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- Embers, Volume 3. - 7/7 -

Standing there by the silent key, Said it over and over again, Thinking of one of Dubois' Men Thinking in anguish, heart and head, Of him, brought up there alive or dead. Save him, and perish to save him, yes! But three hours more, and that next express Would thunder by her, and she, alas! Must stand there still and let it pass. Duty was duty, and hers was clear; God seemed far off, and no friend near. But the truest friend and the swiftest horse Must ride that ride on a breakneck course; And with truest horse and swiftest friend, To the fast express was the winning end! And as if one pang was needed more, There stood in the doorway, Nell Latore-- Nell Latore, with her mocking face, Restless eyes, and her evil grace; Quick to read in the wife's sad eyes, The deep, strange woe, and the hurt surprise. Slow she said, with piercing breath, "Rebel fighter dies rebel death!" Said, and paused; for she seemed to see Far through the other's misery, Something that stilled her; triumph fled Shamed and fast, as the young wife said-- "He keeps his faith with an oath he swore, For the half-breed's freedom, Nell Latore; And, did he lie here, eyes death-dim, You, if you spoke but truth of him, Truth, truth only, should stand and say, 'He never wronged me, Jeanne Amray.'" Then, for a moment, standing there, Hushed and cold as a dead man's prayer, Nell Latore, with the woman now, Scorching the past from her eyes and brow "Trust me," she said, like an angel-call, "Tell me his danger, tell me all."

Quick resolve to a quick-told tale-- Nell Latore, to the glistening rail Fled, and on it a hand-car drew, Seized the handles, and backward threw One swift, farewell look, and said, "You shall have him alive, not dead!" Ah, well for her that her arms were strong, And cord and nerve like a knotted thong, And well for Jeanne in her sharp distress, That Nell was racing the fast express Her whole life bent to this one deed, And, like a soul from its prison freed, Rising, dilating, reached across Hills of conquest from plains of loss. Gorges echoed as she passed by, Wild fowl rose with a plaintive cry; On she sped; and the white steel rang-- "Save him--save him for her!" it sang. Once, a lad at a worn-out mine Strove to warn her with awe-struck sign-- Turned she neither to left nor right,

Strained till the Rock Hills came in sight; "But two miles more," to herself she said, "Then she shall have him alive, not dead!" The merciful gods that moment heard Her promise, and helped her to keep her word; For, when the wheels of the fast express Slowed through the gates of that wilderness, Round a headland and far away Sailed the husband of Jeanne Amray. While all that hundred-and-fifty then, Hot on the trail of the Dubois Men, Knew, as they stood by the pine-girt store, The girl that had foiled them--Nell Latore. Slow she moved from among them, turned Where the sky to the westward burned; Gazed for a moment, set her hands Over her brow, so! drew the strands Loose and rich of her tawny hair, Once through her fingers, standing there; Then again to the rail she passed. One more look to the West she cast, And into the East she drew away: Backwards and forwards her brown arms play, Forwards and backwards, till far and dim, She grew one with the night's dun rim; Backwards and forwards, and then, was gone Into I know not what . . . alone. She came not back, she may never come; But a young wife lives in a cabin home, Who prays each night that, alive or dead, Come God's own rest for her lonely head: And I--shall I see her then no more, My comrade, my old love, Nell Latore?


Embers, Volume 3. - 7/7

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