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 God!"
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 River.
"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
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 is."
"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
"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
"Then why expose yourself to such a fate?" said Cameron. "Surely
in this country a man can live an honest life and prosper."
"Honest life? I doubt it! What is an honest life? Does
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
is in getting caught."
"Oh, that is too old!" said Cameron. "You know you are talking
"Quite right! It is rot," assented Raven. "The whole business
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
"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
Saddling his horse, he mounted and calling Little Thunder to him
"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!
will bring up the rear."
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,
"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
"Huh! Trail good," grunted Little Thunder, the red-rimmed eyes
gleaming malevolently. "You go front--me back." He waved his
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
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
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 shoot quick."
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
"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.
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 the pace.
"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
"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.
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
Cameron. I give you one chance more."
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!
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 company."
"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 with him.
"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 underbrush.
"Hold up your hands!" shouted the police officer, who had struggled
upright and was now swaying on his feet and covering Cameron with
"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 tell you!"
"Keep your hands up or I shoot!" cried the sergeant sternly.
"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
"No, he's a murderer and a thief and you can catch him if you
"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,
"Yes, and an Indian. Little Thunder he called him."
"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
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 while."
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
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
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 yet!"
"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!
my man, march!"