“Hasn’t it struck you why those fellows should be heading into waste prairie on a night like this? Guess what they’ve got in the wagon’s a good enough reason. If the snow’s not too bad, they’ll pull out for the Indian reservation soon as it’s light to-morrow.”
“You think they have liquor with them?” asked George.
Flett nodded and walked toward the door, and George felt the sudden fall of temperature and heard the scream of the wind. In a minute or two, however, the constable reappeared with Edgar.
“I’d get them sure; they’re in the shack right now,” Flett declared.
“You would never find it,” Edgar remonstrated. “We had hard enough work to strike the homestead, and we were on a beaten trail, which will have drifted up since then. You’ll have to drop the idea—it’s quite impossible.”
“It’s blamed hard luck,” grumbled Flett. “I may trail the fellows, but I certainly won’t get them with the liquor right in the wagon, as it will be now, and without something of that kind it’s mighty hard to secure a conviction. I’ve no use for the average jury; what we want is power to drop on to a man without any fuss or fooling and fix him so he won’t make more trouble.”
“It’s fortunate you’ll never get it,” Edgar remarked. “I’ve a notion it would be a dangerous thing to trust even a Northwest policeman with. You’re not all quite perfect yet.”
Then George, recovering from his lethargy, remembered the letters and eagerly opened the one from Sylvia. It consisted of a few sentences in which she carelessly told him that if he came over he would not see her, as she was going to Egypt with Herbert and Muriel. The hint of regret that her journey could not be put off looked merely conventional, but she said he might make his visit in the early summer, as she would have returned by then.
George’s face hardened as he read it, for the disappointment was severe. He thought that Sylvia might have remembered that he could not leave the farm after spring had begun. The man felt wounded and, for once, inclined to bitterness. His optimistic faith, which idealized its object, was bound to bring him suffering when dispelled by disillusion; offering sincere homage to all that seemed most worthy, he had not learned tolerance. Though his appreciation was quick and generous, he must believe in what he admired, and it was, perhaps, a misfortune that he was unable to recognize shortcomings with cynical good-humor. He could distinguish white from black—the one stood for spotless purity, the other was very dark indeed—but his somewhat restricted vision took no account of the more common intermediate shades.