Part 4 out of 5
He turned back softly, leaving the lovers as he had found them;
but he had scarce taken half a dozen steps when he heard other
steps, and saw that the girl had left her companion and was
hurrying toward him. He drew back close into the shadow of the
rock to avoid possible discovery, and the girl passed through the
moonlight almost within arm's reach of him. At that moment his
heart ceased to beat. He choked back the groaning cry that rose to
his lips. It was not Otille who passed him. It was Jeanne.
In another moment she was gone. The man had shoved his canoe into
the narrow stream, and was already lost in the gloom. Then, and
not until then, did the cry of torture fall from Philip. And as if
in echo to it he heard the sobbing break of another voice, and
stepping out into the moonlight he stood face to face with Pierre
It was Pierre who spoke first.
"I am sorry, M'sieur," he whispered, hoarsely. "I know that it has
broken your heart. And mine, too, is crushed."
Something in the half-breed's face, in the choking utterance of
his voice, struck Philip as new and strange. He had seen the eyes
of dying animals filled with the wild pain that glowed in
Pierre's, and suddenly he reached out and gripped the other's
hand, and they stood staring into each other's face. In that look,
the cold grip of their hands, the strife in their eyes, the bare
truth revealed itself.
"And you, too--you love her, Pierre," said Philip.
"Yes, I love her, M'sieur," replied Pierre, softly. "I love her,
not as a brother, but as a man whose heart is broken."
"Now--I understand," said Philip.
He dropped Pierre's hand, and his voice was cold and lifeless.
"I received a note--from her, asking me to leave Fort o' God in
the morning," he went on, looking from Pierre out beyond the rock
into the white barren. "I will go to-night."
"It is best," said Pierre.
"I have left nothing in Fort o' God, so there is no need of even
returning to my room," continued Philip. "Jeanne will understand,
but you must tell her father that a messenger came suddenly from
Blind Indian Lake, and that I thought it best to leave without
awakening him. "Will you guide me for a part of the distance,
"I will go with you the whole way, M'sieur. It is only twenty
miles, ten by canoe, ten by land."
They said no more, but both went to the canoe, and were quickly
lost in the gloom into which the other canoe had disappeared a few
minutes ahead of them. They saw nothing of this canoe, and when
they came to the Churchill Pierre headed the birch-bark down-
stream. For two hours not a word passed between them. At the end
of that time the half-breed turned in to shore.
"We take the trail here, M'sieur," he explained.
He went on ahead, walking swiftly, and now and then when Philip
caught a glimpse of his face he saw in it a despair as great as
his own. The trail led along the backbone of a huge ridge, and
then twisted down into a broad plain; and across this they
traveled, one after the other, two moving, silent shadows in a
desolation that seemed without end. Beyond the plain there rose
another ridge, and half an hour after they had struck the top of
it Pierre halted, and pointed off into the ghostly world of light
and shadow that lay at their feet.
"Your camp is on the other side of this plain, M'sieur," he said.
"Do you recognize the country?"
"I have hunted along this ridge," replied Philip. "It is only
three miles from here, and I will strike a beaten trail half a
mile out yonder. A thousand thanks, Pierre."
He held out his hand.
Their voices trembled. Their hands gripped hard. A choking lump
rose in Philip's throat, and Pierre turned away. He disappeared
slowly in the gray gloom, and Philip went down the side of the
mountain. From the plain below he looked back. For an instant he
saw Pierre drawn like a silhouette against the sky.
"Good-by, Pierre," he shouted.
"Good-by, M'sieur" came back faintly.
Light and silence dropped about them.
To be alone, even after the painful parting with Pierre, was in
one way a relief to Philip, for with the disappearance of the
lonely half-breed over the mountain there had gone from him the
last physical association that bound him to Jeanne and her people.
With Pierre at his side, Jeanne was still with him; but now that
Pierre was gone there came a change in him--one of those
unaccountable transmutations of the mind which make the passing of
yesterdays more like a short dream than a long and full reality.
He walked slowly over the plain, and, when he came to the trail
beaten by the hoofs of his own teams he followed it mechanically.
In his measurement of things now, it seemed only a few hours since
he had traveled over this trail on his way to Fort Churchill; it
might, have been that morning, or the morning before. The weeks of
his absence had passed with marvelous swiftness, now that he
looked back upon them. They seemed short and trivial. And yet he
knew that in those weeks he had lived more of his life than he had
ever lived before, or would ever live again. For a brief spell
life had been, filled with joy and hope--a promise of happiness
which a single moment in the shadow of the Sun Rock had destroyed
forever. He had seen Jeanne in another man's arms; he had read the
confirmation of his fears in Pierre's grief-distorted face, in the
strange tremble of his voice, in the words that he had spoken. He
was sorry for Pierre. He would have been glad if that other man
had been the lovable half-breed; if Jeanne, in the poetry of life
and love, had given herself to the one who had saved the spark of
life in her chilled little body years and years ago. And yet in
his own grief he unconsciously rejoiced that it was a man like
Pierre who suffered with him.
This thought of Pierre strengthened him, and he walked faster, and
breathed more deeply of the clear night air. He had lost in the
fight for Jeanne as he had lost in many other fights; but, after
all, there was another and bigger fight ahead of him, which he
would begin to-morrow. Thoughts of his men, of his camps, and of
this struggle through which he must pass to achieve success raised
him above his depression, and stirred his blood with a growing
exhilaration. And Jeanne--was she hopelessly lost to him? He dared
to ask himself the question half an hour after he had separated
from Pierre, and his mind flew back to the portrait-room where he
had told Jeanne of his love, and where for a moment he had seen in
her eyes and face the sweet surrender that had given him a glimpse
of his paradise. But what did the sudden change mean? And after
that--the scene in the starlight?
A quickening of his pulse was the answer to these questions.
Jeanne had told him there were only two men at Fort o' God, Pierre
and her father. Then who could be this third? A lover, whom she
met clandestinely? He shivered, and began loading his pipe as he
walked. He was certain that the master of Fort o' God did not know
of the tryst beyond the rock, and he was equally certain that the
girl was unaware of Pierre's knowledge of the meeting. Pierre had
remained hidden, like himself, and he had given Philip to
understand that it was not the first time he had looked upon the
meetings of Jeanne and the man they had seen from the shadow of
the rock. And yet, in spite of all evidence, he could not lose
faith in Jeanne.
Suddenly he saw something ahead of him which changed for a moment
the uncomfortable trend of his thoughts. It was a pale streak,
rising above the level of the trail, and stretching diagonally
across the plain to the east. With an exclamation of surprise
Philip hastened his steps, and a moment later stood among the
fresh workings of his men. When he had left for Churchill this
streak, which was the last stretch of road-bed between them and
the surveyed line of the Hudson's Bay Railway, had ended two miles
to the south and west. In a little over a month MacDougall had
pushed it on the trail, and well across it in the direction of
Gray Beaver Lake. In that time he had accomplished a work which
Philip had not thought possible to achieve that autumn. He had
figured that the heavy snows of winter would cut them off at the
trail. And MacDougall was beyond the trail, with three weeks to
Something rose up in his blood, warming him with an elation which
sent him walking swiftly toward the end of the road-bed. A quarter
of a mile out on the plain he came to the working end. About him
were scattered half a dozen big scoop shovels and piles of working
tools. The embers of a huge log fire still glowed where dinner had
been cooked for the men. Philip stood for a few moments, looking
off into the distance. Another mile and a half out there was the
Gray Beaver, and from the Gray Beaver there lay the unbroken
waterway to the point of their conjunction with the railway coming
up from the south. A sudden idea occurred to Philip. If MacDougall
had built two and a quarter miles of road-bed in five weeks they
could surely complete this other mile and a half before winter
stopped them. In that event, they would have fifteen miles of
road, linking seven lakes, which would give them a splendid winter
trail for men, teams, and dogs to the Gray Beaver. And from the
Gray Beaver they would have smooth ice for twenty miles, to the
new road. He had not planned to begin fishing operations until
spring, but he could see no reason now why they should not
commence that winter, setting their nets through the ice. At
Lobstick Creek, where the new road would reach them sometime in
April or May, they could freeze their fish and keep them in
storage. Five hundred tons in stock, and perhaps a thousand, would
not be a bad beginning. It would mean from forty to eighty
thousand dollars, a half of which could be paid out in dividends.
He turned back, whistling softly. There was new life in him,
burning for action. He was eager to see MacDougall, and he hoped
that Brokaw would not be long in reaching Blind Indian Lake.
Before he reached the trail he was planning the accommodation
stations, where men and animals could find shelter. There would be
one on the shore of the Gray Beaver, and from there he would build
them at regular intervals of five miles on the ice.
He had come to the trail, and was about to turn in the direction
of the camp, when he saw a shadowy figure making its way slowly
across the plain which he had traversed half an hour before. The
manner in which this person was following in his footsteps,
apparently with extreme caution, caused Philip to move quickly
behind the embankment of the road-bed. Two or three minutes later
a man crossed into view. Philip could not see his face distinctly,
but by the tired droop of the stranger's shoulders and his
shuffling walk he guessed that what he had first taken for caution
was in reality the tedious progress of a man nearing exhaustion.
He wondered how he had missed him in his own journey over the
trail from the ridge mountains, for he had made twice the progress
of the stranger, and must surely have passed him somewhere within
the last mile or so. The fact that the man had come from the
direction of Fort o' God, that he was exhausted, and that he had
evidently concealed himself a little way back to avoid discovery,
led Philip to cut out diagonally across the plain so that he could
follow him and keep him in sight without being observed. Twice in
the next mile the nocturnal traveler stopped to rest, but no
sooner had he reached the first scattered shacks of the camp than
he quickened his steps, darting quickly among the shadows, and
then stopped at last before the door of a small log cabin within a
pistol-shot of Philip's own headquarters. The cabin was newly
built, and Philip gave a low whistle of surprise as he noted its
location. He had, to a certain degree, isolated his own camp home,
building it a couple of hundred yards back from the shore of the
lake, where most of the other cabins were erected. This new cabin
was still a hundred yards farther back, half hidden in a growth of
spruce. He heard the click of a key in a lock and the opening and
closing of a door. A moment later a light flared dimly against a
Philip hurried across the open to the cabin occupied by himself
and MacDougall, the engineer. He tried the door, but it was
barred. Then he knocked loudly, and continued knocking until a
light appeared within. He heard the Scotchman's voice, close to
"Who's there?" it demanded.
"None of your business!" retorted Philip, falling into the error
of a joke at the welcome sound of MacDougall's voice. "Open up!"
A bar slipped within. The door opened slowly. Philip thrust
himself against it and entered. In the pale light of the lamp he
was confronted by the red face of MacDougall, and a pair of little
eyes that gleamed menacingly. And on a line with MacDougall's face
was an ugly-looking revolver.
Philip stopped with a sudden uncomfortable thrill. MacDougall
lowered his gun.
"Lord preserve us, but that's the time you almost drew a
perforation!" he exclaimed. "It isn't safe to cut-up in these
diggings any more--not with Sandy MacDougall!"
He held out a hand with a relieved laugh, and the two men shook in
a grip that made their fingers ache.
"Is this the way you welcome all of your friends, Mac?"
MacDougall shrugged his shoulders and laid his gun on a table in
the center of the room.
"Can't say that I've got a friend left in camp," he said, with a
curious grimace. "What in thunder do you mean, Phil? I've tried to
reason something out of it, but I can't!"
Philip was hanging up his cap and coat on one of a number of
wooden pegs driven into the long wall. He turned quickly.
"Reason something out of what?" he said.
"Your instructions from Churchill," replied MacDougall, picking up
a big, black-bowled pipe from the table.
Philip sat down with a restful sigh, crossed his legs, loaded his
pipe, and lighted it.
"Thought I made myself lucid enough, even for a Scotchman, Sandy,"
he said. "I learned at Churchill that the big fight is going to be
pulled off mighty soon. It's about time for the fireworks. So I
told you to put the sub-camps in fighting shape, and arm every
responsible man in this camp. There's going to be a whole lot of
gun-work before you're many days older. Great Scott, man, don't
you understand NOW? What's the matter?"
MacDougall was staring at him as if struck dumb.
"You told me--to arm--the camps?" he gasped.
"Yes, I sent you full instructions two weeks ago."
"MacDougall tapped his forehead suspiciously with a stubby
"You're mad--or trying to pull off a poor brand of joke!" he
exclaimed. "If you're dreaming, come out of it. Look here, Phil,"
he cried, a little heatedly, "I've been having a hell of a time
since you left the camp, and I want to talk seriously."
It was Philip who stared now. He fairly thrust himself upon the
"Do you mean to say you didn't get my letter telling you to put
the camps in fighting shape?"
"No, I didn't get it," said MacDougall. "But I got the other."
"There was no other!"
MacDougall jumped to his feet, darted to his bunk, and came back a
moment later with a letter. He thrust it almost fiercely into
Philip's hands. A sweat broke out upon his face as he saw its
effect upon his companion. Philip's face was deadly pale when he
looked up from the letter.
"My God! you haven't done this?" he gasped.
"What else could I do?" demanded MacDougall. "It's down there in
black and white, isn't it? It charges me to outfit six prospecting
parties of ten men each, arm every man with a rifle and revolver,
victual them for two months, and send them to the points named
there. That letter came ten days ago, and the last party, under
Tom Billinger, has been gone a week. You told me to send your very
best men, and I have. It has fairly stripped the camp of the men
we depended upon, and there are hardly enough guns left to kill
"I didn't write this letter," said Philip, looking hard at
MacDougall. "The signature is a fraud. The letter which I sent to
you, revealing my discoveries at Churchill, has been intercepted
and replaced by this. Do you know what it means?"
MacDougall was speechless. His square jaw was set like an iron
clamp, his heavy hands doubled into knots on his knees.
"It means--fight," continued Philip. "To-night--to-morrow--at any
moment now. I can't guess why the blow hasn't fallen before this."
He quickly related to MacDougall the chief facts he had gathered
at Fort Churchill. When he had finished, the young Scotchman
reached over to the table, seized his revolver, and held the butt
end of it out to Philip.
"Pump me full of lead--for God's sake, do, Phil," he pleaded.
Philip laughed, and gripped his hand.
"Not while I need a few fighters like yourself, Sandy," he
objected. "We're on to the game in time. By to-morrow morning
we'll be prepared for the war. We haven't an hour--perhaps not a
minute--to lose. How many men can you get hold of to-night whom we
can depend upon to fight?"
"Ten or a dozen, no more. The road gang that we were expecting up
from the Grand Trunk Pacific came three days after you started for
Churchill--twenty-eight of 'em. They're a tough-looking outfit,
but devilish good workers. I believe you could HIRE that gang to
do anything. They won't take a word from me. It's all up to
Thorpe, the foreman who brought 'em up, and they won't obey an
order unless it comes through him. Thorpe could get them to fight,
but they haven't anything to fight with, except a few knives. I've
got eight guns left, and I can scrape up eight men who'll handle
them for the glory of it. Thorpe's gang would be mighty handy in
close quarters, if it came to that."
MacDougall moved restlessly, and ran a hand through his tawny
"I almost wish we hadn't invited that bunch up here," he added.
"They look to me like a lot of dollar thugs, but they work like
horses. Never saw such men with the shovel and pick. And fight?
They've cleaned up on a half of the men in camp. If we can get
"We'll see him to-night," interrupted Philip. "Or to be correct,
this morning. It's one o'clock. How long will it take to round up
our best men?"
"Half an hour," said MacDougall, promptly, jumping to his feet.
"There are Roberts, Henshaw, Tom Cassidy, Lecault, the Frenchman,
and the two St. Pierre brothers. They're all crack gun-men. Give
'em each an automatic and they're worth twenty ordinary men."
A few moments later MacDougall extinguished the light, and the two
men left the cabin. Philip drew his companion's attention to the
dimly lighted window of the cabin to which he had followed the
stranger a short time before,
"That's Thorpe's," said the young engineer. "I haven't seen him
since morning. Guess he must be up."
"We'll sound him first," said Philip, starting off.
At MacDougall's knock there was a moment's silence inside, then
heavy footsteps, and the door was flung open. Sandy entered,
followed by Philip. Thorpe stepped back. He was of medium height,
yet so athletically built that he gave the impression of being two
inches taller than he actually was. He was smooth-shaven, and his
hair and eyes were black. His whole appearance was that of a
person infinitely superior to what Philip had expected to find in
the gang-foreman. His first words, and the manner in which they
were spoken, added to this impression.
"Good evening, gentlemen."
"Good morning," replied MacDougall, nodding toward Philip. "This
is Mr. Whittemore, Thorpe. We saw your light, and thought you
wouldn't mind a call."
Philip and Thorpe shook hands.
"Just in time to have a cup of coffee," invited Thorpe,
pleasantly, motioning toward a steaming pot on the stove. "I just
got in from a long hike out over the new road-bed. Been looking
the ground over along the north shore of the Gray Beaver, and was
so interested that I didn't start for home until dark. Won't you
draw up, gentlemen? There are mighty few who can beat me at making
MacDougall had noted a sudden change in Philip's face, and as
Thorpe hastened to lift the over-boiling pot from the stove he saw
his chief make a quick movement toward a small table, and pick up
an object which looked like a bit of cloth. In an instant Philip
had hidden it in the palm of his hand. A flush leaped into his
cheeks. A strange fire burned in his eyes when Thorpe turned.
"I'm afraid we can't accept your hospitality," he said. "I'm
tired, and want to get to bed. In passing, however, I couldn't
refrain from dropping in to compliment you on the remarkable work
your men are doing out on the plain. It's splendid."
"They're good men," said Thorpe, quietly. "Pretty wild, but good
He followed them to the door. Outside, Philip's voice trembled
when he spoke to MacDougall.
"You go for the others, and bring them to the office, Sandy," he
said. "I said nothing to Thorpe because I have no confidence in
liars, and Thorpe is a liar. He was not out to the Gray Beaver to-
day; for I saw him when he came in--from the opposite direction.
He is a liar, and he will bear watching. Mind that, Sandy. Keep
your eyes on this man Thorpe. And keep your eyes on his gang.
Hustle the others over to the office as soon as you can."
They separated, and Philip returned to the cabin which they had
left a few minutes before. He relighted the lamp, and with a sharp
gasp in his breath held out before his eyes the object which he
had taken from Thorpe's table. He knew now why Thorpe had come
from over the mountains that night, why he was exhausted, and why
he had lied. He clasped his head between his hands, scarcely
believing the evidence of his eyes. A deeper breath, almost a
moan, fell from his twisted lips. For he had discovered that
Thorpe, the gang-foreman, was Jeanne's lover. In his hand he held
the dainty handkerchief, embroidered in blue, which he had seen in
Jeanne's possession earlier that evening--crumpled and discolored,
still damp with her tears!
For many minutes Philip did not move, or look from the bit of damp
fabric which be held between his fingers. His heart was chilled.
He felt sick. Each moment added to the emotion which was growing
in him, an emotion which was a composite of disgust and of
anguish. Jeanne--Thorpe! An eternity of difference seemed to lie
between those two--Jeanne, with her tender beauty, her sweet life,
her idyllic dreams, and Thorpe, the gang-driver! In his own soul
he had made a shrine for Jeanne, and from his knees he had looked
up at her, filled with the knowledge of his own unworthiness. He
had worshiped her, as Dante might have worshiped Beatrice. To him
she was the culmination of all that was sweet and lovable in
woman, transcendently above him. And from this love, this worship
of his, she had gone that very night to Thorpe, the gang-man. He
shivered. Going to the stove he thrust in a handful of paper,
dropped the handkerchief in with it, and set the whole on fire.
A few moments later the door opened and MacDougall came in. He was
followed by the two swarthy-faced St. Pierres, the camp huntsmen.
Philip shook hands with them, and they passed after the engineer
through a narrow door leading into a room which was known as the
camp office, Cassidy, Henshaw, and the others followed within the
next ten minutes. There was not a man among them whose eyes
faltered when Philip put up his proposition to them. As briefly as
possible he told them a part of what he had previously revealed to
MacDougall, and frankly conceded that the preservation of property
and life in the camp depended almost entirely upon them.
"You're not the sort of men to demand pay in a pinch like this,"
he finished, "and that's just the reason I've confidence enough in
you to ask for your support. There are fifty men in camp whom we
could hire to fight, but I don't want hired fighters. I don't want
men who will run at the crack of a few rifles, but men who are
willing to die with their boots on. I won't offer you money for
this, because I know you too well. But from this hour on you're
going to be a part of the Great Northern Fish and Development
Company, and as soon as the certificates can be signed I'm going
to turn over a hundred shares of stock to each of you. Remember
that this isn't pay. It's simply a selfish scheme of mine to make
you a part of the company. There are eight of us. Give us each an
automatic and I'll wager that there isn't a combination in this
neck of the woods strong enough to do us up."
In the pale light of the two oil-lamps the men's faces glowed with
enthusiasm. Cassidy was the first to grip Philip's hand in a
pledge of fealty.
"When hell freezes over, we're licked," he said. "Where's me
MacDougall brought in the guns and ammunition.
"In the morning we will begin the erection of a new building close
to this one," said Philip. "There is no reason for the building,
but that will give me an excuse for keeping you men together on
one job, within fifty feet of your guns, which we can keep in this
room. Only four men need work at a shift, and I'll put Cassidy in
charge of the operations, if that is satisfactory to the others.
We'll have a couple of new bunks put in here so that four men can
stay with MacDougall and me every night. The other four, who are
not on the working shift, can hunt not far from the camp, and keep
their eyes peeled. Does that look good?"
"Can't be beat," said Henshaw, throwing open the breech of his
gun. "Shall we load?"
The room became ominous with the metallic click of loaded
cartridge clips and the hard snap of released chambers.
Five minutes later Philip stood alone with MacDougall. The loaded
rifles, each with a filled cartridge belt hanging over the muzzle,
were arranged in a row along one of the walls.
"I'll stake everything I've got on those men," he exclaimed. "Mac,
did it ever strike you that when you want REAL men you ought to
come north for them? Every one of those fellows is a northerner,
except Cassidy, and he's a fighter by birth. They'll die before
they go back on their word."
MacDougall rubbed his hands and laughed softly.
"What next, Phil?"
"We must send the swiftest man you've got in camp after Billinger,
and get word to the other parties you sent out as quickly as we
can. They'll probably get in too late. Billinger may arrive in
"He's been gone a week. It's doubtful if we can get him back
within three," said MacDougall. "I'll send St. Pierre's cousin,
that young Crow Feather, after him as soon as he can get a pack
ready. You'd better go to bed, Phil. You look like a dead man."
Philip was not sure that he could sleep, notwithstanding the
physical strain he had been under during the past twenty-four
hours. He was filled with a nervous desire for continued action.
Only action kept him from thinking of Jeanne and Thorpe. After
MacDougall had gone to stir up young Crow Feather he undressed and
stretched out in his bunk, hoping that the Scotchman would soon
return. Not until he closed his eyes did he realize how tired he
was. MacDougall came in an hour later, and Philip was asleep. It
was nine o'clock when he awoke. He went to the cook's shanty, ate
a hot breakfast of griddle-cakes and bacon, drank a pint of strong
coffee, and hunted up MacDougall. Sandy was just coming from
"He's a queer guinea, that Thorpe," said the engineer, after their
first greeting. "He doesn't pretend to do a pound's work. Notice
his hands when you see him again, Phil. They look as though he had
been drumming a piano all his life. But love o' mighty, how he
does make the OTHERS work. You want to go over and see his gang
"That's where I'm going," said Philip. "Is Thorpe at home?"
"Just leaving. There he is now!"
At MacDougall's whistle Thorpe turned and waited for Philip.
"Goin' over?" he asked, pleasantly, when Philip came up.
"Yes. I want to see how your men work without a leader," replied
Philip. He paused for a moment to light his pipe, and pointed to a
group of men down on the lake shore. "See that gang?" he asked.
"They're building a scow. Take away their foreman and they
wouldn't be worth their grub. They're men we brought up from
Thorpe was rolling a cigarette. Under his arm he held a pair of
"Mine are different," he laughed, quietly.
"I know that," rejoined Philip, watching the skill of his long
white fingers. "That's why I want to see them in action, when
"My policy is to know to a cubic foot what a certain number of men
are capable of doing in a certain time," explained Thorpe, as they
walked toward the plain. "My next move is to secure the men who
will achieve the result, whether I am present or not. That done,
my work is done. Simple, isn't it?"
There was something likable about Thorpe. Even in his present mood
Philip could not but concede that. He was surprised in Thorpe, in
more ways than one. His voice was low, and filled with a certain
companionable quality that gave one confidence in him immediately.
He was apparently a man of education and of some little culture,
in spite of his vocation, which usually possesses a vocabulary of
its own as hard as rock. But Philip's greatest surprise came when
he regarded Thorpe's personal appearance. He judged that he was
past forty, perhaps forty-five, and the thought made him shudder
inwardly. He was twice--almost three times--as old as Jeanne. And
yet there was about him something irresistibly attractive, a
fascination which had its influence upon Philip himself. His nails
dug into tie flesh of his hands when he thought of this man--and
Thorpe's gang was hard at work when they came to the end of the
rock-bed. Scarcely a man seemed to take notice when he appeared.
There was one exception, a wiry, red-faced little man who raised a
hand to his cap when he saw the foreman.
"That's the sub-foreman," explained Thorpe. "He answers to me."
The little man had given a signal, and Thorpe added, "Excuse me
for a moment. He's got something on his mind."
He drew a few steps aside, and Philip walked along the line of
laboring-men. He grinned and nodded to them, one after another.
MacDougall was right. They were the toughest lot of men he had
ever seen in one gang.
Loud voices turned him about, and he saw that Thorpe and the sub-
foreman had approached a huge, heavy-shouldered man, with whom
they seemed to be in serious altercation. Two or three of the
workmen had drawn near, and Thorpe's voice rang out clear and
"You'll do that, Blake, or you'll shoulder your kit back home. And
what goes with you goes with your clique. I know your kind, and
you can't worry me. Take that pick and dig--or hike. There's no
two ways about it."
Philip could not hear what the big man said, but suddenly Thorpe's
fist shot out and struck him fairly on the jaw. In another instant
Thorpe had jumped back, and was facing half a dozen angry,
threatening men. He had drawn a revolver, and his white teeth
gleamed in a cool and menacing smile.
"Think it over, boys," he said, quietly. "And if you're not
satisfied come in and draw your pay this noon. We'll furnish you
with outfits and plenty of grub if you don't like the work up
here. I don't care to hold men like you to your contracts."
He came to meet Philip, as though nothing unusual had happened.
"That will delay the completion of our work for a week at least,"
he said, as he thrust his revolver into a holster hidden under his
coat. "I've been expecting trouble with Blake and four or five of
his pals for some time. I'm glad it's over. Blake threatens a
strike unless I give him a sub-foremanship and increase the men's
wages from six to ten dollars a day. Think of it. A strike--up
here! It would be the beginning of history, wouldn't it?"
He laughed softly, and Philip laughed from sheer admiration of the
"You think they'll go?" he asked, anxiously.
"I'm sure of it," replied Thorpe. "It's the best thing that can
An hour later Philip was back in camp. He did not see Thorpe again
until after dinner, and then the gang-foreman hunted him up. His
face wore a worried look.
"It's a little worse than I expected," he said. "Blake and eight
others came in for their pay and outfits this noon. I didn't think
that more than three or four would have the nerve to quit."
"I'll furnish you with men to take their places," said Philip.
"There's the hitch," replied Thorpe, rolling a cigarette. "I want
my men to work by themselves. Put half a dozen of your amateur
road-men among them and it will mean twenty per cent. less work
done, and perhaps trouble. They're a tough lot. I concede that.
I've thought of a way to offset the loss of Blake and the others.
We can set a gang of your men at work over at Gray Beaver Lake,
and they can build up to meet us."
Philip saw MacDougall soon after his short talk with Thorpe. The
engineer did not disguise his pleasure at the turn which affairs
"I'm glad they're going," he declared. "If there's to be trouble
I'll feel easier with that bunch out of camp. I'd give my next
month's salary if Thorpe would take his whole outfit back where
they came from. They're doing business with the road-bed all
right, but I don't like the idea of having 'em around when there
are throats to be cut, one side or t'other."
Philip did not see Thorpe again that day. He selected his men for
the Gray Beaver work, and in the afternoon despatched a messenger
over the Fort Churchill route to meet Brokaw. He was confident
that Brokaw and his daughter would show up during the next few
days, but at the same time he instructed the messenger to go to
Churchill if he should not meet them on the way. Other men he sent
to recall the prospecting parties outfitted by MacDougall. Early
in the evening the St. Pierres, Lecault, and Henshaw joined him
for a few minutes in the office. During the day the four had done
scout work five miles on all sides of the camp. Lecault had shot a
moose three miles to the south, and had hung up the meat. One of
the St. Pierres saw Blake and his gang on the way to the
Churchill. Beyond these two incidents they brought in no news. A
little later MacDougall brought in two other men whom he could
trust, and armed them with muzzle-loaders. They were the two last
guns in the camp.
With ten men constantly prepared for attack, Philip began to feel
that he had the situation well in hand. It would be practically
impossible for his enemies to surprise the camp, and after their
first day's scout duty the men on the trail would always be within
sound of rifle-shots, even if they did not discover the advance of
an attacking force in time to beat them to camp. In the event of
one making such a discovery he was to signal the others by a
series of shots, such as one might fire at a running moose.
Philip found it almost impossible to fight back his thoughts of
Jeanne. During the two or three days that followed the departure
of Blake he did not allow himself an hour's rest from early dawn
until late at night. Each night he went to bed exhausted, with the
hope that sleep would bury his grief. The struggle wore upon him,
and the faithful MacDougall began to note the change in his
comrade's face. The fourth day Thorpe disappeared and did not show
up again until the following morning. Every hour of his absence
was like the stab of a knife in Philip's heart, for he knew that
the gang-foreman had gone to see Jeanne. Three days later the
visit was repeated, and that night MacDougall found Philip in a
"You're overdoing," he told him. "You're not in bed five hours out
of the twenty-four. Cut it out, or you'll be in the hospital
instead of in the fighting line when the big show comes to town."
Days of mental agony and of physical pain followed. Neither Philip
nor MacDougall could understand the mysterious lack of
developments. They had expected attack before this, and yet
ceaseless scout work brought in no evidence of an approaching
crisis. Neither could they understand the growing disaffection
among Thorpe's men. The numerical strength of the gang dwindled
from nineteen down to fifteen, from fifteen to twelve. At last
Thorpe voluntarily asked Philip to cut his salary in two, because
he could not hold his men. On that same day the little sub-foreman
and two others left him, leaving only nine men at work. The delay
in Brokaw's arrival was another puzzle to Philip. Two weeks
passed, and in that time Thorpe left camp three times. On the
fifteenth day the Fort Churchill messenger returned. He was
astounded when he found that Brokaw was not in camp, and brought
amazing news. Brokaw and his daughter had departed from Fort
Churchill two days after Pierre had followed Jeanne and Philip.
They had gone in two canoes, up the Churchill. He had seen no
signs of them anywhere along the route.
No sooner had he received the news than Philip sent the messenger
after MacDougall. The Scotchman's red face stared at him blankly
when he told him what had happened.
"That's their first move in the real fight," said Philip, with a
hard ring in his voice. "They've got Brokaw. Keep your men close
from this hour on, Sandy. Hereafter let five of them sleep in our
bunks during the day, and keep them awake during the night."
Five days passed without a sign of an enemy.
About eight o'clock on the night of the sixth MacDougall came into
the office, where Philip was alone. The young Scotchman's usually
florid face was white. He dropped a curse as he grasped the back
of a chair with both hands. It was the third or fourth time that
Philip had heard MacDougall swear.
"Damn that Thorpe!" he cried, in a low voice.
"What's up?" asked Philip, his muscles tightening.
MacDougall viciously beat the ash from the bowl of his pipe.
"I didn't want to worry you about Thorpe, so I've kept quiet about
some things," he growled. "Thorpe brought up a load of whisky with
him. I knew it was against the law you've set down for this camp,
but I figured you were having trouble enough without getting you
into a mix-up with him, so I didn't say anything. But this other--
is damnable! Twice he's had a woman sneak in to visit him. She's
there again to-night!"
A choking, gripping sensation rose in Philip's throat. MacDougall
was not looking, and did not see the convulsive twitching of the
other's face, or the terrible light that shot for an instant into
"A YOUNG woman," said MacDougall, with emphasis. "I don't know who
she is, but I do know that she hasn't a right there or she
wouldn't sneak in like a thief. I'm going to be blunt--damned
blunt. I think she's one of the other men's wives. There are half
a dozen in camp."
"Haven't you ever looked--to see if you could recognize her?"
"Haven't had the chance," said MacDougall. "She's been wrapped up
both times, and as it was none of my business I didn't lay in
wait. But now--it's up to you!"
Philip rose slowly. He felt cold. He put on his coat and cap, and
buckled on his revolver. His face was deadly white when he turned
"She is over there to-night?"
"Sneaked in not half an hour ago, I saw her come out of the edge
of the spruce."
"From the trail that leads out over the plain?"
Philip walked to the door.
"I'm going over to call on Thorpe," he said, quietly. "I may not
be back for some time, Sandy."
In the deep shadows outside he stood gazing at the light in
Thorpe's cabin. Then he walked slowly toward the spruce. He did
not go to the door, but leaned with his back against the building,
near one of the windows. The first shuddering sickness had gone
from him. His temples throbbed. At the sound of a voice inside
which was Thorpe's the chill in his blood turned to fire. The
terrible fear that had fallen upon him at MacDougall's words held
him motionless, and his brain worked upon but one idea--one
determination. If it was Jeanne who came in this way, he would
kill Thorpe. If it was another woman, he would give Thorpe that
night to get out of the country. He waited. He heard the gang-
man's voice frequently, once in a loud, half-mocking laugh. Twice
he heard a lower voice--a woman's. For an hour he watched. He
walked back and forth in the gloom of the spruce, and waited
another hour. Then the light went out, and he slipped back to the
corner of the cabin.
After a moment the door opened, and a hooded figure came out, and
walked rapidly toward the trail that buried itself amid the
spruce. Philip ran around the cabin and followed. There was a
little open beyond the first fringe of spruce, and in this he ran
up silently from behind and overtook the one he was pursuing. As
his hand fell upon her arm the woman turned upon him with a
frightened cry. Philip's hand dropped. He took a step back.
"My God! Jeanne--it is you!"
His voice was husky, like a choking man's. For an instant Jeanne's
white, terrified face met his own. And then, without a word to
him, she fled swiftly down the trail.
Philip made no effort to follow. For two or three minutes he stood
like a man turned suddenly into hewn rock, staring with unseeing
eyes into the gloom where Jeanne had disappeared. Then he walked
back to the edge of the spruce. There he drew his revolver, and
cocked it. The starlight revealed a madness in his face as he
approached Thorpe's cabin. He was smiling, but it was such a smile
as presages death; a smile as implacable as fate itself.
As Philip approached the cabin he saw a figure stealing away
through the gloom. His first thought was that he had returned a
minute too late to wreak his vengeance upon the gang-foreman in
his own home, and he quickened his steps in pursuit. The man ahead
of him was cutting direct for the camp supply-house, which was the
nightly rendezvous of those who wished to play cards or exchange
camp gossip. The supply-house, aglow with light, was not more than
two hundred yards from Thorpe's, and Philip saw that if he dealt
out the justice he contemplated he had not a moment to lose. He
began to run, so quickly that he approached within a dozen paces
of the man he was pursuing without being heard. It was not until
then that he made a discovery which stopped him. The man ahead was
not Thorpe. Suddenly, looking beyond him, he saw a second figure
pass slowly through the lighted door of the supply-house. Even at
that distance he recognized the gang-foreman. He thrust his
revolver under his coat and fell a little farther behind the man
he had mistaken for Thorpe so that when the latter passed within
the small circle of light that came from the supply-house windows
he was fifty instead of a dozen paces away. Something in the
other's manner, something strangely and potently familiar in his
slim, lithe form, in the quick, half-running movement of his body,
drew a sharp breath from Philip. He was on the point of calling a
name, but it died on his lips. A moment more and the man passed
through the door. Philip was certain that it was Pierre Couchee
who had followed Thorpe.
He was filled with a sudden fear as he ran toward the store. He
had scarcely crossed the threshold when a glance showed him Thorpe
leaning upon a narrow counter, and Pierre close beside him. He saw
that the half-breed was speaking, and Thorpe drew himself erect.
Then, as quick as a flash, two things happened. Thorpe's hand went
to his belt, Pierre's sent a lightning gleam of steel back over
his shoulder. The terrible drive of the knife and the explosion of
Thorpe's revolver came in the same instant. Thorpe crumpled back
over the counter, clutching at his breast. Pierre turned about,
staggering, and saw Philip. His eyes lighted up, and with a
moaning cry he stretched out his arms as Philip sprang to him.
Above the sudden tumult of men's feet and excited voices he gasped
out Jeanne's name. Half a dozen men had crowded about them.
Through the ring burst MacDougall, a revolver in his hand. Pierce
had become a dead weight in Philip's arms.
"Help me over to the cabin with him, Mac," he said. He looked
around among the men. It struck him as curious, even then, that he
saw none of Thorpe's gang. "Is Thorpe done for?" he asked.
"He's dead," replied some one.
With an effort Pierre opened his eyes.
"Dead!" he breathed, and in that one word there was a tremble of
joy and triumph.
"Take Thorpe over to his cabin," commanded Philip, as he and
MacDougall lifted Pierre between them. "I will answer for this
They could hear Pierre's sobbing breath as they hurried across the
open. They laid him on Philip's bunk and Pierre opened his eyes
again. He looked at Philip.
"M'sieur," he whispered, "tell me--quick--if I must die!"
MacDougall had studied medicine and surgery before engineering,
and took the place of camp physician. Philip drew back while he
ripped open the half-breed's garments and bared his breast. Then
he darted to his bunk for the satchel in which he kept his
bandages and medicines, throwing off his coat as he went. Philip
bent over Pierre. Blood was oozing slowly from the wounded man's
right breast. Over his heart Philip noticed a blood-stained
locket, fastened by a babiche string about his neck.
Pierre's hands groped eagerly for Philip's.
"M'sieur--you will tell me--if I must die?" he pleaded. "There are
things you must know--about Jeanne--if I go. It will not hurt. I
am not afraid. You will tell me--"
"Yes," said Philip.
He could scarcely speak, and while MacDougall was at work stood so
that Pierre could not see his face. There was a sobbing note in
Pierre's breath, and he knew what it meant. He had heard that same
sound more than once when he had shot moose and caribou through
the lungs. Five minutes later MacDougall straightened himself. He
had done all that he could. Philip followed him to the back part
of the room. Almost without sound his lips framed the words, "Will
"Yes," said MacDougall. "There is no hope. He may last until
Philip took a stool and sat down beside Pierre. There was no fear
in the wounded man's face. His eyes were clear. His voice was a
"I will die, M'sieur," he said, calmly.
"I am afraid so, Pierre."
Pierre's damp fingers closed about his own. His eyes shone softly,
and he smiled.
"It is best," he said, "and I am glad. I feel quite well. I will
live for some time?"
"Perhaps for a few hours, Pierre."
"God is good to me," breathed Pierre, devoutly. "I thank Him. Are
"Do you wish to be alone?"
Philip motioned to MacDougall, who went into the little office
"I will die," whispered Pierre, softly, as though he were
achieving a triumph. "And everything would die with me, M'sieur,
if I did not know that you love Jeanne, and that you will care for
her when I am gone. M'sieur, I have told you that I love her. I
have worshiped her, next to my God. I die happy, knowing that I am
dying for her. If I had lived I would have suffered, for I love
alone. She does not dream that my love is different from hers, for
I have never told her. It would have given her pain. And you will
never let her know. As Our Dear Lady is my witness, M'sieur, she
has loved but one man, and that man is you."
Pierre gave a great breath. A warm flood seemed suddenly to engulf
Philip. Did he hear right? Could he believe? He fell upon his
knees beside Pierre and brushed his dark hair back from his face.
"Yes, I love her," he said, softly. "But I did not know that she
"It is not strange," said Pierre, looking straight into his eyes.
"But you will understand--now--M'sieur. I seem to have strength,
and I will tell you all--from the beginning. Perhaps I have done
wrong. You will know--soon. You remember Jeanne told you the story
of the baby--of the woman frozen in the snow. That was the
beginning of the long fight--for me. This--what I am about to tell
you--will be sacred to you, M'sieur?"
"As my life," said Philip.
Pierre was silent for a few moments. He seemed to be gathering his
thoughts, so that he could tell in few words the tragedy of years.
Two brilliant spots burned in his cheeks, and the hand which
Philip held was hot.
"Years ago--twenty, almost--there came a man to Fort o' God," he
began. "He was very young, and from the south. D'Arcambal was then
middle-aged, but his wife was young and beautiful. Jeanne says
that you saw her picture--against the wall. D'Arcambal worshiped
her. She was his life. You understand what happened. The man from
the south--the young wife--they went away together."
Pierre coughed. A bit of blood reddened his lips. Philip wiped it
away gently with his handkerchief, hiding the stain from Pierre's
"Yes," he said, "I understand."
"It broke D'Arcambal's heart," resumed Pierre. "He destroyed
everything that had belonged to the woman. He turned her picture
to the wall. His love turned slowly to hate. It was two years
later that I came over the barrens one night and found Jeanne and
her dead mother. The woman, M'sieur--Jeanne's mother--was
D'Arcambal's wife. She was returning to Fort o' God, and God's
justice overtook her almost at its doors. I carried little Jeanne
to my Indian mother, and then made ready to carry the woman to her
husband. It was then that a terrible thought came to me. Jeanne
was not D'Arcambal's daughter. She was a part of the man who had
stolen his wife. I worshiped the little Jeanne even then, and for
her sake my mother and I swore secrecy, and buried the woman. Then
we took the babe to Fort o' God as a stranger. We saved her. We
saved D'Arcambal. No one ever knew."
Pierre stopped for breath.
"Was it best?"
"It was glorious," said Philip, trembling.
"It would have come out right--in the end--if the father had not
returned," said Pierre. "I must hurry, M'sieur, for it hurts me
now to talk. He came first a year ago, and revealed himself to
Jeanne. He told her everything. D'Arcambal was rich; Jeanne and I
both had money. He threatened--we bought him off. We fought to
keep the terrible thing from D'Arcambal. Our money sent him away
for a time. Then he returned. It was news of him I brought up the
river to Jeanne--from Churchill. I offered to kill him--but Jeanne
would not listen to that. But the Great God willed that I should.
I killed him to-night--over there!"
A great joy surged above the grief in Philip's heart. He could not
speak, but pressed Pierre's hand harder, and looked into his
Pierre's next words broke his silence, and wrung a low cry from
"M'sieur, this man Thorpe--Jeanne's father--is the man whom you
know as Lord Fitzhugh Lee."
He coughed violently, and with sudden fear Philip lifted his head
so that it rested against his shoulder. After a moment he lowered
it again. His face was as white as Pierre's after that sudden fit
"I talked with him--alone--on the afternoon of the fight on the
rock," continued Pierre, huskily. "He was hiding in the woods near
Churchill, and left for Fort o' God on that same day. I did not
tell Jeanne--until after what happened, and I came up with you on
the river. Thorpe was waiting for us at Fort o' God. It was he
whom Jeanne saw that night beside the rock, but I could not tell
you the truth--then. He came often after that--two, three times a
week. He tortured Jeanne. My God! he taunted her, M'sieur, and
made her let him kiss her, because he was her father. We gave him
money--all that we could get; we promised him more, if he would
leave--five thousand dollars--in three years. He agreed to go--
after he had finished his work here. And that work--M'sieur--was
to destroy you. He told Jeanne, because it made her fear him more.
He compelled her to come to his cabin. He thought she was his
slave, that she would do anything to be free of him. He told her
of his plot--how he had fooled you in the sham fight with one of
his men--how those men were going to attack you a little later,
and how he had intercepted your letter from Churchill and sent in
its place the other letter which made your camp defenseless. He
was not afraid of her. She was in his power, and he laughed at her
horror, and tortured her as a cat will a bird. But Jeanne--"
A spasm of pain shot over Pierre's face. Fresh blood dyed his
lips, and a shiver ran through his body.
"My God!--water--something--M'sieur," he gasped. "I must go on!"
Philip raised him again in his arms. He saw MacDougall's head
appear through the door.
"You will rest easier this way, Pierre," he said.
After a few moments Pierre spoke in a gasping whisper.
"You must understand. I must be quick," he said. "We could not
warn you of what Jeanne had discovered. That would have revealed
her father. D'Arcambal would have known--every one. Thorpe plans
to dress his men--like Indians. They are to attack your camp to-
morrow night. Ten days ago we went to the camp of old Sachigo, the
Cree, who loves Jeanne as his own daughter. It was Jeanne's idea--
to save you. Jeanne told him of Thorpe's plot to destroy you, and
to lay the blame on Sachigo's people. Sachigo is out there--in the
mountains--hiding with thirty of his tribe. Two days ago Jeanne
learned where her father's men were hiding. We had planned
everything. To-morrow night--when they move to attack--we were to
start a signal-fire on the big rock mountain at the end of the
lake. Sachigo starts at the signal, and lays in ambush for the
others in the ravine between the two mountains. None of Thorpe's
men will come out alive. Sachigo and his people will destroy them,
and none will ever know how it happened, for the Crees keep their
secrets. But now--it is too late--for me. When it happens--I will
be gone. The signal-pile is built--birch-bark--at the very top of
the rock. Jeanne will wait for me out on the plain--and I will
not come. You must fire the signal, M'sieur--as soon as it is
dark. None will ever know. Jeanne's father is dead. You will keep
the secret--of her mother--always--"
"Forever," said Philip.
MacDougall came into the room, He brought a glass, partly filled
with a colored liquid, and placed it to Pierre's lips. Pierre
swallowed with an effort, and with a significant hunch of his
shoulders for Philip's eyes alone the engineer returned to the
"Mon Dieu, how it burns!" said Pierre, as if to himself. "May I
lie down again, M'sieur?"
Philip lowered him gently. He made no effort to speak in these
moments. Pierre's eyes were dark and luminous as they sought his
own. The draught he had taken gave him a passing strength.
"I saw Thorpe again this afternoon," he said, more calmly.
"D'Arcambal thought I had taken Jeanne to visit a trapper's wife
down the Churchill. I saw Thorpe--alone. He had been drinking. He
laughed at me, and said that Jeanne and I were fools--that he
would not leave as he had said he would--but that he would remain
--always. I told Jeanne, and asked her again to let me kill him.
But she said no--and I had taken my oath to her. Jeanne saw him
again to-night. I was near the cabin, and saw you. I told him I
would kill him if he did not go. He laughed again, and struck me.
When I came to my feet he was half across the open; I followed. I
forgot my oath. Rage filled my heart. You know what happened. You
will tell Jeanne--so that she will understand--"
"Can we not send for her?" asked Philip. "She must be near."
"No, M'sieur," he replied, softly. "It would only give her great
pain to see me--like this. She was to meet me to-night--at twelve
o'clock--on the trail where the road-bed crosses. You will meet
her in my place. When she understands all that has happened you
may bring her here, if she wishes to come. Then--to-morrow night--
you will go together to fire the signal."
"But Thorpe is dead," said Philip. "Will they attack without him?"
"There is another, besides him," said Pierre. "That is one secret
which Thorpe has kept from Jeanne--who the other is--the one who
is paying to have you destroyed. Yes--they will attack."
Philip bent low over Pierre.
"I have known of this plot for a long time, Pierre," he said,
tensely. "I know that this Thorpe, who for some reason has passed
as Lord Fitzhugh Lee, is but the agent of a more powerful force
behind him. Have you told me all, Pierre? Do you know nothing
"Was it Thorpe who attacked you on the cliff at Churchill?"
"No, I am sure that it was not he. If the attack had not failed--
it would have meant loss--for him. I have laid it to the ruffians
who wanted to kill me--and secure Jeanne. You understand--"
"Yes, but I do not believe that was the motive for the attack,
Pierre," said Philip. "Did Thorpe go to see any one in Churchill?"
"I don't know. He was concealing himself in the forest."
A convulsive shudder ran through Pierre's body. He gave a low cry
of pain, and his hand clutched at the babiche cord which held the
locket about his neck.
"M'sieur," he whispered, quickly, "this locket--was on the little
Jeanne--when I found her in the snow. I kept it because it bears
the woman's initials. I am foolish, M'sieur. I am weak. But I
would like to have it buried with me--under the old tree--where
Jeanne's mother lies. And if you could, M'sieur--if you only
could--place something of Jeanne's in my hand--I would rest
Philip bowed his head in silence, while his eyes grew blinding
hot. Pierre pressed his hand.
"She loves you--as I love her," he whispered, so low that Philip
could scarcely hear. "You will love her--always. If you do not--
the Great God will let the curse of Pierre Couchee fall upon you!"
Choking back the great sobs that rose in his breast, Philip sank
upon his knees beside Pierre, and buried his face in his arms like
a heartbroken boy. For several moments there was a silence,
punctuated by the rasping breath of the wounded man. Suddenly this
sound ceased, and Philip felt a cold fear leap through him. He
listened, neither breathing nor lifting his head. In that interval
of pulseless quiet a terrible cry came from Pierre's lips, and
when Philip looked up the dying half-breed had struggled to a
sitting posture, blood staining his lips again, his eyes blazing,
his white face damp with the clammy touch of death, and was
staring through the cabin window. It was the window that looked
out over the lake, toward the rock mountain half a mile away.
Philip turned, horrified and wondering. Through the window he saw
a glow in the sky--the glow of a fire, leaping up in a crimson
flood from the top of the mountain!
Again that terrible, moaning cry fell from Pierre's lips, and he
reached out his arms toward the signal that was blazing forth its
warning in the night.
"Jeanne--Jeanne--" he sobbed. "My Jeanne--"
He swayed, and fell back. His words came in choking gasps.
"The signal!" he struggled, fighting to make Philip understand
him. "Jeanne--saw--Thorpe--to-night. He--must--changed--plans.
Attack--to-night. Jeanne--Jeanne--my Jeanne--has lighted--the
A tremor ran through his body, and he lay still. MacDougall ran
across from the half-open door, and put his head to Pierre's
"Is he dead?" asked Philip.
"Will he become conscious again?"
Philip gripped MacDougall by the arm.
"The attack is to be made to-night, Mac," he exclaimed. "Warn the
men. Have them ready. But you--YOU, MacDougall, attend to this
man, AND KEEP HIM ALIVE!"
Without another word he ran to the door and out into the night.
The signal-fire was leaping to the sky. It lighted up the black
cap of the mountain, and sent a thousand aurora fires flashing
across the lake. And Philip, as he ran swiftly through the camp
toward the narrow trail that led to that mountain-top, repeated
over and over again the dying words of Pierre--
"Jeanne--my Jeanne--my Jeanne--"
News of the double tragedy had swept through the camp, and there
was a crowd in front of the supply-house. Philip passed close to
Thorpe's house to avoid discovery, ran a hundred yards up the
trail over which Jeanne had fled a short time before, and then cut
straight across through the thin timber for the head of the lake.
He felt no effort in his running. Low bush whipped him in the face
and left no sting. He was not conscious that he was panting for
breath when he came out in the black shadow of the mountain. This
night in itself had been a creation for him, for out of grief and
pain it had lifted him into a new life, and into a happiness that
seemed to fill him with the strength and the endurance of five
men. Jeanne loved him! The wonderful truth cried itself out in his
soul at every step he took, and he murmured it aloud to himself,
over and over again, as he ran.
The glow of the signal-fire lighted up the sky above him, and he
climbed up, higher and higher, scrambling swiftly from rock to
rock, until he saw the tips of the flames licking up into the sky.
He had come up the steepest and shortest side of the ridge, and
when he reached the top he lay upon his face for a moment, his
breath almost gone.
The fire was built against a huge dead pine, and the pine was
blazing a hundred feet in the air. He could feel its heat. The
monster torch illumined the barren cap of the rock from edge to
edge, and he looked about him for Jeanne. For a moment he did not
see her, and her name rose to his lips, to be stilled in the same
breath by what he saw beyond the burning pine. Through the blaze
of the heat and fire fie beheld Jeanne, standing close to the edge
of the mountain, gazing into the south and west. He called her
name. Jeanne turned toward him with a startled cry, and Philip was
at her side. The girl's face was white and strained. Her lips were
twisted in pain at sight of him. She spoke no word, but a strange
sound rose in her throat, a welling-up of the sudden despair which
the fire-light revealed in her eyes. For one moment they stood
apart, and Philip tried to speak. And then, suddenly, he reached
out and drew her quickly into his arms--so quickly that there was
no time for her to escape, so closely that her sweet face lay
imprisoned upon his breast, as he had held it once before, under
the picture at Fort o' God. He felt her straining to free herself;
he saw the fear in her eyes, and he tried to speak calmly, while
his heart throbbed with the passion of love which he wished to
pour into her ears.
"Listen, Jeanne," he said. "Pierre has sent me to you. He has told
me everything--everything, my sweetheart. There is nothing to
keep from me now. I know. I understand. And I love you--love you--
love you--my own sweet Jeanne!"
She trembled at his words. He felt her shuddering in his arms, and
her eyes gazed at him wonderingly, filled with a strange and
incredulous look, while her lips quivered and remained speechless.
He drew her nearer, until his face was against her own, and the
warmth of her lips, her eyes, and her hair entered into him, and
near stifled his heart with joy.
"He has told me everything, my little Jeanne," he said again, in a
whisper that rose just above the crackling of the pine.
"Everything. He told me because he knew that I loved you, and
The words choked in his throat. At this hesitation Jeanne drew her
head back, and, with her hands pressing against his breast, looked
into his face. There were in her eyes the same struggling
emotions, but with them now there came also a sweet faltering, a
piteous appeal to him, a faith that rose above her terrors, and
the tremble of her lips was like that of a crying child. He drew
her face back, and kissed the quivering lips, and suddenly he felt
the strain against him give way, and Jeanne's head sobbed upon his
breast. In that moment, looking where the roaring pine sent its
pinnacles of flame leaping up into the night, a word of thanks, of
prayer, rose mutely to his lips, and he held Jeanne more closely,
and whispered over and over again in his happiness, "Jeanne--
Jeanne--my sweetheart Jeanne."
Jeanne's sobs grew less and less, and Philip strengthened himself
to tell her the terrible news of Pierre. He knew that in the
selfishness of his own joy he had already wasted precious minutes,
and very gently he took Jeanne's wet face between his two hands
and turned it a little toward his own.
"Pierre has told me everything, Jeanne," he repeated. "Everything
--from the day he found you many years ago to the day your father
returned to torture you." He spoke calmly, even as he felt her
shiver in pain against him. "To-night there was a little trouble
down in the camp, dear. Pierre is wounded, and wants you to come
to him. Thorpe--is--dead."
For an instant Philip was frightened at what happened. Jeanne's
breath ceased. There seemed to be not a quiver of life in her
body, and she lay in his arms as if dead. And then, suddenly,
there came from her a terrible cry, and she wrenched herself free,
and stood a step from him, her face as white as death.
"Yes, he is dead."
"And Pierre--Pierre killed him?"
Philip held out his arms, but Jeanne did not seem to see them. She
saw the answer in his face.
"And--Pierre--is--hurt--" she went on, never taking her wide,
luminous eyes from his face.
Before he answered Philip took her trembling hands in his own, as
though he would lighten the blow by the warmth and touch of his
"Yes, he is hurt, Jeanne," he said. "We must hurry, for I am
afraid there is no time to lose."
"I fear so, Jeanne."
He turned before the look that came into her face, and led her
about the circle of fire to the side of the mountain that sloped
down into the plain. Suddenly Jeanne stopped for an instant. Her
fingers tightened about his. Her face was turned back into the
endless desolation of night and forest that lay to the south and
west. Far out--a mile--two miles--an answering fire was breaking
the black curtain that hid all things beyond them. Jeanne lifted
her face to him. Grief and love, pain and joy, shone in her eyes.
"They are there!" she said, chokingly. "It is Sachigo, and they
Once again before they began the descent of the mountain Philip
drew her close in his arms, and kissed her. And this time there
was the sweet surrender to him of all things in the tenderness of
Jeanne's lips. Silent in their grief, and yet communing in
sympathy and love in the firm clasp of their hands, they came down
the mountain, through the thin spruce forest, and to the lighted
cabin where Pierre lay dying. MacDougall was in the room when they
entered, and rose softly, tiptoeing into the little office. Philip
led Jeanne to Pierre's side, and as he bent over him, and spoke
softly, the half-breed opened his eyes. He saw Jeanne. Into his
fading eyes there came a wonderful light. His lips moved, and his
hands strove to lift themselves above the crumpled blanket. Jeanne
dropped upon her knees beside him, and as she clasped his chilled
hands to her breast a glorious understanding lighted up her face;
and then she took Pierre's face between her hands, and bowed her
own close down to it, so that the two were hidden under the
beauteous halo of her hair. Philip gripped at his throat to hold
back a sob. A terrible stillness came into the room, and he dared
not move. It seemed a long time before Jeanne lifted her head,
slowly, tenderly, as if fearing to awaken a sleeping child. She
turned to him, and he read the truth in her face before she had
spoken. Her voice was low and calm, filled with the sweetness and
tenderness and strength that come only to a woman in the final
moment of a great sorrow.
"Leave us, Philip," she said. "Pierre is dead."
For a moment Philip bowed his head, and then he turned and went
noiselessly from the room, without speaking. As he closed the door
softly behind him he looked back, and from her attitude beside
Pierre he knew that Jeanne was whispering a prayer. A vision
flashed before him, so quick that it had come like a ray of light
--a vision of another hour, years and years ago, when Pierre had
knelt beside HER, and when he had lifted up his wild, half-thought
prayer out in the death-chill of the snowy barrens. And this was
his reward, to have Jeanne kneel beside him as the soul which had
loved her so faithfully took its flight.
Philip could not see when he turned his face to the light of the
office. For the first time the grief which he had choked back
escaped in a gasping break in his voice, and he wiped his eyes
with his pocket-handkerchief. He knew that MacDougall was looking
upon his weakness, but he did not at first see that there was
another person in the room besides the engineer. This second
person rose to meet him, while MacDougall remained in his seat,
and as he came out into the clearer light of the room Philip could
scarce believe his eyes.
It was Gregson!
"I am sorry that I came in just at this time, Phil," he greeted,
in a low voice.
Philip stared, still incredulous. He had never seen Gregson as he
looked now. The artist advanced no farther. He did not hold out
his hand. There was none of the joy of meeting in his face. His
eyes shifted to the door that led into the death-chamber, and they
were filled with the gloom of a condemned man. With a low word
Philip held out his hand to meet his old comrade's. Gregson drew
"No--not now," he said. "Wait--until you have heard me."
Something in his cold, passionless voice stopped Philip. He saw
Gregson glance toward MacDougall, and understood what he meant.
Going to the engineer, he placed a hand on his shoulder, and spoke
so that only he could hear.
"She is in there, Mac--with Pierre. She wanted to be alone with
him for a few minutes. Will you wait for her--outside--at the
door, and take her over to Cassidy's wife? Tell her that I will
come to her in a little while."
He followed MacDougall to the door, speaking to him in a low
voice, and then turned to Gregson. The artist had seated himself
at one side of the small office table, and Philip sat down
opposite him, holding out his hand to him again.
"What is the matter, Greggy?"
"This is not a time for long explanations," said the artist, still
holding back his hand. "They can come later, Phil. But to-night--
now--you must understand why I cannot shake hands with you. We
have been friends for a good many years. In a few minutes we will
be enemies--or you will be mine. One thing, before I go on, I must
ask of you. I demand it. Whatever passes between us during the
next ten minutes, say no word against Eileen Brokaw. I will say
what you might say--that for a time her soul wandered, and was
almost lost. But it has come back to her, strong and pure. I love
her. Some strange fate has ordained that she should love me,
worthless as I am. She is to be my wife."
Philip's hand was still across the table.
"Greggy--Greggy--God bless you!" he cried, softly. "I know what it
is to love, and to be loved. Why should I be your enemy because
Eileen Brokaw's heart has turned to gold, and she has given it to
you? Greggy, shake!"
"Wait," said Gregson, huskily. "Phil, you are breaking my heart.
Listen. You got my note? But I did not desert you so abominably. I
made a discovery that last night of yours in Churchill. I went to
Eileen Brokaw, and to-morrow--some time--if you care I will tell
you of all that happened. First you must know this. I have found
the 'power' that is fighting you down below. I have found the man
who is behind the plot to ruin your company, the man who is
responsible for Thorpe's crimes, the man who is responsible--for--
He leaned across the table and pointed to the closed door.
"And that man--"
For a moment he seemed to choke.
"Is Brokaw, the father of my affianced wife!"
"Good God!" cried Philip. "Gregson, are you mad?"
"I was almost mad, when I first made the discovery," said Gregson,
as cold as ice. "But I am sane now. His scheme was to have the
government annul your provisional license. Thorpe and his men were
to destroy this camp, and kill you. The money on hand from stock,
over six hundred thousand dollars, would have gone into Brokaw's
pockets. There is no need of further detail--now--for you can
understand. He knew Thorpe, and secured him as his agent. It was
merely a whim of Thorpe's to take the name of Lord Fitzhugh
instead of something less conspicuous. Three months before Brokaw
came to Churchill he wished to get detailed instructions to Thorpe
which he dared not trust to a wilderness mail service. He could
find no messenger whom he dared trust. So he sent Eileen. She was
at Fort o' God for a week. Then she came to Churchill, where we
saw her. The scheme was that Brokaw should bribe the ship's
captain to run close into Blind Eskimo Point, at night, and signal
to Thorpe and Eileen, who would be waiting. It worked, and Eileen
and Thorpe came on with the ship. At the landing--you remember--
Eileen was met by the girl from Fort o' God. In order not to
betray herself to you she refused to recognize her. Later she told
her father, and Thorpe and Brokaw saw in it an opportunity to
strike a first blow. Brokaw had brought two men whom he could
trust, and Thorpe had four or five others at Churchill. The attack
on the cliff followed, the object being to kill the man, but take
the girl unharmed, A messenger was to take the news of what
happened to Fort o' God, and lay the crime to men who had run up
to Churchill from your camp. Chance favored you that night, and
you spoiled their plan. Chance favored me, and I found Eileen. It
is useless for me to go into detail as to what happened after
that, except to say this--that Eileen knew nothing of the proposed
attack, that she was ignorant of the heinousness of the plot
against you, and that she was almost as much a tool of her father
as you. Phil--"
For the first time there came a pleading light into Gregson's eyes
as he leaned across the table.
"Phil, if it wasn't for Eileen I would not be here. I thought that
she would kill herself when I told her as much of the story as I
knew. She told me what she had done; she confessed for her father.
In that hour of her agony I could not keep back my love. We
plotted. I forged a letter, and made it possible to accompany
Brokaw and Eileen up the Churchill. It was not my purpose to join
you, and so Eileen professed to be taken ill. We camped, back from
the river, and I sent our two Indians back to Churchill, for
Eileen and I wished to be alone with Brokaw in the terrible hour
that was coming. That is all. Everything is revealed. I have come
to you as quickly as I could, to find that Thorpe is dead. In my
own selfishness I would have shielded Brokaw, arguing that he
could pay Thorpe, and work honorably henceforth. You would never
have known. It is Eileen who makes this confession, not I. Phil,
her last words to me were these: 'You love me. Then you will tell
him all this. Only after this, if he shows us a mercy which we do
not deserve, can I be your wife.'
"There is only one other thing to add. I have shown Brokaw a ray
of hope. He will hand over to you all his rights in the company
and the six hundred thousand in the treasury. He will sign over to
you, as repurchase money for whatever stock you wish to call in,
practically his whole fortune--five hundred thousand. He will
disappear, completely and forever. Eileen and I will hunt out our
own little corner in a new world, and you will never hear of us
again. This is what we have planned to do, if you show us mercy."
Philip had not spoken during Gregson's terrible recital. He sat
like one turned to stone. Rage, wonder, and horror burned so
fiercely in his heart that they consumed all evidence of emotion.
And to arouse him now there came an interruption that sent the
blood flushing back into his face--a low knock at the closed door,
a slow lifting of the latch, the appearance of Jeanne. Through her
tears she saw only the man she loved, and sobbing aloud now, like
a child, she stretched out her arms to him; and when he sprang to
her and caught her to his breast, she whispered his name again and
again, and stroked his face with her hands. Love, overpowering,
breathing of heaven, was in her touch, and as she lifted her face
to him of her own sweet will now, entreating him to kiss her and
to comfort her for what she had lost, he saw Gregson moving with
bowed head, like a stricken thing, toward the outer door. In that
moment the things that had been in his heart melted away, and
raising a hand above his head, he called, softly:
"Tom Gregson, my old chum, if you have found a love like this,
thank your God. My own love I would lose if I destroyed yours. Go
back to Eileen. Tell Brokaw that I accept his offers. And when you
come back in a few days, bring Eileen. My Jeanne will love her."
And Jeanne, looking from Philip's face, saw Gregson, for the first
time, as he passed through the door.
Both Philip and Jeanne were silent for some moments after Gregson
had gone; their only movement was the gentle stroking of Philip's
hand over the girl's soft hair. Their hearts were full, too full
for speech. And yet he knew that upon his strength depended
everything now. The revelations of Gregson, which virtually ended
the fight against him personally, were but trivial in his thoughts
compared with the ordeal which was ahead of Jeanne. Both Pierre
and her father were dead, and, with the exception of Jeanne, no
one but he knew of the secret that had died with them. He could
feel against him the throbbing of the storm that was passing in
the girl's heart, and in answer to it he said nothing in words,
but held her to him with a gentleness that lifted her face, quiet
and beautiful, so that her eyes looked steadily and questioningly
into his own.
"You love me," she said, simply, and yet with a calmness that sent
a curious thrill through him.
"Beyond all else in the world," he replied.
She still looked at him, without speaking, as though through his
eyes she was searching to the bottom of his soul.
"And you know," she whispered, after a moment.
He drew her so close she could not move, and crushed his face down
against her own.
"Jeanne--Jeanne--everything is as it should be," he said. "I am
glad that you were found out in the snows. I am glad that the
woman in the picture was your mother. I would have nothing
different than it is, for if things were different you would not
be the Jeanne that I know, and I would not love you so. You have
suffered, sweetheart. And I, too, have had my share of sorrow. God
has brought us together, and all is right in the end. Jeanne--my
Gregson had left the outer door slightly ajar. A gust of wind
opened it wider. Through it there came now a sound that
interrupted the words on Philip's lips, and sent a sudden quiver
through Jeanne. In an instant both recognized the sound. It was
the firing of rifles, the shots coming to them faintly from far
beyond the mountain at the end of the lake. Moved by the same
impulse, they ran to the door, hand in hand.
"It is Sachigo!" panted Jeanne. She could hardly speak. She seemed
to struggle to get breath, "I had forgotten. They are fighting--"
MacDougall strode up from his post beside the door, where he had
been waiting for the appearance of Jeanne.
"Firing--off there," he said. "What does it mean?"
"We must wait and see," replied Philip. "Send two of your men to
investigate, Mac. I will rejoin you after I have taken Miss
d'Arcambal over to Cassidy's wife."
He moved away quickly with Jeanne. On a sudden rise of the wind
from the south the firing came to them more distinctly. Then it
died away, and ended in three or four intermittent shots. For the
space of a dozen seconds a strange stillness followed, and then
over the mountain top, where there was still a faint glow in the
sky, there came the low, quavering, triumphal cry of the Crees: a
cry born of the forest itself, mournful even in its joy, only half
human--almost like a far-away burst of tongue from a wolf pack on
the hunt trail. And after that there was an unbroken silence.
"It is over," breathed Philip.
He felt Jeanne's fingers tighten about his own.
"No one will ever know," he continued. "Even MacDougall will not
guess what has happened out there--to-night."
He stopped a dozen paces from Cassidy's cabin. The windows were
aglow, and they could hear the laughter and play of Cassidy's two
children within. Gently he drew Jeanne to him.
"You will stay here to-night, dear," he said. "To-morrow we will
go to Fort o' God."
"You must take me home to-night," whispered Jeanne, looking up
into his face. "I must go, Philip. Send some one with me, and you
can come--in the morning--with Pierre--"
She put her hand to his face again, in the sweet touch that told
more of her love than a thousand words.
"You understand, dear," she went on, seeing the anxiety in his
eyes. "I have the strength--to-night. I must return to father,
and he will know everything--when you come to Fort o' God."
"I will send MacDougall with you," said Philip, after a moment.
"And then I will follow--"
"Yes, with Pierre."
For a brief space longer they stood outside of Cassidy's cabin,
and then Philip, lifting her face, said gently:
"Will you kiss me, dear? It is the first time."
He bent down, and Jeanne's lips reached his own.
"No, it is not the first time," she confessed, in a whisper. "Not
since that day--when I thought you were dying--after we came
through the rapids--"
Five minutes later Philip returned to MacDougall. Roberts,
Henshaw, Cassidy, and Lecault were with the engineer.
"I've sent the St. Pierres to find out about the firing," he said.
"Look at the crowd over at the store. Every one heard it, and
they've seen the fire on the mountain. They think the Indians have
cornered a moose or two and are shooting them by the blaze."
"They're probably right," said Philip. "I want a word with you,
He walked a little aside with the engineer, leaving the others in
a group, and in a low voice told him as much as he cared to reveal
about the identity of Thorpe and Gregson's mission in camp. Then
he spoke of Jeanne.
"I believe that the death of Thorpe practically ends all danger to
us," he concluded. "I'm going to offer you a pleasanter job than
fighting, Mac. It is imperative that Miss d'Arcambal should return
to D'Arcambal House before morning, and I want you to take her, if
you will. I'm choosing the best man I've got because--well,
because she's going to be my wife, Mac. I'm the happiest man on
MacDougall did not show surprise.
"Guessed it," he said, shortly, thrusting out a hand and grinning
broadly into Philip's face "Couldn't help from seeing, Phil. And
the firing, and Thorpe, and that half-breed in there--"
Understanding was slowly illuminating his face.
"You'll know all about them a little later, Mac," said Philip
softly. "To-night we must investigate nothing--very far. Miss
d'Arcambal must be taken home immediately. Will you go?"
"She can ride one of the horses as far as the Little Churchill,"
continued Philip. "And there she will show you a canoe. I will
follow in the morning with the body of Pierre, the half-breed."
A quarter of an hour later MacDougall and Jeanne set out over the
river trail, leaving Philip standing behind, watching them until
they were hidden in the night. It was fully an hour later before
the St. Pierres returned. Philip was uneasy until the two dark-
faced hunters came into the little office and leaned their rifles
against the wall. He had feared that Sachigo might have left some
trace of his ambush behind. But the St. Pierres had discovered
nothing, and could give only one reason for the burning pine on
the summit of the mountain. They agreed that Indians had fired it
to frighten moose from a thick cover to the south and west, and
that their hunt had been a failure.
It was midnight before Philip relaxed his caution, which he
maintained until then in spite of his belief that Thorpe's men,
under Blake, had met a quick finish at the hands of Sachigo and
his ambushed braves. His men left for their cabins, with the
exception of Cassidy, whom he asked to spend the remainder of the
night in one of the office bunks. Alone he went in to prepare
Pierre for his last journey to Fort o' God.
A lamp was burning low beside the bunk in which Pierre lay. Philip
approached and turned the wick higher, and then he gazed in wonder
upon the transfiguration in the half-breed's face. Pierre had died
with a smile on his lips; and with a curious thickening in his
throat Philip thought that those lips, even in death, were craved
in the act of whispering Jeanne's name. It seemed to him, as he
stood in silence for many moments, that Pierre was not dead, but
that he was sleeping a quiet, unbreathing sleep, in which there
came to him visions of the great love for which he had offered up
his life and his soul. Jeanne's hands, in his last moments, had
stilled all pain. Peace slumbered in the pale shadows of his
closed eyes. The Great God of his faith had come to him in his
hour of greatest need on earth, and he had passed away into the
Valley of Silent Men on the sweet breath of Jeanne's prayers. The
girl had crossed his hands upon his breast. She had brushed back
his long hair. Philip knew that she had imprinted a kiss upon the
silent lips before the soul had fled, and in the warmth and
knowledge of that kiss Pierre had died happy.
And Philip, brokenly, said aloud:
"God bless you, Pierre, old man!"
He lifted the cold hands back, and gently drew the covers which
had hidden the telltale stains of death from Jeanne's eyes. He
turned down Pierre's shirt, and in the lamp-glow there glistened
the golden locket. For the first time he noticed it closely. It
was half as large as the palm of his hand, and very thin, and he
saw that it was bent and twisted. A shudder ran through him when
he understood what had happened. The bullet that had killed Pierre
had first struck the locket, and had burst it partly open. He took
it in his hand. And then he saw that through the broken side there
protruded the end of a bit of paper. For a brief space the
discovery made him almost forget the presence of death. Pierre had
never opened the locket, because it was of the old-fashioned kind
that locked with a key, and the key was gone. And the locket had
been about Jeanne's neck when he found her out in the snows! Was
it possible that this bit of paper had something to do with the
girl he loved?
Carefully, so that it would not tear, he drew it forth. There was
writing on the paper, as he had expected, and he read it, bent low
beside the lamp. The date was nearly eighteen years old. The lines
were faint. The words were these:
MY HUSBAND,--God can never undo what I have done. I have dragged
myself back, repentant, loving you more than I have ever loved you
in my life, to leave our little girl with you. She is your
daughter, and mine. She was born on the eighth day of September,
the seventh month after I left Fort o' God, She is yours, and so I
bring her back to you, with the prayer that she will help to fill
the true and noble heart that I have broken. I cannot ask your
forgiveness, for I do not deserve it. I cannot let you see me, for
I should kill myself at your feet. I have lived this long only for
the baby. I will leave her where you cannot fail to find her, and
by the time you have read this I will have answered for my sin--
my madness, if you can have charity regard it so. And if God is
kind I will hover about you always, and you will know that in
death the old sweetheart, and the mother, has found what she could
never again hope for in life.
Philip rose slowly erect and gazed down into the still, tranquil
face of Pierre, the half-breed.
"Why didn't you open it?" he whispered. "Why didn't you open it?
My God, what it would have saved--"
For a full minute he looked down at Pierre, as though he expected
that the white lips would move and answer him. And then he thought
of Jeanne hurrying to Fort o' God, and of the terrible things
which she was to reveal to her father that night. She was
D'Arcambal's own daughter. What pain--what agony of father and
child he might have saved if he had examined the locket a little
sooner! He looked at his watch and found that Jeanne had been gone
three hours. It would be impossible to overtake MacDougall and the
girl unless something had occurred to delay them somewhere along
the trail. He hurried back into the little room, where he had left
Cassidy. In a few words he explained that it was necessary for him
to follow Jeanne and the engineer to D'Arcambal House without a
moment's delay, and he directed Cassidy to take charge of camp
affairs, and to send Pierre's body with a suitable escort the next
"It isn't necessary for me to tell you what to do," he finished,
Cassidy nodded. Six months before he had buried his youngest child
under a big spruce back of his cabin.
Philip hastened to the stables, and, choosing one of the lighter
animals, was soon galloping over the trail toward the Little
Churchill. In his face there blew a cold wind from Hudson's Bay,
and now and then he felt the sting of fine particles in his eyes.
They were the presage of storm. A shifting of the wind a little to
the east and south, and the fine particles would thicken, and turn
into snow. By morning the world would be white. He came into the
forests beyond the plain, and in the spruce and the cedar tops the
wind was half a gale, filling the night with wailing and moaning
sounds that sent strange shivers through him as he thought of
Pierre in the cabin. In such a way, he imagined, had the north
wind swept across the cold barrens on the night that Pierre had
found the woman and the babe; and now it seemed, in his fancies,
as though above and about him the great hand that had guided the
half-breed then was bringing back the old night, as if Pierre, in
dying, had wished it so. For the wind changed. The fine particles
thickened, and changed to snow. And then there was no longer the
wailing and the moaning in the tree-tops, but the soft murmur of a
white deluge that smothered him in a strange gloom and hid the
trail. There were two canoes concealed at the end of the trail on
the Little Churchill, and Philip chose the smallest. He followed
swiftly after MacDougall and Jeanne. He could no longer see either
side of the stream, and he was filled with a fear that he might
pass the little creek that led to Fort o' God. He timed himself by
his watch, and when he had paddled for two hours he ran in close
to the west shore, traveling so slowly that he did not progress a
mile in half an hour. And then suddenly, from close ahead, there
rose through the snow-gloom the dismal howl of a dog, which told
him that he was near to Fort o' God. He found the black opening
that marked the entrance to the creek, and when he ran upon the
sand-bar a hundred yards beyond he saw lights burning in the great
room where he had first seen D'Arcambal. He went now where Pierre
had led him that night, and found the door unlocked. He entered
silently, and passed down the dark hall until, on the left, he saw
a glow of light that came from the big room. Something in the
silence that was ahead of him made his own approach without sound,
and softly he entered through the door.
In the great chair sat the master of Fort o' God, his gray head
bent; at his feet knelt Jeanne, and so close were they that
D'Arcambal's face was hidden in Jeanne's shining, disheveled hair.
No sooner had Philip entered the room than his presence seemed to
arouse the older man. He lifted his head slowly, looking toward
the door, and when he saw who stood there he raised one of his
arms from about the girl and held it out to Philip.
"My son!" he said.
In a moment Philip was upon his knees beside Jeanne, and one of
D'Arcambal's heavy hands fell upon his shoulder in a touch that
told him he had come too late to keep back any part of the
terrible story which Jeanne had bared to him. The girl did not
speak when she saw him beside her. It was as if she had expected
him to come, and her hand found his and nestled in it, as cold as
"I have hurried from the camp," he said. "I tried to overtake
Jeanne. About Pierre's neck I found a locket, and in the locket--
He looked into D'Arcambal's haggard face as he gave him the blood-
stained note, and he knew that in the moment that was to come the
master of Fort o' God and his daughter should be alone.
"I will wait in the portrait-room," he said, in a low voice, and
as he rose to his feet he pressed Jeanne's hand to his lips.
The old room was as he had left it weeks before. The picture of
Jeanne's mother still hung with its face to the wall. There was
the same elusive movement of the portrait over the volume of warm
air that rose from the floor. In this room he seemed to breathe
again the presence of a warm spirit of life, as he had felt it on
the first night--a spirit that seemed to him to be a part of
Jeanne herself, and he thought of the last words of the wife and
mother--of her promise to remain always near those whom she loved,
to regain after death the companionship which she could never hope
for in life. And then there came to him a thought of the vast and