Shivering and hungry and
fighting with sleep, Cameron stamped up
and down his cave, making now and then excursions into the storm to
replenish his fire. On sharpened sticks slices of venison were
cooking for his supper. Outside the storm raged with greater
violence than ever and into the cave the bitter cold penetrated,
effectually neutralizing the warmth of the little fire, for the
wood was hard to get and a larger fire he could not afford.
He looked at his watch and was amazed to find it only five o'clock.
How long could he maintain this fight? His heart sank at the
prospect of the long night before him. He sat down upon the rock
close beside his cooking venison and in a few moments was fast
He awoke with a start and found that the fire had crept along a
jutting branch and had reached his fingers. He sprang to his feet.
The fire lay in smouldering embers, for the sticks were mere
brushwood. A terrible fear seized him. His life depended upon
maintaining of this fire. Carefully he assembled the embers and
nursed them into bright flame. At all costs he must keep awake.
A further excursion into the woods for fuel thoroughly roused him
from his sleep. Soon his fire was blazing brightly again.
Consulting his watch, he found that he must have slept half an
hour. He determined that in order to keep himself awake and to
provide against the growing cold he would lay in a stock of
firewood, and so he began a systematic search for fallen trees
that he might drag to his shelter.
As he was setting forth upon his search he became aware of a new
sound mingling with the roaring of the storm about him, a soft,
pounding, rhythmic sound. With every nerve strained he listened.
It was like the beating of hoofs. He ran out into the storm and,
holding his hands to his ears, bent forward to listen. Faintly
over the roaring of the blizzard, and rising and falling with it,
there came the sound of singing.
"Am I mad?" he said to himself, beating his head with his hands.
He rushed into the cave, threw upon the fire all the brushwood he
had gathered, until it sprang up into a great glare, lighting up
the cave and its surroundings. Then he rushed forth once more to
the turn of the rock. The singing could now be plainly heard.
"Three cheers for the red, white-- Get on there, you variously
coloured and multitudinously cursed brutes!-- Three cheers for the
red-- Hie there, look out, Little Thunder! They are off to the
"Hello!" yelled Cameron at the top of his voice. "Hello, there!"
"Whoa!" yelled a voice sharply. The sound of hoof beats ceased and
only the roaring of the blizzard could be heard.
"Hello!" cried Cameron again. "Who are you?" But only the gale
Again and again he called, but no voice replied. Once more he
rushed into the cave, seized his rifle and fired a shot into the
"Crack-crack," two bullets spat against the rock over his head.
"Hold on there, you fool!" yelled Cameron, dodging back behind the
rock. "What are you shooting at? Hello there!" Still
Long he waited till, desperate with anxiety lest his unknown
visitors should abandon him, he ran forward once more beyond the
ledge of the rock, shouting, "Hello! Hello! Don't shoot!
coming out to you."
At the turn of the rocky ledge he paused, concentrating his powers
to catch some sound other than the dull boom and hiss of the
blizzard. Suddenly at his side something moved.
"Put up your hands, quick!"
A dark shape, with arm thrust straight before it, loomed through
the drift of snow.
"Oh, I say--" began Cameron.
"Quick!" said the voice, with a terrible oath, "or I drop you where
"All right!" said Cameron, lifting up his hands with his rifle high
above his head. "But hurry up! I can't stand this long.
nearly frozen as it is."
The man came forward, still covering him with his pistol. He ran
his free hand over Cameron's person.
"How many of you?" he asked, in a voice sharp and crisp.
"I am all alone. But hurry up! I am about all in."
"Lead on to your fire!" said the stranger. "But if you want to
live, no monkey work. I've got you lined."
Cameron led the way to the fire. The stranger threw a swift glance
around the cave, then, with eyes still holding Cameron, he whistled
shrilly on his fingers. Almost immediately, it seemed to Cameron,
there came into the light another man who proved to be an Indian,
short, heavily built, with a face hideously ugly and rendered more
repulsive by the small, red-rimmed, blood-shot eyes that seemed to
Cameron to peer like gimlets into his very soul.
At a word of command the Indian possessed himself of Cameron's
rifle and stood at the entrance.
"Now," said the stranger, "talk quick. Who are you? How did
come here? Quick and to the point."
"I am a surveyor," said Cameron briefly. "McIvor's gang. I was
left at camp to cook, saw a deer, wounded it, followed it up, lost
my way, the storm caught me, but, thank God, I found this cave, and
with my last match lit the fire. I was trying to cook my venison
when I heard you coming."
The grey-brown eyes of the stranger never left Cameron's face while
he was speaking.
"You're a liar!" he said with cold insolence when Cameron had
finished his tale. "You look to me like a blank blank horse thief
or whiskey trader."
Faint as he was with cold and hunger, the deliberate insolence of
the man stirred Cameron to sudden rage. The blood flooded his pale
"You coward!" he cried in a choking voice, gathering himself to
spring at the man's throat.
But the stranger only laughed and, stepping backward, spoke a word
to the Indian behind him. Before he could move Cameron found
himself covered by the rifle with the malignant eye of the Indian
"Hold on, Little Thunder, drop it!" said the stranger with a slight
Reluctantly the rifle came down.
"All right, Mr. Surveyor," said the stranger with a good-natured
laugh. "Pardon my abruptness. I was merely testing you.
cannot be too careful in these parts nowadays when the woods are
full of horse thieves and whiskey runners. Oh, come on," he
continued, glancing at Cameron's face, "I apologise. So you're
lost, eh? Hungry too? Well, so am I, and though I was not
to feed just yet we may as well grub together. Bring the cattle
into shelter here," he said to Little Thunder. "They will stand
right enough. And get busy with the grub."
The Indian grunted a remonstrance.
"Oh, that's all right," replied the stranger. "Hand it over."
took Cameron's rifle from the Indian and set it in the corner.
"Now get a move on! We have no time to waste."
So saying he hurried out himself into the storm. In a few minutes
Cameron could hear the blows of an axe, and soon the stranger
appeared with a load of dry wood with which he built up a blazing
fire. He was followed shortly by the Indian, who from a sack drew
out bacon, hardtack, and tea, and, with cooking utensils produced
from another sack, speedily prepared supper.
"Pile in," said the stranger to Cameron, passing him the pan in
which the bacon and venison had been fried. "Pass the tea, Little
Thunder. No time to waste. We've got to hustle."
Cameron was only too eager to obey these orders, and in the
generous warmth of the big fire and under the stimulus of the
boiling tea his strength and nerve began to come back to him.
For some minutes he was too intent on satisfying his ravenous
hunger to indulge in conversation with his host, but as his hunger
became appeased he began to give his attention to the man who had
so mysteriously blown in upon him out of the blizzard. There was
something fascinating about the lean, clean-cut face with its firm
lines about the mouth and chin and its deep set brown-grey eyes
that glittered like steel or shone like limpid pools of light
according to the mood of the man. They were extraordinary eyes.
Cameron remembered them like dagger points behind the pistol and
then like kindly lights in a dark window when he had smiled. Just
now as he sat eating with eager haste the eyes were staring forward
into the fire out of deep sockets, with a far-away, reminiscent,
kindly look in them. The lumberman's heavy skin-lined jacket and
the overalls tucked into boots could not hide the athletic lines of
the lithe muscular figure. Cameron looked at his hands with their
long, sinewy fingers. "The hands of a gentleman," thought he.
"What is his history? And where does he come from?"
"London's my home," said the stranger, answering Cameron's mental
queries. "Name, Raven--Richard Colebrooke Raven--Dick for short;
rancher, horse and cattle trader; East Kootenay; at present running
in a stock of goods and horses; and caught like yourself in this
"My name's Cameron, and I'm from Edinburgh a year ago," replied
"Edinburgh? Knew it ten years ago. Quiet old town, quaint
Never know what they are thinking about you."
Cameron smiled. How well he remembered the calm, detached,
critical but uncurious gaze with which the dwellers of the modern
Athens were wont to regard mere outsiders.
"I know," he said. "I came from the North myself."
The stranger had apparently forgotten him and was gazing steadily
into the fire. Suddenly, with extraordinary energy, he sprang from
the ground where he had been sitting.
"Now," he cried, "en avant!"
"Where to?" asked Cameron, rising to his feet.
"East Kootenay, all the way, and hustle's the word."
"Not me," said Cameron. "I must get back to my camp. If you
kindly leave me some grub and some matches I shall be all right and
very much obliged. McIvor will be searching for me to-morrow."
"Ha!" burst forth the stranger in vehement expletive. "Searching
for you, heh?" He stood for a few moments in deep thought, then
spoke to the Indian a few words in his own language. That
individual, with a fierce glance towards Cameron, grunted a gruff
"No, no," said Raven, also glancing at Cameron. Again the Indian
spoke, this time with insistent fierceness. "No! no! you cold-
blooded devil," replied the trader. "No! But," he added with
emphasis, "we will take him with us. Pack! Here, bring in
mitts, socks, Little Thunder. And move quick, do you hear?"
voice rang out in imperious command.
Little Thunder, growling though he might, no longer delayed, but
dived into the storm and in a few moments returned bearing a bag
from which he drew the articles of clothing desired.
"But I am not going with you," said Cameron firmly. "I cannot
desert my chief this way. It would give him no end of trouble.
Leave me some matches and, if you can spare it, a little grub, and
I shall do finely."
"Get these things on," replied Raven, "and quit talking. Don't be
a fool! we simply can't leave you behind. If you only knew the
Cameron glanced at the Indian. The eager fierce look on that
hideous face startled him.
"We will send you back all safe in a few days," continued the
trader with a smile. "Come, don't delay! March is the word."
"I won't go!" said Cameron resolutely. "I'll stay where I am."
"All right, you fool!" replied Raven with a savage oath. "Take
your medicine then."
He nodded to the Indian. With a swift gleam of joy in his red-rimmed eyes the Indian reached swiftly for Cameron's rifle.
"No, too much noise," said Raven, coolly finishing the packing.
A swift flash of a knife in the firelight, and the Indian hurled
himself upon the unsuspecting Cameron. But quick as was the attack
Cameron was quicker. Gripping the Indian's uplifted wrist with his
left hand, he brought his right with terrific force upon the point
of his assailant's chin. The Indian spun round like a top and
pitched out into the dark.
"Neatly done!" cried the trader with a great oath and a laugh.
"Hold on, Little Thunder!" he continued, as the Indian reappeared,
knife in hand, "He'll come now. Quiet, you beast! Ah-h-h!
you?" He seized by the throat and wrist the Indian, who, frothing
with rage and snarling like a wild animal, was struggling to reach
Cameron again. "Down, you dog! Do you hear me?"
With a twist of his arms he brought the Indian to his knees and
held him as he might a child. Quite suddenly the Indian grew
"Good!" said Raven. "Now, no more of this. Pack up."
Without a further word or glance at Cameron, Little Thunder
gathered up the stuff and vanished.
"Now," continued the trader, "you perhaps see that it would be wise
for you to come along without further delay."
"All right," said Cameron, trembling with indignant rage, "but
remember, you'll pay for this."
The trader smiled kindly upon him.
"Better get these things on," he said, pointing to the articles of
clothing upon the cave floor. "The blizzard is gathering force and
we have still some hours to ride. But," he continued, stepping
close to Cameron and looking him in the eyes, "there must be no
more nonsense. You can see my man is somewhat short in temper; and
indeed mine is rather brittle at times."
For a single instant a smile curled the firm lips and half closed
the steely eyes of the speaker, and, noting the smile and the
steely gleam in the grey-brown eyes, Cameron hastily decided that
he would no longer resist.
Warmed and fed and protected against the blizzard, but with his
heart full of indignant wrath, Cameron found himself riding on a
wretched cayuse before the trader whose horse could but dimly be
seen through the storm, but which from his antics appeared to be
possessed of a thousand demons.
"Steady, Nighthawk, old boy! We'll get 'em moving after a bit,"
said his master, soothing the kicking beast. "Aha, that was just a
shade violent," he remonstrated, as the horse with a scream rushed
open mouthed at a blundering pony and sent him scuttling forward in
wild terror after the bunch already disappearing down the trail,
following Little Thunder upon his broncho.
The blizzard was now in their back and, though its force was
thereby greatly lessened, the black night was still thick with
whirling snow and the cold grew more intense every moment. Cameron
could hardly see his pony's ears, but, loping easily along the
levels, scrambling wildly up the hills, and slithering recklessly
down the slopes, the little brute followed without pause the
cavalcade in front. How they kept the trail Cameron could not
imagine, but, with the instinct of their breed, the ponies never
faltered. Far before in the black blinding storm could be heard
the voice of Little Thunder, rising and falling in a kind of
singing chant, a chant which Cameron was afterwards to know right
Behind him came the trader, riding easily his demon-spirited
broncho, and singing in full baritone the patriotic ode dear to
Britishers the world over:
"Three cheers for the red, white and blue!
Three cheers for the red, white and blue!
The army and navy for ever,
Three cheers for the red, white and blue!"
As Cameron went pounding along through the howling blizzard, half
asleep upon his loping, scrambling, slithering pony, with the "Kai-
yai, hai-yah" of Little Thunder wailing down the storm from before
him and the martial notes of the trader behind him demanding cheers
for Her Majesty's naval and military forces, he seemed to himself
to be in the grip of some ghastly nightmare which, try as he might,
he was unable to shake off.
The ghastly unreality of the nightmare was dispelled by the sudden
halt of the bunch of ponies in front.
"All off!" cried the trader, riding forward upon his broncho,
which, apparently quite untired by the long night ride, danced
forward through the bunch gaily biting and slashing as he went.
"All off! Get them into the 'bunk-house' there, Little Thunder.
Come along, Mr. Cameron, we have reached our camp. Take off the
bridle and blanket and let your pony go."
Cameron did as he was told, and guided by the sound of the trader's
voice made his way to a low log building which turned out to be the
deserted "grub-house" of an old lumber camp.
"Come along," cried the trader heartily. "Welcome to Fifty Mile
Camp. Its accommodation is somewhat limited, but we can at least
offer you a bunk, grub, and fire, and these on a night like this
are not to be despised." He fumbled around in the dark for a few
moments and found and lit a candle stuck in an empty bottle.
"There," he cried in a tone of genial hospitality and with a kindly
smile, "get a fire on here and make yourself at home. Nighthawk
demands my attention for the present. Don't look so glum, old
boy," he added, slapping Cameron gaily on the back. "The worst is
over." So saying, he disappeared into the blizzard, singing at the
top of his voice in the cheeriest possible tones:
"The army and navy for ever,
Three cheers for the red, white and
and leaving Cameron sorely perplexed as to what manner of man this
might be; who one moment could smile with all the malevolence of a
fiend and again could welcome him with all the generous and genial
hospitality he might show to a loved and long-lost friend.
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