A Mountain Woman and Other Stories
"I am not well," she said. Her teeth were chattering, and her eyes had a little blue glaze
over them. "I am going home. In the morning I will send the lilies."
The priest caught her by the hand.
"Ninon," he whispered, "it is on my soul not to let you go to-night. Something tells me
that the hour of your salvation is come. Women worse than you, Ninon, have come to
lead holy lives. Pray, Ninon, pray to the Mother of Sorrows, who knows the sufferings
and sins of the heart." He pointed to the befrilled and highly fashionable Virgin with her
Ninon shrank from him, and the same convulsive rigidity he had noticed before, held her
immovable. A moment later, she was on the street again, and the priest, watching her
down the street, saw her enter her cabin with Pierre.
It was past midnight when the priest was awakened from his sleep by a knock on the
door. He wrapped his great buffalo-coat about him, and answered the summons. Without
in the damp darkness stood Pierre.
"Father," he cried, "Ninon has sent for you. Since she left you, she has been very ill. I
have done what I could; but now she hardly speaks, but I make out that she wants you."
Ten minutes later, they were in Ninon's cabin. When Father de Smet looked at her he
knew she was dying. He had seen the Indians like that many times during the winter. It
was the plague, but driven in to prey upon the system by the exposure. The Parisienne's
teeth were set, but she managed to smile upon her visitor as he threw off his coat and bent
over her. He poured some whiskey for her; but she could not get the liquid over her
"Do not," she said fiercely between those set white teeth, "do not forget the lilies." She
sank back and fixed her glazing eyes on the antlers, and kept them there watching those
dangling silken scarves, while the priest, in haste, spoke the words for the departing soul.
The next morning she lay dead among those half barbaric relics of her coquetry, and two
white lilies with hearts of gold shed perfume from an altar in a wilderness.