The Blazed Trail
Stewart Edward White
Part 5 out of 7
acquitted her of all fault, except as to the deadly one of
misreading and misunderstanding. The fact argued not a perversion
but a lack in her character. She was other than he had thought her.
As for himself, he had schemed, worked, lived only for her. He had
come to her from the battle expecting rest and refreshment. To the
world he had shown the hard, unyielding front of the unemotional;
he had looked ever keenly outward; he had braced his muscles in the
constant tension of endeavor. So much the more reason why, in the
hearts of the few he loved, he, the man of action, should find
repose; the man of sternness, should discover that absolute peace
of the spirit in which not the slightest motion of the will is
necessary, the man of repression should be permitted affectionate,
care-free expansion of the natural affection, of the full sympathy
which will understand and not mistake for weakness. Instead of this,
he was forced into refusing where he would rather have given; into
denying where he would rather have assented; and finally into
commanding where he longed most ardently to lay aside the cloak of
authority. His motives were misread; his intentions misjudged; his
But worst of all, Thorpe's mind could see no possibility of an
explanation. If she could not see of her own accord how much he
loved her, surely it was a hopeless task to attempt an explanation
through mere words. If, after all, she was capable of misconceiving
the entire set of his motives during the past two years, expostulation
would be futile. In his thoughts of her he fell into a great
spiritual dumbness. Never, even in his moments of most theoretical
imaginings, did he see himself setting before her fully and calmly
the hopes and ambitions of which she had been the mainspring. And
before a reconciliation, many such rehearsals must take place in the
secret recesses of a man's being.
Thorpe did not cry out, nor confide in a friend, nor do anything
even so mild as pacing the floor. The only outward and visible sign
a close observer might have noted was a certain dumb pain lurking in
the depths of his eyes like those of a wounded spaniel. He was hurt,
but did not understand. He suffered in silence, but without anger.
This is at once the noblest and the most pathetic of human suffering.
At first the spring of his life seemed broken. He did not care for
money; and at present disappointment had numbed his interest in the
game. It seemed hardly worth the candle.
Then in a few days, after his thoughts had ceased to dwell constantly
on the one subject, he began to look about him mentally. Beneath his
other interests he still felt constantly a dull ache, something
unpleasant, uncomfortable. Strangely enough it was almost identical
in quality with the uneasiness that always underlay his surface-
thoughts when he was worried about some detail of his business.
Unconsciously,--again as in his business,--the combative instinct
aroused. In lack of other object on which to expend itself, Thorpe's
fighting spirit turned with energy to the subject of the lawsuit.
Under the unwonted stress of the psychological condition just
described, he thought at white heat. His ideas were clear, and
followed each other quickly, almost feverishly.
After his sister left the Renwicks, Thorpe himself went to Detroit,
where he interviewed at once Northrop, the brilliant young lawyer
whom the firm had engaged to defend its case.
"I'm afraid we have no show," he replied to Thorpe's question.
"You see, you fellows were on the wrong side of the fence in trying
to enforce the law yourselves. Of course you may well say that
justice was all on your side. That does not count. The only
recourse recognized for injustice lies in the law courts. I'm
afraid you are due to lose your case."
"Well," said Thorpe, "they can't prove much damage."
"I don't expect that they will be able to procure a very heavy
judgment," replied Northrop. "The facts I shall be able to adduce
will cut down damages. But the costs will be very heavy."
"Yes," agreed Thorpe.
"And," then pursued Northrop with a dry smile, "they practically own
Sherman. You may be in for contempt of court at their instigation.
As I understand it, they are trying rather to injure you than to
get anything out of it themselves."
"That's it," nodded Thorpe.
"In other words, it's a case for compromise."
"Just what I wanted to get at," said Thorpe with satisfaction.
"Now answer me a question. Suppose a man injures Government or
State land by trespass. The land is afterwards bought by another
party. Has the latter any claim for damage against the trespasser?
Understand me, the purchaser bought AFTER the trespass was committed."
"Certainly," answered Northrop without hesitation.
"Provided suit is brought within six years of the time the trespass
"Good! Now see here. These M. & D. people stole about a section of
Government pine up on that river, and I don't believe they've ever
bought in the land it stood on. In fact I don't believe they
suspect that anyone knows they've been stealing. How would it do,
if I were to buy that section at the Land Office, and threaten to
sue them for the value of the pine that originally stood on it?"
The lawyer's eyes glimmered behind the lenses of his pince-nez;
but, with the caution of the professional man he made no other
sign of satisfaction.
"It would do very well indeed," he replied, "but you'd have to
prove they did the cutting, and you'll have to pay experts to
estimate the probable amount of the timber. Have you the
description of the section?"
"No," responded Thorpe, "but I can get it; and I can pick up
witnesses from the woodsmen as to the cutting."
"The more the better. It is rather easy to discredit the testimony
of one or two. How much, on a broad guess, would you estimate the
timber to come to?"
"There ought to be about eight or ten million," guessed Thorpe
after an instant's silence, "worth in the stump anywhere from
sixteen to twenty thousand dollars. It would cost me only eight
hundred to buy it."
"Do so, by all means. Get your documents and evidence all in shape,
and let me have them. I'll see that the suit is discontinued then.
Will you sue them?"
"No, I think not," replied Thorpe. "I'll just hold it back as a
sort of club to keep them in line."
The next day, he took the train north. He had something definite
and urgent to do, and, as always with practical affairs demanding
attention and resource, he threw himself whole-souled into the
accomplishment of it. By the time he had bought the sixteen forties
constituting the section, searched out a dozen witnesses to the
theft, and spent a week with the Marquette expert in looking over
the ground, he had fallen into the swing of work again. His
experience still ached; but dully.
Only now he possessed no interests outside of those in the new
country; no affections save the half-protecting, good-natured
comradeship with Wallace, the mutual self-reliant respect that
subsisted between Tim Shearer and himself, and the dumb,
unreasoning dog-liking he shared with Injin Charley. His eye
became clearer and steadier; his methods more simple and direct.
The taciturnity of his mood redoubled in thickness. He was less
charitable to failure on the part of subordinates. And the new
firm on the Ossawinamakee prospered.
Five years passed.
In that time Thorpe had succeeded in cutting a hundred million feet
of pine. The money received for this had all been turned back into
the Company's funds. From a single camp of twenty-five men with
ten horses and a short haul of half a mile, the concern had
increased to six large, well-equipped communities of eighty to a
hundred men apiece, using nearly two hundred horses, and hauling
as far as eight or nine miles.
Near the port stood a mammoth sawmill capable of taking care of
twenty-two million feet a year, about which a lumber town had
sprung up. Lake schooners lay in a long row during the summer
months, while busy loaders passed the planks from one to the other
into the deep holds. Besides its original holding, the company had
acquired about a hundred and fifty million more, back near the
headwaters of tributaries to the Ossawinamakee. In the spring and
early summer months, the drive was a wonderful affair.
During the four years in which the Morrison & Daly Company shared
the stream with Thorpe, the two firms lived in complete amity and
understanding. Northrop had played his cards skillfully. The older
capitalists had withdrawn suit. Afterwards they kept scrupulously
within their rights, and saw to it that no more careless openings
were left for Thorpe's shrewdness. They were keen enough business
men, but had made the mistake, common enough to established power,
of underrating the strength of an apparently insignificant opponent.
Once they understood Thorpe's capacity, that young man had no more
chance to catch them napping.
And as the younger man, on his side, never attempted to overstep
his own rights, the interests of the rival firms rarely clashed. As
to the few disputes that did arise, Thorpe found Mr. Daly singularly
anxious to please. In the desire was no friendliness, however.
Thorpe was watchful for treachery, and could hardly believe the
affair finished when at the end of the fourth year the M. & D.
sold out the remainder of its pine to a firm from Manistee, and
transferred its operations to another stream a few miles east,
where it had acquired more considerable holdings.
"They're altogether too confounded anxious to help us on that
freight, Wallace," said Thorpe wrinkling his brow uneasily. "I
don't like it. It isn't natural."
"No," laughed Wallace, "neither is it natural for a dog to draw a
sledge. But he does it--when he has to. They're afraid of you,
Harry: that's all."
Thorpe shook his head, but had to acknowledge that he could
evidence no grounds for his mistrust.
The conversation took place at Camp One, which was celebrated in
three states. Thorpe had set out to gather around him a band of
good woodsmen. Except on a pinch he would employ no others.
"I don't care if I get in only two thousand feet this winter, and
if a boy does that," he answered Shearer's expostulations, "it's
got to be a good boy."
The result of his policy began to show even in the second year.
Men were a little proud to say that they had put in a winter at
"Thorpe's One." Those who had worked there during the first year
were loyally enthusiastic over their boss's grit and resourcefulness,
their camp's order, their cook's good "grub." As they were
authorities, others perforce had to accept the dictum. There grew
a desire among the better class to see what Thorpe's "One" might be
like. In the autumn Harry had more applicants than he knew what to
do with. Eighteen of the old men returned. He took them all, but
when it came to distribution, three found themselves assigned to
one or the other of the new camps. And quietly the rumor gained
that these three had shown the least willing spirit during the
previous winter. The other fifteen were sobered to the industry
which their importance as veterans might have impaired.
Tim Shearer was foreman of Camp One; Scotty Parsons was drafted
from the veterans to take charge of Two; Thorpe engaged two men
known to Tim to boss Three and Four. But in selecting the "push"
for Five he displayed most strikingly his keen appreciation of a
man's relation to his environment. He sought out John Radway and
induced him to accept the commission.
"You can do it, John," said he, "and I know it. I want you to
try; and if you don't make her go, I'll call it nobody's fault
but my own."
"I don't see how you dare risk it, after that Cass Branch deal,
Mr. Thorpe," replied Radway, almost brokenly. "But I would like
to tackle it, I'm dead sick of loafing. Sometimes it seems like
I'd die, if I don't get out in the woods again."
"We'll call it a deal, then," answered Thorpe.
The result proved his sagacity. Radway was one of the best foremen
in the outfit. He got more out of his men, he rose better to
emergencies, and he accomplished more with the same resources than
any of the others, excepting Tim Shearer. As long as the work was
done for someone else, he was capable and efficient. Only when he
was called upon to demand on his own account, did the paralyzing
shyness affect him.
But the one feature that did more to attract the very best element
among woodsmen, and so make possible the practice of Thorpe's theory
of success, was Camp One. The men's accommodations at the other
five were no different and but little better than those in a
thousand other typical lumber camps of both peninsulas. They slept
in box-like bunks filled with hay or straw over which blankets were
spread; they sat on a narrow hard bench or on the floor; they read
by the dim light of a lamp fastened against the big cross beam;
they warmed themselves at a huge iron stove in the center of the
room around which suspended wires and poles offered space for the
drying of socks; they washed their clothes when the mood struck them.
It was warm and comparatively clean. But it was dark, without
The lumber-jack never expects anything different. In fact, if he
were pampered to the extent of ordinary comforts, he would be apt
at once to conclude himself indispensable; whereupon he would
Thorpe, however, spent a little money--not much--and transformed
Camp One. Every bunk was provided with a tick, which the men could
fill with hay, balsam, or hemlock, as suited them. Cheap but
attractive curtains on wires at once brightened the room and shut
each man's "bedroom" from the main hall. The deacon seat remained
but was supplemented by a half-dozen simple and comfortable chairs.
In the center of the room stood a big round table over which glowed
two hanging lamps. The table was littered with papers and magazines.
Home life was still further suggested by a canary bird in a gilt cage,
a sleepy cat, and two pots of red geraniums. Thorpe had further
imported a washerwoman who dwelt in a separate little cabin under
the hill. She washed the men's belongings at twenty-five cents a
week, which amount Thorpe deducted from each man's wages, whether he
had the washing done or not. This encouraged cleanliness. Phil
scrubbed out every day, while the men were in the woods.
Such was Thorpe's famous Camp One in the days of its splendor. Old
woodsmen will still tell you about it, with a longing reminiscent
glimmer in the corners of their eyes as they recall its glories and
the men who worked in it. To have "put in" a winter in Camp One
was the mark of a master; and the ambition of every raw recruit to
the forest. Probably Thorpe's name is remembered to-day more on
account of the intrepid, skillful, loyal men his strange genius
gathered about it, than for the herculean feat of having carved a
great fortune from the wilderness in but five years' time.
But Camp One was a privilege. A man entered it only after having
proved himself; he remained in it only as long as his efficiency
deserved the honor. Its members were invariably recruited from one
of the other four camps; never from applicants who had not been in
Thorpe's employ. A raw man was sent to Scotty, or Jack Hyland, or
Radway, or Kerlie. There he was given a job, if he happened to
suit, and men were needed. By and by, perhaps, when a member of
Camp One fell sick or was given his time, Tim Shearer would send
word to one of the other five that he needed an axman or a sawyer,
or a loader, or teamster, as the case might be. The best man in
the other camps was sent up.
So Shearer was foreman of a picked crew. Probably no finer body of
men was ever gathered at one camp. In them one could study at his
best the American pioneer. It was said at that time that you had
never seen logging done as it should be until you had visited
Thorpe's Camp One on the Ossawinamakee.
Of these men Thorpe demanded one thing--success. He tried never to
ask of them anything he did not believe to be thoroughly possible;
but he expected always that in some manner, by hook or crook, they
would carry the affair through. No matter how good the excuse, it
was never accepted. Accidents would happen, there as elsewhere; a
way to arrive in spite of them always exists, if only a man is
willing to use his wits, unflagging energy, and time. Bad luck is
a reality; but much of what is called bad luck is nothing but a want
of careful foresight, and Thorpe could better afford to be harsh
occasionally to the genuine for the sake of eliminating the false.
If a man failed, he left Camp One.
The procedure was very simple. Thorpe never explained his reasons
even to Shearer.
"Ask Tom to step in a moment," he requested of the latter.
"Tom," he said to that individual, "I think I can use you better
at Four. Report to Kerlie there."
And strangely enough, few even of these proud and independent men
ever asked for their time, or preferred to quit rather than to work
up again to the glories of their prize camp.
For while new recruits were never accepted at Camp One, neither was
a man ever discharged there. He was merely transferred to one of
the other foremen.
It is necessary to be thus minute in order that the reader may
understand exactly the class of men Thorpe had about his immediate
person. Some of them had the reputation of being the hardest
citizens in three States, others were mild as turtle doves. They
were all pioneers. They had the independence, the unabashed eye,
the insubordination even, of the man who has drawn his intellectual
and moral nourishment at the breast of a wild nature. They were
afraid of nothing alive. From no one, were he chore-boy or
president, would they take a single word--with the exception always
of Tim Shearer and Thorpe.
The former they respected because in their picturesque guild he
was a master craftsman. The latter they adored and quoted and
fought for in distant saloons, because he represented to them their
own ideal, what they would be if freed from the heavy gyves of vice
and executive incapacity that weighed them down.
And they were loyal. It was a point of honor with them to stay
"until the last dog was hung." He who deserted in the hour of
need was not only a renegade, but a fool. For he thus earned a
magnificent licking if ever he ran up against a member of the
"Fighting Forty." A band of soldiers they were, ready to attempt
anything their commander ordered, devoted, enthusiastically admiring.
And, it must be confessed, they were also somewhat on the order of
a band of pirates. Marquette thought so each spring after the
drive, when, hat-tilted, they surged swearing and shouting down
to Denny Hogan's saloon. Denny had to buy new fixtures when they
went away; but it was worth it.
Proud! it was no name for it. Boast! the fame of Camp One spread
abroad over the land, and was believed in to about twenty per cent
of the anecdotes detailed of it--which was near enough the actual
truth. Anecdotes disbelieved, the class of men from it would have
given it a reputation. The latter was varied enough, in truth.
Some people thought Camp One must be a sort of hell-hole of roaring,
fighting devils. Others sighed and made rapid calculations of the
number of logs they could put in, if only they could get hold of
help like that.
Thorpe himself, of course, made his headquarters at Camp One.
Thence he visited at least once a week all the other camps,
inspecting the minutest details, not only of the work, but of
the everyday life. For this purpose he maintained a light box
sleigh and pair of bays, though often, when the snow became deep,
he was forced to snowshoes.
During the five years he had never crossed the Straits of Mackinaw.
The rupture with his sister had made repugnant to him all the
southern country. He preferred to remain in the woods. All winter
long he was more than busy at his logging. Summers he spent at the
mill. Occasionally he visited Marquette, but always on business.
He became used to seeing only the rough faces of men. The vision of
softer graces and beauties lost its distinctness before this strong,
hardy northland, whose gentler moods were like velvet over iron, or
like its own summer leaves veiling the eternal darkness of the pines.
He was happy because he was too busy to be anything else. The
insistent need of success which he had created for himself, absorbed
all other sentiments. He demanded it of others rigorously. He
could do no less than demand it of himself. It had practically
become one of his tenets of belief. The chief end of any man, as
he saw it, was to do well and successfully what his life found ready.
Anything to further this fore-ordained activity was good; anything
else was bad. These thoughts, aided by a disposition naturally
fervent and single in purpose, hereditarily ascetic and conscientious
--for his mother was of old New England stock--gave to him in the
course of six years' striving a sort of daily and familiar religion
to which he conformed his life.
Success, success, success. Nothing could be of more importance.
Its attainment argued a man's efficiency in the Scheme of Things,
his worthy fulfillment of the end for which a divine Providence had
placed him on earth. Anything that interfered with it--personal
comfort, inclination, affection, desire, love of ease, individual
Luckily for Thorpe's peace of mind, his habit of looking on men as
things helped him keep to this attitude of mind. His lumbermen were
tools,--good, sharp, efficient tools, to be sure, but only because he
had made them so. Their loyalty aroused in his breast no pride nor
gratitude. He expected loyalty. He would have discharged at once
a man who did not show it. The same with zeal, intelligence, effort
--they were the things he took for granted. As for the admiration
and affection which the Fighting Forty displayed for him personally,
he gave not a thought to it. And the men knew it, and loved him the
more from the fact.
Thorpe cared for just three people, and none of them happened to
clash with his machine. They were Wallace Carpenter, little Phil,
and Injin Charley.
Wallace, for reasons already explained at length, was always
personally agreeable to Thorpe. Latterly, since the erection of
the mill, he had developed unexpected acumen in the disposal of the
season's cut to wholesale dealers in Chicago. Nothing could have
been better for the firm. Thereafter he was often in the woods,
both for pleasure and to get his partner's ideas on what the firm
would have to offer. The entire responsibility at the city end of
the business was in his hands.
Injin Charley continued to hunt and trap in the country round about.
Between him and Thorpe had grown a friendship the more solid in that
its increase had been mysteriously without outward cause. Once or
twice a month the lumberman would snowshoe down to the little cabin
at the forks. Entering, he would nod briefly and seat himself on a
"How do, Charley," said he.
"How do," replied Charley.
They filled pipes and smoked. At rare intervals one of them made a
"Catch um three beaver las' week," remarked Charley.
"Good haul," commented Thorpe.
"I saw a mink track by the big boulder," offered Thorpe.
"H'm!" responded Charley in a long-drawn falsetto whine.
Yet somehow the men came to know each other better and better; and
each felt that in an emergency he could depend on the other to the
uttermost in spite of the difference in race.
As for Phil, he was like some strange, shy animal, retaining all
its wild instincts, but led by affection to become domestic. He
drew the water, cut the wood, none better. In the evening he
played atrociously his violin,--none worse--,bending his great white
brow forward with the wolf-glare in his eyes, swaying his shoulders
with a fierce delight in the subtle dissonances, the swaggering
exactitude of time, the vulgar rendition of the horrible tunes he
played. And often he went into the forest and gazed wondering
through his liquid poet's eyes at occult things. Above all, he
worshipped Thorpe. And in turn the lumberman accorded him a
good-natured affection. He was as indispensable to Camp One as
And the beagles were most indispensable. No one could have got
along without them. In the course of events and natural selection
they had increased to eleven. At night they slept in the men's camp
underneath or very near the stove. By daylight in the morning they
were clamoring at the door. Never had they caught a hare. Never
for a moment did their hopes sink. The men used sometimes to amuse
themselves by refusing the requested exit. The little dogs agonized.
They leaped and yelped, falling over each other like a tangle of
angleworms. Then finally, when the door at last flung wide, they
precipitated themselves eagerly and silently through the opening.
A few moments later a single yelp rose in the direction of the
swamp; the band took up the cry. From then until dark the glade
was musical with baying. At supper time they returned straggling,
their expression pleased, six inches of red tongue hanging from the
corners of their mouths, ravenously ready for supper.
Strangely enough the big white hares never left the swamp. Perhaps
the same one was never chased two days in succession. Or it is
possible that the quarry enjoyed the harmless game as much as did
the little dogs.
Once only while the snow lasted was the hunt abandoned for a few
days. Wallace Carpenter announced his intention of joining forces
with the diminutive hounds.
"It's a shame, so it is, doggies!" he laughed at the tried pack.
"We'll get one to-morrow."
So he took his shotgun to the swamp, and after a half hour's wait,
succeeded in killing the hare. From that moment he was the hero of
those ecstacized canines. They tangled about him everywhere. He
hardly dared take a step for fear of crushing one of the open faces
and expectant, pleading eyes looking up at him. It grew to be
a nuisance. Wallace always claimed his trip was considerably
shortened because he could not get away from his admirers.
Financially the Company was rated high, and yet was heavily in
debt. This condition of affairs by no means constitutes an anomaly
in the lumbering business.
The profits of the first five years had been immediately reinvested
in the business. Thorpe, with the foresight that had originally led
him into this new country, saw farther than the instant's gain. He
intended to establish in a few years more a big plant which would
be returning benefices in proportion not only to the capital
originally invested, but also in ratio to the energy, time, and
genius he had himself expended. It was not the affair of a moment.
It was not the affair of half-measures, of timidity.
Thorpe knew that he could play safely, cutting a few millions a
year, expanding cautiously. By this method he would arrive, but
only after a long period.
Or he could do as many other firms have done; start on borrowed
In the latter case he had only one thing to fear, and that was
fire. Every cent, and many times over, of his obligations would
be represented in the state of raw material. All he had to do
was to cut it out by the very means which the yearly profits of
his business would enable him to purchase. For the moment, he
owed a great deal; without the shadow of a doubt mere industry
would clear his debt, and leave him with substantial acquisitions
created, practically, from nothing but his own abilities. The
money obtained from his mortgages was a tool which he picked up
an instant, used to fashion one of his own, and laid aside.
Every autumn the Company found itself suddenly in easy circumstances.
At any moment that Thorpe had chosen to be content with the progress
made, he could have, so to speak, declared dividends with his partner.
Instead of undertaking more improvements, for part of which he
borrowed some money, he could have divided the profits of the
season's cut. But this he was not yet ready to do.
He had established five more camps, he had acquired over a hundred
and fifty million more of timber lying contiguous to his own, he
had built and equipped a modern high-efficiency mill, he had
constructed a harbor break-water and the necessary booms, he had
bought a tug, built a boarding-house. All this costs money. He
wished now to construct a logging railroad. Then he promised
himself and Wallace that they would be ready to commence paying
The logging railroad was just then beginning to gain recognition.
A few miles of track, a locomotive, and a number of cars consisting
uniquely of wheels and "bunks," or cross beams on which to chain
the logs, and a fairly well-graded right-of-way comprised the
outfit. Its use obviated the necessity of driving the river--always
an expensive operation. Often, too, the decking at the skidways
could be dispensed with; and the sleigh hauls, if not entirely
superseded for the remote districts, were entirely so in the
country for a half mile on either side of the track, and in any
case were greatly shortened. There obtained, too, the additional
advantage of being able to cut summer and winter alike. Thus, the
plant once established, logging by railroad was not only easier but
cheaper. Of late years it has come into almost universal use in
big jobs and wherever the nature of the country will permit. The
old-fashioned, picturesque ice-road sleigh-haul will last as long
as north-woods lumbering,--even in the railroad districts,--but the
locomotive now does the heavy work.
With the capital to be obtained from the following winter's product,
Thorpe hoped to be able to establish a branch which should run from
a point some two miles behind Camp One, to a "dump" a short distance
above the mill. For this he had made all the estimates, and even the
preliminary survey. He was therefore the more grievously
when Wallace Carpenter made it impossible for him to do so.
He was sitting in the mill-office one day about the middle of July.
Herrick, the engineer, had just been in. He could not keep the
engine in order, although Thorpe knew that it could be done.
"I've sot up nights with her," said Herrick, "and she's no go. I
think I can fix her when my head gets all right. I got headachy
lately. And somehow that last lot of Babbit metal didn't seem to
act just right."
Thorpe looked out of the window, tapping his desk slowly with the
end of a lead pencil.
"Collins," said he to the bookkeeper, without raising his voice or
altering his position, "make out Herrick's time."
The man stood there astonished.
"But I had hard luck, sir," he expostulated. "She'll go all right
now, I think."
Thorpe turned and looked at him.
"Herrick," he said, not unkindly, "this is the second time this
summer the mill has had to close early on account of that engine.
We have supplied you with everything you asked for. If you can't
do it, we shall have to get a man who can."
"But I had---" began the man once more.
"I ask every man to succeed in what I give him to do," interrupted
Thorpe. "If he has a headache, he must brace up or quit. If his
Babbit doesn't act just right he must doctor it up; or get some more,
even if he has to steal it. If he has hard luck, he must sit up
nights to better it. It's none of my concern how hard or how easy
a time a man has in doing what I tell him to. I EXPECT HIM TO DO IT.
If I have to do all a man's thinking for him, I may as well hire
Swedes and be done with it. I have too many details to attend to
already without bothering about excuses."
The man stood puzzling over this logic.
"I ain't got any other job," he ventured.
"You can go to piling on the docks," replied Thorpe, "if you want to."
Thorpe was thus explicit because he rather liked Herrick. It was
hard for him to discharge the man peremptorily, and he proved the
need of justifying himself in his own eyes.
Now he sat back idly in the clean painted little room with the big
square desk and the three chairs. Through the door he could see
Collins, perched on a high stool before the shelf-like desk. From
the open window came the clear, musical note of the circular saw,
the fresh aromatic smell of new lumber, the bracing air from
Superior sparkling in the offing. He felt tired. In rare moments
such as these, when the muscles of his striving relaxed, his mind
turned to the past. Old sorrows rose before him and looked at him
with their sad eyes; the sorrows that had helped to make him what
he was. He wondered where his sister was. She would be twenty-two
years old now. A tenderness, haunting, tearful, invaded his heart.
He suffered. At such moments the hard shell of his rough woods life
seemed to rend apart. He longed with a great longing for sympathy,
for love, for the softer influences that cradle even warriors
between the clangors of the battles.
The outer door, beyond the cage behind which Collins and his shelf
desk were placed, flew open. Thorpe heard a brief greeting, and
Wallace Carpenter stood before him.
"Why, Wallace, I didn't know you were coming!" began Thorpe, and
stopped. The boy, usually so fresh and happily buoyant, looked ten
years older. Wrinkles had gathered between his eyes. "Why, what's
the matter?" cried Thorpe.
He rose swiftly and shut the door into the outer office. Wallace
seated himself mechanically.
"Everything! everything!" he said in despair. "I've been a fool!
I've been blind!"
So bitter was his tone that Thorpe was startled. The lumberman sat
down on the other side of the desk.
"That'll do, Wallace," he said sharply. "Tell me briefly what is
"I've been speculating!" burst out the boy.
"Ah!" said his partner.
"At first I bought only dividend-paying stocks outright. Then I
bought for a rise, but still outright. Then I got in with a fellow
who claimed to know all about it. I bought on a margin. There came
a slump. I met the margins because I am sure there will be a rally,
but now all my fortune is in the thing. I'm going to be penniless.
I'll lose it all."
"Ah!" said Thorpe.
"And the name of Carpenter is so old-established, so honorable!"
cried the unhappy boy, "and my sister!"
"Easy!" warned Thorpe. "Being penniless isn't the worst thing that
can happen to a man."
"No; but I am in debt," went on the boy more calmly. "I have given
notes. When they come due, I'm a goner."
"How much?" asked Thorpe laconically.
"Thirty thousand dollars."
"Well, you have that amount in this firm."
"What do you mean?"
"If you want it, you can have it."
Wallace considered a moment.
"That would leave me without a cent," he replied.
"But it would save your commercial honor."
"Harry," cried Wallace suddenly, "couldn't this firm go on my note
for thirty thousand more? Its credit is good, and that amount
would save my margins."
"You are partner," replied Thorpe, "your signature is as good as
mine in this firm."
"But you know I wouldn't do it without your consent," replied
Wallace reproachfully. "Oh, Harry!" cried the boy, "when you
needed the amount, I let you have it!"
"You know you can have it, if it's to be had, Wallace. I wasn't
hesitating on that account. I was merely trying to figure out where
we can raise such a sum as sixty thousand dollars. We haven't got
"But you'll never have to pay it," assured Wallace eagerly. "If I
can save my margins, I'll be all right."
"A man has to figure on paying whatever he puts his signature to,"
asserted Thorpe. "I can give you our note payable at the end of a
year. Then I'll hustle in enough timber to make up the amount. It
means we don't get our railroad, that's all."
"I knew you'd help me out. Now it's all right," said Wallace, with
a relieved air.
Thorpe shook his head. He was already trying to figure how to
increase his cut to thirty million feet.
"I'll do it," he muttered to himself, after Wallace had gone out
to visit the mill. "I've been demanding success of others for a
good many years; now I'll demand it of myself."
THORPE'S DREAM GIRL
The moment had struck for the woman. Thorpe did not know it, but
it was true. A solitary, brooding life in the midst of grand
surroundings, an active, strenuous life among great responsibilities,
a starved, hungry life of the affections whence even the sister had
withdrawn her love,--all these had worked unobtrusively towards the
formation of a single psychological condition. Such a moment comes
to every man. In it he realizes the beauties, the powers, the
vastnesses which unconsciously his being has absorbed. They rise
to the surface as a need, which, being satisfied, is projected into
the visible world as an ideal to be worshipped. Then is happiness
and misery beside which the mere struggle to dominate men becomes
trivial, the petty striving with the forces of nature seems a little
thing. And the woman he at that time meets takes on the qualities
of the dream; she is more than woman, less than goddess; she is the
best of that man made visible.
Thorpe found himself for the first time filled with the spirit of
restlessness. His customary iron evenness of temper was gone, so
that he wandered quickly from one detail of his work to another,
without seeming to penetrate below the surface-need of any one
task. Out of the present his mind was always escaping to a mystic
fourth dimension which he did not understand. But a week before, he
had felt himself absorbed in the component parts of his enterprise,
the totality of which arched far over his head, shutting out the
sky. Now he was outside of it. He had, without his volition,
abandoned the creator's standpoint of the god at the heart of his
work. It seemed as important, as great to him, but somehow it had
taken on a strange solidarity, as though he had left it a plastic
beginning and returned to find it hardened into the shapes of
finality. He acknowledged it admirable,--and wondered how he had
ever accomplished it! He confessed that it should be finished as
it had begun,--and could not discover in himself the Titan who had
watched over its inception.
Thorpe took this state of mind much to heart, and in combating it
expended more energy than would have sufficed to accomplish the
work. Inexorably he held himself to the task. He filled his mind
full of lumbering. The millions along the bank on section nine must
be cut and travoyed directly to the rollways. It was a shame that
the necessity should arise. From section nine Thorpe had hoped to
lighten the expenses when finally he should begin operations on the
distant and inaccessible headwaters of French Creek. Now there was
no help for it. The instant necessity was to get thirty millions
of pine logs down the river before Wallace Carpenter's notes came
due. Every other consideration had to yield before that. Fifteen
millions more could be cut on seventeen, nineteen, and eleven,--
regions hitherto practically untouched,--by the men in the four
camps inland. Camp One and Camp Three could attend to section nine.
These were details to which Thorpe applied his mind. As he pushed
through the sun-flecked forest, laying out his roads, placing his
travoy trails, spying the difficulties that might supervene to mar
the fair face of honest labor, he had always this thought before
him,--that he must apply his mind. By an effort, a tremendous
effort, he succeeded in doing so. The effort left him limp. He
found himself often standing, or moving gently, his eyes staring
sightless, his mind cradled on vague misty clouds of absolute
inaction, his will chained so softly and yet so firmly that he felt
no strength and hardly the desire to break from the dream that lulled
him. Then he was conscious of the physical warmth of the sun, the
faint sweet woods smells, the soothing caress of the breeze, the
sleepy cicada-like note of the pine creeper. Through his half-closed
lashes the tangled sun-beams made soft-tinted rainbows. He wanted
nothing so much as to sit on the pine needles there in the golden
flood of radiance, and dream--dream on--vaguely, comfortably,
sweetly--dream of the summer---
Thorpe, with a mighty and impatient effort, snapped the silken
"Lord, Lord!" he cried impatiently. "What's coming to me? I must
be a little off my feed!"
And he hurried rapidly to his duties. After an hour of the hardest
concentration he had ever been required to bestow on a trivial
subject, he again unconsciously sank by degrees into the old apathy.
"Glad it isn't the busy season!" he commented to himself. "Here, I
must quit this! Guess it's the warm weather. I'll get down to the
mill for a day or two."
There he found himself incapable of even the most petty routine
work. He sat to his desk at eight o'clock and began the perusal
of a sheaf of letters, comprising a certain correspondence, which
Collins brought him. The first three he read carefully; the
following two rather hurriedly; of the next one he seized only the
salient and essential points; the seventh and eighth he skimmed;
the remainder of the bundle he thrust aside in uncontrollable
impatience. Next day he returned to the woods.
The incident of the letters had aroused to the full his old fighting
spirit, before which no mere instincts could stand. He clamped the
iron to his actions and forced them to the way appointed. Once more
his mental processes became clear and incisive, his commands direct
and to the point. To all outward appearance Thorpe was as before.
He opened Camp One, and the Fighting Forty came back from distant
drinking joints. This was in early September, when the raspberries
were entirely done and the blackberries fairly in the way of
vanishing. That able-bodied and devoted band of men was on hand
when needed. Shearer, in some subtle manner of his own, had let
them feel that this year meant thirty million or "bust." They
tightened their leather belts and stood ready for commands. Thorpe
set them to work near the river, cutting roads along the lines he
had blazed to the inland timber on seventeen and nineteen. After
much discussion with Shearer the young man decided to take out the
logs from eleven by driving them down French Creek.
To this end a gang was put to clearing the creekbed. It was a
tremendous job. Centuries of forest life had choked the little
stream nearly to the level of its banks. Old snags and stumps lay
imbedded in the ooze; decayed trunks, moss-grown, blocked the
current; leaning tamaracks, fallen timber, tangled vines, dense
thickets gave to its course more the appearance of a tropical
jungle than of a north country brook-bed. All these things had to
be removed, one by one, and either piled to one side or burnt. In
the end, however, it would pay. French Creek was not a large stream,
but it could be driven during the time of the spring freshets.
Each night the men returned in the beautiful dreamlike twilight to
the camp. There they sat, after eating, smoking their pipes in the
open air. Much of the time they sang, while Phil, crouching wolf-
like over his violin, rasped out an accompaniment of dissonances.
From a distance it softened and fitted pleasantly into the framework
of the wilderness. The men's voices lent themselves well to the
weird minor strains of the chanteys. These times--when the men sang,
and the night-wind rose and died in the hemlock tops--were Thorpe's
worst moments. His soul, tired with the day's iron struggle, fell
to brooding. Strange thoughts came to him, strange visions. He
wanted something he knew not what; he longed, and thrilled, and
aspired to a greater glory than that of brave deeds, a softer
comfort than his old foster mother, the wilderness, could bestow.
The men were singing in a mighty chorus, swaying their heads in
unison, and bringing out with a roar the emphatic words of the
crude ditties written by some genius from their own ranks.
"Come all ye sons of freedom throughout old Michigan,
Come all ye gallant lumbermen, list to a shanty man.
On the banks of the Muskegon, where the rapid waters flow,
OH!--we'll range the wild woods o'er while a-lumbering we go."
Here was the bold unabashed front of the pioneer, here was absolute
certainty in the superiority of his calling,--absolute scorn of all
others. Thorpe passed his hand across his brow. The same spirit was
once fully and freely his.
"The music of our burnished ax shall make the woods resound,
And many a lofty ancient pine will tumble to the ground.
At night around our shanty fire we'll sing while rude winds blow,
OH!--we'll range the wild woods o'er while a-lumbering we go!"
That was what he was here for. Things were going right. It would
be pitiful to fail merely on account of this idiotic lassitude, this
unmanly weakness, this boyish impatience and desire for play. He a
woodsman! He a fellow with these big strong men!
A single voice, clear and high, struck into a quick measure:
"I am a jolly shanty boy,
As you will soon discover;
To all the dodges I am fly,
A hustling pine-woods rover.
A peavey-hook it is my pride,
An ax I well can handle.
To fell a tree or punch a bull,
Get rattling Danny Randall."
And then with a rattle and crash the whole Fighting Forty shrieked
out the chorus:
"Bung yer eye! bung yer eye!"
Active, alert, prepared for any emergency that might arise; hearty,
ready for everything, from punching bulls to felling trees--that
was something like! Thorpe despised himself. The song went on.
"I love a girl in Saginaw,
She lives with her mother.
I defy all Michigan
To find such another.
She's tall and slim, her hair is red,
Her face is plump and pretty.
She's my daisy Sunday best-day girl,
And her front name stands for Kitty."
And again as before the Fighting Forty howled truculently:
"Bung yer eye! bung yer eye!"
The words were vulgar, the air a mere minor chant. Yet Thorpe's
mind was stilled. His aroused subconsciousness had been engaged
in reconstructing these men entire as their songs voiced rudely
the inner characteristics of their beings. Now his spirit halted,
finger on lip. Their bravery, pride of caste, resource, bravado,
boastfulness,--all these he had checked off approvingly. Here now
was the idea of the Mate. Somewhere for each of them was a "Kitty,"
a "daisy Sunday best-day girl"; the eternal feminine; the softer
side; the tenderness, beauty, glory of even so harsh a world as
they were compelled to inhabit. At the present or in the past these
woods roisterers, this Fighting Forty, had known love. Thorpe arose
abruptly and turned at random into the forest. The song pursued
him as he went, but he heard only the clear sweet tones, not the
words. And yet even the words would have spelled to his awakened
sensibilities another idea,--would have symbolized however rudely,
companionship and the human delight of acting a part before a woman.
"I took her to a dance one night,
A mossback gave the bidding--
Silver Jack bossed the shebang,
and Big Dan played the fiddle.
We danced and drank the livelong night
With fights between the dancing,
Till Silver Jack cleaned out the ranch
And sent the mossbacks prancing."
And with the increasing war and turmoil of the quick water the last
shout of the Fighting Forty mingled faintly and was lost.
"Bung yer eye! bung yer eye!"
Thorpe found himself at the edge of the woods facing a little glade
into which streamed the radiance of a full moon.
There he stood and looked silently, not understanding, not caring
to inquire. Across the way a white-throat was singing, clear,
beautiful, like the shadow of a dream. The girl stood listening.
Her small fair head was inclined ever so little sideways and her
finger was on her lips as though she wished to still the very hush
of night, to which impression the inclination of her supple body
lent its grace. The moonlight shone full upon her countenance.
A little white face it was, with wide clear eyes and a sensitive,
proud mouth that now half parted like a child's. Here eyebrows
arched from her straight nose in the peculiarly graceful curve
that falls just short of pride on the one side and of power on the
other, to fill the eyes with a pathos of trust and innocence. The
man watching could catch the poise of her long white neck and the
molten moon-fire from her tumbled hair,--the color of corn-silk,
And yet these words meant nothing. A painter might have caught
her charm, but he must needs be a poet as well,--and a great poet,
one capable of grandeurs and subtleties.
To the young man standing there rapt in the spell of vague desire,
of awakened vision, she seemed most like a flower or a mist. He
tried to find words to formulate her to himself, but did not succeed.
Always it came back to the same idea--the flower and the mist. Like
the petals of a flower most delicate was her questioning, upturned
face; like the bend of a flower most rare the stalk of her graceful
throat; like the poise of a flower most dainty the attitude of her
beautiful, perfect body sheathed in a garment that outlined each
movement, for the instant in suspense. Like a mist the glimmering
of her skin, the shining of her hair, the elusive moonlike quality
of her whole personality as she stood there in the ghost-like
clearing listening, her fingers on her lips.
Behind her lurked the low, even shadow of the forest where the moon
was not, a band of velvet against which the girl and the light-
touched twigs and bushes and grass blades were etched like frost
against a black window pane. There was something, too, of the
frost-work's evanescent spiritual quality in the scene,--as though
at any moment, with a puff of the balmy summer wind, the radiant
glade, the hovering figure, the filagreed silver of the entire
setting would melt into the accustomed stern and menacing forest
of the northland, with its wolves, and its wild deer, and the voices
of its sterner calling.
Thorpe held his breath and waited. Again the white-throat lifted
his clear, spiritual note across the brightness, slow, trembling
with. The girl never moved. She stood in the moonlight
like a beautiful emblem of silence, half real, half fancy, part
woman, wholly divine, listening to the little bird's message.
For the third time the song shivered across the night, then Thorpe
with a soft sob, dropped his face in his hands and looked no more.
He did not feel the earth beneath his knees, nor the whip of the
sumach across his face; he did not see the moon shadows creep
slowly along the fallen birch; nor did he notice that the white-
throat had hushed its song. His inmost spirit was shaken.
Something had entered his soul and filled it to the brim, so that
he dared no longer stand in the face of radiance until he had
accounted with himself. Another drop would overflow the cup.
Ah, sweet God, the beauty of it, the beauty of it! That questing,
childlike starry gaze, seeking so purely to the stars themselves!
That flower face, those drooping, half parted lips! That
inexpressible, unseizable something they had meant! Thorpe searched
humbly--eagerly--then with agony through his troubled spirit, and in
its furthermost depths saw the mystery as beautifully remote as ever.
It approached and swept over him and left him gasping passion-racked.
Ah, sweet God, the beauty of it! the beauty of it! the vision! the
He trembled and sobbed with his desire to seize it, with his
impotence to express it, with his failure even to appreciate it
as his heart told him it should be appreciated.
He dared not look. At length he turned and stumbled back through
the moonlit forest crying on his old gods in vain.
At the banks of the river he came to a halt. There in the velvet
pines the moonlight slept calmly, and the shadows rested quietly
under the breezeless sky. Near at hand the river shouted as ever
its cry of joy over the vitality of life, like a spirited boy
before the face of inscrutable nature. All else was silence. Then
from the waste boomed a strange, hollow note, rising, dying, rising
again, instinct with the spirit of the wilds. It fell, and far away
sounded a heavy but distant crash. The cry lifted again. It was the
first bull moose calling across the wilderness to his mate.
And then, faint but clear down the current of a chance breeze
drifted the chorus of the Fighting Forty.
"The forests so brown at our stroke go down,
And cities spring up where they fell;
While logs well run and work well done
Is the story the shanty boys tell."
Thorpe turned from the river with a thrust forward of his head. He
was not a religious man, and in his six years' woods experience had
never been to church. Now he looked up over the tops of the pines
to where the Pleiades glittered faintly among the brighter stars.
"Thanks, God," said he briefly.
For several days this impression satisfied him completely. He
discovered, strangely enough, that his restlessness had left him,
that once more he was able to give to his work his former energy
and interest. It was as though some power had raised its finger
and a storm had stilled, leaving calm, unruffled skies.
He did not attempt to analyze this; he did not even make an effort
to contemplate it. His critical faculty was stricken dumb and it
asked no questions of him. At a touch his entire life had changed.
Reality or vision, he had caught a glimpse of something so entirely
different from anything his imagination or experience had ever
suggested to him, that at first he could do no more than permit
passively its influences to adjust themselves to his being.
Curiosity, speculation, longing,--all the more active emotions
remained in abeyance while outwardly, for three days, Harry Thorpe
occupied himself only with the needs of the Fighting Forty at Camp
In the early morning he went out with the gang. While they chopped
or heaved, he stood by serene. Little questions of expediency he
solved. Dilemmas he discussed leisurely with Tim Shearer.
Occasionally he lent a shoulder when the peaveys lacked of prying a
stubborn log from its bed. Not once did he glance at the nooning
sun. His patience was quiet and sure. When evening came he smoked
placidly outside the office, listening to the conversation and
laughter of the men, caressing one of the beagles, while the rest
slumbered about his feet, watching dreamily the night shadows and
the bats. At about nine o'clock he went to bed, and slept soundly.
He was vaguely conscious of a great peace within him, a great
stillness of the spirit, against which the metallic events of his
craft clicked sharply in vivid relief. It was the peace and
stillness of a river before it leaps.
Little by little the condition changed. The man felt vague
stirrings of curiosity. He speculated aimlessly as to whether or
not the glade, the moonlight, the girl, had been real or merely the
figments of imagination. Almost immediately the answer leaped at him
from his heart. Since she was so certainly flesh and blood, whence
did she come? what was she doing there in the wilderness? His mind
pushed the query aside as unimportant, rushing eagerly to the
essential point: When could he see her again? How find for the
second time the vision before which his heart felt the instant need
of prostrating itself. His placidity had gone. That morning he made
some vague excuse to Shearer and set out blindly down the river.
He did not know where he was going, any more than did the bull moose
plunging through the trackless wilderness to his mate. Instinct, the
instinct of all wild natural creatures, led him. And so, without
thought, without clear intention even,--most would say by accident,--
he saw her again. It was near the "pole trail"; which was less like
a trail than a rail-fence.
For when the snows are deep and snowshoes not the property of every
man who cares to journey, the old-fashioned "pole trail" comes into
use. It is merely a series of horses built of timber across which
thick Norway logs are laid, about four feet from the ground, to
form a continuous pathway. A man must be a tight-rope walker to
stick to the pole trail when ice and snow have sheathed its logs.
If he makes a misstep, he is precipitated ludicrously into feathery
depths through which he must flounder to the nearest timber horse
before he can remount. In summer, as has been said, it resembles
nothing so much as a thick one-rail fence of considerable height,
around which a fringe of light brush has grown.
Thorpe reached the fringe of bushes, and was about to dodge under
the fence, when he saw her. So he stopped short, concealed by the
leaves and the timber horse.
She stood on a knoll in the middle of a grove of monster pines.
There was something of the cathedral in the spot. A hush dwelt in
the dusk, the long columns lifted grandly to the Roman arches of
the frond, faint murmurings stole here and there like whispering
acolytes. The girl stood tall and straight among the tall, straight
pines like a figure on an ancient tapestry. She was doing nothing--
just standing there--but the awe of the forest was in her wide,
The great sweet feeling clutched the young man's throat again. But
while the other,--the vision of the frost-work glade and the spirit-
like figure of silence,--had been unreal and phantasmagoric, this was
of the earth. He looked, and looked, and looked again. He saw the
full pure curve of her cheek's contour, neither oval nor round, but
like the outline of a certain kind of plum. He appreciated the half-
pathetic downward droop of the corners of her mouth,--her red mouth
in dazzling, bewitching contrast to the milk-whiteness of her skin.
He caught the fineness of her nose, straight as a Grecian's, but
with some faint suggestion about the nostrils that hinted at piquance.
And the waving corn silk of her altogether charming and unruly hair,
the superb column of her long neck on which her little head poised
proudly like a flower, her supple body, whose curves had the long
undulating grace of the current in a swift river, her slender white
hand with the pointed fingers--all these he saw one after the other,
and his soul shouted within him at the sight. He wrestled with the
emotions that choked him. "Ah, God! Ah, God!" he cried softly to
himself like one in pain. He, the man of iron frame, of iron nerve,
hardened by a hundred emergencies, trembled in every muscle before
a straight, slender girl, clad all in brown, standing alone in the
middle of the ancient forest.
In a moment she stirred slightly, and turned. Drawing herself to
her full height, she extended her hands over her head palm outward,
and, with an indescribably graceful gesture, half mockingly bowed a
ceremonious adieu to the solemn trees. Then with a little laugh she
moved away in the direction of the river.
At once Thorpe proved a great need of seeing her again. In his
present mood there was nothing of the awe-stricken peace he had
experienced after the moonlight adventure. He wanted the sight of
her as he had never wanted anything before. He must have it, and he
looked about him fiercely as though to challenge any force in Heaven
or Hell that would deprive him of it. His eyes desired to follow
the soft white curve of her cheek, to dance with the light of her
corn-silk hair, to delight in the poetic movements of her tall,
slim body, to trace the full outline of her chin, to wonder at
the carmine of her lips, red as a blood-spot on the snow. These
things must be at once. The strong man desired it. And finding it
impossible, he raged inwardly and tore the tranquillities of his
heart, as on the shores of the distant Lake of Stars, the bull-
moose trampled down the bushes in his passion.
So it happened that he ate hardly at all that day, and slept ill,
and discovered the greatest difficulty in preserving the outward
semblance of ease which the presence of Tim Shearer and the
Fighting Forty demanded.
And next day he saw her again, and the next, because the need of
his heart demanded it, and because, simply enough, she came every
afternoon to the clump of pines by the old pole trail.
Now had Thorpe taken the trouble to inquire, he could have learned
easily enough all there was to be known of the affair. But he did
not take the trouble. His consciousness was receiving too many new
impressions, so that in a manner it became bewildered. At first,
as has been seen, the mere effect of the vision was enough; then
the sight of the girl sufficed him. But now curiosity awoke and
a desire for something more. He must speak to her, touch her hand,
look into her eyes. He resolved to approach her, and the mere
thought choked him and sent him weak.
When he saw her again from the shelter of the pole trail, he dared
not, and so stood there prey to a novel sensation,--that of being
baffled in an intention. It awoke within him a vast passion
compounded part of rage at himself, part of longing for that which
he could not take, but most of love for the girl. As he hesitated
in one mind but in two decisions, he saw that she was walking
slowly in his direction.
Perhaps a hundred paces separated the two. She took them
pausing now and again to listen, to pluck a leaf, to smell the
fragrant balsam and fir tops as she passed them. Her progression
was a series of poses, the one of which melted imperceptibly into
the other without appreciable pause of transition. So subtly did
her grace appeal to the sense of sight, that out of mere sympathy
the other senses responded with fictions of their own. Almost could
the young man behind the trail savor a faint fragrance, a faint music
that surrounded and preceded her like the shadows of phantoms. He
knew it as an illusion, born of his desire, and yet it was a noble
illusion, for it had its origin in her.
In a moment she had reached the fringe of brush about the pole trail.
They stood face to face.
She gave a little start of surprise, and her hand leaped to her
breast, where it caught and stayed. Her childlike down-drooping
mouth parted a little more, and the breath quickened through it.
But her eyes, her wide, trusting, innocent eyes, sought his and
He did not move. The eagerness, the desire, the long years of
ceaseless struggle, the thirst for affection, the sob of awe at the
moonlit glade, the love,--all these flamed in his eyes and fixed his
gaze in an unconscious ardor that had nothing to do with convention
or timidity. One on either side of the spike-marked old Norway log
of the trail they stood, and for an appreciable interval the duel
of their glances lasted,--he masterful, passionate, exigent; she
proud, cool, defensive in the aloofness of her beauty. Then at
last his prevailed. A faint color rose from her neck, deepened,
and spread over her face and forehead. In a moment she dropped
"Don't you think you stare a little rudely--Mr. Thorpe?" she asked.
The vision was over, but the beauty remained. The spoken words of
protest made her a woman. Never again would she, nor any other
creature of the earth, appear to Thorpe as she had in the silver
glade or the cloistered pines. He had had his moment of insight.
The deeps had twice opened to permit him to look within. Now they
had closed again. But out of them had fluttered a great love and the
priestess of it. Always, so long as life should be with him, Thorpe
was destined to see in this tall graceful girl with the red lips
and the white skin and the corn-silk hair, more beauty, more of the
great mysterious spiritual beauty which is eternal, than her father
or her mother or her dearest and best. For to them the vision had
not been vouchsafed, while he had seen her as the highest symbol of
Now she stood before him, her head turned half away, a faint flush
still tingeing the chalk-white of her skin, watching him with a dim,
half-pleading smile in expectation of his reply.
"Ah, moon of my soul! light of my life!" he cried, but he cried
it within him, though it almost escaped his vigilance to his lips.
What he really said sounded almost harsh in consequence.
"How did you know my name?" he asked.
She planted both elbows on the Norway and framed her little face
deliciously with her long pointed hands.
"If Mr. Harry Thorpe can ask that question," she replied, "he is
not quite so impolite as I had thought him."
"If you don't stop pouting your lips, I shall kiss them!" cried
"How is that?" he inquired breathlessly.
"Don't you know who I am?" she asked in return.
"A goddess, a beautiful woman!" he answered ridiculously enough.
She looked straight at him. This time his gaze dropped.
"I am a friend of Elizabeth Carpenter, who is Wallace Carpenter's
sister, who I believe is Mr. Harry Thorpe's partner."
She paused as though for comment. The young man opposite was
occupied in many other more important directions. Some moments
later the words trickled into his brain, and some moments after
that he realized their meaning.
"We wrote Mr. Harry Thorpe that we were about to descend on his
district with wagons and tents and Indians and things, and asked
him to come and see us."
"Ah, heart o' mine, what clear, pure eyes she has! How they look
at a man to drown his soul!"
Which, even had it been spoken, was hardly the comment one would
The girl looked at him for a moment steadily, then smiled. The
change of countenance brought Thorpe to himself, and at the same
moment the words she had spoken reached his comprehension.
"But I never received the letter. I'm so sorry," said he. "It
must be at the mill. You see, I've been up in the woods for nearly
"Then we'll have to forgive you."
"But I should think they would have done something for you at the
"Oh, we didn't come by way of your mill. We drove from Marquette."
"I see," cried Thorpe, enlightened. "But I'm sorry I didn't know.
I'm sorry you didn't let me know. I suppose you thought I was still
at the mill. How did you get along? Is Wallace with you?"
"No," she replied, dropping her hands and straightening her erect
figure. "It's horrid. He was coming, and then some business came
up and he couldn't get away. We are having the loveliest time
though. I do adore the woods. Come," she cried impatiently,
sweeping aside to leave a way clear, "you shall meet my friends."
Thorpe imagined she referred to the rest of the tenting party. He
"I am hardly in fit condition," he objected.
She laughed, parting her red lips. "You are extremely picturesque
just as you are," she said with rather embarrassing directness. "I
wouldn't have you any different for the world. But my friends don't
mind. They are used to it." She laughed again.
Thorpe crossed the pole trail, and for the first time found himself
by her side. The warm summer odors were in the air, a dozen lively
little birds sang in the brush along the rail, the sunlight danced
and flickered through the openings.
Then suddenly they were among the pines, and the air was cool, the
vista dim, and the bird songs inconceivably far away.
The girl walked directly to the foot of a pine three feet through,
and soaring up an inconceivable distance through the still twilight.
"This is Jimmy," said she gravely. "He is a dear good old rough
bear when you don't know him, but he likes me. If you put your ear
close against him," she confided, suiting the action to the word,
"you can hear him talking to himself. This little fellow is Tommy.
I don't care so much for Tommy because he's sticky. Still, I like
him pretty well, and here's Dick, and that's Bob, and the one just
beyond is Jack."
"Where is Harry?" asked Thorpe.
"I thought one in a woods was quite sufficient," she replied with
the least little air of impertinence.
"Why do you name them such common, everyday names?" he inquired.
"I'll tell you. It's because they are so big and grand themselves,
that it did not seem to me they needed high-sounding names. What
do you think?" she begged with an appearance of the utmost anxiety.
Thorpe expressed himself as in agreement. As the half-quizzical
conversation progressed, he found their relations adjusting
themselves with increasing rapidity. He had been successively
the mystic devotee before his vision, the worshipper before his
goddess; now he was unconsciously assuming the attitude of the
lover before his mistress. It needs always this humanizing touch
to render the greatest of all passions livable.
And as the human element developed, he proved at the same time
greater and greater difficulty in repressing himself and greater
and greater fear of the results in case he should not do so. He
trembled with the desire to touch her long slender hand, and as
soon as his imagination had permitted him that much he had already
crushed her to him and had kissed passionately her starry face.
Words hovered on his lips longing for flight. He withheld them
by an effort that left him almost incoherent, for he feared with
a deadly fear lest he lose forever what the vision had seemed to
offer to his hand.
So he said little, and that lamely, for he dreaded to say too much.
To her playful sallies he had no riposte. And in consequence he
fell more silent with another boding--that he was losing his cause
outright for lack of a ready word.
He need not have been alarmed. A woman in such a case hits as
surely as a man misses. Her very daintiness and preciosity of
speech indicated it. For where a man becomes stupid and silent,
a woman covers her emotions with words and a clever speech. Not
in vain is a proud-spirited girl stared down in such a contest
of looks; brave deeds simply told by a friend are potent to win
interest in advance; a straight, muscular figure, a brown skin, a
clear, direct eye, a carriage of power and acknowledged authority,
strike hard at a young imagination; a mighty passion sweeps aside
the barriers of the heart. Such a victory, such a friend, such a
passion had Thorpe.
And so the last spoken exchange between them meant nothing; but if
each could have read the unsaid words that quivered on the other's
heart, Thorpe would have returned to the Fighting Forty more
tranquilly, while she would probably not have returned to the
camping party at all for a number of hours.
"I do not think you had better come with me," she said. "Make
your call and be forgiven on your own account. I don't want to
drag you in at my chariot wheels."
"All right. I'll come this afternoon," Thorpe had replied.
"I love her, I must have her. I must go--at once," his soul had
cried, "quick--now--before I kiss her!"
"How strong he is," she said to herself, "how brave-looking; how
honest! He is different from the other men. He is magnificent."
That afternoon Thorpe met the other members of the party, offered
his apologies and explanations, and was graciously forgiven. He
found the personnel to consist of, first of all, Mrs. Cary, the
chaperone, a very young married woman of twenty-two or thereabouts;
her husband, a youth of three years older, clean-shaven, light-haired,
quiet-mannered; Miss Elizabeth Carpenter, who resembled her brother
in the characteristics of good-looks, vivacious disposition and curly
hair; an attendant satellite of the masculine persuasion called
Morton; and last of all the girl whom Thorpe had already so variously
encountered and whom he now met as Miss Hilda Farrand. Besides these
were Ginger, a squab negro built to fit the galley of a yacht; and
hree Indian guides. They inhabited tents, which made quite a little
Thorpe was received with enthusiasm. Wallace Carpenter's stories of
his woods partner, while never doing more than justice to the truth,
had been of a warm color tone. One and all owned a lively curiosity
to see what a real woodsman might be like. When he proved to be
handsome and well mannered, as well as picturesque, his reception
was no longer in doubt.
Nothing could exceed his solicitude as to their comfort and amusement.
He inspected personally the arrangement of the tents, and suggested
one or two changes conducive to the littler comforts. This was not
much like ordinary woods-camping. The largest wall-tent contained
three folding cots for the women, over which, in the daytime, were
flung bright-colored Navajo blankets. Another was spread on the
ground. Thorpe later, however, sent over two bear skins, which were
acknowledgedly an improvement. To the tent pole a mirror of size was
nailed, and below it stood a portable washstand. The second tent,
devoted to the two men, was not quite so luxurious; but still boasted
of little conveniences the true woodsman would never consider worth
the bother of transporting. The third, equally large, was the dining
tent. The other three, smaller, and on the A tent order, served
respectively as sleeping rooms for Ginger and the Indians, and as a
general store-house for provisions and impedimenta.
Thorpe sent an Indian to Camp One for the bearskins, put the rest
to digging a trench around the sleeping tents in order that a rain
storm might not cause a flood, and ordered Ginger to excavate a
square hole some feet deep which he intended to utilize as a larder.
Then he gave Morton and Cary hints as to the deer they wished to
capture, pointed out the best trout pools, and issued advice as
to the compassing of certain blackberries, not far distant.
Simple things enough they were to do--it was as though a city man
were to direct a newcomer to Central Park, or impart to him a test
for the destinations of trolley lines--yet Thorpe's new friends were
profoundly impressed with his knowledge of occult things. The forest
was to them, as to most, more or less of a mystery, unfathomable
except to the favored of genius. A man who could interpret it,
even a little, into the speech of everyday comfort and expediency
possessed a strong claim to their imaginations. When he had finished
these practical affairs, they wanted him to sit down and tell them
more things,to dine with them, to smoke about their camp fire in
the evening. But here they encountered a decided check. Thorpe
became silent, almost morose. He talked in monosyllables, and soon
went away. They did not know what to make of him, and so were, of
course, the more profoundly interested. The truth was, his habitual
reticence would not have permitted a great degree of expansion in
any case, but now the presence of Hilda made any but an attitude of
hushed waiting for her words utterly impossible to him. He wished
well to them all. If there was anything he could do for them, he
would gladly undertake it. But he would not act the lion nor tell
of his, to them, interesting adventures.
However, when he discovered that Hilda had ceased visiting the
clump of pines near the pole trail, his desire forced him back
among these people. He used to walk in swiftly at almost any
time of day, casting quick glances here and there in search of
"How do, Mrs. Cary," he would say. "Nice weather. Enjoying
On receiving the reply he would answer heartily, "That's good!"
and lapse into silence. When Hilda was about he followed every
movement of hers with his eyes, so that his strange conduct lacked
no explanation nor interpretation, in the minds of the women at
least. Thrice he redeemed his reputation for being an interesting
character by conducting the party on little expeditions here and
there about the country. Then his woodcraft and resourcefulness
spoke for him. They asked him about the lumbering operations, but
he seemed indifferent.
"Nothing to interest you," he affirmed. "We're just cutting roads
now. You ought to be here for the drive."
To him there was really nothing interesting in the cutting of roads
nor the clearing of streams. It was all in a day's work.
Once he took them over to see Camp One. They were immensely pleased,
and were correspondingly loud in exclamations. Thorpe's comments
were brief and dry. After the noon dinner he had the unfortunate
idea of commending the singing of one of the men.
"Oh, I'd like to hear him," cried Elizabeth Carpenter. "Can't you
get him to sing for us, Mr. Thorpe?"
Thorpe went to the men's camp, where he singled out the unfortunate
lumber-jack in question.
"Come on, Archie," he said. "The ladies want to hear you sing."
The man objected, refused, pleaded, and finally obeyed what
amounted to a command. Thorpe reentered the office with triumph,
his victim in tow.
"This is Archie Harris," he announced heartily. "He's our best
singer just now. Take a chair, Archie."
The man perched on the edge of the chair and looked straight out
"Do sing for us, won't you, Mr. Harris?" requested Mrs. Cary in
her sweetest tones.
The man said nothing, nor moved a muscle, but turned a brick-red.
An embarrassed silence of expectation ensued.
"Hit her up, Archie," encouraged Thorpe.
"I ain't much in practice no how," objected the man in a little
voice, without moving.
"I'm sure you'll find us very appreciative," said Elizabeth
"Give us a song, Archie, let her go," urged Thorpe impatiently.
"All right," replied the man very meekly.
Another silence fell. It got to be a little awful. The poor
woodsman, pilloried before the regards of this polite circle, out
of his element, suffering cruelly, nevertheless made no sign nor
movement one way or the other. At last when the situation had
almost reached the breaking point of hysteria, he began.
His voice ordinarily was rather a good tenor. Now he pitched it
too high; and went on straining at the high notes to the very end.
Instead of offering one of the typical woods chanteys, he conceived
that before so grand an audience he should give something fancy. He
therefore struck into a sentimental song of the cheap music-hall type.
There were nine verses, and he drawled through them all, hanging
whiningly on the nasal notes in the fashion of the untrained singer.
Instead of being a performance typical of the strange woods genius, it
was merely an atrocious bit of cheap sentimentalism, badly rendered.
The audience listened politely. When the song was finished it
murmured faint thanks.
"Oh, give us 'Jack Haggerty,' Archie," urged Thorpe.
But the woodsman rose, nodded his head awkwardly, and made his
escape. He entered the men's camp, swearing, and for the remainder
of the day made none but blasphemous remarks.
The beagles, however, were a complete success. They tumbled about,
and lolled their tongues, and laughed up out of a tangle of
themselves in a fascinating manner. Altogether the visit to Camp
One was a success, the more so in that on the way back, for the
first time, Thorpe found that chance--and Mrs. Cary--had allotted
Hilda to his care.
A hundred yards down the trail they encountered Phil. The dwarf
stopped short, looked attentively at the girl, and then softly
approached. When quite near to her he again stopped, gazing at
her with his soul in his liquid eyes.
"You are more beautiful than the sea at night," he said directly.
The others laughed. "There's sincerity for you, Miss Hilda," said
young Mr. Morton.
"Who is he?" asked the girl after they had moved
"Our chore-boy," answered Thorpe with great brevity, for he was
thinking of something much more important.
After the rest of the party had gone ahead, leaving them sauntering
more slowly down the trail, he gave it voice.
"Why don't you come to the pine grove any more?" he asked bluntly.
"Why?" countered Hilda in the manner of women.
"I want to see you there. I want to talk with you. I can't talk
with all that crowd around."
"I'll come to-morrow," she said--then with a little mischievous
laugh, "if that'll make you talk."
"You must think I'm awfully stupid," agreed Thorpe bitterly.
"Ah, no! Ah, no!" she protested softly. "You must not say that."
She was looking at him very tenderly, if he had only known it, but
he did not, for his face was set in discontented lines straight
"It is true," he replied.
They walked on in silence, while gradually the dangerous fascination
of the woods crept down on them. Just before sunset a hush falls
on nature. The wind has died, the birds have not yet begun their
evening songs, the light itself seems to have left off sparkling and
to lie still across the landscape. Such a hush now lay on their
spirits. Over the way a creeper was droning sleepily a little chant,
--the only voice in the wilderness. In the heart of the man, too,
a little voice raised itself alone.
"Sweetheart, sweetheart, sweetheart!" it breathed over and over
again. After a while he said it gently in a half voice.
"No, no, hush!" said the girl, and she laid the soft, warm fingers
of one hand across his lips, and looked at him from a height of
superior soft-eyed tenderness as a woman might look at a child.
"You must not. It is not right."
Then he kissed the fingers very gently before they were withdrawn,
and she said nothing at all in rebuke, but looked straight before
her with troubled eyes.
The voices of evening began to raise their jubilant notes. From
a tree nearby the olive thrush sang like clockwork; over beyond
carolled eagerly a black-throat, a myrtle warbler, a dozen song
sparrows, and a hundred vireos and creepers. Down deep in the
blackness of the ancient woods a hermit thrush uttered his solemn
bell note, like the tolling of the spirit of peace. And in Thorpe's
heart a thousand tumultuous voices that had suddenly roused to
clamor, died into nothingness at the music of her softly protesting
Thorpe returned to Camp One shortly after dark. He found there
Scotty Parsons, who had come up to take charge of the crew engaged
in clearing French Creek. The man brought him a number of letters
sent on by Collins, among which was one from Wallace Carpenter.
After commending the camping party to his companion's care, and
giving minute directions as to how and where to meet it, the young
fellow went on to say that affairs were going badly on the Board.
"Some interest that I haven't been able to make out yet has been
hammering our stocks down day after day," he wrote. "I don't
understand it, for the stocks are good--they rest on a solid
foundation of value and intrinsically are worth more than is bid
for them right now. Some powerful concern is beating them down for
a purpose of its own. Sooner or later they will let up, and then
we'll get things back in good shape. I am amply protected now,
thanks to you, and am not at all afraid of losing my holdings.
The only difficulty is that I am unable to predict exactly when
the other fellows will decide that they have accomplished whatever
they are about, and let up. It may not be before next year. In
that case I couldn't help you out on those notes when they come due.
So put in your best licks, old man. You may have to pony up for a
little while, though of course sooner or later I can put it all back.
Then, you bet your life, I keep out of it. Lumbering's good enough
for yours truly.
"By the way, you might shine up to Hilda Farrand and join the rest
of the fortune-hunters. She's got it to throw to the birds, and in
her own right. Seriously, old fellow, don't put yourself into a
false position through ignorance. Not that there is any danger to
a hardened old woodsman like you."
Thorpe went to the group of pines by the pole trail the following
afternoon because he had said he would, but with a new attitude of
mind. He had come into contact with the artificiality of
conventional relations, and it stiffened him. No wonder she had
made him keep silence the afternoon before! She had done it gently
and nicely, to be sure, but that was part of her good-breeding.
Hilda found him formal, reserved, polite; and marvelled at it. In
her was no coquetry. She was as straightforward and sincere as the
look of her eyes.
They sat down on a log. Hilda turned to him with her graceful air
"Now talk to me," said she.
"Certainly," replied Thorpe in a practical tone of voice, "what
do you want me to talk about?"
She shot a swift, troubled glance at him, concluded herself
mistaken, and said:
"Tell me about what you do up here--your life--all about it."
"Well--" replied Thorpe formally, "we haven't much to interest a
girl like you. It is a question of saw logs with us"--and he went
on in his dryest, most technical manner to detail the process of
manufacture. It might as well have been bricks.
The girl did not understand. She was hurt. As surely as the sun
tangled in the distant pine frond, she had seen in his eyes a great
passion. Now it was coldly withdrawn.
"What has happened to you?" she asked finally out of her great
"Me? Nothing," replied Thorpe.
A forced silence fell upon him. Hilda seemed gradually to lose
herself in reverie. After a time she said softly.
"Don't you love this woods?"
"It's an excellent bunch of pine," replied Thorpe bluntly. "It'll
cut three million at least."
"Oh!" she cried drawing back, her hands pressed against the log
either side of her, her eyes wide.
After a moment she caught her breath convulsively, and Thorpe
became conscious that she was studying him furtively with a
After that, by the mercy of God, there was no more talk between
them. She was too hurt and shocked and disillusioned to make the
necessary effort to go away. He was too proud to put an end to the
position. They sat there apparently absorbed in thought, while all
about them the accustomed life of the woods drew nearer and nearer
to them, as the splash of their entrance into it died away.
A red squirrel poised thirty feet above them, leaped, and clung
swaying to a sapling-top a dozen yards from the tree he had
quitted. Two chickadees upside down uttering liquid undertones,
searched busily for insects next their heads. Wilson's warblers,
pine creepers, black-throats, myrtle and magnolia warblers, oven
birds, peewits, blue jays, purple finches, passed silently or
noisily, each according to his kind. Once a lone spruce hen dusted
herself in a stray patch of sunlight until it shimmered on a tree
trunk, raised upward, and disappeared, to give place to long level
dusty shafts that shot here and there through the pines laying the
spell of sunset on the noisy woods brawlers.
Unconsciously the first strain of opposition and of hurt surprise
had relaxed. Each thought vaguely his thoughts. Then in the depths
of the forest, perhaps near at hand, perhaps far away, a single
hermit thrush began to sing. His song was of three solemn deep
liquid notes; followed by a slight rhetorical pause as of
contemplation; and then, deliberately, three notes more on a
different key--and so on without haste and without pause. It is
the most dignified, the most spiritual, the holiest of woods
utterances. Combined with the evening shadows and the warm soft
air, it offered to the heart an almost irresistible appeal. The
man's artificial antagonism modified; the woman's disenchantment
began to seem unreal.
Then subtly over and through the bird-song another sound became
audible. At first it merely repeated the three notes faintly, like
an echo, but with a rich, sad undertone that brought tears. Then,
timidly and still softly, it elaborated the theme, weaving in and
out through the original three the glitter and shimmer of a
splendid web of sound, spreading before the awakened imagination
a broad river of woods-imagery that reflected on its surface all
the subtler moods of the forest. The pine shadows, the calls of
the wild creatures, the flow of the brook, the splashes of sunlight
through the trees, the sigh of the wind, the shout of the rapid,--
all these were there, distinctly to be felt in their most ethereal
and beautiful forms. And yet it was all slight and tenuous as
though the crack of a twig would break it through--so that over
it continually like a grand full organ-tone repeated the notes of
the bird itself.
With the first sigh of the wonder-music the girl had started and
caught her breath in the exquisite pleasure of it. As it went on
they both forgot everything but the harmony and each other.
"Ah, beautiful!" she murmured.
"What is it?" he whispered marvelling.
"A violin,--played by a master."
The bird suddenly hushed, and at once the strain abandoned the
woods-note and took another motif. At first it played softly
in the higher notes, a tinkling, lightsome little melody that
stirred a kindly surface-smile over a full heart. Then suddenly,
without transition, it dropped to the lower register, and began
to sob and wail in the full vibrating power of a great passion.
And the theme it treated was love. It spoke solemnly, fearfully of
the greatness of it, the glory. These as abstractions it amplified
in fine full-breathed chords that swept the spirit up and up as on
the waves of a mighty organ. Then one by one the voices of other
things were heard,--the tinkling of laughter, the roar of a city,
the sob of a grief, a cry of pain suddenly shooting across the
sound, the clank of a machine, the tumult of a river, the puff of a
steamboat, the murmuring of a vast crowd,--and one by one, without
seeming in the least to change their character, they merged
imperceptibly into, and were part of the grand-breathed chords,
so that at last all the fames and ambitions and passions of the
world came, in their apotheosis, to be only parts of the master-
passion of them all.
And while the echoes of the greater glory still swept beneath their
uplifted souls like ebbing waves, so that they still sat rigid and
staring with the majesty of it, the violin softly began to whisper.
Beautiful it was as a spirit, beautiful beyond words, beautiful
beyond thought. Its beauty struck sharp at the heart. And they two
sat there hand in hand dreaming--dreaming--dreaming---
At last the poignant ecstacy seemed slowly, slowly to die. Fainter
and fainter ebbed the music. Through it as through a mist the
solemn aloof forest began to show to the consciousness of the two.
They sought each other's eyes gently smiling. The music was very
soft and dim and sad. They leaned to each other with a sob. Their
lips met. The music ceased.
Alone in the forest side by side they looked out together for a
moment into that eternal vision which lovers only are permitted to
see. The shadows fell. About them brooded the inscrutable pines
stretching a canopy over them enthroned. A single last shaft of
the sun struck full upon them, a single light-spot in the gathering
gloom. They were beautiful.
And over behind the trees, out of the light and the love and the
beauty, little Phil huddled, his great shaggy head bowed in his
arms. Beside him lay his violin, and beside that his bow, broken.
He had snapped it across his knee. That day he had heard at last
the Heart Song of the Violin, and uttering it, had bestowed love.
But in accordance with his prophecy he had that day lost what he
cared for most in all the world, his friend.
That was the moon of delight. The days passed through the hazy
forest like stately figures from an old masque. In the pine grove
on the knoll the man and the woman had erected a temple to love,
and love showed them one to the other.
In Hilda Farrand was no guile, no coquetry, no deceit. So perfect
was her naturalism that often by those who knew her least she was
considered affected. Her trust in whomever she found herself with
attained so directly its reward; her unconsciousness of pose was so
rhythmically graceful; her ignorance and innocence so triumphantly
effective, that the mind with difficulty rid itself of the belief
that it was all carefully studied. This was not true. She honestly
did not know that she was beautiful; was unaware of her grace; did
not realize the potency of her wealth.
This absolute lack of self-consciousness was most potent in overcoming
Thorpe's natural reticence. He expanded to her. She came to idolize
him in a manner at once inspiring and touching in so beautiful a
creature. In him she saw reflected all the lofty attractions of
character which she herself possessed, but of which she was entirely
unaware. Through his words she saw to an ideal. His most trivial
actions were ascribed to motives of a dignity which would have been
ridiculous, if it had not been a little pathetic. The woods-life,
the striving of the pioneer kindled her imagination. She seized upon
the great facts of them and fitted those facts with reasons of her
own. Her insight perceived the adventurous spirit, the battle-
courage, the indomitable steadfastness which always in reality lie
back of these men of the frontier to urge them into the life; and
of them constructed conscious motives of conduct. To her fancy the
lumbermen, of whom Thorpe was one, were self-conscious agents of
advance. They chose hardship, loneliness, the strenuous life
because they wished to clear the way for a higher civilization. To
her it seemed a great and noble sacrifice. She did not perceive
that while all this is true, it is under the surface, the real spur
is a desire to get on, and a hope of making money. For, strangely
enough, she differentiated sharply the life and the reasons for it.
An existence in subduing the forest was to her ideal; the making of
a fortune through a lumbering firm she did not consider in the
least important. That this distinction was most potent, the sequel
In all of it she was absolutely sincere, and not at all stupid. She
had always had all she could spend, without question. Money meant
nothing to her, one way or the other. If need was, she might have
experienced some difficulty in learning how to economize, but none
at all in adjusting herself to the necessity of it. The material
had become, in all sincerity, a basis for the spiritual. She
recognized but two sorts of motives; of which the ideal, comprising
the poetic, the daring, the beautiful, were good; and the material,
meaning the sordid and selfish, were bad. With her the mere money-
getting would have to be allied with some great and poetic excuse.
That is the only sort of aristocracy, in the popular sense of the
word, which is real; the only scorn of money which can be respected.
There are some faces which symbolize to the beholder many subtleties
of soul-beauty which by no other method could gain expression. Those
subtleties may not, probably do not, exist in the possessor of the
face. The power of such a countenance lies not so much in what it
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