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GIFT OF
A. F. Jorrison







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ROADS OF DESTINY



BOOKS BY O. HENRY

CABBAGES AND KINGS
THE FOUR MILLION
THE TRIMMED LAMP
HEART OF THE WEST
THE VOICE OF THE CITY
THE GENTLE GRAFTER




outrage . . . forf a nigger along."



* *-***-



QHENRY

Authorized Edition

ROADS OF
DESTINY




TUliskeJly

MDOUBLEDAY, PAGE tf CO.
REVIEW OF REVIEWS CO.




ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF TRANSLATION
INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES, INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN

COPYRIGHT, 1903, RY THE S. S. MCCLURE COMPANY

COPYRIGHT, 1903, BY THE COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE COMPANY

COPYRIGHT, 1904, 1905, 1906, BY THE RIDGWAY COMPANY

COPYRIGHT, 1902, 1903, BY AINSLEE s MAGAZINE COMPANY

COPYRIGHT, 1904, BY THE METROPOLITAN MjiGA^INE COMPANY

COPYRIGHT, 1908, Bi THE PHILL2P* P^BLIPHING COMPANY

COPYRIGHT, 1909, BY DOUSLSDAY, PAGE& COMPANY





R/3






\A &

CONTENTS




CHAPTER
T


i


?AGE

3


1

II.


THE GUARDIAN OF THE ACCOLADE ....


29


III.

IV


THE DISCOUNTERS OF MONEY


40
48


JL V

V.
VI


" NEXT TO READING MATTER "


57

74


V J.

VII.




88


VIII.




107


IX.


THE PASSING OF BLACK EAGLE ....


120


X.


A RETRIEVED REFORMATION


134


XL


CHERCHEZ LA FEMME


144


XII.


FRIENDS IN SAN ROSARIO


155


XIII.


THE FOURTH IN SALVADOR


171


XIV.


THE EMANCIPATION OF BILLY


184


XV.


THE ENCHANTED Kiss


197


XVI.


A DEPARTMENTAL CASE . ......


213


XVII.


THE RENAISSANCE AT CHARLEROI ....


227


XVIII.


ON BEHALF OF THE MANAGEMENT ....


243


XIX.


WHISTLING DICK S CHRISTMAS STOCKING


258


XX.


THE HALBERDIER OF THE LITTLE RHEINSCHLOSS


278


XXL
XXII.


Two RENEGADES
THE LONESOME ROAD


289
302



M103293



ROADS OF DESTINY



ROADS OF DESTINY

I go to seek on many roads

What is to be.

True heart and strong, with love to light
Will they not bear me in the fight
To order, shun or wield or mould

My Destiny?

Unpublished Poems of David Mignot.

1 HE song was over. The words were David s ; the air, one
of the countryside. The company about the inn table ap
plauded heartily, for the young pcet paid for the wine. Only
the notary, M. Papineau, shook his head a little at the lines,
for he was a man of books, and he had not drunk with the rest.

David went out into the village street, where the night air
drove the wine vapour from his head. And then he remem
bered that he and Yvonne had quarrelled that day, and that
he had resolved to leave his home that night to seek fame and
honour in the great world outside.

" When my poems are on every man s tongue," he told him
self, in a fine exhilaration, " she will, perhaps, think of the
hard words she spoke this day."

Except the roysterers in the tavern, the village folk were
abed. David crept softly into his room in the shed of his
father s cottage and made a bundle of his small store of cloth
ing. With this upon a staff, he set his face outward upon the
road that ran from Vernoy.

He passed his father s herd of sheep huddled in their
nightly pen the sheep he herded daily, leaving them to



4 Roads of Destiny

scatter while he wrote verses on scraps of paper. He saw a
light yet shining in Yvonne s window, and a weakness shook
his purpose of a sudden. Perhaps that light meant that she
rued, sleepless, her anger, and that morning might But,
no! His decis:-or was made. Vernoy was no place for him.
Not one soul there could share his thoughts. Out along that
road lay his fate and his future.

Three leagues across the dim, moonlit champaign ran the
road, straight as a ploughman s furrow. It was believed in
the village that the road ran to Paris, at least; and this name
the poet whispered often to himself as he walked. Never
so far from Vernoy had David travelled before.

THE LEFT BRANCH

Three leagues, then, the road ran, and turned into a puz
zle. It joined with another and a larger road at right angles.
David stood, uncertain, for a while, and then took the road
to the left.

Upon this more important highway were, imprinted in the
dust, wheel tracks left by the recent passage of some vehicle.
Some half an hour later these traces were verified by the sight
of a ponderous carriage mired in a little brook at the bottom
of a steep hill. The driver and postilions were shouting and
tugging at the horses bridles. On the road at one side stood
a huge, black-clothed man and a slender lady wrapped in a
long, light cloak.

David saw the lack of skill in the efforts of the servants.
He quietly assumed control of the work. He directed the
outriders to cease their clamour at the horses and to exercise
their strength upon the wheels. The driver alone urged the
animals with his familiar voice; David himself heaved a
powerful shoulder at the rear of the carriage, and with one
harmonious tug the great vehicle rolled up on solid ground.
The outriders climbed to their places.



Roads of Destiny 5

David stood for a moment upon one foot. The huge gen
tleman waved a hand. " You will enter the carriage/ he
said, in a voice large, like himself, but smoothed by art and
habit. Obedience belonged in the path of such a voice.
Brief as was the young poet s hesitation, it was cut shorter
still by a renewal of the command. David s foot went to the
step. In the darkness he perceived dimly the form of the
lady upon the rear seat. He was about to seat himself op
posite, when the voice again swayed him to its will. " You
will sit at the lady s side."

The gentleman swung his great weight to the forward seat.
The carriage proceeded up the hill. The lady was shrunk,
silent, into her corner. David could not estimate whether she
was old or young, but a delicate, mild perfume from her clothes
stirred his poet s fancy to the belief that there was loveliness
beneath the mystery. Here was an adventure such as he had
often imagined. But as yet he held no key to it, for no word
was spoken while he sat with his impenetrable companions.

In an hour s time David perceived through the window that
the vehicle traversed the street of some town. Then it stopped
in front of a closed and darkened house, and a postilion
alighted to hammer impatiently upon the door. A latticed
window above flew wide and a nightcapped head popped out.

" Who are ye that disturb honest folk at this time of night ?
My house is closed. Tis too late for profitable travellers to
be abroad. Cease knocking at my door, and be off."

" Open! " spluttered the postilion, loudly; " open for Mon-
seigneur the Marquis de Beaupertuys."

" Ah ! " cried the voice above. " Ten thousand pardons,
my lord. I did not know the hour is so late at once
shall the door be opened, and the house placed at my lord s
disposal."

Inside was heard the clink of chain and bar, and the door
was flung open. Shivering with chill and apprehension, the



6 Roads of Destiny

landlord of the Silver Flagon stood, half clad, candle in hand,
upon the threshold.

David followed the marquis out of the carriage. " Assist
the lady," he was ordered. The poet obeyed. He felt her
small hand tremble as he guided her descent. " Into the
house," was the next command.

The room was the long dining-hall of the tavern. A
great oak table ran down its length. The huge gentleman
seated himself in a chair at the nearer end. The lady sank
into another against the wall, with an air of great weariness.
David stood, considering how best he might now take his leave
and continue upon his way.

" My lord," said the landlord, bowing to the floor, " h-had
I ex-expected this honour, entertainment would have been
ready. T-t-there is wine and cold fowl and m-m-maybe

" Candles," said the marquis, spreading the fingers of one
.plump white hand in a gesture he had.

" Y-yes, my lord." He fetched half a dozen candles,
lighted them, and set them upon the table.

"If monsieur would, perhaps, deign to taste a certain Bur
gundy there is a cask

" Candles," said monsieur, spreading his fingers.
" Assuredly quickly I fly, my lord."
A dozen more lighted candles shone in the hall. The great
bulk of the marquis overflowed his chair. He was dressed
in fine black from head to foot save for the snowy ruffles at
his wrist and throat. Even the hilt and scabbard of his
sword were black. His expression was one of sneering
pride. The ends of an upturned moustache reached nearly
to his mocking eyes.

The lady sat motionless, and now David perceived that
she was young, and possessed of pathetic and appealing
beauty. He was startled from the contemplation of her for
lorn loveliness by the booming voice of the marquis.



Roads of Destiny 7

"What is your name and pursuit?"

" David Mignot. I am a poet."

The moustache of the marquis curled nearer to his eyes.

" How do you live? "

" I am also a shepherd; I guarded my father s flock/ David
answered, with his head high, but a flush upon his cheek.

" Then listen, master shepherd and poet, to the fortune
you have blundered upon to-night. This lady is my niece,
Mademoiselle Lucie de Varennes. She is of noble descent
and is possessed of ten thousand francs a year in her own
right. As to her charms, you have but to observe for your
self. If the inventory pleases your shepherd s heart, she
becomes your wife at a word. Do not interrupt me. To
night I conveyed her to the chateau of the Comte de Villemaur,
to whom her hand had been promised. Guests were present;
the priest was waiting; her marriage to one eligible in rank
and fortune was ready to be accomplished. At the altar this
demoiselle, so meek and dutiful, turned upon me like a leop
ardess, charged me with cruelty and crimes, and broke, before
the gaping priest, the troth I had plighted for her. I swore
there and then, by ten thousand devils, that she should marry
the first man we met after leaving the chateau, be he prince,
charcoal-burner, or thief. You, shepherd, are the first.
Mademoiselle must be wed this night. If not you, then an
other. You have ten minutes in which to make your decision.
Do not vex me with words or questions. Ten minutes, shep
herd; and they are speeding."

The marquis drummed loudly with his white fingers upon
the table. He sank into a veiled attitude of waiting. It was
as if some great house had shut its doors and windows against
approach. David would have spoken, but the huge man s
bearing stopped his tongue. Instead, he stood by the lady s
chair and bowed.

" Mademoiselle," he said, and he marvelled to find his



8 Roads of Destiny

words flowing easily before so much elegance and beauty.
" You have heard me say I was a shepherd. I have also had
the fancy, at times, that I am a poet. If it be the test of
a poet to adore and cherish the beautiful, that fancy is now
strengthened. Can I serve you in any way, mademoiselle ? "

The young woman looked up at him with eyes dry and
mournful. His frank, glowing face, made serious by the
gravity of the adventure, his strong, straight figure and the
liquid sympathy in his blue eyes, perhaps, also, her imminent
need of long-denied help and kindness, thawed her to sudden
tears.

" Monsieur," she said, in low tones, " you look to be true
and kind. Hs is my uncle, the brother of my father, and
my only relative. He loved my mother, and he hates me
because I am like her. He has made my life one long ter
ror. I am afraid of his very looks, and never before dared
to disobey him. But to-night he would have married me to
a man three times my age. You will forgive me for bringing
this vexation upon you, monsieur. You will, of course, decline
this mad act he tries to force upon you. But let me thank
you for your generous words, at least. I have had none
spoken to me in so long."

There was now something more than generosity in the
poet s eyes. Poet he must have been, for Yvonne was for
gotten ; this fine, new loveliness held him with its freshness and
grace. The subtle perfume from her filled him with strange
emotions. His tender look fell warmly upon her. She leaned
to it, thirstily.

" Ten minutes," said David, " is given me in which to do
what I would devote years to achieve. I will not say I pity
you, mademoiselle ; it would not be true I love you. I
cannot ask love from you yet, but let me rescue you from
this cruel man, and, in time, love may come. I think I have
a future; I will not always be a shepherd. For the present



Roads of Destiny 9

I will cherish you with all my heart and make your life less
sad. Will you trust your fate to me, mademoiselle ? "

" Ah, you would sacrifice yourself from pity ! "

" From love. The time is almost up, mademoiselle."

" You will regret it, and despise me."

" I will live only to make you happy, and myself worthy
of you."

Her fine small hand crept into his from beneath her
cloak.

" I will trust you," she breathed, " with my life. And
and love may not be so far off as you think. Tell him.
Once away from the power of his eyes I may forget."

David went and stood before the marquis. The black fig
ure stirred, and the mocking eyes glanced at the great hall
clock.

" Two minutes to spare. A shepherd requires eight min
utes to decide whether he will accept a bride of beauty and
income ! Speak up, shepherd, do you consent to become
mademoiselle s husband?"

" Mademoiselle," said David, standing proudly, " has done
toe the honour to yield to my request that she become my
Wife."

" Well said ! " said the marquis. " You have yet the mak
ing of a courtier in you, master shepherd. Mademoiselle could
have drawn a worse prize, after all. And now to be done with
the affair as quick as the Church and the devil will allow ! "

He struck the table soundly with his sword hilt. The
landlord came, knee-shaking, bringing more candles in the
hope of anticipating the great lord s whims. " Fetch a
priest," said the marquis, " a priest ; do you understand ? In
ten minutes have a priest here, or "

The landlord dropped his candles and flew.

The priest came, heavy-eyed and ruffled. He made David
Mignot and Lucie de Varennes man and wife, pocketed a



10 Roads of Destiny

gold piece that the marquis tossed him, and shuffled out again
into the night.

" Wine," ordered the marquis, spreading his ominous fin
gers at the host.

" Fill glasses," he said, when it was brought. He stood
up at the head of the table in the candlelight, a black moun
tain of venom and conceit, with something like the memory
of an old love turned to poison in his eye, as it fell upon his
niece.

" Monsieur Mignot," he said, raising his wineglass, " drink
after I say this to you: You have taken to be your wife one
who will make your life a foul and wretched thing. The
blood in her is an inheritance running black lies and red ruin.
She will bring you shame and anxiety. The devil that de
scended to her is there in her eyes and skin and mouth that
stoop even to beguile a peasant. There is your promise, mon
sieur poet, for a happy life. Drink your wine. At last,
mademoiselle, I am rid of you."

The marquis drank. A little grievous cry, as if from a
sudden wound, came from the girl s lips. David, with his
glass in his hand, stepped forward three paces and faced the
marquis. There was little of a shepherd in his bearing.

" Just now," he said, calmly, " you did me the honour to
call me monsieur. May I hope, therefore that my marriage
to mademoiselle has placed me somewhat nearer to you in
let us say, reflected rank has given me the right to stand
more as an equal to monseigneur in a certain little piece of
business I have in my mind? "

" You may hope, shepherd," sneered the marquis.

" Then," said David, dashing his glass of wine into the
contemptuous eyes that mocked him, " perhaps you will con
descend to fight me."

The fury of the great lord outbroke in one sudden curse
like a blast from a horn. He tore his sword from its black



Roads of Destiny 11

sheath; he called to the hovering landlord: " A sword there,
for this lout ! " He turned to the lady, with a laugh that
chilled her heart, and said: " You put much labour upon me,
madame. It seems I must find you a husband and make you
a widow in the same night."

" I know not sword-play," said David. He flushed to make
the confession before his lady.

" I know not sword-play, " mimicked the marquis.
"Shall we fight like peasants with oaken cudgels? Hola!
Francois, my pistols ! "

A postilion brought two shining great pistols ornamented
with carven silver, from the carriage holsters. The marquis
tossed one upon the table near David s hand. " To the other
end of the table," he cried; "even a shepherd may pull a
trigger. Few of them attain the honour to die by the weapon
of a De Beaupertuys."

The shepherd and the marquis faced each other from the
ends of the long table. The landlord, in an ague of terror,
clutched the air and stammered : " M-M-Monseigneur, for
the love of Christ! not in my house! do not spill blood
it will ruin my custom " The look of the marquis, threaten
ing him, paralyzed his tongue.

" Coward," cried the lord of Beaupertuys, " cease chatter
ing your teeth long enough to give the word for us, if you
can."

Mine host s knees smote the floor. He was without a vo
cabulary. Even sounds were beyond him. Still, by gestures
he seemed to beseech peace in the name of his house and cus
tom.

" I will give the word," said the lady, in a clear voice.
She went up to David and kissed him sweetly. Her eyes
were sparkling bright, and colour had come to her cheek.
She stood against the wall, and the two men levelled their
pistols for her count.



12 Roads of Destiny

" Un deux trois!"

The two reports came so nearly together that the candles
flickered but once. The marquis stood, smiling, the fingers
of his left hand resting, outspread, upon the end of the table.
David remained erect, and turned his head very slowly, search
ing for his wife with his eyes. Then, as a garment falls from
where it is hung, he sank, crumpled, upon the floor.

With a little cry of terror and despair, the widowed maid
ran and stooped above him. She found his wound, and then
looked up with her old look of pale melancholy. " Through
his heart," she whispered. " Oh, his heart ! "

" Come," boomed the great voice of the marquis, " out with
you to the carriage! Daybreak shall not find you on my
hands. Wed you shall be again, and to a living husband,
this night. The next we come upon, my lady, highwayman
or peasant. If the road yields no other, then the churl that
opens my gates. Out with you to the carriage ! "

The marquis, implacable and huge, the lady wrapped again
in the mystery of her cloak, the postilion bearing the weapons
all moved out to the waiting carriage. The sound of its
ponderous wheels rolling away echoed through the slumbering
village. In the hall of the Silver Flagon the distracted land
lord wrung his hands above the slain poet s body, while the
flames of the four and twenty candles danced and flickered
on the table.

THE RIGHT BRANCH

Three leagues, then, the road ran, and turned into a puzzle.
It joined with another and a larger road at right angles.
David stood, uncertain, for a while, and then took the road
to the right.

Whither it led he knew not, but he was resolved to leave Ver-
noy far behind that night. He travelled a league and then
passed a large chateau which showed testimony of recent enter-



Roads of Destiny 13

tainment. Lights shone from every window; from the great
stone gateway ran a tracery of wheel tracks drawn in the dust
by the vehicles of the guests.

Three leagues farther and David was weary. He rested
and slept for a while on a bed of pine boughs at the road
side. Then up and on again along the unknown way.

Thus for five days he travelled the great road, sleeping
upon Nature s balsamic beds or in peasants* ricks, eating of
their black, hospitable bread, drinking from streams or the
willing cup of the goatherd.

At length he crossed a great bridge and set his foot within
the smiling city that has crushed or crowned more poets than
all the rest of the world. His breath came quickly as Paris
sang to him in a little undertone her vital chant of greeting
the hum of voice and foot and wheel.

High up under the eaves of on old house in the Rue Conti,
David paid for lodging, and set himself, in a wooden chair,
to his poems. The street, once sheltering citizens of import
and consequence, was now given over to those who ever follow
in the wake of decline.

The houses were tall and still possessed of a ruined dignity,
but many of them were empty save for dust and the spider.
By night there was the clash of steel and the cries of brawlers
straying restlessly from inn to inn. Where once gentility
abode was now but a rancid and rude incontinence. But here
David found housing commensurate to his scant purse. Day
light and candlelight found him at pen and paper.

One afternoon he was returning from a foraging trip to
the lower world, with bread and curds and a bottle of thin
wine. Halfway up his dark stairway he met or rather
came upon, for she rested on the stair a young woman of a
beauty that should balk even the justice of a poet s imagina
tion. A loose, dark cloak, flung open, showed a rich gown
beneath. Her eyes changed swiftly with every little shade



14 Roads of Destiny

of thought. Within one moment they would be round and
artless like a child s, and long and cozening like a gypsy s.
One hand raised her gown, undraping a little shoe, high-
heeled, with its ribbons dangling, untied. So heavenly she
was, so unfitted to stoop, so qualified to charm and command!
Perhaps she had seen David coming, and had waited for his
help there.

Ah, would monsieur pardon that she occupied the stairway,
but the shoe ! the naughty shoe ! Alas ! it would not re
main tied. Ah ! if monsieur would be so gracious !

The poet s fingers trembled as he tied the contrary ribbons.
Then he would have fled from the danger of her presence,
but the eyes grew long and cozening, like a gipsy s, and held
him. He leaned against the balustrade, clutching his bottle
of sour wine.

" You have been so good," she said, smiling. " Does mon
sieur, perhaps, live in the house ? "

" Yes, madame. I I think so, madame."

" Perhaps in the third story, then ? "

"No, madame; higher up."

The lady fluttered her fingers with the least possible ges
ture of impatience.

" Pardon. Certainly I am not discreet in asking. Mon
sieur will forgive me ? It is surely not becoming that I should
inquire where he lodges."

" Madame, do not say so. I live in the

" No, no, no ; do not tell me. Now I see that I erred. But
I cannot lose the interest I feel in this house and all that is
in it. Once it was my home. Often I come here but to
dream of those happy days again. Will you let that be my
excuse ? "

" Let me tell you, then, for you need no excuse," stam
mered the poet. " I live in the top floor the small room
where the stairs turn."



Roads of Destiny 15

"In the front room?" asked the lady, turning her head
sidewise.

" The rear, madame."

The lady sighed, as if with relief.

" I will detain you no longer, then, monsieur," she said,
employing the round and artless eye. " Take good care of
my house. Alas ! only the memories of it are mine now.
Adieu, and accept my thanks for your courtesy."

She was gone, leaving but a smile and a trace of sweet
perfume. David climbed the stairs as one in slumber. But
he awoke from it, and the smile and the perfume lingered
with him and never afterward did either seem quite to leave
him. This lady of whom he knew nothing drove him to lyrics
of eyes, chansons of swiftly conceived love, odes to curling
hair, and sonnets to slippers on slender feet.

Poet he must have been, for Yvonne was forgotten; this
fine, new loveliness held him with its freshness and grace.
The subtle perfume about her filled him with strange emotions.

On a certain night three persons were gathered about a
table in a room on the third floor of the same house. Three
chairs and the table and a lighted candle upon it was all the
furniture. One of the persons was a huge man, dressed in
black. His expression was one of sneering pride. The ends
of his upturned moustache reached nearly to his mocking eyes.
Another was a lady, young and beautiful, with eyes that could
be round and artless, like a child s, or long and cozening, like
a gipsy s, but were now keen and ambitious, like any other
conspirator s. The third was a man of action, a combatant,
a bold and impatient executive, breathing fire and steel. He
was addressed by the others as Captain Desrolles.


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