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- Carnac's Folly, Volume 1. - 1/17 -


CARNAC'S FOLLY

By Gilbert Parker

CONTENTS:

BOOK I I. IN THE DAYS OF CHILDHOOD II. ELEVEN YEARS PASS III. CARNAC'S RETURN IV. THE HOUSE ON THE HILL V. CARNAC AS MANAGER VI. LUKE TARBOE HAS AN OFFER VII. "AT OUR PRICE" VIII. JOHN GRIER MAKES ANOTHER OFFER IX. THE PUZZLE X. DENZIL TELLS HIS STORY XI. CARNAC'S TALK WITH HIS MOTHER XII. CARNAC SAYS GOOD-BYE

BOOK II XIII. CARNAC'S RETURN XIV. THE HOUSE OF THE THREE TREES XV. CARNAC AND JUNTA XVI. JOHN GRIER MAKES A JOURNEY XVII. THE READING OF THE WILL

BOOK III XVIII. A GREAT DECISION XIX. CARNAC BECOMES A CANDIDATE XX. JUNIA AND TARBOE HEAR THE NEWS XXI. THE SECRET MEETING XXII. POINT TO POINT XXIII. THE MAN WHO WOULD NOT XXIV. THE BLUE PAPER XXV. DENZIL TAKES A HAND IN THE GAME XXVI. THE CHALLENGE XXVII. EXIT XXVIII. A WOMAN WRITES A LETTER XXIX. CARNAC AND HIS MOTHER XXX. TARBOE HAS A DREAM XXXI. THIS WAY HOME XXXII. 'HALVES, PARDNER, HALVES'

BOOK I

CHAPTER I

IN THE DAYS OF CHILDHOOD

"Carnac! Carnac! Come and catch me, Carnac!" It was a day of perfect summer and hope and happiness in the sweet, wild world behind the near woods and the far circle of sky and pine and hemlock. The voice that called was young and vibrant, and had in it the simple, true soul of things. It had the clearness of a bugle-call-ample and full of life and all life's possibilities. It laughed; it challenged; it decoyed.

Carnac heard the summons and did his best to catch the girl in the wood by the tumbling stream, where he had for many an hour emptied out his wayward heart; where he had seen his father's logs and timbers caught in jams, hunched up on rocky ledges, held by the prong of a rock, where man's purpose could, apparently, avail so little. Then he had watched the black-bearded river-drivers with their pike-poles and their levers loose the key-logs of the bunch, and the tumbling citizens of the woods and streams toss away down the current to the wider waters below. He was only a lad of fourteen, and the girl was only eight, but she--Junia--was as spry and graceful a being as ever woke the echoes of a forest.

He was only fourteen, but already he had visions and dreamed dreams. His father--John Grier--was the great lumber-king of Canada, and Junia was the child of a lawyer who had done little with his life, but had had great joy of his two daughters, who were dear to him beyond telling.

Carnac was one of Nature's freaks or accidents. He was physically strong and daring, but, as a boy, mentally he lacked concentration and decision, though very clever. He was led from thing to thing like a ray of errant light, and he did not put a hand on himself, as old Denzil, the partly deformed servant of Junia's home, said of him on occasion; and Denzil was a man of parts.

Denzil was not far from the two when Junia made her appeal and challenge. He loved the girl exceedingly, and he loved Carnac little less, though in a different way. Denzil was French of the French, with habit of mind and character wholly his own.

Denzil's head was squat upon his shoulders, and his long, handsome body was also squat, because his legs were as short, proportionately, as his mind was long. His face was covered by a well-cared-for beard of dark brown, streaked with grey; his features were rugged and fine; and his eyes were like two coals burning under a gnarled headland; for his forehead, ample and full, had lines which were not lines of age, but of concentration. In his motions he was quiet and free, yet always there was a kind of stealthiness in his movements, which made him seem less frank than he really was.

For a time, with salient sympathy in his eyes, he watched the two children playing. The whisking of their forms among the trees and over the rocks was fine, gracious, and full of life-life without alarm. At length he saw the girl falter slightly, then make a swift deceptive movement to avoid the boy who pursued her. The movement did not delude the boy. He had quickness of anticipation. An instant later the girl was in his arms.

As Denzil gazed, it seemed she was in his arms too long, and a sudden anxiety took hold of him. That anxiety was deepened when he saw the boy kiss the girl on the cheek. This act seemed to discompose the girl, but not enough to make drama out of an innocent, yet sensuous thing. The boy had meant nothing more than he had shown, and Denzil traced the act to a native sense of luxury in his nature. Knowing the boy's father and mother as he did, it seemed strange that Carnac should have such demonstration in his character. Of all the women he knew, Carnac's mother was the most exact and careful, though now and again he thought of her as being shrouded, or apart; while the boy's father, the great lumber-king, cantankerous, passionate, perspicuous, seemed to have but one passion, and that was his business.

It was strange to Denzil that the lumber-king, short, thin, careless in his clothes but singularly clean in his person, should have a son so little like himself, and also so little like his mother. He, Denzil, was a Catholic, and he could not understand a man like John Grier who, being a member of the Episcopal Church, so seldom went to service and so defied rules of conduct suitable to his place in the world.

As for the girl, to him she was the seventh wonder of the earth. Wantonly alive, dexterously alert to all that came her way, sportive, indifferent, joyous, she had all the boy's sprightliness, but none of his weaknesses. She was a born tease; she loved bright and beautiful things; she was a keen judge of human nature, and she had buoyant spirits, which, however, were counterbalanced by moments of extreme timidity, or, rather, reserve and shyness. On a day like this, when everything in life was singing, she must sing too. Not a mile away was a hut by the river where her father had brought his family for the summer's fishing; not a half- mile away was a tent which Carnac Grier's father had set up as he passed northward on his tour of inspection. This particular river, and this particular part of the river, were trying to the river-man and his clans. It needed a dam, and the great lumber-king was planning to make one not three hundred yards from where they were.

The boy and the girl resting idly upon a great warm rock had their own business to consider. The boy kept looking at his boots with the brass- tipped toes. He hated them. The girl was quick to understand. "Why don't you like your boots?" she asked.

A whimsical, exasperated look came into his face. "I don't know why they brass a boy's toes like that, but when I marry I won't wear them--that's all," he replied.

"Why do you wear them now?" she asked, smiling.

"You don't know my father."

"He's got plenty of money, hasn't he?" she urged. "Plenty; and that's what I can't understand about him! There's a lot of waste in river- driving, timber-making, out in the shanties and on the river, but he don't seem to mind that. He's got fads, though, about how we are to live, and this is one of them." He looked at the brass-tipped boots carefully. A sudden resolve came into his face. He turned to the girl and flushed as he spoke. "Look here," he added, "this is the last day I'm going to wear these boots. He's got to buy me a pair without any brass clips on them, or I'll kick."

"No, it isn't the last day you're going to wear them, Carnac."

"It is. I wonder if all boys feel towards their father as I do to mine. He don't treat me right. He--"

"Oh, look," interrupted Junia. "Look-Carnac!" She pointed in dismay.

Carnac saw a portion of the bank of the river disappear with Denzil. He ran over to the bank and looked down. In another moment he had made his way to a descending path which led him swiftly to the river's edge. The girl remained at the top. The boy had said to her: "You stay there. I'll tell you what to do."

"Is-is he killed?" she called with emotion.

"Killed! No. He's all right," he called back to her. "I can see him move. Don't be frightened. He's not in the water. It was only about a thirty-foot fall. You stay there, and I'll tell you what to do," he added.

A few moments later, the boy called up: "He's all right, but his leg is broken. You go to my father's camp--it's near. People are sure to be there, and maybe father too. You bring them along."

In an instant the girl was gone. The boy, left behind, busied himself in relieving the deformed broken-legged habitant. He brought some water in his straw hat to refresh him. He removed the rocks and dirt, and dragged the little man out.

"It was a close call--bien sur," said Denzil, breathing hard. "I always said that place wasn't safe, but I went on it myself. That's the way in


Carnac's Folly, Volume 1. - 1/17

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