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Corporal Cameron
A DAY IN THE MACLEOD BARRACKS


"What's this, Sergeant Crisp?"  The Commissioner, a tall, slight, and soldier-like man, keen-eyed and brisk of speech, rapped out his words like a man intent on business.

"One of a whiskey gang, Sir.  Dick Raven's, I suspect."

"And the charge?"

"Whiskey trading, theft, and murder."

The Commissioner's face grew grave.

"Murder?  Where did you find him?"

"Kootenay trail, Sir.  Got wind of him at Calgary, followed up the  clue past Morleyville, then along the Kootenay trail.  A blizzard came on and we feared we had lost them.  We fell in with a band of Stony Indians, found that the band had been robbed and two of their number murdered."

"Two murdered?"  The Commissioner's voice was stern.

"Yes, Sir.  Shot down in cold blood.  We have the testimony of an eye witness.  We followed the trail and came upon two of them.  My horse was shot.  One of them escaped; this man we captured."

The Commissioner sat pondering.  Then with disconcerting swiftness he turned upon the prisoner.

"Your name?"

"Cameron, Sir."

"Where from?"

"I was working in McIvor's survey camp near Morleyville.  I went out shooting, lost my way in a blizzard, was captured by a man who called himself Raven--"

"Wait!" said the Commissioner sharply.  "Bring me that file!"

The orderly brought a file from which the Commissioner selected a letter.  His keen eyes rapidly scanned the contents and then ran over the prisoner from head to foot.  Thereupon, without a moment's hesitation, he said curtly:

"Release the prisoner!"

"But, Sir--" began Sergeant Crisp, with an expression of utter bewilderment and disgust upon his face.

"Release the prisoner!" repeated the Commissioner sharply.  "Mr. Cameron, I deeply regret this mistake.  Under the circumstances it could hardly have been avoided.  You were in bad company, you see. I am greatly pleased that my men have been of service to you.  We shall continue to do all we can for you.  In the meantime I am very pleased to have the pleasure of meeting you."  He passed the letter to Sergeant Crisp.  "I have information about you from Morleyville, you see.  Now tell us all about it."

It took Cameron some moments to recover his wits, so dumbfounded was he at the sudden change in his condition.

"Well, Sir," he began, "I hardly know what to say."

"Sit down, sit down, Mr. Cameron.  Take your time," said the Commissioner.  "We are somewhat hurried these days, but you must have had some trying experiences."

Then Cameron proceeded with his tale.  The Commissioner listened with keen attention, now and then arresting him with a question or a comment.  When Cameron came to tell of the murder of the Stonies his voice shook with passion.

"We will get that Indian some day," said the Commissioner, "never fear.  What is his name?"

"Little Thunder, Raven called him.  And I would like to take a hand in that too, Sir," said Cameron eagerly.

"You would, eh?" said the Commissioner with a sharp look at him. "Well, we'll see.  Little Thunder," he repeated to himself.  "Bring that Record Book!"

The orderly laid a large canvas-covered book before him.

"Little Thunder, eh?" he repeated, turning the leaves of the book. "Oh, yes, I thought so!  Blood Indian--formerly Chief--supplanted by Red Crow--got into trouble with whiskey traders.  Yes, I remember.  He is at his old tricks.  This time, however, he has gone too far.  We will get him.  Go on, Mr. Cameron!"

When Cameron had concluded his story the Commissioner said to the orderly sharply:

"Send me Inspector Dickson!"

In a few moments Inspector Dickson appeared, a tall, slight man, with a gentle face and kindly blue eyes.

"Inspector Dickson, how are we for men?  Can you spare two or three to round up a gang of whiskey traders and to run down a murderer? We are on the track of Raven's bunch, I believe."

"We are very short-handed at present, Sir.  This half-breed trouble in the north is keeping our Indians all very restless.  We must keep in touch with them."

"Yes, yes, I know.  By the way, how are the Bloods just now?"

"They are better, Sir, but the Blackfeet are restless and uneasy. There are a lot of runners from the east among them."

"How is old Crowfoot behaving?"

"Crowfoot himself is apparently all right so far, but of course no man can tell what Crowfoot is thinking."

"That's right enough," replied the Commissioner.

"By the way, Sir, it was Crowfoot's son that got into that trouble last night with that Macleod man.  The old Chief is in town, too, in fact is outside just now and quite worked up over the arrest."

"Well, we will settle this Crowfoot business in a few minutes. Now, about this Raven gang.  You cannot go yourself with a couple of men?  He is an exceedingly clever rascal."

The Inspector enumerated the cases immediately pressing.

"Well then, at the earliest possible moment we must get after this gang.  Keep this in mind, Inspector Dickson.  That Indian I consider an extremely dangerous man.  He is sure to be mixed up with this half-breed trouble.  He has very considerable influence with a large section of the Bloods.  I shouldn't be surprised if we should find him on their reserve before very long.  Now then, bring in young Crowfoot!"

The Inspector saluted and retired, followed by Sergeant Crisp, whose face had not yet regained its normal expression.

"Mr. Cameron," said the Commissioner, "if you care to remain with me for the morning I shall be glad to have you.  The administration of justice by the police may prove interesting to you.  Later on we shall discuss your return to your camp."

Cameron expressed his delight at being permitted to remain in the court room, not only that he might observe the police methods of administering justice, but especially that he might see something of the great Blackfeet Chief, Crowfoot, of whom he had heard much since his arrival in the West.

In a few minutes Inspector Dickson returned, followed by a constable leading a young Indian, handcuffed.  With these entered Jerry, the famous half-breed interpreter, and last of all the father of the prisoner, old Crowfoot, tall, straight, stately.  One swift searching glance the old Chief flung round the room, and then, acknowledging the Commissioner's salute with a slight wave of the hand and a grunt, and declining the seat offered him, he stood back against the wall and there viewed the proceedings with an air of haughty defiance.

The Commissioner lost no time in preliminaries.  The charge was read and explained to the prisoner.  The constable made his statement.  The young Indian had got into an altercation with a citizen of Macleod, and on being hard pressed had pulled the pistol which was laid upon the desk.  There was no defense.  The interpreter, however, explained, after conversation with the prisoner, that drink was the cause.  At this point the old Chief's face swiftly changed.  Defiance gave place to disgust, grief, and rage.

The Commissioner, after carefully eliciting all the facts, gave the prisoner an opportunity to make a statement.  This being declined, the Commissioner proceeded gravely to point out the serious nature of the offense, to emphasize the sacredness of human life and declare the determination of the government to protect all Her Majesty's subjects, no matter what their race or the colour of their skin.  He then went on to point out the serious danger which the young man had so narrowly escaped.

"Why, man," exclaimed the Commissioner, "you might have committed murder."

Here the young fellow said something to the interpreter.  There was a flicker of a smile on the half-breed's face.

"He say dat pistol he no good.  He can't shoot.  He not loaded."

The Commissioner's face never changed a line.  He gravely turned the pistol over in his hand, and truly enough the rusty weapon appeared to be quite innocuous except to the shooter.

"This is an extremely dangerous weapon.  Why, it might have killed yourself--if it had been loaded.  We cannot allow this sort of thing.  However, since it was not loaded we shall make the sentence light.  I sentence you to one month's confinement."

The interpreter explained the sentence to the young Indian, who received the explanation without the movement of a muscle or the flicker of an eyelid.  The constable touched him on the shoulder and said, "Come!"

Before he could move old Crowfoot with two strides stood before the constable, and waving him aside with a gesture of indescribable dignity, took his son in his arms and kissed him on either cheek. Then, stepping back, he addressed him in a voice grave, solemn, and vibrant with emotion.  Jerry interpreted to the Court.

"I have observed the big Chief.  This is good medicine.  It is good that wrong should suffer.  All good men are against wickedness.  My son, you have done foolishly.  You have darkened my eyes.  You have covered my face before my people.  They will ask--where is your son?  My voice will be silent.  My face will be covered with shame. I shall be like a dog kicked from the lodge.  My son, I told you to go only to the store.  I warned you against bad men and bad places. Your ears were closed, you were wiser than your father.  Now we both must suffer, you here shut up from the light of the sky, I in my darkened lodge.  But," he continued, turning swiftly upon the Commissioner, "I ask my father why these bad men who sell whiskey to the poor Indian are not shut up with my son.  My son is young. He is like the hare in the woods.  He falls easily into the trap. Why are not these bad men removed?"  The old Chief's face trembled with indignant appeal.

"They shall be!" said the Commissioner, smiting the desk with his fist.  "This very day!"

"It is good!" continued the old Chief with great dignity.  Then, turning again to his son, he said, and his voice was full of grave tenderness:

"Now, go to your punishment.  The hours will be none too long if they bring you wisdom."  Again he kissed his son on both cheeks and, without a look at any other, stalked haughtily from the room.

"Inspector Dickson," sharply commanded the Commissioner, "find out the man that sold that whiskey and arrest him at once!"

Cameron was profoundly impressed with the whole scene.  He began to realise as never before the tremendous responsibilities that lay upon those charged with the administration of justice in this country.  He began to understand, too, the secret of the extraordinary hold that the Police had upon the Indian tribes and how it came that so small a force could maintain the "Pax Britannica" over three hundred thousand square miles of unsettled country, the home of hundreds of wild adventurers and of thousands of savage Indians, utterly strange to any rule or law except that of their own sweet will.

"This police business is a big affair," he ventured to say to the Commissioner when the court room was cleared.  "You practically run the country."

"Well," said the Commissioner modestly, "we do something to keep the country from going to the devil.  We see that every man gets a fair show."

"It is great work!" exclaimed Cameron.

"Yes, I suppose it is," replied the Commissioner.  "We don't talk about it, of course.  Indeed, we don't think of it.  But," he continued, "that blue book there could tell a story that would make the old Empire not too ashamed of the men who 'ride the line' and patrol the ranges in this far outpost."  He opened the big canvas- bound book as he spoke and turned the pages over.  "Look at that for a page," he said, and Cameron glanced over the entries.  What a tale they told!

"Fire-fighting!"

"Yes," said the Commissioner, "that saved a settler's wife and child--a prairie fire.  The house was lost, but the constable pulled them out and got rather badly burned in the business."

Cameron's finger ran down the page.

"Sick man transported to Post."

"That," commented the Superintendent, "was a journey of over two hundred miles by dog sleighs in winter.  Saved the man's life."

And so the record ran.  "Cattle thieves arrested."  "Whiskey smugglers captured."  "Stolen horses recovered."  "Insane man brought to Post."

"That was rather a tough case," said the Commissioner.  "Meant a journey of some eight hundred miles with a man, a powerful man too, raving mad."

"How many of your men on that journey?" enquired Cameron.

"Oh, just one.  The fellow got away twice, but was recaptured and finally landed.  Got better too.  But the constable was all broken up for weeks afterwards."

"Man, that was great!" exclaimed Cameron.  "What a pity it should not be known."

"Oh," said the Commissioner lightly, "it's all in the day's duty."

The words thrilled Cameron to the heart.  "All in the day's duty!" The sheer heroism of it, the dauntless facing of Nature's grimmest terrors, the steady patience, the uncalculated sacrifice, the thought of all that lay behind these simple words held him silent for many minutes as he kept turning over the leaves.

As he sat thus turning the leaves and allowing his eye to fall upon those simple but eloquent entries, a loud and strident voice was heard outside.

"Waal, I tell yuh, I want to see him right naow.  I ain't come two hundred miles for nawthin'.  I mean business, I do."

The orderly's voice was heard in reply.

"I ain't got no time to wait.  I want to see yer Chief of Police right naow."

Again the orderly's voice could be distinguished.

"In court, is he?  Waal, you hurry up and tell him J. B. Cadwaller of Lone Pine, Montana, an American citizen, wants to see him right smart."

The orderly came in and saluted.

"A man to see you, Sir," he said.  "An American."

"What business?"

"Horse-stealing case, Sir."

"Show him in!"

In a moment the orderly returned, followed by, not one, but three American citizens.

"Good-day, Jedge!  My name's J. B. Cadwaller, Lone Pine, Montana. I--"

"Take your hat off in the court!" said the orderly sharply.

Mr. Cadwaller slowly surveyed the orderly with an expression of interested curiosity in his eyes, removing his hat as he did so.

"Say, you're pretty swift, ain't yuh?  You might give a feller a show to git in his interductions," said Mr. Cadwaller.  "I was jes goin' to interdooce to you, Jedge, these gentlemen from my own State, District Attorney Hiram S. Sligh and Mr. Rufus Raimes, rancher."

The Commissioner duly acknowledged the introduction, standing to receive the strangers with due courtesy.

"Now, Jedge, I want to see yer Chief of Police.  I've got a case for him."

"I have the honor to be the Commissioner.  What can I do for you?"

"Waal, Jedge, we don't want to waste no time, neither yours nor ours.  The fact is some of yer blank blank Indians have been rustlin' hosses from us fer some time back.  We don't mind a cayuse now and then, but when it comes to a hull bunch of vallable hosses there's where we kick and we ain't goin' to stand fer it.  And we want them hosses re-stored.  And what's more, we want them blank blank copper snakes strung up."

"How many horses have you lost?"

"How many?  Jeerupiter!  Thirty or forty fer all I know, they've been rustlin' 'em for a year back."

"Why didn't you report before?"

"Why we thought we'd git 'em ourselves, and if we had we wouldn't 'a troubled yuh--and I guess they wouldn't 'a troubled us much longer.  But they are so slick--so blank slick!"

"Mr. Cadwaller, we don't allow any profanity in this court room," said the Commissioner in a quiet voice.

"Eh?  Who's givin' yuh profanity?  I don't mean no profanity.  I'm talkin' about them blank blank--"

"Stop, Mr. Cadwaller!" said the Commissioner.  "We must end this interview if you cannot make your statements without profanity. This is Her Majesty's court of Justice and we cannot tolerate any unbecoming language.

"Waal, I'll be--!"

"Pardon me, Mr. Commissioner," said Mr. Hiram S. Sligh, interrupting his friend and client.  "Perhaps I may make a statement.  We've lost some twenty or thirty horses."

"Thirty-one" interjected Mr. Raimes quietly.

"Thirty-one!" burst in Mr. Cadwaller indignantly.  "That's only one little bunch."

"And," continued Mr. Sligh, "we have traced them right up to the Blood reserve.  More than that, Mr. Raimes has seen the horses in the possession of the Indians and we want your assistance in recovering our property."

"Yes, by gum!" exclaimed Mr. Cadwaller.  "And we want them--eh--eh--consarned redskin thieves strung up."

"You say you have seen the stolen horses on the Blood reserve, Mr. Raimes?" enquired the Commissioner.

Mr. Raimes, who was industriously chewing a quid of tobacco, ejected, with a fine sense of propriety and with great skill and accuracy, a stream of tobacco juice out of the door before he answered.

"I seen 'em."

"When did you lose your horses?"

Mr. Raimes considered the matter for some moments, chewing energetically the while, then, having delivered himself with the same delicacy and skill as before of his surplus tobacco juice, made laconic reply:

"Seventeen, no, eighteen days ago."

"Did you follow the trail immediately yourselves?"

"No, Jim Eberts."

"Jim Eberts?"

"Foreman," said Mr. Raimes, who seemed to regard conversation in the light of an interference with the more important business in which he was industriously engaged.

"But you saw the horses yourself on the Blood reserve?"

"Followed up and seen 'em."

"How long since you saw them there, Mr. Raimes?"

"Two days."

"You are quite sure about the horses?"

"Sure."

"Call Inspector Dickson!" ordered the Commissioner.

Inspector Dickson appeared and saluted.

"We have information that a party of Blood Indians have stolen a band of horses from these gentlemen from Montana and that these horses are now on the Blood reserve.  Take a couple of men and investigate, and if you find the horses bring them back."

"Couple of men!" ejaculated Mr. Cadwaller breathlessly.  "A couple of hundred, you mean, General!"

"What for?"

"Why, to sur--raound them--there--Indians."  The regulations of the court room considerably hampered Mr. Cadwaller's fluency of speech.

"It is not necessary at all, Mr. Cadwaller.  Besides, we have only some eighty men all told at this post.  Our whole force in the territories is less than five hundred men."

"Five hundred men!  You mean for this State, General--Alberta?"

"No, Sir.  For all Western Canada.  All west of Manitoba."

"How much territory do you cover?" enquired the astonished Mr. Cadwaller.

"We regularly patrol some three hundred thousand square miles, besides taking an occasional expedition into the far north."

"And how many Indians?"

"About the same number as you have, I imagine, in Montana and Dakota.  In Alberta, about nine thousand."

"And less than five hundred police!  Say, General, I take off my hat.  Ten thousand Indians!  By the holy poker!  And five hundred police!  How in Cain do you keep down the devils?"

"We don't try to keep them down.  We try to take care of them."

"Guess you've hit it," said Mr. Raimes, dexterously squirting out of the door.

"Jeerupiter!  Say, General, some day they'll massacree yuh sure!" said Mr. Cadwaller, a note of anxiety in his voice.

"Oh, no, they are a very good lot on the whole."

"Good!  We've got a lot of good Indians too, but they're all under graound.  Five hundred men!  Jeerupiter!  Say, Sligh, how many soldiers does Uncle Sam have on this job?"

"Well, I can't say altogether, but in Montana and Dakota I happen to know we have about four thousand regulars."

"Say, figger that out, will yuh?" continued Mr. Cadwaller. "Allowed four times the territory, about the same number of Indians and about one-eighth the number of police.  Say, General, I take off my hat again.  Put it there!  You Canucks have got the trick sure!"

"Easier to care for 'em than kill 'em, I guess," said Mr. Raimes casually.

"But, say, General," continued Mr. Cadwaller, "you ain't goin' to send for them hosses with no three men?"

"I'm afraid we cannot spare any more."

"Jeerupiter, General!" exclaimed Mr. Cadwaller.  "I'll wait outside the reserve till this picnic's over.  Say, General, let's have twenty-five men at least."

"What do you say, Inspector Dickson?  Will two men be sufficient?"

"We'll try, Sir," replied the Inspector.

"How soon can you be ready?"

"In a quarter of an hour."

"Jeerupiter!" muttered Mr. Cadwaller to himself, as he followed the Inspector out of the room.

"I say, Commissioner, will you let me in on this thing?" said Cameron.

"Do you mean that you want to join the force?" enquired the Commissioner, letting his eye run approvingly up and down Cameron's figure.

"There is McIvor, Sir--" began Cameron.

"Oh, I could fix that all right," replied the Commissioner.  "We want men, and we want men like you.  We have no vacancy among the officers, but you could enlist as a constable and there is always opportunity to advance."

"It is a great service!" exclaimed Cameron.  "I'd like awfully to join."

"Very well," said the Commissioner promptly, "we will take you. You are physically sound, wind, limb, eye-sight, and so forth?"

"As far as I know, perfectly fit," replied Cameron.

Once more Inspector Dickson was summoned.

"Inspector Dickson, Mr. Cameron wishes to join the force.  We will have his application taken and filled in later, and we will waive examination for the present.  Will you administer the oath?"

"Cameron, stand up!" commanded the Inspector sharply.

With a little thrill at his heart Cameron stood up, took the Bible in his hand and repeated after the Inspector the words of the oath,

"I, Allan Cameron, solemnly swear that I will faithfully, diligently, and impartially execute and perform the duties required of me as a member of the North West Mounted Police Force, and will well and truly obey and perform all lawful orders and instructions which I shall receive as such, without fear, favour, or affection of or toward any person.  So help me, God."

"Now then, Cameron, I congratulate you upon your new profession. The Inspector will see about your outfit and later you will receive instructions as to your duties.  Meantime, take him along with you, Inspector, and get those horses."

It was a somewhat irregular mode of procedure, but men were sorely needed at the Macleod post and the Commissioner had an eye that took in not only the lines of a man's figure but the qualities of his soul.

"That chap will make good, or I am greatly mistaken," he said to the Inspector as Cameron went off with the orderly to select his uniform.

"Well set up chap," said the Inspector.  "We'll try him out to-night."

"Come now, don't kill him.  Remember, other men have something else in them besides whalebone and steel, if you have not."

In half an hour the Inspector, Sergeant Crisp and Cameron, with the three American citizens, were on their way to the Blood reserve.

Cameron had been given a horse from the stable.

All afternoon and late into the evening they rode, then camped and were early upon the trail the following morning.  Cameron was half dead with the fatigue from his experiences of the past week, but he would have died rather than have hinted at weariness.  He was not a little comforted to notice that Sergeant Crisp, too, was showing signs of distress, while District Attorney Sligh was evidently in the last stages of exhaustion.  Even the steel and whalebone combination that constituted the frame of the Inspector appeared to show some slight signs of wear; but all feeling of weariness vanished when the Inspector, who was in the lead, halted at the edge of a wide sweeping valley and, pointing far ahead, said, "The Blood reserve.  Their camp lies just beyond that bluff."

"Say, Inspector, hold up!" cried Mr. Cadwaller as the Inspector set off again.  "Ain't yuh goin' to sneak up on 'em like?"

"Sneak up on them?  No, of course not," said the Inspector curtly. "We shall ride right in."

"Say, Raimes," said Mr. Cadwaller, "a hole would be a blame nice thing to find just now."

"Do you think there will be any trouble?" enquired Mr. Hiram Sligh of Sergeant Crisp.

"Trouble?  Perhaps so," replied Crisp, as if to him it were a matter of perfect indifference.

"We'll never git them hosses," said Raimes.  "But we've got to stay with the chief, I guess."

And so they followed Inspector Dickson down into the valley, where in the distance could be seen a number of horses and cattle grazing.  They had not ridden far along the valley bottom when Mr. Cadwaller spurred up upon the Inspector and called out excitedly,

"I say, Inspector, them's our hosses right there.  Say, let's run 'em off."

"Can you pick them out?" enquired the Inspector, turning in his saddle.

"Every last one!" said Raimes.

"Very well, cut them out and get them into a bunch," said the Inspector.  "I see there are some Indians herding them apparently. Pay no attention to them, but go right along with your work."

"There's one of 'em off to give tongue!" cried Mr. Cadwaller excitedly.  "Bring him down, Inspector!  Bring him down!  Quick! Here, let me have your rifle!"  Hurriedly he snatched at the Inspector's carbine.

"Stop!" cried the Inspector in sharp command.  "Now, attention!  We are on a somewhat delicate business.  A mistake might bring disaster.  I am in command of this party and I must have absolute and prompt obedience.  Mr. Cadwaller, it will be at your peril that you make any such move again.  Let no man draw a gun until ordered by me!  Now, then, cut out those horses and bunch them together!"

"Jeerupiter!  He's a hull brigade himself," said Mr. Cadwaller in an undertone, dropping back beside Mr. Sligh.  "Waal, here goes for the bunch."

But though both Mr. Cadwaller and Mr. Raimes, as well as Sergeant Crisp and the Inspector, were expert cattle men, it took some little time and very considerable manoeuvering to get the stolen horses bunched together and separated from the rest of the animals grazing in the valley, and by the time this was accomplished Indian riders had appeared on every side, gradually closing in upon the party.  It was clearly impossible to drive off the bunch through that gradually narrowing cordon of mounted Indians without trouble.

"Now, what's to be done?" said Mr. Cadwaller, nervously addressing the Inspector.

"Forward!" cried the Inspector in a loud voice.  "Towards the corral ahead there!"

This movement nonplussed the Indians and in silence they fell in behind the party who, going before, finally succeeded in driving the bunch of horses into the corral.

"Sergeant Crisp, you and Constable Cameron remain here on guard.  I shall go and find the Chief.  Here," he continued, addressing a young Indian brave who had ridden up quite close to the gate of the corral, "lead me to your Chief, Red Crow!"

The absence alike of all hesitation or fear, and of all bluster in his tone and bearing, apparently impressed the young brave, for he wheeled his pony and set off immediately at a gallop, followed by the Inspector at a more moderate pace.

Quickly the Indians gathered about the corral and the group at its gate.  With every passing minute their numbers increased, and as their numbers increased so did the violence of their demonstration The three Americans were placed next the corral, Sergeant Crisp and Cameron being between them and the excited Indians.  Cameron had seen Indians before about the trading posts.  A shy, suspicious, and subdued lot of creatures they had seemed to him.  But these were men of another breed, with their lean, lithe, muscular figures, their clean, copper skins, their wild fierce eyes, their haughty bearing.  Those others were poor beggars seeking permission to exist; these were men, proud, fearless, and free.

"Jove, what a team one could pick out of the bunch!" said Cameron to himself, as his eye fell upon the clean bare limbs and observed their graceful motions.  But to the Americans they were a hateful and fearsome sight.  Indians with them were never anything but a menace to be held in check, or a nuisance to be got rid of.

Louder and louder grew the yells and wilder the gesticulations as the savages worked themselves up into a fury.  Suddenly, through the yelling, careering, gesticulating crowd of Indians a young brave came tearing at full gallop and, thrusting his pony close up to the Sergeant's, stuck his face into the officer's and uttered a terrific war whoop.  Not a line of the Sergeant's face nor a muscle of his body moved except that the near spur slightly touched his horse's flank and the fingers tightened almost imperceptibly upon the bridle rein.  Like a flash of light the Sergeant's horse wheeled and with a fierce squeal let fly two wicked heels hard upon the pony's ribs.  In sheer terror and surprise the little beast bolted, throwing his rider over his neck and finally to the ground. Immediately a shout of jeering laughter rose from the crowd, who greatly enjoyed their comrade's discomfiture.  Except that the Sergeant's face wore a look of pleased surprise, he simply maintained his attitude of calm indifference.  No other Indian, however, appeared ready to repeat the performance of the young brave.

At length the Inspector appeared, followed by the Chief, Red Crow.

"Tell your people to go away!" said the Inspector as they reached the corral.  "They are making too much noise."

Red Crow addressed his braves at some length.

"Open the corral," ordered the Inspector, "and get those horses out on the trail."

For a few moments there was silence.  Then, as the Indians perceived the purpose of the police, on every side there rose wild yells of protest and from every side a rush was made toward the corral.  But Sergeant Crisp kept his horse on the move in a series of kicks and plunges that had the effect of keeping clear a wide circle about the corral gate.

"Touch your horse with the spur and hold him up tight," he said quietly to Cameron.

Cameron did so and at once his horse became seemingly as unmanageable as the Sergeant's, plunging, biting, kicking.  The Indian ponies could not be induced to approach.  The uproar, however, only increased.  Guns began to go off, bullets could be heard whistling overhead.  Red Crow's voice apparently could make no impression upon the maddened crowd of Indians.  A minor Chief, White Horse by name, having whirled in behind the Sergeant, seized hold of Mr. Cadwaller's bridle and began to threaten him with excited gesticulations.  Mr. Cadwaller drew his gun.

"Let go that line, you blank blank redskin!" he roared, flourishing his revolver.

In a moment, with a single plunge, the Inspector was at his side and, flinging off the Indian, shouted:

"Put up that gun, Mr. Cadwaller!  Quick!"  Mr. Cadwaller hesitated. "Sergeant Crisp, arrest that man!"  The Inspector's voice rang out like a trumpet.  His gun covered Mr. Cadwaller.

"Give me that gun!" said the Sergeant.

Mr. Cadwaller handed over his gun.

"Let him go," said the Inspector to Sergeant Crisp.  "He will probably behave."

The Indians had gathered close about the group.  White Horse, in the centre, was talking fast and furious and pointing to Mr. Cadwaller.

"Get the bunch off, Sergeant!" said the Inspector quietly.  "I will hold them here for a few minutes."

Quietly the Sergeant backed out of the circle, leaving the Inspector and Mr. Cadwaller with White Horse and Red Crow in the midst of the crowding, yelling Indians.

"White Horse say this man steal Bull Back's horses last fall!" shouted Red Crow in the Inspector's ear.

"Too much noise here," said the Inspector, moving toward the Indian camp and away from the corral and drawing the crowd with him. "Tell your people to be quiet, Red Crow.  I thought you were the Chief."

Stung by the taunt, Red Crow raised his rifle and fired into the air.  Then, standing high in his stirrups, he held up his hand and called out a number of names.  Instantly ten men rode to his side. Again Red Crow spoke.  The ten men rode out again among the crowd. Immediately the shouting ceased.

"Good!" said the Inspector.  "I see my brother is strong.  Now, where is Bull Back?"

The Chief called out a name.  There was no response.

"Bull Back not here," he said.

"Then listen, my brother," said the Inspector earnestly.  "This man," pointing to Mr. Cadwaller, "waits with me at the Fort two days to meet White Horse, Bull Back, and any Indians who know about this man; and what is right will be done.  I have spoken. Farewell!"  He gave his hand to Chief Red Crow.  "My brother knows," he added, "the Police do not lie."

So saying, he wheeled his horse and, with Mr. Cadwaller before him, rode off after the others of the party, who had by this time gone some distance up the trail.

For a few moments hesitation held the crowd, then with a loud cry White Horse galloped up and again seized Mr. Cadwaller's bridle. Instantly the Inspector covered him with his gun.

"Hold up your hands quick!" he said.

The Indian dropped the bridle rein.  The Inspector handed his gun to Mr. Cadwaller.

"Don't shoot till I speak or I shoot you!" he said sternly.  Mr. Cadwaller took the gun and covered the Indian.  In a twinkling White Horse found himself with handcuffs on his wrists and his bridle line attached to the horn of the Inspector's saddle.

"Now give me that gun, Mr. Cadwaller, and here take your own--but wait for the word.  Forward!"

He had not gone a pace till he was surrounded by a score of angry and determined Indians with levelled rifles.  For the first time the Inspector hesitated.  Through the line of levelled rifles Chief Red Crow rode up and in a grave but determined voice said:

"My brother is wrong.  White Horse, chief.  My young men not let him go."

"Good!" said the Inspector, promptly making up his mind.  "I let him go now.  In two days I come again and get him.  The Police never lie."

So saying, he released White Horse and without further word, and disregarding the angry looks and levelled rifles, rode slowly off after his party.  On the edge of the crowd he met Sergeant Crisp.

"Thought I'd better come back, Sir.  It looked rather ugly for a minute," said the Sergeant.

"Ride on," said the Inspector.  "We will get our man to-morrow. Steady, Mr. Cadwaller, not too fast."  The Inspector slowed his horse down to a walk, which he gradually increased to an easy lope and so brought up with Cameron and the others.

Through the long evening they pressed forward till they came to the Kootenay River, having crossed which they ventured to camp for the night.

After supper the Inspector announced his intention of riding on to the Fort for reinforcements, and gave his instructions to the Sergeant.

"Sergeant Crisp," he said, "you will make an early start and bring in the bunch to-morrow morning.  Mr. Cadwaller, you remember you are to remain at the Fort two days so that the charges brought by White Horse may be investigated."

"What?" exclaimed Mr. Cadwaller.  "Wait for them blank blank devils?  Say, Inspector, you don't mean that?"

"You heard me promise the Indians," said the Inspector.

"Why, yes.  Mighty smart, too!  But say, you were jest joshing, weren't you?"

"No, Sir," replied the Inspector.  "The Police never break a promise to white man or Indian."

Then Mr. Cadwaller cut loose for a few moments.  He did not object to waiting any length of time to oblige a friend, but that he should delay his journey to answer the charges of an Indian, variously and picturesquely described, was to him an unthinkable proposition.

"Sergeant Crisp, you will see to this," said the Inspector quietly as he rode away.

Then Mr. Cadwaller began to laugh and continued laughing for several minutes.

"By the holy poker, Sligh!" at last he exclaimed.  "It's a joke. It's a regular John Bull joke."

"Yes," said Mr. Sligh, while he cut a comfortable chew from his black plug.  "Good joke, too, but not on John.  I guess that's how five hundred police hold down--no, take care of--twenty thousand redskins."

And the latest recruit to Her Majesty's North West Mounted Police straightened up till he could feel the collar of his tunic catch him on the back of the neck and was conscious of a little thrill running up his spine as he remembered that he was a member of that same force.


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