In the lines of her slight figure, in its pose there by the old gun over the old, old river, was the grace of gentle blood, the pride of caste. Of all this region her father was the absolute lord, feared, loved, obeyed by all its human creatures. When he went abroad, he travelled in a state almost mediaeval in its magnificence; when he stopped at home, men came to him from the Albany, the Kenogami, the Missinaibe, the Mattagami, the Abitibi—from all the rivers of the North—to receive his commands. Way was made for him, his lightest word was attended. In his house dwelt ceremony, and of his house she was the princess. Unconsciously she bad taken the gracious habit of command. She had come to value her smile, her word; to value herself. The lady of a realm greater than the countries of Europe, she moved serene, pure, lofty amid dependants.
And as the lady of this realm she did honor to her father’s guests—sitting stately behind the beautiful silver service, below the portrait of the Company’s greatest explorer, Sir George Simpson, dispensing crude fare in gracious manner, listening silently to the conversation, finally withdrawing at the last with a sweeping courtesy to play soft, melancholy, and world-forgotten airs on the old piano, brought over years before by the Lady Head, while the guests made merry with the mellow port and ripe Manila cigars which the Company supplied its servants. Then coffee, still with her natural Old World charm of the grande dame. Such guests were not many, nor came often. There was McTavish of Rupert’s House, a three days’ journey to the northeast; Rand of Fort Albany, a week’s travel to the northwest; Mault of Fort George, ten days beyond either, all grizzled in the Company’s service. With them came their clerks, mostly English and Scotch younger sons, with a vast respect for the Company, and a vaster for their Factors daughter. Once in two or three years appeared the inspectors from Winnipeg, true lords of the North, with their six-fathom canoes, their luxurious furs, their red banners trailing like gonfalons in the water. Then this post of Conjuror’s House feasted and danced, undertook gay excursions, discussed in public or private conclave weighty matters, grave and reverend advices, cautions, and commands. They went. Desolation again crept in.
The girl dreamed. She was trying to remember. Far-off, half-forgotten visions of brave, courtly men, of gracious, beautiful women, peopled the clouds of her imaginings. She heard them again, as voices beneath the roar of rapids, like far-away bells tinkling faintly through a wind, pitying her, exclaiming over her; she saw them dim and changing, as wraiths of a fog, as shadow pictures in a mist beneath the moon, leaning to her with bright, shining eyes full of compassion for the little girl who was to go so far away into an unknown land; she felt them, as the touch of a breeze when the night is still, fondling