Part 6 out of 9
sprightly conversation. Before Cameron's unsympathetic silence,
however, all her sprightly attempts came to abject failure.
"What's the matter with you?" at length she asked. "Don't you want
to see me home?"
"What?" said Cameron, abruptly, for his thoughts were far away.
"Oh, nonsense! Of course! Why not? But we shall certainly be
caught in the storm. Let us hurry. Here, let me take your arm."
His manner was brusque, almost rude.
"Oh, I guess I can get along," replied Mandy, catching off her hat
and gathering up her skirt over her shoulders, "but we'll have to
hustle, for I'd hate to have you get, wet." Her imperturbable good
humour and her solicitude for him rebuked Cameron for his abruptness.
"I hope you will not get wet," he said.
"Oh, don't you worry about me. I ain't salt nor sugar, but I
forgot all about your bein' sick." And with laboured breath poor
Mandy hurried through the growing darkness with Cameron keeping
close by her side. "We won't be long now," she panted, as they
turned from the side line towards their own gate.
As if in reply to her words there sounded from behind the fence and
close to their side a long loud howl. Cameron gave a start.
"Great Caesar! What dog is that?" he exclaimed.
"Oh," said Mandy coolly, "guess it's MacKenzie's Carlo."
Immediately there rose from the fence on the other side an
answering howl, followed by a full chorus of howls and yelps
mingled with a bawling of calves and the ringing of cow bells, as
if a dozen curs or more were in full cry after a herd of cattle.
Cameron stood still in bewildered amazement.
"What the deuce are they at?" he cried, peering through the
"Huh!" grunted Mandy. "Them's curs all right, but they ain't much
dog. You wait till I see them fellows. They'll pay for this, you
"Do you mean to say these are not dogs?" cried Cameron, speaking in
her ear, so great was the din.
"Dogs?" answered Mandy with indignant scorn. "Naw! Just or'nary
curs! Come along," she cried, catching his arm, "let's hurry."
"Here!" he cried, suddenly wrenching himself free, "I am going to
see into this."
"No, no!" cried Mandy, gripping his arm once more with her strong
hands. "They will hurt you. Come on! We're just home. You can
see them again. No, I won't let you go."
In vain he struggled. Her strong hands held him fast. Suddenly
there was a succession of short, sharp barks. Immediately dead
silence fell. Not a sound could be heard, not a shape seen.
"Come out into the open, you cowardly curs!" shouted Cameron.
"Come on! One, two, three at a time, if you dare!"
But silence answered him.
"Come," said Mandy in a low voice, "let's hurry. It's goin' to
rain. Come on! Come along!"
Cameron stood irresolute. Then arose out of the black darkness a
long quavering cat call. With a sudden dash Cameron sprang towards
the fence. Instantly there was a sound of running feet through the
plowed field on the other side, then silence.
"Come back, you cowards!" raged Cameron. "Isn't there a man among
For answer a clod came hurtling through the dark and struck with a
thud upon the fence. Immediately, as if at a signal, there fell
about Cameron a perfect hail of clods and even stones.
"Oh! Oh!" shrieked Mandy, rushing towards him and throwing herself
between him and the falling missiles. "Come away! Come away!
They'll just kill you."
For answer Cameron put his arms about her and drew her behind him,
shielding her as best he could with his body.
"Do you want to kill a woman?" he called aloud.
At once the hail of clods ceased and, raging as he was, Mandy
dragged him homeward. At the door of the house he made to turn
"Not much, you don't," said Mandy, stoutly, "or I go with you."
"Oh, all right," said Cameron, "let them go. They are only a lot
of curs, anyway."
For a few minutes they stood and talked in the kitchen, Cameron
making light of the incident and making strenuous efforts to
dissemble the rage that filled his soul. After a few minutes
conversation Cameron announced his intention of going to bed, while
Mandy passed upstairs. He left the house and stole down the lane
toward the road. The throbbing pain in his head was forgotten in
the blind rage that possessed him. He had only one longing, to
stand within striking distance of the cowardly curs, only one fear,
that they should escape him. Swiftly, silently, he stole down the
lane, every nerve, every muscle tense as a steel spring. His
throat was hot, his eyes so dazzled that he could scarcely see; his
breath came in quick gasps; his hands were trembling as with a
nervous chill. The storm had partially blown away. It had become
so light that he could dimly discern a number of figures at the
entrance to the lane. Having his quarry in sight, Cameron crouched
in the fence corner, holding hard by the rail till he should become
master of himself. He could hear their explosions of suppressed
laughter. It was some minutes before he had himself in hand, then
with a swift silent run he stood among them. So busy were they in
recounting the various incidents in the recent "chivaree," that
before they were aware Cameron was upon them. At his approach the
circle broke and scattered, some flying to the fence. But Perkins
with some others stood their ground.
"Hello, Cameron!" drawled Perkins. "Did you see our cows? I
thought I heard some of them down the line."
For answer Cameron launched himself at him like a bolt from a bow.
There was a single sharp crack and Perkins was literally lifted
clear off his feet and hurled back upon the road, where he lay
still. Fiercely Cameron faced round to the next man, but he gave
back quickly. A third sprang to throw himself upon Cameron, but
once more Cameron's hand shot forward and his assailant was hurled
back heavily into the arms of his friends. Before Cameron could
strike again a young giant, known as Sam Sailor, flung his arms
about him, crying--
"Tut-tut, young fellow, this won't do, you know. Can't you take a
bit of fun?"
For answer Cameron clinched him savagely, gripping him by the
throat and planting two heavy blows upon his ribs.
"Here--boys," gasped the young fellow, "he's--chokin'--the--life--
From all sides they threw themselves upon him and, striking,
kicking, fighting furiously, Cameron went down under the struggling
mass, his hand still gripping the throat it had seized.
"Say! He's a regular bull-dog," cried one. "Git hold of his legs
and yank him off," which, with shouts and laughter, they proceeded
to do and piled themselves upon him, chanting the refrain--"More
beef! More beef!"
A few minutes more of frantic struggling and a wild agonised scream
rose from beneath the mass of men.
"Git off, boys! Git off!" roared the young giant. "I'm afraid
Flinging them off on either side, he stood up and waited for their
victim to rise. But Cameron lay on his face, moaning and writhing,
on the ground.
"Say, boys," said Sam, kneeling down beside him, "I'm afraid he's
In his writhing Cameron lifted one leg. It toppled over to one
"Jumpin' Jeremiah!" said Sam in an awed voice. "His leg's broke!
What in Sam Hill can we do?"
As he spoke there was a sound of running feet, coming down the
lane. The moon, shining through the breaking clouds, revealed a
figure with floating garments rapidly approaching.
"My cats!" cried Sam in a terrified voice. "It's Mandy."
Like leaves before a sudden gust of wind the group scattered and
only Sam was left.
"What--what are you doin'?" panted Mandy. "Where is he? Oh, is
that him?" She flung herself down in the dust beside Cameron and
turned him over. His face was white, his eyes glazed. He looked
like death. "Oh! Oh!" she moaned. "Have they killed you? Have
they killed you?" She gathered his head upon her knees, moaning
like a wounded animal.
"Good Lord, Mandy, don't go on like that!" cried Sam in a horrified
voice. "It's only his leg broke."
Mandy laid his head gently down, then sprang to her feet.
"Only his leg broke? Who done it? Who done it, tell me? Who done
it?" she panted, her voice rising with her gasping breath. "What
coward done it? Was it you, Sam Sailor?"
"Guess we're all in it," said Sam stupidly. "It was jist a bit of
For answer she swung her heavy hand hard upon Sam's face.
"Say, Mandy! Hold hard!" cried Sam, surprise and the weight of the
blow almost knocking him off his feet.
"You cowardly brute!" she gasped. "Get out of my sight. Oh, what
shall we do?" She dropped on her knees and took Cameron's head
once more in her arms. "What shall we do?"
"Guess we'll have to git him in somewheres," said Sam. "How can we
carry him though? If we had some kind of a stretcher?"
"Wait! I know," cried Mandy, flying off up the lane.
Before many minutes had passed she had returned, breathing hard.
"It's--the---milkhouse--door," she said. "I--guess that'll--do."
"That'll do all right, Mandy. Now I wish some of them fellers
Sam pulled off his coat and made of it a pillow, then stood up
looking for help. His eye fell upon the prostrate and senseless
form of Perkins.
"Say, what'll we do with him?" he said, pointing to the silent
"Who is it?" enquired Mandy. "What's the matter?"
"It's Perkins," replied Sam. "He hit him a terrible crack."
"Perkins!" said Mandy with scorn. "Let him lie, the dog. Come on,
take his head."
"You can't do it, Mandy, no use trying. You can't do it."
"Come on, I tell you," she said fiercely. "Quit your jawin'. He
may be dyin' for all I know. I'd carry him alone if it wasn't for
his broken leg." Slowly, painfully they carried him to the house
and to the front door.
"Wait a minute!" said Mandy. "I'll have to git things fixed a bit.
We mustn't wake mother. It would scare her to death."
She passed quickly into the house and soon Sam saw a light pass
from room to room. In a few moments Mandy reappeared at the front
"Quick!" whispered Sam. "He's comin' to."
"Oh, thank goodness!" cried Mandy. "Let's git him in before he
Once more they lifted their burden and with infinite difficulty and
much painful manoeuvering they got the injured man through the
doors and upon the spare room bed.
"And now, Sam Sailor," cried Mandy, coming close to him, "you jist
hitch up Deck and hustle for the doctor if ever you did in your
life. Don't wait for nothin', but go! Go!" She fairly pushed him
out of the door, running with him towards the stable. "Oh, Sam,
hurry!" she pleaded, "for if this man should die I will never be
the like again." Her face was white, her eyes glowing like great
stars; her voice was soft and tremulous with tears.
Sam stood for a moment gazing as if upon a vision.
"What are you lookin' at?" she cried, stamping her foot and pushing
"Jumpin' Jeremiah!" muttered Sam, as he ran towards the stable.
"Is that Mandy Haley? Guess we don't know much about her."
His nimble fingers soon had Dexter hitched to the buggy and
speeding down the lane at a pace sufficiently rapid to suit the
high spirit of even that fiery young colt.
At the high road he came upon his friends, some of whom were
working with Perkins, others conversing in awed and hurried
"Hello, Sam!" they called. "Hold up!"
"I'm in a hurry, boys, don't stop me. I'm scared to death. And
you better git home. She'll be down on you again."
"How is he?" cried a voice.
"Don't know. I'm goin' for the doctor, and the sooner we git that
doctor the better for everybody around." And Sam disappeared in a
whirl of dust.
"Say! Who would a thought it?" he mused. "That Mandy Haley?
She's a terror. And them eyes! Oh, git on, Deck, what you
monkeyin' about? Wonder if she's gone on that young feller? I
guess she is all right! Say, wasn't that a clout he handed
Perkins. And didn't she give me one. But them eyes! Mandy Haley!
By the jumpin' Jeremiah! And the way she looks at a feller! Here,
Deck, what you foolin' about? Gwan now, or you'll git into
Deck, who had been indulging himself in a series of leaps and
plunges, shying at even the most familiar objects by the road side,
settled down at length to a businesslike trot which brought him to
the doctor's door in about fifteen minutes from the Haleys' gate.
But to Sam's dismay the doctor had gone to Cramm's Mill, six or
seven miles away, and would not be back till the morning. Sam was
in a quandary. There was another doctor at Brookfield, five miles
further on, but there was a possibility that he also might be out.
"Say, there ain't no use goin' back without a doctor. She'd--
she'd--Jumpin' Jeremiah! What would she do? Say, Deck, you've got
to git down to business. We're goin' to the city. There are
doctors there thick as hair on a dog. We'll try Dr. Turnbull.
Say, it'll be great if we could git him! Deck, we'll do it! But
you got to git up and dust."
And this Deck proceeded to do to such good purpose that in about
an hour's time he stood before Dr. Turnbull's door in the city,
somewhat wet, it is true, but with his fiery spirit still untamed.
Here again adverse fate met the unfortunate Sam.
"Doctor Turnbull's no at home," said the maid, smart with cap and
apron, who opened the door.
"How long will he be gone?" enquired Sam, wondering what she had on
her head, and why.
"There's no tellin'. An hour, or two hours, or three."
"Three hours?" echoed Sam. "Say, a feller might kick the bucket in
The maid smiled an undisturbed smile.
"Bucket? What bucket, eh? What bucket are ye talkin' aboot?" she
"Say, you're smart, ain't yeh! But I got a young feller that's
broke his leg and--"
"His leg?" said the maid indifferently. "Well, he's got another?"
"Yes, you bet he has, but one leg ain't much good without the
other. How would you like to hop around on one leg? And he's hurt
inside, too, his lights, I guess, and other things." Sam's
anatomical knowledge was somewhat vague. "And besides, his girl's
takin' on awful."
"Oh, is she indeed?" replied the maid, this item apparently being
to her of the very slightest importance.
"Say, if you only saw her," said Sam.
"Pretty, I suppose," said the maid with a touch of scorn.
"Pretty? No, ugly as a hedge fence. But say, I wish she was here
right now. She'd bring you to your--to time, you bet."
"Would she, now? I'd sort her." And the little maid's black eyes
"Say, what'll I do? Jist got to have a doctor."
"Ye'll no git him till to-morrow."
"How far oot are ye?"
"Twelve miles? Ye'll no get him a minute afore to-morrow noon."
"Say, that young feller'll croak, sure. Away from home too. No
friends. All his folks in Scotland."
"Scotland, did ye say?" Something appeared to wake up in the
little maid. "Look here, why don't ye get a doctor instead o'
daunderin' your time here?"
"Git a doctor?" echoed Sam in vast surprise. "And ain't I tryin'
to git a doctor? Where'll I git a doctor?"
"Go to the hospital, ye gawk, and ask for Dr. Turnbull, and tell
him the young lad is a stranger and that his folk are in Scotland.
Hoots, ye gomeril, be off noo, an' the puir lad wantin' ye. Come,
I'll pit ye on yer way." The maid by her speech was obviously
Sam glanced at the clock as he passed out. He had been away an
hour and a half.
"Jumpin' Jeremiah! I've got to hurry. She'll take my head off."
"Of course ye have," said the maid sharply. "Go down two streets
there, then take the first turn to your left and go straight on for
half a dozen blocks or so. Mind ye tell the doctor the lad's frae
Scotland!" she cried to Sam as he drove off.
At the hospital Sam was fortunate enough to catch Dr. Turnbull in
the hall with one or two others, just as they were about to pass
into the consulting room. Such was Sam's desperate state of mind
that he went straight up to the group.
"I want Dr. Turnbull," he said.
"There he is before you," replied a sharp-faced young doctor,
pointing to a benevolent looking old gentleman.
"Dr. Turnbull, there's a young feller hurt dreadful out our way.
His leg's broke. Guess he's hurt inside too. And he's a stranger.
His folks are all in Scotland. Guess he's dyin', and I've got--
I've got a horse and buggy at the door. I can git you out and back
in a jiffy. Say, doctor, I'm all ready to start."
A smile passed over the faces of the group. But Dr. Turnbull had
too long experience with desperate cases and with desperate men.
"My dear Sir," he replied, "I cannot go for some hours."
"Doctor, I want you now. I got to have somebody right now."
"A broken leg?" mused the doctor.
"Yes, and hurt inside."
"How did it happen?" said the doctor.
"Eh? I don't know exactly," replied Sam, taken somewhat aback.
"Somethin' fell on him. But he needs you bad."
"I can't go, my man, but we'll find some one. What's his name did
"His name is Cameron, and he's from Scotland."
"Cameron?" said the sharp-faced young doctor. "What does he look
"Look like?" said Sam in a perplexed voice. "Well, the girls all
think he looks pretty good. He's dark complected and he's a mighty
smart young feller. Great on jumpin' and runnin'. Say, he's a
crackajack. Why, at the Dominion Day picnic! But you must a'
heard about him. He's the chap, you know, that won the hundred
yards. Plays the pipes and--"
"Plays the pipes?" cried Dr. Turnbull and the young doctor
"And his name's Cameron?" continued the young doctor. "I wonder
"I say, Martin," said Dr. Turnbull, "I think you had better go.
The case may be urgent."
"Cameron!" cried Martin again. "I bet my bat it's-- Here, wait
till I get my coat. I'll be with you in a jerk. Have you got a
"He's all right," said Sam. "He'll git you there in an hour."
"An hour? How far is it?"
"Great heavens! Come, then, get a move on!" And so it came that
within an hour Cameron, opening his eyes, looked up into the face
of his friend.
"Martin! By Jove!" he said, and closed his eyes again. "Martin!"
he said again, looking upon the familiar face. "Say, old boy, is
this a dream? I seem to be having lots of them."
"It's no dream, old chap, but what in the mischief is the matter?
What does all this fever mean? Let's look at you."
A brief examination was enough to show the doctor that a broken leg
was the least of Cameron's trouble. A hasty investigation of the
resources of the farm house determined the doctor's course.
"This man has typhoid fever, a bad case too," he said to Mandy.
"We will take him in to the hospital."
"The hospital?" cried Mandy fiercely. "Will you, then?"
"He will be a lot of trouble to you," said the doctor.
"Trouble? Trouble? What are you talkin' about?"
"We're awful busy, Mandy," interposed the mother, who had been
roused from her bed.
"Oh, shucks, mother! Oh, don't send him away," she pleaded. "I
can nurse him, just as easy." She paused, with quivering lips.
"It will be much better for the patient to be in the hospital. He
will get constant and systematic care. He will be under my own
observation every hour. I assure you it will be better for him,"
said the doctor.
"Better for him?" echoed Mandy in a faint voice. "Well, let him
In less than an hour's time, such was Dr. Martin's energetic
promptness, he had his patient comfortably placed in the democrat
on an improvised stretcher and on his way to the city hospital.
And thus it came about that the problem of his leave-taking, which
had vexed Cameron for so many days, was solved.
IN APPLE TIME
"Another basket of eggs, Mr. Cameron, and such delicious cream! I
am deeply grieved to see you so nearly well."
"For you will be leaving us of course."
"Thanks, that is kind of you."
"And there will be an end to eggs and cream. Ah! You are a lucky
man." And the trim, neat, bright-faced nurse shook her finger at
"So I have often remarked to myself these six weeks."
"A friend is a great discovery and by these same tokens you have
"Truly, they have been more than kind."
"This makes the twelfth visit in six weeks," said the nurse. "In
busy harvest and threshing time, too. Do you know what that
"To a certain extent. It is awfully good of them."
"But she is shy, shy--and I think she is afraid of YOU. Her chief
interest appears to be in the kitchen, which she has never failed
The blood slowly rose in Cameron's face, from which the summer tan
had all been bleached by his six weeks' fight with fever, but he
made no reply to the brisk, sharp-eyed, sharp-minded little nurse.
"And I know she is dying to see you, and, indeed," she chuckled,
"it might do you good. She is truly wonderful." And again the
nurse laughed. "Don't you think you could bear a visit?" The
smile broadened upon her face.
But unaware she had touched a sensitive spot in her patient, his
"I shall be more than pleased to have an opportunity to thank Miss
Haley for her great kindness," he replied with dignity.
"All right," replied the nurse. "I shall bring her in. Now don't
excite yourself. That fever is not so far away. And only a few
minutes. When we farmers go calling--I am a farmer, remember, and
know them well--when we go calling we take our knitting and spend
In a few moments she returned with Mandy. The difference between
the stout, red-faced, coarse-featured, obtrusively healthy country
girl, heavy of foot and hand, slow of speech and awkward of manner,
and the neat, quick, deft-fingered, bright-faced nurse was so
marked that Cameron could hardly control the wave of pity that
swept through his heart, for he could see that even Mandy herself
was vividly aware of the contrast. In vain Cameron tried to put
her at her ease. She simply sat and stared, now at the walls, now
at the floor, refusing for a time to utter more than monosyllables,
punctuated with giggles.
"I want to thank you for the eggs and cream. They are fine," said
"Oh, pshaw, that's nothin'! Lots more where they come from,"
replied Mandy with a giggle.
"But it's a long way for you to drive; and in the busy time too."
"Oh, we had to come in anyway for things," replied Mandy, making
light of her service.
"You are all well?"
"Oh, pretty middlin'. Ma ain't right smart. She's too much to do,
and that's the truth."
"And the boys?" Cameron hesitated to be more specific.
"Oh, there's nothin' eatin' them. I don't bother with them much."
Mandy was desperately twisting her white cotton gloves.
At this point the nurse, with a final warning to the patient not
to talk too much and not to excite himself, left the room. In a
moment Mandy's whole manner changed.
"Say!" she cried in a hurried voice; "Perkins is left."
"I couldn't jist stand him after--after--that night. Dad wanted
him to stay, but I couldn't jist stand him, and so he quit."
"I jist hate him since--since--that night. When I think of what he
done I could kill him. My, I was glad to see him lyin' there in
the dust!" Mandy's words came hot and fast. "They might 'a killed
you." For the first time in the interview she looked fairly into
Cameron's eyes. "My, you do look awful!" she said, with difficulty
commanding her voice.
"Nonsense, Mandy! You see, it wasn't my leg that hurt me. It was
the fever that pulled me down."
"Oh, I'll never forget that night!" cried Mandy, struggling to keep
her lips from quivering.
"Nor will I ever forget what you did for me that night, Mandy. Sam
told me all about it. I shall always be your friend."
For a moment longer she held him with her eyes. Then her face grew
suddenly pale and, with voice and hands trembling, she said:
"I must go. Good-by."
He took her great red hand in his long thin fingers.
"Good-by, Mandy, and thank you."
"My!" she said, looking down at the fingers she held in her hand.
"Your hands is awful thin. Are you sure goin' to git better?"
"Of course I am, and I am coming out to see you before I go."
She sat down quickly, still holding his hand, as if he had struck
her a heavy blow.
"Before you go? Where?" Her voice was hardly above a whisper; her
face was white, her lips beyond her control.
"Out West to seek my fortune." His voice was jaunty and he feigned
not to see her distress. "I shall be walking in a couple of weeks
or so, eh, nurse?"
"A couple of weeks?" replied the nurse, who had just entered.
"Yes, if you are good."
Mandy hastily rose.
"But if you are not," continued the nurse severely, "it may be
months. Stay, Miss Haley, I am going to bring Mr. Cameron his
afternoon tea and you can have some with him. Indeed, you look
quite done up. I am sure all that work you have been telling me
about is too much for you."
Her kindly tones broke the last shred of Mandy's self-control. She
sank into her chair, covered her face with her great red hands and
burst into tempestuous weeping. Cameron sat up quickly.
"What in the name of goodness is wrong, Mandy?"
"Lie down at once, Mr. Cameron!" said the nurse sternly. "Hush,
hush, Miss Haley! You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Don't you
know that you are hurting him?"
She could have chosen no better word. In an instant Mandy was on
her feet, mopping off her face and choking down her sobs.
"Ain't I a fool?" she cried angrily. "A blamed fool. Well, I
won't bother you any longer. Guess I'll go now. Good-by all."
Without another look at Cameron she was gone.
Cameron lay back upon his pillows, white and nerveless.
"Now can you tell me," he panted, "what's up?"
"Search me!" said the nurse gaily, "but I forbid you to speak a
single word for half an hour. Here, drink this right off! Now,
not a word! What will Dr. Martin say? Not a word! Yes, I shall
see her safely off the place. Quiet now!" She kept up a
continuous stream of sprightly chatter to cover her own anxiety and
to turn the current of her patient's thoughts. By the time she had
reached the entrance hall, however, Mandy had vanished.
"Great silly goose!" said the indignant nurse. "I'd see myself far
enough before I'd give myself away like that. Little fool! He'll
have a temperature sure and I will catch it. Bah! These girls!
Next time she sees him it will not be here. I hope the doctor will
just give me an hour to get him quiet again."
But in this hope she was disappointed, for upon her return to her
patient she found Dr. Martin in the room. His face was grave.
"What's up, nurse? What is the meaning of this rotten pulse? What
has he been having to eat?"
"Well, Dr. Martin, I may as well confess my sins," replied the
nurse, "for there is no use trying to deceive you anyway. Mr.
Cameron has had a visitor and she has excited him."
"Ah!" said the doctor in a relieved tone. "A visitor! A lady
visitor! A charming, sympathetic, interested, and interesting
"Exactly!" said the nurse with a giggle.
"It was Miss Haley, Martin," said Cameron gravely.
The doctor looked puzzled.
"The daughter of the farmer with whom I was working," explained
"Ah, I remember her," said the doctor. "And a deuce of a time I
had with her, too, getting you away from her, if I remember aright.
I trust there is nothing seriously wrong in that quarter?" said
Martin with unusual gravity.
"Oh, quit it, Martin!" said Cameron impatiently. "Don't rag.
She's an awful decent sort. Her looks are not the best of her."
"Ah! I am relieved to hear that," said the doctor earnestly.
"She is very kind, indeed," said the nurse. "For these six weeks
she has fed us up with eggs and cream so that both my patient and
myself have fared sumptuously every day. Indeed, if it should
continue much longer I shall have to ask an additional allowance
for a new uniform. I have promised that Mr. Cameron shall visit
the farm within two weeks if he behaves well."
"Exactly!" replied the doctor. "In two weeks if he is good. The
only question that troubles me is--is it quite safe? You see in
his present weak condition his susceptibility is decidedly
emphasised, his resisting power is low, and who knows what might
happen, especially if she should insist? I shall not soon forget
the look in her eye when she dared me to lay a finger upon his
"Oh, cut it out, Martin!" said Cameron. "You make me weary." He
lay back on his pillow and closed his eyes.
The nurse threw a signal to the doctor.
"All right, old man, we must stop this chaff. Buck up and in two
weeks we will let you go where you like. I have something in mind
for you, but we won't speak of it to-day."
The harvest was safely stored. The yellow stubble showed the fields
at rest, but the vivid green of the new fall wheat proclaimed the
astounding and familiar fact that once more Nature had begun her
ancient perennial miracle. For in those fields of vivid green the
harvest of the coming year was already on the way. On these green
fields the snowy mantle would lie soft and protecting all the long
winter through and when the spring suns would shine again the fall
wheat would be a month or more on the way towards maturity.
Somehow the country looked more rested, fresher, cleaner to Cameron
than when he had last looked upon it in late August. The rain had
washed the dust from the earth's face and from the green sward that
bordered the grey ribbon of the high road that led out from the
city. The pastures and the hay meadows and the turnip fields were
all in their freshest green, and beyond the fields the forest stood
glorious in all its autumn splendour, the ash trees bright yellow,
the oaks rich brown, and the maples all the colours of the rainbow.
In the orchard--ah, the wonder and the joy of it! even the bare and
bony limbs of the apple trees only helped to reveal the sumptuous
wealth of their luscious fruit. For it was apple time in the land!
The evanescent harvest apples were long since gone, the snows were
past their best, the pippins were mellowing under the sharp
persuasion of the nippy, frosty nights and the brave gallantry of
the sunny days. In this ancient warfare between the frosty nights
and the gallant sunny days the apples ripened rapidly; and well
that they should, for the warfare could not be for long. Already
in the early morning hours the vanguard of winter's fierce hosts
was to be seen flaunting its hoary banners even in the very face of
the gallant sun so bravely making stand against it. But it was the
time of the year in which men felt it good to be alive, for there
was in the air that tang that gives speed to the blood, spring to
the muscle, edge to the appetite, courage to the soul, and zest to
life--the apple time of the year.
It was in apple time that Cameron came back to the farm. Under
compulsion of Mandy, Haley had found it necessary to drive into the
city for some things for the "women folk" and, being in the city,
he had called for Cameron and had brought him out. Under
compulsion, not at all because Haley was indifferent to the
prospect of a visit from his former hired man, not alone because
the fall plowing was pressing and the threshing gang was in the
neighbourhood, but chiefly because, through the channel of Dr.
Martin, the little nurse, and Mandy, it had come to be known in the
Haley household and in the country side that the hired man was a
"great swell in the old country," and Haley's sturdy independence
shrank from anything that savoured of "suckin' round a swell," as
he graphically put it. But Mandy scouted this idea and waited for
the coming of the expected guest with no embarrassment from the
knowledge that he had been in the old country "a great swell."
Hence when, through a crack beside the window blind, she saw him, a
poor, pale shadow, descending wearily and painfully from the buggy,
the great mother heart in the girl welled with pity. She could
hardly forbear rushing out to carry him bodily in her strong arms
to the spare room and lay him where she had once helped to lay him
the night of the tragedy some eight weeks before. But in this
matter she had learned her lesson. She remembered the little nurse
and her indignant scorn of the lack of self-control she had shown
on the occasion of her last visit to the hospital. So, instead of
rushing forth, she clutched the curtains and forced herself to
stand still, whispering to herself the while, "Oh, he will die
sure! He will die sure!" But when she looked upon him seated
comfortably in the kitchen with a steaming glass of ginger and
whiskey, her mother's unfailing remedy for "anything wrong with the
insides," she knew he would not die and her joy overflowed in
For five days they all, from Haley to Tim, gave him of their very
best, seeking to hold him among them for the winter, for they had
learned that his mind was set upon the West, till Cameron was
ashamed, knowing that he must go.
The last afternoon they all spent in the orchard. The Gravensteins,
in which species of apple Haley was a specialist, were being picked,
and picked with the greatest care, Cameron plucking them from the
limbs and dropping them into a basket held by Mandy below. It was
one of those sunny days when, after weeks of chilly absence, summer
comes again and makes the world glow with warmth and kindly life and
quickens in the heart the blood's flow. Cameron was full of talk
and fuller of laughter than his wont; indeed he was vexed to find
himself struggling to maintain unbroken the flow of laughter and of
talk. But in Mandy there was neither speech nor laughter, only a
quiet dignity that disturbed and rebuked him.
The last tree of Gravensteins was picked and then there came the
time of parting. Cameron, with a man's selfish desire for some
token of a woman's adoration, even although he well knew that he
could make no return, lingered in the farewell, hoping for some
sign in the plain quiet face and the wonderful eyes with their new
mystery that when he had gone he would not be forgotten; but though
the lips quivered pitifully and the heavy face grew drawn and old
and the eyes glowed with a deeper fire, the words, when they came,
came quietly and the eyes looked steadily upon him, except that for
one brief moment a fire leaped in them and quickly died down. But
when the buggy, with Tim driving, had passed down the lane, behind
the curtain of the spare room the girl stood looking through the
crack beside the blind, with both hands pressed upon her bosom, her
breath coming in sobs, her blue lips murmuring brokenly, "Good-by,
good-by! Oh, why did you come at all? But, oh, I'm glad you came!
God help me, I'm glad you came!" Then, when the buggy had turned
down the side lane and out of sight, she knelt beside the bed and
kissed, again and again, with tender, reverent kisses, the pillow
where his head had lain.
THE CAMP BY THE GAP
On the foot-hills' side of The Gap, on a grassy plain bounded on
three sides by the Bow River and on the other by ragged hills and
broken timber, stood Surveyor McIvor's camp, three white tents,
seeming wondrously insignificant in the shadow of the mighty
Rockies, but cosy enough. For on this April day the sun was riding
high in the heavens in all his new spring glory, where a few days
ago and for many months past the storm king with relentless rigour
had raged, searching with pitiless fury these rock-ribbed hills and
threatening these white tents and their dwellers with dire
destruction. But threaten though he might and pin them though he
did beneath their frail canvas covers, he could not make that gang
beat retreat. McIvor was of the kind that takes no back trail. In
the late fall he had set out to run the line through The Gap, and
after many wanderings through the coulees of the foothills and
after many vain attempts, he had finally made choice of his route
and had brought his men, burnt black with chinook and frost and
sun, hither to The Gap's mouth. Every chain length in those weary
marches was a battle ground, every pillar, every picket stood a
monument of victory. McIvor's advance through the foot-hill
country to The Gap had been one unbroken succession of fierce
fights with Nature's most terrifying forces, a triumphal march of
heroes who bore on their faces and on their bodies the scars and
laurels of the campaign. But to McIvor and his gang it was all in
the day's work.
To Cameron the winter had brought an experience of a life hitherto
undreamed of, but never even in its wildest blizzards did he
cherish anything but gratitude to his friend Martin, who had got
him attached to McIvor's survey party. For McIvor was a man to
"tie to," as Martin said, and to Cameron he was a continual cause
of wonder and admiration. He was a big man, with a big man's quiet
strength, patient, fearless of men and things, reverent toward
Nature's forces, which it was his life's business to know, to
measure, to control, and, if need be, to fight, careful of his men,
whether amid the perils of the march, or amid the more deadly
perils of trading post and railway construction camp. Cameron
never could forget the thrill of admiration that swept his soul one
night in Taylor's billiard and gambling "joint" down at the post
where the Elbow joins the Bow, when McIvor, without bluff or
bluster, took his chainman and his French-Canadian cook, the
latter frothing mad with "Jamaica Ginger" and "Pain-killer," out
of the hands of the gang of bad men from across the line who had
marked them as lambs for the fleecing. It was not the courage of
his big chief so much that had filled Cameron with amazed respect
and admiration as the calm indifference to every consideration but
that of getting his men out of harm's way, and the cool-headed
directness of the method he employed.
"Come along, boys," McIvor had said, gripping them by their coat
collars. "I don't pay you good money for this sort of thing." And
so saying he had lifted them clear from their seats, upsetting the
table, ignoring utterly the roaring oaths of the discomfited
gamblers. What would have been the result none could say, for one
of the gamblers had whipped out his gun and with sulphurous oaths
was conducting a vigourous demonstration behind the unconscious
back of McIvor, when there strolled into the room and through the
crowd of men scattering to cover, a tall slim youngster in the red
jacket and pill-box cap of that world-famous body of military
guardians of law and order, the North West Mounted Police. Not
while he lived would Cameron forget the scene that followed. With
an air of lazy nonchalance the youngster strode quietly up to the
desperado flourishing his gun and asked in a tone that indicated
curiosity more than anything else, "What are you doing with that
"I'll show yeh!" roared the man in his face, continuing to pour
forth a torrent of oaths.
"Put it down there!" said the youngster in a smooth and silky
voice, pointing to a table near by. "You don't need that in this
The man paused in his demonstration and for a moment or two stood
in amazed silence. The audacity of the youngster appeared to
paralyse his powers of speech and action.
"Put it down there, my man. Do you hear?" The voice was still
smooth, but through the silky tones there ran a fibre of steel.
Still the desperado stood gazing at him. "Quick, do you hear?"
There was a sudden sharp ring of imperious, of overwhelming
authority, and, to the amazement of the crowd of men who stood
breathless and silent about, there followed one of those phenomena
which experts in psychology delight to explain, but which no man
can understand. Without a word the gambler slowly laid upon the
table his gun, upon whose handle were many notches, the tally of
human lives it had accounted for in the hands of this same
"What is this for?" continued the young man, gently touching the
belt of cartridges. "Take it off!"
The belt found its place beside the gun.
"Now, listen!" gravely continued the youngster. "I give you
twenty-four hours to leave this post, and if after twenty-four
hours you are found here it will be bad for you. Get out!"
The man, still silent, slunk out from the room. Irresistible
authority seemed to go with the word that sent him forth, and
rightly so, for behind that word lay the full weight of Great
Britain's mighty empire. It was Cameron's first experience of the
North West Mounted Police, that famous corps of frontier riders who
for more than a quarter of a century have ridden the marches of
Great Britain's territories in the far northwest land, keeping
intact the Pax Britannica amid the wild turmoil of pioneer days.
To the North West Mounted Police and to the pioneer missionary it
is due that Canada has never had within her borders what is known
as a "wild and wicked West." It was doubtless owing to the
presence of that slim youngster in his scarlet jacket and pill-box
cap that McIvor got his men safely away without a hole in his back
and that his gang were quietly finishing their morning meal this
shining April day, in their camp by the Bow River in the shadow of
the big white peaks that guard The Gap.
Breakfast over, McIvor heaved his great form to the perpendicular.
"How is the foot, Cameron?" he asked, filling his pipe preparatory
to the march.
"Just about fit," replied Cameron.
"Better take another day," replied the chief. "You can get up wood
and get supper ready. Benoit will be glad enough to go out and
take your place for another day on the line."
"Sure ting," cried Benoit, the jolly French-Canadian cook. "Good
for my healt. He's tak off my front porsch here." And the cook
patted affectionately the little round paunch that marred the
symmetry of his figure.
"You ought to get Cameron to swap jobs with you, Benny," said one
of the axemen. "You would be a dandy in about another month."
Benoit let his eye run critically over the line of his person.
"Bon! Dat's true, for sure. In tree, four mont I mak de beeg
spark on de girl, me."
"You bet, Benny!" cried the axeman. "You'll break 'em all up."
"Sure ting!" cried Benny, catching up a coal for his pipe. "By by,
Cameron. Au revoir. I go for tak some more slice from my porsch."
"Good-bye, Benny," cried Cameron. "It is your last chance, for
to-morrow I give you back your job. I don't want any 'front porsch'
"Ho! ho!" laughed Benny scornfully, as he turned to hurry after his
chief. "Dat's not moch front porsch on you. Dat's one rail fence--
And indeed Benoit was right, for there was no "porsch" or sign of
one on Cameron's lean and muscular frame. The daily battle with
winter's fierce frosts and blizzards, the strenuous toil, the hard
food had done their work on him. Strong, firm-knit, clean and
sound, hard and fit, he had come through his first Canadian winter.
No man in the camp, not even the chief himself, could "bush" him in
a day's work. He had gained enormously in strength lately, and
though the lines of his frame still ran to angles, he had gained in
weight as well. Never in the days of his finest training was he as
fit to get the best out of himself as now. An injured foot had
held him in camp for a week, but the injury was now almost
completely repaired and the week's change of work only served to
replenish his store of snap and vim.
An hour or two sufficed to put the camp in the perfect order that
he knew Benoit would consider ideal and to get all in readiness for
the evening meal when the gang should return. He had the day
before him and what a day it was! Cameron lay upon a buffalo skin
in front of the cook-tent, content with all the world and for the
moment with himself. Six months ago he had engaged as an axeman in
the surveyors' gang at $30 per month and "found," being regarded
more in the light of a supernumerary and more or less of a burden
than anything else. Now he was drawing double the wage as rodman,
and, of all the gang, stood second to none in McIvor's regard. In
this new venture he had come nearer to making good than ever before
in his life. So in full content with himself he allowed his eyes
to roam over the brown grassy plain that sloped to the Bow in
front, and over the Bow to the successive lines of hills, rounded
except where the black rocks broke jagged through the turf, and
upward over the rounded hills to the grey sides of the mighty
masses of the mountains, and still upward to where the white peaks
lost themselves in the shining blue of the sky. Behind him a
coulee ran back between hills to a line of timber, and beyond the
timber more hills and more valleys, and ever growing higher and
deeper till they ran into the bases of the great Rockies.
As Cameron lay thus luxuriating upon his buffalo skin and lazily
watching the hills across the river through the curling wreaths
that gracefully and fragrantly rose from his briar root, there
broke from the line of timber two jumping deer, buck and doe, the
latter slow-footed because heavy with young. Behind them in hot
pursuit came a pack of yelping coyotes. The doe was evidently hard
pressed. The buck was running easily, but gallantly refusing to
abandon his mate to her cowardly foes. Straight for the icy river
they made, plunged in, and, making the crossing, were safe from
their pursuing enemy. Cameron, intent upon fresh meat, ran for
McIvor's Winchester, but ere he could buckle round him a cartridge
belt and throw on his hunting jacket the deer had disappeared over
the rounded top of the nearest hill. Up the coulee he ran to the
timber and there waited, but there was no sign of his game.
Cautiously he made his way through the timber and dropped into the
next valley circling westward towards the mountains. The deer,
however, had completely vanished. Turning back upon his tracks, he
once more pierced the thin line of timber, when just across the
coulee, some three hundred yards away, on the sky line, head up and
sniffing the wind, stood the buck in clear view. Taking hurried
aim Cameron fired. The buck dropped as if dead. Marking the spot,
Cameron hurried forward, but to his surprise found only a trail of
"He's badly hit though," he said to himself. "I must get the poor
chap now at all costs." Swiftly he took up the trail, but though
the blood stains continued clear and fresh he could get no sight
of the wounded animal. Hour after hour he kept up the chase,
forgetful of everything but his determination to bring back his
game to camp. From the freshness of the stains he knew that the
buck could not be far ahead and from the footprints it was clear
that the animal was going on three legs.
"The beggar is hearing me and so keeps out of sight," said Cameron
as he paused to listen. He resolved to proceed more slowly and
with greater caution, but though he followed this plan for another
half hour it brought him no better success. The day was fast
passing and he could not much longer continue his pursuit. He
became conscious of pain in his injured foot. He sat down to rest
and to review his situation. For the first time he observed that
the bright sky of the morning had become overcast with a film of
hazy cloud and that the temperature was rapidly falling. Prudence
suggested that he should at once make his way back to camp, but
with the instinct of the true hunter he was loath to abandon the
poor wounded beast to its unhappy fate. He resolved to make one
further attempt. Refreshed by his brief rest, but with an
increasing sense of pain in his foot, he climbed the slight rising
ground before him, cautiously pushed his way through some scrub,
and there, within easy shot, stood the buck, with drooping head and
evidently with strength nearly done. Cameron took careful aim--
there must be no mistake this time--and fired. The buck leaped
high in the air, dropped and lay still. The first shot had broken
his leg, the second had pierced his heart.
Cameron hurried forward and proceeded to skin the animal. But soon
he abandoned this operation. "We'll come and get him to-morrow,"
he muttered, "and he is better with his skin on. Meantime we'll
have a steak, however." He hung a bit of skin from a pole to keep
off the wolves and selected a choice cut for the supper. He worked
hurriedly, for the sudden drop in the temperature was ominous of a
serious disturbance in the weather, but before he had finished he
was startled to observe a large snowflake lazily flutter to the
ground beside him. He glanced towards the sky and found that the
filmy clouds were rapidly assuming definite shape and that the sun
had almost disappeared. Hurriedly he took his bearings and,
calculating as best he could the direction of the camp, set off,
well satisfied with the outcome of his expedition and filled with
the pleasing anticipation of a venison supper for himself and the
rest of the gang.
The country was for the most part open except for patches of timber
here and there, and with a clear sky the difficulty of maintaining
direction would have been but slight. With the sky overcast,
however, this difficulty was sensibly increased. He had not kept
an accurate reckoning of his course, but from the character of the
ground he knew that he must be a considerable distance westward of
the line of the camp. His training during the winter in holding a
line of march helped him now to maintain his course steadily in one
direction. The temperature was still dropping rapidly. Over the
woods hung a dead stillness, except for the lonely call of an
occasional crow or for the scream of the impudent whiskey-jack.
But soon even these became silent. As he surmounted each hill top
Cameron took his bearings afresh and anxiously scanned the sky for
weather signs. In spite of himself there crept over him a sense of
foreboding, which he impatiently tried to shake off.
"I can't be so very far from camp now," he said to himself, looking
at his watch. "It is just four. There are three good hours till
A little to the west of his line of march stood a high hill which
appeared to dominate the surrounding country and on its top a lofty
pine. "I'll just shin up that tree," said he. "I ought to get a
sight of the Bow from the top." In a few minutes he had reached
the top of the hill, but even in those minutes the atmosphere had
thickened. "Jove, it's getting dark!" he exclaimed. "It can't be
near sundown yet. Did I make a mistake in the time?" He looked at
his watch again. It showed a quarter after four. "I must get a
look at this country." Hurriedly he threw off his jacket and
proceeded to climb the big pine, which, fortunately, was limbed to
the ground. From the lofty top his eye could sweep the country for
many miles around. Over the great peaks of the Rockies to the west
dark masses of black cloud shot with purple and liver-coloured bars
hung like a pall. To the north a line of clear light was still
visible, but over the foot-hills towards east and south there lay
almost invisible a shimmering haze, soft and translucent, and above
the haze a heavy curtain, while over the immediate landscape there
shone a strange weird light, through which there floated down to
earth large white snowflakes. Not a breath of air moved across
the face of the hills, but still as the dead they lay in solemn
oppressive silence. Far to the north Cameron caught the gleam of
"That must be the Bow," he said to himself. "I am miles too far
toward the mountains. I don't like the look of that haze and that
cloud bank. There is a blizzard on the move if this winter's
experience teaches me anything."
He had once been caught in a blizzard, but on that occasion he was
with McIvor. He was conscious now of a little clutch at his heart
as he remembered that desperate struggle for breath, for life it
seemed to him, behind McIvor's broad back. The country was full of
stories of men being overwhelmed by the choking, drifting whirl of
snow. He knew how swift at times the on-fall of the blizzard could
be, how long the storm could last, how appalling the cold could
become. What should he do? He must think and act swiftly. That
gleaming water near which his camp lay was, at the very best going,
two hours distant. The blizzard might strike at any moment and
once it struck all hope of advance would be cut off. He resolved
to seek the best cover available and wait till the storm should
pass. He had his deer meat with him and matches. Could he but
make shelter he doubted not but he could weather the storm.
Swiftly he swept the landscape for a spot to camp. Half a mile
away he spied a little coulee where several valleys appeared to
lose themselves in thick underbrush. He resolved to make for that
spot. Hurriedly he slipped down the tree, donned belt and jacket
and, picking up gun and venison, set off at a run for the spot he
had selected. A puff of wind touched his cheek. He glanced up and
about him. The flakes of snow were no longer floating gently down,
but were slanting in long straight lines across the landscape. His
heart took a quicker beat.
"It is coming, sure enough," he said to himself between his teeth,
"and a bad one too at that." He quickened his pace to racing
speed. Down the hill, across the valley and up the next slope he
ran without pause, but as he reached the top of the slope a sound
arrested him, a deep, muffled, hissing roar, and mingled with it
the beating of a thousand wings. Beyond the top of the next hill
there hung from sky to earth the curtain, thick, black, portentous,
and swiftly making approach, devouring the landscape as it came and
filling his ears with its muffled, hissing roar.
In the coulee beyond that hill was the spot he had marked for his
shelter. It was still some three hundred yards away. Could he
beat that roaring, hissing, portentous cloud mass? It was
extremely doubtful. Down the hill he ran, slipping, skating,
pitching, till he struck the bottom, then up the opposite slope he
struggled, straining every nerve and muscle. He glanced upward
towards the top of the hill. Merciful heaven! There it was, that
portentous cloud mass, roaring down upon him. Could he ever make
that top? He ran a few steps further, then, dropping his gun, he
clutched a small poplar and hung fast. A driving, blinding,
choking, whirling mass of whiteness hurled itself at him, buffeting
him heavily, filling eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, clutching at his
arms and legs and body with a thousand impalpable insistent claws.
For a moment or two he lost all sense of direction, all thought of
advance. One instinct only he obeyed--to hold on for dear life to
the swaying quivering poplar. The icy cold struck him to the
heart, his bare fingers were fast freezing. A few moments he hung,
hoping for a lull in the fury of the blizzard, but lull there was
none, only that choking, blinding, terrifying Thing that clutched
and tore at him. His heart sank within him. This, then, was to be
the end of him. A vision of his own body, stark and stiff, lying
under a mound of drifting snow, swiftly passed before his mind. He
threw it off wrathfully. "Not yet! Not just yet!" he shouted in
defiance into the face of the howling storm.
Through the tumult and confusion of his thoughts one idea dominated--
he must make the hill-top. Sliding his hands down the trunk of the
little poplar he once more found his rifle and, laying it in the
hollow of his arm, he hugged it close to his side, shoved his
freezing hands into his pockets and, leaning hard against the
driving blizzard, set off towards the hill-top. A few paces he
made, then turning around leaned back upon the solid massive force
of the wind till he could get breath. Again a few steps upward and
again a rest against the wind. His courage began to come back.
"Aha!" he shouted at the storm. "Not yet! Not yet!" Gradually,
and with growing courage, he fought his way to the top. At length
he stood upon the storm-swept summit. "I say," he cried,
heartening himself with his speech, "this is so much to the good
anyway. Now for the coulee." But exactly where did it lie?
Absolutely nothing could he see before him but this blinding,
choking mass of whirling snow. He tried to recall the direction in
relation to the hill as he had taken it from the top of the tree.
How long ago that seemed! Was it minutes or hours? Downward and
towards the left lay the coulee. He could hardly fail to strike
it. Plunging headlong into the blizzard, he fought his way once
more, step by step.
"It was jolly well like a scrimmage," he said grimly to the storm
which began in his imagination to assume a kind of monstrous and
savage personality. It heartened him much to remember his
sensations in many a desperate struggle against the straining
steaming mass of muscle and bone in the old fierce football fights.
He recalled, too, a word of his old captain, "Never say die! The
next minute may be better."
"Never say die!" he cried aloud in the face of his enemy. "But I
wish to heaven I could get up some of that heat just now. This
cold is going to be the death of me."
As he spoke he bumped into a small bushy spruce tree. "Hello!
Here you are, eh!" he cried, determined to be cheerful. "Glad to
meet you. Hope there are lots more of you." His hope was
realised! A few more steps and he found himself in the heart of a
"Thank God!" he exclaimed. Then again--"Yes, thank God it is!"
It steadied his heart not a little to remember the picture in his
mother's Bible that had so often stirred his youthful imagination
of One standing in the fishing boat and bidding the storm be still.
In the spruce thicket he stood some moments to regain his breath
"Now what next?" he asked himself. Although the thicket broke the
force of the wind, something must be done, and quickly. Night was
coming on and that meant an even intenser cold. His hands were
numb. His hunting jacket was but slight protection against the
driving wind and the bitter cold. If he could only light a fire!
A difficult business in this tumultuous whirlwind and snow. He had
learned something of this art, however, from his winter's experience.
He began breaking from the spruce trees the dead dry twigs. Oh for
some birch bark! Like a forgotten dream it came to him that from
the tree top he had seen above the spruce thicket the tops of some
white birch trees purpling under the touch of spring.
"Let's see! Those birches must be further to my left," he said,
recalling their position. Painfully he forced his way through the
scrubby underbrush. His foot struck hard against an obstruction
that nearly threw him to the ground. It was a jutting rock.
Peering through the white mass before his eyes, he could make out a
great black, looming mass. Eagerly he pushed forward. It was a
towering slab of rock. Following it round on the lee side, he
suddenly halted with a shout of grateful triumph. A great section
had fallen out of the rock, forming a little cave, storm-proof and
"Thank God once more!" he said, and this time with even deeper
reverence. "Now for a fire. If I could only get some birch bark."
He placed his rifle in a corner of the cave and went out on his
hunt. "By Jove, I must hurry, or my hands will be gone sure."
Looking upwards in the shelter of the rock through the driving snow
he saw the bare tops of trees. "Birch, too, as I am alive!" he
cried, and plunging through the bushes came upon a clump of white
With fingers that could hardly hold the curling bark he gathered a
few bunches and hurried back to the cave. Again he went forth and
gathered from the standing trees an armful of dead dry limbs.
"Good!" he cried aloud in triumph. "We're not beaten yet. Now for
the fire and supper." He drew forth his steel matchbox with numb
and shaking fingers, opened it and stood stricken dumb. There were
only three matches in the box. Unreasoning terror seized him.
Three chances for life! He chose a match, struck it, but in his
numb and nerveless fingers the match snapped near the head. With a
new terror seizing him he took a second match and struck it. The
match flared, sputtering. Eagerly he thrust the birch bark at it;
too eagerly, alas, for the bark rubbed out the tiny flame. He had
one match left! One hope of life! He closed his matchbox. His
hands were trembling with the cold and more with nervous fear that
shook him in every limb. He could not bring himself to make the
last attempt. Up and down the cave and out and in he stamped,
beating his hands to bring back the blood and fighting hard to get
back his nerve.
"This is all rotten funk!" he cried aloud, raging at himself. "I
shall not be beaten."
Summoning all his powers, he once more pulled out his matchbox,
rubbed his birch bark fine and, kneeling down, placed it between
his knees under the shelter of his hunting jacket. Kneeling there
with the matchbox in his hand, there fell upon his spirit a great
calm. "Oh, God!" he said quietly and with the conviction in his
soul that there was One listening, "help me now." He opened the
matchbox, took out the match, struck it carefully and laid it among
the birch bark. For one heart-racking moment it flickered
unsteadily, then, catching a resinous fibre of the bark, it flared
up, shot out a tiny tongue to one of the heavier bunches, caught
hold, sputtered, smoked, burst into flame. With the prayer still
going in his heart, "God help me now," Cameron fed the flame with
bits of bark and tiny twigs, adding more and more till the fire
began to leap, dance, and snap, and at length gaining strength it
roared its triumph over the grim terror so recently threatened.
For the present at least the blizzard was beaten.
"Now God be thanked for that," said Cameron. "For it was past my
ON THE WINGS OF THE STORM
Shivering and hungry and fighting with sleep, Cameron stamped up
and down his cave, making now and then excursions into the storm to
replenish his fire. On sharpened sticks slices of venison were
cooking for his supper. Outside the storm raged with greater
violence than ever and into the cave the bitter cold penetrated,
effectually neutralizing the warmth of the little fire, for the
wood was hard to get and a larger fire he could not afford.
He looked at his watch and was amazed to find it only five o'clock.
How long could he maintain this fight? His heart sank at the
prospect of the long night before him. He sat down upon the rock
close beside his cooking venison and in a few moments was fast
He awoke with a start and found that the fire had crept along a
jutting branch and had reached his fingers. He sprang to his feet.
The fire lay in smouldering embers, for the sticks were mere
brushwood. A terrible fear seized him. His life depended upon the
maintaining of this fire. Carefully he assembled the embers and
nursed them into bright flame. At all costs he must keep awake.
A further excursion into the woods for fuel thoroughly roused him
from his sleep. Soon his fire was blazing brightly again.
Consulting his watch, he found that he must have slept half an
hour. He determined that in order to keep himself awake and to
provide against the growing cold he would lay in a stock of
firewood, and so he began a systematic search for fallen trees
that he might drag to his shelter.
As he was setting forth upon his search he became aware of a new
sound mingling with the roaring of the storm about him, a soft,
pounding, rhythmic sound. With every nerve strained he listened.
It was like the beating of hoofs. He ran out into the storm and,
holding his hands to his ears, bent forward to listen. Faintly
over the roaring of the blizzard, and rising and falling with it,
there came the sound of singing.
"Am I mad?" he said to himself, beating his head with his hands.
He rushed into the cave, threw upon the fire all the brushwood he
had gathered, until it sprang up into a great glare, lighting up
the cave and its surroundings. Then he rushed forth once more to
the turn of the rock. The singing could now be plainly heard.
"Three cheers for the red, white-- Get on there, you variously
coloured and multitudinously cursed brutes!-- Three cheers for the
red-- Hie there, look out, Little Thunder! They are off to the
"Hello!" yelled Cameron at the top of his voice. "Hello, there!"
"Whoa!" yelled a voice sharply. The sound of hoof beats ceased and
only the roaring of the blizzard could be heard.
"Hello!" cried Cameron again. "Who are you?" But only the gale
Again and again he called, but no voice replied. Once more he
rushed into the cave, seized his rifle and fired a shot into the
"Crack-crack," two bullets spat against the rock over his head.
"Hold on there, you fool!" yelled Cameron, dodging back behind the
rock. "What are you shooting at? Hello there!" Still there was
Long he waited till, desperate with anxiety lest his unknown
visitors should abandon him, he ran forward once more beyond the
ledge of the rock, shouting, "Hello! Hello! Don't shoot! I'm
coming out to you."
At the turn of the rocky ledge he paused, concentrating his powers
to catch some sound other than the dull boom and hiss of the
blizzard. Suddenly at his side something moved.
"Put up your hands, quick!"
A dark shape, with arm thrust straight before it, loomed through
the drift of snow.
"Oh, I say--" began Cameron.
"Quick!" said the voice, with a terrible oath, "or I drop you where
"All right!" said Cameron, lifting up his hands with his rifle high
above his head. "But hurry up! I can't stand this long. I am
nearly frozen as it is."
The man came forward, still covering him with his pistol. He ran
his free hand over Cameron's person.
"How many of you?" he asked, in a voice sharp and crisp.
"I am all alone. But hurry up! I am about all in."
"Lead on to your fire!" said the stranger. "But if you want to
live, no monkey work. I've got you lined."
Cameron led the way to the fire. The stranger threw a swift glance
around the cave, then, with eyes still holding Cameron, he whistled
shrilly on his fingers. Almost immediately, it seemed to Cameron,
there came into the light another man who proved to be an Indian,
short, heavily built, with a face hideously ugly and rendered more
repulsive by the small, red-rimmed, blood-shot eyes that seemed to
Cameron to peer like gimlets into his very soul.
At a word of command the Indian possessed himself of Cameron's
rifle and stood at the entrance.
"Now," said the stranger, "talk quick. Who are you? How did you
come here? Quick and to the point."
"I am a surveyor," said Cameron briefly. "McIvor's gang. I was
left at camp to cook, saw a deer, wounded it, followed it up, lost
my way, the storm caught me, but, thank God, I found this cave, and
with my last match lit the fire. I was trying to cook my venison
when I heard you coming."
The grey-brown eyes of the stranger never left Cameron's face while
he was speaking.
"You're a liar!" he said with cold insolence when Cameron had
finished his tale. "You look to me like a blank blank horse thief
or whiskey trader."
Faint as he was with cold and hunger, the deliberate insolence of
the man stirred Cameron to sudden rage. The blood flooded his pale
"You coward!" he cried in a choking voice, gathering himself to
spring at the man's throat.
But the stranger only laughed and, stepping backward, spoke a word
to the Indian behind him. Before he could move Cameron found
himself covered by the rifle with the malignant eye of the Indian
"Hold on, Little Thunder, drop it!" said the stranger with a slight
Reluctantly the rifle came down.
"All right, Mr. Surveyor," said the stranger with a good-natured
laugh. "Pardon my abruptness. I was merely testing you. One
cannot be too careful in these parts nowadays when the woods are
full of horse thieves and whiskey runners. Oh, come on," he
continued, glancing at Cameron's face, "I apologise. So you're
lost, eh? Hungry too? Well, so am I, and though I was not going
to feed just yet we may as well grub together. Bring the cattle
into shelter here," he said to Little Thunder. "They will stand
right enough. And get busy with the grub."
The Indian grunted a remonstrance.
"Oh, that's all right," replied the stranger. "Hand it over." He
took Cameron's rifle from the Indian and set it in the corner.
"Now get a move on! We have no time to waste."
So saying he hurried out himself into the storm. In a few minutes
Cameron could hear the blows of an axe, and soon the stranger
appeared with a load of dry wood with which he built up a blazing
fire. He was followed shortly by the Indian, who from a sack drew
out bacon, hardtack, and tea, and, with cooking utensils produced
from another sack, speedily prepared supper.
"Pile in," said the stranger to Cameron, passing him the pan in
which the bacon and venison had been fried. "Pass the tea, Little
Thunder. No time to waste. We've got to hustle."
Cameron was only too eager to obey these orders, and in the
generous warmth of the big fire and under the stimulus of the
boiling tea his strength and nerve began to come back to him.
For some minutes he was too intent on satisfying his ravenous
hunger to indulge in conversation with his host, but as his hunger
became appeased he began to give his attention to the man who had
so mysteriously blown in upon him out of the blizzard. There was
something fascinating about the lean, clean-cut face with its firm
lines about the mouth and chin and its deep set brown-grey eyes
that glittered like steel or shone like limpid pools of light
according to the mood of the man. They were extraordinary eyes.
Cameron remembered them like dagger points behind the pistol and
then like kindly lights in a dark window when he had smiled. Just
now as he sat eating with eager haste the eyes were staring forward
into the fire out of deep sockets, with a far-away, reminiscent,
kindly look in them. The lumberman's heavy skin-lined jacket and
the overalls tucked into boots could not hide the athletic lines of
the lithe muscular figure. Cameron looked at his hands with their
long, sinewy fingers. "The hands of a gentleman," thought he.
"What is his history? And where does he come from?"
"London's my home," said the stranger, answering Cameron's mental
queries. "Name, Raven--Richard Colebrooke Raven--Dick for short;
rancher, horse and cattle trader; East Kootenay; at present running
in a stock of goods and horses; and caught like yourself in this
"My name's Cameron, and I'm from Edinburgh a year ago," replied
"Edinburgh? Knew it ten years ago. Quiet old town, quaint folk.
Never know what they are thinking about you."
Cameron smiled. How well he remembered the calm, detached,
critical but uncurious gaze with which the dwellers of the modern
Athens were wont to regard mere outsiders.
"I know," he said. "I came from the North myself."
The stranger had apparently forgotten him and was gazing steadily
into the fire. Suddenly, with extraordinary energy, he sprang from
the ground where he had been sitting.
"Now," he cried, "en avant!"
"Where to?" asked Cameron, rising to his feet.
"East Kootenay, all the way, and hustle's the word."
"Not me," said Cameron. "I must get back to my camp. If you will
kindly leave me some grub and some matches I shall be all right and
very much obliged. McIvor will be searching for me to-morrow."
"Ha!" burst forth the stranger in vehement expletive. "Searching
for you, heh?" He stood for a few moments in deep thought, then
spoke to the Indian a few words in his own language. That
individual, with a fierce glance towards Cameron, grunted a gruff
"No, no," said Raven, also glancing at Cameron. Again the Indian
spoke, this time with insistent fierceness. "No! no! you cold-
blooded devil," replied the trader. "No! But," he added with
emphasis, "we will take him with us. Pack! Here, bring in coat,
mitts, socks, Little Thunder. And move quick, do you hear?" His
voice rang out in imperious command.
Little Thunder, growling though he might, no longer delayed, but
dived into the storm and in a few moments returned bearing a bag
from which he drew the articles of clothing desired.
"But I am not going with you," said Cameron firmly. "I cannot
desert my chief this way. It would give him no end of trouble.
Leave me some matches and, if you can spare it, a little grub, and
I shall do finely."
"Get these things on," replied Raven, "and quit talking. Don't be
a fool! we simply can't leave you behind. If you only knew the
Cameron glanced at the Indian. The eager fierce look on that
hideous face startled him.
"We will send you back all safe in a few days," continued the
trader with a smile. "Come, don't delay! March is the word."
"I won't go!" said Cameron resolutely. "I'll stay where I am."
"All right, you fool!" replied Raven with a savage oath. "Take
your medicine then."
He nodded to the Indian. With a swift gleam of joy in his red-
rimmed eyes the Indian reached swiftly for Cameron's rifle.
"No, too much noise," said Raven, coolly finishing the packing.
A swift flash of a knife in the firelight, and the Indian hurled
himself upon the unsuspecting Cameron. But quick as was the attack
Cameron was quicker. Gripping the Indian's uplifted wrist with his
left hand, he brought his right with terrific force upon the point
of his assailant's chin. The Indian spun round like a top and
pitched out into the dark.
"Neatly done!" cried the trader with a great oath and a laugh.
"Hold on, Little Thunder!" he continued, as the Indian reappeared,
knife in hand, "He'll come now. Quiet, you beast! Ah-h-h! Would
you?" He seized by the throat and wrist the Indian, who, frothing
with rage and snarling like a wild animal, was struggling to reach
Cameron again. "Down, you dog! Do you hear me?"
With a twist of his arms he brought the Indian to his knees and
held him as he might a child. Quite suddenly the Indian grew
"Good!" said Raven. "Now, no more of this. Pack up."
Without a further word or glance at Cameron, Little Thunder
gathered up the stuff and vanished.
"Now," continued the trader, "you perhaps see that it would be wise
for you to come along without further delay."
"All right," said Cameron, trembling with indignant rage, "but
remember, you'll pay for this."
The trader smiled kindly upon him.
"Better get these things on," he said, pointing to the articles of
clothing upon the cave floor. "The blizzard is gathering force and
we have still some hours to ride. But," he continued, stepping
close to Cameron and looking him in the eyes, "there must be no
more nonsense. You can see my man is somewhat short in temper; and
indeed mine is rather brittle at times."
For a single instant a smile curled the firm lips and half closed
the steely eyes of the speaker, and, noting the smile and the
steely gleam in the grey-brown eyes, Cameron hastily decided that
he would no longer resist.
Warmed and fed and protected against the blizzard, but with his
heart full of indignant wrath, Cameron found himself riding on a
wretched cayuse before the trader whose horse could but dimly be
seen through the storm, but which from his antics appeared to be
possessed of a thousand demons.
"Steady, Nighthawk, old boy! We'll get 'em moving after a bit,"
said his master, soothing the kicking beast. "Aha, that was just a
shade violent," he remonstrated, as the horse with a scream rushed
open mouthed at a blundering pony and sent him scuttling forward in
wild terror after the bunch already disappearing down the trail,
following Little Thunder upon his broncho.
The blizzard was now in their back and, though its force was
thereby greatly lessened, the black night was still thick with
whirling snow and the cold grew more intense every moment. Cameron
could hardly see his pony's ears, but, loping easily along the
levels, scrambling wildly up the hills, and slithering recklessly
down the slopes, the little brute followed without pause the
cavalcade in front. How they kept the trail Cameron could not
imagine, but, with the instinct of their breed, the ponies never
faltered. Far before in the black blinding storm could be heard
the voice of Little Thunder, rising and falling in a kind of
singing chant, a chant which Cameron was afterwards to know right
"Kai-yai, hai-yah! Hai! Hai!! Hai!!!
Kai-yai, hai-yah! Hai! Hai!! Hai!!!"
Behind him came the trader, riding easily his demon-spirited
broncho, and singing in full baritone the patriotic ode dear to
Britishers the world over:
"Three cheers for the red, white and blue!
Three cheers for the red, white and blue!
The army and navy for ever,
Three cheers for the red, white and blue!"
As Cameron went pounding along through the howling blizzard, half
asleep upon his loping, scrambling, slithering pony, with the "Kai-
yai, hai-yah" of Little Thunder wailing down the storm from before
him and the martial notes of the trader behind him demanding cheers
for Her Majesty's naval and military forces, he seemed to himself
to be in the grip of some ghastly nightmare which, try as he might,
he was unable to shake off.
The ghastly unreality of the nightmare was dispelled by the sudden
halt of the bunch of ponies in front.
"All off!" cried the trader, riding forward upon his broncho,
which, apparently quite untired by the long night ride, danced
forward through the bunch gaily biting and slashing as he went.
"All off! Get them into the 'bunk-house' there, Little Thunder.
Come along, Mr. Cameron, we have reached our camp. Take off the
bridle and blanket and let your pony go."
Cameron did as he was told, and guided by the sound of the trader's
voice made his way to a low log building which turned out to be the
deserted "grub-house" of an old lumber camp.
"Come along," cried the trader heartily. "Welcome to Fifty Mile
Camp. Its accommodation is somewhat limited, but we can at least
offer you a bunk, grub, and fire, and these on a night like this
are not to be despised." He fumbled around in the dark for a few
moments and found and lit a candle stuck in an empty bottle.
"There," he cried in a tone of genial hospitality and with a kindly
smile, "get a fire on here and make yourself at home. Nighthawk
demands my attention for the present. Don't look so glum, old
boy," he added, slapping Cameron gaily on the back. "The worst is
over." So saying, he disappeared into the blizzard, singing at the
top of his voice in the cheeriest possible tones:
"The army and navy for ever,
Three cheers for the red, white and blue!"
and leaving Cameron sorely perplexed as to what manner of man this
might be; who one moment could smile with all the malevolence of a
fiend and again could welcome him with all the generous and genial
hospitality he might show to a loved and long-lost friend.
The icy cold woke Cameron as the grey light came in through the
dirty windows and the cracks between the logs of the grub-house.
Already Little Thunder was awake and busy with the fire in the
cracked and rusty stove. Cameron lay still and watched. Silently,
swiftly the Indian moved about his work till the fire began to roar
and the pot of snow on the top to melt. Then the trader awoke.
With a single movement he was out upon the floor.
"All hands awake!" he shouted. "Aha, Mr. Cameron! Good sleep, eh?
Slept like a bear myself. Now grub, and off! Still blowing, eh?
Well, so much the better. There is a spot thirty miles on where we
will be snug enough. How's breakfast, Little Thunder? This is our
only chance to-day, so don't spare the grub."
Cameron made but slight reply. He was stiff and sore with the cold
and the long ride of the day before. This, however, he minded but
little. If he could only guess what lay before him. He was torn
between anxiety and indignation. He could hardly make himself
believe that he was alive and in his waking senses. Twenty-four
hours ago he was breakfasting with McIvor and his gang in the camp
by The Bow; now he was twenty or thirty miles away in the heart of
the mountains and practically a prisoner in the hands of as blood-
thirsty a looking Indian as he had ever seen, and a man who
remained to him an inexplicable mystery. Who and what was this
man? He scanned his face in the growing light. Strength, daring,
alertness, yes, and kindliness, he read in the handsome, brown,
lean face of this stranger, lit by its grey-brown hazel eyes and
set off with brown wavy hair which the absence of a cap now for the
first time revealed.
"He looks all right," Cameron said to himself. And yet when he
recalled the smile that had curled these thin lips and half closed
these hazel eyes in the cave the night before, and when he thought
of that murderous attack of his Indian companion, he found it
difficult wholly to trust the man who was at once his rescuer and
In the days of the early eighties there were weird stories floating
about through the Western country of outlaw Indian traders whose
chief stock for barter was a concoction which passed for whiskey,
but the ingredients of which were principally high wines and
tobacco juice, with a little molasses to sweeten it and a touch of
blue stone to give it bite. Men of reckless daring were these
traders, resourceful and relentless. For a bottle of their "hell-
fire fluid" they would buy a buffalo hide, a pack of beaver skins,
or a cayuse from an Indian without hesitation or remorse. With a
keg or two of their deadly brew they would approach a tribe and
strip it bare of a year's catch of furs.
In the fierce fights that often followed, the Indian, poorly armed
and half dead with the poison he had drunk, would come off second
best and many a wretched native was left to burn and blister upon
the plains or among the coulees at the foothills to mark the trail
of the whiskey runners.
In British territory all this style of barter was of course unlawful.
The giving, selling, or trading of any sort of intoxicant to the
Indians was absolutely prohibited. But it was a land of vast and
mighty spaces, and everywhere were hiding places where armies could
be safely disposed, and therefore there was small chance for the
enforcement of the laws of the Dominion. There was little risk to
the whiskey runners; and, indeed, however great the risk, the
immense profits of their trade would have made them willing to
Hence all through the Western plains the whiskey runners had their
way to the degradation and demoralization of the unhappy natives
and to the rapid decimation of their numbers. Horse thieves, too,
and cattle "rustlers" operating on both sides of "the line" added
to the general confusion and lawlessness that prevailed and
rendered the lives and property of the few pioneer settlers
It was to deal with this situation that the Dominion Government
organised and despatched the North West Mounted Police to Western
Canada. Immediately upon the advent of this famous corps matters
began to improve. The open ravages of the whiskey runners ceased
and these daring outlaws were forced to carry on their fiendish
business by midnight marches and through the secret trails and
coulees of the foothills. The profits of the trade, however, were
still great enough to tempt the more reckless and daring of these
men. Cattle rustling and horse stealing still continued, but on a
much smaller scale. To the whole country the advent of the police
proved an incalculable blessing. But to the Indian tribes especially
was this the case. The natives soon learned to regard the police
officers as their friends. In them they found protection from the
unscrupulous traders who had hitherto cheated them without mercy or
conscience, as well as from the whiskey runners through whose
devilish activities their people had suffered irreparable loss.
The administration of the law by the officers of the police with
firm and patient justice put an end also to the frequent and bloody
wars that had prevailed previously between the various tribes,
till, by these wild and savage people the red coat came to be
regarded with mingled awe and confidence, a terror to evil-doers
and a protection to those that did well.
To which class did this man belong? This Cameron was utterly
unable to decide.
With this problem vexing his mind he ate his breakfast in almost
complete silence, making only monosyllabic replies to the trader's
cheerful attempts at conversation.
Suddenly, with disconcerting accuracy, the trader seemed to read
"Now, Mr. Cameron," he said, pulling out his pipe, "we will have a
smoke and a chat. Fill up." He passed Cameron his little bag of
tobacco. "Last night things were somewhat strained," he continued.
"Frankly, I confess, I took you at first for a whiskey runner and a
horse thief, and having suffered from these gentlemen considerably
I was taking no chances."
"Why force me to go with you, then?" asked Cameron angrily.
"Why? For your good. There is less danger both to you--and to me--
with you under my eye," replied the trader with a smile.
"Yet your man would have murdered me?"
"Well, you see Little Thunder is one of the Blood Tribe and rather
swift with his knife at times, I confess. Besides, his family has
suffered at the hands of the whiskey runners. He is a chief and he
owes it to these devils that he is out of a job just now. You may
imagine he is somewhat touchy on the point of whiskey traders.
"It was you set him on me," said Cameron, still wrathful.
"No, no," said the trader, laughing quietly. "That was merely to
startle you out of your, pardon me, unreasonable obstinacy. You
must believe me it was the only thing possible that you should
accompany us, for if you were a whiskey runner then it was better
for us that you should be under guard, and if you were a surveyor
it was better for you that you should be in our care. Why, man,
this storm may go for three days, and you would be stiff long
before anyone could find you. No, no, I confess our measures may
have seemed somewhat--ah--abrupt, but, believe me, they were
necessary, and in a day or two you will acknowledge that I am in
the right of it. Meantime let's trust each other, and there is my
hand on it, Cameron."
There was no resisting the frank smile, the open manner of the man,
and Cameron took the offered hand with a lighter heart than he had
known for the last twelve hours.
"Now, then, that's settled," cried the trader, springing to his
feet. "Cameron, you can pack this stuff together while Little
Thunder and I dig out our bunch of horses. They will be half
frozen and it will be hard to knock any life into them."
It was half an hour before Cameron had his packs ready, and, there
being no sign of the trader, he put on his heavy coat, mitts, and
cap and fought his way through the blizzard, which was still raging
in full force, to the bunk-house, a log building about thirty feet
long and half as wide, in which were huddled the horses and ponies
to the number of about twenty. Eight of the ponies carried pack
saddles, and so busy were Raven and the Indian with the somewhat
delicate operation of assembling the packs that he was close upon
them before they were aware. Boxes and bags were strewn about in
orderly disorder, and on one side were several small kegs. As
Cameron drew near, the Indian, who was the first to notice him,
gave a grunt.
"What the blank blank are you doing here?" cried Raven with a
string of oaths, flinging a buffalo robe over the kegs. "My word!
You startled me," he added with a short laugh. "I haven't got used
to you yet. All right, Little Thunder, get these boxes together.
Bring that grey cayuse here, Cameron, the one with the rope on near
This was easier said than done, for the half-broken brute snorted
and plunged till Cameron, taking a turn of the rope round his nose,
forced him up through the trembling, crowding bunch.
"Good!" said the trader. "You are all right. You didn't learn to
rope a cayuse in Edinburgh, I guess. Here's his saddle. Cinch it
While Cameron was engaged in carrying out these orders Little
Thunder and the trader were busy roping boxes and kegs into pack
loads with a skill and dexterity that could only be the result of
"Now, then, Cameron, we'll load some of this molasses on your
So saying, Raven picked up one of the kegs.
"Hello, Little Thunder, this keg's leaking. It's lost the plug, as
I'm a sinner."
Sure enough, from a small auger hole golden syrup was streaming
over the edge of the keg.
"I am certain I put that plug in yesterday," said Raven. "Must
have been knocked out last night. Fortunately it stood right end
up or we should have lost the whole keg."
While he was speaking he was shaping a small stick into a small
plug, which he drove tight into the keg.
"That will fix it," he said. "Now then, put these boxes on the
other side. That will do. Take your pony toward the door and tie
him there. Little Thunder and I will load the rest and bring them
In a very short time all the remaining goods were packed into neat
loads and lashed upon the pack ponies in such a careful manner that
neither box nor keg could be seen outside the cover of blankets and
"Now then," cried Raven. "Boots and saddles! We will give you a
better mount to-day," he continued, selecting a stout built sorrel
pony. "There you are! And a dandy he is, sure-footed as a goat
and easy as a cradle. Now then, Nighthawk, we shall just clear out
As he spoke he whipped the blanket off his horse. Cameron could
not forbear an exclamation of wonder and admiration as his eyes
fell upon Raven's horse. And not without reason, for Nighthawk was
as near perfection as anything in horse flesh of his size could be.
His coal-black satin skin, his fine flat legs, small delicate head,
sloping hips, round and well ribbed barrel, all showed his breed.
Rolling up the blanket, Raven strapped it to his saddle and,
flinging himself astride his horse, gave a yell that galvanised the
wretched, shivering, dispirited bunch into immediate life and