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- Wild Youth, Volume 2. - 6/12 -


to you. You've made a sewer for her to live in, not a home. As I said, I ought to kill you, but that would play your game, so I won't, not now. But I tell you this, Mazarine: if I ever meet you again--and I'm sure to do so--and you don't get off the road I'm travelling on, or the side-walk I'm walking on, when I meet you or when I pass you, I'll let you have what'll send you to hell, before you can wink twice.

"As for Louise--as for her: I don't know where she is, but I'll find her. One thing is sure: if I see her, I'll tell her never to go back to you; and she won't. You've drunk at the waters of Canaan for the last time. For a Christian you're pretty filthy. Go and wash in the pool of Siloam and be clean--damn you, Mazarine!"

With that he turned, almost unheeding the hands thrust out to grip his, the voices murmuring approval. In a moment he had swung his horses round. He did not go beyond ten yards, however, before someone, running beside his wagon, whispered up to him: "She's out at Nolan Doyle's ranch. She went with the Young Doctor and Patsy Kernaghan."

Behind, in the street, a young boy came running through the crowd and shouting: "I know where they are! I know where they are!" He stopped before Mazarine. "Gimme half a dollar, and I'll tell you where your horses are. Gimme half a dollar. Gimme half a dollar, and I'll tell you."

An instant later, with the half-dollar in his hand, he said: "They're up to the shed of the Meetin' House."

"Yes, go along up to the Meetin' House, Mr. Mazarine," said one of the miscreants who had driven the horses there. "They're holding a post- mortem on you at the prayer meetin'. They say you're dead in trespasses and sins. Get along, Joel."

The crowd started to follow him to the shed where his horses were, but after a moment he turned on them and said:

"Ain't you heerd and seen enough? Ain't there no law to protect a man?"

A hoe was leaning against a fence. He saw it, and with sudden fury, seizing it, swung it round his head as if to throw it into the crowd. At that moment a stalwart constable ran forward, raised a hand towards Mazarine, and then addressed the crowd.

"We've had enough of this," he said. "I'll lock up any man that goes a step further towards the Meetin' House. Where do you think you are? This is Askatoon, the place of peace and happiness, and we're going to be happy, if I have to lock up the hull lot of you. I guess you can go right on, Mr. Mazarine," he added. "Go right on and git your wagon."

A moment later Mazarine was walking alone towards the Meeting House; but no, not alone, for a hundred devils were with him.

CHAPTER XIV

FILION AND FIONA--ALSO PATSY KERNAGHAN

Patsy Kernaghan was in his element in the garden with which Norah Doyle had decorated the brown bosom of the prairie. It had verdant shrubs, green turf, thick fringes of flowers, and one solitary elmtree in the centre whose branches spread like a cedar of Lebanon. In the moonlight Patsy had the telling of a wonderful story to such an audience as he had never had before in his life, and he had had them from Bundoran to Limerick, from Limerick to the foothills of the Rockies.

The seance of love and legend had been Patsy's own idea. At the supper- table spread by Norah Doyle, in spite of the protests of her visitors-- the Young Doctor, Louise and Patsy--Nolan Doyle, who had a fine gift for playful talk, had tried to keep the situation free from melodrama. Yet Patsy had observed that, in spite of all efforts, Louise's eyes now and then filled with tears. Also, he saw that her senses seemed alert for something outside their little circle. It was as though she expected someone to arrive. She was in that state which is not normal and yet not abnormal--a kind of trance in which she did ordinary things in a natural way, yet mechanically, without full consciousness.

There was no one at the table who did not realize what, and for whom, she was waiting. To her primitive spirit, now that she was in trouble because of him, it seemed inevitable that Orlando should come. One thing was fixed in her mind: she would never return to Tralee or to the man whose odious presence made her feel as though she was in a cage with an animal.

Jonas Billings had called him "The ancient one from the jungle," and that was how at last he appeared to her. His arms and breast were thick with hair; the hair on his face grew almost up to the eyes; the fingers of his splayed hands were blunt and broad; and his hair was like a nest for things of the jungle undergrowth.

Since she had been awakened, the memory of his hot breath in her face, of his clumsy fevered embraces was a torment to her; for always in contrast there were the fresh clean-shaven cheeks and chin of a young Berserker with honest, wondering blue eyes, the curly head of a child, and body and limbs like a young lean stag.

Orlando's touch was never either clammy or fevered. She could recall every time that he had touched her: when her fingers and his met on the afternoon that Li Choo had thrown himself down the staircase with the priceless porcelain; also the evening of the night spent on the prairie when, after the accident, her hand had been linked into his arm; also when he had clasped her fingers at their meeting in the morning. On each occasion she had felt a thrill like that of music--persuasive, living vibrations passing to remote recesses of her being.

No nearer had she ever come to the man she loved, no nearer had he sought to come. Once, the evening after the night spent on the prairie, when old Joel Mazarine had tried to make her pray and ask God's forgiveness, and he had kissed her with the lips of hungry old age, she had suddenly sat up in bed, her heart beating hard, every nerve palpitating, because in imagination she had seen herself in Orlando's arms, with his lips pressed to hers.

Poor neophyte in life's mysteries, having served as a slave at false altars of which she did not even know the ritual, it was no wonder that, after all she had suffered, she could not now bring herself into tune with the commonplace intercourse of life. Not that her friends utterly failed to lure her into it. She might well have been the victim of hysterics, but she was only distrait, pensive and gently smiling, with the smile of a good heart. Smiling with her had ever taken the place of conversation. It was an apology for not speaking when she could not speak what she felt.

Once during the meal she seemed to start slightly, as though she heard a familiar sound, and for some minutes afterwards she seemed to be listening, as it were, for a knock at the door, which did not come. Immediately after that, Patsy, happy in sitting down to table with "the quality"--for such they were to him--because he saw that Louise must be distracted, and because he had seen story-telling, many a time, draw people away from their troubles even more than music, said:

"Did you remember the day it is, anny of you? Shure, it's St. Droid's Day! Aw, then, don't you know who he was? You don't! Well, well, there's no tellin' how ignorant the wurruld can be. St. Droid--aw, he was a good man that brought the two children of Chief Diarmid and Queen Moira together. You didn't know about them two? You niver h'ard of Chief Diarmid and Queen Moira and their two lovely children? Well, there it is, there's no sayin' how ignorant y'are if y'are not Irish. Aw no, they wasn't man and wife. Diarmid was a widower and Moira was a widow. Diarmid's boy was Filion and Moira's girl was Fiona, an' the troubles of the two'd make a book for ivry day of the week, an' two for Sunday. An' the way that St. Droid brought them two together Aw, come outside in the gardin where the moon's to the full, an' it's warm enough for anny man or woman that's got a warm heart, an' I'll tell you the story of Filion and Fiona. You'll not be forgettin' the names of them now, will ye? And while I'm tellin' you, all the time you'll be thinkin' of St. Droid, for it's his day. It was nothin' till him, St. Droid, that he lived in a cave, you understan'? Wasn't his face like the sun comin' up over the lake at Ballinhoe in the month of June! Well, it doesn't matter if you've niver seen Ballinhoe--you understan' what I mean. Well, then come out intil the gardin, darlins. Shure, I'm achin' to tell you the story-- as fine a love-story as iver was told to man and woman."

So it was that Louise with eyes alight-for Patsy had a voice that could stir imagination in the dullest--so it was that Louise and the others went out into the moonlit garden, the prairie around them like an endless waste of sea. There they placed themselves in a half circle around Patsy, who sat upon a little bench, with his back to the big spreading elm-tree, which by some special gift had grown alone over the myriad years, defying storm and winter's frost, until it seemed to have an honoured permanence, as stable as the prairie earth itself.

As they seated themselves, there was renewed in Louise the feeling she had at supper-time, when she had imagined--or had her senses accurately divined? that Orlando was near, so sure had been the sensation that she had expected Orlando to enter the room where they sat. Now it was on her again, and somehow she felt him there with her. He was Filion and she was Fiona.

Since the day she had first seen Orlando, she had awakened to life's realities. There had grown in her an alertness and a delicate sense of things, which, though natural to one born with a soul that cared little for sordid things, was not common, except in Celtic circles where the unseen thing is more real than the seen; where gold and precious stones are only valued in so far as they can purchase freedom, dreams and desire.

Louise had not been thrilled without cause. Orlando, the real material Orlando, had driven out to Nolan Doyle's ranch, but having come, could not at first bring himself to enter. Something in him kept saying that it was not fair to her; kept admonishing him to let things take their course; that now was not the time to see her; that it might place her in a false position. Blameless though she was, she might be blamed by the world, if he and she, on the night that she fled from Joel Mazarine should meet, and, above all, meet alone--and what was the good of meeting at all, if they did not meet alone! What could two voiceless people say to each other, people who only spoke with their hearts and souls, when others were staring at them, watching every act, listening for every word. His better sense kept telling him to go back to Slow Down Ranch.

But there she was inside Nolan Doyle's house, and he had come deliberately to see her.

He stood outside in the garden near the great spreading elm-tree, torn by a sense of duty and a sense of desire; but the desire was to let her see by his presence that he would be a tower of strength to her, no matter what happened. It was not the desire which had possessed him whom Patsy Kernaghan had called the keeper of the "zoolyogical" garden.


Wild Youth, Volume 2. - 6/12

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