The Purchase Price
by Emerson Hough
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"And you yourself,—" began Dunwody grimly; "what do you plan?"

"I remain. I am a hostage. It will now be known where I am. You will be responsible for me, now. I fancy that will suit Washington as well as to detain Captain Carlisle as my jailer any longer. If I thought I needed him, I would not let him go. We are all of us going to be under parole, don't you see?"

"Is it your wish that we should give parole in these circumstances, Dunwody?" Judge Clayton himself smiled rather sardonically.

"I don't see why not, after all," said Dunwody, at length, slowly. "I don't see why that isn't about as wise as anything we can do. The law will do the rest of this work, and we must all be ready for it, as she says. Only one thing, gentlemen, before we part. As to this young lady here, I'll kill the first man, friend or foe, who raises a breath against her. Do I make myself plain? Put down your guns, then. I won't turn any man away, not even an enemy. Have you eaten, gentlemen? Are you rested enough to go to-night?"

An hour later clattering hoofs once more resounded along the Tallwoods road.



Leaning against the pillar of the gallery, Dunwody watched them all, old friends, late foes, depart. Josephine St. Auban stood not far away. He turned to her, and her gaze fell upon his face, now haggard and gaunt. He had ridden sixty miles since the previous sun, half the distance wounded as he was; had been without sleep for thirty-six hours, without food for almost as long, and now was suffering with an aggravated wound.

"You are ill," she said to him impulsively. "You're badly hurt."

"Aren't you glad to see me suffer?" he asked grimly.

"I am not glad to see any one suffer."

"Well, never mind about me. But now, you, yourself. Didn't I tell you to go to your room and rest?"

She was pale, the corners of her mouth were drawn, her eyes were duller. Neither had she slept. She also suffered, even now. Yet her courage matched his own. She smiled.

"It makes me crawl, all the way through, to see a woman hurt that way. Why did you try to climb out of that window? You weren't walking in your sleep."

"I was trying to get away from you. I thought you were coming. I thought I heard you—at the door." She looked him full in the face, searching it for sign of guilt, of confusion. "Was it not enough?" she added.

The frown on his face only deepened. "That was not true," said he. "I never came to your door. It was Sally you heard. I'll confess—I sent her, to get away those—those clothes you saw. I didn't want—you to see them."

"I believe you!" she said, low, as if she spoke to herself. "Yes, I understand now."

"Why don't you say I'm lying to you?"

"Because you are not lying. Because you tell me the truth, and I know it. I was mistaken."

"How do you know? Why forgive me? I don't want you to forgive me. You don't understand the madness—"

"What hope could there be in a particular madness such as that?" He could see her eyes turned on him steadily. He turned away, sighing.

"I am degraded for ever."

"Tell me," she flashed out upon him suddenly; "what did you think then of me, there on the boat? How did you dare—"

"I don't think I had any conclusion—I only wanted you. I just couldn't think of your going away, that was all. I'd never seen a woman like you, I'll never hope to see another your equal in all my life. And you sent for me, told me to come, said you needed help. I didn't know what you were. But I didn't care what you were, either. I don't care now. Your past might be what you liked, you might be what you are not, and it would make no difference to me. I wanted you. I'll never in all my life cease to want you. Who you are or what you are is nothing to me."

"But what is the right thing to do now?" he resumed, after a time. "Parole? Hostage? I don't need to tell you I'm the prisoner now. My future, my character, are absolutely in your hands. The fact that I have insulted a woman can be proved. It is with you, what revenge you will take. As a lawyer, I point out to you that the courts are open. You easily can obtain redress there against Warville Dunwody. And your relatives or friends will of course hold me accountable."

"Then you fear me?"

"No. What comes, comes. I am afraid of no one in the world but my own self. I fear only the dread of facing life—of looking about me here, in my own home, and not seeing, not hearing you.

"But you haven't told me what you wish," he added; raising his eyes at last; "nor what you intend to do. Tell me, when will your lawyers call on me?"

"Never at all," she answered at last.

"What do you mean?" he demanded. "To set me quit so easily? Oh, no."

"Never fear. You shall pay me ransom, and heavily."

"Ransom? Parole? Hostages? How do you mean?"

"What ransom you pay me must be out of yourself, out of your own character. I shall exact it a hundredfold, in shame, in regret, of you. Do you hold any of that ready to pay your debtor?"

He shook his head. "No, I'll never regret. But you don't know me, do you? My fortune is adequate."

"So is mine," she rejoined. "I could perhaps buy some of your property, if it were for sale. But I want more than money of you."

"Who are you?" demanded he suddenly, reverting to the old puzzle regarding her.

A sadness came upon her averted face. "Only a bit of flotsam on the human wave. How small we all are, any of us! And there's so much to be done!"

Half stumbling, he shifted his position, leaning his weight against the tall pillar of the gallery. He could see her plainly. In the light from the hall half her features were now thrown into Rembrandt lighting. The roll of dark hair framed her face, highbred, aristocratic, yet wholly human and sweet. Gravity sat on all her features; a woman for thought, said they. A woman for dreams; so declared the fineness of brow and temple and cheek and chin, the hand—which, lifted now for an instant, lingered at her throat. But a woman for love! so said every throb of the pulse of the man regarding her. And now, most of all, pity of her just because she was woman was the thought first in his soul. Already he was beginning to pay, and as she had said!

"You don't answer me," said he, at length, gently. "I can imagine your ambitions; but I don't learn enough of you."

"No," said she, with a deep breath. "As you said, we part, each with secrets untold. To you, I am of no consequence. Very well. I was born, no matter where, but free and equal to yourself, I fancy. I came here in the pursuit of life and liberty, and of the days of my remaining unhappiness. I suppose this must be your answer."

"You speak, at least, as though you had studied life—and history."

"I have lived. And I have seen some history made—for a cause. Sir, a great cause. Men will fight for that again, here, on this soil, not under man-made laws, but under a higher and greater law. You love my body. You do not love my mind. I love them, both. Yes, I am student of the law. Humanity! Is it not larger than we? Is this narrow, selfish life of yours all you can see—of life—of this law?"

"Yes," said Dunwody, grinning painfully. "I reckon maybe it was one of those 'higher law' abolitionists that shot me!"

"Shot? What do you mean?" Forgetting philosophy, she turned swiftly. Yet even as she spoke she now for the first time caught sight of the dark rimmed rent in his trousers leg, noted the uneasy fashion in which he held his weight.

"No one told me you were hurt—I thought you only tired, or perhaps bruised by some accident—when you fell, in there."

"No; shot," he replied. "Shot right in here, through the edge of the bone. When I tripped and fell, there in the hall, I broke the bone short off—it was only nicked at first."

"And you have been standing here, talking to me, with that?" She stepped to him swiftly and placed a hand under his arm. "You must go in. Come. Can you walk?"

Through his nerves, racked as they were, there swept a flood of joy, more sweet than that of any drug. He could see the blown hair about her ears, see the round of her neck, the curve of her body as she bent to aid him, putting her free arm under his, forgetful of everything in her woman's wish to allay suffering, to brood, to protect, to increase life. They passed through the door toward the foot of the stairs. Here she turned to him.

"The pain is very great?" she inquired.

"The pain at thinking of your going away is very great," he answered. One hand on the newel post, he bent down, his head on his arm for an instant. "Oh, you're making me pay!" he groaned. But the next moment he turned on her defiantly. "I'll not learn! If this was the only way for me to meet you, then I'll not regret a single thing I've done. I'll not! I'll not! I'll not pay! It all comes back to me, just what I said before. What couldn't we do, together?—I need you—I need you!"

"You must go to your room. You've been standing for an hour."

"But I've been with you. I can't hope for another hour like this. You'll be leaving me. But I'd live the hour over again—in hell with you!"

"I told you, when we all gave parole, that I would exact my price of you, in regret, in remorse."

"You shall not have it in regret, I'll not regret. But I'm paying! See, I'm telling you you may go, that you must go—away from me."



Eleazar proved a faithful messenger once more. Before the evening shadows had greatly lengthened, three figures appeared at the lower end of the approach to Tallwoods mansion house. Jeanne, as usual looking out from their window, saw these.

"It is the old man, Madame," she commented. "And yes, Monsieur le Docteur at last—thank the Bon Dieu! But one other—who is that?"

It was a very worn and weary doctor who presently swung out of his saddle at the gallery step. His clothing was stained with mud, his very shoulders drooping with fatigue. In the past few days he scarcely had slept, but had been here and there attending to the wants of surviving sufferers of the boat encounter. None the less he smiled as he held out his hand to Josephine.

"How is my patient?" he inquired. "Plumb well, of course. And how about this new one—I thought I fixed him up before he came home. I've been grunting at Eleazar all the way, telling him it's all foolishness, my coming away out here—he could have fixed Dunwody's leg up, somehow. I suppose you know the old man's son, Hector. He came along for good measure, I reckon."

The young man referred to now advanced, made a leg and pulled a black forelock. He was a strapping youth, attired in the latest fashion of French St. Genevieve. He bowed to this lady; but at the same time, the glance he cast at her French waiting-maid was evidence enough of the actuating cause of his journey. He had heard somewhat of these strangers at Tallwoods house.

"I'll been forget to tell the docteur h'all about Mr. Dunwodee," began Eleazar.

"What business have you to forget!" demanded Jamieson sternly. "Has anything gone wrong?"

"Mon pere," began Hector, "I'll tol' him, if he didn't tell the docteur about how Monsieur Dunwodee he'll broke it his leg some more—"

"What's that?" The doctor whirled upon him.

"It's quite true," said Josephine. "He had a fall, here in the house. He thinks he has broken the injured bone. I didn't know for a long time that he had been shot. He stood out here last night talking to me."

"Stood out here—talking to you—with his leg broken through—the front bone? Couldn't you have any mercy? You didn't have to use that broken wrist, but he—standing around—"

"He did not tell me, until the last moment. He said he thought he had a little fever and believed he would take a little quinine."

"Oh, quinine—a Missourian would take that to save his immortal soul—and quite as well as to take it for a broken bone like that. I did the best I could with it—out there in the dark, but it wasn't half dressed. Come—" He motioned Josephine to follow him to Dunwody's room.

Eleazar had slunk away about the house, but Hector, left alone with Jeanne, improved the shining hour. In a few moments he had informed her that he was most happy to see one so beautiful, one, moreover, who spoke his own tongue—although perhaps, it was true, not quite as that tongue was spoken in Canada. As for himself, he was a cooper, and had a most excellent business, yonder at St. Genevieve. But the society of St. Genevieve—ah, well! And so on, very swimmingly.

In the sick chamber Jamieson advanced with one glance at Dunwody's fevered face. "What's up, Dunwody?" said he. "What has gone wrong? Easy now, never mind."

He shook his head over the results of his first scrutiny. He turned to Josephine, "Have you ever seen anybody hurt?"

"I've been on two battlefields," said she. "I've nursed a little."

Dunwody turned to her a face whose eyes now were glazed with suffering. He nodded to Jamieson without any word.

"Sally, get some hot water, quick!" called out Jamieson in the hall. "So, now, old man, let's see."

He stripped the covering quite down and bared the lower limb, removing the bandage which he had originally applied. For a moment he looked at the angry wound. Then he pulled back the covering, and turned away.

"Well, well, what is it?" croaked Dunwody hoarsely, half-rising on his crumpled pillow. Jamieson did not reply. "I fell, out there in the hall. Weight must have come on the bad place in the leg. I think the bone snapped."

"I think so too! That mightn't have been so bad—but then you stood a while on that bad leg, eh? Now look here, Dunwody; do you know what shape you are in now?"

"No, I only know it hurts."

"If that leg were mine, do you know what I'd do with it?"

"No; but it isn't yours."

"Well, I'd have it off—as quick as it could come, that's all. If you don't, you'll lose your life."

"You don't mean that?" whispered Dunwody tensely, after a time. "You don't mean that, Doctor?"

"I mean every word I say. It's blood poisoning."

The only answer his patient made was to reach a slow hand under his pillow and draw out a long-barreled revolver, which he laid upon the bed beside him.

"I didn't think you such a coward," ruminated Jamieson, rubbing his chin.

"If you think I'm afraid of the hurt of it, I'll let you do your work first, and I'll do mine afterward," gasped Dunwody slowly. "But I'm not going to live a cripple. I'll not be maimed."

They looked each other firmly in the face.

"Is it so bad as all that, Doctor?" demanded Josephine. Her answer was a sad look from the gray old eyes. "Blood poison. Some kind of an aggravation. It's traveling fast."

Josephine gazed down at the bulky figure lying there prone, so lately full of rugged ferocity, now so weak and helpless. Her eye fell on the weapon lying on the bed. She gently removed it.

"That was what he preferred to my skill," commented Jamieson.

Dunwody turned, his gaze on Josephine now. "You don't belong here, now," said he at length. "You'd better go away."

"This is just where she does belong!" contradicted Jamieson. "If she has courage to stay here, I want her. I've got to have help. She'll do her duty, and with one hand tied! Can't you do as much? Haven't you any idea of duty in the world?"

"Duty!" Dunwody's lips met in a bitter smile.

"Listen here, Mr. Dunwody," began Josephine, "I've seen worse wounds than that, seen weaker men survive worse than that. There's a chance perhaps—why don't you take it like a man? I exact it of you. I demand it! Your duty to me is unpaid. Come. We must live, all of us, till all our debts are paid."

He made no answer at first save to look her straight in the face for a moment. "Maybe there is such a thing as duty," said he. "Maybe I do owe it—to you. I've—not yet—paid enough. Very well, then."

"Come," cried out Jamieson suddenly, "out you go on the table. Get a hand under there, girl."

There was no word further spoken. Gently they aided the injured man to his feet and helped him hobble through the hall and into the great dining-room beyond, where stood the long table of polished mahogany. Dunwody, swaying, leaned against it, while Jamieson hurried to the window and threw up the curtains to admit as much as possible of the light of late afternoon. Returning, he motioned Dunwody to remove his coat, which he folded up for a pillow. The remainder of his preparations necessarily were scant. Hot water, clean instruments—that was almost all. An anaesthetic was of course out of the question.

"Dunwody, we're going to hurt you a little," said Jamieson, at last. "You've got to stand it, that's all. Lie down there on the table and get ready."

He himself turned his back and was busy near by at a smaller table, arranging his instruments. "What then represented surgical care would to-day be called criminal carelessness. Next he went out to the front door and called aloud for Eleazar.

"Come here, man," commanded Jamieson, after he had the old trapper in the room. "Take hold of this good leg and hold it still. Madam, I want you at the foot on the other side. You may get hold of the edge of the table with your hands, Dunwody, and hold still, if you can. I won't be very long."

Swiftly the doctor cut away the garments from the wounded limb, which lay now exposed in all the horrors of its inflammation. . . . The next instant there was a tense tightening of the muscles of the man on the table. There was a sigh of deep, intaken breath, followed, however, by no more than a faint moan as the knife went at its work. . . .

"I'm not going to do it!" came back from under the surgeon's arm. "There's half a chance—I'm going to try to save it! Hold on, old man,—here's the thing to do—we're going to try—"

He went down now into the quivering tissues and laid bare the edge of the broken bone, deep to the inner lines. Thus the front of the shattered bone lay exposed. The doctor sighed, as he pushed at this with a steady finger, his eyes frowning, absorbed. The bullet wound in the anterior edge was not clean cut. Near it was a long, heavy splinter of bone, the cause of the inflammation—something not suspected in the hurried dressing of the wound in the half darkness at the river edge. This bone end, but loosely attached, was broken free, thrust down into the angry and irritated flesh.

For an instant Jamieson studied the injury. The silence of death was in the room. The tense muscles of the patient might have been those of a lifeless man. Only the horrid sound of the dripping blood, falling from the table upon the carpet, broke the silence.

"I had a coon dog once," began Doctor Jamieson cheerfully—"I don't know whether you remember him or not, Dunwody. Sort of a yellow dog, with long ears and white eye. Just wait a minute." He hastened over to the side of the table and bent again over his case of instruments.

"There's been all kinds of coon dogs in these bottoms and hills, I suppose, ever since white folks came here, but Dunwody, I'm telling you the truth, that dog of mine—"

By this time he had fished out from his case a slender probe, which he bent back and forth as he once more approached the table.

"There's wasn't anything he wouldn't run, from deer to catamount; and, one day, when we were out back here in the hills—I don't know but Eleazar here might remember something about that himself. . . . Hold on, now, old man!"

The old doctor's forehead for the first time was beaded. He wanted silver wire. He would have accepted catgut. He had neither. For one moment, in agony himself, he looked about; then a look of joy came to his face. An old fiddle was lying in the window. A moment, and he had ripped off a string. In two strides he was back at the dripping table, where lay one marble figure, stood a second figure also of marble.

"We were just trailing along, not paying much attention to anything, when all at once that dog. . ."

Doctor Jamieson's story of his famous coon dog was never entirely completed. His voice droned away and ceased now, as he bent once more over his work.

What he did, so far as he in his taciturn way ever would admit, was in some way to poke the catgut violin string under the bone, with the end of the probe, and so to pass a ligature around the broken bone itself. After that, it was easier to fasten the splinter back in place where it belonged.

Doctor Jamieson used all his violin string. Then he cleaned the wound thoroughly, and with a frank brutality drenched it with turpentine, as he would have done with a horse or a dog; for this burning liquid was the only thing at hand to aid him. His own eyes grew moist as he saw the twitching of the burned tissues under this infliction, but his hand was none the less steady. The edge of the great table was splintered where Dunwody's hands had grasped it. The flesh on the inside of his fingers was broken loose under his grip. Blood dripped also from his hands.

"I'm only a backwoods doctor, Dunwody," said Jamieson at length, as he began rebandaging the limb. "I reckon there's a heap of good surgeons up North that could make a finer job of this. God knows, I wish they'd had it, and not me. But with what's at hand, I've done the best I could. My experience is, it's pretty hard to kill a man.

"Wait now until I get some splints—hold still, can't you! If we have to cut your leg off after a while, I can do a better job than this, maybe. But now we have all done the best we could. Young lady, your arm again, if you please. God bless you!"

The face of Josephine St. Auban was wholly colorless as once more she assisted the doctor with his patient. They got him upon his own bed at last. To Dunwody's imagination, although he could never settle it clearly in his mind, it seemed that a hand had pushed the hair back from his brow; that some one perhaps had arranged a pillow for him.

Jamieson left the room and dropped into a chair in the hall, his face between his hands. "Sally," he whispered after a time, "whisky—quick!" And when she got the decanter he drank half a tumblerful without a gasp.

"Fiddle string in his leg!" he grinned to himself at last. "Maybe it won't make him dance, but I'll bet a thousand dollars he'd never have danced again without it!"

When at last Josephine found her own room she discovered her maid Jeanne, waiting for her, fright still in her face.

"Madame!" exclaimed Jeanne, "it is terrible! What horrors there are in this place. What has been done—is it true that Monsieur has lost both his legs? But one, perhaps? For the man with one leg, it is to be said that he is more docile, which is to be desired. But both legs—"

"It is not true, Jeanne. There has been surgery, but perhaps Mr. Dunwody will not even be a cripple. He may get well—it is still doubtful."

"How then was it possible, Madame, for you to endure such sights? But is it not true, how the Bon Dieu punishes the wicked? For myself, I was in terror—even though I was some distance away; and although that young gentleman, Monsieur Hector, was so good as to hold my hand."



Doctor Jamieson did not at once return to his other duties. He knew that in this case care and skill would for a time continue in demand. Little sleep was accorded him during his first night. Ammonia—whisky—what he had, he used to keep his patient alive; but morning came, and Dunwody still was living. Morphine now seemed proper to the backwoods physician; after this had done its work, so that his patient slept, he left the room and wandered discontentedly about in the great house, too tired to wake, too strained to sleep.

"Old—old—it's an old, tumble-down ruin, that's what it is," he grumbled. "Everything in sixes and sevens—a man like that—and an ending like this to it all."

He had called several times before he could get any attendance from the shiftless blacks. These, quick to catch any slackening in the reins of the governing power which controlled their lives, dropped back into unreadiness and pretense more and more each hour.

"What it needs here is a woman," grumbled Jamieson to himself. "All the time, for that matter. But this one's got to stay now, I don't care who she is. There must be some one here to run things for a month or two. Besides, she's got his life in her two hands, some way. If she left now, might as well shoot him at once. Oh, hell! when I die, I want to go to a womanless world. No I don't, either!"

His decision he at last announced to Josephine herself when finally the latter appeared to make inquiry regarding the sick master of Tallwoods.

"My dear girl," said he, "I am a blunt man, not a very good doctor maybe, and perhaps not much of a gentleman, I don't know—never stopped to ask myself about it. But now, anyhow, I don't know how you happened to be here, or who you are, or when you are going away, and I'm not going to ask you about any of those things. What I want to say is this: Mr. Dunwody is going to be a very sick man. He hasn't got any sort of proper care here, there's no one to run this place, and I can't stay here all the time myself. Even if I did stay, all I could do would be to give him a dose of quinine or calomel once in a while, and that isn't what he needs. He needs some one to be around and watch after things—this whole place is sick, as much as the owner of it. I reckon you've got to help me, my dear."

She looked at him, her large, dark eyes slightly contracting, making neither protest nor assent. He drew a long breath of satisfaction.

"Of course you'll stay," he said; "it's the right thing to do, and we both know it. You don't want to kill a man, no matter how much he desires or deserves it. Doctors and women—they sometimes are fatal, but they don't consciously mean to be, now do they? We don't ask many questions out here in these hills, and I will never bother you, I feel entirely free to ask you to remain at least for a few days—or maybe weeks."

Her eyes still were on his face. It was a face fit for trust. "Very well," said she at length, quietly. "If you think it is necessary."

It was thus that Josephine St. Auban became the head of Tallwoods household. Not that week did she leave, nor the next, nor the one thereafter. The winter advanced, it was about to wane, and still she remained. Slowly, the master advanced toward recovery. Meantime, under charge of the mistress, the household machine fell once more into proper ways. The servants learned obedience. The plans for the work of the spring somehow went on much as formerly. Everywhere there became manifest the presence of a quiet, strong, restraining and self-restrained influence.

In time the doctor became lighter in his speech, less frequent in his visits. "You're not going to lose that musical leg, Dunwody," said he. "Old Ma Nature beats all us surgeons. In time she'll fill you in a nice new bone along there maybe, and if you're careful you'll have two feet for quite a while yet to come. You've ruined old Eleazar's fiddle, though, taking that E string! Did I ever tell you all about that coon dog of mine I had, once?"

Dunwody at last reached the point of his recovery where he could grin at these remarks; but if anything, he had grown more grim and silent than before. Once in a while his eyes would linger on the face of Josephine. Little speech of any kind passed between them. There were no callers at Tallwoods, no news came, and apparently none went out from that place. It might have been a fortress, an island, a hospital, a prison, all in one.

At length Dunwody was able safely to leave his room and to take up a resting place occasionally in the large library across the hall. Here one day by accident she met him. He did not at first note her coming, and she had opportunity now carefully to regard him, as he stood moodily looking out over the lawn. Always a tall man, and large, his figure had fined down in the confinement of the last few weeks. It seemed to her that she saw the tinge of gray crawling a little higher on his temples. His face was not yet thin, yet in some way the lines of the mouth and jaw seemed stronger, more deeply out. It was a face not sullen, yet absorbed, and above all full, now, of a settled melancholy.

"Good morning," said he, smiling, as he saw her. "Come in. I want to talk to you. But please don't resume our old argument about the compromise, and about slavery and the rights of man. You've been trying—all these weeks when I've been down and helpless and couldn't either fight or run away—to make me be a Bentonite, or worse, an abolitionist—trying, haven't you? to make me an apostate, faithless to my state, my beliefs, my traditions—and I suppose you'd be shrewd enough to add, faithless to my material interests. Please don't, this morning. I don't want subjective thought. I don't want algebra. I don't want history or law, or medicine. I want—"

She stood near the window, at some distance removed from him, even as she passed stopping to tidy Up a disarranged article on the tables here or there. He smiled again at this. "Where is Sally?" he asked. "And how about your maid?"

"Some one must do these things," she answered. "Your servants need watching. Sally is never where I can find her. Jeanne I can always find—but it is with her young man, Hector!"

He shook his head impatiently. "It all comes on you—work like this. What could I have done without you? But yourself, how are you coming on? That arm of yours has pained me—"

"It ceased to trouble me some time since. The doctor says, too, that you'll be quite well, soon. That's fine."

He nodded. "It's wonderful, isn't it?" said he. "You did it. Without you I'd be out there." He nodded toward the window, beyond which the grass-grown stones of the little family graveyard might be seen. "You're wonderful."

He wheeled painfully toward her presently, "Listen. We two are alone here, in spite of ourselves. Face to face again, in spite of all, and well enough, now, both of us, to go back to our firing lines before long. We have come closer together than many men and women get to be in a good many years; but we're enemies, and apart, now. At least you have seen me pretty much as I am—a savage—not much more. I've seen you for what you are—one woman out of hundreds, of thousands. There isn't going to be any woman in my life, after you.—Would you mind handing me that paper, please?"

He passed the document to her opened. "Here's what I meant to do if I didn't come through. It wasn't much. But I am to pay; and if I had died, that was all I could pay. That's my last will and testament, my dear girl. I have left you all I have. It is a legal will. There'll never be any codicil."

She looked at him straight. "It is not valid," she said. "Surely you are not of sound mind!"

He looked about him at the room, for the first time in his memory immaculately neat. From a distance there came the sound of a contented servant's voice. An air of rest and peace seemed in some way to be all about him. He sighed. "I never will be of sound mind again, I fear.

"Make this paper valid!" he suddenly demanded. "Give me my sound mind too. You've given me back my body sound."

Her lips parted in a smile sufficient to show the row of her white and even teeth, "You are getting well. It is time for me to go. As to this—" She handed him back the paper folded.

"You think it's only an attempt to heal the soreness of my conscience, don't you?" he said after a time, shaking his head. "It was; but it was more. Well, you can't put your image out of my heart, anyhow. I've got that. So you're going to leave me now? Soon? Let it be soon. I suppose it has to come."

"My own affairs require me. There is no possible tenure on which I could stay here much longer. Not even Jeanne—"

"No," said he, at length, again in conviction, shaking his head. "There isn't any way."

"You make it so hard," said she. "Why are you so stubborn?"

"Listen!" He turned, and again there came back to his face the old fighting flush. "I faced the loss of a limb and said I couldn't stand that and live. Now you are going to cut the heart out of me. You ask me to live in spite of that. How can I? Were you ever married, Madam?" This last suddenly.

"You may regard it as true," said she slowly, after long hesitation. "Were you?"

"You may regard that also as true!" He set his jaw, and looked at her straight. Their eyes met, steadily, seeking, searching. They now again, opposed, stood on the firing lines as he had said.

"But you told me,—" she began.

"I told you nothing, if you will remember. I only said that, if you could feel as I did, I'd let the heavens fold as a scroll before I'd ask a word about your past. I'd begin all the world all over again, right here. So far as I am concerned, I wouldn't even care about the law. But you're not so lawless as I am. And somehow, I've got to thinking—a little—of your side of things."

"The law does not prevent me from doing as I like," she replied. It was agony that showed on his face at this.

"That demands as much from me, if I play fair with you," he said slowly. "Suppose there was some sort of law that held me back?"

"I have not observed any vast restraint in you!"

"Not at first. Haven't you gained any better opinion?"

She was one of those able to meet a question with silence. He was obliged to continue.

"Suppose I should tell you that, all the time I was talking to you about what I felt, there was a wall, a great wall, for ever between us?"

"In that case, I should regret God had made a man so forgetful of honor. I should be glad Heaven had left me untouched by anything such a man could say. Suppose that?—Why, suppose I had cared, and that I had found after all that there was no hope? There comes in conscience, Sir, there comes in honor."

"Then, in such case—"

"In such case any woman would hate a man. Stress may win some women, but deceit never did."

"I have not deceived you."

"Do you wish to do so now?"

"No. It's just the contrary. Haven't I said you must go? But since you must go, and since I must pay, I'm willing, if you wish, to bare my life to the very bone, to the heart before you, now—right now."

She pondered for a moment. "Of course, I knew there was something. There, in that room—in that wardrobe—those were her garments—of another—another woman. Who?"

"Wait, now. Go slow, because I'm suffering. Listen. I'll not hear a word about your own life—I want no secret of you. I'm content. But I'm willing now, I say, to tell you all about that—about those things.

"I didn't do that at first, but how could I? There wasn't any chance. Besides, when I saw you, the rest of the world, the rest of my life, it was all, all wiped out of my mind, as though some drug had done it. You came, you were so sweet, my lack was so horrible, that I took you into my soul, a drug, a balm, an influence, a wonderful thing.

"Oh, I'm awake now! But I reckon maybe that doesn't mean that I'm getting out of my dream, but only into it, deeper yet. I was mad for you then. I could feel the blood sting in my veins, for you. Life is life after all, and we're made as we are. But later, now, beside that, on top of that, something else—do you think it's—do you suppose I'm capable of it, selfish as I am? Do you reckon it's love, just big, worthy, decent love, better than anything in the world? Is that—do you reckon, dear girl, that that's why I'm able now to say good-by? I loved you once so much I could not let you go. Now I love so much I can not let you stay! I reckon this is love. I'm not ashamed to tell it. I'm not afraid to justify it. And I can't help it."

It was any sort of time, a moment, an hour, before there was spoken speech between them after that. At last they both heard her voice.

"Now, you begin to pay. I am glad. I am glad."

"Then it is your revenge? Very well. You have it."

"No, no! You must not say that. Believe me, I want you to feel how—how much I admire—no, wait,—how much I admire any man who could show your courage. It's not revenge, it's not vanity—"

He waited, his soul in his eyes, hoping for more than this; but she fell silent again.

"Then it is the end," he said.

He held up his fingers, scarred to the bone.

"That's where I bruised my hands when I clenched on the table, yonder. You wouldn't think it, maybe, but I love pictures. I've spent a lot of time looking for them and at them. I remember one collection—many pictures of the martyrs, horrors in art, nightmares. Here was a man disemboweled—they wound his very bowels about a windlass, before his eyes, and at each turn—I could see it written in the picture—they asked him, did he yield at last, did he agree, did he consent. . . . Then they wound again. Here another man was on an iron chair, flames under him. Now and then they asked him. Should they put out the flames and hear him say he had foresworn his cause? Again, there was a man whom they had shot full of arrows, one by one, little by little, and they asked him, now and then, if he foreswore his faith. . . . But I knew he would not—I knew these had not. . . .

"That's the way it is," he said slowly. "That's what you're seeing now. These scars on my fingers came cheap. I reckon they've got to run deeper, clean down into my heart. Yet you're saying that now I begin to pay. Yes. When I pay, I'm going to pay. And I'm not going to take my martyrdom for immediate sake of any crown, either. There is none for me. I reckon I sinned too far against one of God's angels. I reckon it's maybe just lasting hell for me, and not a martyrdom with an end to it some time. That's how I've got to pay.

"Now, do you want me to tell you all the rest?"

She would not answer, and he resumed.

"Do you want me to tell what you've maybe heard, about this house? Do you want me to tell whose garments those were that you saw? Do you want my past? Do you want to see my bowels dragged out before your eyes? Do you want to turn the wheel with your own hands? Do you want me to pay, that way?"

She went to him swiftly, put a hand on his arm.

"No!" said she. "What I want you to believe is that it's life makes us pay, that it's God makes us pay.

"I want you to believe, too," she went on after a time, "that we need neither of us be cheap. I'm not going to ask you one thing, I'm not going to listen to one word. You must not speak. I must go. It's just because I must go that I shall not allow you to speak."

"Is my debt to you paid, then?" His voice trembled.

"So far as it runs to me, it is paid."

"What remains?"

"Nothing but the debt of yourself to yourself. I'm going to look back to a strange chapter in my life—a life which has had some strange ones. I'm not going to be able to forget, of course, what you've said to me. A woman loves to be loved. When I go, I go; but I want to look back, now and then, and see you still paying, and getting richer with each act of courage, when you pay, to yourself, not me."

"Ah! fanatic. Ah! visionary. Ah! dreamer, dreamer. And you!"

"That is the rest of the debt. Let the wheel turn if need be. Each of us has suffering. Mine own is for the faith, for the cause."

"For what faith? What cause do you mean?"

"The cause of the world," she answered vaguely. "The cause of humanity. Oh, the world's so big, and we're so very little. Life runs away so fast. So many suffer, in the world, so many want! Is it right for us, more fortunate, to take all, to eat in greed, to sleep in sloth, to be free from care, when there are thousands, all over the world, needing food, aid, sympathy, opportunity, the chance to grow?

"Why," she went on, "I put out little plants, and I love them, always, because they're going to grow, they're going to live. I love it—that thought of life, of growth. Well, can I make you understand, that was what I felt over yonder, in that revolution, in mid-Europe. I felt it was just like seeing little plants set out, to grow. Those poor people! Those poor people! They're coming over here, to grow, here in America, in this great country out here, in this West. They'll grow, like plants extending, like grass multiplying, going out, edging westward, all the time. Ah, thousands of them, millions yet to come, plants, little human plants, with the right to live born with them. I don't so much mind about their creed. I don't so much mind about race—their color, even. But to see them grow—why, I suppose God up in His Heaven looks down and smiles when He sees that. And we—we who are here for a little time—we who sometimes are given minds and means to fall in tune with God's smile—why, when we grow little and selfish, instead of getting in tune with the wish of God—why, we fail. Then, indeed, we do not pay—we repudiate our debt to ourselves."

"You are shaming me," he said slowly. "But I see why they put you out of Washington."

"But they can not put God out of Heaven! They can not turn back the stars! They can not stop the rush of those westbound feet, the spread of the millions, millions of blades of grass edging out, on. That is what will make you see this 'higher law,' some time. That is big politics, higher than what you call your traditions. That will shame little men. Many traditions are only egotism and selfishness. There is a compromise which will be final—not one done in a mutual cowardice. It's one done in a mutual largeness and courage.

"Oh,"—she beat her hands together, as was sometimes her way—"America, this great West, this splendid country where the feet are hurrying on so fast, fast—and the steam now carries men faster, faster, so that it may be done—it may be done—without delay—why, all this America must one day give over war and selfishness—just as we two have tried to give over war and selfishness, right here, right now. Do you suppose this world was made just to hold selfishness and unhappiness? Do you think that's all there ever was to the plan of life? Ah, no! There's something in living beyond eating and drinking and sleeping and begetting. Faith—a great faith in something, some plan ahead, some purpose under you—ah, that's living!"

"But they banished you for that?"

"Yes, that's why they put me out of Washington, I suppose. I've been twice banished. That is why I came here to this country. Maybe, Sir, that is why I came to you, here! Who shall say as to these things? If only I could feel your faith, your beliefs to be the same as mine, I'd go away happy, for then I'd know it had been a plan, somehow, somewhere—for us, maybe."

His throat worked strongly. There was some struggle in the man. At last he spoke, and quietly. "I see what separates us now. It is the wall of our convictions. You are specifically an abolitionist, just as you are in general a revolutionist. I'm on the other side. That's between us, then? An abstraction!"

"I don't think so. There are three walls between us. The first you put up when you first met me. The second is what you call your traditions, your belief in wasting human life. The third—it's this thing of which you must not speak. Why should I ponder as to that last wall, when two others, insurmountable, lie between?"

"Visionary, subjective!"

"Then let us be concrete if you like. Take the case of the girl Lily. She was the actual cause of your getting hurt, of many men being killed. Why?"

"Because she was a runaway slave. The law has to be enforced, property must be protected, even if it costs life sometimes. There'd be no government otherwise. We men have to take our chances in a time like that. The duty is plain."

"How utterly you fail of the truth! That's not why there was blood spilled over her. Do you know who she is?"

"No," he said.

"She is the daughter of your friend, Judge Clayton, of the bench of justice in your commonwealth. That is why she wants to run away! Her father does not know he is her father. God has His own way of righting such things."

"There are things we must not talk about in this slavery question. Stop! I did not, of course, know this. And Clayton did not know!"

"There are things which ought not to be; but if you vote for oppression, if you vote yonder in your legislature for the protection of this institution, if you must some day vote yonder in Congress for its extension, for the right to carry it into other lands—the same lands where now the feet of freedom-seekers are hurrying from all over the world, so strangely, so wonderfully—then you vote for a compromise that God never intended to go through or to endure. Is that your vote? Come now, I will tell you something."

"You are telling me much."

"I will tell you—that night, when Carlisle would have killed you in your room there, when I afterward put you all on parole—"

"Yes, yes."

"I saved you then; and sent them away. Do you know why?"

"I suppose it was horror of more blood."

"I don't think so. I believe it was just for this—for this very talk I'm having now with you. I saved you then so that some day I might demand you as hostage.

"I want you to vote with me," she continued, "for the 'higher law.' I want you to vote with the west-bound wheels, with God's blades of grass!"

"God! woman! You have gift of tongues! Now listen to me. Which shall we train with, among your northern men, John Quincy Adams or William Lloyd Garrison, with that sane man or the hysterical one? Is Mr. Beecher a bigger man than Mr. Jefferson was?"

"I know you're honest," she said, frowning, "but let us try to see. There's Mr. Birney, of Alabama, a Southerner who has gone over, through all, to the abolitionists as you call them. And would you call Mr. Clay a fool? Or Mr. Benton, here in your own state, who—"

"Oh, don't mention Benton to me here! He's anathema in this state."

"Yet you might well study Mr. Benton's views. He sees the case of Lily first, the case of the Constitution afterward. Ah, why can't you? Why, Sir, if I could only get you to think as he does—a man with your power and influence and faculty for leadership—I'd call this winter well spent—better spent than if I'd been left in Washington."

"Suppose I wanted to change my beliefs, how would I go about it?" He frowned in his intent effort to follow her, even in her enthusiasm. "Once I asked a preacher how I could find religion, and he told me by coming to the Saviour. I told him that was begging the question, and asked him how I could find the Saviour. All he could say was to answer once more, 'Come to the Saviour!' That's reasoning in a circle. Now, if a man hasn't got faith, how's he going to get it—by what process can he reach out into the dark and find it? What's the use of his saying he has found faith when he knows he hasn't? There's a resemblance between clean religion and honest politics. The abolitionists have never given us Southerners any answer to this."

"No," said she. "I can not give you any answer. For myself, I have found that faith."

"You would endure much for your convictions?" he demanded suddenly.

"Very much, Sir."

"Suffer martyrdom?"

"Perhaps I have done so."

"Would you suffer more? You undertake the conversion of a sinner like myself?"

The flame of his eye caught hers in spite of herself. A little flush came into her cheek.

"Tell me," he demanded imperiously, "on what terms?"

"You do not play the game. You would ask me to preach to you—but you would come to see the revival, not to listen to grace. It isn't playing the game."

"But you're seeking converts?"

"I would despise no man in the world so much as a hypocrite, a turn-coat! You can't purchase faith in the market place, not any more than—"

"Any more than you can purchase love? But I've been wanting not the sermon, but the preacher. You! You! Yes, it is the truth. I want nothing else in the world so much as you."

"I'd never care for a man who would admit that."

"There never was a woman in the world loved a man who did not."

"Oh, always I try to analyze these things," she went on desperately, facing him, her eyes somber, her face aglow, her attitude tense. "I try to look in my mirror and I demand of what I see there. 'What are you?" I say. 'What is this that I see?' Why, I can see that a woman might love her own beauty for itself. Yes, I love my beauty. But I don't see how a woman could care for a man who only cared for that,—what she saw in her mirror, don't you know?"

"Any price, for just that!" he said grimly.

"No, no! You would not. Don't say that! I so much want you to be bigger than that."

"The woman you see in your mirror would be cheap at any cost."

"But a man even like yourself. Sir, would be very cheap, if his price was such as you say. No turncoat could win me—I'd love him more on his own side yonder threefold wall, with his convictions, than on my side without them. I couldn't be bought cheap as that, nor by a cheap man. I'd never love a man who held himself cheap.

"But then," she added, casting back at him one of his own earlier speeches, "if you only thought as I did, what could not we two do together—for the cause of those human blades of grass—so soon cut down? Ah, life is so little, so short!"

"No! No! Stop!" he cried out. "Ah, now is the torture—now you turn the wheel. I can not recant! I can not give up my convictions, or my love, either one; and yet—I'm not sure I'm going to have left either one. It's hell, that's what's left for me. But listen! What for those that grow as flowers, tall, beautiful, there among the grass that is cut down—should they perish from the earth? For what were such as they made, tall and beautiful?—poppies, mystic, drug-like, delirium producing? Is that it—is that your purpose in life, then, after all? You—what you see in your mirror there—is it the purpose of that being—so beautiful, so beautiful—to waste itself, all through life, over some vague and abstract thing out of which no good can come? Is that all? My God! Much as I love you, I'd rather see you marry some other man than think of you never married at all. God never meant a flower such as you to wither, to die, to be wasted. Why, look at you! Look . . . at . . . you! And you say you are to be wasted! God never meant it so, you beauty, you wonderful woman!"

Even as she was about to speak, drawn by the passion of him, the agony of his cry, there came to the ears of both an arresting sound—one which it seemed to Josephine was not wholly strange to her ears. It was like the cry of a babe, a child's wail, difficult to locate, indefinite in distance.

"What was it?" she whispered. "Did you hear?"

He made no answer, except to walk to her straight and take her by the arms, looking sadly, mournfully into her face.

"Ah, my God! My God! Have I not heard? What else have I heard, these years? And you're big enough not to ask—

"It can't endure this way," said he, after a time at last. "You must go. Once in a while I forget. It's got to be good-by between you and me. We'll set to-morrow morning as the time for you to go.

"As I have a witness," he said at last, "I've paid. Good-by!"

He crushed her to him once, as though she were no more than a flower, as though he would take the heart of her fragrance. Then, even as she felt the heave of his great body, panting at the touch of her, mad at the scent of her hair, he put her back from him with a sob, a groan. As when the knife had begun its work, his scarred fingers caught her white arms. He bent over, afraid to look into her eyes, afraid to ask if her throat panted too, afraid to risk the red curve of her lips, so close now to his, so sure to ruin him. He bent and kissed her hands, his lips hot on them; and so left her trembling.



It is the blessing of the humble that they have simplicity of mental processes. Not that Hector himself perhaps would thus have described himself. The curve of the black crow's wing on his somewhat retreating forehead, the tilt of his little hat, the swing of his body above the hips as he walked, all bespoke Hector's opinion of himself to be a good one. Valiant among men, irresistible among the women of St. Genevieve, he was not the one to mitigate his confidence in himself now that he found himself free from competition and in the presence of a fair one whom in sudden resolve he established in his affections as quite without compare. In short, Hector had not tarried a second week at Tallwoods before offering his hand and his cooper shop to Jeanne.

To the eyes of Jeanne herself, confined as they had been to the offerings of a somewhat hopeless class of serving persons here or there, this swaggering young man, with his broad shoulders, his bulky body, his air of bravado, his easy speech, his ready arm, offered a personality with which she was not too familiar, and which did not lack its appeal. With Gallic caution she made delicate inquiry of Hector's father as to the yearly returns and probable future of the cooperage business at St. Genevieve, as to the desirability of the surrounding country upon which the cooperage business must base its own fortunes. All these matters met her approval. Wherefore, the air of Jeanne became tinged with a certain lofty condescension. In her own heart she trembled now, not so much as to her own wisdom or her own future, but as to the meeting which must be had between herself and her mistress.

This meeting at last did take place, not by the original motion of Jeanne herself. The eye of her mistress had not been wholly blind all these days.

"Jeanne," she demanded one day, "why are you away so much when I desire you? I have often seen you and that young man yonder in very close conversation. Since I stand with you as your guardian and protector, I feel it my duty to inquire, although it is not in the least my pleasure. You must have a care."

"Madame," expostulated Jeanne, "it is nothing, I assure you. Rien du tout—jamais de la vie, Madame."

"Perhaps, but it is of such nothings that troubles sometimes come. Tell, me, what has this young man said to you?"

"But, Madame!—"

"Tell me. It is quite my right to demand it."

"But he has said many things, Madame."

"As, for instance, that you please him, that you are beautiful, that you have a voice and hand, a turn of the arm—that you have the manner Parisienne—Jeanne, is it not so?"

"But, yes, Madame, and indeed more. I find that young man of excellent judgment, of most discriminating taste."

"And also of sufficient boldness to express the same to you, is it not so, Jeanne?"

"Madame, the strong are brave. I do not deny. Also he is of an excellent cooperage business in St. Genevieve yonder. Moreover, I find the produce of the grape in this country to increase yearly, so that the business seems to be of a certain future, Madame. His community is well founded, the oldest in this portion of the valley. He is young, he has no entanglements—at least, so far as I discover. He has an excellent home with his old mother. Ah, well! Madame, one might do worse."

"So, then, a cooperage business so promising as that, Jeanne, seems more desirable than my own poor employment? You have no regard for your duty to one who has cared for you, I suppose? You desert me precisely at the time my own affairs require my presence in Washington."

"But, Madame, why Washington? Is that our home? What actual home has madame on the face of the earth? Ah, Heaven!—were only it possible that this man were to be considered. This place so large, so beautiful, so in need of a mistress to control it. Madame says she was carried away against her will. Mon Dieu! All my life have I dreamed—have I hoped—that some time a man should steal me, to carry me away to some place such as this! And to make love of such a warmness! Ah, Mon Dieu!

"Behold, Madame," she went on, "France itself is not more beautiful than this country. There is richness here, large lands. That young man Hector, he says that none in the country is so rich as Mr. Dunwodee—he does not know how rich he is himself. And such romance!"

"Jeanne, I forbid you to continue!" The eyes of her mistress had a dangerous sparkle.

"I obey, Madame, I am silent. But listen! I have followed the fortunes of madame quite across the sea. As madame knows, I do not lack intelligence. I have read—many romances, my heart not lacking interest. Always I have read, I have dreamed, of some man who should carry me away, who should oblige me—Ah, Madame! what girl has not in her soul some hero? Almost I was about to say it was the sight, the words, of the boldness, the audacity of this assassin, this brute, who has brought us here by force—the words of his love so passionate to madame, which stirred in my own heart the passion! That I might be stolen! It was the dream of my youth! And now comes this Hector, far more bold and determined than this Mr. Dunwodee. That assassin, that brute began, but hesitated. Ah, Hector has not hesitated! Seeing that he would in any case possess myself, would carry me away, I yielded, but with honor and grace, Madame. As between Monsieur Dunwodee and Hector—il y a une difference, Madame!"

"Je crois qu' oui, Jeanne—Je le crois! But it comes to the same thing, eh? You forsake me?"

"Madame, I confess sometimes in my heart there comes a desire for a home, for a place where one may abide, where one may cease to wander."

Josephine sat silent for a moment. In what direction might she herself now turn for even the humblest friendship? And where was any home now for her? The recreant maid saw something of this upon her face.

"Madame," she exclaimed, falling upon her knees in consternation. "To think I would desert you! In my heart resides nothing but loyalty for you. How could you doubt?"

But Josephine was wise in her own way. That night Jeanne kissed her hand dutifully, yet the very next morning she had changed her mind. With sobs, tears, she admitted that she had decided to leave service, no longer to be Jeanne, but Madame Hector Fournier. Thus, at the very time when she most would have needed aid and attendance, Josephine saw herself about to be left alone.

"But, Madame," said Jeanne, still tearful, returning after brief absence from the room, "although I leave now for St. Genevieve to stand before the priest, I shall not see madame left without attendance. See, I have asked of this Lily person,—la voici, Madame—if she could take service with madame. Madame plans soon to return to the East. Perhaps this Lily, then—"

"Ma'am, I want to work for you!" broke out Lily suddenly, stretching out her hands. "I don't want to go back home. I want to go with you. I cain't go back home—I'd only run away—again. They'd have to kill me."

Some swift arithmetic was passing through Josephine's mind at the time. Here, then, was concrete opportunity to set in practice some of her theories.

"Lily, would you like to come with me as my maid?" she demanded. "Could you learn, do you think, in case I should need you?"

"Of co'se I could learn, Ma'am. I'd do my very best."

It was thus that it was agreed, with small preliminary, that on the next morning Tallwoods should lose three of its late tenants. Josephine ventured to inquire of Dunwody regarding Lily. "Take her if you like," said he bruskly. "I will arrange the papers for it with Clayton himself. There will be no expense to you. If he wants to sell the girl I'll pay him. No, not a cent from you. Go on, Lily, if you want to. This time you'll get shut of us, I reckon, and we'll get shut of you. I hope you'll never come back, this time. You've made trouble enough already."

Thus, then, on the day of departure, Josephine St. Auban found herself standing before her mirror. It was not an unlovely image which she saw there. In some woman's fashion, assisted by Jeanne's last tearful services and the clumsy art of Lily, she had managed a garbing different from that of her first arrival at this place. The lines of her excellent figure now were wholly shown in this costume of golden brown which she had reserved to the last. Her hair was even glossier than when she first came here to Tallwoods, her cheek of better color. She was almost disconcerted that the trials of the winter had wrought no greater ravages; but after all, a smile was not absent from her lips. Not abolitionist here in the mirror, but a beautiful young woman. Certainly, whichever or whoever she was, she made a picture fit wholly to fill the eyes of the master of Tallwoods when he came to tell her the coach was ready for the journey to St. Genevieve. But he made no comment, not daring.

"See," she said, almost gaily, "I can put on both my gloves." She held out to him her hands.

"They are very small," he replied studiously. He was calm now. She saw he had himself well in hand. His face was pale and grave.

"Well," said she finally, as the great coach drove around to the door, "I suppose I am to say good-by."

"I'll just walk with you down the road," he answered. "We walked up it, once, together."

They followed on, after the coach had passed down the driveway, Dunwody now moody and silent, his head dropped, his hands behind him, until the carriage pulled up and waited at the end of the shut-in at the lower end of the valley. Josephine herself remained silent as well, but as the turn of the road approached which would cut off the view of Tallwoods, she turned impulsively and waved a hand in farewell at the great mansion house which lay back, silent and strong, among the hills.

He caught the gesture and looked at her quickly. "That's nice of you," said he, "mighty nice."

In some new sort of half-abashment she found no immediate reply. He left her then, and walked steadily back up the driveway, saying nothing in farewell, and not once looking back. For a time she followed him with her gaze, a strange sinking at her heart of which she was ashamed, which gave her alike surprise and sudden fear.

It was a much abashed and still tearful though not a repentant Jeanne who embraced her mistress, after the simple little wedding of Jeanne and Hector, when they had repaired to the wedding feast at the maison Fournier.

"But come, Madame," said Jeanne. "Behold my new home. Is it not delightful? This is the mother of Hector, Madame, and this—ah, this is the home of Hector and myself. To-night also it is yours. I am rejoiced. Madame," she added, in an aside, while Lily, stupid and awkward, was for the time out of the way, "I can not bear to think of your going away with but that impossible niggaire there to care for you. Almost—were it not for Hector and for this home—could you take Hector also—I should forget all and go with you even yet. To-morrow I shall go with you to the boat."

But alas! in the morning Jeanne had again forgotten.

When at last the busy little steamer swung inshore, presently to churn her way out again into the current, Josephine went aboard with only the colored girl for her company. Her heart sank strangely, and she felt more lonely than ever in her life before. She leaned against the rail for a time, looking at the banks slip back across the turbid stream. The truth was coming into her heart that it was not with exultation she now was turning back to the East to take up her life again. Something was different now—was it the loss of Jeanne? Again surprise, terror, shame, withal wonder.



Meantime, the storm dreaded as so immediate by the administration at Washington—the organization of a new political party, born of the unrest over the slavery question—had spent its force, and, temporarily, long since had muttered away in the distance, leaving scarce a trace behind it on the political sky. Austria, England, the Old World creeds of monarchies arrayed against popular governments, had their way at our capital, where the birth of an actual democracy impended. Active leadership by revolutionists trained in Europe was suppressed, removed; as in one instance we have seen. One abolitionist mass-meeting followed another in those days, but the results of all were much the same. Protests and declamation abounded, plan and leadership lacked. The strained compromise held. Neither war nor a new party came as yet, disunion was not yet openly attempted. Moreover, there was a deliberate intent upon an era of good feeling. Whig and Democrat alike forced themselves to settle down into the belief that peace had come. If men were slaves, why, let them be slaves. At that time the national reflex was less sensitive than it later became with increased telegraphic and news facilities. Washington was not always promptly and exactly advised of the political situation in this or that more remote portion of the country. This very fact, however, meant a greater stability in the political equilibrium. Upon the western borders the feeling of unrest now became most marked; and, more swiftly than was generally recognized, important matters there were going forward; but even in that direction, declared the prophets of peace, all now was more calm than it had been for years.

Six years before this time Mr. Wilkins, secretary of war, had proposed to organize Nebraska Territory and to extend thither the army posts; and in that same year Stephen A. Douglas, then of the House, had introduced a bill for the organization of Nebraska; but neither effort had had result. Two years later, Douglas, then in the Senate, once more sought to test the Squatter Sovereignty idea regarding the new western lands, but once more a cold silence met his attempts. Six months after that time the same bill, with the intent of attaching Nebraska to the state of Arkansas, was killed by Congress, because held to be dangerous. A third bill by Douglas, later in the same year, was also recommitted. The "Territory of the Platte" was the next attempt to be dropped. All these crude attempts were merged in the great Compromise of 1850. The might of party was brought to bear upon all questions of principle, and the country was commanded to be calm; indeed for a time was calm. It was the time of manacled hands and of manacled minds. Our government was not a real democracy. The great West had not yet raised its voice, augmented by new millions of voices pealing the paean of liberty and opportunity for man.

In this era of arrested activities, the energies of a restless people turned otherwhere for interest. To relieve the monotony of political stagnation, popular attention was now turned toward the affairs of Hungary. We could not solve our own problems, but we were as ready to solve those of Europe as Europe was to offer us aid in ours. Therefore, instant interest attached to the news that a Hungarian committee of inquiry had landed upon our shores, with the purpose of investigating a possible invitation from our republic to the Hungarian patriot, Kossuth, then in exile in Turkey.

The leader of this mission was General Zewlinski, an officer of the patriot army of Hungary, who brought with him a suite of some dozen persons. These, late in the winter of 1850-51, arrived at Washington and found quarters of somewhat magnificent sort in one of the more prominent hotels of the national capital. At once political and journalistic Washington was on the qui vive. The Hungarians became the object of a solicitude, not to say a curiosity, which must at times have tried their souls.

The first formal action of the Hungarian committee took the shape of a return reception, to be held in the hotel parlors. The invitations, liberal as they were, were sought for quite in excess of the supply, and long before the doors were open, it was quite assured that the affair would be a crush. The administration, for which Mr. Webster, our secretary of state, had not hesitated to write in most determined fashion to the attache Hulsemann regarding the presumptuous Austrian demands upon our government, none the less was much in a funk regarding "European obligations." Not wishing to offend the popular fancy, and not daring to take decisive stand, the usual compromise was made. Although no member of the administration was sent officially to recognize these unofficial ambassadors, a long suffering officer of the navy, with his wife and one or two other ladies, were despatched quasi-officially to lend color to the occasion.

Such splendor as could be arranged had been provided for the setting of this event. A Hungarian orchestra, brought with these commissioners, discoursed its peculiar music beyond a screen of palms and flowers. One of the great parlors had been prepared for those of the young who could not resist the temptation to dance. At the head of the little line of these visitors, now themselves in effect hosts, stood the old Hungarian general, Zewlinski, an officer over six feet in height, with white hair and wide white mustaches, a distinguished figure in the brilliant Hungarian uniform. Those of his staff near by added additional vividness to the picture. The ladies of the party, half of whom spoke English, were costumed quite in keeping, and endeavored by the graciousness of their manner to add to the good impression already formed by their more brilliant companions. Here and there the more sober uniform of an American army or navy officer might have been seen, brought thither on demand of his lady. The ladies themselves were out in force, and in their most brilliant array. The doors had not been opened for a half hour before all prophecies were more than fulfilled. The rooms were packed with a struggling mass of humanity, all eager to grasp the hand of the representative of Hungary and of the members of his company. Patriotism, liberty, brotherly love were in the speech of all. Never has our country been more full of zeal for liberty than then, never more inconsistent, never more swiftly forgetful.

In these circumstances, the somewhat bewildered commissioners did what they could graciously to discover to all their friendly feeling toward this country. For more than an hour they stood in line, bowing, smiling, accepting hands, offering greetings, a little wondering perhaps, yet none the less well assured of the attitude of this people toward their own country, and hoping there might later be substantial financial proof of its sincerity.

It was at about this time that there entered at the door near the head of the receiving line a young woman, for the time apparently quite unattended. She was brilliantly robed, with jewels flashing at neck and wrists, clad like a queen and looking one. Of good height and splendid carriage, her dark hair and singularly striking features might at first have caused the belief that she was one of this party of foreigners, toward whom she now advanced. A second glance would have shown her beauty to be of that universal world-quality which makes its owner difficult to classify, although assured of approval in any quarter of the world.

That this lady was acquainted with social pageants might have been in the first instant quite evidenced by her comportment here. Many eyes turned toward her as she approached the head of the line. She was unconscious of all, lazily, half-insolently observant, yet wholly unconcerned. Some observers choked back a sudden exclamation. A hush fell in the great room, then followed a low buzzing of curious or interested, wise or ignorant human bees.

There were many in Washington social circles who knew by sight or by reputation Josephine, Countess St. Auban, no longer than six months ago pronounced by one journal of the capital to be the most beautiful and the most dangerous woman in Washington. Yet even the most hostile of these suddenly suspended judgment as they saw her advance met now by that of the old Hungarian general himself. With the enthusiasm of a boy he fell upon her, both his hands extended.

"Countess—my dear child—at last you are here!" he exclaimed. Taking her by the hand he led her back to the line of his official company, volleying rapid exclamations in his native tongue. Eager groups fell into line near at hand, seeking to know what was toward.

"You left us!" at length exclaimed the old general, politely speaking in his best English, since these others were thus bound to hear. "Where you had gone we did not know. It was as though the heavens had opened. See then, Sir,"—he addressed the naval officer who stood near at hand—"the Countess St. Auban was one of the most important members of our little company—she was to come in advance of us, who also are in advance of a greater number. For a time we heard from her, then all was silent! She had disappeared!—But now, at last, my dear Countess, you are here! We shall succeed, it is certain; henceforth you will be of our party. Is it not true?"

Political, social and journalistic Washington then and there begged a sudden though silent pardon of the Countess St. Auban. A few journalists left the room quickly. An attache of the Austrian legation also hurriedly took his leave.

"But where have you been, my dear?" again demanded General Zewlinski, his hand again affectionately grasping that of Josephine St. Auban. "We have so missed you."

"I have been visiting some of the more remote parts of this country," replied she in even tones.

"So, then, you have not forgotten our mission from Hungary! Well, now we shall surely have the invitation for our Kossuth to come? Is it not true?"

"Assuredly, my dear General. You will find this country eager to meet him. But alas! I fear that Kossuth himself will find problems also in this country."

"Our own problem—our cause, dear Countess?"

"Pardon, General, really it is also the cause of this country. We think that in Hungary democracy is in peril. It is not less so here."

"But, my dear child, you would not cast doubt upon our plans,—you have not become lukewarm to our cause so soon, my dear?"

"No, no, General. But Europe does not understand America. America does not understand herself. I ask only that the great men of that country shall see the great problems of this. There we could win freedom by sword and gun. Here also that must yet be done. The time for such means has not yet arrived. Yet here also evil cries aloud. Soon war must come, here also—bloody war. We ask funds for Hungary. America soon will need funds for herself."

"Ah, you mean this problem of the North and South—of slavery." The face of the old general became grave. "I have talked with many," said he. "It seems incapable of solution. But have not your brilliant faculties, my dear Countess, suggested any solution? We learned to value your counsel over yonder."

"What could a mere woman do in a matter vast as this? My General, not all the wisdom of this country has suggested a remedy. I am but a woman and not wise. He who attempts to solve this slavery question must do what no statesman in all history has been able to do, what human wisdom here has failed to do for fifty years or more. America has spent thirty years of statesmanship on this one question, and is just where it started. This country, as Thomas Jefferson said so long ago, still has the wolf by the ear, but has not killed it and dare not let it go. Out there—where I have been—in the West—there the new battle must be fought. Now, my General, what difference, whether America shall help Europe. or Europe shall help America? The battle for democracy must be fought, in this generation, perhaps again in the next. What would be the result of that war, if either section won to the destruction of this Union? Ah! there, my General, is the danger to Hungary, the danger to Europe, to the cause of freedom and humanity. As I said, Kossuth will find things here to engage his best attention."

"I know your generosity," said Zewlinski, swiftly leading her apart and gazing her straight in the face as he spoke, in low tones none else might hear. "I know how you got your estates yonder—how wide handed you have been with your revenues. I know your strange, unhappy life, my dear. But have a care. Do not make that life more unhappy. Do not let your penitence, your devotion, your self-abnegation, carry you too far. Listen; times are very troublous abroad. The nations are banding against us—even France. He who gives may take. Let me tell you, be careful. Do not involve yourself. Do not jeopardize the good will of Louis Napoleon. Do not let your warm heart endanger your own good fortune."

She laughed almost gaily. "You suggest an idea, my General!" she said. "I still am rich. Since I advocate a measure, why should I not enforce it to the best of my ability? Let Louis Napoleon do as he likes with the widow of a man he murdered! Bring over our friend Louis Kossuth, General, as soon as you like! Meantime, I shall be busy here, seeking to set on foot certain little plans of my own."

"My child, you will be lost! Forget these matters. Come back with us to our own country. You are young, you are beautiful. You are a woman. As a patriot we love you, but you are a woman, and we would not rob you of your life. You are young. You did not love old St. Auban, who took you from your American mother. You did not love him—but you will love some other—some young, strong man. Many have sought your hand, my dear."

"You call me a lost child, General? Ah, you remember the term! At many battles there is what is known as the forlorn hope—those whom the French call Les enfants perdus—The Lost Children. Perhaps they perish. But at the next battle, at the crucial time, they rise again from the dead. Always there is the band of the Lost Children, ready to do what must be done. And always, at the last moment, are battles won by those who remain devoted, whatever be the cause."

Zewlinski nodded his gray head gravely. "It was thus my own sons died in battle," said he. "It was as I would have had it. But you—you are a woman! These things are not for you."

"See," she interrupted, gently tapping his arm with her fan. "We must not be too much apart. Let us return."

As they turned back toward the head of the line, Josephine gave a half-exclamation. Two figures were approaching, each of which seemed to her familiar. An instant later she had recognized the young northern officer, Carlisle, whom she had met under such singular conditions. With him stalked the tall young German, Kammerer. Their eyes lighted suddenly, as they fell upon her, and both advanced eagerly. There was new dignity in her carriage now, but she greeted them warmly.

"When we may, I shall hope to compare notes with you," she smiled. "You are still on parole to me."

"But you, Madam—you seem differently situated here. I am very glad to find it so." Carlisle was eager, flushed, frankly admiring.

"Yes, I scarce know which side the sea I belong. You know, I am half American, though my people lived abroad, in diplomatic work. By President Taylor I was chosen as one of the members of the Hungarian commission sent over by America to look into the cause of Hungary. In return, last year I had the honor of being asked to come to this country as one of the commission despatched to America in the interest of Hungary. I came over a certain time in advance, for reasons of my own. Meantime, I have had, it seems—well, call them adventures! I am not eager they should be known here. But if you like, you may call on me at my hotel—to-morrow?"

Both recognized a slight additional trace of hauteur in the deportment of the woman whom they now accosted. She herself saw a sort of hesitation on the part of Carlisle.

"I can't let you make any mistake about me," he began presently.

"How do you mean?"

"You are probably not advised about me. I'm a person of no consequence."

"An officer of his country's army can not say that of himself."

"But, I am no longer an officer of any army. I have been court-martialed—for my conduct there—you know—that fight at St. Genevieve. My abolitionist tendencies have always made me persona non grata in my own mess. There's been all sort of pressure brought on me to drop it. Now the government itself, not wishing these things to come to a focus, has ordered me to a court-martial. Very well, I've been sentenced. My parole is ended, for the law has acted on my conduct. Rather than go back many steps in rank, I have thrown up my commission. This morning I resigned. I am wearing my uniform, I don't doubt, for the last time."

"And that, although you fought in the cause of freedom! Although you have fought honorably in an earlier war! Is it not horrible!"

"I could not do otherwise," said he simply. "I have no regrets."

"But don't you see,"—she turned upon him suddenly—"it only leaves you all the more free!"

"I can not understand you."

"Will it not give you and your friend, Lieutenant Kammerer here, precisely the opportunity you've wished?"

"Still I do not follow you."

"My dear Countess," ventured the German, "I'll go anywhere under your orders. You may be sure of that."

She turned from them. "Come to my hotel, will you not, to-morrow? I may have something to say to you." Thus she passed back into the throng, and into the arms of fickle and repentant Washington, which marveled when she danced, flushed, excited, yet absorbed, with the gallant old general, himself intoxicated by the music and by all this warm talk of freedom, of equality, of democracy,—in Washington!



In her apartments at the hotel the following morning Josephine St. Auban looked over the journals of the day. There were many columns of description of the only social event of the previous day thought worth extended mention. The visitors from Hungary were lauded to the skies. There did not lack many references to the similarity between the present struggles of the Hungarian people and those of our own earlier days. A vast amount of rampant Americanism was crowded into all these matters.

Joined to this, there was considerable mention of the reappearance in Washington society of the beautiful Countess, Josephine St. Auban, now discovered to have been originally a member of this Hungarian commission, and recently journeying in the western states of the republic. This beautiful countess was now invested with a romantic history. She was a friend and protegee of the old General Zewlinski, a foreign noblewoman half American by birth, of rank, wealth and distinction, who had taken a leading part in the cause of Hungary in her struggle with the oppressing monarchies. Without any reference to earlier stories not unknown to them, and bolder as to Austria than those who then dwelt in the White House, the newspapers now openly and unanswerably welcomed this distinguished stranger to the heart of Washington. Unknowingly, when they gave her this publicity, they threw around her also protection, secrecy. As she read, the Countess St. Auban smiled. She knew that now there would be no second vehmgerichte. The government now would not dare!

What interested her more was the story at that time made current, of an unsuccessful attempt which had been made by a southern slave owner to reclaim his property in a northern state. The facts recounted that a planter of Maryland, with two relatives, had followed an escaped slave to the settlement of Christianville, Pennsylvania, where a little colony of fugitives had made common cause together. In this case, as was prescribed under the law, the slave owner had called to his aid a United States marshal, who in turn had summoned a large posse of his own. These had visited the home of the fugitive and called upon him to surrender himself to his owner. This the fugitive had refused to do, and he was backed in this refusal by a considerable party of men of his own race, some of them free men, and some fugitive slaves, who had assembled at his house.

"I'll have my property," asserted the slave owner, according to the report, "or I'll eat my breakfast in hell." One of the Marylanders had then fired upon the slave, and the fire was returned in general by the negroes. The old planter, a man of courage, was struck to the ground, killed by the blacks, his two relatives disabled, and several other men on both sides were wounded. The fugitive himself was not taken, and the arresting party was obliged to retire. Naturally, great exultation prevailed among the triumphant blacks; and this, so said numerous despatches, was fostered and encouraged by comment of all the northern abolitionist press.

Josephine St. Auban pondered over this barbarous recountal of an event which would seem to have been impossible in a civilized community. "It comes," said she, musing, "it comes! Ca ira! There will be war! Ah, I must hasten."

She turned to other papers, of private nature, in her desk. In a half hour more, she had gone over the last remittance reports of the agents of her estates in Europe. She smiled, nodded, as she tapped a pencil over the very handsome totals. In ten minutes more, she was ready and awaiting the call of Carlisle and Kammerer in her reception-room. In her mind was a plan already formulated.

At heart frank and impulsive, and now full of a definite zeal, she did not long keep them waiting to learn her mind.

"Are you still for the cause of freedom, and can you keep a secret, or aid in one?" she broke in suddenly, turning toward Carlisle. Looking at him at first for a time, inscrutably, as though half in amusement or in recollection, she now regarded him carefully for an instant, apparently weighing his make-up, estimating his sincerity, mentally investigating his character, looking at the flame of his hair, the fanatic fire of his deep set eye.

"I have sometimes done so," he smiled. "Is there anything in which I can be of service?"

"Time is short," was her answer. "Let us get at once to the point. I am planning to go into the work long carried on by that weak-minded Colonization Society; but on certain lines of my own."

"Explain, Countess!"

"It is my belief that we should deport the blacks from this country. Very well, I am willing to devote certain moneys and certain energies to that purpose. Granted I found it advisable and could obtain proper support, I might perhaps not return to Hungary for a time."

"Kammerer!" broke in Carlisle suddenly, "Listen! Do you hear? It's what we've said! It is precisely what you yourself have always said."

"That iss it!—that iss it!" exclaimed the young German. "The colonization—remoof them from this country to another, where they shall be by themselves. That only iss wise, yess. Elsewise must great war come—else must this Union be lost! Ah, Madam; ah, Madam! How great your heart, your mind. I kiss your hand."

"Listen!" she interrupted. "There are about three and one-third millions of them now. Say they are worth, old and young, large and little, one thousand dollars a head—monstrous thing, to put a price upon a human head, but suppose it. It would amount to but a few billions of dollars. What would a war cost between these two sections? Perhaps a million dollars a day! How much cheaper could these slaves be purchased and deported from these shores! Their owners regard them as property. The laws protect that belief. The Constitution establishes the laws. There is no peaceful way to end the turmoil, save by the purchase of these people. That is a solution. It will prevent a war. Let them be sent away to a place where they belong, rather than here."

"My dear Countess," said Carlisle, "you are, as usual, brilliant. Your imagination vaults—your daring is splendid. But as usual you are visionary and impractical. Buy them? To do this would require the credit of a nation! It would be subversive of all peace and all industry. You do not realize the sums required. You do not realize how vast are the complications."

She stepped closer to him in her eagerness.

"All it needs is money, and management. A start, and the country will follow. Mr. Fillmore himself was about to recommend it, in his last message. Let me furnish the money, and do you attend to the complications."

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