A heavy broken breath came from the father,
and he replied haltingly : " Mebbe, mebbe so."
Dominique's eyes closed again. " I'll make up
some," he said slowly. "And if mother's lost,
bring her back again to us, for everything's going
Again he paused, then went on with the prayer
as it had been taught him.
THE GOING OF THE WHITE SWAN 137
" Teach us to hear Thee whenever Thou callest,
and to see Thee when Thou visitest us, and let the
blessed Mary and all the saints speak often to
Thee for us. O Christ, hear us. Lord, have mercy
upon us. Christ have mercy upon us. Amen."
Making the sign of the cross, he lay back, and
said : " I'll go to sleep now, I guess."
The man sat for a long time looking at the pale,
shining face, at the blue veins showing painfully
dark on the temples and forehead, at the firm little
white hand, which was as brown as a butternut a
few weeks before. The longer he sat, the deeper
did his misery sink into his soul. His wife had
gone, he knew not where, his child was wasting to
death, and he had for his sorrows no inner consola-
tion. He had ever had that touch of mystical
imagination inseparable from the far north, yet he
had none of that religious belief which swallowed
up natural awe and turned it to the refining of life,
and to the advantage of a man's soul. Now it was
forced in upon him that his child was wiser than
himself, wiser and safer. His life had been spent
in the wastes, with rough deeds and rugged habits,
and a youth of hardship, danger, and almost
savage endurance, had given him a half-barbarian
temperament, which could strike an angry blow at
one moment and fondle to death at the next
When he married sweet Lucette Barbond his
religion reached little farther than a belief in the
138 AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
Scarlet Hunter of the Kimash Hills and those voices
that could be heard calling in the night, till their
time of sleep be past, and they should rise and
reconquer the north.
Not even Father Corraine, whose ways were like
those of his Master, could ever bring him to a more
definite faith. His wife had at first striven with
him, mourning yet loving. Sometimes the savage
in him had broken out over the little creature,
merely because barbaric tyranny was in him tor-
ture followed by the passionate kiss. But how was
she philosopher enough to understand the cause?
When she fled from their hut one bitter day, as
he roared some wild words at her, it was because her
nerves had all been shaken from threatened death
by wild beasts (of which he did not know), and his
violence drove her mad. She had run out of the
house, and on, and on, and on and she had never
come back. That was weeks ago, and there had
been no word nor sign of her since. The man was
now busy with it all, in a slow, cumbrous way. A
nature more to be touched by things seen than by
things told, his mind was being awakened in a
massive kind of fashion. He was viewing this
crisis of his life as one sees a human face in the wide
searching light of a great fire. He was restless, but
he held himself still by a strong effort, not wishing
to disturb the sleeper. His eyes seemed to retreat
farther and farther back under his shaggy brows.
THE GOING OF THE WHITE SWAN 139
The great logs in the chimney burned brilliantly,
and a brass crucifix over the child's head now and
again reflected soft little flashes of light. This
caught the hunter's eye. Presently there grew up
in him a vague kind of hope that, somehow, this
symbol would bring him luck that was the way
he put it to himself. He had felt this and some-
thing more when Dominique prayed. Somehow,
Dominique's prayer was the only one he had ever
heard that had gone home to him, had opened up
the big sluices of his nature, and let the light of God
flood in. No, there was another : the one Lucette
made on the day that they were married, when
a wonderful timid reverence played through his
hungry love for her. *
Hours passed. All at once, without any other
motion or gesture, the boy's eyes opened wide with
a strange, intense look.
" Father," he said slowly, and in a kind of dream,
" when you hear a sweet horn blow at night, is it
the Scarlet Hunter calling ? "
"P'r'aps. Why, Dominique?" He made up
his mind to humour the boy, though it gave him
strange aching forebodings. He had seen grown
men and women with these fancies and they had
" I heard one blowing just now, and the sounds
seemed to wave over my head. Perhaps he's
calling someone that's lost."
140 AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
f And I heard a voice singing it wasn't a bird
" There was no voice, Dominique."
"Yes, yes." There was something fine in the
grave, courteous certainty of the lad. " I waked,
and you were sitting there thinking, and I shut my
eyes again, and I heard the voice. I remember
the tune and the words."
" What were the words ? " In spite of himself the
hunter felt awed.
" I've heard mother sing them, or something
most like them :
" Why does the fire no longer burn ?
(I am so lonely.)
Why does the tent-door swing outward?
(I have no home.)
Oh, let me breathe hard in your face 1
(I am so lonely.)
Oh, why do you shut your eyes to me?
(I have no home.)"
The boy paused.
" Was that all, Dominique ? "
" No, not all."
" Let us make friends with the stars ;
(I am so lonely.)
Give me your hand, I will hold it.
(I have no home.)
Let us go hunting together.
(I am so lonely.)
We will sleep at God's camp to-night
(I have no home.)"
THE GOING OF THE WHITE SWAN 141
Dominique did not sing, but recited the words
with a sort of chanting inflection.
" What does it mean when you hear a voice like
" I don't know. Who told your mother the
" Oh, I don't know. I suppose she just made
them up she and God. . . . There 1 There it
is again? Don't you hear it don't you hear it
" No, Dominique, it's only the kettle singing."
"A kettle isn't a voice. Daddy " He
paused a little, then went on, hesitatingly " I saw
a white swan fly through the door over your
shoulder, when you came in to-night."
" No, no, Dominique ; it was a flurry of snow
blowing over my shoulder."
" But it looked at me with two shining eyes."
" That was two stars shining through the door
" How could there be snow flying and stars
shining too, father?"
" It was just drift-snow on a light wind, but the
stars were shining above, Dominique."
The man's voice was anxious and unconvincing,
his eyes had a hungry, hunted look. The legend
of the White Swan had to do with the passing of
a human soul. The swan had come in would it
go out alone? He touched the boy's hand it
142 AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
was hot with fever ; he felt the pulse it ran high ;
he watched the face it had a glowing light.
Something stirred within him, and passed like a
wave to the farthest courses of his being. Through
his misery he had touched the garment of the
Master of Souls. As though a voice said to him
there, " Someone hath touched me," he got to his
feet, and, with a sudden blind humility, lit two
candles, placed them on a shelf in a corner before
a porcelain figure of the Virgin, as he had seen his
wife do. Then he picked a small handful of fresh
spruce twigs from a branch over the chimney, and
laid them beside the candles. After a short pause
he came slowly to the head of the boy's bed.
Very solemnly he touched the foot of the Christ
on the cross with the tips of his fingers, and brought
them to his lips with an indescribable reverence.
After a moment, standing with eyes fixed on the
face of the crucified figure, he said, in a shaking
" Pardon, bon J&u ! Sauvex mon enfant ! Ne
me laissez pas seul ! '*
The boy looked up with eyes again grown un-
naturally heavy, and said :
" Amen ! . . . Bon Jesu / . . . Encore ! Encore^
mon pere i "
The boy slept. The father stood still by the
bed for a time, but at last slowly turned and went
towards the fire.
THE GOING OF THE WHITE SWAN 143
Outside, two figures were approaching the hut
a man and a woman ; yet at first glance the man
might easily have been taken for a woman, because
of the long black robe which he wore, and because
his hair fell loose on his shoulders and his face
"Have patience, my daughter," said the man.
" Do not enter till I call you. But stand close to
the door, if you will, and hear all"
So saying he raised his hand as in a kind of
benediction, passed to the door, and after tapping
very softly, opened it, entered, and closed it behind
him not so quickly, however, but that the woman
caught a glimpse of the father and the boy. In
her eyes there was the divine look of mother-
" Peace be to this house ! " said the man gently,
as he stepped forward from the door.
The father, startled, turned shrinkingly on him,
as if*he had seen a spirit.
" M'sieu' le cur ! " he said in French, with
an accent much poorer than that of the priest,
or even of his own son. He had learned French
from his wife; he himself was English.
The priest's quick eye had taken in the lighted
candles at the little shrine, even as he saw the
painfully changed aspect of the man.
"The wife and child, Bagot? " he asked, looking
round. "Ah, the boy I" he added, and going
144 AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
toward the bed, continued, presently, in a low
voice : " Dominique is ill ? "
Bagdt nodded, and then answered : "A wild-cat
and then fever, Father Corraine."
The priest felt the boy's pulse softly, then with
a close personal look he spoke hardly above his
breath, yet distinctly too :
"Your wife, Bagot?"
" She is not here, m'sieu'." The voice was low
" Where is she, Bagot ? "
" I do not know, m'sieu'."
"When did you see her last?"
" Four weeks ago, m'sieu'."
" That was September, this is October winter.
On the ranches they let their cattle loose upon the
plains in winter, knowing not where they go, yet
looking for them to return in the spring. But a
woman a woman and a wife is different. .
Bagot, you have been a rough, hard man, and you
have been a stranger to your God, but I thought
you loved your wife and child ! "
The hunter's hands clenched, and a wicked light
flashed up into his eyes ; but the calm, benignant
gaze of the other cooled the tempest in his veins.
The priest sat down on the couch where the child
lay, and took the fevered hand in his very softly.
"Stay where you are, Bagot," he said; "just
there where you are, and tell me what your trouble
THE GOING OF THE WHITE SWAN 145
is, and why your wife is not here. . . . Say all
honestly by the name of the Christ ! " he added,
lifting up a large iron crucifix that hung on his
' Bagot sat down on a bench near the fireplace, the
light playing on his bronzed, powerful face, his eyes
shining beneath his heavy brows like two eoals.
After a moment he began :
" I don't know how it started. I'd lost a lot of
pelts stolen they were, down on the Child o' Sin
River. Well, she was hasty and nervous, like as
not she always was brisker and more sudden than
I am. I I laid my powder-horn and whisky-
flask up there ! "
He pointed to the little shrine of the Virgin,
where now his candles were burning. The priest's
grave eyes did not change expression at all, but
looked out wisely, as though he understood every-
thing before it was told.
Bagot continued : " I didn't notice it, but she
had put some flowers there. She said something
with an edge, her face all snapping angry, threw
the things down, and called me a heathen and a
wicked heretic and I don't say now but she'd a
right to do it But I let out then, for them stolen
pelts were rasping me on the raw. I said some-
thing pretty rough, and made as if I was goin' to
break her in two just fetched up my hands, and
went like this! " With a singular simplicity he
146 AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
made a wild gesture with his hands, and an animal-
like snarl came from his throat. Then he looked
at the priest with the honest intensity of a boy.
"Yes, that is what you did what was it you
said which was ' pretty rough ' ? "
There was a slight hesitation, then came the reply:
" I said there was enough powder spilt on the
floor to kill all the priests in heaven."
A fire suddenly shot up into Father Corraine's
face, and his lips tightened for an instant, but
presently he was as before, and he said :
" How that will face you one day, Bagot ! Go
on. What else ? "
Sweat began to break out on Bagot's face, and
he spoke as though he were carrying a heavy
weight on his shoulders, low and brpkenly.
" Then I said, ' And if virgins has it so fine, why
didn't you stay one ? ' >;
" Blasphemer ! " said the priest in a stern, re-
proachful voice, his face turning a little pale, and
he brought the crucifix to his lips. " To the mother
of your child shame ! What more ? "
" She threw up her hands to her ears with a wild
cry, ran out of the house, down the hills, and away.
I went to the door and watched her as long as I
could see her, and waited for her to come back
but she never did. I've hunted and hunted, but I
can't find her." Then, with a sudden thought, " Do
you know anything of her, m'sieu'?"
THE GOING OF THE WHITE SWAN 147
The priest appeared not to hear the question.
Turning for a moment toward the boy who now
was in a deep sleep, he looked at him intently.
Presently he spoke.
" Ever since I married you and Lucette Barbond,
you have stood in the way of her duty, Bagot. How
well I remember that first day when you knelt
before me ! Was ever so sweet and good a girl
with her golden eyes and the look of summer in
her face, and her heart all pure ! Nothing had
spoiled her you cannot spoil such women God
is in their hearts. But you, what have you cared ?
One day you would fondle her, and the next you
were a savage and she, so gentle, so gentle all
the time ! Then, for her religion and the faith of
her child she has fought for it, prayed for it,
suffered for it. You thought you had no need, for
you had so much happiness, which you did not
deserve that was it. But she : with all a woman
suffers, how can she bear life and man without
God? No, it is not possible. And you thought
you and your few superstitions were enough for
her. Ah, poor fool ! She should worship you !
So selfish, so small, for a man who knows in his
heart how great God is. You did not love her. '
" By the Heaven above, yes ! " said Bagot, half
starting to his feet.
"Ah, 'by the Heaven above,' no! nor the child.
For true love is unselfish and patient, and where it
i 4 8 AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
is the stronger, it cares for the weaker ; but it was
your wife who was unselfish, patient, and cared for
you. Every time she said an ave she thought of
you, and her every thanks to the good God had you
therein. They know you well in heaven, Bagot
through your wife. Did you ever pray ever since
I married you to her ? "
" When ? "
" An hour or so ago."
Once again the priest's eyes glanced towards the
Presently he said : " You asked me if I had heard
anything of your wife. Listen, and be patient
while you listen. . . . Three weeks ago I was
camping on the Sundust Plains, over against the
Young Sky River. In the morning, as I was light-
ing a fire outside my tent, my young Cree Indian
with me, I saw coming over the crest of a land-
wave, from the very lips of the sunrise, as it were, a
band of Indians. I could not quite make them out.
I hoisted my little flag on the tent, and they hurried
on to me. I did not know the tribe they had come
from near Hudson's Bay. They spoke Chinook,
and I could understand them. Well, as they came
near, I saw that they had a woman with them."
Bagot leaned forward, his body strained, every
muscle tense. " A woman ? " he said, as if breath-
ing gave him sorrow "my wife?"
THE GOING OF THE WHITE SWAN 149
" Your wife."
" Quick ! Quick ! Go on oh, go on, m'sieu'
"She fell at my feet, begging me to save her.
... I waved her off."
The sweat dropped from Bagot's forehead, a low
growl broke from him, and he made such a motion
as a lion might make at its prey.
"You wouldn't wouldn't save her you coward ! "
He ground the words out.
The priest raised his palm against the other's
violence. " Hush ! . . . She drew away, saying
that God and man had deserted her. . . . We had
breakfast, the chief and I. Afterwards, when the
chief had eaten much and was in good humour, I
asked him where he had got the woman. He said
that he had found her on the plains she had lost
her way. I told him then that I wanted to buy
her. He said to me, ' What does a priest want of
a woman ? ' I said that I wished to give her back
to her husband. He said that he had found her,
and she was his, and that he would marry her when
they reached the great camp of the tribe. I was
patient. It would not do to make him angry. I
wrote down on a piece of bark the things that I
would give him for her : an order on the Company
at Fort o' Sin for shot, blankets, and beads. He
The priest paused. Bagot's face was all swim-
ISO AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
ming with sweat, his body was rigid, but the veins
of his neck knotted and twisted.
" For the love of God, go on ! " he said hoarsely.
" Yes, ' for the love of God.' I have no money,
I am poor, but the Company will always honour
my orders, for I pay sometimes, by the help of
Christ. Bien, I added some things to the list :
a saddle, a rifle, and some flannel. But no, he
would not. Once more I put many things down.
It was a big bill it would keep me poor for five
years. To save your wife, John Bagot, you who
drove her from your door, blaspheming, and railing
at such as I. ... I offered the things, and told
him that was all that I could give. After a little
he shook his head, and said that he must have
the woman for his wife. I did not know what
to add. I said ' She is white, and the white
people will never rest till they have killed you
all, if you do this thing. The Company will
track you down.' Then he said, ' The whites must
catch me and fight me before they kill me.' . . .
What was there to do ? "
Bagot came near to the priest, bending over him
" You let her stay with them you, with hands
like a man 1 "
" Hush 1 " was the calm, reproving answer. " I
was one man, they were twenty."
" Where was your God to help you, then ? "
THE GOING OF THE WHITE SWAN 151
" Her God and mine was with me."
Bagot's eyes blazed. "Why didn't you offer
rum rum ? They'd have done it for that one
five ten kegs of rum ! "
He swayed to and fro in his excitement, yet
their voices hardly rose above a hoarse whisper
all the time.
"You forget," answered the priest, "that it is
against the law, and that as a priest of my order,
I am vowed to give no rum to an Indian."
" A vow ? A vow ? Son of God 1 what is a vow
beside a woman my wife ? "
His misery and his rage were pitiful to see.
" Perjure my soul ? Offer rum ? Break my vow
in the face of the enemies of God's Church? What
have you done for me that I should do this for
you, John Bagot ? "
" Coward ! " was the man's despairing cry, with
a sudden threatening movement. " Christ Himself
would have broke a vow to save her."
The grave, kind eyes of the priest met the
other's fierce gaze, and quieted the wild storm that
was about to break.
"Who am I that I should teach my Master?"
he said solemnly. "What would you give Christ,
Bagot, if He had saved her to you ? "
The man shook with grief, and tears rushed
from his eyes, so suddenly and fully had a new
emotion passed through him.
" Give give ? " he cried ; " I would give twenty
years of my life ! "
The figure of the priest stretched up with a
gentle grandeur. Holding out the iron crucifix,
he said: "On your knees and swear it, John
There was something inspiring, commandkig,
in the voice and manner, and Bagot, with a new
hope rushing through his veins, knelt and repeated
The priest turned to the door, and called,
" Madame Lucette ! "
The boy, hearing, waked, and sat up in bed
" Mother ! mother ! " he cried, as the door flew
The mother came to her husband's arms, laugh-
ing and weeping, and an instant afterwards was
pouring out her love and anxiety over her child.
Father Corraine now faced the man, and with a
soft exaltation of voice and manner, said:
"John Bagot, in the name of Christ, I demand
twenty years of your life of love and obedience
of God. I broke my vow, I perjured my soul, I
bought your wife with ten kegs of rum 1"
The tall hunter dropped again to his knees, and
caught the priest's hand to kiss it
"No, no this!" the priest said, and laid his
iron crucifix against the other's lips.
THE GOING OF THE WHITE SWAN 153
Dominique's voice came clearly through the
" Mother, I saw the white swan fly away through
the door when you came in."
" My dear, my dear," she said, " there was no
white swan." But she clasped the boy to her
breast protectingly, and whispered an ave.
" Peace be to this house," said the voice of the
And there was peace: for the child lived, and
the man has loved, and has kept his vow, even
unto this day.
For the visions of the boy, who can know the
divers ways in which God speaks to the children
of men ?
At Bamber's Boom
IS trouble came upon him when he was old
To the hour of its coming he had been
of shrewd and humorous disposition. He had
married late in life, and his wife had died, leaving
him one child a girl. She grew to womanhood,
bringing him daily joy. She was beloved in the
settlement ; and there was no one at Bamber's
Boom, in the valley of the Madawaska, but was
startled and sorry when it turned out that Dugard,
the river-boss, was married. He floated away
down the river, with his rafts and drives of logs,
leaving the girl sick and shamed. They knew she
was sick at heart, because she grew pale and
silent ; they did not know for some months how
shamed she was. Then it was that Mrs. Lauder,
the sister of the Roman Catholic missionary,
Father Halen, being a woman of notable character
and kindness, visited her and begged her to
Though the girl Nora was a Protestant,
Mrs. Lauder did this : but it brought sore grief
to her. At first she could hardly bear to look
AT BAMBER'S BOOM 155
at the girl's face, it was so hopeless, so numb
to the world : it had the indifference of despair.
Rumour now became hateful fact. When the old
man was told, he gave one great cry, then sat
down, his hands pressed hard between his knees,
his body trembling, his eyes staring before him.
It was Father Halen who told him. He did
it as man to man, and not as a priest, having
travelled fifty miles for the purpose. " George
Magor," said he, "it's bad, I know, but bear it
with the help of God. And be kind to the girl."
The old man answered nothing. " My friend,"
the priest continued, " I hope you'll forgive me
for telling you. I thought 'twould be better from
me, than to have it thrown at you in the settle-
ment. We've been friends one way and another,
and my heart aches for you, and my prayers go
The old man raised his sunken eyes, all their
keen humour gone, and spoke as though each word
were dug from his heart " Say no more, Father
Halen." Then he reached out, caught the priest's
hand in his gnarled fingers, and wrung it.
The father never spoke a harsh word to the girl.
Otherwise he seemed to harden into stone. When
the Protestant missionary came, he would not see
him. The child was born before the river-drivers
came along again the next year with their rafts
and logs. There was a feeling abroad that it
156 AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
would be ill for Dugard if he chanced to camp
at Bamber's Boom. The look of the old man's
face was ominous, and he was known to have an
Dugard was a handsome man, half French, half
Scotch, swarthy and admirably made. He was
proud of his strength, and showily fearless in
danger. For there were dangerous hours to the
river life : when, for instance, a mass of logs
became jammed at a rapids, and must be loosened ;
or a crib struck into the wrong channel, or, failing
to enter a slide straight, came at a nasty angle to
it, its timbers wrenched and tore apart, and its
crew, with their great oars, were plumped into the
busy current. He had been known to stand singly
in some perilous spot when one log, the key to the
-jam, must be shifted to set free the great tumbled