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- The World For Sale, Volume 1. - 2/16 -


At last he spoke aloud:

"There shall be an heap of corn in the earth, high upon the hills; his fruit shall shake like Libanus, and shall be green in the city like grass upon the earth."

A smile came to his lips--a rare, benevolent smile. He had seen this expanse of teeming life when it was thought to be an alkali desert, fit only to be invaded by the Blackfeet and the Cree and the Blood Indians on a foray for food and furs. Here he had come fifty years before, and had gone West and North into the mountains in the Summer season, when the land was tremulous with light and vibrating to the hoofs of herds of buffalo as they stampeded from the hunters; and also in the Winter time, when frost was master and blizzard and drift its malignant servants.

Even yet his work was not done. In the town of Manitou he still said mass now and then, and heard the sorrows and sins of men and women, and gave them "ghostly comfort," while priests younger than himself took the burden of parish-work from his shoulders.

For a lifetime he had laboured among the Indians and the few whites and squaw-men and half-breeds, with neither settlement nor progress. Then, all at once, the railway; and people coming from all the world, and cities springing up! Now once more he was living the life of civilization, exchanging raw flesh of fish and animals and a meal of tallow or pemmican for the wheaten loaf; the Indian tepee for the warm house with the mansard roof; the crude mass beneath the trees for the refinements of a chancel and an altar covered with lace and white linen.

A flock of geese went honking over his head. His eyes smiled in memory of the countless times he had watched such flights, had seen thousands of wild ducks hurrying down a valley, had watched a family of herons stretching away to some lonely water-home. And then another sound greeted his ear. It was shrill, sharp and insistent. A great serpent was stealing out of the East and moving down upon Lebanon. It gave out puffs of smoke from its ungainly head. It shrieked in triumph as it came. It was the daily train from the East, arriving at the Sagalac River.

"These things must be," he said aloud as he looked. While he lost himself again in reminiscence, a young man came driving across the plains, passing beneath where he stood. The young man's face and figure suggested power. In his buggy was a fishing-rod.

His hat was pulled down over his eyes, but he was humming cheerfully to himself. When he saw the priest, he raised his hat respectfully, yet with an air of equality.

"Good day, Monseigneur" (this honour of the Church had come at last to the aged missionary), he said warmly. "Good day--good day!"

The priest raised his hat and murmured the name, "Ingolby." As the distance grew between them, he said sadly: "These are the men who change the West, who seize it, and divide it, and make it their own--

"'I will rejoice, and divide Sichem: and mete out the valley of Succoth.'

"Hush! Hush!" he said to himself in reproach. "These things must be. The country must be opened up. That is why I came--to bring the Truth before the trader."

Now another traveller came riding out of Lebanon towards him, galloping his horse up-hill and down. He also was young, but nothing about him suggested power, only self-indulgence. He, too, raised his hat, or rather swung it from his head in a devil-may-care way, and overdid his salutation. He did not speak. The priest's face was very grave, if not a little resentful. His salutation was reserved.

"The tyranny of gold," he murmured, "and without the mind or energy that created it. Felix was no name for him. Ingolby is a builder, perhaps a jerry-builder; but he builds."

He looked across the prairie towards the young man in the buggy.

"Sure, he is a builder. He has the Cortez eye. He sees far off, and plans big things. But Felix Marchand there--"

He stopped short.

"Such men must be, perhaps," he added. Then, after a moment, as he gazed round again upon the land of promise which he had loved so long, he murmured as one murmurs a prayer:

"Thou suferedst men to ride over our heads: we went through fire and water, and Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place."

BOOK I

I. "THE DRUSES ARE UP!" II. THE WHISPER FROM BEYOND III. CONCERNING INGOLBY AND THE TWO TOWNS IV. THE COMING OF JETHRO FAWE V. "BY THE RIVER STARZKE....IT WAS SO DONE" VI. THE UNGUARDED FIRES VII. IN WHICH THE PRISONER GOES FREE

CHAPTER I

"THE DRUSES ARE UP!"

"Great Scott, look at her! She's goin' to try and take 'em !" exclaimed Osterhaut, the Jack-of-all-trades at Lebanon.

"She ain't such a fool as all that. Why, no one ever done it alone. Low water, too, when every rock's got its chance at the canoe. But, my gracious, she is goin' to ride 'em!"

Jowett, the horse-dealer, had a sportsman's joy in a daring thing.

"See, old Injun Tekewani's after her! He's calling at her from the bank. He knows. He done it himself years ago when there was rips in the tribe an' he had to sew up the tears. He run them Rapids in his canoe--"

"Just as the Druse girl there is doin'--"

"An' he's done what he liked with the Blackfeet ever since."

"But she ain't a chief--what's the use of her doin' it? She's goin' straight for them. She can't turn back now. She couldn't make the bank if she wanted to. She's got to run 'em. Holy smoke, see her wavin' the paddle at Tekewani! Osterhaut, she's the limit, that petticoat--so quiet and shy and don't-look-at-me, too, with eyes like brown diamonds."

"Oh, get out, Jowett; she's all right! She'll make this country sit up some day-by gorry, she'll make Manitou and Lebanon sit up to-day if she runs the Carillon Rapids safe!"

"She's runnin' 'em all right, son. She's--by jee, well done, Miss Druse! Well done, I say--well done!" exclaimed Jowett, dancing about and waving his arms towards the adventurous girl.

The girl had reached the angry, thrashing waters where the rocks rent and tore into white ribbons the onrushing current, and her first trial had come on the instant the spitting, raging panthers of foam struck the bow of her canoe. The waters were so low that this course, which she had made once before with her friend Tekewani the Blackfeet chief, had perils not met on that desperate journey. Her canoe struck a rock slantwise, shuddered and swung round, but by a dexterous stroke she freed the frail craft. It righted and plunged forward again into fresh death-traps.

It was these new dangers which had made Tekewani try to warn her from the shore--he and the dozen braves with him: but it was characteristic of his race that, after the first warning, when she must play out the game to the bitter end, he made no further attempt to stop her. The Indians ran down the river-bank, however, with eyes intent on her headlong progress, grunting approval as she plunged safely from danger to danger.

Osterhaut and Jowett became silent, too, and, like the Indians, ran as fast as they could, over fences, through the trees, stumbling and occasionally cursing, but watching with fascinated eyes this adventuress of the North, taking chances which not one coureur-de-bois or river- driver in a thousand would take, with a five thousand-dollar prize as the lure. Why should she do it?

"Women folks are sick darn fools when they git goin'," gasped Osterhaut as he ran. "They don't care a split pea what happens when they've got the pip. Look at her--my hair's bleachin'."

"She's got the pip all right," stuttered Jowett as he plunged along; "but she's foreign, and they've all got the pip, foreign men and women both-- but the women go crazy."

"She keeps pretty cool for a crazy loon, that girl. If I owned her, I'd--"

Jowett interrupted impatiently. "You'd do what old man Druse does--you'd let her be, Osterhaut. What's the good of havin' your own way with one that's the apple of your eye, if it turns her agin you? You want her to kiss you on the high cheek-bone, but if you go to play the cat-o'-nine- tails round her, the high cheek-bone gets froze. Gol blast it, look at her, son! What are the wild waves saying? They're sayin', 'This is a surprise, Miss Druse. Not quite ready for ye, Miss Druse.' My, ain't she got the luck of the old devil!"

It seemed so. More than once the canoe half jammed between the rocks, and the stern lifted up by the force of the wild current, but again the paddle made swift play, and again the cockle-shell swung clear. But now Fleda Druse was no longer on her feet. She knelt, her strong, slim brown arms bared to the shoulder, her hair blown about her forehead, her daring eyes flashing to left and right, memory of her course at work under such a strain as few can endure without chaos of mind in the end. A hundred times since the day she had run these Rapids with Tekewani, she had gone over the course in her mind, asleep and awake, forcing her brain to see again every yard of that watery way; because she knew that the day must come when she would make the journey alone. Why she would make it she did not know; she only knew that she would do it some day; and the day had come. For long it had been an obsession with her--as though some spirit whispered in her ear--"Do you hear the bells ringing at Carillon? Do you hear the river singing towards Carillon? Do you see the wild birds flying towards Carillon? Do you hear the Rapids calling--the Rapids of Carillon?"


The World For Sale, Volume 1. - 2/16

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