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V. A Friend of Justice Henry van Dyke

Section I.

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There was only one human dwelling-place in sight As far as the eye could sweep, range after range of uninhabitable hills covered with the skeletons of dead forests; ledge after ledge of ice-worn granite thrust out like fangs into the foaming waves of the gulf. Nature, with her teeth bare and her lips scarred: this was the landscape. And in the midst of it, on a low hill above the murmuring river, surrounded by the blanched trunks of fallen trees, and the blackened debris of wood and moss, a small, square, weather-beaten palisade of rough-hewn spruce, and a patch of the bright green leaves and white flowers of the dwarf cornel lavishing their beauty on a lonely grave. This was the only habitation in sight--the last home of the Englishman, Jack Chisholm, whose story has yet to be told.

In the shelter of this hill Dan Scott cooked his supper and shared it with Pichou. When night was dark he rolled himself in his blanket, and slept in the stern of the boat, with the dog at his side. Their friendship was sealed.

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The next morning the weather was squally and full of sudden anger. They crept out with difficulty through the long rollers that barred the tiny harbour, and beat their way along the coast. At Moisie they must run far out into the gulf to avoid the treacherous shoals, and to pass beyond the furious race of white-capped billows that poured from the great river for miles into the sea. Then they turned and made for the group of half-submerged mountains and scattered rocks that Nature, in some freak of fury, had thrown into the throat of Seven Islands Bay. That was a difficult passage. The black shores were swept by headlong tides. Tusks of granite tore the waves. Baffled and perplexed, the wind flapped and whirled among the cliffs. Through all this the little boat buffeted bravely on till she reached the point of the Gran Boule. Then a strange thing happened.

The water was lumpy; the evening was growing thick; a swirl of the tide and a shift of the wind caught the chaloupe and swung her suddenly around. The mainsail jibed, and before he knew how it happened Dan Scott was overboard. He could swim but clumsily. The water blinded him, choked him, dragged him down. Then he felt Pichou gripping him by the shoulder, buoying him up, swimming mightily toward the chaloupe which hung trembling in the wind a few yards away. At last they reached it and the man climbed over the stern and pulled the dog after him. Dan Scott lay in the bottom of the boat, shivering, dazed, until he felt the dog's cold nose and warm breath against his cheek. He flung his arm around Pichon's neck.

"They said you were mad! God, if more men were mad like you!"

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The Ruling Passion
Henry van Dyke

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