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- The World For Sale, Volume 1. - 5/16 -
"But only once with me it was, Summer Song," he persisted. Summer Song was his name for her.
"I saw it--saw it, every foot of the way," she insisted. "I thought hard, oh, hard as the soul thinks. And I saw it all." There was something singularly akin in the nature of the girl and the Indian. She spoke to him as she never spoke to any other.
"Too much seeing, it is death," he answered. "Men die with too much seeing. I have seen them die. To look hard through deerskin curtains, to see through the rock, to behold the water beneath the earth, and the rocks beneath the black waters, it is for man to see if he has a soul, but the seeing--behold, so those die who should live!"
"I live, Tekewani, though I saw the teeth of rocks beneath the black water," she urged gently.
"Yet the half-death came--"
"I fainted, but I was not to die--it was not my time."
He shook his head gloomily. "Once it may be, but the evil spirits tempt us to death. It matters not what comes to Tekewani; he is as the leaf that falls from the stem; but for Summer Song that has far to go, it is the madness from beyond the Hills of Life."
She took his hand. "I will not do it again, Tekewani."
"How!" he said, with hand upraised, as one who greets the great in this world.
"I don't know why I did it," she added meaningly. "It was selfish. I feel that now."
The woman in black pressed her hand timidly.
"It is so for ever with the great," Tekewani answered. "It comes, also, from beyond the Hills--the will to do it. It is the spirit that whispers over the earth out of the Other Earth. No one hears it but the great. The whisper only is for this one here and that one there who is of the Few. It whispers, and the whisper must be obeyed. So it was from the beginning."
"Yes, you understand, Tekewani," she answered softly. "I did it because something whispered from the Other Earth to me."
Her head drooped a little, her eyes had a sudden shadow.
"He will understand," answered the Indian; "your father will understand," as though reading her thoughts. He had clearly read her thought, this dispossessed, illiterate Indian chieftain. Yet, was he so illiterate? Had he not read in books which so few have learned to read? His life had been broken on the rock of civilization, but his simple soul had learned some elemental truths--not many, but the essential ones, without which there is no philosophy, no understanding. He knew Fleda Druse was thinking of her father, wondering if he would understand, half-fearing, hardly hoping, dreading the moment when she must meet him face to face. She knew she had been selfish, but would Gabriel Druse understand? She raised her eyes in gratitude to the Blackfeet chief.
"I must go home," she said.
She turned to go, but as she did so, a man came swaggering down the street, broke through the crowd, and made towards her with an arm raised, a hand waving, and a leer on his face. He was a thin, rather handsome, dissolute-looking fellow of middle height and about forty, in dandified dress. His glossy black hair fell carelessly over his smooth forehead from under a soft, wide-awake hat.
"Manitou for ever!" he cried, with a flourish of his hand. "I salute the brave. I escort the brave to the gates of Manitou. I escort the brave. I escort the brave. Salut! Salut! Salut! Well done, Beauty Beauty--Beauty--Beauty, well done again!"
He held out his hand to Fleda, but she drew back with disgust. Felix Marchand, the son of old Hector Marchand, money-lender and capitalist of Manitou, had pressed his attentions upon her during the last year since he had returned from the East, bringing dissoluteness and vulgar pride with him. Women had spoiled him, money had corrupted and degraded him.
"Come, beautiful brave, it's Salut! Salut! Salut!" he said, bending towards her familiarly.
Her face flushed with anger.
"Let me pass, monsieur," she said sharply.
"Pride of Manitou--" he apostrophized, but got no farther.
Ingolby caught him by the shoulders, wheeled him round, and then flung him at the feet of Tekewani and his braves.
At this moment Tekewani's eyes had such a fire as might burn in Wotan's smithy. He was ready enough to defy the penalty of the law for assaulting a white man, but Felix Marchand was in the dust, and that would do for the moment.
With grim face Ingolby stood over the begrimed figure. "There's the river if you want more," he said. "Tekewani knows where the water's deepest." Then he turned and followed Fleda and the woman in black. Felix Marchand's face was twisted with hate as he got slowly to his feet.
"You'll eat dust before I'm done," he called after Ingolby. Then, amid the jeers of the crowd, he went back to the tavern where he had been carousing.
CONCERNING INGOLBY AND THE TWO TOWNS
A word about Max Ingolby.
He was the second son of four sons, with a father who had been a failure; but with a mother of imagination and great natural strength of brain, yet whose life had been so harried in bringing up a family on nothing at all, that there only emerged from her possibilities a great will to do the impossible things. From her had come the spirit which would not be denied.
In his boyhood Max could not have those things which lads prize--fishing- rods, cricket-bats and sleds, and all such things; but he could take most prizes at school open to competition; he could win in the running-jump, the high-jump, and the five hundred yards' race; and he could organize a picnic, or the sports of the school or town--at no cost to himself. His finance in even this limited field had been brilliant. Other people paid, and he did the work; and he did it with such ease that the others intriguing to crowd him out, suffered failure and came to him in the end to put things right.
He became the village doctor's assistant and dispenser at seventeen and induced his master to start a drug-store. He made the drug-store a success within two years, and meanwhile he studied Latin and Greek and mathematics in every spare hour he had--getting up at five in the morning, and doing as much before breakfast as others did in a whole day. His doctor loved him and helped him; a venerable Archdeacon, an Oxford graduate, gave him many hours of coaching, and he went to the University with three scholarships. These were sufficient to carry him through in three years, and there was enough profit-sharing from the drug-business he had founded on terms to shelter his mother and his younger brothers, while he took honours at the University.
There he organized all that students organize, and was called in at last by the Bursar of his college to reorganize the commissariat, which he did with such success that the college saved five thousand dollars a year. He had genius, the college people said, and after he had taken his degree with honours in classics and mathematics they offered him a professorship at two thousand dollars a year.
He laughed ironically, but yet with satisfaction, when the professorship was offered. It was all so different from what was in his mind for the future. As he looked out of the oriel window in the sweet gothic building, to the green grass and the maples and elms which made the college grounds like an old-world park, he had a vision of himself permanently in these surroundings of refinement growing venerable with years, seeing pass under his influence thousands of young men directed, developed and inspired by him.
He had, however, shaken himself free of this modest vision. He knew that such a life would act like a narcotic to his real individuality. He thirsted for contest, for the control of brain and will; he wanted to construct; he was filled with the idea of simplifying things, of economizing strength; he saw how futile was much competition, and how the big brain could command and control with ease, wasting no force, saving labour, making the things controlled bigger and better.
So it came that his face was seen no more in the oriel window. With a mere handful of dollars, and some debts, he left the world of scholarship and superior pedagogy, and went where the head offices of railways were. Railways were the symbol of progress in his mind. The railhead was the advance post of civilization. It was like Cortez and his Conquistadores overhauling and appropriating the treasures of long generations. So where should he go if not to the Railway?
His first act, when he got to his feet inside the offices of the President of a big railway, was to show the great man how two "outside" proposed lines could be made one, and then further merged into the company controlled by the millionaire in whose office he sat. He got his chance by his very audacity--the President liked audacity. In attempting this merger, however, he had his first failure, but he showed that he could think for himself, and he was made increasingly responsible. After a few years of notable service, he was offered the task of building a branch line of railway from Lebanon and Manitou north, and northwest, and on to the Coast; and he had accepted it, at the same time planning to merge certain outside lines competing with that which he had in hand. For over four years he worked night and day, steadily advancing towards his goal, breaking down opposition, manoeuvring, conciliating, fighting.
Most men loved his whimsical turn of mind, even those who were the agents of the financial clique which had fought him in their efforts to get control of the commercial, industrial, transport and banking resources of the junction city of Lebanon. In the days when vast markets would be established for Canadian wheat in Shanghai and Tokio, then these two towns of Manitou and Lebanon on the Sagalac would be like the swivel to the organization of trade of a continent.
Ingolby had worked with this end in view. In doing so he had tried to
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