« IndietroContinua »
" I think not. I believe he has never “So much greater the necessity for been on the river much,” replied Rich- denying it. A falsehood dies easily; ard.
the truth is what gives you lawyers the “Did he know any one here before he most trouble." came?" she asked.
“But he might say that I am " I don't think he did. But it seems gaged." to me that you are much interested in Oh, yes; he might, of course," said
Miss Plumb, biting her lip. “Deeply, I assure you,” she replied, “Well, I assure you, he might," said as if a great weight had been taken from Richard, with emphasis. her mind. “ You cannot think how Miss Plumb looked at him steadily, very interesting such inquiries are to in silence. me. I intend to ask the Doctor twenty “He may even be so absurd as to say times more questions about you; noth- that I ran away from a wife down ing shall escape me.
And he is so
east." graphic in his descriptions ! Just im- “ That,” said she, “I shall deny, in agine how he will embellish and enlarge the first place; and, in the second place, on the original.”
if he proves it to be true, I shall show “Peppered with a slight flavor of that you did it out of motives of pure jealousy,” said Richard.
benevolence; because you were not able “ Not so slight, either," she replied. to support her.”
“I hope he will not be splenetic," said “I congratulate myself on having Richard ; “ for such men are terrible. secured an advocate who is so ingenious; My respect for your ability is so great and I wish all men in the world could that I want to retain you in my de- have such good luck. By-the-way," he fence.”
said, after hesitating a little-for this “Very well, I will act," said she. was the question he had come so far to
“ You are not engaged, then--on the ask—“can you tell me what Colonel other side ?"
Seabray has ever done, that Chinny “Not by any means. I am the cham- should have such an influence over pion of youth and innocence. Consider bim?"
as engaged for yourself, exclu- "I cannot," she replied. sively.”
“I wanted to know,” said Richard, “But, then, you may be jesting,” said “ because I overheard a conversation Richard.
between them last night. Chinny said, “Here's my pledge of honor,” said in retorting to some cutting remark of she, pulling off her driving-glove, and the Colonel's, that he, Chinny, wouldn't holding out her hand, with a roguish throw stones if he lived in a glass-house, twinkle in her eyes.
and had all his property mortgaged, “ It's good enough to put into mar- and a scar on his arm." ble, too, isn't it?” said Richard, look- " What a rascal he is !” said Miss ing down at it as he would have looked Plumb, grasping the lines tightly, and at a beautiful flower.
stopping the horse.
“I congratulate “You do not accept mc as counsel,” you that this fellow has no mortgage on said she, with a deprecating pout, as your property.” she put on her glove again.
“Do you think he would annoy me, “ Well,” he replied, hesitating, “I if he had ?” asked Richard, with illdon't think you fully understand the concealed chagrin. case. Suppose he should tell an absurd “I think he would destroy you," said story about me: what would you do ?” she, “ if he had the power.”
“Deny it, of course, in regular lawyer “I expect,” said Richard, jumping style."
out into the grass, " that my breakfast “But it might have some foundation," must be ready. A pleasant journey, my he replied.
“But you will come out and see us concluded that it would not pay, besoon?" she said.
cause his property wasn't of much acHe nodded and smiled as she drove count, and he couldn't exactly make up off.
his mind who to leave it to. It was all clear to her now. Colonel Men came to Richard who wanted Seabray shot Meech, and Chinny knew some legal application to warm up a it. This was the power he held over man's benevolence—or subdue his avathe Colonel. Mary knew nothing about rice-or excite filial affection—or thrill it. But how to keep the knowledge of a torpid conscience. As they could not this secret from her, and foil Chinny, get what they wanted, Richard could puzzled Miss Plumb until she reached not get what he wanted-money. The the leafy precincts of Plumb's Wood. disappointed men generally left the
office, with the cutting remark that they
thought common law was common
RICHARD walked back to New Bolton, But no one paid him for advice. So that morning, in an unpleasant state of Richard found his pocket-book growing mind. There was one being in all the light. world that he had not been true to- Having plenty of leisure, he wrote to one who looked to him, and depended his friends, and, among others, Miss on his strength for support. That being Plumb and Doctor Blodgett. This was was Richard French himself.
unfortunate, because the Doctor was He was weak enough to suppose that very jealous. He had heard too much Miss Plumb might be in love with him of Richard already from Miss Plumb. —that she would take his jesting as a They were talking about him when the serious proposal. For this reason he tri-weekly U. S. Mail rode up to the had intimated that he was engaged to door on a pony's back, and the carrier some one at the East. The more he delivered the letters. thought of this the worse it seemed to “He seems so devoted to Mary," said him. He was afraid that Mary Seabray Miss Plumb, looking over at the Docwould hear of it, and think he had been tor. guilty of double-dealing.
"He's a fool! that's all about him," For this reason he called on her that the Doctor replied. evening, to make an explanation. But “Please be careful; for I am retained all his fears and doubts disappeared in as counsel in his defence." the presence of her effulgent beauty. “ You ?” said the Doctor, looking at
It is a marvel how any man restrains her sharply. himself from offering his hand to the “ Yes." first really beautiful woman who will Well, I must say you have a poor have him. Therefore, it is no marvel client, and poor cause--totally indefenthat Richard was so in love with Mary. sible. He has no business to be devoted He was very happy in her presence, and to Mary Seabray-nor any one else,” in a wilderness of doubts and fears when said he, directing the last words emalone. At such times trifles grew into phatically at his listener. mountains; while Mary spent most of “Why, if you really think so, Doctor, her waking, and all of her sleeping- I had better write Mary." hours, in a vast Switzerland of these “ You had better write her at once, on mountains—the haunting giant thereof some good, honest fool's-cap paper, in being Chinny.
a large round hand. It seems as if Meantime, Richard did not find much every girl became crazy the moment the business, though people were kindly boarding-school door is shut behind disposed. Old Bob was very friendly. her, and especially mad on the subject He had “some idea of havin' his will of lawyers. They'll snap at one of these drawed,” he said; but he afterwards legal cubs quicker than a pike will snap
at a silver spoon. These young sprigs “I'll go down and wring his neck," are just boobies enough to be flattered said the Colonel. “He's nothing but 2 by it, too; and the next thing they little fly-up-the-creek; and he don't know, there's a family to support, and care a fig for you-he's incapable of it the generous juices, that might have -hasn't the taste to appreciate you;" ripened them into fully-developed men,
and the Colonel would not listen to any become dried up; they turn prematurely explanation, but hurried down to the gray, sallow-faced, husky-voiced, and hotel, with his heart full of wrath. narrow-minded. They are picked too “What seems to be the matter, Cogreen. They spoil, like wind-fall ap- lonel ?" asked Chinny, going up to ples, put into the cellar early, becoming him. wrinkled and worthless. A good law- “I'm going to cashier Mr. French," yer, who is, also, a thoroughly-ripened, said the Colonel. plump, mellow-hearted man, is hard to “I don't understand what you're find."
drivin' at," Chinny replied. “ Shall I tell her what you say ?” “Well, I do," said the Colonel, writasked Miss Plumb.
ing a note. “ There, sir; now I want * Tell her any thing you please," re- a boy to carry this up." plied the Doctor. "I guess the truth “ Tain't a challenge, is it ? ” asked won't hurt her much. Tell her to come Chinny. out here and fish. That's the best thing “Read it,” replied the Colonel, handshe can do to take the boarding-school ing it to him. and Chicago nonsense out of her head." Chinny read: "I will warn her of her danger," said
“ MR. RICHARD FRENCH: Your presMiss Plumb; and she wrote a long let
ence at my house, hereafter, will be very ter, containing the substance of what the Doctor had said, with a highly- disagreeable to my daughter Mary, and colored account of the ride and conver
particularly so to
“ Your obedient servant, sation on the prairie. She closed by
“A. SEABRAT." advising Mary, by all means, not to arouse Chinny's jealousy, and, if she “Look a-here, Colonel !” said Chincould do so, to show him a little more ny, wait a little while ; for I've had 3 attention. Miss Plumb thought that if gad toughenin' in the ashes, a week or Chinny got jealous, he might precipi- two, for this French. Jest let me send tate matters, and defeat all her plans. it up ahead o' your letter;" and he hur
Her letter affected Mary seriously. ried out of the office. On reading it, the tears came, in spite Richard was wearing away the afterof her efforts to suppress them; then she noon, pacing his office, when he saw a crumpled the letter in her hand; then man approaching, whom he recognized straightened it out, and re-read it slow- as Duke, a coarse fellow, who hung ly, and declared, throwing it down, that about New Bolton, and furnished aftithere was no such thing as true friend- davits, for such as wanted them, in pership; furthermore, and generally, that fecting titles to their lands. He was a there was no woman alive who would heavy, sullen-looking man, with coarse, not rob her best friend of a lover, if she black hair on the backs of his big hands, could: then she fairly cried; and in this and his normal condition was a soggy condition the Colonel found her.
state of quarrelsome drunkenness. IIe “ What's the matter ?” he asked. was an old settler, and claimed special
She didn't know, exactly; “every privileges on that account, as old setthing, almost.”
tlers sometimes do, it is said. “ Is it any thing about Chinny ?” “I understand you don't like my “ Not much."
style,” said Duke, as he came stagger" About French ?"
ing through the door-way, and dropped “ Yes; a great deal.”
himself heavily into a chair.
“I must give you the credit of having That would be the right man in the a good understanding on that point," right place. You will oblige me by
' said Richard; “for I do not like your vacating that chair. I believe these are style."
unencumbered personal property ;” and, “ That's a pity, and I'm sorry about taking a chair in each hand, Richard it; for you must be a judge of style," walked out of the office, and smashed he replied, lurching heavily in his chair. them to pieces on a tree, leaving Duke “ Ain't I an old settler ? Didn't I make stupidly staring out of the window. the affidavits that this town is laid out About half-way to the hotel he met a on, and never got any pay for it, either? boy with the Colonel's note. I've swore to more land than you ever Richard looked surprised, and turned see, my frien'. My affidavits would
very pale when he read it; then hurried shingle Tophet more'n a mile, if ever on to the hotel. you could find a hole in 'em to put “Let me have an Indian pony, landyour shingle-nails through—which you lord,” said he; "and I want to know couldn't. They are tight enough to what you'll charge for horse, saddle, hold water, my frien?—they are. Never and bridle, if I never return them." any lawyer could get the pint of his “If you pay in cats and dogs and diamon’-pinted pen through 'em, either. corner-lots, I charge two hundred and I guess that's pretty tight, ain't it? I fifty dollars, and don't want to sell,” he do a Jand-office business, when I set replied; "but if it's cash down, I'll down to it."
throw off two hundred, seein' it's you." “Well, I hope you will never sit down “ Bring him out.” to it in my office," said Richard.
* You ain't goin' off fur to-night, I Your'n! Now, that is good,” said hope ? ” Duke. “It's my office,” he continued,
“ Yes." spitting on the floor, by way of taking “ But it'll rain." possession, and standing up to shake " It looks like it,” replied Richard. his tist. “I've bought this land, my “But I tell you it'll blow, and thunfrien’; and I give you notice to quit, der, and lighten like everlastin' blazes, which I can put in writing, if you out on the prairie to-night.” want."
I shan't hinder it." “I'd like to see your deed,” said Rich- “But it may hender you," said the ard.
landlord. “You see, there ain't nothin' “ Here you are," he replied, pulling for lightnin' to strike out on these them out, with a plug of tobacco. cussed bare prairies; and it'll jest be “Kingman to Chinny-Chinny to Duke; high fun for it to find you out there on value received—two witnesses—duly ac- a horse. The streaks of lightnin' 'll go knowledged, and all right for that. In for you from twenty miles 'round. I the next place, before you leave, I'd like was out, one time, before I knew much to have you pay me this little mortgage about prairie-storms; and I thought they on your books. It's mine, this mortgage was orderin' things along pretty fast; so is. I bought it off of my frien’ Chinny; I stopped, and I hadn't more'n just and if you can't pay, why, I'll have slipped off my horse, when a big streak to take the books. It'll save you the come along, and knocked him more'n trouble of movin' 'em, if I do; so you forty rod. I tell you, it smelt brimsave something, don't you? Now, what stunny 'round there fur a minit or two! do you think of my style, my frien'?" and wben I come to look in the grass and he went down, heavily, into his for my nag, there wasn't enough of him chair again.
left to bait a fox-trap." “I can think of nothing that would By this time he had buckled on the improve you or your style,” said Rich- saddle; and Richard rode up to the ard, “except a halter, unless your friend house, where he stuffed the pockets with Chinny had his neck in the same noose. such clothing as he could get into them.
Five minutes after he was out on the with incense from wild flowers, with prairie, leaning against a strong wind. sunshine, and dripping leaves, and birds
A black wall stretched across the west- songs, than this morning in Plumb's ern horizon, while overhead, along the Wood ? Surely, here, too, was a daughedges of the clouds, were long, grayish ter born of Chaos and old Night. wind-rows, writhing and changing, as A silvery haze lay like a fairy island the storm rolled swiftly along. The pony on the lake; and above the misty pilwas wiser than his master. He sniffed lar that hung over the waterfall, some the moist air, looking with wild eyes small white gulls, with long, tapering at the ominous sky, and would have wings, were wbirling and diving in the wheeled about, had not Richard reso- first
rays of the morning-sun. lutely urged him on. The thunder in- The cottage-door was open, and the creased, and the wind rose to a gale. boat gone; but out of the silvery haze
“Now, let us be friends to-night," floated a song, that lingered in the coves said Richard, patting the pony's neck. and around the wooded points, as it
. The little horse lowered his head, as if has lingered and echoed in Richard's he understood what was wanted of memory so many times since : him; and, striking into a strong, steady,
“Or musio pours on mortals all-night gait, moved out to the storm
Its beautiful disdain," like a soldier to battle. It was a solid said he slowly, as his eyes filled with wall of water now, or seemed so in the tears. Then came the sound of oars, gloom. Sometimes the thunder ap- keeping time, and the singer sang on peared to crack the black walls from till her boat grazed the shore. heaven to earth, and the blinding white- “Did you drop from the clouds ?" heat of the fire beyond shone through she asked, with a pitying, perplexed the zigzag fissures. Then sheets of flame look at his forlorn appearance. blazed overhead, and the great waste, “Out of the clouds into the sunshine," with its frothy pools, and tangled he replied. swaths of dripping grass, leaped up “ You were overtaken by the storm, with dazzling distinctness, and sank and lost your way ? .” into the abyss again.
“Swallowed by it and thrown out, " Where does all this water come like Jonah,” he replicd. • Where is the from ? ” said Richard, dropping the Doctor ?" reins on the pony's neck. “ It must be “Hunting with father ; but he will Globe City, travelling down overland, return to-day. You need breakfast and to find its founders," he continued.
rest." Then he broke into shouts of laughter, “ How good and womanly she looks," thinking of the Doctor's encounter with said Richard, as his eyes followed her Chinny. He was silent again for miles, into the house. Her sympathy had till, from the regular tramp, tramp, of touched his heart. At any other time his pony, he knew that he must be on a he would have believed that to love this beaten trail.
young Eve, and live with her there in " Into each life some rain must fall,” the sylvan paradise, was the right thing said the bareheaded horseman, grimly, to do. as he rode, at last, out of the rosy east The very birds seemed to believe it, toward Plumb's Wood. He pulled up and peered down from the leafy brackhis pony, to watch a fawn that came ets and knotty cornices of Plumb's great shyly out and looked at him with great, front-room, and chirped approval. The wondering eyes. Prairie-chickens whir- sandpiper nodded “yes," as it ran red over his head, leaving their cover, along the margin of the lake. now that the storm had passed, and was Richard tried in vain to eat the deli. muttering low down and far away in cate broiled fish—so fresh and flakythe eastern horizon.
and was glad to get into the little chamWere the first days in Eden sweeter, ber overlooking the lake, and find his