2017年06月23日

You told us when you got back

All the circumstances as related exactly tallied with his own information received from the two guides who had brought her into Loring’s camp. And in spite of his knowledge of Jane’s character, the coarse embroidery that gossip was adding to the tale had left a distinctly disagreeable impression. Jane Loring had spent the better part of a week alone with Phil Gallatin in the heart of the Canadian wilderness. Van Duyn did not like Gallatin. They had known each other for years, and an appearance of fellowship existed between them, but in all tastes save one[115] they had nothing in common .

“What has this to do with——”

“Wait,” he said, his eyes now searching hers, his color deepening as he gathered courage, while Jane Loring listened, conscious that her companion’s intrusiveness and brutality were dragging her pride in the dust. “You went off into the woods and stayed five days. to camp that you’d been found by an Indian guide and that you hadn’t been able to find the trail—and all that sort of thing. Everybody believed you. We were all too glad to get you back. What I want to know is why you told that story? What was your reason for keeping back——”

“It was true—” she stammered, but his keen eyes saw that her face was blanching and her emotion infuriated him.

“All except that the Indian guide was Phil Gallatin,” he said brutally.

The hands that held the reins jerked involuntarily and her horse reared and swerved away, but in a moment she had steadied him; and when Van Duyn drew alongside of her, she was still very pale but quite composed .

“How do you know that?” she asked in a voice the tones of which she still struggled to control.

He waited a long moment, the frown gathering more[120] darkly. He had still hoped, it seemed, that she might deny it.

“Oh, I know it, all right,” he muttered, glowering.

Her laughter rather surprised him. “Your keenness does you credit,” she continued. “I met a stranger in the woods and stayed at his camp. There’s nothing extraordinary in that——”

“No,” he interrupted quickly. “Not in that. The extraordinary thing is that you should have——” he hesitated.

“Lied about it?” she suggested calmly. “Oh, I don’t think we need discuss that. I’m not in the habit of talking over my personal affairs.”

Her indifference inflamed him further and his eyes gleamed maliciously.

“It’s a pity Gallatin hasn’t a similar code.”

Her eyes opened wide. “What—do—you—mean?” she asked haltingly.

“That Gallatin is telling of the adventure himself,” he said with a bold laugh.

“He is telling—of—the—adventure—” she repeated, and then paused, her horrified eyes peering straight ahead of her. “Oh, how odious of him—how odious! There is nothing to tell—Coley—absolutely nothing—” And then as a new thought even more horrible than those that had gone before crossed her mind, “What are they saying? Has he—has he spoken my name? Tell me. I can’t believe that of him—not that !”

Van Duyn was not sure that the emotion which he felt was pity for her or pity for himself, but he looked away, his face reddening uncomfortably, and when he spoke his voice was lowered.

“I heard the story,” he said with crafty deliberateness, “at the Club. I got up and left the room.”

[121]

“Was—was Mr. Gallatin there?”

“No—not there?” he muttered. “He came in as I left. You know it wouldn’t have been possible for me to stay.”  


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2017年06月15日

erhaps fortune would have favored

Coleman Van Duyn appeared and claimed the next dance, which he begged that she would sit out. Jane agreed because it would give her a chance to think. There was little real exertion required in talking to Coley.

What could Nina want to tell her? And where—did she say? In the loggia of the tennis court—at twelve. It must be almost that now Polar.

At five minutes of twelve Nellie Pennington handed Gallatin a note.

“From Nina,” she whispered. “It’s really outrageous, Phil, the way you’re flirting with that trusting child. I’m sure you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”



“Will you answer my question?” he repeated doggedly.

“No. You have no right to question me.”

“I’m assuming the right. Your memory of the past——”

“There is no past. It was the dream of a silly child in another world where men were honest and women clean. I’ve grown older, Mr. Gallatin.”

“Yes, but not in mercy, not in compassion, not in charity.”

“Speak of virtue before you speak of mercy, of pride before compassion, of decency before charity—if you can,” she added contemptuously .

“You’re cruel,” he muttered, “horribly so.”

“I’m wiser than I was. The world has done me that service. And if cruelty is the price of wisdom, I’ll pay it. Baseness, meanness, improbity in business or in morals no longer surprise me. They’re woven into the tissue of life. I can abominate the conditions that cause them, but they are the world. And, until I choose to live alone, I must accept them even if I despise the men and women who practice them, Mr. Gallatin.”

“And you call this wisdom? This disbelief in everything—in everybody, this threadbare creed of the jaded women of the world?”

“Call it what you like. Neither your opinions nor your principles (or the lack of them) mean anything to[307] me. If I had known you were here I should not have come to-night. I pray that we may never meet again.”

He stood silent a long moment, searching her face with his eyes. She was so cold, so white and wraithlike, and her voice was so strange, so impersonal, that he was almost ready to believe that she was some one else. It was the voice of a woman without a soul—a calm, ruthless voice which sought to wound, to injure or destroy. It had been on his lips to speak of the past, to translate into the words the pain at his heart. He had been ready to take one step forward, to seize her in his arms and compel her by the might of his tenderness to return the love that he bore her. If he had done so then, p him—have favored them both; for in the hour of their greatest intolerance women are sometimes most vulnerable. But he could not. Her words chilled him to insensibility, scourged his pride and made him dumb and unyielding .

“If that is your wish,” he said quietly, “I will do my best to respect it. I’d like you to remember one thing, though, and that is that this meeting was not of my seeking. If I’ve detained you, it was with the hope that perhaps you might be willing to listen to the truth, to learn what a dreadful mistake you have made, of the horrible wrong you have done——”
  


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2017年06月07日

As she did so her eye caught

The larder was full, but she fished again—up stream this time, for evening might bring another mouth to feed. The morning dragged wearily enough and she came back to her fire early, with but four fish to her credit account. She hung the creel in its accustomed place and resumed her seat by the fire, her look moving restlessly from one object to another. At last it fell upon his coat which she had left on the couch in the shelter. She got up, brought it forth into the light and brushed it carefully. Several objects fell from its pockets—a tobacco pouch nearly empty, a disreputable and badly charred briarwood pipe and some papers. She picked up the objects one by one and put them back. the superscription of a letter. She drew it forth quickly and examined it again as though she had not been certain that she had read it correctly; then the other envelope, scanning them both eagerly. They were inscribed with the same name and address—all written with the same feminine scrawl, and the paper smelt of heliotrope. She held them in her fingers a moment, her lips compressed, her brow thoughtful and then abruptly thrust them into the pocket again and put the coat into the shelter dermes.

“Oh! You’re so tired,” she cried. “Sit down by the fire at once, while I cook your supper.” And, as he made no move to obey her, she seized him by the arms and led him into the shelter of the hut and pushed him gently down upon the couch. “You’re not to bother about anything,” she went on in a businesslike way. “I’ll have you something hot in a jiffy. I’m so—so sorry for you housekeeping jobs.”

He sat in the bunk, with a drooping head, his long legs stretched toward the blaze.

He looked down at her, a new expression in his eyes; yesterday she had been a petulant, and self-willed child, creating a false position where none need have existed, diffident and pretentious by turns, self-conscious and over-natural. To-night she was all woman. Under his tired lids he could see that—tender, compassionate, gentle, but strong—always strong. There were lines in her face, too, that he had not seen before. She had been crying. One of her hands, too, was bound with a handkerchief Stock market analysis.

“You’ve hurt yourself again?” he asked.

“No—only a scratch. My knife—I—I was cutting”—hesitating—“cutting sticks for the fish.”  


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