Part 5 out of 6
said the boy.
"Not a bit," said French; "we could sell ten times what we have
"And why not get ten times the stuff?" cried the boy.
French shrugged his shoulders. It was hard to throw off the old
laissez faire of the pioneer.
"All right, Kalman, you go on. I will give you a free hand.
Mackenzie and I will back you up; only don't ask too much of us.
There will be hundreds of teams at work here next year."
"One hundred teams!" exclaimed Kalman. "How much oats do you think
they will need? One thousand bushels?"
"One thousand! yes, ten thousand, twenty thousand."
Kalman made a rapid calculation.
"Why, that would mean three hundred acres of oats at least, and we
have only twenty acres in our field. Oh! Jack!" he continued, "let us
get every horse and every man we can, and make ready for the oats.
Just think! one hundred acres of oats, five or six thousand bushels,
perhaps more, besides the potatoes."
"Oh, well, they won't be along to-day, Kalman, so keep cool."
"But we will have to break this year for next," said the boy,
"and it will take us a long time to break one hundred acres."
"That's so," said Jack; "it will take all our forces hard at it
all summer to get one hundred acres ready."
Eagerly the boy's mind sprang forward into plans for the summer's
campaign. His enthusiasm stirred French to something like vigorous
action, and even waked old Mackenzie out of his aboriginal lethargy.
That very day Kalman rode down to Wakota to consult his friend Brown,
upon whose guidance in all matters he had come more and more to depend.
Brown's Canadian training on an Ontario farm before he entered college
had greatly enriched his experience, and his equipment for the battle
of life. He knew all about farming operations, and to him, rather than
to French or to Mackenzie, Kalman had come to look for advice on all
practical details connected with cattle, horses, and crops. The breach
between the two men was an unspeakable grief to the lad, and all the
greater because he had an instinctive feeling that the fault lay with
the man to whom from the first he had given the complete and unswerving
devotion of his heart. Without explaining to Kalman, French had suddenly
ceased his visits to Wakota, but he had taken care to indicate his
desire that Kalman continue his studies with Brown, and that he should
assist him in every way possible with the work he was seeking to carry
on among the Galicians. This desire both Brown and Kalman were only too
eager to gratify, for the two had grown into a friendship that became a
large part of the lives of both. Every Sunday Kalman was to be found at
Wakota. There, in the hospitable home of the Browns, he came into
contact with a phase of life new and delightful to him. Brown's wife,
and Brown's baby, and Brown's home were to him never-ending sources
of wonder and joy. That French was shut out from all this was the
abiding grief of Kalman's life, and this grief was emphasized by the
all-too-evident effect of this exclusion. For with growing frequency
French would ride off on Sunday afternoon to the Crossing, and often
stay for three or four days at a time. On such occasions life would
be to Kalman one long agony of anxiety. Through the summer he bore
his grief in silence, never speaking of it even to Brown; but on one
occasion, when French's absence had been extended from one Sunday to
the next, his anxiety and grief became unsupportable, and he poured
it forth to Brown.
"He has not been home for a week, Mr. Brown, and oh! I can't stand it
any longer," cried the distracted boy. "I can't stay here while Jack
is over there in such a terrible way. I must go to him."
"He won't like it, Kalman," said Brown; "he won't stand it,
I am afraid. I would go, but I know it would only offend him."
"I am going down to the Crossing to-day," said Kalman.
"I don't care if he kills me, I must go."
But his experience was such that he never went again, for Jack
French in his madness nearly killed the boy, who was brought sadly
battered to Brown's hospital, where he lay for a week or more.
Every day, French, penetrated with penitence, visited him, lavishing
on the boy a new tenderness. But when Kalman was on his feet again,
French laid it upon him, and bound him by a solemn promise that he
should never again follow him to the Crossing, or interfere when he
was not master of himself. It was a hard promise to give, but once
given, that settled the matter for both. With Brown he never
discussed Jack French's weakness, but every Sunday afternoon, when
in his own home Brown prayed for friends near and dear, committing
them into the Heavenly Father's keeping, in their minds, chiefly
and before all others was the man whom they had all come to love as
an elder brother, and for whose redemption they were ready to lay
down their lives. And this was the strongest strand in the bond
that bound Kalman and his friend together. So to Brown Kalman went
with his plans for the coming summer, and with most happy results.
For through the spring and summer, following Brown's advice and
under Kalman's immediate directions, a strong force of Galicians
with horse teams and ox teams were kept hard at work, breaking
and back-setting, in anticipation of an early sowing in the
following spring. In the meantime Brown himself was full of work.
The addition to his hospital was almost always full of patients;
his school had begun to come back to him again, for the gratitude
of his warm-hearted Galician people, in return for his many services
to their sick and suffering, sufficed to overcome their fear of the
Polish priest, whose unpriestly habits and whose mercenary spirit
were fast turning against him even the most loyal of his people.
In the expressive words of old Portnoff, who, it is to be feared,
had little religion in his soul, was summed up the general opinion:
"Dat Klazowski bad man. He drink, drink all time, take money,
money for everyting. He damn school, send doctor man hell fire,"
the meaning of which was abundantly obvious to both Brown and his wife.
So full of work were they all, both at the ranch and at Wakota, that
almost without their knowing it the summer had gone, and autumn, with
its golden glorious days, nippy evenings, and brilliant starry nights,
Canada's most delightful season, was upon them. Throughout the summer
the construction gangs had steadily worked their way north and west,
and had crossed the Saskatchewan, and were approaching the Eagle Hill
country. Preceding the construction army, and following it, were camp
followers and attendants of various kinds. On the one hand the
unlicensed trader and whiskey pedlar, the bane of the contractor
and engineer; on the other hand the tourist, the capitalist, and
the speculator, whom engineers and contractors received with welcome
or with scant tolerance, according to the letters of introduction
they brought from the great men in the East.
Attached to the camp of Engineer Harris was a small and influential
party, consisting of Mr. Robert Menzies of Glasgow, capitalist, and,
therefore, possible investor in Canadian lands, mines, and railroads,
--consequently, a man to be considered; with him, his daughter Marjorie,
a brown-haired maid of seventeen, out for the good of her health and
much the better of her outing, and Aunt Janet, maiden sister to
Mr. Menzies, and guardian to both brother and niece. With this party
travelled Mr. Edgar Penny, a young English gentleman of considerable
means, who, having been a year in the country, felt himself eminently
qualified to act as adviser and guide to the party. At present, however,
Mr. Penny was far more deeply interested in the study of the lights that
lurked in Miss Marjorie's brown eyes, and the bronze tints of her
abundant hair, than in the opportunities for investments offered by
Canadian lands, railroads, and mines.
With an elaborate equipment, this party had spent three months
travelling as far as Edmonton, and now, on their way back, were
attached to the camp of Engineer Harris, in order that the Scotch
capitalist might personally investigate methods of railway
construction as practised in Western Canada. At present, the party
were encamped at a little distance from the Wakota trail, and upon
the sunny side of a poplar bluff, for it was growing late in the year.
It was on a rare October morning that Kalman, rising before the
sun, set out upon his broncho to round up the horses for their
morning feed in preparation for the day's back-setting. With his
dogs at his horse's heels, he rode down to the Night Hawk, and
crossed to the opposite side of the ravine. As he came out upon
the open prairie, Captain, the noble and worthy son of Blucher,
caught sight of a prairie wolf not more than one hundred yards
distant, and was off after him like the wind.
"Aha! my boy," cried Kalman, getting between the coyote and the
bluff, and turning him towards the open country, "you have got
your last chicken, I guess. It is our turn now."
Headed off from the woods that marked the banks of the Night Hawk
Creek, the coyote in desperation took to the open prairie, with
Captain and Queen, a noble fox-hound bitch, closing fast upon him.
Two miles across the open country could be seen the poplar bluff,
behind which lay the camp of the Engineer and his travelling
companions. Steadily the gap between the wolf and the pursuing
hounds grew less, till at length, fearing the inevitable, the
hunted beast turned towards the little bluff, and entered it
with the dogs only a few yards behind. Alas! for him, the bluff
afforded no shelter. Right through the little belt of timber dashed
the wolf with the dogs and Kalman hard upon his trail. At the very
instant that the wolf came opposite the door of Aunt Janet's tent,
Captain reached for the extreme point of the beast's extended tail.
Like a flash, the brute doubled upon his pursuer, snapping fiercely
as the hound dashed past. With a howl of rage and pain, Captain
clawed the ground in his effort to recover himself, but before he
could renew his attack, and just as the wolf was setting forth
again, like a cyclone Queen was upon them. So terrific was her
impact, that dogs and wolf rolled under the tent door in one
snarling, fighting, snapping mass of legs and tails and squirming
bodies. Immediately from within rose a wild shriek of terror.
"Mercy sakes alive! What, what is this? Help! Help! Help! Where are
you all? Will some one not come to my help?" Kalman sprang from his
horse, rushed forward, and lifted the tent door. A new outcry
greeted his ear.
"Get out, get out, you man!" He dropped the flap, fled aghast
before the appalling vision of Aunt Janet in night attire, with a
ring of curl-papers round her head, driven back into the corner of
the tent, and crouched upon a box, her gown drawn tight about her,
while she gazed in unspeakable horror at the whirling, fighting mass
upon the tent floor at her feet. Higher and higher rose her shrieks
above the din of the fight. From a neighbouring tent there rushed
forth a portly, middle-aged gentleman in pyjamas, gun in hand.
"What is it, Katharine? Where are you, Katharine?"
"Where am I? Where but here, ye gowk! Oh, Robert! Robert!
I shall be devoured alive."
The stout gentleman ran to the door of the tent, lifted the
flap, and plunged in. With equal celerity he plunged back
again, shouting, "Whatever is all yon?"
"Robert! Robert!" screamed the voice, "come back and save me."
"What is this, sir?" indignantly turning upon Kalman, who stood
in bewildered uncertainty.
"It is a wolf, sir, that my dogs--"
"A wolf!" screamed the portly gentleman, springing back from the door.
"Go in, sir; go in at once and save my sister! What are you looking
at, sir? She will be devoured alive. I beseech you. I am in no
state to attack a savage beast."
From another tent appeared a young man, rotund of form and with a
chubby face. He was partly dressed, his night-robe being stuffed
hastily into his trousers, and he held the camp axe in his hand.
"What the deuce is the row?" he exclaimed. "By Jove! sounds like
a beastly dog fight."
"Aunt Janet! Aunt Janet! What is the matter?" A girl in a
dressing-gown, with her hair streaming behind her, came rushing
from another tent, and sprang towards the door of the tent, from
which came the mingled clamour of the fighting dogs and the
terror-stricken woman. Kalman stepped quickly in front of her,
caught her round the waist, and swung her behind him.
"Go back!" he cried. "Get away, all of you." There was an immediate
clearance of the space in front of the tent. Seizing a club, he
sprang among the fighting beasts.
"Oh! you good man! Come here and save me," cried Aunt Janet in a
frenzy of relief. But Kalman was too busy for the moment to give
heed to her cries. As he entered, a fiercer howl arose above the
din. The wolf had seized hold of Captain's upper lip and was grimly
hanging on, while Queen was gripping savagely for the beast's
throat. With his club Kalman struck the wolf a heavy blow, stunning
it so that it released its hold on the dog. Then, catching it by
the hind leg, he hauled wolf and hounds out of the tent in one
"God help us!" cried the stout gentleman, darting into his own
tent and poking his head out through the door. "Keep the brute
off. There's my gun."
The girl screamed and ran behind Kalman. The young man with the
chubby face dropped his axe and jumped hastily into a convenient
"Shoot the bloomin' brutes," he cried. "Some one bring me my gun."
But the wolf's days were numbered. Queen's powerful jaws were
tearing at his throat, while Captain, having gripped him by the
small of the back, was shaking him with savage fury.
"Oh! the poor thing! Call off the dogs!" cried the girl, turning
"No! No! Don't you think of it!" cried the man from the tent door.
"He will attack us."
Kalman stepped forward, and beating the dogs from their quarry,
drew his pistol and shot the beast through the head.
"Get back, Captain! Back! Back! I say. Down!"
With difficulty he drew the wolf from the jaws of the eager hounds,
and swung it into the wagon out of the dogs' reach.
"My word!" exclaimed the young man, leaping from the wagon with
precipitate haste. "What are you doing?"
"He won't hurt you, sir. He is dead."
The young man's red, chubby face, out of which peered his little
round eyes, his red hair standing in a disordered halo about his
head, his strange attire, with trailing braces and tag-ends of his
night-robe hanging about his person, made a picture so weirdly
funny that the girl went off into peals of laughter.
"Marjorie! Marjorie!" cried an indignant voice, "what are ye daein'
there? Tak' shame to yersel', ye hizzie."
Marjorie turned in the direction of the voice, and again her peals
of laughter burst forth. "Oh! Aunt Janet, you do look so funny."
But at once the head with its aureole of curl-papers was whipped
inside the tent.
"Ye're no that fine to look at yersel', ye shameless lassie,"
cried Aunt Janet.
With a swift motion the girl put her hand to her head, gathered
her garments about her, and fled to the cover of her tent,
leaving Kalman and the young man together, the latter in a state
of indignant wrath, for no man can bear with equanimity the
ridicule of a maiden whom he is especially anxious to please.
"By Jove, sir!" he exclaimed. "What the deuce did you mean, running
your confounded dogs into a camp like that?"
Kalman heard not a word. He was standing as in a dream, gazing upon
the tent into which the girl had vanished. Ignoring the young man,
he got his horse and mounted, and calling his dogs, rode off up the
"Hello there!" cried Harris, the engineer, after him. Kalman reined
up. "Do you know where I can get any oats?"
"Yes," said Kalman, "up at our ranch."
"And where is that?"
"Ten miles from here, across the Night Hawk Creek." Then,
as if taking a sudden resolve, "I'll bring them down to
you this afternoon. How much do you want?"
"Twenty-five bushels would do us till we reach the construction camp."
"I'll bring them to-day," said Kalman, riding away, his dogs
limping after him.
In a few moments the girl came out of the tent. "Oh!" she cried to
the engineer, "is he gone?"
"Yes," said Harris, "but he'll be back this afternoon. He is going
to bring me some oats." His smile brought a quick flush to the girl's
"Oh! has he?" she said, with elaborate indifference. "What a lovely
morning! It's wonderful for so late in the year. You have a
splendid country here, Mr. Harris."
"That's right," he said; "and the longer you stay in it, the better
you like it. You'll be going to settle in it yourself some day."
"I'm not so sure about that," cried the girl, with a deeper blush,
and a saucy toss of her head. "It is a fine country, but it's no'
Scotland, ye ken, as my Aunt would say. My! but I'm fair starving."
It happened that the ride to the Galician colony, planned for
that afternoon by Mr. Penny the day before, had to be postponed.
Miss Marjorie was hardly up to it. "It must be the excitement of
the country," she explained carefully to Mr. Penny, "so I'll just
bide in the camp."
"Indeed, you are wise for once in your life," said her Aunt Janet.
"As for me, I'm fair dune out. With this hurly-burly of such
terrible excitement I wonder I did not faint right off."
"Hoots awa', Aunt Janet," said her niece, "it was no time for
fainting, I'm thinking, with yon wolf in the tent beside ye."
"Aye, lassie, you may well say so," said Aunt Janet, lapsing into
her native tongue, into which in unguarded moments she was rather
apt to fall, and which her niece truly loved to use, much to her
Aunt's disgust, who considered it a form of vulgarity to be avoided
with all care.
As the afternoon was wearing away, a wagon appeared in the
distance. The gentlemen were away from camp inspecting the
progress of the work down the line.
"There's something coming yonder," said Miss Marjorie, whose eyes
had often wandered down the trail that afternoon.
"Mercy on us! What can it be, and them all away," said her Aunt in
distress. "Put your saddle on and fly for your father or Mr. Harris.
I am terrified. It is this awful country. If ever I get out alive!"
"Hoots awa', Aunt, it's just a wagon."
"Marjorie, why will you use such vulgar expressions? Of course,
it's a wagon. Wha's--who's in it?"
"Indeed, I'm not caring," said her niece; "they'll no' eat us."
"Marjorie, behave yourself, I'm saying, and speak as you are
taught. Run away for your father."
"Indeed, Aunt, how could I do this and leave you here by yourself?
A wild Indian might run off with you."
"Mercy me! What a lassie! I'm fair distracted."
"Oh, Auntie dear," said Marjorie, with a change of voice, "it is
just a man bringing some oats. Mr. Harris told me he was to get a
load this afternoon. We will need to take them from him. Have you
any money? We must pay him, I suppose."
"Money?" cried her Aunt. "What is the use of money in this country?
No, your father has it all."
"Why," suddenly exclaimed her niece, "it's not the man after all."
"What man are you talking about?" enquired her Aunt. "What man is
"It's a stranger. I mean--it's--another man," said Marjorie,
distinct disappointment in her tone.
"Here, who is it, or who is it no'?"
"Oh," said Marjorie innocently. "Mr. Harris is expecting that
young man who was here this morning,--the one who saved us from
that awful wolf, you know."
"That man! The impudent thing that he was," cried her Aunt.
"Wait till I set my eyes on him. Indeed, I will not look at any
one belonging to him." Aunt Janet flounced into the tent, leaving
her niece to meet the stranger alone.
"Good afternoon! Am I right in thinking that this is the engineer's
camp, for which a load of oats was ordered this morning?" Jack
French was standing, hat in hand, looking his admiration and
perplexity, for Kalman had not told him anything of this girl.
"Yes, this is the camp. At least, I heard Mr. Harris say he
expected a load of oats; but," she added in slight confusion,
"it was from another man, a young man, the man, I mean, who
was here this morning."
"Confusion, indeed!" came a muffled voice from the closed tent.
Jack French glanced quickly around, but saw no one.
"Oh," said Miss Marjorie, struggling with her laughter, "it's my
Aunt; she was much alarmed this morning. You see, the wolf and the
dogs ran right into her tent. It was terrible."
"Terrible, indeed," said Jack French, with grave politeness.
"I could only get the most incoherent account of the whole matter.
I hope your Aunt was not hurt."
"Hurt, indeed!" ejaculated a muffled voice. "It was nearer killed,
Upon this, Miss Marjorie ran to the tent door. "Aunt," she cried,
lifting up the flap, "you might as well come out and meet Mr.--"
"French, Jack French, as I am known in this free country."
"My Aunt, Miss Menzies."
"Very happy to meet you, madam." Jack's bow was so inexpressibly
elegant that Aunt Janet found herself adopting her most gracious,
Glasgow society manner.
French was profuse in his apologies and sympathetic regrets, as he
gravely listened to Aunt Janet's excited account of her warm
adventure. The perfect gravity and the profuse sympathy with which
he heard the tale won Aunt Janet's heart, and she privately decided
that here, at last, she had found in this wild and terrible country
a man in whom she could entirely confide.
Under Miss Marjorie's direction, French unloaded his oats, the girl
pouring forth the while a stream of observations, exclamations,
and interrogations upon all subjects imaginable, and with such an
abandonment of good fellowship that French, for the first time in
twenty years, found himself offering hospitality to a party in which
ladies were to be found. Miss Menzies accepted the invitation with
"Oh! it will be lovely, won't it, Aunt Janet? We have not yet seen
a real ranch, and besides," she added, "we have no money to pay for
"That matters not at all," said French; "but if your Aunt will
condescend to grace with her presence my poor bachelor's hall,
we shall be most grateful."
Aunt Janet was quite captivated, and before she knew it, she had
accepted the invitation for the party.
"Oh, good!" cried Miss Marjorie in ecstasy; "we shall come
to-morrow, Mr. French."
And with this news French drove back to the ranch, to the disgust
of old Mackenzie, who dreaded "women folks," and to Kalman's
alternating delight and dismay. That short visit had established
between the young girl and Jack French a warm and abiding
friendship that in a more conventional atmosphere it would have
taken years to develop. To her French realized at once all her
ideals of what a Western rancher should be, and to French the
frank, fresh innocence of her unspoiled heart appealed with
irresistible force. They had discovered each other in that
HOW KALMAN FOUND HIS MINE
The girl's enthusiasm for her new-found friend was such that the
whole party decided to accept his invitation. And so they did,
spending a full day and night on the ranch, exploring, under
French's guidance, the beauty spots, and investigating with the
greatest interest, especially on Miss Marjorie's part, the
farming operations, over which Kalman was presiding.
That young man, in dumb and abashed confusion of face, strictly
avoided the party, appearing only at meals. There, while he made
a brave show, he was torn between the conflicting emotions of
admiration of the easy nonchalance and self-possession with
which Jack played the host, and of furious rage at the air of
proprietorship which Mr. Edgar Penny showed towards Miss Marjorie.
Gladly would he have crushed into a shapeless pulp the ruddy,
chubby face of that young man. Kalman found himself at times with
his eyes fixed upon the very spot where his fingers itched to grip
that thick-set neck, but in spite of these passing moments of fury,
the whole world was new to him. The blue of the sky, the shimmer of
the lake, the golden yellow of the poplars, all things in earth and
heaven, were shining with a new glory. For him the day's work had
no weariness. He no longer trod the solid ground, but through paths
of airy bliss his soul marched to the strains of celestial music.
Poor Kalman! When on that fateful morning upon his virgin soul
there dawned the vision of the maid, the hour of fate struck for
him. That most ancient and most divine of frenzies smote him.
He was deliciously, madly in love, though he knew it not. It is
something to his credit, however, that he allowed the maiden to
depart without giving visible token of this divine frenzy raging
within his breast, unless it were that in the blue of his eyes
there came a deeper blue, and that under the tan of his cheek
a pallor crept. But when on their going the girl suddenly turned
in her saddle and, waving her hand, cried, "Good-by, Kalman," the
pallor fled, chased from his cheek by a hot rush of Slavic blood as
he turned to answer, "Good-by." He held his hat high in a farewell
salutation, as he had seen Jack do, and then in another moment she
was gone, and with her all the glory of that golden autumn day.
To Kalman it seemed as if months or years must have passed since he
first saw her by her Aunt's tent on that eventful morning. To take
up the ordinary routine was impossible to him. That very night,
rolling up his blankets and grub for three days, and strapping on
to his saddle an axe and a shovel, Kalman rode off down the Night
Hawk Creek, telling Mackenzie gruffly, as he called his dogs to
follow, that he purposed digging out a coyote's den that he knew
lay somewhere between the lake and the Creek mouth.
The afternoon of the second day found him far down the Creek, where
it plunged headlong into the black ravine below, not having discovered
his wolf den and not much caring whether he should or not; for as he
rode through the thick scrub he seemed to see dancing before him in
the glancing beams that rained down through the yellow poplar leaves
a maiden's face with saucy brown eyes that laughed at him and lured
him and flouted him all at once.
At the edge of the steep descent he held up his broncho. He had
never been down this way before. The sides of the ravine pitched
sharply into a narrow gorge through which the Night Hawk brawled
its way to the Saskatchewan two miles farther down.
"We'll scramble down here, Jacob," he said to his broncho,--so named
by Brown, for that he had "supplanted" in Kalman's affection his
first pony, the pinto.
He dismounted, drew the reins over the broncho's head, and began
the descent, followed by his horse, slipping, sliding, hanging on
now by trees and now by jutting rocks. By the edge of what had once
been a small landslip, he clutched a poplar tree to save himself
from going over; but the tree came away with him, and horse and man
slid and rolled down the slope, bringing with them a great mass of
earth and stone. Unhappily, Jacob in his descent rolled over upon
the boy's leg. There was a snap, a twinge of sharp pain, and boy
and horse lay half imbedded in the loose earth. Kalman seized a
stick that lay near at hand.
"Get up, Jacob, you brute!" he cried, giving him a sharp blow.
Jacob responded with a mighty plunge and struggled free, making
it possible for Kalman to extricate himself. He was relieved to
discover that he could stand on his feet and could walk, but only
with extreme pain. Upon examination he could find no sign of broken
bones. He took a large handkerchief from his neck, bound it tightly
about his foot and ankle.
"I say, Jacob, we're well out of that," he said, looking up at the
great cave that had been excavated by the landslip. "Quite a hole,
eh? A great place to sleep in. Lots of spruce about, too. We'll
just camp here for the night. I guess I'll have to let those
coyotes go this trip. This beastly foot of mine won't let me dig
much. Hello!" he continued, "that's a mighty queer rock. I'll just
take a look at that hole."
He struggled up over the debris and entered the cave. Through the
earth there showed a glistening seam slanting across one side and
ending in a broken ledge.
"By Jove!" he cried, copying Jack French in his habit of speech as
in other habits, "that looks like the coal we used to find along
the Winnipeg tracks."
He broke off a piece of the black seam. It crumbled in his hands.
"I guess not," he said; "but we'll get the shovel at it."
Forgetting for the time the pain of his foot, he scrambled down
over the soft earth, got his shovel, and was soon hard at work
excavating the seam. Soon he had a very considerable pile lying
at the front of the cave.
"Now we'll soon see," he cried.
He hurriedly gathered some dry wood, heaped the black stuff upon
it, lighted it, and sat down to wait the issue. Wild hopes were
throbbing at his heart. He knew enough of the value of coal to
realize the importance of the discovery. If it should prove to
be coal, what a splendid thing it would be for Jack and for him!
How much they would be able to do for Mrs. French and for his
sister Irma! Amid his dreams a new face mingled, a face with
saucy brown eyes, but on that face he refused to allow himself
the rapture of looking. He dared not, at least not yet. Keenly
he watched the fire. Was it taking hold of the black lumps?
The flames were dying down. The wood had nearly burned itself out.
The black lumps were charred and dead, and with their dying died
He glanced out upon the ravine. Large soft flakes of snow were
falling lazily through the trees.
"I'll get my blankets and grub under cover, and get some more
wood for the night. It's going to be cold."
He heaped the remains of the wood he had gathered upon the fire,
and with great difficulty, for his foot was growing more and more
painful with every move, he set about gathering wood, of which
there was abundance near at hand, and making himself snug for the
night. He brought up a pail of water from the Creek, and tethered
his broncho where there was a bunch of grass at the bottom of the
ravine. Before he had finished these operations the ground was
white with snow, and the wind was beginning to sigh ominously
through the trees.
"Going to be a blizzard, sure," he said. "But let her blow. We're
all right in here. Hello! where are those dogs? After the wolves,
I'll be bound. They'll come back when they're ready."
With every moment the snow came down more thickly, and the wind
grew toward a gale.
"If it's going to be a storm, I'd better lay in some more wood."
At the cost of great pain and labour, he dragged within reach of
the cave a number of dead trees. He was disgusted to find his stock
of provisions rather low.
"I wish I'd eaten less," he grumbled. "If I'm in for a three days'
storm, and it looks like that, my grub will run out. I'll have a
cup of tea to-night and save the grub for to-morrow."
As he was busy with these preparations, a sudden darkness fell on
the valley. A strange sound like a muffled roaring came up the
ravine. In a single minute everything was blotted out before him.
There hung down before his eyes a white, whirling, blinding,
choking mass of driving snow.
"By Jove! that's a corker of a blizzard, sure enough! I'll draw my
fire further in."
He seized his shovel and began to scrape the embers of his fire
together. With a shout he dropped his shovel, fell on his knees,
and gazed into the fire. Under the heap of burning wood there was
a mass of glowing coal.
"Coal!" he shouted, rushing to the front of the cave. "Coal! Coal!
Oh, Jack! Dear old Jack! It's coal!"
Trembling between fear and hope, he broke in pieces the glowing
lumps, rushed back to the seam, gathered more of the black stuff,
and heaped it around the fire. Soon his doubts were all at rest.
The black lumps were soon on fire and blazed up with a blue flame.
But for his foot, he would have mounted Jacob and ridden straight
off for the ranch through all the storm.
"Let her snow!" he cried, gazing into the whirling mist before his
eyes. "I've got the stuff that beats blizzards!"
He turned to his tea making, now pausing to examine the great black
seam, and again going to the cave entrance to whistle for his dogs.
As he stood listening to the soft whishing roar of the storm, he
thought he heard the deep bay of Queen's voice. Holding his breath,
he listened again. In the pause of the storm he heard, and
distinctly this time, that deep musical note.
"They're digging out a wolf," he said. "They'll get tired and come
He drank his tea, struggled down the steep slope, the descent made
more difficult by the covering of soft snow upon it, and drew
another pail of water for evening use. Still the dogs did not
appear. He went to the cave's mouth again, and whistled loud and
long. This time quite distinctly he caught Queen's long, deep bay,
and following that, a call as of a human voice.
"What?" he said, "some one out in that storm?"
He dropped upon his knees, put his hands up to his ears, and
listened intently again. Once more, in a lull of the gale,
he heard a long, clear call.
"Heavens above!" he cried, "a woman's voice! And I can't make
a hundred yards with this foot of mine."
He knew enough of blizzards to realize the extreme danger to any
one caught in those blinding, whirling snow clouds.
"I can't stay here, and I can't make it with this foot,
but--yes--By Jove! Jacob can, though."
He seized his saddle and struggled out into the storm. Three paces
from the door he fell headlong into a soft drift, wrenching his
foot anew. Choking, blinded, and almost fainting with the pain,
he got to his feet once more and fought his way down the slope
to where he knew his horse must be.
"Jacob!" he called, "where are you?"
The faithful broncho answered with a glad whinny.
"All right, old boy, I'll get you."
In a few minutes he was on the broncho's back and off down the
valley, feeling his way carefully among the trees and over stones
and logs. As he went on, he caught now and then Queen's ringing
bugle-note, and as often as he caught it he answered with a loud
"Halloo!" It was with the utmost difficulty that he could keep
Jacob's head toward the storm. Yard by yard he pressed his way
against the gale, holding his direction by means of the flowing
stream. Nearer and nearer sounded the cry of the hound, till in
answer to his shouting he heard a voice call loud and clear. The
valley grew wider, the timber more open, and his progress became
more rapid. Soon, through the drifting mass, he caught sight of
two white moving figures. The dogs bounded toward him.
"Hello there!" he called. "Here you are; come this way."
He urged forward his horse till he was nearly upon them.
"Oh, Kalman! Kalman! I knew it was you!"
In an instant he was off his horse and at her side.
"You! You!" he shouted aloud above the howling gale. "Marjorie!
Marjorie!" He had her in his arms, kissing her face madly, while
sobbing, panting, laughing, she sank upon his breast.
"Oh, Kalman! Kalman!" she gasped. "You must stop! You must stop!
Oh! I am so glad! You must stop!"
"God in Heaven!" shouted the man, boy no longer. "Who can stop me?
How can I stop? You might have died here in the snow!"
At a little distance the other figure was hanging to a tree,
evidently near to exhaustion.
"Oh, Kalman, we were fair done when the dogs came, and then I
wouldn't stop, for I knew you were near. But my! my! you were
The boy still held her in his arms.
"I say, young man, what the deuce are we going to do?
I'm played out. I cawn't move a blawsted foot."
The voice recalled Kalman from heaven to earth. He turned to
the speaker and made out Mr. Edgar Penny.
"Do!" cried Kalman. "Why, make for my camp. Come along.
It's up stream a little distance, and we can feel our way.
Climb up, Marjorie."
"Yes, at once," said Kalman, taking full command of her.
"Now, hold on tight, and we'll soon be at camp."
With the gale in their backs, they set off up stream, the men
holding by the stirrups. For some minutes they battled on through
the blizzard. Well for them that they had the brawling Creek to
guide them that night, for through this swaying, choking curtain
of snow it was impossible to see more than a horse length.
In a few minutes Mr. Penny called out, "I say, I cawn't go a step
further. Let's rest a bit." He sat down in the snow. Every moment
the wind was blowing colder.
"Come on!" shouted Kalman through the storm. "We must keep going
or we'll freeze."
But there was no answer.
"Mr. Penny! Mr. Penny!" cried Marjorie, "get up! We must go on!"
Still there was no answer. Kalman made his way round to the man's
side. He was fast asleep.
"Get up! Get up, you fool, or you will be smothered!" said Kalman,
roughly shaking him. "Get up, I say!"
He pulled the man to his feet and they started on once more,
Mr. Penny stumbling along like a drunken man.
"Let me walk, Kalman," entreated Marjorie. "I feel fresh and
strong. He can't go on, and he will only keep us back."
"You walk!" cried Kalman. "Never! If he can't keep up let him
stay and die."
"No, Kalman, I am quite strong."
She slipped off the horse, Kalman growling his wrath and disgust,
and together they assisted Mr. Penny to mount. By this time they
had reached the thickest part of the woods. The trees broke to some
extent the force of the wind, but the cold was growing more intense.
"Single file here!" shouted Kalman to Marjorie. "You follow me."
Slowly, painfully, through the darkness and drifted snow, with
teeth clenched to keep back the groans which the pain of his
foot was forcing from him, Kalman stumbled along. At length a
misstep turned his foot. He sank with a groan into the snow.
With a cry Marjorie was beside him.
"Oh, Kalman, you have hurt yourself!"
"It is this cursed foot of mine," he groaned. "I twisted it
and something's broken, I am afraid, and it _is_ rather sore."
"Hello there! what's up?" cried Mr. Penny from his saddle.
"I'm getting beastly cold up here."
Marjorie turned wrathfully upon him.
"Here, you great lazy thing, come down!" she cried. "Kalman, you
But Kalman was up and once more leading the way.
"We're almost there," he cried. "Come along; he couldn't find the path."
"It's just a great shame!" cried Marjorie, half sobbing, keeping by
his side. "Can't I help you? Let me try."
Her arm around him put new life into him.
"By Jove! I see a fire," shouted Mr. Penny.
"That's camp," said Kalman, pausing for breath while Marjorie held
him up. "We're just there."
And so, staggering and stumbling, they reached the foot of the
landslip. Here Kalman took the saddle off Jacob, turned him loose,
and clambered up to the cave, followed by the others. Mr. Penny
sank to the ground and lay upon the cave floor like one dead.
"Well, here we are at last," said Kalman, "thank God!"
"Yes, thank God!" said Marjorie softly, "and--you, Kalman."
She sank to her knees on the ground, and putting her face in her
hands, burst into tears.
"What is it, Marjorie?" said Kalman, taking her hands down from her
face. "Are you hurt? What is it? I can't bear to see you cry like
that." But he didn't kiss her. The conventionalities were seizing
upon him again. His old shyness was stealing over his spirit. "Tell
me what to do," he said.
"Do!" cried Marjorie through her sobs. "What more can you do? Oh,
Kalman, you have saved me from an awful death!"
"Don't speak of it," said the boy with a shudder. "Don't I know it?
I can't bear to think of it. But are you all right?"
"Right?" said Marjorie briskly, wiping away her tears. "Of course
I'm all right, an' sair hungry, tae."
"Why, of course. What a fool I am!" said Kalman. "I'll make you tea
in a minute."
"No, let me," cried Marjorie. "Your poor foot must be awful.
Where's your teapot? I'm a gran' tea maker, ye ken." She was in
one of her daft moods, as Aunt Janet would say.
Never was such tea as that which they had from the tin tea pail and
from the one tin cup. What though the blizzard howled its loudest
in front of their cave? What though the swirling snow threatened
now and then to douse their fire? What though the tea boiled over
and the pork burned to a crisp? What though a single bannock stood
alone between them and starvation? What cared they? Heaven was
about them, and its music was ringing in their hearts.
Refreshed by their tea, they sat before the blazing fire, all
three, drying their soaked garments, while Mr. Penny and Marjorie
recounted their experiences. They had intended to make Wakota, but
missed the trail. The day was fine, however, and that gave them no
concern till the storm came up, when suddenly they had lost all
sense of direction and allowed their ponies to take them where they
would. With the instinct bred on the plains, the ponies had made
for the shelter of the Night Hawk ravine. Up the ravine they had
struggled till the darkness and the thick woods had forced them to
abandon the ponies.
"I wonder what the poor things will do?" interjected Marjorie.
"They'll look after themselves, never fear," said Kalman.
"They live out all winter here."
Then through the drifts they had fought their way, till in the
moment of their despair the dogs came upon them.
"We thought they were wolves," cried Marjorie, "till one began to
bay, and I knew it was the fox-hound. And then I was sure that you
would not be far away. We followed the dogs for a while, and I kept
calling and calling,--poor Mr. Penny had lost his voice
entirely,--till you came and found us."
A sweet confusion checked her speech. The heat of the fire became
suddenly insupportable, and putting up her hand to protect her
face, she drew back into the shadow.
Mr. Penny, under the influence of a strong cup of boiling tea and
a moderate portion of the bannock and pork,--for Kalman would not
allow him full rations,--became more and more confident that they
"would have made it."
"Why, Mr. Penny," cried Marjorie, "you couldn't move a foot
further. Don't you remember how often you sat down, and I had
just to pull you up?"
"Oh," said Mr. Penny, "it was the beastly drift getting into my
eyes and mouth, don't you know. But I would have pulled up again in
a minute. I was just getting my second wind. By Jove! I'm strong on
my second wind, don't you know."
But Marjorie was quite unconvinced, while Kalman said nothing.
Over and over again they recounted the tale of their terrors and
their struggle, each time with some new incident; but ever and
anon there would flame up in Marjorie's cheek the flag of distress,
as if some memory smote her with a sudden blow, and her hand would
cover her cheek as if to ward off those other and too ardent kisses
of the dancing flames. But at such times about her lips a fitful
smile proclaimed her distress to be not quite unendurable.
At length Mr. Penny felt sleepy, and stretching himself upon the
dry earth before the fire, passed into unconsciousness, leaving the
others to themselves. Over the bed of spruce boughs in the corner
Kalman spread his blankets, moving about with painful difficulty
at his task, his groans growing more frequent as they called forth
from his companion exclamations of tender commiseration.
The story of those vigil hours could not be told. How they sat
now in long silences, gazing into the glowing coals, and again
conversing in low voices lest Mr. Penny's vocal slumbers should
be disturbed; how Marjorie told the short and simple story of her
life, to Kalman all wonderful; how Kalman told the story of his
life, omitting parts, and how Marjorie's tender eyes overflowed
and her rosy cheeks grew pale and her hand crept toward his arm
as he told the tragedy of his mother's death; how she described
with suppressed laughter the alarms of her dear Aunt Janet that
morning--was it a month ago?--how he told of Jack French, what
a man he was and how good; how she spoke of her father and his
strength and his tenderness, and of how he spoiled her, against
which Kalman vehemently protested; how he told of Brown and his
work for the poor ignorant Galicians, and of the songs they sang
together; how she made him sing, at first in undertones soft and
low, lest poor Mr. Penny's sleep should be broken, and then in
tones clear and full, the hymns in which Brown and French used to
join, and then, in obedience to her peremptory commands, his own
favourite Hungarian love-song, of which he shyly told her; how her
eyes shone like stars, her cheeks paled, and her hands held fast
to each other in the ecstasy of her rapture while he told her what
it all meant, at first with averted looks, and then boldly pouring
the passion of his soul into her eyes, till they fell before the
flame in his as he sang the refrain,
"While the flower blooms in the meadow,
And fishes swim the sea,
Heart of my heart, soul of my soul,
I'll love and live for thee";
how then shyness fell on her and she moved ever so little to her
own side of the fire; how he, sensitive to her every emotion, rose
at once to build the fire, telling her for the first time then of
his wonderful discovery, which he had clean forgot; how together
on tiptoe they examined, with heads in close proximity and voices
lowered to a whisper, the black seam that ran down a side of the
cave; how they discussed the possible value of it and what it might
mean to Kalman; and then how they fell silent again till Kalman
commanded her to bed, to which she agreed only upon condition
that he should rouse Mr. Penny when his watch should be over; how
she woke in broad daylight to find him with breakfast ready, the
blizzard nearly done, and the sun breaking through upon a wonderful
world, white and fairylike; how they vainly strove to simulate an
ease of manner, to forget some of the things that happened the
night before, and that neither could ever forget till the heart
should cease to beat.
All this might be told, had one the art. But no art or skill of man
could tell how, as they talked, there flew from eye to eye, hers
brown and his blue-grey, those swift, fluttering signals of the
heart; how he watched to see on her cheek the red flush glow and
pale again, not sure whether it was from the fire upon the cave
floor or from the fire that burns eternal in the heart of man and
maid; how, as he talked and sang, she feared and loved to see the
bold leap of passion in his eyes; and how she speedily learned what
words or looks of hers could call up that flash; how, as she slept,
he piled high the fire, not that she might be warm, but that the
light might fall upon her face and he might drink and drink till
his heart could hold no more, of her sweet loveliness; how, when
first waking, her eyes fell on him moving softly about the cave,
and then closed again till she could dream again her dream and
drink in slow sips its rapture; how he feared to meet her waking
glance, lest it should rebuke his madness of the night; how, as
her eyes noted the haggard look of sleepless watching and of pain,
her heart flowed over as with a mother's pity for her child, and
how she longed to comfort him but dared not; how he thought of the
coming days and feared to think of them, because in them she would
have no place or part; how she looked into the future and wondered
what like would be a life in this new and wonderful land--all this,
no matter what his skill or art, no man could tell.
It was still morning when Jack French and Brown rode up the Night
Hawk ravine, driving two saddled ponies before them. Their common
anxiety had furnished the occasion for the healing of the breach
that for a year and more had held these friends apart.
With voluble enthusiasm Mr. Penny welcomed them, plunging into a
graphic account of their struggle with the storm till happily they
came upon the dogs, who led them to Kalman and his camp. But French,
brushing him aside, strode past to where, trembling and speechless,
Marjorie stood, and then, taking her in his arms, he whispered many
times in her ears, "Thank God, little girl, you are safe."
And Marjorie, putting her arms around Jack's neck, whispered through
radiant tears, "It was Kalman, Jack. Don't listen to yon gommeril.
It was Kalman saved us; and oh, Jack, he is just lovely!"
And Jack, patting her cheek, said, "I know all about him."
"Do you, indeed?" she answered, with a knowing smile. "I doubt.
But oh! he has broken his foot or something. And oh, Jack, he
has got a mine!"
And Jack, not knowing what she meant, looked curiously into her
face and wondered, till Brown, examining Kalman's foot and finding
a broken bone, exclaimed wrathfully, "Say, boy, you don't tell me
you have been walking on this foot?"
But Kalman answered nothing.
"He came for me--for us, Mr. Brown, through that awful storm,"
cried Marjorie penitently; "and is it broken? Oh, Kalman,
how could you?"
But Kalman still answered nothing. His dream was passing from him.
She was restored to her world and was no longer in his care.
"And here's his mine," cried Marjorie, turning Jack toward the
"By Jove!" cried Mr. Penny, "and I never saw it. You never showed
it to me."
But during those hours spent in the cave Kalman and Marjorie had
something other to occupy their minds than mines. Jack French
examined the seam closely and in growing excitement.
"By the Lord Harry! Kalman, did you find this?"
Kalman nodded indifferently. Mines were nothing to him now.
"How did you light upon it?"
And Kalman told him how.
"He's just half dead and starved," said Marjorie in a voice that
broke with pity. "He watched all last night while we slept away
like a pair o' stirks."
At the tone in her voice, Jack French turned and gave her a searching
look. The quick, hot blood flamed into her cheeks, and in her eyes
dawned a frank shyness as she gave him back his look.
"I don't care," she said at length; "he's fair dune oot."
But Jack only nodded his head sagely while he whispered to her,
"Happy boy, happy boy! Two mines in one night!"
At which the red flamed up again and she fell to examining with
greater diligence the seam of black running athwart the cave side.
In a few minutes they were mounted and away, Brown riding hard to
bring the great news to the engineer's camp and recall the hunting
parties; the rest to make the ranch, Marjorie in front in happy
sparkling converse with Jack French, and Kalman, haggard and
gloomy, bringing up the rear. A new man was being brought to birth
within him, and sore were the parturition pangs. For one brief
night she had been his; now back to her world, she was his no more.
It was quite two days before the shining sun and the eager air
had licked up from earth the drifts of snow, and two days before
Marjorie felt quite sure she was able to bear again the rigours of
camp life, and two days before Aunt Janet woke up to the fact that
that foreign young man was altogether too handsome to be riding
from morning till night with her niece. For Jack, meanwhile, was
attending with assiduous courtesy the Aunt and receiving radiant
looks of gratitude from the niece. Two days of Heaven, when Kalman
forgot all but that she was beside him; two days of hell when he
remembered that he was but a poor foreign boy and she a great
English lady. Two days and they said farewell. Marjorie was the
last, turning first to French, who kissed her, saying, "Come back
again, little girl," and then to Kalman, sitting on his broncho,
for he hated to go lame before them all.
"Good-by, Kalman," she said, smiling bravely, while her lips
quivered. "I'll no forget yon awful and," leaning slightly toward
him as he took her hand, "yon happy night. Good-by for now.
I'll no forget."
And Kalman, looking straight into her eyes, held her hand without a
word till, withdrawing it from his hold, she turned away, leaving
the smile with him and carrying with her the quivering lips.
"I shall ride a bit with you, little girl," said Jack French,
who was ever quick with his eyes.
She tried to smile at him, but failed piteously. But Jack rode
close to her, talking bright nothings till she could smile again.
"Oh, Jack, but you are the dear!" she said to him as they galloped
together up the trail, Mr. Penny following behind. "I'll mind this
But before they took the descent to the Night Hawk ravine, they
heard a thunder of hoofs, and wheeling, found Kalman bearing down
"Mercy me!" cried Aunt Janet, "what's wrang wi' the lad?"
"I have come to say good-by," he shouted, his broncho tearing up
the earth by Marjorie's side.
Reaching out his hands, he drew her toward him and kissed her
before them all, once, again, and yet again, with Aunt Janet
screaming, "Mercy sakes alive! The lad is daft! He'll do her
"Hoots! woman, let the bairns be," cried Marjorie's father.
"He saved her for us."
But having said his farewell, Kalman rode away, waving his hand
and singing at the top of his voice his Hungarian love-song,
"While the flower blooms in the meadow,
And fishes swim the sea,
Heart of my heart, soul of my soul,
I'll love and live for thee,"
which none but Marjorie could understand, but they all stood
watching as he rode away, and listening,
"With my lances at my back,
My good sword at my knee,
Light of my life, joy of my soul,
I'll fight, I'll die for thee!"
And as the song ceased she rode away, and as she rode she smiled.
THE FIGHT FOR THE MINE
The early approach of winter checked the railroad construction
proper, but with the snow came good roads, and contractors were
quick to take advantage of the easier methods of transportation
furnished by winter roads to establish supply depots along the
line, and to open tie camps up in the hills. And so the old
Edmonton Trail was once more humming with life and activity far
exceeding that of its palmiest days.
As for Kalman, however, it was the mine that absorbed his attention
and his energies. By day and by night he planned and dreamed and
toiled for the development of his mine. With equal enthusiasm Brown
and French joined in this enterprise. It was French that undertook to
deal with all matters pertaining to the organization of a company by
which the mine should be operated. Registration of claim, the securing
of capital, the obtaining of charter, all these matters were left in
his hands. A few weeks' correspondence, however, revealed the fact
that for Western enterprises money was exceedingly difficult to secure.
French was eager to raise money by mortgaging his ranch and all his
possessions, but this proposal Kalman absolutely refused to consider.
Brown, too, was opposed to this scheme. Determined that something
should be done, French then entered into contracts with the Railroad
Company for the supply of ties. But though he and Mackenzie took a
large force into the woods, and spent their three months in arduous
toil, when the traders and the whiskey runners had taken their full
toll little was left for the development of the mine.
The actual working of the mine fell to Kalman, aided by Brown.
There was an immediate market for coal among the Galicians of the
colony, who much preferred it to wood as a fuel for the clay ovens
with which they heated their houses. But they had little money to
spare, and hence, at the beginning of the work, Kalman hit upon
the device of bartering coal for labour, two days' work in the mine
entitling a labourer to a load of coal. Brown, too, needed coal for
his mill. At the Crossing there was large demand for coal, while
correspondence with the Railroad Company discovered to Kalman a
limitless market for the product of his mine. By outside sales
Kalman came to have control of a little ready money, and with
this he engaged a small force of Galicians, who, following lines
suggested by Brown, pushed in the tunnel, ran cross drifts, laid
down a small tramway, and accomplished exploration and development
work that appeared to Kalman's uninstructed eyes wonderful indeed.
The interest of the whole colony centred in the mine and in its
development, and the confidence of the people in Kalman's integrity
and efficiency became more and more firmly established.
But Brown was too fully occupied with his own mission to give much
of his time to the mine. The work along the line of construction
and in the camps meant sickness and accident, and consequently his
hospital accommodation had once more to be increased, and this
entailed upon himself and his wife, who acted as matron, a heavy
burden of responsibility and of toil.
It was a happy inspiration of Jack French's that led Brown to
invoke the aid of Mrs. French in securing the services of a nurse,
and Mrs. French's proposal that Irma, who for two years had been in
regular training, should relieve Mrs. Brown of her duties as matron,
was received by all concerned with enthusiastic approval. And so,
to the great relief of Mrs. Brown and to the unspeakable joy of
both Kalman and his sister, Irma and Paulina with her child were
installed in the Wakota institution, Irma taking charge of the
hospital and Paulina of the kitchen.
It was not by Brown's request or even desire that Paulina decided
to make her home in the Wakota colony. She was there because
nothing could prevent her coming. Her life was bound up with the
children of her lord, and for their sakes she toiled in the kitchen
with a devotion that never flagged and never sought reward.
The school, too, came back to Brown and in larger numbers than
before. Through the autumn and early winter, by his drunkenness
and greed, Klazowski had fallen deeper and deeper into the contempt
of his parishioners. It was Kalman, however, that gave the final
touch to the tottering edifice of his influence and laid it in ruins.
It was the custom of the priest to gather his congregation for public
worship on Sunday afternoon in the schoolhouse which Brown placed at
his disposal, and of which he assumed possession as his right, by
virtue of the fact that it was his people who had erected the building.
On a Sunday afternoon, as the winter was nearing an end, Klazowski,
under the influence of a too complete devotion to the beer barrel
that stood in his host's kitchen, spent an hour in a furious
denunciation of the opponents of his holy religion, and especially of
the heretic Brown and all his works, threatening with excommunication
those who in any degree would dare after this date to countenance him.
His character was impugned, his motives declared to be of the basest.
This was too much for his congregation. Deep murmurs rose among the
people, but unwarned, the priest continued his execrations of the
At length Kalman, unable any longer to contain his indignation,
sprang to his feet, gave the priest the lie direct and appealed
to the people.
"You all know Mr. Brown," he cried, "what sort of man is he?
And what sort of man is this priest who has spoken to you?
You, Simon Simbolik, when your child lay dead and you sought
help of this Klazowski, what answer did he give you?"
"He asked me for ten dollars," said Simon promptly, "and when I
could not give it he cursed me from him. Yes," continued Simbolik,
"and Mr. Brown made the coffin and paid for it, and would take no
money. My daughter is in his school, and is learning English and
sewing, beautiful sewing, and she will stay there."
"You, Bogarz," cried Kalman, "when your children were down with
scarlet fever and you went to the priest for help, what was his
"He drove me from his house. He was afraid to death."
"Yes," continued Kalman, "and Mr. Brown came and took the children
to his hospital, and they are well to-day."
"Yes," cried Bogarz, "and he would take nothing for it all,
but I paid him all I could, and I will gladly pay him more."
And so from one to another went the word. The friends of Klazowski,
for he still had a following, were beaten into silence. Then rose
more ominous murmurs.
"I would not have Klazowski in my house with my family," cried
one, "a single day. It would not be safe. I need say no more."
Others were found with similar distrust of Klazowski's morals.
Klazowski was furious, and sought with loud denunciations and
curses to quell the storm of indignation that had been roused
against him. Then Kalman executed a flank movement.
"This man," he cried, his loud, clear voice gaining him a hearing,
"This man is promising to build us a church. He has been collecting
money. How much money do you think he has by this time? I, myself,
gave him ten dollars; Mr. French gave him twenty-five."
At once cries came from all parts of the building. "I gave him
twenty-five." "And I ten." "And I five." And so on, Kalman keeping
"I make it nearly two hundred dollars," he cried. "Has any one seen
the books? Does any one know where the money is?"
"No, no," cried the crowd.
"Then," cried Kalman, "let us enquire. We are not sheep. This is a
free country, and we are free men. The days of the old tyranny are
gone." The house rocked with the wild cheers of the excited crowd.
"Let us examine into this. Let us appoint a committee to find out
how much money has been paid and where it is."
With enthusiasm Kalman's suggestion was carried into effect. A
committee was appointed and instructed to secure the information
with all speed.
Next day Klazowski was not to be found in the colony. He had shaken
the Wakota snow from off his feet, and had departed, carrying with
him the people's hard-earned money, their fervent curses, and a
deep, deep grudge against the young man upon whom he laid the
responsibility for the collapse of his influence among the faithful
and long-suffering people of Wakota.
A few days later, to an interested and devout congregation in the
city of Winnipeg, he gave an eloquent account of his labours as
a missionary in the remote colony of Wakota, depicted in lurid
colours the persecutions he had endured at the hands of the heretic
Brown, reserving his most fervid periods for the denunciation of
the unscrupulous machinations of an apostate and arch traitor,
Kalman Kalmar, whose name would forever be remembered by his people
Among those who remained to congratulate and sympathize with the
orator, none was more cordial than Mr. Rosenblatt, with whom the
preacher went home to dine, and to whom, under the mellowing
influence of a third bottle, he imparted full and valuable
information in regard to Wakota, its possibilities as a business
centre, its railroad prospects, its land values, its timber limits,
and especially in regard to the character and work of Kalman
Kalmar, and the wonderful mine which the young man had discovered.
The information thus obtained Rosenblatt was careful to impart
to his friend and partner, Samuel Sprink. As a result of further
interviews with the priest and of much shrewd bargaining with
railroad contractors and officials, in early spring, before the
break up of the roads, Mr. Samuel Sprink had established himself
along the line of construction as a vendor of "gents' furnishings,"
working men's supplies, tobaccos and cigars, and other useful and
domestic articles. It was not announced, however, in the alluring
posters distributed among the people in language suited to their
comprehension, that among his stores might be found a brand of
whiskey of whose virtues none could speak with more confidence
than Mr. Sprink himself, for the sufficient reason that he was
for the most part the sole manufacturer thereof.
Chief among Mr. Sprink's activities was that of "claim jumping,"--to
wit, the securing for himself of homesteads for which patents had
not been obtained, the homesteaders for one reason or another
having not been able to complete the duties required by Government.
In the prosecution of this business Mr. Sprink made a discovery,
which he conveyed in a letter to Mr. Rosenblatt, who was still in
charge of the Winnipeg end of the Company's business.
"You must come at once," wrote Mr. Sprink. "I have a great business
on hand. I have discovered that no application has been made for
the coal mine claimed by young Kalmar, and this means that the mine
is still open. Had I the full description of the property, I should
have jumped the claim at once, you bet. So get a move on and come.
Get the description of the land on the quiet, and then do some work
among the Galician people to prepare for the change of ownership,
because there will be trouble, sure. So, come along. There is other
big business too, so you must come."
Rosenblatt needed no further urging. In a week he was on the ground.
Meanwhile, Kalman was developing his mine, and dreaming great
dreams as to what he should do when he had become a great mine
owner. It was his custom, ever since Irma's coming, to spend the
Sunday evening with her at the hospital. His way to the mine lay
through scrub and sleugh, a heavy trail, and so he welcomed the
breaking up of the ice on the Eagle River. For, taking Brown's
canoe, he could paddle down to the Saskatchewan, and thence to
the mouth of the Night Hawk Creek, from which point it was only
a short walk to camp.
It was a most fortunate thing for old Pere Garneau that Kalman
had adopted this method of transportation on the very night the
old priest had chosen for his trip down the Eagle. Pere Garneau,
a pioneer priest of the North Saskatchewan country, had ministered
for twenty years, by river and by trail, to the spiritual and
temporal needs of the half-breeds and the Indians under the care of
his church. A heroic soul was the old Father, not to be daunted by
dangers, simple as a child, and kindly. But the years had done
their work with him on eye and hand. The running ice in the spring
flood of the Eagle River got itself under the nose of the good
Father's canoe, and the current did the rest. His feeble cry would
have brought no aid, had not Kalman, at the very moment, been
shoving out his canoe into the current of the Eagle. A few strong
sweeps of the paddle, and Kalman had the old priest in tow, and in
a few minutes, with Brown's aid, into the hospital and snugly in
bed, with his canoe, and what of his stuff could be rescued, safe
under cover. Two days of Irma's nursing and of Brown's treatment,
and the ill effects of his chilly dip had disappeared sufficiently
to allow the Father to proceed on his way.
"Eet will be to me a pleasant remembrance of your hospitalite,"
he said to Brown on the morning of the third day.
"And to us of your stay, Father Garneau," replied Brown. "But you
need not go to-day. You are not strong enough, and, besides, I have
some work for you. There is a poor Galician woman with us here who
cannot see the morning. She could not bear the priest Klazowski.
She had trouble with him, and I think you could comfort her."
"Ah, dat Klazowski!" exclaimed Pere Garneau. "Eet ees not a good
man. Many peep' tell me of dat man. He will be no more priest,
for certainly. I would see dis woman, poor soul!"
"To-night Kalman will be here," said Brown, "and he will interpret
"Ah, he ees a fine young man, Kalman. He mak' troub' for dat
priest, ees eet not?"
"Well, I am afraid he did," said Brown, laughing. "But I fancy it
was the priest made trouble for himself."
"Yes, dat ees so, and dat ees de worse troub' of all," said the
wise old man.
The poor woman made her confession, received her Sacrament, and
thus comforted and at peace, made exit from this troubled life.
"My son," said the priest to Kalman when the service was over,
"I would be glad to confess you."
"Thank you, Father," said Kalman. "I make my confession to God."
"Ah, my son, you have been injured in your faith by dat bad priest
"No, I think not," said Kalman. "I have for some years been reading
my Bible, and I have lived beside a good man who has taught me to
know God and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I seek to follow
him as Peter and the others did. But I am no longer of the Galician
way of religion, neither Greek nor Roman."
"My son," exclaimed the old priest in horror, "you are not an
apostate? You have not denied your faith?"
"No, I have not. I try to please Christ."
Long and painfully, and with tears, did the old priest labour with
Kalman, to whom his soul went out in gratitude and affection, but
without making any change in the young man's mind. The teaching,
but more the life, of his friend had not been lost, and Kalman had
come to see clearly his way.
Next morning the good Father was ready for his journey.
"I leave to you," he said to Brown, "my double blessing, of the
stranger whom you received, and of the sick to whom you served.
Ah! what a peety you are in the darkness of error," he continued
with a gentle smile; "but I will pray for you, for you both,
my children, many times."
"Thank you, thank you," said Brown warmly. "The prayers of a good
man bring blessing, and I love to remember the words of our Master,
'He that is not against us is on our part.'"
"Ah! dat ees true, dat ees true. Dat ees like Heem. Adieu."
For some days Rosenblatt had been at work quietly in the colony,
obtaining information and making friends. Among the first who
offered their services was old Portnoff and a friend of his,--an
old man with ragged beard, and deep-set, piercing eyes looking
out from under shaggy brows, to whom Portnoff gave the name of
Malkarski. As Portnoff seemed to be a man of influence among his
people, Rosenblatt made him foreman over one of the gangs of
workmen in his employ. It was through Portnoff he obtained an
accurate description of the mine property. But that same night
Portnoff and Malkarski were found at Brown's house.
"There is a man," said Portnoff, "who wishes to know about the
mine. Perhaps he desires to purchase."
"His name?" enquired Brown.
"Rosenblatt? That name has a familiar sound. It would be wise,"
he continued, "to carry your information to Kalman at once."
"It shall be done to-night," said Malkarski in a deep voice.
"It is important. Portnoff will go." Portnoff agreed.
The following morning brought Kalman to Wakota. The arrival of
Rosenblatt in the country had changed for him the face of heaven
and earth. Before his eyes there rose and remained the vision of
a spot in a Russian forest where the snow was tramped and bloody.
With sobs and execrations he poured forth his tale to Brown.
"And my father has sworn to kill him, and if he fails I shall
take it up."
"Kalman, my boy," said Brown, "I cannot wonder that you feel like
this. Killing is too good for the brute. But this you cannot do.
Vengeance is not ours, but God's."
"If my father fails," said Kalman quietly, "I shall kill him."
"You must not think like that, much less speak so," said Brown.
"This is Canada, not Russia. You are a Christian man and no heathen."
"I can't help it," said Kalman; "I can only see that bloody snow."
He put his hands over his eyes and shuddered violently. "I must
"And would you ruin your own life? Would you shut yourself off
forever from your best and holiest thoughts? And what of your
sister, and Jack, and me? And what of--of--all your friends?
For this one fierce and sinful passion--for it is sinful,
Kalman--you would sacrifice yourself and all of us."
"I know all that. It would sacrifice all; but in here," smiting
his breast, "there is a cry that will not cease till I see that
"God pity you, Kalman. And you call yourself a follower of Him who
for His murderers prayed, 'Father, forgive them.'" Then Brown's
voice grew stern. "Kalman, you are not thinking clearly. You must
face this as a Christian man. The issue is quite straight. It is no
longer between you and your enemy; it is between you and your Lord.
Are you prepared to-night to reject your Lord and cut yourself off
from Him? Listen." Brown took his Bible, and turning over the
leaves, found the words, "'If ye forgive not men their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses'; and remember,
these are the words of Him who forgave those who had done their
worst on Him, blighting His dearest hopes, ruining His cause,
breaking His heart. Kalman, you dare not."
And Kalman went his way to meet his Gethsemane in the Night Hawk
ravine, till morning found him on his face under the trees, with
his victory still in the balance. The hereditary instincts of
Slavic blood cried out for vengeance. The passionate loyalty of
his heart to the memory of his mother and to his father cried out
for vengeance. His own wrongs cried out for vengeance, and against
these cries there stood that single word, "Father, forgive them,
they know not what they do."
Before a week was gone old Portnoff came hot foot to Brown to
report that early that morning Rosenblatt had ridden off in the
direction of the Fort, where was the Government Land Office.
"It is something about the mine. He was in good spirits.
He offered me something good on his return. If this were
only Russia!" said the old Nihilist.
"Yes, yes," growled his friend Malkarski, in his deep voice,
"we should soon do for him."
"Left this morning?" said Brown. "How long ago?"
Brown thought quickly. What could it mean? Was it possible the
registration had been neglected? Knowing French's easy-going
methods of doing business, he knew it to be quite possible.
French was still away in his tie camp. Kalman was ten miles off
at the mine. It was too great a chance to take.
"Throw the saddle on my horse, Portnoff," he cried.
"I must ride to the Fort."
"It would be good to kill this man," said old Malkarski quietly.
"What are you saying?" cried Brown in horror. "Be off with you."
He made a few hurried preparations, sent word to Kalman, and departed.
He had forty miles before him, and his horse was none of the best.
Rosenblatt had two hours' lead and was, doubtless, well mounted. There
was a chance, however, that he would take the journey by easy stages.
But a tail chase is a long chase, especially when cupidity and hate
are spurring on the pursued. Five hours' hard riding brought Brown
to the wide plain upon which stood the Fort. As he entered upon the
plain, he discovered his man a few miles before him. At almost the
same instant of his discovery, Rosenblatt became aware of his pursuer,
and the last five miles were done at racing speed. But Brown's horse
was spent, and when he arrived at the Land Office, it was to find
that application had been made for one hundred and sixty acres of
mining land, including both sides of the Night Hawk ravine. Brown
stared hard at the entry.
"Is there no record of this claim having been entered before?"
"None," said the agent.
"This man," Brown said at length to the agent, "never saw the mine.
He is not the discoverer."
"A young friend of mine, Kalman Kalmar. To that I can swear."
And he told the story of the discovery, adding such details
as he thought necessary in regard to Rosenblatt's character.
The official was sympathetic and interested.
"And how long is it since the discovery was made?" he enquired.
"Six months or so."
"And why was there no application sent in?"
Brown was silent.
"The Government cannot be responsible for neglect," he said.
"You have yourselves to blame for it. Nothing can be done now."
The door opened, and Brown turned to find Rosenblatt with a smile
of triumph upon his face. Before he was aware, his open hand had
swung hard upon the grinning face, and Rosenblatt fell in a huddled
heap into the corner. He rose up sputtering and spitting.
"I will have the law on you!" he shouted. "I call you as witness,"
he continued to the agent.
"What's the matter with you?" said the agent. "I didn't see
anything. If you trip yourself up and pitch into the corner, that
is your own business. Get out of this office, you disorderly beast!
Hurry up!" The agent put his hand upon the counter and leaped over.
Rosenblatt fled, terrified.
"Brute!" said the agent, "I can't stand these claim jumpers.
You did that very neatly," he said to Brown, shaking him warmly
by the hand. "I am awfully sorry, but the thing can't be helped now."
Brown was too sick at heart to reply. The mine was gone, and with
it all the splendid castles he and Kalman had been building for the
last six months. He feared to meet his friend. With what heart now
could he ask that this brute, who had added another to the list of
the wrongs he had done, should be forgiven? It was beyond all human
strength to wipe out from one's mind such an accumulation of
injuries. Well for Brown and well for his friend that forty miles
lay before him. For forty miles of open country and of God's sun
and air, to a man whose heart is open to God, work mighty results.
When at last they came together, both men had won their victory.
Quietly Brown told his story. He was amazed to find that instead
of rousing Kalman to an irrepressible fury, it seemed to make but
little impression upon him that he had lost his mine. Kalman had
faced his issue, and fought out his fight. At all costs he could
not deny his Lord, and under this compulsion it was that he had
surrendered his blood feud. The fierce lust for vengeance which had
for centuries run mad in his Slavic blood, had died beneath the
stroke of the Cross, and under the shock of that mighty stroke the
loss of the mine had little effect upon him. Brown wondered at him.
The whole colony was thrown into a ferment of indignation by the
news that Kalman had been robbed of his mine. But the agents of
Rosenblatt and Sprink were busy among the people. Feast days were
made hilarious through their lavish gifts of beer. Large promises
in connection with the development of the mine awakened hopes of
wealth in many hearts. After all, what could they hope from a young
man without capital, without backing, without experience? True, it
was a pity he should lose his mine, but men soon forget the losses
and injuries of others under the exhilaration of their own ambitions
and dreams of success. Kalman's claims and Kalman's wrongs were soon
obliterated. He had been found guilty of the unpardonable crime of
failure. The new firm went vigorously to work. Cabins were erected
at the mine, a wagon road cut to the Saskatchewan. In three weeks
the whole face of the ravine was changed.
It was in the end of April before French returned from his tie
camp, with nothing for his three months' toil but battered teams
and empty pockets, a worn and ill-favoured body, and with a heart
sick with the sense of failure and of self-scorn. Kalman, reading
at a glance the whole sordid and heart-breaking story, met him with
warm and cheery welcome. It was for French, more than for himself,
that he grieved over the loss of the mine. Kalman was busy with his
preparations for the spring seeding. He was planning a large crop
of everything the ranch would grow, for the coming market.
"And the mine, Kalman?" enquired French.
"I've quit mining. The ranch for me," exclaimed Kalman, with
"But what's up?" said French, with a touch of impatience.
"Jack, we have lost the mine," said Kalman quietly.
And he told the story.
As he concluded the tale, French's listlessness vanished.
He was his own man again.
"We will ride down and see Brown," he said with decision.
"No use," said Kalman, wishing to save him further pain. "Brown saw
the entry at the Land Office, and the agent plainly told him
nothing could be done."
"Well, we won't just lie down yet, boy," said Jack. "Come
along--or--well, perhaps I'd better go alone. You saddle my horse."
In half an hour French appeared clean shaven, dressed in his
"civilization clothes," and looking his old self again.
"You're fine, Jack," said Kalman in admiration. "We have got each
"Yes, boy," said Jack, gripping his hand, "and that is the best.
But we'll get the mine, too, or I'm a Dutchman." All the old, easy,
lazy air was gone. In every line of his handsome face, in every
movement of his body, there showed vigour and determination. The
old English fighting spirit was roused, whose tradition it was to
snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and despair.
Four weeks passed before Kalman saw him again. Those four weeks
he spent in toil from early dawn till late at night at the oats
and the potatoes, working to the limit of their endurance Mackenzie
and the small force of Galicians he could secure, for the mine and
the railroad offered greater attractions. At length the level black
fields lay waiting the wooing of the sun and rain and genial air.
Then Kalman rode down for a day at Wakota, for heart and body were
exhausted of their vital forces. He wanted rest, but he wanted more
the touch of a friend's hand.
At Wakota, the first sight that caught his eye was French's horse
tethered on the grassy sward before Brown's house, and as he rode
up, from within there came to his ear the sound of unusual and
"Hello there!" yelled Kalman, still sitting his horse. "What's
happened to you all?"
The cry brought them all out,--Brown and his wife, French and
Irma, with Paulina in the background. They crowded around him
with vociferous welcome, Brown leading in a series of wild cheers.
After the cheering was done, Brown rushed for him.
"Congratulations, old boy!" he cried, shaking him by the hand.
"It's all right; we've won, after all! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!"
Brown had clearly gone mad.
Then Irma came running toward him.
"Yes, it's all true, Kalman dear," she cried, pulling down his head
to kiss him, her voice breaking in a sob and her eyes radiant with
smiles and tears.
"Don't be alarmed, old man," said French, taking him by the hand
when Irma had surrendered her place. "They are all quite sane.
We've got it, right enough. We've won out."
Kalman sat still on his horse, looking from one to the other in
utter bewilderment. Brown was still yelling at intervals, and
wildly waving his hat. At length Kalman turned to Mrs. Brown.
"You seem to be sane, anyway," he said; "perhaps you will tell me
what they all mean?"
"It means, Kalman," said the little woman, offering him both hands,
"we are so glad that we don't know what to do. We have got back our
"The mine!" gasped Kalman faintly. "Impossible! Why, Brown there--"
"Yes! Brown here," yelled that individual; "I know Brown. He's a
corker! But he's sometimes wrong, and this is one of the times.
A mine, and a company! And there's the man that did it! Jack French,
to whom I take off my hat! He has just got home, and we have just
heard his tale, and--school's out and the band's going to play and
the game begin. And get down from your broncho, you graven image!"
Here Brown pulled Kalman headlong from his horse. "And Jack will
perform. I have not been mad like this for a thousand years. I have
been in Hades for the last month, and now I'm out! I know I am quite
mad, but it's fine while it lasts. Now, Jack, the curtain's up. Let
the play proceed."
The story was simple enough. Immediately after the discovery of the
mine French had arranged with Mr. Robert Menzies that he should make
application with the Department of the Interior at Ottawa for the
necessary mining rights. The application had been made, but the
Department had failed to notify the local agent.
"So," said Jack, "the mine is yours again, Kalman."
"No," said Kalman, "not mine, ours; yours as much as mine,
Jack, or not mine at all."
"And the Company!" yelled Brown. "Tell him about the Company.
Let the play proceed."
"Oh," said French, with an air of indifference, "Mr. Menzies has
a company all organized and in his pocket, waiting only approval
of the owner of the mine."
"And the party will arrive in about three weeks, I think you said,
French," remarked Brown, with a tone of elaborate carelessness.
Kalman's face flushed hot. The eyes of both men were upon him.
"Yes, in about three weeks," replied French.
"If it were not that I am constitutionally disinclined to an active
life, I should like to join myself," said Brown; "for it will be a
most remarkable mining company, if I know anything of the signs."
But Kalman could not speak. He put his arm around Jack's shoulder,
saying, "You are a great man, Jack. I might have known better."
"All right, boy," said Jack. "From this time we shall play the man.
Life is too good to lose for nothing. A mine is good, but there are
better things than mines."
"Meaning?" said Brown.
"Men!" said Jack with emphasis.
"_And_," shouted Brown, slipping his arm round his wife, "women."
"Brown," said Jack solemnly, "as my friend Pierre Lamont would say,
'you have reason.'"
FOR FREEDOM AND FOR LOVE
The hut of the Nihilist Portnoff stood in a thick bluff about
midway between Wakota and the mine, but lying off the direct line
about two miles nearer the ranch. It was a poor enough shack,
made of logs plastered over with mud, roofed with poplar poles,
sod, and earth. The floor was of earth, the walls were whitewashed,
and with certain adornments that spoke of some degree of culture.
Near one side of the shack stood the clay oven stove, which served
the double purpose of heating the room and of cooking Portnoff's
food. Like many of the Galician cabins, Portnoff's stood in the
midst of a garden, in which bloomed a great variety of brilliant
and old-fashioned flowers and shrubs, while upon the walls and
climbing over the roof, a honeysuckle softened the uncouthness
of the clay plaster.
It was toward the end of the third week which followed French's
return that Portnoff and Malkarski were sitting late over their
pipes and beer. The shack was illumined with half a dozen candles
placed here and there on shelves attached to the walls. The two men
were deep in earnest conversation. At length Portnoff rose and
began to pace the little room.
"Malkarski," he cried, "you are asking too much. This delay is
becoming impossible to me."
"My brother," said Malkarski, "you have waited long. There must be
no mistake in this matter. The work must be thoroughly done, so let
us be patient. And meantime," he continued with a laugh, "he is
having suffering enough. The loss of this mine is like a knife
thrust in his heart. It is pleasant to see him squirm like a
reptile pierced by a stick. He is seeking large compensation for
the work he has done,--three thousand dollars, I believe. It is
worth about one."
Portnoff continued pacing up and down the room.
"Curse him! Curse him! Curse him!" he cried, lifting his clenched
hands above his head.
"Be patient, brother."
"Patient!" cried Portnoff. "I see blood. I hear cries of women and
children. I fall asleep and feel my fingers in his throat. I wake
and find them empty!"
"Aha! I too," growled Malkarski. "But patience, patience, brother!"
"Malkarski," cried Portnoff, pausing in his walk, "I have suffered
through this man in my country, in my people, in my family, in my
"Aha!" ejaculated old Malkarski with fierce emphasis, "have you?
Do you know what suffering is? But--yes, Portnoff, we must be
patient yet." As he spoke he took on a dignity of manner and
assumed an attitude of authority that Portnoff was quick to
"You speak truly," replied the latter gravely. "I heard a good
thing to-day," he continued with a change of tone. "It seems
"Sprink!" muttered Malkarski with infinite contempt, "a rat, a pig!
Why speak of him?"
"It is a good story," replied Portnoff with a laugh, "but not
pleasant for Sprink to tell. It appears he was negotiating with
Mr. French, suggesting a partnership in the mine, but Mr. French
kicked him out. It was amusing to hear Sprink tell the tale with
many oaths and curses. He loves not French any more."
"Bah!" said Malkarski, "the rest of the tale I heard. He had the
impudence to propose--the dog!--alliance with the young lady Irma.
Bah!" he spat upon the ground. "And French very properly kicked
him out of his house and gave him one minute to remove himself
out of gun range. There was quick running," added old Malkarski
with a grim smile. "But he is a cur. I wipe him out of my mind."
"We must keep close watch these days," said Portnoff.
"They are both like mad dogs, and they will bite."
"Ha!" cried Malkarski with sudden vehemence, "if we could strike
at once, now! To-night!" His voice rose in a cry, "Ah, if it were
to-night! But patience," he muttered. "Ah, God! how long?"
"Not long, my brother, surely," said Portnoff.
"No, not long," answered Malkarski. "Let them go away from the
mine, away from these people. On the railroad line many accidents
occur. Let us not spoil all by undue haste."
"It is your day to watch to-morrow, Malkarski," said Portnoff.
"I shall keep watch to-morrow," said Malkarski. "After all, it
is joy to look on his face and think how it will appear when we
have done our work." He rose and paced the floor, his deep-set
eyes gleaming like live coals in his haggard old face. "Ah,"
he continued in his deep undertone, "that will be joy."
Ever since the arrival of Rosenblatt in the country he had been
under surveillance of one of these two old Nihilists, walking,
though he knew it not, side by side with death. To Malkarski fell
the task of keeping within sight and sound of Rosenblatt during
the following day.
The negotiations in connection with the transfer of the mine
property were practically completed. The money for the improvements
effected had been paid. There remained only a few minor matters to
be settled, and for that a meeting was arranged at the mine on the
evening of the following day. At this meeting Kalman had with great
reluctance agreed to be present. The place of meeting was the
original cave, which had been enlarged to form a somewhat spacious
room, from which there had been run back into the hill a tunnel.
At the entrance to this tunnel a short cross-tunnel had been cut,
with an exit on the side of the hill and at right angles to the
mouth. Across the ravine from the cave stood a small log building
which Messrs. Rosenblatt and Sprink had used as an office during
the month of their regime. Further down the ravine were scattered
the workmen's cabins, now deserted.
In the preparing of plans for this last meeting Rosenblatt and
Sprink spent long hours that day. Indeed, it was late in the
afternoon when their conference broke up.
An hour later found Malkarski, pale and breathless, at the door of
Portnoff's cabin, unable to recover his speech till Portnoff had
primed him with a mug of Sprink's best whiskey.
"What is it, my brother?" cried Portnoff, alarmed at his condition.
"What is it?"
"A plot!" gasped Malkarski, "a most damnable plot! Give me another drink."
Under the stimulus of the potent liquid, Malkarski was able in a
few minutes between his gasps to tell his story. Concealed by a
lumber pile behind Rosenblatt's shack, with his ear close to a crack
between the logs, he had heard the details of the plot. In the cross
tunnel at the back of the cave bags of gunpowder and dynamite were
to be hidden. To this mass a train was to be laid through the cross
tunnel to a convenient distance. At a certain point during the
conference Rosenblatt would leave the cave on the pretext of
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