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The Finding Of Fingall
by [?]

“Fingall! Fingall!–Oh, Fingall!”

A grey mist was rising from the river, the sun was drinking it delightedly, the swift blue water showed underneath it, and the top of Whitefaced Mountain peaked the mist by a hand-length. The river brushed the banks like rustling silk, and the only other sound, very sharp and clear in the liquid monotone, was the crack of a woodpecker’s beak on a hickory tree.

It was a sweet, fresh autumn morning in Lonesome Valley. Before night the deer would bellow reply to the hunters’ rifles, and the mountain-goat call to its unknown gods; but now there was only the wild duck skimming the river, and the high hilltop rising and fading into the mist, the ardent sun, and again that strange cry–

“Fingall!–Oh, Fingall! Fingall!”

Two men, lounging at a fire on a ledge of the hills, raised their eyes to the mountain-side beyond and above them, and one said presently:

“The second time. It’s a woman’s voice, Pierre.” Pierre nodded, and abstractedly stirred the coals about with a twig.

“Well, it is a pity–the poor Cynthie,” he said at last.

“It is a woman, then. You know her, Pierre–her story?”

“Fingall! Fingall!–Oh, Fingall!”

Pierre raised his head towards the sound; then after a moment, said:

“I know Fingall.”

“And the woman? Tell me.”

“And the girl. Fingall was all fire and heart, and devil-may-care. She–she was not beautiful except in the eye, but that was like a flame of red and blue. Her hair, too–then–would trip her up, if it hung loose. That was all, except that she loved him too much. But women–et puis, when a woman gets a man between her and the heaven above and the earth beneath, and there comes the great hunger, what is the good! A man cannot understand, but he can see, and he can fear. What is the good! To play with life, that is not much; but to play with a soul is more than a thousand lives. Look at Cynthie.”

He paused, and Lawless waited patiently. Presently Pierre continued:

Fingall was gentil; he would take off his hat to a squaw. It made no difference what others did; he didn’t think–it was like breathing to him. How can you tell the way things happen? Cynthie’s father kept the tavern at St. Gabriel’s Fork, over against the great saw-mill. Fingall was foreman of a gang in the lumberyard. Cynthie had a brother–Fenn. Fenn was as bad as they make, but she loved him, and Fingall knew it well, though he hated the young skunk. The girl’s eyes were like two little fire-flies when Fingall was about.

“He was a gentleman, though he had only half a name–Fingall–like that. I think he did not expect to stay; he seemed to be waiting for something–always when the mail come in he would be there; and afterwards you wouldn’t see him for a time. So it seemed to me that he made up his mind to think nothing of Cynthie, and to say nothing.”

“Fingall! Fingall!–Oh, Fingall!”

The strange, sweet, singing voice sounded nearer. “She’s coming this way, Pierre,” said Lawless.

“I hope not to see her. What is the good!”

“Well, let us have the rest of the story.”

“Her brother Fenn was in Fingall’s gang. One day there was trouble. Fenn called Fingall a liar. The gang stopped piling; the usual thing did not come. Fingall told him to leave the yard, and they would settle some other time. That night a wicked thing happened. We were sitting in the bar-room when we heard two shots and then a fall. We ran into the other room; there was Fenn on the floor, dying. He lifted himself on his elbow, pointed at Fingall–and fell back. The father of the boy stood white and still a few feet away. There was no pistol showing–none at all.

“The men closed in on Fingall. He did not stir–he seemed to be thinking of something else. He had a puzzled, sorrowful look. The men roared round him, but he waved them back for a moment, and looked first at the father, then at the son. I could not understand at first. Someone pulled a pistol out of Fingall’s pocket and showed it. At that moment Cynthie came in. She gave a cry. By the holy! I do not want to hear a cry like that often. She fell on her knees beside the boy, and caught his head to her breast. Then with a wild look she asked who did it. They had just taken Fingall out into the bar-room. They did not tell her his name, for they knew that she loved him.