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audience for her. When Melanie was closed them again. His livid face touched sure of a sympathetic audience, she was
her pity. “Oh!" she cried out, “what very fond of talking. Pirates were her is it that has happened? Let me have favorite theme ; and, oddly enough, her the privilege of helping you !" belief in pirates was to play a part in the He looked at her again. " I'm afraid adventures of the day. She had heard all you can't do anything," he said in Engabout pirates from her own father and from lish. “A moccasin has bitten me on the Father Henri; these two, having all the arm.” Then he tried to smile, as if he weird legends of the coast at their tongues' realized how tiny and helpless she was. ends, liked to tell them to each other, and “I took its log,” he finished in a vague would sit by the firelight recalling them murmur, his mind drifting away from her. until far into the night. The younger His injured arm lay stretched out from children always grew restless or sleepy its shoulder. It was inflamed to an angry and had to be put to bed, but Melanie purple, and swollen frightfully. He had remained spellbound to the end. The torn the clothing from it to make a ligapine-knots which sprang into flame on the ture, but now the knotted bandage was hearth did not kindle more quickly or more thrown aside. vividly than her thoughts, and the stories Melanie looked at it and nodded her came to the ears of Victor Paul in even head with critical judgment, like an old more stirring form than if he had stayed physician. “I see it,” she said, falling into awake by night to hear them. The world English, and speaking with a soft-slurred of mystery and tradition had become the accent and a caressing voice. “Why world in which Melanie lived; for once, didn t you suck dose poison out of it?" after the story-tellers had risen to go to “ I tried to,” he answered, summoned bed, Antoine had said that undoubtedly back by her voice. “I reckon it would there still were pirates lurking around the have done me up before now if I hadn't.” coast, and Father Henri, in an odd voice, “Oh, truly," Melanie said, “it might had said, “Yes, yes, pirates of many be much more bad. Me, I think it is kinds,” and since then Melanie had been good luck dat I come to place de mud on on the watch to find one in the marsh. it, like papa did on our dog-oh, but
She had just finished a story, and its our dog, he make much more cry dan you, climax hushed her. She lifted her paddle, an' he come out, oh perfect !” She stepped and was letting her boat drift forward of lightly from the pirogue on to the quaking its own impulse, when she heard a dis- marsh, scooped a dripping handful of
mud from the edge of the channel, and Her heart stood still and then gave a spread it like a poultice over his arm. great bound. Her story was completing “ Father Henri, he say dat de cure is itself; her face turned white, but her eyes toujours—h-always—very close to de shone. “ Victor Paul,” she whispered trouble,” she went on, reaching for antremulously,“ without doubt it is a pirate, other handful. “It is very strange. but he is wounded, so you have not the Me, I think if I was a snake an' mad at need to be afraid.”
somebuddy, I would go where dere wasn't Victor Paul was not as afraid as Mela- no mud.” nie. He stared at her curiously, but The pirogue began to sway, and the with his usual composure, as she paddled blankly questioning gaze of Victor Paul toward the sound.
appeared above the side. “You stay "Is it that some one has been hurt ?" where you belong, Veector Paul,” Melanie she asked aloud in her very best French, cried." If you stir yourse'f, you goin' to as quaint and old-fashioned and stately as be drown in de water, or at de leas' bit Lafitte himself may have spoken.
by doze snake." The answer was another groan. Then " What's that?" the man asked, dully. the pirogue turned a tiny curve in the " Your dog?" channel, and she saw a man stretched on “ My little brudder, yas—my little one of the silvery logs which lie stranded brudder in de bottom of de pirogue. He and bleaching through the marsh. He had not de invita-cion to come along, but opened his eyes, and she was about to he know how to keep himse's still. He paddle away in a panic of fright when he keep still, oh, h-always."
The man groaned between his teeth. old stories too?” he asked. " Who tells "I'm afraid this mud of yours isn't much them to you? Who tells you about Lafitte force against a moccasin-bite,” he said; and Dominick and Scott?” "and then the fever dries it out as fast as “Father Henri," she said; “Father you put it on.”
Henri an' my papa; but Father Henri “Truly," answered the little nurse ; “but knows de most. He knows more about now that I have enough of mud on it, I pirates dan anybuddy in de world.” begin to pour water over it an' keep it “ Does he know more "—the man's wet. Mud an’ water, dey is good-so voice was very thick; he hesitated and good—for doze snake bite."
kept looking off among the reeds—" does It did not occur to her that she ought he know more than Henry Gower ?" to tell any one else that she had found a “ But!" Melanie cried in surprise,“ dat's man suffering and in danger of his life Father Henri—'Enry Gower.” there in the marsh. When a pirate hid The sick man struggled to lift himself himself, he had his own reasons for doing on his uninjured arın. “Henry Gower a so, she felt sure, and all that a good priest!” he cried. “ But where is his Samaritan could do was to try to ease his wife ?" pain. As for him, there had been a haze Dead,” Melanie answered. She did over all his thoughts. His blood, thick- not wonder that he knew about these ened by poison, crept sluggishly through people—a pirate might be supposed to his brain, and he was slow in realizing know everything. “Yas," she went on, that she might be more useful as a mes- dey had a so-bad son, an' he broke deir senger than as
The steady, hearts. It was so sad dat Madame Gower languorous patter of her voice brought die, an' den Father Henri he study to be him gradually to attention.
a priest, an' he say, I hear him say to my De bite was through your coat, wasn't papa, dat de peace of God it take away all it?" she asked. “ Den dat's very little. de pain, de terreeb' pain of dat son.” Father Henri, he say a snake bite don't He dropped back on to the log and never kill if de snake has de luck to bite threw his well arm across his face. Melanie through your close. An' dat dog of heard him sob harshly. us," she went on, meeting his gaze with a " What is it ?” she cried ; “have you friendly and confident smile, "you had more pain ?" ought to have see dat dog! De bite was “What do people say that his son did ?" in his throat, so it hurt him very much to he asked. cry, yet he made much more noise dan “ But! He was imprison'l An’ when you, an' now he's all right.”
de time was out, he didn't come home." The pain, and the unlooked-for sweet- There was silence for a moment, and ness of her certainty, and many struggling then the slow, thick voice from the log thoughts besides, showed in the sick man's asked again, “ What had he done?” eyes. His breath was hard and slow. “I hear my papa say he ain't done "Do you reckon I'll get over it?" he gasped; not'ing," Melanie declared. “My papa say and then, as if he did not want the answer, he got mad at Colonel Wash Crutherd's, “Where did you come from, anyway, into up at Shieldsboro', because de Colonel was this wilderness of marsh ?"
a so-cruel man, an' when de Colonel beat a * Oh,” Melanie said, “I come toujours. horse mos' to death one day, de son of I know de way, an' I look h-always to find Father Henri he beat de Colonel, an' de somebuddy. Father Henri, he say you Colonel kep' a grudge. Dat's all, except h-always hide in de marsh." She leaned dat de Colonel laid a trap an' made out a little closer. “I was so scare," she dat de son of Father Henri had broke admitted in a half-whisper. “I knew it into his store. Lots of people didn't was a pirate when I heard you groan, an' believe it, but dey imprison' him jus' de I was so scare, but I had to see what you same." was like.”
“And yet," the sick man urged, “ you “A pirate!” he repeated. Then he say he was a 'so bad son.'” looked off among the reeds and smiled a “Ah," the child explained, “because little, as if the idea were not altogether he didn't come back when de prison set strange to him, “Do you know all those him free-because he lef' his pore papa
an' mamma so sad. People say it mus' “Butl" she answered, gravely; "he be dat he was bad after all or he couldn't talks not. Dat's all right." have been a so-cruel son when dey love “Yes,” he moaned bitterly, “everyhim so much. Everybody but my papa thing's all right.” By a great effort he say dey reckon he did break in dat lifted himself to his elbow and confronted store."
her. His face was full of pain and fear, “ Does Henri Gower, does Father and his voice was hoarse. “If I die here, Henri, think that ?"
call nobody to give me absolution," he “ But no! Father Henri say his son cried. is dead. He say if he wasn't dead he Melanie's hands shook so that the water wouldn't stay away.”
spilled, and when she spoke, her words “ And did nobody think of his pride ?" shook too. “You're not goin' to die," the man demanded. “Did nobody think she said. “I shall come all de days till what it was to him to come back where you get cure.” he had been disgraced, and how he put “Won't you be afraid ?” he asked," and it off from day to day and year to year, won't your people wonder where you are ?" and how it grew harder all the time? “ Dat's all right. I ain't scare of you, Did nobody think that perhaps he came and my mamma never trouble herse's about near by and couldn't bear it, and went She has Hortense to he'p her wid away again ? Didn't even his father think de work. Hortense has de way to do of his side of it—of how he felt?”
things right, an' me, I have de way to do “I dunno," Melanie answered in be- dem wrong." wilderment. “ Dey say Father Henri “Not-not always,” he sobbed. The hunt for him and hunt for him, an' it was peace which there was about the child only when he give up an' say his son mus' reached to the suffering of his mind and be dead dat he find peace.”
soothed it. He dropped back and lay The man on the log closed his eyes, quite silent and motionless while Melanie and without their evidence of life he kept patiently pouring the water over his looked like a dead man who had passed arm. through a long, uncared-for illness. His Victor Paul, poor, forgotten morsel of matted hair fell back from a sunken brow. humanity, sighed softly and regularly in The hollows in his cheeks led to high the bottom of the pirogue. The brilliant cheek-bones and great eye-sockets in slanting sunshine fell full upon him which his closed eyes had a waxen white- through the narrow opening of the channess. “ Dead," he murmured ; and the nel, but he had kept so still that the fate fitness of the word made the little girl of all good babies had overtaken him, and shiver_" how much better so!" His he was fast asleep. A breath of air stole in hand stirred once or twice with nervous from the creek and stirred among the indecision. Suddenly he looked full in rushes, as if time were stealing audibly Melanie's face. “I'm going away from
" I'm going away from past the sick outcast, the sleeping baby, here," he said. “ You needn't think I'm and the child. too weak to go away from here, for I shall go, and you've got to promise not to tell “Melanie! Melanie !" It was Antoine anybody that you found me.
Dolbert's voice coming clear and resonant self and promise, cross yourself and swear across the marsh. that you won't tell."
Melanie started to her feet and then A flush spread over Melanie's brown sat down again. Never since she was the cheeks and up to the roots of her hair. size of Victor Paul had her father come to " It would not be honorabl’,” she cried — search for her. The sick man looked up “it would not be fair to tell dat you are in alarm. His perceptions had been here when your right arm is so swell dat wandering in a maze of physical torture, you could not fight. But you mus' not “Has something happened to you?” he go while you are so sick. I shall come asked. every day and take care of you, an' when “Not’ing,” Melanie answered, "only my you are well, den you can go away.”
“And that baby in the pirogue-won't “Is he coming here? Go to him! he tell ?”
Don't let him come here and find me."
“He's not comin' here. He don't know Victor Paul did not waken when she de way. Nobuddy know de way but me. stepped into the pirogue. She paddled Dere ain't not’ing here to come for but de away with slow, regretful strokes, and lilies. I smelled dem one time when I kept turning to look back. The sunlight was paddling down de creek, an' I found glittered upon her through the reeds, and my way in where dey grow. Nobuddy the man followed her with his big dark else has de time to know if de lilies bloom eyes, believing that after the marsh closed in de marsh."
behind her he should never look into a “ Melanie ! Melanie !"
human face again. He trusted her promThere was an imperative ring in the ise not to tell, and at nightfall he would call. “Go!" the sick man begged. slip into the water, praying for strength
“But I can't, for if I go while he is to get beyond her island before he dere, den he may see de way." She drowned. looked around her as if she were hope- In a moment she came to a curve in lessly questioning the gray-green reeds the channel, waved her hand to him, and and the attenuated blossoms of the lilies. disappeared. After that her pirogue “Oh, when I t'ink about goin' off an' wound so swiftly through the marsh that leavin' you, it make me want to tell my Antoine Dolbert was still in sight when рара. . You don't know how very fond he she came out into the creek. Father is of pirates. He would be very sad if Henri was with him in the skiff, and both he knowed dat all your friends had lef' of them kept looking to right and left as you, an' a snake had bite your arm. He Antoine rowed away. They were startled would take you home, an' he wouldn't tell when she called to them. Her father the people at de ferry who you was.” turned the skiff and came back to meet
He pushed it all away from him with a her, and, to her surprise, he did not ask motion of the hand. “ Tell nobody," he her where she had been. whispered. “I want to be left alone." “ Veector Paul is lost,” he called out ;
“ Melaniel Melanie !” The call was we can't find Veector Paul !” sounding further up the creek ; she knew “ But he is here!” Melanie answered. that her father had given up finding her She prodded Victor Paul and made him and was paddling back toward home. sit up in the boat. “He had the idea to There was a note of urgence that was come with me,” she explained, as the two almost despairing in his voice, and the boats slipped together. “I did not want feeling that something terrible had hap- him, me, but he had say to himse'f, “I pened brought her to her feet again.
go.?? " I mus' go," she said. “I won't tell She beamed at the two anxious men, nobuddy if you don't want me to, and I'll feeling that fate had been kind to save come back right soon. I'll come back her from personal questions in this way; wid some bread faw you—oh, you don't the result was disappointing. Victor know how somesing to eat will make you Paul rubbed his eyes and smiled blissstrong !
fully, but Antoine Dolbert frowned. “Oh, " I'm feeling pretty strong already," Melanie, Melanie! didn't you have the he declared, wondering if she would be- sense to know dat your mamma would be lieve him in spite of his thick, faint voice; scare ?” he asked. “De las' anybuddy “and I don't want anything to eat, so see him he was goin' toward de creek, don't come back to-night; and don't be an’den when your mamma look for him surprised if I'm gone when you come he wasn't nowhere. When I come back to-morrow. My shipmates, you know, from bringing Father Henri, I find your from the pirate ship, they might find me mamma been crying an hour wid de fear in the night; so good-by."
dat he is drown. Look like you had ought “Good-by," Melanie said; "but I to stay home sometime, Melanie, an' he'p shall come jus' de same to bring some- take care of all doze children.” sing to eat, and make myself sure. Doze “I was taking care of him in de pirogue," pirate, dey care not much for de sick.” Melanie explained. She stood hesitant a moment, still feeling “ Ah !" Antoine said, in such a tone as it wrong to leave him alone. Good-by," his wife might have used. “ Den I mus' she said again, in a trembling voice. tell youj diş iş de las' day you have de pirogue. It is right at dis hour, yas, you there and show us the way," he ordered ; begin stayin' at home an' workin' like “or, no, get into de skiff an' row Father your mamma an' Hortense."
Henri dere, while I take de pirogue an' A sort of horror showed in Melanie's go home wid Veector Paul. I will come face. At any other time it would have back to see dis pirate.” His eyes met touched her father, but not now. “Papa," Father Henri's. " Truly,” he muttered, she cried, “I couldn't stay h-always round “dere are pirate of many kinds still in de de house–I couldn't stay dare h-always !” world.”
“ Hortense stays,” her father declared, He changed places with Melanie, took sternly, “an' dat is where you mus' stay, the baby again into the pirogue, and the or I shall no more call you my little two boats parted. Melanie, sitting across saint."
from Father Henri, could not bear to look Then Melanie broke into tears.
into his face. She wondered if she could Victor Paul had been patting her with ever look any one in the face again, his fat hands and babbling excitedly. He surely she could not meet the eyes of the understood that she was in trouble; he was man in the marsh. “He will be so grateful to her, and he wanted to show it angry,” she murmured, brokenly—“I in some way.
He looked appealingly at promise him not to tell.” his father and at Father Henri, and is What is this man like ?” the priest pointed toward the marsh. Then he asked, gently. patted Melanie again, and gazed at her She brushed the tears out of her eyes, accusers.
and looked at him with a sudden realiza“ The child wants to say something," tion. “ Father Henri,” she said, “dat Father Henri noticed. “Do you know man is jus' like you." what it is, Melanie?”
“Like me!" he echoed. The broad Melanie shook her head, and tried to skiff pushed in among the reeds and push Victor Paul down from the edge of parted them, rubbing against each side of the pirogue, which he was tilting danger- the channel as it made its way through ously.
the marsh. Father Henri asked no more Father Henri leaned from the skiff and questions, but his lips stirred, and one took the child into his arms. “ What is nervous hand told the beads upon his it, little man?” he said.
rosary. The rushes grated past, and the Victor Paul's face brightened. “Man!” air grew sweet with the incense of the lilies. he echoed with startling clearness, point- “ Ah,” Melanie moaned, “ I'm so scare ing a short, fat finger towards the marsh. of him! He is jus' round dis turn." It was the first word he had ever spoken Father Henri stepped to the bow. "I in his life.
will speak to him," he said. He grasped “ Man?” cried Antoine Dolbert. “What the reeds and pulled the boat round the does he mean, Melanie ?"
last curve. Melanie sobbed and shook her head, The sick man lay staring at them. but the baby stretched his arms toward Father Henri gave a cry. For an instant the marsh, gabbling excitedly. “Man !"
“ Man !" he was not a priest, the father of many, he repeated again and again, with much but only the father of this one. He more that they could not understand. stepped from the boat and knelt in the
Antoine grasped Melanie by the shoul- marsh mud beside the log, gathering the ders and lifteà her up so that he could ghastly figure up into his arms; and the see her face. “Is there a man in that outcast looked into his eyes, and knew marsh ?” he asked.
that it was not too late for forgiveness Melanie's eyes fell. “Oh, papa, I and life and love. promised," she murmured; "oh, papa, be In the silence of their meeting Melanie good to him!”
burst into tears. “ It was not me who “ Who is it?" Antoine demanded. told him, truly it was not,” she sobbed,
Melanie felt her little heart breaking not guessing that she and her promise because she could not keep her word. were alike forgotten, and that it was a “Oh, papa,” she sobbed, “ he is a pirate, moment of joy. “Me, I had give my an' a snake has bite his arm.”
word. I told not. It was dat terreeb' Antoine released her. “Paddle back Veector Paul."