Marette had not prepared the room for him, and her possessions were there. It did not strike him as sacrilege to look at them, the many intimate little things that are mysteriously used in the process of a lady’s toilette. It was their number and variety that astounded him. He might have expected them in the boudoir of the Governor General’s daughter at Ottawa, but not here—and much less farther north. What he saw was of exquisite material and workmanship. And then, as if attracted by a magnet, his eyes were drawn to something else. It was a row of shoes neatly and carefully arranged on the floor at one side of the dressing-table.
He stared at them, astounded. Never had he seen such an array of feminine footwear intended for the same pair of feet. And it was not Northern footwear. Every individual little beauty in that amazing row stood on a high heel! Their variety was something to which he had long been a stranger. There were buttoned boots, laced boots, brown boots, black boots, and white boots, with dangerously high and fragile looking heels; there were dainty little white kid slippers, slippers with bows, slippers with cut steel buckles, and slippers with dainty ribbon ties; there were high-heeled oxfords and high-heeled patent leather pumps! He gasped. He reached over, moved by an automatic sort of impulse, and took a satiny little pump in his hand.
The size of it gave him a decidedly pleasant mental shock, and, beginning to feel like one prying into a sleeper’s secrets, he looked inside it. The size was there—number three. And it had come from Favre’s in Montreal! One after another he looked inside half a dozen others. And all of them had come from Favre’s in Montreal. The little shoes, more than all else that he had seen or that had happened, sent a question pounding through his brain. Who was Marette Radisson?
And that question was followed by other questions, until they tumbled over one another in his head. If she was from Montreal, why was she going north? If she belonged in the North, if she was a part of it, why was she taking all of this apparently worthless footwear with her? Why had she come to Athabasca Landing? What was she to Kedsty? Why was she hiding under his roof? Why—
He stopped himself, trying to find some one answer in all that chaos of questions. It was impossible for him to take his eyes from the shoes. A thought seized him. Ludicrously he dropped upon his knees in front of the row and with a face growing hotter each moment examined them all. But he wanted to know. And the discovery he made was that most of the footwear had been worn, some of it so slightly, however, that the impression of the foot was barely visible.