“We’ll call her Dinah. Dinah,” his voice shook for a moment, “Dinah cared for me, and I—I cared for her. But the girl with money had a blaring, knock-me-down sort of beauty that appeals to men. Lots of fellows were after her. Dinah had only me. Dinah was mine, if I chose to claim her; the other had to be won. The competition, plus the coin, ensnared me. I became engaged to the rich girl. I don’t think I knew then what I was doing to—Dinah. Within a fortnight I was struck down with scarlet fever. The rich girl—she was game as a pebble—nursed me. I became delirious. My nurse listened to my ravings for two days and nights; then she went away. I came to my senses to find Dinah at my bedside. The other wrote later, releasing me from the engagement and bidding me marry the girl whose name had been on my lips a thousand times. I laughed, and showed the letter to Dinah. A friend promised me work. Dinah and I were going to live in a cottage, and be happy for ever and ever....
“And then she—sickened!”
In the dreary silence that followed, neither Ajax nor I were able to speak.
“And—and she died.”
* * * * *
The poor fellow left us next day, and we never saw him again. It is to be remembered that he never encouraged Hetty Upham, whose infatuation was doubtless fanned by his indifference. She offered him bread, nay, cakes and ale, but he took instead a stone, because cakes and ale had lost their savour. We heard, afterwards, that he died on the Skagway Pass in an attempt to reach the Klondyke too early in the spring. He was seeking the gold of the Yukon placers; perhaps he found, beyond the Great White Silence, his Dinah.
A POISONED SPRING
In our bunk-house three of the boys were about to turn into bed. They had worked hard all day, driving cattle into the home-pasture for the spring rodeo, and on the morrow they would have to work harder still, cutting out the steers and branding the calves.
“Who is this Perfessor?” asked Dan.
Jimmie, who was rubbing tallow on to his lariat, answered—
“There’s a piece about him in the Tribune.”
Pete picked up the county paper, which happened to be lying on the floor. He read aloud, in a sing-song drawl—
“’We are greatly honoured by the presence amongst us of Professor Adam Chawner, the eminent surgeon and pathologist——’”
“How’s that?” demanded Dan.
“Surgeon an’ path—ologist.”
Pete expectorated a contempt for ignorance which he was too polite to put into words. Then he said suavely—
“A pathologist is a kind o’ pathfinder. Comes from the Greek, I reckon: path—logus—skilled in finding noo paths to knowledge. See!”
“If you ain’t a walkin’ dictionary!”