Sighing, with a strange feeling of sudden loneliness and a vast, empty yearning in his heart, Gabriel continued on his way, toward what? He knew not.
The detective on the other side of the park, no longer sat there. Somehow, somewhere, he had disappeared.
IN THE REFUGE.
Far on the western slopes of Clingman Dome in the great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, a broad, low-built bungalow stood facing the setting sun. Vast stretches of pine forest shut it off from civilization and the prying activities of Plutocracy. The nearest settlement was Ravens, twenty miles away to eastward, across inaccessible ridges and ravines. Running far to southward, the railway left this wilderness untouched. High overhead, an eagle soared among the “thunder-heads” that presaged a storm up Sevier Pass. And, red through the haze to westward, the great huge sunball slid down the heavens toward the tumbled, jagged mass of peaks that rimmed the far horizon.
Within the bungalow, a murmur of voices sounded; and from the huge stone chimney a curl of smoke, arising, told of the evening meal, within, now being made ready. On the wide piazza sat a man, writing at a table of plain boards roughly pegged together. Still a trifle pale, yet with a look of health and vigor, he sat there hard at work, writing as fast as pen could travel. Hardly a word he changed. Sheet by sheet he wrote, and pushed them aside and still worked on. Some of the pages slid to the porch-floor, but he gave no heed. His brow was wrinkled with the intensity of his thought; and over his face, where now a disguising beard was beginning to be visible, the light of the sinking sun cast as it were a kind of glowing radiance.
At last the man looked up, and smiled, and eyed the golden mountain-tops far off across the valley.
“Wonderful aerie in the hills!” he murmured. “Wonderful retreat and hiding-place—wonderful care and forethought to have made this possible for me! How shall I ever repay all this? How, save by giving my last drop of blood, if need be, for the final victory?”
He pondered a moment, still half-thinking of the poem he had just finished, half-reflecting on the strange events of the past week—the secret ways, by swift auto, by boat, by monoplane which had brought him hither to this still undiscovered refuge. How had it all been arranged, he wondered; and who had made it possible? He could not tell, as yet. No information was forthcoming. But in his heart he understood, and his lips, murmuring the name of Catherine, blessed that name and tenderly revered it.
At last Gabriel bent, picked up the pages that had fallen, and arranged them all in order.
“Tomorrow this shall go out to the world,” said he, “and to our press—such of it as still remains. It may inspire some fainting heart and thrill some lagging mind. Now, that the final struggle is at hand, more than guns we need inspiration. More than force, to meet the force that has ravished our every right and crushed Constitution and Law, alike, we need spiritual insight and integrity. Only through these, and by these, come what may, can a true, lasting victory be attained!”