The Maker of Moons
by Robert W. Chambers
I am myself just as much evil as good, and my nation
is--And I say there is in fact no evil;
(Or if there is, I say it is just as important to you, to
the land, or to me, as anything else.)
* * *
Each is not for its own sake;
I say the whole earth, and all the stars in the sky. are
for Religion's sake.
I say no man has ever yet been half devout enough;
None has ever adored or worshipped half enough;
None has begun to think how divine he himself is, and
how certain the future is.--WALT WHITMAN
I have heard what the Talkers were talking,--the talk
Of the beginning and the end;
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
Concerning Yue-Laou and the Xin I know nothing more than you shall
know. I am miserably anxious to clear the matter up. Perhaps what I
write may save the United Stares Government money and lives, perhaps
it may arouse the scientific world to action; at any rate it will put
an end to the terrible suspense of two people. Certainty is better
If the Government dares to disregard this warning and refuses to
send a thoroughly equipped expedition at once, the people of the State
may take swift vengeance on the whole region and leave a blackened
devastated waste where to-day forest and flowering meadow land border
the lake in the Cardinal Woods.
You already know part of the story; the New York papers have been
full of alleged details.
This much is true: Barris caught the "Shiner," red handed, or
rather yellow handed, for his pockets and boots and dirty fists were
stuffed with lumps of gold. I say gold, advisedly. You may call it
what you please. You also know how Barris was—but unless I begin at
the beginning of my own experiences you will be none the wiser after
On the third of August of this present year I was standing in
Tiffany's, chatting with George Godfrey of the designing department.
On the glass counter between us lay a coiled serpent, an exquisite
specimen of chiselled gold.
"No," replied Godfrey to my question, "it isn't my work; I wish it
was. Why, man, it's a masterpiece!"
"Whose?" I asked.."Now I should be very glad to know also," said
Godfrey. "We bought it from an old jay who says he lives in the
country somewhere about the Cardinal Woods. That's near Starlit Lake, I
"Lake of the Stars?" I suggested.
"Some call it Starlit Lake,—it's all the same. Well, my rustic
Reuben says that he represents the sculptor of this snake for all
practical and business purposes. He got his price too. We hope he'll
bring us something more. We have sold this already to the Metropolitan
I was leaning idly on the glass case, watching the keen eyes of the
artist in precious metals as he stooped over the gold serpent.
'A masterpiece!" he muttered to himself fondling the glittering
coil; "look at the texture!
whew!" But I was not looking at the serpent. Something was
moving,—crawling out of Godfrey's coat pocket,—the pocket nearest to
me,—something soft and yellow with crab-like legs all covered with
coarse yellow hair.
"What in Heaven's name," said I, "have you got in your pocket? It's
crawling out—it's trying to creep up your coat, Godfrey!"
He turned quickly and dragged the creature out with his left hand.
I shrank back as he held the repulsive object dangling before me,
and he laughed and placed it on the counter.
"Did you ever see anything like that?" he demanded.
"No," said I truthfully, "and I hope I never shall again. What is
"I don't know. Ask them at the Natural History Museum—they can't
tell you. The Smithsonian is all at sea too. It is, I believe, the
connecting link between a sea-urchin, a spider, and the devil.
It looks venomous but I can't find either fangs or mouth. Is it
blind? These things may be eyes but they look as if they were painted.
A Japanese sculptor might have produced such an impossible beast, but
it is hard to believe that God did. It looks unfinished too. I have a
mad idea that this creature is only one of the parts of some larger
and more grotesque organism,—it looks so lonely, so hopelessly
dependent, so cursedly unfinished. I'm going to use it as a model. If I
don't out-Japanese the Japs my name isn't Godfrey."
The creature was moving slowly across the glass case towards me. I
"Godfrey," I said, "I would execute a man who executed any such
work as you propose. What do you want to perpetuate such a reptile
for? I can stand the Japanese grotesque but I can't stand
"It's a crab."
"Crab or spider or blind-worm—ugh! What do you want to do it for?
It's a nightmare—it's unclean!"
I hated the thing. It was the first living creature that I had ever
For some time I had noticed a damp acrid odour in the air, and
Godfrey said it came from the reptile.
"Then kill it and bury it," I said; "and by the way, where did it
"I don't know that either," laughed Godfrey; "I found it clinging
to the box that this gold serpent was brought in. I suppose my old
Reuben is responsible."
"If the Cardinal Woods are the lurking places for things like
this," said I, "I am sorry that I am going to the Cardinal Woods."
"Are you?" asked Godfrey; "for the shooting?"
"Yes, with Barris and Pierpont. Why don't you kill that creature?"
"Go off on your shooting trip, and let me alone," laughed
Godfrey..I shuddered at the "crab," and bade Godfrey good-bye until
That night, Pierpont, Barris, and I sat chatting in the smoking-car
of the Quebec Express when the long train pulled out of the Grand
Central Depot. Old David had gone forward with the dogs; poor things,
they hated to ride in the baggage car, but the Quebec and Northern road
provides no sportsman's cars, and David and the three Gordon setters
were in for an uncomfortable night.
Except for Pierpont, Barris, and myself, the car was empty. Barris,
trim, stout, ruddy, and bronzed, sat drumming on the window ledge,
puffing a short fragrant pipe. His gun-case lay beside him on the
"When I have white hair and years of discretion," said Pierpont
languidly, "I'll not flirt with pretty serving-maids; will you, Roy?"
"No," said I, looking at Barris.
"You mean the maid with the cap in the Pullman car?" asked Barris.
"Yes," said Pierpont.
I smiled, for I had seen it also.
Barris twisted his crisp grey moustache, and yawned.
"You children had better be toddling off to bed," he said. "That
lady's-maid is a member of the Secret Service."
"Oh," said Pierpont, "one of your colleagues?"
"You might present us, you know," I said; "the journey is
Barris had drawn a telegram from his pocket, and as he sat turning
it over and over between his fingers he smiled. After a moment or two
he handed it to Pierpont who read it with slightly raised eyebrows.
"It's rot,—I suppose it's cipher," he said; "I see it's signed by
"Drummond, Chief of the Government Secret Service," said Barris.
"Something interesting?" I enquired, lighting a cigarette.
"Something so interesting," replied Barris, "that I'm going to look
into it myself—"
"And break up our shooting trio—"
"No. Do you want to hear about it? Do you, Billy Pierpont?"
"Yes," replied that immaculate young man.
Barris rubbed the amber mouth-piece of his pipe on his
handkerchief, cleared the stem with a bit of wire, puffed once or
twice, and leaned back in his chair.
"Pierpont," he said, "do you remember that evening at the United
States Club when General Miles, General Drummond, and I were examining
that gold nugget that Captain Mahan had? You examined it also, I
"I did," said Pierpont.
"Was it gold?" asked Barris, drumming on the window.
"It was," replied Pierpont.
"I saw it too," said I; "of course, it was gold."
"Professor La Grange saw it also," said Barris; "he said it was
"Well?" said Pierpont.
"Well," said Barris, "it was not gold."
After a silence Pierpont asked what tests had been made.
"The usual tests," replied Barris. "The United States Mint is
satisfied that it is gold, so is every jeweller who has seen it. But
it is not gold,—and yet—it is gold."
Pierpont and I exchanged glances.
"Now," said I, "for Barris' usual coup-de-théâtre: what was the
"Practically it was pure gold; but," said Barris, enjoying the
situation intensely, "really it was not gold. Pierpont, what is gold?"
"Gold's an element, a metal—"
"Wrong! Billy Pierpont," said Barris coolly.
"Gold was an element when I went to school," said I.
"It has not been an element for two weeks," said Barris; "and,
except General Drummond, Professor La Grange, and myself, you two
youngsters are the only people, except one, in the world who know
it,—or have known it"
"Do you mean to say that gold is a composite metal?" said Pierpont
"I do. La Grange has made it. He produced a scale of pure gold day
before yesterday. That nugget was manufactured gold."
Could Barris be joking? Was this a colossal hoax? I looked at
Pierpont. He muttered something about that settling the silver
question, and turned his head to Barris, but there was that in Barris'
face which forbade jesting, and Pierpont and I sat silently
"Don't ask me how it's made," said Barris, quietly; "I don't know.
But I do know that somewhere in the region of the Cardinal Woods there
is a gang of people who do know how gold is made, and who make it. You
understand the danger this is to every civilized nation. It's got to
be stopped of course. Drummond and I have decided that I am the man to
stop it. Wherever and whoever these people are—these
gold-makers,—they must be caught, every one of them,— caught or
"Or shot," repeated Pierpont, who was owner of the Cross-Cut Gold
Mine and found his income too small; "Professor La Grange will of
course be prudent;—science need not know things that would upset the
"Little Willy," said Barris laughing, "your income is safe."
"I suppose," said I, "some flaw in the nugget gave Professor La
Grange the tip."
"Exactly. He cut the flaw out before sending the nugget to be
tested. He worked on the flaw and separated gold into its three
"He is a great man," said Pierpont, "but he will be the greatest
man in the world if he can keep his discovery to himself."
"Who?" said Barris.
"Professor La Grange."
"Professor La Grange was shot through the heart two hours ago,"
replied Barris slowly.
We had been at the shooting box in the Cardinal Woods five days when a
telegram was brought to Barris by a mounted messenger from the nearest
telegraph station, Cardinal Springs, a hamlet on the lumber railroad
which joins the Quebec and Northern at Three Rivers Junction, thirty
Pierpont and I were sitting out under the trees, loading some
special shells as experiments; Barris stood beside us, bronzed, erect,
holding his pipe carefully so that no sparks should drift into our
powder box. The beat of hoofs over the grass aroused us, and when the
lank messenger drew bridle before the door, Barris stepped forward and
took the sealed telegram. When he had torn it open he went into the
house and presently reappeared, reading something that he had written.
"This should go at once," he said, looking the messenger full in
the face.."At once, Colonel Barris," replied the shabby countryman.
Pienpont glanced up and I smiled at the messenger who was gathering
his bridle and settling himself in his stirrups. Barris handed him the
written reply and nodded good-bye: there was a thud of hoofs on the
greensward, a jingle of bit and spur across the gravel, and the
messenger was gone. Barris' pipe went out and he stepped to windward
to relight it.
"It is queer", said I, "that your messenger—a battered
native,—should speak like a Harvard man."
"He is a Harvard man," said Barris.
'And the plot thickens," said Pierpont; "are the Cardinal Woods
full of your Secret Service men, Barris?"
"No," replied Barris, "but the telegraph stations are. How many
ounces of shot are you using, Roy?"
I told him, holding up the adjustable steel measuring cup. He
nodded. After a moment on two he sat down on a camp-stool beside us
and picked up a crimper.
"That telegram was from Drummond," he said; "the messenger was one
of my men as you two bright little boys divined. Pooh! If he had
spoken the Cardinal County dialect you wouldn't have known."
"His make-up was good," said Pierpont.
Barris twirled the crimper and looked at the pile of loaded shells.
Then he picked up one and crimped it.
"Let 'em alone," said Pienpont, "you crimp too tight."
"Does his little gun kick when the shells are crimped too tight?"
enquired Barris tenderly; "well, he shall crimp his own shells
then,—where's his little man?"
"His little man" was a weird English importation, stiff, very
carefully scrubbed, tangled in his aspirates, named Howlett. As valet,
gilly, gun-bearer, and crimper, he aided Pierpont to endure the ennui
of existence, by doing for him everything except breathing. Lately,
taunts had driven Pierpont to do a few things for himself To his
astonishment he found that cleaning his own gun was not a bore, so he
timidly loaded a shell or two, was much pleased with himself, loaded
some more, crimped them, and went to breakfast with an appetite. So
when Barris asked where "his little man" was, Pierpont did not reply
but dug a cupful of shot from the bag and poured it solemnly into the
half filled shell.
Old David came out with the dogs and of course there was a pow-wow
when "Voyou," my Gordon, wagged his splendid rail across the loading
table and sent a dozen unstopped cartridges rolling oven the grass,
vomiting powder and shot.
"Give the dogs a mile on two," said I; "we will shoot oven the
Sweet Fern Covert about four o'clock, David."
"Two guns, David," added Barris.
'Are you not going?" asked Pierpont, looking up, as David
disappeared with the dogs.
"Bigger game," said Barris shortly. He picked up a mug of ale from
the tray which Howlett had just set down beside us and took a long
pull. We did the same, silently. Pierpont set his mug on the turf
beside him and returned to his loading.
We spoke of the murder of Professor La Grange, of how it had been
concealed by the authorities in New York at Drummond's request, of the
certainty that it was one of the gang of gold-makers who had done it,
and of the possible alertness of the gang.
"Oh, they know that Drummond will be after them sooner on later,"
said Barris, "but they don't know that the mills of the gods have
already begun to grind. Those smart New York papers.builded better than
they knew when their ferret-eyed reporter poked his red nose into the
house on 58th Street and sneaked off with a column on his cuffs about
the 'suicide' of Professor La Grange. Billy Pierpont, my revolver is
hanging in your room; I'll take yours too— "Help yourself," said
"I shall be gone oven night," continued Barris; "my poncho and some
bread and meat are all I shall take except the 'barkers.' "
"Will they bark to-night?" I asked.
"No, I trust not for several weeks yet. I shall nose about a bit.
Roy, did it even strike you how queer it is that this wonderfully
beautiful country should contain no inhabitants?"
"It's like those splendid stretches of pools and rapids which one
finds on every trout river and in which one never finds a fish,"
"Exactly,—and Heaven alone knows why," said Barris; "I suppose
this country is shunned by human beings for the same mysterious
"The shooting is the better for it," I observed.
"The shooting is good," said Barris, "have you noticed the snipe on
the meadow by the lake? Why it's brown with them! That's a wonderful
"It's a natural one," said Pierpont, "no human being even cleaned
"Then it's supernatural," said Barris; "Pierpont, do you want to
come with me?"
Pierpont's handsome face flushed as he answered slowly, "It's
awfully good of you,—if I may."
"Bosh," said I, piqued because he had asked Pierpont, "what use is
little Willy without his man?"
"True," said Barris gravely, "you can't take Howlett, you know."
Pierpont muttered something which ended in "d—n."
"Then," said I, "there will be but one gun on the Sweet Fern Covent
this afternoon. Very well, I wish you joy of your cold supper and
colder bed. Take your night-gown, Willy, and don't sleep on the damp
"Let Pierpont alone," retorted Barris, "you shall go next time,
"Oh, all right,—you mean when there's shooting going on?"
"And I?" demanded Pierpont, grieved.
"You too, my son; stop quarrelling! Will you ask Howlett to pack
our kits—lightly mind you,—no bottles,—they clink."
"My flask doesn't," said Pierpont, and went off to get ready for a
night's stalking of dangerous men.
"It is strange," said I, "that nobody ever settles in this region.
How many people live in Cardinal Springs, Barris?"
"Twenty counting the telegraph operator and not counting the
lumbermen; they are always changing and shifting. I have six men among
"Where have you no men? In the Four Hundred?"
"I have men there also,—chums of Billy's only he doesn't know it.
David tells me that there was a strong flight of woodcock last night.
You ought to pick up some this afternoon."
Then we chatted about alder-coven and swamp until Pierpont came out
of the house and it was time to part.
"Au revoir," said Barris, buckling on his kit, "come along,
Pierpont, and don't walk in the damp grass."
"If you are not back by to-morrow noon," said I, "I will take
Howlett and David and hunt you up. You say your course is due north?"
"Due north." replied Barris, consulting his compass.
"There is a trail for two miles and a spotted lead for two more,
"Which we won't use for various reasons," added Barris pleasantly;
"don't worry, Roy, and keep your confounded expedition out of the way;
there's no danger."
He knew, of course, what he was talking about and I held my peace.
When the tip end of Pienpont's shooting coat had disappeared in the
Long Covert, I found myself standing alone with Howlett. He bore my
gaze for a moment and then politely lowered his eyes.
"Howlett," said I, "take these shells and implements to the gun
room, and drop nothing. Did Voyou come to any harm in the briers this
"No 'arm, Mr. Cardenhe, sir," said Howlett.
"Then be careful not no drop anything else," said I, and walked
away leaving him decorously puzzled. For he had dropped no cartridges.
About four o'clock that afternoon I men David and the dogs at the
spinney which leads into the Sweet Fern Covent. The three setters,
Voyou, Gamin, and Mioche, were in fine feather,—David had killed a
woodcock and a brace of grouse oven them that morning,—and they were
thrashing about the spinney an short range when I came up, gun under
arm and pipe lighted.
"What's the prospect, David," I asked, trying to keep my feet in
the tangle of wagging, whining dogs; "hello, what's amiss with
"A brier in his foot sir; I drew it and stopped the wound but I
guess the gravel's got in. If you have no objection, sin, I might take
him back with me."
"It's safer," I said; "take Gamin too, I only want one dog this
afternoon. What is the situation?"
"Fair sir; the grouse lie within a quarter of a mile of the oak
second-growth. The woodcock are mostly on the alders. I saw any number
of snipe on the meadows. There's something else in by the lake,—I
can't just tell what, but the wood-duck set up a clatter when I was in
the thicket and they come dashing through the wood as if a dozen foxes
was snappin' an their tail feathers."
"Probably a fox," I said; "leash those dogs,—they must learn to
stand in. I'll be back by dinner time."
"There is one more thing sir," said David, lingering with his gun
under his arm.
"Well," said I.
"I saw a man in the woods by the Oak Covern,—at least I think I
"I think not sir—at least,—do they have Chinamen among them?"
"Chinese? No. You didn't see a Chinaman in the woods here?"
"I— I think I did sir,—I can't say positively. He was gone when I
ran into the covert."
"Did the dogs notice it?"
"I can't say—exactly. They acted queer like. Gamin here lay down
an' whined—it may have been colic—and Mioche whimpered,—perhaps it
was the brier."
"Voyou, he was most remarkable sir, and the hair on his back stood
up, I did see a groundhog makin' for a tree near by."
"Then no wonder Voyou bristled. David, your Chinaman was a stump or
tussock. Take the dogs now."
"I guess it was sir; good afternoon sir," said David, and walked
away with the Gordons leaving me alone with Voyou in the spinney.
I looked at the dog and he looked at me.
The dog sat down and danced with his fore feet, his beautiful brown
"You're a fraud," I said; "which shall it be, the alders or the
upland? Upland? Good!—now for the grouse,—heel, my friend, and show
your miraculous self-restraint."
Voyou wheeled into my tracks and followed close, nobly refusing to
notice the impudent chipmunks and the thousand and one alluring and
important smells which an ordinary dog would have lost no time in
The brown and yellow autumn woods were crisp with drifting heaps of
leaves and twigs that crackled under foot as we turned from the
spinney into the forest. Every silent little stream hurrying toward
the lake was gay with painted leaves afloat, scarlet maple or yellow
oak. Spots of sunlight fell upon the pools, searching the brown
depths, illuminating the gravel bottom where shoals of minnows swam to
and fro, and to and fro again, busy with the purpose of their little
lives. The crickets were chirping in the long brittle grass on the
edge of the woods, but we left them far behind in the silence of the
"Now!" said I to Voyou.
The dog sprang to the front, circled once, zigzagged through the
ferns around us and, all in a moment, stiffened stock still, rigid as
sculptured bronze. I stepped forward, raising my gun, two paces, three
paces, ten perhaps, before a great cock-grouse blundered up from the
brake and burst through the thicket fringe toward the deeper growth.
There was a flash and puff from my gun, a crash of echoes among the
low wooded cliffs, and through the faint veil of smoke something dark
dropped from mid-air amid a cloud of feathers, brown as the brown
leaves under foot.
Up from the ground sprang Voyou, and in a moment he came galloping
back, neck arched, tail stiff but waving, holding tenderly in his pink
mouth a mass of mottled bronzed feathers. Very gravely he laid the
bird at my feet and crouched close beside in, his silky ears across his
paws, his muzzle on the ground.
I dropped the grouse into my pocket, held for a moment a silent
caressing communion with Voyou, then swung my gun under my arm and
motioned the dog on.
It must have been five o'clock when I walked into a little opening
in the woods and sat down to breathe. Voyou came and san down in front
"Well?" I enquired.
Voyou gravely presented one paw which I took.
"We will never get back in time for dinner," said I, "so we might
as well take it easy It's all your fault, you know. Is there a brier
in your foot?—let's see,—there! it's out my friend and you are free
to nose about and lick it. If you loll your tongue out you'll get it
all over twigs and moss.
Can't you lie down and try to pant less? No, there is no use in
sniffing and looking an that fern patch, for we are going to smoke a
little, doze a little, and go home by moonlight. Think what a big
dinner we will have! Think of Howlett's despair when we are not in
time! Think of all the stories you will have to tell to Gamin and
Mioche! Think what a good dog you have been!
There—you are tired old chap; take forty winks with me."
Voyou was a little tired. He stretched out on the leaves at my feet
but whether or not he really slept I could not be certain, until his
hind legs twitched and I knew he was dreaming of mighty deeds.
Now I may have taken forty winks, but the sun seemed no be no lower
when I sat up and unclosed my lids. Voyou raised his head, saw in my
eyes that I was not going yet, thumped his tail half a dozen times on
the dried leaves, and settled back with a sigh.
I looked lazily around, and for the first rime noticed what a
wonderfully beautiful spot I had chosen for a nap. It was an oval
glade in the heart of the forest, level and carpeted with green grass.
The trees that surrounded it were gigantic; they formed one towering
circular wall of verdure, blotting out all except the turquoise blue
of the sky-oval above. And now I noticed that in the centre of the
greensward lay a pool of water, crystal clear, glimmering like a mirror
in the meadow grass, beside a block of granite. It scarcely seemed
possible than the symmetry of tree and lawn and lucent pool could have
been one of nature's accidents. I had never before seen this glade nor
had I ever heard it spoken of by either Pierpont on Barris. It was a
marvel, this diamond clean basin, regular and graceful as a Roman
fountain, set in the gem of turf. And these great trees,—they also
belonged, not in America but in some legend-haunted forest of France,
where moss-grown marbles stand neglected in dim glades, and the
twilight of the forest shelters fairies and slender shapes from
I lay and watched the sunlight showering the tangled thicket where
masses of crimson Cardinal-flowers glowed, or where one long dusty
sunbeam tipped the edge of the floating leaves in the pool, running
them to palest gilt. There were birds too, passing through the dim
avenues of trees like jets of flame,—the gorgeous Cardinal-Bind in
his deep stained crimson robe,—the bird that gave to the woods, to
the village fifteen miles away, to the whole country, the name of
I rolled over on my back and looked up an the sky. How pale,—paler
than a robin's egg,—it was. I seemed to be lying at the bottom of a
well, walled with verdure, high towering on every side. And, as I lay,
all about me the air became sweet scented. Sweeter and sweeter and more
penetrating grew the perfume, and I wondered what stray breeze,
blowing oven acres of lilies, could have brought in. But there was no
breeze; the air was still. A gilded fly alighted on my hand,—a
honey-fly. It was as troubled as I by the scented silence.
Then, behind me, my dog growled.
I sat quite still at first, hardly breathing, but my eyes were
fixed on a shape that moved along the edge of the pool among the
meadow grasses. The dog had ceased growling and was now snaring, alert
At last I nose and walked rapidly down to the pool, my dog
following close to heel.
The figure, a woman's, turned slowly toward us.
She was standing still when I approached the pool. The forest around
us was so silent that when I spoke the sound of my own voice startled
"No," she said,—and her voice was smooth as flowing water, "I have
not lost my way. Will he come to me, your beautiful dog?"
Before I could speak, Voyou crept to her and laid his silky head
against her knees.
"But surely," said I, "you did not come here alone."
"Alone? I did come alone."
"But the nearest settlement is Cardinal, probably nineteen miles
from where we are standing."
"I do not know Cardinal," she said.
"Ste. Croix in Canada is forty miles at least,—how did you come
into the Cardinal Woods?" I asked amazed.
"Into the woods?" she repeated a little impatiently.
She did not answer at first but stood caressing Voyou with gentle
phrase and gesture.
"Your beautiful dog I am fond of, but I am non fond of being
questioned," she said quietly.
"My name is Ysonde and I came to the fountain here to see your
I was properly quenched. After a moment or two I did say that in
another hour in would be growing dusky, but she neither replied nor
looked at me.
"This," I ventured, "is a beautiful pool,—you call it a
fountain,—a delicious fountain: I have never before seen it. It is
hard to imagine that nature did all this."
"Is it?" she said.
"Don't you think so?" I asked.
"I haven't thought; I wish when you go you would leave me your
"If you don't mind," she said sweetly, and looked at me for the
first time in the face.
For an instant our glances met, then she grew grave, and I saw that
her eyes were fixed on my forehead. Suddenly she rose and drew nearer,
looking intently at my forehead. There was a faint mark there, a tiny
crescent, just over my eyebrow. It was a birthmark.
"Is that a scar?" she demanded drawing nearer.
"Than crescent shaped mark? No."
"No? Are you sure?" she insisted.
"Perfectly," I replied, astonished.
"Yes,—may I ask why?"
As she drew away from me, I saw that the color had fled from her
cheeks. For a second she clasped both hands over her eyes as if to
shut out my face, then slowly dropping her hands, she sat down on a
long square block of stone which half encircled the basin, and on which
to my amazement I saw carving. Voyou went to her again and laid his
head in her lap.
"What is your name?" she asked at length.
"Mine is Ysonde. I carved these dragon-flies on the stone, these
fishes and shells and butterflies you see."
"You! They are wonderfully delicate,—but those are not American
"No—they are more beautiful. See, I have my hammer and chisel with
She drew from a queer pouch at her side a small hammer and chisel
and held them toward me.
"You are very talented," I said, "where did you study?"
"I? I never studied,—I knew how. I saw things and cut them out of
stone. Do you like them?Some time I will show you other things that I
have done. If I had a great lump of bronze I could make your dog,
beautiful as he is."
Her hammer fell into the fountain and I leaned over and plunged my
arm into the water to find it.
"It is there, shining on the sand," she said, leaning over the pool
with me.."Where," said I, looking at our reflected faces in the water.
For it was only in the water that I had dared, as yet, to look her
long in the face.
The pool mirrored the exquisite oval of her head, the heavy hair,
the eyes. I heard the silken rustle of her girdle, I caught the flash
of a white arm, and the hammer was drawn up dripping with spray.
The troubled surface of the pool grew calm and again I saw her eyes
"Listen," she said in a low voice, "do you think you will come
again to my fountain?"
"I will come," I said. My voice was dull; the noise of water filled
Then a swift shadow sped across the pool; I rubbed my eyes. Where
her reflected face had bent beside mine there was nothing mirrored but
the rosy evening sky with one pale star glimmering.
I drew myself up and turned. She was gone. I saw the faint star
twinkling above me in the afterglow, I saw the tall trees motionless
in the still evening air, I saw my dog slumbering at my feet.
The sweet scent in the air had faded, leaving in my nostrils the
heavy odor of fern and forest mould. A blind fear seized me, and I
caught up my gun and sprang into the darkening woods.
The dog followed me, crashing through the undergrowth at my side.
Duller and duller grew the light, but I strode on, the sweat pouring
from my face and hair, my mind a chaos. How I reached the spinney I
can hardly tell. As I turned up the path I caught a glimpse of a human
face peering at me from the darkening thicket,—a horrible human face,
yellow and drawn with high-boned cheeks and narrow eyes.
Involuntarily I halted; the dog at my heels snarled. Then I sprang
straight at it, floundering blindly through the thicket, but the night
had fallen swiftly and I found myself panting and struggling in a maze
of twisted shrubbery and twining vines, unable to see the very
undergrowth that ensnared me.
It was a pale face, and a scratched one that I carried no a lane
dinner that night. Howlett served me, dumb reproach in his eyes, for
the soup had been standing and the grouse was juiceless.
David brought the dogs in after they had had their supper, and I
drew my chair before the blaze and set my ale on a table beside me.
The dogs curled up at my feet, blinking gravely at the sparks that
snapped and flew in eddying showers from the heavy birch logs.
"David," said I, "did you say you saw a Chinaman today?"
"I did sir."
"What do you think about it now?"
"I may have been mistaken sir—"
"But you think not. What sort of whiskey did you put in my flask
"The usual sir."
"Is there much gone?"
"About three swallows sir, as usual."
"You don't suppose there could have been any mistake about that
whiskey,—no medicine could have gotten into it for instance."
David smiled and said, "No sir."
"Well," said I, "I have had an extraordinary dream."
When I said "dream," I felt comforted and reassured. I had scarcely
dared to say it before, even to myself.
"An extraordinary dream," I repeated; "I fell asleep in the woods
about five o'clock, in that pretty glade where the fountain—I mean
the pool is. You know the place?"
"I do not sir."
I described it minutely, twice, but David shook his head.
"Carved stone did you say sir? I never chanced on it. You don't
mean the New Spring—"
"No, no! This glade is way beyond that. Is it possible that any
people inhabit the forest between here and the Canada line?"
"Nobody short of Ste. Croix; at least I have no knowledge of any.
"Of course," said I, "when I thought I saw a Chinaman, it was
imagination. Of course I had been more impressed than I was aware of
by your adventure. Of course you saw no Chinaman, David."
"Probably not sir," replied David dubiously.
I sent him off no bed, saying I should keep the dogs with me all
night; and when he was gone, I took a good long draught of ale, "just
no shame the devil," as Pierpont said, and lighted a cigar.
Then I thought of Barris and Pierpont, and their cold bed, for I
knew they would not dare build a fire, and, in spite of the hot
chimney corner and the crackling blaze, I shivered in sympathy.
"I'll tell Barris and Pierpont the whole story and take them to see
the carved stone and the fountain," I thought to myself; "what a
marvelous dream it was—Ysonde,—if it was a dream."
Then I went to the mirror and examined the faint white mark above
About eight o'clock next morning, as I sat listlessly eyeing my coffee
cup which Howlett was filling, Gamin and Mioche set up a howl, and in
a moment more I heard Barris' step on the porch.
"Hello, Roy," said Pierpont, stamping into the dining room, "I want
my breakfast by jingo!
Where's Howlett,—none of your café au lait for me,—I want a chop
and some eggs. Look an that dog, he'll wag the hinge off his tail in a
moment— "Pierpont," said I, "this loquacity is astonishing but
welcome. Where's Barris? You are soaked from neck to ankle."
Pierpont sat down and tore off his stiff muddy leggings.
"Barris is telephoning to Cardinal Springs,—I believe he wants
some of his men,—down!
Gamin, you idiot! Howlett, three eggs poached and more toast,—what
was I saying? Oh, about Barris; he's struck something or other which
he hopes will locate these gold-making fellows. I had a jolly time,—
he'll tell you about it."
"Billy! Billy!" I said in pleased amazement, "you are learning to
talk! Dear me! You load your own shells and you carry your own gun and
you fire it yourself—hello! here's Barris all over mud. You fellows
really ought to change your rig—whew! what a frightful odor!"
"It's probably this," said Barris tossing something onto the hearth
where it shuddered for a moment and then began to writhe; "I found it
in the woods by the lake. Do you know what it can be, Roy?"
To my disgust I saw it was another of those spidery wormy crablike
creatures that Godfrey had in Tiffany's.
"I thought I recognized that acrid odor," I said; "for the love of
the Saints take it away from the breakfast table, Barris!"
"But what is it?" he persisted, unslinging his field-glass and
"I'll tell you what I know after breakfast," I replied firmly.
"Howlett, get a broom and sweep that thing into the road.—What are
you laughing an, Pienpont?" Howlett swept the repulsive creature out
and Barris and Pierpont went to change their dew-soaked clothes for
dryer raiment. David came to take the dogs for an airing and in a few
minutes Barris reappeared and sat down in his place at the head of the
"Well," said I, "is there a story to tell?"
"Yes, not much. They are near the lake on the other side of the
woods,—I mean these gold-makers.
I shall collar one of them this evening. I haven't located the main
gang with any certainty,—shove the toast rack this way will you,
Roy,—no, I am not at all certain, but I've nailed one anyway.
Pierpont was a great help, really,—and, what do you think, Roy? He
wants to join the Secret Service!"
"Exactly. Oh I'll dissuade him. What sort of a reptile was that I
brought in? Did Howlett sweep it away?"
"He can sweep it back again for all I care," I said indifferently.
"I've finished my breakfast."
"No," said Barris, hastily swallowing his coffee, "it's of no
importance; you can tell me about the beast—"
"Serve you right if I had it brought in on toast," I returned.
Pierpont came in radiant, fresh from the bath.
"Go on with your story, Roy," he said; and I told them about
Godfrey and his reptile pet.
"Now what in the name of common sense can Godfrey find interesting
in that creature?" I ended, tossing my cigarette into the fireplace.
"It's Japanese, don't you think?" said Pierpont.
"No," said Barris, "it is non artistically grotesque, it's vulgar
and horrible,—it looks cheap and unfinished—"
"Unfinished,—exactly," said I, "like an American humorist—"
"Yes," said Pierpont, "cheap. What about that gold serpent?"
"Oh, the Metropolitan Museum bought it; you must see it, it's
Barris and Pierpont had lighted their cigarettes and, after a
moment, we all rose and strolled out to the lawn, where chains and
hammocks were placed under the maple trees.
David passed, gun under arm, dogs heeling.
"Three guns on the meadows at four this afternoon," said Pierpont.
"Roy," said Barris as David bowed and started on, "what did you do
This was the question that I had been expecting. All night long I
had dreamed of Ysonde and the glade in the woods, where, at the bottom
of the crystal fountain, I saw the reflection of her eyes. All the
morning while bathing and dressing I had been persuading myself that
the dream was not worth recounting and than a search for the glade and
the imaginary stone carving would be ridiculous. But now, as Barris
asked the question, I suddenly decided to tell him the whole story.
"See here, you fellows," I said abruptly, "I am going to tell you
something queer. You can laugh as much as you please too, but first I
want to ask Barris a question or two. You have been in China, Barris?"
"Yes," said Barris, looking straight into my eyes.
"Would a Chinaman be likely to turn lumberman?"
"Have you seen a Chinaman?" he asked in a quiet voice.
"I don't know; David and I both imagined we did."
Barris and Pierpont exchanged glances.
"Have you seen one also?" I demanded, turning to include
Pierpont.."No," said Barris slowly; "but I know that there is, or has
been, a Chinaman in these woods."
"The devil!" said I.
"Yes," said Barris gravely; "the devil, if you like,—a devil,—a
member of the Kuen-Yuin."
I drew my chair close to the hammock where Pierpont lay at full
length, holding out to me a ball of pure gold.
"Well?" said I, examining the engraving on its surface, which
represented a mass of twisted creatures,—dragons, I supposed.
"Well," repeated Barris, extending his hand to take the golden
ball, "this globe of gold engraved with reptiles and Chinese
hieroglyphics is the symbol of the Kuen-Yuin."
"Where did you get it?" I asked, feeling that something startling
Pierpont found it by the lake an sunrise this morning. It is the
symbol of the Kuen-Yuin," he repeated, "the terrible Kuen-Yuin, the
sorcerers of China, and the most murderously diabolical sect on
We puffed our cigarettes in silence until Barris rose, and began to
pace backward and forward among the trees, twisting his grey
"The Kuen-Yuin are sorcerers," he said, pausing before the hammock
where Pierpont lay watching him; "I mean exactly what I
say,—sorcerers. I've seen them,—I've seen them at their devilish
business, and I repeat to you solemnly, that as there are angels above,
there is a race of devils on earth, and they are sorcerers. Bah!" he
cried, "talk to me of Indian magic and Yogis and all that clap-trap!
Why, Roy, I tell you than the Kuen-Yuin have absolute control of a
hundred millions of people, mind and body, body and soul. Do you know
what goes on in the interior of China? Does Europe know,—could any
human being conceive of the condition of that gigantic hell-pit? You
read the papers, you hear diplomatic twaddle about Li-Hung-Chang and
the Emperor, you see accounts of battles on sea and land, and you know
that Japan has raised a toy tempest along the jagged edge of the great
unknown. But you never before heard of the Kuen-Yuin; no, nor has any
European except a stray missionary or two, and yet I tell you that
when the fires from this pit of hell have eaten through the continent
to the coast, the explosion will inundate half a world,—and God help
the other half."
Pierpont's cigarette went out; he lighted another, and looked hard
"But," resumed Barris quietly, " 'sufficient unto the day,' you
know,— I didn't intend to say as much as I did,—it would do no
good,—even you and Pierpont will forget it,—it seems so impossible
and so far away,—like the burning out of the sun. What I want to
discuss is the possibility or probability of a Chinaman,—a member of
the Kuen-Yuin, being here, an this moment, in the forest."
"If he is," said Pienpont, "possibly the gold-makers owe their
discovery to him."
"I do not doubt it for a second," said Barris earnestly.
I took the little golden globe in my hand, and examined the
characters engraved upon it.
"Barris," said Pierpont, "I can't believe in sorcery while I am
wearing one of Sanford's shooting suits in the pocket of which rests
an uncut volume of the 'Duchess.' "
"Neither can I," I said, "for I read the Evening Post, and I know
Mr. Godkin would not allow in. Hello! What's the matter with this gold
"What is the matter?" said Barris grimly.
"Why—why—it's changing color—purple, no, crimson—no, it's green
I mean—good Heavens! these dragons are twisting under my fingers—"
"Impossible!" muttered Pierpont, leaning oven me; "those are not
"No!" I cried excitedly; "they are pictures of that reptile that
Barris brought back—see—see how they crawl and turn—"
"Drop it!" commanded Barris; and I threw the ball on the turf. In
an instant we had all knelt down on the grass beside it, but the globe
was again golden, grotesquely wrought with dragons and strange signs.
Pierpont, a little red in the face, picked it up, and handed it to
Barris. He placed it on a chair, and sat down beside me.
"Whew!" said I, wiping the perspiration from my face, "how did you
play us that trick, Barris?"
"Trick?" said Barris contemptuously.
I looked an Pierpont, and my heart sank. If this was not a trick,
what was in? Pierpont returned my glance and colored, but all he said
was, "It's devilish queer," and Barris answered, "Yes, devilish." Then
Barris asked me again to tell my stony, and I did, beginning from the
time I met David in the spinney to the moment when I sprang into the
darkening thicket where than yellow mask had grinned like a phantom
"Shall we try to find the fountain?" I asked after a pause.
"Yes,—and—er—the lady," suggested Pierpont vaguely.
"Don't be an ass," I said a little impatiently, "you need not come,
"Oh, I'll come," said Pierpont, "unless you think I am
"Shut up, Pierpont," said Barris, "this thing is serious; I never
heard of such a glade on such a fountain, but it's true that nobody
knows this forest thoroughly. It's worth while trying for; Roy, can
you find your way back to it?"
"Easily," I answered; "when shall we go?"
"It will knock out snipe shooting on the head," said Pierpont, "but
then when one has the opportunity of finding a live dream-lady—"
I rose, deeply offended, but Pierpont was not very penitent and his
laughter was irresistible.
"The lady's yours by right of discovery," he said. "I'll promise
not to infringe on your dreams,—I'll dream about other ladies—"
"Come, come," said I, "I'll have Howlett put you to bed in a
minute. Barris, if you are ready— we can get back no dinner—"
Barris had risen and was gazing at me earnestly.
"What's the matter?" I asked nervously, for I saw that his eyes
were fixed on my forehead, and I thought of Ysonde and the white
"Is that a birthmark?" said Barris.
"Nothing,—an interesting coincidence—"
"What!—for Heaven's sake!"
"The scar,—on rather the birthmark. It is the print of the
dragon's claw,—the crescent symbol of Yue-Laou—"
'And who the devil is Yue-Laou?" I said crossly.
"Yue-Laou, the Moon Maker, Dzil-Nbu of the Kuen-Yuin;—it's Chinese
mythology, but it is believed that Yue-Laou has returned to rule the
"The conversation," interrupted Pierpont, "smacks of peacock's
feathers and yellow-jackets.
The chicken-pox has left its card on Roy, and Barris is guying us.
Come on, you fellows, and make your call on the dream-lady. Barris, I
hear galloping; here come your men."
Two mud splashed riders clattered up to the porch and dismounted at
a motion from Barris. I noticed that both of them carried repeating
rifles and heavy Colt's revolvers.
They followed Barris, deferentially, into the dining-room, and
presently we heard the tinkle of plates and bottles and the low hum of
Barris' musical voice.
Half an hour later they came out again, saluted Pierpont and me,
and galloped away in the direction of the Canadian frontier. Ten
minutes passed, and, as Barris did not appear, we rose and went into
the house, to find him. He was sitting silently before the table,
watching the small golden globe, now glowing with scarlet and orange
fire, brilliant as a live coal. Howlett, mouth ajar, and eyes starting
from the sockets, stood petrified behind him.
"Are you coming," asked Pierpont, a little startled. Barris did not
answer. The globe slowly turned to pale gold again,—but the face that
Barris raised to ours was white as a sheet. Then he stood up, and
smiled with an effort which was painful no us all.
"Give me a pencil and a bit of paper," he said.
Howlett brought it. Barris went to the window and wrote rapidly. He
folded the paper, placed it in the top drawer of his desk, locked the
drawer, handed me the key, and motioned us to precede him.
When again we stood under the maples, he turned to me with an
"You will know when to use the key," he said:
"Come, Pierpont, we must try no find Roy's fountain."
At two o'clock that afternoon, at Barris' suggestion, we gave up the
search for the fountain in the glade and cut across the forest to the
spinney where David and Howlett were waiting with our guns and the
Pierpont guyed me unmercifully about the "dream-lady" as he called
her, and, but for the significant coincidence of Ysonde's and Barris'
questions concerning the white scar on my forehead, I should long ago
have been perfectly persuaded that I had dreamed the whole thing.
As it was, I had no explanation no offer. We had not been able to
find the glade although fifty times I came to landmarks which
convinced me that we were just about to enter it. Barris was quiet,
scarcely uttering a word to either of us during the entire search. I
had never before seen him depressed in spirits. However, when we came
in sight of the spinney where a cold bit of grouse and a bottle of
Burgundy awaited each, Barris seemed no recover his habitual good
"Here's to the dream-lady!" said Pierpont, raising his glass and
I did not like in. Even if she was only a dream, it irritated me to
hear Pierpont's mocking voice.
Perhaps Barris understood,—I don't know, but he bade Pierpont
drink his wine without further noise, and that young man obeyed with a
childlike confidence which almost made Barris smile.
"What about the snipe, David," I asked; "the meadows should be in
"There is not a snipe on the meadows, sir," said David solemnly.
"Impossible," exclaimed Barris, "they can't have left."
"They have, sir," said David in a sepulchral voice which I hardly
recognized. We all three looked at the old man curiously, waiting for
his explanation of this disappointing but sensational report.
David looked an Howlett and Howlett examined the sky.."I was
going," began the old man, with his eyes fastened on Howlett, "I was
going along by the spinney with the dogs when I heard a noise in the
covert and I seen Howlett come walkin'
very fast toward me. In fact," continued David, "I may say he was
runnin'. Was you runnin', Howlett?"
Howlett said "Yes," with a decorous cough.
"I beg pardon," said David, "but I'd rather Howlett told the rest.
He saw things which I did not."
"Go on, Howlett," commanded Pierpont, much interested.
Howlett coughed again behind his large red hand.
"What David says is true sir," he began; "I h'observed the dogs at
a distance 'ow they was a workin' sir, and David stood a lightin' of
's pipe be'ind the spotted beech when I see a 'ead pop up in the
covert 'oldin a stick like 'e was h'aimin' at the dogs sir"— "A head
holding a stick?" said Pierpont severely.
"The 'ead 'ad 'ands, sir," explained Howlent, "'ands that 'eld a
painted stick,—like that, sir.
'Owlett, thinks I to meself this 'ere's queer, so I jumps it an'
runs, but the beggar 'e seen me an'
w'en I comes alongside of David, 'e was gone. "'Ello 'Owlett,' sez
David, 'what the 'ell—I beg pardon, sir,— ''ow did you come 'ere,'
sez 'e very loud. 'Run!' sez I, 'the Chinaman is harrnyin'
the dawgs!' 'For Gawd's sake wot Chinaman?' sez David, h'aimin'
'is gun at every bush. Then I thinks I see 'im an' we run an' run, the
dawgs a boundin' close to heel sir, but we don't see no Chinaman."
"I'll tell the nest," said David, as Howlett coughed and stepped in
a modest corner behind the dogs.
"Go on," said Barris in a strange voice.
"Well sir, when Howlett and I stopped chasin', we was on the cliff
overlooking the south meadow. I noticed that there was hundreds of
birds there, mostly yellow-legs and plover, and Howlett seen them too.
Then before I could say a word to Howlett, something out in the lake
gave a splash—a splash as if the whole cliff had fallen into the
water. I was that scared that I jumped straight into the bush and
Howlett he sat down quick, and all those snipe wheeled up— there was
hundreds,—all a squeelin' with fright, and the wood-duck came bowlin'
over the meadows as if the old Nick was behind."
David paused and glanced meditatively at the dogs.
"Go on," said Barris in the same strained voice.
"Nothing more sir. The snipe did not come back."
"But that splash in the lake?"
"I don't know what it was sir."
"A salmon? A salmon couldn't have frightened the duck and the snipe
"No—oh no, sir. If fifty salmon had jumped they couldn't have made
that splash. Couldn't they, Howlett?"
"No 'ow," said Howlett.
"Roy," said Barris at length, "what David tells us settles the
snipe shooting for to-day. I am going to take Pierpont up to the
house. Howlett and David will follow with the dogs,—I have something
to say to them. If you care to come, come along; if not, go and shoot a
brace of grouse for dinner and be back by eight if you want to see
what Pierpont and I discovered last night."
David whistled Gamin and Mioche to heel and followed Howlett and
his hamper toward the house. I called Voyou to my side, picked up my
gun and turned to Barris.."I will be back by eight," I said; "you are
expecting to catch one of the gold-makers, are you not?"
"Yes," said Barris listlessly.
Pierpont began to speak about the Chinaman but Barris motioned him
to follow, and, nodding to me, took the path that Howlett and David
had followed toward the house. When they disappeared I tucked my gun
under my arm and turned sharply into the forest, Voyou trotting close
to my heels.
In spite of myself the continued apparition of the Chinaman made me
nervous. If he troubled me again I had fully decided to get the drop
on him and find out what he was doing in the Cardinal Woods. If he
could give no satisfactory account of himself I would march him in to
Barris as a gold-making suspect,—I would march him in anyway, I
thought, and rid the forest of his ugly face. I wondered what it was
that David had heard in the lake. It must have been a big fish, a
salmon, I thought; probably David's and Howlett's nerves were
overwrought after their Celestial chase.
A whine from the dog broke the thread of my meditation and I raised
my head. Then I stopped short in my tracks.
The lost glade lay straight before me.
Already the dog had bounded into it, across the velvet turf to the
carved stone where a slim figure sat. I saw my dog lay his silky head
lovingly against her silken kirtle; I saw her face bend above him, and
I caught my breath and slowly entered the sun-lit glade.
Half timidly she held out one white hand.
"Now than you have come," she said, "I can show you more of my
work. I told you that I could do other things besides these
dragon-flies and moths carved here in stone. Why do you stare at me
so? Are you ill?"
"Ysonde," I stammered.
"Yes," she said, with a faint color under her eyes.
"I—I never expected to see you again," I blurted out,
"—you—I—I—thought I had dreamed— "
"Dreamed, of me? Perhaps you did, is that strange?"
"Strange? N—no——but—where did you go when—when we were leaning
over the fountain together? I saw your face,—your face reflected
beside mine and then—then suddenly I saw the blue sky and only a star
"It was because you fell asleep," she said. "was it not?"
"You slept—I thought you were very tired and I went back—"
"Back to my home where I carve my beautiful images; see, here is
one I brought no show you to-day."
I took the sculptured creature that she held toward me, a massive
golden lizard with frail claw-spread wings of gold so thin than the
sunlight burned through and fell on the ground in flaming gilded
"Good Heavens!" I exclaimed, "this is astounding! Where did you
learn to do such work? Ysonde, such a thing is beyond price!"
"Oh, I hope so," she said earnestly, "I can't bear to sell my work,
but my step-father takes it and sends it away. This is the second
thing I have done and yesterday he said I must give it to him. I
suppose he is poor."
"I don't see how he can be poor if he gives you gold to model in," I
"Gold!" she exclaimed, "gold! He has a room full of gold! He makes
it." I sat down on the turf at her feet completely unnerved.
"Why do you look at me so?" she asked, a little troubled.
"Where does your step-father live?" I said at last.
"In the woods near the lake. You could never find our house."
"Of course. Did you think I lived in a tree? How silly. I live with
my step-father in a beautiful house,—a small house, but very
beautiful. He makes his gold there but the men who carry it away never
come to the house, for they don't know where it is and if they did they
could not get in. My step-father carries the gold in lumps to a canvas
satchel. When the satchel is full he takes it out into the woods where
the men live and I don't know what they do with it. I wish he could
sell the gold and become rich for then I could go back to Yian where
all the gardens are sweet and the river flows under the thousand
"Where is this city?" I asked faintly.
"Yian? I don't know. It is sweet with perfume and the sound of
silver bells all day long.
Yesterday I carried a blossom of dried lotus buds from Yian, in my
breast, and all the woods were fragrant. Did you smell in?"
"I wondered, last night, whether you did. How beautiful your dog
is; I love him. Yesterday I thought most about your dog but last
"Last night," I repeated below my breath.
"I thought of you. Why do you wear the dragon-claw?"
I raised my hand impulsively to my forehead, covering the scar.
"What do you know of the dragon-claw?" I muttered.
"In is the symbol of Yue-Laou, and Yue-Laou rules the Kuen-Yuin, my
step-father says. My step-father tells me everything than I know. We
lived in Yian until I was sixteen years old. I am eighteen now; that
is two years we have lived in the forest. Look!—see those scarlet
binds! What are they? There are birds of the same color in Yian."
"Where is Yian, Ysonde?" I asked with deadly calmness.
"Yian? I don't know."
"But you have lived there?"
"Yes, a very long time."
"Is it across the ocean, Ysonde?"
"It is across seven oceans and the great river which is longer than
from the earth to the moon."
"Who told you that?"
"Who? My step-father; he tells me everything."
"Will you tell me his name, Ysonde?"
"I don't know it, he is my step-father, that is all."
"And what is your name?"
"You know it, Ysonde."
"Yes, but what other name.
"Than is all, Ysonde. Have you two names? Why do you look at me so
"Does your step-father make gold? Have you seen him make in?"
"Oh yes. He made it also in Yian and I loved to watch the sparks at
night whirling like golden bees. Yian is lovely,—if it is all like
our garden and the gardens around. I can see the thousand bridges from
my garden and the white mountain beyond—"
"And the people—tell me of the people, Ysonde' I urged gently.
"The people of Yian? I could see them in swarms like ants—oh!
many, many millions crossing and recrossing the thousand bridges."
"But how did they look? Did they dress as I do?"
"I don't know. They were very far away, moving specks on the
thousand bridges. For sixteen years I saw them every day from my
garden but I never went out of my garden into the streets of Yian, for
my step-father forbade me."
"You never saw a living creature near by in Yian?" I asked in
"My birds, oh such tall, wise-looking birds, all over grey and rose
She leaned over the gleaming water and drew her polished hand
across the surface.
"Why do you ask me these questions," she murmured; "are you
"Tell me about your step-father," I insisted. "Does he look as I
do? Does he dress, does he speak as I do? Is he American?"
"American? I don't know. He does not dress as you do and he does
not look as you do. He is old, very, very old. He speaks sometimes as
you do, sometimes as they do in Yian. I speak also in both manners."
"Then speak as they do in Yian," I urged impatiently, "speak
as—why, Ysonde! why are you crying? Have I hurt you?—l did non
intend,—I did not dream of your caring! There Ysonde, forgive
me,—see, I beg you on my knees here at your feet."
I stopped, my eyes fastened on a small golden ball which hung from
her waist by a golden chain. I saw it trembling against her thigh, I
saw it change color, now crimson, now purple, now flaming scarlet. It
was the symbol of the Kuen-Yuin.
She bent over me and laid her fingers gently on my arm.
"Why do you ask me such things?" she said, while the tears
glistened on her lashes. "In hurts me here,—" she pressed her hand to
her breast,— "in pains.—I don't know why. Ah, now your eyes are hard
and cold again; you are looking at the golden globe which hangs from my
Do you wish to know also what that is?"
"Yes," I muttered, my eyes fixed on the infernal color flames which
subsided as I spoke, leaving the ball a pale gilt again.
"It is the symbol of the Kuen-Yuin," she said in a trembling voice;
"why do you ask?"
"Is it yours?"
"Where did you get in?" I cried harshly.
Then she pushed me away from her with all the strength of her
slender wrists and covered her face.
If I slipped my arm about her and drew her to me,—if I kissed away
the tears that fell slowly between her fingers,—if I told her how I
loved her—how it cut me to the heart to see her unhappy,—after all
that is my own business. When she smiled through her tears, the pure
love and sweetness in her eyes lifted my soul higher than the high
moon vaguely glimmering through the sun-lit blue above. My happiness
was so sudden, so fierce and overwhelming that I only knelt there, her
fingers clasped in mine, my eyes raised to the blue vault and the
glimmering moon..Then something in the long grass beside me moved close
to my knees and a damp acrid odor filled my nostrils.
"Ysonde!" I cried, but the touch of her hand was already gone and
my two clenched fists were cold and damp with dew.
"Ysonde!" I called again, my tongue stiff with fright;—but I
called as one awaking from a dream—a horrid dream, for my nostrils
quivered with the damp acrid odor and I felt the crab-reptile clinging
to my knee. Why had the night fallen so swiftly,—and where was
I—where?— stiff, chilled, torn, and bleeding, lying flung like a
corpse over my own threshold with Voyou licking my face and Barris
snooping above me in the light of a lamp that flared and smoked in the
night breeze like a torch. Faugh! the choking stench of the lamp
aroused me and I cried out:
"What the devil's the manner with him?" muttered Pierpont, lifting
me in his arms like a child, "has he been stabbed, Barris?"
In a few minutes I was able to stand and walk stiffly into my bedroom
where Howlett had a hot bath ready and a hotter tumbler of Scotch.
Pierpont sponged the blood from my throat where it had coagulated. The
cut was slight, almost invisible, a mere puncture from a thorn. A
shampoo cleaned my mind, and a cold plunge and alcohol friction did
"Now," said Pierpont, "swallow your hot Scotch and lie down. Do you
want a broiled woodcock? Good, I fancy you are coming about."
Barris and Pierpont watched me as I sat on the edge of the bed,
solemnly chewing on the woodcock's wishbone and sipping my Bordeaux,
very much an my ease.
Pierpont sighed his relief.
"So," he said pleasantly, "it was a mere case of ten dollars or ten
days. I thought you had been stabbed—"
"I was not intoxicated," I replied, serenely picking up a bit of
"Only jagged?" enquired Pierpont, full of sympathy.
"Nonsense," said Barris, "let him alone. Want some more celery,
Roy?—it will make you sleep."
"I don't want to sleep," I answered; "when are you and Pierpont
going no catch your gold-maker?"
Barris looked at his watch and closed it with a snap.
"In an hour; you don't propose to go with us?"
"But I do,—toss me a cup of coffee, Pierpont, will you,—that's
just what I propose no do.
Howlett, bring the new box of Panatellas,—the mild imported;—and
leave the decanter. Now Barris, I'll be dressing, and you and Pierpont
keep still and listen to what I have to say. Is that door shut night?"
Barris locked it and sat down.
"Thanks," said I. "Barris, where is the city of Yian?"
An expression akin to terror flashed into Barris' eyes and I saw
him stop breathing for a moment.
"There is no such city," he said at length, "have I been talking in
"It is a city," I continued, calmly, "where the river winds under
the thousand bridges, where the gardens are sweet scented and the air
is filled with the music of silver bells—"
"Stop!" gasped Barris, and rose trembling from his chain. He had
grown ten years older.
"Roy," interposed Pierpont coolly, "what the deuce are you harrying
I looked at Barris and he looked at me. After a second on two he
sat down again.
"Go on, Roy," he said.
"I must," I answered, "for now I am certain that I have not
I told them everything; but, even as I told it, the whole thing
seemed so vague, so unreal, that at times I stopped with the hot blood
tingling in my ears, for it seemed impossible that sensible men, in
the year of our Lord 1896, could seriously discuss such manners.
I feared Pierpont, but he did not even smile. As for Barris, he sat
with his handsome head sunk on his breast, his unlighted pipe clasped
tight in both hands.
When I had finished, Pierpont turned slowly and looked at Barris.
Twice he moved his lips as if about to ask something and then remained
"Yian is a city," said Barris, speaking dreamily; "was that why you
wished to know, Pierpont?"
We nodded silently.
"Yian is a city," repeated Barris, "where the great river winds
under the thousand bridges,— where the gardens are sweet scented, and
the air is filled with the music of silver bells."
My lips formed the question, "Where is this city?"
"It lies," said Barris, almost querulously, "across the seven
oceans and the river which is longer than from the earth to the moon."
"What do you mean?" said Pierpont.
'Ah," said Barris, rousing himself with an effort and raising his
sunken eyes, "I am using the allegories of another land; let it pass.
Have I not told you of the Kuen-Yuin? Yian is the centre of the
Kuen-Yuin. It lies hidden in that gigantic shadow called China, vague
and vast as the midnight Heavens,—a continent unknown, impenetrable."
"Impenetrable," repeated Pierpont below his breath.
"I have seen it," said Barris dreamily. "I have seen the dead
plains of Black Cathay and I have crossed the mountains of Death,
whose summits are above the atmosphere. I have seen the shadow of
Xangi cast across Abaddon. Better to die a million miles from Yezd and
Ater Quedah than to have seen the white water-lotus close in the
shadow of Xangi! I have slept among the ruins of Xaindu where the
winds never cease and the Wulwulleh is wailed by the dead."
"And Yian," I urged gently.
There was an unearthly look on his face as he turned slowly toward
"Yian,—I have lived there—and loved there. When the breath of my
body shall cease, when the dragon's claw shall fade from my arm,"—he
none up his sleeve, and we saw a white crescent shining above his
elbow,—"when the light of my eyes has faded forever, then, even then I
shall not forget the city of Yian. Why, it is my home,—mine! The
river and the thousand bridges, the white peak beyond, the
sweet-scented gardens, the lilies, the pleasant noise of the summer
wind laden with bee music and the music of bells,—all these are mine.
Do you think because the Kuen-Yuin feared the dragon's claw on my arm
that my work with them is ended? Do you think than because Yue-Laou
could give, that I acknowledge his right to take away? Is he Xangi in
whose shadow the white water-lotus dares non raise ins head? No! No!"
he cried violently, it was not from Yue-Laou, the sorcerer, the Maker
of Moons, that my happiness came! It was real, it was not a shadow to
vanish like a tinted bubble! Can a sorcerer create and give a man the
woman he loves? Is Yue-Laou as great as Xangi then? Xangi is God. In
His own time, in His infinite goodness and mercy He will bring me
again to the woman I love. And I know she waits for me at God's feet."
In the strained silence that followed I could hear my heart's double
beat and I saw Pierpont's face, blanched and pitiful. Barris shook
himself and raised his head. The change in his ruddy face frightened
"Heed!" he said, with a terrible glance at me; "the print of the
dragon's claw is on your forehead and Yue-Laou knows in. If you must
love, then love like a man, for you will suffer like a soul in hell,
in the end. What is her name again?"
"Ysonde," I answered simply.
At nine o'clock that night we caught one of the gold-makers. I do not
know how Barris had laid his trap; all I saw of the affair can be told
in a minute or two.
We were posted on the Cardinal road about a mile below the house,
Pierpont and I with drawn revolvers on one side, under a butternut
tree, Barris on the other, a Winchester across his knees.
I had just asked Pierpont the hour, and he was feeling for his
watch when far up the road we heard the sound of a galloping horse,
nearer, nearer, clattering, thundering past. Then Barris'
rifle spat flame and the dark mass, horse and rider, crashed into
the dust. Pierpont had the half stunned horseman by the collar in a
second,—the horse was stone dead,—and, as we lighted a pine knot to
examine the fellow, Barris' two riders galloped up and drew bridle
"Hm!" said Barris with a scowl, "it's the 'Shiner,' or I'm a
We crowded curiously around to see the "Shiner." He was red-headed,
fat and filthy, and his little red eyes burned in his head like the
eyes of an angry pig.
Barris went through his pockets methodically while Pierpont held
him and I held the torch. The Shiner was a gold mine; pockets, shirt,
bootlegs, hat, even his dirty fists, clutched tight and bleeding, were
bursting with lumps of soft yellow gold. Barris dropped this "moonshine
as we had come to call in, into the pockets of his shooting-coat,
and withdrew to question the prisoner. He came back again in a few
minutes and motioned his mounted men to take the Shiner in charge. We
watched them, rifle on thigh, walking their horses slowly away into the
darkness, the Shiner, tightly bound, shuffling sullenly between them.
"Who is the Shiner?" asked Pierpont, slipping the revolver into his
"A moonshiner, counterfeiter, forger, and highwayman," said Barris,
"and probably a murderer. Drummond will be glad to see him, and I
think it likely he will be persuaded to confess to him what he refuses
to confess no me."
"Wouldn't he talk?" I asked.
"Not a syllable. Pierpont, there is nothing more for you to do."
"For me to do? Are you not coming back with us, Barris?"
"No," said Barris.
We walked along the dark road in silence for a while, I wondering
what Barris intended to do, but he said nothing more until we reached
our own verandah. Here he held out his hand, first to Pienpont, then
to me, saying good-bye as though he were going on a long journey.
"How soon will you be back?" I called out to him as he turned away
toward the gate. He came across the lawn again and again took our
hands with a quiet affection that I had never imagined him capable of.
"I am going," he said, "to put an end to his gold-making no-night.
I know that you fellows have never suspected what I was about on my
little solitary evening strolls after dinner. I will tell you. Already
I have unobtrusively killed four of these gold-makers,—my men put them
under.ground just below the new wash-out at the four mile stone. There
are three left alive,—the Shiner whom we have, another criminal named
'Yellow,' on 'Yaller' in the vernacular, and the third—"
"The third," repeated Pierpont, excitedly.
"The third I have never yet seen. But I know who and what he is,—I
know; and if he is of human flesh and blood, his blood will flow
As he spoke a slight noise across the turf attracted my attention.
A mounted man was advancing silently in the starlight oven the spongy
meadowland. When he came nearer Barris struck a match, and we saw that
he bore a corpse across his saddle bow.
"Yaller, Colonel Barris," said the man, touching his slouched hat
This grim introduction to the corpse made me shudder, and, after a
moment's examination of the stiff, wide-eyed dead man, I drew back.
"Identified," said Barris, "take him to the four mile post and
carry his effects to Washington,— under seal, mind, Johnstone."
Away cantered the rider with his ghastly burden, and Barris took
our hands once more for the last time. Then he went away, gaily, with
a jest on his lips, and Pierpont and I turned back into the house.
For an hour we sat moodily smoking in the hall before the fire,
saying little until Pierpont burst out with: "I wish Barris had taken
one of us with him to-night!"
The same thought had been running in my mind, but I said: "Barris
knows what he's about."
This observation neither comforted us nor opened the lane to
further conversation, and after a few minutes Pierpont said good night
and called for Howlett and hot water. When he had been warmly tucked
away by Howlett, I turned out all but one lamp, sent the dogs away with
David and dismissed Howlett for the night.
I was not inclined to retire for I knew I could not sleep. There
was a book lying open on the table beside the fire and I opened it and
read a page or two, but my mind was fixed on other things.
The window shades were raised and I looked out at the star-set
firmament. There was no moon that night but the sky was dusted all
over with sparkling stars and a pale radiance, brighter even than
moonlight, fell over meadow and wood. Far away in the forest I heard
the voice of the wind, a soft warm wind that whispered a name, Ysonde.
"Listen," sighed the voice of the wind, and "listen" echoed the
swaying trees with every little leaf a-quiver. I listened.
Where the long grasses trembled with the cricket's cadence I heard
her name, Ysonde; I heard it in the rustling woodbine where grey moths
hovered; I heard it in the drip, drip, drip of the dew from the porch.
The silent meadow brook whispered her name, the rippling woodland
streams repeated in, Ysonde, Ysonde, until all earth and sky were
filled with the soft thrill, Ysonde, Ysonde, Ysonde.
A night-thrush sang in a thicket by the porch and I stole to the
verandah to listen. After a while it began again, a little further on.
I ventured out into the road. Again I heard it far away in the forest
and I followed it, for I knew it was singing of Ysonde.
When I came to the path than leaves the main road and enters the
Sweet-Fern Covert below the spinney, I hesitated; but the beauty of
the night lured me on and the night-thrushes called me from every
thicket. In the starry radiance, shrubs, grasses, field flowers, stood
out distinctly, for there was no moon to cast shadows. Meadow and
brook, grove and stream, were illuminated by the pale glow. Like great
lamps lighted the planets hung from the high domed sky and through
their mysterious rays the fixed stars, calm, serene, stared from the
heavens like eyes..I waded on waist deep through fields of dewy
golden-rod, through late clover and wild-oat wastes, through crimson
fruited sweetbrier, blueberry, and wild plum, until the low whisper of
the Wier Brook warned me that the path had ended.
But I would not stop, for the night air was heavy with the perfume
of water-lilies and far away, across the low wooded cliffs and the wet
meadowland beyond, there was a distant gleam of silver, and I heard
the murmur of sleepy waterfowl. I would go to the lake. The way was
clear except for the dense young growth and the snares of the
The night-thrushes had ceased but I did not want for the company of
living creatures. Slender, quick darting forms crossed my path at
intervals, sleek mink, that fled like shadows at my step, wiry weasels
and fan muskrats, hurrying onward to some tryst or killing.
I never had seen so many little woodland creatures on the move at
night. I began to wonder where they all were going so fast, why they
all hurried on in the same direction. Now I passed a hare hopping
through the brushwood, now a rabbit scurrying by, flag hoisted. As I
entered the beech second-growth two foxes glided by me; a little
further on a doe crashed out of the underbrush, and close behind her
stole a lynx, eyes shining like coals.
He neither paid attention to the doe nor to me, but loped away
toward the north.
The lynx was in flight.
"From what?" I asked myself, wondering. There was no forest fine,
no cyclone, no flood.
If Barris had passed that way could he have stirred up this sudden
exodus? Impossible; even a regiment in the forest could scarcely have
put to rout these frightened creatures.
"What on earth," thought I, turning to watch the headlong flight of
a fisher-cat, "what on earth has started the beasts out at this time
I looked up into the sky. The placid glow of the fixed stars
comforted me and I stepped on through the narrow spruce belt that
leads down to the borders of the Lake of the Stars.
Wild cranberry and moose-bush entwined my feet, dewy branches
spattered me with moisture, and the thick spruce needles scraped my
face as I threaded my way oven mossy logs and deep spongy tussocks
down to the level gravel of the lake shone.
Although there was no wind the little waves were hurrying in from
the lake and I heard them splashing among the pebbles. In the pale
star glow thousands of water-lilies lifted their half-closed chalices
toward the sky.
I threw myself full length upon the shone, and, chin on hand,
looked out across the lake.
Splash, splash, came the waves along the shore, higher, nearer,
until a film of water, thin and glittering as a knife blade, crept up
to my elbows. I could not understand it; the lake was rising, but
there had been no rain. All along the shore the water was running up; I
heard the waves among the sedge grass; the weeds at my side were awash
in the ripples. The lilies rocked on the tiny waves, every wet pad
rising on the swells, sinking, rising again until the whole lake was
glimmering with undulating blossoms. How sweet and deep was the
fragrance from the lilies.
And now the water was ebbing, slowly, and the waves receded,
shrinking from the shone rim until the white pebbles appeared again,
shining like froth on a brimming glass.
No animal swimming out in the dankness along the shore, no heavy
salmon surging, could have set the whole shore aflood as though the
wash from a great boat were rolling in. Could it have been the
overflow, through the Weir Brook, of some cloud-burst far back in the
forest? This was the only way I could account for it, and yet when I
had crossed the Wien Brook I had not noticed that it was swollen.
And as I lay there thinking, a faint breeze sprang up and I saw the
surface of the lake whiten with lifted lily pads..All around me the
alders were sighing; I heard the forest behind me stir; the crossed
branches rubbing softly, bark against bark. Something—it may have
been an owl—sailed out of the night, dipped, soared, and was again
engulfed, and far across the water I heard its faint cry, Ysonde.
Then first, for my heart was full, I cast myself down upon my face,
calling on her name. My eyes were wet when I raised my head,—for the
spray from the shore was drifting in again,—and my heart beat
heavily; "No more, no more." But my heart lied, for even as I raised my
face to the calm stars, I saw her standing still, close beside me; and
very gently I spoke her name, Ysonde.
She held out both hands.
"I was lonely," she said, "and I went to the glade, but the forest
is full of frightened creatures and they frightened me. Has anything
happened in the woods? The deer are running toward the heights."
Her hand still lay in mine as we moved along the shore, and the
lapping of the water on rock and shallow was no lower than our voices.
"Why did you leave me without a word, there at the fountain in the
glade?" she said.
"I leave you!—"
"Indeed you did, running swiftly with your dog, plunging through
thickens and brush,—oh— you frightened me."
"Did I leave you so?"
"You had kissed me—"
Then we leaned down together and looked into the black water set
with stars, just as we had bent together over the fountain in the
"Do you remember?" I asked.
"Yes. See, the water is inlaid with silver stars,—everywhere whine
lilies floating and the stars below, deep, deep down."
"What is the flower you hold in your hand?"
"Tell me about Yue-Laou, Dzil-Nbu of the Kuen-Yuin," I whispered,
lifting her head so I could see her eyes.
"Would it please you to hear?"
"All than I know is yours, now, as I am yours, all than I am. Bend
closer. Is it of Yue-Laou you would know? Yue-Laou is Dzil-Nhu of the
Kuen-Yuin. He lived in the Moon. He is old—very, very old, and once,
before he came to rule the Kuen-Yuin, he was the old man who unites
with a silken cord all predestined couples, after which nothing can
prevent their union. But all that is changed since he came to rule the
Kuen-Yuin. Now he has perverted the Xin,—the good genii of
China,—and has fashioned from their warped bodies a monster which he
calls the Xin. This monster is horrible, for it not only lives in its
own body, but it has thousands of loathsome satellites,—living
creatures without mouths, blind, that move when the Xin moves, like a
mandarin and his escort. They are part of the Xin although they are
not attached. Yet if one of these satellites is injured the Xin
writhes with agony. It is fearful—this huge living bulk and these
creatures spread out like severed fingers that wriggle around a hideous
"Who told you this?"
"Do you believe it?"
"Yes. I have seen one of the Xin's creatures.
"Here in the woods."
"Then you believe there is a Xin here?"
"There must be,—perhaps in the lake—"
"Oh, Xins inhabit lakes?"
"Yes, and the seven seas. I am not afraid here."
"Because I wear the symbol of the Kuen-Yuin."
"Then I am not safe," I smiled.
"Yes you are, for I hold you in my arms. Shall I tell you more
about the Xin? When the Xin is about to do to death a man, the
Yeth-hounds gallop through the night—"
"What are the Yeth-hounds, Ysonde?"
"The Yeth-hounds are dogs without heads. They are the spirits of
murdered children, which pass through the woods at night, making a
"Do you believe this?"
"Yes, for I have worn the yellow lotus—"
"The yellow lotus—"
"Yellow is the symbol of faith—"
"In Yian," she said faintly.
After a while I said, "Ysonde, you know there is a God?"
"God and Xangi are one."
"Have you ever heard of Christ?"
"No," she answered softly.
The wind began again among the tree tops. I felt her hands closing
"Ysonde," I asked again, "do you believe in sorcerers?"
"Yes, the Kuen-Yuin are sorcerers; Yue-Laou is a sorcerer.
"Have you seen sorcery?"
"Yes, the reptile satellite of the Xin—"
"My charm,—the golden ball, the symbol of the Kuen-Yuin. Have you
seen it change,—have you seen the reptiles writhe—?"
"Yes," I said shortly, and then remained silent, for a sudden
shiver of apprehension had seized me. Barris also had spoken gravely,
ominously of the sorcerers, the Kuen-Yuin, and I had seen with my own
eyes the graven reptiles turning and twisting on the glowing globe.
"Still," said I aloud, "God lives and sorcery is but a name."
"Ah," murmured Ysonde, drawing closer no me, "they say, in Yian,
the Kuen-Yuin live; God is but a name."
"They lie," I whispered fiercely.
"Be careful," she pleaded, "they may hear you. Remember that you
have the mark of the dragon's claw on your brow."
"What of it?" I asked, thinking also of the white mark on Barris'
"Ah don't you know that those who are marked with the dragon's claw
are followed by Yue-Laou, for good or for evil,—and the evil means
death if you offend him?"
"Do you believe that!" I asked impatiently.."I know it," she
"Who told you all this? Your step-father? What in Heaven's name is
he then,—a Chinaman!"
"I don't know; he is not like you."
"Have—have you told him anything about me?"
"He knows about you—no, I have told him nothing,—ah what is
this—see—it is a cord, a cord of silk about your neck—and about
"Where did that come from?" I asked astonished.
"It must be—in must be Yue-Laou who binds me to you,—it is as my
step-father said—he said Yue-Laou would bind us—"
"Nonsense," I said almost roughly, and seized the silken cord, but
to my amazement it melted in my hand like smoke.
"What is all this damnable jugglery!" I whispered angrily, but my
anger vanished as the words were spoken, and a convulsive shudder
shook me to the feet. Standing on the shone of the lake, a stone's
throw away, was a figure, twisted and bent,—a little old man, blowing
sparks from a live coal which he held in his naked hand. The coal
glowed with increasing radiance, lighting up the skull-like face above
it, and threw a red glow oven the sands at his feet. But the face!—the
ghastly Chinese face on which the light flickered,—and the snaky
slitted eyes, sparkling as the coal glowed hotter. Coal! It was not a
coal but a golden globe staining the night with crimson flames—it was
the symbol of the Kuen-Yuin.
"See! See!" gasped Ysonde, trembling violently, "see the moon
rising from between his fingers! Oh I thought it was my step-father
and it is Yue-Laou the Maker of Moons—no! no! it is my
step-father—ah God! they are the same!"
Frozen with terror I stumbled to my knees, groping for my revolver
which bulged in my coat pocket; but something held me—something which
bound me like a web in a thousand strong silky meshes. I struggled and
turned but the web grew tighter; it was over us—all around us,
drawing, pressing us into each other's arms until we lay side by side,
bound hand and body and foot, palpitating, panting like a pair of
And the creature on the shore below! What was my horror to see a
moon, huge, silvery, rise like a bubble from between his fingers,
mount higher, higher into the still air and hang aloft in the midnight
sky, while another moon rose from his fingers, and another and yet
another until the vast span of Heaven was set with moons and the earth
sparkled like a diamond in the white glare.
A great wind began to blow from the east and it bore to our ears a
long mournful howl,—a cry so unearthly that for a moment our hearts
"The Yeth-hounds!" sobbed Ysonde, "do you hear!—they are passing
through the forest! The Xin is near!"
Then all around us in the dry sedge grasses came a rustle as if
some small animals were creeping, and a damp acrid odor filled the
air. I knew the smell, I saw the spidery crablike creatures swarm out
around me and drag their soft yellow hairy bodies across the shrinking
grasses. They passed, hundreds of them, poisoning the air, rumbling,
writhing, crawling with their blind mouthless heads raised. Birds,
half asleep and confused by the darkness, fluttered away before them
in helpless fright, rabbits sprang from their forms, weasels glided
away like flying shadows. What remained of the forest creatures rose
and fled from the loathsome invasion; I heard the squeak of a
terrified hare, the snort of stampeding deer, and the lumbering gallop
of a bear; and all the time I was choking, half suffocated by the
Then, as I struggled no free myself from the silken snare about me,
I cast a glance of deadly fear at the sorcerer below, and at the same
moment I saw him turn in his tracks.."Halt!" cried a voice from the
"Barris!" I shouted, half leaping up in my agony.
I saw the sorcerer spring forward, I heard the bang! bang! bang! of
a revolver, and, as the sorcerer fell on the water's edge, I saw
Barris jump out into the white glare and fire again, once, twice,
three times, into the writhing figure at his feet.
Then an awful thing occurred. Up out of the black lake reared a
shadow, a nameless shapeless mass, headless, sightless, gigantic,
gaping from end to end.
A great wave struck Barris and he fell, another washed him up on
the pebbles, another whirled him back into the water and then,—and
then the thing fell over him,—and I fainted.
* * * This, then, is all that I know concerning Yue-Laou and the
Xin. I do not fear the ridicule of scientists or of the press for I
have told the truth. Barris is gone and the thing that killed him is
alive to-day in the Lake of the Stars while the spider-like satellites
roam through the Cardinal Woods. The game has fled, the forests around
the lake are empty of any living creatures save the reptiles than
creep when the Xin moves in the depths of the lake.
General Drummond knows what he has lost in Barris, and we, Pierpont
and I, know what we have lost also. His will we found in the drawer,
the key of which he had handed me. It was wrapped in a bit of paper on
which was written:
"Yue-Laou the sorcerer is here in the Cardinal Woods. I must kill
him or he will kill me. He made and gave to me the woman I loved,—he
made her,—I saw him,—he made her out of a white water-lotus bud.
When our child was born, he came again before me and demanded from me
the woman I loved. Then, when I refused, he went away, and that night
my wife and child vanished from my side, and I found upon her pillow a
white lotus bud. Roy, the woman of your dream, Ysonde, may be my
child. God help you if you love her for Yue-Laou will give,—and take
away, as though he were Xangi, which is God. I will kill Yue-Laou
before I leave this forest,—or he will kill me.
Now the world knows what Barris thought of the Kuen-Yuin and of
Yue-Laou. I see than the newspapers are just becoming excited over the
glimpses that Li-Hung-Chang has afforded them of Black Cathay and the
demons of the Kuen-Yuin. The Kuen-Yuin are on the move.
Pierpont and I have dismantled the shooting box in the Cardinal
Woods. We hold ourselves ready at a moment's notice to join and lead
the first Government party to drag the Lake of Stars and cleanse the
forest of the crab reptiles. But it will be necessary that a large
force assembles, and a well-armed force, for we never have found the
body of Yue-Laou, and, living or dead, I fear him. Is he living?
Pierpont, who found Ysonde and myself lying unconscious on the lake
shore, the morning after, saw no trace of corpse or blood on the
sands. He may have fallen into the lake, but I fear and Ysonde fears
than he is alive. We never were able to find either her dwelling place
or the glade and the fountain again. The only thing that remains to
her of hen former life is the gold.serpent in the Metropolitan Museum
and her golden globe, the symbol of the Kuen-Yuin; but the latter no
longer changes color.
David and the dogs are waiting for me in the count yard as I write.
Pierpont is in the gun room loading shells, and Howlett brings him mug
after mug of my ale from the wood. Ysonde bends oven my desk,—I feel
her hand on my arm, and she is saying, "Don't you think you have done
enough to-day, dear? How can you write such silly nonsense without a
shadow of truth or foundation?"