Once, in a lifting of the shadows of the prairie, Elizabeth saw a group of antelope standing only a few hundred yards from the train, tranquilly indifferent, their branching horns clear in a pallid ray of light; and once a prairie-wolf, solitary and motionless; and once, as the train moved off after a stoppage, an old badger leisurely shambling off the line itself. And once, too, amid a driving storm-shower, and what seemed to her unbroken formless solitudes, suddenly, a tent by the railway side, and the blaze of a fire; and as the train slowly passed, three men—lads rather—emerging to laugh and beckon to it. The tent, the fire, the gay challenge of the young faces and the English voices, ringed by darkness and wild weather, brought the tears back to Elizabeth’s eyes, she scarcely knew why.
“Settlers, in their first year,” said Anderson, smiling, as he waved back again.
But, to Elizabeth, it seemed a parable of the new Canada.
An hour later, amid a lightening of the clouds over the West, that spread a watery gold over the prairie, Anderson sprang to his feet.
And there, a hundred miles away, peering over the edge of the land, ran from north to south a vast chain of snow peaks, and Elizabeth saw at last that even the prairies have an end.
The car was shunted at Calgary, in order that its occupants might enjoy a peaceful night. When she found herself alone in her tiny room, Elizabeth stood for a while before her reflection in the glass. Her eyes were frowning and distressed; her cheeks glowed. Arthur Delaine, her old friend, had bade her a cold good night, and she knew well enough that—from him—she deserved it. “Yet I gave him the whole morning,” she pleaded with herself. “I did my best. But oh, why, why did I ever let him come!”
And even in the comparative quiet of the car at rest, she could not sleep; so quickened were all her pulses, and so vivid the memories of the day.
Arthur Delaine was strolling and smoking on the broad wooden balcony, which in the rear of the hotel at Banff overlooks a wide scene of alp and water. The splendid Bow River comes swirling past the hotel, on its rush from the high mountains to the plains of Saskatchewan. Craggy mountains drop almost to the river’s edge on one side; on the other, pine woods mask the railway and the hills; while in the distance shine the snow-peaks of the Rockies. It is the gateway of the mountains, fair and widely spaced, as becomes their dignity.
Delaine, however, was not observing the scenery. He was entirely absorbed by reflection on his own affairs. The party had now been stationary for three or four days at Banff, enjoying the comforts of hotel life. The travelling companion on whom Delaine had not calculated in joining Lady Merton and her brother—Mr. George Anderson—had taken his leave, temporarily, at Calgary. In