Conjuror's House - A Romance of the Free Forest
by Stewart Edward White
Previous Part     1  2  3
Home - Random Browse

As though in answer to his appeal, or perhaps that merely the sound of a human voice had broken the last shreds of her swoon, the girl moved slightly. Galen Albret did not stir. Slowly Virginia turned her head, until finally her wandering eyes met his, fixed on her with passionate intensity. For a moment she stared at him, then comprehension came to her along with memory. She cried out, and sat upright in one violent motion.

"He! He!" she cried. "Is he gone?"

Instantly Galen Albret had her in his arms.

"It is all right," he soothed, drawing her close to his great breast. "All right. You are my own little girl."

Chapter Eighteen

For perhaps ten minutes Ned Trent lingered near the door of the Council Room until he had assured himself that Virginia was in no serious danger. Then he began to pace the room, examining minutely the various objects that ornamented it. He paused longest at the full-length portrait of Sir George Simpson, the Company's great traveller, with his mild blue eyes, his kindly face, denying the potency of his official frown, his snowy hair and whiskers. The painted man and the real man looked at each other inquiringly. The latter shook his head.

"You travelled the wild country far," said he, thoughtfully. "You knew many men of many lands. And wherever you went they tell me you made friends. And yet, as you embodied this Company to all these people, and so made for the fanatical loyalty that is destroying me, I suppose you and I are enemies!" He shrugged his shoulders whimsically and turned away.

Thence he cast a fleeting glance out the window at the long reach of the Moose and the blue bay gleaming in the distance. He tried the outside door. It was locked. Taken with a new idea he proceeded at once to the third door of the apartment. It opened.

He found himself in a small and much-littered room containing a desk, two chairs, a vast quantity of papers, a stuffed bird or so, and a row of account-books. Evidently the Factor's private office.

Ned Trent returned to the main room and listened intently for several minutes. After that he ran back to the office and began hastily to open and rummage, one after another, the drawers of the desk. He discovered and concealed several bits of string, a desk-knife, and a box of matches. Then he uttered a guarded exclamation of delight. He had found a small revolver, and with it part of a box of cartridges.

"A chance!" he exulted: "a chance!"

The game would be desperate. He would be forced first of all to seek out and kill the men detailed to shadow him—a toy revolver against rifles; white man against trained savages. And after that he would have, with the cartridges remaining, to assure his subsistence. Still it was a chance.

He closed the drawers and the door, and resumed his seat in the arm-chair by the council table.

For over an hour thereafter he awaited the next move in the game. He was already swinging up the pendulum arc. The case did not appear utterly hopeless. He resolved, through Me-en-gan, whom he divined as a friend of the girl's, to smuggle a message to Virginia bidding her hope. Already his imagination had conducted him to Quebec, when in August he would search her out and make her his own.

Soon one of the Indian servants entered the room for the purpose of conducting him to a smaller apartment, where he was left alone for some time longer. Food was brought him. He ate heartily, for he considered that wise. Then at last the summons for which he had been so long in readiness. Me-en-gan himself entered the room, and motioned him to follow.

Ned Trent had already prepared his message on the back of an envelope, writing it with the lead of a cartridge. He now pressed the bit of paper into the Indian's palm.

"For O-mi-mi," he explained.

Me-en-gan bored him through with his bead-like eyes of the surface lights.

"Nin nissitotam," he agreed after a moment.

He led the way. Ned Trent followed through the narrow, uncarpeted hall with the faded photograph of Westminster, down the crooked steep stairs with the creaking degrees, and finally into the Council Room once more, with its heavy rafters, its two fireplaces, its long table, and its narrow windows.

"Beka—wait!" commanded Me-en-gan, and left him.

Ned Trent had supposed he was being conducted to the canoe which should bear him on the first stage of his long journey, but now he seemed condemned again to take up the wearing uncertainty of inaction. The interval was not long, however. Almost immediately the other door opened and the Factor entered.

His movements were abrupt and impatient, for with whatever grace such a man yields to his better instincts the actual carrying out of their conditions is a severe trial. For one thing it is a species of emotional nakedness, invariably repugnant to the self-contained. Ned Trent, observing this and misinterpreting its cause, hugged the little revolver to his side with grim satisfaction. The interview was likely to be stormy. If worst came to worst, he was at least assured of reprisal before his own end.

The Factor walked directly to the head of the table and his customary arm-chair, in which he disposed himself.

"Sit down," he commanded the younger man, indicating a chair at his elbow.

The latter warily obeyed.

Galen Albret hesitated appreciably. Then, as one would make a plunge into cold water, quickly, in one motion, he laid on the table something over which he held his hand.

"You are wondering why I am interviewing you again," said he. "It is because I have become aware of certain things. When you left me a few hours ago you dropped this." He moved his hand to one side. The silver match-safe lay on the table.

"Yes, it is mine," agreed Ned Trent.

"On one side is carved a name."



The Free Trader hesitated. "My father's," he said, at last.

"I thought that must be so. You will understand when I tell you that at one time I knew him very well."

"You knew my father?" cried Ned Trent, excitedly.

"Yes. At Fort Rae, and elsewhere. But I do not remember you."

"I was brought up at Winnipeg," the other explained.

"Once," pursued Galen Albret, "I did your father a wrong, unintentionally, but nevertheless a great wrong. For that reason and others I am going to give you your life."

"What wrong?" demanded Ned Trent, with dawning excitement.

"I forced him from the Company."


"Yes, I. Proof was brought me that he had won from me my young wife. It could not be doubted. I could not kill him. Afterward the man who deceived me confessed. He is now dead."

Ned Trent, gasping, rose slowly to his feet. One hand stole inside his jacket and clutched the butt of the little pistol.

"You did that," he cried, hoarsely. "You tell me of it yourself? Do you wish to know the real reason for my coming into this country, why I have traded in defiance of the Company throughout the whole Far North? I have thought my father was persecuted by a body of men, and though I could not do much, still I have accomplished what I could to avenge him. Had I known that a single man had done this—and you are that man!"

He came a step nearer. Galen Albret regarded him steadily.

"If I had known this before, I should never have rested until I had hunted you down, until I had killed you, even in the midst of your own people!" cried the Free Trader at last.

Galen Albret drew his heavy revolver and laid it on the table.

"Do so now," he said, quietly.

A pause fell on them, pregnant with possibility. The Free Trader dropped his head.

"No," he groaned. "No, I cannot. She stands in the way!"

"So that, after all," concluded the Factor, in a gentler tone than he had yet employed, "we two shall part peaceably. I have wronged you greatly, though without intention. Perhaps one balances the other. We will let it pass."

"Yes," agreed Ned Trent with an effort, "we will let it pass."

They mused in silence, while the Factor drummed on the table with the stubby fingers of his right hand.

"I am dispatching to-day," he announced curtly at length, "the Abitibi brigade. Matters of importance brought by runner from Rupert's House force me to do so a month earlier than I had expected. I shall send you out with that brigade."

"Very well."

"You will find your packs and arms in the canoe, quite intact."

"Thank you."

The Factor examined the young man's face with some deliberation.

"You love my daughter truly?" he asked, quietly.

"Yes," replied Ned Trent, also quietly.

"That is well, for she loves you. And," went on the old man, throwing his massive head back proudly, "my people love well! I won her mother in a day, and nothing could stay us. God be thanked, you are a man and brave and clean. Enough of that! I place the brigade under your command! You must be responsible for it, for I am sending no other white—the crew are Indians and metis."

"All right," agreed Ned Trent, indifferently.

"My daughter you will take to Sacre Coeur at Quebec."

"Virginia!" cried the young man.

"I am sending her to Quebec. I had not intended doing so until July, but the matters from Rupert's House make it imperative now."

"Virginia goes with me?"


"You consent? You—"

"Young man," said Galen Albret, not unkindly, "I give my daughter in your charge; that is all. You must take her to Sacre Coeur. And you must be patient. Next year I shall resign, for I am getting old, and then we shall see. That is all I can tell you now."

He arose abruptly.

"Come," said he, "they are waiting."

They threw wide the door and stepped out into the open. A breeze from the north brought a draught of air like cold water in its refreshment. The waters of the North sparkled and tossed in the silvery sun. Ned Trent threw his arms wide in the physical delight of a new freedom.

But his companion was already descending the steps. He followed across the square grass plot to the two bronze guns. A noise of peoples came down the breeze. In a moment he saw them—the varied multitude of the Post—gathered to speed the brigade on its distant journey.

The little beach was crowded with the Company's people and with Indians, talking eagerly, moving hither and yon in a shifting kaleidoscope of brilliant color. Beyond the shore floated the long canoe, with its curving ends and its emblazonment of the five-pointed stars. Already its baggage was aboard, its crew in place, ten men in whose caps slanted long, graceful feathers, which proved them boatmen of a factor. The women sat amidships.

When Galen Albret reached the edge of the plateau he stopped, and laid his hand on the young man's arm. As yet they were unperceived. Then a single man caught sight of them. He spoke to another; the two informed still others. In an instant the bright colors were dotted with upturned faces.

"Listen," said Galen Albret, in his resonant chest-tones of authority. "This is my son, and he must be obeyed. I give to him the command of this brigade. See to it."

Without troubling himself further as to the crowd below, Galen Albret turned to his companion.

"I will say good-by," said he, formally.

"Good-by," replied Ned Trent.

"All is at peace between us?"

The Free Trader looked long into the man's sad eyes. The hard, proud spirit, bowed in knightly expiation of its one fault, for the first time in a long life of command looked out in petition.

"All is at peace," repeated Ned Trent.

They clasped hands. And Virginia, perceiving them so, threw them a wonderful smile.

Chapter Nineteen

Instantly the spell of inaction broke. The crowd recommenced its babel of jests, advices, and farewells. Ned Trent swung down the bank to the shore. The boatmen fixed the canoe on the very edge of floating free. Two of them lifted the young man aboard to a place on the furs by Virginia Albret's side. At once the crowd pressed forward, filling up the empty spaces.

Now Achille Picard bent his shoulders to lift into free water the stem of the canoe from its touch on the bank. It floated, caught gently by the back wash of the stronger off-shore current.

"Good-by, dear," called Mrs. Cockburn. "Remember us!"

She pressed the Doctor's arm closer to her side. The Doctor waved his hand, not trusting his masculine self-control to speak. McDonald, too, stood glum and dour, clasping his wrist behind his back. Richardson was openly affected. For in Virginia's person they saw sailing away from their bleak Northern lives the figure of youth, and they knew that henceforth life must be even drearier.

"Som' tam' yo' com' back sing heem de res' of dat song!" shouted Louis Placide to his late captive. "I lak' hear heem!"

But Galen Albret said nothing, made no sign. Silently and steadily, run up by some invisible hand, the blood-red banner of the Company fluttered to the mast-head. Before it, alone, bulked huge against the sky, dominating the people in the symbolism of his position there as he did in the realities of every-day life, the Factor stood, his hands behind his back. Virginia rose to her feet and stretched her arms out to the solitary figure.

"Good-by! good-by!" she cried.

A renewed tempest of cheers and shouts of adieu broke from those ashore. The paddles dipped once, twice, thrice, and paused. With one accord those on shore and those in the canoe raised their caps and said, "Que Dieu vous benisse." A moment's silence followed, during which the current of the mighty river bore the light craft a few yards down stream. Then from the ten voyageurs arose a great shout.

"Abitibi! Abitibi!"

Their paddles struck in unison. The water swirled in white, circular eddies. Instantly the canoe caught its momentum and began to slip along against the sluggish current. Achille Picard raised a high tenor voice, fixing the air,

"En roulant ma boule roulante, En roulant ma boule."

And the voyageurs swung into the quaint ballad of the fairy ducks and the naughty prince with his magic gun.

"Derrier' chez-nous y-a-t-un 'etang, En roulant ma boule."

The girl sank back, dabbing uncertainly at her eyes. "I shall never see them again," she explained, wistfully.

The canoe had now caught its speed. Conjuror's House was dropping astern. The rhythm of the song quickened as the singers told of how the king's son had aimed at the black duck but killed the white.

"Ah fils du roi, tu es mechant, En roulant ma boule, Toutes les plumes s'en vont au vent, Rouli roulant, ma boule roulant."

"Way wik! way wik!" commanded Me-en-gan, sharply, from the bow.

The men quickened their stroke and shot diagonally across the current of an eddy.

"Ni-shi-shin," said Me-en-gan.

They fell back to the old stroke, rolling out their full-throated measure.

"Toutes les plumes s'en vont au vent, En roulant ma boule, Trois dames s'en vont les ramassant, Rouli roulant, ma boule roulant."

The canoe was now in the smooth rush of the first stretch of swifter water. The men bent to their work with stiffened elbows. Achille Picard flashed his white teeth back at the passengers,

"Ah, mademoiselle, eet is wan long way," he panted. "C'est une longue traverse!"

The term was evidently descriptive, but the two smiled significantly at each other.

"So you do take la Longue Traverse, after all!" marvelled Virginia.

Ned Trent clasped her hand.

"We take it together," he replied.

Into the distance faded the Post. The canoe rounded a bend. It was gone. Ahead of them lay their long journey.



Handsomely bound in cloth. Price, 75 cents per volume, postpaid.

THE KINDRED OF THE WILD. A Book of Animal Life. With illustrations by Charles Livingston Bull.

Appeals alike to the young and to the merely youthful-hearted. Close observation. Graphic description. We get a sense of the great wild and its denizens. Out of the common. Vigorous and full of character. The book is one to be enjoyed; all the more because it smacks of the forest instead of the museum. John Burroughs says: "The volume is in many ways the most brilliant collection of Animal Stories that has appeared. It reaches a high order of literary merit."


This book strikes a new note in literature. It is a realistic romance of the folk of the forest—a romance of the alliance of peace between a pioneer's daughter in the depths of the ancient wood and the wild beasts who felt her spell and became her friends. It is not fanciful, with talking beasts; nor is it merely an exquisite idyl of the beasts themselves. It is an actual romance, in which the animal characters play their parts as naturally as do the human. The atmosphere of the book is enchanting. The reader feels the undulating, whimpering music of the forest, the power of the shady silences, the dignity of the beasts who live closest to the heart of the wood.

THE WATCHERS OF THE TRAILS. A companion volume to the "Kindred of the Wild." With 48 full page plates and decorations from drawings by Charles Livingston Bull.

These stories are exquisite in their refinement, and yet robust in their appreciation of some of the rougher phases of woodcraft. "This is a book full of delight. An additional charm lies in Mr. Bull's faithful and graphic illustrations, which in fashion all their own tell the story of the wild life, illuminating and supplementing the pen pictures of the authors."—Literary Digest.

RED FOX. The Story of His Adventurous Career in the Ringwaak Wilds, and His Triumphs over the Enemies of His Kind. With 50 illustrations, including frontispiece in color and cover design by Charles Livingston Bull.

A brilliant chapter in natural history. Infinitely more wholesome reading than the average tale of sport, since it gives a glimpse of the hunt from the point of view of the hunted. "True in substance but fascinating as fiction. It will interest old and young, city-bound and free-footed, those who know animals and those who do not."—Chicago Record-Herald.


Re-issues of the great literary successes of the time, library size, printed on excellent paper—most of them finely illustrated. Full and handsomely bound in cloth. Price, 75 cents a volume, postpaid.

NEDRA, by George Barr McCutcheon, with color frontispiece, and other illustrations by Harrison Fisher.

The story of an elopement of a young couple from Chicago, who decide to go to London, travelling as brother and sister. Their difficulties commence in New York and become greatly exaggerated when they are shipwrecked in mid-ocean. The hero finds himself stranded on the island of Nedra with another girl, whom he has rescued by mistake. The story gives an account of their finding some of the other passengers, and the circumstances which resulted from the strange mix-up.

POWER LOT, by Sarah P. McLean Greene. Illustrated.

The story of the reformation of a man and his restoration to self-respect through the power of honest labor, the exercise of honest independence, and the aid of clean, healthy, out-of-door life and surroundings. The characters take hold of the heart and win sympathy. The dear old story has never been more lovingly and artistically told.

MY MAMIE ROSE. The History of My Regeneration, by Owen Kildare. Illustrated.

This autobiography is a powerful book of love and sociology. Reads like the strangest fiction. Is the strongest truth and deals with the story of a man's redemption through a woman's love and devotion.

JOHN BURT, by Frederick Upham Adams, with illustrations.

John Burt, a New England lad, goes West to seek his fortune and finds it in gold mining. He becomes one of the financial factors and pitilessly crushes his enemies. The story of the Stock Exchange manipulations was never more vividly and engrossingly told. A love story runs through the book, and is handled with infinite skill.

THE HEART LINE, by Gelett Burgess, with halftone illustrations by Lester Ralph, and inlay cover in colors.

A great dramatic story of the city that was. A story of Bohemian life in San Francisco, before the disaster, presented with mirror-like accuracy. Compressed into it are all the sparkle, all the gayety, all the wild, whirling life of the glad, mad, bad, and most delightful city of the Golden Gate.

CAROLINA LEE. By Lillian Bell. With frontispiece by Dora Wheeler Keith.

Carolina Lee is the Uncle Tom's Cabin of Christian Science. Its keynote is "Divine Love" in the understanding of the knowledge of all good things which may be obtainable. When the tale is told, the sick healed, wrong changed to right, poverty of purse and spirit turned into riches, lovers made worthy of each other and happily united, including Carolina Lee and her affinity, it is borne upon the reader that he has been giving rapid attention to a free lecture on Christian Science; that the working out of each character is an argument for "Faith;" and that the theory is persuasively attractive.

A Christian Science novel that will bring delight to the heart of every believer in that faith. It is a well told story, entertaining, and cleverly mingles art, humor and sentiment.

HILMA, by William Tillinghast Eldridge, with illustrations by Harrison Fisher and Martin Justice, and inlay cover.

It is a rattling good tale, written with charm, and full of remarkable happenings, dangerous doings, strange events, jealous intrigues and sweet love making. The reader's interest is not permitted to lag, but is taken up and carried on from incident to incident with ingenuity and contagious enthusiasm. The story gives us the Graustark and The Prisoner of Zenda thrill, but the tale is treated with freshness, ingenuity, and enthusiasm, and the climax is both unique and satisfying. It will hold the fiction lover close to every page.

THE MYSTERY OF THE FOUR FINGERS, by Fred M. White, with halftone illustrations by Will Grefe.

A fabulously rich gold mine in Mexico is known by the picturesque and mysterious name of The Four Fingers. It originally belonged to an Aztec tribe, and its location is known to one surviving descendant—a man possessing wonderful occult power. Should any person unlawfully discover its whereabouts, four of his fingers are mysteriously removed, and one by one returned to him. The appearance of the final fourth betokens his swift and violent death.

Surprises, strange and startling, are concealed in every chapter of this completely engrossing detective story. The horrible fascination of the tragedy holds one in rapt attention to the end. And through it runs the thread of a curious love story.


Handsomely bound in cloth. Price, 75 cents per volume, postpaid.

THE HOUSE OF A THOUSAND CANDLES. With a frontispiece in colors by Howard Chandler Christy.

A novel of romance and adventure, of love and valor, of mystery and hidden treasure. The hero is required to spend a whole year in the isolated house, which according to his grandfather's will shall then become his. If the terms of the will be violated the house goes to a young woman whom the will, furthermore, forbids him to marry. Nobody can guess the secret, and the whole plot moves along with an exciting zip.

THE PORT OF MISSING MEN. With illustrations by Clarence F. Underwood.

There is romance of love, mystery, plot, and fighting, and a breathless dash and go about the telling which makes one quite forget about the improbabilities of the story; and it all ends in the old-fashioned healthy American way. Shirley is a sweet, courageous heroine whose shining eyes lure from page to page.

ROSALIND AT REDGATE. Illustrated by Arthur I. Keller.

The author of "The House of a Thousand Candles" has here given us a bouyant romance brimming with lively humor and optimism; with mystery that breeds adventure and ends in love and happiness. A most entertaining and delightful book.

THE MAIN CHANCE. With illustrations by Harrison Fisher.

A "traction deal" in a Western city is the pivot about which the action of this clever story revolves. But it is in the character-drawing of the principals that the author's strength lies. Exciting incidents develop their inherent strength and weakness, and if virtue wins in the end, it is quite in keeping with its carefully-planned antecedents. The N. Y. Sun says: "We commend it for its workmanship—for its smoothness, its sensible fancies, and for its general charm."

ZELDA DAMERON. With portraits of the characters by John Cecil Clay.

"A picture of the new West, at once startlingly and attractively true. * * * The heroine is a strange, sweet mixture of pride, wilfulness and lovable courage. The characters are superbly drawn; the atmosphere is convincing. There is about it a sweetness, a wholesomeness and a sturdiness that commends it to earnest, kindly and wholesome people."—Boston Transcript.


Handsomely bound in cloth. Price, 75 cents per volume, postpaid.

THE PRIDE OF JENNICO. Being a Memoir of Captain Basil Jennico.

"What separates it from most books of its class is its distinction of manner, its unusual grace of diction, its delicacy of touch, and the fervent charm of its love passages. It is a very attractive piece of romantic fiction relying for its effect upon character rather than incident, and upon vivid dramatic presentation."—The Dial. "A stirring, brilliant and dashing story."—The Outlook.

THE SECRET ORCHARD. Illustrated by Charles D. Williams.

The "Secret Orchard" is set in the midst of the ultra modern society. The scene is in Paris, but most of the characters are English speaking. The story was dramatized in London, and in it the Kendalls scored a great theatrical success.

"Artfully contrived and full of romantic charm * * * it possesses ingenuity of incident, a figurative designation of the unhallowed scenes in which unlicensed love accomplishes and wrecks faith and happiness."—Athenaeum.

YOUNG APRIL. With illustrations by A. B. Wenzell.

"It is everything that a good romance should be, and it carries about it an air or distinction both rare and delightful."—Chicago Tribune. "With regret one turns to the last page of this delightful novel, so delicate in its romance, so brilliant in its episodes, so sparkling in its art, and so exquisite in its diction."—Worcester Spy.

FLOWER O' THE ORANGE. With frontispiece.

We have learned to expect from these fertile authors novels graceful in form, brisk in movement, and romantic in conception. This carries the reader back to the days of the bewigged and beruffled gallants of the seventeenth century and tells him of feats of arms and adventures in love as thrilling and picturesque, yet delicate, as the utmost seeker of romance may ask.

MY MERRY ROCKHURST. Illustrated by Arthur E. Becher.

"In the eight stories of a courtier of King Charles Second, which are here gathered together, the Castles are at their best, reviving all the fragrant charm of those books, like The Pride of Jennico, in which they first showed an instinct, amounting to genius, for sunny romances. The book is absorbing * * * and is as spontaneous in feeling as it is artistic in execution."—New York Tribune.


Re-issues of the great literary successes of the time, library size, printed on excellent paper—most of them finely illustrated. Full and handsomely bound in cloth. Price, 75 cents a volume, postpaid.

THE CATTLE BARON'S DAUGHTER. A Novel. By Harold Bindloss. With illustrations by David Ericson.

A story of the fight for the cattle-ranges of the West. Intense interest is aroused by its pictures of life in the cattle country at that critical moment of transition when the great tracts of land used for grazing were taken up by the incoming homesteaders, with the inevitable result of fierce contest, of passionate emotion on both sides, and of final triumph of the inevitable tendency of the times.

WINSTON OF THE PRAIRIE. With illustrations in color by W. Herbert Dunton.

A man of upright character, young and clean, but badly worsted in the battle of life, consents as a desperate resort to impersonate for a period a man of his own age—scoundrelly in character but of an aristocratic and moneyed family. The better man finds himself barred from resuming his old name. How, coming into the other man's possessions, he wins the respect of all men, and the love of a fastidious, delicately nurtured girl, is the thread upon which the story hangs. It is one of the best novels of the West that has appeared for years.

THAT MAINWARING AFFAIR. By A. Maynard Barbour. With illustrations by E. Plaisted Abbott.

A novel with a most intricate and carefully unraveled plot. A naturally probable and excellently developed story and the reader will follow the fortunes of each character with unabating interest * * * the interest is keen at the close of the first chapter and increases to the end.

AT THE TIME APPOINTED. With a frontispiece in colors by J. H. Marchand.

The fortunes of a young mining engineer who through an accident loses his memory and identity. In his new character and under his new name, the hero lives a new life of struggle and adventure. The volume will be found highly entertaining by those who appreciate a thoroughly good story.

GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers, New York

[Transcriber's note:

The following spelling inconsistencies and possible typographical errors were left uncorrected:

stolidily Missinaibe/Missinaibie queek/queeck mechant/mechant bouyant Comma at end of paragraph: Picard flashed his white teeth back at the passengers,]

Previous Part     1  2  3
Home - Random Browse