I was almost at my cabin door at the edge of the forest frontage at the rear of the old post, when I caught glimpse, in the dim light, of a hurrying figure, which in some way seemed to be different from the blanket-covered squaws who stalked here and there about the post grounds. At first I thought she might be the squaw of one of the employees of the company, who lived scattered about, some of them now, by the advice of Doctor McLaughlin, beginning to till little fields; but, as I have said, there was something in the stature or carriage or garb of this woman which caused me idly to follow her, at first with my eyes and then with my footsteps.
She passed steadily on toward a long and low log cabin, located a short distance beyond the quarters which had been assigned to me. I saw her step up to the door and heard her knock; then there came a flood of light—more light than was usual in the opening of the door of a frontier cabin. This displayed the figure of the night walker, showing her tall and gaunt and a little stooped; so that, after all, I took her to be only one of our American frontier women, being quite sure that she was not Indian or half-breed.
This emboldened me, on a mere chance—an act whose mental origin I could not have traced—to step up to the door after it had been closed, and myself to knock thereat. If it were a party of Americans here, I wished to question them; if not, I intended to make excuses by asking my way to my own quarters. It was my business to learn the news of Oregon.
I heard women’s voices within,
and as I knocked the door opened just a trifle on its chain. I saw appear at the crack the face of the woman whom I had followed.
She was, as I had believed, old and wrinkled, and her face now, seen close, was as mysterious, dark and inscrutable as that of any Indian squaw. Her hair fell heavy and gray across her forehead, and her eyes were small and dark as those of a native woman. Yet, as she stood there with the light streaming upon her, I saw something in her face which made me puzzle, ponder and start—and put my foot within the crack of the door.
When she found she could not close the door, she called out in some foreign tongue. I heard a voice answer. The blood tingled in the roots of my hair!
“Threlka,” I said quietly, “tell Madam the Baroness it is I, Monsieur Trist, of Washington.”
CHAPTER XXVII IN THE CABIN OF MADAM
Woman must not belong to herself; she is bound to alien
destinies.—Friedrich von Schiller.
With an exclamation of surprise the old woman departed from the door. I heard the rustle of a footfall. I could have told in advance what face would now appear outlined in the candle glow—with eyes wide and startled, with lips half parted in query. It was the face of Helena, Baroness von Ritz!
“Eh bien! madam, why do you bar me out?” I said, as though we had parted but yesterday.
In her sheer astonishment, I presume, she let down the fastening chain, and without her invitation I stepped within. I heard her startled “Mon Dieu!” then her more deliberate exclamation of emotion. “My God!” she said. She stood, with her hands caught at her throat, staring at me. I laughed and held out a hand.
“Madam Baroness,” I said, “how glad I am! Come, has not fate been kind to us again?” I pushed shut the door behind me. Still without a word, she stepped deeper into the room and stood looking at me, her 杭州足浴油压 hands clasped now loosely and awkwardly, as though she were a country girl surprised, and not the Baroness Helena von Ritz, toast or talk of more than one capital of the world.
Yet she was the same. She seemed slightly thinner now, yet not less beautiful. Her eyes were dark and brilliant as ever. The clear features of her face were framed in the roll of her heavy locks, as I had seen them last. Her garb, as usual, betokened luxury. She was robed as though for some fête, all in white satin, and pale blue fires of stones shone faintly at throat and wrist. Contrast enough she made to me, clad in smoke-browned tunic of buck, with the leggings and moccasins of a savage, my belt lacking but prepared for weapons.
I had not time to puzzle over the question of her errand here, why or whence she had come, or what she purposed doing. I was 杭州桑拿 occupied with the sudden surprises which her surroundings offered.
“I see, Madam,” said I, smiling, “that still I am only asleep and dreaming. But how exquisite a dream, here in this wild country! How unfit here am I, a savage, who introduce the one discordant note into so sweet a dream!”
I gestured to my costume, gestured about me, as I took in the details of the long room in which we stood. I swear it was the same as that in which I had seen her at a similar hour in Montreal! It was the same I had first seen in Washington!
Impossible? I am doubted? Ah, but do I not know? Did I not see? Here were the pictures on the walls, the carved Cupids, the candelabra with their prisms, the chairs, the couches! Beyond yonder satin curtains rose the high canopy of the embroidery-covered couch, its fringed drapery reaching almost to the 杭州不正规养生按摩推荐 deep pile of the carpets. True, opportunity had not yet offered for the full concealment of these rude walls; yet, as my senses convinced me even against themselves, here were the apartments of Helena von Ritz, furnished as she had told me they always were at each place she saw fit to honor with her presence!
Yet not quite the same, it seemed to me. There were some little things missing, just as there were some little things missing from her appearance. For instance, these draperies at the right, which formerly had cut off the Napoleon bed at its end of the room, now were of blankets and not of silk. The bed itself was not piled deep in down, but contained, as I fancied from my hurried glance, a thin mattress, stuffed perhaps with straw. A roll of blankets lay across its foot. As I gazed to the farther extremity of this side 杭州足疗小巷在哪里 of the long suite, I saw other evidences of change. It was indeed as though Helena von Ritz, creature of luxury, woman of an old, luxurious world, exotic of monarchical surroundings, had begun insensibly to slip into the ways of the rude democracy of the far frontiers.
I saw all this; but ere I had finished my first hurried glance I had accepted her, as always one must, just as she was; had accepted her surroundings, preposterously impossible as they all were from any logical point of view, as fitting to herself and to her humor. It was not for me to ask how or why she did these things. She had done them; because, here they were; and here was she. We had found England’s woman on the Columbia!