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The House With The Broken Shutter
by [?]

“He stands in the porch of the world–
(Why should the door be shut?)
The grey wolf waits at his heel,
(Why is the window barred?)
Wild is the trail from the Kimash Hills,
The blight has fallen on bush and tree,
The choking earth has swallowed the streams,
Hungry and cold is the Red Patrol:
(Why should the door be shut?)
The Scarlet Hunter has come to bide–
(Why is the window barred?)”

Pierre stopped to listen. The voice singing was clear and soft, yet strong–a mezzo-soprano without any culture save that of practice and native taste. It had a singular charm–a sweet, fantastic sincerity. He stood still and fastened his eyes on the house, a few rods away. It stood on a knoll perching above Fort Ste. Anne. Years had passed since Pierre had visited the Fort, and he was now on his way to it again, after many wanderings. The house had stood here in the old days, and he remembered it very well, for against it John Marcey, the Company’s man, was shot by Stroke Laforce, of the Riders of the Plains. Looking now, he saw that the shutter, which had been pulled off to bear the body away, was hanging there just as he had placed it, with seven of its slats broken and a dark stain in one corner. Something more of John Marcey than memory attached to that shutter. His eyes dwelt on it long he recalled the scene: a night with stars and no moon, a huge bonfire to light the Indians, at their dance, and Marcey, Laforce, and many others there, among whom was Lucille, the little daughter of Gyng the Factor. Marcey and Laforce were only boys then, neither yet twenty-three, and they were friendly rivals with the sweet little coquette, who gave her favors with a singular impartiality and justice. Once Marcey had given her a gold spoon. Laforce responded with a tiny, fretted silver basket. Laforce was delighted to see her carrying her basket, till she opened it and showed the spoon inside. There were many mock quarrels, in one of which Marcey sent her a letter by the Company’s courier, covered with great seals, saying, “I return you the hairpin, the egg-shell, and the white wolf’s tooth. Go to your Laforce, or whatever his ridiculous name may be.”

In this way the pretty game ran on, the little goldenhaired, golden-faced, golden-voiced child dancing so gayly in their hearts, but nestling in them too, after her wilful fashion, until the serious thing came–the tragedy.

On the mad night when all ended, she was in the gayest, the most elf-like spirits. All went well until Marcey dug a hole in the ground, put a stone in it, and, burying it, said it was Laforce’s heart. Then Laforce pretended to ventriloquise, and mocked Marcey’s slight stutter. That was the beginning of the trouble, and Lucille, like any lady of the world, troubled at Laforce’s unkindness, tried to smooth things over–tried very gravely. But the playful rivalry of many months changed its composition suddenly as through some delicate yet powerful chemical action, and the savage in both men broke out suddenly. Where motives and emotions are few they are the more vital, their action is the more violent. No one knew quite what the two young men said to each other, but presently, while the Indian dance was on, they drew to the side of the house, and had their duel out in the half-shadows, no one knowing, till the shots rang on the night, and John Marcey, without a cry, sprang into the air and fell face upwards, shot through the heart.

They tried to take the child away, but she would not go; and when they carried Marcey on the shutter she followed close by, resisting her father’s wishes and commands. And just before they made a prisoner of Laforce, she said to him very quietly–so like a woman she was–“I will give you back the basket, and the riding-whip, and the other things, and I will never forgive you–never–no, never!”