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- You Never Know Your Luck, Volume 1. - 3/10 -


adroitness by a perspiring gaiety natural in its origin and convenient for harmless deceit. He was fifty, and no gallant save in words; and, as a wary bachelor of many years' standing, it was a long time before he showed a tendency to blandish a good-looking middle-aged nurse named Egan who also lodged with Mrs. Tynan; though even a plain-faced nurse in uniform has an advantage over a handsome unprofessional woman. Jesse Bulrush and J. G. Kerry were friends--became indeed such confidential friends to all appearance, though their social origin was evidently so different, that Kitty Tynan, when she wished to have a pleasant conversation which gave her a glow for hours afterwards, talked to the fat man of his lean and aristocratic-looking friend.

"Got his head where it ought to be--on his shoulders; and it ain't for playing football with," was the frequent remark of Mr. Bulrush concerning Mr. Kerry. This always made Kitty Tynan want to sing, she could not have told why, save that it seemed to her the equivalent of a long history of the man whose past lay in mists that never lifted, and whom even the inquisitive Burlingame had been unable to "discover" when he lived in the same house. But then Kitty Tynan was as fond of singing as a canary, and relieved her feelings constantly by this virtuous and becoming means, with her good contralto voice. She was indeed a creature of contradictions; for if ever any one should have had a soprano voice it was she. She looked a soprano.

What she was thinking of as she sang with Kerry's coat in her hand it would be hard to discover by the process of elimination, as the detectives say when tracking down a criminal. It is, however, of no consequence; but it was clear that the song she sang had moved her, for there was the glint of a tear in her eye as she turned towards the house, the words of the lyric singing themselves over in her brain:

"Hereaway my heart was soft; when he kissed my happy eyes, Held my hand, and pressed his cheek warm against my brow, Home I saw upon the hearth, heaven stood there in the skies' Whereaway, whereaway goes my lover now?"'

She knew that no lover had left her; that none was in the habit of laying his warm cheek against her brow; and perhaps that was why she had said aloud to herself, "Kitty Tynan, Kitty Tynan, what a girl you are!" Perhaps--and perhaps not.

As she stepped forward towards the door she heard a voice within the house, and she quickened her footsteps. The blood in her face, the look in her eye quickened also. And now a figure appeared in the doorway--a figure in shirt-sleeves, which shook a fist at the hurrying girl.

"Villain'!" he said gaily, for he was in one of his absurd, ebullient moods--after a long talk with Jesse Bulrush. "Hither with my coat; my spotless coat in a spotted world,--the unbelievable anomaly--

"'For the earth of a dusty to-day Is the dust of an earthy to-morrow.'"

When he talked like this she did not understand him, but she thought it was clever beyond thinking--a heavenly jumble. "If it wasn't for me you'd be carted for rubbish," she replied joyously as she helped him on with his coat, though he had made a motion to take it from her.

"I heard you singing--what was it?" he asked cheerily, while it could be seen that his mind was preoccupied. The song she had sung, floating through the air, had seemed familiar to him, while he had been greatly engaged with a big business thing he had been planning for a long time, with Jesse Bulrush in the background or foreground, as scout or rear- guard or what you will:

"'Whereaway, whereaway goes the lad that once was mine? Hereaway, I waited him, hereaway and oft--'"

she hummed with an exaggerated gaiety in her voice, for the song had saddened her, she knew not why. At the words the flaming exhilaration of the man's face vanished and his eyes took on a poignant, distant look.

"That--oh, that!" he said, and with a little jerk of the head and a clenching of the hand he moved towards the street.

"Your hat!" she called after him, and ran inside the house. An instant later she gave it to him. Now his face was clear and his eyes smiled kindly at her.

"'Whereaway, hereaway' is a wonderful song," he said. "We used to sing it when I was a boy--and after, and after. It's an old song--old as the hills. Well, thanks, Kitty Tynan. What a girl you are--to be so kind to a fellow like--me!"

"Kitty Tynan, what a girl you are!"--these were the very words she had used about herself a little while before. The song--why did it make Mr. Kerry take on such a queer look all at once when he heard it? Kitty watched him striding down the street into the town.

Now a voice--a rich, quizzical, kindly voice-called out to her:

"Come, come, Miss Tynan, I want to be helped on with my coat," it said.

Inside the house a fat, awkward man was struggling, or pretending to struggle, into his coat.

"Roll into it, Mr. Rolypoly," she answered cheerily as she entered.

"Of course I'm not the star boarder--nothing for me!" he said in affected protest.

"A little more to starboard and you'll get it on," she retorted with a glint of her late father's raillery, and she gave the coat a twitch which put it right on the ample shoulders.

"Bully! bully!" he cried. "I'll give you the tip for the Askatoon cup."

"I'm a Christian. I hate horse-racers and gamblers," she returned mockingly.

"I'll turn Christian--I want to be loved," he bleated from the doorway.

"Roll on, proud porpoise!" she rejoined, which shows that her conversation was not quite aristocratic at all times.

"Golly, but she's a gold dollar in a gold bank," remarked Jesse Bulrush warmly as he lurched into the street.

The girl stood still in the middle of the room looking dreamily down the way the two men had gone.

The quiet of the late summer day surrounded her. She heard the dizzy din of the bees, the sleepy grinding of the grass hoppers, the sough of the solitary pine at the door, and then behind them all a whizzing, machine- like sound. This particular sound went on and on.

She opened the door of the next room. Her mother sat at a sewing-machine intent upon some work, the needle eating up a spreading piece of cloth.

"What are you making, mother?" Kitty asked. "New blinds for Mr. Kerry's bedroom-he likes this green colour," the widow added with a slight flush, due to leaning over the sewing-machine, no doubt.

"Everybody does everything for him," remarked the girl almost pettishly.

"That's a nice spirit, I must say!" replied her mother reprovingly, the machine almost stopping.

"If I said it in a different way it would be all right," the other returned with a smile, and she repeated the words with a winning soft inflection, like a born actress.

"Kitty-Kitty Tynan, what a girl you are!" declared her mother, and she bent smiling over the machine, which presently buzzed on its devouring way. Three people had said the same thing within a few minutes. A look of pleasure stole over the girl's face, and her bosom rose and fell with a happy sigh. Somehow it was quite a wonderful day for her.

CHAPTER II

CLOSING THE DOORS

There are many people who, in some subtle psychological way, are very like their names; as though some one had whispered to "the parents of this child" the name designed for it from the beginning of time. So it was with Shiel Crozier. Does not the name suggest a man lean and flat, sinewy, angular and isolated like a figure in one of El Greco's pictures in the Prado at Madrid? Does not the name suggest a figure of elongated humanity with a touch of ancient mysticism and yet also of the fantastical humour of Don Quixote?

In outward appearance Shiel Crozier, otherwise J. G. Kerry, of Askatoon, was like his name for the greater part of the time. Take him in repose, and he looked a lank ascetic who dreamed of a happy land where flagellation was a joy and pain a panacea. In action, however, as when Kitty Tynan helped him on with his coat, he was a pure improvisation of nature. He had a face with a Cromwellian mole, which broke out in emotion like an April day, with eyes changing from a blue-grey to the deepest ultramarine that ever delighted the soul and made the reputation of an Old Master. Even in the prairie town of Askatoon, where every man is so busy that he scarcely knows his own children when he meets them, and almost requires an introduction to his wife when the door closes on them at bedtime, people took a second look at him when he passed. Many who came in much direct contact with him, as Augustus Burlingame the lawyer had done, tried to draw from him all there was to tell about himself; which is a friendly custom of the far West. The native-born greatly desire to tell about themselves. They wear their hearts on their sleeves, and are childlike in the frank recitals of all they were and are and hope to be. This covers up also a good deal of business acumen, shrewdness, and secretiveness which is not so childlike and bland.

In this they are in sharp contrast to those not native-born. These come from many places on the earth, and they are seldom garrulously historical. Some of them go to the prairie country to forget they ever lived before, and to begin the world again, having been hurt in life undeservingly; some go to bury their mistakes or worse in pioneer work and adventure; some flee from a wrath that would devour them--the law, society, or a woman.

This much must be said at once for Crozier, that he had no crime to hide. It was not because of crime that "He buckles up his talk like the bellyband on a broncho," as Malachi Deely, the exile from Tralee, said of him; and Deely was a man of "horse-sense," no doubt because he was a horse-doctor--"a veterenny surgeon," as his friends called him when they wished to flatter him. Deely supplemented this chaste remark about the broncho with the observation that, "Same as the broncho, you buckle him tightest when you know the divil is stirring in his underbrush." And he


You Never Know Your Luck, Volume 1. - 3/10

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