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She could not recognize her husband in the
bleeding, dirty, abject thing squirming under the young man's knee.

"Why, Mr. Morris, who--why--why, it's Tom!" she gasped, her eyes
distended with surprise and horror.

Morris looked up at her coolly. "Yes, it's Tom." He then gave his
attention to the writhing figure under him. "Crawl, you infernal whelp!
Lick the dust, confound you! Quick!" he commanded, growing each moment
more savage.

Mrs. Miner clung to his arm. "Please don't," she pleaded. "You're
killing him."

Morris did not look up. "Oh, no, I ain't. I'm giving him a little taste
of his own medicine." He flopped Miner over on his face and dragged him
around in the dust like an old sack. "Beg her pardon, or I'll thrash the
ground with yeh!"

"Please don't," pleaded the wife, using her whole strength to stop him
in his circuit with the almost insensible Miner.

"Beg!" he said again, "beg, or I'll cave your backbone in." There was a
terrible upward inflection in his voice now, a half-jocular tone that
was more terrible than the muffled snarl in which he had previously been
speaking.

"I beg! I beg!" cried Miner.

Morris released him, and he crawled to a sitting posture. Mrs. Miner
fell on her knees by his side, and began wiping the blood from his face.
She was breathless with sobbing and the children were screaming. The
tears streamed down her face, which was white and drawn into ghastly
wrinkles.

"You've killed him!" she gasped.

Morris put his hands in his pockets and looked down on them both, with a
curious feeling of having done something which he might repent of. He
felt in a way cut off from the satisfactory ending of the thing he had
planned.

"Oh, you've killed him!"

"Oh, no, I haven't. He's all right." He looked at them a moment longer
to see if there were any rage remaining in the face of the husband, and
then at the wife to discover her feeling concerning his action. Then he
looked back at the husband again, and apparently justified himself for
what he had done by the memory of the ineffable shame to which the wife
had been subjected.

"Now, if I hear another word of your abuse," he said, as he shook the
dust from his own clothes and prepared to go, "I'll give you another
that will make you think that this is all fooling. More than that," he
said, turning again, "I know something that will put you where the crows
won't eat you!--If I can be of any service to you, Mrs. Miner, at any
time while I'm here, I hope you'll let me know. Good-by."

Mrs. Miner did not reply, and when Morris reached the gate and looked
back she was still kneeling by the side of her husband, the sunlight
shining down upon her graceful head. Some way the problem had increased
in complexity. He felt a disgust of her weakness, mingled with a feeling
that he was losing something very fine and tender which had but just
come into his life.

He went back to his work on the other side of the river, where his crew
was working. He was called home a few weeks later, and he never saw
husband or wife again. He learned from Wilber, however, in a short
letter that things were going much the same as ever.

"Dear Sir: I don't know much about Miner. Hees purty quiet I guess.
Dock Moss thinks hees a little off his nut. I don't. I think its pur
cussidness."




OF THOSE WHO SEEK.

I. THE PRISONED SOUL.


The Capitol swarmed with people.

Groups of legislators tramped noisily along the corridors, laughing
loudly, gesticulating with pointed fingers or closed fists.

Squads of ragged, wondering, and wistful-eyed negroes, splashed with
orange-colored mud from the fields, moved timidly on from magnificence
to magnificence, keeping close to each other, solemn and silent. When
they spoke they whispered. Others from the city streets laughed loudly
and swaggered along to show their contempt for the place and their
knowledge of its public character; but their insolence was half assumed.

Lean and lank Southerners, with the imperial cut on their pale, brown
whiskers, alternated with stalwart, slouch-hatted Westerners.
Clean-shaven, pale clerks hurried to and fro; groups of sightseers
infested every nook, and wore the look of those determined to see it
all. They were accompanied often by one whose certainty of accent gave
evidence of his fitness to be their guide. The sound of his voice
proclaimed his judgments as he pushed his dazed wordless victims about.

In a group in the center of the checkered marble floor of the rotunda, a
powerful Indian, dressed in semi-civilized fashion, was standing,
looking wonderingly down into the upturned face of a little girl. The
circle of bystanders silently studied both man and maid.

She was about eleven years of age and was tastefully dressed, and seemed
a healthy child. Her face was solemn, sweet, and inquisitive. She held
one half-opened hand in the air; with the other she touched the Indian's
dark, strongly molded cheek, and pressed his long hair which streamed
from beneath his broad white hat.

No one smiled. She was deaf and dumb and blind.

In her raised rosy little palm, with lightning-swift motion, fluttered
the hand of her teacher. By the teacher's side stood an Indian
interpreter, dressed in hunting shirt and broad hat.

"I am Umatilla," said the chief, in answer to a question from the
teacher. His deep voice was like the mutter of a lion; he stood with
gentle dignity still looking wonderingly down into the girl's sweet,
solemn, and eager face.

A bystander said, "Poor child!" in a low, tremulous tone, followed by a
sigh.

The little one's hand, light, swift, and seeking, touched the Indian's
ringed ears and pressed again his long hair, while her teacher's swift
fingers said, "This strange man comes from a far-off land, from vast
mountains and forests away toward the western sea. The wind and sun have
made his face dark, and the long hair is a protection from the cold. He
is a chief."

Under her broad hat the child's exquisite mouth, with its dimpled
corners, remained calm but touchingly wistful. Her eyes were in shadow.
Her chin was a perfect oval, delicately beautiful, like the curving
lines of a peach, with the clear transparency of color of a flower's
chalice.

But the bystander said again, "Poor child!" as if a shudder of awe, of
wordless compassion and bitterness, shook him.

She was so beautiful, so gifted in spirit, to be thus shut in! Her
inclosing flesh was so fine and sweet, it seemed impossible it could be
an impassable, almost impenetrable wall.

He thought: She will soon be a woman, with all the vague, unutterable
longings and passions of the woman. Her lithe body will be as beautiful
as her soul, and the warm oval of her face will flash and flame with her
expanding, struggling life. Her caged soul will struggle for light and
companionship, blindly, vainly.

Life to her must remain a cruel fragment. Light and color she may not
miss; but wifehood, maternity, the touch of baby lips to her
breast--these her soul will grope for in dumb maternal desire. She must
inhabit her dark and soundless cavern alone.

Again she touched the chieftain's hair and earrings, and let her hand
drop down along his sleeve to his hard, brown hand. Then her hand fell
to her side with a resigned action.

As she walked away, a sweet smile of pleasure and gratitude flashed for
an instant across the exquisite curving line of her lips, and then the
sad and wistful repose of her face came back again as if her loneliness
had only been lightened, not warmed.

The young man drew a long breath of pain keen as a physical hurt. The
elderly gentleman said again, "Poor child!"

The Indian looked up again into the mighty dome soaring hundreds of feet
above him, and wondered how those forms came to be set flying in
mid-air, and his heart grew sad and wistful too, as if a realization of
the power and majesty of the white man fell like a poisonous, fateful
shadow over his people and himself.


II. A SHELTERED ONE.

The young man came in out of the cold dash of rain. The negro man
received his outside garments and ushered him into the drawing-room,
where a bright fire welcomed him like a smiling hostess.

He sat down with a sudden relaxation of his muscles. As he waited at his
ease, his senses absorbed the light and warmth and beauty of the house.
It was familiar and yet it had a new meaning to him. A bird was singing
somewhere in the upper chambers, caroling with a joyous note that seemed
to harmonize with the warmth and color of the room in which the caller
sat.

The young man stared at the fire, his head leaning on his hand. There
were lines of gloomy thought in his face. There were marks of bitter
struggle on his hands. His dress was strong and good, but not in the
mode. He looked like a young lawyer, with his lean, dark face, smoothly
shaven save for a little tuft on either cheek. His long hands were
heavy-jointed with toil.

He listened to the bird singing and to the answering, chirping call of a
girl's voice. His head drooped forward in deep reverie.

How beautiful her life is! his thought was. How absolutely without care
or struggle! She knows no uncertainty such as I feel daily, hourly. She
has never a doubt of daily food; the question of clothes has been a
diversion for her, a worry of choice merely. Dirt, grime, she knows
nothing of. Here she lives, sheltered in a glow of comfort and color,
while I hang by my finger-ends over a bottomless pit. She sleeps and
dreams while I fight. She is never weary, while I sink into my bed each
night as if it were my grave. Every hand held out to her is a willing
hand--if it is paid for, it is willing, for she has no enemies even
among her servants. O God! If I could only reach such a place to rest
for just a year--for just a month! But such security, such rest is out
of my reach. I must toil and toil, and when at last I reach a place to
pause and rest, I shall be old and brutalized and deadened, and my rest
will be merely--sleep.

He looked once more about the lovely room. The ocean wind tore at the
windows with wolfish claws, savage to enter.

"The world howling out there is as impotent to do her harm as is that
wind at the window," the young man added.

The bird's song again joined itself to the gay voice of the girl, and
then he heard quick footsteps on the stairs, and as he rose to greet her
the room seemed to glow like the heart of a ruby.

They clasped hands and looked into each other's eyes a moment.



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