The Tides of Hymen

A story of the New Frontier where Sophistication sits cheek by jowl with Grim Reality

LESLIE ROBERTS February 15 1929

The Tides of Hymen

A story of the New Frontier where Sophistication sits cheek by jowl with Grim Reality

LESLIE ROBERTS February 15 1929

The Tides of Hymen

A story of the New Frontier where Sophistication sits cheek by jowl with Grim Reality


TO LOIS MacCALLUM on the eventful evening when she kicked a gilded dance-shoe across her bedroom and gave vent to an emphatic “Damn!” Ile des Moulins looked like the last place on earth. During those past two months her world had been turning a slow topsy-turvy. If Lois’ pretty, blonde head had been capable of parsing or analyzing trite phrases having to do with the horns of dilemmas, she might have explained that it was on just such a pointed, but wholly pointless, affair that she found herself impaled.

Lois, in short, was through.

She was finished forever with boredom and with Bill. On these matters her mind was made up. But what to do? If He des Moulins had been Quebec, or Montreal, or Toronto, the problem would have been comparatively simple of solution, one that merely entailed the packing of an overnight bag and a tearful return to the house in which she had lived for the twentythree years that she was Lois Farquhar. But what one may do by way of forsaking a husband when the locale of mutual misery is Grand Allee, Westmount or Rosedale, is no solution when one is stagnating on He des Moulins in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and it is mid-winter, and the first boat is three months distant from the spiles of the wharf.

Wherefore Lois MacCallum sought solace by kicking a gilded danceshoe across the floor of her bedroom as she gave vent to an emphatic “Damn!” but found neither solace nor the solution of her problem.

Bill did not come home for two hours. At two o’clock, when Lois stepped into the cardroom at The Club and

stood behind her hus-

band’s chair, Bill decided that he would push his stack of chips across the table to Josh Larkin and cash in as soon as the immediate hand was played.

Then Lois said: “I just came in to tell you that I’m going home. Simmy’s coming with me.”

Bill reversed his decision to plow through the snow in his wife’s company. Instead he said: “All right, Lois. See you later.” He played poker until something past four, winning a hundred and thirty dollars that he did not want to win particularly and suffering a pang of unhappy loneliness that was not an altogether new sensation, despite hisamiably stolid countenance.

' I '0 UNDERSTAND a state of thought in the minds of two people that can be responsible for long night sessions over a green baize table and for the kicking of a gilded slipper across a lady’s bedroom, it becomes necessary to cast backward in the lives of Lois and Bill MacCallum, in order that we may learn something of whys and of wherefores. Bill is an engineer, and is rated a fairly good one, by all accounts. Once he was a football letterman at McGill in the days when such names as Billington and Laing were heard on that revered campus. His fraternity brothers rejoice in the nickname of Dekes. His habits are serious and he is a broad-shouldered young gentleman of pleasant mien, a type that is infinitely more at home in a pair of shoepacks somewhere along the North Shore than behind a smooth-topped desk on the eighteenth floor of the Royal Bank Building, or sipping whiskies and soda in a University Club and living in suburbia. As a husband he

is of that old-fangled school which holds serious quarrel with the theory that a wife of the bosom is at liberty to engage in whispered flirtations in darkened nooks, particularly if one of the principals to the flirtation is a

blonde, hothouse Viking, named Simmons. You have met the type. They have pronounced ideas on the deportment of women in general and their own women in particular, and their inner thoughts propound the theorem that once a man and a woman are married to each other they shall visit secluded nooks together, or else avoid nooking on general principles. When this theorem fails to reach a satisfactory quod erat demonstrandum they retire into their shells and become either silent drinkers or long distance exponents of the art of the three-card draw.

Lois Farquhar belonged in another classroom. She came to Bill from that urban breed which, after assembling a fortune, spends much of it in the finishing, frocking and furbishing of its pretty, marriageable daughters, under the slightly misinformed belief that in this fashion a girl is best prepared for wifehood and for the gentle art of becoming an ornamental adjunct to some hard-working young man’s home. How people of such diverse viewpoints come to love and to wed is one of those inexplicable things which Nature has established as a means of keeping the world going round, for giving philosophers cause to ponder and gossips subjects on which to scandalize and whisper behind their hands.

Their story is not a new one. They met in Bill’s senior year. Bill was a football hero, Lois, a blonde dryad of a devastating fragility and a delicately moulded prettiness, one of those

amazingly wispy bits of feminine loveliness who happen just once ever so often, apparently for no more practical reason than to commit compound fractures of stout male hearts. Bill was rugged, the strong silent man, a gridiron goliath whose hands and feet had an unhappy faculty of swelling to abnormal proportions whenever their owner entered a drawing-room, or other meetingplace where members of the opposite sex were present. Lois was dainty, sophisticated after the charming fashion of the modern jeune fille, a vision of twentieth century loveliness made thrice lovely by the guiles and subtleties of Paris. They met. Infatuation was mutual. Like attracts unlike, as almost any husband or wife will tell you.

Bill graduated in June and, somewhere in those next three years when he was wandering the face of the western hemisphere, doing the sort of things that young men do in the hinterlands where the hand of science is breaking down the barriers of the primitive, he wired his silently worshipped Lois that he would reach Montreal on a certain afternoon in the neighborhood of three o’clock. Lois met his train and saw it disgorge a tall, broad-shouldered young man in knee-boots, breeches and leather windbreaker, a romantic picture which immediately propelled the dainty girl on the station platform into that emotional condition which is sometimes described as “sunk!” Two minutes after the train had squealed to a halt, Lois’ arms were about Bill’s neck and Bill was kissing her, and when, two weeks later, Bill traveled westward again with the course

of Empire, they were engaged to be married at some hazily indefinite date when Lois might have decided that she had drunk her fill of golf clubs, dances, summer resorts, bridesmaiding and the kindred pursuits of maidens of that mystic quality sometimes called bien elevêe.

A YEAR passed. Bill was offered the assistant’s post ^ in the Ile des Moulins plant of the North Shore Pulp and Paper Limited. It meant a seven league stride up the engineering escalator and Bill accepted without a moment’s hesitation. “I’ll be out to get you next spring,” he told Lois as he left her to catch the autumn’s last down-river venture of the Godbout from Quebec, “and we’ll be married and go back to He des Moulins; what say, honey?”

Lois smiled up at him sweetly, roguishly and, as Bill believed, tenderly. “Let’s worry about that later,” she answered, kissing him good-by before she returned to the serious occupation of being a pretty girl whose parents are well fortified with assets and with the things which money can buy.

Bill came out again in May. “Let’s get married tomorrow,” he suggested amiably.

“Don’t be a big silly,” Lois smiled back to him.

But Bill was serious. Marshaling his case he pointed out that he was earning six thousand dollars a year, that he had eight thousand cash in hand, that he had a home waiting for her on Ile des Moulins, that he was very much in love with her—of which he duly tendered proof —and that the only thing needed to make life on Ile des Moulins an idyll was Lois to share it with him. Lois spoke for the defence. She remarked on the existence of such institutions as trousseaux, engraved invitations, bridesmaids and honeymoons abroad. Why all this mad haste? The matter, she believed, should be given a twelve months’ hoist and could be exhumed for reconsideration on the occasion of his next leave.

Bill pondered this point of view for two days. Then he suggested a compromise. “Will you marry me in September if I come out again?” he urged.

“No, but I’ll marry you next spring, next June, big boy!”

Bill pressed for September. Her mother, he found, favored an early wedding. Mrs. Farquhar commented on the fact that lovers should share their years of youth and mentioned the point that she wouldn’t have missed the golden days of her own married career when she was eighteen, nineteen and twenty, for anything. Mrs. Farquhar also gave consideration to the fact that, with Lois married, her sole maternal responsibility would disappear and she could end her days in an orgy of bridge and give no thought to the future, a point which she omitted in speaking to the question of her daughter’s future happiness. Farquhar père was also a believer in orange blossoms, stressing the matter of young love, just as his wife had stressed it, but neglecting to mention that he had spoken of Bill to Charley Gormley and had learned that his intended son-in-law held high rating with the president and managing director of North Shore Pulp and Paper, Limited.

So Lois capitulated and these two were wed. There were bridesmaids, flower girls, ushers, a reception and a seriously embarrassed groom whose hands, somehow, felt huge in their white kid gloves. Mrs. Elmore Atkinson sang “The Voice That Breathed O’er Eden.” One of the caterer’s men spilled a plate of chicken salad on Mrs. Arthur Bower’s blue velvet, and Frank Hartley, as is his custom, took too much champagne and essayed the one about the two commercial travelers. Considered by and large, it was a good wedding, as these things are judged. The Farquhars tendered the small car as a means of honeymoon transport and the MacCallums drove to New York, where Lois bought a great many clothes of which she had no need, and where they danced and dined and made love. Then they drove north through the mountains and reached Quebec the day

before the Godbout was due out, leaving the small car in a garage to be picked up later by the Farquhars’ man. And so Lois MacCallum came to Ile des Moulins and its mills and its pin-wheel social whirl. And the snow descended and the ice bit into the river and the Gulf, and with their coming began the winter of her discontent.

ON THE particular evening when she kicked a gilded dance slipper across the floor of her bedroom and Bill remained at The Club until four o’clock with his chair pulled close to a table with a green baize top, matters had reached an impasse in the MacCallum household. Before dinner they had dressed, for the élite of Ile des Moulins has an eye to the preservation of things as they ought to be and this was the night of Agnes Larkin’s party.

Bill came to table in a mood of paternal correction. “Angel,” he said to his wife, across a concoction which had canned spaghetti for its motif, “I want you to do something for me.”

“What is that?” asked the Angel, warily.

Bill found the next step difficult. He had no desire to give Lois the impression that she had married a mugwump, but he was father to an old-fashioned idea which might easily make him appear one, unless he handled the matter with delicacy and tact. “I want you to give me a bunch of dances to-night, honey,” he said. “Just as many as you can.”

Lois regarded him half suspiciously across her plate of tinned spaghetti. “Are you going possessive on me again, Bill?” she asked. “There’s something on your mind, big boy. What is it?”

Thenceforth Bill blurted. People were talking about her. They were coupling her name with the blonde boy’s, Simmy Simmons. Bill thought she ought to step a little bit easy. Small place this and every old woman in the hamlet just looking for a chance to scandalize and gossip. Bill had no ill thoughts of her behavior himself, he wanted her to understand that. He realized that he was no dance hall lizard and that Simmy was younger and prettier, but . . .

“Oh, and is that why you want all my dances? Now that you’ve dragged me down to this God-forsaken hole you want me to be a prim little Pollyanna and sit with my hands folded meekly in my lap!” Lois’ voice was on the crescendo pitch that Bill always loathed, because it made him feel, somehow, that his dream castles were coming tumbling about his ears.

“You mustn’t blame me if I don’t want all the old women talking about my wife,” he answered, stiffly.

“Faugh!” snapped Lois, or something that sounded suspiciously like it, and tossed her pretty head.

Lois danced once with her husband at Agnes Larkin’s party. That was the first dance, stepped, perhaps, in mute tribute to an unwritten law of The Club which ordains that husbands and wives will square the floor together as a fitting opening to the programme. It is one of the community’s established rites, like benefit of clergy or the twelve o’clock whistle, a sop thrown to some terpsichorean Cerberus by husbands longing to foregather at the card tables upstairs and by wives wishing for partners who have the good taste to avoid a lady’s corns. Lois danced the second number with Simmons and to Bill’s worried mind it seemed as though she danced with no one but Simmons until supper was heralded in the adjoining room. Bill supped with his wife and the Henstritches—and Simmons. After supper, when Bill leaned toward her and asked if they might dance the next together, she smiled, tantalizingly, and said: “Sorry, Bill, you’re a minute too late. I’ve just promised it to Simmy.”

So Bill climbed the stairway to the bachelor haunts above and declared himself a party to a meeting of the votaries of that fickle jade, Lady Luck. It was there that Lois found him, soon after two o’clock, when the party came to the rendition of “Good Night, Ladies” which is regarded as the formal shut-down of any mixed affair on He des Moulins. When she climbed the stairs with Agnes Larkin, also in search of a miscreant husband, she had no other intent in her mind than to find her man and, as they walked home through the snowdrifts, to abase herself before him for the way in which she had wilfully gored his pride all evening. Thoughts of Simmy were as far away as spring. A penitent Lois this, who wanted Bill beside her, and only Bill.

But love is always an affair of touch and go.

When Lois walked into the room and stood behind his chair, Bill was intent in studying the number of cards about to be drawn by a certain Jules Coulombe, a chemist by profession and a poker-hound by natural bent. So Bill missed his wife’s arrival and saw Jules’ draw, a matter which was of infinitely less importance in the MacCallum cosmic scheme at that moment. Lois immediately decided that Bill was giving her that vague something that is referred to in good circles as the “high hat,” and her mood changed instanter. She remarked that she was leaving for home and that Simmons would provide her with escort. Whereupon she left the room and ran down the stairs while Bill, who had been on the point of cashing his chips as soon as he knew of her presence behind him, casually remarked that he would see her later and inwardly wished that he had been run over by a truck at the age of three.

Lois found Simmons and Simmons walked home with her, a Lois whose chameleon mind had achieved the complex which tallies under the classification of Neglected Little Woman. Nobody loved her. The world was a cruelly cold place. She invited Simmons to come in for a nightcap. Simmy came. They sat side by side on Lois’ living-room chesterfield and, when Simmons covered her hand with his, she made no effort to withdraw. When Simmons said good-night, she walked to the door with him and let him kiss her, just a brotherly peck, perhaps, but one that might have been read as an omen of more important kisses to come.

Then she climbed the stairs, kicked a gilded slipper across the floor of her bedroom, uttered a devout and fervent “Damn!” and went to bed, intending, with half her mind, to go to sleep and forget the evening’s idiocy and, with the other half, to attend the arrival of her lord and master and whatever events the gods saw fit to conjure.

Bill came home in something better than two hours. Lois heard him stamp the snow from his feet on the steps and slam his arctics on the floor of the cubbyhatched porchway. Then he turned up the light in the hall and stalked into the living-room, where he slumped, audibly, into an armchair and either sighed or swore under his breath, Lois was not sure which. Lois left her bed, drew about her a negligee that had been a joy to her husband’s eyes short months ago in the Plaza in New York and tiptoed downstairs, uncertain whether the next scene would be one of love or hate, make or break, but half prepared for either.

Bill looked up as she parted the portières and entered the room. “Well?” he asked, innocently enough, actually with no more serious intent than to open a conversation which might lead to reconciliation and embrace. But Lois misunderstood.

“You’re even with me, aren’t you?” she asked, a chip-on-the-shoulder in every syllable. “That was a nice cold shower* you gave me!”

“I didn’t see you come into the room,” said Bill. “Faugh!” snapped Lois for the second time that evening and paused for her husband to say the words that would be her key to attack in crescendo.

“Have it your own way,” said Bill.

“I will. I most certainly will! I’m through with you, Bill MacCallum! I never want to see you again! As soon as I can get off this rotten island I’m going home! If I had anywhere to go I’d leave this house to-night and never set foot in it again !”

The dream castle had crashed. It was all over. Bill resisted a strong temptation to suggest that Simmons might be willing to provide for her, and an even stronger urge to walk across the room and take her into his arms. Instead of these things he sat in silence for perhaps a minute before speaking, and when he spoke, his voice was under complete control. “I won’t bother you much,” he said. “I’m pulling out to Minimac in the morning!” And that was an end of it.

TDEFORE Lois was astir Bill was gone and was riding the cab of the narrow-gauge engine bound to Camp Number Eight, at Minimae, with its load of empties. Lois heard him go and made no effort to hold him, though no one will ever know how deeply she wished that she could cry out to him when she heard him moving about below stairs and knew that he was making preparation for departure. When he had gone and she ventured downstairs, there was a note for her in Bill’s hand. “I’ve plenty to keep me busy in the bush for a month,” he had written, “so don’t worry about me. Good-by. Bill.”

“Good-by. Bill.” It was over. He had left her. He was through. She had thrown away the love of her man and he would never come back. She knew he wouldn’t. Bill wasn’t the sort who comes back when he has quit. Lois wandered through her house, alone, crying softly at times, at others sitting dry-eyed in her living-room seeing the wreckage that was her love for Bill MacCallum. At supper time Simmons called . . . “Now that your old man’s away, may I call and take you over to The Club for a dance or a couple of rubbers?”

“No thanks!” . . . The telephone shut with a click and Simmons, hearing her whirl the handle to end the connection at her end, remembered a brotherly kiss and wondered.

At half past nine Agnes Larkin came over from The Club with Josh in tow. Just dropped in to say hello . . . Heard this afternoon that Bill had gone to Minimae . . . Lois had better come and sleep in the spare room until Bill came home ... No thanks, Lois wouldn’t . . . Lois thought everyone knew that Bill was going away to the camps for weeks and that she was going out with McDermott at the end of the week, when he flew down with the mail.

Continued, on page 57

Continued from page 7

“But you can’t fly out with McDermott!” Agnes exclaimed. “He’ll never take you. Even Henstritch had to fight tooth and nail to get him to carry him last month, and that was company business. It’s too risky at this season with this weather and the fogs!”

“I have to go,” said Lois, and thought quickly. “I had word in the last mail that my mother’s horribly ill!”

Agnes shook her head and spoke again of Bill’s sudden departure to the woods. “Funny I never heard about it,” she said.

“Yes, it’s funny you didn’t,” said Lois. “I thought everyone knew he was going.” Josh came to her rescue. “Of course, everybody knew it!” he almost shouted, then hurriedly proposed an amendment. “Everybody at the mill did, that is. You don’t expect Bill was going to run over to the house and ask you if it’s all right for him to go out to the camps, do you?” he demanded, eyeing the mistress of his heart as though he would like to bite her in the biceps or test the strength of a table lamp against the side of her head.

Lois’ eyes offered mute thanks, but when she turned out the lamp in her hall, closed her doors from the outside and mushed through the snow to Agnes Larkin’s, it was with the feeling that she had torn her heart up by its roots and that the light had gone out from her life when she had turned down the wicks and had closed the doors of her home from the wrong side for doors to be closed.

At Minimac, Bill MacCallum turned to work to ease the load that was in his heart; work from dawn to dusk, supper, a pipe and idle conversation with Strombeig Number Eight’s foreman, and endless hours between the blankets of his bunk, waiting for dawn and the heartsease of work to come again. So life ran its course for a week, while Lois nursed her broken love dreams in the shadow of Mont des Anges and watched the gray skies for the plane that would come when the storm and the fog had lifted, to place the centuries between her and her man.

MCDERMOTT skimmed down to the ice close to the Minimac camp on the morning of the eighth day, threw out the mail and parcels for Stromberg and his crew, and announced his intention of waiting until afternoon before pulling away in the direction of Mont des Anges.

“It’s a tough baby upstairs, Strommy, old kid,” he said, as he flung off his leathers in the mess hut and sniffed the air for coffee. “Me, I’m waiting to see if it don’t get a mite better. Have to hang over at the Anges overnight, anyway.” Then MacCallum came in.

“Hullo, Bill,” grinned the pilot across coffee cup and platter of beans. “You don’t look so good, old timer. What’s eatin’ you?”

“Nothing,” said Bill, picking up the slide rule, search for which had caused his visit to the mess hut. “See you later.” At noon they carried Bill MacCallum into the bunkhouse, a gnarled, twisting, groaning MacCallum, whose teeth were biting through his lips to stifle the howl of pain that longed to pour from him.

Through the mess hut window McDermott saw them carrying him in, and ran to the bunkhouse where Stromberg

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and three of his jacks were stretching the writhing body on a chicken wire bed.

“What got him? Is it bad?” Anxious questions came tumbling from the mail pilot’s lips.

“Hip. Leg. Insides, too, I guess." Stromberg was never a man to waste his words.

“De tree, she’s falling when I see M’sieu Mac on her path and I’m yell lak ’ell for heem to jomp, but he's don’t seem to hear!” Big Levesque’s voice was a sob as he spoke.

“Never mind that now!” McDermott snapped, all decision. “We gotta pick him up and carry him out and put him in my ship, see? I’m takin’ off for the Anges with him, Stromberg. Soon’s I’m gone you ’phone them to have the doc there to meet us when I hit the ice. Come on, let’s get started!”

They picked MacCallum up from the bunk as though he had been a baby and carried him, a mangled hulk of a man, across the topsy-turvy path through the snow and down the hill on to the ice under the cape. There they laid him on a bed of blankets on the floor of the cabin of McDermott’s plane.

Stromberg looked up at the skies, lowering skies that almost hid the treetops. “You’ll never get off in this, Mac,” he said, shaking his head. “If you don’t get height quick you’ll be into the trees and never know what hit you.”

“Ever see me crack up yet?” asked the pilot, tinkering with his engine, readying to warm her up.

“Not yet!” The foreman’s words were ominously serious.

“Well, then, shut up. You won’t see me crack this time, either!”

McDermott climbed to his seat and bolted the cabin door. The engine roared, died, then roared again. Then its roar was muted as the door was flung open and the pilot’s arm waggled through it to beckon the foreman. “Hey, Stromberg!” he yelled. “When you get the doctor, tell him to bring his bag of tools down with him and to be ready to hop in and make for Quebec if we have to !”

Stromberg signaled acknowledgment. The engine roared again. The plane swung about, taxied across the ice almost to the edge of clear water, came round nose to wind, thundered toward the watchers by the shore like a flying dragon gone mad, soared above the treetops in a zoom, turned toward the headland and was lost in the whorl of snow above.

STROMBERG had phoned to the mill.

The doctor was waiting on the ice at Mont des Anges when McDermott skimmed to rest beside the wharf. Henstritch, the manager, was there with his wife, Viola. There were others and, on the skirts of the knot, an anxious trio, Agnes and Josh Larkin and, between them, MacCallum’s wife. Lois was game to the core of her. When Logan, the doctor, stepped forward as the plane drifted to a halt, he stepped alone, no weeping wife beside him to clutter the scene of action. When the doctor climbed up into the cabin, Lois paced the bay between Agnes and Josh, saying nothing, asking no questions, just waiting, shedding no tears, game. When the medico’s right foot protruded from the cabin and he eased himself to the ice for a footing,she made no effort to run to him, but merely waited between her two friends, standing there until Logan should indicate his readiness to speak.

The doctor shook his head. “We can do nothing for him here, Lois,” he said. “The only chance is to try and make Quebec.”

“Can I come with you?”

“McDermott can tell you better than I can,” the doctor answered.

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“It won’t be any joy ride,” the pilot told her. “I can carry enough gas to take us there, but I can’t afford to cut across and hug any shore line. I’m going straight up the Gulf. If the engine conks any place between here and Pension River it’ll be curtains for all of us.”

“I’ll come,” said MacCallum’s wife and climbed into the ship. While McDermott filled his tanks and looked to his oil and his engine, Lois and Logan were arranging the cockpit space to provide what comfort could be found for the man who must race against death in the race that might mean death to each of them. Before Lois saw him, Logan had plied her man with morphia and he seemed lost in a stupor of sleep, through which he groaned and sometimes writhed. Lois sat on the floor and pillowed his head against her, while the doctor took his post on the floor beside her to keep MacCallum’s makeshift splints steady and in place. McDermott climbed in, revived his engine and toned her down. “Let’s go!” he said, and they were off in a roar.

The pilot went for height. Close to the water below them there was fog. Then they passed the fog and, for twenty-five miles, rode through sunshine toward a rolling column of snow-cloud. Higher and higher they climbed as McDermott sought visibility above the clouds and found something resembling it. So, for an hour, they rode above the storm, tossed here and there like a sparrow in a gale, seeing neither land nor water, but only the gray, scudding cloudbank beneath them.

Sometimes Bill moaned and twisted his head in pain, burrowing it deeper against Lois, like a small boy seeking a mother’s comfort, and Lois would stroke his face and stoop to kiss him, while Logan gripped the splints and sought to protect him from the rollings and bumpings of the gale-tossed craft.

Once the engine sputtered, but caught again and McDermott’s head moved negatively as he worked at the gadgets beside him. Another hour passed and still they were riding high above the rolling bank of clouds. Twenty minutes more of this and the plane’s nose came about, as the engine’s thrum died to a mutter. “I passed a hole ten minutes back,” the pilot shouted. “I’m going back and go down through it to see where

we are. Ought to be near Pension by now.” Then the engine’s roar again.

In fifteen minutes they were coasting down the long hill from five thousand feet through a brief gap in the storm. There, below them, was land, the level country where the lower reaches of the river broaden into the Gulf. McDermott looked back and nodded, switched on his engine and began to climb again to his highway above the clouds.

And so they rode, westward, always westward, toward civilization and the only hope of human help that could save Lois’ man. For her? Lois’ heart wondered, as his head lay pillowed against her and his body writhed with pain through the mists of unconsciousness. If he lived, would he want her again? If the film of agony were to pass from his eyes and he saw her there above him, would love look out to her, or hate? If he never learned that she had been with him in his race against the Reaper and he lived, would he want her back again? If he lived! God! If he should die! And her lips framed the phrases of prayer . . . Don’t let him die, God! Don’t let him die !... Better that the engine should die and that they should all crash together somewhere out here in the wilderness! And so they rode through the storm.

When they were passing out of the flat lands and were skimming high above the hills that encroach on the river below the Saguenay, they found fog, rolling billows of fog that sent McDermott soaring for every inch of height that he could find, to give safety from the chance of a sudden, headlong pitch into the crest of a mountain in this dreaded brume that hung like a pall over hill and water and plugged the valleys to their treetops. But on they rode, past Tadousac and the Saguenay, over La Malbaie and onward, until McDermott shut off his engine and waved a hand in triumph as he began to glide down in wide arcs over the towers of Quebec. On came the engine as he skimmed above the ice, seeking smooth landing. Off it went again and down went the ship’s nose. Nearer came the town and its crags. Down and down they went, as buildings and the face of the cliff rushed up to meet them; down and down and down, until their craft settled and rushed with a scrunching of snow crust across the level ground atop the Plains of Abraham.

McDermott taxied up to the roadway, switched off his engine and turned in his seat. “Better get an ambulance, I guess, eh, doc?” he asked.

“I’ll get it,” said Logan, “while you stretch your legs, Mac.”

“I’m dead for a smoke and some air,” said the pilot, reaching a foot toward the ground.

It was after they had gone that MacCallum opened his eyes, eyes deep in agony, like the eyes of a dog which is hurt. Slowly he considered the gray walls of the cabin. Then his eyes turned upward and found the eyes of the girl. He stifled a groan. “Hullo, Angel,” he barely whispered.

“Sweetheart,” she said, and stooped to kiss his brow.