“And after that, Alan; after that—”
She did not know that she had spoken his name, and he, hearing it, scarcely understood.
“John Graham kept his promise,” he answered grimly. “The influence and money behind him haunted us wherever we went. My father had been successful, but one after another the properties in which he was interested were made worthless. A successful mine in which he was most heavily interested was allowed to become abandoned. A hotel which he partly owned in Dawson was bankrupted. One after another things happened, and after each happening my father would receive a polite note of regret from Graham, written as if the word actually came from a friend. But my father cared little for money losses now. His heart was drying up and his life ebbing away for the little cabin and the grave that were gone from the foot of the mountain. It went on this way for three years, and then, one morning, my father was found on the beach at Nome, dead.”
Alan heard only the gasping breath in which the word came from Mary Standish, for he was facing the window, looking steadily away from her.
“Yes—murdered. I know it was the work of John Graham. He didn’t do it personally, but it was his money that accomplished the end. Of course nothing ever came of it. I won’t tell you how his influence and power have dogged me; how they destroyed the first herd of reindeer I had, and how they filled the newspapers with laughter and lies about me when I was down in the States last winter in an effort to make your people see a little something of the truth about Alaska. I am waiting. I know the day is coming when I shall have John Graham as my father had him under our mountain twenty years ago. He must be fifty now. But that won’t save him when the time comes. No one will loosen my hands as I loosened my father’s. And all Alaska will rejoice, for his power and his money have become twin monsters that are destroying Alaska just as he destroyed the life of my father. Unless he dies, and his money-power ends, he will make of this great land nothing more than a shell out of which he and his kind have taken all the meat. And the hour of deadliest danger is now upon us.”
He looked at Mary Standish, and it was as if death had come to her where she sat. She seemed not to breathe, and her face was so white it frightened him. And then, slowly, she turned her eyes upon him, and never had he seen such living pools of torture and of horror. He was amazed at the quietness of her voice when she began to speak, and startled by the almost deadly coldness of it.
“I think you can understand—now—why I leaped into the sea, why I wanted the world to think I was dead, and why I have feared to tell you the truth,” she said. “I am John Graham’s wife.”