Back to God's Country and Other Stories
Father Brochet had come south from Fond du Lac, and Weyman, the Hudson's Bay
Company doctor, north through the Geikee River country. They had met at Severn's
cabin, on the Waterfound. Both had come on the same mission--to see Severn; one to
keep him from dying, if that was possible, one to comfort him in the last hour, if death
came. Severn insisted on living. Bright-eyed, hollow-cheeked, with a racking cough that
reddened the gauze handkerchief the doctor had given him, he sat bolstered up in his cot
and looked out through the open door with glad and hopeful gaze. Weyman had arrived
only half an hour before. Outside was the Indian canoeman who had helped to bring him
It was a glorious day, such as comes in its full beauty only in the far northern spring,
where the air enters the lungs like sharp, warm wine, laden with the tang of spruce and
balsam, and the sweetness of the bursting poplar-buds.
"It was mighty good of you to come up," Severn was saying to the doctor. "The company
has always been the best friend I've ever had--except one--and that's why I've hung to it
all these years, trailing the sledges first as a kid, you know, then trapping, running, and--
He stopped to cough, and the little black-frocked missioner, looking across at Weyman,
saw him bite his lips.
"That cough hurts, but it's better," Severn apologized, smiling weakly. "Funny, ain't it, a
man like me coming down with a cough? Why, I've slept in ice a thousand times, with
snow for a pillow and the thermometer down to fifty. But this last winter it was cold,
seventy or lower, an' I worked in it when I ought to have been inside, warming my toes.
But, you see, I wanted to get the cabin built, an' things all cleared up about here, before
SHE came. It's the cold that got me, wasn't it, doc?"
"That's it," said Weyman, rolling and lighting a cigarette. Then he laughed, as the sick
man finished another coughing spell, and said:
"I never thought you'd have a love affair, Bucky!"
"Neither did I," chuckled Severn. "Ain't it a wonder, doc? Here I'm thirty-eight, with a
hide on me like leather, an' no thought of a woman for twenty years, until I saw HER. I
don't mean it's a wonder I fell in love, doc--you'd 'a' done that if you'd met her first. The
wonder of it is that she fell in love with me." He laughed softly. "I'll bet Father Brochet'll
go in a heap himself when he marries us! It's goin' to happen next month. Did you ever
see her, father--Marie La Corne, over at the post on Split Lake?"
Severn dropped his head to cough, but Weyman say the sudden look of horror that leaped
into the little priest's face.