FICTION

The Magic Makers

A Story of Mystery and Adventure in Northern Canada

Alan Sullivan May 1 1918
FICTION

The Magic Makers

A Story of Mystery and Adventure in Northern Canada

Alan Sullivan May 1 1918

The Magic Makers

A Story of Mystery and Adventure in Northern Canada

FICTION

Alan Sullivan

Author of “The Inner Door,” “Blantyre-Alien," etc.

CHAPTER VIII.—Continued.

LOOK here,” broke in Salty Bill disgustedly, “I’ve had about enough. You don’t think we’re going to live with a lot of Huskies as long as they say so to make magic for a set of darned fools!”

Nanook’s black eyes narrowed. “I have been told that the fool is the one who talks when there is no need of speech.” He hesitated a moment and turned to Sergeant MacTier. “If the magic is strong, then the day after, being still full of it, and before it has run out at their toes, the men of the village go to hunt the white bear at the edge of the ice, and since you are a large man and also strong they would have you come, because they hunt not with the rifle that kills a long way off, but with the knife and the spear. Thus for many years, longer than the eldest man can remember, have their fathers hunted before them. But the one who makes hot words, like all captains of whaling ships, he had better not come.”

“If I had you somewhere else,” roared Salty Bill querulously, “I’d fix you!”

“It is not so long since,” came the smooth answer, “that you lost not only yourself but many others. Is then a man who gets lost with a whole ship less likely to do foolish things without a ship? I have spoken.” And with that he crawled stolidly out.

Night had already dropped like a velvet curtain when into the great igloo there shuffled, one by one, the men of the tribe. Last of all came Nanook, his face tense with anticipation. Ere the hunters arrived, there had been borne in from surrounding houses great masses of fresh seal meat which, cut into long strips, by the knives of the women, lay in red and slowly congealing piles, a gory tribute of the hunt. With this were slabs of pure fat and tit-bits carved from seal and walrus almost ere the fleeting life had deserted the warm carcase. Indescribably revolting, these represented, nevertheless, the final luxury of those who can live without fire or water. Against the walls were fastened additional lamps whose oily flames sent up continuous pencils of black smoke that, mingling in the hollow roof, spread out into a thick and acrid pall. Into this icy but airless sphere crowded the hunters and ere long the emanations of their strong and unwashed bodies contributed the last and almost unsupportable element to the tainted atmosphere. Bill, his eyes smarting, gasped for breath and stared curiously about.

There were eighteen in all, hunters to a man. Their broad flat faces, their narrow lustrous eyes, their straight black greasy hair, the curious mixture of strength and dexterity displayed in every gesture and movement, their extraordinary apparel wrenched from the breasts of the ducks that for a space of

Synopsis.—Sergeant MacTier, of the North-West Mounted Police, accepts a private commission from a wealthy family in Scotland to search in the far Canadian north for Henry Rintoul, who has disappeared. The only clue is an imperfect map which came through the mails which indicates that Rintoul is held a prisoner on an island in the walrus country. MacTier charters the ship “Siren" and its crew, with Salty Bill, its owner, in charge, and sets sail for Hudson’s Bay. As they approach the northern end of Labrador the crew, led by Black Matt, the mate, shows mutinous symptoms. At Chimo Trading Post they pick up an Esquimo named Nanook, who mysteriously offers to guide them to the country from which the map came. Early in the voyage MacTier finds Nanook plotting with Black Matt to secure control of the ship. The ship is landed on a strange island in Hudson’s Bay. MacTier and Salty Bill go ashore, taking Nanook with them. He gives them the slip during the night spent on shore and in the morning they find the ship gone. They are captured by Nanook and borne off to an Esquimo settlement to act as magic makers for the tribe.

every year inhabited these chilling waters, all this added to the meaningless but ceaseless babble of their high-pitched voices, created a scene that to the mind of MacTier baffled comprehension. Staring at them he seemed to be observing some remnant of humanity, a forgotten fragment of past ages that, isolated in this frigid land, waged ceaseless war against hunger, danger and death. By what devious means, he wondered, was it possible to reach the elusive intelligence hidden somewhere in behind the flat brows of these men who stuffed raw meat so luxuriously down their throats while they in turn regarded himself, the chief, apparently of their captives, with mingled curiosity and awe.

Now if the amount of flesh that disappeared down the yawning throats were any gauge to the solemnity of the occasion the latter was established without conjecture, so incredible were these voracious appetites, and it was not until the unbelievable had happened and there remained only a few stiff and reeking fragments that Nanook, after a long breath drawn with considerable difficulty, wiped his greasy face on his worn and feathered sleeve and looked expectantly about.

A slow pride was creeping imperceptibly over his dark features.

“Before the magic is made,” he began thoughtfully, “there is that which I would have the white men know. It is now two years since there was brought to this village another white man and with him came the first magic that the tribe had seen. For many months, day after day, it ran through the bodies of all, men, women and children, and whoever was sick was thereby healed. But it came also that if there were any who were so sick that the Great Spirit meant

them to die then they did die at the touch of the magic. So it was very good.” He glanced round the attentive ring. “Is it the truth I have spoken?” he demanded in the Husky tongue.

For reply there came a flashing of black eyes and a nodding of sleek and shining heads.

“It is truth,” rumbled the hunters.

“But after a while,” continued Nanook, "the magic itself got sick and weak and no longer did it either kill or make well but only tickled whereas it should have run through the body like the running of many small fires. The white man who made it,” here he hesitated a moment, “would not tell us why this happened so it fell on a night that we had feasting and much talk and afterwards told the white man that either he must once more make strong magic or else die. And this,” he added, turning again to the motionless circle, “is it not also truth, my brothers?”

Once more came the inarticulate rumble. A silence still and deadly had fallen in the igloo in which they could hear the north wind howl past the open door of the tunnel.

“But after this talk,” resumed Nanook imperturbably, “there was no magic at all, and since summer came very quickly the tribe moved away toward the mainland over the ice, meaning to dwell elsewhere, and left the white man bv himself in an igloo of death. But before they reached the mainland the Great Spirit sent much storm and wind and drove them back again, and when they reached the village there was nothing there. And ever since then I have been looking for more magic for the tribe, and now,” he concluded contentedly, “I have found it.”

“You mean,” broke in Jock smoothly, ‘that we are now magic makers for your people.”

Nanook nodded. “My friend has spoken, and it is well, too, that this time it is a stronger man, for his magic will not so soon grow sick and weary.”

“And the other one,” burst out Bill excitedly, “what became of him?”

“Pnrhaps the stars have seen him,” said the hunter slowly, “for if to-night? you will look in the skies you will see something which is like the map you showed me at Fort Chimo. The big lake is there and the great point, and many other things you can find. But I do not think,” here Nanook’s voice dropped meaningly, “that he will make any more

IN the pause that followed the eyes of the captives met each other silently. The truth was out now, or if it were not the truth it was sufficient. This was the goal toward which, from the very first, the crafty brain of Nanook had steadily aimed. Here, marooned and unarmed, it was intended they should pass weary year after year till finally the magic of

MacTier should fail like that of the man who seemed so unutterably lost—and pagan vengeance should overwhelm them both. But, just as the skipper’s heart sank, in utter despair, a wavering flicker from the seal oil lamp cast a brighter gleam on the face of Sergeant MacTier. Instantly it flashed through his companion’s consciousness that so long as this man survived hope could never die. so cold was the stare of his grey and wintry eyes, so grim the resolution carved deep on his powerful jaw.

Now it may have been that something of all this communicated itself to Nanook, for leaning suddenly forward, he looked directly at the Sergeant.

“You will make magic now,” he said dominantly. “Much magic and let it be very strong.”

Revolt, bitter and irrepressible, flamed up in the soul of Salty Bill. He swallowed once as though to drown that which he feared to express, and leaned forward. “Give ’em hell,” he whispered, “and if

you can kill the whole darned bunch of ’em so much the better.”

But he reckoned without his host for even as he spoke the mouth of Nanook twisted into a cold smile. “It may be that we are safer here than on the ship, where much death nearly came suddenly.”

Bill grunted and, darting a furious glance, relapsed into truculent silence, till Jock, with a confident nod, glanced squarely back at the hunter.

“It will be well,” he said, without a quaver in his clear voice, “that if you wish strong magic, your hands should be wet. And when they are wet you will hold each man the others, and the magic will go round and come back to me again and not be lost, only,” he added, thoughtfully, “the white men must not wet their hands for they need no magic.”

AT that the circle heaved itself up, and with much talk and many anticipatory grunts, there was a plunging of brown fingers into a block of freshly cut

snow and a formal clasping of sinewy hands while Jock tested the wires that ran down his sleeves from the concealed battery and his heart slowed at the chilling touch of the smooth metal cylinders against his wrist.

“You are ready?” he said finally, his arms extended as though in benediction.

“We have been ready for a year,” grunted Nanook.

“Then here,” and at this MacTier gulped, and seized the palms of Nanook and Salty Bill, “here is strong magic.”

Now of what immediately followed it is difficult to write, but on the instant that greasy and colored circle became transformed into a jerking and grotesque line of convulsive figures that, anchored to each other by the mysterious current, indulged in every extraordinary contortion. It was indeed strong magic. Palm rivetted to palm they clung to each other, while through their jerking bodies there leaped the thing they both loved and feared. Legs and arms folding and un-

folding, backs swiftly bent and straightened, . eyes dancing with unholy light, round barrel-like chests rising and falling with quick irregularity, wide mouths babbling in wonderment, the lost tribe of this lost land emptied itself in an orgy of ecstasy. And just as the commotion was at its height, Jock swiftly withdrew his hands.

“It is not well,” he said, as steadily as his pounding pulse admitted, “to make too much magic in one night. It is hard to make it and, lest I grow weary and there be none when again you ask, it will stop now.” Pressing an invisible button, he shut off the current and once more extended his fingers. “See, it has gone back to the place from which it came.”

Automatically the circle closed again, but this time the contact of their palms brought no amazing thrill. “It is wise,” nodded Nanook sagely. Then, turning to the others, with a few incomprehensible words, he motioned the still gasping ring to disperse. It was not till the last hunter had crawled bear-like through the tunnel that he turned and, staring hard into Jock’s grey eyes, pronounced his ultimatum.

“From the first I wanted this, and now it is done. I am at last a great man among my tribe, for have I not brought back to them the magic they had lost? As for you, and this other who makes strong words about small things, it is well you should know that while the magic is safe you are without danger, but should the magic fail the tribe would be very angry and neither you nor myself would see the light for many days. I have not,” he con-

cluded proudly, “gained the wealth of five black foxskins, but I have gained that which for me is better than many foxskins.”

And that night the cry of the wolves was more gruesome than ever.

CHAPTER IX.

THE polar bear is a social outcast during the grey months of northern winter. In Spring time comes mating and a luxurious life spent fishing in shallow pools, feasting on the massive offal of the sea and roaming at will along the naked shore. But when winter comes the shebear deserts her lord, and, finding shelter between the snow and the black side of some half-buried cliff, passes the black months in solitary hunger, till, with the lessening frost, she emerges with the cub which she has borne during this grim period. Woe be then to him who meets her, lean and famished, and with the mother love of the brute burning strong beneath her matted hide.

But all this time the he-bear, lord of the north, wanders alone. The land tightens and shrinks, the storms plaster its black ribs with ice and snow. What life there is moves stealthily, if it moves at all, the lesser fur is too fleet for capture, and only at the edge of the widening ice, where the salt waves lick hungrily at the thickening floes can the he-bear find food to his comfort.

It fell on a day when the land sparkled with millions of tiny facets and the sky above seemed carved out of a hard and solid purple, that a great beast crouched motionless beside an air-hole in whose

rounded funnel the deep sea water lay quiet and green. Hour after hour he had crouched thus, the wind lifting his alabaster fur into feathery patches of shining hide, his small red eyes fixed staringly at the tiny and motionless pool, his black nose twitching with subdued ardor. So still was he, so amazingly did his giant form blend with ridge and hummock, that he seemed carven out of the very snow itself. Hour after hour he waited while in the south the sun crept along its low arc and dipped at last toward the close of the stinging day. Just ere the light dwindled into that indefinite glow in which the aurora begins to flaunt her palpitating banners, the ears of the great beast twitched and his sinuous body drew itself a fraction nearer the blowhole. In the centre of that glassy pool a single bubble was rising straight from its emerald depths, the bubble that precedes the square-flippered seal ere he comes up to breathe. Mounting vertically it broke on the surface and, simultaneously, there stirred far down in the green water something that clouded its crystalline transparency. Very gradually this took on some indefinite form till, with sleek shoulders parting the unruffled surface, the seal heaved his glossy body into the air and, flinging one flipper over the rough edge of the ice, hoisted himself half

Thus for one breathless moment. The bear flattened himself against the sky and looked no more menacing than the irregular shapes about him. His eyes were nearly closed lest their red gleam give the alarm, his black muzzle, too, was thrust into the snow lest it flout the white

immensity in which he crouched, hut all the time the enormous frame was stiffening into a rigid mass of bone and muscle.

TJIGHER mounted the seal, his wide brown eyes still glazed with seagreen water, his blunt face jewelled with diamond drops. The other flipper went out and, with a hold now secure, he jerked up his slippery length and lay drinking in great gulps of chilling air, till, in a flash, the bear’s great body straightened and, like some furry avalanche, uncoiled itself. One huge arm shot out and, with a lightning stroke, the broad paw whistled viciously against the round and dripping skull. A quiver ran through the seal’s body. Instantly the curving shoulders drooped as, with fractured neck, the wedgeshaped and sinuous beast died even while its extended lungs were still full of lifegiving air. A short

coughing bark and the bear, planting one great paw on the shrinking hide, drove his long teeth through it and guzzled greedily at the hot and scarlet flood that instantly spurted forth. Presently, still growling softly, he sank to his haunches and began to eat ravenously.

A little later he raised his bloody snout and, sniffing suspiciously, stared redly toward the shore. At the bottom of the long bay off which he had made his kill a group of irregular dots stood out sharply from their white background. In front of these were scattered other dots that moved swiftly to and fro while faint but clear there drifted out the sharp yelp of racing dogs. At this the bear, heaving himself up, began to swing his stained and arrow-shaped head and little flecks shot rapidly across his eyes. He had been very hungry before he killed and now, even while he ate, he was mutely conscious that somewhere along this frozen land there lurked, invisible, the faithful mate with whom he had kept up an endless patrol all the previous summer. This, added to the pangs of hunger that for days had been throbbing in his gaunt body, filled him with sudden and titanic rage. Behind him to the east the open sea licked the raw edges of the floe. There was no escape there and he did not even look around. It seemed almost that he sought no escape but only licked his slavered lips and began a curious shuffling walk straight for his enemy.

From far ahead came the renewed clamor of the dogs. Sergeant MacTier, whose grey eyes ,had already picked out

the almost invisible form of the slowly approaching beast, flung a curious glance at Nanook. They had started that morning just as Nanook had prophesied, armed only with short stiff spears, with foot long, wide, flat heads, and curving dags, that amazing and indispensable knife with which the Husky carves out not only flesh for his eating, but the very house that shelters him. It had been in Jock’s mind that it was all bravado till the hunter, with a touch of irony, had suggested that if the white man was afraid he ntight stay at hime. At this Jock had flamed out and, picking the heaviest spear of all, had paused for one terrific instant debating whether he should drive it through Nanook’s heart, come what might. But, after a moment, wisdom followed and thus it happened that the white man, with Nanook, two other hunters and a dog team very wise in the ways of the hunt, now peered from under the shoulder of the westward rising hills and marked the steady approach of their quarry.

BY the time the bear had shuffled five hundred yards, the dogs flanked him. They had spread into a semi-circle toward the centre of which each of them began to work with infinite caution, for once within swinging reach of that mighty paw the end was inevitable. Immediately behind the dogs came Nanook, his eyes blazing, his spear gripped in his strong brown hands, its sharp head slightly inclined and extended in front.”

“Wait and you will see,” he said tensely to MacTier. “The dogs cannot kill, but only anger him. Then I too will speak hard words to him and call him a rat and no bear and at that his spirit will be vexed and he will come at me to kill me.” He jerked this out, his beady glance never wavering from the now furious animal.

“Aye,” answered Jock curtly, “and if you don’t kill him, what then?"

“This man on my right, and this one on my left will strike quickly so that their spears will go through him and the points stand out on the other side,” snarled Nanook. His blood was rising to fever heat. By now the great brute was on his haunches, a white and dreadful pinnacle of wrath, surrounded by a frenzied ring of snapping dogs. Darting in at him they made swift and simultaneous attacks while through the air whizzed the stroke of those terrific paws. One of the team, bolder and more careless than the rest, nipping a fragment of fur between his gleaming teeth, held to it just a moment too long, and, at the impact of a vicious blow, was flung hurtling through the air, a shapeless thing that instantly panted out its life while round its conqueror the din became more savage than ever.

Slowly, but marking every step with minutest care, the three hunters closed gradually up, till only a few spear lengths separated them from the insensate animal. Halting thus, Nanook, stooping swiftly, caught up a lump of hard snow and flung it dexterously, straight between the bear’s snapping jaws.

“You are no bear, but a coward!” he shouted in wild excitement. “You are Dzintoo the rat, and your father was one before you, and now I will kill you and give you to the dogs to eat.”

Thus spoke Nanook and, dropping on one knee, fitted the butt of his spear into a sharp depression of the ice and with its gleaming blade pointed straight at the huge and swaying body, waited immovable.

AT-once it seemed that something of his insult had reached the great brute, for there came a cessation in the swinging strokes of the enormous paws while the dogs snapped on unheeded. Then, brushing them aside as a swimmer breasts the turning wave, the lord of the north dropped to his forefeet and shambled doggedly toward the hunter. Now, indeed, did MacTier marvel, for not by a fraction did the crouching Nanook yield, but ever his darting eyes were fixed undaunted on the approaching brute, and ever the great spear head was turned infinitesimally right or left while it ointed grimly at the huge and furious reast. It seemed an age, although it could only have been a matter of seconds, before the bear rose to his full height and waddled with clumsy swiftness into Nanook’s very arms. Simultaneously there came the crack of splintered wood and the long spear head spun glinting across the snow.

WHAT followed constitutes in the mind of Sergeant MacTier one of those few but undying impressions which he will carry to his grave. In a motion so incredibly rapid as to be invisible the bear had, in one precipitous sweep, not only disarmed the hunter, but also, half turning, had stricken to earth the comrade who guarded his right flank. The latter now lay groaning while Nanook, jerking out his great dag, parried desperately and made unavailing thrusts at the great brute’s heart. Just what happened on the left Jock never learned, but it seemed that there, too, the hunter’s plan had gone astray for too impotent were the shaky stabs that came from that quarter.

In the middle of this uproar there suddenly sounded in Jock’s ear a voice quiet, but distinct, that sank into his very soul. It was in his power to save Nanook, but why save him? Were it not better to let fate step in and, in her own inscrutable way, close the chapter of this trickster of the North? And just as an unnatural and savage satisfaction was settling over him he caught, for a fraction of time, a contemptuous glance from Nanook’s eye.

“Are you also a rat?” panted the hunter between his stabbing blows. Even while he spoke the long claws ripped open his swarthy cheek.

At that the body of Sergeant MacTier became suddenly and strangely charged with Berseker rage. A fire ran through him in which shame and pride were astonishingly mingled, and there throbbed in his veins an elemental lust to kill. His mighty hands closed over the spear haft in a titanic strength. In that second he became transformed into something terrible and resistless.

“Quick, quick!” gasped Nanook. “Under his shoulder.” The voice was choking and guttural.

“Man’s work,” responded Jock grimly, and launched^the whole reservoir of his powers into one driving stroke. Home went the blade, shearing through the matted hide, on past the great arching ribs till it split the pumping heart itself, on through the tense and straining body till clear and clean on the other side the sharp and wedge-shaped metal sprang to light a foot length past the cringing flesh. In mid-air the towering form paused and drooped. Even while they swung, there departed from the flail-like blows their strength and terror, till, slowly, as a tottering column, the bear swayed and, pitching on its side, coughed out its life in a crimson pool. Over it stood

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Jock, staring dumbly at his own empty hands.

Now all this happened so swiftly that before Sergeant MacTier was aware of it, he found himself grinning as Nanook struck out viciously at the dogs who had closed in on their fallen enemy. It seemed, too, something less than no time ere the skin had been ripped from the bear and the hunter’s dags were carving his flesh into chunks that before long would go the way of all flesh in these primordial latitudes. But presently he became conscious with a start that Nanook, who had bound up his own torn skin with a strip of that of the brute who had torn it, was regarding him gravely and saying something which seemed strangely difficult to recite.

“You have saved my life,” volunteered the hunter, “although at first you did not want to save it, and since it is fair that in return you should have something, I will save yours and that of the man who makes hot words about small things. I told you last night that, while the magic was strong you would not be in danger, but after the feast was over there came to me men of the tribe who are also wise and said that while you and the other are alive they have fear that you will escape.”

Jock breathed hard but controlled himself by a mighty effort. “Aye,” he said quietly, “and what else?”

“After that there was much talk,” continued Nanook suavely, “and it was settled that on a night when there walked abroad the wolves and with them him who also has an evil spirit, we should leave you and the other one where he would find you. The wise men said that when

that was done there would be for a little while much noise and then not any noise."

“That was to be the death?” Jock’s tones were without a quiver.

Nanook glanced at him with swift and unconscious admiration. “It is not a bad death for it is soon over. It is better than hunger or the hunger or the sickness that comes so slowly that one sees it not. But you need not be afraid.”

“For myself I am not afraid—but was it that way with the other man who made magic?” The voice of Sergeant MacTier lifted slightly.

“Of him it is not well to speak,” said Nanook doggedly.

“Then he was left to the wolves, as you have spoken?"

“It is perhaps as well that my friend does not know too much. Have I not said enough, for can you not live with the tribe in safety?”

“Is that what Nanook wishes himself, to live with this tribe all his life?” put in Jock shrewdly.

“Of what I wish I have not spoken,” was the curt answer. And with that for the time being Jock had to rest content

THE journey back to the village took on something of a triumphant nature. The sledge, piled with the bearskin, great masses of meat, and on top of them the skin of the team dog, lurched swiftly over the frozen waste while Nanook trotted contentedly behind, seemingly oblivious to his wound. It was true that the hunt had been in the Husky fashion, hut it was also uncomfortably true that were it not for the white man it would have had a different ending. Turning this over in his mind Nanook became aware

of changing sensations. For Salty Bill he had always had the curious and speechless contempt of the savage for one who speaks much when there is little occasion for speech. There had been moments when he wondered why there were no words in his own tongue such as those which appeared to give the skipper such complete satisfaction, especially when he was most angry. But, concluded Nanook, to swear was to act like a child. For the big man he felt something entirely different. Between them now was the blood link, and in the North it is written that those who betray this deepest of bonds are beneath contempt. The awkward part of it was that Nanook himself had arranged the manner in which Sergeant MacTier and Salty Bill were to take their last journey into the wilds, and it was the remembrance of this coupled with increasing self-questioning as to how he should upset his own carefully arranged plan, and yet emerge with his personal authority unweakened, that puzzled him most. Before he was half way home the soul of Nanook was divided against itself.

CHAPTER X.

WHEN Jock, on the third day after his departure, wedged himself once more into the big igloo, he was welcomed with a heartiness that touched him deeply though no flicker of emotion was visible on his strong face. For Salty Bill the hours had begun, long ere this, to hang heavily. The first blush of adventure was off and he found himself dropped into a far corner of the earth, past which it now seemed impossible to move. His very imagination itself seemed stiff and frozen. For him, as for Jock, it was a period of probation, on the outcome of which poignant issues might depend. That Jock would acquit himself nobly Bill had never doubted, but now while he hung upon the curt description of the hunt, the skipper’s heart stirred with new confidence.

“There have been goings on here, too," he said presently, “and yesterday I found a circle of Huskies wrángling over some stuff from the Siren. Seems as though Black Matt had handed out whatever Nanook asked for. I heard the word “magic” and one of them put his fingers in his mouth and then spat. After that they chased me in here and the palaver went on outside.”

“What stuff was it?”

“Didn’t have half a chance to see, but I think-”

He was interrupted by a scuffle at the far end of the tunnel and in another moment Nanook shuffled in followed closely by another hunter, the latter one of the oldest men in the village whose shoulders were bowed and his face seamed with the scars of many winters. In his arms he carried a square wooden box at the sight of which Bill’s eyes rounded with astonishment. Placing it on the furcovered floor there ensued an unintelligible babble at the end of which Nanook, with sudden seriousness, began to speak.

“This man says,” he repeated carefully, “that in this box there are many things, but at the bottom there is magic. It is round and very hard, and yellow like a duck's bill, and when one touches it to the tongue one’s head begins to swim and the stomach of a man is turned upside down in his body. Surely it is strong

Suddenly into the silent circle broke Salty Bill’s loud guffaw. “He’s got it all right, and I know what it is now, and you bet it’ll turn a man’s stomach upside

down. Gosh! I wish he'd swallowed it “What is it?” said .look. "It’s dy-”

That was as far as Salty Bill's explanation ever got, for the big man, in a flash, had leaned swiftly forward and, gripping his wrist, signalled him dominantly to cease. N'anook, too, was transformed into a brown image of surprised attention. Then over his face suspicion settled like a

“What the blazes arc \ou driving at?” remonstrated the skipper roughly

“It is a true word,” broke Ip Jock staring hard at N’anook, “and it is very strong magic, so strong that if one is not careful it will kill. There are many who understand it and it is well that you brought it here. Perhaps we will show It to you in good time and when you have seen it it will be to the other magic as the sun to a small star. But,” he added significantly, “this other man does not understand it and without me it cannot be

“So that if you were to he lost, or If harm should come to you, this magic would not be revealed?” inquired N'anook thoughtfully.”

“You have spoken.”

The hunter nodded. “It is well. And while this thing lives there are not any men in the North country who shall be more safe than you, nor any men,” he added with subtle emphasis, “who shall be more carefully watched lest perhaps they be lost.” Then the two crawled outside into a breathless group that had waited to learn what new thing was this which made a man’s head feel large and like that of a bull walrus and turned his stomach upside down within his body.

To be Continued.