- Gilbert Parker Books - Biography and List of Works - Author of 'A Ladder Of Swords'
- Mrs. Falchion， Volume 2_
- Mrs. Falchion, Volume 2.
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This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. All Languages. More filters. Sort order. Lynn Stadel-Paterson rated it really liked it Mar 04, Carol marked it as to-read Sep 08, Ankit Kumar marked it as to-read Aug 12, Gazmend Kryeziu marked it as to-read Nov 15, There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Gilbert Parker. Gilbert Parker.
Parker started as a teacher at the Ontario School for the deaf and dumb in Belleville, Ontario. From there he went on to lecture at Trinity College. In he went to Australia, and became for a while associate editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. In the early nineties he began to make a growing reputation in London as a writer of romantic fiction.
The best of his novels are those in which he first took for his subject the history and life of the French Canadians; and his permanent literary reputation rests on the fine quality, descriptive and dramatic, of his Canadian stories. Books by Gilbert Parker. Trivia About Mrs. Falchion, Vo No trivia or quizzes yet. Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Several tourists upon the verandah of the hotel remarked us with curiosity as we entered. A servant said that Mrs. Falchion would be glad to see us; and we were ushered into her sitting-room.
She carried no trace of yesterday's misadventure. She appeared superbly well. And yet, when I looked again, when I had time to think upon and observe detail, I saw signs of change. There was excitement in the eyes, and a slight nervous darkness beneath them, which added to their charm. She rose, smiling, and said: "I fear I am hardly entitled to this visit, for I am beyond convalescence, and Justine is not in need of shrift or diagnosis, as you see. Falchion; I must make my own inquiries. Falchion was right.
Justine Caron was not suffering much from her immersion; though, speaking professionally, her temperature was higher than the normal. But that might be from some impulse of the moment, for Justine was naturally a little excitable. We walked aside, and, looking at me with a flush of happiness in her face, she said: "You remember one day on the 'Fulvia' when I told you that money was everything to me; that I would do all I honourably could to get it?
She continued: "It was that I might pay a debt--you know it. Well, money is my god no longer, for I can pay all I owe. That is, I can pay the money, but not the goodness, the noble kindness. He is most good, is he not? The world is better that such men as Captain Galt Roscoe live--ah, you see I cannot quite think of him as a clergyman. I wonder if I ever shall! Falchion's voice floated across the room to me: "It is so strange to see you so. And you preach, and baptise; and marry, and bury, and care for the poor and--ah, what is it?
And do you never long for the flesh-pots of Egypt? Never long for"--here her voice was not quite so clear--"for the past? I was equally sure that, to her last question, he would make no reply. Though I was now speaking to Justine Caron, I heard him say quite calmly and firmly: "Yes, I preach, baptise, marry, and bury, and do all I can for those who need help. You have won the hearts of the mountaineers. But you always had a gift that way. And if I had drowned yesterday, you would, I suppose, have buried me, and have preached a little sermon about me. What would you have said in such a case? Your life was saved, and that is all we have to consider, except to be grateful to Providence.
The duties of my office have nothing to do with possibilities. She continued: "And the flesh-pots--you have not answered about them: do you not long for them--occasionally? Falchion intend remaining here, Miss Caron? Her reply was hesitating: "I do not quite know; but I think some time. She likes the place; it seems to amuse her.
I am madame's servant; but, indeed, it does not amuse me particularly. Falchion wishes to see Viking and Mr. Devlin's mills, Marmion. She will go with us.
I walked with Mrs. Falchion, and Roscoe with Justine. I was aware of a new element in Mrs. Falchion's manner. She seemed less powerfully attractive to me than in the old days, yet she certainly was more beautiful. It was hard to trace the new characteristic. But at last I thought I saw it in a decrease of that cold composure, that impassiveness, so fascinating in the past. In its place had come an allusive, restless something, to be found in words of troublesome vagueness, in variable moods, in an increased sensitiveness of mind and an undercurrent of emotional bitterness--she was emotional at last!
She puzzled me greatly, for I saw two spirits in her: one pitiless as of old; the other human, anxious, not unlovely. At length we became silent, and walked so side by side for a time. Then, with that old delightful egotism and selfishness--delightful in its very daring--she said: "Well, amuse me!
To amuse others, for instance; to regard human beings as something more than automata. Roscoe made you a preaching curate? I helped Amshar at the Tanks. Yet you pushed Amshar with your foot. Then, I nursed Mr. Roscoe in his illness. Devlin's big sawmill? It was a noble sight. Far to the north were foothills covered with the glorious Norfolk pine, rising in steppes till they seemed to touch white plateaus of snow, which again billowed to glacier fields whose austere bosoms man's hand had never touched; and these suddenly lifted up huge, unapproachable shoulders, crowned with majestic peaks that took in their teeth the sun, the storm, and the whirlwinds of the north, never changing countenance from day to year and from year to age.
Facing this long line of glory, running irregularly on towards that sea where Franklin and M'Clintock led their gay adventurers,--the bold ships,--was another shore, not so high or superior, but tall and sombre and warm, through whose endless coverts of pine there crept and idled the generous Chinook winds--the soothing breath of the friendly Pacific. Between these shores the Long Cloud River ran; now boisterous, now soft, now wallowing away through long channels, washing gorges always dark as though shaded by winter, and valleys always green as favoured by summer.
Creeping along a lofty narrow path upon that farther shore was a mule train, bearing packs which would not be opened till, through the great passes of the mountain, they were spilled upon the floors of fort and post on the east side of the Rockies. Not far from where the mule train crept along was a great hole in the mountain-side, as though antique giants of the hills had tunnelled through to make themselves a home or to find the eternal secret of the mountains.
Near to this vast dark cavity was a hut--a mere playhouse, it seemed, so small was it, viewed from where we stood. From the edge of a cliff just in front of this hut, there swung a long cable, which reached almost to the base of the shore beneath us; and, even as we looked, we saw what seemed a tiny bucket go swinging slowly down that strange hypotenuse. We watched it till we saw it get to the end of its journey in the valley beneath, not far from the great mill to which we were bound.
I never saw anything like that before. What a wonderful thing! He is a unique fellow, with a strange history. He has been miner, sailor, woodsman, river-driver, trapper, salmon-fisher; --expert at the duties of each of these, persistent at none. He has a taste for the ingenious and the unusual. For a time he worked in Mr. Devlin's mill. It was too tame for him. He conceived the idea of supplying the valley with certain necessaries, by intercepting the mule trains as they passed across the hills, and getting them down to Viking by means of that cable.
The valley laughed at him; men said it was impossible. He went to Mr. Devlin, and Mr. Devlin came to me. I have, as you know, some knowledge of machinery and engineering. I thought the thing feasible but expensive, and told Mr. Devlin so. However, the ingenuity of the thing pleased Mr. Devlin, and, with that singular enterprise which in other directions has made him a rich man, he determined on its completion.
Between us we managed it. Boldrick carries on his aerial railway with considerable success, as you see. Come, sit down here and tell me all you know about him, will you not? I arranged a seat for us, and we all sat. Roscoe was about to begin, when Mrs. Falchion said, "Wait a minute. Let us take in this scene first. After a moment I turned to Mrs. Falchion, and said: "It is beautiful, is it not? The place was all peace: a very monotony of toil and pleasure. The heat drained through the valley back and forth in visible palpitations upon the roofs of the houses, the mills, and the vast piles of lumber: all these seemed breathing.
It looked a busy Arcady. From beneath us life vibrated with the regularity of a pulse: distance gave a kind of delighted ease to toil. Event appeared asleep. But when I look back now, after some years, at the experiences of that day, I am astonished by the running fire of events, which, unfortunately, were not all joy. As I write I can hear that keen wild singing of the saw come to us distantly, with a pleasant, weird elation.
The big mill hung above the river, its sides all open, humming with labour, as I had seen it many a time during my visit to Roscoe. The sun beat in upon it, making a broad piazza of light about its sides. Beyond it were pleasant shadows, through which men passed and repassed at their work. Life was busy all about it. Yet the picture was bold, open, and strong. Great iron hands reached down into the water, clamped a massive log or huge timber, lightly drew it up the slide from the water, where, guided by the hand- spikes of the men, it was laid upon its cradle and carried slowly to the devouring teeth of the saws: there to be sliced through rib and bone in moist sandwiched layers, oozing the sweet sap of its fibre; and carried out again into the open to be drained to dry bones under the exhaust- pipes of the sun: piles upon piles; houses with wide chinks through which the winds wandered, looking for tenants and finding none.
To the north were booms of logs, swilling in the current, waiting for their devourer. Here and there were groups of river-drivers and their foremen, prying twisted heaps of logs from the rocks or the shore into the water. Other groups of river-drivers were scattered upon the banks, lifting their huge red canoes high up on the platforms, the spring's and summer's work of river-driving done; while others lounged upon the grass, or wandered lazily through the village, sporting with the Chinamen, or chaffing the Indian idling in the sun--a garish figure stoically watching the inroads of civilisation.
The town itself was squat but amiable: small houses and large huts; the only place of note and dignity, the new town hall, which was greatly overshadowed by the big mill, and even by the two smaller ones flanking it north and south. But Viking was full of men who had breathed the strong life of the hills, had stolen from Nature some of her brawny strength, and set themselves up before her as though a man were as great as a mountain and as good a thing to see.
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It was of such a man that Galt Roscoe was to tell us. His own words I will not give, but will speak of Phil Boldrick as I remember him and as Roscoe described him to us. Of all the men in the valley, none was so striking as Phil Boldrick. Of all faces his was the most singular; of all characters his the most unique; of all men he was the most unlucky, save in one thing--the regard of his fellows. Others might lay up treasures, not he; others lose money at gambling, not he--he never had much to lose. But yet he did all things magniloquently. The wave of his hand was expansive, his stride was swaying and decisive, his over-ruling, fraternal faculty was always in full swing.
Viking was his adopted child; so much so that a gentleman river-driver called it Philippi; and by that name it sometimes went, and continues still so among those who knew it in the old days. Others might have doubts as to the proper course to pursue under certain circumstances; it was not so with Phil. They might argue a thing out orally, he did so mentally, and gave judgment on it orally. He was final, not oracular. One of his eyes was of glass, and blue; the other had an eccentricity, and was of a deep and meditative grey.
It was a wise and knowing eye. It was trained to many things--like one servant in a large family. One side of his face was solemn, because of the gay but unchanging blue eye, the other was gravely humourous, shrewdly playful. His fellow citizens respected him; so much so, that they intended to give him an office in the new-formed corporation; which means that he had courage and downrightness, and that the rough, straightforward gospel of the West was properly interpreted by him.
If a stranger came to the place, Phil was sent first to reconnoitre; if any function was desirable, Phil was requested to arrange it; if justice was to be meted out, Phil's opinion had considerable weight--for he had much greater leisure than other more prosperous men; if a man was taken ill this was in the days before a doctor came , Phil was asked to declare if he would "shy from the finish.
Not that Phil was at all pious, nor yet possessed of those abstemious qualities in language and appetite by which good men are known; but he had a gift of civic virtue--important in a wicked world, and of unusual importance in Viking. He had neither self-consciousness nor fear; and while not possessed of absolute tact in a social way, he had a knack of doing the right thing bluntly, or the wrong thing with an air of rightness. He envied no man, he coveted nothing; had once or twice made other men's fortunes by prospecting, but was poor himself. And in all he was content, and loved life and Viking.
Immediately after Roscoe had reached the mountains Phil had become his champion, declaring that there was not any reason why a man should not be treated sociably because he was a parson. Phil had been a great traveller, as had many who settled at last in these valleys to the exciting life of the river: salmon-catching or driving logs.
He had lived for a time in Lower California and Mexico, and had given Roscoe the name of The Padre: which suited the genius and temper of the rude population. And so it was that Roscoe was called The Padre by every one, though he did not look the character. As he told his story of Phil's life I could not help but contrast him with most of the clergymen I knew or had seen.
He had the admirable ease and tact of a cultured man of the world, and the frankness and warmth of a hearty nature, which had, however, some inherent strain of melancholy. Wherever I had gone with him I had noticed that he was received with good-humoured deference by his rough parishioners and others who were such only in the broadest sense.
Gilbert Parker Books - Biography and List of Works - Author of 'A Ladder Of Swords'
Perhaps he would not have succeeded so well if he had worn clerical clothes. As it was, of a week day, he could not be distinguished from any respectable layman. The clerical uniform attracts women more than men, who, if they spoke truly, would resent it. Roscoe did not wear it, because he thought more of men than of function, of manliness than clothes; and though this sometimes got him into trouble with his clerical brethren who dearly love Roman collar, and coloured stole, and the range of ritual from a lofty intoning to the eastward position, he managed to live and himself be none the worse, while those who knew him were certainly the better.
When Roscoe had finished his tale, Mrs. Falchion said: "Mr. Boldrick must be a very interesting man;" and her eyes wandered up to the great hole in the mountain-side, and lingered there. He uses it as a storehouse. You can--as you know, Mr. Roscoe,"--her voice had a subterranean meaning,--" travel from end to end of those places, and, until the white man corrupts them, never meet with a case of stealing; you will find them moral too in other ways until the white man corrupts them.
But sometimes the white man pays for it in the end. On him the effect was so far disturbing that he became a little pale, but I noticed that he met her glance unflinchingly and then looked at me, as if to see in how far I had been affected by her speech. I think I confessed to nothing in my face. Justine Caron was lost in the scene before us. She had, I fancy, scarcely heard half that had been said. Roscoe said to her presently: "You like it, do you not? All that would be splendid without the mills and the machinery and Boldrick's cable, but it would not be perfect: it needs man--Phil Boldrick and Company in the foreground.
Nature is not happy by itself: it is only brooding and sorrowful. You remember the mountain of Talili in Samoa, Mr. Roscoe, and the valley about it: how entrancing yet how melancholy it is. It always seems to be haunted, for the natives never live in the valley. There is a tradition that once one of the white gods came down from heaven, and built an altar, and sacrificed a Samoan girl--though no one ever knew quite why: for there the tradition ends.
It seemed to me that I was little by little getting the threads of his story. That there was a native girl; that the girl had died or been killed; that Roscoe was in some way--innocently I dared hope--connected with it; and that Mrs. Falchion held the key to the mystery, I was certain. That it was in her mind to use the mystery, I was also certain.
But for what end I could not tell. What had passed between them in London the previous winter I did not know: but it seemed evident that she had influenced him there as she did on the 'Fulvia', had again lost her influence, and was now resenting the loss, out of pique or anger, or because she really cared for him.
It might be that she cared. She added after a moment: "Add man to nature, and it stops sulking: which goes to show that fallen humanity is better than no company at all. It was this characteristic which made her conversation very striking, it was so sharply contrasted in its parts; a heartless kind of satire set against the most serious and acute statements. One never knew when she would turn her own or her interlocutor's gravity into mirth.
Now no one replied immediately to her remarks, and she continued: "If I were an artist I should wish to paint that scene, given that the lights were not so bright and that mill machinery not so sharply defined. There is almost too much limelight, as it were; too much earnestness in the thing. Either there should be some side-action of mirth to make it less intense, or of tragedy to render it less photographic; and unless, Dr. Marmion, you would consent to be solemn, which would indeed be droll; or that The Padre there--how amusing they should call him that!
I also was silent for a moment; for there had come to my mind, while she was speaking and I was watching the scene, something that Hungerford had said to me once on board the 'Fulvia'. There's trouble ahead. It's only the pretty pause in the happy scene of the play before the villain comes in and tumbles things about. When I've been on the bridge," he continued, "of a night that set my heart thumping, I knew, by Jingo! Don't you take in the twaddle about God sending thunderbolts; it's that old war-horse down below.
And what's gospel for sea is good for land, and you'll find it so, my son. Falchion said: "Why, now my words have come true; the scene can be made perfect. Pray step down to the valley, Dr. Marmion, and complete the situation, for you are trying to seem serious, and it is irresistibly amusing--and professional, I suppose; one must not forget that you teach the young 'sawbones' how to saw. I said, though I admit it was not cleverly said: "Mrs.
Falchion, I am willing to go and complete that situation, if you will go with me; for you would provide the tragedy--plenty of it; there would be the full perihelion of elements; your smile is the incarnation of the serious. And I actually believe that, in time, you will be free from priggishness, and become a brilliant conversationalist; and--suppose we wander on to our proper places in the scene.
Besides, I want to see that strange man, Mr. Devlin and Ruth riding towards us. We halted and waited for them. Devlin was introduced to Mrs. Falchion by his daughter, who was sweetly solicitous concerning Mrs. Falchion and Justine Caron, and seemed surprised at finding them abroad after the accident of the day before. Ruth said that her father and herself had just come from the summer hotel, where they had gone to call upon Mrs.
Falchion heartily acknowledged the courtesy. She seemed to be playing no part, but was apparently grateful all round; yet I believe that even already Ruth had caught at something in her presence threatening Roscoe's peace; whilst she, from the beginning, had, with her more trained instincts, seen the relations between the clergyman and his young parishioner.
Between Roscoe and Ruth there was the slightest constraint, and I thought that it gave a troubled look to the face of the girl. Involuntarily, the eyes of both were attracted to Mrs. I believe in that moment there was a kind of revelation among the three. While I talked to Mr. Devlin I watched them, standing a little apart, Justine Caron with us.
It must have been a painful situation for them; to the young girl because a shadow was trailing across the light of her first love; to Roscoe because the shadow came out of his past; to Mrs. Falchion because she was the shadow. I felt that trouble was at hand. In this trouble I knew that I was to play a part; for, if Roscoe had his secret and Mrs. Falchion had the key to it, I also held a secret which, in case of desperate need, I should use.
I did not wish to use it, for though it was mine it was also another's. I did not like the look in Mrs. Falchion's eyes as she glanced at Ruth: I was certain that she resented Roscoe's regard for Ruth and Ruth's regard for Roscoe; but, up to that moment, I had not thought it possible that she cared for him deeply. Once she had influenced me, but she had never cared for me. I could see a change in her. Out of it came that glance at Ruth, which seemed to me the talon-like hatred that shot from the eyes of Goneril and Regan: and I was sure that if she loved Roscoe there would be mad trouble for him and for the girl.
Heretofore she had been passionless, but there was a dormant power in her which had only to be wickedly aroused to wreck her own and others' happiness. Hers was one of those volcanic natures, defying calculation and ordinary conceptions of life; having the fullest capacity for all the elementary passions--hatred, love, cruelty, delight, loyalty, revolt, jealousy. She had never from her birth until now felt love for any one.
She had never been awakened. Even her affection for her father had been dutiful rather than instinctive. She had provoked love, but had never given it. She had been self-centred, compulsive, unrelenting. She had unmoved seen and let her husband go to his doom-- it was his doom and death so far as she knew. Yet, as I thought of this, I found myself again admiring her. She was handsome, independent, distinctly original, and possessing capacity for great things.
Besides, so far, she had not been actively vindictive-- simply passively indifferent to the sufferings of others. She seemed to regard results more than means. All she did not like she could empty into the mill of the destroying gods: just as General Grant poured hundreds of thousands of men into the valley of the James, not thinking of lives but victory, not of blood but triumph.
She too, even in her cruelty, seemed to have a sense of wild justice which disregarded any incidental suffering. I could see that Mr. Devlin was attracted by her, as every man had been who had ever met her; for, after all, man is but a common slave to beauty: virtue he respects, but beauty is man's valley of suicide. Presently she turned to Mr. Devlin, having, as it seemed to me, made Roscoe and Ruth sufficiently uncomfortable. With that cheerful insouciance which was always possible to her on the most trying occasions, she immediately said, as she had often said to me, that she had come to Mr.
Devlin to be amused for the morning, perhaps the whole day. It was her way, her selfish way, to make men her slaves. Devlin gallantly said that he was at her disposal, and with a kind of pride added that there was plenty in the valley which would interest her; for he was a frank, bluff man, who would as quickly have spoken disparagingly of what belonged to himself, if it was not worthy, as have praised it.
Falchion replied; "I have never been in a great saw-mill, and I believe this is very fine.
Mrs. Falchion， Volume 2_
Then," she added, with a little wave of the hand towards the cable running down from Phil Boldrick's eyrie in the mountains, "then I want to see all that cable can do--all, remember. Devlin laughed. Falchion, still looking at the cable; "The Padre, I know, is very clever. Devlin, who was not keen enough to see the faint irony in her tones. Falchion in the same tone of voice, "he is more than clever. I have been told that he was once very brave.
I have been told that once in the South Seas he did his country a great service. I could see Ruth's eyes glisten and her face suffuse, for though she read the faint irony in the tone, still she saw that the tale which Mrs. Falchion was evidently about to tell, must be to Galt Roscoe's credit. Falchion turned idly upon Ruth and saw the look in her face. An almost imperceptible smile came upon her lips. She looked again at the cable and Phil Boldrick's eyrie, which seemed to have a wonderful attraction for her.
Not turning away from it, save now and then to glance indolently at Mr.
Mrs. Falchion, Volume 2.
Devlin or Ruth, and once enigmatically at myself, she said: "Once upon a time--that is the way, I believe, to begin a pretty story-- there were four men-of-war idling about a certain harbour of Samoa. One of the vessels was the flag-ship, with its admiral on board. On one of the other vessels was an officer who had years before explored this harbour.
It was the hurricane season. He advised the admiral not to enter the harbour, for the indications foretold a gale, and himself was not sure that his chart was in all respects correct, for the harbour had been hurriedly explored and sounded. But the admiral gave orders, and they sailed in.
It swept across the island, levelled forests of cocoa palms, battered villages to pieces, caught that little fleet in the harbour, and played with it in a horrible madness. To right and left were reefs, behind was the shore, with a monstrous surf rolling in; before was a narrow passage.
One vessel made its way out--on it was the officer who had surveyed the harbour. In the open sea there was safety. He brought his vessel down the coast a little distance, put a rope about him and in the wild surf made for the shore. I believe he could have been court-martialled for leaving his ship, but he was a man who had taken a great many risks of one kind and another in his time.
It was one chance out of a hundred; but he made it--he got to the shore, travelled down to the harbour where the men-of-war were careening towards the reefs, unable to make the passage out, and once again he tied a rope about him and plunged into the surf to try for the admiral's ship. He got there terribly battered. They tell how a big wave lifted him and landed him upon the quarter-deck just as big waves are not expected to do.
Well, like the hero in any melodrama of the kind, he very prettily piloted monsieur the admiral and his fleet out to the open sea. The tale had been told adroitly, and with such tact as to words that Roscoe could not take offence--need not, indeed, as he did not, I believe, feel any particular self-consciousness. I am not sure but he was a little glad that such evidence should have been given at the moment, when a kind of restraint had come between him and Ruth, by one who he had reason to think was not wholly his friend might be his enemy.
It was a kind of offset to his premonitions and to the peril over which he might stumble at any moment. To me the situation was almost inexplicable; but the woman herself was inexplicable: at this moment the evil genius of us all, at that doing us all a kind of crude, superior justice. I was the first to speak. But I am glad and proud that I have a friend with such a record. Falchion, "he actually was not court- martialled for abandoning his ship to save an admiral and a fleet.
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But the ways of the English Admiralty are wonderful. They go out of their way to avoid a court-martial sometimes, and they go out of their way to establish it sometimes. Roscoe walked ahead with Ruth Devlin. Devlin, Mrs. Falchion, Justine Caron and myself walked together. Falchion presently continued, talking, as it seemed to me, at the back of Roscoe's head: "I have known the Admiralty to force an officer to resign the navy because he had married a native wife. But I never knew the Admiralty to court-martial an officer because he did not marry a native wife whom he OUGHT to have married: but, as I said, the ways of the Admiralty are past admiration.
Devlin cheerfully, "let's see if there isn't something even more amusing than Mr. Roscoe in Viking. I will show you, Mrs. Falchion, the biggest saw that ever ate the heart out of a Norfolk pine. Falchion was interested. She asked questions concerning the machinery which mightily pleased Mr. Devlin, they were so apt and intelligent; and herself assisted in giving an immense log to the teeth of the largest saw, which, with its six upright blades, ate, and was never satisfied.
She stooped and ran her ungloved hand into the sawdust, as sweet before the sun has dried it as the scent of a rose. The rich smell of the fresh-cut lumber filled the air, and suggested all kinds of remote and pleasant things. The industry itself is one of the first that comes with the invasion of new territory, and makes one think of man's first work in the world: to fell the tree and till the soil. It is impossible to describe that fierce, jubilant song of the saw, which even when we were near was never shrill or shrieking: never drowning our voices, but vibrant and delightful.
To Mrs. Falchion it was new; she was impressed. Devlin, "all sorts of enterprises, but never anything like this. It all has a kind of rough music. It is enjoyable. Devlin beamed. She looked interested. We all gathered round. I stood between Mrs. I want big things all round, and this is a masterpiece, I guess. Now, I'll let you hear it if you like. I didn't expect to use it until to-night at nine o'clock, when, also for the first time, I am to light the mills by electricity; a thing that's not been attempted yet in any saw-mill on the Continent.
We're going to work night and day for a couple of months. And are you indebted to Mr. Roscoe in these things too? It's the sort of thing I would propose--to blow my trumpet, as it were; but the electricity and the first experiments in it I owe to The Padre. Do you ever use search-lights here? I should think they might be of use in your parish. Then, for a change, you could let the parish turn it upon you, for the sake of contrast and edification. Her sarcasm was well veiled, but I could feel the sardonic touch beneath the smiling surface.
This innuendo seemed so gratuitous. I said to her, almost beneath my breath, that none of the others could hear: "How womanly! Roscoe was cool, but I could see now in his eyes a kind of smouldering anger; which was quite to my wish. I hoped he would be meek no longer. Presently Ruth Devlin said: "Would it not be better to wait till to- night, when the place is lighted, before the whistle is blown? Then you can get a better first impression. And if Mrs. Falchion will come over to our home at Sunburst, we will try and amuse her for the rest of the day--that is, after she has seen all here.
Falchion seemed struck by the frankness of the girl, and for an instant debated, but presently said: "No, thank you. When all is seen now, I will go to the hotel, and then will join you all here in the evening, if that seems feasible. Perhaps Dr. Marmion will escort me here. Roscoe, of course, has other duties. She touched Mr. Devlin's arm, and, looking archly at him, nodded backwards towards me. It was impossible not to be amused; her repartee was always so unrestrained. She disarmed one by what would have been, in a man, insolent sang-froid: in her it was piquancy, daring. Presently she added: "But if we are to have no colossal whistle and no electric light till evening, there is one thing I must have: and that is your remarkable Phil Boldrick, who seems to hold you all in the palm of his hand, and lives up there like a god on his Olympus.
She saw her opportunity, and answered promptly: "Yes, I will call on him immediately,"--here she turned towards Ruth,--"if Miss Devlin and yourself will go with me. Anyhow, it's absurd. Is there any danger? May I? Perhaps something of the father's pride came up in him, perhaps he had just got some suspicion that between his daughter and Mrs. Falchion there was a subterranean rivalry.
However it was, he gave a quick, quizzical look at both of them, then glanced at Roscoe, and said: "I'll make no objections, if Ruth would like to introduce you to Phil. And, as Mrs. Falchion suggested, I'll 'turn the crank. But presently he appeared to me perfectly willing that Ruth should go. Maybe he was as keen that she should not appear at a disadvantage beside Mrs. Falchion as was her father. A signal was given, and the cage came slowly down the cable to the mill.
We could see Boldrick, looking little bigger than a child at the other end, watching our movements. At the last moment Mr. Devlin and Roscoe seemed apprehensive, but the women were cool and determined. I noticed Mrs. Falchion look at Ruth curiously once or twice after they entered the cage, and before they started, and what she saw evidently gave her a higher opinion of the girl, for she laid her hand on Ruth's arm suddenly, and said: "We will show these mere men what nerve is.
The cage ascended at first quickly, then more slowly, swaying up and down a little on the cable, and climbing higher and higher through the air to the mountain-side. What Boldrick thought when he saw the two ascending towards him, he expressed to Mr. Devlin later in the day in vigorous language: what occurred at his but Ruth Devlin told me afterwards.
When the cage reached him, he helped the two passengers out, and took them to his hut. With Ruth he had always been a favourite, and he welcomed her with admiring and affectionate respect. Not but what I knew you weren't afraid of anything on the earth below, or the waters under the earth; but when you get swinging there over the world, and not high enough to get a hold on heaven, it makes you feel as if things was droppin' away from you like. But, by gracious! Falchion, he cocked his head, and looked quizzically, as if trying to remember something, then drew his hand once or twice across his forehead.
After a moment he said: "Strange, now, ma'am, how your name strikes me. It isn't a common name, and I've heerd it before somewhere--somewhere. It isn't your face that I've seen before--for I'd have remembered it if it was a thousand years ago," he added admiringly. But show us everything about your place before we go back, won't you, please? It was supplied with bare necessaries, and with a counter, behind which were cups and a few bottles.
In reference to this, Boldrick said: "Temperance drinks for the muleteers, tobacco and tea and sugar and postage stamps and things. They don't gargle their throats with anything stronger than coffee at this tavern. After Mrs. Falchion and Ruth had seen all, they came out upon the mountain-side and waved their handkerchiefs to us, who were still watching from below. Then Boldrick hoisted a flag on his hut, which he used on gala occasions, to celebrate the event, and, not content with this, fired a 'feu de joie', managed in this way: He took two anvils used by the muleteers and expressmen to shoe their animals, and placed one on the other, putting powder between.
Then Mrs. Falchion thrust a red-hot iron into the powder, and an explosion ensued. I was for a moment uneasy, but Mr. Devlin reassured me, and instantly a shrill whistle from the little mills answered the salute. Just before they got into the cage, Mrs. Falchion turned to Boldrick, and said: "You have not been trying to remember where you heard my name before?
Well, can you not recall it now? They started. As they did so, Mrs. Falchion said suddenly, looking at Boldrick keenly: "Were you ever in the South Seas? No, ma'am, I was never there, but I had a pal who come from Samoa. What was his name? The descent seemed even more adventurous than the ascent, and, in spite of myself, I could not help a thrill of keen excitement. But they were both smiling when the cage reached us, and both had a very fine colour. Boldrick," said Mrs. Devlin, "you'll know Boldrick a long time before you find his limits.
He is about the most curious character I ever knew, and does the most curious things. But straight--straight as a die, Mrs. Boldrick and I would be very good friends indeed," said Mrs. Falchion; "and I purpose visiting him again. It is quite probable that we shall find we have had mutual acquaintances. But I enjoyed it before we got to the end.
Falchion turned to Mr. To-night I want to go up that cable and call on Mr. Boldrick again, and see the mills and the electric light, and hear your whistle, from up there. Then, of course, you must show us the mill working at night, and afterwards--may I ask it?
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I saw she did not wish to go. Fortunately Mr. Devlin extricated her. Falchion," he said: "much obliged to you all the same. But I am going to be at the mill pretty near all night, and shouldn't be able to go, and I don't want Ruth to go without me. But I tell you what: if you want to see something fine, you must go down as soon as possible to Sunburst. We live there, you know, not here at Viking. It's funny, too, because, you see, there's a feud between Viking and Sunburst--we are all river-men and mill-hands at Viking, and they're all salmon-fishers and fruit-growers at Sunburst.
By rights I ought to live here, but when I started I thought I'd build my mills at Sunburst, so I pitched my tent down there. My wife and the girls got attached to the place, and though the mills were built at Viking, and I made all my money up here, I live at Sunburst and spend my shekels there. I guess if I didn't happen to live at Sunburst, people would be trailing their coats and making Donnybrook fairs every other day between these two towns.
But that's neither here nor there. Take my advice, Mrs. Falchion, and come to Sunburst and see the salmon-fishers at work, both day and night. It is about the biggest thing in the way of natural picturesqueness that you'll see--outside my mills. Indians, half-breeds, white men, Chinamen--they are all at it in weirs and cages, or in the nets, and spearing by torch-light! Falchion laughed. And, to be perfectly frank with you, I am very weary of trying to live in the intellectual altitudes of Dr. Marmion--and The Padre. It had almost a kind of feverishness--as if she relished fully the position she held towards Roscoe and Ruth, her power over their future, and her belief as I think was in her mind then that she could bring back to her self Roscoe's old allegiance.
That she believed this, I was convinced; that she would never carry it out, was just as strong: for I, though only the chorus in the drama, might one day find it in my power to become, for a moment, one of the principal actors--from which position I had declined one day when humiliated before Mrs. Falchion on the 'Fulvia'. Boyd Madras was in my mind. After a few minutes we parted, agreeing to meet again in the valley in the evening.
I had promised, as Mrs. Falchion had suggested, to escort her and Justine Caron from the summer hotel to the mill. Roscoe had duties at both Viking and Sunburst and would not join us until we all met in the evening. Devlin and Ruth rode away towards Sunburst. Falchion, Justine, and myself travelled slowly up the hillside, talking chiefly upon the events of the morning. Falchion appeared to admire greatly the stalwart character of Mr. Devlin; in a few swift, complimentary words disposed of Ruth; and then made many inquiries concerning Roscoe's work, my own position, and the length of my stay in the mountains; and talked upon many trivial matters, never once referring--as it seemed to me, purposely--to our past experiences on the 'Fulvia', nor making any inquiry concerning any one except Belle Treherne.
She showed no surprise when I told her that I expected to marry Miss Treherne. She congratulated me with apparent frankness, and asked for Miss Treherne's address, saying she would write to her. As soon as she had left Roscoe's presence she had dropped all enigmatical words and phrases, and, during this hour I was with her, was the tactful, accomplished woman of the world, with the one present object: to make her conversation agreeable, and to keep things on the surface.
Justine Caron scarcely spoke during the whole of our walk, although I addressed myself to her frequently. But I could see that she watched Mrs. Falchion's face curiously; and I believe that at this time her instinct was keener by far to read what was in Mrs. Falchion's mind than my own, though I knew much more of the hidden chain of events connecting Mrs. Falchion's life and Galt Roscoe's. I parted from them at the door of the hotel, made my way down to Roscoe's house at the ravine, and busied myself for the greater part of the day in writing letters, and reading on the coping.
About sunset I called for Mrs. Falchion, and found her and Justine Caron ready and waiting. There was nothing eventful in our talk as we came down the mountain-side towards Viking--Justine Caron's presence prevented that. It was dusk when we reached the valley. As yet the mills were all dark.
The only lights visible were in the low houses lining the banks of the river. Against the mountainside there seemed to hang one bunch of flame like a star, large, red, and weird. It was a torch burning in front of Phil Boldrick's hut. We made our way slowly to the mill, and found Mr. Devlin, Ruth, and Roscoe, with Ruth's sister, and one or two other friends, expecting us.
Devlin heartily, "I have kept the show waiting for you. The house is all dark, but I guess you'll see a transformation scene pretty quick. Come out," he continued, "and let us get the front seats. They are all stalls here; nobody has a box except Boldrick, and it is up in the flies.
Devlin," said Mrs. Falchion, "I purpose to see this show not only from the stalls, but from the box in the flies. Therefore, during the first act, I shall be here in front of the foot-lights. Falchion, "I am going to see the valley and hear your great horn blow from up there!
Devlin; "but you will excuse me if I say that I don't particularly want anybody to see this performance from where Tom Bowling bides. Devlin gave a signal, touched a wire, and immediately it seemed as if the whole valley was alight. The mill itself was in a blaze of white. It was transfigured--a fairy palace, just as the mud barges in the Suez Canal had been transformed by the search-light of the 'Fulvia'.
For the moment, in the wonder of change from darkness to light, the valley became the picture of a dream. Every man was at his post in the mill, and in an instant work was going on as we had seen it in the morning. Then, all at once, there came a great roar, as it were, from the very heart of the mill--a deep diapason, dug out of the throat of the hills: the big whistle.
It will be very fine as soon as the engine-man knows how to manage it. We all turned, and saw a sight that made Ruth Devlin cover her face with her hands and Mrs. Falchion stand horror-stricken. There, coming down the cable with the speed of lightning, was the cage. In it was a man-- Phil Boldrick. With a cry and a smothered oath, Mr.
Devlin sprang towards the machinery, Roscoe with him. There was nobody near it, but they saw a boy whose duty it was that night to manage the cable, running towards it. Roscoe was the first to reach the lever; but it was too late. He partially stopped the cage, but only partially. It came with a dull, sickening thud to the ground, and Phil Boldrick--Phil Boldrick's broken, battered body--was thrown out. A few minutes later Boldrick was lying in Mr. Devlin's office. Ill luck for Viking in the hour of her success. Phil's shattered hulk is drifting. The masts have gone by the board, the pilot from the captain's side.
Only the man's "unconquerable soul" is on the bridge, watching the craft dip at the bow till the waters, their sport out, should hugely swallow it. We were all gathered round. Phil had asked to see the lad who, by neglecting the machinery for a moment, had wrecked his life. It was a big mistake. I haven't any grudge agen you, but be glad I'm not one that'd haunt you for your cussed foolishness.
There, now, I feel better; that's off my mind! Roscoe, The Padre--he's all right, you understand! Why don't you speak? The lad took it, but he could not speak: he held it and sobbed. Then Phil understood. His brow wrinkled with a sudden trouble. He said: "There, never mind. I'm dying, but it isn't what I expected. It doesn't smart nor tear much; not more than river-rheumatism. P'r'aps I wouldn't mind it at all if I could see. The accident had destroyed his remaining eye.
Being blind, he had already passed that first corridor of death--darkness. Roscoe stooped over him, took his hand, and spoke quietly to him. Phil knew the voice, and said with a faint smile: "Do you think they'd plant me with municipal honours--honours to pardners?
Devlin from behind the clergyman. Phil recognised the voice. It'd look sociable, wouldn't it? There was a silence, then the reply came musingly: "I guess I hev to go. I'd hev liked to see the corporation runnin' longer, but maybe I can trust the boys. If it doesn't make any difference to the rest, I'd like to be alone with The Padre for a little--not for religion, you understand, for I go as I stayed, and I hev my views,--but for private business. Falchion and Ruth and I with them--for I could do nothing now for him--he was broken all to pieces.
Roscoe told me afterwards what happened then. I crossed him first on the Panama level. I was broke--stony broke. He'd been shipwrecked, and was ditto.