The Gun Brand

A Story of the Canadian Northland

James B. Hendryx July 1 1917

The Gun Brand

A Story of the Canadian Northland

James B. Hendryx July 1 1917

The Gun Brand

A Story of the Canadian Northland

James B. Hendryx

Author of “Marquard the Silent" “The Promise,’' etc.

CHAPTER IX.—Continued

THOSE were hard years for Bob MacNair; years in which he worked day and night with his Indians, and paid them, for the most part in promises. But always he fed them and clothed them and their women and children, although to do so stretched his credit to the limit —raised the limit—and raised it again.

He uncovered vast deposits of copper, only to realize that until he could devise a cheaper method of transportation, the metal might as well have remained where the forgotten miners had left it. And it was while he was at work upon his transportation problem that the shovels of his Indians began to throw out golden grains from the bed of a buried creek.

When the news of gold reached the river, there was a stampede. But MacNair owned the land and his Indians were armed. There^was a short, sharp battle, and the stampeders returned to the rivers to nurse their grievance and curse Brute MacNair.

He paid his debt to the company and settled with his Indians, who suddenly found themselves rich. And then Bob MacNair learned a lesson which he never forgot—his Indians could not &and prosperity. Most of those who hail stood by him all through the lean years when he had provided them only a barg existence, took their newly acquired wealth and departed for the white man’s country. Some returned—broken husks of the men who departed. Many would never return, and for their undoing MacNair reproached himself unsparingly, the while he devised an economic system of his own. and mined his gold and worked out his transportation problem upon a more elaborate scale. The harm had been done, however; his Indians were known to be rich,'and MacNair found his colony had become the cynosure of the eyes of the whisky runners. the chiefest among whom was Pierre Lapierre. It was among these men that the name of* Brute first used by the beaten stampeders, came into general use —a fitting name, from their view-point— for when one of them chanced to fall into his hands, his moment became at once fraught with tribulation.

AND SO MacNair had become a power in the northland, respected by the officers of the Hudson Bay Company, a friend of the Indians, ^nd a terror to those who looked upon the red man as their natural prey.

Step by step, the events that had been the milestones of this man’s life recurred to his mind as he tramped tirelessly through the scrub growth of the barrens towards a spot upon the shores of the lake —the only grass plot within a radius of five hundred miles. Throwing himself down beside a low, sodded mound in the center of the plot, he idly watched the

great flocks of water fowls disport themselves upon the surface of the lake.

How long he lay th'ere, he had no means of knowing, when suddenly his ears detected the soft swish of paddles. He leaped to his feet and, peering toward the water, saw, close to the shore, a canoe maryied by four stalwart paddlers. He looked closer, scarcely able to credit his eyes. * And at the same moment, in response to a low-voiced order, the canoe swüng abruptly shoreward and grated upon the shingle of the beach. Two figures stepped out, and Chloe Elliston, followed by Big Lena, advanced boldly toward him. MacNair’s jaw closed with a snap as the girl approached him, smiling. For in the smile .was no hint of friendliness — only defiance, not unmingled with contempt.

“You see, Mr. Brute MacNair,” she said, “I have kept my word. I told you I would invade your kingdom—and here I am.”

MacNair did not reply, but stood leaning upon his rifle. His attitude angered her.

“Well,” she said, “what are you going to do about it?” Still the man did not answer, and stooping, plucked a tiny weed from among the blades of grass. The girl’s eyes followed his movements. She started and looked searchingly into his face. For the first time she noticed that the mound was a grave.



H, forgive me!” Chloe cried, “I —I did not know that I was intruding upon—sacred ground!” There was real concern in her voice, and the lines of Bob MacNair’s face softened.

is no matter,” he said. “She who sleeps here will not be disturbed.”

The unlooked for gentleness of the man’s tone, the simple dignity of his words went straight to Chloe Elliston’s heart. She felt suddenly ashamed of her air of flippant defiance, felt mean, and small, and self-conscious. She forgot for the moment that this big, quiet man who stood before her was rough, even boorish in his manner, and that he was the oppressor and débaucher of Indians.

“A—a woman’s grave?” faltered the girl.

“My mother’s,”

“Did she live here on Snare Lake?” Chloe asked in surprise, as her glance swept the barren cliffs of its shore.

MacNair answered with the same softness of tone that somehow dispelled all thought of his uncouthness. “No. She lived at Fort Norman, over on the Mackenzie—that is she died there. Her home, I think, was in the southland. My father used to tell me how she feared the north—its snows and bitter cold, its roar-


CHLOE ELLISTON. inherit ng the love of adventure and ai lóiftow* to emulate her famous gran {father, “Tiger" Elliston, who had playi d a'big part in the civilising of Malayi ta, sets out for the Far North to est* blish a school and bring the light of ed station to the Indians and breeds of tht Athabasca country. Accompanied by a companion, Harriet Penny, and a Swedish maid. Big Lena, ths arrives at Athabasca ¡sanding and engages fran portatio n on one of the scows of Piet re Lapierre, an independent trader. V'ermilion, the boss scowman. deciles to kidnap the party and hold thrm to ransom; but Lapierre, getting uind of his plans, interrupts them at c vital moment, kills Vermilion, and r recues the girl. Predisposed in his favt r, she accepts him as her mentor in the % ilderness, believing all he tells her, espt daily about one Robert MacNair, at other free-trader who Lapierre saddles with a most villaijious reputation an I the epithet of “Brute.” On Lapierre t advice Chloe establishes herself a ths mouth of the Yellow Knife r on Great Slave T^ake, and starts to I uUding her school, et cetera. Then i F rute HjacKair turns up and warns h r to leave his Indians alone. She defies him, and later starts to his post on Snare Lake.

ing, foaming rivers, its wild, fierce i torms, and its windlashed lakes. She hi ted its rugged cliffs and hills, its treeless b irrens and its mean, scruboy timber. loved the warm, long summers, and the cities and people, and—” he paused, ki litting his brows—“and whatever there *i$ to love in your land of civilization. B at she • loved my father more than these-more than she feared the north. My fath« r was the factor at Fort Norman, so she i tayed in the north—and the north kille« I her. To live in the north, one must lone the north. She died calling for the ?reen grass of her southland.”

He ceased speaking and unconsc ousty stooped and plucked a few spears of p*ui which he had held in his palni an I examined intently.

“Why should one die calling fo ■ the sight of grass?”-he asked abruptly, g izing into Chloe’s eyes with a puzzled look

The girl gazed directly, searehingl] into MacNair’s eyes. The naive fjrankneis of of him—his utter simplicity—astovnded her.

“Oh!” she cried, impulsively stej ping forward. “It wasn’t the grass—it « as— oh! can’t you see?’’. The man regirded her wonderingly and shook his head.

“No,” he answered gravely. “I caii not see.”

“It was—everything! Life—frienps— home! The grass was only the sym the tangible emblem that stood for MacNair nodded, but, by the look eye, Chloe knew that he did not understand and that pride and a certain natpral reserve sealed his lips from further tioning.

“Is it far to the Mackenzie?" venti red the girl.

“Aye, far. After my father diel I brought her here.”

“You! Brought her here?” exclaimed the girl, staring in surprise into strong emotionless face.

The man nodded slowly. “In the wio|ter

it was—and I came aione—dragging her body upon a sled—”

“But why—”

“Because I think she would have wished it so. If one hated the wild, rugged cliffs and the rock tossed rapids, would one wish to lie upon a cliff with the rapids roaring, for ever and ever? I do not think that, so I brought her here—away from the gray hills and the ceaseless roar of the rapids.”

“But the grass?”

“I brought that from the southland. I failed many times before I found a kind that would grow. It is little that I can do for her, and she does not know, but, somehow, it has made me feel—easier—I cannot tellVou exactly. I come here often.” “I think she does know,” said Chloe softly, and\ brushed hot tears from her eyes. CouldNihis be the man whose crimes against the poor, ignorant savages were the common knowledge of the north? Could this be he whom men called Brute— this simple spoken, straightforward, boyish man who had endured hardships and spared no effort, that the mother he had never known might lie in her eternal rest beneath the green sod of her native land far from the sight and sounds that, in life, had become a torture to her soul, and worn her, at last, to the grave?

“Mr.—MacNair.” The hard-note—the note of uncompromising antagonism—had gone from her voice, and the man looked at her in surprise. It was the first time she had addressed him without prefixing the name Brute and emphasizing the prefix. He stood regarding her calmly, waiting for her to proceed. Somehow, Chloe found that it had become very difficult for her to speak; to say the things to this man that she had intended to say. “I cannot understand you—your viewpoint.” “Why should you try? I ask no one to understand me. I care not what people think.’

“About the Indians, I mean—”

“The Indians? What do you know of my viewpoint in regard to the Indians?” The man’s face had hardened at her mention of the Indians.

“I know this!” exclaimed the girl. “That you are trading them whisky! With my own eyes I saw Mr. Lapierre smash your kegs—the kegs that were cunningly disguised as bales of freight and marked with your name, and I saw the whiskey spilled out upon the ground.” She paused, expecting a denial, but MacNair remained silent and again she saw the peculiar twinkle in his eye as he waited for her to proceed. “And I,—you, yourself, told me that you would kill some of Mr. Lapierre’s Indians! Do you call that justice—to kill men because they happen to be in the employ of a rival trader—one who has as much right to trade in the northland as you have?” Again she paused, but the man ignored her question.

“Go on,” he said shortly.

“And you told me your Indians had to work so hard they had no time for booklearning, and that the souls of the Indians were black as—as hell.”

“And I told you, also, that I have never owned any whisky. Why do you believe me in some things and not in others? It would seem more consistent, Miss Chloe Elliston, for you either to believe, or to disbelieve me.”

“But I saw the whisky. And as for what you, yourself, told me—a man will

scarcely make himself out worse than he


“At least, I can scarcely make myself out worse than you believe me to be.” The twinkle was gone from MacNair’s eyes now, and he spoke more gruffly. “Of what use is all this talk? You are firmly convinced of my character. Your opinion of me concerns me not at all. Even if I were to attempt to make my position clear to you, you would not believe anything I should tell you.”

“What defence can there be to conduct such as yours?”

“Defence! Do you imagine I would stoop to defend my conduct to you—to one who is, whittingly or unwhittingly, hand in glove with Pierre Lapierre?”

THE unconcealed scorn of the man's words stung Chloe to the quick, “Pierre Lapierre is a man!” she cried with flashing eyes. “He is neither afraid nor ashamed to declare his principles. He is the friend of the Indians—and God knows they need a friend—living as they do by sufferance of such men as you, and the men of the Hudson Bay Company!” “You believe that, I think,” MacNair said quietly. “I wonder if you are really such" a fool, or do you know Lapierre for what he is?”

“Yes!” exclaimed the girl, her face flushed. “I do know him for what he is! He is a man! He knows the north. I am learning the north, and together we will drive you and your kind out of the north.” “You cannot do that,” he said. “Lapierre, I would crush as I would crush a snake. I bear you no ill will. As you say, you will learn the north—for you will remain in the north.—I told you once that you would soon tire of your experiment, but I was wrong. Your eyes are the eyes of a fighting man.”

“Thank you Mr.—MacNair—”

“Why not Brute MacNair?”

Chloe shook her head. “No,” she said. “Not that—not after—I think I shall call you Bob MacNair.”

The man looked perplexed. “Women are not like men,” he said, simply. “I do not understand you at times. Tell mé1— why did you come into the north?”

“I thought I had made that plain. I came to bring education to the Indians. To do what I can to lighten their burden and to make it possible for them to compete with the white man on the white man’s terms when this country shall bow before the inevitable advance of civilization: when it has ceased to be the land beyond the outposts.”

“We are working together, then,” answered MacNair. “When you have learned the north we shall—be friends,” “Never! I—”

“Because you will have learned,” he continued, ignoring her protest, “that education is the last thing the Indians need. If you can make them better trappers and hunters of them ; teach them to work in mines, timber, on the rivers, you will come nearer to solving their problem than by giving them all .the education in the world. No, Miss Chloe Elliston, they can’t play the white man’s game—with the white man’s chips.”

“But they can! In the States we—” “Why didn’t you stay in the States?” “Because the government looked after the education of the Indians—provides schools and universities, and—”

“And what do they turn out?”

“They turn out lawyers and doctors

and engineers and ministers of the gospel, and educated men in all walks of life. We have Indians in Congress!”

“How many? And how many are lawyers and doctors and engineers and ministers of the gospel? And how many can truthfully be said to be ‘educated men in all the walks of life’? A mere handful! Where one succeeds, a hundred fail! And the others return to their reservation, dissolute, dissatisfied, to live on the bounty of your government; you, yourself will admit that when an Indian rises into a profession for w’hich his education has fitted him, he is an object of wonder—a man to be written about in your newspapers and talked about in your homes. And then your sentimentalists — your fools—hold him up as a type! Not your educated Indians are reaping the benefit of your government’s belated attention, but those who are following the calling for which nature has fitted them—stock raising and small farming on their allotted reservations. The educated ones know that the government will feed and clothe them—why should they exert themselves?

**TTERE in the north, because the In-

E1 dians have been dealt with sanely, and pot herded onto restricted reservations, and subjected to the experiments of departmental fools, well intentioned— and otherwise—they are infinitely better off. They are free to roam the w’oods, to hunt and to trap and to fish, and they are contented. They remain at the posts only long enough to do their trading, and return again to the wilds. For the most part they are truthful and sober and honest. They can obtain sufficient clothing and enough to eat. The lakes and the rivers teem with fish, and the woods and the barrens abound with game.

“Contrast these with the Indians who have come more intimately into contact with the whites. You can see them hanging about the depots and the grogeries and rum shops of the railway towns, degenerate, diseased, reduced to beggary and petty thievery. And you do not have to go to a railway town to see the effect of your civilization upon them. Follow the great trade rivers! From source to mouth, their banks are lined with the Indians who have come into contact with your civilization!.

“Go to any mission centre! Do you find that the Indian has taken kindly to the doctrines it teaches? Do you find them happy, God-fearing Indians who embrace Christianity and are living in accord with its precepts? You do not! Except in a very few isolated cases, like your lawyers and doctors of the States, you will find the very gates of the missions, be their denomination what they may, debauchery and rascality in its most vicious forms. Read your answer there in the vice-marked, ragged, emaciated hangers-on of the missions.

“I do not say that this harm is wrought wilfully—on the contrary, I know it is not. They are noble and wellmeaning men and women who carry the gospel into the north. Many of them I know' and respect and admire—Father Desplaines, Father Crossetti, the good Father O’Reilley, and Duncan Fitzgilbert, of my mother’s faith. These men are good men; noble men, and the true friends of the Indians; in health and in sickness, in plague, famine and adversity these men shoulder the red man’s burden,feed, clothe and doctor them, and nurse them

back to health — or bury them. With these I have no quarrel, nor with the religion they teach — in its theory. It is not bad. It is good. These men are my friends. They visit me, and are welcome whenever they come.

“Each of these has begged me to allow him to establish a mission among my Indians. And my answer is always the same — 'No!'

-And I point to the mission centres already established.

It is then they tell me that • the deplorable condition exists. not because of the mission, but despite it.” He paused with a gesture of impatience. “Because! Despite! A quibble of words.

If the fact remains, what difference does it make whether it is because or despite?

It must be a great comfort to the unfortunate one who is degraded, diseased, damned, to know that his degradation, disease, and damnation, were wrought not because, but despite.

But in spite of all they can do, the ¡net remains. I do not ask you to believe me.

Go and see it with your own eyes, and then if you dare, come back and establish another plague spot in God’s own wilderness. The Indian rapidly acquires all the white man's vices—and but few of his virtues.

“Stop and think what it means to experiment with the future of a people. To overthrow’ their traditions; to confute their beliefs and superstitions, and to subvert their gods! And what do you offer them in return?

Other traditions; other beliefs; another God — and education! Do you dare to assume the responsibility?

Do you dare to implant in the minds of these people an education—a culture—that will render them forever dissatisfied with their lot, and send many of them to the land of the white man to engage in a feeble and hopeless struggle after that which it is, for them, unattainable?”’

“But it is not unattainable! They—”

“I know your sophisms; your fabrication of theory!” MacNair interrupted her fiercely. “The facts! I have seen the rumsodden Wrecks, the debauched and soulwarped men and women who hang about your frontier towns, diseased in body and mind, and whose greatest misfortune is that they live. These, Miss Chloe Elliston, are the real monuments to your education. Do you dare to drive one hundred to certain degradation that is worse than fiery hell, that you may point with pride to one who shall attain to the white man’s standard of success?”

“That is not the truth! I do not believe it! I will not believe it!”

The steel-gray eyes of the man bored

deep into the shining eyes of brown. “I know that you do not believe it. But you are wrong when you say that you will not believe it. You are honest and unafraid, and, therefore, you will learn, and now, one thing further.

"We will say that you succeed in keeping your school, or post, or mission, from this condition of debauchery—w’hich you will not. What then? Suppose you educate your Indians? There are no employers in the north. None w’ho buy education. The men who pay out money in the waste places pay it for bone and brawm, not for brains; they have brains —or something that answers the purpose —therefore, your educated Indian must do one of two things—he must go where he

can use his education or he must re main where he is. In either event he will t e the loser. If he seeks the land of the rhite man he must compete with the white man on the white man’s terms. He cann >t do it. If he stays here in the north he nüst continue to hunt or trap, or work 011 the river, or in the mines, or the timtoef and he is ever afterward dissatisfied wit i his lot. More, he has wasted the tints he spent in filling his brains with us »less knowledge.”

* MacNair spoke rapidly and earnestly, and Chloe realized that he spoke fron i his heart and also that he spoke fro n a certain knowledge of his subject. She was at a loss for a reply. She-could not

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dispute him, for he had told her not to believe him; to go see for herself. She did not believe MacNair, but in spite of herself she was impressed.

“The missionaries are doing good! Their reports show—

“Their reports show! Of course their reports show! Why shouldn’t they? Where do their reports go? To the people who pay them their salaries. Do not understand me to say that in all cases these reports are falsely made. They are not —that is, they are literally true. A mission reports so many converts to Christianity during a certain period of time. Well and good; the converts are there— they can produce them. The Indians are not fools. If the white men want them to profess Christianity, why they will profess Christianity—or Hinduism or Mohammedism! They will worship any god the white man suggests—for a fancy waistcoat or a piece of salt pork. The white man gives many gifts of clbthing, and sometimes of food—to his converts. Therefore he shall not want for converts —while the clothing holds out!”

“And your Indians? Have they not suffered from their contact with you?”

“No. They have riot suffered. I know them, their needs and requirements, and their virtues and failings. And they know me.”

“Where is your fort?”

“Some distance above here on the shore of this lake.”

“Will you take me there? Show me

these Indians, that I may see for myself that you have spoken the truth?”

“No. I told you you were to have nothing to do with my Indians. I also warned my Indians against you—and your partner.. Lapierre. I cannot .warn them against you and then take you among them.”

“Very well. I shall go myself, then. I came up here to see your fort and the condition of your Indians. You knew I would come.”

“No. I did not know that. I had not seen the fighting spirit in your eyes then. Now I know that you will come—but not while I am here. And when you do come you will be taken back to your own school. \ ou will not be harmed, for you are honest in your purpose. But you will, nevertheless be prevented from coming in contact with my Indians. Í will have none of Lapierre’s spies hanging about, to the injury of my people.”

“Lapierre’s spies! Do you think I am a spy? Lapierre’s?”

“Not consciously, perhaps—but a spy, nevertheless. Lapierre may even now be lurking near for the furtherance of some evil design.”

Chloe suddenly realized that MacNair’s boring, steel-gray eyes were fixed upon her with a new intenseness—as if to probe into the very thoughts of her brain.

“Mr. Lapierre« is far to the southward,” she said—and then, upon the edge of the tiny clearing, a twig snapped. The man whirled, his rifle jerked into position, there was a loud report, and Bob MacNair

sank slowly down upon the grass mound that was his mother’s grave.



THE whole affair had been so sudden that Chloe scarcely realized what had happened before a man stepped quickly into the clearing, at the same time slipping a revolver into his holster. The girl gazed at him in amazement. It was I Pierre Lapierre. He stepped forward,

: hat in hand. Chloe glanced quickly from i the dark, handsome features to the face i of the man on the ground. The gray eyes ; opened for a second, and then closed; but in that brief, fleeting glance the girl read distrust, contempt, and silent re1 proach. The man’s lips moved, but no sound came-—and with a labored, fluttering sigh he sank into unconsciousness.

; “Once more, it seems, my dear Miss 1 Elliston, I have arrived just in time.”

A sudden repulsion for this cruel, suave killer of men flashed through the girl’s I brain. “Get some water,” she cried, and dropping to her knees began to unbutton MacNair’s flannel shirt.

“But—” objected Lapierre.

“Will you get some water? This is no time to argue! You can explain later!” Lapierre turned, and without a word, walked to the lake and, taking a pail from the canoe, filled it with water. When he returned, Chloe was tearing white bandages from a garment essentially feminine, while Big Lena endeavored to staunch the flow of blood from a j small wound high on the man’s left ! breast, and another, more ragged wound ! where the bullet had tom through the ; thick muscles of his back, i The two women worked swiftly and capably, while Lapierre waited, frowning, j “Better hurry. Miss Elliston,” he said,

: when the last of the bandages were in ! place. This is no place for us to be found i if some of MacNair’s Indians happen along. Your canoe is ready. Mine is : farther down the lake.”

“But this man—surely—”

“Lea%re him there. You have done all ; you can do for him. His Indians will find : him.”

“What !” cried Chloe. “Leave a woundI ed man to die in the bush!”

Lapierre stepped closer. “What would ’ you do?” he asked. “Surely you cannot j remain here. His Indians would kill you 1 as they would kill a carcajo.” The-man’s ¡ face softened. “It is the way of the north,” he said sadly. “I would gladly i have spared him—even though he is my enemy. But when he whirled with his rifle upon my heart, his fingers upon the trigger, and murder in his eye, I had no alternative. It was his life or mine. Iam glad I did not kill him.” The words and the tone reassured Chloe, and when she answered, it was to speak calmly.

“We will take him with us,” she said, i “The Indians could not care for him properly even if they found him. At home I j have everything necessary for the handling of just such cases.

I “But my dear Miss Elliston—think of the portages and the added burden. His j Indians—”

The girl interrupted him—“I am not i asking you to help. I have a canoe here.

If you are afraid of MacNair’s Indians . you need not remain.”

The note of scorn in the girl’s voice 1 was not lost upon Lapierre. He flushed

and answered with the quiet dignity that well became him: “I came here,

Miss Elliston, with only three canoemen. I returned unexpectedly to your school, and when I learned that you had gone to Snare Lake, I followed—to save you, if possible, from the hand of the Brute.”

Chloe interrupted him. ‘‘You came here—for that?!'

The man bowed low. “Knowing what you do of Brute MacNair, and of his hatred of me, you surely do not believe I came here for business—or pleasure.” He drew closer, his black eyes glowing with suppressed passion. “There is one thing a man values more than life—the life and the safety of the woman he loves!”

Chloe’s eyes dropped. “Forgive me!” she faltered. “I—I did not know—I — Oh! don’t you see? It was all so sudden. I have had no time to think! I know you are not afraid. But we can’t leave him here—like this.”

“As you please,” answered Lap erre, gently. “It is not the way of the north; but—”

“It is the way of humanity.”

“It. is your way—and, therefore, it is my way, also. But let us not waste time !” He spoke sharply to Chloe’s canoeman. who sprang to the unconscious form, and raising it from the ground, carried it to the water’s edge and deposited it in the canoe.

“Make all posible speed,” he said as Chloe preceded Big Lena into the canoe; “I shall follow to cover your retreat.”

The girl was about to protest, but at that moment the canoe shot swiftly out into the lake, and Lapierre disappeared iqto the bush.

There was small need for the quarterbreed’s parting injunction. The four Indian canoemen, evidently keenly alive to the desirability, of placing distance between themselves and MacNair’s retainers, bent to their paddles with a unanimity of purpose that fairly lifted the big canoe through the water and sent the white foam curling from its bow in tiny ripples of protest.

Hour after hour, as the craft drove southward, Chloe sat with the wounded man’s head supported in her lap and pondered deeply the things he had told her. Now and again she gazed into the bearded face, calm mask-like in its repose of unconsciousness, as if to penetrate behind the mask and read the real nature of him. She realized with a feeling almost of fear, that here was no weakling—no plastic irresolute—whose will could be dominated by the will of a stronger; but a man, virile, indomitable; a man of iron will who, though he scorned to stoop to defend his position, was unashamed to vindicate it. A man whose words carried conviction, and whose eyes compelled attention even respect, though the uncouth boorishness of him repelled.

Yet she knew that somewhere deep down behind that rough exterior

lay a finer sensitiveness, a gentleness of’ feeling, and a sympathy that had impelled him to a deed of unconscious chivalry of which no man

need be ashamed. And in her heart Chloe knew that had she not witnessed with her own eyes the destruction of his whisky, she would have been convinced of his sincerity, if not of his postulates. “He is bad, but not all bad,” she murmured to herself. “A man who will fight hard, but fairly. At all events, my journey to

Snare Lake has not been entirely vain. He knows, now, that I have come into the north to stay; that I am not afraid of him, and will fight him. He knows that I am


Suddenly the very last words she had spoken to him flashed into her mind—“Mr. Lapieris is far to the southward”—and then Chloe closed her eyes as if to shut out that look of mingled contempt and reproach with which the wounded man had sunk into unconsciousness. “He thinks I lied to him—that the whole thing was planned,” she muttered, and was conscious of a swift anger against Lapierre. Her eyes swept backward to the brown spot in thé distance which was Lapierre’s canoe.

“He came up here because he thought I was in danger,” she mused. “And MacNair would have killed him. Oh, it is terrible,” she moaned. “This wild barren wilderness, where human life is cheap; where men hate, and kill, and maim, and break all the laws of God and man; it is all wrong/ Brutal, and savage, and wrong!”

' The shadows lengthened, the canoe slipped into the river that leads to Reindeer Lake, and still the tireless canoemen bent unceasingly to their paddles. Reindeer Lake was crossed by moonlight, and a late camp was made a mile to the westward of the portage. The camp was fireless, and the men talked in whispers. Later Lapierre joined them, and at the first grey hint of dawn the outfit was again astir. By noon the five-mile portage had been negotiated, and the canoes headed down Carp Lake, which is the northmost reach of the Yellow Knife.

The following two days showed no diminution in the efforts of the canoemen. The wounded man’s condition remained unchanged. Lapierre’s canoe followed at a distance of a mile or two, and a hundred times a day Chloe found herself listening with strained expectancy for the sound of the shots that would proclaim that MacNair’s Indians had overtaken them. But no shots were fired, and it was with a feeling of intense relief that the girl welcomed the sight of her own buildings as they loomed in the clearing on the evening of the third day.

That night Lapierre visited Chloe in the cottage, where he found her seated beside MacNair’s bed, putting the finishing touches to a swathing of fresh bandages.

“How is he doing?” he asked, with a nod toward the injured man.

“There is no change,” answered the girl, as she indicated a chair close beside a table, upon which there was a tin basin, various bottles, and porcelain cups containing medicine, and a small pile of tablets. For just an instant the man’s glance rested upon the tablets, and then swiftly swept the room. It was untenanted except for the girl and the unconscious man on the bed.

“Lefroy, it seems, has improved his time,” ventured Lapierre as he accepted the proffered chair and drew from his pocket a thick packet of papers. “His complete list of supplies,” he smiled. “With these in your storehouse you may well expect to Seriously menace the trade of both MacNair and the Hudson Bay Company’s post at Fort Rae.”

Chloe glanced at the list indifferently. “It seems, Mr. Lapierre, that your mind is always upon trade—when it is not upon the killing of men.”

The quarter-breed was quick to note

the disapproval of her tone, and hastened to reply. “Surely, Miss Elliston, you cannot believe that I regard the killing of men as a pleasure; it is a matter of deep regret to me that twice during the short period of our acquaintance I have been called upon to shoot a fellow man. ‘ “Only twice! How about the'shot in the night—in the camp of the Indians, before you left for the southward?" The sarcasm of the last four words was not lost upon the man-. “Who fired that shot? And what was the thing that was lifted from your canoe and dropped into the river?”

Lapierre’s eyes searched hers. Did she know the truth? The chance was against it.

“A most deplorable affair—a fight between Indians. One was killed and we buried him in the river. I had hoped to keep this from your ears. Such incidents are all too common in the north land—”

“And the murderer—”

“He escaped. But to return to the others. Both shots, as you well know, were fired on' the instant, and in neither case did I draw first.”

Chloe, who had been regarding him intently, was forced to admit the justice of his words. She noted the serious sadness of the handsome features, the deep regret in his voice, and suddenly realized that in both instances Lapierre’s shots had been fired primarily in defence of her.

A sudden sense of shame—of helplessness—came over her. Could it be that she did not fit the north? Surely, Lapierre was entitled to her gratitude, rather than her condemnation. Judged by his own standard, he had done well. With a shudder she wondered if she would ever reach the point where she could calmly regard the killing of men as a mere incident in the day’s work? She thought not. And yet—what had men told her of Tiger Elliston? Without exception, almost, the deeds they recounted had been deeds of violence and bloodshed. When she replied her voice had lost its note of disapproval.

“Forgive me,” she said softly, “it has all been so different—so strange and new, and big. I have been unable to grasp it. All my life I have been taught to hold human life sacred. It is not you who are to blame! Nor, is it the others. It is the kill or be killed creed—the savage wolf creed—-of the north."

TT HE girl spoke rapidly, with her eyes A upon the face of MacNair. So absorbed was she that she did not see the slim fingers of Lapierre steal softly across the table-top and extract two tablets from the little pile—failed also to see the swift motion with which those fingers dropped the tablets into a porcelain cup, across the rim of which rested a silver spoon.

The man arose at the conclusion of her words, and crossing to her side rested a slim hand upon the back of her chair. “No, Miss Elliston,” he said gently, I am not to blame nor, in a measure, are the others. It is, as you say, the north—the crushing, terrible, alluring north—in whose primitive creed a good man does not mean a moral one, but one who accomplishes his.purpose, even though that purpose be bad. End, and not means, is the ethics óf the lean, lone land, where human life sinks into insignificance, beneath its immutable law of savage might.”

His eyes burned as he gazed down into the upturned face of the girl. His hands

i stole lightly from the chair back and rested upon her shoulder. For one long,

, intense moment, their eyes held, and then, with a movement as swift and lithe as the ] spring of a panther, the man was upon his knees beside her Chair, his arms were about her, with no thought of resistance,

! Chloa felt herself drawn close against his breast, felt the wild beating of his heart, and then—his lips were upon hers, and I she felt herself struggling feebly against j the embrace of the sinewy arms.

Only for a moment did Lapierre hold her. With a movement as sudden and im{ puljive as the movement that embraced her, the arms were withdrawn, and the j man leaped swiftly to his feet. Too dazed to speak, Chloe sat motionless, her brain in a chaotic whirl of emotion, while in her j breast outraged dignity and hot, fierce anger strove for the mastery over a thrill, so strange to her, so new, and so intense that it stirred her to the innermost depths I of her being.

Swiftly, unconsciously, her glance rested for a moment upon the lean, bearded face of MacNair; and beside her chair, Lapierre noted the glance, and the thin lips twisted in a smile—a cynical sardonic smile, that faded on the instant, as his eyes flashed toward the doorway. For there, silent and grim as he had seen her once before, stood Big Lena, whose chinablue eyes were fixed upon him, in that same disconcerting, fiáhlike stare.

THE hot blood mounted to his cheeks and suddenly receded, so that his face showed pallid and pasty in the |, gloom of the darkened room. He drew i his hand uncertainly across his brow and found it damp with a cold, moist sweat Was it fancy, or did the china-blue, fish; like eyes rest for just an instant upon the porcelain cup on the table? With an effort j the man composed himself, and stooping, whispered a few hurried words into the ears of the girl who sat with her face buried in her hands.

“Forgive me, Miss Elliston; for the j moment I forgot that I had not right. I love you! Love you more than life itself ! j More than my own life—or the lives of others. It was but the impulse of an unguarded moment that caused me to forget that I had not the right—forget that I am a gentleman. We love as we kill in the north. And now, good-by, I am going southward. I will return, if it is within the power of man to return, before the ice skims the lakes and the rivers.”

He paused, but the girl remained as though she had not heard him. He leaned closer, his lips almost upon her ear. “please, Miss Elliston, can you not forgive me—wish me one last bon voyage?” Slowly, as one in a dream, Chloe offered bim her hand. “Good-by!” she said simply, in a dull, toneless voice. The man seized the hand, pressed it lightly, and turning abruptly, crossed to the table. As he drew his Stetson toward him, its brim came into violent contact with the I porcelain medicine cup. The cup crashed ! to the floor, its contents splashing widely over the whip-sawed boards.

With a hurried word of apology he ! passed out of the door—passed close bej side the form of Big Lena, into whose cold, fishlike eyes the black eyes stared insolently, even as the thin lips twisted into a smile—cynical, sardonic, mocking. To be Continued.