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The God of His Fathers and Other Stories

The Scorn Of Women
Once Freda and Mrs. Eppingwell clashed.
Now Freda was a Greek girl and a dancer. At least she purported to be Greek; but this
was doubted by many, for her classic face had over-much strength in it, and the tides of
hell which rose in her eyes made at rare moments her ethnology the more dubious. To a
few--men--this sight had been vouchsafed, and though long years may have passed, they
have not forgotten, nor will they ever forget. She never talked of herself, so that it were
well to let it go down that when in repose, expurgated, Greek she certainly was. Her furs
were the most magnificent in all the country from Chilcoot to St. Michael's, and her name
was common on the lips of men. But Mrs. Eppingwell was the wife of a captain; also a
social constellation of the first magnitude, the path of her orbit marking the most select
coterie in Dawson,--a coterie captioned by the profane as the "official clique." Sitka
Charley had travelled trail with her once, when famine drew tight and a man's life was
less than a cup of flour, and his judgment placed her above all women. Sitka Charley was
an Indian; his criteria were primitive; but his word was flat, and his verdict a hall-mark in
every camp under the circle.
These two women were man-conquering, man-subduing machines, each in her own way,
and their ways were different. Mrs. Eppingwell ruled in her own house, and at the
Barracks, where were younger sons galore, to say nothing of the chiefs of the police, the
executive, and the judiciary. Freda ruled down in the town; but the men she ruled were
the same who functioned socially at the Barracks or were fed tea and canned preserves at
the hand of Mrs. Eppingwell in her hillside cabin of rough-hewn logs. Each knew the
other existed; but their lives were apart as the Poles, and while they must have heard stray
bits of news and were curious, they were never known to ask a question. And there would
have been no trouble had not a free lance in the shape of the model- woman come into the
land on the first ice, with a spanking dog- team and a cosmopolitan reputation. Loraine
Lisznayi-- alliterative, dramatic, and Hungarian--precipitated the strife, and because of
her Mrs. Eppingwell left her hillside and invaded Freda's domain, and Freda likewise
went up from the town to spread confusion and embarrassment at the Governor's ball.
All of which may be ancient history so far as the Klondike is concerned, but very few,
even in Dawson, know the inner truth of the matter; nor beyond those few are there any
fit to measure the wife of the captain or the Greek dancer. And that all are now permitted
to understand, let honor be accorded Sitka Charley. From his lips fell the main facts in the
screed herewith presented. It ill befits that Freda herself should have waxed confidential
to a mere scribbler of words, or that Mrs. Eppingwell made mention of the things which
happened. They may have spoken, but it is unlikely.
II
Floyd Vanderlip was a strong man, apparently. Hard work and hard grub had no terrors
for him, as his early history in the country attested. In danger he was a lion, and when he
 
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