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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesCarnac's Folly - Book 3 - Chapter 32. "Halves, Pardner, Halves"
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Carnac's Folly - Book 3 - Chapter 32. 'Halves, Pardner, Halves' Post by :hlpunltd Category :Long Stories Author :Gilbert Parker Date :May 2012 Read :1107

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Carnac's Folly - Book 3 - Chapter 32. "Halves, Pardner, Halves"


It was Thanksgiving Day, and all the people of the Province were en fete. The day was clear, and the air was thrilling with the spirits of the north country; the vibrant sting of oxygen, the blessed resilience of the river and the hills.

It was a great day on the St. Lawrence, for men were preparing to go to the backwoods, to the "shanties," and hosts were busy with the crops, storing them; while all in trade and industry were cheerful. There was a real benedicite in the air. In every church. Catholic and Protestant, hands of devoted workers had made beautiful altar and communion table, and lectern and pulpit, and in the Methodist chapel and the Presbyterian kirk, women had made the bare interiors ornate. The bells of all the churches were ringing, French and English; and each priest, clergyman and minister was moving his people in his own way and by his own ritual to bless God and live.

In the city itself, the Mayor had arranged a festival in the evening, and there were gathered many people to give thanks. But those most conspicuous were the poor, unsophisticated habitants, who were on good terms with the refreshment provided. Their enthusiasm was partly due to the presence of Carnac Grier. In his speech to the great crowd, among other things the Mayor said: "It is our happiness that we have here one whose name is familiar to all in French-Canada--that of the new Member of Parliament, Monsieur Carnac Grier. In Monsieur Grier we have a man who knows his own mind, and it is filled with the interests of the French as well as the English. He is young, he has power, and he will use his youth and power to advance the good of the whole country. May he live long!"

Carnac never spoke better in his life than in his brief reply. When he had finished, some one touched his arm. It was Luke Tarboe.

"A good speech, Grier. Can you give me a few moments?"

"Here?" asked Carnac, smiling.

"Not here, but in the building. There is a room where we can be alone, and I have to tell you something of great importance."

"Of great importance? Well, so have I to tell you, Tarboe."

A few minutes later they were in the Mayor's private parlour, hung with the portraits of past Governors and Mayors, and carrying over the door the coat-of-arms of the Province.

Presently Carnac said: "Let me give you my news first, Tarboe: I am to marry Junia Shale--and soon."

Tarboe nodded. "I expected that. She is worth the best the world can offer." There was a ring of honesty in his tone. "All the more reason why I should tell you what my news is, Carnac. I'm going to tell you what oughtn't yet to be told for another two years, but I feel it due you, for you were badly used, and so I break my word to your father."

Carnac's hand shot out in protest, but Tarboe took no notice. "I mean to tell you now in the hour of your political triumph that--"

"That I can draw on you for ten thousand dollars, perhaps?" shot out Carnac.

"Not for ten thousand, but in two years' time--or to-morrow--for a hundred and fifty times that if you want it."

Carnac shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know what you're driving at, Tarboe. Two years from now--or to-morrow--I can draw on you for a hundred and fifty times ten thousand dollars! What does that mean? Is it you're tired of the fortune left you by the biggest man industrially French-Canada has ever known?"

"I'll tell you the truth--I never had a permanent fortune, and I was never meant to have the permanent fortune, though I inherited by will. That was a matter between John Grier and myself. There was another will made later, which left the business to some one else."

"I don't see."

"Of course you don't see, and yet you must." Tarboe then told the story of the making of the two wills, doing justice to John Grier.

"He never did things like anyone else, and he didn't in dying. He loved you, Carnac. In spite of all he said and did he believed in you. He knew you had the real thing in you, if you cared to use it."

"Good God! Good God!" was all Carnac could at first say. "And you agreed to that?"

"What rights had I? None at all. I'll come out of it with over a half-million dollars--isn't that enough for a backwoodsman? I get the profits of the working for three years, and two hundred thousand dollars besides. I ought to be satisfied with that."

"Who knows of the will besides yourself?" asked Carnac sharply.

"No one. There is a letter to the bank simply saying that another will exists and where it is, but that's all.

"And you could have destroyed that will in my favour?"

"That's so." The voice of Tarboe was rough with feeling, his face grew dark. "More than once I willed to destroy it. It seemed at first I could make better use of the property than you. The temptation was big, but I held my own, and now I've no fear of meeting anyone in Heaven or Hell. I've told you all....

"Not quite all. There's one thing more. The thought of Junia Shale made me want to burn the second will, and I almost did it; but I'm glad I didn't."

"If you had, and had married her, you wouldn't have been happy. You can't be fooling a wife and be safe."

"I guess I know that--just in time.... I have a bad heart, Carnac. Your property came to me against my will through your father, but I wanted the girl you're going to marry, and against my will you won her. I fought for her. I thought there was a chance for me, because of the rumour you were secretly married--"

"I'll tell you about it, Tarboe, now. It was an ugly business." And he told in a dozen sentences the story of Luzanne and the false marriage.

When he had finished, Tarboe held out his hand. "It was a close shave, Carnac."

After a few further remarks, Tarboe said: "I thought there was a chance for me with Junia Shale, but there never was a real one, for she was yours from a child. You won her fairly, Carnac. If you'll come to the office to-morrow morning, I'll show you the will."

"You'll show me the will?" asked Carnac with an edge to his tone.

"What do you mean?" Tarboe did not like the look in the other's eyes.

"I mean, what you have you shall keep, and what John Grier leaves me by that will, I will not keep."

"You will inherit, and you shall keep."

"And turn you out!" remarked Carnac ironically. "I needn't be turned out. I hoped you'd keep me as manager. Few could do it as well, and, as Member of Parliament, you haven't time yourself. I'll stay as manager at twenty thousand dollars a year, if you like."

Carnac could not tell him the real reason for declining to inherit, but that did not matter. Yet there flashed into his heart a love, which he had never felt so far in his life, for John Grier. The old man had believed he would come out right in the end, and so had left him the fortune in so odd a way. How Carnac longed to tell Tarboe the whole truth about Barode Barouche, and yet dare not! After a short time of hesitation and doubt, Carnac said firmly:

"I'll stand by the will, if you'll be my partner and manager, Tarboe. If you'll take half the business and manage the whole of it, I'll sell the half for a dollar to you, and we can run together to the end."

Tarboe's face lighted; there was triumph in his eyes. It was all better than he had dared to hope, for he liked the business, and he loathed the way the world had looked at John Grier's will.

"Halves, pardner, halves!" he said, assenting gladly, and held out his hand.

They clasped hands warmly.

The door opened and Junia appeared. She studied their faces anxiously. When she saw the smiling light in them:

"Oh, you two good men!" she said joyously, and held out a hand to each.


(Gilbert Parker's Novel: Carnac's Folly)

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