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James Oliver Curwood
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 203 pages of information about Back to Gods Country and Other Stories.

Is there need to tell you that Andre discovered them?  Yes, he found them—­and with that wonderful hair of hers so closely about them that he was still bound in the tresses when the discovery came.

Andre had come in exhausted, and unexpectedly.  There was a terrible fight, and in spite of his exhaustion he would have killed Joseph Brecht if at the last moment the latter had not drawn his revolver.  After all is said and done, gentlemen, can a woman love but once?  Joseph Brecht fired.  In that infinitesimal moment between the leveling of the gun and the firing of the shot Marie Beauvais found answer to that question.  Who was it she loved?  She sprang to her husband’s breast, sheltering him with the body that had been disloyal to its soul, and she died there—­with a bullet through her heart.

Joseph Brecht told us how, in the horror of his work—­and possessed now by a terrible fear—­he ran from the cabin and fled for his life.  And Andre Beauvais must have remained with his dead.  For it was many hours later before he took up the trail of the man whom he made solemn oath to his God to kill.  Like a hunted hare, Joseph Brecht eluded him, and it was weeks before the fox-trapper came upon him.  Andre Beauvais scorned to kill him from ambush.  He wanted to choke his life out slowly, with his two hands, and he attacked him openly and fairly.

And in that cabin—­gasping for breath, dying as he thought, Joseph Brecht said to us:  “It was one or the other.  He had the best of me.  I drew my revolver again—­and killed him, killed Andre Beauvais, as I had killed his wife, Marie!”

Here in the South Joseph Brecht might not have been a bad man, gentlemen.  In every man’s heart there is a devil, but we do not know the man as bad until the devil is roused.  And passion, the mad passion for a woman, had roused him.  Now that it had made twice a murderer of him the devil slunk back into his hiding, and the man who had once been the clean-living, red-blooded Joseph Brecht was only a husk without a heart, slinking from place to place in the evasion of justice.  For you men of the Royal Mounted Police were on his trail.  You would have caught him, but you did not think of seeking for him in the Sulphur Hell.  For two years he had lived there, and when he finished his story he was sitting on the edge of the cot, quite sane, gentlemen.

And for the first time M’sieu, my comrade, spoke.

“Let us bring up the dunnage from the canoe, mon pere.”

He led the way out of the cabin, and I followed.  We were fifty steps away when he stopped suddenly.

“Ah,” he said, “I have forgotten something.  I will overtake you.”

He turned back to the cabin, and I went on to the canoe.

He did not join me.  When I returned with my burden, M’sieu appeared at the door.  He amazed me, startled me, I will say, gentlemen.  I could not imagine such a change as I saw in him—­that man of horrible silence, of grim, dark mystery.  He was smiling; his white teeth shone; his voice was the voice of another man.  He seemed to me ten years younger as he stood there, and as I dropped my load and went in he was laughing, and his hand was laid pleasantly on my shoulder.

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