“Aye, I says it an I means it. Fightin men are cryin men, and no man knows what fightin' is unless there's a woman in it"
FIGHTIN’ men are cryin’ men,” said the old man, as if laying down a new law. And to emphasize his point he bit savagely at a huge plug of tobacco.
The tourist smiled and gazed almost affectionately at the weather-beaten but still youthful-faced and eager-eyed octogenarian. Scenting a story, he prodded the old man with a question.
“Fighting men are crying men?” he repeated with such a [jeculiar intonation of doubt that the old man turned and eyed him savagely.
“Aye, fightin’ men are cryin’ men. I repeats it, an’ I means it.” The old man’s voice was sonorous like an organ, and his eyes were staring into nothingness. The stranger huddled into silence, drinking in every word.
“Fightin’ men -and when I say fightin’ men I don’t mean a thin red line of heroes, nor do I mean the kind that slap each other on the jaw for thousands o' dollars. I mean men with straight backs an’ long, thin legs, an’ muscles that ripple like the water in that stream. It's when these men meet to fight over a woman or a point of honor that even the angels in heaven set forward on their thrones an’ take an interest in life. Especially if she is the type o’ woman with insolent eyes that are set calm an’ deep and still, and that show in their depths all the secrets o’ the ages since Adam was born.
“That reminds me of Jake Gendron an' Jock Henderson. Man! that was a fight o’ fights. I've seen two bull moose fight it out in the woods, but never did 1 hope to see such a fight afore I died. But o' course they say, and say well, that men never know what fightin’ is unless there’s a woman in it somewhere, an’ I guess that's so, for Jake fought his biggest fight over a woman and it was fittin’ that it should be his last.”
JAKE was straw boss of McMurray’s outfit (said the old man), the one that runs the logs from Huntsville down the Muskoka River to Bracebridge. A bad run it is. too. for shootin' green timbers down. Then there’s the dam. The Government built that dam for us once when we all voted Conservative, else we’d have had to build it ourselves. This dam is pecooler in some ways, because it's a removable dam with stop logs in it which’ll either raise or lower the water in the river or the lake.
Just below the dam are the first rapids, and o’ course logs always get piled there. Then again at Balsam Chutes, a few miles down river. But the men wouldn’t worry. No, sir, they'd just keep lettin’ those logs slip over the dam, and when they were all over the gang started to work to break the jams.
Two men ’ud stay at the dam an’ put in stop logs until hardly any water came out at all, then the gang would wade into mid-river in only a foot or so o’ water an’ break the jam. When most of it was bust, the men at the dam pulled out stop logs like two of a kind, and that old river would swell like some mighty organ, and the water would rush down on those logs sometimes in a wave ten or
fifteen feet deep and wash out that jam and—Well, sometimes even then the logs held fast like stubborn mules; an’ if they did —ah, that was the time the rivermen could show off, for they’d have to crawl out on those logs hand over hand through the spray thrown up by the water, slippin’ and cursin’, every minute liable to slip off an’ drown, an’ pullin’ a pike pole or canthook with ’em.
That’s why McMurray made Jake the boss. The castiron old Scot didn't like Jake, but that don't matter in the North. Jake was the best riverman in the country and Mac knew it. McMurray was a Bluenose. A tough lot they are, too. Scotch mixed with Canuck makes a cunning mixture which hates and loves long and deep, an’ never forgets. McMurray’s face was like Scotian’ and Scotian, too—all crags and corners and holes with cross currents and never a piece of still water for the sun to laugh on. Hard, hard as granite; but prob’ly honest for all that, for in some ways men respected him. He alius kept his word and his honor was clear.
Once him and Jake had a row. Twas-the spring before the one I’m talkin’ about. Jake, bein’ straw boss, o’ course got complaints from the men about the boss, and from the boss about the men. McMurray got a poor cook that spring an’ he knew it. In fac’ everybody knew it. The men complained about it to Jake, an’ he paddled all the way upstream to see McMurray, who was handlin’ the stop-log gang at the dam.
McMurray sees him cornin’ from below, an’ I guess he figgers it might do Jake good to get a duckin’, for he comes nearer to smilin’ than I ever seen him before or since.
“Pull a log,” he yells to the gang.
The bunch of wops looked at him queerlike, as if they couldn’t understand. But even they knew that to pull a log outta that dam ’ud send a wave of water about a foot high pilin’ down on Jake, who a’ready has his hands full paddlin’ against the current.
“Pull out that log!” yells McMurray again; and the Bohunks obey, for old as he was, McMurray was still a strong, big man, able to lick the average Bohunk and most rivermen.
They yanks out the log, and the water from the hole pours down in one swift wave on to Jake. He hears it, and I sees him look up at that wall of water cornin’ at him. By the gods, sir, Jake stood right up on his knees in that canoe and dug his paddle deep, and the canoe leaped ahead to meet the wrater.
McMurray must have figgered Jake ’ud ride it out down stream. But not Jake. He met her full on. For a second the canoe lifted straight up to the crest of the wave, an’ then she rode down again and Jake was paddlin’ as if nothing had happened. Net a cupful of water in the canoe either, for I looked at it afterward.
W. Redvers Dent
Aye, sir, that was a sight never to be forgotten, when Jake paddled calm an’ cool up to the front of the dam, jumped out, beached his canoe and walked slowly up the steps to meet McMurray.
They met up on top, an’ McMurray had placed himself all ready for the attack from Jake. Aye, he knew what was cornin’, or thought he did. for it was a dirty trick and he deserved to get beaten up for it.
They met, Jake walkin’ on his toes and his eyes smilin’ sardonic at McMurray. When he got close they stood measurin’ each other, McMurray still bracin’ himself, expectin’ either a foot or a fist. Jake stood easy and looked at him for a full minnit, with his lips curled up at the corners, and then he says:
“You gotta fire that cook.”
“I what?” says McMurray, unbelievin’ly.
“You gotta fire that cook,” Jake repeats.
McMurray looks at him pop-eyed and says, kind of slow as if he can’t believe it:
“An’ ain’t you goin’ to do anything about me pullin’ out that stop log?”
Jake looks at him an’ his words cuts like a whip:
“What c’n you do to an old man?”
There’s a dead silence, even the Bohunks appreciatin’ somethin’s wrong. Then McMurray leaps forward and slaps Jake on the face so hard it leaves the mark of his hand in pink flesh.
But Jake only stops smilin’. He does nothin’ for a minnit that’s like eternity, an’ then he says quietlike:
“If you weren’t an old man—”
Then even Jake gets sorry for what happens next. The tears come into McMurray’s eyes an’ stream down his cheeks.
“Ain’t you goin’ to fight me, Jake?” he says pleadin’-like. “Ain’t you goin’ to fight me?”
Jake nods slow.
“You’re too old, McMurray, for a man to fight.”
Somehow I feels that I’d better walk McMurray out into the woods, an’ there he weeps his heart out against the trees.
T WAS too proud to marry a woman in them days; that’s
why I’m still single. If ever I'd met a woman like Jake’s mother mayhap it ’ud been different, but I didn't.
It’s very, very seldom you meet a real thoroughbred, a woman who loves to gamble with life just as us rivermen did. I used to say to McMurray when 1 was a lad. “You can’t tell me, McMurray, that any plow horse of a woman can give the thrill the river does when I takes a chance with it.” And McMurray’s eyes glinted, ’cause he’d married a woman like men dream about. She’d died on him. leaving him alone except for a girl. ’Twas too bad she couldn’t have bore a son because she did a good job, that woman.
One day when I was workin’ at buildin’ a punt which Jake claimed he needed bad, McMurray’s cook comes over an’ sits watchin’ me work awhile, and then says kind of queerlike:
“Have ye haird the news?”
I stops work and takes a chew of plug, an’ I looks him over ’cause Ron McGillivray is a great coddcr. “I haven’t,” I says suspicious-like, an’ starts to work again’ sawin’ boards.
“There’s a woman cornin’, he says.
I looks at him to see if he’s coddin’ me, but his face is serious an’ set as if he is thinkin’ real hard.
“What kind of woman?” I asks at last.
“What kind of a woman would ye expect Mac to have in camp?” he says short-like.
“Well,” I says, “every man gets to make a fool of himself once.”
“It ain’t that kind of a woman,” says McGillivray, an’ he sounds so queer I puts the saw down an’ chews.
All you could hear for a minnit was me chewin' away, but at last McGillivray keeps lookin’ at me so hard an’ savin’ nothin’ that I has to say, “Have a chew, Mac?”
“I don’t mind if I will,” he says, and does just what I figgers he would do if I offered the plug an’ that is, bite it near in half.
“Now I’ve paid for the information, tell me who the woman is and what she’s like,” I says.
“It's his baim,” he says.
“His daughter?” I asks.
“Yes, his bairn; and sair the day it is when she comes to camp.”
“For why?” I asks.
“They're poison for any man in this camp,” says Mac, “when we haven’t seen a woman now for two months. I wunner why Mac is bringin’ her in,” an’ he looks at me queer-like. Continued on page 27
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Continued from page 13
I looks at him. and for a long minnit all you could hear is our jaws movin’ up and down. Then MacGillivray winks his eye and I starts back to pick up the saw.
I WAS the first to see her. That is. of the gang. O’ course, McMurray and the house cook had seen her, but it was me who told the lads about her. I had wandered down to the spring to get a drink afore breakfast the day after she arrived.
The first time I went to that spring I took a cup with me to drink out of, but when I looks at it I threw the cup as far away as I could. I even walked back a few paces and got rid of all my baccy, then I walks up to that spring an’ kneels down as God meant me to kneel an’ drank it straight. For it made you feel like that, and us’ally I don’t like water.
So it had got to be a habit with me, just like a person saying his prayers, to go to the spring an’ bend myself an’ drink before breakfast each mornin’, for that cold water seemed to make you feel good.
This morning the birds were singin’ an’ I was strollin’ along, taking my time, when I hears a bird; leastwise I thinks it’s a bird at first, only to see when I looks that it’s a woman an’ the most beautiful woman I ever saw.
Tall an’ slim, yet not too tall or too slim, for each part of her seemed to melt into another part, and when her face turned accidently toward me it made me think of the spring—cool, clear, and—and dean. I guess that’s the word.
All the women nowadays, with their paint and powder, have a sort of soiled look all the time, but this one had no paint and no powder. Her skin was her own, her eyes were grey. Did I say grey? When I saw her look at Jake a few days later they looked more like living opals.
Her lips weren’t painted lips. They were red as a rose an’, like all other parts of her, melted into the cheeks and lost themselves in dimples.
She was on her way to the spring, and I followed her, sneakin’ along from bush to bush, an’ right there I says, "If she brought a cup with her, she too will throw it away an’ bend down an’ drink.’’
She came to the clearin’ at last, and there lay the pond with a weepin’ willow bendin’ over it. She stops still, stands stiff, and for a moment I thought she was disappointed, then up comes her hand and there flies through the air one of them collapsible cups you get at picnics, and she kneels down an’ drinks, her lips light on the water and it reflectin’ her back so it looked to me as if two beautiful women were a-kissin’ each other.
Suddenly I hears a rustle behind, an’ I near gasps out loud as Jake walks along the path. He’s whistlin’ too. and his face is thrust out toward the sun like the prow of a ship, and his whole body seems to sing to the birds and bees an’ all Nature.
I looks back at the spring, and now the girl is standin’ up, and she too lifts her head an’, wunner of wunners. begins to sing, "Now thank we all our God ...”
Her voice is sweet and sort of vibrant and deep, and it makes me want to go out and grab her and hold her to me, never to let go. But I knows it can’t be, and I turns just in time to see Jake stop whistlin’ an’ listen to the song.
At first he can’t understand, and he stops and listens while the song goes on: “Who wondrous things has done ...”
The sun beats down on him as I see him there, and he sort of reminds me of a stag I saw once when it heard the call of its mate. The sun beats down in his face, and his chest, bare at the throat, shows red hair which glistens and shines in the sun.
Suddenly he leaps ahead and in a few bounds is at the side of the girl, and there lie stops. She quits singing, and all creation seems to wait to see what’ll happen. And I noticed right there that both of ’em stand exactly the same way, and both have
identical the same chin. And both lixik at each other unafraid, then begin to smile.
I sneaks away.
T S’POSE McMurray thought Jake would
fall for her and that she’d make him look ridiculous in the eyes of the whole camp. Mind ye, there’s nothing that makes men laugh more than to see their champion crawlin’ abject before someone else. Well, he was right and wrong.
He was right because Jake did fall for her. but he was wrong in thinkin’ Jake would be made a fool of. Ever since I had seen ’em look at eacli other at the side of the spring I knew them two was going to live and love 1 in such a way as to upset the whole camp.
A guy says to me once—a preachin’ gent | he was—that if ever a man lived like the Bible says he is on earth he would be hung immejately. I dunno about that, but what I do know is that if two thoroughbred human beings meet and love, it’s going to end in trouble as sure as the sparks fly upward, or maybe death.
Anyway she fell as hard as he did. and for days McMurray eyed her in a sort of sick fear as she followed her man. There wasn’t no questionin’ or askin’ or figgerin’. | Nothin’ sneaky about those two. They i loved each other an’ no argument. The j funny part of it was that even-body, includin’ McMurray, was afraid to ask ’em ! about it. It ’d sort of be like askin’ a j mother if she loves her baby. Those grey j eyes of the girl would light and flicker as she eyed Jake cornin’ and goin’.
Especially on the river when he was pullin’ out a jam, she would stand on the shore and her whole body would sway sort of in time with him as he leajx?d from log to log. If he would slip or even appear to. she’d stiffen like a board and all life would draw out of her just like turnin' off a light.
You know, it made you feel sort of good to see ’em swingin’ along side by side, hand in hand through the wcxxfs. They'd balk and laugh and jump and frolic like two children or two tiger cubs, I dunno which, and they always had their faces uplifted to the sun with the sort of expression you see on the guy that leads the circus parade.
You know it must be awful borin’ most of the time to look down on this world. Us men and women love just like everytxxly else does. Talk about standerdizin’ airs and everything like that, why look how we standerdize lovin’ and livin’ till I guess it’s only once in a long, long while that even the angels see somethin’ a bit different, like those two.
I watched McMurray, and at first he didn’t know what to do. I’ll bet he didn’t say a word to the girl and she didn’t say a word to him. I remember one morning when I was ashore he suggested, sort of meek, somethin’ about goin’ back, and she just give him one look and says. “You know I can never go back.” He went grey at that i and gripped the table with his hands and glared at nothin’ in particular.
Nothin’ happened for days after that until one morning I was standin’ up at the cookhouse talkin’ with the cook when I sees a man cornin’ down the trail toward the camp.
I looks once, then I grabs the cook and whispers to him:
"D’ye see that man?”
The cook looks and rubs his eyes and shouts:
"Aye, an’ it’s Jock Henderson.”
I nods and says:
"Yes, it is Jock Henderson, one of the | greatest fighters in the North Country. ! Aye, it’s Jock himself, an’ McMurray made a sorry mistake in sendin’ for him.”
"How do you ken lie sent for him?” says the cook.
"Because,” I says, "it’s just a trick that McMurray would do, figgerin’, of course, that Jock will beat hell out of Jake an’ then the girl will forget about him when she sees him down.” ¡
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Continued J rom page 27
"Yes,” he says, “an’ a good idea it is, because a woman will always go to the winner.”
“Don’t ye mistake it,” I says. “There’ll lxmurder, real death in this camp before it’s over, mark my words.
TOCK HENDERSON is close by now, an’ J when I sees his huge frame, with the long shock of red hair on top, I knows I’m lookin’ on one of the toughest men in Northern Canada. Northern Irish he is, big, bred out of Scotch and Swede, and descended from the old pirates. Blue eyes, red hair, big mouth, big hands, big feet; but light as a cat and livin’ to fight.
"Well, Jock, an’ what might you be doin’ here?” I asked.
“I’m the new straw boss.”
“But we got a straw boss now,” I says.
I íe grins. “Well, ye won’t have him long,” he says, an’ suddenly starts toward the boss’s shack, while I follows him with my eyes.
I starts for the river, where the gang was workin’. I knew the girl would be there, an’ I knew that Jock Henderson ’ud be swaggerin’ down as soon as he’d talked with McMurray.
As usual, Jake is out in the middle of a jam that’s formed in the rapids, an’ as usual the girl is there watchin’ him as he goes through his motions.
I watched her then an’ I wondered if any mongrel in her was goin’ to show' up when the two men met, an’ just as I was w'onderin’ I sees her go white, then rigid, an’ I looks toward the river.
Jake had slipped. One foot had missed its footin’, and he was down on one knee just as the jam began to level off.
For a minnit it looks as if all those logs were goin’ to slip down on top of him. but he was up an’ away, jumpin’ from timber to timber, and I heard her breath leave her body, even above the roar of the river, when Jake turned and waved his hand.
She smiled and waved back, and I noticed that a tear was tricklin’ down her face.
"So she’s w'eak,” I thought, for in the North men may cry but women never; which is funny but true.
T’D SORT of been w'onderin’ what ; McMurray would do to avenge himself for the insult Jake had handed him. Of course, Jake didn’t know it was an insult; in fact he had only done what he thought was a real good act, but it was the kind o’ an act that ’ud make the receiver of it a deadly enemy.
Jake was still with the gang when Jock hove in sight. O’ course McMurray was with him, and for awhile Jake didn’t see ’em. The girl turned—yes, I know her name, but I ain’t goin’ to tell you it, for it ; weren’t a name that was fitted for her.
It was just after Jake had slipped, and her eyes were shinin’ and wide and her lips were sort of half open, showin’ the tiniest bit of white teeth beneath, and her breath was cornin’ fast. Mac saw it, too, and shadows fell on the valleys and deep places of his craggy face. He went over to the bank of the river and called:
Jake turned, waved his hand and slipped over a few logs, runnin’ like a deer, for I guess he was just showin’ the girl how he’d come if she had called him like that.
Jake was maybe ten or fifteen feet away when he takes his eyes offen’ the girl long enough to see He stops dead.
Jock steps ahead a foot or two. with his huge arms folded. Jake measures him with his eyes. The girl w as forgotten now. He gave one quick look at Mac.
“This is the new straw boss,” grunts Mac.
“Aye. an’ ready to hold to my right.” says Jock, his eyes glarin’ like a wolf’s.
“Mister Jcx'k Henderson. 1 have heard of you. A good man in a rough an’ tumble”
“Aye, I'm proud of the fac’ that I’ve never been beaten,” says Jock.
The cook nods.
“Nor have I,” says Jake.
Jock grins even broader, for he felt he had the measure of Jake now.
“But yours is a small district, Mr. Gendron—and much smaller now.”
Jake didn’t move a muscle and he was still smilin’.
“When will it be, Mister Henderson?” he asks.
“Right now,” says Jock.
McMurray jumped between ’em.
“Just a minnit, boys. I gotta send the gal to the house.”
The two men turned and eyed her, an’ she looked from one to the other in a sort o’ wonder, for it wasn’t usual to see men so polite to each other in the North.
McMurray nodded to her and says:
“You’d better go, honey.”
By this time the Jacks, the peevees and the rivermen had all dropped their work and formed a ring round the two men, so it didn’t take the girl long to understand there was goin’ to be a fight, that her father had arranged it, and that Jake was goin’ to fight Big Jock Henderson.
“Very well, daddy,” she said quietlike, and then in front of us all she walked clear across that crowd and kissed Jake on the mouth. Then she turned quick and walked steadily out of the ring, the men givin’ wray before her and none of us darin’ to look up at her face.
She’d barely left when Jock threw off his coat an’ shirt and was stripped to the waist, with his mackinaw breeks held up by a red sash.
As he waited for Jake our eyes held on to him, for he was a wunnerful built man. Six feet four in his socks, and, just a month before, a lumberjack from up Huntsville way had told me he had seen Jock lift half a ton—one thousand pounds.
Muscles bound themselves like ropes all round his body, while his shoulder blades made a deep ridge in his back as he twisted and squirmed around.
We thought that Jock would be slow movin’, but, just to get limbered up, he put his hand above his head an’ kicked, an’, believe it or not, that toe went far above his hand, so that even Jake stopped in admiration to watch him.
“Do it again. Jock,” Jake said as he pulled off his shirt, and Jake meant it, for he was always like that an’ could always admire any other charnTpeen. So Jock, just to oblige, did it again. Jake had his shirt off now, and even Jock stopped to admire, for Jake had inherited his mother’s skin, a good skin it was, white and clear, without spot or blemish, which is as a thoroughbred’s skin should be.
There were no ropes of muscle on Jake’s body; no, sir, they weren’t needed, for it was sleek like a cat’s and it hid slim power beneath a layer of surface fat that deceived you. It was only when he moved that you saw the muscles ripple and play.
Jake kicked and his foot went near as high as Jock’s but not quite. He tried again and again he failed, then he grinned at Jock an’ says:
“Well. Mister Henderson. I must confess I’m beat for kickin’,” an’ Jock smiled and nodded, pleased his enemy had seen his power.
“Dinna think I weesh to hurry ye,” said Jock when Jake had his first kick, “but there’s work to be done yet this day an’ it’s as weel we should get our play over with afore the noon whistle.”
“That’s well,” said Jake; “an’ are you ready. Mister Henderson?”
“That I be,” said Jock.
“Well, then, we’ll start,” said Jake, an’ forthwith started to circle Jock for an openin’.
Now Jock, bein’ well warned, took his pose an’ the fight began in earnest.
rT"'HEY made a pitchur there in the glare -Iof the momin’ sun, the huge body of Jock towerin' over Jake, who looked like a terrier sent into bait a bull more'n anythin’ else.
Jake rushes an’ he misses. Jock kicks an’ catches Jake square on the jaw, an’ Jake falls to the ground. I heard the thud and
sigh of Jake’s breath at the same minnit. It was then I noticed the girl was back, an’ she stands rigid as Jake crawls slowly to his feet, smilin’.
Jock rushes. Jake sidesteps an’ punches Jock on the side of the head as he passes. Jock stumbles an’ falls, dazed with the blow. Jake leaps on him an’ takes a hold his father taught him, a hold that’s meant to break the arm of Jock.
There’s a heave as Jake puts all his strength into twisting Jock’s arm back’rd.
Whoroee ! Jock breaks the hold and sends Jake flyin’ over his head, an’ then he’s on him.
But now Jock’s taken Jake’s head in chancery an’ is poundin’, poundin’, poundin’.
The girl beside me shudders, an’ a long whistlin’ sigh escapes from her set moutlx. Then she stands as if cut in marble.
When Jake fin’lly breaks the hold and turns, his face is a bloody mess and he is blind.
A groan rises when we see him standin’ there, tryin' so hard to feel for his enemy. Bloody and dazed but not broken, Jake stood straight, head up, chin out. And he makes me weep, for he’s smilin', smilin’, although he can’t see and he knows his enemy’ll finish him in a minnit. He stood straight, I tell you, straight as a pine tree an’ waits his fate.
Jock is smilin’, too. He’s feelin’ almighty tired but the fight is almost over now. All that’s needed is to stay away from Jake’s reachin’ blind arms until he puts over the final blow. He circles, an Jake circles, too, listenin’ for the pad of Jock’s feet.
Jock rushes, but it’s too late, for Jake turns, grabs him and throws him five, ten, fifteen feet. Aye, a strong throw that was, and Jock lands heavy an’ is feelin’ faint an’ sick. But it’s all right because Jock can still see while Jake is blind.
Jock decides to be careful now, and he approaches stealthy this time and swings with his arm and knocks Jake flyin’.
That’s what’s goin’ to win him the fight. Long distance punchin’, for nobody can stand that.
Jake gets on his feet and slowly lifts his head up. The girl is sobbin’ beside me, but nobody notices.
Jock sneaks up and knocks him down again. Jake gets up. but he’s sort of swayin’ on his feet now, an’ when Jock swings again he falls down, to stay it would seem.
A sigh goes up ’cause we figger it’s all up now, and we starts to move away. Ye see, up in the North here we has queer ways, an’ the queerest o.’ them all is that no one should look upon a man in defeat. If he is down then, you head away an’ leave him alone to ponder upon it an’ lick his wounds. No pity, for pity only hurts a real man at a time like this. So we begins to move. Jock, too. turns away while Jake lays sobbin’ on the ground.
Then all of a sudden I hears a whisper, a whisper so silent, yet so loud that it makes all the men stop, and even Jock Henderson turns in his stride.
“Out of my way !”
I turns aside without darin’ to look at the girl as she walks over to her man. “Out of my way!” It echoes and re-echoes, and once again the men turn their heads and speak to each other. Jake hears it too. He’s blind, broken, helpless and unable to move, but he hears and tries to get up.
Now she is near an’ Jake staggers to his feet. She whispers:
“I'll be your eyes, Jake.”
Jock stands in puzzlement as she gets behind Jake, and, glory be. Jake is movin’ ahead toward Jock. The girl speaks again.
“Be ready to fight, Mr. Henderson,” she says, “for now he can see.” And her eyes are alive with hate, hate of man, hate of love and livin’ but especially o’ men, and as her eyes meet her father’s he mutters to himself.
But now Jake is movin’ ahead and she is behind, and all the time she is whisperin’, whisperin', whisperin’.
Jock puts up his hands; those big, beefy,
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Continued from page 30
Continued from page SO hairy hands which was covered with Jake’s blood. But quick as a flash Jake leaps, leaps high and clear and the girl with him. I swear she was lifted by him. Whumph! He lands on Jock, and this time, friend, those strong hands grasp Jock’s kxxly around the middle.
“Ixx>k out. look out!” I cried, for Jake is whirling his enemy clear above his head.
¡ Then, whumph! Jock hits the ground,
"O )R a full minnit there is a dead silence.
Jake stands upright lookin’ into the sun,
¡ while the girl behind him whispers, whispers, j whispers.
The men sort of shuffle around them as if they dunno what to do, an’ each man is afraid to look up into the other’s eyes.
Then all of a sudden the roarin’, restless, eager river, which had been pullin’ and tuggin’ at the jam which Jake had kx)sened, finally gained its way.
There came a crash that could be heard for miles around, and when we turned to look, a seethin' mass o’ milky white water was pourin’ over the jam. Here an' there, huge sticks o’ timber from sixty to a hundred feet high and three feet across the butt was made to stand upright as they did in the • forest by the fierce rush o' waters.
They would float that way for maybe fifty or a hundred feet afore they would fall again with a crash. Aye, it was like giants at play, leapin’ and frolickin’. Every man shuddered at the thought o’ bein’ out in the middle of it. and lumberjacks thanked their gods that they was not rivermen like Jake or the rest.
Just then I happened to tum and peer sideways at Jake an’ the girl, an’ I notices now that he has turned toward the river an’ she is standin’ in front pullin’ him by the hand and then stoppin’ to plead or beg somethin’.
Jake is listenin’, and his blind eyes is uplifted, lookin’ out at the river, and I can almost see his ears cocked up at the sound.
She is pullin’, pullin’ at him like a tug at a battleship, while Jake shakes his head I slow like.
I turns back then because the river is ! more interestin’ now, an’ I thinks that all j she is tryin’ to do is to get him to the river to wash off the bkxxJ an’ dirt.
Nearly all the jam is gone now. It is only the (xid stick o’ lumber which boils up to the top and starts to run into the bank, then is caught by a back eddy and pulled out into the centre of the river.
I sees old McMurray is stickin’ almost alongside o’ me. and as I peers over I sees he is bitin’ at his lips an’ glowerin’ at the river as if it was responsible for the trouble.
Then above the roar of the rapids and the swishin' o’ white water comes a voice. And, glory be, it is Jake’s!
“Out o’ my way,” he calls. “Out o’ my way !"
The men all shuffles to one side an’ clears j a path for him, not darin’ to look up—no, sir. not one dares except me.
It is Jake all right, Jake still blind but still at the sun. He has taken the girl into his arms and is stridin’ toward the ! river.
I sees she is lookin’ up and still whisperin’ ¡ and pleadin’, and Jake’s head is n odd in’ I down and up now as he walks.
“Stop that man!’’ yells McMurray suddenlike, and I raises my eyes sort o’
bewildered. ’cause I can’t unnerstand what ! it’s all about.
Jake is close to the river now, the roarin’, ! restless river, and for one moment he stops | and stands listenin’, with the girl in his I arms. I notices she is smilin’.
Once again McMurray yells:
“Stop that man! Ten thousand dollars j to the man that stops him.” Even then ; I don't unnerstand.
Just at this minnit there comes a crash I and another piece o’ timber breaks clear of the jam, an’ it’s a big one this time.
Aye, it is full a hundred feet long and near four feet across. A big stick it is, a ; real big stick. As soon as it’s loose it swings j in toward the bank and almost touches. At last I unnerstand what Jake is goin’ to do.
“Jump,” I hears the girl’s voice say. “Jump straight ahead four feet.”
And by all that’s great and good in heaven or earth Jake jumps clear on to that log.
I hears McMurray groan. I sees a man that was cornin’ to earn the rew-ard stop while his mouth drops open.
I turns and sees Jake is holdin’ his own. The log is spinnin’ and rollin’ like all logs 1 do in fast water, but Jake’s legs twinkle an’ dance so that you can hardly see ’em as i they keeps balance.
The back eddy catches them and they swing out into mid-river. The main current pulls at ’em and they start swirlin’ downstream.
It’s too late now'. Nothin’ can be done and they was bound to drow'n ’cause the main rapids was below'.
I hears somebody groan an’ I thinks it is McMurray as, far out in the middle of the river, I sees the girl is still talkin’ to Jake as he holds her fast and firm.
They are near the point now, an’ I closes my eyes for I know what’s going to happen.
Just as they disappears around the bend I shakes my head, incredulous. It can’t be,
I thinks, and yet—
Above the roar of the rapids, above the tearin’, roisterin’ river, comes a burst of music, and it comes from the girl and she is singin’. The song that she sings is, “Now thank we all our God.”
HE stranger sighed.
“Too bad they died.” he said. “The world needs lovers like them.”
The old man tapjoed his pipe meditatively on the palm of his hand.
“I didn't say they w'ere dead,” he remarked finally. “Nobody knew whether they were dead or alive, for their bodies were never found. Some rivermen say that Jake had rode those rapids before, but never blind and with a girl in his arms. All I know is that —”
"What?” enquired the other eagerly.
“Well, a couple o’ summers later McMurray an’ me was cruisin’ far up in the Timagami country, and one night as we was paddlin’ down the river with McMurray j in the bow I sees him stop paddlin’ an’ ; hold hisself stiff. For, high an’ clear, comes i the trillin’ of a bird; leastways I thought it was a bird until I notices it is singin’ a song an’ the song is ‘Now thank we all our God.’ j
“So it ain’t for me to say, but ever since then, near every night when McMurray an’ me talked it over, McMurray would say, j They’re dead, you hear? Dead.’ But he’d j be smilin’ and after a while I’d hear him : hum. and he’d be hummin’ on the song she was singin’.”