As he spoke the gate-keeper's wife came timidly up to the physician and the sick child, pushed her rough and tangled hair off her forehead a little, crossed her lean arms at full length behind her back, and, looking down with out-stretched neck at the boy, stared in dumb amazement at the wet cloths. Then she timidly enquired: "Are the evil spirits driven out of the child?"
In this little clearing a slim dark figure of a man was straightening out the tangled traces of a sledge-team. Philip could not see his face, but he knew that it was Jean. It was Jean's figure, Jean's movement, his low, sharp voice as he spoke to the dogs. Man and huskies were not twenty steps from him. With a tense breath Philip replaced his pistol in its holster.
In fact, so inconceivably rapid were his movements, and so closely were the Indians tangled together, that they shot one another with the arrows; and one young hunter, hurling a spear at Buck in mid air, drove it through the chest of another hunter with such force that the point broke through the skin of the back and stood out beyond.
The entire range of hills was covered with a dense and tangled timber-growth, save where the wood-cutters had cleared out a steep, rectangular space, and dotted it with pale-yellow lumber-piles, that looked as if nothing less than a miracle kept them from rolling over and over down to the bottom of the valley, or where the gray, irregular face of a precipice denied all foothold to the boldest roots.
Sometimes I would see far stretches of mountain peaks, and sometimes the crowded streets of cities; but for the most part my visions were of the sea tall ships sailing, and little boats drifting over calm water in moonlight, and black steamers gliding quickly past me; and still more frequently, but always in a calm sea, the broken hulks of wrecked ships with shattered masts and tangled rigging and with dead men lying about their decks, and sometimes with a dead man hanging across the wheel and moving a little with the hulk's motion so that in a horrible sort of way he seemed to be half alive.
And you shall be repaid for this night's work, aha!" Mignon was a very wise cow. She had not pastured in the meadows about Chartres with blind eyes. She knew the paths north and south and east and west through the forest and the fern; and even in the dark of the tangled underbrush she could feel out the way quite plainly.
Julian, pleased at his apparent victory, now ventured on a careful process of education, on the insertion of the thin edge of the wedge, as he mutely named it. "Cuckoo," he said, "let me give you a present, a dress. Now," as she began to shake her tangled head, "don't be silly. I have never given you anything, and if we are to be pals you mustn't be so proud.
The difficulties of the ground, broken up into fearful chasms and water-courses, and tangled with thickets, were greatly increased by the darkness of the night; and the soldiers, as they toiled slowly upward, were filled with apprehension, akin to fear, from the uncertainty whether each successive step might not bring them into an ambuscade, for which the ground was so favorable.
"It means that I can make neither head nor tail of it. So far as I can see it is just as tangled a business as ever I handled, and yet at first it seemed so simple that one couldn't go wrong. There's no motive, Mr. Holmes. That's what bothers me I can't put my hand on a motive. Here's a man dead there's no denying that but, so far as I can see, no reason on earth why anyone should wish him harm."