Puslapio vaizdai

She had her own hesitations concerning forlornly. "I wish-Margaret-" She could Philip. Alone with her judgment of eighteen, not bear the piteousness in her own voice, and she put this and that together and asked her- a fresh burst followed the effort to speak. self what such things meant, and Philip read the doubt in her transparent face. He yearned to make himself understood. He knew and half despised his graceless advantage, first as he was, and strong in the indispensable offer of that comradeship for which her bright nature was starving. He knew that she was the child of solitude, which makes sensitive and weakens the nerve, and darkens the chamber of the imagination, through which pictures are printed on the soul.

Yet he was not brave or generous enough to wait and to trust to win her in an open field. Who was he that he should measure himself with the world-ringing with men, with the confusing shibboleth of art and culture, with the pride of modern life, as Dolly could barely conceive it, and with those most subtle temptations which beset a girl of spirit through her longing to excel? Therefore Philip made the most of such chances as his contract left him free of, and few men could venture to blame him; and if Dolly did not understand, it was her bashfulness and inexperience that defeated his efforts to make her.

Dolly was hearing gossip in these days. It touched the fabric of her dreams, and made the appearances which were supposed to be the facts of her life more puzzling than ever. "You like Mr. Norrisson better than you did; not so?"

It was Friday morning, and Dolly was dusting in the office, under her father's jealous supervision, lest she carry her ministrations too far. "Not so?"" he mimicked; and Dolly, remembering that the phrase was one of Philip's, turned a vexed red.

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"It matters that you pout like that at a word. Come, repeat me the question!" He caught her hand as she passed his chair and drew her down into his lap. She cast her arms about his neck, and burst into tears. Dunsmuir expostulated in awkward man-fashion, and cried, "Come, come!" and tried to raise her head and to make her speak. She dived into her skirt for a handkerchief, and, finding the pocket empty, begged in an abject whisper for her father's. He gave her his ample silk one, and she settled her face into its folds for a good cry. Already she felt better; but Dunsmuir was thinking severely. "Are you keeping something from me, Dolly?"

"No; I have nothing to keep," said Dolly,

"Yes, yes; I quite understand,” said Dunsmuir, soothingly. "We are all out of kilter since Margaret went. She has spoiled us, every one. But I have been proud to see how you buckle to the housekeeping. Why, Margaret herself would never believe it. But maybe you 're not mindful enough of your own strength?"

Dolly shook her head, and nestled closer in response to these paternal blandishments. "Forgive my sulking," she apologized. "All I asked was, Do you not like Mr. Norrisson better since you 've known him better?"

"I have always liked Philip Norrisson in a way."

"I mean the father. Is he the same man, or is he changed- or are we changed?"

Dunsmuir put the girl gently off his knee, and wheeled about in his screw-chair facing his desk. "Come, come!" he said. "Get these shelves in order before you forget where the boxes belong."

"Can you not spare me a few minutes? We scarcely ever talk by ourselves any more. I hear a word here and a word there, and every word is a fling at the name of Norrisson." She stood up and braved the blush that mounted to her face as she spoke. "Once it was Margaret, now it is Jenny, and even Adeline must have her say, and they are people only lately in the country. What is it that 's so well known, and why do we have to condone it?"

"If you are not above picking up tales in the kitchen," Dunsmuir interrupted.

"Do you call Margaret'the kitchen'?" "Margaret cannot speak a word without prejudice, nor ever could since I have known her."

"Has it been prejudice with you, then, father? Since I can remember, until very lately,—you have made no secret of your disdain of Mr. Price Norrisson and all his works. It is a prejudice your women were brought up on. Has there been some mistake?"

"The mistake is that you should perplex yourself with the matter at all. You cannot know the whole; and without the whole you cannot understand a part. It is a history impossible for one side to tell with fairness to the other."

"There are still two sides, then? I had supposed from present appearances that you were both on the one side."

"Come, get alang wi' ye! Ye deave me wi' your clatter," Dunsmuir evaded. But his playfulness sat grievously on him, and it jarred upon his child.

"You may joke and put me off, but it's a thing that cries for explanation."

"I am not a man who explains. Go ask Philip Norrisson to expound his father to you. I should be blithe of the young man's interpretation."

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"I ask you simply, What has he done? What have you or had you-actually against him? And why do poor people speak of him in the same breath with their injuries, as if he were a public swindler ?"

"Is that how the talk goes? Why, bless me, I supposed he was the man on horseback, the biggest frog in the puddle. So the people have memories, after all? It must be the soreheads, then; the ones who got left. The peculiar disgrace in this country is to 'get left,' you'll observe; to grumble is next to it; the two go together, like cowardice and lying." "Are we soreheads, then? Is that why we have grumbled ?"

"You have a shrewd Scots tongue, young woman," said Dunsmuir, with a bitter chuckle. "It is well seen we have had catechists in the family."

"This may amuse you," Dolly answered, and her lip trembled. "It reminds me that once you would not have put me off so, when I had far less reason for asking to be satisfied." Dunsmuir considered her flushed, excited face, and answered soberly: "Dolly, the trouble between Price Norrisson and your father was never a personal quarrel, understand; it was a difference in our methods of working. He is a promoter, one who peddles schemes in the money-markets; he neither builds out of his head nor pays out of his pocket; he is the man who talks. And I am the man who builds, wisely or fondly as the case may be. It is well known we engineers have a great conceit of our own ideas. But my plan was no more to Norrisson than any other man's; its merit to him was its price. He was jealous of the time spent pothering with a slow project, while he might have been reaping commissions from several. So he patched up a scheme of his own, which he privately substituted. To do him justice, he offered me half; but I could not look at it, from the nature of it, which was rotten, and he was tired of what he called my overniceness; and that was the break between us. I dare say I may have been invidious; I was angry. And he might have been more open with me. He might have waited to be off with one deal before he was on with another. He might afterward have been either for me or against me, and not have kept a vengeful interest in my scheme, which he used to strangle whenever it showed signs of life. Still, that is 'business,' according to the business man's code.

If I could have had a partner as sagacious and plucky as Norrisson, with a better sense of faith and a larger grasp of the scheme, we had not waited so long, perhaps. Yet it has not been long. Land-builders must be content to work as nature works. But he had never a conception of the thing in hand; he does not love the making of a country: he wants the price of his dicker, and so away to the next one. The present combination, if you insist on knowing, was forced upon me. It's a union like that between the Scots and the English — neither was happy in it nor very proud of it; yet both lived, as we shall, to reap its benefits and to forget its humiliations."

"It is an ill-omened comparison. Our ditch-union, I hope, is not a sale," said Dolly, deeply moved. "And does the sun shine, now, on you both? Do you remember how you said you would never forgive him till he stood out of your sunlight?"

"A poor, silly speech. You would credit me more by forgetting it. Men make such speeches to their women, who are indulgent to a phrase. The sun is for him that can make hay while it shines. That is what Norrisson did, in fine, when he built his ditch."

"Are you now the apologist, papa, or the historian?"

"Are you ever going to get over that illbred habit of retort? It is intolerable in a woman. You and Alan have argle-bargled till you know no other way of speaking. I have answered your first question. Now what else have you heard, between kitchen and parlor? What are the people's injuries?" "I should like to know the whole story of Norrisson's ditch."

"Would you, indeed? and do you think your father is the man to tell it? Would you take for gospel Norrisson's story of my ditch ?"

"I will make allowance; but I would have it from you. I ask you not to spare whatever to you is the truth."

"Poor Norrisson! If he only knew that the girls are after his record. I don't quite perceive the grounds of my daughter's interest."

"I should think you might. He has stood for the enemy of my house these years and years; now he stands for the friend. I am all turned about, and I 'm tired of being put off with phrases."

Dunsmuir laughed at her sharpness, but still with that bitter levity which took away her confidence in his answers. Dolly saw he was talking speciously, but could imagine no reason for his want of frankness.

"Well, then," he began, "Norrisson built a ditch seventy miles long in something less than a hundred days. He boomed up the lands, and the settlers rushed in; and as most of them were

have been. It might well be doubted if at Philip's age he had thought greatly of father's rights himself.

Philip went about his preparations for leaving with the haste Dunsmuir's hint demanded. But he proposed to retreat with his baggage in good order, not to have his things hurled after him. He swept a place on the office table, which he heaped with small effects from drawers and pigeonholes. Then he shot out across the hill bareheaded to the tent where the junior assistants worked, returning with an armful of drawing-tools and rolls of paper.

"I suppose I may take these-copies of my drawings for the head-works?" He indicated, without looking at his chief, a roll of photographic blue-prints.

"Take anything you want."

Half an hour later Dolly heard him in the attic chamber, dragging trunks about furiously; he was making a lane for his own, which were stowed far back under the eaves, bitterly recalling meanwhile how he and Dolly had discussed their location three months before. They had been civil to each other in those days, and Dolly had insisted that he should take the high part, as he was tall, and he had refused because he went less often to his trunks than she to the family chests. No talk could have been smaller, but it was a thing to remember now when all the little homely intimacies were at an end. Already the spent days and bygone evenings began to glow and shine like memory pictures in the retrospect. Under the eaves the temperature was near to that of the stoke-hole of a steamer. Dolly opened the door, letting in a breath of freshness and a vision of herself, on a bright background, in a thin blue muslin frock.

"Leave it open, will you, please? I want the light," Philip panted.

"What are you looking for? It's frightful in here; can't you wait till evening?" "I shall not be here this evening." "Going to town again?" "I'm going to leave."

Dolly appeared to be closely considering a veil of dust-laden cobweb that wavered from the nearest beam.

"To leave the cañon? Dear me! Jenny must sweep this place," she parenthesized.

Philip gave her no answer. Down came a trunk on top of another trunk with an offensive slam.

“I did n't understand you. Are you going on some other part of the work?"

"I have left the work."

"I suppose it's none of my business why?" "It is; and I don't mind telling you. I've been fired."

"Not from the work?"

"Not precisely; only from the house." "I don't believe it. There must be some mistake. It's the silliest thing I ever heard," cried Dolly, indignantly.

"Silly if you like, but quite true. Your father's language is plain."

Here Philip grappled with a trunk, hurling his weight upon the handle; the bulk gave way more quickly than he had expected, he lurched forward, rose too suddenly, and his bump of self-esteem smote the rafter overhead with a blinding crash. He dropped sidewise on the trunk, and clutched his head, setting his teeth upon the brutal pang. As if that were not enough, Dolly, sickening at the sound of the blow, began to "poor" him and pity him with all her might.

"Oh, how it hurts!" she moaned, as if the head had been her own. She dropped on her knees before him, and begged to see the place. He shuddered, feeling her cool hands take soft hold of his throbbing wrists, and the natural man in him demanded that he snatch her instantly and kiss away the anguish of his double hurt. Why not be the traitor he had been called? But the barbarian was not on deck this time; he subsided, with a groan, which Dolly thought was for the aching head.

When Philip looked up, frowning and blushing with pain, and his clouded eyes met hers brimming with purest mother-pity, he blessed God that he had not wounded her innocent trust, or blotted the memory-all that was left him—of their perfect days together in the cañon.

He gave thanks again, that afternoon, when Dunsmuir made overtures of peace on magnanimous terms, including a withdrawal of all uncertain charges.

About four o'clock the up-cañon wind, forerunner of a dust-storm, began to blow. The women ran about, shutting doors and windows, and Dunsmuir was driven in from the porch. Dead leaves, chips, bits of paper, whatever was detachable, drove past the house, whirled in the murky onset of the storm.

Dunsmuir heard the hammock slapping the piazza-posts; the willow rockers slammed to and fro; one went over with a crash, and the front door banged wide, filling the room with dust. Every day for six weeks Dunsmuir had meant to fix that latch; he cursed it now, and went outside to pick up chairs and pile them to leeward, locking the door after him in the teeth of the storm. Half his letters and papers were on the floor, and where he stepped to pick them up he left prints of his feet in the dust.

Philip came down-stairs, pale from his hurt, with bloodshot eyes. He was dressed for the road, and carried a canvas covert-coat on his arm. A transit-book he had forgotten showed

in the inside pocket; he drew it out and tossed it on the desk.

"I'll send you those vouchers to-morrow," he said to Dunsmuir. Then he asked which of the men should drive him to town.

"Sit down." Dunsmuir looked at him hard. "You can't start till this is over." He went out and gave an order in the kitchen, which was followed soon by Jenny with beer and biscuits. Philip would take neither, and Dunsmuir finished the beer himself, feeding the biscuits to Jenny's boy, who had tagged his mother into the room, and declined to be peacefully evicted. Every few mouthfuls the child paused in his copious eating, and pointed to the chimney, saying: "Hark! Win'!"

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Right you are, mannie. Wind that would take the hair off your head if you were out in it. Now the little beggar's choking! Save us! where 's that woman?" Dunsmuir picked up the child by his garments, coughing and spluttering, and handed him out of the door like a puppy.

"Have a pipe?" he suggested affably, when peace was restored, with the sound of the wind asserting itself.

"Thanks, I don't care to smoke," said Philip. "What's your quarrel with the work, man? I never said you could not do your work." "I never said you did. If you had, it would not have been true," Philip answered roughly. "Then why do you quit it?"

"Should you care to work under a man that had called you a traitor and the son of a traitor ?"

"Tush! you would have it. You brought it on yourself. Ye knew I was hit between wind and water, and the less said about that the better. But you need not have come purring after my daughter."

"The time was ill chosen, I acknowledge; but the fact remains," said Philip.

"Let it remain, then. There's no occasion to meddle with it. You did not come here to make love to my daughter."

"I had not done so-not more than I could help-when you opened on me. But you have relieved me of my scruples. I intend to give my mind to it now."

"You said that before. Now suppose we talk sense. It's ill changing horses when you 're crossing a stream. I don't deny that I'd rather have you than another on this job, now we've started in. There 's little time to waste, and I might be a month wiring back and forth for a man to fill your place. Stay where you are, and behave yourself cannily, and when the right time shall come, maybe we can talk of it and keep our hair on. I would see first if you are a man of your word as well as your work. What 's six months to

serve for a lassie! When the work is done, when the dam is in, why, then, if I am content with the way you have borne yourself, we 'll speak of this again. This is no time for marrying or giving in marriage."

"I am willing enough to wait," said Philip, "if the terms of waiting are not made impossible."

Dunsmuir smiled. "You may look at her in reason, so far as is needful to keep out of her way. No, no, lad; ye shall be friends. Make each other's acquaintance, but keep to the windward of promises and-and such toys. I have some notion of a man myself. I'm not taking you on trust altogether-and I'm not so ruthless, nor so careless of my household as you 've had the insolence to insinuate. Now, shall we take a fresh grip of the work? It would be a waste of good manmaterial for you and me to quarrel."

They looked each other in the eyes hard and long. Then Philip went to the mantelshelf and filled him a pipe, and they smoked together in silence, while the wind fell, and scattering gleams from the low sun showed lines and surfaces of dust like fine ashes that toned the colors of the room.

"But am I not to have leave to explain?" asked Philip, frowning over the match with. which he was lighting his second pipe. "Not a word before the shutting down? Consider, I have told her-"

"You have told her enough, I have little doubt. I'll do the explaining myself." "But she will think-"

"Let her think, and let her fash herself with thinking. Philip, I mean this in fair kindness to you both. If the lassie cannot bear with a touch of doubt beforehand, do you think you 'll be able to satisfy her hereafter? Let her think, and let her misdoubt and upbraid you in her thoughts. It 's what you well deserve, if I know what young men are. A little thinking beforehand will do you both no harm.


THE false position on the work began to make itself felt. Dunsmuir settled into a cynical tone, which he held from this forth: that the new plan was well enough; that the dam would stand; that he had been over-conservative, but was not hidebound or wedded to a method. He rather implied that Philip was. There was a ghastly amity between the chief and the manager, which Philip blushed to behold.

The work went on, but the light of a fine enthusiasm was gone. The changed atmosphere pervaded the house. Dolly guessed that her father and Philip disagreed about the work, and that Philip had been sullen in yielding.

short of cash, Norrisson's company forms another company-two names, but one pocket. The loan and mortgage company advanced money to the settlers on their lands, and the water company sold them water. But the ditch was got together in such a hurry-scurry that it took a year or two to settle down to regular work: the water was here and there and everywhere but where it was wanted. The first crops went under, and the first crop of settlers went along with them. There was a terrible tumble in real estate; claims were jumped; there were foreclosures, contests, and scandals, and the deuce to pay generally. And when the pie was smashed, Norrisson and his crowd gathered and picked out the plums. After that it was well seen they could afford to patch up the leaks in their ditches. There was never a wilder water-system on the face of this earth, yet somehow they have scrambled through. I understand the farmers are making money now. I supposed the past was forgotten, except they used it as an election cry. What I have chiefly against Norrisson is not personal to the man. We are fearfully and wonderfully made; honesty is comparative, and the best of us cannot boast. It is the man's methods of business I object to. He has antagonized the farmers at the outset; he cinched them, there's not a doubt; and we are now to reap the fruits of the stone-age policy. It means a fight, and a great. waste of the energies and the money of a new community. And when our big ditch is lined with ranches, and the farmers poll more votes than the company, they 'll have to be bought, or they'll swing the elections and use their power as he has used his. It is all very corrupt ing, and a weariness to think on, when there's a

policy so much broader, which has been proved by the sad, wasteful experience of centuries. But it is written that young nations and young lives shall never profit by the mistakes of the old; every life and every country must learn its own lessons. But for an Old World lookeron, who has seen it all thrashed out before, it is a dowie business."

"Then you think Mr. Norrisson means to be honest, by his way of thinking?" "I think he means to be a rich man." "Have you ever seen the beautiful Mrs. Norrisson?"

"No; she has never shown up in this part of the country. I hear she is disaffected toward her husband and her native land, but she accepts her living from both; a lady with a small fist that can hold a heap of money. And there, you see, is where it befits to be charitable to the husband who has that hand to fill. Small blame to him if—”

"Oh, I've heard enough!" the girl broke in with a passionate gesture. "And where do you suppose the son comes from? His honesty is comparative too, I suppose?"

"He is a canny chiel," Dunsmuir answered coldly.

He watched Philip jealously in these days of his probation; took note of his prudent silence on a situation both had agreed was impossible to any but a venal chief attainable through the loaves and fishes. Assuredly the young man had powers of self-control. Dunsmuir watched him come and go, faithful to the work, yet uncommitted; eyed him as Saul eyed David, and loved him not, yet could find in him no cause of offense.

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