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The God of His Fathers and Other Stories

Which Make Men Remember
Fortune La Pearle crushed his way through the snow, sobbing, straining, cursing his luck,
Alaska, Nome, the cards, and the man who had felt his knife. The hot blood was freezing
on his hands, and the scene yet bright in his eyes,--the man, clutching the table and
sinking slowly to the floor; the rolling counters and the scattered deck; the swift shiver
throughout the room, and the pause; the game-keepers no longer calling, and the clatter of
the chips dying away; the startled faces; the infinite instant of silence; and then the great
blood-roar and the tide of vengeance which lapped his heels and turned the town mad
behind him.
"All hell's broke loose," he sneered, turning aside in the darkness and heading for the
beach. Lights were flashing from open doors, and tent, cabin, and dance-hall let slip their
denizens upon the chase. The clamor of men and howling of dogs smote his ears and
quickened his feet. He ran on and on. The sounds grew dim, and the pursuit dissipated
itself in vain rage and aimless groping. But a flitting shadow clung to him. Head thrust
over shoulder, he caught glimpses of it, now taking vague shape on an open expanse of
snow, how merging into the deeper shadows of some darkened cabin or beach-listed
craft.
Fortune La Pearle swore like a woman, weakly, with the hint of tears that comes of
exhaustion, and plunged deeper into the maze of heaped ice, tents, and prospect holes. He
stumbled over taut hawsers and piles of dunnage, tripped on crazy guy-ropes and insanely
planted pegs, and fell again and again upon frozen dumps and mounds of hoarded
driftwood. At times, when he deemed he had drawn clear, his head dizzy with the painful
pounding of his heart and the suffocating intake of his breath, he slackened down; and
ever the shadow leaped out of the gloom and forced him on in heart-breaking flight. A
swift intuition lashed upon him, leaving in its trail the cold chill of superstition. The
persistence of the shadow he invested with his gambler's symbolism. Silent, inexorable,
not to be shaken off, he took it as the fate which waited at the last turn when chips were
cashed in and gains and losses counted up. Fortune La Pearle believed in those rare,
illuminating moments, when the intelligence flung from it time and space, to rise naked
through eternity and read the facts of life from the open book of chance. That this was
such a moment he had no doubt; and when he turned inland and sped across the snow-
covered tundra he was not startled because the shadow took upon it greater definiteness
and drew in closer. Oppressed with his own impotence, he halted in the midst of the
white waste and whirled about. His right hand slipped from its mitten, and a revolver, at
level, glistened in the pale light of the stars.
"Don't shoot. I haven't a gun."
The shadow had assumed tangible shape, and at the sound of its human voice a
trepidation affected Fortune La Pearle's knees, and his stomach was stricken with the
qualms of sudden relief.
 
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