WILLIAM BYRON MOWERY
THE STORY: Patricia Wellington, spoiled daughter of the wealthy senior partner of a Chicago mining company, is engaged to marry Warren Lovett, the junior partner. Previously she had been engaged to Craig Tarlton, a young man employed by her father, who disappeared after a quarrel with her.
Patricia flies with Dwell to a rich new mining area in the Canadian Northwest—Resurrection River, close to Great Desolation Dike—and there, in the rough camp she meets Tarlton, who is now a mining inspector. Again she quarrels with him.
Patricia decides to build a lodge for the tent-living miners, and is opposed by Dwelt, who informs her that the more uncomfortable they are, the sooner they'll sell out to him. Patricia is shocked to learn that his business at Resurrection River is to buy, for $100 each, claims that may be worth $100,000.
Angry with Lovett, she crosses the river to where the men are living, builds the Den with the help of a cheerful fellow named Poleon and the miners, and advises the latter not to sell to Dwelt. They sign a pledge not to. There is a flight between hei followers and those of Dwelt.
Tarlton, learning what Patricia has done for the men, apologizes for quarrelling with her. She realizes that she loves him, not Warren, atul she returns the latter's ring.
And then Warren tells her he has learned that Tarlton is married.
ATRICIA went white of face.
“Married?” she gasped brokenly. “Craig—
Warren nodded. “He is. There in Vancouver he was married. I don’t care to go into the details of it. Let him do that.” He paused, watched the devastating effect of his news upon her, then he added: “Take a friend’s
blunt advice, Patricia—don’t associate too much with Tarlton. He barged into your life once. Don’t let him do it again.”
Bill Fomier died on Christmas Day; died whispering about his wife and little ones, died with Craig Tarlton’s promise that they would be protected. And for a week Craig kept to his cabin, secluded, thinking, fighting against the forces that had been slowly gathering in him for months. The forces had won. The death of Bill Fomier, with all that it symbolized, was the final shove.
With heartfelt pity he had watched Bill’s obscure heroic battle to save his claims. In one sense there were three hundred Bill Fomiers on Resurrection. Most of the men had families; all were to all intents and purposes, penniless.
On New Year’s Day, Craig started across the river to see Warren Lovett.
“Warren”—Craig went straight to the point—“I’ve been thinking about this deadlocked fight between your company and these men. I’m wondering why you and I can’t work out some agreement whereby they’ll get substantial justice and the company will make a good profit on its undertaking in this field.”
Warren tapped the ashes from his cigarette.
“You have some specific agreement in mind?” he enquired. “Yes. Instead of buying these claims outright, your company would buy a part interest. Two thirds, let’s say. That way, the men wouldn’t be left out entirely later on when the actual mining begins; and still your company would be getting the big cut.”
“Your suggestion,” Warren said dryly, “is a fine one— for these men. But from the company’s viewpoint it isn’t so fetching. Let me correct you about one thing: this fight is not deadlocked. In the last week I’ve bought sixty claims. The stampede that I’ve been waiting for has begun. Within a month I’ll own this field. Why, then, should I stop short of my complete programme?”
“You mean, why should you be content with two thirds when you can get it all?”
“If you wish to put it that way, yes.”
“Why, because of the human justice involved. Doesn’t the welfare of three hundred men count for something? Most of them are married, have families—”
“The company,” Warren cut him short, “has no responsibility toward them or their families.”
CRAIG SAW that he had no chance whatever to arbitrate. He and Warren were talking different languages. "So you don’t recognize any responsibility/’ he mused. “Well, that’s hardly a surprise. The house of Wellington, Parkes and Lovett wasn't founded on consideration of others, as I well know. The history of their deals with prospectors and operating mine companies would read like a slaughter-house story.
“This attitude of theirs, Warren, this total disregard of human welfare and their blind grasping at huge profits—it belongs to an era that’s passing, dying. We’re beginning to realize that we’re all in a boat together. Men like Jasper Wellington won’t be tolerated in the boat any longer, to
scuttle the welfare of whole large groups and play havoc with honest business companies—”
Warren interrupted him again.
“I don’t care to hear a lecture on political economy of the prophetic sort. And I’m not interested in your proposition about these claims. Did you have anything else to say?” Craig got up.
“Only this: I offered you a deal, Warren, and you wouldn’t take it. We could settle this fight peacefully, but you refuse. Now we’ll have to settle it on the basis of might. We’ll battle it out.”
“That suits me very well,” Warren returned. He came around from behind the desk. “By the way, Tarlton, there s a private matter I’d like to mention to you before you go. Now that you too have declared war, you’ll likely be joining with Patricia. I can’t stop that, but. . . Under the circumstances I must ask you not to associate with her personally in any way whatsoever.”
“What circumstances are you referring to?”
“The fact that you have a wife.”
“Hmmph! So you dug that up. You’ve told Patricia, I suppose?”
“Don’t you think she ought to know?”
“I don’t consider it of much importance.”
“Yes, good heavens. It’s a sheer technicality. Besides, if the occasion ever arose, I myself would tell her about that misadventure.”
“The whole story?”
“Quite. Far more, in fact, than you’ve uncovered.” Warren followed him to the door.
“I think you’re treating this Rosalie matter too lightly, Tarlton. It may turn out to be more important than you think. If you won’t take my warning, you’ll take the consequences.”
“Don’t be so mysterious, Warren. What’s up your sleeve?”
Warren started to say something, but checked himself and nodded a curt good-by.
As Craig went back across Resurrection, he wondered whether that ugly word “consequences” was a poker-faced bluff or a genuine warning. He didn t know, didn t much care. For he was looking ahead to his battle against W arren and the company, and an exultation was pulsing in his veins. It felt good to be on the warpath again, gunning for powerful enemies. Good to be back in action, in the thick of a fight once more. A surge of unlocked energy ran strong in him, like a river at break-up.
At Patricia’s cabin no one answered his knock. He went over to the community house.
TT WAS THE first time he had entered the Den. With curious eyes he looked around at Patricia’s handiwork as he passed through the gear-cluttered entrance-way and stepped inside the main room.
Lighted by kerosene lamps, the place hung blue with tobacco smoke. A hubbub of noise engulfed him—men talking loudly, some of them singing, a screechy gramophone grinding out a tune, the muffled clatter of dishes from the kitchen at the rear, a radio loud-speaker cutting through the din.
Some of the men were playing cards, checkers; others were reading old newspapers and magazines. Newcomers just in from their claims had unrolled their sleeping pokes— close against the walls so as not to get stepped on—and
were catching up on lost sleep of which they stood in need.
Although the Den was comfortable and cheery, it was a rough and rowdy place, truly the den of seventy-five rockhogs. As Craig looked around the big room, he thought of the Wellington North Shore mansion, where he had first met Patricia. How on earth could she, a girl and a blueblood besides, endure the uncouth manners and ways of these heavy-booted miners? It took something more than sympathy. It took courage. Took a stubborn fighting heart.
Not glimpsing her anywhere in the room, he asked a prospector: “Where’s Miss Wellington, Dave?”
“Over in the office,” the man informed, pointing at a niche beside the huge fireplace on the west side.
Craig stepped over. The “office” proved to be a little six-by-eight cubbyhole, fitted into the fireplace angle and boarded off so as to shut out the bedlam of the main room.
At his knock a girl’s voice demanded: “Who is it? I’m busy. What do you want?”
“It’s Tarlton. I'm sorry to have disturbed you. Pilcóme back some other—”
“Craig! Wait!” He heard her chair slide back hastily. The office door flung open and she stood before him. “Please don’t go. I’m not busy, really; it’s just that these men come trooping to me all day long with all sorts of troubles. I’m getting to growl and bark like a sergeant-major.”
In her belted corduroy suit, she looked so winsome and girlish that Craig smiled at the idea of her growling and barking.
He stepped into the office. “I’d like to have a talk with you, Treeshia.”
Her cheeks colored. He wondered why.
She proffered him a cigarette. They stood beside the window. As Craig studied the delicate profile of Patricia’s nose and lips and resolute little chin, he wondered how to begin, how to explain to her why he had held off from the struggle so long and now was plunging into it.
"I was just glancing about at‘the house that Pat built,’ ” he remarked. “It’s really fine, Treeshia. You can be proud of it.”
TJTER FACE CLOUDED over at his mention of the Den.
“The men like it a lot, I guess,” she said listlessly, turning toward him. “But—but—”
Craig noticed, then, that her eyes had a suspicious redness abolît them, as though she had been crying. "Something's gone wrong, Treeshia. What is it?” “Nothing, except that—I—I’m sunk!” she quavered. Two big tears gathered in her dark eyes. “Everything has— has gone to pot in the last few days. I’m broke, I haven’t a penny left, I can’t keep the Den running any longer; and these men are cracking wide open. Warren is buying claims right and left, and—and I don’t see any way to turn—or anything to do—”
She slumped down into her desk chair and buried her face in her arms.
“Gracious heavens, girl ! Why didn’t you come up to my place and tell me about all this?”
"I didn’t suppose—you cared much what was happening,” she sobbed, without looking up.
“But girl, I do care!” he exclaimed, bending down, patting her shoulder. Sorry for the black days that she had gone through, he reproached himself savagely for not helping her sooner.
As he bent over her, with his lips so near her hair, a disquietude struck him, and Lovett’s warning about his associating with Patricia in a personal way went jigging across his mind. Until that instant he had simply not imagined the possibility of such an association. But now he did imagine it, with something of a shock.
It came home to him that he once had loved Patricia Wellington passionately; that in the God’s Lake days she had been to him a living pagan poem; that in his thirty-one years he had never loved any other girl. All the bitter things which he had later thought about her and which had made him try to forget God’s Lake; all his harsh judgment of her as a worldly butterfly creature without ideals or courage she had given the complete lie to them by her valiant battle for these men.
“Treeshia,” he repeated, “I do care, girl. I’ve been an iceberg, I know, but that’s past now. I’m into this fight—” “You’re just saying that to—to—”
“I am not! I mean it, clear to the hilt!”
Patricia looked up at him, unbelieving yet wanting to believe.
“Why, Treeshia, I just came from Warren’s place, just declared war on him ! I tried to make a deal, but he turned it down. I hurried over here to have a war talk with you. To map out a campaign, you and I.”
Patricia dashed the tears from her eyes. Her astonishment and joy tugged at him.
“Craig! But I knew you’d get into it some time! I kept waiting, waiting, and—Oh, Craig, you didn’t come in any too soon. But you can pull this out of the fire.”
"You and I together can.”
Patricia extended her hand. “In alliance, Craig—”
He took both her hands in his. “In alliance, girl !”
“I’ll run the Den; you’ll be the field marshal!”
"That’s it! If only I can do my part as well as you’ve done yours.”
“It’s war, then, Craig.”
CRAIG’S FIRST step, that same afternoon, was to give Patricia his entire worldly fortune—$900 of accrued salary—to keep the community house afloat.
That evening and all the next day he talked and pleaded with the disheartened prospectors, till he finally checked their rising wave of despair and swung them back into line.
He also wrote to the Bureau at Ottawa and resigned. He hated to sacrifice his job, but this move would give the men three months of grace, for it would take that long for his successor to reach the Bay and begin inspecting the claims.
With these preliminary steps out of the road, he tackled the big crucial problem— the necessity of raising a lot of money quickly. The men liad to have clothes, outfits, equipment; had to feel the power of money behind them. They had lived on hope till hope was burned out.
He estimated that he had to raise at least $100,(XX).
Under ordinary circumstances, he would have formed a syndicate among the owners of the richest claims and sold a jiart interest to a financial house or operating company. But this field was so remote that investment houses were not interested; and mining companies everywhere were reefing their sails instead of putting on more canvas.
A good gold dejxisit might turn the trick. Gold was at a high premium among the metals. Silver, copper, even platinum, would not do. It ttxik gold.
From a cardboard lx>x on one of his shelves he picked out seven hunks of grey rock, one evening, and laid them on his work table, and sat looking at them while he smoked a thoughtful pipe.
The rock fragments came from a range of hills, the Wolf Lairs, forty odd miles northeast of the Bay. Mist spring one of the city rushers, Phil Kessler, had gone prospecting through those hills and had brought back a sackful of ore specimens. In that collection, mostly ores of yellow mica or fool's gold, Craig had spotted seven suspicious-looking samples of a grey gneiss.
With a hand lens he saw that they contained free gold and wire silver. A careful assay brought out not only cobalt and silver in paying quantities but a gold content of $200 to tíie ton.
Kessler had no idea where he had picked up those seven hunks. A greenhorn at prosjiecting, he had wandered hither and thither all over that range, knocking off samples from any formation that took his eye and dumping them helter-skelter into his bag, without keeping any records whatever.
After one drop-jawed look at Craig’s assay figures, he liad whipped back to the Wolf Miirs and prosjiected through them all summer and fall, hunting frantically for the rich lode which he had stumbled upon by fool's luck and then had lost by a fool's carelessness. But his hunt was futile. The hills had whispered their yellow secret to him once; lie had failed to heed, and they refused to tell him again.
With a host of duties on his hands, Craig had thought no more about the lost strike—till now.
OTEPPING UP TO the land Office stor^ age building, he got out a packet of charts which he had made during a hasty survey of the Wolf Lairs two summers ago; got out, also, three heavy boxes of specimens which he had collected on that field trip; and sledded them down to his cabin. In the last two years he had been so busy with routine work that this Wolf Lairs material had lain untouched.
A preliminary three-dav study of those old charts and specimens showed him that none of his fragments bore the faintest trace of gold, and that the grey gneiss outcropped at a discouraging number of places in the Wolf I .airs.
However, its principal occurrence was a broad stratum sandwiched between a green dolomite and brownish granite— which ran the whole length of the range.
The chances were fifty-fifty that Kessler’s gold deposit occurred somewhere along that principal gneiss stratum.
On that presumption he called Poleon, Kessler, Sam Honeywell and three dependable prospectors into his cabin one afternoon, told them about Kessler’s lost strike, and gave them instructions;
“You fellows take two dog teams and whip northeast to the Wolf lairs on the jump. Pick up that gneiss band at the jxiint I’ve got marked here, follow it through its whole length, collect samples every four chains, keep airtight records of everything, and hurry back with your data. Don’t let it take you more than a month at the outside.
“While you’re doing that, I’m going to
make a thorough study of all this Wolf Lairs material, so that if we don't locate the lode along this main outcropping, we’ll know where to look next.”
As soon as the party had left the Bay, he himself settled down to a siege of intense research work.
Though he hardly ate or slept those days, he did manage to squeeze out a little time each evening to spend with Patricia. It was fine to drop down to her cabin for a visit, after long hours of tedious research; and fine to have her come up to his place for a book and then linger for a chat.
Her mere presence seemed to warm up his cabin and take away its bachelor austerity. When she sat in front of his fireplace, with the fireglow spangling her black hair, he found himself remembering and reliving the sweetness of those twenty days at God's Lake—her young beauty, her tears, angers, soft moods. In his hectic career he had never experienced a personal happiness comparable with that far-off June. It was the one really sunlit and beautiful interlude in his hard-working life.
He noticed once that Patricia was no longer wearing her engagement ring. When he asked her about this and she told him of her Christmas Eve talk with Warren, he experienced a queer leap of heart—and then a sharp uneasiness. Was God's Lake reaching out for him, rising out of the dead past and claiming its own? Was this Arctic trip of hers the accident it appeared, or was destiny overtaking him and her?
“I’ve got to tell her about Rosalie,” he decided at last. “She’s got to know—about that.”
ONE EVENING, when he left Patricia’s cabin earlier than usual and went up the dark hollow, he looked ahead and saw a light in his own cabin. It was not a candleglow but the yellow shaft of a flash.
Slipping up to his window, he peered through at the intruder. The pane was frosted so badly that he could not recognize the man. He merely could see a dim figure leaning over the work table, apparently examining the Wolf Lairs charts and diagrams.
Craig eased over to the door and waited, flattened against the logs. In a few minutes the door opened, the intruder stepped outside into the darkness.
Craig reached out and seized him by the shoulder.
“I say, friend, don’t hurry away.”
The man whirled, tore loose from Craig’s . grasp, and bolted down the hollow. Craig lunged after him. At the granite boulder he caught the unknown intruder again and grappled with him. The man swung, struck him in the face, struggled to tear free. Craig drew back his arm and drove in a long-swinging blow to his enemy’s jaw.
The man toppled backward, cracked his head against the boulder as he fell, and sprawled on the snow.
Craig bent down, struck a match. “Lupe!” he gasped. “Lupe Chiwaughimi !”
The métis leader was limp and unconscious.
A trickle of blood from his nose was dribbling down across his iron-grey temple and staining the snow.
Thinking the fellow might be badly hurt, Craig carried him to the cabin, laid him on the bunk and lit a candle.
As he started to examine the half-breed, Lupe's eyes flickered open. After a few dazed moments he sat up.
Craig brought him a wineglass of brandy. “Here, swallow this. Sorry you busted your head against that boulder, Lupe. How d’you feel—anything bad wrong?”
“I’m aw-right,” Lupe grunted. He stood up, somewhat groggilv.
“What were you doing here?” Craig asked.
Lupe refused to answer.
“Lovett sent you over here—didn’t he?— to pilfer around in my papers and find out what I’m doing.”
Lupe merely stared at him, tight-lipped. The glint in the fellow’s eyes puzzled Craig. It was a sinister glint, a look of man-
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to-man hatred. He did not understand it, but it made him keenly uneasy. Lupe was a dangerous person to have for an enemy; all the more dangerous because he had unusual brains and the hard-set purposiveness of a man past middle age. Odd people, all those six Chiwaughimis. A tight little group, hailing from a buried-away métis settlement in the Manitoba Strong Woods, they lived by some queer outlandish code that was neither Indian's nor white man’s.
He stepped across to the table to see whether any of his papers had been stolen or destroyed. To his surprise, his Wolf Lair papers had not been touched at all. The only thing he missed was a little clip of notes from Patricia—hasty little scribbles which she had sent him at times when they were both busy, and which he had carefully treasured because they were from her.
He turned to the half-breed.
“Hand over those notes, you,” he demanded.
Lupe sullenly took them out of his pocket and threw them on the cot.
“What the devil did you want with those?’’ Craig questioned.
Lupe refused to say a word. Talking to him was like talking to a rock.
“I ought to have Cor¡x)ral Northup stick you in the Police butter-tub,” Craig threatened. “I'd do it, but it strikes me that if anybody ought to be jailed, it’s Lovett. You were only doing his dirty work for him. You get back across the river and tell him that if he can’t keep inside the law, he’ll find himself facing some of those ‘consequences’ that he warned me about !”
AFTER A DAY of hard work, Craig had - called at Patricia’s cabin around nine o’clock and taken her on a long night walk —to a rocky islet three miles out upon Dynamite Bav.
In the last few weeks their days had become so crammed, their time so limited, that they had begun taking walks at night as a way of lumping together their association, their outdoors and their “war talks.” Sitting on a flat boulder at the top of the islet, they were looking across the white snow-plains of the bay. In the iifty-below temperature their frozen breath floated away from them in little wisps of cloudwhite. Clear and sparkling, the Arctic night was weirdly beautiful. The major stars hung like lanterns in the sky, and the snowglistened as though covered with diamond dust.
The Aurora, in its full mid-winter splendor, was washing up from the northeast horizon in broad latitudinal waves of violet and rose-pink; and its longitudinal streamers were weaving back and forth across the heavens like great slow beacons.
Now and then Craig peered through the ghostly half-light toward Resurrection mouth, trying to glimpse the shadowy figure of Lupe Chiwaughimi. Twice, while Patricia and he were coming across the frozen bay, he had heard the squeak of a racket beam on the dry snow behind them. Somewhere, among those hummocks out there, the métis was hidden, watching Patricia and him.
In spite of the fifty-below, the brisk snowshoeing had made Patricia warm, and she bared her throat to the cold invigorating air. Glancing occasionally at Craig, she kept waiting for him to break the silence. He did.
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“Treeshia, Warren told you that I was married at Vancouver, didn’t he?”
Patricia straightened up with a jerk. “Y-yes,” she managed. And then she suddenly realized that Craig had brought her on this long walk, out to tins islet under the cold stars, with the express purpose of telling her about his marriage.
“Warren seems to attach a lot of importance to that fact,” Craig went on. “Well, it is important, but not in the way he sees it. On the surface there’s little to tell. Out there on the West Coast I married a girl, Rosalie Layton. We lived together for about a year. Then we broke up. I gave her everything I had, totalling around a million and a half, and came north. The marriage has not been formally dissolved. I thought she’d get a divorce, but she apparently hasn’t.”
ATRICIA WINCED with jealousy at j his words “We lived together for about a year,” even though his tones plainly indicated that this Rosalie Layton meant noth! ing whatsoever to him now.
Craig stood his rifle against the boulder j and reached into a pocket of his netsuk. \
“I've a picture of her, Treeshia. I brought it along tonight because I wanted you to see her. Here—I’ll strike a light.”
While he cupped a match in his hand and held it close, Patricia looked at the small, 1 tinted photo. A girl clad in a bathing suit was standing beside a sundial, against a j background of a flower garden and swimming pool. Her hair was a shock of darkishgolden, her face dreamily beautiful, her body graceful and willowy.
“What’s your impression of her?” Craig asked.
“She’s very lovely,” Patricia commented, wanting to appear magnanimous. But deep down she felt that Rosalie’s beauty was purely physical, that the girl sadly lacked any fine qualities of mind or heart. Her expression, the languorous ease about her, every line of her body, struck a note of the j sensuous.
Craig tore the picture unconcernedly in ! two and dropped the pieces into a crevice of the boulder.
“I've told you the facts about my marriage; now I’m going to tell you the truth," he said. For a moment he looked thoughtfully out across the frozen bay. “When I went over to the West Coast six years ago, something cynical and disillusioned got into my blood, Treeshia. In a moral sense I guess I went to pieces. Why? No one big reason. Several reasons. For one thing, the breakup between you and me. That was a hard jolt. I’d just taken some other jolts too, and I wasn’t old enough or steady enough to absorb them.
“There at Vancouver I set out deliberately to pile up money for myself. And I did— with that zinc-separation process. From having money it was an easy step to begin throwing it, and I did that, too. I hooked up with a fast, moneyed crowd and moved faster than they did. You’d hardly believe what a worldly existence I sank into. I look on those two years now as an excursion into sin. Warren doesn’t see that; he merely sees that I got married.
"I met Rosalie out there. She was a beautiful creature with an intoxicating appeal to the senses. She fitted perfectly into my frame of mind. It didn’t matter that she was engaged to a rather close friend of mine—I cut in, took her away from him, married her.
“Well, that epicurean phase couldn’t last and didn’t last. It was a hothouse life, and I was bom to the granite and cold waters of Ontario. The relationship between Rosalie and myself was merely an infatuation, with nothing fine or enduring about it; and it burned out.
“The end came when I discovered that Rosalie had renewed her friendship with this former fiancé and was meeting him
frequently. She and I had a talk. Because she demanded it and because I was sick of my whole apostasy, I turned over to her everything I had. I realize now that I could have bestowed that money more worthily, but at the time I didn’t care about anything except to cut clean and get free of it all.
“When I left Vancouver I had one dollar in my pocket, and I threw that into the river. I worked my way north to Fort Smith, secured this job at Dynamite Bay and I’ve been here ever since.”
LJTS STORY left Patricia immensely re-*■ lieved, for she had been imagining all sorts of things about those two dark years. She could understand the revulsion which had led Craig to throw everything overboard and seek seclusion in the lonely North; and she understood, also, why the cold harsh purity of the Arctic had appealed to him so powerfully.
Secretly she was even a little glad to hear the story. Her own wasted, pleasure-seeking years did not weigh so heavily on her conscience now.
She asked presently: “Where is Rosalie, Craig?”
“Living in Europe, the last I heard.” “Warren intimated to me that she’s back in Vancouver. Has she ever written you or expressed any desire to live with you again?” Craig laughed ironically. “D’you think she’d have any interest in a man who’s making eighteen hundred a year?”
“Was it a part of your agreement that she was to get a divorce?”
“Yes. I don’t know why she didn’t, unless from plain inertia. Just as soon as this light eases up enough that I can spare the time and money, I intend to get the divorce myself. There’s no question that I can ultimately get the decree. If I didn’t know this positively, I .wouldn’t say so.”
He seemed to believe that Rosalie was out of the picture and would cause no trouble: but Patricia was worried. In the eyes of the law, Rosalie was still Rosalie Tarlton. Warren, the lawyer, was looking at this situation from a legal viewpoint, whereas Craig was seeing it in a commonsense and human way. If there was any legal technicality by which Craig’s marriage could be used as a weapon against him, Warren would seize the chance.
With a shock of misgiving she recalled that Warren was flying out to Edmonton in a day or two. He had told her so, just that morning. She wondered what business was taking him south. Was there any connection between his trip and this Rosalie situation?
TT WAS AFTER midnight when she and Craig got back to camp. At the door of her cabin they stopped, awkward and uncertain, with that painful throbbing silence between them. In the last half-hour neither had spoken once.
Craig said finally: “It was pretty splendid of you, Treeshia—the understanding way in which you took my story.’’
Patricia couldn’t see where she’d been splendid or understanding or anything but ordinarily sensible. By any standard of right or justice, Rosalie had used Craig pretty shabbily. Rosalie had been unfaithful to the marriage, had greedily demanded Craig’s whole fortune as the price of his freedom, and then had failed to live up to her part of the bargain.
“Won’t you come in, Craig?” she invited. “We haven’t spared time for a cup of tea in the last week.”
“I’d like to, if you don’t think it’s too late, dear.”
Patricia trembled at that word “dear.” It was the first token of affection that had escaped Craig’s lips. Maybe he'd been holding back because of his marriage, not knowing definitely how she would react to it.
“I’m not tired at all,” she lied. “And I’d like—I want to give you those three books I borrowed.”
Craig stood their snowshoes by the door and stepped inside with her.
Except for the Aurora glow beating against the north window, the cabin was entirely dark. Patricia groped across to her
dresser and fumbled for matches to light a candle. She was ashamed of herself for urging Craig to come in. Why didn’t he say something, do something? There was no longer any reason for his holding back. Surely she had made it plain, out yonder on the rocky islet, that she considered his marriage dead and meaningless.
She heard him lean his rifle against a chair and start over toward her.
His strange tone made her whirl around. No wavering uncertainty in that tone! It was like a summoning call.
“Yes—here,” she stammered, her heart thumping wildly. Craig had interpreted her reaction right. When he stepped into her cabin all his hesitancy had fallen away from him.
He came up. In the dark his hand touched her shoulder. Patricia wanted to flee, to escape, but she could not move. Before she could stop him Craig took her into his arms, with an overpowering insistence that swept her off her feet.
“Treeshia—sweetheart—I’ve got to tell you—I couldn’t before tonight, till I told you about Rosalie, and you said it didn’t matter; but now—I can’t go back to my cabin without knowing—how you feel toward me. I didn’t want to fall in love with you—or force my love on you. It didn’t seem right—right to you. But you’ve been so sweet a little partner, and I couldn’t stop myself—”
“Craig! Don’t!” She fought against him, tried to free herself. All her aching dreams of the past half year were crashing into actuality as she felt Craig’s arms around her; God’s Lake and all its haunting sweetness were springing back to life, after six years. "Craig! You—we—mustn’t! Craig!”—she turned her face away—“don’t!”
He brushed back her parka hood, kissed her hair.
“But we must! Treeshia, girl”—as he sought her lips—“please don’t turn away like that. Say you do care—a little, sweet.
I never loved anyone but you. I couldn’t make myself forget you, all those years—”
“But you—you did forget me!” she accused, raising her head. “Last fall, you— you—”
She was stopped there, stopped by Craig’s lips upon hers.
“Last fall, sweet—that was a million years ago.”
“Craig—please!” she gasped brokenly. But it was useless to struggle; his arms were so strong. All the resistance went out of her. “D-o-n-’t—Craig”—a last feeble whisper. Her hand crept up to his cheek, to the black ripples of his hair. “Oh, but I do care— dearest.”
SLEEPLESS that night, Warren had read till nearly two o’clock, in a blanketed chair near the stove. As he finally laid his bcok aside and stood up, stiff and eyeweary, a knock came at his door.
“Who is it?” he asked, surprised to find anybody else awake at that hour. “Chiwaughimi. I wan’ to see you.”
“Put it off. I’m going to bed.”
Instead of obeying, the métis came in, came over to the stove, confronted him. “What’s the trouble?” Warren demanded. Lupe gestured across Resurrection. “Dose two go walking ag’in tonight. Long walk.” “Well, what’s new about that?” Warren snapped irritably. Patricia had been the cause of his sleeplessness, and he had been trying to stop thinking about her. “Tarlton has taken her walking every night for two weeks, hasn’t he?”
“But dis night, it different. W’en dey get back, he go into her cabane wit’ her and stay dere whole hour.”
Warren stiffened. “Yes—?”
“I go ’round behin’ cabane, crawl op on snowdreeft,” the métis went on, in cold clipped words. “I look down over top of window curtain, watch w’at dey do. For a w’ile at first de cabane dark. Den, w’en he light candle on dresser, he got her in hees arms. Bimeby dey fix tea. Den dey sit in chair togetter, smoke same cigarette. After long tarn he leave for hees cabane.”
The vivid words of the half-breed aroused
a storm of jealousy in Warren. Patricia in Craig Tarlton's arms—the hateful picture of it floated in front of his eyes.
“I’ve been wait-wait-wait for you to do somet’ing ’bout dis,” Lupe added, “but you do nut’ing. Now I wait no more. I’ll stop dat feller myself. Some of dese night, w’en you hear beeg b-o-o-m op dat hollow, you’ll know I’ve stop heem—plenty.”
“ ‘Big boom’—what d’you mean by that?” “I mean dat box of dynamite in hees cabane,” Lupe said cold-bloodedly. “Some night w’en he alone op dere, I'll put a rifle bullet into dat dynamite. A’ready I’ve line op de aim, from a tree op de slope. Heem and hees cabane go op lak puff of feat’ers.” Warren was frightened by the threat. He remembered the case of dynamite near Tarlton’s work table; realized how easily Lupe could send a bullet sizzling into it. By crooking a trigger finger the métis could blow Tarlton to atoms and scatter that cabin all over the hollow.
HE KNEW LUPE too well to think that the half-breed was bluffing. Lupe considered himself the wilderness guardian of Patricia, who had been in his charge on several of her Ontario trips; and he intended to protect her now, according to his code. For more than a generation he and the other Chiwaughimis had been personal guides and retainers to old Jasper Wellington on the latter’s visits to the Canadian mining frontier. The financier had been a sort of liege lord to their clan through all those years.
To him and his family they were intensely loyal, however warped that loyalty might be.
Now Lupe saw old Jasper’s daughter in love with a man who was a bitter enemy of the Wellingtons, who had no more money or social rank than a common prospector, and who, worst of all, was married. It was in his code to “guard” her, even if he had to kill.
Warren said: “See here, Lupe—d’you
think I’ve sat back with my hands folded and watched this go on without doing something about it? I’ve been working out a plan of my own to stop Tarlton. It’s safe and it’s certain. Day after tomorrow I’m leaving for Edmonton, to take the final steps against him. Wait till I get back— one week, two weeks at the most.”
“Two week!” Lupe grunted. “In dat tarn lots can happen over dere. Mebbe I hold off. Dat depen’s on Tarlton.” He turned toward the door, deaf to Warren’s plea.
"Wait, there! What depends on Tarlton?”
“W’ile you gone I’ll keep watch on heem. If he walk straight wit’ her, aw-right, I hold off. But if he don’ walk straight—”
The bang of the door cut off the rest of his sentence.
With that threat still ringing in his ears, Warren started putting on his clothes, intending to go over and see Corporal Northup. The corporal would stop Lupe in short order. No one else could. And Lupe had to be stopped. Tarlton knew nothing whatever of the ghastly danger hanging over him.
But then, as he dressed, he recalled what Lupe had told him a few minutes ago—of Patricia in Craig’s arms; and his good impulse died within him. He stopped dressing, wavered. Why should he intervene? Tarlton had brought this upon himself. Tarlton had been warned to stay away from Patricia. If he got killed, it would be his own fault.
“None of my mix-in,” he decided finally. “I warned Tarlton once. Anyway, Lupe will probably hold off till I get back from the south.”
TWO WEEKS after Warren left for Edmonton, the party came back from Wolf Lairs Range. They returned in the midst of a raging woolly-whipper, days overdue, and next morning Patricia was awakened by an excited Poleon.
“Mees Pat, wake op! Immeeditly! Beeg news! Allons!”
Craig’s cabin smelled of pipe smoke and chemicals. Honeywell and Kessler were there. The guttering candles threw weird
flickering shadows over the tense faces of the men.
With a dead pipe in his hand Craig was sitting on the dynamite box, leaning his head back against the wall. He was unshaven, his hair tousled, his eyes weary' from days and nights of swift exacting work; but he was grinning happily.
He got up when she came in. “Sorry to’ve waked you, Treeshia, but you simply had to be ín on this. You folks come over here where you can see this chart, and I’ll explain where we stand.”
Patricia moved over to the work table and looked at Craig’s big geology plot of the Wolf Lair hills. The symbols on it were so strange that she understood little about the chart; but she did notice that a wavy purple band led diagonally down across the map, and that up in the northwest comer there was a little flock of bright-yellow arrows.
Craig pointed with the stem of his pipe. He tried to speak matter-of-factly—a scientist explaining— but Patricia caught the hidden elation in his voice.
“This purple hand represents the gneiss formation. These concentric rings up here are a hill. We’ll call it Kessler Hill. It’s the worn-down stub of an old pre-Cambrian mountain. The gold ore outcrops at more than a dozen places around the hill, the places indicated by those yellow darts. The sixteen samples that I tested all assay about the same, roughly two hundred dollars to the ton. Without question, a sheet of this ore truncates that whole elevation. The lode therefore is not a pocket but an extensive deposit.”
Patricia glanced around at the men’s faces. At Poleon, hugely happy. At Sam, staring drop-jawed. At Phil Kessler, breathing jerkily, hardly believing that this great good luck had fallen to him, a greenhorn prosjiector. For this lode was his lode. He had made the original discovery, had spent a whole season trying to find the deposit again; and by the unwritten prospecting code he was the owner.
He would get nothing out of the hundred thousand dollars that Craig expected to raise as advance money; but after that he would receive half the income from this rich gold strike.
“Now,” Craig directed, “here’s our programme. Tomorrow morning we four men are leaving for Kessler Hill. We’ll stake the deposit; I’ll give it a brief survey myself to estimate tonnage; and we’ll be back here in six days.”
ODRON’S SHIP brought Warren back from Edmonton that afternoon. He brought mail for Patricia. There was an ominous note from her father.
Enough nonsense out of you. Now come home while you've still got a home.
There were other letters, letters that sent waves of homesickness over her. All day, at the Rock-Hog Den, she was frightened and depressed.
As dusk shut down, Patricia kept watching for a light in her cabin. Craig had slept there that day because his own cabin was so disordered and so pungent with chemicals.
Near seven o’clock she saw a light and knew Craig was awake. She went over, a little later; found him dressed and getting ready to leave.
"Stay for supper with me, Craig,” she begged. She was afraid to be alone with her thoughts— with her homesickness and the black shadows of the future. In Craig’s presence she felt strong. She could lean upon him and he would not fail her, as Warren had done. He was so staunch and unshakable. She understood now why Bill Former had wanted him when Bill lay dying, and why no one else could possibly have taken his place.
Craig looked into her eyes, searchingly. “Treeshia,” he asked, “what’s wrong?” “Why—why nothing, Craig,’’ she denied; but she turned away to the tea things in the cupboard, in order to escape his sharp glance.
Somebody knocked at the door.
"Come in,” Patricia bade, thinking Sam
had brought her Christmas presents across from the office.
It was Warren who opened the door and came in.
He said “hello” to her, nodded to Craig. From the table that she was setting, a table for two, his eyes went to the disarrayed blankets on the cot. A color surged violently into his cheeks.
Craig came quietly to Patricia’s defense: “Patricia lent me her cabin today. Mine was a wreck. Did you wish to see her or
“You,” Warren said coldly. “I’ve got a little communication for you, Tarlton. Would you mind stepping across to the Den?”
“Surely,” Craig agreed. “Patricia, excuse ¡ me.”
THE DOOR closed behind them. Frightj ened by the vengeful ring in Warren’s | tones, Patricia forced herself to make tea, I set out food, straighten up the cot—anything to keep busy. From Warren's manner she ; knew that he had scored something against Craig, in Edmonton. How could he possibly j touch Craig? All along Craig had shot i square with Rosalie; he’d paid a staggering price for his freedom; he’d been open and aboveboard in everything.
It was almost an hour before Craig returned. When he stepped inside the cabin Patricia saw at a glance that Warren’s “communication” had hit him hard.
She flew to him. “Craig! What did he say to you? What’s he done?”
“It could have been worse, I guess,” Craig said steadily. “It’s a pretty bad blow, coming just now; but we mustn’t let it upset us or swerve us. Rosalie is coming to Dynamite Bay.”
“It’s Warren’s work, of course. He has used her as a tool. Rosalie has been back in Vancouver, as you said. She’s broke. Worse than broke. She’s thousands in debt. She squandered most of the million and a hall. that I gave her, and the depression swept away the rest. She thinks I’ve got money or can make money. My own notion is that Warren has persuaded her that I’m on my | way to another fortune. And she’s out to get it. I thought I had paid her in full, but apparently the law doesn’t think so.” “Rosalie—coming—here!” Patricia was stunned.
“Warren has pointed out to me that Rosalie is coming here to assert her claim as j my wife and that she can create a very ugly j situation. In fact he promises that she will j create an ugly situation—unless I agree to see you no longer.”
“That’s nonsense,” Patricia snapped. “Why shouldn’t we see each other?”
“Because our friendship can be misi understood. Warren put it up to me as a i point of honor. Naturally, if Rosalie is coming here to make trouble she will use all the weapons at her command. Your reputation—”
“Craig! Until Rosalie arrives at Dynaj mite Bay I intend to see you just as often as I wish. That’s final.”
To be Continued
New Welding Process
BY APPLYING knowledge of the electro-chemical conditions under which metal crystals knit together, a new method of welding has been invented. The process is said to produce welded steel pipe so perfectly joined that the seam is not revealed even by photomicrographs of the cross section.
An important advantage of such pipe is that it will be more resistant to corrosion in the soil, especially the kind of corrosion caused by electrical currents. In ordinary welded pipe these tend to produce chemical action where the molecular structure has been disturbed in the weld, and a kind of battery is formed which hastens the normal action of soil acids and alkalis.—Literary Digest. ,