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Foes eBook

Mary Johnston
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 265 pages of information about Foes.
treeless plain or plateau.  The narrow, little-traveled road went on upon the edge of this, but a bridle-path led into and across the bareness.  Alexander followed it.  Before him, across the waste, sprang cliffs with forest at their feet.  But the waste was wide, and in the sun they showed like nothing more than a burnished, distant wall.  His path would turn before he reached them.  The plain’s name might have been Solitariness.  It lay naked of anything more than small scattered stones and bushes.  There upgrew before him the tree to which he was bound.  A solitary, twisted oak it shot out of the plain, its protruding roots holding stones in their grasp.  Around was shelterless and bare, but the heightening wall of cliff seemed to be watching.  Alexander rode nearer, dismounted, left Gil with the two horses, and, the bag of gold in his hand, walked to the tree.  Here was the stone shaped like a closed hand.  He put the ransom between the stone fingers and the stone palm.  There was no word with it.  Senor Nobody had no name.  He turned and strode back to the horses, mounted, and with Gil rode from the naked, sunny plain.

CHAPTER XXVI

The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle lay a year in the future.  Yet in Paris, under certain conditions and auspices, Scot or Englishman might dwell in security enough.  The Jacobite remnant, foe to the British government, found France its best harbor.  A quietly moving Scots laird, not Jacobite, yet might be lumped by the generality with those forfeited Scots gentlemen who, having lost all in a cause urged and supported by France, now, without scruple, took from King Louis a pension that put food in their mouths, coats on their backs, roofs over their heads.  Alexander Jardine, knowing the city, finding quiet lodgings in a quiet street, established himself in Paris.  It was winter now, cold, bright weather.

In old days he had possessed not a few acquaintances in this city.  A circle of thinkers, writers, painters, had powerfully attracted him.  Circumstances brought him now again into relation with one or two of this group.  He did not seek them as formerly he had done.  But neither could he be said to avoid companionship when it came his way.  It was not his wish to become singular or solitary.  But he was much alone, and while he waited for Ian he wandered in the rich Paris of old, packed life.  Street and Seine-side and market knew him; he stood in churches, and before old altarpieces smoked by candles.  Booksellers remarked him.  Where he might he heard music; sometimes he would go to the play.  He carried books to his lodging.  He sat late at night over volumes new and old.  The lamp burned dim, the fire sank; he put aside reading and knowledge gained through reading, and sat, sunk deep into a dim desert within himself; at last got to bed and fell to sleep and to dreams that fatigued, that took him nowhere.  When the next day was here he wandered again through the streets.

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