The horror of the day followed Cameron
through the night and awoke with him next morning. Every time his eyes
found the Indian his teeth came together in a grinding rage as he
repeated his vow, "Some day I shall bring you to justice. So help me
Against Raven somehow he could not
maintain the same heat of rage. That he was a party to the murder of the
Stonies there was little reason to doubt, but as all next day they lay
in the sunny glade resting the ponies, or went loping easily along the
winding trails making ever towards the Southwest, the trader's cheerful
face, his endless tales, and his invincible good humour stole from
Cameron's heart, in spite of his firm resolve, the fierceness of his
wrath. But the resolve was none the less resolute that one day he would
bring this man to justice.
As they journeyed on, the woods became
more open and the trees larger. Mid-day found them resting by a little
lake, from which a stream flowed into the upper reaches of the Columbia
"We shall make the Crow's Nest trail by
to-morrow night," said Raven, "where we shall part; not to your very
great sorrow, I fancy, either."
The evening before Cameron would have
said, "No, but to my great joy," and it vexed him that he could not
bring himself to say so to-day with any great show of sincerity. There
was a charm about this man that he could not resist.
"And yet," continued Raven, allowing his
eyes to rest dreamily upon the lake, "in other circumstances I might
have found in you an excellent friend, and a most rare and valuable find
"That it is!" agreed Cameron, thinking of
his old football captain, "but one cannot make friends with a—"
"It is an ugly word, I know," said Raven.
"But, after all, what is a bunch of furs more or less to those Indians?"
"Furs?" exclaimed Cameron in horror. "What
are the lives of these men?"
"Oh," replied Raven carelessly, "these
Indians are always getting killed one way or another. It is all in the
day's work with them. They pick each other off without query or qualm.
Besides, Little Thunder has a grudge of very old standing against the
Stonies, whom he heartily despises, and he doubtless enjoys considerable
satisfaction from the thought that he has partially paid it. It will be
his turn next, like as not, for they won't let this thing sleep. Or
perhaps mine!" he added after a pause. "The man is doubtless on the
trail at this present minute who will finally get me."
"Then why expose yourself to such a fate?"
said Cameron. "Surely in this country a man can live an honest life and
"Honest life? I doubt it! What is an
honest life? Does any Indian trader lead an honest life? Do the Hudson
Bay traders, or I. G. Baker's people, or any of them do the honest thing
by the Indian they trade with? In the long run it is a question of the
police. What escapes the police is honest. The crime, after all, is in
"Oh, that is too old!" said Cameron. "You
know you are talking rot."
"Quite right! It is rot," assented Raven.
"The whole business is rot. 'Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher.'
Oh, I know the Book, you see. I was not born a—a—an outlaw." The
grey-brown eyes had in them a wistful look. "Bah!" he exclaimed,
springing to his feet and shaking himself. "The sight of your Edinburgh
face and the sound of your Edinburgh speech and your old country ways
and manners have got on my recollection works, and I believe that
accounts for you being alive to-day, old man."
He whistled to his horse. Nighthawk came
trotting and whinneying to him.
"I have one friend in the world, old boy,"
he said, throwing his arm over the black, glossy neck and searching his
pocket for a biscuit. "And even you," he added bitterly, "I fear do not
love me for naught."
Saddling his horse, he mounted and calling
Little Thunder to him said:
"Take the bunch on as far as the Big
Canyon and wait there for me. I am going back a bit. It is better to be
sure than sorry. Cameron, your best route lies with us. Your twenty-four
hours' parole is already up. To-morrow, perhaps to-night, I shall put
you on the Macleod trail. You are a free man, but don't try to make any
breaks when I am gone. My friend here is extremely prompt with his
weapons. Farewell! Get a move on, Little Thunder! Cameron will bring up
He added some further words in the Indian
tongue, his voice taking a stern tone. Little Thunder grunted a surly
and unwilling acquiescence, and, waving his hand to Cameron, the trader
wheeled his horse up the trail.
In spite of himself Cameron could not
forbear a feeling of pity and admiration as he watched the lithe,
upright figure swaying up the trail, his every movement in unison with
that of the beautiful demon he bestrode. But with all his pity and
admiration he was none the less resolved that he would do what in him
lay to bring these two to justice.
"This ugly devil at least shall swing!" he
said to himself as he turned his eyes upon Little Thunder getting his
pack ponies out upon the trail. This accomplished, the Indian, pointing
onward, said gruffly,
"You go in front—me back."
"Not much!" cried Cameron. "You heard the
orders from your chief. You go in front. I bring up the rear. I do not
know the trail."
"Huh! Trail good," grunted Little Thunder,
the red-rimmed eyes gleaming malevolently. "You go front—me back." He
waved his hand impatiently toward the trail. Following the direction of
his hand, Cameron's eyes fell upon the stock of his own rifle protruding
from a pack upon one of the ponies. For a moment the protruding stock
held his eyes fascinated.
"Huh!" said the Indian, noting Cameron's
glance, and slipping off his pony. In an instant both men were racing
for the pack and approaching each other at a sharp angle. Arrived at
striking distance, the Indian leaped at Cameron, with his knife, as was
his wont, ready to strike.
The appearance of the Indian springing at
him seemed to set some of the grey matter in Cameron's brain moving
along old tracks. Like a flash he dropped to his knees in an old
football tackle, caught the Indian by the legs and tossed him high over
his shoulders, then, springing to his feet, he jerked the rifle free
from the pack and stood waiting for Little Thunder's attack.
But the Indian lay without sound or
motion. Cameron used his opportunity to look for his cartridge belt,
which, after a few minutes' anxious search, he discovered in the pack.
He buckled the belt about him, made sure his Winchester held a shell,
and stood waiting.
That he should be waiting thus with the
deliberate purpose of shooting down a fellow human being filled him with
a sense of unreality. But the events of the last forty-eight hours had
created an entirely new environment, and with extraordinary facility his
mind had adjusted itself to this environment, and though two days before
he would have shrunk in horror from the possibility of taking a human
life, he knew as he stood there that at the first sign of attack he
should shoot the Indian down like a wild beast.
Slowly Little Thunder raised himself to a
sitting posture and looked about in dazed surprise. As his mind regained
its normal condition there deepened in his eyes a look of cunning
hatred. With difficulty he rose to his feet and stood facing Cameron.
Cameron waited quietly, watching his every move.
"You go in front!" at length commanded
Cameron. "And no nonsense, mind you," he added, tapping his rifle, "or I
The Indian might not have understood all
Cameron's words, but he was in no doubt as to his meaning. It was
characteristic of his race that he should know when he was beaten and
stoically accept defeat for the time being. Without further word or look
he led off his pack ponies, while Cameron took his place at the rear.
But progress was slow. Little Thunder was
either incapable of rapid motion or sullenly indifferent to any
necessity for it. Besides, there was no demoniacal dynamic forcing the
beasts on from the rear. They had not been more than three hours on the
trail when Cameron heard behind him the thundering of hoofs. Glancing
over his shoulder, he saw coming down upon him Raven, riding as if
pursued by a thousand demons. The condition of his horse showed that the
race had been long and hard; his black satin skin was dripping as if he
had come through a river, his eyes were bloodshot and starting from his
head, his mouth was wide open and from it in large clots the foam had
fallen upon his neck and chest.
Past Cameron and down upon Little Thunder
Raven rushed like a whirlwind, yelling with wild oaths the while,
"Get on! Get on! What are you loafing
about here for?"
A few vehement directions to the Indian
and he came thundering back upon Cameron.
"What have you been doing?" he cried with
an oath. "Why are you not miles on? Get on! Move! Move!! Move!!!" At
every yell he hurled his frenzied broncho upon the ponies which brought
up the rear, and in a few minutes had the whole cavalcade madly
careering down the sloping trail. Wilder and wilder grew the pace.
Turning a sharp corner round a jutting rock a pack pony stumbled and
went crashing fifty feet to the rock below. "On! On!" yelled Raven,
emptying his gun into the struggling animal as he passed. More and more
difficult became the road until at length it was impossible to keep up
"We cannot make it! We cannot make it!"
muttered Raven with bitter oaths. "Oh, the cursed fools! Another two
miles would do it!"
At length they came to a spot where the
trail touched a level bench.
"Halt!" yelled the trader, as he galloped
to the head of the column. A few minutes he spent in rapid and fierce
consultation with Little Thunder and then came raging back. "We are
going to get this bunch down into the valley there," he shouted,
pointing to the thick timber at the bottom. "I do not expect your help,
but I ask you to remain where you are for the present. And let me assure
you this is no moment for trifling."
With extraordinary skill and rapidity
Little Thunder managed to lead first the pack ponies and then the
others, one by one, at intervals, off the trail as they went onward,
taking infinite pains to cover their tracks at the various points of
departure. While this was being done the trader stood shouting
directions and giving assistance with a fury of energy that seemed to
communicate itself to the very beasts. But the work was one of great
difficulty and took many minutes to accomplish.
"Half an hour more, just half an hour!
Fifteen minutes!" he kept muttering. "Just a short fifteen minutes and
all would be well."
As the last pony disappeared into the
woods Raven turned to Cameron and with a smile said quietly,
"There, that's done. Now you are free.
Here we part. This is your trail. It will take you to Macleod. I am
sorry, however, that owing to a change in circumstances for which I am
not responsible I must ask you for that rifle." With the swiftness of a
flash of light he whipped his gun into Cameron's face. "Don't move!" he
said, still smiling. "This gun of mine never fails. Quick, don't look
round. Yes, those hoof beats are our friends the police. Quick! It is
your life or mine. I'd hate to kill you, Cameron. I give you one chance
There was no help for it, and Cameron,
with his heart filled with futile fury, surrendered his rifle.
"Now ride in front of me a little way.
They have just seen us, but they don't know that we are aware of their
presence. Ride! Ride! A little faster!" Nighthawk rushed upon Cameron's
lagging pony. "There, that's better."
A shout fell upon their ears.
"Go right along!" said Raven quietly.
"Only a few minutes longer, then we part. I have greatly enjoyed your
"Aha!" said Raven, glancing round. "It is,
I verily believe it is my old friend Sergeant Crisp. Only two of them,
by Jove! If we had only known we need not have hurried."
Another shout, followed by a bullet that
sang over their heads.
"Ah, this is interesting—too interesting
by half! Well, here goes for you, sergeant!" He wheeled as he spoke.
Turning swiftly in his saddle, Cameron saw him raise his rifle.
"Hold up, you devil!" he shouted, throwing
his pony across the black broncho's track.
The rifle rang out, the police horse
staggered, swayed, and pitched to the earth, bringing his rider down
"Ah, Cameron, that was awkward of you,"
said Raven gently. "However, it is perhaps as well. Goodbye, old man.
Tell the sergeant not to follow. Trails hereabout are dangerous and good
police sergeants are scarce. Again farewell." He swung his broncho off
the trail and, waving his hand, with a smile, disappeared into the thick
"Hold up your hands!" shouted the police
officer, who had struggled upright and was now swaying on his feet and
covering Cameron with his carbine.
"Hurry! Hurry!" cried Cameron, springing
from his pony and waving his hands wildly in the air. "Come on. You'll
get him yet."
"Stand where you are and hold up your
hands!" cried the sergeant.
Cameron obeyed, shouting meanwhile
wrathfully, "Oh, come on, you bally fool! You are losing him. Come on, I
"Keep your hands up or I shoot!" cried the
"All right," said Cameron, holding his
hands high, "but for God's sake hurry up!" He ran towards the sergeant
as he spoke, with his hands still above his head.
"Halt!" shouted the sergeant, as Cameron
came near. "Constable Burke, arrest that man!"
"Oh, come, get it over," cried Cameron in
a fury of passion. "Arrest me, of course, but if you want to catch that
chap you'll have to hurry. He cannot be far away."
"Ah, indeed, my man," said the sergeant
pleasantly. "He is not far away?"
"No, he's a murderer and a thief and you
can catch him if you hurry."
"Ah! Very good, very good! Constable
Burke, tie this man up to your saddle and we'll take a look round. How
many might there be in your gang?" enquired the sergeant. "Tell the
truth now. It will be the better for you."
"One," said Cameron impatiently. "A chap
calling himself Raven."
"Raven, eh?" exclaimed Sergeant Crisp with
a new interest. "Raven, by Jove!"
"Yes, and an Indian. Little Thunder he
"Little Thunder! Jove, what a find!"
exclaimed the sergeant.
"Yes," continued Cameron eagerly. "Raven
is just ahead in the woods there alone and the Indian is further back
with a bunch of ponies down in the river bottom."
"Oh, indeed! Very interesting! And so
Raven is all alone in the scrub there, waiting doubtless to give himself
up," said sergeant Crisp with fine sarcasm. "Well, we are not yet on to
your game, young man, but we will not just play up to that lead yet a
In vain Cameron raged and pleaded and
stormed and swore, telling his story in incoherent snatches, to the
intense amusement of Sergeant Crisp and his companion. At length Cameron
desisted, swallowing his rage as best he could.
"Now then, we shall move on. The pass is
not more than an hour away. We will put this young man in safe keeping
and return for Mr. Raven and his interesting friend." For a moment he
stood looking down upon his horse. "Poor old chap!" he said. "We have
gone many a mile together on Her Majesty's errands. If I have done my
duty as faithfully as you have done yours I need not fear my record.
Take his saddle and bridle off, Burke. We've got one of the gang. Some
day we shall come up with Mr. Raven himself."
"Yes," said Cameron with passionate
bitterness. "And that might be to-day if you had only listened to me.
Why, man," he shouted with reviving rage, "we three could take him even
"Ah!" said Sergeant Crisp, "so we could."
"You had him in your hands to-day," said
Cameron, "but like a fool you let him go. But some day, so help me God,
I shall bring these murderers to justice."
"Ah!" said Sergeant Crisp again. "Good!
Very good indeed! Now, my man, march!"