The Patrol of the Sun Dance Trail
Part 5 out of 7
Leaving Jerry to put up their horses, they went into the ranch-
house and found the ladies in a state of suppressed excitement.
Mandy met them at the door with an eager welcome, holding out to
them trembling hands.
"Oh, I am so glad you have come!" she cried. "It was all I could
do to hold him back from going to you even as he was. He was quite
set on going and only lay down on promise that I should wake him in
an hour. Sit down here by the fire. An hour, mind you," she
continued, talking rapidly and under obvious excitement, "and him
so blind and exhausted that--" She paused abruptly, unable to
command her voice.
"He ought to sleep twelve hours straight," said the Superintendent
with emphasis, "and twenty-four would be better, with suitable
breaks for refreshment," he added in a lighter tone, glancing at
"Yes, indeed," she replied, "for he has had little enough to eat
the last three days. And that reminds me--" she hurried to the
pantry and returned with the teapot--"you must be cold,
Superintendent. Ah, this terrible cold! A hot cup of tea will be
just the thing. It will take only five minutes--and it is better
than punch, though perhaps you men do not think so." She laughed
"Why, Mrs. Cameron," said the Superintendent in a shocked,
bantering voice, "how can you imagine we should be guilty of such
heresy--in this prohibition country, too?"
"Oh, I know you men," replied Mandy. "We keep some Scotch in the
house--beside the laudanum. Some people can't take tea, you know,"
she added with an uncertain smile, struggling to regain control of
herself. "But all the same, I am a nurse, and I know that after
exposure tea is better."
"Ah, well," replied the Superintendent, "I bow to your experience,"
making a brave attempt to meet her mood and declining to note her
In the specified five minutes the tea was ready.
"I could quite accept your tea-drinking theory, Mrs. Cameron," said
Inspector Dickson, "if--if, mark you--I should always get such tea
as this. But I don't believe Jerry here would agree."
Jerry, who had just entered, stood waiting explanation.
"Mrs. Cameron has just been upholding the virtue of a good cup of
tea, Jerry, over a hot Scotch after a cold ride. Now what's your
A slight grin wrinkled the cracks in Jerry's leather-skin face.
"Hot whisky--good for fun--for cold no good. Whisky good for
sleep--for long trail no good."
"Thank you, Jerry," cried Mandy enthusiastically.
"Oh, that's all right, Jerry," said the Inspector, joining in the
general laugh that followed, "but I don't think Miss Moira here
would agree with you in regard to the merits of her national
"Oh, I am not so sure," cried the young lady, entering into the
mood of the others. "Of course, I am Scotch and naturally stand up
for my country and for its customs, but, to be strictly honest, I
remember hearing my brother say that Scotch was bad training for
"Good again!" cried Mandy. "You see, when anything serious is on,
the wisest people cut out the Scotch, as the boys say."
"You are quite right, Mrs. Cameron," said the Superintendent,
becoming grave. "On the long trail and in the bitter cold we drop
the Scotch and bank on tea. As for whisky, the Lord knows it gives
the Police enough trouble in this country. If it were not for the
whisky half our work would be cut out. But tell me, how is Mr.
Cameron?" he added, as he handed back his cup for another supply of
"Done up, or more nearly done up than ever I have seen him, or than
I ever want to see him again." Mandy paused abruptly, handed him
his cup of tea, passed into the pantry and for some moments did not
"Oh, it was terrible to see him," said Moira, clasping her hands
and speaking in an eager, excited voice. "He came, poor boy,
stumbling toward the door. He had to leave his horse, you know,
some miles away. Through the window we saw him coming along--and
we did not know him--he staggered as if--as if--actually as if he
were drunk." Her laugh was almost hysterical. "And he could not
find the latch--and when we opened the door his eyes were--oh!--so
terrible!--wild--and bloodshot--and blind! Oh, I cannot tell you
about it!" she exclaimed, her voice breaking and her tears falling
fast. "And he could hardly speak to us. We had to cut off his
snow-shoes--and his gauntlets and his clothes were like iron. He
could not sit down--he just--just--lay on the floor--till--my
sister--" Here the girl's sobs interrupted her story.
"Great Heavens!" cried the Superintendent. "What a mercy he
The Inspector had risen and came round to Moira's side.
"Don't try to tell me any more," he said in a husky voice, patting
her gently on the shoulder. "He is here with us, safe, poor chap.
My God!" he cried in an undertone, "what he must have gone
At this point Mandy returned and took her place again quietly by
"It was this sudden spell of cold that nearly killed him," she said
in a quiet voice. "He was not fully prepared for it, and it caught
him at the end of his trip, too, when he was nearly played out.
You see, he was five weeks away and he had only expected to be
"Yes, I know, Mrs. Cameron," said the Inspector.
"An unexpected emergency seems to have arisen."
"I don't know what it was," replied Mandy. "He could tell me
little, but he was determined to go on to the fort."
"I know something about his plans," said the Inspector. "He had
proposed a tour of the reserves, beginning with the Piegans and
ending with the Bloods."
"And we know something of his work, too, Mrs. Cameron," said the
Superintendent. "Superintendent Strong has sent us a very fine
report indeed of your husband's work. We do not talk about these
things, you know, in the Police, but we can appreciate them all the
same. Superintendent Strong's letter is one you would like to
keep. I shall send it to you. Knowing Superintendent Strong as I
"I know him too," said Mandy with a little laugh.
"Well, then, you will be able to appreciate all the more any word
of commendation he would utter. He practically attributes the
present state of quiet and the apparent collapse of this conspiracy
business to your husband's efforts. This, of course, is no
compensation for his sufferings or yours, but I think it right that
you should know the facts." The Superintendent had risen to his
feet and had delivered his little speech in his very finest manner.
"Thank you," said Mandy simply.
"We had expected him back a week ago," said the Inspector. "We
know he must have had some serious cause for delay."
"I do not know about that," replied Mandy, "but I do know he was
most anxious to go on to the fort. He had some information to
give, he said, which was of the first importance. And I am glad
you are here. He will be saved that trip, which would really be
dangerous in his present condition. And I don't believe I could
have stopped him, but I should have gone with him. His hour will
soon be up."
"Don't think of waking him," said the Superintendent. "We can wait
two hours, or three hours, or more if necessary. Let him sleep."
"He would waken himself if he were not so fearfully done up. He
has a trick of waking at any hour he sets," said Mandy.
A few minutes later Cameron justified her remarks by appearing from
the inner room. The men, accustomed as they were to the ravages of
the winter trail upon their comrades, started to their feet in
horror. Blindly Cameron felt his way to them, shading his blood-
shot eyes from the light. His face was blistered and peeled as if
he had come through a fire, his lips swollen and distorted, his
hands trembling and showing on every finger the marks of frost
bite, and his feet dragging as he shuffled across the floor.
"My dear fellow, my dear fellow," cried the Inspector, springing up
to meet him and grasping him by both arms to lead him to a chair.
"You ran it too close that time. Here is the Superintendent to
lecture you. Sit down, old man, sit down right here." The
Inspector deposited him in the chair, and, striding hurriedly to
the window, stood there looking out upon the bleak winter snow.
"Hello, Cameron," said the Superintendent, shaking him by the hand
with hearty cheerfulness. "Glad, awfully glad to see you. Fine
bit of work, very fine bit of work. Very complimentary report
"I don't know what you refer to, sir," said Cameron, speaking
thickly, "but I am glad you are here, for I have an important
communication to make."
"Oh, that's all right," said the Superintendent. "Don't worry
about that. And take your own time. First of all, how are you
feeling? Snow-blind, I see," he continued, critically examining
him, "and generally used up."
"Rather knocked up," replied Cameron, his tongue refusing to move
with its accustomed ease. "But shall be fit in a day or two.
Beastly sleepy, but cannot sleep somehow. Shall feel better when
my mind is at rest. I cannot report fully just now."
"Oh, let the report rest. We know something already."
"How is that?"
"Superintendent Strong has sent us in a report, and a very
creditable report, too."
"Oh," replied Cameron indifferently. "Well, the thing I want to
say is that though all looks quiet--there is less horse stealing
this month, and less moving about from the reserves--yet I believe
a serious outbreak is impending."
The Inspector, who had come around and taken a seat beside him,
touched his knee at this point with an admonishing pressure.
"Eh?" said Cameron, turning toward him. "Oh, my people here know.
You need not have any fear about them." A little smile distorted
his face as he laid his hand upon his wife's shoulder. "But--where
was I? I cannot get the hang of things." He was as a man feeling
his way through a maze.
"Oh, let it go," said the Inspector. "Wait till you have had some
"No, I must--I must get this out. Well, anyway, the principal
thing is that Big Bear, Beardy, Poundmaker--though I am not sure
about Poundmaker--have runners on every reserve and they are
arranging for a big meeting in the spring, to which every tribe
North and West is to send representatives. That Frenchman--what's
his name?--I'll forget my own next--"
"Riel?" suggested the Inspector.
"Yes, Riel. That Frenchman is planning a big coup in the spring.
You know they presented him with a house the other day, ready
furnished, at Batoche, to keep him in the country. Oh, the half-
breeds are very keen on this. And what is worse, I believe a lot
of whites are in with them too. A chap named Jackson, and another
named Scott, and Isbister and some others. These names are spoken
of on every one of our reserves. I tell you, sir," he said,
turning his blind eyes toward the Superintendent, "I consider it
very serious indeed. And worst of all, the biggest villain of the
lot, Little Pine, Cree Chief you know, our bitterest enemy--except
Little Thunder, who fortunately is cleared out of the country--you
remember, sir, that chap Raven saw about that."
The Superintendent nodded.
"Well--where was I?--Oh, yes, Little Pine, the biggest villain of
them all, is somewhere about here. I got word of him when I was at
the Blood Reserve on my way home some ten days ago. I heard he was
with the Blackfeet, but I found no sign of him there. But he is in
the neighborhood, and he is specially bound to see old Crowfoot. I
understand he is a particularly successful pleader, and unusually
cunning, and I am afraid of Crowfoot. I saw the old Chief. He was
very cordial and is apparently loyal enough as yet, but you know,
sir, how much that may mean. I think that is all," said Cameron,
putting his hand up to his head. "I have a great deal more to tell
you, but it will not come back to me now. Little Pine must be
attended to, and for a day or two I am sorry I am hardly fit--
awfully sorry." His voice sank into a kind of undertone.
"Sorry?" cried the Superintendent, deeply stirred at the sight of
his obvious collapse. "Sorry? Don't you use that word again. You
have nothing to be sorry for, but everything to be proud of. You
have done a great service to your country, and we will not forget
it. In a few days you will be fit and we shall show our gratitude
by calling upon you to do something more. Hello, who's that?" A
horseman had ridden past the window toward the stables. Moira ran
to look out.
"Oh!" she cried, "it is that Mr. Raven. I would know his splendid
"Raven!" said Cameron sharply and wide awake.
"Raven, by Jove!" muttered the Inspector.
"Raven! Well, I call that cool!" said the Superintendent, a hard
look upon his face.
But the laws of hospitality are nowhere so imperative as on the
western plains. Cameron rose from his chair muttering, "Must look
after his horse."
"You sit down," said Mandy firmly. "You are not going out."
"Well, hardly," said the Inspector. "Here, Jerry, go and show him
where to get things, and--" He hesitated.
"Bring him in," cried Mandy heartily. The men stood silent,
looking at Cameron.
"Certainly, bring him in," he said firmly, "a day like this," he
added, as if in apology.
"Why, of course," cried Mandy, looking from one to the other in
surprise. "Why not? He is a perfectly splendid man."
"Oh, he is really splendid!" replied Moira, her cheeks burning and
her eyes flashing. "You remember," she cried, addressing the
Inspector, "how he saved my life the day I arrived at this ranch."
"Oh, yes," replied the Inspector briefly, "I believe I did hear
that." But there was little enthusiasm in his voice.
"Well, I think he is splendid," repeated Moira. "Do not you think
The Inspector had an awkward moment.
"Eh?--well--I can't say I know him very well."
"And his horse! What a beauty it is!" continued the girl.
"Ah, yes, a most beautiful animal, quite remarkable horse, splendid
horse; in fact one of the finest, if not the very finest, in this
whole country. And that is saying a good deal, too, Miss Moira.
You see, this country breeds good horses." And the Inspector went
on to discourse in full detail and with elaborate illustration upon
the various breeds of horses the country could produce, and to
classify the wonderful black stallion ridden by Raven, and all with
such diligence and enthusiasm that no other of the party had an
opportunity to take part in the conversation till Raven, in the
convoy of Jerry, was seen approaching the house. Then the
"Well, Mrs. Cameron, I fear we must take our departure. These are
rather crowded days with us."
"What?" exclaimed Mandy. "Within an hour of dinner? We can hardly
allow that, you know. Besides, Mr. Cameron wants to have a great
deal more talk with you."
The Superintendent attempted to set forth various other reasons for
a hasty departure, but they all seemed to lack sincerity, and after
a few more ineffective trials he surrendered and sat down again in
The next moment the door opened and Raven, followed by Jerry,
stepped into the room. As his eye fell upon the Superintendent,
instinctively he dropped his hands to his hips and made an
involuntary movement backward, but only for an instant. Immediately
he came forward and greeted Mandy with fine, old-fashioned
"So delighted to meet you again, Mrs. Cameron, and also to meet
your charming sister." He shook hands with both the ladies very
warmly. "Ah, Superintendent," he continued, "delighted to see you.
And you, Inspector," he said, giving them a nod as he laid off his
outer leather riding coat. "Hope I see you flourishing," he
continued. His debonair manner had in it a quizzical touch of
humor. "Ah, Cameron, home again I see. I came across your tracks
the other day."
The men, who had risen to their feet upon his entrance, stood
regarding him stiffly and made no other sign of recognition than a
curt nod and a single word of greeting.
"You have had quite a trip," he continued, addressing himself to
Cameron, and taking the chair offered by Mandy. "I followed you
part way, but you travel too fast for me. Much too strenuous work
I found it. Why," he continued, looking narrowly at Cameron, "you
are badly punished. When did you get in?"
"Two hours ago, Mr. Raven," said Mandy quickly, for her husband sat
gazing stupidly into the fire. "And he is quite done up."
"Two hours ago?" exclaimed Raven in utter surprise. "Do you mean
to say that you have been traveling these last three days?"
"Why, my dear sir, not even the Indians face such cold. Only the
Mounted Police venture out in weather like this--and those who want
to get away from them. Ha! ha! Eh? Inspector? Ha! ha!" His gay,
careless laugh rang out in the most cheery fashion. But only the
ladies joined. The men stood grimly silent.
Mandy could not understand their grim and gloomy silence. By her
cordiality she sought to cover up and atone for the studied and
almost insulting indifference of her husband and her other guests.
In these attempts she was loyally supported by her sister-in-law,
whose anger was roused by the all too obvious efforts on the part
of her brother and his friends to ignore this stranger, if not to
treat him with contempt. There was nothing in Raven's manner to
indicate that he observed anything amiss in the bearing of the male
members of the company about the fire. He met the attempt of the
ladies at conversation with a brilliancy of effort that quite
captivated them, and, in spite of themselves, drew the Superintendent
and the Inspector into the flow of talk.
As the hour of the midday meal approached Mandy rose from her place
by the fire and said:
"You will stay with us to dinner, Mr. Raven? We dine at midday.
It is not often we have such a distinguished and interesting
"Thank you, no," said Raven. "I merely looked in to give your
husband a bit of interesting information. And, by the way, I have
a bit of information that might interest the Superintendent as
"Well," said Mandy, "we are to have the pleasure of the
Superintendent and the Inspector to dinner with us to-day, and you
can give them all the information you think necessary while you are
Raven hesitated while he glanced at the faces of the men beside
him. What he read there drew from him a little hard smile of
"Please do not ask me again, Mrs. Cameron," he said. "You know not
how you strain my powers of resistance when I really dare not--may
not," he corrected himself with a quick glance at the Superintendent,
"stay in this most interesting company and enjoy your most grateful
hospitality any longer. And now my information is soon given.
First of all for you, Cameron--I shall not apologize to you, Mrs.
Cameron, for delivering it in your presence. I do you the honor to
believe that you ought to know--briefly my information is this.
Little Pine, in whose movements you are all interested, I
understand, is at this present moment lodging with the Sarcee
Indians, and next week will move on to visit old Crowfoot. The
Sarcee visit amounts to little, but the visit to old Crowfoot--well,
I need say no more to you, Cameron. Probably you know more about
the inside workings of old Crowfoot's mind than I do."
"Visiting Crowfoot?" exclaimed Cameron. "Then I was there too
"That is his present intention, and I have no doubt the program
will be carried out," said Raven. "My information is from the
inside. Of course," he continued, "I know you have run across the
trail of the North Cree and Salteaux runners from Big Bear and
Beardy. They are not to be despised. But Little Pine is a
different person from these gentlemen. The big game is scheduled
for the early spring, will probably come off in about six weeks.
And now," he said, rising from his chair, "I must be off."
At this point Smith came in and quietly took a seat beside Jerry
near the door.
"And what's your information for me, Mr. Raven?" inquired the
Superintendent. "You are not going to deprive me of my bit of
"Ah, yes--news," replied Raven, sitting down again. "Briefly this.
Little Thunder has yielded to some powerful pressure and has again
found it necessary to visit this country, I need hardly add,
against my desire."
"Little Thunder?" exclaimed the Superintendent, and his tone
indicated something more than surprise. "Then there will be
something doing. And where does this--ah--this--ah--friend of
yours propose to locate himself?"
"This friend of mine," replied Raven, with a hard gleam in his eye
and a bitter smile curling his lips, "who would gladly adorn his
person with my scalp if he might, will not ask my opinion as to his
location, and probably not yours either, Mr. Superintendent." As
Raven ceased speaking he once more rose from his chair, put on his
leather riding coat and took up his cap and gauntlets. "Farewell,
Mrs. Cameron," he said, offering her his hand. "Believe me, it has
been a rare treat to see you and to sit by your fireside for one
"Oh, but Mr. Raven, you are not to think of leaving us before
dinner. Why this haste?"
"The trail I take," said Raven in a grave voice, "is full of
pitfalls and I must take it when I can. The Superintendent knows,"
he added. But his smile awoke no response in the Superintendent,
who sat rigidly silent.
"It's a mighty cold day outside, "interjected Smith, "and blowing
up something I think."
"Oh, hang it, Raven!" blurted out Cameron, who sat stupidly gazing
into the fire, "Stay and eat. This is no kind of day to go out
hungry. It is too beastly cold."
"Thanks, Cameron, it IS a cold day, too cold to stay."
"Do stay, Mr. Raven," pleaded Moira.
He turned swiftly and looked into her soft brown eyes now filled
with warm kindly light.
"Alas, Miss Cameron," he replied in a low voice, turning his back
upon the others, his voice and his attitude seeming to isolate the
girl from the rest of the company, "believe me, if I do not stay it
is not because I do not want to, but because I cannot."
"You cannot?" echoed Moira in an equally low tone.
"I cannot," he replied. Then, raising his voice, "Ask the
Superintendent. He knows that I cannot."
"Do you know?" said Moira, turning upon the Superintendent, "What
does he mean?"
The Superintendent rose angrily.
"Mr. Raven chooses to be mysterious," he said. "If he cannot
remain here he knows why without appealing to me."
"Ah, my dear Superintendent, how unfeeling! You hardly do yourself
justice," said Raven, proceeding to draw on his gloves. His
drawling voice seemed to irritate the Superintendent beyond
"Justice?" he exclaimed sharply. "Justice is a word you should
hesitate to use."
"You see, Miss Cameron," said Raven with an injured air, "why I
"No, I do not!" cried Moira in hot indignation. "I do not see,"
she repeated, "and if the Superintendent does I think he should
explain." Her voice rang out sharp and clear. It wakened her
brother as if from a daze.
"Tut, tut, Moira!" he exclaimed. "Do not interfere where you do
"Then why make insinuations that cannot be explained?" cried his
sister, standing up very straight and looking the Superintendent
fair in the face.
"Explained?" echoed the Superintendent in a cool, almost
contemptuous, voice. "There are certain things best not explained,
but believe me if Mr. Raven desires explanation he can have it."
The men were all on their feet. Quickly Moira turned to Raven with
a gesture of appeal and a look of loyal confidence in her eyes.
For a moment the hard, cynical face was illumined with a smile of
rare beauty, but only for a moment. The gleam passed and the old,
hard, cynical face turned in challenge to the Superintendent.
"Explain!" he said bitterly, defiantly. "Go on if you can."
The Superintendent stood silent.
"Ah!" breathed Moira, a thrill of triumphant relief in her voice,
"he cannot explain."
With dramatic swiftness the explanation came. It was from Jerry.
"H'explain?" cried the little half-breed, quivering with rage.
"H'explain? What for he can no h'explain? Dem horse he steal de
night-tam'--dat whiskee he trade on de Indian. Bah! He no good--
he one beeg tief. Me--I put him one sure place he no steal no
A few moments of tense silence held the group rigid. In the center
stood Raven, his face pale, hard, but smiling, before him Moira,
waiting, eager, with lips parted and eyes aglow with successive
passions, indignation, doubt, fear, horror, grief. Again that
swift and subtle change touched Raven's face as his eyes rested
upon the face of the girl before him.
"Now you know why I cannot stay," he said gently, almost sadly.
"It is not true," murmured Moira, piteous appeal in voice and eyes.
A spasm crossed the pale face upon which her eyes rested, then the
old cynical look returned.
"Once more, thank you, Mrs. Cameron," he said with a bow to Mandy,
"for a happy half-hour by your fireside, and farewell."
"Good-by," said Mandy sadly.
He turned to Moira.
"Oh, good-by, good-by," cried the girl impulsively, reaching out
"Good-by," he said simply. "I shall not forget that you were kind
to me." He bent low before her, but did not touch her outstretched
hand. As he turned toward the door Jerry slipped in before him.
"You let him go?" he cried excitedly, looking at the Superintendent;
but before the latter could answer a hand caught him by the coat
collar and with a swift jerk landed him on the floor. It was Smith,
his face furiously red. Before Jerry could recover himself Raven
had opened the door and passed out.
"Oh, how awful!" said Mandy in a hushed, broken voice.
Moira stood for a moment as if dazed, then suddenly turned to Smith
"Thank you. That was well done."
And Smith, red to his hair roots, murmured, "You wanted him to go?"
"Yes," said Moira, "I wanted him to go."
Commissioner Irvine sat in his office at headquarters in the little
town of Regina, the capital of the North West Territories of the
Dominion. A number of telegrams lay before him on the table. A
look of grave anxiety was on his face. The cause of his anxiety
was to be found in the news contained in the telegrams. An orderly
stood behind his chair.
"Send Inspector Sanders to me!" commanded the Commissioner.
The orderly saluted and retired.
In a few moments Inspector Sanders made his appearance, a tall,
soldierlike man, trim in appearance, prompt in movement and
somewhat formal in speech.
"Well, the thing has come," said the Commissioner, handing
Inspector Sanders one of the telegrams before him. Inspector
Sanders took the wire, read it and stood very erect.
"Looks like it, sir," he replied. "You always said it would."
"It is just eight months since I first warned the government that
trouble would come. Superintendent Crozier knows the situation
thoroughly and would not have sent this wire if outbreak were not
imminent. Then here is one from Superintendent Gagnon at Carlton.
He also is a careful man."
Inspector Sanders gravely read the second telegram.
"We ought to have five hundred men on the spot this minute," he
"I have asked that a hundred men be sent up at once," said the
Commissioner, "but I am doubtful if we can get the Government to
agree. It seems almost impossible to make the authorities feel the
gravity of the situation. They cannot realize, for one thing, the
enormous distances that separate points that look comparatively
near together upon the map." He spread a map out upon the table.
"And yet," he continued, "they have these maps before them, and the
figures, but somehow the facts do not impress them. Look at this
vast area lying between these four posts that form an almost
perfect quadrilateral. Here is the north line running from
Edmonton at the northwest corner to Prince Albert at the northeast,
nearly four hundred miles away; then here is the south line running
from Macleod at the southwest four hundred and fifty miles to
Regina at the southeast; while the sides of this quadrilateral are
nearly three hundred miles long. Thus the four posts forming our
quadrilateral are four hundred miles apart one way by three hundred
another, and, if we run the lines down to the boundary and to the
limit of the territory which we patrol, the disturbed area may come
to be about five hundred miles by six hundred; and we have some
five hundred men available."
"It is a good thing we have established the new post at Carlton,"
suggested Inspector Sanders.
"Ah, yes, there is Carlton. It is true we have strengthened up
that district recently with two hundred men distributed between
Battleford, Prince Albert, Fort Pitt and Fort Carlton. But Carlton
is naturally a very weak post and is practically of little use to
us. True, it guards us against those Willow Crees and acts as a
check upon old Beardy."
"A troublesome man, that Kah-me-yes-too-waegs--old Beardy, I mean.
It took me some time to master that one," said Inspector Sanders,
"but then I have studied German. He always has been a nuisance,"
continued the Inspector. "He was a groucher when the treaty was
made in '76 and he has been a groucher ever since."
"If we only had the men, just another five hundred," replied the
Commissioner, tapping the map before him with his finger, "we
should hold this country safe. But what with these restless half-
breeds led by this crack-brained Riel, and these ten thousand
"Not to speak of a couple of thousand non-treaty Indians roaming
the country and stirring up trouble," interjected the Inspector.
"True enough," replied the Commissioner, "but I would have no fear
of the Indians were it not for these half-breeds. They have real
grievances, remember, Sanders, real grievances, and that gives
force to their quarrel and cohesion to the movement. Men who have
a conviction that they are suffering injustice are not easily
turned aside. And these men can fight. They ride hard and shoot
straight and are afraid of nothing. I confess frankly it looks
very serious to me."
"For my part," said Inspector Sanders, "it is the Indians I fear
"The Indians?" said the Commissioner. "Yes, if once they rise.
Really, one wonders at the docility of the Indians, and their
response to fair and decent treatment. Why, just think of it!
Twenty years ago, no, fifteen years ago, less than fifteen years
ago, these Indians whom we have been holding in our hand so quietly
were roaming these plains, living like lords on the buffalo and
fighting like fiends with each other, free from all control.
Little wonder if, now feeling the pinch of famine, fretting under
the monotony of pastoral life, and being incited to war by the hot-
blooded half-breeds, they should break out in rebellion. And what
is there to hold them back? Just this, a feeling that they have
been justly treated, fairly and justly dealt with by the Government,
and a wholesome respect for Her Majesty's North West Mounted Police,
if I do say it myself. But the thing is on, and we must be ready."
"What is to be done, sir?" inquired Sanders.
"Well, thank God, there is not much to be done in the way of
preparation," replied the Commissioner. "Our fellows are ready to
a man. For the past six months we have been on the alert for this
emergency, but we must strike promptly. When I think of these
settlers about Prince Albert and Battleford at the mercy of Beardy
and that restless and treacherous Salteaux, Big Bear, I confess to
a terrible anxiety."
"Then there is the West, sir, as well," said Sanders, "the
Blackfeet and the Bloods."
"Ah, yes, Sanders! You know them well. So do I. It is a great
matter that Crowfoot is well disposed toward us, that he has
confidence in our officers and that he is a shrewd old party as
well. But Crowfoot is an Indian and the head of a great tribe with
warlike traditions and with ambitions, and he will find it
difficult to maintain his own loyalty, and much more that of his
young men, in the face of any conspicuous successes by his Indian
rivals, the Crees. But," added the Commissioner, rolling up the
map, "I called you in principally to say that I wish you to have
every available man and gun ready for a march at a day's notice.
Further, I wish you to wire Superintendent Herchmer at Calgary to
send at the earliest possible moment twenty-five men at least,
fully equipped. We shall need every man we can spare from every
post in the West to send North."
"Very good, sir. They will be ready," said Inspector Sanders, and,
saluting, he left the room.
Two days later, on the 18th of March, long before the break of day,
the Commissioner set out on his famous march to Prince Albert,
nearly three hundred miles away. And the great game was on. They
were but a small company of ninety men, but every man was
thoroughly fit for the part he was expected to play in the
momentous struggle before him; brave, of course, trained in prompt
initiative, skilled in plaincraft, inured to hardship, oblivious of
danger, quick of eye, sure of hand and rejoicing in fight.
Commissioner Irvine knew he could depend upon them to see through
to a finish, to their last ounce of strength and their last blood-
drop, any bit of work given them to do. Past Pie-a-pot's Reserve
and down the Qu'Appelle Valley to Misquopetong's, through the
Touchwood Hills and across the great Salt Plain, where he had word
by wire from Crozier of the first blow being struck at the south
branch of the Saskatchewan where some of Beardy's men gave promise
of their future conduct by looting a store, Irvine pressed his
march. Onward along the Saskatchewan, he avoided the trap laid by
four hundred half-breeds at Batoche's Crossing, and, making the
crossing at Agnew's, further down, arrived at Prince Albert all fit
and sound on the eve of the 24th, completing his two hundred and
ninety-one miles in just seven days; and that in the teeth of the
bitter weather of a rejuvenated winter, without loss of man or
horse, a feat worthy of the traditions of the Force of which he was
the head, and of the Empire whose most northern frontier it was his
task to guard.
Twenty-four hours to sharpen their horses' calks and tighten up
their cinches, and Irvine was on the trail again en route for Fort
Carlton, where he learned serious disturbances were threatening.
Arrived at Fort Carlton in the afternoon of the same day, the
Commissioner found there a company of men, sad, grim and gloomy.
In the fort a dozen of the gallant volunteers from Prince Albert
and Crozier's Mounted Police lay groaning, some of them dying, with
wounds. Others lay with their faces covered, quiet enough; while
far down on the Duck Lake trail still others lay with the white
snow red about them. The story was told the Commissioner with
soldierlike brevity by Superintendent Crozier. The previous day a
storekeeper from Duck Lake, Mitchell by name, had ridden in to
report that his stock of provisions and ammunition was about to be
seized by the rebels. Immediately early next morning a Sergeant of
the Police with some seventeen constables had driven off to prevent
these provisions and ammunition falling into the hands of the
enemy. At ten o'clock a scout came pounding down the trail with
the announcement that Sergeant Stewart was in trouble and that a
hundred rebels had disputed his advance. Hard upon the heels of
the scout came the Sergeant himself with his constables to tell
their tale to a body of men whose wrath grew as they listened.
More and more furious waxed their rage as they heard the constables
tell of the threats and insults heaped upon them by the half-breeds
and Indians. The Prince Albert volunteers more especially were
filled with indignant rage. To think that half-breeds and Indians--
Indians, mark you!--whom they had been accustomed to regard with
contempt, should have dared to turn back upon the open trail a
company of men wearing the Queen's uniform! The insult was
The Police officers received the news with philosophic calm. It
was merely an incident in the day's work to them. Sooner or later
they would bring these bullying half-breeds and yelling Indians to
task for their temerity.
But the volunteers were undisciplined in the business of receiving
insults. Hence they were for an immediate attack. The
Superintendent pointed out that the Commissioner was within touch
bringing reinforcements. It might be wise to delay matters a few
hours till his arrival. But meantime the provisions and ammunition
would be looted and distributed among the enemy, and that was a
serious matter. The impetuous spirit of the volunteers prevailed.
Within an hour a hundred men with a seven-pr. gun, eager to exact
punishment for the insults they had suffered, took the Duck Lake
trail. Ambushed by a foe who, regardless of the conventions of
war, made treacherous use of the white flag, overwhelmed by more
than twice their number, hampered in their evolutions by the deep
crusted snow, the little company, after a half-hour's sharp
engagement with the strongly posted enemy, were forced to retire,
bearing their wounded and some of their dead with them, leaving
others of their dead lying in the snow behind them.
And now the question was what was to be done? The events of the
day had taught them their lesson, a lesson that experience has
taught all soldiers, the lesson, namely, that it is never safe to
despise a foe. A few miles away from them were between three
hundred and four hundred half-breeds and Indians who, having tasted
blood, were eager for more. The fort at Carlton was almost
impossible of defense. The whole South country was in the hands of
rebels. Companies of half-breeds breathing blood and fire, bands
of Indians, marauding and terrorizing, were roaming the country,
wrecking homesteads, looting stores, threatening destruction to all
loyal settlers and direst vengeance upon all who should dare to
oppose them. The situation called for quick thought and quick
action. Every hour added to the number of the enemy. Whole tribes
of Indians were wavering in their allegiance. Another victory such
as Duck Lake and they would swing to the side of the rebels. The
strategic center of the English settlements in all this country was
undoubtedly Prince Albert. Fort Carlton stood close to the border
of the half-breed section and was difficult of defense.
After a short council of war it was decided to abandon Fort
Carlton. Thereupon Irvine led his troops, together with the
gallant survivors of the bloody fight at Duck Lake, bearing their
dead and wounded with them, to Prince Albert, there to hold that
post with its hundreds of defenseless women and children gathered
in from the country round about, against hostile half-breeds
without and treacherous half-breeds within the stockade, and
against swarming bands of Indians hungry for loot and thirsting for
blood. And there Irvine, chafing against inactivity, eager for the
joyous privilege of attack, spent the weary anxious days of the
next six weeks, held at his post by the orders of his superior
officer and by the stern necessities of the case, and meantime
finding some slight satisfaction in scouting and scouring the
country for miles on every side, thus preventing any massing of the
The affair at Duck Lake put an end to all parley. Riel had been
clamoring for "blood! blood! blood!" At Duck Lake he received his
first taste, but before many days were over he was to find that for
every drop of blood that reddened the crusted snow at Duck Lake a
thousand Canadian voices would indignantly demand vengeance. The
rifle-shots that rang out that winter day from the bluffs that
lined the Duck Lake trail echoed throughout Canada from ocean to
ocean, and everywhere men sprang to offer themselves in defense of
their country. But echoes of these rifle-shots rang, too, in the
teepees on the Western plains where the Piegans, the Bloods and the
Blackfeet lay crouching and listening. By some mysterious system
of telegraphy known only to themselves old Crowfoot and his braves
heard them almost as soon as the Superintendent at Fort Macleod.
Instantly every teepee was pulsing with the fever of war. The
young braves dug up their rifles from their bedding, gathered
together their ammunition, sharpened their knives and tomahawks in
eager anticipation of the call that would set them on the war-path
against the white man who had robbed them of their ancient
patrimony and who held them in such close leash. The great day had
come, the day they had been dreaming of in their hearts, talking
over at their council-fires and singing about in their sun dances
during the past year, the day promised by the many runners from
their brother Crees of the North, the day foretold by the great
Sioux orator and leader, Onawata. The war of extermination had
begun and the first blood had gone to the Indian and to his brother
Two days after Duck Lake came the word that Fort Carlton had been
abandoned and Battleford sacked. Five days later the news of the
bloody massacre of Frog Lake cast over every English settlement the
shadow of a horrible fear. From the Crow's Nest to the Blackfoot
Crossing bands of braves broke loose from the reserves and began to
"drive cattle" for the making of pemmican in preparation for the
It was a day of testing for all Canadians, but especially a day of
testing for the gallant little force of six or seven hundred riders
who, distributed in small groups over a vast area of over two
hundred and fifty thousand square miles, were entrusted with the
responsibility of guarding the lives and property of Her Majesty's
subjects scattered in lonely and distant settlements over these
And the testing found them ready. For while the Ottawa authorities
with late but frantic haste were hustling their regiments from all
parts of Canada to the scene of war, the Mounted Police had gripped
the situation with a grip so stern that the Indian allies of the
half-breed rebels paused in their leap, took a second thought and
decided to wait till events should indicate the path of discretion.
And, to the blood-lusting Riel, Irvine's swift thrust Northward to
Prince Albert suggested caution, while his resolute stand at that
distant fort drove hard down in the North country a post of Empire
that stuck fast and sure while all else seemed to be sliding to
Inspector Dickens, too, another of that fearless band of Police
officers, holding with his heroic little company of twenty-two
constables Fort Pitt in the far North, stayed the panic consequent
upon the Frog Lake massacre and furnished food for serious thought
to the cunning Chief, Little Pine, and his four hundred and fifty
Crees, as well as to the sullen Salteaux, Big Bear, with his three
hundred braves. And to the lasting credit of Inspector Dickens it
stands that he brought his little company of twenty-two safe
through a hostile country overrun with excited Indians and half-
breeds to the post of Battleford, ninety-eight miles away.
At Battleford, also, after the sacking of the town, Inspector
Morris with two hundred constables behind his hastily-constructed
barricade kept guard over four hundred women and children and held
at bay a horde of savages yelling for loot and blood.
Griesbach, in like manner, with his little handful, at Fort
Saskatchewan, held the trail to Edmonton, and materially helped to
bar the way against Big Bear and his marauding band.
And similarly at other points the promptness, resource, wisdom and
dauntless resolution of the gallant officers of the Mounted Police
and of the men they commanded saved Western Canada from the
complete subversion of law and order in the whole Northern part of
the territories and from the unspeakable horrors of a general
But while in the Northern and Eastern part of the Territories the
Police officers rendered such signal service in the face of open
rebellion, it was in the foothill country in the far West that
perhaps even greater service was rendered to Canada and the Empire
in this time of peril by the officers and men of the Mounted
It was due to the influence of such men as the Superintendents and
Inspectors of the Police in charge of the various posts throughout
the foothill country more than to anything else that the Chiefs of
the "great, warlike, intelligent and untractable tribes" of
Blackfeet, Blood, Piegan, Sarcee and Stony Indians were prevented
from breaking their treaties and joining with the rebel Crees,
Salteaux and Assiniboines of the North and East. For fifteen years
the Chiefs of these tribes had lived under the firm and just rule
of the Police, had been protected from the rapacity of unscrupulous
traders and saved from the ravages of whisky-runners. It was the
proud boast of a Blood Chief that the Police never broke a promise
to the Indian and never failed to exact justice either for his
punishment or for his protection.
Hence when the reserves were being overrun by emissaries from the
turbulent Crees and from the plotting half-breeds, in the face of
the impetuous demands of their own young men and of their minor
Chiefs to join in the Great Adventure, the great Chiefs, Red Crow
and Rainy Chief of the Bloods, Bull's Head of the Sarcees, Trotting
Wolf of the Piegans, and more than all, Crowfoot, the able, astute,
wise old head of the entire Blackfeet confederacy, held these young
braves back from rebellion and thus gave time and opportunity to
Her Majesty's Forces operating in the East and North to deal with
And during those days of strain, strain beyond the estimate of all
not immediately involved, it was the record of such men as the
Superintendents and Inspectors in charge at Fort Macleod, at Fort
Calgary and on the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway construction
in the mountains, and their steady bearing that more than anything
else weighed with the great Chiefs and determined for them their
attitude. For with calm, cool courage the Police patrols rode in
and out of the reserves, quietly reasoning with the big Chiefs,
smiling indulgently upon the turbulent minor Chiefs, checking up
with swift, firm, but tactful justice the many outbreaks against law
and order, presenting even in their most desperate moments such a
front of resolute self-confidence to the Indians, and refusing to
give any sign by look or word or act of the terrific anxiety they
carried beneath their gay scarlet coats. And the big Chiefs, reading
the faces of these cool, careless, resolute, smiling men who had a
trick of appearing at unexpected times in their camps and refused to
be hurried or worried, finally decided to wait a little longer. And
they waited till the fatal moment of danger was past and the time
for striking--and in the heart of every Chief of them the desire to
strike for larger freedom and independence lay deep--was gone. To
these guardians of Empire who fought no fight, who endured no siege,
who witnessed no massacre, the Dominion and the Empire owe more than
none but the most observing will ever know.
Paralleling these prompt measures of the North West Mounted Police,
the Government dispatched from both East and West of Canada
regiments of militia to relieve the beleaguered posts held by the
Police, to prevent the spread of rebellion and to hold the great
tribes of the Indians of the far West true to their allegiance.
Already on the 27th of March, before Irvine had decided to abandon
Fort Carlton and to make his stand at Prince Albert, General
Middleton had passed through Winnipeg on his way to take command of
the Canadian Forces operating in the West; and before two weeks
more had gone the General was in command of a considerable body of
troops at Qu'Appelle, his temporary headquarters. From all parts
of Canada these men gathered, from Quebec and Montreal, from the
midland counties of Ontario, from the city of Toronto and from the
city of Winnipeg, till some five or six thousand citizen-soldiers
were under arms. They were needed, too, every man, not so much
because of the possible weight of numbers of the enemy opposing
them, nor because of the tactical skill of those leading the
hostile forces, but because of the enemy's advantage of position,
owing to the nature of the country which formed the scene of the
Rebellion, and because of the character of the warfare adopted by
their cunning foe.
The record of the brief six weeks' campaign constitutes a creditable
page in Canadian history, a page which no Canadian need blush to
read aloud in the presence of any company of men who know how to
estimate at their highest value those qualities of courage and
endurance that are the characteristics of the British soldier the
Superintendent Strong was in a pleasant mood, and the reason was
not far to seek. The distracting period of inaction, of doubt, of
hesitation was past, and now at last something would be done. His
term of service along the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway
construction had been far from congenial to him. There had been
too much of the work of the ordinary patrol-officer about it.
True, he did his duty faithfully and thoroughly, so faithfully,
indeed, as to move the great men of the railway company to
outspoken praise, a somewhat unusual circumstance. But now he was
called back to the work that more properly belonged to an officer
of Her Majesty's North West Mounted Police and his soul glowed with
the satisfaction of those who, having been found faithful in
uncongenial duty, are rewarded with an opportunity to do a bit of
work which they particularly delight to do.
With his twenty-five men, whom for the past year he had been
polishing to a high state of efficiency in the trying work of
police-duty in the railway construction-camp, he arrived in Calgary
on the evening of the tenth of April, to find that post throbbing
with military ardor and thrilling with rumors of massacres and
sieges, of marching columns and contending forces. Small wonder
that Superintendent Strong's face took on an appearance of grim
pleasure. Straight to the Police headquarters he went, but there
was no Superintendent there to welcome him. That gentleman had
gone East to meet the troops and was by now under appointment as
Chief of Staff to that dashing soldier, Colonel Otter.
But meantime, though the Calgary Police Post was bare of men, there
were other men as keen and as daring, if not so thoroughly
disciplined for war, thronging the streets of the little town and
asking only a leader whom they could follow.
It was late evening, but Calgary was an "all night" town, and every
minute was precious, for minutes might mean lives of women and
children. So down the street rode Superintendent Strong toward the
Royal Hotel. At the hitching post of that hostelry a sad-looking
broncho was tied, whose calm, absorbed and detached appearance
struck a note of discord with his environment; for everywhere about
him men and horses seemed to be in a turmoil of excitement.
Everywhere men in cow-boy garb were careering about the streets or
grouped in small crowds about the saloon doors. There were few
loud voices, but the words of those who were doing the speaking
came more rapidly than usual.
Such a group was gathered in the rear of the sad-looking broncho
before the door of the Royal Hotel. As the Superintendent loped up
upon his big brown horse the group broke apart and, like birds
disturbed at their feeding, circled about and closed again.
"Hello, here's Superintendent Strong," said a voice. "He'll know."
"Know what?" inquired the Superintendent.
"Why, what's doing?"
"Where are the troops?"
"Is Prince Albert down?"
"What's to be done here?"
There were many voices, all eager, and in them just a touch of
"Not a thing do I know," said Superintendent Strong somewhat
gravely. "I have been up in the mountains and have heard little.
I know that the Commissioner has gone north to Prince Albert."
"Have you heard about Duck Lake?" inquired a voice.
"Yes, I heard we had a reverse there, and I know that General
Middleton has arrived at Qu'Appelle and has either set out for the
north or is about to set out."
"Heard about Frog Lake?"
"Frog Lake? No. That is up near Fort Pitt. What about it?"
For a moment there was silence, then a deep voice replied:
"A ghastly massacre, women and children and priests."
Then another period of silence.
"Indians?" murmured the Superintendent in a low voice.
"Yes, half-breeds and Indians," replied the deep voice. And again
there was silence. The men waited for Superintendent Strong to
The Superintendent sat on his big horse looking at them quietly,
then he said sharply:
"Men, there are some five or six thousand Indians in this
district." They were all thinking the same thing. "I have twenty-
five men with me. Superintendent Cotton at Macleod has less than a
The men sat their horses in silence looking at him. One could hear
their deep breathing and see the quiver of the horses under the
gripping knees of their riders. Their minds were working swiftly.
Ever since the news of the Frog Lake massacre had spread like a
fire across the country these men had been carrying in their minds--
rather, in their hearts--pictures that started them up in their
beds at night broad awake and all in a cold sweat.
The Superintendent lowered his voice. The men leaned forward to
listen. He had only a single word to say, a short sharp word it
"Who will join me?"
It was as if his question had released a spring drawn to its limit.
From twenty different throats in twenty different tones, but with a
single throbbing impulse, came the response, swift, full-throated,
savage, "Me!" "I!" "Here you are!" "You bet!" "Count me!"
"Rather!" and in three minutes Superintendent Strong had secured
the nucleus of his famous scouts.
"To-morrow at nine at the Barracks!" said this grim and laconic
Superintendent, and was about turning away when a man came out from
the door of the Royal Hotel, drawn forth by that sudden savage
"Hello, Cameron!" said the Superintendent, as the man moved toward
the sad-appearing broncho, "I want you."
"All right, sir. I am with you," was the reply as Cameron swung on
to his horse. "Wake up, Ginger!" he said to his horse, touching
him with his heel. Ginger woke up with an indignant snort and
forthwith fell into line with the Superintendent's big brown horse.
The Superintendent was silent till the Barracks were gained, then,
giving the horses into the care of an orderly, he led Cameron into
the office and after they had settled themselves before the fire he
began without preliminaries.
"Cameron, I am more anxious than I can say about the situation here
in this part of the country. I have been away from the center of
things for some months and I have lost touch. I want you to let me
know just what is doing from our side."
"I do not know much, sir," replied Cameron. "I, too, have just
come in from a long parley with Crowfoot and his Chiefs."
"Ah, by the way, how is the old boy?" inquired the Superintendent.
"Will he stick by us?"
"At present he is very loyal, sir,--too loyal almost," said Cameron
in a doubtful tone. "Duck Lake sent some of his young men off
their heads a bit, and Frog Lake even more. The Sarcees went wild
over Frog Lake, you know."
"Oh, I don't worry about the Sarcees so much. What of Crowfoot?"
"Well, he has managed to hold down his younger Chiefs so far. He
made light of the Frog Lake affair, but he was most anxious to get
from me the fullest particulars of the Duck Lake fight. He made
careful inquiries as to just how many Police were in the fight. I
could see that it gave him a shock to learn that the Police had to
retire. This was a new experience for him. He was intensely
anxious to learn also--though he would not allow himself to appear
so--just what the Government was doing."
"And what are the last reports from headquarters? You see I have
not been kept fully in touch. I know that the Commissioner has
gone north to Prince Albert and that General Middleton has taken
command of the forces in the West and has gone North with them from
Qu'Appelle, but what troops he has I have not heard."
"I understand," replied Cameron, "that he has three regiments of
infantry from Toronto and three from Winnipeg, with the Winnipeg
Field Battery. A regiment from Quebec has arrived and one from
Montreal and there are more to follow. The plan of campaign I know
"Ah, well," replied the Superintendent, "I know something about the
plan, I believe. There are three objective points, Prince Albert
and Battleford, both of which are now closely besieged, and
Edmonton, which is threatened with a great body of rebel Crees and
Salteaux under leadership of Little Pine and Big Bear. The Police
at these points can hardly be expected to hold out long against the
overwhelming numbers that are besieging them, and I expect that
relief columns will be immediately dispatched. Now, in regard to
this district here, do you know what is being done?"
"Well, General Strange has come in from his ranch and has offered
his services in raising a local force."
"Yes, I was glad to hear that his offer had been accepted and that
he has been appointed to lead an expeditionary force from here to
Edmonton. He is an experienced officer and I am sure will do us
fine service. I hope to see him to-morrow. Now, about the South,"
continued the Superintendent, "what about Fort Macleod?"
"The Superintendent there has offered himself and his whole force
for service in the North, but General Middleton, I understand, has
asked him to remain where he is and keep guard in this part of the
"Good! I am glad of that. In my judgment this country holds the
key. The Crees I do not fear so much. They are more restless and
uncertain, but God help us if the Blackfeet and the Bloods rise!
That is why I called for volunteers to-night. We cannot afford to
be without a strong force here a single day."
"I gathered that you got some volunteers to-night. I hope, sir,"
said Cameron, "you will have a place for me in your troop?"
"My dear fellow, nothing would please me better, I assure you,"
said the Superintendent cordially. "And as proof of my confidence
in you I am going to send you through the South country to recruit
men for my troop. I can rely upon your judgment and tact. But as
for you, you cannot leave your present beat. The Sun Dance Trail
cannot be abandoned for one hour. From it you keep an eye upon the
secret movements of all the tribes in this whole region and you can
do much to counteract if not to wholly check any hostile movement
that may arise. Indeed, you have already done more than any one
will ever know to hold this country safe during these last months.
And you must stay where you are. Remember, Cameron," added the
Superintendent impressively, "your work lies along the Sun Dance
Trail. On no account and for no reason must you be persuaded to
abandon that post. I shall get into touch with General Strange
to-morrow and shall doubtless get something to do, but if possible
I should like you to give me a day or two for this recruiting
business before you take up again your patrol work along the Sun
"Very well, sir," replied Cameron quietly, trying hard to keep the
disappointment out of his voice. "I shall do my best."
"That is right," said the Superintendent. "By the way, what are
the Piegans doing?"
"The Piegans," replied Cameron, "are industriously stealing cattle
and horses. I cannot quite make out just how they can manage to
get away with them. Eagle Feather is apparently running the thing,
but there is someone bigger than Eagle Feather in the game. An
additional month or two in the guardroom would have done that
gentleman no harm."
"Ah, has he been in the guard-room? How did he get there?"
"Oh, I pulled him out of the Sun Dance, where I found he had been
killing cattle, and the Superintendent at Macleod gave him two
months to meditate upon his crimes."
Superintendent Strong expressed his satisfaction.
"But now he is at his old habits again," continued Cameron. "But
his is not the brain planning these raids. They are cleverly done
and are getting serious. For instance, I must have lost a score or
two of steers within the last three months."
"A score or two?" exclaimed the Superintendent. "What are they
doing with them all?"
"That is what I find difficult to explain. Either they are running
them across the border--though the American Police know nothing of
it--or they are making pemmican."
"Pemmican? Aha! that looks serious," said the Superintendent
"Yes, indeed," said Cameron. "It makes me think that some one
bigger than Eagle Feather is at the bottom of all this cattle-
running. Sometimes I have thought that perhaps that chap Raven has
a hand in it."
"Raven?" exclaimed the Superintendent. "He has brain enough and
nerve in plenty for any dare-devil exploit."
"But," continued Cameron in a hesitating voice, "I cannot bring
myself to lay this upon him."
"Why not?" inquired the Superintendent sharply. "He is a cool hand
and desperate. I know his work fairly well. He is a first-class
"Yes, I know he is all that, and yet--well--in this rebellion, sir,
I believe he is with us and against them." In proof of this
Cameron proceeded to relate the story of Raven's visit to the Big
Horn Ranch. "So you see," he concluded, "he would not care to work
in connection with the Piegans just now."
"I don't know about that--I don't know about that," replied the
Superintendent. "Of course he would not work against us directly,
but he might work for himself in this crisis. It would furnish him
with a good opportunity, you see. It would give him plenty of
"Yes, that is true, but still--I somehow cannot help liking the
"Liking the chap?" echoed the Superintendent. "He is a cold-
blooded villain and cattle-thief, a murderer, as you know. If ever
I get my hand on him in this rumpus-- Why, he's an outlaw pure and
simple! I have no use for that kind of man at all. I should like
to hang him!" The Superintendent was indignant at the suggestion
that any but the severest measures should be meted out to a man of
Raven's type. It was the instinct and training of the Police
officer responsible for the enforcement of law and order in the
land moving within him. "But," continued the Superintendent, "let
us get back to our plans. There must be a strong force raised in
this district immediately. We have the kind of men best suited for
the work all about us in this ranching country, and I know that if
you ride south throughout the ranges you can bring me back fifty
men, and there would be no finer anywhere."
"I shall do what I can, sir," replied Cameron, "but I am not sure
about the fifty men."
Long they talked over the plans, till it was far past midnight,
when Cameron took his leave and returned to his hotel. He put up
his own horse, looking after his feeding and bedding.
"You have some work to do, Ginger, for your Queen and country
to-morrow, and you must be fit," he said as he finished rubbing the
And Ginger had work to do, but not that planned for him by his
master, as it turned out. At the door of the Royal Hotel, Cameron
found waiting him in the shadow a tall slim Indian youth.
"Hello!" said Cameron. "Who are you and what do you want?"
As the youth stepped into the light there came to Cameron a dim
suggestion of something familiar about the lad, not so much in his
face as in his figure and bearing.
"Who are you?" said Cameron again somewhat impatiently.
The young man pulled up his trouser leg and showed a scarred ankle.
"Ah! Now I get you. You are the young Piegan?"
"Not" said the youth, throwing back his head with a haughty
movement. "No Piegan."
"Ah, no, of course. Onawata's son, eh?"
The lad grunted.
"What do you want?" inquired Cameron.
The young man stood silent, evidently finding speech difficult.
"Eagle Feather," at length he said, "Little Thunder--plenty Piegan--
run much cattle." He made a sweeping motion with his arm to
indicate the extent of the cattle raid proposed.
"They do, eh? Come in, my boy."
The boy shook his head and drew back. He shared with all wild
things the fear of inclosed places.
"Are you hungry?"
The boy nodded his head.
"Come with me."
Together they walked down the street and came to a restaurant.
"Come in and eat. It is all right," said Cameron, offering his
The Indian took the offered hand, laid it upon his heart, then for
a full five seconds with his fierce black eye he searched Cameron's
face. Satisfied, he motioned Cameron to enter and followed close
on his heel. Never before had the lad been within four walls.
"Eat," said Cameron when the ordered meal was placed before them.
The lad was obviously ravenous and needed no further urging.
"How long since you left the reserve?" inquired Cameron.
The youth held up three fingers.
"Good going," said Cameron, letting his eye run down the lines of
the Indian's lithe figure.
"Smoke?" inquired Cameron when the meal was finished.
The lad's eye gleamed, but he shook his head.
"No pipe, eh?" said Cameron. "Come, we will mend that. Here,
John," he said to the Chinese waiter, "bring me a pipe. There,"
said Cameron, passing the Indian the pipe after filling it, "smoke
After another swift and searching look the lad took the pipe from
Cameron's hand and with solemn gravity began to smoke. It was to
him far more than a mere luxurious addendum to his meal. It was a
solemn ceremonial sealing a compact of amity between them.
"Now, tell me," said Cameron, when the smoke had gone on for some
Slowly and with painful difficulty the youth told his story in
terse, brief sentences.
"T'ree day," he began, holding up three fingers, "me hear Eagle
Feather--many Piegans--talk--talk--talk. Go fight--keel--keel--
keel all white man, squaw, papoose."
"When?" inquired Cameron, keeping his face steady.
"Come Cree runner--soon."
"You mean they are waiting for a runner from the North?" inquired
Cameron. "If the Crees win the fight then the Piegans will rise?
Is that it?"
The Indian nodded. "Come Cree Indian--then Piegan fight."
"They will not rise until the runner comes, eh?"
Cameron breathed more easily.
"Is that all?" he inquired carelessly.
"This day Eagle Feather run much cattle--beeg--beeg run." The
young man again swept the room with his arm.
"Bah! Eagle Feather is no good. He is an old squaw," said
"Huh!" agreed the Indian quickly. "Little Thunder go too."
"Little Thunder, eh?" said Cameron, controlling his voice with an
The lad nodded, his piercing eye upon Cameron's face.
For some minutes Cameron smoked quietly.
"And Onawata?" With startling suddenness he shot out the question.
Not a line of the Indian's face moved. He ignored the question,
smoking steadily and looking before him.
"Ah, it is a strange way for Onawata to repay the white man's
kindness to his son," said Cameron. The contemptuous voice pierced
the Indian's armor of impassivity. Cameron caught the swift quiver
in the face that told that his stab had reached the quick. There
is nothing in the Indian's catalogue of crimes so base as the sin
"Onawata beeg Chief--beeg Chief," at length the boy said proudly.
"He do beeg--beeg t'ing."
"Yes, he steals my cattle," said Cameron with stinging scorn.
"No!" replied the Indian sharply. "Little Thunder--Eagle Feather
steal cattle--Onawata no steal."
"I am glad to hear it, then," said Cameron. "This is a big run of
"Yes--beeg--beeg run." Again the Indian's arm swept the room.
"What will they do with all those cattle?" inquired Cameron.
But again the Indian ignored his question and remained silently
"Why does the son of Onawata come to me?" inquired Cameron.
A soft and subtle change transformed the boy's face. He pulled up
his trouser leg and, pointing to the scarred ankle, said:
"You' squaw good--me two leg--me come tell you take squaw 'way far--
no keel. Take cattle 'way--no steal." He rose suddenly to his
feet. "Me go now," he said, and passed out.
"Hold on!" cried Cameron, following him out to the door. "Where
are you going to sleep to-night?"
The boy waved his hand toward the hills surrounding the little
"Here," said Cameron, emptying his tobacco pouch into the boy's
hand. "I will tell my squaw that Onawata's son is not ungrateful,
that he remembered her kindness and has paid it back to me."
For the first time a smile broke on the grave face of the Indian.
He took Cameron's hand, laid it upon his own heart, and then on
"You' squaw good--good--much good." He appeared to struggle to
find other words, but failing, and with a smile still lingering
upon his handsome face, he turned abruptly away and glided silent
as a shadow into the starlit night. Cameron watched him out of
"Not a bad sort," he said to himself as he walked toward the hotel.
"Pretty tough thing for him to come here and give away his dad's
scheme like that--and I bet you he is keen on it himself too."
AN OUTLAW, BUT A MAN
The news brought by the Indian lad changed for Cameron all his
plans. This cattle-raid was evidently a part of and preparation
for the bigger thing, a general uprising and war of extermination
on the part of the Indians. From his recent visit to the reserves
he was convinced that the loyalty of even the great Chiefs was
becoming somewhat brittle and would not bear any sudden strain put
upon it. A successful raid of cattle such as was being proposed
escaping the notice of the Police, or in the teeth of the Police,
would have a disastrous effect upon the prestige of the whole
Force, already shaken by the Duck Lake reverse. The effect of that
skirmish was beyond belief. The victory of the half-breeds was
exaggerated in the wildest degree. He must act and act quickly.
His home and his family and those of his neighbors were in danger
of the most horrible fate that could befall any human being. If
the cattle-raid were carried through by the Piegan Indians its
sweep would certainly include the Big Horn Ranch, and there was
every likelihood that his home might be destroyed, for he was an
object of special hate to Eagle Feather and to Little Thunder; and
if Copperhead were in the business he had even greater cause for
But what was to be done? The Indian boy had taken three days to
bring the news. It would take a day and a night of hard riding to
reach his home. Quickly he made his plans. He passed into the
hotel, found the room of Billy the hostler and roused him up.
"Billy," he said, "get my horse out quick and hitch him up to the
post where I can get him. And Billy, if you love me," he implored,
Billy sprang from his bed.
"Don't know what's eatin' you, boss," he said, "but quick's the
In another minute Cameron was pounding at Dr. Martin's door
upstairs. Happily the doctor was in.
"Martin, old man," cried Cameron, gripping him hard by the
shoulder. "Wake up and listen hard! That Indian boy you and Mandy
pulled through has just come all the way from the Piegan Reserve to
tell me of a proposed cattle-raid and a possible uprising of the
Piegans in that South country. The cattle-raid is coming on at
once. The uprising depends upon news from the Crees. Listen! I
have promised Superintendent Strong to spend the next two days
recruiting for his new troop. Explain to him why I cannot do this.
He will understand. Then ride like blazes to Macleod and tell the
Inspector all that I have told you and get him to send what men he
can spare along with you. You can't get a man here. The raid
starts from the Piegan Reserve. It will likely finish where the
old Porcupine Trail joins the Sun Dance. At least so I judge.
Ride by the ranch and get some of them there to show you the
shortest trail. Both Mandy and Moira know it well."
"Hold on, Cameron! Let me get this clear," cried the doctor,
holding him fast by the arm. "Two things I have gathered," said
the doctor, speaking rapidly, "first, a cattle-raid, then a general
uprising, the uprising dependent upon the news from the North. You
want to block the cattle-raid? Is that right?"
"Right," said Cameron.
"Then you want me to settle with Superintendent Storm, ride to
Macleod for men, then by your ranch and have them show me the
shortest trail to the junction of the Porcupine and the Sun Dance?"
"You are right, Martin, old boy. It is a great thing to have a
head like yours. I shall meet you somewhere at that point. I have
been thinking this thing over and I believe they mean to make
pemmican in preparation for their uprising, and if so they will
make it somewhere on the Sun Dance Trail. Now I am off. Let me
"Tell me your own movements now."
"First, the ranch," said Cameron. "Then straight for the Sun
"All right, old boy. By-by and good-luck!"
Cameron found Billy waiting with Ginger at the door of the hotel.
"Thank you, Billy," he said, fumbling in his pocket. "Hang it, I
can't find my purse."
"You go hang yourself!" said Billy. "Never mind your purse."
"All right, then," said Cameron, giving him his hand. "Good-by.
You are a trump, Billy." He caught Ginger by the mane and threw
himself on the saddle.
"Now, then, Ginger, you must not fail me this trip, if it is your
last. A hundred and twenty miles, old boy, and you are none too
fresh either. But, Ginger, we must beat them this time. A hundred
and twenty miles to the Big Horn and twenty miles farther to the
Sun Dance, that makes a hundred and forty, Ginger, and you are just
in from a hard two days' ride. Steady, boy! Not too hard at the
first." For Ginger was showing signs of eagerness beyond his wont.
"At all costs this raid must be stopped," continued Cameron,
speaking, after his manner, to his horse, "not for the sake of a
few cattle--we could all stand that loss--but to balk at its
beginning this scheme of old Copperhead's, for I believe in my soul
he is at the bottom of it. Steady, old boy! We need every minute,
but we cannot afford to make any miscalculations. The last quarter
of an hour is likely to be the worst."
So on they went through the starry night. Steadily Ginger pounded
the trail, knocking off the miles hour after hour. There was no
pause for rest or for food. A few mouthfuls of water in the
fording of a running stream, a pause to recover breath before
plunging into an icy river, or on the taking of a steep coulee
side, but no more. Hour after hour they pressed forward toward the
Big Horn Ranch. The night passed into morning and the morning into
the day, but still they pressed the trail.
Toward the close of the day Cameron found himself within an hour's
ride of his own ranch with Ginger showing every sign of leg
weariness and almost of collapse.
"Good old chap!" cried Cameron, leaning over him and patting his
neck. "We must make it. We cannot let up, you know. Stick to it,
old boy, a little longer."
A little snort and a little extra spurt of speed was the gallant
Ginger's reply, but soon he was forced to sink back again into his
"One hour more, Ginger, that is all--one hour only."
As he spoke he leapt from his saddle to ease his horse in climbing
a long and lofty hill. As he surmounted the hill he stopped and
swiftly backed his horse down the hill. Upon the distant skyline
his eye had detected what he judged to be a horseman. His horse
safely disposed of, he once more crawled to the top of the hill.
"An Indian, by Jove!" he cried. "I wonder if he has seen me."
Carefully his eye swept the intervening valley and the hillside
beyond, but only this solitary figure could he see. As his eye
rested on him the Indian began to move toward the west. Cameron
lay watching him for some minutes. From his movements it was
evident that the Indian's pace was being determined by some one on
the other side of the hill, for he advanced now swiftly, now
slowly. At times he halted and turned back upon his track, then
went forward again.
"What the deuce is he doing?" said Cameron to himself. "By Jove!
I have got it! The drive is begun. I am too late."
Swiftly he considered the whole situation. He was too late now to
be of any service at his ranch. The raid had already swept past
it. He wrung his hands in agony to think of what might have
happened. He was torn with anxiety for his family--and yet here
was the raid passing onward before his eyes. One hour would bring
him to the ranch, but if this were the outside edge of the big
cattle raid the loss of an hour would mean the loss of everything.
"Oh, my God! What shall I do?" he cried.
With his eyes still upon the Indian he forced himself to think more
quietly. The secrecy with which the raid was planned made it
altogether likely that the homes of the settlers would not at this
time be interfered with. This consideration finally determined
him. At all costs he must do what he could to head off the raid or
to break the herd in some way. But that meant in the first place a
ride of twenty or twenty-five miles over rough country. Could
Ginger do it?
He crawled back to his horse and found him with his head close to
the ground and trembling in every limb.
"If he goes this twenty miles," he said, "he will go no more. But
it looks like our only hope, old boy. We must make for our old
beat, the Sun Dance Trail."
He mounted his horse and set off toward the west, taking care never
to appear above the skyline and riding as rapidly as the uncertain
footing of the untrodden prairie would allow. At short intervals
he would dismount and crawl to the top of the hill in order to keep
in touch with the Indian, who was heading in pretty much the same
direction as himself. A little further on his screening hill began
to flatten itself out and finally it ran down into a wide valley
which crossed his direction at right angles. He made his horse lie
down, still in the shelter of the hill, and with most painful care
he crawled on hands and knees out to the open and secured a point
of vantage from which he could command the valley which ran
southward for some miles till it, in turn, was shut in by a further
range of hills.
He was rewarded for his patience and care. Far down before him at
the bottom of the valley a line of cattle was visible and hurrying
them along a couple of Indian horsemen. As he lay watching these
Indians he observed that a little farther on this line was
augmented by a similar line from the east driven by the Indian he
had first observed, and by two others who emerged from a cross
valley still further on. Prone upon his face he lay, with his eyes
on that double line of cattle and its hustling drivers. The raid
was surely on. What could one man do to check it? Similar lines
of cattle were coming down the different valleys and would all mass
upon the old Porcupine Trail and finally pour into the Sun Dance
with its many caves and canyons. There was much that was
mysterious in this movement still to Cameron. What could these
Indians do with this herd of cattle? The mere killing of them was
in itself a vast undertaking. He was perfectly familiar with the
Indian's method of turning buffalo meat, and later beef, into
pemmican, but the killing, and the dressing, and the rendering of
the fat, and the preparing of the bags, all this was an elaborate
and laborious process. But one thing was clear to his mind. At
all costs he must get around the head of these converging lines.
He waited there till the valley was clear of cattle and Indians,
then, mounting his horse, he pushed hard across the valley and
struck a parallel trail upon the farther side of the hills.
Pursuing this trail for some miles, he crossed still another range
of hills farther to the west and so proceeded till he came within
touch of the broken country that marks the division between the
Foothills and the Mountains. He had not many miles before him now,
but his horse was failing fast and he himself was half dazed with
weariness and exhaustion. Night, too, was falling and the going
was rough and even dangerous; for now hillsides suddenly broke off
into sharp cut-banks, twenty, thirty, forty feet high.
It was one of these cut-banks that was his undoing, for in the dim
light he failed to note that the sheep track he was following ended
thus abruptly till it was too late. Had his horse been fresh he
could easily have recovered himself, but, spent as he was, Ginger
stumbled, slid and finally rolled headlong down the steep hillside
and over the bank on to the rocks below. Cameron had just strength
to throw himself from the saddle and, scrambling on his knees, to
keep himself from following his horse. Around the cut-bank he
painfully made his way to where his horse lay with his leg broken,
groaning like a human being in his pain.
"Poor old boy! You are done at last," he said.
But there was no time to indulge regrets. Those lines of cattle
were swiftly and steadily converging upon the Sun Dance. He had
before him an almost impossible achievement. Well he knew that a
man on foot could do little with the wild range cattle. They would
speedily trample him into the ground. But he must go on. He must
make the attempt.
But first there was a task that it wrung his heart to perform. His
horse must be put out of pain. He took off his coat, rolled it
over his horse's head, inserted his gun under its folds to deaden
the sound and to hide those luminous eyes turned so entreatingly
"Old boy, you have done your duty, and so must I. Good-by, old
chap!" He pulled the fatal trigger and Ginger's work was done.
He took up his coat and set off once more upon the winding sheep
trail that he guessed would bring him to the Sun Dance. Dazed,
half asleep, numbed with weariness and faint with hunger, he
stumbled on, while the stars came out overhead and with their mild
radiance lit up his rugged way.
Suddenly he found himself vividly awake. Diagonally across the
face of the hill in front of him, a few score yards away and moving
nearer, a horse came cantering. Quickly Cameron dropped behind a
jutting rock. Easily, daintily, with never a slip or slide came
the horse till he became clearly visible in the starlight. There
was no mistaking that horse or that rider. No other horse in all
the territories could take that slippery, slithery hill with a
tread so light and sure, and no other rider in the Western country
could handle his horse with such easy, steady grace among the
rugged rocks of that treacherous hillside. It was Nighthawk and
"Raven!" breathed Cameron to himself. "Raven! Is it possible? By
Jove! I would not have believed it. The Superintendent was right
after all. He is a villain, a black-hearted villain too. So, HE
is the brains behind this thing. I ought to have known it. Fool
that I was! He pulled the wool over my eyes all right."
The rage that surged up through his heart stimulated his dormant
energies into new life. With a deep oath Cameron pulled out both
his guns and set off up the hill on the trail of the disappearing
horseman. His weariness fell from him like a coat, the spring came
back to his muscles, clearness to his brain. He was ready for his
best fight and he knew it lay before him. Swiftly, lightly he ran
up the hillside. At the top he paused amazed. Before him lay a
large Indian encampment with rows upon rows of tents and camp fires
with kettles swinging, and everywhere Indians and squaws moving
about. Skirting the camp and still keeping to the side of the
hill, he came upon a stout new-built fence that ran straight down
an incline to a steep cut-bank with a sheer drop of thirty feet or
more. Like a flash the meaning of it came upon him. This was to
be the end of the drive. Here the cattle were to meet their death.
Here it was that the pemmican was to be made. On the hillside
opposite there was doubtless a similar fence and these two would
constitute the fatal funnel down which the cattle were to be
stampeded over the cut-bank to their destruction. This was the
nefarious scheme planned by Raven and his treacherous allies.
Swiftly Cameron turned and followed the fence up the incline some
three or four hundred yards from the cut-bank. At its upper end
the fence curved outward for some distance upon a wide upland
valley, then ceased altogether. Such was the slope of the hill
that no living man could turn a herd of cattle once entered upon
that steep incline.
Down the hill, across the valley and up the other side ran Cameron,
keeping low and carefully picking his way among the loose stones
till he came to the other fence which, curving similarly outward,
made with its fellow a perfectly completed funnel. Once between
the curving lips of this funnel nothing could save the rushing,
crowding cattle from the deadly cut-bank below.
"Oh, if I only had my horse," groaned Cameron, "I might have a
chance to turn them off just here."
At the point at which he stood the slope of the hillside fell
somewhat toward the left and away slightly from the mouth of the
funnel. A skilled cowboy with sufficient nerve, on a first-class
horse, might turn the herd away from the cut-bank into the little
coulee that led down from the end of the fence, but for a man on
foot the thing was quite impossible. He determined, however, to
make the effort. No man can certainly tell how cattle will behave
when excited and at night.
As he stood there rapidly planning how to divert the rush of cattle
from that deadly funnel, there rose on the still night air a soft
rumbling sound like low and distant thunder. That sound Cameron
knew only too well. It was the pounding of two hundred steers upon
the resounding prairie. He rushed back again to the right side of
the fenced runway, and then forward to meet the coming herd. A
half moon rising over the round top of the hill revealed the black
surging mass of steers, their hoofs pounding like distant artillery,
their horns rattling like a continuous crash of riflery. Before
them at a distance of a hundred yards or more a mounted Indian rode
toward the farther side of the funnel and took his stand at the very
spot at which there was some hope of diverting the rushing herd from
the cut-bank down the side coulee to safety.
"That man has got to go," said Cameron to himself, drawing his gun.
But before he could level it there shot out from the dim light
behind the Indian a man on horseback. Like a lion on its prey the
horse leaped with a wicked scream at the Indian pony. Before that
furious leap both man and pony went down and rolled over and over
in front of the pounding herd. Over the prostrate pony leaped the
horse and up the hillside fair in the face of that rushing mass of
maddened steers. Straight across their face sped the horse and his
rider, galloping lightly, with never a swerve or hesitation, then
swiftly wheeling as the steers drew almost level with him he darted
furiously on their flank and rode close at their noses. "Crack!
Crack!" rang the rider's revolver, and two steers in the far flank
dropped to the earth while over them surged the following herd.
Again the revolver rang out, once, twice, thrice, and at each crack
a leader on the flank farthest away plunged down and was submerged
by the rushing tide behind. For an instant the column faltered on
its left and slowly began to swerve in that direction. Then upon
the leaders of the right flank the black horse charged furiously,
biting, kicking, plunging like a thing possessed of ten thousand
devils. Steadily, surely the line continued to swerve.
"My God!" cried Cameron, unable to believe his eyes. "They are
turning! They are turned!"
With wild cries and discharging his revolver fair in the face of
the leaders, Cameron rushed out into the open and crossed the mouth
of the funnel.
"Go back, you fool! Go back!" yelled the man on horseback. "Go
back! I have them!" He was right. Cameron's sudden appearance
gave the final and necessary touch to the swerving movement.
Across the mouth of the funnel with its yawning deadly cut-bank,
and down the side coulee, carrying part of the fence with them, the
herd crashed onward, with the black horse hanging on their flank
still biting and kicking with a kind of joyous fury.
"Raven! Raven!" cried Cameron in glad accents. "It is Raven!
Thank God, he is straight after all!" A great tide of gratitude
and admiration for the outlaw was welling up in his heart. But
even as he ran there thundered past him an Indian on horseback, the
reins flying loose and a rifle in his hands. As he flashed past a
gleam of moonlight caught his face, the face of a demon.
"Little Thunder!" cried Cameron, whipping out his gun and firing,
but with no apparent effect, at the flying figure.
With his gun still in his hand, Cameron ran on down the coulee in
the wake of Little Thunder. Far away could be heard the roar of
the rushing herd, but nothing could be seen of Raven. Running as
he had never run in his life, Cameron followed hard upon the
Indian's track, who was by this time some hundred yards in advance.
Suddenly in the moonlight, and far down the coulee, Raven could be
seen upon his black horse cantering easily up the slope and toward
the swiftly approaching Indian.
"Raven! Raven!" shouted Cameron, firing his gun. "On guard! On
Raven heard, looked up and saw the Indian bearing down upon him.
His horse, too, saw the approaching foe and, gathering himself, in
two short leaps rushed like a whirlwind at him, but, swerving
aside, the Indian avoided the charging stallion. Cameron saw his
rifle go up to his shoulder, a shot reverberated through the
coulee, Raven swayed in his saddle. A second shot and the black
horse was fair upon the Indian pony, hurling him to the ground and
falling himself upon him. As the Indian sprang to his feet Raven
was upon him. He gripped him by the throat and shook him as a dog
shakes a rat. Once, twice, his pistol fell upon the snarling face
and the Indian crumpled up and lay still, battered to death.
"Thank God!" cried Cameron, as he came up, struggling with his
sobbing breath. "You have got the beast."
"Yes, I have got him," said Raven, with his hand to his side, "but
I guess he has got me too. And--" he paused. His eye fell upon
his horse lying upon his side and feebly kicking--"ah, I fear he
has got you as well, Nighthawk, old boy." As he staggered over
toward his horse the sound of galloping hoofs was heard coming down
"Here are some more of them!" cried Cameron, drawing out his guns.
"All right, Cameron, my boy, just back up here beside me," said
Raven, as he coolly loaded his empty revolver. "We can send a few
more of these devils to hell. You are a good sport, old chap, and
I want to go out in no better company."
"Hold up!" cried Cameron. "There is a woman. Why, there is a
Policeman. They are friends, Raven. It is the doctor and Moira.
Hurrah! Here you are, Martin. Quick! Quick! Oh, my God! He is
Raven had sunk to his knees beside his horse. They gathered round
him, a Mounted Police patrol picked up on the way by Dr. Martin,
Moira who had come to show them the trail, and Smith.
"Nighthawk, old boy," they heard Raven say, his hand patting the
shoulder of the noble animal, "he has done for you, I fear." His
voice came in broken sobs. The great horse lifted his beautiful
head and looked round toward his master. "Ah, my boy, we have done
many a journey together!" cried Raven as he threw his arm around
the glossy neck, "and on this last one too we shall not be far
apart." The horse gave a slight whinny, nosed into his master's
hand and laid his head down again. A slight quiver of the limbs
and he was still for ever. "Ah, he has gone!" cried Raven, "my
best, my only friend."
"No, no," cried Cameron, "you are with friends now, Raven, old
man." He offered his hand. Raven took it wonderingly.
"You mean it, Cameron?"
"Yes, with all my heart. You are a true man, if God ever made one,
and you have shown it to-night."
"Ah!" said Raven, with a kind of sigh as he sank back and leaned up
against his horse. "That is good to hear. It is long since I have
had a friend."
"Quick, Martin!" said Cameron. "He is wounded."
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