Bull was prompt in his denial.
“Saner than you or me,” he said. “You know I’d want to smile if I didn’t know the man. But I know him, and—but there we all owe him a deal, we forest men. And maybe I owe him more than anyone.”
Mr. Cantor’s question came sharply. Even Bull, tired as he was, noted the keenly incisive tone of it. He turned, and his steady eyes regarded the dark face of the lumberman speculatively. Then he smiled, and picked up his glass and drained the remains of his whisky and soda.
“Why, he’s more power for peace with the lumber-jacks of Quebec than if he was their trade leader,” he said, setting his empty glass down on the table. “We employers owe him there’s never any sort of trouble with the boys.”
“I see.” Mr. Cantor gazed out across the nearly empty room, and a shadowy smile haunted his eyes. “And if there was trouble? Could you locate him in time?”
“We shouldn’t need to. He’d be there.”
The lumberman stirred, and persisted with curious interest.
“But he must have a place where you folks can get him? This coming and going. It’s fine—but—”
Bull stood up and stretched himself.
“Oh, he’s got a home, all right. It’s the forests.”
Mr. Cantor threw up his hands and laughed.
“Who is he, anyway? A sort of Wandering Jew? A ghost? A spook? That sort of thing beats me. He’s got to be one of the two things. He’s either a crank—you say he ain’t—or he’s dodging daylight.”
But Bull had had enough. Deep in his heart was a feeling that no man had any right to pry into the life of Father Adam. Father Adam had changed the whole course of his life. It was Father Adam who had made possible everything he was to-day—even his association with Nancy McDonald. He shook his head unsmilingly.
“Father Adam’s one good man,” he said. “And I wouldn’t recommend anyone to hand out anything to the contrary within hearing of the men of the Quebec forests. Good-night.”
He strode away. And Mr. Cantor followed him, slight and bediamonded in his evening clothes. And somehow the dark eyes gazing on the broad back of the man from Labrador had none of the twinkling shrewdness the other had originally observed in them. They were quite cold and very hard. And there was that in them which suggested the annoyance inspired by a long evening of effort that had ended in complete failure.
The man’s dark, foreign-looking features had lost every semblance of their recent good-natured enthusiasm.
THE LONELY FIGURE AGAIN
The laden sled stood ready for the moment of starting on the day’s long run. Five train dogs, lean, powerful huskies, crouched down upon the snow. They gave no sign beyond the alertness of their pose and the watchfulness of their furtive eyes. Their haunches were tucked under them. And their long, wolfish muzzles, so indicative of their parentage, were pressed down between great, outstretched forepaws.