A tremor ran through her, and she remembered Alan. She looked up at him, and he was puzzled. A weirdly beautiful mystery lay in her eyes.
“I must go ashore here,” she said. “I didn’t know I would find it so soon. Please—”
With her hand touching his arm she turned. He was looking at her and saw the strange light fade swiftly out of her eyes. Following her glance he saw Rossland standing half a dozen paces behind them.
In another moment Mary Standish was facing the sea, and again her hand was resting confidently in the crook of Alan’s arm. “Did you ever feel like killing a man, Mr. Holt?” she asked with an icy little laugh.
“Yes,” he answered rather unexpectedly. “And some day, if the right opportunity comes, I am going to kill a certain man—the man who murdered my father.”
She gave a little gasp of horror. “Your father—was—murdered—”
“Indirectly—yes. It wasn’t done with knife or gun, Miss Standish. Money was the weapon. Somebody’s money. And John Graham was the man who struck the blow. Some day, if there is justice, I shall kill him. And right now, if you will allow me to demand an explanation of this man Rossland—”
“No.” Her hand tightened on his arm. Then, slowly, she drew it away. “I don’t want you to ask an explanation of him,” she said. “If he should make it, you would hate me. Tell me about Skagway, Mr. Holt. That will be pleasanter.”
Not until early twilight came with the deep shadows of the western mountains, and the Nome was churning slowly back through the narrow water-trails to the open Pacific, did the significance of that afternoon fully impress itself upon Alan. For hours he had surrendered himself to an impulse which he could not understand, and which in ordinary moments he would not have excused. He had taken Mary Standish ashore. For two hours she had walked at his side, asking him questions and listening to him as no other had ever questioned him or listened to him before. He had shown her Skagway. Between the mountains he pictured the wind-racked canon where Skagway grew from one tent to hundreds in a day, from hundreds to thousands in a week; he visioned for her the old days of romance, adventure, and death; he told her of Soapy Smith and his gang of outlaws, and side by side they stood over Soapy’s sunken grave as the first somber shadows of the mountains grew upon them.
But among it all, and through it all, she had asked him about himself. And he had responded. Until now he did not realize how much he had confided in her. It seemed to him that the very soul of this slim and beautiful girl who had walked at his side had urged him on to the indiscretion of personal confidence. He had seemed to feel her heart beating with his own as he described his beloved land under the Endicott Mountains, with its vast tundras, his