the cabin where the girl's father lay, entering with

trepidation; for, in spite of the pleas of justice and humanity,

this stony-hearted, amply hated man had certain rights which he

might choose to enforce; hence, the good priest feared for the peace

of his little charge, and approached the stricken man with

apprehension. He was there a long time alone with Stark, and when he

returned to Gale's house he would answer no questions.



"He is a strange man--a wonderfully strange man: unrepentant and

wicked; but I can't tell you what he said. Have a little patience

and you will soon know."



The mail boat, which had arrived an hour after the Mission boat, was

ready to continue its run when, just as it blew a warning blast,

down the street of the camp came a procession so strange for this

land that men stopped, eyed it curiously, and whispered among

themselves. It was a blanketed man upon a stretcher, carried by a

doctor and a priest. The face was muffled so that the idlers could

not make it out; and when they inquired, they received no answer

from the carriers, who pursued their course impassively down the

runway to the water's edge and up the gang-plank to the deck. When

the boat had gone, and the last faint cough of its towering stacks

had died away, Father Barnum turned to his friends:



"He has gone away, not for a day, but for all time. He is a strange

man, and some things he said I could not understand. At first I

feared greatly, for when I told him what had occurred--of Necia's

return and of her marriage--he became so enraged I thought he would

burst open his wounds and die from his very fury; but I talked a

long, long time with him, and gradually I came to know somewhat of

his queer, disordered soul. He could not bring himself to face

defeat in the eyes of men, or to see the knowledge of it in their

bearing; therefore, he fled. He told me that he would be a hunted

animal all his life; that the news of his whipping would travel

ahead of him; and that his enemies would search him out to take

advantage of him. This I could not grasp, but it seemed a big thing

in his eyes--so big that he wept. He said the only decent thing he

could or would do was to leave the daughter he had never known to

that happiness he had never experienced, and wished me to tell her

that she was very much like her mother, who was the best woman in

the world."





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