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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Yukon Trail - Chapter 21. A New Way Of Leaving A House
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The Yukon Trail - Chapter 21. A New Way Of Leaving A House Post by :Jeff_Carter Category :Long Stories Author :William Macleod Raine Date :May 2012 Read :2417

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The Yukon Trail - Chapter 21. A New Way Of Leaving A House


The surge of disgust with which Sheba had broken her engagement to marry Macdonald ebbed away as the weeks passed. It was impossible for her to wait upon him in his illness and hold any repugnance toward this big, elemental man. The thing he had done might be wrong, but the very openness and frankness of his relation to Meteetse redeemed it from shame. He was neither a profligate nor a squawman.

This was Diane's point of view, and in time it became to a certain extent that of Sheba. One takes on the color of one's environment, and the girl from Drogheda knew in her heart that Meteetse and Colmac were no longer the real barriers that stood between her and the Alaskan. She had been disillusioned, saw him more clearly; and though she still recognized the quality of bigness that set him apart, her spirit did not now do such complete homage to it. More and more her thoughts contrasted him with another man.

Macdonald did not need to be told that he had lost ground, but with the dogged determination that had carried him to success he refused to accept the verdict. She was a woman, therefore to be won. The habit of victory was so strong in him that he could see no alternative.

He embarrassed her with his downright attentions, hemmed her in with courtesies she could not evade. If she appealed to her cousin, Diane only laughed.

"My dear, you might as well make up your mind to him. He is going to marry you, willy-nilly."

Sheba herself began to be afraid he would. There was something dominant and masterful about the man that swept opposition aside. He had a way of getting what he wanted.

The motor-car picnic to the Willow Creek Camp was a case in point. Sheba did not want to go, but she went. She would much rather have sat in the rear seat with Diane,--at least, she persuaded herself that she would,--yet she occupied the place beside Macdonald in front. The girl was a rebel. Still, in her heart, she was not wholly reluctant. He made a strong appeal to her imagination. She felt that it would have been impossible for any girl to be indifferent to the wooing of such a man.

The picnic was a success. Macdonald was an outdoor man rather than a parlor one. He took charge of the luncheon, lit the fire, and cooked the coffee without the least waste of effort. In his shirt-sleeves, the neck open at the throat, he looked the embodiment of masculine vigor. Diane could not help mentioning it to her cousin.

"Isn't he a splendid human animal?"

Sheba nodded. "He's wonderful."

"If I were a little Irish colleen and he had done me the honor to care for me, I'd have fallen fathoms deep in love with him."

The Irish colleen's eyes grew reflective. "Not if you had seen Peter first, Di. There's nothing reasonable about a girl, I do believe. She loves--or else she just doesn't."

Diane fired a question at her point-blank. "Have you met _your Peter? Is that why you hang back?"

The color flamed into Sheba's face. "Of course not. You do say the most outrageous things, Di."

They had driven to Willow Creek over the river road. They returned by way of the hills. Macdonald drew up in front of a cabin to fill the radiator.

He stood listening beside the car, the water bucket in his hand. Something unusual was going on inside the house. There came the sound of a thud, of a groan, and then the crash of breaking glass. The whole window frame seemed to leap from the side of the house. The head and shoulders of a man projected through the broken glass.

The man swept himself free of the debris and started to run. Instantly he pulled up in his stride, as amazed to see those in the car as they were to see him.

"Gordon!" cried Diane.

Out of the house poured a rush of men. They too pulled up abruptly at sight of Macdonald and his guests.

A sardonic mirth gleamed in the eyes of the Scotchman. "Do you always come out of a house through the wall, Mr. Elliot?" he asked.

"Only when I'm in a hurry." Gordon pulled out a handkerchief and dabbed at some glass-cuts on his face.

"Don't let us detain you," said the Alaskan satirically. "We'll excuse you, since you must go."

"I'm not in such a hurry now. In fact, if you're going to Kusiak, I think I'll ask you for a lift," returned the field agent coolly.

"And your friends-in-a-hurry--do they want a lift too?"

Big Bill Macy came swaying forward, both hands to his bleeding head. "He's a spy, curse him. And he tried to kill me."

"Did he?" commented Macdonald evenly. "What were you doing to him?"

"He can't sneak around our claim under a false name," growled one of the miners. "We'll beat his damn head off."

"I've had notions like that myself sometimes," assented the big Scotchman. "But I think we had all better leave Mr. Elliot to the law. He has Uncle Sam back of him in his spying, and none of us are big enough to buck the Government." Crisply Macdonald spoke to Gordon, turning upon him cold, hostile eyes. "Get in if you're going to."

Elliot met him eye to eye. "I've changed my mind. I'm going to walk."

"That's up to you."

Gordon shook hands with Diane and Sheba, went into the house for his coat, and walked to the stable. He brought out his horse and turned it loose, then took the road himself for Kusiak.

A couple of miles out the car passed him trudging townward. As they flashed down the road he waved a cheerful and nonchalant greeting.

Sheba had been full of gayety and life, but her mood was changed. All the way home she was strangely silent.

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