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The Maid of the Whispering Hills
by Vingie E. Roe
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"Why,—little one," she said gently, unconsciously falling into McElroy's words after a trick she had, "I—I understand. You need not give up the dog,—I know what you would say."

"No!" cried Francette fiercely. "No! Take him! Take him! I will make you take him! I will!"

She was whimpering, and Maren, stooping, laid a hand on the husky's collar.

Without more words she turned and followed her people down to the landing, half-dragging the brute, who hung back and turned his giant head to the little maid, standing with her hands over her face.

He snarled and bit at Maren's wrist, but she picked him up and flung him, half-dragging on the ground, for he was a mighty beast, into the first canoe.

"Push off," she said; and, taking her place in the prow, she raised her face to the cool blue sky, and turned once more to that West whose voice had called from her cradle, but, with some strange perversity of fate, her heart drew back to the squat stockade slowly fading into the distance.

The sweet wind of the Whispering Hills was very faint on her soul.



CHAPTER XXIX BITTER ALOES

Eight months passed over the country of the Assiniboine, bringing their changes. The short full-tide of the summer seemed to run out with the going of the venturers, and the autumn to come from the north-west in a night.

Great splashes of colour dropped on the land, spilled from the palette of some careless giant,—gold and crimson and purple. Glorious fires burned in the cooling skies and the sweet breath of autumn tingled in the air.

There was comment, and the shaking of heads among the old trappers. The wrong time of year to take the long trail with women,—the wrong time, but, bon Dieu! who was to stop that woman with the sombre eyes? Voila! A woman to thrill the blood in any man who was still warm with life!

"Love awakened in her would be a thing of flame and fury, they had thought, that long past day," thought Pierre Garcon to himself; "he and that friend of his heart, Marc Dupre,—it had been a thing of patient servitude, of transcendent daring, and Marc Dupre; ah! He had been a part of it. But there was much of mystery about it all, and no one knew, nor would any know, all that it had meant."

So the changes came and passed, and when Anders McElroy again opened his eyes to reason, the world was white against the pane of the one window of the little room,—the long snows had arrived. Winter was upon the Northland.

It was on a night when the wind without howled like a lost soul shut out from the universe and the sucking of the chimney-throat roared to heaven.

Edmonton Ridgar sat at the hearth gazing into the leaping flames, and Rette de Lancy passed and repassed among the shifting shadows, busy at some kindly task.

Long he lay, this man returned from the Borderland of the Unknown, and stared weakly at the familiar sights that were yet touched with a puzzling strangeness.

It seemed that this was all as it should be, and yet there was something lacking,—a great gap, whose images and happenings were wiped out as a cloth wipes clean a slate,—a space of darkness, of blankness, whose empty void held prescience of some great sadness. He lay on his side facing the fire, and twice he thought to speak to Ridgar with a question of this strangeness, and each time he was conscious of a vast surprise that the man did not answer.

His lips, so long unused to sane direction, had made no sound in the roar of the night.

And then Ridgar, drawn by that intangible sense of eyes upon him, raised his head; and, as their glances met, that great void flashed suddenly into full panoply of life peopled with a ring of painted faces against the background of a night forest, a leaping fire, and the heroic figure of a tall woman who stood in the dancing light and threw a hatchet at a painted post.

Ridgar's eyes, as he had seen them in the dimness of the outskirts of that massed circle, brought back the lost period of time and all that had passed therein.

He stared wildly at him, and then around the firelit room.

"Ah!" said Ridgar softly, getting slowly to his feet with a smile at once tender and exaggeratedly calm. "You have awakened, have you; eh, lad? Would you sleep the whole night away as well as the day?"

He came to the bed and took McElroy's hand tenderly in his, while he gave Rette a warning glance.

McElroy tried to rise, but only his head obeyed, lifting itself a bit from the pillow to fall helplessly back.

He looked up at Ridgar with a look that cut that good man's heart, so full was it of wild entreaty and piteous grief.

"Maren?" whispered the weak lips. "Maren,—where—?" And they, too, failed him.

"Safe," said Ridgar gently; "all is well. We are at De Seviere and there is no need to think. Do you drink a sip of Rette's good broth and sleep again."

With a sigh of ineffable relief the sick man obeyed like a child, falling back into the shadows, though this time they were the blessed shades of the Vale of Healing Rest.

Rette in a corner was wiping her eyes and saying, over and over, a prayer of thanksgiving for deliverance from death.

With infinite tact Ridgar kept him quiet, promising the tale of what had happened, and, when the flow of returning life could no longer be stemmed, he set himself the task of telling what he knew of those swift days.

It was again night, though a week of nights had passed since that on which the factor had awakened to consciousness, and Ridgar had dismissed Rette.

There was only the roar of the wind without, the whistle of the fire, and the two men alone in the room as they had been many a winter's night.

"Now,—where shall I begin?" said the chief trader, gazing into the fire. "At what point?"

"Maren," said McElroy eagerly, from the bed; "begin with her."

Ridgar shook his head.

"Nay, it goes farther back. Let it begin with the leaving of De Seviere and the coldness of my bearing to you.... Did you never think, lad, that it was but a blind, covering the determination to help you at the first opportunity? Thought you the friendship of years so poor a thing as to be turned in a day? Day by day my heart ached for some word with you, or even a glance that would make all straight; but those painted devils watched my every move, my every look, the very intaking of my breath, as the coyote watches the gopher-hole when the badger is below. Only for sake of the dead chief at my feet was I given such seemingly free leave among them,—for myself, I had been shipped as were poor De Courtenay's Nor'westers at Wenusk Creek. And now is the time when I must go farther back and tell you of the good chief who was my father, indeed, at heart."

Ridgar paused a moment, and his eyes took on a look of distant things

"Have you not wondered how it was, lad, that a man should live long as I have lived in the wilderness, alone, without ties other than those which bind him to the Great Company, without love of woman, without the joy of children?... I have not always lived so. Time was when I had my own wickiup, when I lay by my own night-fire and played with the braids of a woman's hair,—long black braids, bound with crimson silk and heavy with ornaments, for whose buying I paid my year's catch, when I looked into eyes black as the woods at night and dumb with the great love she could not speak.... She lived it one day ... nay, died it—when I had some words with a young man of the tribe, who drew a spear before I knew what he meant and hurled it at me. She...leaped between. God!"

He ceased again, and McElroy could hear his breathing, see the whitened knuckles of his hands grasping the poker from the hearth where he had absently stirred the leaping fire.

"It went quite through her,—a foot beyond her swelling breast, full for my only child, unborn.... She was Negansahima's daughter.... We mourned together, the old chief and I, and our hearts were bound close as the tree and its bark. In a far high hill of the Pays d'en Haut we put her to sleep with that last look of love on her dark face...and we made a pact to lie beside her when our time should come, he who out-lived the other to see the rites of the Death Feast. He has joined her. I saw his rites. So for this end, reaching far back, I did not return when you came back to De Seviere, going on with that rabble who dared not harm me who am to share the Sleep of Chiefs some day....

"So!

"Now for the rest. I know no more of Maren Le Moyne than that first tragic sight of her, hauled into the light by the brute DesCaut. I only know that she stood before those savages as fearless as a lioness and threw again and again, her black head up and sane, her young body under her own command in every taut cord and muscle, and that again and again and yet again the flying hatchet landed in its own cleft,—a wonderful performance!—putting off with coolness and skill the death they would see her decide, choosing neither man of you."

"But," cried McElroy, "it was De Courtenay she came to see,—to save,—to die with,—she loved him, man!"

"Aye,—maybe. But I know only that that young trapper, Marc Dupre, gave his life as gallantly as might be to cover our retreat while we, the Nor'wester and I, slipping among the sleepers, carried you to the river; that they woke, those devils, before we had cleared the little gorge, and that M'sieu de Courtenay, brave man and gay cavalier, gave your knees to this woman who helped me get you to the canoe, himself taking the only gun and meeting what fate was his in the narrow seam among the rocks. She had with her men of Mr. Mowbray's brigade, that she had got somewhere on Winnipeg, and we put you in their waiting canoe. She was dragged in among the thwarts,—while I—slipped back among the shadows, circled the camp, and was at my death-watch inside the big tepee when peering eyes looked in. I saw no more of the dashing Nor'wester, save a flash of long gold curls at a headman's belt. What fate was meted out to him was swift and therefore merciful. Peace be to him!

"No more I know, my friend, save that, when I returned to De Seviere, I found you ill with some fever of the brain."

"But, Ridgar, for love of Heaven, what of Maren?"

"She had brought you here, and Rette says the women hung off from her and laughed in corners, whispering and talking, and that her face was worn and greatly changed, as if with some deep sorrow."

McElroy turned his head upon the pillow and weak tears smarted under his lids.

"Me! It was I she saved when it was I who slew her lover! God forgive me, for I cannot forgive myself!"

"Nay, boy, hush! It is all as God wills. We are but shuttles in the web of this tangled life."

"But—tell me,—what does she now? How looks her dear face?"

Ridgar was silent a moment, and McElroy repeated his question, with his face still turned away:

"Does she pass among them,—the vipers? Does she seem to care for life at all now?"

"Lad," said Ridgar gently, "I know not, for she is gone."

"Gone!"

The pale man on the pillow sprang upright, staring at the other with open mouth.

"Aye, softly, boy; softly! She has been gone these many weeks; even while summer was here she gathered her people, outfitted by our men, all of whom were so glad for your deliverance that they gave readily to their debt, and took up again her long trail to the Athabasca. Rette, I believe, has a letter which she left for you.... Would you read it now?"

McElroy nodded dumbly, and Ridgar went out in the night to Rette's cabin for this last link between the factor and the woman he loved.

When he returned, and McElroy had taken it in his shaking hands, he sat down and turned his face to the fire.

There was silence while the flames crackled and the chimney roared, and presently the factor said heavily:

"I cannot! Read..."

So Ridgar, bending in the light, read aloud Maren's letter.

At its end the man on the bed turned his face to the wall and spoke no more.

From that time forth the tide of returning life in him stopped sluggishly, as if the locks were set in some ocean-tapping channel.

The bleakness of the cold north winter was in his heart and life was barren as the eastern meadows.

So passed the days and the weeks, with quip and jest from Ridgar, whose eyes wore a puzzled expression; with such coddling and coaxing from Rette as would have spoiled a well man, and, with not the least to be counted, daily visits to the factory of the little Francette, who defied the populace and came openly.

With returned consciousness to McElroy, there came back to the little maid much of her damask beauty. The pretty cheeks bloomed again and she was like some bright butterfly flitting about the bare room in her red kirtle.

Sometimes McElroy would smile, watching her play with a young bob-cat, which some trapper had brought her from the woods, and whose savage playfulness seemed to be held in leash under her small hands. The creature would mouth and fawn upon her, taking her cuffs and slaps, and follow her about like a dog.

Rette tolerated the two with a bad grace, for, since the day when Maren Le Moyne had stood at the door with her haggard beauty so wistfully sad, her sympathies had been all with the strange girl of Grand Portage.

Light and flitting, sparkling as an elf, full to the brim of laughter and light, little Francette was playing the deepest game of her life.

With the cunning of a woman she was trying to woo this man back to the joy of earth, to wind herself into his heart, and so to fill his hours with her brightness that he would come to need her always.

So she came by day and day, and now it would be some steaming dainty cooked at her father's hearth by her own hands, again a branch of the fir-tree coated with ice and sparkling with a million gems, that she brought into the dull blankness of the room, and with her there always came a fresh sweet breath of the winter world without.

McElroy smiled at her pretty conceits, her babbling talk, her gambols, and her gifts.

"What have you done with Loup, little one?" he asked, one day. "Does he wait on the steps to growl at this usurper purring at your heels?"

The little maid grew pearly white and looked away at Rette fearfully, as if at sudden loss, in danger of some betrayal.

"Nay," she said, "Loup...is an ingrate. He has ceased to care."

And always after she avoided aught that could excite mention of the dog.

But, in spite of all her effort, McElroy lay week after week in the back room, looking for hours together into the red heart of the fire, silent, uncomplaining, in no apparent pain, but shiftless as an Indian in the matter of life.

The business of the factory was brought to him nightly by Ridgar and the young clerk Gifford, and he would look over things and make a few suggestions, dispose of this and that as a matter of course and fall back into his lethargy.

"What think you, M'sieu?" asked Rette anxiously, of Ridgar. "Is there naught to stir him from these hours of dulness?"

"I know not, Rette. Would I did! The surgeon says there is nothing wrong with the man, save lack of desire to live. He has lost the love of life."

And so it seemed. Weeks dragged themselves by and months rolled after them, and still he lay in a great weakness that held his strong limbs as in a vice.

Winter was roaring itself away with tearing winds, with snow that fell and drifted against the stockade wall, and fell again, with vast silences and cold that glazed the surface of the world with ice.

January dragged slowly by, with dances for the young couples in the cabins at nights, and little Francette, for the first time in her life, refused to share in the merry-making of which she had always been the heart and soul.

Instead, she lay awake in the attic of the Moline cabin and cried in her hands, listening to the whirl of the nights without.

Alone in those long vigils instinct was telling her that she had failed. Failed utterly!

The young factor cared no more for her than on that night in spring when he had kissed her and told her to "play in the sunshine and think no more of him."

She had played for a man and failed.

Moreover, she had not played fairly, and for her wickedness he lay now as he had lain so long, drifting slowly but surely toward that land of shadows whence there is no return.

She clinched her small hands in the darkness and wept, and they were woman's tears.

Back to her led all the threads of tragedy, of death and danger and heartbreak, that had so hopelessly tangled themselves in Fort de Seviere.

But for that one hour at the factory steps what time she lay in McElroy's arms and saw Maren Le Moyne pause at the corner, all would be well.

Young Marc, Dupre would be singing his gay French songs with his red cap tilted on his curls, that handsome Nor'wester of the Saskatchewan would be going his merry way, loving here and there,—instead of bleaching their bones in some distant forest, as the whispers said; and, last of all, this man she loved with all the intensity of her soul would be brown and strong with life, not the weary wreck of a man who gazed into the fire and would not get well.

So the long nights took toll of the little Francette and a purpose grew in her chastened heart, a purpose far too big for it.

At last the purpose blossomed into full maturity, hastened by the dark shadows that were beginning to spread beneath McElroy's hopeless eyes, as if the spirit, so little in the body, were already leaving it to its earthly end, and one day at dusk, trembling and afraid, she went to the factory for the last time.

"Rette," she said plaintively, "will you leave me alone with M'sieu the factor for an hour? Think what you will," she added fiercely, as she saw the woman's look; "tell all the populace! I care not! Only give me one hour! Mon Dieu! A little space to pay the debt of life! Leave me, Rette, as you hope for Heaven!"

And Rette, wondering and vaguely touched, complied.

McElroy was looking, after his habit, at the leaping flames and his thin hands played absently and constantly with the covering of the bed, when the door opened and closed and the little maid stood shrinking against it.

He did not look up for long, thinking, if his dull mind could form a thought through his melancholy dreams, that Ridgar had come in.

At last a sigh that was like a gasp pierced his lethargy and he raised his eyes.

She stood with one small hand over her beating heart and her cheeks white in the firelight.

"Ah! little one!" he said gently. "Why did you come through such a night? 'Tis wild as—as—Sit in the big chair," he added kindly.

But Francette, in whose face was an unbearable anguish, came swiftly and fell on her knees beside the bed, raising her eyes to his.

"M'sieu!" she cried, with great labouring breaths. "Oh! M'sieu, I have come to confess! If there is in your good heart pity for one who has sinned beyond pardon, give it me, I pray, for love of the good God!" McElroy stared down at her in wonder.

"Confess? Sinned?" he said. "Why, little one, what can a child like you know of sin? 'Tis only some blunderer like myself who should speak its damnable name."

"Nay, nay! Oh, no! No! No! Not on you is there one lightest touch, M'sieu, but on me,—me—me—does rest the weight of all!"

Her eyes were wide and full of tears, and McElroy laid a weak hand on her head.

"Hush, child!" he said, with some of his old sternness, when condemning wrong; "there is a fever at your brain. You have come too long to this dull room—"

"No! No! Take away your hand! Touch me not, M'sieu, for I am as dust beneath your feet! I alone am at bottom of all that has happened in Fort de Seviere this year past! Through me alone have come death and sorrow and misunderstanding! I caused it all, M'sieu, because I—loved you! For love of you and hope to gain your heart I set you apart from that woman of Grand Portage!"

She buried her face on the covering of the bed and her voice came muffled and choking.

"That night at the factory steps,—you recall, M'sieu,—she came to you,—I saw her in the dusk as she turned at the corner, a rod away, saw her and knew with some touch of deviltry the sudden way of keeping you from her, your arms from about her, your lips from hers! Oh, that I could not bear, M'sieu! Not though I died for it! So I threw my own arms about your throat—you remember, M'sieu—and whispered that for one kiss I would go and forget. In the gentleness of your heart you kissed me—and—she saw that kiss. Saw me lying in your arms as if you held me there from love,—saw and turned away. She made no sound in the soft dust, and when I loosed your face from my clasp she was gone! So I broke your faith, M'sieu,—so I dragged forth one by one all the sorry happenings that have followed that evil night."

The muffled voice fell silent, save for the sobs that would no longer be withheld, and there was an awful stillness in the room, broken by a stick falling on the hearth and the added roar in the chimney.

When Francette raised her weeping eyes she saw McElroy's face above her like a mask.

Its lips were open as if breath had suddenly been denied them, its wasted cheeks were blue, and its eyes stared down upon her in horror:

"Oh! O God! Rette!"

She screamed and sprang up, to run back and crouch against the empty chair beside the hearth.

The figure upon the bed, half-risen, worked its lips and then fell back, and the little maid raised her voice and screamed again and again in mortal terror.

It brought Rette running from where she had waited in the trading-room.

She raised him, and her face was red with rage.

"What have you done! You evil cat! What have you done to the man?"

But McElroy's breast had heaved with a great breath, sweet as the wind over a harvest field to a tired man, and he looked up at Rette with eyes that seemed to be suddenly flooded with life.

"Done?" he whispered; "done, Rette? The child has given me salvation!" And then he held out a shaking, thin hand.

"Come here," he said softly; "come here."

Fearful, trembling, tear-stained Francette crept back, and the factor took both her small hands in a tender clasp:

"I thank you, little one," he said, "from my heart I thank you,—there is nothing to forgive. We are all sinners through the only bit of Heaven we possess,—love. Go, little one, and cease this crying. Know that I shall sleep this night in a mighty peace. You have given me—life!"



CHAPTER XXX THE LAND OF THE WHISPERING HILLS

Springtime once more kissed all the wilderness into tender green. From the depths of the forest, lacing its myriad branches in finest fluff of young leaves, came the old-new sound of birds at the mating, rivers and tiny streams rushed and tumbled to the lakes, and overhead a sky as blue and sweet as the eyes of loved rocked its baby clouds in cradles of fresh winds.

They blew over vast reaches of forest and plain, these winds, wimpling the new grass with playful fingers, and whispering in the ear of bird and bee and flower that spring was come once more.

They came from the west, sweeping over sweet high meadows, over rushing streams, and down from fair plateaus, and their breath was fresh and cool with promise to one who faced them, eager in his hope, for they brought the virgin sweetness of the Land of the Whispering Hills. By streams, clear as crystal, he passed with a swinging stride, this lean young man in the buckskins of the forest traveller, over meadows soft in their green carpets, through woodlands whose flecked sunshine quivered and shook on the young moss beneath, and ever his face was lifted to the west with undying hope, with calmness of faith, and that great joy which is humble in its splendour.

Thus he swung forward all through the pleasant hours of that last day. Before him, raised against the sky, there loomed the magic Hills themselves, fair to the eye of man, clothed in the green of blowing grass and girdled about below with the encroaching forest.

At dusk he set foot upon their swelling slopes, and knew himself to be near the goal of his heart's desire.

Over among them somewhere lay the blue lake. He could already hear the murmur of its whispering shores, the roar of its circling forests, for the trees followed on and over through some low defile as if loath to lose the hills themselves, rising to heaven in virgin smoothness of cloud-shadowed verdure.

The sun had gone behind them in splendid panoply of fire when he came down into the sheltered woods, and through them to a wondrous meadow, beautiful as the fields of Paradise, sloping, to the shore beyond where waters blue as the sky above sent back the pageantry of light.

Here were the signs of tillage and cultivation, and even now a long dark strip attested the spring's new work, sending forth on the evening air the sweet scent of fresh-turned earth.

Beyond, across the field, in the edge of the farther woods, thin blue smoke curled peacefully up from the pointed tops of some forty native lodges, while nearer the lake there stood two cabins, one old and solid with a look of having faced the elements for years, the other staring in its newness. Indian ponies grazed at the clearing's edge or drank of the rippling waters on the pebbly beach, and a plough lay in the last furrow.

The stranger stood in amaze and gazed on the scene before him.

While he looked women came from the cabins and passed blithely about at evening tasks, and one went to the lake with a vessel for water. He could see its gleam in the reflection of the gorgeous light.

Thin and high came the sound of a voice singing, the ring of an axe somewhere in the wood beyond the cabins, and peace ineffable seemed to lie upon this blessed place. Here truly was Arcadia.

Long he stood in the fringe of the forest and looked eagerly among the distant figures for one, taller than all the rest, clad in plain dark garments, whose regal head should catch the dying glow, but strain as he might, he saw no familiar form, could not detect the free and swinging step.

Now that the goal of his hope was so near, within the very grasp of his hand, a strange timidity fell upon him, and he shrank from crossing the open field.

Rather would he follow the circling wood and come out at the upper end by the lake, going down along the shore to the cabins.

Keeping well within the trees, giants of the wild nursed in this cradle of sun and water, he bore to the north and ever his eager eyes peered between the bolls at the distant habitat.

He had gone but short space when, suddenly, he stopped, drawn up by sight of what lay in his path.

He had pierced a thicket of hanging vines, too eager to go around, and come abruptly upon some pagan shrine, some savage Holy of Holies.

And yet not wholly savage, for the signs of the red man and the white were strangely blended.

In the centre of the open space within the hanging wall of the vines,—perfect sylvan temple,—there lay a mounded grave, covered from head to foot with articles he knew at once to be the gifts of Indians to some great chief gone to the shadowy hunting-grounds. Rich they were, these gifts, in workmanship and carving, though mean and poor in quality, showing that great love had attended their giving, though the givers themselves must be a meagre people.

At the head of the mound towered a gigantic totem pole, carved and painted with scenes of a most minute history, while at the foot of a smaller stake, alike carved and coloured, bore, one upon another, twelve rings of bone, each one of which stood for the circle of a year.

Crossed and shielded with infinite care, in the centre there lay a set of smith's tools, crudely fashioned and well worn, tongs and a heavy hammer and a small anvil.

But beyond all this, a thing that held his wondering gaze and brought the fur cap from his head, there stood an altar, rude as the rest, but still an altar of God, with a black iron crucifix, whose pale ivory Christ glimmered in the gathering evening, upright upon it. Before the crucifix, and at either end, were the burnt-out evidences of tallow candles, while flanking the holy Symbol there stood two wooden crosses, their pieces held together by bindings of thread. Before one there lay a heap of little withered flowers, frail things of the forest and the spring, and every one was snowy white. Across the other hung a solitary blossom, first of its kind to open its passionate eyes to the sun, and it was blood-red, counterpart of that wee star which Alfred de Courtenay had snatched from the stockade wall one day in another spring.

The earnest blue eyes of the man were very grave, touched with a deep tenderness.

"Maren!" he whispered reverently; "maid of the splendid heart!"

So deep was he in contemplation of the things before him and his own holy thoughts that he did not hear a soft sound behind him, the fall of a light step.

A breath that was half a gasp turned him on his heel.

Leaning through the parted curtain of the hanging vines, one hand at her throat, the other holding three candles, and her dark eyes wide above her thinned brown cheeks, she stood herself. At her knee there hung the heavy head of the great dog, Loup.

She, as she had been when first he looked upon her, yet intangibly changed, the same yet not the same.

They stood in silence and looked into each other's eyes as if void of speech, of motion, held by the mighty yearning that must look and look with insatiable intensity, the half unreal reality of the moment.

And then the stopped breath in the girl's throat caught itself with a little sound that broke the spell.

The man sprang forward and took her in his arms, not passionately, strongly, as he had done once before, but with a love so high, so chastened, so humble that it gentled his touch to reverence.

"I have come, Maren," he said brokenly; "I have followed you to the land you sought. Maid of my heart! My soul!"

Without words, without question, she yielded herself to his embrace, lifted her face to him and gave into his keeping that which was his from the beginning.

"Mother Mary! I thank Thee!" he heard her whisper, and when he loosed her to look once more into her level eyes, they were dim with tears.

*****

Night had fallen on the Athabasca when they passed out of the wood across the field, and they walked together hand in hand.

A great round moon was rising over the eastern forest, silvering the hills with shining crowns.

Peace brooded on the world.

"And here I found him, M'sieu," Maren Le Moyne was saying sadly, "in that low mound, cared for and worshipped by these peaceful beings who till the land and follow his teachings. They were his people. He taught them purity and peace, the use of plough and tool, the creed of love and kindness. Here was his dream of empire, his plan of progress. He of the Good Heart they called him, these Indians who were his people, and mourn him as a chief. That was his castle yonder, the older cabin to the east. Here is the fruit of his labour." She motioned over the new-ploughed land.

"Beyond the trees yonder are bigger fields, a wider holding. And yet they are poor, these people of peace. The tribes despise them and scoff at their worship...He taught them the prayers,—the rosary. I have come after him...Who knows? This is my dream also, my fulfilment. Love, M'sieu," she raised her face to him, and the deep eyes flickering with the old elusive light, "Love shall be my crown!"

"Aye," said Anders McElroy, after the manner of a covenant, "together we shall work and dream yet greater things, trusting in God,—live and love and enter into our heritage.... I have left the Company forever. Together we shall build the empire of your dreams.... Oh, Maid of my Heart, the Long Trail has ended in the harbour of New Homes!"

THE END

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