Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

your sister," he told her gravely, “and so at her with wooing tenderness. Once they I've brought you this.” And in the shout mistook a call and Mabel Klondike reof laughter that greeted his gift the dance proved them so sharply that Bannister, atat Groundhog began.

tracted by the incident, watched them The man at Mrs. Montresor's piano closely. Once Rosalie Burt threw the could play but one tune. The fiddles Chief a little wide glance of understanding creaked on one key. But on the floor men after she had pouted at her sister's refusal who had danced in London ballrooms, men of her request to change the square dance who had danced at court in St. Petersburg, to a two-step. His scowl seemed to rouse men who had been taught in far-away her pique, for in an instant seized from the Scotch homes that dancing is a device of the advantage of Steve MacDonald's mistake De’il, and men who had danced from child- in crossing Jean Feroux was guiding the hood in the French carnivals of Lower girl in a rollicking gallop through the Canada joined steps grotesque and steps crowded room in and out between the dangraceful. Lucky was the man who won a cers of the older measure. girl for the dance, since, impartial as they “'Tis young Lochinvar," said O'Hara. might be, the few women could not distrib- “Who would have thought that our little ute their dances to include all. “I was Jean could win her away from the many born unfortunate," mourned Ballantine as material charms of Neddie Bannister?he took to whirling with a Russian noble- “Bannister?” Kenyon puzzled. “I man whose daily work was bridge inspec- thought the Chief was to marry Mrs. tion at the Opazitika.

Lantry.” The floor was overcrowded, but the long “No,'tis The Dream,"said the Irishman. line of watchers displeased Bella Martin. “Neddie himself told me, but I've been “We'll have a dance every one can be in,” hoping she was young enough to be brave, she cried in a pause of the breathless rounds though 'tis bred in the bone with her social of a Canadian waltz. “Come on, a square set to kow-tow to the idols of place and dance!

power.” He smiled genially at Feroux as “Right-O!” came the ready answer from he whirled the girl past them, but he turned the wallflowers and in another moment the back to Kenyon with whimsical sadness in sets had gathered. O'Hara and Kenyon his voice. “Dreams so seldom come true," alone refused Bella's invitation. “I'd he said, “that I know she can't come true rather watch,” O'Hara said, nodding to the for the boy. And he's the best of us all, square where Gwen Lantry, and the Chief, Ken.” Steve MacDonald and Molly Law, Ran- “ Jean's a good boy," said Kenyon. dall and Mabel Klondike, and Jean Feroux “Oh, you English!” sighed O'Hara. and Rosalie Burt waited the fiddler's call to “You'd give a decade of your span of years begin the old-fashioned quadrille.

to make Jean happy and you talk of him as “The Dream isn't as happy as you'd ex- if he were your caddy. Well, he's happy pect,O'Hara remarked to Kenyon, “with enough just now. He's forgotten Quebec's twenty men eager to serve her and two men on the map of the world.” ready to die for her."

“He'll remember," said Kenyon. “Who besides Jean?” Kenyon inquired. “Britain, croak on!” laughed O'Hara,

“I leave it to your perceptions to dis- “but look at that while ye may. Perhaps, cover,” O'Hara chuckled. “Meantime, after all — " watch Mrs. Lantry amusing Neddie. How Flushed with delight Jean had brought I wish the old Calgary crowd could see him back Rosalie Burt to the side of the broken dancing this!"

square where the other six waited for them, Salut, messieurs et dames,rose the fid- Steve MacDonald and Molly Law with dler's call.

amused sympathy, Mabel Klondike with dis“Salute your partners!” A big en- tinct contempt, Randall with frank commengineer from the Abitibi translated the softer dation of their defiance of the conventions of phrase. With the grace of a cavalier Jean Groundhog society, Bannister with scowling Feroux went through the stately figures of indignation, and Gwen Lantry with rethe old dance with Rosalie Burt, speaking proving silence, though her eyes softened as to her with low-toned earnestness, smiling they rested on Jean Feroux's radiant face. He looked at no one but Rosalie Burt, been the willing weapon with which fate but the girl had followed her sister's warn- had pinioned him and he turned to Gwen ing nod and met the angry glare of the Lantry with the bow of a grand seigneur, Chief. “Shall we break it up altogether?” knowing that every dancer in the room had Randall was eagerly asking her. "Come stopped to watch the play. “Isn't this our on, Miss Burt. When they change part- dance?” he asked her. ners in Allemande Left-it's the next call- “Yes,” she said with a little gasp of relief I'll two-step with Mabel and you dance off and sympathy under which his quickened with Jean. We'll turn this into a real perception winced. “We'll follow them.” dance. Who wants these stiff sets?” And with a gay disdain of the watching

"Let's do it," Jean pleaded. “Come crowd they waltzed from the room. with me, Rosalie.” But the girl at his side Outside in the moonlight they saw a man did not answer.

and a girl a little distance down the river “Won't you?” begged the boy. “You road. Gwen Lantry looked after them haven't told me yet and I'm waiting, you thoughtfully, then held out her hand to know." His eyes shouted what his lips Jean. “You're a thoroughbred," she said dared not say.

swiftly. "Rosalie's my sister, but she “We'll break it up," urged Randall. hasn't been square with you. She's young, “This is stupid.”

though, and Ned was angry and she didn't “Come with me!” Jean Feroux's plea dare break with him." was for more than the dance. “Stay my “Why not?” Jean asked tensely. partner-forever. He's calling it now. “She's to marry him, you know, and Won't you come?"

I didn't know till now," he told her. “Allemande-allemande-allemande!” “I thought it was you. Some one said chanted the fiddler.

that“Alleman' Left!” The call resounded “It was never I,” said Gwen Lantry. back and forth under the low ceiling. “I hope it won't hurt long, Jean." “Change partners, everybody!”

“Oh, it's all in a summer,” said Jean Jean Feroux turned to Rosalie Burt with Feroux. outstretched hands, but as she hesitated, “And there will be so many summers for silent and abashed while a slow flush of you," said the woman. “Jean,” she added color burned in her cheeks, Mabel Klon- suddenly, "for your own sake, don't think dike caught him from the other side. “Oh, too hard of Rosalie. There are reasons change!" she cried stridently. “Rosalie!” why--" he said, but she turned away from him. "I think I know them,” he said quietly. With his eyes still watching Rosalie Burt he “But don't you think that there are other turned to the Groundhog Circe with a show things to live for besides luxury?of obsequious gallantry. He saw the flash “Yes,"said Gwen Lantry," but Rose and I of Rosalie Burt's gown pass him before he need that most cfall. She couldn't be happy found Mabel Klondike staring at him with up here with any one, and this is your only the caiculating spite of wounded vanity. way up, isn't it? Don't you see?” She laughed sneeringly as she looked over “I see,” he replied. He turned away his shoulder. “Two can play at your sharply and Gwen Lantry watched him go game, Monsieur Feroux," she said. “Miss down the moonlit road with head defiantly Burt has just gone out with Mr. Bannister.” high and shoulders defiantly square as he

All the pride of his people rose in Jean bravely whistled the song he had trilled on Feroux to meet the need of pride. For he the night when Rosalie Burt came to the needed no words to assure him that this was Bush. the answer of Rosalie Burt. In a flash of He whistled while he dragged the speeder vision he saw the truth that his love for her to the track. He whistled as he sent it spinhad hidden from him. Rosalie Burt, not ning down the steel along the bright path Gwen Lantry, was to marry the Chief and that the setting moon made in the clearing he, Jean Feroux, had been a blind fool led between the dark shadows of the low forest. by her caprice. With his house of hope Still whistling, he passed a forest ranger's crashing in ruins about him he smiled at hut and crossed three culverts. But when Mabel Klondike as bravely as if she had not he came to the trestle of his bridge over the

Vol. L.—70

Frederick House the whistle suddenly ended. Work for your work and not for a woman He threw the brake of the speeder and and you're going to win!” brought the car to pulsing attention, noting “You're going to win," he repeated over his surroundings for the first time since he and over in the way of a child. With that left Groundhog and looking on the familiar strange clairvoyance of vision that somescene with eyes that had grown alien to it. times comes to men who have lived in the

Back of him shone the Steel, before him the wild places he saw the road of his life before Right-of-Way narrowed into the darkness. him, a narrow trail through wildernesses of The moon had gone down and the morning the world where he pushed onward, blazing star gleamed above the trees across the river. the ways of empire. He heard faint whisFrom the dizzy height of the framework he pers of the praise of men who would follow gazed down on the white birches looming on his path, but he knew that far behind like phantoms against the blackness of pine him would ever lie the life he loved, the and spruce, on the log houses of the Resi- quick, responsive thrill of the city where his dency nestled in the clearing, and on the old crowd pursued their old ways. Just as pier of the bridge that he had built the Feroux of the Old France had left their

He listened dully to the roar of the river beloved Normandy for the new lands of the from the rapids above, to the hushed West, he was leaving forever the world they tremors of the pines, to the thousand rus- had founded and setting forth to a world of tling sounds of the underbrush. Dully he conquest, and adventure, and the work of felt that this was the same world that he had men. Not now with boyish bravado, not known for two years. Something that had now with memories of another's ambitions, flashed on that world for a brief time, mak- not with stubborn decision, not with dreams ing it scintillant as the Lights made bright of glory blazoned in bronze nor with hope the whole North Country, was gone now, of woman's love, but with the calm exaltaleaving the world as dark as the gloomiest tion of faith that this was the task toward night on the Bush. Loneliness and longing, which his life had been directed and that he the drear ache of old homesickness, and the should not fail in its accomplishment, Jean stronger, stranger ache of new loss swept Feroux entered the province of his manover Jean Feroux.

hood. Once he looked back in the thought Memories of the splendid career that Ro- that the lands he would come to would never salie Burt should inspire shrieked jeeringly be quite as dear as the land he must leave, at him in the wailing winds. Thoughts of and all his boyish home longing surged into the house of life he had planned for her the sadness of remembering the song of the came back to taunt him with their futility. hill of San Sebastien. But the light of his The rush of the river was a torrent of fate purpose shone before him steady as the whirling down the ruins of his hope. “It's beams of the morning star. For through all gone,” he moaned his first word since he love, and sorrow, and loss Jean Feroux had had spoken to Gwen Lantry, "gone as the found the high road of his course with the pier went before the logs." His hands compass of knowledge that for him work gripped the bar of the speeder as the mem- was greater than woman and that the ory of the crash of the pier marshalled his bridges of life spanned the rivers of eternity. thoughts toward the road of his labors. “But you built another," he told himself When Kenyon, and O'Hara, and Donald with sudden emphasis and as if he were Ferguson, Randall, and Steve MacDonald another man, “and it stayed built. That's went down to Groundhog the next night Jean it!” he cried. “It stayed built!” He rose Feroux, alone at the Residency, watched in the speeder, looking forward toward the their handcars thread the trestle. Over the dim apex of the Right-of-Way and raising rush of the river he heard Ferguson's whistle. his voice in a curious exulting: “You'll do A little while he mused, smoking savagely as it again-you'll build another. It's Alle- helistened to the softening strain; but when mande Left for you, Jean Feroux. Change the brooding winds of the Bush had garpartners, nageons, nos gens! Work as the nered all lesser sounds within their sighing old Feroux did, for the greatness of your he went in from the starlit, pine-odored night country and the glory of your name—for it of the north to the bare little shack where he is a great country and it is a glorious name. set himself to the making of maps.

OLD JOHNNIE

By Barry Benefield

ILLUSTRATIONS BY JOHN SLOAN

Vam OHNNIE-his name was call him Old Johnnie when he ain't

John, of course, but he around.”
was small and gentle and Then they laughed.
affable—that morning The little tonnage clerk had never heard
walked into the Broadway himself referred to in that way before.

office of the Eastern Pacific “Old Johnnie!” It exploded its meaning Railroad, where only figures are handled, in his mind. In the vague way in which hung up his coat and hat on the hook by he had thought of himself he had considhis desk, drew on a pair of black sleeve- ered himself a young man, though he had protectors and sat down to bury himself drifted on unobtrusively into time until in tonnage calculations. This is the last he was now thirty-five years old. day he will be the same Johnnie, and may He stood still in the dimly lighted washbe you would like to consider him before room, the cold cigarette hanging in his the change begins.

mouth. There was an undefined shame in This office was then in charge of a di- his soul that numbed him. If the boy had vision freight agent, a congenital miser, said, “Everybody knows he's a thief," it whose only hope of advancement lay in could not have stunned him more. holding down expenses, and it was an axiom Striking the match he had taken out of there that every man should get out of it as his pocket for the cigarette, he held it besoon as he could. Men were constantly fore the dingy mirror in the wall, and pushleaving, but the agent relied on refilling his ing his face close to the glass scrutinized clerical staff, through newspaper advertise- himself. The thinning hair above the ments, from the great army of downcast forehead, the touch of gray on the temples, unemployed strangers in New York, and the curious little wrinkles at the corners of cheaply. It doesn't matter what ambi- his eyes, the settling of the lines of his face, tions were in Johnnie's mind when he came the slight downward curve of the corners of up from Touraine, La., to the city; one of his mouth-did not all these cry out in corthese advertisements had brought him, with roboration of the frightful implications in his first hopes dead, to the Eastern Pacific the office-boy epithet? office.

“Thirty-five years old, four hundred dolAnybody with a high-school training can lars in the savings bank, twenty dollars a begin work there, if he can live on the sal- week, a boarding-house bachelor!” ary. Johnnie just could. l'p through He repeated this summary three or four four grades he rose-or drifted, rather- times, then threw down his cold cigarette until now he was tonnage clerk at twenty and went back to his desk. Two weeks dollars a week. In the beginning the sal- later he gave the veteran office-boy who ary was eight dollars.

had explained him a five-dollar Christmas It was 2 P. M. on this day that Johnnie present. rose from his desk, as usual, to stretch and “Old Johnnie!” It did not lose its effect snatch a smoke in the washroom. Passing on the little tonnage clerk with the passing down the middle aisle, he came near the of a few days. Constantly it exploded its imoffice-boys' bench.

plications in his mind, and amidst the up“Who's he?" he heard a new boy ask. heaved débris there he saw again old shining

“Old Johnnie, the tonnage clerk," sev- ambitions that he longed to seize and save. eral hastened to reply. “Name's John His routine of ten years began to fail to Coutrier," went on the best-informed boy. return its usual mild pleasure. He came to “He's been here ten years, they say. They loathe the boarding-house and all its miscellaneous company. The Sunday afternoon spirit of his former rushes to New York. walks in Central Park, along Riverside As the train passes the water-tank you can Drive, and in the Bronx Park with casual catch sight of the Duflot home, and the steeacquaintances from the landlady's shifting ple of the Catholic church further across foster family palled on him; he walked town. These thrilled Johnnie this year as alone, choosing new parks and new streets. never before. And this time he saw all

A chum who could catch all the good in that was in Alice's face, and it blotted out his passing remarks, a friend in whom he the office-boy epithet. Alice called him could trust implicitly, a comrade in whom John. he could be deeply and genuinely and wor- There is no need to go into details about thily interested—now he knew that he had the marriage; about how the Touraine not had such a one in all the ten years he Trumpet, after an introductory paragraph had been in New York. And he yearned concerning “joyous wedding-bells,” refor one. He was inexpressibly lonesome in ferred to Johnnie splendidly as "tonnage the midst of five million people.

expert of the Eastern Pacific Railroad,"and Even the Wednesday nights at the theatre to Alice gracefully as “one of our fairest no longer lifted him out of himself and sent flowers"; nor about how Amos, the aged him to the street elated. The illusions no 'bus driver, who drove them up to the midlonger took complete possession of him, for night train, observed to the station-master, that office-boy epithet held him captive most “It do beat the band how little men get of the time. He smiled sarcastically at the fine, big women”; nor about the grand air sign, “Family Circle," above the door of of guardianship Johnnie assumed when the second gallery, which he patronized, and Alice showed some trepidation in the presin the middle of an act he would catch him- ence of the stupendous city. self looking around in the obscurity at the Half of Johnnie's four hundred dollars sour old maids and the unspeakable old came out of the bank to furnish a threebachelors, murmuring to himself, “Family room flat in South Brooklyn. Now he Circle-good God!”

summarized himself thus: “Thirty-six The casual conversation of the married years old, two hundred dollars in the bank, men in the office now enthralled Johnnie. twenty-five dollars a week, a home and a Hemerich, thedamageclerk, always brought wife-oh, such a wife!” cold lunch from home—though sometimes This summary had implications that he didn't eat it-and Johnnie found himself steeled his spirit with pride, opened his imdwelling tenderly on the imagined picture of agination to the wide survey of resources Mrs. Hemerich getting the lunch ready of a and electrified his energies. To rise as high morning.

as possible in the Eastern Pacific and to get Taking the earliest vacation assignment with a better-paying company—that was he could get, which was in June, Johnnie his plan of action. Johnnie was confident rode on his pass to his small home town, that he would carry it through in some where his father had a store. Every year gratifying measure of success, was happy he had gone home to Touraine, been petted that he was confident. by his mother, fished a little and gone about Alice had been in her flat four months some with an old schoolmate.

when one night Johnnie walked in on her Some people said Alice was "getting to before she could dry the tears out of her be an old maid,” but Johnnie always gray eyes. thought of her as young. When it had “I'm ashamed, John," she ran on hastily come time to return to New York he would in explanation, “but I get so lonesome. I pack his suit-case in a fever of hurry and can do the work in the flat within an hour shake Alice's hand good-by in such haste after you leave. Then what's ahead for me that he never noticed the wistfulness in her until you get back? Won't you stay home face. Though the city took little account to-morrow? I'll get used to being alone of him, he loved it with such a devoted pas- after a while. I do wish you would let me sion that he could never stay long away go out and get a position in a department from it in peace.

store. A lot of women do that, and it Surely you see why it was that Johnnie wouldn't tire me, John, and it would help this year rushed back to Touraine in the along with the one thousand dollars."

« НазадПродовжити »