“What?” gasped Crossman.
“It was to do,” the giant twisted his cap slowly, “but it was harder than I think. It was not for jealousy, I beg you to know. That she would go if she want—to who she want, she can. I have no right to stop her. But she would have had the Cure knifed to death. She made the wish, and she put her wish in the heart of a man. If it had not been this time—then surely some other time. She always find a hand to do her will—even this of mine—once. I heard her tell to Jakapa. Therefore, Jakapa he has gone back to watch with her body. I told him where. Me I go. There are for me no more dawns. You love her, too, Monsieur, therefore, I come to tell you the end. Bon soir, Monsieur.”
He was gone. Again there was silence. Crossman sat rigid. What had happened? His mind refused to understand. Then he visioned her, lying on the white snow, scarlet under her breast, redder than her mackinaw, redder than her woollen mittens, redder than the cardinal-flower of her mouth—cardinal no more! “No, no!” he shrieked, springing to his feet. His words echoed in the empty room. “No—no!—He couldn’t kill her!” He clung to the table. “No—no! No!” he screamed. Then he saw her eyes; she was looking in through the window—yes, they were her eyes—changing and glowing, eyes of mystery, of magic, eyes that made the silence, eyes that called and shifted and glowed. He laughed. Fools, fools! to think her dead! He staggered to the door and threw it wide. Hatless, coatless, he plunged headlong into the dark—the Dark? No! for she was there—on high, wide-flung, the banners of the Aurora Borealis blazed and swung, banners that rippled and ran, banners of rainbows, the souls of amethysts and emeralds, they fluttered in the heavens, they swayed across the world, streamed like amber wine poured from an unseen chalice, dropped fold on fold, like the fluttering raiment of the gods.
In the north a great sapphire curtain trembled as if about to part and reveal the unknown Beyond; it grew brighter, dazzling, radiant.
“Aurore!” he called. “Aurore!” The grip of ice clutched his heart. Cold seized on him with unseen numbing hands. He was struggling, struggling with his body of lead—for one step—just a step nearer the great curtain, that now glowed warm—red—red as the ghost of her cardinal-flower lips—pillars of light, as of the halls of heaven. “Aurore!—Aurore!”
MR. DOWNEY SITS DOWN
By L.H. ROBBINS
Jacob Downey waited in line at the meat shop. A footsore little man was he. All day long, six days a week for twenty-two years, he had stood on his feet, trotted on them, climbed on them, in the hardware department of Wilbram, Prescot & Co., and still they would not toughen; still they would hurt; still to sustain his spirit after three o’clock he had to invoke a vision of slippers, a warm radiator, the Evening Bee, and the sympathy of Mrs. Downey and the youngsters. To the picture this evening he had added pork chops.