“You do not know her!” said he. “She will not turn back.”
I had full reason to agree with him.
Great women belong to history
and to self-sacrifice.
For sufficient reasons of my own, which have been explained, I did not care to mingle more than was necessary with the party of the Hudson Bay folk who made their quarters with the missionary families. I kept close to my own camp when not busy with my inquiries in the neighborhood, where I now began to see what could be done in the preparation of a proper outfit for the baroness. Herself I did not see for the next two days; but one evening I met her on the narrow log gallery of one of the mission houses. Without much speech we sat and looked over the pleasant prospect of the wide flats, the fringe of willow trees, the loom of the mountains off toward the east.
“Continually you surprise me, Madam,” I began, at last. “Can we not persuade you to abandon this foolish plan of your going east?”
“I see no reason for abandoning it,” said she. “There are some thousands of your people, men, women and children, who have crossed that trail. Why should not I?”
“But they come in large parties; they come well prepared. Each helps his neighbor.”
“The distance is the same, and the method is the same.”
I ceased to argue, seeing that she would not be persuaded. “At least, Madam,” said I, “I have done what little I could in securing you a party. You are to have eight mules, two carts, six horses, and two men, beside old Joe Meek, the best guide now in Oregon. He would not go to save his life. He goes to save yours.”
“You are always efficient,” said she. “But why is it that we always have some unpleasant argument? Come, let us have tea!”
“Many teas together, Madam, if you would listen to me. Many a pot brewed deep and black by scores of camp-fires.”
“Fie! Monsieur proposes a scandal.”
“No, Monsieur proposes only a journey to Washington—with you, or close after you.”
“Of course I can not prevent your following,” she said.
“Leave it so. But as to pledges—at least I want to keep my little slipper. Is Madam’s wardrobe with her? Could she humor a peevish friend so much as that? Come, now, I will make fair exchange. I will trade you again my blanket clasp for that one little shoe!”
I felt in the pocket of my coat, and held out in my hand the remnants of the same little Indian ornament which had figured between us the first night we had met. She grasped at it eagerly, turning it over in her hand.
“But see,” she said, “one of the clasps is gone.”
“Yes, I parted with it. But come, do I have my little slipper?”
“Wait!” said she, and left me for a moment. Presently she returned, laughing, with the little white satin foot covering in her hand.