* * * * * *
I will not take this thing that fate has whipped into my face with a scornful jeer. Nanca is dead! Her life went out with the life she gave my daughter. Oh, Ann, Ann, why are you not with me now when I need you most. After all what is this mortal tegument but a shell which a man sloughs off in eternal evolution. Outside, the moon is very bright upon the lake. The “Mulberry Moon,” Nanca called it, and loved its light. It shines in at her window now, but she can not see it. Ann, because the moon is so bright to-night—because the name of the moon goddess bears within it your name—let the name of my poor, motherless little girl be Diane. Nanca called her “Little Red-winged Blackbird!” I believe at the end she was thinking of the little girl we left in the Indian village. They are very much alike. Poor Nanca!
The writing broke off with a wild scrawl. With agonized eyes Diane pushed the letters away and stared at the quiet firelit room, building again within its log walls the tragedy of her father’s death. He had lain there by the fire, his life snuffed out like a candle by his own hand. The broken-hearted old man down South had carried the child of his son away, fiercely denied the Indian blood, and pledged Aunt Agatha to the keeping of the secret. And this was the net that had driven Carl to the verge of insanity and sent Themar to his death in a Florida swamp!
There was no princess—no child of the exiled Theodomir. The paper stuffed in the candle-stick in a reckless moment had been but the ingenious figment of a man’s brain for the entertainment of an hour. The old chief and Sho-caw with their broken tale to Philip had but tangled the net the more. As the blood of the Indian mother had driven Diane forth to the forest, so had the blood of the artist father driven Keela forth from the Indian village, a wanderer apart from her people, and Fate had relentlessly knotted the threads of their lives in a Southern pine wood.
BY MIC-CO’S POOL
To the dark, old-fashioned house in St. Augustine in which Baron Tregar was a “paying guest” came one twilight, a man for whom compassionately he had waited. His visitor was sadly white and tired, with heavy lines about his sullen mouth and the dust of the highway upon his motoring rig. There was no fire in his eyes; rather a stupid apathy which in a man with less strength about the mouth and chin might easily have become commonness.
“Tregar,” he said with an effort, “you told me to come when I needed you. I am here. I can not see my way—”
Tregar held out his hand in silence. Only he knew the sacrifice of insolent pride that had brought his guest so low.
Ronador took his hand and reddened.
“My father rightly counts upon your loyalty,” he choked and walked away to the window.