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|The Scorn Of Women||Jack London|
|Page 4 of 5||
"Yes, my lady, and reckoning, too." He still kept his hold. "What do you know about the water-hole? What did you mean by--no, never mind. One question at a time."
"Oh, nothing much. Sitka Charley had an appointment there with somebody you may know, and not being anxious for a man of your known charm to be present, fell back upon me to kindly help him. That's all. They're off now, and a good half hour ago."
"Where? Down river and without me? And he an Indian!"
"There's no accounting for taste, you know, especially in a woman."
"But how do I stand in this deal? I've lost four thousand dollars' worth of dogs and a tidy bit of a woman, and nothing to show for it. Except you," he added as an afterthought, "and cheap you are at the price."
Freda shrugged her shoulders.
"You might as well get ready. I'm going out to borrow a couple of teams of dogs, and we'll start in as many hours."
"I am very sorry, but I'm going to bed."
"You'll pack if you know what's good for you. Go to bed, or not, when I get my dogs outside, so help me, onto the sled you go. Mebbe you fooled with me, but I'll just see your bluff and take you in earnest. Hear me?"
He closed on her wrist till it hurt, but on her lips a smile was growing, and she seemed to listen intently to some outside sound. There was a jingle of dog bells, and a man's voice crying "Haw!" as a sled took the turning and drew up at the cabin.
"NOW will you let me go to bed?"
As Freda spoke she threw open the door. Into the warm room rushed the frost, and on the threshold, garbed in trail-worn furs, knee-deep in the swirling vapor, against a background of flaming borealis, a woman hesitated. She removed her nose-trap and stood blinking blindly in the white candlelight. Floyd Vanderlip stumbled forward.
"Floyd!" she cried, relieved and glad, and met him with a tired bound.
What could he but kiss the armful of furs? And a pretty armful it was, nestling against him wearily, but happy.
"It was good of you," spoke the armful, "to send Mr. Devereaux with fresh dogs after me, else I would not have been in till tomorrow." The man looked blankly across at Freda, then the light breaking in upon him, "And wasn't it good of Devereaux to go?"
"Couldn't wait a bit longer, could you, dear?" Flossie snuggled closer.
"Well, I was getting sort of impatient," he confessed glibly, at the same time drawing her up till her feet left the floor, and getting outside the door.
That same night an inexplicable thing happened to the Reverend James Brown, missionary, who lived among the natives several miles down the Yukon and saw to it that the trails they trod led to the white man's paradise. He was roused from his sleep by a strange Indian, who gave into his charge not only the soul but the body of a woman, and having done this drove quickly away. This woman was heavy, and handsome, and angry, and in her wrath unclean words fell from her mouth. This shocked the worthy man, but he was yet young and her presence would have been pernicious (in the simple eyes of his flock), had she not struck out on foot for Dawson with the first gray of dawn.
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