“I hope so.”
The Father went to the writing-table, where he tied up and sealed the packet.
“Anybody that’s going to Minook will have to hustle.” The slang of everyday energy sounded strangely from dying lips—almost a whisper, and yet like a far-off bugle calling a captive to battle.
The Boy leaned down to catch the words, yet fainter:
“Good claims going like hot cakes.”
“How much,” the Boy asked, breathless, “did you get out of yours?”
“Waiting till summer. Nex’ summer—” The eyelids fell.
“So it isn’t a fake after all.” The Boy stood up. “The camp’s all right!”
“You’ll see. It will out-boom the Klondyke.”
“Ha! How long have you been making the trip?”
The wild flame of enterprise sunk in the heart of the hearer.
“No cash for steamers; we had a canoe. She went to pieces up by—” The weak voice fell down into that deep gulf that yawns waiting for man’s last word.
“But there is gold at Minook, you’re sure? You’ve seen it?”
The Father Superior locked away the packet and stood up. But the Boy was bending down fascinated, listening at the white lips. “There is gold there?” he repeated.
Out of the gulf came faintly back like an echo:
“Plenty o’ gold there—plenty o’ gold.”
“Jee-rusalem!” He stood up and found himself opposite the contemplative face of the priest.
“We have neglected you, my son. Come upstairs to my room.”
They went out, the old head bent, and full of thought; the young head high, and full of dreams. Oh, to reach this Minook, where there was “plenty of gold, plenty of gold,” before the spring floods brought thousands. What did any risk matter? Think of the Pymeuts doing their sixty miles over the ice just to apologise to Father Brachet for being Pymeuts. This other, this white man’s penance might, would involve a greater mortification of the flesh. What then? The reward was proportionate—“plenty of gold.” The faint whisper filled the air.
A little more hardship, and the long process of fortune-building is shortened to a few months. No more office grind. No more anxiety for those one loves.
Gold, plenty of gold, while one is young and can spend it gaily—gold to buy back the Orange Grove, to buy freedom and power, to buy wings, and to buy happiness!
On the stairs they passed Brother Paul and the native.
“Supper in five minutes, Father.”
The Superior nodded.
“There is a great deal to do,” the native went on hurriedly to Paul. “We’ve got to bury Catherine to-morrow—”
“And this man from Minook,” agreed Paul, pausing with his hand on the door.
“My little son, who look’d
from thoughtful eyes,
And moved and spoke in quiet grown-up wise,
Having my law the seventh time disobey’d,
I struck him, and dismiss’d
With hard words and unkiss’d....”