Fools of Fate

Fanny is the wife of Ben Webster, a trapper, and while he is an affectionate and dutiful husband, she yearns for something which appears better than her lot. She reasons: "Have I not youth and beauty and attainments far above this environment? Why should I be compelled to toil and struggle in this wilderness?" Truly, she did not know just what she yearned for, still a change of any sort would have been acceptable. Discontent is stamped upon her countenance, as Ben bids her good bye for a hunting trip in the North Woods. Webster embarks in his canoe, and sighting game, stands to fire. The light craft is overturned, throwing him into the water. Weighted down by his heavy clothing and cartridge belt, he would have drowned had not his plight been witnessed from the shore by Ed Hilton, a Canadian hunter. Hilton leaps in and succeeds in dragging the half-drowned trapper to land, where a strong friendship springs up between the two, and as night falls they make camp and sleep under the same blanket. Next morning they part with a vow of eternal friendship. Fanny goes to the village grocery store, and by chance meets Hilton, and it is a case of love at first sight with both, each, of course, ignorant of the other's identity. A second meeting is contrived and Hilton, thinking her a single girl, suggests an elopement, to which she consents. A meeting place is planned, and Fanny is there and leaves with Hilton his cabin. She has, however, left a note for Ben saying that she "is tired, and is going away." Poor Webster's heart nearly breaks as he reads this short, but cutting letter. Grief at first possesses him, then revenge. Taking up his gun, he starts after her. He hits a trail with the aid of a couple of villagers who had witnessed unseen the clandestine meeting of Fanny and the Canadian. Tracking them to the cabin he bursts in a few moments after their arrival. You may imagine the amazement on both sides when Ben finds Hilton is the man, and Hilton learns that Webster's wife is the woman. Hilton proves his innocence by commanding Webster to shoot; but no, Ben cannot kill the man to whom he owes his life, and so he staggers out and hack to his own home. Hilton, on the other hand, drives the heartless Fanny from him. She goes out, and for a time is undecided, when she resolves to face her husband and beg his forgiveness. Night has fallen and the cabin is in darkness when she enters. Going to the next room she gets the lantern, by which light she sees her husband sitting with his head reclining on the table. She assumes it is his grief, but on touching him, his inert form falls to the floor, he has terminated his existence. The shock causes her to recoil, and so doing knocks over the lantern, extinguishing the light. There in the shaft of moonlight we leave her kneeling beside the awful result of her discontent. "Oh, thou fool!"

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