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HOME > Classical Novels > For the Allinson Honor > CHAPTER IV THE LAKE OF SHADOWS
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 The evening was gloomy and there was a boisterous1 onshore wind when Jake Carnally stood on a sawmill dump, looking out across the Lake of Shadows. Its troubled waters reflected the color of the leaden clouds above, though they were laced with tumbling foam2, and short, white-topped waves broke angrily upon the sweating sawdust at Carnally's feet. The tall pines that rolled back from the beach had faded to a deep somber3 hue4; the distance was blurred5 and gray. The lake is a large one, stretching many leagues to the south, but it is strewn with forest-clad islets, and those inshore obstructed6 Carnally's view. On the nearest of them wisps of smoke drifted out from among the shadowy trunks and an aromatic7 smell of burning cedar8 reached him across the spray-swept sound. Holiday-makers from Winnipeg had pitched a summer camp there.  
Seeing nothing out on the lake, he turned and glanced past the tall iron chimney-stacks toward a row of pretty wooden houses beside the river mouth. A moving cloud of sooty smoke floated above them, and he knew that a west-bound train was pulling out of the station. Then a man came up to him.
"Why, Jake!" he cried. "You look as if you'd been up against it! When did you come down?"
Carnally smiled. He was tall, and sparely but[Pg 36] strongly built. His knee-boots were dilapidated; his brown overalls9 badly torn.
"This afternoon," he answered. "Took the river for it with two of the boys, and a mighty10 tough time we had in getting through. Water was on the rock portages and we had to shove round through the bush. It didn't seem worth while getting out my glad rags, as I have to take the new boss up early to-morrow."
"Looks as if he'd got lost," said the other. "I guess you heard he left for Duck Island with two of the Company's roustabouts day before yesterday. They hadn't much grub with them, but he allowed he'd be back this morning."
"What did he go to Duck Island for?"
"To prospect11 the fireclay bed. Seemed to think the Company might put up a smelter."
"It's early for that," said Carnally with a grin. "They've got to raise milling ore and pack it down first. I suppose you've seen him; what's he like? I don't even know his name."
"Big man, about your age. Kind of slow, thinks before he speaks, but for an English sucker he shows some sense. It's my notion he's a stayer."
"Were they river-jacks he took along?"
"Struck me as more like railroad shovelers, though they could paddle in smooth water. As there's a nasty sea running in the open, you'd better look for him. If those fellows wreck12 his canoe and he has to spend the night on an island with nothing to eat while you sit in the hotel, it's steep chances he fires you."
"I don't care two bits whether I get fired or no. The Rain Bluff13 Mining Company is the meanest business proposition I've ever run up against, except the Mappin Transport, which is worse. All the same, I[Pg 37] guess I'll have to go. If you're going back to the hotel, you might tell the boys to bring my canoe and blankets."
The man promised to do so, and Carnally sat down out of the wind to smoke until the craft arrived. He was tired by an arduous14 journey down a river swollen15 by heavy rain, which, throughout a good deal of its course, poured over ledges16 and ran furiously between fangs17 of rock. It had needed nerve and skill to shoot the rapids, and to force a passage over the rugged19 portages had taxed the party's strength. Now he must launch out again and paddle, perhaps all night, in search of his missing chief.
The canoe came lurching to the foot of the dump, and as there was a chance of swamping her alongside it, Carnally ran out on a treacherous20 drift-log and sprang on board. A man untrained to river work would have upset the craft or gone through her bottom, but Carnally came down safely and seized the steering21 paddle.
"This is rough on us, boys, but it has to be done," he said. "Shove her straight out for the gap."
His companions were wiry, dark-faced and dark-haired men whose French-Canadian blood had in it a strain of the Indian—hard to beat at river work or travel through the wilds. Toiling22 strenuously23, they drove the light craft over the short seas, with the spray whipping their faces and the foam washing in at the bows. Now and then they made no headway for a minute or two against a savage24 gust25, but when it lulled27 they slowly forged on again, though they knew that to find a canoe among the maze28 of islands was as difficult a task as could be set them. When they labored29 out into the more open spaces of the lake as dusk was closing in, Carnally roused himself to keen alertness.[Pg 38] Here the waves were dangerously high and an error of judgment30 might involve a capsize.
As it happened, the craft they sought was battling with the breeze some distance offshore31, and Andrew Allinson, kneeling astern, glanced anxiously to leeward32 when he dared take his eyes off the threatening seas ahead. They rolled down on the canoe, ridged with foam, and it needed quick work with the paddle to help her over them. To make things worse, she was half full of water, and nobody could spare a hand to bale it out. Andrew was not an expert at canoeing, but he had once made a journey up the Canadian waterways and had been a yachtsman at home; and when the breeze freshened and the waves got steeper it had become evident that neither of his companions was capable of managing the craft in broken water. He had accordingly taken the helmsman's post and after running before the sea for the greater part of the day without a meal, had discovered at dusk a long ridge33 of rocks and pines looming34 up not far ahead.
They lost it in the growing darkness, for Andrew knew the risk of trying to land among big boulders35 on which the surf was breaking. He must paddle out and clear the end of the island, in the hope of finding a harbor on its sheltered side; but it still lay to lee of him, and breaking waves and savage gusts36 drove them nearer the threatening shore. He was wet through and very tired, one galled37 hand bled freely, and the party had consumed the last of their provisions at breakfast. This was the cause of the distressful38 stitch in his side, and he was painfully cramped39, but he knew that he had to choose between paddling and trying to crawl out of the surf on a rugged beach amid the wreckage40 of the canoe. So far as the other two could judge, he was still[Pg 39] serene41, and now and then his voice reached them, hoarse42 but cheerful:
"A bit of a lull26, boys; drive her at it in the smooth!"
He could see nothing to leeward except flying spray, but he was not deceived by the emptiness. The island must be close to them. He did not think he could clear it, but he meant to fight until the last moment.
"Put some weight into the stroke! We'll make a few yards now!" he cried.
"Hold on!" shouted one of the others. "What's that?"
A hail reached them faintly and, when they answered, rose again, a little nearer.
"Are you the Rain Bluff crowd?"
"Sure we are!"
"Then follow us!" cried a voice, as the blurred shape of a canoe appeared ahead. "Don't let her sag18 to lee; keep right astern!"
They got the canoe round, stern to sea, in some peril43 of being overturned, and drove away at a furious pace, with the other craft lurching before them through the spray. In a few minutes shadowy pines appeared, then a strip of foam-swept beach, at which Andrew glanced anxiously. He could not turn back now; the dark, froth-ridged seas drove him on, but in a few more minutes the end of the beach slipped past and a narrow strip of water with pines about it opened up. They ran in, the wild lurching ceased, and they paddled through smooth water, until the craft ahead gently took the beach. Andrew now realized that he had mistaken two islands for one, and was in the sound between them. It was very dark among the trees when he came ashore44, but he heard one of the strangers asking for the boss, and answered him.
[Pg 40]"Sit down out of the wind while we make a fire and get supper," said the other. "I understood that your grub might be running out, so we brought some along."
The man's voice sounded familiar, but Andrew was too tired and cold to exert his memory. Finding a sheltered place among the rocks, he waited until he was called. Then he saw that a fire had been lighted, a shelter of bark and branches made, and a meal which looked very inviting45 laid out beside it. All had been done with remarkable46 neatness as well as celerity, and Andrew recognized the experienced bushman's skill. Then the firelight fell on his pilot's face, and he started.
"Carnally, by all that's wonderful!" he cried.
Carnally gazed at him in astonishment47 for a moment or two, and then his expression grew reserved.
"Yes," he said; "that's my name."
"Then you ought to remember me!"
"Sure! You're Lieutenant48 Allinson, late of the Imperial Yeomanry, and, I understand, in charge of the Rain Bluff mining operations. I'm the mine boss's assistant, at your service."
It was the greeting of a subordinate to his superior, and Andrew was puzzled. He owed a good deal to the man and they had treated each other as comrades in South Africa when, as had happened once or twice, the accidents of the campaign had enabled them to sink the difference of rank. Now it was the inferior who obviously meant to bear their relative positions in mind; and that is not the Canadian employee's usual attitude toward his master. The man he had known and liked as Sergeant49 Carnally had rather pointedly50 declined to see that he wished to shake hands.
"I'm very glad to run across you again and to find that we shall be working together," Andrew said.
[Pg 41]"Mutual pleasure," Carnally replied. "Sit right down; supper will be getting cold."
The united party gathered round the fire, sharing the meal, but Andrew failed in his attempts to lead Carnally into friendly talk. The man answered readily, but he would not continue a conversation and there was a strange reserve about him. Indeed, Andrew was glad when the meal was over; and soon afterward51 he lay down, wrapped in damp blankets, and went to sleep. The next morning the wind had fallen, the lake lay shimmering52 with light under a cloudless sky, and they paddled smoothly53 between islands covered with dusky pines whose reflections quivered in the glassy water, until they reached the little wooden town. When they landed, Andrew touched Carnally's arm.
"Will you have supper with me to-night at my hotel?" he asked.
"Sorry I can't," said Carnally. "Got to meet a man at the other place. If it will suit, I'll come over during the evening."
Andrew told him to do so, though he was piqued54. He took supper with Mappin, the head of a transport and contracting company with which it seemed he was to have business relations. Mappin, he thought, was about thirty years of age; a powerfully built man of city type, with sleek55 black hair and a fleshy but forceful face. His manner to the waitresses jarred on Andrew, for he gazed at one who was pretty with insolent56 admiration57, and bullied58 another who was nervous and plain. In conversation he was brusque and opinionated; but Andrew was soon convinced that he possessed59 marked business ability. After supper they sat smoking on a wooden balcony while the clean fragrance60 of the pines and the murmur61 of running water filled the cooling[Pg 42] air. Andrew, who was by no means oversensitive, was unpleasantly affected62 by the way Mappin bit off the end of his cigar. He had large and very white teeth, but his lower lip was unusually thick, and there was something suggestive of an animal in the trifling63 action which made it repulsive64, though on the whole the fellow was coarsely handsome.
"I noticed a very pretty wooden house on one of the islands we passed this morning," Andrew said. "Whom does it belong to?"
"You must mean Frobisher's place. Calls it a summer camp, though it's fitted up luxuriously65. He's from across the frontier and a bit of a sport; the Americans are coming north largely now for shooting and fishing. However, as he'll be here soon, you're sure to meet him."
"A pleasant man?"
Mappin laughed.
"He can be very dry and you'd find it hard to get ahead of him; but he's hospitable66, and you can't get a dinner like he puts up out of Montreal. I'll take you across some evening; he's by way of being a friend of mine. Then Geraldine Frobisher's a picture: figure like classical sculpture, face with each feature molded just as it ought to be. It's a feast for the eyes to watch that girl walk."
Andrew had occasionally listened to similar descriptions of young women, but he resented something in Mappin's appreciation67 of Miss Frobisher. It struck him as wholly physical and gross.
"Well," he said curtly68, "I'll think over the matters we have talked about and let you know my decision."
Mappin looked surprised, as if he had taken Andrew's assent69 to his suggestions for granted.
[Pg 43]"No hurry, but you'll have to write," he said. "As you're going up to the mine, I'll pull out on the Toronto express in the morning. And now there are some letters I must get off by the mail."
Andrew was not sorry to have him go; and when Carnally entered the balcony a few minutes later he was struck by the contrast between the two men. The bushman was lean and wiry; there was a lithe70 grace in his quick movements, and a hint of the ascetic71 in his keen, bronzed face. One could imagine that this man's body was his well-trained servant and would never become his pampered72 master.
"Sit down, Jake," said Andrew, determined73 to penetrate74 his reserve. "Take a cigar. Now, we got on pretty well in the hospital and the prison camp, didn't we?"
Carnally's eyes twinkled when he had lighted his cigar.
"That's so; I wasn't in your squadron then. Besides, you've got moved up since; you're colonel now."
"In a sense, I am. I don't know how you rank yet, but I have some say in choosing my officers. But we'll drop this fencing. Why did you hold off last night when I meant to be friendly?"
Carnally considered before he answered.
"I know my place; you're my boss. If my attitude didn't please you, tell me what you expect."
"I'll try. To begin with, when I speak as the Company's representative, I must have what I want done."
"That's right. I'm agreeable, so long as I hold my job."
"Don't you mean to hold it?"
"That depends. I haven't made up my mind yet."
"Then I want a man that I can rely on to help me[Pg 44] through any trouble I meet," Andrew went on. "One that I can consult, when it's needful, with confidence."
"It's quite likely that we might look at things from a different point of view."
Andrew was frankly75 puzzled by his companion's manner. His reserve and lack of response were not in accordance with what he knew of Carnally.
"Well," he asked, "what are you going to do?"
"We might give the thing a trial. Do you know much about mining?"
"Nothing," said Andrew. "I'll admit that to you. I don't think you'll take advantage of it."
"But how did you come to be sent over in charge of the mine if you don't know your work?"
"I'm a director of the Company, and a good deal of the family money has gone into it."
Carnally looked grave at this, and sat silent a few moments studying his companion.
"Did you have anything to do with fixing up things on this side?" he asked.
"No. My brother-in-law, Hathersage, came over and made all arrangements. I'm rather ignorant about them."
"Then he didn't take you much into his confidence about this mining proposition?"
"No; I can't say that he did."
"And you expect a fair return on your money and mean to see that your friends who have invested don't get left? That's all?"
"Of course; I've no claim to anything else."
"That," said the Canadian dryly, "is a point on which there might be some difference of opinion. You want the shareholders76 to make a good thing?"
"Yes. The firm has backed this mine; I believe[Pg 45] the name helped to float the scheme. That makes me responsible to the people who found the money."
Carnally gave him a long searching glance, and his expression changed.
"Well," he said with an air of quiet resolve, "I guess I'll have to see you through."
When Carnally left a half-hour later he met a storekeeper of the town outside the hotel.
"You're looking serious, Jake," the man remarked. "Been with your new boss, I heard. What do you think of him?"
"Well," Carnally answered gravely, "it's my idea he's white."
"Then you're not going to quit, as you talked of doing?"
"No, sir; I guess the new boss and I will pull along."
"If he's square, why's he working with Mappin and the other grafters?"
Carnally laughed.
"That's a point I don't understand yet. But it's my notion there's going to be less graft77 about this Rain Bluff proposition than you fellows think."

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