And while my helpless body stumbled along its route my mind was back in New York. This was my apartment on Tenth Street, and Jacqueline sat behind the curtains. I had dreamed of a long journey through a snow-bound wilderness, but I had awakened and we were to start for Jamaica by that day’s boat. How dear she was! She raised her eyes, full of trusting love, to mine, and I knew that there would never be any parting until death.
We sat beneath the palms, beside a sea that plunged against our little island, and the air was fragrant with the scent of orange-blossoms, carried upon the wind from the distant mainland. We were so happy there—there was no need to think or to remember. I slept against her shoulder.
Somebody was shaking me.
“Get up!” he bellowed in my ear. “Get up! Do you want to die in the snow?”
I closed my eyes and sank back into a lethargy of sleep.
I had an indistinct impression of being carried for what seemed an eternity upon the shoulders of my rescuer, and of clinging there through the delirium that supervened.
Sometimes I thought I was on a camel’s back, pursuing Jacqueline’s abductors through the hot sands of an Egyptian desert; sometimes I was on shipboard, sinking in a tropical sea, beneath which amid the marl and ooze of delta depositions, hideous, antediluvian creatures, with faces like that of Leroux, writhed and stretched up their tentacles to drag me down.
Then I would be conscious of the cold and bitter wind again. But at last there came a grateful sense of warmth and ease, followed by a period of blank unconsciousness.
When at last I opened my eyes it was late afternoon. Though they pained me, I could now see with tolerable distinctness.
I was lying upon a bed of dried balsam-leaves inside a little hut, and through the half-open door I could see the sun just dipping behind the mountains. Besides the bed the hut contained a roughly hewn table and chair and a bookcase with a few books in it. Upon a wall hung a big crucifix of wood, and under it an old man was standing.
He heard me stir and came toward me. I recognized the massive shoulders and commanding countenance of Pere Antoine, and remembrance came back to me.
“Where am I?” I asked.
“In my cabin, monsieur,” answered the priest, standing at my side, an inscrutable calm upon his face.
“You saved me?”
“Three days ago. You were dying in the snow. You had fired off your pistols and had thrown your coat away. I had to carry you back and find it. It is lucky that I found you, monsieur, or assuredly you would soon have been dead. But for your dog——”
“My dog!” I exclaimed.
“Certainly, a dog came to me and brought me a mile out of my route to where you were lying. But, now, come to think of it, it disappeared and has not returned. Perhaps it was sent to me by le bon Dieu.”