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A Mating in the Wilds by Ottwell Binns

Benard rose slowly to his feet


"What

ees it, m'sieu?" he asked as he reached Stane who knelt there as if turned to stone.

"It is a dead girl," answered Stane, brokenly--"a girl who gave her life for mine."

The trapper bent over the prostrate form, then he also cried out.

"Miskodeed!"

"Yes! Miskodeed. I did not know it was she! She killed one of them with her knife, and she was slain by the other."

"Whom I keel with the bullet!" For a moment Jean Benard said no more, but when he spoke again there was a choking sound in his voice. "I am glad I keel dat man! eef I haf not done so, I follow heem across zee world till it was done." Something like a sob checked his utterance. "Ah, m'sieu, I love dat girl. I say to myself all zee way from Good Hope dat I weel her marry, an' I haf the price I pay her fader on zee sledge. I see her las' winter; but I not know den how it ees with me; but when I go away my heart cry out for her, an' my mind it ees make up.... An' now she ees dead! I never tink of dat! I tink only of zee happy years dat we weel haf togeder!"

He dropped suddenly in the snow, and bent over the face in its frozen beauty, sobbing as only a strong man can. He bent lower and kissed the ice-cold lips, whilst Stane staggered to his feet, and moved away. He could not endure to look on Jean Benard's grief. As he

stood staring into the darkness of the wood, he had a flashing memory of the Indian girl's face as she had whisperingly asked him if he could not leave Helen, the very note in her voice sounded in his ears, and, he knew what it was no harm for him to know then, that this child of the wilderness had given him her love, unsought. She had loved him, and she had died for him, whilst a man who had loved her, now wept over her poor body. The tragedy of it all shook him, and the irony of Jean Benard's grief was almost beyond endurance. A great humility filled his heart, and whilst he acquitted himself of blame, he regretted deeply his vehemence of repudiation. All her words came back to him in a flood. She must have guessed that he loved Helen; yet in the greatness of her love, she had risked her life without hope, and died for him without shrinking.

He began to walk to and fro, instinctively fighting the cold, with all his mind absorbed in Miskodeed's little tragedy; but presently the thought of Helen came to him, and he walked quickly to where Jean Benard still knelt in the snow. The trapper's face was hidden in his mittened hands. For a moment Stane hesitated, then he placed a hand on the man's shoulder.

"Jean Benard," he said quietly, "there is work to do."

Benard rose slowly to his feet, and in the little light reflected from the snow Stane read the grief of the man's heart in his face.

"Oui! m'sieu! We must her bury; ma petite Miskodeed."

"That, yes! But there is other work."

"I could not endure to tink dat zee wolves get her----"

"I will help you, Jean. And then you will help me."

"Non! m'sieu. Help I do not need. I weel myself do zee las' duty for ma pauvre Miskodeed. My hands that would haf held an' fondled her, dey shall her prepare; an' I dat would haf died for her--I shall her bury. You, m'sieu, shall say zee prayer, for I haf not zee religion, but----"


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