Leaving the slashers to their own devices, he doubled back upon the trail for a short distance, plunged off into the deep snow, encircled the camp, and at length came upon the trail farther ahead. He travelled slower now, as there was no special hurry. He believed that the slashers would remain in the valley for some time, and perhaps wait for dawn before continuing their march.
After awhile he came to the valley where stood the cabin from which he had fled several years before. He knew every foot of the place, for here he had often come with his mother. This was her favorite walk, and he recalled how fond she was of watching him as he played among the trees and by the little brook. He understood now something of what it must have meant to such a woman to live for years in the wilderness, cut off from all social life of which she had been so fond, and meeting no one of her own sex except the few Indian women who occasionally visited the house.
A strong feeling of resentment rose up in Dane’s heart against his father who had submitted so noble a woman to such a living death. It had not been his intention to go near the house from which he had been driven. But now a great longing came upon him to descend the valley and view the building at close quarters. Was his father sitting alone there? he wondered, and did he ever think with any degree of fondness of his outcast son?
Drawn by an overmastering impulse he moved rapidly down the valley. Before reaching the clearing where the cabin stood, he turned aside, ascended the right bank, and stopped at length beneath a great pine. Here was a wooden cross, and as Dane stood and looked upon it his eyes grew misty with tears. He remembered, as if it were but yesterday, the morning he and his father had borne hither the frail body of the one who had been everything to him. She had requested that this should be her last resting-place where the storms of winter could not reach the spot, and where the wind would make music in the trees overhead. The day was very bright when they laid her there, and the birds were singing and twittering about them. But for him there was no sunshine, for his heart was almost breaking with grief. He knew that