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<SPAN name="link2HCH0040" id="link2HCH0040"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> Chapter XL </h2> <p> The vision was over, but the beauty remained. The spoken words of protest made her a woman. Never again would she, nor any other creature of the earth, appear to Thorpe as she had in the silver glade or the cloistered pines. He had had his moment of insight. The deeps had twice opened to permit him to look within. Now they had closed again. But out of them had fluttered a great love and the priestess of it. Always, so long as life should be with him, Thorpe was destined to see in this tall graceful girl with the red lips and the white skin and the corn-silk hair, more beauty, more of the great mysterious spiritual beauty which is eternal, than her father or her mother or her dearest and best. For to them the vision had not been vouchsafed, while he had seen her as the highest symbol of God's splendor. </p> <p> Now she stood before him, her head turned half away, a faint flush still tingeing the chalk-white of her skin, watching him with a dim, half-pleading smile in expectation of his reply. </p> <p> "Ah, moon of my soul! light of my life!" he cried, but he cried it within him, though it almost escaped his vigilance to his lips. What he really said sounded almost harsh in consequence. </p> <p> "How did you know my name?" he asked. </p> <p> She planted both elbows on the Norway and framed her little face deliciously with her long pointed hands. </p> <p> "If Mr. Harry Thorpe can ask that question," she replied, "he is not quite so impolite as I had thought him." </p> <p> "If you don't stop pouting your lips, I shall kiss them!" cried Harry&mdash;to himself. </p> <p> "How is that?" he inquired breathlessly. </p> <p> "Don't you know who I am?" she asked in return. </p> <p> "A goddess, a beautiful woman!" he answered ridiculously enough. </p> <p> She looked straight at him. This time his gaze dropped. </p> <p> "I am a friend of Elizabeth Carpenter, who is Wallace Carpenter's sister, who I believe is Mr. Harry Thorpe's partner." </p> <p> She paused as though for comment. The young man opposite was occupied in many other more important directions. Some moments later the words trickled into his brain, and some moments after that he realized their meaning. </p> <p> "We wrote Mr. Harry Thorpe that we were about to descend on his district with wagons and tents and Indians and things, and asked him to come and see us." </p> <p> "Ah, heart o' mine, what clear, pure eyes she has! How they look at a man to drown his soul!" </p> <p> Which, even had it been spoken, was hardly the comment one would have expected. </p> <p> The girl looked at him for a moment steadily, then smiled. The change of countenance brought Thorpe to himself, and at the same moment the words she had spoken reached his comprehension. </p> <p> "But I never received the letter. I'm so sorry," said he. "It must be at the mill. You see, I've been up in the woods for nearly a month." </p> <p> "Then we'll have to forgive you." </p> <p> "But I should think they would have done something for you at the mill&mdash;" </p> <p> "Oh, we didn't come by way of your mill. We drove from Marquette." </p> <p> "I see," cried Thorpe, enlightened. "But I'm sorry I didn't know. I'm sorry you didn't let me know. I suppose you thought I was still at the mill. How did you get along? Is Wallace with you?" </p> <p> "No," she replied, dropping her hands and straightening her erect figure. "It's horrid. He was coming, and then some business came up and he couldn't get away. We are having the loveliest time though. I do adore the woods. Come," she cried impatiently, sweeping aside to leave a way clear, "you shall meet my friends." </p> <p> Thorpe imagined she referred to the rest of the tenting party. He hesitated. </p> <p> "I am hardly in fit condition," he objected. </p> <p> She laughed, parting her red lips. "You are extremely picturesque just as you are," she said with rather embarrassing directness. "I wouldn't have you any different for the world. But my friends don't mind. They are used to it." She laughed again. </p> <p> Thorpe crossed the pole trail, and for the first time found himself by her side. The warm summer odors were in the air, a dozen lively little birds sang in the brush along the rail, the sunlight danced and flickered through the openings. </p> <p> Then suddenly they were among the pines, and the air was cool, the vista dim, and the bird songs inconceivably far away. </p> <p> The girl walked directly to the foot of a pine three feet through, and soaring up an inconceivable distance through the still twilight. </p> <p> "This is Jimmy," said she gravely. "He is a dear good old rough bear when you don't know him, but he likes me. If you put your ear close against him," she confided, suiting the action to the word, "you can hear him talking to himself. This little fellow is Tommy. I don't care so much for Tommy because he's sticky. Still, I like him pretty well, and here's Dick, and that's Bob, and the one just beyond is Jack." </p> <p> "Where is Harry?" asked Thorpe. </p> <p> "I thought one in a woods was quite sufficient," she replied with the least little air of impertinence. </p> <p> "Why do you name them such common, everyday names?" he inquired. </p> <p> "I'll tell you. It's because they are so big and grand themselves, that it did not seem to me they needed high-sounding names. What do you think?" she begged with an appearance of the utmost anxiety. </p> <p> Thorpe expressed himself as in agreement. As the half-quizzical conversation progressed, he found their relations adjusting themselves with increasing rapidity. He had been successively the mystic devotee before his vision, the worshipper before his goddess; now he was unconsciously assuming the attitude of the lover before his mistress. It needs always this humanizing touch to render the greatest of all passions livable. </p> <p> And as the human element developed, he proved at the same time greater and greater difficulty in repressing himself and greater and greater fear of the results in case he should not do so. He trembled with the desire to touch her long slender hand, and as soon as his imagination had permitted him that much he had already crushed her to him and had kissed passionately her starry face. Words hovered on his lips longing for flight. He withheld them by an effort that left him almost incoherent, for he feared with a deadly fear lest he lose forever what the vision had seemed to offer to his hand. </p> <p> So he said little, and that lamely, for he dreaded to say too much. To her playful sallies he had no riposte. And in consequence he fell more silent with another boding&mdash;that he was losing his cause outright for lack of a ready word. </p> <p> He need not have been alarmed. A woman in such a case hits as surely as a man misses. Her very daintiness and preciosity of speech indicated it. For where a man becomes stupid and silent, a woman covers her emotions with words and a clever speech. Not in vain is a proud-spirited girl stared down in such a contest of looks; brave deeds simply told by a friend are potent to win interest in advance; a straight, muscular figure, a brown skin, a clear, direct eye, a carriage of power and acknowledged authority, strike hard at a young imagination; a mighty passion sweeps aside the barriers of the heart. Such a victory, such a friend, such a passion had Thorpe. </p> <p> And so the last spoken exchange between them meant nothing; but if each could have read the unsaid words that quivered on the other's heart, Thorpe would have returned to the Fighting Forty more tranquilly, while she would probably not have returned to the camping party at all for a number of hours. </p> <p> "I do not think you had better come with me," she said. "Make your call and be forgiven on your own account. I don't want to drag you in at my chariot wheels." </p> <p> "All right. I'll come this afternoon," Thorpe had replied. </p> <p> "I love her, I must have her. I must go&mdash;at once," his soul had cried, "quick&mdash;now&mdash;before I kiss her!" </p> <p> "How strong he is," she said to herself, "how brave-looking; how honest! He is different from the other men. He is magnificent." </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2HCH0041" id="link2HCH0041"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> Chapter XLI </h2> <p> That afternoon Thorpe met the other members of the party, offered his apologies and explanations, and was graciously forgiven. He found the personnel to consist of, first of all, Mrs. Cary, the chaperone, a very young married woman of twenty-two or thereabouts; her husband, a youth of three years older, clean-shaven, light-haired, quiet-mannered; Miss Elizabeth Carpenter, who resembled her brother in the characteristics of good-looks, vivacious disposition and curly hair; an attendant satellite of the masculine persuasion called Morton; and last of all the girl whom Thorpe had already so variously encountered and whom he now met as Miss Hilda Farrand. Besides these were Ginger, a squab negro built to fit the galley of a yacht; and three Indian guides. They inhabited tents, which made quite a little encampment. </p> <p> Thorpe was received with enthusiasm. Wallace Carpenter's stories of his woods partner, while never doing more than justice to the truth, had been of a warm color tone. One and all owned a lively curiosity to see what a real woodsman might be like. When he proved to be handsome and well mannered, as well as picturesque, his reception was no longer in doubt. </p> <p> Nothing could exceed his solicitude as to their comfort and amusement. He inspected personally the arrangement of the tents, and suggested one or two changes conducive to the littler comforts. This was not much like ordinary woods-camping. The largest wall-tent contained three folding cots for the women, over which, in the daytime, were flung bright-colored Navajo blankets. Another was spread on the ground. Thorpe later, however, sent over two bear skins, which were acknowledgedly an improvement. To the tent pole a mirror of size was nailed, and below it stood a portable washstand. The second tent, devoted to the two men, was not quite so luxurious; but still boasted of little conveniences the true woodsman would never consider worth the bother of transporting. The third, equally large, was the dining tent. The other three, smaller, and on the A tent order, served respectively as sleeping rooms for Ginger and the Indians, and as a general store-house for provisions and impedimenta. </p> <p> Thorpe sent an Indian to Camp One for the bearskins, put the rest to digging a trench around the sleeping tents in order that a rain storm might not cause a flood, and ordered Ginger to excavate a square hole some feet deep which he intended to utilize as a larder. </p> <p> Then he gave Morton and Cary hints as to the deer they wished to capture, pointed out the best trout pools, and issued advice as to the compassing of certain blackberries, not far distant. </p> <p> Simple things enough they were to do&mdash;it was as though a city man were to direct a newcomer to Central Park, or impart to him a test for the destinations of trolley lines&mdash;yet Thorpe's new friends were profoundly impressed with his knowledge of occult things. The forest was to them, as to most, more or less of a mystery, unfathomable except to the favored of genius. A man who could interpret it, even a little, into the speech of everyday comfort and expediency possessed a strong claim to their imaginations. When he had finished these practical affairs, they wanted him to sit down and tell them more things, to dine with them, to smoke about their camp fire in the evening. But here they encountered a decided check. Thorpe became silent, almost morose. He talked in monosyllables, and soon went away. They did not know what to make of him, and so were, of course, the more profoundly interested. The truth was, his habitual reticence would not have permitted a great degree of expansion in any case, but now the presence of Hilda made any but an attitude of hushed waiting for her words utterly impossible to him. He wished well to them all. If there was anything he could do for them, he would gladly undertake it. But he would not act the lion nor tell of his, to them, interesting adventures. </p> <p> However, when he discovered that Hilda had ceased visiting the clump of pines near the pole trail, his desire forced him back among these people. He used to walk in swiftly at almost any time of day, casting quick glances here and there in search of his divinity. </p> <p> "How do, Mrs. Cary," he would say. "Nice weather. Enjoying yourself?" </p> <p> On receiving the reply he would answer heartily, "That's good!" and lapse into silence. When Hilda was about he followed every movement of hers with his eyes, so that his strange conduct lacked no explanation nor interpretation, in the minds of the women at least. Thrice he redeemed his reputation for being an interesting character by conducting the party on little expeditions here and there about the country. Then his woodcraft and resourcefulness spoke for him. They asked him about the lumbering operations, but he seemed indifferent. </p> <p> "Nothing to interest you," he affirmed. "We're just cutting roads now. You ought to be here for the drive." </p> <p> To him there was really nothing interesting in the cutting of roads nor the clearing of streams. It was all in a day's work. </p> <p> Once he took them over to see Camp One. They were immensely pleased, and were correspondingly loud in exclamations. Thorpe's comments were brief and dry. After the noon dinner he had the unfortunate idea of commending the singing of one of the men. </p> <p> "Oh, I'd like to hear him," cried Elizabeth Carpenter. "Can't you get him to sing for us, Mr. Thorpe?" </p> <p> Thorpe went to the men's camp, where he singled out the unfortunate lumber-jack in question. </p> <p> "Come on, Archie," he said. "The ladies want to hear you sing." </p> <p> The man objected, refused, pleaded, and finally obeyed what amounted to a command. Thorpe reentered the office with triumph, his victim in tow. </p> <p> "This is Archie Harris," he announced heartily. "He's our best singer just now. Take a chair, Archie." </p> <p> The man perched on the edge of the chair and looked straight out before him. </p> <p> "Do sing for us, won't you, Mr. Harris?" requested Mrs. Cary in her sweetest tones. </p> <p> The man said nothing, nor moved a muscle, but turned a brick-red. An embarrassed silence of expectation ensued. </p> <p> "Hit her up, Archie," encouraged Thorpe. </p> <p> "I ain't much in practice no how," objected the man in a little voice, without moving. </p> <p> "I'm sure you'll find us very appreciative," said Elizabeth Carpenter. </p> <p> "Give us a song, Archie, let her go," urged Thorpe impatiently. </p> <p> "All right," replied the man very meekly. </p> <p> Another silence fell. It got to be a little awful. The poor woodsman, pilloried before the regards of this polite circle, out of his element, suffering cruelly, nevertheless made no sign nor movement one way or the other. At last when the situation had almost reached the breaking point of hysteria, he began. </p> <p> His voice ordinarily was rather a good tenor. Now he pitched it too high; and went on straining at the high notes to the very end. Instead of offering one of the typical woods chanteys, he conceived that before so grand an audience he should give something fancy. He therefore struck into a sentimental song of the cheap music-hall type. There were nine verses, and he drawled through them all, hanging whiningly on the nasal notes in the fashion of the untrained singer. Instead of being a performance typical of the strange woods genius, it was merely an atrocious bit of cheap sentimentalism, badly rendered. </p> <p> The audience listened politely. When the song was finished it murmured faint thanks. </p> <p> "Oh, give us 'Jack Haggerty,' Archie," urged Thorpe. </p> <p> But the woodsman rose, nodded his head awkwardly, and made his escape. He entered the men's camp, swearing, and for the remainder of the day made none but blasphemous remarks. </p> <p> The beagles, however, were a complete success. They tumbled about, and lolled their tongues, and laughed up out of a tangle of themselves in a fascinating manner. Altogether the visit to Camp One was a success, the more so in that on the way back, for the first time, Thorpe found that chance&mdash;and Mrs. Cary&mdash;had allotted Hilda to his care. </p> <p> A hundred yards down the trail they encountered Phil. The dwarf stopped short, looked attentively at the girl, and then softly approached. When quite near to her he again stopped, gazing at her with his soul in his liquid eyes. </p> <p> "You are more beautiful than the sea at night," he said directly. </p> <p> The others laughed. "There's sincerity for you, Miss Hilda," said young Mr. Morton. </p> <p> "Who is he?" asked the girl after they had moved </p> <p> "Our chore-boy," answered Thorpe with great brevity, for he was thinking of something much more important. </p> <p> After the rest of the party had gone ahead, leaving them sauntering more slowly down the trail, he gave it voice. </p> <p> "Why don't you come to the pine grove any more?" he asked bluntly. </p> <p> "Why?" countered Hilda in the manner of women. </p> <p> "I want to see you there. I want to talk with you. I can't talk with all that crowd around." </p> <p> "I'll come to-morrow," she said&mdash;then with a little mischievous laugh, "if that'll make you talk." </p> <p> "You must think I'm awfully stupid," agreed Thorpe bitterly. </p> <p> "Ah, no! Ah, no!" she protested softly. "You must not say that." </p> <p> She was looking at him very tenderly, if he had only known it, but he did not, for his face was set in discontented lines straight before him. </p> <p> "It is true," he replied. </p> <p> They walked on in silence, while gradually the dangerous fascination of the woods crept down on them. Just before sunset a hush falls on nature. The wind has died, the birds have not yet begun their evening songs, the light itself seems to have left off sparkling and to lie still across the landscape. Such a hush now lay on their spirits. Over the way a creeper was droning sleepily a little chant,&mdash;the only voice in the wilderness. In the heart of the man, too, a little voice raised itself alone. </p> <p> "Sweetheart, sweetheart, sweetheart!" it breathed over and over again. After a while he said it gently in a half voice. </p> <p> "No, no, hush!" said the girl, and she laid the soft, warm fingers of one hand across his lips, and looked at him from a height of superior soft-eyed tenderness as a woman might look at a child. "You must not. It is not right." </p> <p> Then he kissed the fingers very gently before they were withdrawn, and she said nothing at all in rebuke, but looked straight before her with troubled eyes. </p> <p> The voices of evening began to raise their jubilant notes. From a tree nearby the olive thrush sang like clockwork; over beyond carolled eagerly a black-throat, a myrtle warbler, a dozen song sparrows, and a hundred vireos and creepers. Down deep in the blackness of the ancient woods a hermit thrush uttered his solemn bell note, like the tolling of the spirit of peace. And in Thorpe's heart a thousand tumultuous voices that had suddenly roused to clamor, died into nothingness at the music of her softly protesting voice. </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2HCH0042" id="link2HCH0042"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> Chapter XLII </h2> <p> Thorpe returned to Camp One shortly after dark. He found there Scotty Parsons, who had come up to take charge of the crew engaged in clearing French Creek. The man brought him a number of letters sent on by Collins, among which was one from Wallace Carpenter. </p> <p> After commending the camping party to his companion's care, and giving minute directions as to how and where to meet it, the young fellow went on to say that affairs were going badly on the Board. </p> <p> "Some interest that I haven't been able to make out yet has been hammering our stocks down day after day," he wrote. "I don't understand it, for the stocks are good&mdash;they rest on a solid foundation of value and intrinsically are worth more than is bid for them right now. Some powerful concern is beating them down for a purpose of its own. Sooner or later they will let up, and then we'll get things back in good shape. I am amply protected now, thanks to you, and am not at all afraid of losing my holdings. The only difficulty is that I am unable to predict exactly when the other fellows will decide that they have accomplished whatever they are about, and let up. It may not be before next year. In that case I couldn't help you out on those notes when they come due. So put in your best licks, old man. You may have to pony up for a little while, though of course sooner or later I can put it all back. Then, you bet your life, I keep out of it. Lumbering's good enough for yours truly. </p> <p> "By the way, you might shine up to Hilda Farrand and join the rest of the fortune-hunters. She's got it to throw to the birds, and in her own right. Seriously, old fellow, don't put yourself into a false position through ignorance. Not that there is any danger to a hardened old woodsman like you." </p> <p> Thorpe went to the group of pines by the pole trail the following afternoon because he had said he would, but with a new attitude of mind. He had come into contact with the artificiality of conventional relations, and it stiffened him. No wonder she had made him keep silence the afternoon before! She had done it gently and nicely, to be sure, but that was part of her good-breeding. Hilda found him formal, reserved, polite; and marvelled at it. In her was no coquetry. She was as straightforward and sincere as the look of her eyes. </p> <p> They sat down on a log. Hilda turned to him with her graceful air of confidence. </p> <p> "Now talk to me," said she. </p> <p> "Certainly," replied Thorpe in a practical tone of voice, "what do you want me to talk about?" </p> <p> She shot a swift, troubled glance at him, concluded herself mistaken, and said: </p> <p> "Tell me about what you do up here&mdash;your life&mdash;all about it." </p> <p> "Well&mdash;" replied Thorpe formally, "we haven't much to interest a girl like you. It is a question of saw logs with us"&mdash;and he went on in his dryest, most technical manner to detail the process of manufacture. It might as well have been bricks. </p> <p> The girl did not understand. She was hurt. As surely as the sun tangled in the distant pine frond, she had seen in his eyes a great passion. Now it was coldly withdrawn. </p> <p> "What has happened to you?" she asked finally out of her great sincerity. </p> <p> "Me? Nothing," replied Thorpe. </p> <p> A forced silence fell upon him. Hilda seemed gradually to lose herself in reverie. After a time she said softly. </p> <p> "Don't you love this woods?" </p> <p> "It's an excellent bunch of pine," replied Thorpe bluntly. "It'll cut three million at least." </p> <p> "Oh!" she cried drawing back, her hands pressed against the log either side of her, her eyes wide. </p> <p> After a moment she caught her breath convulsively, and Thorpe became conscious that she was studying him furtively with a quickening doubt. </p> <p> After that, by the mercy of God, there was no more talk between them. She was too hurt and shocked and disillusioned to make the necessary effort to go away. He was too proud to put an end to the position. They sat there apparently absorbed in thought, while all about them the accustomed life of the woods drew nearer and nearer to them, as the splash of their entrance into it died away. </p> <p> A red squirrel poised thirty feet above them, leaped, and clung swaying to a sapling-top a dozen yards from the tree he had quitted. Two chickadees upside down uttering liquid undertones, searched busily for insects next their heads. Wilson's warblers, pine creepers, black-throats, myrtle and magnolia warblers, oven birds, peewits, blue jays, purple finches, passed silently or noisily, each according to his kind. Once a lone spruce hen dusted herself in a stray patch of sunlight until it shimmered on a tree trunk, raised upward, and disappeared, to give place to long level dusty shafts that shot here and there through the pines laying the spell of sunset on the noisy woods brawlers. </p> <p> Unconsciously the first strain of opposition and of hurt surprise had relaxed. Each thought vaguely his thoughts. Then in the depths of the forest, perhaps near at hand, perhaps far away, a single hermit thrush began to sing. His song was of three solemn deep liquid notes; followed by a slight rhetorical pause as of contemplation; and then, deliberately, three notes more on a different key&mdash;and so on without haste and without pause. It is the most dignified, the most spiritual, the holiest of woods utterances. Combined with the evening shadows and the warm soft air, it offered to the heart an almost irresistible appeal. The man's artificial antagonism modified; the woman's disenchantment began to seem unreal. </p> <p> Then subtly over and through the bird-song another sound became audible. At first it merely repeated the three notes faintly, like an echo, but with a rich, sad undertone that brought tears. Then, timidly and still softly, it elaborated the theme, weaving in and out through the original three the glitter and shimmer of a splendid web of sound, spreading before the awakened imagination a broad river of woods-imagery that reflected on its surface all the subtler moods of the forest. The pine shadows, the calls of the wild creatures, the flow of the brook, the splashes of sunlight through the trees, the sigh of the wind, the shout of the rapid,&mdash;all these were there, distinctly to be felt in their most ethereal and beautiful forms. And yet it was all slight and tenuous as though the crack of a twig would break it through&mdash;so that over it continually like a grand full organ-tone repeated the notes of the bird itself. </p> <p> With the first sigh of the wonder-music the girl had started and caught her breath in the exquisite pleasure of it. As it went on they both forgot everything but the harmony and each other. </p> <p> "Ah, beautiful!" she murmured. </p> <p> "What is it?" he whispered marvelling. </p> <p> "A violin,&mdash;played by a master." </p> <p> The bird suddenly hushed, and at once the strain abandoned the woods-note and took another motif. At first it played softly in the higher notes, a tinkling, lightsome little melody that stirred a kindly surface-smile over a full heart. Then suddenly, without transition, it dropped to the lower register, and began to sob and wail in the full vibrating power of a great passion. </p> <p> And the theme it treated was love. It spoke solemnly, fearfully of the greatness of it, the glory. These as abstractions it amplified in fine full-breathed chords that swept the spirit up and up as on the waves of a mighty organ. Then one by one the voices of other things were heard,&mdash;the tinkling of laughter, the roar of a city, the sob of a grief, a cry of pain suddenly shooting across the sound, the clank of a machine, the tumult of a river, the puff of a steamboat, the murmuring of a vast crowd,&mdash;and one by one, without seeming in the least to change their character, they merged imperceptibly into, and were part of the grand-breathed chords, so that at last all the fames and ambitions and passions of the world came, in their apotheosis, to be only parts of the master-passion of them all. </p> <p> And while the echoes of the greater glory still swept beneath their uplifted souls like ebbing waves, so that they still sat rigid and staring with the majesty of it, the violin softly began to whisper. Beautiful it was as a spirit, beautiful beyond words, beautiful beyond thought. Its beauty struck sharp at the heart. And they two sat there hand in hand dreaming&mdash;dreaming&mdash;dreaming&mdash; </p> <p> At last the poignant ecstacy seemed slowly, slowly to die. Fainter and fainter ebbed the music. Through it as through a mist the solemn aloof forest began to show to the consciousness of the two. They sought each other's eyes gently smiling. The music was very soft and dim and sad. They leaned to each other with a sob. Their lips met. The music ceased. </p> <p> Alone in the forest side by side they looked out together for a moment into that eternal vision which lovers only are permitted to see. The shadows fell. About them brooded the inscrutable pines stretching a canopy over them enthroned. A single last shaft of the sun struck full upon them, a single light-spot in the gathering gloom. They were beautiful. </p> <p> And over behind the trees, out of the light and the love and the beauty, little Phil huddled, his great shaggy head bowed in his arms. Beside him lay his violin, and beside that his bow, broken. He had snapped it across his knee. That day he had heard at last the Heart Song of the Violin, and uttering it, had bestowed love. But in accordance with his prophecy he had that day lost what he cared for most in all the world, his friend. </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2HCH0043" id="link2HCH0043"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> Chapter XLIII </h2> <p> That was the moon of delight. The days passed through the hazy forest like stately figures from an old masque. In the pine grove on the knoll the man and the woman had erected a temple to love, and love showed them one to the other. </p> <p> In Hilda Farrand was no guile, no coquetry, no deceit. So perfect was her naturalism that often by those who knew her least she was considered affected. Her trust in whomever she found herself with attained so directly its reward; her unconsciousness of pose was so rhythmically graceful; her ignorance and innocence so triumphantly effective, that the mind with difficulty rid itself of the belief that it was all carefully studied. This was not true. She honestly did not know that she was beautiful; was unaware of her grace; did not realize the potency of her wealth. </p> <p> This absolute lack of self-consciousness was most potent in overcoming Thorpe's natural reticence. He expanded to her. She came to idolize him in a manner at once inspiring and touching in so beautiful a creature. In him she saw reflected all the lofty attractions of character which she herself possessed, but of which she was entirely unaware. Through his words she saw to an ideal. His most trivial actions were ascribed to motives of a dignity which would have been ridiculous, if it had not been a little pathetic. The woods-life, the striving of the pioneer kindled her imagination. She seized upon the great facts of them and fitted those facts with reasons of her own. Her insight perceived the adventurous spirit, the battle-courage, the indomitable steadfastness which always in reality lie back of these men of the frontier to urge them into the life; and of them constructed conscious motives of conduct. To her fancy the lumbermen, of whom Thorpe was one, were self-conscious agents of advance. They chose hardship, loneliness, the strenuous life because they wished to clear the way for a higher civilization. To her it seemed a great and noble sacrifice. She did not perceive that while all this is true, it is under the surface, the real spur is a desire to get on, and a hope of making money. For, strangely enough, she differentiated sharply the life and the reasons for it. An existence in subduing the forest was to her ideal; the making of a fortune through a lumbering firm she did not consider in the least important. That this distinction was most potent, the sequel will show. </p> <p> In all of it she was absolutely sincere, and not at all stupid. She had always had all she could spend, without question. Money meant nothing to her, one way or the other. If need was, she might have experienced some difficulty in learning how to economize, but none at all in adjusting herself to the necessity of it. The material had become, in all sincerity, a basis for the spiritual. She recognized but two sorts of motives; of which the ideal, comprising the poetic, the daring, the beautiful, were good; and the material, meaning the sordid and selfish, were bad. With her the mere money-getting would have to be allied with some great and poetic excuse. </p> <p> That is the only sort of aristocracy, in the popular sense of the word, which is real; the only scorn of money which can be respected. </p> <p> There are some faces which symbolize to the beholder many subtleties of soul-beauty which by no other method could gain expression. Those subtleties may not, probably do not, exist in the possessor of the face. The power of such a countenance lies not so much in what it actually represents, as in the suggestion it holds out to another. So often it is with a beautiful character. Analyze it carefully, and you will reduce it generally to absolute simplicity and absolute purity&mdash;two elements common enough in adulteration; but place it face to face with a more complex personality, and mirror-like it will take on a hundred delicate shades of ethical beauty, while at the same time preserving its own lofty spirituality. </p> <p> Thus Hilda Farrand reflected Thorpe. In the clear mirror of her heart his image rested transfigured. It was as though the glass were magic, so that the gross and material was absorbed and lost, while the more spiritual qualities reflected back. So the image was retained in its entirety, but etherealized, refined. It is necessary to attempt, even thus faintly and inadequately, a sketch of Hilda's love, for a partial understanding of it is necessary to the comprehension of what followed the moon of delight. </p> <p> That moon saw a variety of changes. </p> <p> The bed of French Creek was cleared. Three of the roads were finished, and the last begun. So much for the work of it. </p> <p> Morton and Cary shot four deer between them, which was unpardonably against the law, caught fish in plenty, smoked two and a half pounds of tobacco, and read half of one novel. Mrs. Cary and Miss Carpenter walked a total of over a hundred miles, bought twelve pounds of Indian work of all sorts, embroidered the circle of two embroidery frames, learned to paddle a birch-bark canoe, picked fifteen quarts of berries, and gained six pounds in weight. All the party together accomplished five picnics, four explorations, and thirty excellent campfires in the evening. So much for the fun of it. </p> <p> Little Phil disappeared utterly, taking with him his violin, but leaving his broken bow. Thorpe has it even to this day. The lumberman caused search and inquiry on all sides. The cripple was never heard of again. He had lived his brief hour, taken his subtle artist's vengeance of misplayed notes on the crude appreciation of men too coarse-fibered to recognize it, brought together by the might of sacrifice and consummate genius two hearts on the brink of misunderstanding;&mdash;now there was no further need for him, he had gone. So much for the tragedy of it. </p> <p> "I saw you long ago," said Hilda to Thorpe. "Long, long ago, when I was quite a young girl. I had been visiting in Detroit, and was on my way all alone to catch an early train. You stood on the corner thinking, tall and straight and brown, with a weather-beaten old hat and a weather-beaten old coat and weather-beaten old moccasins, and such a proud, clear, undaunted look on your face. I have remembered you ever since." </p> <p> And then he told her of the race to the Land Office, while her eyes grew brighter and brighter with the epic splendor of the story. She told him that she had loved him from that moment&mdash;and believed her telling; while he, the unsentimental leader of men, persuaded himself and her that he had always in some mysterious manner carried her image prophetically in his heart. So much for the love of it. </p> <p> In the last days of the month of delight Thorpe received a second letter from his partner, which to some extent awakened him to the realities. </p> <p> "My dear Harry," it ran. "I have made a startling discovery. The other fellow is Morrison. I have been a blind, stupid dolt, and am caught nicely. You can't call me any more names than I have already called myself. Morrison has been in it from the start. By an accident I learned he was behind the fellow who induced me to invest, and it is he who has been hammering the stock down ever since. They couldn't lick you at your game, so they tackled me at mine. I'm not the man you are, Harry, and I've made a mess of it. Of course their scheme is plain enough on the face of it. They're going to involve me so deeply that I will drag the firm down with me. </p> <p> "If you can fix it to meet those notes, they can't do it. I have ample margin to cover any more declines they may be able to bring about. Don't fret about that. Just as sure as you can pay that sixty thousand, just so sure we'll be ahead of the game at this time next year. For God's sake get a move on you, old man. If you don't&mdash;good Lord! The firm'll bust because she can't pay; I'll bust because I'll have to let my stock go on margins&mdash;it'll be an awful smash. But you'll get there, so we needn't worry. I've been an awful fool, and I've no right to do the getting into trouble and leave you to the hard work of getting out again. But as partner I'm going to insist on your having a salary&mdash;etc." </p> <p> The news aroused all Thorpe's martial spirit. Now at last the mystery surrounding Morrison &amp; Daly's unnatural complaisance was riven. It had come to grapples again. He was glad of it. Meet those notes? Well I guess so! He'd show them what sort of a proposition they had tackled. Sneaking, underhanded scoundrels! taking advantage of a mere boy. Meet those notes? You bet he would; and then he'd go down there and boost those stocks until M. &amp; D. looked like a last year's bird's nest. He thrust the letter in his pocket and walked buoyantly to the pines. </p> <p> The two lovers sat there all the afternoon drinking in half sadly the joy of the forest and of being near each other, for the moon of delight was almost done. In a week the camping party would be breaking up, and Hilda must return to the city. It was uncertain when they would be able to see each other again, though there was talk of getting up a winter party to visit Camp One in January. The affair would be unique. </p> <p> Suddenly the girl broke off and put her fingers to her lips. For some time, dimly, an intermittent and faint sound had been felt, rather than actually heard, like the irregular muffled beating of a heart. Gradually it had insisted on the attention. Now at last it broke through the film of consciousness. </p> <p> "What is it?" she asked. </p> <p> Thorpe listened. Then his face lit mightily with the joy of battle. </p> <p> "My axmen," he cried. "They are cutting the road." </p> <p> A faint call echoed. Then without warning, nearer at hand the sharp ring of an ax sounded through the forest. </p> <p>
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