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Why not sweetheart? Henshaw, Julia W. (Julia Wilmotte), 1869-1937 1901

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Array     Why Not Sweetheart?
3 Notable Six Shilling Novels
THE YELLOW FIEND.   By Mrs Alex-
ANDER.
A JILT'S JOURNAL.   By 'Rita.'
MISTRESS   BARBARA  CUNLIFFE.
By Halliwell Sutcliffe.
THE    LOST    LAND.     By   Julia   M.
Crottie.
THE WIZARD'S KNOT.    By William
Barrv.
BLACK MARY.   By Allan M'Aulay.
EVELYN INNES.   By George Moore.
SISTER TERESA.   A Sequel to'Evelyn
Innes.'   By George Moore.
AMONG THE SYRINGAS.   By Mary
E. Mann.
THE   BOURGEOIS.    By   H.   de Vere
Stacpoole.
London : T. FISHER UNWIN
Paternoster Square, E.G. Why Not Sweetheart ?
BY
JULIA W. HENSHAW
(Julian Durham)
Author of ' Hypnotised ?' * British Columbia Up-to-Date,' etc.
TORONTO
GEORGE N. MORANG & COMPANY, LIMITED
1901 All Rights Reserved CONTENTS
CHAP.
I.   THE   MIND-EASE   ASYLUM
II.   THE   CLUE   .
III. THE   MARCH   OF   PROGRESS      „
IV. JOSEPH   KINGSEARL,   M.P.P.     .
V. AT   THE   HOTEL   VANCOUVER .
VI.   A   GALLANT   GIRL
VII. EASTERN   FRIENDS   AND   WESTERN  PROCLIVITIES
VIII. A   CURIOUS   ENCOUNTER
IX. ALL   IN   A   TERMINAL   TOWN .
X. THE   LOVE   TRAIL
XI. GOOD-BYE,   SWEETHEART
XII. THE   LANDSLIDE
XIII. CONFIDENCES
xiv. naomi's promise
XV.   THE   PROFESSOR  WRESTLES     .
vii
PAGE
I
:S§
13
19
25
32
CLIVITIES             35
44
5i
62
75
.       87
IOI
j      Ir4
125 CONTENTS
Vlll
CHAP.
XVI. THE   PAYNE   BLUFF   .
XVII. LOVE  TEACHES
XVIII. FORCEFUL   ARGUMENTS
XIX. SPECKLED   LIES AND   OTHERS
XX. AH !
XXI. THE   GRUBSTAKE   MINE
XXII. AGNES   MAKES   A   DISCOVERY  .
XXIII. THE   MILL   GRINDS   EXCEEDING   SMAL
XXIV. AT  THE   SUMMIT
XXV.   EIGHT   MONTHS   AFTER
132
I46
156
I/O
179
189
201
212
222
236
V Why Not Sweetheart?
CHAPTER   I
THE   MIND-EASE   ASYLUM
' That he is mad 'tis true.'—Shakespeare.
' Is that man hopelessly insane ?' asked Jack Maclyn,
as the superintendent of the Mind-Ease Lunatic
Asylum opened the door with a master-key, and
signed to his cousin to leave the ward.
CI fear so,' replied Doctor Dufft, quietly ; j still,
under certain circumstances, good results might—' He
paused, and his thoughts whirled on, leaving speech
for a moment handicapped.
' Might what ? Lead to his recovery, do you
mean ? *
The superintendent threw back his head with an
impatient gesture.
cIn most of these hereditary cases,5 he went on
quickly, * the chances are a thousand to one against
a complete cure ; though some times—oh ! well,'
with a professional shrug of the shoulders, c of course,
sometimes they get all right, and in time learn to fend
very  well  for  themselves.     As far as  Christopher
A r~
2 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
Sabel is concerned, however, I have little real hope
that he will get beyond that stage when a fellow
hangs grimly on to the wrong end of a right idea.'
* What a cursed shame ! And yet he talked quite
sensibly to us just now,' said Maclyn, thoughtfully, a
deep furrow grooving his forehead. He was a strong,
healthy-minded man, but the sight of so many lunatics
had a trifle unnerved him. Poor distraught creatures !
They were not physically repulsive, only a sudden
loathing of their madness had taken possession of him
as he followed the doctor on his rounds, amongst
scenes that were commonplace enough to be
pitiable.
In each large, scantily-furnished ward a few uniformed attendants, alert and watchful, guarded the
patients, some twenty or thirty in number, whose
orderly behaviour testified to discipline rigidly
enforced.
Near the door through which the superintendent
and his cousin had just passed, an old man lay upon the
sofa, humming a hymn tune, harshly, and with no
regard to time ; beside him sat a youth, his hands
pressed tightly to his head; half a dozen of the
inmates walked aimlessly about, muttering curses and
philosophical remarks with impartial monotony;
others leaned silently against the walls, watching
vacancy with placid eyes; and in the centre of the
room, where the strong glare of the May sunshine
fell through the grated window full upon his impassive
features, stood Christopher Sabel, gentleman—madman—a bodily tower and a mental ruin.
The place oppressed Maclyn.   These human beings THE MIND-EASE ASYLUM 3
were irresponsible, and he knew it, and a great wave
of relief swept over him as the last door closed upon
them.
'1 am not surprised that the man attracted your
attention,' remarked the doctor, abruptly, as they turned
into the main corridor of the building. j He is a fine-
looking chap.'
i And seemed so much more rational than the other
patients,' added Jack. ! What a devil of a life you
must lead here, Hallam, always amongst these crazy
folk !' he wound up emphatically.
' Oh ! I am used to it, and besides—'
c Yes, I know,' interrupted his cousin, and he smiled,
for Dufft's love of his profession was an open secret.
The superintendent's eyes contracted slightly.
c Every man has his pet hobby, and I suppose the
care of imbeciles is mine,' he remarked casually, as
he led the way down a passage towards his private
quarters.
c Always thinking of others, old boy ! You have
not changed a scrap since the days at Charterhouse.
But, to go back to the subject, who is the fellow,
anyway ?'
* An Englishman named Sabel. He was sent to
me little more than three months ago with a bad
record behind him.'
c Of crime ? ' queried Jack, in astonishment.
c No ! Of hereditary insanity. There are some
rather mysterious features connected with the case.
Come in here,' continued the doctor, as he flung open
the door of his office, l it is more cheerful, and I see
this atmosphere does not agree with you.'
j f
4 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
■ You are right. I never was in an asylum before,
and I promise you I shall never enter one again. How
on earth can you stand it, Hallam ?' burst out Maclyn,
excitedly, as he flung himself into an armchair and
began  to smoke.
c Needs must, my dear chap. I am not what the
mossbacks in this part of the world call " a real gentleman with a bank account," so when a spasmodically-
grateful director, to whom I had once done a good
turn, offered me the billet, you bet your life I tumbled
to it pretty quickly. Only a fool would refuse three
meals a day and a good income. But now give my
affairs a rest for a bit, and tell me about yourself,' said
the superintendent, banging the door shut upon the
institution and all its horrors.
Jack knew perfectly well that the doctor had not
answered him truthfully. Money cut a small figure in
Hallam Dufit's calculations.
In the days of their boyhood the cousins had been
at school together, but had afterwards practically lost
sight of each other for many years, until one sunny
May morning they met on the Western edge of
Canadian soil, with a hearty handshake and a genuine
c Glad to see you.'
Jack Maclyn was merely a bird of passage through
British Columbia ; a man with few ties, travelling for
pleasure. A barrister by profession, and a sportsman
by inclination, he was lucky enough to have inherited
an income that made him independent of briefs.
Hallam Dufft had, on the contrary, long ago settled
down to his life's work in the Mind-Ease Asylum, and
he therefore listened with eagerness to the most trivial THE MIND-EASE ASYLUM 5
1
details about the doings of his kith and kin in England.
When a man has lived for a long time on the Pacific
Coast, he grows hungry for news of his old home and
friends, told at first hand.
Chaff was briskly exchanged between the two men
for a space, interlarded with such pertinent queries
from the doctor as : c Are you married yet, Jack ?'
i Why was Jim plucked a second time for the army ?'
and other similar questions, the answers to which
bore no interest at all for the general public, but for
the bachelor, six thousand miles from his native
country, contained the whole Gospel according to
Home. So they smoked their pipes, and laughed
buoyantly, as they found each other again in reminiscences of a common past, that sweetest of all intercourse
to those whose ways have^ long been widely sundered.
After a while, however, Maclyn returned to his
previous charge.
j Now, joking apart, old man, tell me honestly why
on earth you have stayed so long in this ghastly
place ?'
cWell, I will if you like. Simply because I discovered ages ago that I had special gifts for dealing
with this particular branch of my profession,' replied
his cousin, steadily.
Jack was silent. He never failed to recognise the
truth when he heard it. There is something wonderfully sobering in being confronted with stalwart
sentiments from lips that you know to be sincere ;
and when you come across a man of gallant principles,
who is not afraid to say what he means, and mean
what he says, you are instinctively braced up to try 6 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
and do likewise. There are plenty of good people
in the world, but half of them are ashamed of it and
try to hide their upright natures as if they were stolen
goods, pretending to wrongs they never practise and
faults uncommitted. It takes far more courage for a
man to brave the ridicule of his companions, by
refusing to indulge in the very vices that he hates,
than to face the business end of a revolver. Self-
respect comes high, but it wears well, and in the West,
where everyone is more or less a law unto himself,
the possessor of it is a cwhite' man.
The doctor's idea of duty, and one which he relentlessly followed, was to tread the narrow path without
a backward glance, giving himself up heart and soul to
his work, and living a life of unselfish devotion to
those rudderless beings who wander for ever alone in
the mental mistlands of forgetfulness. Little did anyone reck that the road to healing power led him to
suffer in, for and with the whole world. To fail was
nothing, but to have stopped working for humanity
would have been to.Dufft a blasphemy, for the blood
of his heart pulsed to quicken all life, girdling the
earth with a stream of infinite pity.
When the great■ rounding up' of souls comes, such
men will be branded with the mark of righteousness,
for the real test of a man is his motive.
V_ CHAPTER II
THE   CLUE
* You may break, you may shatter the vase if you will,
But the scent of the roses will hang round it still.'—Moore.
As Jack Maclyn entered the superintendent's room,
the golden gleams of a sunburst shot through the open
window, and struck his clear-cut profile into silhouette
against the cedar wainscot. He was a type of the real
—strong with the strength that is born of gentleness,
kind, honest, a man to trust. Hallam Dufft, sitting
in a revolving chair, one foot resting on the edge of
his desk, and his long, nervous fingers clasped behind
his head, was a tangible embodiment of the ideal—a
man full of aspirations and renunciations.
cWhen Christopher Sabel came to this asylum,'
said the doctor, thoughtfully, c he had been travelling
about the world for some years, and during that time,
except for occasional fits of melancholia, had remained
to all appearances quite rational; but one day in Vancouver he suddenly grew violent, and it became necessary to place him at once under proper restraint.'
* Did you hear of any direct cause for the attack ?'
c No, none whatsoever. The local doctors sent him
to me, and after communicating with his relatives in <r
8 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
England, it was settled that some of them should come
out to British Columbia this summer, and make
arrangements for his removal to a private institution
on the other side.'
c That will be an expensive business, will it not ?'
c Yes, but there is evidently no lack of funds in the
family, so the poor beggar may as well have every
comfort money can give him.'
c Is this all you know about the case ?'
'Not quite. Before returning to the Old Country,
Brook, Sabel's attendant, gave me a few particulars
regarding his master's first seizure and subsequent
roving life, bLit the way he juggled with words led
me to suspect that if one scratched the valet one
would find a confidential servant bribed to silence.
Do ll bore you ?' exclaimed the doctor, suddenly.
c To me Sabel is my patient, but to you the whole
business—'
* Go on, Dufft; I told you the man interested me.'
i Well, it seems that Sabel, who must now be past
forty years of age, knows nothing of the strong taint
of insanity which he inherits from his mother, for the
elder members of the family kept their secret so
judiciously, that only recently has it begun to leak out
that one of his aunts is a lunatic, and that his grandfather died in an asylum.'
* Odd thing that he should have lived so long in
ignorance of all this. How came matters to a
climax ?'
c That is precisely what I failed to find out. Either
Brook did not know, or else, as I shrewdly suspect,
he would not say, for all I could extract from him was THE CLUE 9
the bare statement that about six years ago, Sabel,
who until then had been perfectly sane, was seized
with a violent attack of mania as the result of some
unusual mental agitation, the particular nature of
which he refused to divulge.'
' Poor fellow ! What a disjointed history ! But
you alluded just now to certain circumstances that
might lead to his recovery.'
cYes.'
Hallam DufFt looked dreamily over his cousin's
head, out through the open window, where the great
unending sky stretched, a-flutter with feathery clouds,
beneath whose soft caresses the tired afternoon was
falling asleep.
4 If I could only find out what the excitement
was which caused that first attack,' he murmured
abstractedly, * I should see my way more clearly.
Jack,' he continued briskly, * there is just one chance
for that man's sanity.'
Maclyn sat up, startled.
■ The deuce there is !' he ejaculated.
' Three months will prove it, but the thread is so
frail that I dare not hold out hope, even to his relatives.
Still, I have a clue to the situation, though a slender
one, and at best only knitted together out of the
ravellings of a madman's talk,' went on the doctor,
thoughtfully. jj Sometimes, when Sabel is in one of
those awful paroxysms, he raves incessantly of a ring.
Only last week I heard him cry out: fj I saw it drop-
it must be found—I tell you it is no longer mine—■
it is her wedding ring." And then he rambled on
about a church organ that never ceased playing, and /T
io WHY NOT SWEETHEART
a crowd of people closing in upon him, who would
not let him pick up something. " I heard it clink,"
he kept on repeating, " clink, clink, as it rolled along
the stone floor—the golden band that binds her to me
for ever." It is little enough to come and go on, and
of course I can do nothing more until his people
arrive, which may be any day now.'
61 must confess I do not see a clue in such speeches
myself,' remarked Maclyn, in a puzzled tone.
c No, nor I, any reasonable one, but take my word
for it, Jack, the eternal woman is at the bottom of
the whole damned business,' concluded the doctor
with comical finality.
c That is a pretty stiff accusation. What makes you
think so ?'
4 His wild words for one thing—a church—a
wedding ring—do they not point to the same conclusion ?'
c But surely if a girl had gone the length of marrying him, she would have stuck to him, or at least have
kept in touch with him during his exile.'
c The fact that personally I have held no correspondence with her is insufficient proof that she does
not exist, or is not kept regularly informed through
other channels of his condition. You must remember lunacy is a serious bar between a man and
his wife.'
cYet women adore battered idols, and will spend
one half of their lives glueing on the broken virtues
that were chipped off in youth, and Bohemia.'
'Yes, Jack, and then spend the other half
guarding the defaced image safe hid from further hurt THE CLUE ii
in the softest corner of their hearts. But that is only
when they truly love the broken statue. Now Sabel
is no dissipated blackguard, but just a poor devil
whose mind has been unbalanced by some terrible
shock. Mania is the biggest stumbling-block to a
woman's devotion, and it is not altogether her fault
that here Nature so often steps in and swallows up
duty in a crushing horror ; for the closer the tie that
binds her to him, the greater will be the revulsion of
her whole being against his madness. Infinite pity
born of infinite love can alone surmount such a
barrier.'
J Then you think that your theory of a marriage
is compatible with the  non-appearance of a wife ?'
' Entirely so, provided that she is one of those cold,
agreeably-indifferent sort of women, of whom—God
forgive them—the world is full.'
'Yet that seems to be only a starting-point, and
explains nothing in itself.'
* My dear fellow, it explains ninety-nine out of
every hundred mysteries in the world.'
Maclyn laughed. i I believe you are right, Hallam,'
he said in the debonnaire tone of a heart-whole man ;
c still, you know—'
6 That is just it; in my professional capacity I am
not supposed to know anything—at least, I mean not
about psychological problems,' and here the doctor's
tone grew quizzical. ' Privately I may landscape-
garden as much as I please with the flowers of my
patients' rhetoric, but as superintendent of this
asylum I am forced to ignore their babble.'
Thus   they   discussed   the   story   of   Christopher 12 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
Saber's wrecked mind, little dreaming what an
ordinary event had led to the extraordinary climax,
when at one bound he had leaped from the world of
sanity and sunlight into that gloomy region where a
lost intellect for ever eluded his grasp, and thick cloud-
drifts wreathed the tattered rim of his disordered brain.
1 You must be getting utterly tired of this subject,'
exclaimed the doctor, suddenly, as he knocked the
ashes out of his pipe and brought his feet down on to
the floor with a thump. c Come, you have not told
me half the home news yet.'
Maclyn protested, but when Dufft spoke again his
cousin was quick to mark the change of voice that
betokened a change of front. CHAPTER  III
THE   MARCH   OF  PROGRESS
* Westward the course of Empire takes its way.'—Berkeley.
c What do you say to a turn in the grounds before
dinner ? For, of course, you will spend the night
here,' said the superintendent, hospitably.
c No, I am sorry I cannot do that; I must catch the
last tram back to Vancouver at ten o'clock, but I will
stay and dine with pleasure^' replied Jack Maclyn,
heartily. c By Jove ! what a view !' he commented,
as they paused for a moment on the steps of the
Mind-Ease Asylum, and looked over to the south
upon a landscape burning under the conflagration of
the evening sky.
In a blaze of light the scarlet clouds reeled away
to surround the sinking sun, and the purple-headed
mountains caught the glory of its effulgence as they
hurled deep reflections upon the bosom of the Fraser,
where that mighty river answered the haughty
challenge of the hills with an arced curve to the
west, and swept on majestically between its scarred
banks past the town of Fraserville. The gardens of
the institution were terraced with grass, and bounded
by a timber   wall, blank  and  high,  that  shut  out
13 r
14 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
the adjoining fresh unfurrowed ground, and fields
sweet-smelling with wilding bloom, now bronzed by
the amber dust of sunset. Some tall, haggard trees
grew near the gateway, and Japanese lilies nodded
drowsily in their beds, lulled to rest by the gentle
breeze. On every hand glowed the sentient colours
of May, and warm, moist odours arose from the
pulsating earth.
The asylum looked out through barred windows
and guarded doors, across rich acreage, soft-toned,
save where last year's stubble gleamed in the sunshine,
and reaching up to the rosy sky the vigorous Western
outlines melted in a golden mist. A kw Siwash Indian
log huts, and a Romish church with a scintillating
tin roof, fringed the opposite banks of the stream, and
millions of gaunt, half-burned firs, that speckled the
country as far as the American border, told tales of
the fires that occasionally devastate the magnificent
forests of the Pacific Province. Behind the buildings
the horizon was rimmed by the Coast Mountains, so
dear to the heart of every Westerner £ grand and
grim, they guard- the land, fit types of the rugged
exteriors, but faithful hearts, of the British Columbian
settlers whose homes they shelter.
* In which direction is the town ? ' inquired Jack,
as his eyes leaped to a vanishing point. 'I do not see
any sign of it from here.'
* No, it lies lower down the river, over there to
your right,' replied Dufft, ' and further on still is the
open sea, where the waters of the Fraser run out for
miles in a swift current, wriggling through the blue
waves of the ocean like a great brown snake.' THE MARCH OF PROGRESS 15
* Ah !—and Vancouver ?'
c Is situated about twelve miles, as the crow flies, to
the north of us ; but, as you know, it only takes three-
quarters of an hour to cover the distance by tram.'
Jack smiled. c Yes, I thought as we came over the
Interurban Line this afternoon that those electric cars
were most unexpected luxuries to find in this hazy-
mazy land which Englishmen chiefly regard as a fine
dumping-ground for impossible younger sons.'
4 Very true, old chap. It was the Canadian Pacific
Railway Company who, in 1886, first piped the tune
of the " March of Progress " for the Westerner to
dance to. There was no end of Van Horne-blowing
in those days, I can tell you, and now the British
Columbian crosses the continent by rail, instead of ox-
team, and rejoices in telephones and elevators. It is
always the unexpected that(happens out here.'
4 I believe I am beginning to experience the fascination of the West already,' laughed Maclyn, as they
strolled about the enclosure.
4 Everyone does sooner or later. Old and young
come here—to British Columbia, I mean, not the
asylum,' added the doctor, lightly,4 expecting perhaps
to stay only for a little while, but when they go
back to older and more established places, they feel
cramped, stifled, and in the end many of them return
to settle permanently in this province.'
c How long have you been on the Pacific Coast,
Hallam?'
c Nearly five years.'
4 And I scarcely as many days, yet we seem to
equally appreciate its wonderful charm.' r
16 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
f And well we may,' remarked Dufft, tentatively.
1 After all the country is pre-eminently natural, Jack,
and her people very human. I mean,' he continued,
seeing the puzzlement in his cousin's eyes, 4 that the
big heart of the West throbs with kindly impulse.
In the early "eighties" privation taught men and
women on the mainland the great lesson of unselfishness, and those days, when luxuries were unknown, and
three square meals a day were a luxury, are not yet
ancient history.'
c Conventionality evidently counts for little in the
free life and fresh air as you get it out here.'
f Oh ! that's all right ! But we are strictly loyal
and law-abiding citizens, though we do not put steel
clamps on fun.'
Maclyn looked amused. 41 daresay,' he assented ;
1 still the freedom is intoxicating.'
41 am afraid there are several different kinds of
trouble waiting round the corner for you,' remonstrated
the doctor, emphatically. 4It is true our men no
longer pull their guns to straighten a crooked deal,
nor do our girls tote round like walking arsenals, for
pioneer days are over ; but make no mistake, Jack,
liberty is not license in the West, nor has there been
any slump in justice, that I ever heard of, since the
days when good old Sir Barnaby Kent held court under
an alder tree, with a stout limb overhead and a rope
coiled at his feet.'
4 Whew !' whistled Maclyn, softly. f At anyrate,
it is pleasant to hear that the fighting times are out of
joint, for I have no desire to be shot in return for
some trivial transgression of local etiquette.' THE MARCH OF PROGRESS 17
4 British Columbians are essentially broad-minded
and open-hearted,' said Dufft, didactically, ignoring his
cousin's chaff, 4 but they expect you to treat their
hospitality with the respect to which it is entitled
every time.'
41 understand you well enough, though you might
find it precious hard to convince people at home of
what you say. To the average Englishman the West
is the stamping-ground of big game and a likely place
in which to locate a gold mine, nothing more.'
4 May be,' replied the doctor, as he mechanically
stroked his moustache, 4 may be, but that does not
alter the facts.'
Silence fell for a few moments as each man thought
of the wide gulf which separates the old life from the
new; thought of the unlimited possibilities of the
great Canadian West, of her inexhaustible wealth, and
of the dauntless energy of her settlers that strikes the
keynote of their success.
It was a vast subject, and to Maclyn a fresh and
absorbing one. For, familiar as he was with many
other parts of the British Empire, having shot tigers
in India, hunted lions in Africa, and roamed across the
Australian bush, Canada had hitherto been a sealed
volume to him. He was just beginning to realise that
the ice and snow scenes in the ordinary Canadian
picture-book do not describe a British Columbian
winter with any attempt at faithfulness ; and that far
less do they paint the springtide, when, from the
Rocky Mountains to the Pacific waters, flowers and
tender fern fronds cover the ground, and the sunshine
invites one out to boat and bicycle with a warmth that
B 18 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
the invitations of society frequently lack. That chilly
idyl of sixty degrees below zero, with a blizzard running
at a hundred miles an hour, is no more typical of the
Western climate of the Dominion than it is of Paradise.
The Eastern Canadian frosty season is certainly a
very cold and dignified circumstance, but in British
Columbia, where one may gather roses on Christmas
Day and picnic under the pine trees in January,
winter is a lost art.
Faintly from the distance came the sound of cheerful whistling. The iron-barred doors in the boundary
wall were swung open by the gate-keeper, and a man
entered. It was Joseph Kingsearl, the Provincial
Member for Illicilliwaet.. CHAPTER IV
JOSEPH   KINGSEARL,   M.P.P.
'A man he was to all the country dear.'—Goldsmith.
4 Hullo, Dufft!'
4 Where did you drop from, Kingsearl ?' Then in
a more formal tone the doctor continued : 4Let me
introduce to you my cousin, Jack Maclyn.'
Joseph Kingsearl acknowledged the introduction
with a hearty handshake as he answered Dufft's
question.
41 came down from the Spalumcheen to-day. The
fishing up there has been grand for the past week.'
4 You have been out of the way of civilisation for a
time then—and—er—newspapers,' added the superintendent, hesitatingly.
4 Yes—but—well—not altogether,' replied Kingsearl, jerkily.
4 Is that so ?' was all the doctor rejoined.
Both men felt the constraint of the, presence of a
third person.
The strong sense of personal dignity that
characterised the politician contrasted at the moment
somewhat ludicrously with the fringe at the ends of
his trousers  and  the frayed points of his collar, for
19 1
20 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
when a man has just returned from a fishing trip up-
country he scarcely looks at his best, nor do his
clothes, Yet there he stood staring down at his
boots (an undeniably old pair which could hardly be
said to warrant such close scrutiny), a stern look
deepening on his face, and lines that had their origin in
painful recollections seaming his sunburned forehead.
Joseph Kingsearl had read and re-read with painful
attention, and a growing sense of resentment, the
brilliant, sarcastic letters that from time to time had
recently appeared in the Victoria Herald, a strong
Government paper, commenting in a daring and most
damaging fashion upon the political actions of the
member for Illicilliwaet, holding up his opinions to
ridicule, and dissecting his speeches with a merciless
knife. The doctor knew that in their cleverness lay
the harmful power of these letters, and the politician
knew that the writer of them was Agnes Arbuckle,
the sister of the Cabinet Minister.
As Maclyn wandered off to converse with the
Chinaman who was weeding the flower borders, the
superintendent laid a firm hand on his friend's shoulder.
4 They are just nothing whittled down to a point,'
he said incisively.
4 Still she is making history for a time in Victoria
with them.'
4 Don't you believe it, Joe. There never yet was
a member of the Provincial Parliament that the
newspaper daws did not peck at, and the nobler the
prey the better sport the birds think it. Her
negatives only made your conduct more positive, and
your character—' JOSEPH KINGSEARL, M.P.P. 21
4 Is a poor thing, but my own,' said Kingsearl,
with a forced smile.
The doctor took the hint.
4 You are right,' he rejoined, adding obliquely,
4 The Sphinx was a woman.'
Kingsearl made no reply. None was needed. He
and Hallam Dufft had been staunch friends for years,
and they understood one another, and the present
situation, thoroughly. Probably to no other human
being would the politician have spoken of these letters
which were causing him so much annoyance and the
Government benches such unbounded satisfaction ;
for he was naturally proud, and to be thus handled
without gloves by the woman whom, though outwardly nothing to him, he secretly adored, kept him
wondering how many different kinds of a fool he was.
As the superintendent had truly remarked, to be
pecked at by critical daws is the fate of nearly every
public personage, but to be harried and maligned by
the girl he worships would pass the endurance of
most men. Kingsearl knew that it was lamentably
weak of him to thus tacitly submit to the accusations contained in the letters signed 4 Mars,' and
which he felt certain were written by Miss Arbuckle ;
but he also knew that it was the weakness of love,
not fear of the issue, that held him silent.
4 Let the breath of scandal blow till it is tired,' he
thought; 4 no word of mine shall ever turn its current
back upon her.' So is a man with a powerful brain
and a strong character but as wax in the hands of a
woman—when he loves her. Yet all the while a
pained wonder that she should thus try to injure him r
22 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
beat upon the door of his heart. 4 Why does she do
it ?' 4 How can she do it ?' These questions rang
in his mind with strange persistency, which showed
how much the Member for Illicilliwaet had still to
learn of the ways of a scornful girl.
Agnes Arbuckle was a distinctly worth-while sort
of person, who neither giggled nor danced the cake-
walk, two excellent traits in woman. Little more
than a year previously Joseph Kingsearl, then a
rising man, and the coming leader of the Opposition
Party, had taken her out canoeing one exquisite
spring evening up 4 The Gorge ' in Victoria. There
he lost his heart, and almost his balance, but wisely
choosing the dryer and better part had delayed proposing to her until they once more reached the
landing-stage. Love-making in a canoe obtains
not in Canada, where both crafts are pretty well
understood, and only the latest arrival in the country
thinks a moonlight paddle an effective moment for
a kiss. Now, though the interval was short from the
time when they stepped out of the c Peterborough'
until they entered Mr James Arbuckle's front door, it
was long enough for the girl's heart to pass for ever
into the keeping of her lover.
For a space all went well; but alas ! there came a
day in the following autumn when Agnes abruptly
broke off her engagement, why, no one except her
fiance knew, and from that moment the bottom
dropped out of everything for Kingsearl. He ceased
to bother his head about what he was going to do,
and just went on living. Then Miss Arbuckle took
to playing  the star  part in a comic tragedy, and a
\ JOSEPH KINGSEARL, M.P.P. 23
dozen little kindergarten devils prompted her to fight
the great human duel of hurt pride against love, with
an iron nerve and a steel pen. So she grieved his
mother, antagonised his sisters, and tore his fingers
from about her heart with a recklessness that savoured
of despair. The secret bravery in social life is prodigious.    Some people see it, and most people don't.
Joseph Kingsearl gave his friend a sidelong glance.
4 When all is said and done, the real reason of a
woman's actions is far to seek,' he remarked.
4 Of course it is, you old chump, and I'll lay you
a hundred to one that she is playing some deep
game in this business. That girl is clever—so for
the matter of that are her writings—far too clever
to waste time and ink on the idiotic persecution of
someone she does not care a brass button for. Mark
me, she is gambling for big stakes. Half the men in
this world sin for gold, and the other half for a
woman, but a woman only sins for, or against, the
man she loves.'
4 And always arrives at a right conclusion, totally
regardless of how she gets there, worse luck ! I
loved that girl, Dufft. My God ! I love her still,
and she loved me too—once.'
4 Why employ the past tense ?'
4 You mean—'
4 Yes.'
Kingsearl paused on the edge of the terrace, half
blinded by the sunset glow. His heart beat to
suffocation as the doctor's words aroused hopes long
since dead, and his eyes became suffused with blood
until the whole earth quivered before him in a blaze I
24 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
of colour. The clouds flamed and floated in royal
radiance overhead, but the tumult in the soul of
the man was more intoxicating to his senses than
the rosy smile on the bright-browed face of the
sky.
4 In spite of their folly and their train of sorrow, «
I would not barter those past days for all my hopes
of heaven !' he exclaimed. Truly love knows no
criticism, for he added gently: 4Her greatest fault
is her witty tongue,' a remark which doubtless
tickled the grim sense of humour of the Recording
Angel.
Heigh-ho for the feminine sex ! CHAPTER  V
AT  THE   HOTEL   VANCOUVER
* As it fell upon a day,
In the merry month of May.'—Shakespeare.
*And so they talked,
Lord ! how they did talk.'—Adams.
4 Will you kindly pass me the marmalade ?' said
Agnes Arbuckle, with a touch of asperity in her
voice.
41 beg your pardon ; I did not notice that I was
monopolising the only pot on the table,' replied
Maclyn, apologetically, handing her the jar against
which he had propped up the morning paper.
They were sitting at breakfast in the Hotel
Vancouver a couple of days after Maclyn's visit to
the Mind-Ease Asylum, and had more than once
looked across at each other during the progress
of the meal ; he eyeing her with the semi-interested, but wholly critical glance so characteristic
of the British tourist; she subjecting him to that
shrewd scrutiny with which Western girls invariably
4 size up' strangers.
4 Thank you. I am sorry to interrupt your study
of the local political situation, but perhaps the cruet-
25 f
26 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
stand will answer your purpose equally well,' and
Miss Arbuckle held it out to him as one conferring
a favour.
4 Quite ; though, as far as my limited experience
goes, neither Western newspapers nor British
Columbian politics require additional seasoning.'
4 Contrariwise, as Tweedledum would say, a leading article on the sins of the present Government,
or the iniquity of the Eight Hour Law, forms a
capital sauce piquante with broiled steak.'
4 That idea never occurred to me before,' said
Jack, with a smile which curled up the corners of
his handsome mouth. 4 Hitherto I have only read
the papers during meal-times as an antidote to
monotony, not for any ulterior tabasco purposes.'
4 Are you a Vancouverite ?' inquired Mrs Bates-
Post, a gracious lady of an inquiring turn of mind,
who thought it 4 Colonial' to address searching
questions to the nearest stranger upon every conceivable subject and occasion.
4 By no means,' replied Jack. 4 Indeed I fancy that
the Terminals would certainly call me a 44 tender-foot,"
for I have only been in the city five days.'
4 We arrived last Thursday,' remarked Mr Bates-
Post. 4What a grand trip that is across the Rocky
Mountains, and down through the Kicking Horse
Canyon.'
4 There is nothing to equal it on this continent,'
assented Maclyn, cordially.
4 The sharp contrasts of scenery are so magnificent,'
continued the old gentleman.
4 Yes, particularly between the snowy peaks and AT THE HOTEL VANCOUVER      27
the soft, dark green of the valleys. On a fine day I
think that the effects of sunshine and shadow in the
Fraser Canyon defy description,' added the younger
man with enthusiasm.
4 There was just one drawback to the journey,'
sighed Mrs Bates-Post, in a plaintive tone.
She was a well-preserved woman of forty, with
regular features and very white teeth. Her hair
was artistically dressed, so was her face. Soft of
heart and sweet of speech, she seldom made an
enemy, though she equally failed to win lasting
friendship; yet life, as seen through the rose-
coloured spectacles of her overweening self-complacency, seemed to Miriam Bates-Post a pretty
enough comedy, and the hero of it was always
her husband.
4 We had no less than three children in the car,'
she continued, still addressing Maclyn, 4and they
insisted on putting pieces of bread-and-jam on my
seat when I got out of the train at Moose Jaw.
It was horrid. I sat on them when I came back,
you know, the bits of bread-and-jam I mean, of
course, not the children, though that did not make
much difference, as both were equally sticky.
Celestine could not get the spots off my skirt.
She rubbed them well with bandoline or brilliantine,
I forget which, but it only seemed to make matters
worse.'
4 How annoying,' said Jack, sympathetically ; 4 but
surely that was rather odd stuff to use.'
4 Do you think so ? You see my dress was made
of camel's hair and so—' 28 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 Tut, tut, my dear,' remonstrated her husband,
good-humouredly.
41 fancy, auntie, it was benzine that Celestine
used,' said Naomi Crocus in a gentle voice from the
other side of the table.
Jack glanced across at the girl, and having done-
so once, he found that the habit grew upon him.
4 At anyrate my gown was ruined,' purled on Mrs
Bates-Post. 4 Really someone should invent a system
of44 checking " babies with the luggage.'
41 believe in Providence, but not in tempting it,'
remarked Mr Bates-Post with quiet decision.
He was a ruddy-faced, white-haired old gentleman
of portly habit, and quite twenty years his wife's
senior; a staunch Tory, who divided his time
between excusing the weird inanities of the woman
he adored and upholding the British Constitution.
4 Perhaps you are right, my love,' assented his wife,
sweetly. She always found it easiest to agree with
the last speaker. 4But the other day I trusted in
Providence, and Providence took a very mean
advantage of me.'
4 How was that, Aunt Miriam ?' inquired Naomi;
and again Jack Maclyn looked at her as though to
that end alone had his eyes been created.
4 Why, my dear, I was so late in arriving at the
station the day we started for Vancouver that I just
left my hat-box to Providence, and Providence left it
behind in Montreal.'
4 It is certainly wiser to trust to a porter than to
Providence on such occasions,' said Agnes, with a
twinkle in her eyes. AT THE HOTEL VANCOUVER      29
41 am afraid you are of a very practical turn of
mind, just like my dear Richard, who is always
looking at the other side of things; so unwise when
everyone cannot afford silk linings either for their
clothes or their ideas,' said Mrs Bates-Post, beaming
affectionately at her husband.
4 To be thoroughly practical is the only safe course
in this world,' asserted Mr Bates-Post, emphatically.
4 The trouble with everything nowadays is that
people are continually bent on executing some sort
of rabid reform (but assuredly not of themselves),
and Anarchists, and Socialists, and a dozen other disturbing bodies are for ever cutting fantastic tricks
before high heaven, in order to secure to themselves
a ha'porth of fame and a place in the annals of the
police courts.'
4 Strange to say I heartily agree with you on that
point,' remarked Miss Arbuckle, with a twinkle in
her eyes. * Reformed Radicals are as unsatisfactory
as re-made frocks. But what I cannot understand
is why you Conservatives take so much pride in a
narrow political creed that good men should be
ashamed of.'
4 Are you sure, Agnes, that it is wise for girls to
think so much about these matters ?' crooned Mrs
Bates-Post, as she sipped her coffee.
4 Indeed I am. There is a terrible lot of harm
done in this world by people who do not think,' she
replied with unconscious sarcasm. 4 A door is always
open or shut. Either we bachelor girls must try to
think and act understandingly, and for ourselves, or
else we must be content to settle down to a tabby-cat- I
30 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
and-weak-tea  existence  for the  rest  of our natural
lives.'
4 Surely women were not meant to tax their brains
too severely, my dear,' said Mr Bates-Post, indulgently.
41 may be old-fashioned in my opinions, but I main-,
tain that your sex can rule men far better through
their hearts than by their heads.'
4 Yet look how seldom women win perfect love,
or, having won it, keep it,' said Agnes with an odd
break in her voice.
4 As long as your sex is beautiful, and men are men,
love and devotion will always be a woman's heritage,'
replied the old gentleman, gallantly.
4 Oh ! That is one of your lovely, chivalrous
speeches which remind me of lavender and knee-
buckles. But alas ! the end of the nineteenth
century wears golf stockings, and the smell of sweet
herbs is not upon it,' said the girl, shaking her head
in playful regret.
4 Do you not think that you are a little hard
on us ?' chimed in Maclyn, reproachfully. 4 And so
early in the day too.'
Agnes laughed. 41 think you are a newcomer to
the West,' she answered naively, 4and are therefore
entitled to suspended sentence.'
4 You alarm me. Your standard seems so high
that I fear we mere men will have to stand on tip-toe
to reach it.'
4 That is quite probable,' she replied nonchalantly.
4 In the old days you were masters of the
situation, but now the chestnut tree is waving over
the grave of that very meek and 44 impossible she " "^
AT THE HOTEL VANCOUVER      31
who  lived on sal volatile and  was eternally falling
down at the feet of her tyrant lord.'
4 Agnes, how can you say such things, when you
know very well that you do not mean half of them ?'
said Miss Crocus, looking quite vexed.
4 My dear girl, do not go barking up the wrong
tree. Does anyone ever mean even a quarter of
what they say ?—at anyrate in public,' she added
bitterly. 4 Never mind, Naomi,' seeing the really
distressed look on her friend's face, 4 this is the era of
good manners, so we will bury the disreputable fact
of man's inferiority snugly out of sight, and talk on
a more congenial topic'
Jack was surprised to hear such cynicism from the
lips of a woman.    He did not understand that a sad I
heart prompts sharp words.
J CHAPTER   VI
A   GALLANT  GIRL
* Words are the daughters of earth, things are the sons of heaven.'
Johnson.
Many years ago, Mrs Arbuckle, who then lived in
Montreal, had sent her only daughter to the same
school in England where Naomi Crocus was a boarder,
with the result that a firm friendship sprang up between the two girls, and also that the little Canadian
spent most of her holidays in Dorsetshire with the
Bates-Posts. In those days Agnes was a high-spirited,
warm-hearted child, more fond of play than lessons,
and consequently often in disgrace with her teachers ;
but so frank and so lovable withal that her punishments were usually light, and her pardonment speedy.
Later on came the parting with the English friends
she had grown much attached to, and her return home ;
not, however, to Eastern Canada, but to British
Columbia, whither, since the death of their parents,
her eldest brother James had gone to settle, and
where for the future she was to live and keep house
for him. This occurred when Agnes was eighteen,
and during the years that followed the girl was
supremely happy, until at length a time came when
with tortured heart, but proud, disdainful lips she said
32 A GALLANT GIRL 33
every Mass in the Ritual of Pain. Thus Naomi met
her old schoolmate after a separation of nearly seven
years, and found her a brilliant, intellectual woman,
and a journalist of more than local celebrity. Idolised
by her brother (who had climbed to the top of the
political tree and become a Cabinet Minister), and
trusted by all her friends, she hid under sarcastic
speeches and independent manners the cicatrices of
wounds inflicted by the blundering stupidity of a right
good man.
On the face of Agnes Arbuckle was stamped an
expression of authority. The deflected line of her
chin showed great determination of character, but the
pretty natural curves of her mouth were wrenched by
a cynical curl, and her voice, though resonant and
clear, had an echo of mockery in it that rang in the
memory long after the words had ceased. During a
revolution she would have been a heroine, but she was
too angular to fit comfortably into the daily round of
life.
When Joseph Kingsearl crossed her path, won her
whole love, and because he could not bend her will
elected to let her break his heart, the girl, with all her
sweet-graciousness and belief in the goodness of men,
died ; and in her place there arose a woman strong in
the consciousness of her own powers, and constantly
on the defensive to do battle for her own sex. Thus
it came about that she rode rough-shod over everything
masculine, and never wearied of trying to make other
girls hold their heads up.
No little child, or sin-sad woman, ever appealed to
her in vain.    She had tenderest pity for all suffering
c 34 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
and was so thoroughly good herself that she could
afford to help those from whom others, more Pharisaical but less truly charitable, turned aside, fearing
lest they should be classed with the weak ones they
had no honest wish to save. Only the Agnes Arbuckles
of this world, the fearlessly, genuinely upright, dare
thus to openly comfort stricken souls, whose transgressions nevertheless pale beside the scarlet embroidery of
mean actions and false-witnessing that trims the lives
of those very people who scornfully draw their draperies
away from the bleeding hands outstretched by hopeless
humanity, unconscious that in so doing they display
the muddy lining of their own skirts.
In spite of her ambition to succeed in a literary
career (for her face was steadily set towards the hill of
fame), her interest in public affairs and the uncompromising opinions she held upon many subjects,
Agnes was far too clever to be unwomanly, though, at
the same time, far too human not to despise all men
because one man had failed her.
She was tall and slight, with a wealth of dark-brown
hair, drawn back and coiled high upon her head, after
a fashion peculiarly her own. Eyes of cobalt blue
contrasted curiously with her olive skin and crimson-
tinted cheeks; whilst, as for the rest, she carried
herself with a well-bred air, and moved with the long,
even stride of lithe-limbed health.
1 CHAPTER   VII
EASTERN   FRIENDS  AND  WESTERN   PROCLIVITIES
'A few strong instincts, and a few plain rules.'—Wordsworth.
' She, though in full-blown flower of glorious beauty,
Grew cold, even in the summer of her age.'—Dryden.
4 Are you bent on proving your assertions a second
time at the expense of your clothes, dear Mr Bates-
Post ?' inquired Miss Arbuckle, mischievously, as they
sat after breakfast on the hotel verandah overlooking
the harbour. The old gentleman had dropped some
butter upon his coat sleeve.
4 Now, look here, Agnes, if you dare to make fun
in this manner out of the misfortunes of your father's
old friend, I shall call down the Curse of Kehama
upon your most audacious behaviour.'
4 Why pile up the roses in Sharon by adding to the
doom that has already been pronounced upon me ?'
she replied gaily. 4Am I not even now under the
ban of the Opposition Party, and have not the
supporters of the Member for Illicilliwaet vowed to
silence my pen, or perish in the attempt ?'
Jack, who had strolled out with, them to smoke a
cigarette in the open air, started slightly.   Surely, he
35 if
36 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
thought, this Member alluded to must be the Mr
Kingsearl he had met in Fraserville, and about whose
career Hallam Dufft had told him some stirring
particulars. The doctor had also briefly alluded to
the fact that Kingsearl had once been jilted, and—
why—yes—this might be the very girl who had done
it. The situation was becoming attractive. Maclyn
at once decided to find out her name, and, if possible,
the true story of the broken faith.
4 It is very clever of you to turn the conversation in
that adroit manner,' said Mr Bates-Post. 4 No doubt,
my dear, you think that if you can once launch me
on the sea of political controversy, I shall flounder
about quite comfortably for the next hour. But it
will not do. Either you must give me your promise
of silence, or else—'
4 Oh ! uncle ! if you only knew how comical you
looked yesterday !' exclaimed Naomi, impulsively,
and, as she laughed, a merry sparkle brightened for
an instant the depths of her dark grey eyes.
4 Girls, you are positively cruel ! Even if I did
walk down Granville Street labelled as a very superior
article, what was that to Vancouverites ?'
4 A dig for their Terminal pride,' chuckled Miss
Arbuckle, who was enjoying herself immensely.
4 You must remember, dear Mr Bates-Post, that you
advertised yourself as of English manufacture, and
though you are a British M.P., and were not 44 made
in Germany," still—there are others.'
4 You irreverent little Radical ! But, Agnes, do
not, I beg of you, be so absurd. My dear sir,' he
continued,  turning  to  Maclyn, 4you  can  have  no
vl EASTERN FRIENDS 37
idea in what a ridiculous position I was inadvertently
placed.'
c My curiosity is tremendous. Will you not tell
me about it ?' pleaded Jack.
4 After all those mischievous girls have said, I
suppose I may as well make a clean breast of the whole
matter,' assented the elder man. 4 On my way to
town yesterday morning I noticed several persons
smiling at me in a rather marked fashion, but being
totally unacquainted with them, I merely put it down
to the score of Colonial friendliness.'
4 People are so sociable in the West,' murmured
Mrs Bates-Post, meditatively.
4 We trust everybody till we prove them 44 cultus,"
and then we drop them,' said Agnes with cheerful
alacrity.
4 More generous, but perhaps less cautious, than
sticking to the old-fashioned method of proving them
first and trusting them afterwards,' put in Jack. 4 But
you were saying, sir,' he went on, turning to Mr
Bates-Post, 4 that several persons smiled at you.'
4 Yes, and more than that, a crowd of small boys
followed me down Granville Street. Presently a Chinaman—one of the pig-tailed, pug-nosed variety that infest all these Pacific Coast towns—called out in Pidgin-
English, 44 What for you wear him all-a-samee piece
paper ?" and grinned most derisively. This was
exasperating, and I was just beginning to wonder
what it all meant when a stranger stepped up and
asked me if I was aware that there was a placard
on my back. Bless my soul ! sir, in two minutes I
was inside the   post-office, gazing ruefully over my 38 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
shoulder at a fly-paper, one of those vile tangle-foot
sheets, which had stuck fast to my coat. Just then
these girls joined me, and read, printed in large letters
on the exposed side of the plaster,4C The latest thing
out from England. Note the nobby style. Only
ninety-eight cents." Now that was a nice sort of
label for a respectable old Britisher to walk round
the town with, wasn't it ? The latest thing out,
indeed !'
4 So true too, dear Mr Bates-Post, but who doubted
it ?' suggested Miss Arbuckle, archly.
Jack was convulsed with merriment, but managed
to keep his face grave and say sympathetically,—
4 Too bad, sir, upon my word.'
4 The deuce it was !' retorted the old man, testily,
though his kindly expression belied the words.
4 How did it get there, uncle ?' questioned Naomi
in the same sweet tones that a few moments previously had struck a chord of the seventh in Jack's
heart.
41 have not the ghost of an idea, my child,' he
replied, 4 unless when I was in the Hudson's Bay
Store I accidentally leaned up against the confounded
stuff. I know they have sheets of it pinned in front
of the shelves in order to catch flies.' Then, turning
to Maclyn, he continued, 4 By the way, Mr—I forget I do not know your name.'
4 Maclyn, sir.'
'Thank you. You see, old as I am, and full of
insular prejudices, I am sometimes forced to own
that travelling may promote good-fellowship irrespective of formal customs,' and   Mr  Bates-Post smiled EASTERN FRIENDS 39
humorously as  he made this statement wrung from
him by circumstances.
4 In the West the introduction of the roof-tree
usually suffices,' interposed Agnes, succinctly. 4 And
really I think that such an arrangement is infinitely
more sensible than going about the world with
your visiting-card in your hand, as if it were a soup
ticket, or an admission to an ice-cream social.'
4 What strange notions you have, my love,' demurred Mrs Bates-Post. 41 certainly approve of
proper introductions on principle.'
41 cannot see where principle comes in myself; for
out here gentlemanliness is something more than
well-cut clothes, and strangers, being such, are offered
the glad hand,' continued Agnes, in a voice that
vibrated with feeling.
4 Such a state of affairs savours somewhat of Utopia,'
remarked Mr Bates-Post. 4 Surely you must be badly
44 taken in " at times by unscrupulous persons ?'
4 There you have to reckon with the sixth sense
that is the heritage of all Colonials,' replied the girl,
dauntlessly, 4 namely, the faculty of placing people.'
41 do not quite understand you, my dear,' said the
old man, in a puzzled tone.
Agnes smiled drily. 4 Well, you see it is this way.
From the time we are babies we are taught that dogs
are not the only creatures with a 4C yaller " streak in
them.'
4 But you cannot ask to look at the roof of a man's
mouth to see if he is thorough-bred ; at least, not
until you know him pretty intimately,' said Jack,
argumentatively. t
40 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
Miss Arbuckle amused him hugely, she was so
utterly unlike any of the girls he had met before.
4 Of course not,' she assented demurely, 4 but you
have only to wait a little and his own actions will
betray him. In British Columbia we do not care
what a man says about himself, or what is said about
him in stereotyped letters of introduction, that are
often recklessly written by people in England who
know practically nothing of the real characters of the
men they endorse, and foist upon the hospitality of
some Colonial acquaintance. His repetition of the
Thirty - nine Articles, capped by the Oath of
Allegiance, would not weigh one jot in favour of a
44 tender-foot " so far as Vancouverites are concerned ;
but if he is a 44 white man " one soon discovers it, and
if he is not, why, it is best to drop him right then and
there.'
4 How curious !' exclaimed Mrs Bates-Post. 4Just
like the harlequinade at a pantomime.'
4 Oh, no !' cried the girl, with a quick turn of her
head, which served to show how exquisitely it was
poised upon her shoulders, 4it is just common sense
and the use of a discriminating power that Nature
has bestowed upon Canadians as a protection against
cads.'
4 You make me fairly shake in my shoes,' remonstrated Jack.
Miss Arbuckle looked a trifle supercilious. 4 Never
mind, I like to talk that way occasionally ; it is my
besetting sin,' she said coolly. 4If you turn out to
be a rank impostor, I promise to hold a grand sympathetic wake over your defunct reputation.' 1
EASTERN FRIENDS 41
4 Let me rather cry 44 Peccavi " from the start. I
have no cards or letters of introduction in my pocket
at the present moment, but I have a most healthy
belief in the efficacy of truth. On my word of
honour my name is John Horton Maclyn,'
4 Of Elmdale ?' asked Naomi, gently.
6 Yes.    Do you know Cumberland ?'
4 A little,' she replied. c The Chillinghams, old
friends of ours, with whom I have often stayed, used
to live near Keswick. That is why the name of
Maclyn of Elmdale is familiar to me.'
4 How strange that you, who also know them, and
I should meet on this outer edge of the world. But
do not be alarmed, I will refrain from the usual
platitude. Bryce Chillingham and I were at Oxford
together. So you heard of me from them,' said Jack,
with more satisfaction in his voice than the circumstance appeared to warrant.
4 Yes, often ; but you were so much abroad after
your uncle, old Mr Maclyn, died, that somehow we
never met, though I spent two summers amongst
your quaint Dales-folk,' she replied, and into the
habitual reserve of her manner there crept a trace of
eagerness.
Naomi Crocus was an orphan, and the adopted
child of her uncle, Mr Bates-Post. More than that,
her physical beauty was very great, and her moods
were as numerous and her fancies as changeable as
the lights on a sun-smeared sea. Those soft grey
eyes, that had so quickly wrought havoc in the heart
of Jack Maclyn, could sparkle with pleasure, grow
tender with sympathy, or deepen to black when she
& 42 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
was   excited   or   pained.    They  were  the  one  infallible   barometer   of   her  feelings;   for   her   true
qualities  were  often   hidden   under   the  mask   of a
stimulating reserve, that made men worship her, even
whilst they called her cold.    Naomi's half-shy^half-
impulsive  nature was a complex   puzzle,  upon  the
solution of which many lovers had staked their happiness—and lost.    Had they but known that the thread
which formed  the key   to   her   maze-like character
was just a conscience of which she never could get
the  whip-hand, things must  have   turned   out very
differently;   and   if one, bolder   than the rest,  had
followed along the guiding line, he would have found
at   the  end   of those  tortuous  windings  a  temple,
empty,  swept   and   garnished,  save  for  an   Idol  of
Duty, clothed in the Mantle of Obedience.    Only
the man that Naomi Crocus might some day learn to
love would ever see that this idol wore the iron crown
of a narrow creed.
Once upon a time the girl had been all impulse,
and heart, and sweet content, until there came that
into her life which darkened her days and left her
at twenty-three to bide the bitterment of it. To her
aunt the continual presence of this old tragedy was
peculiarly irritating. She called it hyper-sensitive
nonsense, and implored Naomi to ignore the whole
affair; but then Miriam Bates-Post was indolent, and
kind with the charity that would rather forgive and
forget an injury than be worried with the recollection of it. Mr Bates-Post took a very strong view
of the matter. He loved his niece dearly, and grieved
over her wrecked happiness, but when he urged her EASTERN FRIENDS 43
to blot out all unpleasant remembrances, and begin a
new life unfettered by the events of the past, he did
so because he firmly believed such to be the only
right course to pursue. The real reason why the girl
disregarded this sensible advice was to be found in the
influence exercised over her by Professor Panhandle,
a man who had been her father's friend, and who, at
the time of his death, Mr Crocus had appointed her
legal guardian. Now, unfortunately, Cyr Panhandle
was an excellent but a very narrow-minded man.
The world called Naomi shallow, and thought her
inordinately fond of gaiety. In this it proclaimed
itself ignorant, mistaking an innate desire to please for
vanity; calling her tact artifice, and never seeing
the stern devotion to duty that peeped through the
crevices of her commonplace compliance with society's
demands. No wonder the girl counted her lovers by
the score. In the first place she was indifferent to
admiration, accepting a certain amount of attention
ks her due, and treating all ardent devotion with a|
jplatonic tenderness that is infinitely more dangerous
to men's hearts than the most outrageous flirtation ;
and secondly, she was very lovely. The utter want
of colour in her cheeks seemed only to heighten the
lustre of her eyes, whilst her lips, like scarlet geraniums,
were made but to kiss and be kissed. Truth and
gentleness shone in her expression, honour dwelt in
her soul. Naomi Crocus had suffered as girls will
who have no mother,
1
J CHAPTER   VIII
A    CURIOUS    ENCOUNTER
' The electric chain wherewith we are darkly bound.'—Byron.
4 It was a great surprise to us all when the Chilling-
hams decided to leave England and settle in British
Columbia,' said Mr Bates-Post. 4 They are now
living near Sapolill, as you probably know, where they
have a very fine ranche.'
4 Yes, so I have heard,' replied Jack.
4 The move was a risky experiment. Old people,
like old trees, seldom bear transplanting, and this
province resembles most Western places in being
essentially a land of, and for, the younger generation.
We intend to visit the Chillinghams before returning
to England, and I expect to get some capital shooting
while in that Okanagan country.'
4 It is wonderful how many delightful people we
have already met in the West,' babbled Mrs Bates-
Post, 4 but they warned me in England to be very careful not to fraternise with strangers, for fear they might
turn out to be bunco-stalkers. That sounds quite like
the Highlands, doesn't it ? Now can you tell me
what a bunco really is ? I have always fancied it
must be a sort of Canadian deer.'
44 A CURIOUS ENCOUNTER 45
4 They are certainly dear to some Canadians—most
costly game,' muttered Jack, convulsively.
41 think you mean bunco-steerers, sort of confidence men, you know,' explained Agnes Arbuckle,
mildly.
4 Do I ? Perhaps so, my love. But I forgot,
probably Mr Macthin is as ignorant of such things
as we are.'
4 Maclyn,' corrected Jack, politely.
4 Oh, yes, thank you. I never can remember
names,' and the good lady smiled benignly.
4 At least I can assure you that I am a perfectly
harmless person, and never committed a desperate
deed in my life,' said Jack, in an amused tone. His
brain was literally whirling in the cross-currents of
Mrs Bates-Post's chatter. I 41 fancy, however,' he
continued, 4that you will find British Columbia a
much more prosaic place than you expect. My
cousin, Doctor Dufft of the Mind-Ease Asylum in
Fraserville, told me yesterday that the days of4C holdups " and lynchings were long past, and that a woman
is as safe in the rowdiest mining camp, or on the loneliest
ranche, as she is in the Court of Chancery.'
4 How nice ! but not so exciting, is it ?' said Mrs
Bates-Post, disappointedly. Turning to her husband
she added in an undertone, 4 Did you hear that,
Richard ? He knows Doctor Dufft; perhaps he has
also seen—' then, catching sight of the agonised
look on Naomi's face, she suddenly fell to silence.
4 Better be safe than sorry,' remarked Mr Bates-
Post, sen ten tiously, ignoring his wife's aside, but giving
her a loving look to atone for the defection. 46 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 You will find few Westerners to share your desire
for danger at the price of comfort,' said Jack, unconscious that his casual allusion to the doctor had
desperately startled three out of four of his hearers.
4 Their marvellous civilisation is evidently their
proudest boast, judging from Hallam Dufft's
remarks,  and—'
4 There you are quite right, Mr Maclyn,' broke in
Agnes, quickly, as Naomi gave a tiny gasp, 4only
your definition is too limited ; it stops far short of the
mark.    We are proud of our whole country.'
Jack turned to the girl with increased interest.
4 Do you know it is just this supreme pride of their
province that impresses me as so strikingly characteristic of the Western temperament.'
4 Miss Arbuckle is a true British Columbian,' laughed
Mr Bates-Post.
Agnes gave him a quizzical look as she murmured,—
4 At anyrate it is well to belong to a place so
eminently worthy of championship.'
4 Of course it is, xny dear,' assented Mrs Bates-Post.
41 entirely agree with you. Vancouver is delightful
as a new experience. It is so fashionable nowadays
to be Colonial and unconventional.'
4 And honest,5 interrupted Agnes, eagerly, 4 honest
in public action as in private thought. To behave
like rational human beings, instead of mere puppets
controlled by little bits of red-tape. Yes, Mr Maclyn,
we are proud of our colonialism, and all that it means
to us, and we love the Mother Country with a passionate devotion that lies too deep for words. Here on
the Pacific Slope, six thousand miles from London 1
A CURIOUS ENCOUNTER 47
Bridge, people rally to a man under the banner of
Imperialism; and should the Queen ever ask for
proof of our loyalty we Canadians will answer her
with our lives,' and a glow of satisfaction overspread
the girl's face.
4 Oh, Lord ! What it is to be twenty-five and
enthusiastic !' exclaimed Mr Bates-Post, dramatically.
41 have just been wondering,' said Mrs Bates-Post,
suddenly, 4 whether that man at breakfast in the grey
suit was eating maple syrup with his bacon because it
is the custom of the country, or because he really liked
it.    What do you think, Mr O'Flynn ?'
4 That he must be very rugged to stand such an
extraordinary mixture,' replied Jack, confidently.
4 How nasty to make such a bazaar ot himself,'
remarked Agnes. 4 It reminds me of the contents of
a 4C General Store " in a small up-country settlement.'
41 must really introduce you properly to our party,'
here chimed in the elder lady, with a sudden spasm of
propriety, serenely indifferent to the fact that they had
all chatted most complacently together for the past
hour on the strength of their mutual friends, oblivious
of any necessity for further formalities. She was a
woman peculiarly punctilious about trifles, except
when they bore some real significance, and her
faculty for observing them out of season was
stupendous.
4 This,' she went on with a delicious air of insouciance, 4 is my husband, MnBates-Post; that,' indicating
Agnes,4 is our young friend, Miss Arbuckle, who lives
in Victoria, but is now visiting us here for a few days ;
and my niece sitting opposite to you in the rocking- 48 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
chair,' with another wave of her hand,4 is Miss Naomi
Crocus, Mr—' then, with a triumphant effort of recollection—4 Mr M4Ginty.'
The two girls laughed heartily ; but Jack was only
conscious of a pair of exquisite grey eyes that were
regarding him in a distinctly friendly fashion. Yet
it was to Agnes, whose eyes were blue as lapis-lazuli,
that he addressed his next remark.
4 Your brother's name is already familiar to me,
Miss Arbuckle,' he said, 4 and I hope soon to have the
pleasure of meeting him.'
4 Jim will be very glad to see you when you come
over to the Island, I am sure,' responded the girl,
frankly.
4 Shall you remain long in Vancouver, Mr Maclyn ?'
asked Naomi.
* Only about another week. Then I go to Victoria
for a few days, and expect to sail from there for
Yokohama on the 2nd, by the Empress of India?
4 What a pity,' remarked Agnes. 4June is by far
the loveliest month of the whole year on the Coast,
and in Victoria is simply heavenly.'
4 Yet look at the sunshine this morning. Could
anything be more glorious ? ' questioned Jack.
4 It is superb,' agreed Naomi, rapturously. 4What
do you say to a walk round the—'
4 A gentleman to see you in the reception-room,
sir,' interrupted the bell-boy, handing Maclyn a
card.
4 From my cousin, Doctor Dufft,' remarked Jack,
glancing at the name. 4 He promised to run over and
spend the day with me if possible.    I should like, with
i 1
A CURIOUS ENCOUNTER 49
your permission, to introduce him to you, Mr Bates-
Post. By the way, being an old resident in British
Columbia, he may be of service to you during your
stay here.'
4 Oh ! but—' cried Mrs Bates-Post, excitedly.
4 My love, this Doctor Dufft is a perfect stranger
to us,' said her husband, quickly.
Jack thought the remark a superfluous one at the
time, but he remembered afterwards the repressive
tone in which it was made.
41 am much obliged to you,' continued the old
gentleman, addressing Maclyn, 4 and shall be very
happy to meet your cousin later on. This morning,
however, I fear that other engagements will prevent
me from availing myself of your kind offer.'
The younger man was silent. He felt instinctively
that something had gone wrong.
4 Good morning, Jack,' cried Doctor Dufft, cheerily,
as, following closely upon the heels of the bell-boy, he
stepped out into the hotel verandah.
Rising brusquely, Maclyn bowed mechanically to
the ladies, and started forward, thus arresting his
cousin's progress.
4 Glad to see you, old man. Let us go upstairs,
my cigars are in my room,' he said, drawing Dufft
towards the door.
If the Bates-Posts were not anxious to meet the
doctor, Jack decided he would certainly not force the
acquaintance upon them. When they reached the
main entrance, however, he could not resist the
temptation of a backward glance.
Good Heavens !    What was the matter ?    There
D e
50 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
sat Naomi Crocus staring at Hallam Dufft with eyes
that looked like dark sunken wells in her ashen face,
whilst Agnes, who had half-risen from her chair, was
regarding their retreating figures with mingled scorn
and derision. CHAPTER   IX
ALL   IN   A  TERMINAL  TOWN
4 To see her was to love her,
Love but her, and love forever.'—Burns.
The Hotel Vancouver was taxed to its utmost
capacity. A train-load of people, bound for Australia,
had arrived to take passage by the out-going S.S.
Warrimoo, and several Government officials, on their
way to Hong-Kong, were awaiting the departure of
the R.M.S. Empress of India for the Orient. Thus the
tide of summer travel rose rapidly, as the magnet of
the May sunshine drew tourists from all parts of the
world out to the great Canadian West.
Down in the town, and along the water-front, all
was life and bustle. Prospectors just off to Atlin
swaggered along in brand-new corduroys, each man's
heart aglow with hope, and his mouth full of prophecies
concerning the placer claims he was going to locate
in the new El Dorado. At the street corner some returned Klondykers were pulling gold nuggets, as large
as marbles, out of their pockets by way of illustrating
Northern yarns, and the crowded thoroughfares reechoed with the hum of business. Here a mining man
rushed past, urged to withstand the temptation to turn
5i 52 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
into a bar by the certainty that, if he did so, the newest
thing in English capitalists would slip through his
fingers and fall into the clutches of a rival firm.
There a curbstone-broker had pounced upon an inoffensive citizen, and was trying to sell him something
that he did not want, and on every side were heard
quotations in stocks and the latest news from Dawson
City, coupled with a hint at some rich 4 strike' just
telegraphed from Kootenay, or a tip as to the 4 best
buy ' on the market.
What a glorious thing it is to be a prospective
millionaire, and to have no shadow of doubt but that
the sun will always be shining upon you! The
sanguine enthusiasm that is the very breath of life in
a Western settlement, andwhich makes all things seem
possible to all men, is wonderfully infectious ; even the
local policeman manages to catch it, and the cleverest
sinner who evades the law cannot escape from its
thraldom.
Ships from every clime lay within the port, and
sailed out, through the lion-guarded gateway of 4 The
Narrows,' off to the golden Klondyke or the sunny
Southern seas. No wonder Vancouver was proud of her
magnificent harbour, which stretched from the wharves
fringing the town over to the foot of the tree-stocked
slopes, above whose deep green borders a line of snowy
peaks jagged the horizon, for upon the waters of this
well-nigh land-locked haven the whole British Navy
might with ease and safety ride at anchor.
Jack Maclyn never forgot the vivid impression
branded upon his mind by the contrast and epi-contrast
of Nature during his stay in Vancouver.    Looking 1
ALL IN A TERMINAL TOWN        53
late one night across Burrard Inlet, he saw, seated upon
a throne of rocks and robed in cloud drifts, a mighty
mountain that raised itself skywards, and around
whose stately head a crown of Northern Lights flashed
and glittered like the Diadem of Truth. In the
opposite direction, beyond Point Grey, the glories of
the sunset had faded to purple-pink, and then turned
aquamarine, as the stars shone out in the greenish sky
like golden flowers amongst the leaves of heaven.
At the edge of the bay the sea was hushing the
shore to sleep, and the great heart-beats of the waves
pulsed against the rocks with passionate throbs.
Between the dying twilight in the west, and the
garish Aurora Borealis in the north, stood the city
of Vancouver. The asphalted streets were bare of all
foliage, but in the residential quarters rows of young
trees, planted symmetrically in the boulevards, rested
the eye, and gave promise of shade in days to come.
The townsite, which was formely a primeval forest,
had only been roughly cleared by fire of its standing
timber, and therefore betwixt the finest buildings and
most artistic houses lay vacant lots, filled with lame,
limb-lopped trunks and blackened stumps, the burnt
logs piled criss-cross, and greened over with delicate
vine maples and the dark shiny leaves of the sallal
bushes.
A week had passed since that eventful morning
when Jack Maclyn had first made acquaintance with
the Bates-Posts and their party at breakfast. He had
been not a little puzzled over the startling finale
caused by the arrival of Hallam Dufft, and had naturally
questioned his cousin upon the subject afterwards, but 54 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
the doctor, though admitting that he had known
Miss Arbuckle slightly for years, flatly denied ever
having heard of such a person as Miss Crocus. The
fact that Dufft was a friend of Kingsearl's sufficiently
explained Agnes's attitude ; but why, if they were total
strangers, should Naomi have displayed so much
agitation at the mere sight of the superintendent ?
This was the single, and, taken in conjunction with
Mr Bates-Post's refusal to meet Dufft, the double
acrostic Jack spent many hours in trying to solve.
A queer undercurrent of jealousy tinged Maclyn's
ruminations. He believed Hallam's denial, but then,
he reflected, a doctor might be forced to tell an untruth
to hide a professional secret. In this instance, however, he was mistaken. Dufft really knew nothing
whatsoever of Naomi's existence, and, by one of those
strange chances which change the course of people's
lives, Maclyn when speaking of the two girls did not
mention the Bates-Posts' name to his cousin, but
merely alluded to them as the relations of Miss Crocus ;
had he done so, Dufft would have recognised in the
old gentleman an English correspondent, and thereby saved Jack from months of miserable uncertainty.
What Naomi knew of the superintendent, and why
the sight of him so deeply moved her, was part and
parcel of the same circumstance which made her
uncle decline a casual encounter with the doctor. Mr
Bates-Post had a good reason for refusing to meet
Hallam Dufft in the presence of his niece, and a better
one still for not wishing Naomi to meet the superintendent at all.
The doctor  did not come over to  Vancouver a
XL ALL IN A TERMINAL TOWN 55
second time prior to Maclyn's departure for Victoria,
and the latter was so occupied with other matters that
he postponed going to Fraserville from day to day,
until he was finally obliged to write a note to Dufft
bidding him good-bye, and promising to pay him
another visit on his return from Japan. Thus the
cousins failed to meet again, and consequently Maclyn
did not hear that during the week when he was in
a seventh heaven, talking, walking and cycling with
Miss Crocus, Mr Bates-Post spent many anxious
hours at the Mind-Ease Asylum in consultation with
its superintendent.
Meanwhile it had been arranged that Agnes
Arbuckle should return home on the last day of
May, taking Naomi with her for a short visit, in
order to leave the Bates-Posts free to conclude the
business which had brought them out to British
Columbia. Jack was going to travel down to Victoria
on the same afternoon. Of course he said this was 4 a
jolly coincidence,' yet it necessitated the cutting down
of his stay in the Queen City to a single day, a
deplorable act, and one he was unlikely to have committed had Naomi Crocus not possessed a face lovely
enough to have sowed discord betwixt Abelard and
Heloise.
41 am glad Mr Maclyn is going across the Gulf
with you and Naomi !' remarked Mrs Bates-Post,
amiably. 4It is only a short voyage, still a man is
often useful on board ship.'
4 Very,' assented Agnes, readily, 4 especially if he has
the good sense to efface himself during the greater
part  of the journey.     I  hate people who stick to
j 56 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
conversation like a burr when I want to read.    They
are the most irritating creatures on earth.'
4 Not half so aggravating as men who try to outstay   each   other   in   one's   drawing-room,'   argued
• Naomi,    4 That little game  may be  very  exciting
to   them,   but   it is  excessively  wearisome   to   their
hostess.'
4 There is nothing pious about a bore at any time.
He is always bad form,' surmised Agnes. 4 Give me
a man whom Heaven has not scrimped in the way of
unselfishness, and who goes through life sprinkling
sunshine with both hands, that is the kind of being
who blazes the trail for his weary fellow-mortals that
have lost their way in the dark jungle of misfortune
and despair.'
4 Heaps of people would be considerate for others if
they only had the opportunity.'
4 My dear girl, what is opportunity ? It is temperament that counts, and not to confound amiability with
imbecility.'
4 In fact to be thoroughly good-natured.'
4 Is that an advantage ?' said Agnes, in a scornful
tone.    4I doubt it.    A man who is good-natured is]
usually so remarkably kind to himself so remarkably I
easy-going, so remarkably a prig.    No, personally I
prefer the selfless type.'
4 Like Tolstoi.'
4 There you are right up against it. He is a man
who keeps his fingers on the pulse of humanity, and
the unselfish thoughts, words and acts that ennoble his
wonderful existence strike a sweet true note in the
chord of life—a keynote for the angels to tune their
HI ALL IN A TERMINAL TOWN        57
harps by. But enough of ethics ; I must descend to
pen and ink, and the problem of bringing my ideas
and those of the editor of the Herald together without
bumping,' and so saying Agnes turned her back on
her companions and started work.
The three women sat upstairs in a private room.
Mrs Bates-Post was busily engaged in spreading
dainties before her poodle, but Phroso's appetite was
capricious, and his mistress, who adored his every tuft,
felt much disturbed over his lack of interest in things
comestible. Naomi stood by the open window, idly
watching the electric cars as they crept past like fat
green slugs on a garden path, and from time to time
cast impatient glances in the direction of Agnes, who,
oblivious to all surroundings, now sat with her head
bent over the writing table* covering foolscap at a
furious pace.
41 admire him immensely,' murmured the elder
lady, as she held a piece of sponge-cake under the
poodle's nose.
4 His coat is lovely,' assented Naomi, cheerfully,
leaving the window as she spoke.
4 My dear child, what an odd remark to make/
replied her aunt, a little nettled. 4 When I speak of
Mr Maclyn I usually refer to the man and not to
his clothes.'
The girl laughed.
41 fancied you meant Phroso,' she said.
4 Of course not. But tell me, do you like him ?'
inquired Mrs Bates-Post, anxiously. She had not been
blind to Jack's ardent devotion to her niece, or the
latter's half-frightened acceptance of the same, and the 58 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
hope of a possible happy ending to all Naomi's troubles
made her glad.
4 Yes, rather,' replied the girl's lips, but truth in her
heart whispered otherwise.
4 You are generally so indifferent to men. At your
age it is strange.'
41 do not think so,' replied Naomi, significantly,
and a momentary quiver softened the serenity of her
face.
4 Well, at anyrate, Mr Maclyn is a delightful
young fellow, so manly and such good form. He is
very much in love with you, too, my dear, of that
there can be no doubt.'
4 The fact does not interest me,' remarked the girl,
telling a flagrant fib.
4 Then it should. You are just a cantankerous
baby,' replied her aunt, testily. It annoyed the good
lady when matters did not run smoothly.
41 admit that he is very nice, but I am not the
least little bit in love with him. Funny, isn't it ?'
retorted Miss Crocus, rebelliously. Gentle as she was
by nature, the promptings of her relations on the
subject of marriage always roused her to wrath.
4 Naomi, don't be flippant. I really believe you
dislike all men just because—'
4 Aunt Miriam !' she cried imploringly. This
quick change from truculence to entreaty softened
Mrs Bates-Post in an instant.
4 Well, well, my dear, I will not refer to the past as
it distresses you so much ; but you are really quite
morbid on the subject. Christopher Sabel is nothing
to you, or you to him.'
Hi ^v
ALL IN A TERMINAL TOWN        59
4 It is no use going over the old arguments. I
simply do not care for the attentions of men, that is
all,' said the girl, wearily.
4 Stuff and nonsense !' exclaimed her aunt, with
renewed spirit. 6 Brooding over that miserable business has put all sorts of ridiculous ideas into your head,
and the way in which Professor Panhandle encourages
you is positively absurd. I cannot understand it. He
is so charming in all other respects.'
4 He is perfectly right. You see he was there when
—when—'
4 Yes, I know, my dear. What a fatal day that was !
But, Naomi, your uncle and I feel quite sure you are
hyper-sensitive on the subject.'
4 No, Aunt Miriam. My guardian knows best, and
he says I must never marry. I have told you so ever
since—but there, why should we argue about it now?'
41 suppose because this journey has brought the
subject up again. After you go to Victoria your
uncle will wind up affairs as quickly as possible. Did
he tell you that Christopher is to remain in Fraserville
under Dr Dufft's care ? '
4 No. Oh, auntie, I wish you would let me go to
the Mind-Ease Asylum and see him !'
4 Certainly not. It would be most distressing for
you, and could do him no good.'
4 But Professor Panhandle said that I ought to.'
Mrs Bates-Post drew herself up.
4 Naomi,' she said imperiously,4 Professor Panhandle
is a very good man, but good men make great mistakes
sometimes.'
41 know just how you feel, little girl,' said Agnes as
I HP
60 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
she got up and put her arm round her friend's waist,
4 but it is foolish. You are as free as I am to love
and be loved by any man. Your uncle and aunt
are right. The past is dead, and though I do not
doubt that your paragon is acting from the best of
motives, still he is head over heels in the wrong. To
give unpalatable advice is a positive disease with some
people.'
Naomi shook her head.
4 If the professor were not your guardian, would
you still think his opinion on the subject infallible r '
asked Agnes, impetuously.
Naomi started. 41 never thought of that before.
Yes—no—I do not suppose I should.'
4 Oh !    I see.'
Miss Arbuckle was quite clever enough to realise
how useless it was to kick against the pricks when
the scruples of such a girl were involved. In this
deduction she was correct. Naomi had grown up
from childhood under the guidance of Cyr Panhandle,
a man of rigid views on all subjects temporal and
ecclesiastical, and, as a natural consequence, he exercised an inexorable influence over her.
4 You are just a bundle of prejudices,' said Mrs
Bates-Post,4 and if you are going to be so reserved and
narrow-minded you had better have stayed at home.
Now, while we are in British Columbia, I want to
see everything, know everybody and behave just like
the natives.'
4 Meaning the Indians ?' inquired Agnes with an
amused smile.
4 No, people like you and your brother, of course,' ri
ALL IN A TERMINAL TOWN
61
replied Mrs Bates-Post, with dignity.   4 Do you suppose
I want to wear feathers and live in a wigwam ?'
4 Not at this early season of the year,' replied Agnes,
laughingly. 4 It is far too chilly for such gay doings in
May ; besides, our Siwashes are sensible enough nowadays to prefer Herr Taeger's latest Ipsilante horrors
and gaudy Birmingham shawls to the traditional
wampum belt and bead necklace of their forefathers.'
\——:—■—-—-^^ r
CHAPTER   X
THE   LOVE  TRAIL
' None without hope e'er loved the brightest fair,
But love can hope where reason would despair.'—Lyttelton.
Jack had fallen in love with Naomi, openly, honestly
and wholly ; and Naomi, in spite of her protestations,
had fallen in love with Jack, secretly and with fear in
her heart. One week had sufficed for all this, one
lovely, delicious week of companionship. At times the
girl was so joyous, and the man so content, that they
wandered together along the green lanes of happiness,
forgetting all else save one another. When he was
beside her in the sunlight, the incense of his worship
rose up around her in pure white clouds, shutting out
all the world and bathing her soul in the perfume of
love, but when she was left alone Naomi would
awaken with a sigh from such sweet dreaming, and in
an agony of terror remember the barrier built up
between them. Then in a tempest of remorseful
restitution she would recklessly sacrifice pleasure, happiness and love on the altar of a chimerical duty.
So Naomi blew hot and cold by turns, and poor
Jack took the express elevator between heaven and
hell a dozen times a day.
62
^ mm.
THE LOVE TRAIL 63
4 Miss Crocus,' he began abruptly, as they strolled
through the trails in the park one afternoon, 41 am an
awful duffer at saying things, but there is something I
want to tell you—something I believe I've wanted to
tell you ever since we first met.'
Naomi turned a surprised glance on him. The
man's voice was full of suppressed emotion.
4 Is it about yourself ? ' she asked kindly.
4 Yes. It is about myself—and you,' he added
softly.
The girl was at once on her defence.
4 You and me. How disappointing !' she said with
a chilly smile. 4Do you know for a moment you
quite excited my curiosity, but now I am afraid it is
nothing of importance after all, for when two people
have only known each other for a week, as we have,
their mutual interests are of necessity very superficial.'
This with studied pedantry.
4 My interest in you is not superficial, Miss Crocus,
surely you must know that. Why, I would gladly
give up half my life if only for the other half we might
always be—'
4 Friends.'
4 Yes, but the best of friends.'
4 And why not ?' she asked defiantly.
4 Because you refuse to give me the hope without
which I shall never again be content. I do not want
a friendship that will shrink and fade, but—'
4 Please don't begin that sort of thing,' she pleaded
anxiously.
41 am beginning nothing,' he protested hotly. 41
am just going on with something that will never have r
64 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
an end for me. You would not listen before, but you
shall hear me now,5 he went on firmly. 4 Why do
you treat me so strangely, Miss Crocus ? One day
I almost believe that you do care, and the next your
manner is so distant that it cuts me to the heart.'
She was silent, not knowing what to answer. No
one was in sight. He moved a step closer to her
side.
4 Tell me,' he urged impatiently, 4 what does it all
mean? What are you afraid of? Not of me,
surely ?'
41 am afraid of nothing,' replied the girl, lightly,
but her heart sank as she uttered the words. 41 am
tired,' she added with the air of one desirous to change
the subject.
Then Jack understood that Naomi was afraid, but
not of him.
4 Let us rest here for a few minutes; we can talk
better so,' he suggested, quick to take advantage of
the idea. 4 This fallen log is not very wet, but you
had better sit on my overcoat.'
4 That is very kind of you.'
4 There is no need for thanks.'
4 Really ?' she said archly. 4 Then that makes it all
the easier for me to refuse.'
4 But if I will take no refusal ?'
4 Better do so, even at the risk of violence to your
feelings, than take a chill.'
4 Come now, I insist. You must not sit on the
damp wood, or you will be the one to suffer.'
4 Such may be your opinion, but it does not follow
that it is a correct one.' THE LOVE TRAIL 65
4 Very likely,' he assented meekly.
4 And yet perhaps you are right,' she admitted,
succumbing to the desire to obey which subdues most
girls when the command is from the man they love.
4 If I were not a weak idiot where you are concerned, I should be very severe now, and read you a
lecture on the sin of arguing.'
4 And pray what right have you to scold me, even
if censure were due ?—which it is not,' she finished,
tilting up her chin.
4 The greatest right of all.    I love you.'
4 Oh ! why do you say that ? You know it is not
true.    Don't spoil our friendship,' she said excitedly.
4 Do you call that spoiling it ?'
4 Yes, it is madness.'
4 Then madness is sweet.'
She shuddered. Why had she used that word ?
How hateful it was of him to repeat it!
4 It is all wrong,' she exclaimed violently, as if
warding off something.    41 never thought—'
4 No, you knew?
Thus brought to bay Naomi grew angry.
41 did not.'
4 You did—darling.'
4 Don't contradict. It is rude,' she replied haughtily.
But that last word c darling' sounded sweet in her
ears.
4 Do you want me to say one thing and mean
another ?'
4 Men generally do. There would be nothing
strange in that.'
Then Jack in his turn waxed indignant.
E 66 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 For myself, I tell the truth and detest insincerity,
and all the rest of it.'
4 Am I the rest of it ?'
Jack admitted to himself with a groan that she was
the whole of it, but he was distinctly annoyed, and
dignity held him silent.
4 Are you very cross ?' asked Naomi, at length,
looking up at him with an adorable smile as she
seated herself with great deliberation on the wet
log.
4 No, but I think you are.'
4 Quite the contrary,' she replied nonchalantly.
4 I've carried my point.'
4 If I could only carry mine, you should never
tempt Providence by sitting in damp places.'
4 Still the shade is pleasant on such a warm day.'
4 All the same, if I had my way, you should always
be in the sunlight. You believe that, don't you ?'
he added tenderly.
Naomi realised that he was trying to influence her
with his words, -but she knew that it was his personality that swayed her.
4 Yes,' she said simply, 4 that is what I do believe.
Mr Maclyn,' she continued softly, 41 will sit on your
coat now if you wish it.'
Then the man felt unreasoningly glad.
For a while they chatted in the quiet green depths
of the park, ever skirting round the absorbing topic
of love, like moths round a flame. Jack feared to
frighten the girl again by too forcible words, and yet
they had reached that stage when love-making was
imperative. THE LOVE TRAIL 67
4 It is growing cold,' said Naomi, presently, with a
little shiver.    4 Come, let us walk on again.'
4 Just as you like. I only want you to be happy,'
he said.
4 Is anyone ever really that ?' she asked as she
rose.
4 When with you everyone is.'
4 What a pretty speech !'
4 If I did not admire you so much I would often
pay you compliments; but, as it is, I can only think
them.'
4 The nicest things are not always said in words,'
replied the girl, mindful of the many unspoken
thoughts of Jack that nestled warm in her heart.
4 Do not turn homewards just yet,' he urged, as she
took a step in the direction of the bridge.
41 must go back. My aunt will be expecting me.
Perhaps next time—'
4 So long as you promise me a next time.'
' Of course I promise,' she answered hurriedly,
glad to procrastinate at any price.
4 Then next time I shall tell you again how dearly
I love you,' announced Jack, to whom the smallest
encouragement gave hope.
4 Oh ! Stop, please,' cried Naomi, aghast at his
words.
4 You don't really hate me, do you ?' he urged,
catching her hand and holding it firmly between his
own.
The girl sighed.
4 Won't you look up and answer me, Naomi ?'
His use of her name roused her. WHY NOT SWEETHEART
41 have nothing to say—nothing,' she murmured
in a frozen tone.
4 You are dearer and sweeter in my eyes than anyone else on God's green earth, darling ; but you—do
you care for me a little bit—as I care for you ?'
For a moment she looked over the barbed barrier
into a land lit with love-light, a land of celestial weather,
then with a shudder she wrenched her fingers away
from his clasp, crying, 4 Let me go !    Let me go !'
As Jack released her a terrible fear gripped his
heart.
4 Is there someone else ? ' he said almost roughly.
4 Answer me truthfully.'
41 cannot, I dare not,' she moaned.
41 am not half worthy of you,' he urged gravely,
4 but at least you owe me a reply to that question.'
4 Do not ask it.    If you only knew,' she faltered.
4 Naomi, tell me what it is that stands between us.
Your troubles must always be mine from to-day,
dearest,' he went on, his heart throbbing violently,
and every throb an agony.
In her eyes the pathos deepened.
4 It is useless.    This must end,' she said.
4 Death alone can end some things,' he returned
quietly.
4 Death !' She started. Yes, of a truth, that, and
that alone, would end her hateful bondage and unloose her tongue.
4 Do not make things harder for me,' she went on.
4 Forget what we have said to-day.'
4 Impossible. Naomi, are you engaged to any
other man ?' THE LOVE TRAIL 69
4 No—but—'
4 Or in love with someone else ?'
4 No, no !'
Then happiness dawned in his heart with an exquisite light.
4 How I love you !' he said, a world of tenderness in
his voice.
The girl paled at the words.
4 It is unfortunate,' she replied icily. Then, catching sight of his earnest face, she added quaintly,
4 Perhaps you could not help it.'
4 Why should I try?'
4 Because we can never be anything to each other,'
very sadly.
4 Then you do not love me ?'
41 did not say that,' sheifaltered.
4 Then you do ?'
4 Oh ! don't question and torture me so,' she remonstrated wildly. 41 can't love you. I won't love
you.    You must give up all thought of such a thing.'
4 Never. Do you understand me, Naomi ?
Never, until you look me straight in the eyes and
say, 44 Jack, I do not love you."'
41 shall never say that,' she answered with sudden
calm ; 4 but, all the same, I can never marry you.'
4 If you love me everything is possible,' he said
fondly. 41 will wait, I will be so patient, darling, for
now there is nothing can part us—you and I.'
4 There is, there is,' she protested. And again
Jack felt the presence of a nameless shadow between
them.
4 Tell me what you mean, my sweet ?'
j
 n t^ 7o WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 There is my self-respect.'
Naomi passed a sleepless night in bitter repentance,
and with a firm hand pulled the curb on her feelings.
When she went out bicycling the next afternoon she
put on an unbecoming hat.
4 Good gracious !' exclaimed Agnes, as they went
down in the hotel elevator together, 'why do you
wear that hideous straw sailor ?'
4 Don't you like it ?' very sweetly.
4 It is out of sight !'
41 wish it were,' groaned Naomi, inwardly. Aloud
she said, 4 Is Mr Maclyn coming with us this afternoon ?'
4 No,' snapped Miss Arbuckle. She was angry
with her friend for playing fast and loose with Jack,
and secretly longed to see them happily married.
Naomi began to cheer up. Things might have
been worse. She had recklessly worn her best frocks
every day during the past week, therefore conscience
demanded a sacrifice.
I 4I think any old thing is quite good enough for
Vancouver,' she said truculently, as the hope that
perhaps after all Jack would not see her that day lent
her courage.
41 should not care to add to the gaiety of the
nation by riding round the town in it myself,' observed Agnes, indifferently. 41 always maintain that
smart clothes are a woman's armour. If you choose
to walk defenceless through life you may tempt Providence, but you will assuredly not tempt public
admiration.'
Out in Stanley Park the scene was grand.    In front THE LOVE TRAIL 71
stretched a road of smooth-rolled shell, edged by
Douglas firs that towered up three hundred feet into
the blue sky, and high above their spiky tops a hawk
swooped in triangular orbit and then swiftly darted
beyond the clouds. To the left a fringe of wave-
worn rocks, haunted by myriads of crows, held the
surf in check, as the tide rolled merrily up the beach
and the opalescent sea trended away to the western
horizon. On the right lay a tangle of underbrush,
hanging mosses and tall ferns, beneath whose tropical
growth the ground was carpeted with starry blossoms
and scarlet-fruited pigeon-berries. Through a trail,
cut deep into the heart of the Reserve, where stood
a virgin forest as yet unwedded by the sun, rode Agnes
and Naomi on their wheels, down past a lake
bordered with skunk-cabbages and devil's-clubs, and
over a rustic bridge spanning a gully, until they
reached the foot of Prospect Hill, and turned once
again into the main road.
41 thought perhaps I should catch you up here,'
called out Jack Maclyn, as he raced up behind them,
having skirted the shore from the Lighthouse.
4 What a day for a spin !'
The joy in his heart was tender as the green buds
of spring. The girl he loved would be near him
to-day—to-morrow—the next day—until he sailed
for Japan. Ah ! but he would return, and then—
So far he ventured in imagination, but a mist caused
by Naomi's perplexing behaviour obscured the future.
Jack could not fathom the look of fear that had
flashed from her eyes at his courting. Ardent words
had made her shiver, an earnest look driven the colour
J 72
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
from her cheeks, and yet she had admitted that she
loved no one else, nay more, she had not denied
that she loved him. All this puzzled the man
sorely, but it did not daunt him, though he was
forced to admit that he understood the girl's variable temperament as little as he liked her April
manoeuvres.
Maclyn was beloved by many, for he acted honourably and lived cleanly with the punctilious rectitude
of one who rules his life by principles and not by
creeds, though some hated him because he made
the great mistake of expecting all men to be as
honest as himself. That he had hitherto remained
heart-whole was not the fault of the opposite sex;
it was simply the result of a fine sense of justice,
which forbade him to trump the suits of his
opponents with his own strong hand of diamonds
in the Game of Life. If Jack ever played to win,
he would stake his chances of happiness on a single
card, and take the Queen with his King of Hearts,
or—not at all.
4 By this time on Wednesday we shall have seen
Victoria, and I shall be on my way to Yokohama,'
he said as they swept along the road.
4 And we shall all have said good-bye for a very
long time,' replied Naomi, bluntly, conscious of her
unbecoming hat and a wild desire to cry.
41 think not. I intend to return here on the
Empress of India?
41 understood that you were going to tour for a
couple of months in Japan.'
4 No,  I   merely  propose  to   take  the trip  across THE LOVE TRAIL 73
the Pacific Ocean and back,' replied Jack, as if this
were quite a usual thing to do.
4 But we leave for Sapolill shortly to stay with
the Chillinghams,' said Naomi.
4 Then we are quite sure to meet again soon,
for I am going to shoot in the Okanagan in
September.'
4 Why, I thought you said—'
4 For Heaven's sake, Naomi, don't argue about
trifles on such a hot day,' interrupted Agnes,
irritably. 4 That man has a talent for picturesque
lying which would make the fortune of any company
promoter,' she commented to herself,
41 was only going to say that I thought Mr
Maclyn told me he was obliged to be back in
London in three months c\n account of some legal
business,' persisted Miss Crocus.
41 have—er—arranged all that,' stammered Jack.
4 Another man will plead the case for me. But,' he
continued more firmly, 41 must be in England again
by the end of October. Life really is not all beer
and skittles for we poor barristers.'
4 Umph !' assented Miss Arbuckle, doubtfully.
4 Perhaps you are right. I fancy that when men
in British Columbia are called to the bar they find
it principally whisky.'
Jack laughed.
4 That is a nasty hit,' he said. 4 But, Miss Crocus,
now that I have told you of my plans, won't you
give me a quid pro quo? Are you going to stay
long at Sapolill ? Was it to visit the Chillinghams
that you came out to the Pacific Coast ?' 74 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 Not exactly. I—we — that is, my uncle and
aunt came on business.'
4 The same hesitation and secrecy,' thought Jack
to himself. 4 Deuce take it! What does it all
mean ?' Aloud he said : 4 To invest in the mines,
I suppose. That is what brings most people to the
West nowadays.'
And Naomi let the suggestion pass uncontradicted.
1 CHAPTER   XI
GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART
■ Had we never loved sae kindly,
Had we never loved sae blindly,
Never met or never parted,
We had ne'er been broken-hearted !'—Burns.
The S.S. Islander left Vancouver the following day,
with the two girls and Maclyn on board.
It was nearly seven o'clock when the steamer tied
up at the Victoria Dock, and Agnes insisted that
Jack should at once drive up to her brother's house
and dine with them. Nothing loath, he promptly
accepted the cordial invitation, and an hour later
found him seated at the well-appointed table of the
Cabinet Minister.
Two other guests, friends of the Arbuckles, were
also of the party, and presently conversation flowed
apace, stimulated by an excellent dinner and good
wines.
Mr Frisbee, the millionaire - manager of the
Klondyke Bonanza Syndicate, had just finished
telling a wonderful Yukon yarn.
4 It is scarcely credible !' exclaimed Agnes, as he
wound up a tale that would have brought a blush
of shame to the face of Ananias.
75
J 76 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 To resent a fact does not lessen its value,' he
returned suavely, his sense of humour not being
sufficiently developed to appreciate jokes against
himself. 4 Truth stands alone, my dear Miss
Arbuckle,' he concluded pompously.
4 Like Luther before the Diet of Worms, I
suppose, or my best silk frock. But tell me, Mr
Frisbee, have you all got Klondycitis so badly up
there?'
4 Of course they have, and in its most virulent
form too,' broke in Mrs Dreux, a pretty grass-
widow, who was dressed in—or rather partly in—
red, and looked as if she had put on her gown with
a shoehorn. cDid you ever know a Dawson City
man who did not talk about 44 creek diggings," and
44bar diggings," and 44 bench diggings" with a
familiarity that fairly stuns one ?' she wound up
pathetically.
41 fear the universal British Columbian mining
man is a universal bore,' remarked Mr Frisbee,
complacently.
6 But his stories are always so good that it seems a
pity to ask him how much of them is true,' murmured
Agnes aside to Naomi.
Mr Arbuckle caught the words, and smiled.
4 You must remember that pioneers up North see
strange sights,' he said, ' and a large American
element in a camp always provides substance for
capital anecdotes.'
4 So Bret Harte discovered,' remarked Jack, as he
struggled manfully with a bounding blanc mange that
threatened momentarily to overwhelm him.    4 Ameri-
m GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART 77
cans are—' He paused as the mould precipitated itself
wildly over the edge of the dish, and sat down in a
heap on the tablecloth beside him.
4 A people renowned for liberty and pie,' put in
Agnes.
4 And a very good sort too,' said Mr Frisbee.
4 Of pie ?' queried Mrs Dreux.
1 No, of people. Why, I assure you, my dear sir/
turning to his host, 4 that some of those Yankee chaps
are as capable of managing a big company as I am.'
41 fully believe it,' assented Miss Arbuckle,
audaciously,
41 missed you dreadfully while you were away,
Agnes,' said her brother, quickly, giving her a reproving glance, 4 and so I fancy did your friends, for
there is a tremendous pile of letters lying unopened
on your desk.'
4 Mostly bills, and notices to attend various gatherings, I expect. No doubt I have escaped some trying
hours, for I hate meetings worse than mice, don't you,
Lola?'
41 never went to one,' returned Mrs Dreux in a
superior tone.
4 Lucky woman ! The Conventions of Amalgamated Hens weary me beyond words, unless they
end (as they sometimes do) in a free fight. I would
infinitely rather go to a big " afternoon tea," where
everyone tells devilled stories about their dearest
friends, and decides who ought to marry who.'
4 But, my dear girl,' remonstrated Mr Arbuckle,
4 you cannot sort out the hearts of men and women in
pairs, like a game of Old Maid.' WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 Nothing easier ; the only difference being that in
this case the odd card is the lucky one.'
4 What rank heresy !' exclaimed Jack.
4 Not at all. The man who is a social success is
always a wealthy bachelor.'
4 Or the husband of a beautiful wife,' added the
Cabinet Minister.
Mr Arbuckle was an able diplomatist, grown prematurely grey in the service of his country, and one
who 4 bore without abuse the grand old name of
gentleman.' He was devoted to his sister, and
thought no one in all the wide world one half so
clever or so charming as she. Of her treatment of
Joseph Kingsearl, however, he in no wise approved,
but Agnes was determined to carry on the warfare
after her own fashion, and James Arbuckle's protests
and entreaties went for nothing.
Maclyn meanwhile felt preposterously happy, for
Naomi sat beside him, and was in one of her
friendliest moods. Under cover of the general conversation he had from time to time whispered in her
ear a few of those sweet nothings that mean so much
to lovers, but the silent movements of the white-
coated, lean and slippered Chinaman, who waited at
table, were a sore trial to his equanimity. No
sooner would he begin to make a tender speech than
there stood the imperturbable Celestial at his elbow,
offering him food in a lordly dish. Once towards the
end of dinner, however, he managed to bend over
and say softly, 4 To-morrow, dearest, I must see
you. I must talk with you alone, and say goodbye.'    But before  Naomi could reply, Agnes, who GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART 79
had overheard the words, gave the signal to rise.
As they left the room Jack caught the quizzical
look cast at him by his hostess, and to cover his confusion poured a glass of claret over some salt he had
accidentally spilt.
When the ladies reached the drawing-room, Miss
Arbuckle folded herself up on the sofa as only a tall
girl can.
4 Excuse me, my dears, I'm very tired,' she said
apologetically. 4 Establish yourself in that cosy armchair, Naomi, and, Lola, please put your feet on the
fender if you want to.    May I read my letters ?'
4 Only on condition that you share any gossipy contents with us,' returned Mrs Dreux, amicably.
Agnes began to look over her correspondence.
4 Mrs La Marr writes to^ask me for the name of
my Wash-Chinaman, and sends me a pressing invitation to tea in a postscript. I shall not go. She
sneers every pretty woman's character off, until some
kind friend contradicts it on again.'
4 The poor thing has two left-over daughters with
plain faces to fight for,' remarked Mrs Dreux, lazily,
as she surveyed the beaded toes of her slippers, directed
towards the fire, with great complacency.
41 do not like those sort of women,' rejoined Agnes,
indifferently.
4 They are not very inspiring, I admit, though perfectly respectable,' drawled Lola.
4 Oh ! very,' assented Miss Arbuckle in a furred
voice. 4 Why, here is a note from Mrs Gresham !
She is such a dear, uncritical soul, and her daughter
Kate is altogether delightful.    I want you to meet
J WHY NOT SWEETHEART
them, Naomi. What is this ? She invites us with
charming phrases to a 44 musical " next Monday. Then
of course we shall go, and take you with us ; so please
don your sweetest smile, and let your frock foam with
frivolity on that occasion, for you will meet everyone
who is anyone in Victoria there, and I intend that all
the men shall fall in love with you.'
4 One would fancy to hear you talk that you presided over the Ladies Entrance into Paradise,' murmured Mrs Dreux, casually.
4 Because I have the influenza, I do not necessarily
dance the polka,' retorted Agnes, tartly.
4 Meaning that in your simple little Western way
you do your friends every. kindness, but will take no
credit for the same,' responded her friend, serenely.
41 know you, my dear, so it is no use trying to throw
dust in my eyes like that. You can twist society
round your finger, which is—'
4 Unimportant—if true,' interrupted the girl,
carelessly.
4 Now don't befeather your Stetson hat with any
such mistaken ideas, and don't get catty because I
choose to tell you nice little home truths,' pursued
Lola, aggravatingly.
Whereupon Miss Arbuckle took refuge in dignified
silence, beaten, for once, with her own weapons.
4 You are about the best and cleverest girl in
British Columbia,' continued Mrs Dreux, following up
her advantage, 4 and as for that last letter of yours in
the Herald on the delinquencies of Mr Kingsearl, why,
it is just the very funniest thing that you ever wrote.'
Agnes started up as if she had been shot. ^v
GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART 81
4 Funny !' she almost screamed, and then with a
peal of hysterical laughter sank back on the sofa.
Lola Dreux little dreamed that her innocent speech
had succeeded where all the influence of the Cabinet
Minister had failed. Funny—the word whipped
Agnes like a lash. Funny—did Joseph Kingsearl
think of the letter thus ? Was it, could it really be-=-
funny ? She threw away the thought as she might
have torn a trail of bindweed from her skirt, and
walking across the room smoothed her hair before a
mirror, a ceremony which is of great importance to a
woman even in a crisis.
Gradually the scorn faded from her eyes and all the
bitterness died out of her heart.
Late that night when the household had gone to
bed, and she was left alone face to face with memory,
Agnes sat before the fire, too happy to sleep.
4 If I were a,man,' she whispered joyously,41 would
go on an idealised spree to-night, but as I am only a
girl,' here her voice curved tenderly, 41 will pray
44 God bless him." '
June had come, and all the world wore cap and
bells. Around Victoria the roads were inhemmed
by bushes of golden broom and fragrant dog-roses,
whilst the sun-steeped fields wore new spring dresses
broidered with bluebells and fritillaries. Out by the
edge of the ocean wandered Naomi Crocus. She was
a girl with an infinite love of Nature, and on this
particular afternoon had strolled off by herself, anxious
to be alone for a space under the blue and balmy sky,
with only her thoughts for company.
Close to the water's brim the waves stumbled
F
Jf WHY NOT SWEETHEART
sleepily up against the rocks. Here she found a nook
amongst some sheltering boulders, and throwing herself down upon the sand, fell to dozing in happiness.
Behind her rose the austere and treeless hills, before
her lay the green sea, shimmering like molten malachite in the glorious light of the radiant afternoon ;
only a few gulls, purposeful of wing, lent life to the
scene. On the bosom of the ebbing tide her thoughts
swept out into eternity. Occasionally a fresh idea
fell into the moving depths with a sullen splash, and
ringed slowly until it expanded into expression.
4 It would be a horrible thing not to have men
admire one,' she mused dreamily. 4 And yet, if I were
to fall—no, I mean as I have fallen in love—myself—
with Jack—it is even more dreadful still. What are
all the losses in the world compared with loss of hope ?
Must I give up everything ?' She started into a
sitting posture. 4 Ah ! no, surely Heaven holds some
mercy still for breaking hearts.'
At this moment all the little pretences with which
girls usually protect themselves from themselves were
shattered ; Naomi and her conscience looked at each
other with a fixed and terrible regard.
4 There is nothing I could not, would not do for his
sake,' she moaned,4 so I will give him up. But it is
so hard, dear God, it is so very, very hard.'
The girl was treading the Way of Love's Cross, and
the hurt of it ravened her heart.
4 Naomi ! Naomi ! at last I have found you,' cried
a joyful voice from the top of the bank, and Jack
scrambled down between the stones and flung himself breathless on the beach beside her. GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART 83
4 Oh ! why did you come ?' she said, chiding him,
womanlike, for the very deed she loved him for committing.
4 To say good-bye, my love ; to tell you that when
I come back again there shall be no more partings
for us.'
4 It cannot be, Mr Maclyn. There must be an
end now, even to whatever friendship may have existed between us,' she said pitifully, but the tension
was too great, and she burst into tears.
4 Don't say that, and don't cry, darling,' returned
Jack, caressing her with extreme gentleness. 4 You
were kind—'
4 But that was yesterday,' she sobbed vehemently.
4 No, no, Jack, to-day we say good-bye for ever. It
is like those dog-roses,' and she pointed to a bush
luxuriating near by; 4now they are beautiful, and
flushed with life, but soon—'
4 There is still next year, even when the roses die,
next year when they will bloom again, dear love.'
4 Oh ! Jack, my heart is aching so, do not make it
worse,' she pleaded with quivering lips.
4 If you have no pity on yourself, darling, I implore
you have a little on me. I love you, Naomi,' he said
fondly, folding his arms more closely round her.
4 Do not cry, my sweet,' and as he thus soothed her
with soft words the girl instinctively clung to him.
4 Jack, Jack,' she sobbed, 4I am so afraid. I am
falling—'
4 In love, dearest. Is not that it, Naomi ? We
have both fallen in love together.'
The words sounded like a benediction.    Tenderly
j> fm
84
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
he drew her face towards him and pressed a kiss upon
her trembling lips. In that moment earth and sky
reeled away from her ; she saw only her lover.
4 It is all right now,' she murmured weakly, 4 but
later on—to-night—when I am alone,' with a shiver,
41 shall suffer for this. When you are gone— Oh !
Jack, you are going from me to-night for ever, and I
—I dare not keep you, or even bid you return,
darling.'
The fond name wrung from her lips in her pain
went to his heart.
4 But why, sweetheart ? Could you not be happy
as my wife ?'
4 Your wife !' She repeated the words in a lingering
tone, and a tiny smile rippled across the sombre depths
of her eyes.    4 I could not,' she said bravely.
41 do not believe you,' he returned with confidence.
4 But you must submit.'
4 Must, Naomi ?' unsteadily.
She mistook his tone.
4 At last you understand,' she urged.
4 Why you should be unhappy all your life ?'
questioned feverishly. 4 Certainly not. There
enough misery in the world, God knows, without
senseless sacrifices. The other day in Fraserville I
saw a man, rich, well-born, handsome, but quite mad.
Poor Sabel— What is the matter, dear one ? Are
you faint ?' for Naomi had suddenly turned ghastly
white, and was struggling wildly to free herself from
his encircling arms.
4 In mercy's name, go, leave me !' she cried, the
syllables coming in gasps from between her set teeth.
he
is GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART 85
4 Did I frighten you, my love ? I am so sorry.
That asylum haunts me, but I should never have
mentioned the hateful place to you.     Forgive me.'
4 You saw him ?' The question came scarcely
above a whisper.
4 Who ? Sabel ? Or do you mean the superintendent ?' demanded Jack, sternly, a hideous doubt of
Hallam Dufft surging over him as he remembered the
episode on the hotel verandah.
41 am so afraid of mad people,' faltered Naomi, in a
choked voice.
She was gathering the stinging nettles with both
hands.
4 Forget my stupid speech, and let us talk of other
things,' said Jack, mollified by her evident disinterest
in his cousin. [
4 It is time we went home, I think,' replied the girl,
with sudden irrelevance.
4 Certainly, if you wish it. But why cut short our
last chat together ?'
4 The others will wonder where I am, and you must
see them also to say good-bye before you go on
board.'
She spoke rapidly, as if to defy contradiction. Perhaps she dreaded more arguments, more entreaties.
4 What do I care about the others ? they can wait,'
he returned impatiently. Then, seeing the look of
surprise on Naomi's face, he added gently, 4They
bore me, because, sweetheart, they are not you.'
41 suppose you think women like to be told those
sort of things, whether they are true or not,' she said
coldly.
jf 86 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
When a girl's heart is breaking, she does not care
what words she uses to wound.
4 If you will go,' he said, ignoring her cutting
speech, 4let us at least say our real good-bye here
alone together.'
Alone together ! Ah ! that was the thought which
filled her life from end to end.
4 Yes, let us say it here—now. Help me, Jack, to
do right, to remember.'
4 To remember that I love you, and that I shall
never give you up, that is all you need of memory, my
darling.'
She made no answer, but there was a world of
misery in her eyes. When a woman's heart breaks
there is no sound. In the infinite silence only God
hears the hopeless confluent anguish of all stricken
souls knelled in that passing across Love's Gethsemane.
From the hurt of the heart the death-damp drips, the
life-blood of love ebbs slowly away, despair's gate
opens wide—opens and draws her through.
4 Good-bye.    God bless you, Jack !'
4 And keep you for ever, my sweetheart.' CHAPTER  XII
THE  LANDSLIDE
'The storm that howls along the sky.'—Smollett.
A week later Maclyn was well on his way across the
Pacific Ocean towards Japan, and the Bates-Posts
and their niece had boarded the Canadian Pacific
Railway train bound for the upper country. After
much persuasion from Naomi, Agnes Arbuckle had
consented to accept the corclial invitation extended to
her by the Chillinghams, and go to visit them at
Sapolill with her friends, so that a merry quartette
was seated in the centre sections of the sleeping car
attached to No. 2 Express, as it steamed out of
Vancouver Station.
Along the southern bank of Burrard Inlet rolled
the train, where the roar and splash caused by gigantic
timbers as they rushed down the chutes, and bounded
off into the water, told of lonely logging-camps
hidden far up amongst the heavily-wooded hills, on
past the orchards and ploughed lands surrounding
Yale, until with a whistle of exultation the engine
rushed through Hell's Gate, and sped up into the
Fraser Canyon.
The short spring afternoon soon began to fade in
8? 88 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
the narrow gorge, and as Naomi watched the sunbeams die upon the massive mountain sides, and the
last faint flicker of daylight sink into the seething
whirlpools of the river, she shuddered at the tragic
loneliness of the scene. Presently the girls went
into the observation-car, in order to better enjoy
those wonderful views that meet the tourist's gaze
west of Spuzzum, where the cliffs close in, their
rocky profiles standing out clear-cut against a background of rich, dark-green fir trees, overtopped by
impregnable cragged fortifications, and where the
waters boil two hundred feet below the railway
track. There not a sound of animal life, not a sign
of human habitation relieves the gaunt grandeur of
the Canyon.
That night the travellers stayed over at the hotel
at North Bend, a pretty chalet built on a bench
right in the heart of the Canyon, and shut off from
the great outer world by those stupendous stone
battlements and bastions of rock, that the Westerner
justly ranks amongst the finest handiwork of the
Great Architect. -
The following morning dawned brightly, and the
whole party spent a pleasurable day wandering about
the vicinity, first visiting the quaint old Indian
burying - ground, where the corpse of a recently-
deceased Siwash, rolled in a blanket, still hung up
between two trees, according to the ancient traditions of his faith, and later on watching the Chinamen
washing for gold on the banks of the Eraser. There
these Mongolians sit, day after day, at the river's
edge, shovelling gravel into their 4 cradles' with one THE LANDSLIDE 89
hand, whilst they gently rock them to and fro with
the other, and continually pouring dipperfuls of water
into the sluice boxes, an operation that cleanses away
the pebbles and dirt, and leaves the tiny specks of
gold firmly adhered to the woollen lining of the
primitive machines ; the little bits of yellow metal
being afterwards run together on an iron plate by
means of quicksilver.
All these things were vastly interesting to the
Bates-Posts, and with genuine reluctance they proceeded next day on the second stage of their
journey, sorry to leave the matchless spot and take their
last look at the Fraser Canyon. They had decided to
leave the trans-continental line in 4 some wee short hour
ayont the twal,' at a wayside station, and drive from
thence to Sapolill, a distance of about seventy miles,
spending a night en route at the rustic hotel at Kamas,
run by one John Gregson, and thus obtain an excellent
idea of the British Columbian ranching country.
Gaily they started off, right merrily they chatted to
the driver of the rig (a thing of phenomenal joltiness,
that held them and their baggage in considerable discomfort, but which, being the only available vehicle
in the place, they had perforce hired for the trip), and
greatly did they at first admire the pastoral landscape,
the large herds of cattle, the bands of horses, and the
scattered farms that formed the mise-en-sdne of their
progress; but by-and-by the increasing heat disposed
them to restrict their observations more and more to
objects in the immediate foreground. After a halt
for luncheon the spirits of the party once more revived
stimulated by a cup of strong tea, brewed gipsy-fashion
JP go
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
in a tin pail hung on the end of a stick over the
camp-fire, and as only ten miles still remained to be
covered before nightfall, they elected to rest for a space
under the shade of the pine trees—perchance to sleep.
4 For meself individually I'd say nought, but there
be a storm comin' up, sir, and we've a nasty bit road
afore us round Chinook Mountain.'
As he spoke the driver pointed to where the sun
was sinking into a bed of dark, angry clouds. Just
then the wind blew up from the west with a defiant
puff.    Mr Bates-Post laid down his pipe.
4 Come, Miriam,' he said to his wife, 4 get the
baskets packed and we will make a start at once.
Bless my soul ! it is six o'clock already. Look out
there !' he exclaimed sharply, as a man dashed past
them on horseback, raising a choking dust, and nearly
knocking down Naomi, who was standing at the side
of the road.
4 Pardon, pardon. Reckon I didn't see yer,' called
back the rider, as he reined in and faced about.
4 Going to Gregson's ?' he inquired friendly-wise.
4 Yes, we expect to put up there for the night,'
growled Mr Bates-Post. He felt annoyed, as men do
when they have been startled.
4 Mighty slick layout at Gregson's,' remarked the
stranger, encouragingly. 4 See yer later,' and with a
nod he galloped off.
4 That's Tom Potter what owns the store down to
Kamas,' volunteered Hooper, the driver.
4 An American, eh ?' queried Mr Bates-Post.
4 Seems so. He's a rare good un, though for meself
individually—' THE LANDSLIDE 91
41 believe we are going to have a bad storm,' interrupted the old gentleman, hastily. 4 Listen,' he added
as a clap of thunder broke overhead and awakened a
thousand echoes amongst the neighbouring hills.
4 It will be a magnificent sight,' exclaimed Agnes,
and she scrambled into the rig.
4 Oh, dear ! oh, dear !' cried Mrs Bates-Post, putting
her hands over her eyes as a second flash of lightning
half blinded them. 4 Richard, this is dreadful,' and
the good lady shivered convulsively.
Away they whirled, the now frightened driver
urging his horses to their best speed along tbe trail
that presently entered Lantner's Rift, a deep ravine
lying between Chinook Mountain and the Pilchick-
amin Range, where the round-headed hills had
apparently been split asunder in some pre-historic
period by a terrific convulsion of nature. Rising
steeply from the level of the valley, the road, a mere
cutting scarcely ten feet wide, wound up the precipitous side of Chinook Mountain, and at every step
showers of stones and gravel, displaced by the passing
of the carriage, fell upon the track from above and slid
down at the edge of the wheel ruts into the abyss of
the river, which ran hundreds of feet below. It was
a dangerous route to travel in a storm, as Hooper, an
old resident in that district, well knew. One false step,
a swerve of the horses, an unexpected 4 washout,' or a
sudden landslip, and instant death would be their fate.
But there was no time now for doubts and delays;
Gregson's Hotel must be reached with all possible
speed, so he lashed the cayuses into a lather and put
his trust in Providence.
J f
92
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
On the back seat of the vehicle Agnes and Naomi
clung to each other, and watched the tempest raging
around them, awestruck at the passing anger of the
elements.
Soon darkness fell heavily round about, and a
drenching rain descended in torrents.
4 It is like a Danse Macabre,' said Agnes, excitedly.
4 Listen how the trees gibber and gibe in the wind,
and look—'
Just then the lightning lit up the sky, and an
appalling noise reverberated down the Rift.
4 What is that ?' gasped Mrs Bates-Post in a
frightened tone.
41 do not know ; perhaps some rocks blasted by the
storm.'
A man, who had been fishing all day in Coyote
Creek, was walking along towards Gregson's, some
distance ahead of the tourists, when he heard the
same crash so close behind him that for an instant it
paralysed his senses, chaining his limbs to the spot ;
then in the glare of another flash he turned and saw
what had caused the cataclysm. Down the mountainside a mass of boulders, soil and trees, riven by the
storm, was rushing in headlong flight to the bottom
of the ravine, and obliterating the trail under an
avalanche of debris.
4 Help ! help !' came an agonised shout out of the
darkness.
The words roused Joseph Kingsearl to action. He
strode back, feeling each step as he went, for the road
was narrow at this point, and the precipice dropped
sharply away to the left of it. 1
THE LANDSLIDE 93
4 All right,' he shouted in reply. 4 Where are
you ?'
4 At the bend,' came the answer, this time in a
feeble voice. 4 Hurry—no time—to—' but the rest
of the words were drowned by a peal of thunder.
Prone upon the ground, half buried under a huge
tree-trunk, lay Tom Potter. Of his horse there was
no sign. The unfortunate animal had evidently gone
down with the landslide. Kingsearl saw at a glance
that the poor fellow was beyond all help, his chest
being literally crushed in by the weight that had fallen
upon him and pinned him fast, and which, without
further aid, the politician could not remove. Rapidly
he poured some whisky out of his pocket-flask and
forced it between the sufferer's lips.
4 Folks behind—dark—might keel over,' gasped the
dying man.
4 Strangers ?'
4 Yes—women—with Hooper.'
4 My God ! that fellow can't drive,' yelled Kingsearl.
The American struggled for breath.
4 I'm done—go—get over—warn them—or—'
Death finished the sentence.
Without a second's hesitation, or a qualm at the
awful dangers ahead of him, Kingsearl quickly flung
off his coat, and then muttering, 4 Poor beggar ! grit
to the last !' he began to climb up the escarped face
of the mountain in a frenzy of fear.
4 Shall I be in time ?' was his only thought, as, now
clinging to tufts of bunch-grass with nerve-tightened
fingers, now stepping with the wary sure-footedness 94 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
of a mountain-bred man on the rocks made slippery
by slime, he struggled doggedly on and upward,
hurling himself over logs, and forcing a passage with
bleeding hands through the tangle of stalks and stems
that perpetually barred his way, his clothes torn to
tatters, his heart beating madly, his head bursting
with the terrific exertion. The darkness hampered
him, the rain blinded him ; would he ever reach the
summit of the chaos, and get down again on to the
road north of the landslide ?
Each moment as it passed might mean death to
every soul in that party. Still he clambered furiously
up the side of the Rift in a very passion of strength,
surmounting obstacles that would have daunted any
man not bound on so reckless a mission. Only one
more bluff to round, and then the descent. Was
there foothold on its almost sheer face ? Oh ! for
light, if but for an instant. Again a flash in the sky.
Kingsearl made one rush forward, and swung himself
on to a ledge that overhung the ravine. Then darkness again, thick with rain. The next step—would
it land him in the river a thousand feet below, or safe
past the precipice ? A wild lurch, a stumble, and he
fell headlong to the ground, his leg jammed between
two enormous boulders.
Exhausted, the perspiration streaming from every
pore, the man made a frantic but futile effort to pull
his foot out of the crevice. From far down the road
sounded the thud of the horses' hoofs. To get so near
and then to fail ? Never ! The mere thought was
damnable. With a hideous wrench that dislocated
the bones and lacerated the bruised tissues, he at last THE LANDSLIDE 95
succeeded in wresting his imprisoned leg free, and
half-slipped, half-rolled down the gravel bank that
sloped away at an angle of fifty degrees to the trail.
A few seconds later a vigorous bump told Kingsearl
that he had gained the level of the cutting, and to his
unbounded relief he found himself fully twenty yards
away from the landslide, a sufficient distance in which
to avert an accident. As he crawled painfully on to
the road, his injured leg dragging limply behind him,
the noise of the approaching rig rose above the tumult
of the tornado. 4 Stop ! Stop ! Coo—EE !' he
shouted with all the strength he could muster.
Ah ! Thank Heaven ! the driver had paid heed to
the warning. Kingsearl could hear the girding grind
of the brakes as the rig pulled up not six yards from
where he lay. Then for the first time he felt cold all
over, and turned sick with the agony of his mangled
foot.
4 Stand still—you'll go over me—there's been a landslide—no way past,' he called out, this time more
feebly ; but the horses, already terrified by the crashing peals of thunder, were hard to control, and as they
plunged and reared one of them struck the politician
such a violent blow on the head with its hoof as to
instantly deprive the man of his senses.
Agnes seldom recalled the events of that awful
night without a shudder. How Hooper and Mr Bates-
Post managed to take out the horses, and turn the
carriage on the narrow trail, and how they found
Joseph Kingsearl, and laid him down at the bottom of
the trap, and drove him with them six miles back over
the rough road, regardless of the blinding storm, to a 96
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
log shack occupied by some Siwash Indians, where the
whole party camped until daybreak, too thankful for
having a roof between them and the pitiless weather
to carp at the dirt and stench of the place, the girl
could never clearly remember ; for not only did Mrs
Bates-Post and Naomi claim her attention, so unstrung
were they by the catastrophe which had put the climax
to their terror, but all the while her heart was torn
with fears for the safety of the injured man. Dimly
she realised passing occurrences, and bent all her
faculties upon the task of cheering and consoling her
companions, and making the politician as comfortable
as circumstances permitted during the long, cruel
drive.
4 If he dies 'twill be another good man gone, and
them as ain't such-a-much'll be left for no use at all,
meself individually,' muttered Hooper, as he and Mr
Bates-Post laid the Member for Illicilliwaet down on
a bench before the cabin fire.
4 He is a hero if ever there was one,' agreed the old
gentleman, as he and Agnes applied restoratives, and
did their best to bind up the wounds of their rescuer.
4 And he does not know it,' jerked out Mrs Bates-
Post, tearing up a handkerchief to make a bandage as
she spoke.
4 But I do,' thought Agnes, and she sponged his
bruised features and lacerated hands with a tenderness
divine.
All night long the girl sat beside the half-conscious
man, giving him stimulants and food at regular
intervals, and listening with an anxious ear to the
laboured breathing and stifled moans of the lover she 1
THE LANDSLIDE 97
had lost. When in the dawning they removed him
on to a bed of fir boughs, she went and sat where he
had lain through the dark hours, and pressed her cheek
against the coat upon which his head had rested,
repeating softly to herself, 41 love him as much as
ever.    I do.    I do.'
Morning brought substantial relief to the worn-out
travellers ; for a rancher, who lived only a couple of
miles from the Indian's shack, on being informed by
Hooper of Kingsearl's plight, at once placed his house
at the disposal of the entire party, a piece of true
British Columbian hospitality none of them were slow
to accept.
Under the care of a doctor who was quickly
summoned from Kamas, combined with the ease consequent upon the dressing of his injuries, followed by
a sound sleep, Kingsearl began rapidly to regain his
normal state. Later in the day he was pronounced
convalescent.
4 My dear sir, the members of our party owe their
lives to your courage, and, in their names and my own,
I thank you,' said Mr Bates-Post, in cordial tones.
4 It was nothing,' returned the politician, gravely.
41 merely climbed over the slide and warned you, that
was all.'
4 Good Heavens ! man, look at your condition. It
tells a different and a sorry tale.'
4 An accident that might happen to anyone. Out
here in the West we believe in going where duty
calls, and not standing round idle when we get there
either.'
4 A brave man is the same East or West, and in this
G ^
98 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
instance it would be cruel of you to add to our obligations by refusing to accept our most earnest thanks.'
41 appreciate your kind intentions, sir, but, hang it
all, I hate being thanked !'
4 That is always the way with men,' remarked
Agnes, who had noiselessly approached the door, and
now stood within its shadow, regarding him fixedly.
Joseph Kingsearl started violently, and tried to rise.
4 Agnes ! Miss Arbuckle ! You here !' he exclaimed.
4 Yes, but please lie still,' she begged. 4 You must
be very careful of that foot. Heroes are scarce, you
know.'
He gazed at her in astonishment. Could this girl,
with her sweet smile and courteous words, be the same
Agnes who had once loved him and then persecuted
him to the limit of human endurance ?
4 You flatter me by implication, Miss Arbuckle.
That is a thing few women and no man can withstand,' he stammered, and the hope inspired by Hallam
Dufft's words blazed up afresh in his heart. 4 But I
am afraid if there were no women there would be no
heroes.'
4 Not many, but still a few,' she returned, and the
look which accompanied the words gave them a direct
personal significance.
4 Beyond peradventure of a doubt,' laughed Mr
Bates-Post. 4 It is the gentle sex that crowns our
common acts with the laurel of fame.'
4 Ordinary humanity is not heroism,' said Kingsearl,
gravely, and he turned down the subject; but all
through the weeks to come the thought persistently THE LANDSLIDE 99
recurred to him that by loyally doing his duty he had
unwittingly saved the life of his lady-love. It was a
comforting reflection.
In a few days the last of the landslide was cleared
away, and the travellers were enabled to resume their
journey. The politician drove with them as far as
Gregson's Hotel, and stayed there for a week to
recuperate, but no sooner was his foot out of bandages
than he proceeded with all possible speed to Vernon,
and put up at the Kalamalka, a charming hostelry that
was situated only thirty-five miles from Sapolill—and
Agnes Arbuckle.
When Naomi, generalising after the fashion of
youth, remarked, 41 think it shows extremely bad
taste on the part of a man to follow a girl when he
knows how much she must dislike it,' great was her
surprise to hear Agnes reply airily,—
4 Oh ! Westerners don't mind a little thing like
that.
< a
I care for nobody, no, not I,
And nobody cares for me,".
hummed Miss Arbuckle defiantly.
41 wish I could say that.'
4 Why don't you ?    I did.'
4 Because it is not true.'
4 Quite so. In neither your case nor mine. But
that really does not matter so long as you believe it.'
4 To talk with you is a liberal education of a peculiar
kind. I am fast learning to mistrust your words and
to pin all my faith to your actions,'
4 Like the rhymster with unhappy hair, who said,
J 100
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
44 Teach it me only with thine eyes "—but then he
said a great deal.    Naomi, you are a goose.'
4 Really, Agnes, I shall commence—'
4 Never do that. It's vulgar. You should always
begin.'
4 Stuff and nonsense !' retorted Naomi, irritably.
4 Now, my dear girl, don't get cross ; it's not worth
while.'
41 think you had better go and have your manners
mended and ironed out,' said Miss Crocus, haughtily.
4 With pleasure, when I return to Victoria.'
4 When will that be ?'
4 Probably in a couple of weeks.'
4 Um—so soon. Things are generally mixed with
mercy in this world,' remarked Naomi, piously.
4 Yes, even carriage accidents,' assented Agnes,
complacently.
And then they both laughed. CHAPTER  XIII
CONFIDENCES
' Sweet is revenge—especially to women.'—Byron.
4 But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.'—Tennyson.
Time passed quickly with the Bates-Posts amongst
the rural surroundings of Sapolill. The summer had
been an exquisite one, steeped in sunshine, and full of
sweet, subtle breezes, that rendered the hottest day
bearable as they ran hushing through the pine-tops,
or stirred lazily amidst the tall grasses with softly-
moving harmonies; consequently life on a typical
British Columbian ranche appealed to the English
visitors with every seductive charm which the
beautiful Okanagan country is capable of putting
forth to tempt the stranger to turn settler.
The Chillinghams' house, a large, one-storeyed
building of rough-hewn logs, stood near the main
road, enclosed by a snake-fence, along which the
chipmunks frisked in gayest mood. The vegetation
of the neighbourhood was luxuriant, irrigation and
an ideal climate having conduced to wonderful results
in the gardens, orchards and grain fields of the 4 dry-
belt.'    Behind  the  house  acres  of   semi-open  park
101 102 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
land, dotted with bull pines, and edged by bands of
white-stemmed cotton-wood trees, swept away to
the foot of the hills down whose grey-green slopes,
wine-stained here and there with clumps of warm-
hued scrub, numerous tiny streams rushed to find
the level of the lake. Mile after mile up the valley
stretched the low-lying meadows of adjacent farms,
their richly-verdant flats cut by the sharp scythe-
sweep of the Mission River.
For two long, glorious months Agnes and Naomi
had revelled in the pleasures and freedom of real
ranche life, assisting Mrs Chillingham in the poultry-
yards, watching the Siwash labourers felling timber,
or alternately helping and hindering the Chinese
cook in the big summer kitchen (a lean-to consisting of a shingled roof supported upon stout
cedar posts), and narrowly escaping from sudden
death a dozen times a week in the course of long
rides on the cayuse ponies of the district—small,
wiry, wily \ animals, that climbed the mountains
like goats, loped like rocking-horses, and occasionally
bucked with the utmost fervour.
Bryce Chillingham had welcomed the advent of
the girls with undisguised delight. Petticoats,
especially pretty ones, were rare in the neighbourhood of Sapolill, and after twenty-four hours of
feverish hesitation he finally fell desperately in love
with Naomi Crocus. So, by a natural coincidence,
did also Mr Anthony Santashe, his college chum,
a youth possessed of much money and apparently
little mind, who was staying with him for the
express purpose of getting some sport. CONFIDENCES 103
But alas ! and alack ! though deer were plentiful
enough on the hillsides, and a fairly good shot might
with ease bring down a fine buck, or bag several
brace of blue and ruffed grouse any morning of his
life at sunrise (provided he possessed a miner's
license), Tony Santashe never hit anything he aimed
at. In vain did a couple of Indians bring him
within forty or fifty yards of his game, Tony remained guiltless of blood. Sometimes he would
take aim as steadily as his wabbling foresight permitted, and would pull the trigger, only to discover
that he had omitted to bring the rifle to full cock ;
at other times he would forget to extract the old
cartridge, or again he would cut loose and send
shots tearing through the air in a radius that embraced the highest fir trees. It made no difference.
Every bullet was an orphan.
4 Halo Kloske ! Him no good hunting mowitsh,'
Dan the Siwash would mutter contemptuously.
4 Anah ! t'kope pelton.'
Still, if it was going to take fifteen years to make
a hunter of Santashe, at anyrate it only took fifteen
minutes to make a first-class lover of him, so far
as Miss Crocus was concerned.
Naomi meanwhile had a lovely time. One or
other of the infatuated but misguided young men
was always at her beck and call, whilst she, encased in an armour of bland indifference, enjoyed
their homage, and accepted it with a serene disregard
of consequences. Mr and Mrs Bates-Post found
the rest and quiet of the place most refreshing after
the rush of travel, and experienced a sincere pleasure
J' WHY NOT SWEETHEART
in the renewal of their old friendship with the
Chillinghams. Mornings employed in wandering
about the garden, afternoons devoted to drives, and
evenings spent in comprehensive chairs on the cool,
wide verandah, such was the daily routine of the
elders of the party; but for the young people life
meant a series of picnics, fishing trips, rides and
boa tins: excursions on the Okanagan Lake.
The Member for Illicilliwaet, whose political duties
were at that season particularly light, lingered on in
Vernon, and frequently spent a few days at the ranche.
His relations with Agnes puzzled Naomi sorely just
then. In public they bickered perpetually about
trifles, and when Kingsearl refused to give in to her
opinions, Agnes said he was cranky, and he replied
that she only thought him so because he would not
agree with her ; but on several occasions Naomi intercepted glances cast by her friend at the politician
when the latter was engrossed in a novel, or busy
tying a fly, that belied every sarcastic speech her lips
had ever uttered. Towards the end of July, Kingsearl
received some information which necessitated his
immediate departure for the capital. Early the next
morning he rode over to Sapolill, and arrived at the
farm just in time for luncheon.
41 have come to say good-bye, Mrs Chillingham,'
he called out as he tied his bridle to the hitching-post.
41 am sorry to hear that,' replied the old lady,
cordially. 4Bryce, put Mr Kingsearl's horse in the
stable, and give it a good feed of oats. You will not
return to Vernon to-day, surely ?' she went on, turning
again to her visitor. CONFIDENCES 105
4 Indeed I must in order to catch the train to the
Coast. But I need not start until the evening.
There is a full moon, and the road is in excellent condition, so a night ride will be quite pleasant,' concluded
the politician in a business-like tone.
4 Here is the mail, governor. I drove into the village
for it when I took the buckskin to be shod,' said
Bryce, as they sat down at the table in the dining-
room, a cheerful apartment, panelled in fir, and hung
with heads and horns and other sporting trophies.
4 Only one letter for you, Mrs Bates-Post,' he
continued, handing her a bulky envelope fastened with
a huge red seal.
4 From dear Professor Panhandle !' exclaimed the
good lady, as she tore it open. 4 Listen to this,
Naomi,' she went on, running( her eyes quickly along
the lines, 4he is coming out to British Columbia in
October for a holiday, and will join us in the
Kootenay.'
4 That will be very nice, Aunt Miriam,' murmured
the girl, politely, but her voice lacked enthusiasm.
4 By Jove ! Kingsearl, you have a strong supporter
in the Victoria Gazette to-day. Look at that,' and
Mr Chillingham handed the newspaper in question to
his guest. 4A column and a half, and all in your
defence.    Deuced well written too.'
4Signed "Justice,"' commented the politician,
thoughtfully, as he glanced at the letter referred to.
41 never saw that signature before.'
4 Answers 4C Mars" very effectually anyway,' resumed his host, throwing down the bomb with fine
unconcern. io6 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
Kingsearl looked embarrassed, and Agnes deluged
her curry with cayenne pepper.
4 Who is 44 Mars " ?' inquired Mrs Chillingham,
looking up from her correspondence.
41 do not know, my dear,' replied her husband,
4 but he has been roasting our political friend here
most unmercifully in the Herald of late, and now some
fellow calling himself 4C Justice " takes up the cudgels
on the other side, and refutes all the charges of
44 Mars," besides drawing attention to the admirable
work done by the Member for Illicilliwaet in the Local
House.'
An awkward silence followed this explanation,
Agnes and Kingsearl being beyond speech ; whilst
Naomi maliciously enjoyed the former's discomfiture,
and the rest of the party became re-absorbed in their
letters, oblivious of any contretemps. After luncheon
Miss Arbuckle disappeared, nor did she return to bid
the politician farewell.
Late in the afternoon Naomi came unexpectedly
upon her friend sitting in a distant corner of the
pasture, eating squawberries, and industriously reading
a Blue-Book upside down. Not that it mattered
much.
4 Mr Kingsearl has just gone, Agnes.'
4 Bother Mr Kingsearl!    Have some fruit ?'
4 And he said—' pursued Miss Crocus, determin-
ately.
4 Something hideously truthful, I've no doubt. He
generally does.'
4 Not this time, however, I think. He merely
said he was sorry not to see you to say good-bye.' 1
CONFIDENCES 107
4 Was that all ?' asked Agnes, wincing at the girl's
unaccustomed acerbity.
4 No, the truthful part came last. He added that
he was going to Klondyke on some important political
business, and would leave for the North almost immediately.'
Naomi had a purpose in view that day, and she
meant to carry it out.
4 He is such a clever man, and so implicitly trusted
by everyone, that he has been appointed over the
heads of several other people to do this special work,'
she went on dauntlessly. 4It will be a disagreeable
and difficult mission, but Mr Kingsearl is not the
man to consider trifles when a case of duty is involved.'
4 How I hate this everlasting and garlanded talk of
duty !' exclaimed Agnes, fiercely. 4 Only duty takes
him away now. Only duty made him save our lives
on Chinook Mountain. He thinks of nothing but his
duty to the country, the people, politics, everyone,
everything—but me,' and to her friend's unmitigated
astonishment the girl burst into tears. 4 Naomi,
Naomi, that was what separated us !' she sobbed, as
she buried her face in her hands.
Naomi was dumbfounded. The possibility of such
a breakdown had not once entered into her calculations. Agnes was usually so strong, so fearless, that
this sudden collapse frightened her companion, and
killed on her tongue the words of sympathy she would
have offered under similar circumstances to a less self-
reliant girl.
4 Do you really care so much ?' was the first lame
3 io8
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
question that came to her lips, as Agnes at last threw
back her head and looked up with steadfast eyes,
which shone clear and true through a mist of weeping.
Miss Arbuckle smiled. It was not a successful
smile.
41 love him,' she said simply. 41 have loved him
all the time.'
Naomi leaned forward and laid a caressing hand on
her friend's knee.
41 don't quite understand, dear,' she said gently.
4 Will you, I mean if you care to—I don't want to
ask for your confidence—but, Agnes—'
41 have never told anyone about it before. I could
not. But things seem changed of late. I know you
wonder how, if I care for Mr Kingsearl, I could
have written those damaging letters about him last
spring, but that is just what I cannot explain to
myself. He hurt me and I wanted to make him suffer
in return. Can you understand that, Naomi ? Of
course you cannot, you are far too sweet and tenderhearted, but I just' felt that I must be revenged. I
believed he had neglected me, and I vowed to repay
him with scorn for scorn, yet all the time it tortured
me infinitely more than it ever harmed him.J
4 But you loved him.' Naomi's tone was incredulous.
4 Yes, that was it; I loved him as such women as I
am do love. I gave him all, myself, my life ; I could
have slaved for him, sinned for him, died for him ; I
could cheerfully have broken every tie, sacrificed every
other living soul in this world for his sake, his pleasure
or his advancement, but he—he put duty first.    Then, CONFIDENCES 109
Naomi, I grew jealous, oh ! so bitterly jealous of his
public work and of the political interests I did not
share. There is a confession of weakness for you !
But somehow I must speak out the truth for once,
and you will keep my secret, won't you, dear ?'
4 You know that I will, Agnes, most faithfully.'
4 Yes, I know, I trust you. The smart of that
jealousy drove me mad, I think. A hundred little
incidents fed it. Appointments made with me were
cancelled because of political work ; his time was not
at my disposal on account of the claims of his constituents. Oh ! I cannot begin to tell you all the
trifles that aggravated my resentment against what
he called his duty. At last the climax came. We
started out that day with a twist somehow. I pleaded
with him with all my soul. ^4 Because a man has a
duty to his country, has he therefore none to a
woman ? " I urged. Finally I demanded my sacred
right to the life of the man to whom I had given all,
and when he still remained firm, I broke our engagement—and my own heart.'
4 Poor old girl,' murmured Naomi, giving her hand
a squeeze.
4 It seemed to me at that time,' went on Agnes
with a quiver in her voice, 4 that he depreciated my
love, so I hid it away. During the following winter
I played my part so well that I passed for a cold,
sarcastic woman. People were a little afraid of me,
I fancy. When I was alone I laughed and cried (it
was the same thing), over my outward pose and my
real self, and spent my nights making arrows to shoot
in the daytime.' no WHY NOT SWEETHEART
41 do not understand how Mr Kingsearl could ever
have let you go.'
4 Nor does he, I think,' said Agnes, with a passing
sigh. c He never really understood me at all, that was
the whole trouble. He never realised that it was because I loved him too much, not too little, that I
refused to share him with others.'
4 Forgive me, Agnes, if I say anything to wound
you, but why did you not try to make his interests
your own ? '
4 Because I was an idiot, my dear, nothing more or
less. Lola Dreux saw it. Do you remember that
evening in Victoria when she called my letter in the
Herald 44 funny " ?' and Agnes shivered as she recalled
the odious word. 4 Well, that night I saw the truth
in all its horrid nakedness.'
4 What do you mean ?' No wonder Naomi was
puzzled.
4 Just this, that if Joe and I had only each given in
a little, and gone half way to meet one another, we
should at this moment be the happiest couple on
earth.'
4 Why don't you go to him now and—'
4 Because I do not care to spend my time looking for any more trouble. Don't you know, Naomi,
that even if a man were to forgive his sweetheart for
such a fault as mine, he might remind her of it after
they were married. I could not stand that. Joe
knows that I concocted those abominable letters to
injure him, and now he thinks some other anonymous
correspondent is writing in the Gazette to refute
them, and help to reinstate him in the public con- CONFIDENCES in
fidence. Some day he will know better ; meanwhile
it is amusing.'
4 No, it is not, to anybody, and least of all to him.
I see what you mean, Agnes; you are 44Justice,"'
and the faintest shade of irony tinged Naomi's
voice.
4 Yes.' The beautiful proud head of the speaker
was bent low.
4 Well, you are the queerest, most contradictory
girl I ever knew.'
4 Quite so. You see, imagining myself immensely
the superior of men did not prevent me from falling
abjectly in love with Joe, nor would it prevent me
from humiliating myself in the dust at his feet at this
very moment if I thought it would do a particle of
good, but it wouldn't,' said Agnes with a touch of
her old humour. 4I have grown a coward where he
is concerned, Naomi. After all a woman can only
suffer in silence as atonement for her folly.'
4 Not in this case if I can help it,' thought Miss
Crocus, but she very wisely kept the reflection to
herself.
It was a strange impulse, engendered by months of
rack and misery, that had induced Agnes Arbuckle to
confide in her friend ; and though the confidence fell
far short of the actual facts, Naomi had learned
sufficient during their conversation to feel sure that if
ever the breach was to be healed, it must be done
speedily, whilst the softened mood of the proud girl
lasted. She need not, however, have feared on this
score. Agnes had 4dreed her weird' in the east
wind. 112
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
Independent and self-confident from childhood,
Agnes had never felt the want of moral support, or
asked for aught beyond the calm affection of her
brother, until she fell in love with Joseph Kingsearl
as thoroughly and completely as she did everything
else, and craved in return his undivided attention ; a
strange mistake for a clever girl to make. Alas !
that 4 man's love is of man's life a thing apart !'
Before a month had passed the tiny jar and fret
began, she growing more and more exacting, and
he more and more determined to make her see
reason from a masculine standpoint. Poor foolish
fellow !
Had the politician set out on a different track he
might have won her round to his way of thinking
in a week, for no true woman ever yet resisted an
appeal to her love or for her help, but he was blind
to the fact that she hated the borderland between
them. Then in anger and resentment she warred
upon him with her pen. It was an ignoble battle,
and totally unworthy of a fine nature, but the jealousy
of a strong woman is ever a terrible force, thrusting
her out from the pure, unsinning places into the
abyss of despair. When at last the bar of her will
was bent, and she came to the full knowledge of
how causeless and useless had been the conflict, a
restitution as sweeping as the revenge that had
preceded it seemed to Agnes imperative, but the
new, tender phase of her love had made the girl
fearful both of herself and of her lover.
The Member for Illicilliwaet did not go to the
Klondyke after all.    Within a few days of his arrival CONFIDENCES 113
at Victoria he received a letter from Naomi Crocus;
then for the first time in his life he faltered between
two opinions, and committed the only crime in an
otherwise blameless political life. He refused the
mission and waited in the capital for the return of
Agnes Arbuckle. :<fm
CHAPTER  XIV
NAOMI S  PROMISE
A long, long kiss, a kiss of youth and love.'—Byron.
On flew the gladsome days. August had passed
away, and September dawned clear and crisp. The
frosts at night, and the hot suns by day were turning all the foliage to scarlet and yellow, and clothing
the country-side in a garb of flamboyant splendour.
The predominance of mauve amongst the late British
Columbian wild flowers struck a solitary note of sadness in the happy rhythm of Nature's autumnal song,
and everywhere throughout the Okanagan shades
of purple and prune, puce, pansy and plum met
the eye, and whispered of widowhood, parting and
woe.
4 The summer dies slowly,' mused Jack Maclyn, as
he strolled down the main street of Vernon, his steps
bent towards the lake and his thoughts towards
Sapolill. He had returned, according to promise, on
the R.M.S. Empress of India, and lost no time in
following up the trail of Naomi Crocus. As good
luck would hava it one of the first people he met was
Bryce Chillingham, who, bound on the perpetual
errand of having some horses shod, had driven into
114 NAOMI'S PROMISE 115
Vernon little expecting to run across an old classmate
there. Nothing would satisfy the young rancheman
but that Jack should go out to the farm and stay with
him. Hospitality in Western Canada is unlimited.
That residents 4 put up' every passing friend is accepted
as a matter of course, that they treat him right royally
follows as a natural consequence, and when, as in
Maclyn's case, the invitation spells heaven to the
invited guest, there is small delay over preliminaries.
4 Thanks awfully, old chap. I'll come out to the
ranche the first thing in the morning,' said Jack, as
grateful a man as ever trod in shoe-leather.
4 The road is easy to find, and you can ride the bay
mare back. She is a pretty fair mount,' rejoined
Bryce. 4 I'll take your valise now, there is plenty of
room for it in the waggon. I'd like first-rate to stay
and go home with you to-morrow, but the governor
is in a devil of a hurry for the team ; there is so much
44 logging up " to be done on the new clearing.'
So it was settled, and at sunrise the next day Jack
Maclyn was in the saddle, the mare's hoofs beating
time to the pulse of hope that throbbed in his veins.
A rose-red light, like the flame that burns in the heart
of an opal, flooded across the Mission Valley, and
kissed away the tears of dawn from the upturned
faces of the flowers. Gradually the sun mounted
towards the zenith, each touch of its golden warmth
bringing
to birth
a blossom,
for autumn is lavish to
the last.
Then it
seemed to
Jack
that Naomi's face
looked up at him
from every open
ing bud and bent
down out
of the blue hollow of the
sky above to bless
his path. WHY NOT SWEETHEART
41 never thought heaven was so far away before,'
he speculated, roused to the idea by the vision of his
love.
Mr and Mrs Bates-Post were delighted to see
Maclyn again, and the Chillinghams welcomed him
with hearty words. Even Agnes accorded him a
kindly greeting. Naomi said nothing, but her eyes
told more tales than she guessed. What Jack read in
their beautiful depths satisfied him at the time of
meeting, but as the days passed, and his admiration for
the girl strengthened, fed by constant association and
companionship, her variableness once more pained and
puzzled him. Cold and impulsive by turns, she was
at one moment on the point of casting conscience to
the winds and accepting him, and the next instant
vehemently discouraging the slightest approach to
intimacy. More deeply in love with the man than
ever, more conscious of all the happiness that lay
within her grasp, and of what perfect contentment a
life spent with the only person whom she felt could,
and did, thoroughly understand her (save only in connection with the great secret of her life), Naomi
nevertheless fought hard against his pleading and her
own wild longing to say 4 Yes' and be at rest in his
arms.
Anthony Santashe had laid his heart and fortune at
her feet on an average five times a week, but the girl
merely laughed at him, and so occupied was she with
thoughts of Jack that she scarcely realised how intensely
devoted the young Englishman was to her.
4 It is a shame to treat him so cavalierly, Naomi,'
remonstrated Mrs Bates-Post, as she and the two girls *%
NAOMI'S PROMISE 117
walked through the woods. 4 The poor fellow is
deeply attached to you, and you heed him no more
than the door-mat.'
4 Pouf!' replied her niece, nonchalantly. 41 don't
believe Agnes thinks any more of him than I do.'
4 That might easily be. I grant you he is the
slowest thing that ever happened, but still he is not
altogether stupid,' pronounced Agnes, impartially.
Then turning to Bryce who had joined them, she
continued : 4 Tell us what is Mr Santashe's best
point.'
4 That he is straight as a die,' replied young Chillingham, emphatically, adding with a smile,4 And a wonderful shot too, eh, Miss Arbuckle ?'
4 Except when he gets buck-fever,' demurred Agnes,
quietly.
4 Or shoots at a man instead of a bird,' put in
Naomi, slyly.
4 That was a lucky escape for Kingsearl,' acquiesced
Bryce. 4But if a chap will wear a round, fuzzy cap,
and sit on the far side of a haystack, what can he
expect ?'
4 No quarter,' laughed Naomi.
4 So it seems,' rejoined Agnes.
4 Too bad !' retorted Naomi.
4 Mr Santashe is always so determined to kill something,' remarked Mrs Bates-Post, cheerfully.
4 That was the reason why Mrs Chillingham sent
him out into the yard to shoot chickens for dinner
yesterday. It safeguarded our lives for the time being
at anyrate,' put in Naomi, lightly.
4 By Jove !    There is Tony now over amongst the n8
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
fall wheat, talking to the Siwashes with an English
accent,' laughed Bryce.
4 Oh, Mrs Bates-Post!' exclaimed the young
fellow, excitedly, as soon as he espied the party, 4 have
you heard the news ? There is to be war out in the
Transvaal—real war. Everyone was talking of it this
morning in the village. If it is true I shall go home
at once. Might get a chance to go to the front, you
know.'
4 And kill a few Boers. You would enjoy that, Mr
Cutadash.'
Santashe stared. 4 Oh ! Ah ! yes, of course, you
know,' he muttered.
4 Are you in earnest, Tony ? Is it a fact ?' asked
Bryce, eagerly, whilst Agnes and Naomi tried to stifle
their mirth with indifferent success.
4 So they say, or will be precious soon.'
41 would give my head to go and have a crack at
them too,' ejaculated Chillingham, with a flash in his
eyes. 41 am sure that I could do scout duty all
right.'
4 There are plenty of good horsemen, and good
shots in the West,' rejoined Agnes, warmly, 4and, if
the War Office accepts any Canadian troops, British
Columbia could easily supply a regiment of picked
roughriders.'
4 How about rough-writers ?' queried Naomi, satto
voce, with an untranslatable smile.
Only Agnes caught the words. She made a
grimace, and turned to Bryce.
4 What a desperate struggle those Boers will have
to keep up if they declare war against the Empire, NAOMI'S PROMISE 119
and what an awakening they will have when they
find out how useless it all is,' she said tentatively.
4 Dear, dear, so inconvenient for everyone,' sighed
Mrs Bates-Post, as if war were a charade. 4And
what is it all about, Mr Scattercash ?'
41 haven't an idea,' replied Santashe, and he cackled
away as if he were the only goose left in the green
grass field.
4 There I agree with you,' retorted Agnes, sharply,
at which Tony joyed afresh, thinking it a compliment.
4 Miss Crocus,' said the youth, in a lower tone, as
he and Naomi dropped behind the others in the
narrow trail, * will you listen to me now ? I may go
away soon, and you know how I love you.'
4 Oh ! no, Mr Santashe.    Really—'
4 Your kindness is boundless to everyone except
me.'
4 It is impossible.    I am very sorry, but—'
4 Do you care for someone else ? ' he forged on
valiantly.
The girl's eyes fell before his ardent gaze.
4 Tell me, is that it ? If so I won't say another
blessed word to vex you,' he went on. There was a
chivalrous ring in his tone.
Still Naomi remained silent.
4 No one could love you more than I do, Miss
Crocus, as perhaps some day I'll have the chance to
prove,' continued Tony, an odd mingling of pride and
pathos in his voice. 4 My life is not worth much, but
it is yours if you want it, and if you don't, why, I'll
try and get sent to the front, and then if I am potted WHY NOT SWEETHEART
I   can  at  least  die   decently,  and  in  the   Queen's
uniform.'
Naomi felt touched.
41 will tell you the truth, Mr Santashe,' she said
very quietly.    41 do love another man.'
Tony jibbed at this, but he took his trouble
standing.
41 didn't know, you know,' he said stupidly, and
turning on his heel he left her ; nor did he reappear
at the ranche until late that night, but spent the rest
of the day walking across country, and kicking all
the stones and things that came in his way.
The others had meanwhile wandered back to the
house, and Naomi, feeling a little forlorn, sat down
at the foot of a clump of trees, and curled herself into
a dream. Out there in the whist of the woods
nothing disturbed the slumberous languor of the
afternoon, save a pine-scented breeze, to which the
long grasses made deep obeisance, and at whose
bidding the cotton-woods turned their silver cheeks
to the sun.
4 Poor fellow !' mused the girl, vaguely, 4 he has a
belief in himself no one else seems to share, but he
really looked in earnest when he said he would prove
his love some day. Ah ! well, I do not suppose that
the chance to do so will ever come his way, still I am
sorry for him, very sorry. Heigh ho ! I wonder
where Jack is ? I have not seen him since luncheon.'
And so her thoughts ran on.
Presently the tune of a quaint little song she had
many a time sung for Maclyn floated across her
memory.    First she hummed it softly in closed tones, NAOMI'S PROMISE 121
then more distinctly, and finally, stirred by an
irresistible impulse, Naomi raised herself from the
mossy ground and sang in a clear soprano voice :—
' A hundred years from now, dear heart,
We shall not care at all;
It will not matter then a whit
The honey or the gall.
The summer days that we have known
Will all forgotten be and flown $
The garden will be overgrown,
Where now the roses fall.'
There came a catch in her throat, a faint sob, and
then the girl went bravely on to the last verse, the
courage of a great hope ringing out in the last two
lines :—
' A hundred years from now, dear heart,
We'll neither know^ nor care
What came of all Life's bitterness,
Or followed Love's despair;
Then fill the glasses up again,
And kiss me through the roseleaf rain,
We'll build one castle more in Spain,
And dream one more dream there.'
As the words died away a distant sound caught
Naomi's ear. Nearer and nearer it came, and with a
throb of joy she recognised those dear footsteps that
she would have known amongst a thousand.
Jack never forgot the lovely picture presented by
the girl in her white summer frock, with her hat
thrown down, her glorious hair ruffled by the wind
into a halo of tiny curls, and her graceful figure outlined by the flaming tints of autumn against the soft
green background of the wooded hills, as in a sweet
voice she poured forth the glad refrain :— >mw
122 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
* We'll build one castle more in Spain,
And dream one more dream there.'
It was a triple harmony—colour—music—love.
Then the man pleaded more fervently, and wooed
her more gallantly, than he had ever done before ;
remembering how soon she was to leave Sapolill
and that with her departure would vanish his last
hope of winning her. A fuller life called to Naomi
in his words, but she still repelled him, and battling
down a wild desire to surrender fought to keep faith
with her conscience. Fiercer grew the struggle,
weaker her defences, until with a cry of exceeding
bitterness she at length flung herself into his arms and
sobbed out,—
4 Jack ! Jack ! There is no one in all the world
like you !' Then raising her eyes to his she grew
crimson with mingled shame and desperation, but
her gaze never faltered. 41 know it is wicked of
me, I know that I can never, never marry you, but I
do love you, and you only, with all my heart and soul,'
she wailed.
4 Heart of my heart, is this the end—this ?'
41 tried, and tried. Oh ! if you only knew how I
tried to forget you !' she moaned, staring up at him
with dilated pupils.
Then the force of the man's love likewise burst all
bounds. He felt he could crush her to death with his
arms, and choke her with kisses till she cried for
mercy. For a moment he held her fast in a close
embrace, then slowly clasping his fingers round her
smooth white throat he pushed her firmly back from
him and looked into her burning face.    Under his NAOMI'S PROMISE 123
searching gaze the girl shuddered with a chill of
reaction. It seemed to her that the star-eyed
marguerites stared up at her from the ground, and
that the shadows cast by the branches overhead were
like fingers interlaced in prayer on behalf of her lost
obedience. Was she indeed accused of earth and
accursed of heaven ? The strangling pain of too
great a love bound her tongue. Sternly Jack released
her.
4 I'm beginning to understand you at last,' he said,
and his words fell like dull blows, splintering the
silence. 41 will not urge you any more at present,
but some day, when the barrier, whatever it is, has
been removed, will you say to me : "Jack, I am ready
to marry you now." Will you promise me to do
this, Naomi ?' \
4 Yes, I promise,' she replied mechanically.
4 Thank God for that,' and he sealed the pledge
with a kiss. 4 Meanwhile I shall just go on loving
you, dearest, more faithfully than ever woman was
loved before.'
4 You mean that, Jack ?' with returning animation.
4 For all time and eternity, my darling. Can the
sun cease shining ? Even when we do not see it, we
know that it is there behind the clouds. So with us,
Naomi, through all the changes and chances of our
lives my love will always be waiting for you.'
Jack's voice was thick with restrained passion.
4 And you will not tempt me again ?'
41 shall do nothing against your wishes, dear heart,
as long as you do not forbid me to hope, and,' very
tenderly, 4as long as your love is all my very own. 124
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
But, whatever happens, dearest, do not let that awful
word 44 never " come between us.'
4 Oh ! no, I could not bear that either. And, Jack,
please do not try to—to kiss me again, it seems so
wrong, and—and—it makes me so ashamed—afterwards.'
41 will never willingly be the cause of self-reproach
to you, Naomi.' (4 If I can help it,' he added grimly
to himself.) 4 You are my promised sweetheart now,
little girl, therefore I owe you reverence.'
41 never promised to be that,' she cried, still quick
to take alarm.
1 No, darling, but it was your unspoken vow all the
same. Never fear, Naomi, I accept your refusal to
marry me at present, but I reserve to myself the right
to wait, with what patience I may, until you come to
me of your own free will.'
These were the last words spoken between them as
they walked home. Their silence expressed a pathos
that lay too deep for speech. CHAPTER  XV
THE PROFESSOR  WRESTLES
! One thought of thee puts all the pomp to flight,
Priests, tapers, temples, swim before my sight.'—Pope.
The words of Cyr Panhandle were most emphatic.
They left not the smallest room for doubt as to his
meaning, yet they jarred unpleasantly upon the ears of
Naomi Crocus, as she sat deep in conversation with
him, on board a steamer whose stern-wheel gaily
kicked up the waters of the Arrow Lake, as it churned
away down to Nakusp. Since her last sad parting
with Jack at Sapolill the girl had brooded perpetually
over the question of what her future life must be, and
unconsciously influenced by Maclyn's entreaties she
had determined to appeal to her guardian on the first
opportunity to release her from the hateful bondage
of the past.
The professor had joined the Bates-Posts at
Revelstoke in order to travel with them through the
Kootenay country, and Agnes Arbuckle, feeling in
no hurry to return to V ictoria, under the impression
that Joseph Kingsearl was even then on his way to
Klondyke, had also decided to make a tour of the
mining camps with her friends.
125 126
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
The luminous haze of a mid-September morning
still enveloped the mountains which rose abruptly
from the rock-strewn shore, their massive bases
clothed with conifers, and their sharp upshooting
peaks protruding like splintered bones through the
scanty soil-covering. Down in the rifts between these
jagged points lay a few tired clouds, for whom there
was no rest in the wind-swept sky.
As the sun mounted higher, and the horizon
became crisp-etched against the bright blue heavens,
innumerable pearl-grey shadows slipped softly away
into the crepuscular crevices of the rocks. Over
all the scape hung a thin blue veil of mist, through
which the face of the lake looked scintillantly up
to the sky, as with tender touch the sunbeams
consoled the restless bosom of the waters.
To right and left towered the crenulated ranges,
partly covered with century-old, high, unbending fir
trees, that caught stray golden gleams in their spiky
network as the light filtered joyously through worlds
of branching greenery still dripping with the dews of
dawn—dripping big, liquid, desultory drops on to the
supine earth. Sweetly the penetrant smell of virgin
soil moistened the air—the pungent smell of bruised
leaves and decaying wood—the cool, fragrant smell of
pine-cones. It was Nature—quite warm and sweet—
quite beautiful—yet it was autumn.
Grey-blue hills, peacock-blue lake, green-blue trees,
and overhead a sky blue like the eyes of a doll—true
blue, royal blue, the inverted hand of God, pale blue
shimmers, dark blue shadows, velvety, misty blue
shekinah—blue—blue—-blue.
^ll|i THE PROFESSOR WRESTLES       127
4 No, no. It is absolutely impossible,' observed
Panhandle, hurriedly.
Naomi was struck, even in the midst of her anxiety,
by the sharp ring in the professor's voice. Eagerly
she had pleaded with him to remove the embargo
against her marriage, hoping to find in his acquiescence
some salve for her own conscience, and to gain this
end the girl had repeated for his benefit all the
arguments previously urged upon her by Jack, but
to which she herself had refused to pay any heed.
Not one hair's-breadth, however, was her guardian
apparently to be moved from his determined stand.
At first he listened patiently to her entreaties, but
presently a new idea struck him, and he grew more
stern.
4 What I said to you six years ago, Naomi, I repeat
to-day. As long as Christopher Sabel lives you cannot
marry.'
4 But you say it in a different tone now,' asserted
the girl with a flash of intuition.
4 Only a little more decidedly, perhaps, because of
the thought which I believe underlies your persistence.
You are in love, Naomi.' As he uttered the last
words the man's face stiffened.
She shrugged her shoulders lightly.
4 Tell me, is it not so ?' he demanded severely.
The independence of the girl took fire,
41 am not obliged to answer that question,
professor.'
Then the iron entered into the soul of the man, for
he knew that it was true, and without another word he
rose and left her, his long lean limbs strangely out of 128
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
control as he paced down the broad deck, and a
curious set look sharpening his white features.
In the solitude of his cabin Cyr Panhandle looked
matters squarely in the face, and the sight revolted
him.
41 am in love with that girl myself,' he groaned.
4 Oh ! the hideous sin of it all ! For years I have
taught her it would be a grievous wrong for her to
marry whilst that miserable madman lives, and so it
would. That is quite true. In my inmost soul I believe it. The sacrament of marriage is inviolable, and
the Church makes no allowances for half-spoken vows.
Yet now I, who have been her guide and trusted
friend through girlhood—I, who have upheld to her
the sacredness of the Church's rite, and bound so
firmly about her pliable nature those ties which unite
her body and soul to the man at whose side she stood
before the altar—I love her better than my own salvation.'
The man closed his eyes, and pressed one hand
tightly over them, as if to shut out a vision.
4 She is so very, very beautiful,' he murmured.
4 Ah ! what am I thinking of? I cannot marry her.
I dare not even breathe my adoration for her. But
if she is not for me, by Heaven she shall not belong to
any other man ! I will chain her to me through her fear
of the curse of the Church. She dare not defy that.
Love crept so softly into my life that I never until
this moment realised its full force, but in her heart
affection has awakened suddenly—since she left
England. Who can the man be, I wonder ? I could
kill him with my own* hands;  yes, even  though  I THE PROFESSOR WRESTLES       129
burned in hell for it, and bought his death at the price
of my own soul.'
Cyr Panhandle strode up and down the small cabin,
devoured by such acute anguish of mind as can only
be held at bay by continuous movement. The drops
of perspiration ran down his livid face like tears.
4 Merciful God !' he gasped, 4 forgive me such
murderous thoughts !'
There were strange happenings in the professor's
soul that day. For some time past, unsuspected by
himself, an absorbing love for Naomi had steadily
grown up until it had become part of his very being,
and now the shock of discovering that she was in love
with another man had burst the barriers of a lifetime,
and his better nature was swept away in the maelstrom
of passion.
The feelings of forty-five years, pent up during a
scrupulous youth and a high-principled, ascetic manhood, suddenly asserted themselves. He must, he
would marry her despite all. That old tie—ah !
well—let that be forgotten. It was not a legal one,
so they could afford to ignore it altogether—just he
and she—his wife. The Church would not approve,
but then, what mattered that ?
The professor leaned against the wall and clenched
his hands until the nails sank deep into his flesh.
4 Am I going mad,' he cried, 4 mad like poor Sabel ?
Naomi, Naomi, you have turned my brain and wrung
every fibre of my being !' and he flung himself upon
his knees beside the berth. 4 Remove this awful
temptation from me, O Lord,' he prayed in a delirium
of torture, 4 and in Thy mercy keep me sane !'
1 ^p»p
130
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
Naomi had vaguely felt that in Cyr Panhandle lay
her only hope of release. A great natural piety filled
her life, and morally enervated by the lassitude of perpetual and unquestioning obedience, she had hitherto
followed his advice in all matters connected with the
past; but now above everything else there arose a
factor stronger than habit, namely, her human nature
that thrilled within her and coursed in the quick
pulses of her rich young blood. She longed to be free,
to shake the heavy clogs of sad remembrance from off
her feet, and dance in the sunshine of love with Jack
—her own darling Jack.
No ghost of a dead-and-gone attachment appeared
to trouble her new and perfected happiness in the devotion of Maclyn. She had never loved Christopher
Sabel. In the days long past she had liked him, and
had tolerated the curious tie which afterwards bound
her to him, merely because she was then too young to
feel the gall of a loveless yoke ; for what did the
girl of barely seventeen summers know of life,
its possibilities or its sufferings ? Nothing, simply
nothing. Like a little innocent child, Naomi had
walked calmly along the path pointed out to her,
experiencing a certain pleasure at the flatteries of her
handsome cousin, and giving implicit obedience to her
parents' wishes. After the death of her father and
mother, she had accorded to the professor the submission of a dutiful child, and if it was a fact that he,
a thoroughly good, religious man, had controlled
her within very narrow lines, it was equally true that
only from the purest of motives did he forbid to her all
thoughts of love and marriage so long as Christopher THE PROFESSOR WRESTLES       131
Sabel lived. Then came the day when Panhandle
saw the first, faint gleam of love, and now a couple of
years later the blazing noontide of passion, kindled
into flames by the knowledge of a rival, scorched his
soul and shrivelled up his moral fibres, leaving him
dead to everything save the woman he adored. CHAPTER   XVI
THE  PAYNE  BLUFF
' The cliff above, the stream below,
And they themselves in dire predicament.'—Hoskins.
For the next few days Naomi avoided being left
alone with her guardian. This was not difficult
of accomplishment, as all the members of the party
were more or less engaged in sightseeing and
making expeditions out to the various mines of the
silver country. The week they spent in Sandon,
the gulch town of the Slocan (so called on account
of its peculiar location at the bottom of a deep cleft
between two ranges of mountains), was full of
interest to the tourists. Never before had they
seen such a quaint settlement, consisting as it did
of a single street that ran along beside the bed of
the river, with a row of houses on either side, the
front doors of which opened upon the narrow footway, whilst the second-storey windows were on a
level with the ground at the back, the hills rising
up steeply from the road. During the summer the
sun shone for a few hours each day in Sandon, but
in winter time its face was never seen there at all,
so narrow and profound was the gulch.
132 THE PAYNE BLUFF 133
On the last day of their stay in this peculiar place
Mr Bates-Post and the professor determined to pay
a final visit to the Payne Mine. Mrs Bates-Post,
however, utterly declined to accompany them,
preferring the verandah and her novel to the dubious
joys of mountaineering and a perilous ride in an ore-
car, when the thermometer stood at ninety degrees
Fahrenheit in the shade. As for the girls, they also
declared that it was much too hot a morning for
a stiff climb, and could only be induced to accompany
the men half way on their expedition.
Having walked together along the railway line as
far as the Payne Bluff, the party separated, Mr Bates-
Post and Panhandle to commence the ascent up a
rough trail which led to the mine, and Agnes and
Naomi to stroll on a little farther by themselves.
Presently thoughts of luncheon caused the young
people to retrace their footsteps towards the hotel.
As they again approached the Bluff, a terrific
precipice, past which the track runs on alternate
rock-spurs and wooden trestles, built out from the
face of the cliff over a thousand feet up in the air,
the girls looked down between the 4 ties' into space,
and their brains fairly reeled at the awful chasm that
yawned beneath the rails. Suddenly with a spasm
of fear Naomi clutched her companion's arm.
4 The train !' she gasped.
It was only too true. So engrossed had they been
in conversation, and so filled with pleasure by the
exquisite, ever-changing vistas that each turn of the
road opened up before their enraptured gaze—pictures
of   pale,  feathered   greenery   and  solemn   Lincoln- if
*34
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
hued pine trees, with a sparkling stream bubbling
over the stones below and a wilderness of starry
blossoms covering a foreground where the insect
life that thronged the grass mingled its plaintive hum
with the music of the breeze at whose piping the
leaves twirled and twittered, a merry, madding crew—
that they had completely forgotten the hour at which
the train was due to pass this particular point on its
way from Kaslo to Sandon. In an agony of terror
Naomi stood transfixed upon the middle of the long
trestle. There was no time in which to reach the
opposite end of the bridge before danger must
overtake them ; to go back was doubly impossible,
and between the track and the cliff no human being
could with safety stand as the cars rushed by. Even
Agnes, so courageous as a rule, felt her blood turn
to  ice.
On came the engine, thud, thud, puff, puff—
another instant and it would appear round the curve
of the Bluff. Like lightning the elder girl seized her
friend by the arm and darted across to the edge of
the sickening abyss, her wits stung into action by
the imminent peril that threatened them.
4 Quick, Naomi,' she cried, 4 sit down on the guardrail—close beside me—so—and let your feet hang
over the edge—you must—don't be an idiot—it
means life or death for both of us. That's right—
now hold on tight—shut your eyes.'
Whirr, whirr—roar, click, clash—chay—chay—
chay—the train sped on.
A traveller who was sitting on a camp-stool on the
rear platform of the car, and peering down between THE PAYNE BLUFF 135
the spans into the ravine as the train passed the
celebrated Bluff, caught sight of two figures
crouching at the verge of the trestle, and drew
the attention of the conductor to their ghastly predicament. The latter instantly pulled the check-
string, thus bringing the engine to a halt, and ran
back with all speed to aid the girls. The traveller,
who was no other than Anthony Santashe, quickly
followed in the man's steps. So did his two companions, Kingsearl and Maclyn.
4 By thunder ! It's them ! ' shouted Tony.
The words did not sound particularly lucid, but
they sufficed. Before their echo had died away
against the hillside the men were at the spot, drawing
back Agnes and Naomi from their perilous position
and gently loosening the convulsive grip of their
fingers upon the wooden beams.
4 Narrow escape, by Jove ! Miss Crocus. Never
thought I'd find you here. So deuced dangerous,
and all that,' remarked Tony, cheerfully.
Naomi was half crying with terror. The shock
and strain had completely upset her nerves.
4 It was dreadful,' she stammered, as she obediently
gulped down the stimulant out of Jack's flask.
4 Have some too, Miss Arbuckle,' urged Maclyn,
proffering the cup as he spoke. 4 It will make a new
woman of you.'
4 No thanks. That would be worse than anything
yet ! ' Agnes laughed, but the laugh ended in a
falsetto.    She also was unstrung.
4 You have got real Western pluck, I see,' remarked
Jack, with genuine admiration for the girl who could 136
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
joke even while battling against a wild desire to faint.
4 Come, Miss Crocus,' he went on, turning to Naomi,
4 brace up, it is all over now,' and he gave her a look
which did far more to restore that young woman's
equanimity than the stiff horn of whisky she had
downed at his bidding.
4 We had better make a move in the direction of
the train as soon as possible,' suggested Kingsearl,
quietly. 4 They will not wait much longer for us,
eh, conductor ?'
41 am afraid they cannot, sir,' replied that official,
deprecatingly.
4 Are you able to walk now, Miss Crocus ?' continued the politician, courteously.
4 Oh, yes, I think so,' she replied, struggling hard
to overcome the dizzy nausea that threatened her
senses.
Just then Maclyn drew Naomi's hand deliberately
through his arm with a gesture that gave her confidence.
4 My brave little sweetheart !' he whispered encouragingly, as they wended their way slowly along
the track.
4 How did you get here, Jack ? ' questioned Naomi,
suddenly roused to curiosity in spite of her sufferings
and fears.
He laughed. 4 By a queer turn of the wheel,' he
replied. 4 Santashe is going to see the Lulu Mine
near Roseberry with a view to buying a half-interest
in it, and Mr Chillingham asked me to go with him.
You see Bryce cannot leave the ranche just at
present, now that the harvesting has begun, and the THE PAYNE BLUFF 137
old man is anxious that Tony should invest his bit
of capital to advantage, so I agreed to see the boy
safely through the trip and—'
4 Jack, that is not the truth.'
4 Yes, on my honour it is, part of it.    Of course I
knew it would mean seeing you again, Naomi, and I
could not resist such a chance when Fate threw it
openly in my way.    I'll be hanged if I could !'
*4 Oh, Jack !'
41 beg your pardon, darling, but that is the whole
truth anyway.'
Meanwhile Kingsearl was finding it rather hard
to explain to Agnes the why and the wherefore of
his unexpected reappearance up-country, when she
supposed him to be on his way to Klondyke. As
a matter of fact, no sooner had the politician learned
from the Cabinet Minister that Miss Arbuckle was
going to tour in the Kootenay with the Bates-Posts
than he packed his valise and started for Nelson,
where he fell in with Maclyn and Santashe, who had
come through the boundary camps from Sapolill, and
were going up the Kootenay Lake to Kaslo, and
thence on to the Lulu Mine. From them he heard
that the Bates-Posts had branched off at Nakusp and
gone into the Slocan. That was enough for Kingsearl. The next day saw him pressing hard upon the
trail of the woman he loved, in company with a
feather-brained youth who was pursuing Dame
Fortune and being in his turn pursued by John
Horton Maclyn.
Now these circumstances, when stripped of their
motive, presented but a  bare skeleton of disjointed WHY NOT SWEETHEART
therefore the politician, though he vainly
strove to clothe them in a decent garb of verisimilitude,
was totally unable to account satisfactorily to Agnes
for his presence at the Payne Bluff on that particular
morning, she being still ignorant of Naomi's letter
and its consequences.
41 only once rescued a girl from death before,'
ruminated Tony, when they were all safely ensconced
in the train. 4It was quite easy, you know. We
were skating—she fell in—and I called for help.
That saved her. Her mother said I was her noble
preserver—life preserver she meant, of course, not
jam.'
41 expect you were very sweet to mademoiselle
all the same, eh, Tony ?' chuckled Maclyn.
4 No. Oh ! dear me, no. She was distinctly plain,
and I prefer to flirt with pretty girls,' he returned
blandly.
4 That is a crime you can only atone for in the
British Matron's eyes by marrying her ugly daughter,'
said Agnes, solemnly.
4 Oh ! I say. By Jove ! I really couldn't do that,
you know. She has omelette-coloured hair; her
father is a barber—'
4 And her mother keeps a little candy-store,'
quoted Naomi, maliciously.
4 Not quite, but they are distinctly impossible,'
remarked Tony with an air of comic disdain.
4 In these days of dollars and cents class is largely a
matter of clothes—in some people's estimation,' rejoined Agnes, impartially.
Mrs Bates-Post was much alarmed when she heard THE PAYNE BLUFF 139
of the girls' narrow escape from a horrible death, and
mentally thanked her stars that she had not accompanied them on their eventful walk. To master the
technique of touring undoubtedly requires a very
persistent nature, inspired by the daring spirit of
adventure, and these requisites Mrs Bates-Post most
assuredly did not possess. Her gratitude to Tony
Santashe was however unbounded, for was it not he
who had first espied Agnes and Naomi in their
terrible predicament and hurried to their rescue ?
4 You won't catch me ever travelling on a 4C tie-
pass " again, that's certain,' remarked Miss Arbuckle,
as she lazed in a capacious chair.
4 Nor I, either,' responded Naomi, in a yawnful
voice from the depths of her aunt's bed, upon which
she had flung herself full length to rest. 41 shall
never forget the awful sensation of being suspended
out like Mahomet's coffin between heaven and earth,
and looking down into space.'
4 My poor child, it was enough to have turned your
brain,' agreed Mrs Bates-Post, sympathetically.
4 Just fancy, it is over one thousand feet from the
railway track to the bottom of the valley. Ugh !
the very thought of that place makes me shudder !'
said her niece with a little moue of disgust.
4 What a donkey that young cub is,' commented
Agnes, apropos des bottes, blissfully ignoring the accepted
canons of zoology.
4 That is a very ungrateful speech, if you allude to Mr
Santashe, my dear,' demurred Mrs Bates-Post, 4 considering that he practically saved your life and Naomi's
to-day.' 140
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4Far from it!' replied the girl with derision.
4 Such may be his private opinion, which he does not
hesitate to make public, but all the same it is not
mine.'
4 Still, matters would have been infinitely worse if
the men had not come to our aid when they did,'
urged Naomi, impelled to this remonstrance by the
recollection of a certain occasion upon which Tony
had proved himself chivalrous, and a man.
4 In any event he was merely the person on the
spot,' replied Agnes, in no wise impressed. 4 My
experience of the youth is that he acts simply according to the light of nature, which in his case is
particularly ill-trimmed ; and now that he has got
the death-or-glory fever so badly, he is likely to
develop into a permanent bore.'
4 Pray do not tell him so,' laughed Naomi; 4 it
would wound his loyal British sensibilities sadly.'
4 No fear. He never understood a little witticism
like that in all his life. To take a rise out of him is
as easy as rolling off a log. For even should he
manage for once to catch the point of a flippant
remark, he'd be so serious over it that he'd just
look hurt, and pose to the soft strains of the National
Anthem.'
41 can easily picture Mr Sabretache out in South
Africa, with his uniform on,' mused Mrs Bates-Post.
4 In which he would look radiantly ridiculous, and
the rank and file would treat him as a capital offence,'
interrupted Agnes, petulantly. 4But at least he can
be easily spared, that is one comfort.'
41 do not agree with you there.    I like him, and
^L THE PAYNE BLUFF 141
somehow I think—' Naomi paused, unable to finish
the sentence.
What was it she really did think ? Those few
earnest words of the love-sick boy—4 My life is not
worth much, but it is yours if you want it,' had left
a deeper impression upon the girl's mind than she
cared to acknowledge, and a curious presentiment
that some day she would claim their fulfilment
bound her to his defence.
4 Think as you please, chire amie? laughed Agnes,
unabashed, 4 but if you pursue your present defensive
course we shall soon have you working turn and
turn about with Mr Tony's guardian angel.'
4 He is always courteous to women,' rejoined
Naomi, hardily.
4 Yes, in the hope of getting his wings singed.'
Naomi blushed frantically. She knew that she
had played the Flame to his Moth but too
well.
4 And he is a man of honour,' she persisted with
energy.
4 Of course, my dear. Who accused him of a
freckled past ?    Not I.'
4 He has an honest freckled face, and that is better.
I daresay he is not a genius—'
4 Praised be the stars ! Men with brains generally
write for obscure journals, and get miserably paid.
Oh ! Naomi, what a child you are !'
The little town of Paystreak lies on the western
shore of the Lower Arrow Lake, and constitutes a striking example of the miraculous mushroom growth of 142
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
many British Columbian settlements. So remarkable indeed is the record of this place—it boasted of
eighteen hotels, a water system and an electric light
plant on the twentieth day of its existence—that the
Bates-Posts and their friends (for Maclyn, Santashe
and Kingsearl were travelling as far as Rossland with
them, the two former bound for Spokane on their
return journey to New York vid the Northern
Pacific route—the Lulu Mine deal having been
arranged to the satisfaction of all concerned-—and the
latter because he could not tear himself away from
the society of Agnes Arbuckle), decided to seize the
opportunity offered them by the tying-up of the
steamer at the Paystreak wharf, for the purpose of
unloading freight, to enjoy a stroll through the
primitive town.
Mr and Mrs Bates-Post, accompanied by Agnes,
walked over to the railway construction camp, and
were soon engrossed in a chat with the foreman of
the works, whilst the rest of the party dispersed in
various direction?; Tony and Naomi bestowing all
their attention upon a small bear, which had recently
been caught in the mountains and chained up near
one of the hotels—a playful, furry little beast that
afforded them plenty of amusement. After a time,
however, they grew tired of the creature's antics, and
wended their way slowly down to the boat, expecting
every moment to be joined by the others. Presently
Kingsearl and Maclyn came up, breathless after their
race back from the shack of a miner, with whom
they had been arguing over -'the value of some ore
samples, and at that instant the steamer blew her first THE PAYNE BLUFF 143
note of warning. Once, twice, thrice the shrill whistle
sounded, but not a sign of the Bates-Posts or Agnes
was visible.
4 Have you seen Aunt Miriam anywhere ?' cried
Naomi, excitedly, to Professor Panhandle, as he arrived
upon the scene from yet another quarter.
4 No, not since we landed,' he replied.
4 Come, Maclyn,' said Kingsearl with decision,
4 there is not a moment to lose ; the boat will scarcely
wait much longer, so we must hurry up town and
try to locate them. Miss Crocus, you had better go
on deck with Panhandle and Santashe,' and so saying
the politician, followed by Jack, started off at a quick
pace to hunt for the missing members of the party.
Then they too disappeared from view.
Naomi's heart sank like lead as she obediently
boarded the steamer. A numbing sense of approaching evil weighted down her limbs and strung her
nerves up to concert pitch ; yet so bewildered and
upset was she that somehow it never occurred to
her to wait on the wharf until the arrival of the
others, rather than risk being carried off in the
boat without them. As the seconds throbbed into
minutes, and the minutes to the number of fifteen
passed by into eternity, and still none of her absent
friends appeared, the girl leaned over the side of the
vessel, straining her eyes upon the road taken by the
two men, and praying incoherently with silent lips
for the return of at least one of the party. With
clenched fists she drummed upon the taffi*ail, intending to wait until the last moment and then to leave
the boat before the gang-plank was withdrawn ; but 144
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
so intently was she watching for her uncle and aunt
that she never noticed the wharf-hands cast off the
heavy ropes, until the soft soughing wash of the
waves, as the steamer once more started on its way
over the then fast darkening waters of the lake, told
her that she was being rapidly carried away from all
chance of rejoining her relations that night. Then
with a faint, startled cry Naomi suddenly realised the
full unpleasantness of the situation.
The Bates-Posts, Agnes, Kingsearl and Maclyn
were forced to spend the night in Paystreak. In
vain the older lady lamented her fate, whilst her
husband — good soul that he was — generously
blasphemed the clanging of an engine bell which
had prevented them from hearing the steamer's
whistle. To get away from the place that night
was impossible, so they finally made the best of a
very bad situation, and went to the nearest hotel
for dinner.
4 It is most unfortunate, Mr Maclyn, that you and
Mr Kingsearl should also have missed the boat through
coming to look for us,' said Agnes, as they sat down
to their meal.
Jack heartily agreed with her, but on the politician's
face no sign of dissatisfaction was traceable.
41 am so thankful that Naomi has the professor
to look after her. They will not reach Rossland
until midnight, will they, Richard ?' questioned Mrs
Bates-Post, uneasily,
4 Scarcely, my dear. But there is really no need to
be anxious on that score. Panhandle will take excellent care of her, and Santashe too, I've no doubt.' 1
THE PAYNE BLUFF 145
41 forgot that Tony was with them also !' exclaimed Maclyn with an idiotic spasm of jealousy.
41 am glad of it,' said Kingsearl, quietly ; 4 for his
sake, of course,' he added as Agnes looked up sharply
from her plate. 4 You see our young friend does not
like roughing it.'
Jack scowled and muttered 4 Puppy !' under his
breath.
4 But bred of a fine stock,' argued Kingsearl, in a
low tone, answering the Englishman's angry ejaculation.    4 Good points, and no treacherous tricks.'
Maclyn stared.
4 How the deuce do you know that ?' he asked,
unheard by the others, who were talking merrily
amongst themselves.
4 Colonial instinct, my dear fellow,' laughed the
politician. 4Take my word for it, Miss Crocus is
perfectly safe with Anthony Santashe.'
And she was. CHAPTER   XVII
LOVE   TEACHES
* There is a higher law than the constitution.'—Seward.
' Truth crushed to earth shall rise again 5
The eternal years of God are hers 5
But evil, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among his worshippers.'—Bryant.
4 Agnes !'
4 Joe!'
The moon blushed—it was a harvest moon—and
the merry eyes of the stars twinkled with sympathy.
Down on the beach the lake and the rocks were
playing at lovers. Ruffled into foam-tipped combers
by a passing night-wind the waves ran to woo the
shore, pleading for affection in rippling tones, and
then falling sadly back into the trough, repelled by
the stern front of the stones. Again and yet again
they rose, and reached out long, wet arms to encircle
the naked outlines of the boulders, only to meet with
a cold rebuff. As the breeze strengthened the strife
increased, kissing and hissing, the waters importuned,
but the shore refused to yield, until with a passionate
rush the waves swept far up the beach, drew a few
long, deep breaths, then slowly, softly clasped the
146 "1
LOVE TEACHES 147
object   of   their   desire   in   a   close   embrace—and
conquered.
In Paystreak lights flared from the windows of
every bar-room, where the poker chips changed hands
almost as rapidly as the whisky ran down the throats
of the players. Occasionally snatches of a song with a
4 La-la-la' chorus, a fierce oath, or the raucous accents
of rough men who quarrel in their cups floated down
to Kingsearl and Agnes on the beach. Not a sound
of it all, however, did they hear, so loudly was the
music of love pealing in their ears, neither did they
pay any heed to their surroundings, as they stood
blinded by the love-light in each other's eyes.
Jo J
4 But your career, my darling,' said the politician,
when the infinite joys of 4making-up' had flooded
out the corners of their hearts.    4 How about that ?'
41 don't want one now, Joe. No really happy
woman ever does. It is only of your success that
I shall think in the future.'
He smiled, and tenderly kissed her upturned face.
4 Such flattery is doubly sweet from your lips,
dearest, for I fancy there was a time when you
thought otherwise.'
4 You are right. Long ago I used to imagine that
the only thing worth having in this world was fame,
My sole ambition was to become a popular writer,
and through that means to wield a power over men
and women. How I used to work in those days, and
how I prayed to succeed ! It was all very real to me
then ; but did you suppose that because I indulged in
politics and journalism I could not fall in love ?'
* I only know that I wooed you, won you, and lost 148
why not sweetheart
you, my darling, but that now I shall hold you in my
heart throughout all the years.' There was a latent
caress in the tone.
4 Why, even from the very first moment that I met
you I believe I transferred all my energies from
literature to love,' she said, as if pondering over a
settled question.
A puzzled look crossed the man's face.
4 It is true, Joe, I did,' she continued, answering his
expression. 4That time—when—when—well, you
know, when I lapsed into newspaperdom again, that
was only an interlude born of jealousy.'
41 know this, my sweet, that your talents are far
too brilliant to remain hidden long. You have the
certainty of a great future before you, when the
world recognises what love showed me long ago.'
4 You mean—'
4 That you have true genius.'
4 And I know that my heart is too full of love for
any dreams of greatness,' whispered Agnes, softly.
41 am afraid no woman can ever become a really able
politician,' she continued with a sigh of resignation,
4 for she always sees the good and bad too plainly—on
both sides.'
Kingsearl laughed.
41 believe that is so. Women generally put
principle before party.'
4 It is very humiliating, but also equally proven,
that we invariably sit upon the fence until the best
man in the world helps us down on the right side.'
4 What do you imply, dearest ?'
4 That, in point of feet, a girl who is truly in love LOVE TEACHES 149
has no politics at all—except her husband's. No
matter what she has professed before, she climbs
serenely down the steps of his arguments, and sees,
hears and believes in nothing but—him.'
4 Oh ! Mars ! Mars ! How are the mighty
fallen!'
4 Don't, Joe.' Agnes buried her face in his coat
sleeve.
4 Those letters were—'
4 Abominable.'
4 No. Undoubtedly very clever,' he continued
imperturbably, 4 though I could not understand
them. Do you know, Agnes,' and here his tone
grew quizzical, 4 that they were quite the cleverest
things of the kind I have ever read, except those
written by 4C Justice." I must admit that his were
even cleverer still.'
The girl kept her eyes tightly hidden against his
shoulder.
4 If that fellow goes on as he has begun, he may
yet end by becoming editor of the London Times J
speculated Kingsearl.
4 But he won't. I only long now to throw away
my pen, and upset the inkbottle for ever.'
4 You!'
4 Yes, I—I who wrote them all.' Agnes flung up
her head and looked straight into Kingsearl's face, as
she thus openly fastened her colours to the mast-head
with the long rusty nail of pride.
4 You—you called me a piece of political bric-a-
brac, and smashed me up, and then in the same
breath mended  me together again, and set me up I<0
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
on such a top-lofty pedestal that no one could even
detect the flaws ?' he exclaimed incredulously.
4 That was just the eternal woman of it,' she
hazarded naively.
4 My heart's love !'
4 When a politician is good he is perfect, like
you, dear, but when he is bad—well, he is the limit.
That is why I had to abuse the man you were not
and—'
4 Love the man I am.    I never thought of that.'
4 Of course not, because you are a man yourself,
and so you do not comprehend that though a woman
will sacrifice herself utterly for love's sake, she will
never, never understand that a man can sacrifice love
for her sake. To each the renunciation is like the
hurt of the cross—an agony and a glory.'
4 So it must always be, dear heart. You cannot
alter human nature.'
4 Yet both the woman's sacrifice of acceptance, and
the man's sacrifice of refusal can only be worked out
through the same agony of spirit. In one case she
accepts maybe poverty and misery for his sake, in
another, for her sake, he refuses to buy his joy
at the cost of her suffering.'
4 How thankful we should be that with us, dear, it
is different.    The triumph of love is ours—complete.
Agnes pressed closer to his side.
41 shall remember it in my prayers all the rest of
my days,' she said soberly. 4 But, somehow, it is my
very content that reminds me now of those who know
only the sorrow of this world, those who have never
entered hand-in-hand into that kingdom, sweet with LOVE TEACHES 151
the breath of the blossoms  of happiness, who have
never said, 44 We are young, we love."
4 What sacrifices indeed are theirs,' said Kingsearl,
looking grave.
4 And—and those others,' continued Agnes, softly.
4 Do you remember Blanche Hazelton and Paul
Dunbar ? She would have accepted the world's
scorn ; for his sake endured the wreck, and wrath,
and fierce undoing. He refused to allow the
woman he loved to offer up to his manhood that
terrible sacrifice of the soul's life, and in that refusal
himself consummated the supreme sacrifice of renunciation.'
4 It was the self-martyrdom of a noble man and the
salvation of a much-tried woman. But such sad and
serious thoughts are surely not for us, nor that
piteous story for this hour, dearest. Rather let me
remember only that I love you, and that you are
mine. Only that I can look into your eyes—that I
can hear your voice—can feel the clasp of your fingers
—can see you—hold you—kiss you. No words can
describe those joys. God sees my heart—it is too full
for language—it is all-—ail—love.'
4 Oh, Joe, it frightens me to think that perhaps my
sins against you have been of the kind which men forgive but can never forget.'
4 Perfect love can forgive all. Do not ever let such
ideas trouble you, darling.'
41 never meant it, not really and truly, not in my
heart,' she faltered.
4 So I sometimes fancied, and that thought grew in
my mind   like  the   grass   between  the   flagstones. 52
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
Now a new life is opening before us, Agnes, in which
we can work together, I for my constituency, you at
your desk, and we'll help one another up the ladder
without any fear of misunderstandings.'
4 Or jealousy.'
4 Please God, I'll never again give you cause for such.
I was a blundering fool before, but I understand things
better now.'
4 So do I. Only don't ask me to write again. I
couldn't. It would remind me of those horrid letters.
Let me drop the old life for good and all.'
4 On the contrary, I am going to insist on a promise
that after we are married you will continue to devote
your splendid energies to literature, so that all the
world may recognise you as the clever girl I knew
you to be. It will make a proud man of me,
dear.'
4 But, Joe—'
4 No 44 buts," my sweet. Your determination to
succeed as a writer is a noble one, and its fulfilment
will some day bring pleasure to thousands of human
beings. Let our motto henceforward, both for work
and play, be 44 Together."'
4 Very well,' with a bewitching smile ; 41 promise
on one condition.'
4Which is?'
4 That you will join the new party I am going to
form.'
A shade of consternation contracted the man's
features. What was this strange, ambitious girl
premeditating now ?
4 It is politic, not political,' she said with an arch LOVE TEACHES 153
intonation, adding softly,4 And the membership will
be limited.'
4 To whom ?'
4 You and me.'
4 Has it a platform ?' inquired Kingsearl, struggling
with the humour of the suggestion.
4 Of course it has,' she assented gaily. 4 And a
very practical structure too, built on a single
plank not hitherto endorsed by the Member for
Illicilliwaet.'
4 And that is ?'
4 What for want of better English we will call—
Ideal Reciprocity.'
' I'll join,' he cried enthusiastically, 4 so seal my
induction with your lips, dear heart.'
They kissed—and in the glory of that embrace
they reached the boundary of a perfect world.
Poor Mrs Bates-Post did not spend a very happy
time in Paystreak. When it came down to a little
real 4 roughing it,' she found things trying; and
yellow soap, hay pillows and canned beef palled
somewhat upon her fastidious taste after a first trial.
The comfortable Colonial ways of Vancouver, and
their counterfeit in a new construction camp, were,
she discovered, two very different matters, and only
the near prospect of getting on to Rossland enabled
her to endure the inevitable with a decent show of
fortitude.
4 Have some celery, my dear,' suggested Mr Bates-
Post, genially, towards the close of their last meal at
Grigg's Saloon.
4 No, thank you, Richard.    I actually saw a China- 154
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
man scrubbing it in a bucket of water with an old
hairbrush this morning.'
Her husband laughed.
4 Don't look so horrified, Miriam,' he said unctuously.
4 Chinamen never use hairbrushes on themselves, you
know.'
But even this assurance failed to console the good
lady, and she persisted in dining off eggs—not new-
laid, or even fresh ones, be it noted, but just eggs.
4 An egg is such a safe thing,' she urged, 4 not like
a nasty tinned food, or Chinese mixture.'
41 see you are only eating the yolk,' commented
Kingsearl. 4 Perhaps it is not a very nice one. Will
you try another ?'
Mrs Bates-Post glanced at him in mild surprise.
4 Of course I only eat the yolk,' she replied blandly ;
4 that is the bird, and therefore most nourishing. I
never eat the white, that is only the feathers, and
could not do me any good.'
This view of the time-honoured accessory of the
British breakfast table struck the politician as unusual, so he merely murmured politely, 4Ah ! yes.
Just so,' as he finished his coffee.
The respect and ready courtesy with which the
men belonging to the railway gangs, and the miners,
treated the ladies struck the Englishmen very
forcibly. To Agnes it was an old story ; she had
frequently experienced it before, and was in point of
fact rather amused than otherwise over the timidity of
Mrs Bates-Post, to whom a Siwash was still a possible
savage, and a prospector a dangerous desperado. All
desire to study the natives at close quarters had eva- LOVE TEACHES 155
porated at her first experience of a real proximity.
To view camp life from the safe shelter of a good
hotel was one thing, to put up at Grigg's Saloon
amongst the riff-raff of a new mining settlement was
quite another, and in spite of the unquestionable
novelty of the situation, Miriam Bates-Post was not
at all sorry when the time came for her to shake the
dust of Paystreak from off her shoes. CHAPTER   XVIII
FORCEFUL   ARGUMENTS
* There was a laughing devil in his sneer.'—Byron.
Naomi felt ill at ease. Why, she herself could
scarcely have explained; but as the boat slipped
away from the wharf an indefinable fear crept over
her and thrilled her with almost physical pain. For
a space she continued to lean against the taffrail, with
her eyes fixed upon the receding shore, as if she would
fain compel there the reassuring sight of her relatives.
But no sign of their familiar faces was visible when
distance at length blotted out the camp, and sighing
a trifle forlornly the girl resolved to seek her cabin.
Turning abruptly she came face to face with Cyr
Panhandle.
4 There will be an hour before twilight sets in, and
at least another two before we reach Robson,' he said,
and it struck Naomi that he spoke with unusual
fluency. 4 Will you come and sit aft ? I have a
rug here, and some cushions.'
All the rebellious animosity with which the girl
had regarded the professor ever since their conversation on the way down to Nakusp, when he had so
i56 FORCEFUL ARGUMENTS 157
peremptorily reiterated his prohibition against her
marriage, and she had for the first time combated
his authority, rose up afresh in her mind, and she was
on the point of refusing his invitation when a second
thought supervened and checked the words on her
tongue.
Suppose she were to try once more to induce her
guardian to absolve her from her obligation to
Christopher Sabel ? Inclination urged the attempt,
but a sense of repugnance to the man made her
stammer over accepting his suggestion. What was
this strange intuition that sickened her ? Some silly
prejudice, no doubt, the natural consequence of their
disagreement, she concluded. But here Naomi was
wrong. Nature has implanted in most created beings |
a subtle instinct that warns them of the approach of
danger, and when that instinct is awakened in a/
woman's heart, let her beware. It is invariably
aroused for the purpose of her self-protection.
They found the upper deck deserted, and there in a
snug corner, behind a boat swung from the davits,
Panhandle established her, and placed himself in a
position where he could drink in the beauty of this
girl whose lovable personality was fast driving him to
his own destruction. Each look in her eyes, every
turn of her head played upon the sensitive strings of
his heart; he was fascinated to thraldom, and passion
tossed him to and fro like a shuttlecock.
4 How beautiful you are, Naomi !' The words
seemed wrung from him.
A little frisson of apprehension chilled the girl.
She was in no mood for flattery. i58
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 What nonsense !' she exclaimed, struggling to
speak lightly. 4 But now seriously I want to talk to
you again about that old tie. Are you really sure I
am bound by it—for always ?'
A smothered imprecation sprang to the professor's
lips.
4 Bound to Christopher Sabel ? No ! Bound not
to marry anyone else ? No ! You shall never be
bound by anything, or to anybody except me !'
4 What are you saying ?' she cried, terrified at his
ardent manner and wild words.
4 That I love you, Naomi, love you desperately,
madly if you will, and that I must have you—do you
hear me ?—have you, and hold you as my wife.'
4 Never !' she gasped, as she rose to her feet, now
thoroughly alarmed.
4 Sit still,' said Panhandle, thrusting her firmly
down again. 4 The time for concealment is past.
You shall listen to me now.'
4 Stop.    I will not hear another word.'
4 You must. " Naomi, why can you not love me ?
I want you so much. Most men fritter away their
affections on a dozen different women, but I have
never cared for anyone except you, and because you
are the love of my later-day life, I—'
4 Oh ! Hush ! hush ! What are you thinking of,
professor ? I have always looked up to you as a good
man, and obeyed the commands you laid upon my life
because I believed implicitly in your honesty. And
now you propose this horrible thing. You tell me in
one breath that I am free, and in the next that I must
marry you—you, who have kept me bound body and FORCEFUL ARGUMENTS 159
soul for so many years in the toils of that dreadful
tragedy—you dare to make love to me ?'
4 Yes, because I adore you, and intend to marry
you.'
The look in his sombre eyes frightened Naomi.
She recoiled involuntarily, and put out her hands as
if to ward off their glance. This act, small as it was,
tempted him, and he seized her wrist and kissed it
fiercely.
4 Let me plead with you so — with your hand
clasped in mine. Oh ! girl, girl, have a little
pity.' It was the starved nature of the man crying
out.
4 Are you having any on me ?' she demanded through
her set teeth.
4 Yes, the pity that is akin to love. Heaven knows
I really was the man you thought me once. I swear
it. I taught you only what I then believed to be the
truth, namely, that in the sight of the Church you
were bound to Christopher Sabel. Now the spell of
your presence is upon my life, and there is nothing
else in the whole universe for me but your sweet face
and form—nothing. To win you I would brave hell
itself.'
The words came with a rapid strength that was
irresistible, as he strove to master her.
4 Love me, Naomi. Say that you will, and thus
come between me and the curse of the Almighty. I
have sinned. Well, so be it. You can redeem back
my soul—the love of one pure woman can do that—
and so cheat the devil.'
4The devil, perhaps, but not God.    You forbade i6o
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
me marriage on the authority of His Church, and that
command remains.    I shall obey it.'
4 And how about Jack Maclyn ? You start. You
did not think that I knew your secret. Oh ! I have
watched you—I have seen it all. You love the man,
curse him !'
4 As he loves me, and as we both hope for heaven.'
Naomi's face shone with a glow like the ecstasy on
the features of some martyred saint. 4But I shall not
marry him,' she added slowly.
4 Then why not marry me ? Let us cut off the
social gyves that bind our actions to conventionality.
I will give up my professorship, you renounce your
vows to Sabel, and then we shall be happy, and the
world can munch its caviare of calumny till it dies of
the surfeit, for aught I care.'
Right and wrong seemed distractingly mixed up
to Naomi, and her spirit was rapidly breaking down
under the strain of this extraordinary interview. The
traditions of a lifetime were suddenly washed away,
leaving her to steer rudderless through the sea of
topsy-turvydom. One ray of light alone shone out
across the chaos—Jack. She would prove herself
worthy of him, no matter what happened, and
strengthened by the memory of his unfailing love,
she spoke to the man beside her in a calm, even
voice.
41 am just beginning to understand you,' she said
very quietly.
41 have not tried to conceal or excuse my fall.'
4 No, because it would have been useless. That
you have blasted your own honour is yours to answer FORCEFUL ARGUMENTS 161
tor,
you
you shall not touch mine. To the command
laid upon me when you were an honest
man' (oh: the ironical cruelty of youth !) 4I shall
continue to yield absolute obedience, for I believe
it is a just one, though I have rebelled against
it of late. I shall not marry Jack, but I shall love
him so long as we both may live. Death may
separate us for a little while, but in the Great
Hereafter we shall meet and love again through
all eternity, for immortal love is the heritage of
our own immortal souls.'
As Panhandle looked at her transfigured face, he
realised how near and yet how far away she was from
him. It had been a profitless struggle for the
professor. Naomi's faith in him shattered, her disgust and contempt aroused, his influence over her at an
end, what remained ? A beholding of Paradise from
a place of torment. 4 Man has only his little life with
which to front eternity.' Was this true ? If so, his
doom was sealed.
4 Naomi, think things over again, I implore you,'
he begged. 41 love you, and that is the rightest right
on earth ; you cannot deny it; you cannot control
passion by a religious formula or break love on the
wheel of an ascetic creed/ Great beads of sweat
pearled out on the professor's forehead as he leaned
forward with burning eyes. 4 When the dam bursts
the flood must follow. All my days I have crushed
down human nature with an iron hand, repressing all
emotions and living austerely the chill existence of
ignorance ; now the bonds are broken, and I love only
life lived for love, whilst you, in all the arrogance of
L 162
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
that knowledge which stands midway betwixt innocence and experience—'
4 Dinner is ready in the saloon, sir,' said the steward,
respectfully, looking over the top of the skylight.
So they toppled from pathos to bathos, but the end
was not yet.
At Robson the travellers left the steamer and went
to Trail, proceeding thence up the switch-back railway line to Rossland. During the journey Naomi
kept close to Santashe's side, much to the surreptitious
delight of that individual, for though, like Cyr
Panhandle, he had guessed that she loved Maclyn,
he was still young and generous enough to feel glad
that the object of his boyish affections should turn to
him for help when so unexpectedly deserted by her
rightful protectors.
On arriving at the Kokanee Hotel, Panhandle, who
had maintained an almost unbroken silence both in
the train and in the cab, asked Tony to take the girl
into the parlour, while he wrote their names in the
book, and ordered the baggage to be sent up to their
respective rooms.
4 Certainly, my dear sir, but don't stick my name
down. I sha'n't stay here. Mean to put up with
Danvers, old pal of mine, don't you know, we were
college pudding chums together, and all that sort of
thing, by Jove !'
4 All right,' replied the professor, and to himself he
muttered, 4 The luck is with me.' Then he walked
over to the office desk and registered.
Presently Santashe bade Naomi good-bye, for it
was nearing midnight, and she went upstairs to her FORCEFUL ARGUMENTS 163
room, but not to sleep. Hour after hour the girl lay
in the dark, half-maddened by the power of solitude to torture her, and longing fervently for the
moment when her uncle and aunt would rejoin
her.
Every syllable spoken by Cyr Panhandle came back
to her recollection with painful distinction.
4 He must be ill or going mad,' she thought, and
she shuddered as this last possibility crossed her mind.
4 He could not be so wicked as to urge me to marry
him when he has so often assured me that it would
be a sin, and when I do not even care for him, unless
he were irresponsible for his words. I wish I could
forget them,' and in an earnest endeavour to do so
Naomi called to her aid old memories of the days
when she had trusted her guardian implicitly and
never found him wanting. In vain. Across the
pictures of that happy past there floated the vision of
an ascetic face convulsed with implacable love, the
square jaw, indicative of power and tenacity, contorted by a mirthless smile.
j
Next morning, not wishing to encounter the
professor again until the arrival of her friends, Naomi
ordered some breakfast to be sent upstairs, and then
settled herself with a novel out on the private
verandah which opened off her room, ignorant of the
fact that a French window likewise led on to it from
the main corridor of the hotel.
Scarcely had she turned a couple of pages when a
low exclamation caused her to look up, and she saw
Panhandle step over the sill and carefully close the
glass doors behind him. 164
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 Good morning, Naomi,' he said as he approached
her.
4 Good morning,' she replied coldly.
41  am sorry to intrude upon you in this unceremonious manner, but necessity demands it.'
4 Why ?' queried the girl, briefly.
4 Because, as I told you yesterday, I love you, and
I intend to marry you—and that at once.'
In the clear light of day this statement sounded less
overwhelming than it had done the evening before.
4 And I repeat that I shall never agree to any such
thing,' she replied with some show of spirit, 4 so please
let that end the matter.'
4 Naomi, Naomi, think how utterly worthless my
life will be to me without you !' The very fact that
he was braving an anger which he believed threatened
him with eternal punishment increased his resolution
to succeed.
4 At the present moment I merely think that it
shows a great want of tact on your part to pursue a
disagreeable subject, when there are so many other
topics—'
4 Silence, girl.    Would you tempt me to take you
in my arms, and press my lips upon yours, in order to
convince you of the strength of my determination ?'
The man's voice was discordant.
41 am not afraid of you,' she said with scorn.
4 Do you know that I would rather kill you, and
then shoot myself, than see you the wife of Jack
Maclyn.'
The words clinked in his parched throat.
4 You dare not harm me,' she replied haughtily. FORCEFUL ARGUMENTS 165
4 Because you are a woman ringed round with a
petticoat which you imagine protects you, eh ?'
The sneer set the girl wondering whether there
were any words permitted to women which would
express the unutterable loathing she felt at that
moment for the man at her side.
41 am not going to hurt one hair of your beautiful
head, never fear,' he went on with penetrating
emphasis, 4 but you must marry me at once, all
the same.'
4 Must ?'
4 Yes, must. Have you seen our names in the
hotel register ? No ? 44 Professor Cyr Panhandle
and wife." Yes, that is all. No 44 Miss Crocus"
—just 44and wife."'
4 You infamous wretch!' The girl sprang to
her feet. 4 How dared you do it ?' she demanded
in concentrated rage.
4 To force your consent. You see I am truthful. There is no help for it now, so you may as
well give in. You are compromised before the
world, your name linked with mine, your fair fame
threatened—'
4 My God ! what are you saying ? Are you man
or fiend to torture me like this ? It is not human.
Oh, Jack, Jack, why don't you come to me ? '
4 It is useless to call for your lover,' sneered the
professor, his eyes blazing with a vindictive light
born of jealousy and absinthe. 4Do you suppose
he would marry you now ?'
4 Do you really think that I could doubt him ?'
The girl's tone was superb.    4 Oh ! it cannot surely 166
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
be as bad as you say. It was a mistake. It can be
altered—explained.'
Panhandle smiled unpleasantly.
4 Impossible. Dozens of people will have seen the
entry by now, and then look at the evidence against
you. We have stayed here alone together since
last night, our rooms adjoin, we are registered as
man and wife. Who would believe your story in
the face of such damning testimony ? I tried at first
to win you, Naomi, by fair means, but you have
forced me to adopt this course, and now I tell you
that there is only one way out of the difficulty, only
one way by which to save your reputation ; we must
be married privately to-day, otherwise I cannot protect you from—the devil!'
The last imprecation was uttered in a startled
whisper.
4 No, only me,' and Anthony Santashe walked out
on to the verandah.
The young Englishman glanced keenly at Panhandle, whose perturbation was painfully evident,
and then looked straight into Naomi's eyes. She
too showed traces of the recent struggle.
41 just came to see how you were, Miss Crocus,' he
said quietly,
4 Umph !' muttered the professor, under his breath,
as he turned away.
4 Not going, I hope ?' remarked Tony, serenely.
4 No,' replied the other, and his lips shut upon the
syllable like a steel trap.
4 Glad I turned up; you seem out of sorts this
morning:.' FORCEFUL ARGUMENTS 167
Panhandle made no answer. He was racking his
brains for a device to get rid of Santashe. With
much irritation and many matches he lighted a
cigar.
4 Take care how you throw those beastly sulphur
abominations around,' said Tony, coolly. 4It's
dangerous. Last night, after you had gone to bed,
I nearly set fire to the place with my cigarette, I
did, by Jove! Dropped it on the hotel register,
don't you know, and burnt a big hole in the pages.
The clerk was ripping. You see he had not had
time to read the names of the passengers who came
in from Trail.'
Naomi, who was steadying herself against the railing, and trying to regain her grip on things, flashed
round at these words.
4 You burnt part of the book ! Tell me quickly,'
she cried. 4 Oh ! Mr Santashe, say you did, say you
did !'
4 Yes, unfortunately I destroyed the entries of the
last few days. But it is all right, Miss Crocus,' and
he took the girl's shaking hands in his; 41 entered
Panhandle's, yours and my own names quite correctly
on a fresh page.5 Then, as if in answer to her
puzzled look, he added : 4 You see I changed my
plans at the last moment, and spent the night in
the hotel after alL'
With a sob in her throat Naomi bent swiftly
down and kissed the kindly hands that held
hers.
4 How good you are !' she said. There was a
passionate  warmth  of commendation   in   the  tone, i68
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
and as she looked into Tony's honest eyes she knew
that he had saved her.
4 Please go to the parlour and wait for me there,'
he said firmly. 41 will come presently and take you
out for a walk.'
The girl obeyed in silence, not daring even to cast
a glance at Cyr Panhandle as she passed him.
4 One moment, sir,' broke in the young Englishman, as the professor prepared to follow Naomi from
the verandah.    41 want a few words with you.'
4 Kindly be quick about it then, as I wish to rejoin
Miss Crocus.'
4 Sorry, but you will do no such thing. I overheard your last speech to her as I came through the
window just now, and let me tell you, Panhandle,
you are a poisonous blackguard.'
4 Allow me to pass, sir. I will not stay here
another instant to listen to such insulting language.'
41 think you will, however, just so long as I
damned please. Look here, I spotted your little
game of bluff last night, and now I am going to 44 call
you." You are a blooming scoundrel to trade on the
fears of a defenceless girl who believes herself compromised by your scurrilous forgery, but you are a
Cambridge Don, and out of respect for your position
I'll not expose your villainy this time, if you swear to
leave her alone in the future. But you must clear out
of British Columbia at once, and not stand upon the
order of your going either. An imaginary cablegram
calling you home will answer the purpose. Is it
agreed ?'
4 No, it is not.    I decline to be dictated to by a FORCEFUL ARGUMENTS 169
young fool like you, and in any case,' with an
audacious assumption of indifference, 4you have not
one jot of evidence to prove what you allege against
me.    So now what are you going to do ?'
Tony made no reply, but the next moment he had
caught the professor a smart blow between the eyes,
and sent him reeling to the ground.
4 One must use force to ill-conditioned brutes,' he
said.
4 You shall owe me redress for this assault,' spluttered
Panhandle, as he sat up and mopped his bleeding nose.
4 Yelp away like a whipped hound, but it will keep
you pretty busy collecting the debt, though, no doubt,
you won't scruple to use foul means to get even with
me.'
4 In this case the end will justify the means,' responded the professor with a feeble attempt at dignity.
4 Unless they are too mean for anything—like
yourself,' retorted Tony.
Panhandle's eyes flashed red with hate.
4 Physical violence is no argument,' he said.
4 But it is good medicine for curs,' replied Santashe,
and then he proceeded to give the professor such a
tongue-thrashing as the latter had never before experienced.
4 They should cage you up with the mauve monkeys
and the purple pussy cats in a dime museum, don't you
know,' he concluded top-loftily. 4 You are far too
big a freak to be safely let loose on any decent community, you are, by Jove !' CHAPTER   XIX
SPECKLED   LIES AND   OTHERS
6 The lie circumstantial, and the lie direct.'—Shakespeare.
Aching in every limb, and with his heart full of
baffled rage, Cyr Panhandle slunk away from the
verandah. Half crazed by jealousy, and fiercely
vindictive against Santashe for having so successfully
foiled his schemes, he felt in no mood for further
parleying just then, but sullenly sought in seclusion
to remedy the damages inflicted upon his personal appearance. During the remaining hours of that, to
him, well-nigh interminable day, the professor went
over all the events of the past week with painful
precision, neither blaming nor excusing his actions,
but simply reviewing the rapid phases of his fall, and
hugging to himself the conviction that he would yet
succeed in winning Naomi to wife.
Like the heavy ground-swell of a resistless sea, the
impulses of the man's nature, once set in motion, were
as incapable of check as those mighty rollers that
surge into shore in sure and even succession after a
storm. He had deliberately set his feet to tread the
downward path ; there could be no going back to
grace for him now, except through the medium of
170 SPECKLED LIES—AND OTHERS    171
Naomi's saving purity; and yet in a measure he was
to be pitied, this sinning man, for his self-abandonment to passion had already begun to devastate his
life in like manner as the poison of the absinthe (to
which he had of late become an abject slave) was
sapping at his mental strength and racking to pieces
brain and will-power in the general wreck of his
character.
According to promise Anthony Santashe rejoined
Naomi in the hotel parlour as soon as he had seen the
professor's coat tails disappear through the doorway;
and then thinking that a little fresh air would be a
capital stimulus, he took her out to see the town.
As they strolled along Columbia Avenue, where a
prosperous tide of humanity, chiefly of the male sex,
ebbed and flowed with ceaseless energy, the girl was
gradually drawn out of her frightened mood to observe
the numerous types that formed the cosmopolitan
population of Kootenay's largest mining camp. Prospectors just off to the hills with their packs bound
upon their backs; well-to-do brokers hob-nobbing
with vividly imaginative 4 special correspondents,'
and other men whose kodaks and field-glasses proclaimed them animated marks of interrogation, and
tourists. Old and young, Britishers and Americans,
shrewd speculators and affable company directors, every
nation, rank and temperament were represented in
that motley throng.
At first Naomi talked so fast from sheer nervousness that her words fairly tumbled over each other,
but presently a genuine interest in her novel surroundings triumphed, and she fell into easy argument 172
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
with Tony, who rose nobly to the occasion, and held
up his end of the conversation in excellent style.
Gilded by the gay sunshine the town looked quite
picturesque that morning. A mass of shacks and
frame buildings, pretty shingled houses, and more pretentious stores and offices flung against the steep sides
of a horseshoe of mountains, the upper slopes of which
were covered with gold mines whose names had already
become famous, and whose dividends had enriched
thousands—a locality of precipitous streets and great
enterprises—the place of confirmation of the immense
future that lies before the mining industry of the
West—the banner camp of Kootenay—such was
Rossland.
To the English-bred girl the general atmosphere of
a Western settlement was peculiarly attractive.
There is no room for pettiness in the minds of people
who live so near to Nature's heart; with them
meanness is unknown, and as long as they have the
wherewithal to buy a dinner you are entirely welcome
to share it, even though they themselves may not
know where their next meal is coming from.
Suddenly in the midst of an excited discussion
about the relative value of the Le Roi and the Centre
Star mines, Naomi turned to Santashe and asked
abruptly,—
4 What did he say to you ?'
4 Not much,' replied Tony, sagaciously, catching
the drift of her question. 4 We only exchanged a few
remarks.'
4 Then what did you do ?' she persisted eagerly.
4 Nothing at all; I just knocked him down.* SPECKLED LIES—AND OTHERS     173
< O—li !' gasped the girl, and her eyes grew as big
as saucers.    4 Thank you,' she murmured doubtfully.
4 You need not. Any fellow in my place would
have done the same. But, Miss Crocus, let us keep
silence about it to the others when they arrive, shall
we ? Panhandle is leaving for the Old Country immediately, and I promised him, for the sake of his
position, to hold my tongue—that is, if he goes at
once. The beggar who could insult you is beyond
the pale of forgiveness, and I'd like to break every
blessed bone in his body, but—'
4 Not to attempt a brave act sometimes requires
gallantry,' interrupted Naomi, softly. 41 understand
you, Mr Santashe. It is to save me from the faintest
breath of scandal that you wish to conceal the professor's actions.    Oh, you are good !'
Tony actually blushed.
4 I've let him off easily this time, but if he lingers
about here, or ever causes you the slightest annoyance
again, I'll give him an assisted passage to England
with the toe of my boot, by Jove, I will !'
4 Surely he must be ill, for he was always so kind to
me in past years, and he really is a very good man. I
know it. A thousand things have proved it to me
since my father and mother died.'
4 Has bats in his belfry, more likely,' speculated
Santashe. 4 Must have,' he continued with conviction,
4 to treat you as he did. But we'll drop the subject
now, Miss Crocus, if you please, and him too, and no
one will ever be any the wiser.'
To this arrangement the girl tacitly consented, as
she was still  far  too  much  upset  by  the strange *74
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
occurrences of the past twenty-four hours to plan any
definite course of action for herself; but at the same
time she resolved that some day she would tell Jack
the whole story from beginning to end, for the truth
was being slowly but surely borne in upon her that
had she only summoned up sufficient courage to confess everything to him, some months before in Vancouver, this last terrible fiasco would never have
happened. Yes, she would tell Jack all about
Christopher Sabel, and about the queer behaviour of
Cyr Panhandle, and then he should judge what it was
best for her to do. First, however, she must wait
until her guardian went away, and even then she must
make Jack promise never to breathe a word of the
professor's dastardly conduct to Mr or Mrs Bates-Post.
The knowledge would distress and shock them so
dreadfully. The matter should remain a secret between Tony, herself and Jack.
It was characteristic of the girl that she never for
an instant doubted the effect that such a communication might have upon her lover, or saw any necessity
for supporting testimony. Even had Santashe not
been able to corroborate her version of the affair, she
would still have told Maclyn the facts in a simple,
straightforward manner, and expected him to believe
her implicitly. In this she was right. He would
have done so.
In spite of the anguish and turmoil of mind caused
her by the professor, Naomi clung fast to the new
anchor of her life. The faith of her childhood was
destroyed, the belief of long years lay shattered into
fragments, her best friend had proved false to himself SPECKLED LIES—AND OTHERS     175
and to her, yet the trust born of love never faltered ;
Jack would understand, she knew, understand all
and comfort her.
Such a handshaking and rejoicing there was when
the belated travellers reached Rossland that night, and
Naomi felt as if she would cry for very joy when she
saw her aunt's kindly face and heard the deliciously
reassuring taffeta swish in Agnes's walk as they entered
the hotel.
In answer to Mrs Bates-Post's inquiries for the professor, Tony volunteered the information that Panhandle had received an urgent cablegram calling him
back to England, and was at that moment engaged in
packing his valise preparatory to an early start on the
following morning ; but scarcely were the words out
of his mouth when the subject of them entered the
dining-room, where the tourists were partaking of
some supper, and having courteously greeted the new
arrivals, proceeded to inform them that, owing to
unforeseen circumstances, he was obliged to postpone
his departure for another day. As he made this
announcement he threw a direct challenge at Santashe
with his eyes, to which the latter made a slight movement of assent, thinking that surely such a short delay
could make no material difference, and that at all
events Naomi must be protected from the horrors of a
public scene. Thus Panhandle won his way, and the
girl, whose every charm formed a new mesh in the
golden network that had ensnared his heart, was
destined in her turn to destroy the web of evil intent
which he began swiftly to weave around Jack Maclyn.
While Mr and Mrs Bates-Post protested vehemently 176
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
against the departure of the professor, Naomi rapturously congratulated Agnes and Kingsearl on their
engagement, and everyone talked and laughed at once,
and nobody thought of anything beyond the interest
of the moment—just then. As the chatter buzzed
louder, and a brisk fusilade of chaff was fired off, Mrs
Bates-Post put her hands up to her ears, exclaiming,—
4 For goodness sake, girls, stop talking in a circle ;
it makes my head go round,' and then she peremptorily
ordered them both off to bed.
Late as the hour was the professor drew Maclyn
into the smoking-room for a cigar—and a reason of his
own. He felt that the time left to him was all too
short in which to accomplish his purpose, and therefore he determined that the first nail should be driven
home before they slept that night. After a little
bleached conversation on indifferent topics. Panhandle,
with dexterous insinuation, and a few ambiguous
phrases, gave his companion to understand that the
fact of his going on unchaperoned to Rossland with
Naomi had been a more embarrassing circumstance
than appeared on the surface. To the presence of
Santashe he made no allusion, and Jack became so
wrought up by the professor's innuendoes that he quite
forgot even the existence of the young Britisher.
Step by step Panhandle led him on from curiosity to
astonishment, until at length it dawned upon his
bewildered mind that the man's hints could have but
one foundation.
4 What the deuce are you driving at ?' he
queried irritably, for he was very tired, and the world
seemed turning upside down. SPECKLED LIES—AND OTHERS    177
The professor blew a cloud of smoke into the air,
and smiled sardonically.
4 Do you actually mean to imply that you and Miss
Crocus have been privately engaged for months past ?'
went on Jack, unable longer to control his excitement.
4 When affairs are still of a confidential character
one naturally hesitates to speak of them openly, but—
well—suppose you are right, and suppose we are
engaged, what then ?'
As the professor leaned forward with a baleful yet
triumphant look on his face, the reality of the suggestion boxed Maclyn's ears.
4 Then I think that you are the luckiest chap on
earth,' said Jack, and in his tone there rang the echo
of a great agony. The man's face grew sickly-hued
beneath its coat of sunburn as he rose and added in
a level voice, 4 I'm going to turn in now. Goodnight, Panhandle.'
So this was the reason of it all. This was the explanation of Naomi's odd behaviour on many different
occasions, and of her repeated avowals of love and
mysterious refusals to marry him. She had been
engaged all the while, thought Maclyn. Oh ! if she
had only told him so before ! He would infinitely
rather have heard it from her lips than from those of
the professor. It was hard to lose her, and yet she
had sworn she loved only him—things did not agree
somehow. Could Panhandle possess some hold over
her ? Was he forcing her to keep an old promise
against her will ? Jack lay awake half the night
trying to put the puzzle together, but the pieces
M i78
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
would not fit into place. With the dawn came wiser
counsel. He resolved to go down to Trail for the day
and argue matters out by himself, and then, when he
had in a measure mastered that awful gripping sense of
loss, he would return and ask Naomi for the truth.
The professor's words had been like a sword thrust,
and Maclyn knew that no human anodyne could ever
assuage the heartache that threatened to strain his
powers beyond the point of endurance ; nor was he
ashamed to yield to his lost love what no other sorrow
could have wrung from him—the dry, choking sobs of
a strong man's weakness. CHAPTER XX
AH !
' Chaos of thought and passion, all confus'd.'—Pope.
4 What shall we do with ourselves to-day ?' asked
Agnes in a voice that vibrated with energy, as the
party were finishing breakfast. 4 Mr Maclyn has
already deserted us in the most abominable manner,
and gone off to Trail, which is particularly unkind,
considering that he leaves for New York in a couple
of days ; so I vote we plan some excursion or other at
once, before any more of the men folk decamp.'
4 I'm game for anything, barring being left behind,'
remarked Tony, cheerfully.
4 So am I,' assented Naomi, 4 though I do not
believe it was ever a case of being 44 alone in a
great city" with you for more than an hour, Mr
Santashe, especially in a mining camp,' she added
naively.
4 How you do snap a fellow up,' he protested. 4 But
it is a ripping morning for a jaunt, so I suggest we
visit one of the mines.'
4 Would you like to go through the 4C Golden
Buck" ? It is quite the finest and best developed
property in Rossland,' said Kingsearl.
179 i8o
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 That would be lovely,' exclaimed Agnes with
alacrity. 4 And you will both come too, won't you,
dear Mr and Mrs Bates-Post?'
To this proposal the elders agreed, and the party
was soon afoot along the side of Red Mountain,
where the sand lay deep upon the path.
Cyr Panhandle alone refused to join the expedition,
pleading as an excuse letters that must be written, but
in reality because he wished to follow up the advantage he had gained over Jack Maclyn, as soon as the
latter returned from Trail.
On arriving at the 4 Golden Buck,' the travellers
were courteously received by the manager, who, however, looked a trifle dubious when told that the ladies
wished to go through the mine.
4 It is very dirty and wet in there,' he demurred.
4 Indeed we shall not mind that at all,' urged Agnes,
boldly, 4 and my friends, who have never been down
in a 44 skip" before, are so anxious to see the whole
thing.'
4 As you please,' he replied resignedly, 4but you
must first permit me to provide you with some
mackintoshes to protect your clothes.'
This he did, and when they were fully equipped,
Naomi declared that they looked more like a band of
brigands than a party of peaceable tourists bent on
sightseeing. Arrayed in tarpaulin coats and rubber
boots, with old cloth caps pulled well down over
their heads, and carrying lighted candles in their
hands, they wound their way into No. I tunnel,
led by the foreman, and rear-guarded by the reluctant
manager. AH! 181
41 feel like a glorified tramp,' remarked Tony, as
he inadvertently dropped a stream of grease down
Agnes's neck.
4 You look like one,' she said. The grease was
hot.
4 So much the better. It is useless to make up like
a mountebank, and then let your fatal beauty shine
through,' he remarked imperturbably.
If Agnes had not exercised a professional command over her feelings at that moment she would
assuredly have boxed his ears. As it was she merely
retorted,—
4 It is equally of no use to be first-rate in your
appearance and third-rate in your opinions.'
Down the shaft and along the drifts went the little
procession, pausing here in a niche to let an ore-car
run by, and there to watch some of the men at work
on a machine drill.
* It is just like a perpetual Posterland !' exclaimed
Naomi, and the weird outlines assumed by the party
in the flickering light of the candles were certainly
grotesque enough to warrant her idea.
Everything in the mine was so new and wonderful
to the strangers that their interest never flagged, and
even Mrs Bates-Post forgot to be nervous. Fifteen
hundred feet into the heart of the hill they penetrated,
trudging valiantly on through mud and slime, and
laughing merrily as the water dropped on to them
from the roof of the timbered drifts, and the candle
grease fell thickly down their clothes.
41 should not like to be one of the miners,' said
Mrs Bates-Post, unctuously.  4 They must take a very 182
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
narrow view of things, cramped  up  in these dark
tunnels.'
4 Strange to say, a little experience of life in a mine
tends to widen the horizon of most people,' replied
Kingsearl, quietly.
4 And one can learn many a good lesson from the
men,' put in Agnes. 4 Look how they will risk their
lives to save a comrade, and will help him, when ill,
to pull through his trouble ; or, if he is out of work,
will keep him going until he can get another billet.'
' Still I suppose you have your quota of scallawags
out here, just as we have at home,' remarked Tony.
4 Certainly, there are a few rascals in the West,'
assented Agnes, agreeably ; 4 but then, you see, there
are also plenty of good men to do the horsewhipping.
Have you got them at home too ?'
'Yes,' came the vehement corroboration from
Naomi's lips, 4 we have,' and she flashed a glance of
gratitude at Santashe.
Forth they came at length from the deep recesses
of the earth, unscathed and ravenously hungry, to find
the manager waiting to take them over to his house
for lunch.
41 hope you saw all you wanted to in the 44 Golden
Buck," Mrs Bates-Post ?' he said politely, as he helped
to take off her rubber coat.
' I have seen a great deal more on my clothes since
I came out of it,' she answered, somewhat aggrieved.
4 You cannot expect to indulge in the coquetry of
cleanliness in a gold mine, dear Aunt Miriam,' said
Naomi, gently.
1 I don't see why we did not take candles and go AH! 183
and sit in the cellar,' remarked Tony, reflectively ; 4 it would have been just as dark, and
much dryer.'
Naomi laughed, but Agnes swooped down on her
pet foe.
4 Do not try so hard to be funny,' she said with a
cultivated scowl. 4You should economise your
talents.'
4 Saving costs so much more than spending sometimes,' he replied airily.
4Joe, please make Mr Santashe be quiet,' she
begged.
And Joe did. He handed Tony some bannocks
to eat.
When they returned to the Kokanee Hotel, the
first thing which greeted them was the startling news
that a young Englishman who had ridden down to
Trail that morning had been thrown from his horse
and killed near the smelter. No one for an instant
doubted but that the man in question was Maclyn, and
Naomi, half-frantic with grief, threw prudence to the
winds and poured out into her aunt's astonished
ears the whole story of her love for Jack, and her
panic at the outrageous behaviour of Professor Panhandle.
41 loved him so much, and now he is dead,' she
wailed, clinging to the elder woman's neck. 4 Oh,
Jack, Jack,' she moaned, and all the horrified Mrs
Bates-Post could do was to murmur, 4 Poor child, poor
child,' as her thoughts jumped spasmodically from
Maclyn's shocking death to Cyr Panhandle's shocking
conduct. T
184
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
When the girl, with many tears, told them how
chivalrous Tony had been, Agnes exclaimed with
honest admiration, 4Oh, that I might shake him
warmly by the hand !' and Mrs Bates-Post wanted to
go and do it on the spot, but as Naomi just then
relapsed into bitter weeping the project had to be
temporarily abandoned.
And in the end it was all a mistake. Some stranger
lay stiff and stark at the foot of the smelter hill, and
Jack rode back to Rossland blissfully unconscious of
the hubbub the report of his death had created. This
placed Naomi in a very unenviable position. She
had wildly made confession to her aunt and Agnes
on the spur of the moment, a thing she dared not
do to Jack while the professor remained in British
Columbia.
The day had not been wasted by Maclyn. During
the course of the long ride he had thoroughly threshed
out the subject of his love for Naomi, and of hers for
him, in the face of her supposed private engagement to
Panhandle, and had come to the conclusion that a
greater dishonour awaited the girl in marriage with
the professor, for whom she entertained not a particle
of affection, than in breaking off old ties and giving
herself to the man she really loved. Therefore he
resolved to make a final appeal to her sense of justice
and then abide by the outcome, let it be what it
might.
At first they naturally talked at cross-purposes, but
when Naomi discovered that Cyr Panhandle had
deliberately misled Jack, she grew very angry, and
indignantly denied the existence of any engagement AH!
185
be
tween
them,
or
that
she
had
ever
rej
warded
the
professor except in the light of a friend. Then Maclyn
pleaded his own cause with redoubled ardour, and felt
as mystified as before when the girl still refused to
marry him.
41 cannot, Jack, indeed, I cannot.'
Was that a sob ?
4 Oh ! don't, don't, Naomi. Is it not enough that
my heart is breaking ? I do not want yours to break
too.'
4 Forgive me, I am still upset. I did not believe it
was in me to suffer so much on account of anyone as
I suffered to-day when I thought that you were killed.'
4 And you do not love the professor ?'
41 swear it. Some day I will convince you—tonight I dare not—but this I do say, I never was, and
never shall be, engaged to my guardian, for I love you
and you only with all my soul. Jack, I have something very, very serious to tell you. I—I—have made
up my mind at last to confess the real reason why
I will not marry you. My uncle and aunt know it,
so do a few people in England, and so does Dr
Dufft—'
4 Hallam Dufft !' exclaimed Maclyn, bewildered,
as a jealous remembrance of the episode on the Hotel
Vancouver verandah, when Naomi had betrayed so
much agitation at the sight of the superintendent,
recurred to his mind.
4 Yes, he—he was very kind about it,' she blundered
on. 41 scarcely know how to begin the story. Will
you understand it, I wonder, and love me just the same
when you have heard—' WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 So it was not your neck that was dislocated
this time, Maclyn,' broke in the voice of the
professor.
At these words Jack and Naomi started, so softly
had the man approached the end of the garden where
they sat.
4 No, by good luck. Who was the other poor
fellow ?'
4 That has not yet been ascertained, I believe,'
rejoined Panhandle, as he sat down on the rustic bench
and took out his pipe. He had overheard the girl's
last words, and determined, if possible, to prevent
further confidences, at anyrate until after his departure on the morrow. His plan to separate the
lovers by means of the fiction of his engagement to
Naomi had evidently failed, but he could not be
certain whether Jack had as yet discovered its falsity ;
still tete-a-tetes were dangerous to his safety, and so he
stayed, joining occasionally in the desultory talk
that followed his appearance, and paying little
heed to its drift until the girl rose to go indoors,
and Maclyn, detaining her for a moment, asked
pointedly,—
4 Will you come out for a walk with me to-morrow
morning, Miss Crocus ? We can go over to the
Grubstake Mine and finish our interrupted conversation on the way/
4 Thank you, I shall be very glad to do so,' she
replied, and both question and answer bore a double
meaning that was not lost on Cyr Panhandle. 4 Goodnight and good-bye,' she continued coldly, addressing
the professor.     4As you leave by the early train I AH ! 187
shall not see you again,' and she turned into the hotel,
followed by Jack.
The professor understood. Before he was a hundred
miles on his journey from Rossland these two would
have arrived at a complete comprehension of their
relations to each other, and his perfidy towards both of
them. At all hazards this must be prevented. But
how ? His motives were becoming confused. Reckless love for Naomi, a thirst for revenge against
Maclyn, a fierce desire to shield himself from the
consequences of his treachery and lies, all these
consumed him as with a fire. He could not discriminate between them. He could not think
coherently.
In moments of supreme agitation the mind acts
with violent velocity, and as Panhandle paced up
and down the path a dozen plans to foil the union
of this couple, who loved one another so truly,
whirled through his head. The very notion of that
walk to the Grubstake Mine drove him to frenzy.
He gone — they together — explanations — vows
exchanged — perhaps kisses—death and devils, it
should not be ! If only Jack could be got rid
of—ah!—
The professor reeled against one of the trees and
something snapped in his brain as a sheet of flame
swept across his vision. Drunk with one terrible
scarlet idea he staggered to his room and locked the
door.
4 The chances are good — in a mine,' he
muttered, as the unthinkable horror choked all
other emotions. WHY NOT SWEETHEART
When later on Jack sought for the professor to—as
he explained—4have it out with him about that
trumped-up engagement story,' he could not find
him; nor did he ever again see the face of Cyr
Panhandle. CHAPTER   XXI
the   grubstake   mine
1 Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.'—Wordsworth.
* Profaned the God-given strength,-and marred the lofty line.'—Scott.
The morning was exquisite. The wild aromatic
smell of the fir woods came wafted along on the
breeze that tenderly swept the haze from the rock-
faces of the mountains, and above the changes and
chances of a few fleecy clouds the sky stretched from
horizon to horizon a clear, vaulted dome of blue.
The horseshoe bend of hills lay exposed to the full
strength of the sun whose rays penetrated into each
nook and cranny between the boulders, and saturated
the scrub-grown slopes with a mellow radiance, painting every bush rich red and yellow.
Autumn had arrived at last in the Kootenay camps,
though not as she goes to other places, dressed in
sere brown garments to hide her shivering nakedness,
but decked out in flamboyant scarlet and gold-
broidered cloak, and the glamour of her sun-steeped
splendour lay upon all the countryside.
Up the rough path which led from the town to the
Grubstake Mine went Jack Maclyn, with his feet on
189 r
190
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
the ground and his head in the skies; but Naomi
felt depressed that day, and clung persistently to the
realities of life.
4 Do not let us talk of serious subjects just yet,' she
pleaded, as they walked along the trail.
4 All right, my darling, anything you say goes, and
if you would rather not begin that story until we are
on our way home, well, that is all right too. But
you will not shirk it altogether to-day, will you,
Naomi ?'
4 No, Jack, I promise to tell you the whole thing
before we return.'
4 Then I am quite content.'
4 Did Professor Panhandle really go away this
morning ?' inquired the girl, anxiously.
4 Yes, that was one of the first questions I asked at
the hotel office when I came down to breakfast.
Last night I searched everywhere for him, after
you had gone in ; I wanted to have an explanation
from the man of that lie he insinuated to me about
his engagement to you, but he had gone to bed, so I
was obliged to leave matters alone, and as he went
this morning—I hope out of our lives for ever—
perhaps it was just as well that I did not find him.
There would certainly have been a row had we
met.'
4 Then I am very thankful that you did not,'
rejoined Naomi, with a shudder.
4 You are not yourself to-day. What is the matter,
dearest ? You must cheer up, or I shall have to take
you in my arms and kiss away those unshed tears,
right here under the open sky.' ^
THE GRUBSTAKE MINE 191
The girl gave a wan little smile as she replied,—
4 Don't laugh, Jack, but I feel as if something were
hanging over my head—some terrible disaster. I
cannot explain it, but it frightens me, and I dread
lest this presentiment should have been sent to me as
a warning. The world is so full of trouble,' with a
sigh.
4 Little goose !' said Maclyn, taking her hand and
pausing to look reassuringly into her face with his
honest eyes. 4 Come, rouse yourself, my love, it* is
not like you to be so fanciful; and do not abuse the
patient old world that goes toiling on its own way,
and makes it possible for you to go yours.'
4 If only mine had been a better one.'
4 We are none of us perfection, sweetheart, but you
come nearer to it than anyone I eVer knew.'
41 am afraid that you only think me an angel
because I am a woman,' she whispered shyly.
4 You have promised to tell me the chief incidents
of your life ; in anticipation let me tell you my story.
It is full of errors, dear one, and some of its pages
are blotted with the follies that most men commit
sooner or later, but they shall all be opened for your
inspection, the good and the bad alike, for the woman
I would make my wife must marry me with her eyes
wide open to all my faults, so that no shadows out of
the past may ever have power to arise and darken
the happiness of our life together.'
Then Jack confided to her some of those things
which a man does not usually tell a woman until he
has to, and then wonders why she heeds them so
little, forgetting that  in  her   estimation  time only
ii jf WHY NOT SWEETHEART
counts from the moment when she first met
him.
41 wish you were not going to England on
Tuesday,' she said presently.
4 And yet a month ago you were ready to bid me
an eternal good-bye.'
4 Somehow I am frightened now. I do not know
why, or of what, but I am sure some dreadful calamity
is going to happen to us.'
4 Nonsense, darling. Let us sit down here in the
shade of the trees, and I will try to reason you out of
this ridiculous prophetic mood.'
The girl shook her head.
4 It is no use, Jack,' she argued. 4 Women never
see reason very plainly at any time, and when they
are nervous and anxious, as I am to-day, they simply
cannot see it at all. Just talk to me as you used to
during those long rambles of ours in Stanley Park at
Vancouver, talk of anything you like, only keep
me from thinking my own thoughts,' and Naomi
threw herself down on the moss with a weary
gesture.
41 will, if I can, for you are far too much given to
self-analysis, dearest. It is unwise to be constantly
dissecting one's own motives and feelings. Look at
the flowers, as they grow in the open ; they are lovely,
but pick one to pieces and you spoil its form, colour,
scent, all that once made it perfect. Do you remember Tennyson's lines:—
'" Live pure, speak true, follow the king."
I think they contain the whole duty of man.' THE GRUBSTAKE MINE 193
Rarely had the girl found him in this humour
before. Like most men he kept the emotional side
of his character snugly tucked out of sight, yet a
greater worshipper of Nature than Jack Maclyn
never breathed.
A short silence followed the man's last words, then
he continued earnestly,—
4 Out on a wild hillside like this, with God's own
celestial weather around us, our petty annoyances
shrink and fade when brought into contact with the
calm, strong majesty of Nature. Look about you,
Naomi ; do you see any nervous strain in the life that
pulses in the green growth of tree or grass ? Do
the flowers indulge in obscure motives, or the mountains worry their stately old heads ^because they cannot
quite see into heaven ? Why, the very idea of such
things would be absurd ; yet here are you, the
dearest little girl in the world, distressing your pretty
self over problems that are best left alone.'
She moved a trifle closer to her lover, and stole one
hand into his in mute acquiescence.
4 What you and I and everyone else ought to do,'
he went on, 4is to waste less energy haggling over
useless introspection, and spend more time in looking
at exquisite scenery, listening to good music, and
studying the artistic in all things, and all things
artistic. Believe me there is more subtle pleasure in
the tints on a purpling moor at sunset, more stimulation in the sight of the storm-racked sea giving
battle to a rock-bound shore, than can be found in
any moral laboratory. No one can estimate the
moulding influence  that a single hour spent with
N 194
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
Nature may exercise upon the human mind, but all
can recognise the marvellous beauty of the source
from which such inspiration is derived. Only cultivate a heart at leisure from the cares of life,
bringing yourself into perfect harmony with earth
and sky, and you will feel in wonderful sympathy
with all mankind. But there, I have preached
long enough,' he wound up abruptly, 4 and we must
travel on if we want to arrive at the mine before
noon.'
4 Jack, you have done me a world of good,' said
Naomi, brightly. cThe feeling of dread has quite
passed away, and if trouble comes now I am sure that
I can face it—and win.'
4 There speaks my own brave sweetheart,' he
returned fondly, and they pursued their way up the
trail, chatting merrily meanwhile.
The Grubstake Mine was situated on a ledge near
the top of a steep declivity, and from the mouth of
the main tunnel a tramway, eight thousand feet long,
had been built down to the railway siding. Small
trucks, attached to a wire cable, ran perpetually on
these tracks, carrying the ore from the upper to the
lower ore-bins, and the miners often rode in them as a
quick means of getting up and down to their work.
Visitors to the place also frequently availed themselves
of this easy method of ascending and descending the
mountain, of course always at their own risk, though
owing to the power of the brake the danger of an
accident was slight.
After spending an interesting hour examining the
mine, Maclyn and Naomi were about to leave the THE GRUBSTAKE MINE 195
place, when the girl seized her lover violently by the
arm, and whispered in terrified accents,—
4 Look quickly, there is Professor Panhandle.'
Jack glanced hastily in the direction indicated,
but could see no one.
4 You are dreaming, dearest.'
41 am not. I saw him quite plainly. His head
came up out of that C4 stope-hole," and then disappeared
again.'
Maclyn strode along to the spot and looked
through the opening. A ladder led away into
inky blackness.
4 If you really saw anyone it must have been a miner.
However, I will go down to satisfy you, if you like.'
4 No ! No ! For goodness: sake don't do that.
Don't leave me alone. I know he is here somewhere, and his face wore such a vindictive expression.'
Jack made no reply, but led the girl out of the tunnel
into the full glare of the sunshine. Then he laughed
and said cheerily,—
4 Remember your promise. No more silly fears today. I know what will clear all the cobwebs out of
your brain. We can ride down the hill in one of the
ore-trucks. It is just like tobogganing, and the dash
and excitement will brace you up splendidly.5
4 Is it quite safe ?'
4 Now do you for one moment suppose that I would
suggest the thing if it were not so ?'
4 N—o,' doubtfully, 4 but it looks dreadfully steep.'
4 You need not be afraid, lady,' said a workman who
was standing near them.    4 This here tramway has 7^
IN
196
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
been running regular for nigh on a year, and never a
spill yet.'
4 Shall I go down alone first, and come up again,
and then you will see that it is all right ?' proposed
Jack.
4 Very well. I can watch you from here, and when
you return we will take the next trip together. Is
that a bargain ?' she asked, regaining a little of her
customary gaiety,
4 Yes ; but before I start I want you to come across
to the manager's house with me. I am going to ask
him to give you a cup of tea ; you need it, dear, you
look so white, and we cannot possibly get back to the
hotel in time for luncheon.'
To this proposal Naomi readily agreed, and together
they turned to leave the head of the tramway, first
telling the man in charge that they would return
shortly.
4 The cars ain't been running yet this morning,'
said the latter, 4 but I'll be setting them going soon
after my dinner hour.'
4 That will suit us splendidly,' replied Jack. 4 We
shall be back again presently.'
Refreshed by the substantial meal which the
manager with true Western hospitality pressed upon
them, Maclyn and Naomi felt in excellent spirits
when they once more reached the brink of the hill,
and walked into the shed built there as a shelter for
the wheels round which the cable revolved. This
shack was completely open on one side, so that the
man who controlled the cable could see the whole
line, and watch the movements of the trucks. THE GRUBSTAKE MINE 197
4 Be you interested in mining, sir ?' inquired the
labourer.
4 Yes, slightly,' replied Jack. 4 This looks rather an
ingenious system you have here of working the
tramway.'
4 Pretty good, sir. Just them two wheels and a
steel wire rope, and then the brake is mighty
powerful, and that is the principal business. The
gentleman as came here when you was over at the
manager's a while ago, he seemed greatly took with
it too.'
4 What gentleman ?' questioned Naomi, sharply.
41 don't rightly know, miss. Looked most like a
sky-pilot, I reckon. Jumping Jimminy ! there goes
the signal to turn her loose,' \ he exclaimed, as an
electric tinkle rang near them.
4 Then I'll be off,' said Jack, before the girl could
utter the words of fresh alarm that sprang to her lips
at the workman's description of his visitor. 4 You
stay here until I come up.'
4 I'll look after the lady, never fear, sir,' said the
man, and with this assurance Maclyn vaulted lightly
into the foremost car of the bunch, which had been
left empty to accommodate him.
Slowly, with a dip and a bound, the line of trucks
slipped over the brow of the hill and sped down the
steep incline. As Naomi turned to watch its descent,
a door at the back of the shed was flung violently
open, and a man, who was no other than Cyr Panhandle, rushed in and struck the labourer a sickening
blow over the head with a drill, which sent the latter
crashing to the ground like a felled tree. IP'
198
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 Good Heavens ! What are you doing ? ' she cried
in horrified accents.
4 Going to send your lover to perdition,' replied the
professor, with a fiendish leer. 4 See,' he went on in
rising tones, as he dragged the terrified girl to the
edge of the bank, 4 there he goes down the tramway.
Do you know what will happen when he reaches the
centre switch ? No, of course you don't. I shall put
the brake on full and then the car he is in will become
detached from the rest by the force of the sudden jerk,
and rush to the bottom, where he will be shot into the
ore-bins and crushed to death.'
4 Impossible !' gasped the girl. 4 The cable is too
strong.'
4 Quite so. But while you and your lover were
away I loosened the nut that holds the ring-bolt
through which the coupling is fastened that joins the
first truck to the bunch,' said the professor with
malicious directness. 41 overheard Maclyn's plans,
and turned them to my own account. He cannot
escape me now.'
Too stricken to cry out, Naomi stood motionless as
dire despair shot through her heart, then, gathering
her senses together with a supreme effort, she sprang
across the prostrate form of the miner and placed
herself between Panhandle and the brake.
4 You shall not touch it,' she said in a hoarse whisper,
and faced him defiantly, her arms held behind her to
guard the lever.
4 We'll see about that.' The professor cast a look
over his shoulder. The cars had run past the switch ;
there was not a second to lose. THE GRUBSTAKE MINE 199
4 Let go at once,' he shouted.
4 Never,' she hissed through her clenched teeth.
Infuriated at this attempt to frustrate his purpose,
the man lost all command of himself, and grasping her
by the shoulders swung her violently to one side ; but
the girl's hands were locked tightly around the handle
of the brake, and she clung fast to it, her interlaced fingers cracking at the joints from the terrific
strain.
Lashed to frenzy by this determined resistance, the
professor seized hold of Naomi's wrists and fiercely
wrenched them backwards till the agony made her
scream. The truck was already nearing the bottom
of the incline. Another moment and it would be too
late to send it loose. Still she^clung to the lever with
almost superhuman strength, struggling to save Jack's
life with muscles that were twisted to the last point of
endurance ; but as Panhandle's grip upon her arms
tightened, the torture became unendurable.
4 In the name of pity, stop !' she shrieked. 41 will
do anything—anything you ask of me—only spare
him!'
The echo of her anguished appeal went shivering
up the side of the hill, as with a final effort the man
flung her to the ground, and seizing hold of the brake
pulled it hard over. At the violent check the cars
came to a standstill, and the loosened nut on the first
one flew off, the bolt slipped out, and instantly the
truck in which Maclyn sat ran down the line at a
tremendous pace.
4 Look, there he goes—your precious lover—nothing
can save him now.    Ha, ha, ha !' and the professor 200
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
yelled with maniacal laughter, seeming to gloat over
the impending catastrophe.
Choking with fear-sickness, Naomi raised herself on
her elbow.
4 Fiend !—murderer !' she gasped, but no human
ear heard the accusing cry. Cyr Panhandle had
fled.
With infinite pain the girl crawled to the edge of
the bank, and clinging to an old tree stump stared at
the gruesome sight below. On whirled the car at an
accelerating speed. Jack was surely travelling to a
hideous death. Naomi closed her eyes, dizzy at the
awful danger. When she opened them the truck was
a mere speck in the distance.
4 Merciful God ! save him,' she moaned, and sank
fainting to the earth.
An instant later the car tore down the last bit of
the hill, and just as it reached the up-curved rails at
the end of the tramway, it suddenly jumped the track,
with the result that Maclyn was shot out into a clump
of bushes and bracken many yards away from the line,
where he lay stunned and bruised, but otherwise
unhurt; for the answer to Naomi's prayer came in
the form of the tamarack branches and saplings whose
powerful resistance broke his fall, which had been
already mitigated by the bravery of the girl in delaying
the execution of Panhandle's villainous plot, at the
cost of her own intense suffering. To his sweetheart
Jack primarily owed his life, for had she not been
plucky enough to cling on to the brake, and thereby
hinder the professor, her lover must inevitably have
been killed. CHAPTER  XXII
AGNES  MAKES  A   DISCOVERY
* The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.'
Shakespeare.
' Pluck out the heart of the mystery.'—Shakespeare.
4 How is she now ?'
The words as spoken by Jack Maclyn contained a
mixture of anxiety and love impossible to describe.
4 A shade better, and sleeping quietly under the
influence of an opiate. The doctor has just left her ;
he anticipates no further change until to-morrow, then
—then we shall know the worst,' replied Mrs Bates-
Post, brokenly.
4 Or the best,' urged Jack.
4 Please God !' ejaculated the good lady, softly.
Many hours had elapsed since the accident occurred
at the Grubstake Mine, and already long evening
shadows fell across the street and crept up the western
wall of the hotel, as the sun sank toward the horizon.
When first attracted to the tramway shed by Naomi's
piteous cries, the manager and some of the miners had
found the unconscious girl stretched upon the ground.
They had at once bound up her injured wrists with
201 202
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
kindly hands, and conveyed her as best they could by
team back over the rough waggon road to Rossland ;
while Maclyn, severely bruised, and dazed by the
violent shock, had picked himself up out of the tangled
scrub-growth near the lower ore-bins, where he was
flung when the car became derailed, and with considerable difficulty reached the town by a lower trail,,
ignorant of the fact that any evil had befallen his
sweetheart.
The man's horror and mystification over her serious
condition was unbounded, as was also his astonishment
at the extraordinary breaking loose of the truck, nor
could the people from the mine throw much light
upon the matter, for the labourer who was struck over
the head by Cyr Panhandle did not even catch a
glimpse of his assailant before he fell senseless to the
floor, and poor Naomi, as yet only semi-conscious and
in great pain, could not, of course, be questioned.
Once in the hands of her uncle and aunt, everything love and skill could accomplish was done to
alleviate the girl's sufferings, and Agnes, who possessed
considerable experience in that line, was installed as
head nurse ; but the terrible mental shock and strain,
to say nothing of the physical agony Naomi had
endured, had wrought sad havoc, and when night
came she was still in a very precarious state. Strange
to say, the idea that his sweetheart had been so horribly
injured in trying to save his life never once crossed
Jack's mind.
41 wish you would come in here for a few moments,'"
said Mrs Bates-Post to Maclyn, a rising excitement
betraying itself in her voice as she opened the door of AGNES MAKES A DISCOVERY      203
her private sitting-room. 41 particularly want to tell
you about something that occurred to-day after you
and my niece started for the Grubstake Mine.'
4 Certainly,' he replied. 4It was nothing serious, I
hope.'
4 That is exactly what I do not know. An old
friend of ours, who is also a cousin of Naomi's, has
for some time past been confined in the Mind-Ease
Asylum at Fraserville. Poor Christopher Sabel, he
was mad, but very nice.'
4 What ?' exclaimed Jack. 41 beg your pardon,' he
added, as Mrs Bates-Post looked at him inquiringly,
4 but you will understand my surprise when you hear
that I saw and talked with this same Mr Sabel last
May when I visited the superintendent of the Mind-
Ease, who, as you may perhaps remember, is my
cousin.*
4 Ah—yes—Doctor Dufft. Well, then, you must
have noted how completely irresponsible Christopher
was.    He arrived in Rossland this morning.'
4 Who?    Doctor Dufft ?'
4 No, Mr Sabel, of course.'
4 You don't say so !'
4 But I do. He is quite cured now, and so they
had no power to detain him any longer at the asylum.
Christopher says that both he and the superintendent
wrote to my husband that he was leaving Fraserville
this week, and these letters must have gone astray, for
they have never reached us. He looks well, but I
thought he seemed very excitable.'
Jack remained silent, revolving this new factor in
his mind.    Presently Mrs Bates-Post moved  a  step - ^~3E===
HI
204
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
closer to him, and laid a twitching hand upon his arm.
4 Mr Maclyn,' she whispered in an awed tone, 4do
you think that Christopher could have caused that
accident ?'
The man started.
4 No. Why, how came such an idea into your
head?'
41—I told him that Naomi was in love with you.'
4 And what on earth has that got to do with the
subject ?'
4 Well, you know he—he might have been angry
about it, and when people have been mad they take
strange notions into their heads.'
4 Still I do not see that, because Sabel is Naomi's
cousin, is any radical reason why, sane or insane, he
should object to my being in love with her, or she
with me. Surely you would not accuse the poor
fellow of a wish to murder me ?'
Mrs Bates-Post wrung her hands feebly.
41 cannot explain everything. Naomi would never
forgive me if 1 did. But, oh ! Mr Maclyn, I am afraid
it was very unguarded of me to tell Christopher about
you, or about the professor.'
4 What did you say to him about Panhandle ?' asked
Jack, rather sternly. He was beginning to fear some
unforeseen complication.
4 Only that until lately he had strongly objected to
Naomi marrying anyone while Christopher lived.'
4Was that all?'
4 Well, I believe I did hint that I thought the
professor now wanted to marry my niece himself.
Do you suppose any harm could come of that ?'
\u
^ AGNES MAKES A DISCOVERY      205
4 No, I certainly do not,' replied Jack, seriously.
4 But why are you telling me all this ? '
4 Because I cannot help wondering whether
Christopher was in any way responsible for that
accident. The mere suggestion terrifies me, for it
implies that he may be guilty of an awful crime, and
yet if he should have gone mad again—' here the good
lady waxed incoherent with agitation.
4 You need have no fears on that score, Mrs Bates-
Post,' said Jack, steadily. 4It is extremely unlikely
that Sabel would, under any circumstances, injure his
cousin, and what possible grudge could he have against
me ? We do not yet know what caused the car I was
in to run away, or even whether that mishap had any
connection with the assault made upon the workman,
or with Naomi's pitiable plight.
4 How you comfort me ! To tell you the truth I
was really frightened after I had spoken to Christopher,
his eyes looked so wild and he laughed in such a dreadful way.    I wonder if he is quite cured ?'
4 Assuredly, otherwise they would never have let him
out of the asylum. Where did he go to after his conversation with you ?'
4 I have not heard. My husband and Mr Kingsearl
had started for a walk, and Christopher said that he
would join them. However, none of us have seen him
since, and that is the reason why I imagine he may
have followed you up to the Grubstake Mine.'
4 Not at all likely. No doubt he will turn up
again later on,' suggested Jack with a confidence he
was far from feeling.
41   sincerely   hope   so.     Then   perhaps  we   can W [f
¥
II
f;
\v\- 1
206
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
persuade him to travel home to England with the
professor.'
4 Surely Panhandle went away by the early train
this morning.'
4 Oh ! dear me, no. I saw him about ten o'clock.
He said that he had overslept himself and would not
leave until to-morrow. Good gracious !' cried Mrs
Bates-Post, in sudden alarm,4 it never struck me before,
but Christopher and the professor must not meet.
The sight of Naomi's guardian would be sure to bring
back to him a vivid remembrance of—why, it might
send him mad again,' she interrupted herself hastily,
4 especially since my injudicious words. Just to
think that I talked to him about the professor's
infatuation for the poor child. Oh ! how imprudent
I was,' and the good lady sobbed distractedly.
4 It is improbable than any great harm has been done,'
said Jack, nervously. He held that a woman should
never cry in the presence of a man who is not privileged
to kiss away her tears. 4 We will consult Mr Bates-Post
and find out how he considers it best to act in the
matter.'
Night came, but not a sign of Christopher Sabel.
Stranger still, Cyr Panhandle did not appear either,
and Jack fell to wondering whether after all Naomi
really did see him in the Grubstake Mine, as she had
so emphatically asserted. In view of the fact that the
professor had not quitted Rossland, such a thing was
quite within the bounds of possibility ; though, even
so, that did not explain his prolonged absence from
the hotel.
The next morning Naomi was pronounced out of AGNES MAKES A DISCOVERY      207
danger. Youth clings to life with a wonderful
tenacity. As the girl lay near the open window, listlessly watching the cloud-waves rolled up from the
horizon, and scattered into wreaths of foam by the
western wind, she tried to recollect the events of the
previous day. In her mind were hills and valleys;
occasionally an incident arose out of the chaos, and
shaped itself clear-cut and distinct on an eminence of
memory, but all connected thought still lay smothered
in the depths of her half-drugged senses.
4 Agnes,' she called feebly.
4 Yes, dear.    Do you want anything ?'
4 It was Professor Panhandle who—who—'
4 Hush, Naomi, you must not talk. Do your
arms hurt you now ? '
4 No, not much.'
Agnes deftly bathed the girl's forehead with eau-de-
Cologne, and drew the curtains so as to shut out the
slanting rays of the sun.
4 Try to sleep, dear,' she urged softly.
4 He meant—to—kill—Jack.' The words came
with difficulty. 4 Oh'— with a faint moan—4 Jack—
Jack—'
The look of agony that sprang into Naomi's dull
eyes at the remembrance of her lover startled her
companion.
6 He is perfectly safe and well,' she said soothingly.
Not a sound escaped from the sick girl's lips in
answer to this assurance, but gradually her muscles
relaxed, her eyelids closed, and she slept.
4 What is the matter ? You all look as solemn as
if it were a full meeting of the British Association,'
j 20C
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
said Agnes as she walked along to the end of the
verandah, and joined the Bates-Posts, Kingsearl and
Maclyn.
4 Is she free from pain yet ?' asked Jack, rising
eagerly to his feet.
4 Yes, and sleeping like a child.'
The man sat down again. The relief depicted on
his face was very genuine.
4 We were talking about the accident, Agnes,' said
Mr Bates-Post. 4 The workman who controls the
cable at the top of the tramway has just been here,
but he can give us very little information. He says
that he suspected nothing wrong before he got
the terrific crack on his head which rendered him
insensible. The greatest mystery still surrounds the
whole affair, and the police have discovered absolutely
no clue to the identity of the coward who struck the
blow. Of one thing, however, I feel convinced,
namely, that the same hand which knocked down the
miner also wrecked the car and inflicted those horrible
injuries on my dear little niece.'
4 Stunning day,' called out Tony, cheerfully, as
he blossomed in from the garden like a new-
blown morning glory. 4 What's up ?' he inquired,
seeing the anxious expression on the faces around
him.
4 Who do you think is responsible for this dreadful
disaster, Mr Santashe ?' said Mrs Bates-Post, turning
to him with animation.
4 Panhandle,' replied the youth, laconically.
4 Stuff!' ejaculated Maclyn, denying his own
conviction. AGNES MAKES A DISCOVERY      209
4 No, I said Panhandle,' persisted Tony. 4 Bet you
a farm he did.'
4 My dear fellow, you have taken a dislike to the
professor, and when a chap like you gets hold of such
an antipathy as that, he just worries it for all he is
worth. Though I have no liking for the man myself, especially since you told us of his atrocious plan
to compromise Miss Crocus, still I draw the line at
accusing him of the wilful intent to murder.'
4 But I do not. The professor was the author of
that accident.    Naomi says so.'
Had Agnes fired off a shot-gun in their midst her
hearers could not have been more astonished.
Santashe, who had felt bound under the coincidental
circumstances of Naomi's unaccountable injuries, and
Cyr Panhandle's disappearance, to give the girl's
friend a true version of her guardian's attempted
coercion, was the first to recover himself.
41 knew he had a double face from the start,' he
said as he gave the ends of his moustache a supercilious twirl.
Explanations ensued, and little by little they put
the puzzle together, fitting the disjointed events round
the central /act of Panhandle's guilt. Maclyn retailed how Naomi had seen her guardian's head rise
up, and then disappear again into the 4 stope-hole,'
and how he had probably overheard their conversation
about going down the track in one of the ore-cars,
and the arrangement that Jack should make a trial
trip alone. These things, taken in conjunction with
their knowledge of the professor's infatuation for his
ward, his dastardly conduct toward her at the hotel,
o
:   -L s
if
i
210
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
and his inexplicable absence since the catastrophe,
all strongly corroborated Naomi's statement, of the
full truth and import of which, however, no further
proof could be obtained until the girl was convalescent.
4 In spite of what occurred before we arrived, the
bare idea of his committing such a ghastly act is
preposterous,' expostulated Mrs Bates-Post. 4 Cyr
Panhandle attempt to murder anyone ! Oh ! I
cannot believe it !'
4 Yet you know him to be a—a—' Kingsearl
hesitated.
4 A libertine,' said Jack, boldly. 4 The man who
would deliberately kill a girl's belief in faith and
honour, and ruin her reputation to serve his own foul
ends, would not stick at taking human life.'
4 In my opinion he is as mad as a March hare,'
remarked Tony, with conviction. 4 No sane chap
could possibly behave as he has done.'
41 entirely agree with you there, Santashe,' said
Mr Bates-Post. 4 Panhandle has, to my certain
knowledge, been a good man and true all his life,
and his recent disgraceful persecution of my niece,
and subsequent evil actions (even supposing that he
is not guilty of this last appalling crime), can only be
the outcome of a diseased state of the mind. Of
that I feel convinced.'
They were not very wide of the mark. Cyr
Panhandle had for months past been wandering in
that borderland where right and wrong intertwine,
and a warped judgment is incapable of discerning
betwixt the two. Goaded to frenzy by jealousy,
and   intoxicated   with  increasing;   doses  of  absinthe AGNES MAKES A DISCOVERY      211
(a drug under the equipoise-destroying power of
which he had completely fallen), the professor was
at this juncture little better than a maniac—and a
dangerous one at that.
41 see it all,' cried Agnes, suddenly, clasping her
hands in great excitement. 4 Naomi rescued your
life, Mr Maclyn, at the imminent risk of her own.'
4 Eureka !' shouted Tony.
4 It must have been the professor who struck down
the workman, and somehow caused the accident to
the truck,' continued Agnes, speaking rapidly, 4and
then, Naomi, in trying to save you, was mangled in
this horrible fashion.    Oh ! the brave girl !'
Jack turned deathly pale.
4 Great God !    Is it possible ?' he gasped.
4 Richard, do you think that our darling niece
actually did that ?' said Mrs Bates-Post, her eyes
filling with tears.
4 We shall soon know, my dear. I can well believe
it. She is a courageous child,' he replied, his kind old
voice choked with emotion.
c What made you guess such a thing, Agnes ? '
asked Kingsearl, looking at his fiancee with undisguised admiration.
4 Oh ! I'm a wiz !' she retorted, and laughed.
It was the shrill, jerky laughter of the woman
who will not cry over the doing of a gallant deed. ,f9\
CHAPTER XXIII
THE   MILL   GRINDS   EXCEEDING  SMALL
* Revenge, at first though sweet,
Bitter ere long back on itself recoils.'—Milton
* Now conscience wakes despair,
That slumbered, wakes   the bitter memory  of what he was,
what is, and what must be.'—Milton.
Up in the Kootenay hills the setting sun illumined
the face of the dying day, vermilioning the sky, and
staining wood and wold a blood-red hue. To the
north a storm was slowly gathering, black like the
brew in a witch's cauldron, that would inevitably
burst ere night fell, and drench the world with its foul
contents. Dense, murky clouds scowled at the
yellow gleams which sparkled on the bosom of the
Skookumchuck, a turbulent stream that ran like a
mill-race down between the rocks; now laughing
over the stones and flinging wreaths of snowy spray
high up into the air as it dashed against the larger
boulders, now hemmed in on either side by perpendicular cliffs as it swirled along at the bottom of
the narrow gorge to join the Cinnabar River.
On one side of this mountain-born torrent, where
some gaunt pines fringed the precipice, and cast inky
212 THE MILL GRINDS EXCEEDING SMALL 213
shadows athwart the needle-strewn moss, lay Cyr
Panhandle; hatless, his clothing torn by rock-spurs
and briars, and a silent agony expressed in every line
of his tense, emaciated form. Suddenly a scarlet ray
shot out from the sinking sun, and as it touched the
prostrate man he turned his face towards the west,
and uttering a startled cry sprang to his feet.
4 Will the Judgment Day be like this—all golden
glory for some, and dark despair for others ?' he
muttered through his clenched teeth, as he shuddered
at the effulgence in the sky, where Tyrian purple was
fast paling to green at the edge of the flaming arc
already half hidden below the horizon, and the wisps
of cloud assumed brilliant prismatic hues.
The radiance dazzled the professor and turned his
brain sick. Bewildered by the intensely bright colouring, now rendered positively appalling in its striking
contrast to the sombre majesty of the rising tempest,
he leaned against a tree and covered his eyes.
4 This is awful,' he groaned. 4 Heaven itself is
dressed in wrath, and I stand here accursed before
God and man. Even Naomi is revenged upon me.
Ah!—' he shrieked as the crimson light of the
sun-glow enveloped him, 4 there is blood upon my
hands—my clothes. The very sky is soaked with it.'
Then with a cry of horror he gazed as his feet sunk
deep in the tussocky herbage. 4The grass stands
thick in the lush of the hot red flood,' he muttered,
and reeled to the ground.
No wonder the gorgeous sunset had awakened
strange hallucinations in the man's mind, weakened
as he was with want of food and sleep, and totally un-
J 214
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
nerved by haunting memories ; for it was an extremely
impressive sight, even in a land where vivid natural
effects are of common occurrence, and, enhanced by
the approach of the mountain storm, it presented a
positively weird and terrifying spectacle. For thirty
hours the professor had wandered amongst the hills,
hungry and cold, and only saved from consuming
thirst by some water he discovered at dawn in the
hollow of a burnt tree-stump. When he rushed away
from the top of the tramway at the Grubstake Mine,
convinced that he had sent Jack Maclyn to certain
death, fear drove him to seek shelter in some solitary
region, and consequently the next day found him at a
spot seldom traversed even by prospectors, a lonely
plateau covered with scrub and conifers that overlooked the Skookumchuck as it brawled along several
hundred feet below.
One moment he was full of vindictive joy, the next
cast down to the nethermost depths of gloom ; again
he would gloat over the thought that now his rival
was dead, only to suddenly fall a prey to a frenzy of
torment. Half-frozen by the keen bite of the early
hoar-frost, he had lain all night upon the chill earth;
half-starved, he had roamed about during the day, his
befogged brain taking no cognisance of time or place,
until when evening came he stood on the heights
above the stream—a sin-wrecked, passion-racked man.
Ignorant of the fact that Naomi had saved her lover's
life, torn by conflicting emotions, rent alternately with
delirious joy and dire remorse, Cyr Panhandle was
expiating in ghastly fashion the hideousness of his
crime.
y^ THE MILL GRINDS EXCEEDING SMALL 215
Crisply the dry twigs crackled under the feet of a
stalwart man who came up with long, swinging strides
over the pine-dotted upland, and halted beside the
unconscious professor. Giving the latter a kick with
no gentle intent, he said in forceful tones,—
4 Get up,    Do you hear me ?'
Panhandle opened his eyes and stared vaguely
around. As his gaze fell upon the man standing
near him, it became instantly riveted, and a livid
pallor overspread his already colourless face. Slowly
he raised himself, never for one second removing his
eyes from those of the newcomer, and his breath
began to come in tortured gasps.
4 Another fiend sent to plague me,' he whispered,
writhing and trembling like a leaf in the wind. 41
know you, Christopher Sabel. l Why do you come
here ? I never harmed you. I kept her bound to
you.    Are—are you dead ?'
4 No, I am not. I am very much alive. For hours
I have tracked you in these mountains, keeping close
on your trail, nearer and nearer I have followed you
up-'
4 What for ?' The professor's eyes dilated as he
shrank backwards.
Round the corners of Sabel's mouth there crept a
smile it was not good to see.
4 I'll answer your question with another. Where
is Naomi Crocus ?'
41 cannot tell you,' replied Panhandle, whose
intellect was temporarily jolted back again into its
proper groove by the shock of meeting Christopher
so unexpectedly.    cOn my honour I do not know.' 2l6
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 Your honour !' The concentrated scorn with
which Sabel repeated the words was the essence of
insult.
The professor shifted uneasily.
4 It is true,' he asserted surlily.
4 What is true ? Not you, or your words, you
lying scoundrel ! If you do not remember where
Naomi is, at least you shall tell me what has become
of Jack Maclyn.'
Panhandle darted a look of abject terror at his
interlocutor. Was it possible that Christopher knew
of the catastrophe ? The thought of the young
Britisher rushing down the tramway to a frightful
death returned and grinned at him.
41 cannot do that either,' he answered feebly, his
eyes wobbling in their sockets.
4 But you rather suspect that he is crushed beyond
recognition—dead—murdered by you,'
4 That is false.' The words came with a snarl.
The professor's lips were drawn back from his teeth
like those of a wild beast at bay.
4 Come, come, it is no use acting like this. I know
of all your villainy. So you would have forced my
pretty cousin to marry you against her will, eh ? And
when she successfully defied you, you tried to kill
Maclyn.'
41 did kill him.'    The tone was triumphant.
4 No, you did not. Naomi saved him. I saw the
whole episode. I had followed them up to the
Grubstake Mine, and was not a hundred yards away
from the shed when that brave girl would have
sacrificed her life in order to save her lover.    That
\Ll *\
THE MILL GRINDS EXCEEDING SMALL 217
is    how   fate    turns   powerful   wheels   with   small
hands.'
Panhandle glanced at Sabel's face. In the latter's
eyes the light of madness shone for an instant with a
feverish brilliancy. It was quite true that Doctor
Dufft's treatment had completely cured him for the
time being, but the great shock of hearing about
Naomi, Maclyn and the professor from Mrs Bates-
Post, and then witnessing the awful accident at the
mine, while still too far off to interfere on behalf of
the victims, had partially unbalanced his mind again ;
and though he was in some respects still quite sane,
there were not wanting signs of a returning attack
of violent mania.
Retaliation upon the author or all his cousin's
troubles, and her terrible physical injuries at the time
of the disaster, was Christopher's one absorbing
thought, and for this reason he had left Naomi lying
insensible on the ground, after having assured himself that the manager and his men were hurrying to
her assistance, and started off across the hills on the
trail of Cyr Panhandle.
To avenge the girl he had formerly loved so
dearly, and to punish the professor for his sins against
her, and against the man whom she loved, seemed to
the half-demented fellow the only just course to
pursue.
4 Then it is all right,' exclaimed Panhandle, with a
spasm of relief.    4 No one is killed after all.'
4 Not yet,' replied Sabel with menacing calmness.
4 What do you mean ?' cried the professor, in
quick affright. 2l8
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
41 once loved Naomi Crocus deeply and devotedly,'
continued Sabel, ignoring the other's protest, 4and
I would have tried in all sincerity to make her happy ;.
but it was not to be. Love is the ladder by which a
man climbs up into heaven, or down into hell, and—
well, I had the misfortune to go to the latter place
in the shape of an asylum. How you kept that
innocent girl tied to the wraith of an uncompleted
vow, and then to gratify your own vile passion persecuted her with odious attentions, I have since
learned, and by Jupiter ! hanging is too good for
such a cur as you have shown yourself to be. She
loves Jack Maclyn, and I hear that he is worthy of
her, so now I intend that they shall be happy
together. I love her still—my beautiful wife that
was to have been—I even love her enough to lay
down my life for her, and thus remove the barrier
which she fancies exists betwixt her and marriage
with the man of her own choice.'
Christopher appeared to have forgotten the presence
of the professor as he uttered these last sentences. A
rapt expression stole over his features, and for a
moment the light of a steadfast purpose was reflected
upon his face. Calmed by the recollection of old
days, the true nobility of his race rose to the surface
Panhandle listened in amazement as his companion
went on, seemingly oblivious of aught beyond the
theme of his words.
* It is little enough to do for the girl you love—
to die—and yet it was once said, 4< Greater love hath
no man than this." I do not believe that. It is
not  the giving up of one's life that costs, it is the r
THE MILL GRINDS EXCEEDING SMALL 219
giving up  of the woman.    To deliberately kill  all j
hope of a love-life together   is the greatest  sacrifice
in the world—the rest is of no account.'
In the grandeur of his agony Sabel looked like a
modern Saint Paul. A vision of Naomi rose before
his eyes, and gave another twist to the rack. He
staggered slightly, and swayed like a flame in a
draught. Then gradually the picture faded, and in
its place he saw only the professor crouching at his
feet, sick with apprehension at his half-crazed wrath,
and yet not daring to leave the spot for fear of arousing a more personal animosity.
The western sky had paled to the hue of a corpse,
and across it lay a funereal pall of heavy black clouds,
for the day was dead, and over its bier the wind
moaned a soft requiem. The wan light glimmered
on Panhandle's ashen face, as he ventured at last in
hoarse whispers to persuade Sabel to return to Rossland.
4 Had we not better start for the hotel ?' he
suggested limply.
4 Yes, you shall start—at once,' Christopher wound
up with a jerk, and sprang forward.
4 Here, I say—hold on — what are you doing ? '
yelled the professor.
The madman's hand was at his throat. Fiercely
he tried to tear off the grip of Sabel's fingers, but
finding himself powerless against his antagonist's
superior strength, he squirmed round and grappled
with him.
4 Let go,' he gurgled thickly, as he wrenched at the
other's wrist. 220
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 Not while there is one ounce of breath left in your
poisonous body. I am going to put you out of her
path for ever,' retorted Christopher, shaking him till
his features grew convulsed.
4 Spare me,' shrieked the wretched man. 4 I'll—go
—away—if—'
4 You shall die first, and then go wherever the
devil pleases.'
The struggle waxed hideous ; on Panhandle's contused face and neck the purple veins stood out like
whip-cords, as he gasped and choked for breath.
Locked in each other's arms the two men swayed
desperately near the brow of the cliff; Sabel, reckless
of everything save his determination to kill, and the
professor too blinded by terror to at first perceive the
new danger which threatened him. Christopher's
sole idea being to save Naomi, the total removal of
Cyr Panhandle seemed to his disordered brain to
be the Alpha, and his own effacement the Omega, of
such a purpose.
Suddenly his opportunity came ; he recognised it,
and the glare of insanity instantly dilated his sombre
eyes. At a point where the rocky walls rose up perpendicularly at the edge of the Skookumchuck, he
dragged the miserable culprit to the edge of the
precipice. Then the extremity of fear fell upon the
professor and loaned his craven soul a fleeting courage.
Seeing that his own death was inevitable, he resolved
that Sabel should at least die with him, and rapidly
changing his tactics he ceased to wrestle.
4 Look down there,' commanded the madman,
savagely  indicating  the river, and  as he forced  his a
THE MILL GRINDS EXCEEDING SMALL 221
victim to lean out over the abyss the latter's eyeballs
protruded horribly. It was a sheer drop of over three
hundred feet to the boiling torrent below. A shove
from Sabel, a grab by Panhandle, and two bodies hurled
through space. With a sullen splash they struck the
surface of the water, and immediately the swift current
of the Skookumchuck sucked them under and carried
them beyond human ken. CHAPTER XXIV
AT   THE  SUMMIT
' Breath and bloom, shade and shine,
Wonder wealth, and—how far above them—
Truth that's brighter than gem,
Trust that's purer than pearl,
Brightest truth, purest trust in the universe all were for me
In the kiss of one girl.'—Browning.
4 Poor Christopher,' whispered Naomi, softly, and her
hand stole into Jack's as if to seek solace from his
strong clasp.
4 You must not grieve too much for him, dearest,'
said Maclyn, 4 for had he lived he would always have
been in danger of a return of madness. As it is he is
at rest, and perhaps in that shadowy world where all
earthly infirmities are healed he rejoices in the knowledge of your happiness.'
41 hope with all my heart that it is so,' assented the
girl, 4 for he loved me very dearly once himself, Jack.
I have never told you yet why he first became insane,
or exactly what the tie was which bound us together,
and which during so many years Professor Panhandle
pulled tighter and tighter around me until I feared
both him and it with an almost superstitious dread.
Though many a time I fought hard with my conscience
222 -
AT THE SUMMIT 223
on your behalf, the battles royal always ended in my
total defeat at the barrier that my -guardian had built
up between me and marriage. I should like to fell
you the whole story now, so that not even the vestige
of a secret may spoil our perfect sympathy with one
another.'
4 So you shall, my darling. It is a lovely afternoon,
and as your uncle and aunt are too busy writing
letters to miss us, suppose we stroll along the railway
track up into Roger's Pass ; there we can talk without
fear of interruption.'
Scarcely two weeks had gone by since the disaster
at the Grubstake Mine, and its awful sequel on the
edge of the Skookumchuck ; yet already the severe
injuries to Naomi's wrists were practically healed -,
and she and the Bates-Posts and Jack Maclyn had
left Rossland, and were spending a few days at
Glacier, an exquisite spot right in the heart of the
Selkirk Range, where a chalet hotel stood alone on
a plateau surrounded by the white spiral peaks of the
mountains.
Of all the beautiful places in British Columbia—
and their name is legion—none can excel Glacier.
There the lower slopes of the hills are clothed with
conifers of a deep Lincoln hue, the fir, pine, spruce
and cedar growing in magnificent luxuriance, just
relieved here and there by the pale greens of the
hemlocks and alders. When Jack and Naomi walked
up the steep grade to the summit on that fine autumn
day, the Indian-summer sun was shedding its warmth
abroad, and flooding earth and sky with a mellow
radiance.    Below in the valley the Illicilliwaet River 224
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
sparkled and danced merrily along towards Albert
Canyon, and belted by a brotherhood of venerable
trees the marvellous loops of the Canadian Pacific Line
coiled and curled down under the base of Ross Peak,
the railroad tracks (only a stone's throw apart),
paralleling one another in wonderful fashion. Truly
it was a sight for gods and railway men !
Amongst the deadwood beside the stream masses of
mauve blossoms opened their fringed eyelids each
morning at sunrise, and brakes of wild, blue-stemmed
raspberry canes, yet bearing a few bronzed leaves, rose
above the red and yellow foliage of the underbrush.
Half disrobed by the cold hands of the early hoarfrosts, Nature still sought with modest delicacy to
veil her nakedness by long, canary-coloured trails and
sprays of coppery vines, scarce disdaining to employ
even russet fern fronds, browning mosses and rough
grey lichens as a covering for the barer patches of
ground, so fearful was she lest the valley should be
ashamed at the contrast between its poorly-clad
outlines and the rich cone-decked garb of the evergreen mountain sides.
Above the timber line a series of snow-capped peaks
towered up to the altitude of twelve and thirteen
thousand feet, and the immense ice-fields of the
Asulkan and Great Glaciers lay gleaming betwixt
the beetling crags of Mount Sir Donald, Mount
Abbott, Eagle Peak, and a dozen other lofty crests,
each one of which formed an irresistible temptation
to the mountaineer. Across to the north stood the
Hermit, a gaunt figure with granite hood and grim,
inaccessible shoulders.    Tradition avers that an Indian AT THE SUMMIT 225
once reached the heights of this stupendous crag, but
all authentic confirmation thereof has been lost, and
it probably yet remains for some daring expert to scale
and conquer this virgin ascent; a feat which, if ever
accomplished, will eclipse the record of the most
intrepid Alpine climber in Europe.
As Maclyn and his pretty companion walked along
the top of the snow-sheds, and turned the corner of
the bluff at the eastern portal to the pass, Naomi
shrank back involuntarily, appalled at the gigantic
rocky wall a mile and a quarter in height that rose
perpendicularly from the level of the railway line up
to the top of Mount Macdonald. Here a narrow
chasm alone separated this sheer cliff from the huge
stone folds of the Hermit's robe, ^hat fell in rugged
grandeur from the head to the feet of the cowled
monarch ; for, as if rent in twain by some volcanic
upheaval, these two mountains stood riven from crest
to base, and in the cleft between their mighty sides
lay the pass across the summit of the Selkirks, through
which the 4 iron horse ' crept on its trans-continental
route.
4 It is beautiful,' murmured Naomi, softly, overawed
by the solemnity of Nature in her most majestic mood.
4 How such mountains dwarf our little humanity,'
said Maclyn, 4and make us realise the pettiness of
life's ambitions. They are so restful, too, and seem
to breathe out peace from every pore. But that story,
Naomi, am I to hear it at last ?'
4 Yes, Jack, though now it seems as if the whole
thing were just an ugly dream, from which I have
awakened to the reality of your love.' mwfjL.
226
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 Still I want you to tell me all about it, and then
we will bury its memory in the same grave with Sabel
and Panhandle. For some weeks past I have had a
strong intuition that the mystery was closely connected with one, or both, of those men, and lately this
idea has been strengthened by your changed attitude
towards me since their death. Before that tragedy
occurred you steadily refused to marry me, in spite of
my persistent entreaties and even the fact that you
owned you loved me ; whereas, since that day at the
mine, you have tacitly accepted me as your future
husband. Is that not so, my darling ? Say that it is.
Say that you will be my wife.'
Naomi blushed deeply when thus suddenly brought
face to face with the knowledge that her release from
the old bondage had of late entirely altered her manner
towards Jack, making her, unwittingly, less reticent of
her real feelings for him, while as yet, though avowed
lovers, no definite words of betrothal had been spoken
between them.
4 Uncle Richard told me that the two bodies had
been found in the Skookumchuck, a long way oft
from Rossland,' she said hurriedly to hide her confusion, and not wishing, in her ultra-conscientiousness,
to say 4 Yes' until she had told Maclyn the truth about
Christopher Sabel. 4 Oh ! Jack, how do you think
that it all happened ? '
4 No one will ever know, dearest. They are dead
and gone beyond our judgment. But you have not
answered my question, and I will not wait—'
4 Just a tiny bit longer—please,' she interrupted
him,    41 can almost forgive the professor now—I am -^
AT THE SUMMIT 227
so happy,' she went on, as her eyes saw a love-lit land
in which there lived only one man and one woman—
he and she.
Maclyn stooped and kissed her. The chains of his
worship clanked at every movement, and the captivity
was inexpressibly sweet.
4 My little saviour and sweetheart,' he said tenderly.
4 Yes, that is it, you are my sweetheart too, Jack,
only and all mine. Men may call you by your
surname, other women use your Christian name, but
no one in the whole wide world can call you sweetheart except myself.'
4 You are right, darling. Sweethearts we have been
through trials and troubles, and sweethearts we will
remain through the bright days ahead of us, on to the
end of our lives.'
4 Are you sure that what I am going to say will
not make any difference between us ?'
4 Quite sure.    Nothing can ever do that.'
4 Not even if I tell you that all the time you were
making love to me I was half-married to another
man?'    The words came with a frightened rush.
Maclyn started.
4What do you mean? I do not understand how
that could be.'
4 It came about like this,' she went on quickly, with
a desperate resolve to let him know the worst at once.
4 When I was only seventeen years old I promised to
marry my cousin, Christopher Sabel. My uncle and
aunt were very anxious that the match should take
place, and he was deeply in love with me.'
4 Did you care for him then ?' 228
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 Only as a friend, nothing more.'
4 Infamous !' muttered Maclyn.
41 was scarcely more than a child at that time, and
he was very kind to me, and somehow I drifted into
an engagement with never a thought of the life
beyond our wedding day. Do not look so horrified,
Jack. It is only what hundreds of other English girls
do every year.'
41 cannot imagine how the Bates-Posts could have
sanctioned such an arrangement.'
4 There was a question of some large property involved, and so, for family reasons, they urged it ; but
I believe that Christopher only did so for love of
me.'
4 And you consented to link yourself to a man for
whom you cared nothing ? ' A shade of reproach
tinged his voice.
41 did not know then what love and marriage
meant,' she answered simply, the pride of her womanhood enwrapping her like a regal cloak.
4 Forgive me, Naomi. It is as hard for a man to
realise the perfect ignorance of a young girl who has
been shielded from all knowledge of the world as it
is for him to comprehend the absolute innocence of a
nature that has never felt a ripple of emotion.'
4 We did not know that there was insanity on my
cousin's side,' she went on, tacitly accepting his
apology, 4 until that dreadful day when—when he
went mad. It was in church ; he and I were standing before the altar. Professor Panhandle, as my legal
guardian, gave me away. Oh ! I can see it all now !'
Naomi   drew   one   hand   across   her   eyes.     4 The AT THE SUMMIT 229
clergyman in his white surplice, the crowd of guests,
and Christopher beside me. I went through the first
part of the service as in a dream, repeating mechanically
the words which bound us together, till just as he
took my hand to place the gold band upon my finger,
saying : " With this ring I thee wed," an awful
change came over his face, his features grew convulsed,
foam frothed on his lips, and a gush of blood spurted
from his mouth and nostrils, dying my satin gown
with a deep red stain. The ring, which he held
half on my finger, fell off, and rolled away, the
paroxysm increased, and the last thing that I remember before I fainted was seeing the professor
holding my bridegroom down on the floor, while
some other men secured him.'
During this recital the girl had turned very pale,
and deep purple shadows darkened her eyes.
4 My poor little darling !    What a terrible ordeal!'
4 Now you can understand my horrible predicament.
I was not legally married because the service had
not been completed, and the formal words pronouncing us man and wife were not spoken ; still, the vows
of that half-finished ceremony held me fast, and my
guardian lost no opportunity of impressing upon me
the binding character of my obligations to Christopher.
We had both gone through part of the service, hearing the questions, and repeating the responses with
the full intention of being wedded, he said, and yet,
Jack, we were not husband and wife.'
41 never heard of such an extraordinary case
before !'
4 Of course   everyone thought   that  Christopher 230
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
would recover, and that then we would be properly
married all over again, but though he travelled abroad
for several years, he never quite regained his mental
balance, and finally when in Vancouver last winter
he became violently insane for the second time, the
doctors sent him to the Mind-Ease Asylum, and my
uncle and aunt came out to British Columbia to
arrange for his future maintenance.'
4 Did you go to see him in Fraserville ?'
4 No. Aunt Miriam would not permit it.'
4 Very sensible of her. It could have done no
possible good to him, and might perhaps have
frightened you,' said Maclyn, remembering his own
instinctive aversion to the place. 4 Well, the poor
chap is drowned, and your bondage, real or imaginary,
whichever it was, is at an end ; but I am glad that
you have told me all this, darling, for now I can
better comprehend your past treatment of me, though
I cannot agree with you as to there having been any
necessity for it. Dear heart, let us not refer to the
subject again. -Panhandle is dead, and can no longer
harm anyone, and both he and Sabel must account
to a Higher Judge than you or I for their actions.
How they met death, whether separately or together,
by accident, foul play, or deliberate intent, God
alone knows, and in His hands we must leave
them.'
There was silence for a space, and then Maclyn
asked in an altered tone,—
4 Have you heard from Agnes Arbuckle to-day ?'
4 Yes, I got a letter from her just before we left
the hotel.    She and Mr Kingsearl are going to be 	
AT THE SUMMIT 231
married next month, and she wants me to be her
bridesmaid.'
41 am afraid that will be impossible, dearest.'
4 Why, Jack ? Oh—' and Naomi grew as red as
a poppy as she suddenly divined his meaning.
4 Do not put off our wedding any longer,' he
pleaded earnestly.
4 But what will Uncle Richard and Aunt Miriam
say to such haste ?'
4 Shall we ask them to come down to the coast for
a few weeks, and allow us to be married in Vancouver ? There is really no reason why we should
wait until you return to England, is there ?'
4 No, I suppose not; but it seems such a short time
since—'
4 The sooner you are my wife, the sooner you will
get over the shock and strain of the past month, dear
one ; and as to your cousin's death, from what I know
of his character I feel certain that he was the very
man to wish that sad event to make no difference in
our case. Remember, sweetheart, how long I have
loved you ; think of the kisses—'
4 It is not your fond kisses that I remember best,
darling, it is those times when you have said some
little word of love, given me some lingering caress,
small things in their way, perhaps, but which went
straight to my heart. Once at Sapolill, when I had
done some trifle to please you, you took my face
between your hands, and, looking into my eyes said,
44 Thank you, sweetheart." Those words sank down
into my very soul, and the sweetness of their tone
and of your expression will always remain with me. 222
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
Such memories as that come back to one in after life,
Jack, and bring comfort in dark hours.'
4 You are right. There is no thread so strong and
bright as that which love weaves across the weft of
sorrow. Naomi, do you remember a promise that
you once made me ?'
4 Yes,' very timidly.
4 Well, darling ?'(
4 Must I say it ?'
For answer he drew her to him and kissed her on
the lips.
4 Jack—I am ready to marry you now,' she
whispered softly.
4 Did ever man hear such a sweet confession before !
Heart of my heart, I accept the gift of yourself, to
hold you for ever sacred as my love—my wife.'
4 How I adore you, Jack !'
4 Not half so much as I worship you.'
4 We will not quarrel over it, but you could never
convince me.'
4 Not in a whole lifetime, dear one ?'
4 No, not in twenty. But perhaps when you find
out how I love you, and how every thought and
action of mine are of you, and for you, you will
admit—'
4 That I still love you the best,' and Maclyn caught
her in his arms and kissed her again and again.
When approached on the subject of a speedy
wedding, Mr and Mrs Bates-Post did not demur, as
Naomi had half-expected that they would, at the'
idea of a return journey to the coast ; but seeing that
Jack was anxious to marry their niece at once, and '»"   '
AT THE SUMMIT 233
thereby put a full stop to all her past wretchedness,
they willingly assented to the suggestion, and were as
eager over the discussion of plans and the hasty preparation of a trousseau as the young couple principally
concerned.
So it was all settled, and the wires were at once
set going with such excellent results that before
nightfall answers had arrived from Agnes and
Santashe promising to act as bridesmaid and best man
respectively at the wedding, which was fixed to
take place at an early date. Tony was still visiting
friends in Victoria, for when he found—after the discovery of the bodies of Panhandle and Sabel in the
Skookumchuck—that Maclyn possessed no intention
of leaving British Columbia until he took Naomi
home with him as his wife, he ^had returned to the
Island with Joseph Kingsearl, determining to wait
there and join some regiment going to South Africa
from Canada; for war had finally been declared
between Great Britain and the Transvaal, and
Colonial troops were soon to be sent out to fight
for the Empire.
On the last night spent by the Bates-Posts in the
Selkirk Mountains a full moon rose early above the
summit, and touching with light caress the stately
snow-crowned head of Sir Donald, glinted along the
ridge of the Asulkan ice-fields, and flooded in a silver
stream down over the billowy formations of the Great
Glacier. There it was lost to view for some time
amidst the conifers that stood grouped in dense masses
at the base of the glittering slopes, only to reappear
farther    down    the    valley    in    the    grey - green 234
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
phosphorescence that shimmered upon the restless
bosom of the Illicilliwaet River. Spanning the
ravines with shafts of radiance, the moonbeams ran
lightly up the dark forbidding bluffs that stretched
away to the back of Beyond, bringing a gentler look
into the face of the gaunt old Hermit as he told his
rosary in drops of dew, which fell a string of frozen
crystals from his chill fingers, and tingeing with
mystic glamour the defiant outlines of stern Cheop's
crags.
Wisps of mist stole up from the depths of the
canyons, floating like elfin ships across to the dim
horizon—shadows turned to indigo—trees grew more
shapely defined against the moonlit rocks, o'ertopped
by frosty spires—stars shone out—Nature had put on
her festal robe of dazzling hue, and decked herself
with diamonds.
4 Let us sing,' whispered the spirits of the wind to
each other as they crept timidly through the primeval
forest. 4 Let us dance,' echoed the moonbeams as they
trembled with ecstasy on the soft white spume that
rose in clouds from the surface of the glacier-born
cascades. And so together they celebrated the
wedding feast of heaven and earth.
Upon this scene of matchless beauty Naomi gazed
from her open window in the Chalet Hotel, her soul
overflowing with thankfulness and joy.
4 Dear old hills, how I love you,' she murmured
tenderly, stretching out her arms towards the
mountain monarchs. 4 You have given me the man I
love. The happiest days my life has ever known
have been spent beneath the protecting shadow of AT THE SUMMIT 235
your peaks. Dear Christ, keep me steadfast as you
have stood throughout the bygone years, and pure in
heart as those everlasting snows that crown your
lofty crests; keep me true to my God, and true
to myself, so that I may be worthy of my sweetheart/ fnwww
i
CHAPTER   XXV
EIGHT    MONTHS    AFTER
6 There's a Queen, a dear Queen, whom no Briton forgets,
And upon whose Dominions the sun never sets 5
Who has governed by love and has help'd us to fight
For conquest of evil, and succour of right.
Best reign !    Blest reign !    Longest !    Strongest!
This year of all years we'll sing and we'll pray,
Glorious !    Victorious !    Thy Queen !    My Queen !
God bless and keep her both now and for aye.'—Agnes Sibly.
In the drawing-room of a pretty London house sat
Mrs Maclyn, pouring out afternoon tea for her husband
and Agnes Kingsearl.
The May sunshine flooded in through the open
windows, across the flower-boxes filled with glowing
geraniums and calceolarias, and touched Naomi's
golden hair with a soft caress, just as it had done a
year before in Vancouver when Jack first met her.
But it was a far more contented face that smiled up
at him now from beneath that glorious crown of
wavy tresses ; a look of completed happiness shone
in the young wife's eyes, and the sweet serenity of
matronhood had entirely superseded the nervous
tension of her girlish days.
4 It is so nice to hear about dear old British Columbia
again,' she remarked, eating her toasted muffin with
236 EIGHT MONTHS AFTER 237
great satisfaction. 4 How long are you going to stay
in town, Agnes ?'
4 Only for a couple of weeks, I am sorry to say.
Joe is obliged to be back in his constituency by the
middle of July, as they rather expect that an
election will take place before September.'
4 How tiresome ! Just when I thought that I was
going to have you all to myself for at least a month.
Uncle and Aunt Bates-Post are coming up to stay
with us soon, so we shall have a regular Western
reunion. How I wish Tony Santashe could join
us!'
4 Where is he now ? I have not heard of him since
he sailed in the Monterey from Halifax with Strath-
cona's Horse last March.' \
4 Nor have we, except through the cable despatches
which announced the safe arrival of the regiment at
Cape Town. They have probably gone up country
and joined General Buller's forces in Natal.'
4 He was always playing the fool over-time,' remarked Agnes, sipping her tea reflectively, 4 but all
the same I must admit that he was full of the right
sort of sentiment.'
4 Indeed he was. There is a noble way of doing
everything, and dear old Tony followed it as straight
as a die. I shall never forget his chivalry towards me
in Rossland when I so bitterly needed a friend. If he
is as loyal to the Flag as he was to me, the Queen will
have no finer soldier.'
4 Hear, hear !' broke in her husband, enthusiastically.
4 Santashe is a brick. It takes a very clever chap to
play the fool as gracefully as he did.    Why, when he 238
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
made a joke no one thought of getting hurt, and no
one sent for the police.'
4 Who is this you are praising so warmly, Maclyn ?
Ah—Mrs Maclyn, how do you do ?' said the Member
for Illicilliwaet as he entered the room.
4 Jack was just speaking of Tony Santashe,' replied
Naomi, shaking hands warmly with the newcomer.
4 We saw a good deal of the lad in Victoria during
the winter,' went on Kingsearl, 4 and were delighted
when he was accepted for Strathcona's Horse. He
was very keen to go out to the war.'
4 The papers say that a splendid body of men went
from British Columbia,' said Maclyn.
4 That is so,' acquiesced Agnes, eagerly. 4 Tall and
straight as our own Douglas firs, brave, broad-
shouldered fellows, and men of energy too, with their
heads well set on and their hearts full of hope.
There will be lots of friendly hat-smashing when our
soldier boys come home, I can assure you.'
4 Did you go to the Duchess of Daintree's ball last
Tuesday, Agnes ?' asked Naomi, suddenly following
up a fresh train of thought.
4 Yes, I made my debut in London society at it,
fortified in a new gown ; and though, truthfully, I was a
trifle conscious of my experienced Western complexion
and inexperienced Western manners, still I managed
to have a very good time. By the way, who do you
think I met there ? That most recoiling person,
Lady Greenwig.'
4 The one you had a passage-at-arms with in
Victoria ?'
4 The same, my dear.    I thought she would have EIGHT MONTHS AFTER 239
fainted when she saw me walking up the room
on his Grace's arm. You remember how she tried
to snub me that night at the Greshams' 44 Musical."
I was only a Colonial girl then, and she the wife of
Sir Hercules Green wig, soap-boiler and millionaire ;
now I am a Western girl in London, where Canadians
are regarded as the salt of the Empire, and the Duchess
is civil to me—so Lady Greenwig kisses me.'
4Just like her,' laughed Maclyn.
4 But, all the same, I inspired the good dame that
night with a reverence for Canadians she will retain
for life.'
4 Oh ! worthy daughter of a most worthy land !'
exclaimed Kingsearl.
4 When the Prince of Wales arrived at twelve
o'clock,' continued Agnes, ignoring her husband's
chaff, 4Lady Greenwig rushed up to me and said
nervously, 44Pray tell me, my dear Mrs Kingsearl,
what am I to do ? How shall I greet His Royal
Highness?" "Just make a curtsey to him as he
passes down the room," I replied carelessly, and was
turning away, when she grabbed my arm and whispered
frantically, " But which one ? "'
4 Which what ?' inquired Naomi, with more force
than elegance.
4 You may well ask—that is precisely what I did,
and in reply she explained deprecatingly, 44 You see
I only know two curtseys, the one I make in the
Creed, and the one I make in the Lancers." Then
with terrible earnestness she added, 44 Which would
be best for the Prince ?"'
4 And your answer ?' cried Jack, vastly amused. —
240
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 a The latter, by all means," I said with decision.
44The Twelfth—His Royal Highness's Royal Regiment— yes — certainly — the Lancer one would be
the most appropriate." Then the poor thing overwhelmed me with thanks, and Canadians at once
rose fifty per cent, in her estimation.'
4 44 A consummation devoutly to be wished,";
quoted Kingsearl, as the laugh became general.
4 Tell us what you really think of a ball in the
height of the season ?' suggested Jack with some
curiosity.
4 It is certainly not a source of unqualified joy5
the rooms are so crowded with people ; however, I
amused myself. Her Grace received us in a lovely
spangled gown and a worried manner. She is
charming.'
4 Were there plenty of nice men to dance with ?'
41 really dare not offer an opinion on that point.
You see the West has spoilt me for anything less?
than a three-to-one majority of the male sex who
have arrived at years of discretion, and when the
fifth fledgling was introduced, and repeated in the
same insipid tone as his predecessors the same inane
remarks about the floor and the heat, I lost my
temper, and then forthwith retired in dismay to the
seclusion of the conservatory with Joe,'
4 What did you say to him ?' asked Naomi, with
amusement.
4 I'm ashamed to tell you. Honour bright, I am.
But he did exasperate me so. His opening remark
was : 441 say, don't yer think the rume is—er—verwy
hot—er—Mrs Kingsearl ?" and to save my life I could EIGHT MONTHS AFTER 241
not help retorting : 4C You bet your boots it is—hot
as blazes."    It was rude and unladylike I know.'
41 would have given a pony to see his face,
chuckled Jack.
4 The temperature became unbearable after that,'
said Agnes, comically. 4 Made me want to go out
like smoke. I am afraid that Joe will be obliged to
muzzle me in polite society if that is the sort of youth
I have to talk and dance with. Callow youngsters
do not fit into the curves of my temperament.'
4 Did you meet the new belle, the famous Mrs
Tempest?' inquired Naomi.
4 No, but she was pointed out to me. I thought
that she looked like a Christmas tree.'
4 She usually decks herself out with the oddest collection of jewellery. Any woman less beautiful would look
vulgar.'
4 It was very amusing to see how every man in the
room struggled for her programme, while the dowagers
with marriageable daughters avoided her with the cold,
cutting manner of the 44 unco guid." '
4 Merely the natural law of cause and effect, my
dear, though that bit of knotty embroidery on her
otherwise downy pillow will not trouble her much,'
put in Kingsearl, quietly.
4 At least she is preferable to that ugly Lady Greenwig. I never see that woman without wishing she
were the Winged Victory.'
Thus they chatted on merrily, and presently the
conversation drifted back to British Columbia, all
allusion to the Kootenay tragedy being, however,
avoided by common consent. 242
WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 We lived with Jim in Victoria last winter,' said
Agnes, in reply to a leading question from her hostess,
4 but Joe will have to spend most of the coming summer
up-country. It is rather nice having a constant change
of scene.'
4 Your brother would miss you tremendously if you
ever left him altogether,' remarked Jack. 41 remember how devoted he was to you.'
4 Oh ! Jim's all right. Politics first and last, and
his sister in between, like the jam in a sandwich.
That is the way, is it not, Joe ?'
41 fancy so, my dear, for I know that with you all
the sweetness of my life begins and ends.'
4 There is a pretty compliment from the man one
has been married to for six whole months,' and Agnes
gave a happy, ringing laugh as she rose to bid her
friends good-bye.
One morning early in July, as Jack and his wife
lingered over a late breakfast, the ring of the postman
echoed through the house, and presently the butler
entered with a number of letters on a salver, which he
handed to his master.
4 The Canadian mail is in earlier than usual this
week. Two epistles for you, Naomi,' said her husband,
handing them to her as he spoke. 4 Some bills—urn—
they'll keep. A few lines from Kingsearl to say that
he sails for Montreal to-morrow at daybreak ; and—
why, here is one from South Africa, but not addressed
by Santashe.'
While Naomi perused her own correspondence,
Maclyn opened the bulky foreign envelope, and drew EIGHT MONTHS AFTER 243
out a half-completed letter penned in Tony's familiar
writing, a brief note in a strange caligraphy and a
small packet tied up with a bit of dirty string. As a
sentence in the young soldier's letter caught his eye
he checked his first impulse to read its contents aloud,
and murmuring an excuse to his wife, who was deeply
engrossed in an effusion from her aunt, he rose and
went into the smoking-room. Santashe's letter ran
thus:—
' On the Veldt, June — 1900.
4 Dear Maclyn,—Thanks awfully for your letter,
which reached me at Halifax just before we sailed.
So you and your wife are settled in a town house
for the season, and here am I sweltering under
a South African sun in all the honour of regulation khaki, amidst the dusty horrors of this hot
campaign.
4 When poor old Cardew was knocked out with
enteric fever at Cape Town I was appointed second
lieutenant of our troop, a piece of good luck I hardly
dared to hope for so soon. We are with Buller's
column now, near Standerton, and the regulars seem
no end glad to have us here, for the men of Strath-
cona's Horse can stand up with the best of them, 4C even
though I say it as shouldn't." We have had a fairly
quiet week of it, but are under orders to march south
at dawn to-morrow, where it is reported that the
Boers have gathered in strong numbers, and things
are rather more than likely to end in an engagement.
41 have a foreboding to-night that the end is near for WHY NOT SWEETHEART
There is no knowing how or why such an idea
comes to one, but I have got it sure enough. And I
am homesick, too, for old friends—not places. That
is the worst kind. It makes an idiot of a fellow. If
things should go against me in the field to-morrow,
old chap, will you—'
Here the letter broke off abruptly, and Jack quickly
took up the other note and read :—
: June
1900.
J. H. Maclyn, Esq.
4 Dear Sir,—I beg to send you the accompanying
letter from Lieutenant Santashe, Troop D., Strath-
cona's Horse, in accordance with his last request, also
the enclosed packet which he desired should be forwarded to you intact. You will therefore excuse the
blood-stained wrapper, for the packet was in young
Santashe's breast-pocket when he was shot yesterday
through the left lung, while leading his men in one
of the most brilliant and courageous charges that has
been made during this war. Santashe died at daybreak this morning. The whole regiment mourns
his loss. He was a brave soldier and a44white"
man.—Yours truly, Phillip Ramsey,
4 Captain?
As Jack finished reading his head dropped forward
upon his hands. He was stunned by the shock of
this sad and unexpected news, as through some
mischance he had never seen the cable despatch
relating to Tony's death.    Naomi entering the room
Hi EIGHT MONTHS AFTER 245
a little later found him still in this attitude, and
coming behind his chair, she bent over and gently
kissed his forehead.
4 What is the matter, dear ?' she questioned
anxiously.
For reply he handed to her the two letters.
Slowly the girl read them through with quivering
lips and tear-dimmed eyes, and then opening the
packet she drew out a small bunch of dead anemones,
whose dry petals had been dyed with the life-blood of
the gallant young Canadian soldier.
4 They are the flowers I put in his buttonhole that
day in Rossland when he saved me from Professor
Panhandle,' she said brokenly. 4 Poor, poor Tony !
Here are some lines written inside the paper they are
folded in. Why, they are the words of that little song
I used to sing so often last summer ! He was very
fond of it, I remember.' In a voice choked with
emotion she read them over.
* The hours I spent with thee, dear heart,
Are as a string of pearls to me,
I count them over every one apart,
My rosary, my rosary.
Each hour a pearl, each pearl a prayer,
To still a heart in absence wrung
I tell each bead unto the end,
And there a cross is hung !
0 memories that bless and burn !
O barren gain and bitter loss !
1 kiss each bead and strive at last to learn
To kiss the cross, sweetheart! to kiss the cross.*
4 Plucky lad,' said Maclyn, and his face was pale
and stern from sorrow. 246 WHY NOT SWEETHEART
4 He has kissed the cross, and died facing the enemy
like a true soldier of the Queen,' whispered Naomi,
brokenly, as she nestled in the embrace of her
husband's sheltering arms.
4 He has, my sweetheart; and the blood spilt by
that brave man of Strathcona's Horse will help to
keep Canada for ever green in the heart of the British
Empire.'
THE   END
Colston &* Coy. Limited, Prin
, Edinburgh IL  l|ristram
• ill
Blent
By
ANTHONY
tfOPE-
Authorlof <4 Simon Dal^?l^'^fiis0$er of 'Z'end$ii?$_:
Tlope has made ax|»ti&€^^vance in his ^rt.-
11 $jiis h ovel h^^a^;$&$|r|i|:^e||in^^bi^'1 j^ tj^
| more ne#B; alli^8c^^^^{e^lS^^ ifi^** his
later ^rfe" '$%&%^^^W^^feren5^}^^t^e^'
| tra^itionaf^^s^ of a)^^iie0||:;
?\^$\.ffj$ye, opp|^tfr|^tl^^0^y-some £h|pm§;$0
-V| -studiegtiop^^ evident in his
■political novel that precJo^^tKj&'4^art yti^^fpf^meaiarp^cP
I eave the^ highly popular field!^^I^^I^^Aj^^ahce 4^J\yhich
jie had been wooing/, and^:d®|^lng;''hi^fK|^OTe Broader
Ijitudy of humanity. /|^; Tristram ^^fe>t^sfe^;i^5 made an
|intirely successr^t^ansit|<yf. WSm
Cloth, $1.50 j'^aper, 75c.
peorge N. Moipi| CSi\^^f; Limited
Toronto,   Oni^ 

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