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- The World For Sale, Volume 1. - 4/16 -


white face upturned, the paddle still in her hand.

"Drowning isn't good enough for her," he said, as he fastened her canoe to his skiff.

"It's been a full day's work," he added; and even in this human crisis he thought of the fish he had caught, of "the big trouble," he had been thinking out as Osterhaut had said, as well as of the girl that he was saving.

"I always have luck when I go fishing," he added presently. "I can take her back to Lebanon," he continued with a quickening look. "She'll be all right in a jiffy. I've got room for her in my buggy--and room for her in any place that belongs to me," he hastened to reflect with a curious, bashful smile.

"It's like a thing in a book," he murmured, as he neared the waiting people on the banks of Carillon, and the ringing of the vesper bells came out to him on the evening air.

"Is she dead?" some one whispered, as eager hands reached out to secure his skiff to the bank.

"As dead as I am," he answered with a laugh, and drew Fleda's canoe up alongside his skiff.

He had a strange sensation of new life, as, with delicacy and gentleness, he lifted her up in his strong arms and stepped ashore.

CHAPTER II

THE WHISPER FROM BEYOND

Ingolby had a will of his own, but it had never been really tried against a woman's will. It was, however, tried sorely when Fleda came to consciousness again in his arms and realized that a man's face was nearer to hers than any man's had ever been except that of her own father. Her eyes opened slowly, and for the instant she did not understand, but when she did, the blood stole swiftly back to her neck and face and forehead, and she started in dismay.

"Put me down," she whispered faintly.

"I'm taking you to my buggy," he replied. "I'll drive you back to Lebanon." He spoke as calmly as he could, for there was a strange fluttering of his nerves, and the crowd was pressing him.

"Put me down at once," she said peremptorily. She trembled on her feet, and swayed, and would have fallen but that Ingolby and a woman in black, who had pushed her way through the crowd with white, anxious face, caught her.

"Give her air, and stand back!" called the sharp voice of the constable of Carillon, and he heaved the people back with his powerful shoulders.

A space was cleared round the place where Fleda sat with her head against the shoulder of the stately woman in black who had come to her assistance. A dipper of water was brought, and when she had drunk it she raised her head slowly and her eyes sought those of Ingolby.

"One cannot pay for such things," she said to him, meeting his look firmly and steeling herself to thank him. Though deeply grateful, it was a trial beyond telling to be obliged to owe the debt of a life to any one, and in particular to a man of the sort to whom material gifts could not be given.

"Such things are paid for just by accepting them," he answered quickly, trying to feel that he had never held her in his arms, as she evidently desired him to feel. He had intuition, if not enough of it, for the regions where the mind of Fleda Druse dwelt.

"I couldn't very well decline, could I?" she rejoined, quick humour shooting into her eyes. "I was helpless. I never fainted before in my life."

"I am sure you will never faint again," he remarked. "We only do such things when we are very young."

She was about to reply, but paused reflectively. Her half-opened lips did not frame the words she had been impelled to speak.

Admiration was alive in his eyes. He had never seen this type of womanhood before--such energy and grace, so amply yet so lithely framed; such darkness and fairness in one living composition; such individuality, yet such intimate simplicity. Her hair was a very light brown, sweeping over a broad, low forehead, and lying, as though with a sense of modesty, on the tips of the ears, veiling them slightly. The forehead was classic in its intellectual fulness; but the skin was so fresh, even when pale as now, and with such an underglow of vitality, that the woman in her, sex and the possibilities of sex, cast a glamour over the intellect and temperament showing in every line of her contour. In contrast to the light brown of the hair was the very dark brown of the eyes and the still darker brown of the eyelashes. The face shone, the eyes burned, and the piquancy of the contrast between the soft illuminating whiteness of the skin and the flame in the eyes had fascinated many more than Ingolby.

Her figure was straight yet supple, somewhat fuller than is modern beauty, with hints of Juno-like stateliness to come; and the curves of her bust, the long lines of her limbs, were not obscured by her absolutely plain gown of soft, light-brown linen. She was tall, but not too commanding, and, as her hand was raised to fasten back a wisp of hair, there was the motion of as small a wrist and as tapering a bare arm as ever made prisoner of a man's neck.

Impulse was written in every feature, in the passionate eagerness of her body; yet the line from the forehead to the chin, and the firm shapeliness of the chin itself, gave promise of great strength of will. From the glory of the crown of hair to the curve of the high instep of a slim foot it was altogether a personality which hinted at history--at tragedy, maybe.

"She'll have a history," Madame Bulteel, who now stood beside the girl, herself a figure out of a picture by Velasquez, had said of her sadly; for she saw in Fleda's rare qualities, in her strange beauty, happenings which had nothing to do with the life she was living. So this duenna of Gabriel Druse's household, this aristocratic, silent woman was ever on the watch for some sudden revelation of a being which had not found itself, and which must find itself through perils and convulsions.

That was why, to-day, she had hesitated to leave Fleda alone and come to Carillon, to be at the bedside of a dying, friendless woman whom by chance she had come to know. In the street she had heard of what was happening on the river, and had come in time to receive Fleda from the arms of her rescuer.

"How did you get here?" Fleda asked her.

"How am I always with you when I am needed, truant?" said the other with a reproachful look. "Did you fly? You are so light, so thin, you could breathe yourself here," rejoined the girl, with a gentle, quizzical smile. "But, no," she added, "I remember, you were to be here at Carillon."

"Are you able to walk now?" asked Madame Bulteel.

"To Manitou--but of course," Fleda answered almost sharply.

After the first few minutes the crowd had fallen back. They watched her with respectful admiration from a decent distance. They had the chivalry towards woman so characteristic of the West. There was no vulgarity in their curiosity, though most of them had never seen her before. All, however, had heard of her and her father, the giant greybeard who moved and lived in an air of mystery, and apparently secret wealth, for more than once he had given large sums--large in the eyes of folks of moderate means, when charity was needed; as in the case of the floods the year before, and in the prairie-fire the year before that, when so many people were made homeless, and also when fifty men had been injured in one railway accident. On these occasions he gave disproportionately to his mode of life.

Now, when they saw that Fleda was about to move away, they drew just a little nearer, and presently one of the crowd could contain his admiration no longer. He raised a cheer.

"Three cheers for Her," he shouted, and loud hurrahs followed.

"Three cheers for Ingolby," another cried, and the noise was boisterous but not so general.

"Who shot Carillon Rapids?" another called in the formula of the West.

"She shot the Rapids," was the choral reply. "Who is she?" came the antiphon.

"Druse is her name," was the gay response. "What did she do?"

"She shot Carillon Rapids--shot 'em dead. Hooray!"

In the middle of the cheering, Osterhaut and Jowett arrived in a wagon which they had commandeered, and, about the same time, from across the bridge, came running Tekewani and his braves.

"She done it like a kingfisher," cried Osterhaut. "Manitou's got the belt."

Fleda Druse's friendly eyes were given only for one instant to Osterhaut and his friend. Her gaze became fixed on Tekewani who, silent, and with immobile face, stole towards her. In spite of the civilization which controlled him, he wore Indian moccasins and deerskin breeches, though his coat was rather like a shortened workman's blouse. He did not belong to the life about him; he was a being apart, the spirit of vanished and vanishing days.

"Tekewani--ah, Tekewani, you have come," the girl said, and her eyes smiled at him as they had not smiled at Ingolby or even at the woman in black beside her.

"How!" the chief replied, and looked at her with searching, worshipping eyes.

"Don't look at me that way, Tekewani," she said, coming close to him. "I had to do it, and I did it."

"The teeth of rock everywhere!" he rejoined reproachfully, with a gesture of awe.

"I remembered all--all. You were my master, Tekewani."


The World For Sale, Volume 1. - 4/16

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