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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesGod's Country And The Woman - Chapter 8
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God's Country And The Woman - Chapter 8 Post by :ow24160 Category :Long Stories Author :James Oliver Curwood Date :May 2012 Read :1216

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God's Country And The Woman - Chapter 8

CHAPTER EIGHT

Not without a slight twinge of trepidation did Philip step from his canoe to her. He had not heard Croisset go ashore, and for a moment he felt as if he were deliberately placing himself at the mercy of a wolf-pack. Josephine may have guessed the effect of the savage spectacle he had beheld from the canoe, for she was close to the water's edge to meet him. She spoke, and in the pitch darkness he reached out. Her hand was groping for him, and her fingers closed firmly about his own.

"They are my bodyguard, and I have trained them all from puppies," she explained. "They don't like strangers, but will fight for anything that I touch. So I will lead you." She turned with him toward the pack, and cried in her clear, commanding voice: "Marche, boys!--Tyr, Captain, Thor, Marche! Hoosh, hoosh, Marche!"

It seemed as if a hundred eyes gleamed out of the blackness; then there was a movement, a whining, snarling, snapping movement, and as they walked up the bar and into a narrow trail Philip could hear the pack falling out to the side and behind them. Also he knew that Jean was ahead of them now. He did not speak, nor did Josephine offer to break the silence again. Still letting her hand rest in his she followed close behind the half-breed. Her hand was so cold that Philip involuntarily held it tighter in his own, as if to give it warmth. He could feel her shivering, and yet something told him that what he sensed in the darkness was not caused by chill alone. Several times her fingers closed shudderingly about his.

They had not walked more than a couple of hundred yards when a turn brought them out of the forest trail, and the blackness ahead was broken by a solitary light, a dimly lighted window in a pit of gloom.

"Marja is not expecting us to-night," apologized the girl nervously. "That is Adare House."

The loneliness of the spot, its apparent emptiness of life, the silence save for the snuffling and whining of the unseen beasts about them, stirred Philip with a curious sensation of awe. He had at least expected light and life at Adare House. Here were only the mystery of darkness and a deathlike quiet. Even the one light seemed turned low. As they advanced toward it a great shadow grew out of the gloom; and then, all at once, it seemed as if a curtain of the forest had been drawn aside, and away beyond the looming shadow Philip saw the glow of a camp-fire. From that distant fire there came the challenging howl of a dog, and instantly it was taken up by a score of fierce tongues about them. As Josephine's voice rose to quell the disturbance the light in the window grew suddenly brighter, and then a door opened and in it stood the figures of a man and woman. The man was standing behind the woman, looking over her shoulder, and for one moment Philip caught the flash of the lamp-glow on the barrel of a rifle.

Josephine paused.

"You will forgive me if I ask you to let me go on alone, and you follow with Jean?" she whispered. "I will try and see you again to-night, when I have dressed myself, and I am in better condition to show you hospitality."

Jean was so close that he overheard her. "We will follow," he said softly. "Go ahead, ma cheri."

His voice was filled with an infinite gentleness, almost of pity; and as Josephine drew her hand from Philip's and went on ahead of them he dropped back close to the other's side.

"Something will happen soon which may turn your heart to stone and ice, M'sieur," he said, and his voice was scarce above a whisper. "I wanted her to tell you back there, two days ago, but she shrank from the ordeal then. It is coming to-night. And, however it may effect you, M'sieur, I ask you not to show the horror of it, but to have pity. You have perhaps known many women, but you have never known one like our Josephine. In her soul is the purity of the blue skies, the sweetness of the wild flowers, the goodness of our Blessed Lady, the Mother of Christ. You may disbelieve, and what is to come may eat at the core of your heart as it has devoured life and happiness from mine. But you will love L'Ange-- our Josephine--just the same."

Even as he felt himself trembling strangely at Jean Croisset's words, Philip replied:

"Always, Jean, I swear that."

In the open door Josephine had paused for a moment, and was looking back. Then she disappeared.

"Come," said Jean. "And may God have pity on you if you fail to keep your word in all you have promised, M'sieur Philip Darcambal. For from this hour on you are Philip Darcambal, of Montreal, the husband of Josephine Adare, our beloved lady of the forests. Come, M'sieur!"

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CHAPTER NINEWithout another word Jean led the way to the door, which had partly closed after Josephine. For a moment he paused with his hand upon it, and then entered. Philip was close behind him. His first glance swept the room in search of the girl. She had disappeared with her two companions. For a moment he heard voices beyond a second door in front of him. Then there was silence.In wonder he stared about him, and Jean did not interrupt his gaze. He stood in a great room whose walls were of logs and axe- hewn timbers. It was a
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CHAPTER SEVENFor a time after they had cleared up the supper things Philip sat with Jean close to the fire and smoked. The half-breed had lapsed again into his gloom and silence. Two or three times Philip caught Jean watching him furtively. He made no effort to force a conversation, and when he had finished his pipe he rose and went to the tent which they were to share together. At last he found himself not unwilling to be alone. He closed the flap to shut out the still brilliant illumination of the fire, drew a blanket about him, and stretched
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