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She Of The Triple Chevron
by [?]

Between Archangel’s Rise and Pardon’s Drive there was but one house. It was a tavern, and it was known as Galbraith’s Place. There was no man in the Western Territories to whom it was not familiar. There was no traveller who crossed the lonely waste but was glad of it, and would go twenty miles out of his way to rest a night on a corn-husk bed which Jen Galbraith’s hands had filled, to eat a meal that she had prepared, and to hear Peter Galbraith’s tales of early days on the plains, when buffalo were like clouds on the horizon, when Indians were many and hostile, and when men called the great western prairie a wedge of the American desert.

It was night on the prairie. Jen Galbraith stood in the doorway of the tavern sitting-room and watched a mighty beacon of flame rising before her, a hundred yards away. Every night this beacon made a circle of light on the prairie, and Galbraith’s Place was in the centre of the circle. Summer and winter it burned from dusk to daylight. No hand fed it but that of Nature. It never failed; it was a cruse that was never empty. Upon Jen Galbraith it had a weird influence. It grew to be to her a kind of spiritual companion, though, perhaps, she would not so have named it. This flaming gas, bubbling up from the depths of the earth on the lonely plains, was to her a mysterious presence grateful to her; the receiver of her thoughts, the daily necessity in her life. It filled her too with a kind of awe; for, when it burned, she seemed not herself alone, but another self of her whom she could not quite understand. Yet she was no mere dreamer. Upon her practical strength of body and mind had come that rugged poetical sense, which touches all who live the life of mountain and prairie. She showed it in her speech; it had a measured cadence. She expressed it in her body; it had a free and rhythmic movement. And not Jen alone, but many another dweller on the prairie, looked upon it with a superstitious reverence akin to worship. A blizzard could not quench it. A gale of wind only fed its strength. A rain-storm made a mist about it, in which it was enshrined like a god. Peter Galbraith could not fully understand his daughter’s fascination for this Prairie Star, as the North-West people called it. It was not without its natural influence upon him; but he regarded it most as a comfortable advertisement, and he lamented every day that this never-failing gas well was not near a large population, and he still its owner. He was one of that large family in the earth who would turn the best things in their lives into merchandise. As it was, it brought much grist to his mill; for he was not averse to the exercise of the insinuating pleasures of euchre and poker in his tavern; and the hospitality which ranchmen, cowboys, and travellers sought at his hand was often prolonged, and also remunerative to him.

Pretty Pierre, who had his patrol as gamester defined, made semi-annual visits to Galbraith’s Place. It occurred generally after the rounding-up and branding seasons, when the cowboys and ranchmen were “flush” with money. It was generally conceded that Monsieur Pierre would have made an early excursion to a place where none is ever “ordered up,” if he had not been free with the money which he so plentifully won.

Card-playing was to him a science and a passion. He loved to win for winning’s sake. After that, money, as he himself put it, was only fit to be spent for the good of the country, and that men should earn more. Since he put his philosophy into instant and generous practice, active and deadly prejudice against him did not have lengthened life.