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The Plunderer
by [?]

It was no use: men might come and go before her, but Kitty Cline had eyes for only one man. Pierre made no show of liking her, and thought, at first, that hers was a passing fancy. He soon saw differently. There was that look in her eyes which burns conviction as deep as the furnace from which it comes: the hot, shy, hungering look of desire; most childlike, painfully infinite. He would rather have faced the cold mouth of a pistol; for he felt how it would end. He might be beyond wish to play the lover, but he knew that every man can endure being loved. He also knew that some are possessed–a dream, a spell, what you will–for their life long. Kitty Cline was one of these.

He thought he must go away, but he did not. From the hour he decided to stay misfortune began. Willie Haslam, the clerk at the Company’s Post, had learned a trick or two at cards in the east, and imagined that he could, as he said himself, “roast the cock o’ the roost”–meaning Pierre. He did so for one or two evenings, and then Pierre had a sudden increase of luck (or design), and the lad, seeing no chance of redeeming the I O U, representing two years’ salary, went down to the house where Kitty Cline lived, and shot himself on the door-step.

He had had the misfortune to prefer Kitty to the other girls at Guidon Hill–though Nellie Sanger would have been as much to him, if Kitty had been easier to win. The two things together told hard against Pierre. Before, he might have gone; in the face of difficulty he certainly would not go. Willie Haslam’s funeral was a public function: he was young, innocent-looking, handsome, and the people did not know what Pierre would not tell now–that he had cheated grossly at cards. Pierre was sure, before Liddall, the surveyor, told him, that a movement was apace to give him trouble–possibly fatal.

“You had better go,” said Liddall. “There’s no use tempting Providence.”

“They are tempting the devil,” was the cool reply; “and that is not all joy, as you shall see.”

He stayed. For a time there was no demonstration on either side. He came and went through the streets, and was found at his usual haunts, to observers as cool and nonchalant as ever. He was a changed man, however. He never got away from the look in Kitty Cline’s eyes. He felt the thing wearing on him, and he hesitated to speculate on the result; but he knew vaguely that it would end in disaster. There is a kind of corrosion which eats the granite out of the blood, and leaves fever.

“What is the worst thing that can happen a man, eh?” he said to Liddall one day, after having spent a few minutes with Kitty Cline.

Liddall was an honest man. He knew the world tolerably well. In writing once to his partner in Montreal he had spoken of Pierre as “an admirable, interesting scoundrel.” Once when Pierre called him “mon ami,” and asked him to come and spend an evening in his cottage, he said:

“Yes, I will go. But–pardon me–not as your friend. Let us be plain with each other. I never met a man of your stamp before–“

“A professional gambler–yes? Bien?”

“You interest me; I like you; you have great cleverness–“

“A priest once told me I had a great brain-there is a difference. Well?”

“You are like no man I ever met before. Yours is a life like none I ever knew. I would rather talk with you than with any other man in the country, and yet–“

“And yet you would not take me to your home? That is all right. I expect nothing. I accept the terms. I know what I am and what you are. I like men who are square. You would go out of your way to do me a good turn.”