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A Hazard Of The North
by [?]

Nobody except Gregory Thorne and myself knows the history of the Man and Woman, who lived on the Height of Land, just where Dog Ear River falls into Marigold Lake. This portion of the Height of Land is a lonely country. The sun marches over it distantly, and the man of the East–the braggart–calls it outcast; but animals love it; and the shades of the long-gone trapper and ‘voyageur’ saunter without mourning through its fastnesses. When you are in doubt, trust God’s dumb creatures–and the happy dead who whisper pleasant promptings to us, and whose knowledge is mighty. Besides, the Man and Woman lived there, and Gregory Thorne says that they could recover a lost paradise. But Gregory Thorne is an insolent youth. The names of these people were John and Audrey Malbrouck; the Man was known to the makers of backwoods history as Captain John. Gregory says about that–but no, not yet!–let his first meeting with the Man and the Woman be described in his own words, unusual and flippant as they sometimes are; for though he is a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, and a brother of a Right Honourable, he has conceived it his duty to emancipate himself in the matter of style in language; and he has succeeded.

“It was autumn,” he said, “all colours; beautiful and nippy on the Height of Land; wild ducks, the which no man could number, and bear’s meat abroad in the world. I was alone. I had hunted all day, leaving my mark now and then as I journeyed, with a cache of slaughter here, and a blazed hickory there. I was hungry as a circus tiger–did you ever eat slippery elm bark?–yes, I was as bad as that. I guessed from what I had been told, that the Malbrouck show must be hereaway somewhere. I smelled the lake miles off–oh, you could too if you were half the animal I am; I followed my nose and the slippery-elm between my teeth, and came at a double-quick suddenly on the fair domain. There the two sat in front of the house like turtle-doves, and as silent as a middy after his first kiss. Much as I ached to get my tooth into something filling, I wished that I had ’em under my pencil, with that royal sun making a rainbow of the lake, the woods all scarlet and gold, and that mist of purple–eh, you’ve seen it?–and they sitting there monarchs of it all, like that duffer of a king who had operas played for his solitary benefit. But I hadn’t a pencil and I had a hunger, and I said ‘How!’ like any other Injin–insolent, wasn’t it? Then the Man rose, and he said I was welcome, and she smiled an approving but not very immediate smile, and she kept her seat,–she kept her seat, my boy,–and that was the first thing that set me thinking. She didn’t seem to be conscious that there was before her one of the latest representatives from Belgravia, not she! But when I took an honest look at her face, I understood. I’m glad that I had my hat in my hand, polite as any Frenchman on the threshold of a blanchisserie: for I learned very soon that the Woman had been in Belgravia too, and knew far more than I did about what was what. When she did rise to array the supper table, it struck me that if Josephine Beauharnais had been like her, she might have kept her hold on Napoleon, and saved his fortunes; made Europe France; and France the world. I could not understand it. Jimmy Haldane had said to me when I was asking for Malbrouck’s place on the compass,–‘Don’t put on any side with them, my Greg, or you’ll take a day off for penitence.’ They were both tall and good to look at, even if he was a bit rugged, with neck all wire and muscle, and had big knuckles. But she had hands like those in a picture of Velasquez, with a warm whiteness and educated–that’s it, educated hands.