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The Indian On The Trail From "Mackinac And Lake Stories", 1899   By: (1847-1902)

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THE INDIAN ON THE TRAIL

From "Mackinac And Lake Stories", 1899

By Mary Hartwell Catherwood

Maurice Barrett sat waiting in the old lime kiln built by the British in the war of 1812 a white ruin like much scattered marble, which stands bowered in trees on a high part of the island. He had, to the amusement of the commissioner, hired this place for a summer study, and paid a carpenter to put a temporary roof over it, with skylight, and to make a door which could be fastened. Here on the uneven floor of stone were set his desk, his chair, and a bench on which he could stretch himself to think when undertaking to make up arrears in literary work. But the days were becoming nothing but trysts with her for whom he waited.

First came the heavenly morning walk and the opening of his study, then the short half hour of labor, which ravelled off to delicious suspense. He caught through trees the hint of a shirt waist which might be any girl's, then the long exquisite outline which could be nobody's in the world but hers, her face under its sailor hat, the blown blond hair, the blue eyes. Then her little hands met his outstretched hands at the door, and her whole violet breathing self yielded to his arms.

They sat down on the bench, still in awe of each other and of the swift miracle of their love and engagement. Maurice had passed his fiftieth year, so clean from dissipation, so full of vitality and the beauty of a long race of strong men, that he did not look forty, and in all out door activities rivalled the boys in their early twenties. He was an expert mountain climber and explorer of regions from which he brought his own literary material; inured to fatigue, patient in hardship, and resourceful in danger. Money and reputation and the power which attends them he had wrung from fate as his right, and felt himself fit to match with the best blood in the world except hers.

Yet she was only his social equal, and had grown up next door, while his unsatisfied nature searched the universe for its mate a wild sweetbrier rose of a child, pink and golden, breathing a daring, fragrant personality. He hearkened back to some recognition of her charm from the day she ran out bareheaded and slim legged on her father's lawn and turned on the hose for her play. Yet he barely missed her when she went to an Eastern school, and only thrilled vaguely when she came back like one of Gibson's pictures, carrying herself with state liness. There was something in her blue eyes not to be found in any other blue eyes. He was housed with her family in the same hotel at the island before he completely understood the magnitude of what had befallen him.

"I am awfully set up because you have chosen me," she admitted at first. He liked to have her proud as of a conquest, and he was conscious of that general favor which stamped him a good match, even for a girl half his age.

"How much have you done this morning?" she inquired, looking at his desk.

"Enough to tide over the time until you came. Determination and execution are not one with me now." Her hands were cold, and he warmed them against his face.

"It was during your married life that determination and execution were one?"

"Decidedly. For that was my plodding age. Sometimes when I am tingling with impatience here I look back in wonder on the dogged drive of those days. Work is an unhappy man's best friend. I have no concealments from you, Lily. You know I never loved my wife not this way though I made her happy; I did my duty. She told me when she died that I had made her happy. People cannot help their limitations."

"Do you love me?" she asked, her lips close to his ear.

"I am you! Your blood flows through my veins. I feel you rush through me. You don't know what it is to love like that, do you?"

She shook her head.

"When you are out of my sight I do not live; I simply wait. What is the weird power in you that creates such gigantic passion?"

"The power is all in your imagination. You simply don't know me... Continue reading book >>




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