Изображения страниц

light, but I strode on, the sweat pouring from my face and hair, my mind a chaos. How I reached the spinney I can hardly tell. As I turned up the path I caught a glimpse of a human face peering at me from the darkening thicket,—a horrible human face, yellow and drawn with high-boned cheeks and narrow eyes.

Involuntarily I halted; the dog at my heels snarled. Then I sprang straight at it, floundering blindly through the thicket, but the night had fallen swiftly and I found myself panting and struggling in a maze of twisted shrubbery and twining vines, unable to see the very undergrowth that ensnared me.

It was a pale face, and a scratched one that I carried to a late dinner that night. Howlett served me, dumb reproach in his eyes, for the soup had been standing and the grouse was juiceless.

David brought the dogs in after they had had their supper, and I drew my chair before the blaze and set my ale on a table beside me. The dogs curled up at my feet, blinking gravely at the sparks that snapped and flew in eddying showers from the heavy birch logs.

"David," said I, "did you say you saw a Chinaman today?"

"I did sir."

"What do you think about it now?"

"I may have been mistaken sir—"

"But you think not. What sort of whiskey did you put in my flask today?”

"The usual sir."

"Is there much gone?"


About three swallows sir, as usual."

"You don't suppose there could have been any mistake about that whiskey,-no medicine could have gotten into it for instance."

David smiled and said, "No sir."

"Well," said I, "I have had an extraordinary dream."

When I said "dream," I felt comforted and reassured. I had scarcely dared to say it before, even to myself.

"An extraordinary dream," I repeated; "I fell asleep in the woods about five o'clock, in that pretty glade where the fountain-I mean the pool is. You know the place?"

"I do not sir."

I described it minutely, twice, but David shook his head.

"Carved stone did you say sir? I never chanced on it. You don't mean the New Spring"

"No, no! This glade is way beyond that. Is it possible that any people inhabit the forest between here and the Canada line?"

"Nobody short of Ste. Croix; at least I have no knowledge of any."

"Of course," said I, "when I thought I saw a Chinaman, it was imagination. Of course I had been more impressed than I was aware of by your adventure. Of course you saw no Chinaman,



"Probably not sir," replied David dubiously.
I sent him off to bed, saying I should keep the
dogs with me all night; and when he was gone,
I took a good long draught of ale, "just to shame
the devil," as Pierpont said, and lighted a cigar.
Then I thought of Barris and Pierpont, and their
cold bed, for I knew they would not dare build a
fire, and, in spite of the hot chimney corner and
the crackling blaze, I shivered in sympathy.

"I'll tell Barris and Pierpont the whole story
and take them to see the carved stone and the
fountain," I thought to myself; what a marvel-
lous dream it was-Ysonde,—if it was a dream.”
Then I went to the mirror and examined the
faint white mark above my eyebrow.




BOUT eight o'clock next morning, as I sat listlessly eyeing my coffee cup which How

lett was filling, Gamin and Mioche set up a howl, and in a moment more I heard Barris' step on the porch.

"Hello, Roy," said Pierpont, stamping into the dining room, "I want my breakfast by jingo! Where's Howlett,-none of your café au lait for me,-I want a chop and some eggs. Look at that dog, he'll wag the hinge off his tail in a


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Pierpont," said I, "this loquacity is astonishing but welcome. Where 's Barris? You are soaked from neck to ankle."

Pierpont sat down and tore off his stiff muddy leggings.

"Barris is telephoning to Cardinal Springs,-I believe he wants some of his men, - down! Gamin, you idiot! Howlett, three eggs poached and more toast,-what was I saying? Oh, about Barris; he's struck something or other which he hopes will locate these gold-making fellows. I had a jolly time, -he 'll tell you about it."

"Billy! Billy!" I said in pleased amazement, "you are learning to talk! Dear me ! You load your own shells and you carry your own gun and you fire it yourself-hello! here's Barris all over mud. You fellows really ought to change your rig-whew! what a frightful odor!"

"It's probably this," said Barris tossing something onto the hearth where it shuddered for a moment and then began to writhe; "I found it in the woods by the lake. Do you know what it can be, Roy?"

To my disgust I saw it was another of those spidery wormy crablike creatures that Godfrey had in Tiffany's.

"I thought I recognized that acrid odor," I said; "for the love of the Saints take it away from the breakfast table, Barris !"

"But what is it?" he persisted, unslinging his field-glass and revolver.

"I'll tell you what I know after breakfast," I replied firmly, “Howlett, get a broom and sweep that thing into the road.-what are you laughing at, Pierpont?"

Howlett swept the repulsive creature out and Barris and Pierpont went to change their dewsoaked clothes for dryer raiment. David came to take the dogs for an airing and in a few minutes Barris reappeared and sat down in his place at the head of the table.

"Well," said I, "is there a story to tell?”

"Yes, not much. They are near the lake on

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »