Bulldog Carney in a New Role
W. A. FRASER
Author of “The Seven Blue Doves,” “Owners Up,” etc.
THE Rockies, their towering white domes like sheets of ivory inlaid with blue and green, looked down upon the Vermillion. Range, and the Vermillion looked down upon the sienna prairie in which was Fort Calbert, as Marathon might have looked down upon the sea.
In Fort Calbert the Victoria Hotel, monument to the prodigality of Remittance Men, held its gray stone body in aloofment from the surrounding box-like structure of the town.
In a front room of the Victoria six men sat around an oak table upon which was enthroned a fivegallon keg with a spigot in its end.
It was an occasion.
Liquor was prohibited in Alberta, but the little joker in the law was that a white citizen, in good standing, might obtain a permit for the importation of five gallons.
Jack Enders held the patent right that made the keg on the table possible.
Five of the six were Remittance Men, the sixth man, Bulldog Carney, was different. His lean, tanned face suggested attainment; the gray, restful eyes held power and absolute fearlessness; they looked out from under the light, tawny eyebrows like the eyes of an eagle.
Like Aladdin’s lamp, the amber fluid that trickled through the spigot transported, mentally, the Englishmen back to the Old Land. It was always that way with them when there was a shatterment of the caste shell, an effacement of the hauteur; then they damned the uncouth West as a St. Helena, and blabbed of old London.
A blond giant, FitzHerbert, was saying: “Jack
Enders here is in no end of a fazzle; his pater is coming out uninvited, and Jack has a floaty idea that the old gent will want to see that ranch.”
“The ranch that the Victoria’s worthy drayman, dear Enders, is supposed to have acquired with the several remittances dear pater has remitted,” Harden explained to Carney.
“Oh Lord, you fellows!” Enders moaned.
HIS desolated groan was drowned by a droning call that floated in from the roadway; it was a weird drool—the droning, hoarse note of a tug’s whistle. Harden sprang to his feet crying: “St. Ives! a
Thames ‘Puffing Billy’! Oh, heavens! it makes me homesick.”
Harden had named it; it was the absolute warning note of a busy, pudgy little Thames tug.
Some of them went over the table in their eagerness to investigate. Outside they stood aghast in silent wonderment; the hot, scorching sun lay like a yellow flame across the most archaic, disreputable caravan of one that had ever cast its disconsolate shadow upon the main street. A dejected, piebald cayuse hung limply between the shafts of a Red River cart whose appearance suggested that it had been constructed from broken bits of the ark. In the cart sat a weary semblance of humanity.
The man’s face and hands were encrusted with a plastic mixture of dust and sweat till he looked like a lamellar creature—an armadillo. He turned small, sullen eyes in which was an impatient, querulous look, upon the six.
“It’s a Trappist monk from the merry temple of Chartreuse,” FitzHerbert declared solemnly.
“Do it again, bargee.” Harden begged; “blow your horn, O Gabriel—there’s vintage inside; one blast to warm the cockles of our hearts and we’ll set you happy.”
The little eyes of the charioteer fastened upon Harden with his cogent proposition; he made a trumpet of his palms, and blew the tug boat blast. He did it sadly, as though it were an occupation.
But Enders, with a spring, was in the cart. He
picked up the slight figure and tossed it to the blond giant, who, catching the thing of buckskin and leather chapps, turned back into the bar.
“Sit you there, foghorn,” FitzHerbert said, as he lowered the unresisting guest to a chair.
The guest’s eyes had grown large with the confirmatory evidence of a keg; the spigot fascinated him; it was like a crystal to a gazer. He shoved out a dry, furred tongue, and peeled from his lips the rim of lava that darkened their pale contour.
Harden had replenished the glasses, and the one he passed to the prodigal was the fatted calf—it was full.
The guest raised the glass till the sunlight, slanting through a window, threw life into the amber fluid, and gazed lovingly upon it.
“Oh, my aunt!” Harden bantered. “The man who has come up out of the stillness has a toast.”
''pHE little man coughed, and from the flat chest *■ floated up through thin tubes a voice that was soft and cultured as it wafted to their astonished ears; “Gentlemen, the Queen.”
FitzHerbert, who had been in the Guards before something had happened, started. It was the toast of a vice-president of an officer's mess at dinner.
The six sprang to their feet, carried aloft their glasses, drank, and sat down again in silence. FitzHerbert’» big voice had a husk in it as he asked: “Where is the regimental band, Sir?”
The little man’s shoulders twitched as he answered: “The band is outside; we’ll have the bandmaster in for a glass of wine, presently."
“By George!” FitzHerbert gasped; and Carney, who also knew, gazed at the little man, and his gray eyes that, were thought hard, had gone blue.
“Now,” Harden declared, “if somebody could dribble in who could give us twelve booms from Big Ben, we’d have a perfect ecstacy of the blues.”
At that two men came in through the front door, their scarlet tunics showing blood red in the glint of sunshine that played about their shoulders.
“Oh, you Sergeant. Jerry Platt!” the blond giant cried; “here is where the regulations bear heavy on a man, for we can’t invite you to join up.”
The Sergeant laughed. “You bad boys; if somebody hasn’t a permit for this I’ll have to run you all in.”
Platt’s companion, Corporal McBane, lengthened his dour face and added: “Drinkin’ unlawful whisky is a dreadful sin.”
“Shut your eyes, you two chaps, and open your mouths,” FitzHerbert bantered ; “that wouldn’t be taking a drink.”
“Let me see the permit,” Platt asked, ignoring the chaff.
When he had examined the official script he said: “Sorry, gentlemen, to have troubled you.”
As the two policemen turned away Platt nodded to Carney the jovial cast of his countenance passing into a slightly cynical transition.
“Good fellows,” Harden remarked, “our Scotch friend had tears of regret standing in his eyes at sight of the keg.”
“Yes, and they have a beastly task. This liquor law is all wrong. To keep it from the Indians white men out here have to be treated like babes or prisoners. That’s why everybody is against the police when the law interferes with our just rights; but with them when they’re putting down crime.”
“The worst part of :t is,” Carney added, “that sometimes a bull-headed man who has all the instincts of a thief catcher becomes a Sergeant in the force, and can’t interpret the law with any human intelligence. Fortunately it’s only one once in a while.”
>TVHE ragged stranger shook himself out of the gentle state of quiescent restfulness the whisky had produced, to say: “There will be a freshet of this stuff in Fort Calbert in a few days.”
“Put me down for a barrel, O joyful singer,” FitzHerbert exclaimed eagerly.
, Carney’s gray eyes had widened a little at the stranger’s statement.
“You can apply to Superintendent Kane,” the little man answered; “he will have the handling of it, I fancy—a carload”
FitzHerbert’s blue eyes searched Carney’s, but the latter sat as if playing poker.
“Tell us about it, man,” Enders suggested.
“I pulled into Fort Calbert this morning,” the other contributed, “and a jocular constable took me to the Fort as a vagrant.”
“Your equipage was against you,” Enders advised.
“Don’t think anything of that,” FitzHerbert said; “the hobos have been running neck-and-neck with the gophers about hex-e ; they burned up five freight cars in two weeks. The police have been shaken up over it by the C.O.”
The little man drew from a pocket of his coat a bag of gold, and clapped it gently on the table.
“You had your credentials.” And FitzHerbert nod-
“I’d been washing gold down on the bars at Victoria. It was this way. I have a farm there, and last year I put in thirty acres of oats. It was a rotten crop and I didn’t cut it. This year it came up a volunteer crop—a splendid one; I sold it to Major Grisbold at Fort Saskatchewan, standing. Now I’m on my holidays, just a little pleasure jaunt.”
“The constable took you to the Fort?” FitzHerbert suggested, for the little man’s mind had returned to the convivial association of his glass.
“By Jove! forgive me, gentlemen—about the whisky: While I was waiting for an audience with
the Police Ogema I heard, through an open door, a pow-wow over a telegram that had just come. Its general statement was that whisky was being loaded at Winnipeg on car 6100 for delivery at Bald Rock. The Major gave the Sergeant orders to seize the car here.”
“Who owns the whisky?” FitzHerbert asked.
“I heard the C. O. say, ‘It’s that damn Bulldog Carney again’! so I suppose—”
rpHE little man’s eyes opened in wondering perplexity at the blizzard of merriment that cut off his supposition; neither could he understand why FitzHerbert clapped a hand on his shoulder and said: “Old top, you’re a joy!”
The laughter had but died down when Carney rose, and, addressing the little man, holding out his hand, said : “I’m very glad to have met you, sir.” Then he
“I like that man,” the derelict said. “What’s his name—you didn’t introduce me?”
“That gentleman is Mr. Bulldog Carney,” FitzHerbert answered solemnly.
“Oh, I say!” the other gasped.
“Don’t worry; you’ve probably done him a good turn,” FitzHerbert answered.
The stranger blinked his solemn eyes as if debating something; then he related: “My name is Reginald
Llewellyn Fordyce-Anstruther. From Anslruther Hall. One can drive a golf ball into either one of three counties—Surrey, Sussex, or Kent.”
In retaliation each one of the five px-eseixtad himself at decorous length.
Carney strolled to the railway station and sent a telegram to John Arliss at Winnipeg. It was an ordinary ranch-type of message, about a registered bull that was being shipped. In the evening he had an answer to the effect that the bull would be well looked after.
Then Sergeant Jerry Platt paid several visits daily to the railway station for little chats with a constable who patrolled its platform from morning to night.
On the sixth day a gigantic black-headed drab snake crawled across the prairie from the east, and toward its tail one joint of the vertebrae was numbered 6100.
Sergeant Jerry was on hand, and his eye brightened; the advice the Major had received was reliable, evidently.
The station master knew nothing about the car; it was through freight—not for Fox-t Calbert.
Bulldog Carney had wandered unobtrusively down to the station; a dry smile hovered about his lips as he listened to the argument between the amiable Jerx-y and the rather important magnate of the C.P.R.
“Lovely!” he muttered once to himself as he wandered closer to the discussion.
It was a case of when great bodies collide. The C.P.R. was a mighty force, and its agents sometimes felt the tremendousness of their power; the Mounted Police were not accustomed to being balked when they issued an order.
Jerry wanted the seals broken on the car. This the agent flatly refused to do; rules were rules, and he only took orders re railroad matters from his superior officer.
Jerry was firm; but the famous Jerry Platt smile never left his face for long. “There’s booze in that car, Mr. Craig,” he declared.
“How do you know?” the station agent retorted.
“Perhaps we got the info from Bulldog Carney thei-e,” and Jerry laughed.
Perhaps Bulldog had been waiting for a legitimate opening, for he jumped:
“I think it is altogether incredible, Sergeant Jerry,” he answered; “Ottawa would never let that much liquor get out of Ontario—they have use for it down that way.”
“It’s booze,” Jerry asserted flatly, “and I'm going to tell you something on the level, Bulldog. You’re a hell of a nice fellow, but if I get the evidence I expect to get you’ll go into the pen just as though I never set eyes on you.”
Carney laughed. “When you say the word, Jex-ry, and I can’t make a get-away, I’m yours without trouble. But I don’t miixd laying you a bet of ten dollars that somebody’s been pulling your Superintendent’s leg. A carload of whisky is simply preposterous.”
'T'HIS little by:play had given Sergeant Platt time for a second thought. He could see that the agent was one of those duty-set men, and would not bx-eak the seal of the car; and without authorityhe did not care to take it on himself.
“Look hex-e, Craig,” he said, “cut that car off. I’ll get the C. O. to come down; in the meantime you might wire your divisional point how to act. We’ve simply got to detain the car even if we use force; but I don’t want to get you into trouble.”
A look of pleasure suffused Carney’s face; for, or against him, he admii-ed brains in a man. And Jerry’s determination and bravery were also well known. He turned to the station master sayxng:
“I don’t want to horn in on this round up, Craig, but I fancy that’s the proper way. I’ve a curiosity to see iust what is in that car.”
Sergeant Platt waited patiently, and the conductor of the freight train was now on the platform asking for his “line clear.”
Craig was up against a new situation. His company was powerful, and would back him up if he were absolutelyin the right, but they also expected of a man a certain amount of intelligence plus his orders; they didn’t encoux*age friction between their employees and the Mounted.
“Cut off 6100, Jim, and run her into the sidin’,” he said curtly to the conductor. And as a panacea to his capitulation he added: “If you’ve got somebody
else’s way-freight there, Jerry, I’d advise you to apply for a job as brakeman, you’re so damned fond of runnin’ the C.P.R.”
Platt laughed, and turning to the constable, said: “Gallop down to the Fort, report to the C.O., and ask him for a w-ritten order to bx-eak the seals on this car, as the agent refuses to.”
* So 6100 was lanced from the yellow snake’s body, and then the reptile crawled up the grade tow'ard the foothills, the tail-end joint, the caboose, flicking about derisively as it hobbled over the uneven track.
A N inkling of what was on had come to the ears of ^ the citizens; casually the worthy people sauntered dow-n to the station. They were thirsty souls, for permits did not grow on every7 lamp post. That a whole carload of w'hisky had been seized bred a demoralizing thirst. It was doomed, of course, to be poured out on the parched earth, but the event had an attraction like a funeral.
At the end of half-an-hour the constable returned, not only with a written order, but accompanied by Major Kane himself. Behind came a heavy police wagon, drawn by an upstanding pair of bays.
The Major was a jaunty7, wiry little man; his braided cap, cocked at a defiant angle on his grizzled head, suggested the comb of a Black-Red, a game cock. He had originally been a Sergeaxxt in the Imperial forces, and in his speech thex-e was the savor of London fog.
“What’s this, my good man?” The words popped from his thin lips as he addressed the ageixt. “You should have broken the seals on that car. Do so now7.”
“You’ll take the x-esponsibility then, sir,” Craig answered.
“My word! We’re always doing that, always—that’s what we’re hex-e for, to take responsibility; the force is noted for it.”
There was an ominous squint in the little man’s eye which was fastened oix Carney rather than the agent as he said this. Now, led by the Major, a procession headed for the car of interest.
The station agent clipped the seal wire, and as the door was slid open, the sunlight streaming in picked out the goodly forms of several oak barrels.
The Major’s lips clipped out a sharp “Ha!” And Sergeant Jerry grinned at Bulldog Carney.
It must be confessed that Bulldog’s gray ey-es held a trifle of astonishment over this exhibit.
At a command two constables had popped into the car, and the Major, turning to Sex-geant Jerry, said: “Back the wagon up, Sergeant, and take this stuff to the Fort.”
The station master interposed: “I think, sir, that if
you’re seizing this stuff as liquor you’d better make sure. The bar’ls looks a bit too greasy and dirty to be whisky bar’ls.”
“Just a clever little covering up of the trail by a foxy whisky-i'unnex-,” the Major said pleasantly, and let his shrewd eyes almost wink at Carney. “But I’ll humor yrou, Mr. Craig. Have one of your section men bring a sledge, and we’ll knock in the head of a barrel ; it’s got to be destroyed; the devilish stuff gives us trouble enough.”
/YNE of the yard men brought a sledge; a barx-el was rolled out, stood on end, and the yard man swung his heavy7, long-nosed spike-driving sledge. At the second blow it went through, and a little fountain of syx-up fluttered up like a spray of gold in the sunlight.
“Oh, my aunt!” FitzHerbert exclaimed; “you’ve struck it sweet this time, Major.”
A little gx-oup of Sarcees who had viewred with apathetic indifference the turmoil of the whites, sw-ax-med forward like so many7 bees, dipped their dirty fingex's in the tx-eacle, and lapped it off with grunts of appreciation. It w-as Dog-leg who grunted: “Heap
big chief, Redcoat man! Him damn good; break him more !”
“Dump out another barrel,” the nettled Major commanded.
This oaken casket, when shattered by the sledge, cast oii on the troubled waters—literally-, for it contained good healthy kerosene.
The citizens yelped with delight. Dog-leg begged the Major not to waste these things of an Indian’s desii*e, but give them to his tribe.
The station agent, x-ealizing that he had been on the winning horse in his objection, could ixot resist a little crow. “Well, Major, y-ou’ve roped something at last. For the next thirty day7s I can sit up nights answering correspondence. The man that owns this car of groceries will want to know wThat the hell the company’s up to, broachixxg his goods. The Superintendent of the Western Division will want to know why I sidetrack fx-eight billed through Fox-t Calbert. You said you’d take x-esponsibility, but you’ve given me a big lot. of work, and I aixx’t none too well paid as it is. Somebody7’s double-crossed you.”
“And, by George! I’ll keep after that somebody till I get him, if I have to follow him to the North Pole!” Major Kane answered crossly.
Then the constables investigated the car’s interior.
There were barrels of sugar, biscuit, bundles of brooms, boxes of salt cod, boxes of peas, beans— in fact the car’s interior was a replica of a wellordered grocery store rather than the duplicate of a bar-room.
The Major was mystified. They certainly had got the car that had been wired on by the Secret Intelligence Department as containing whiskey.
He had no word of another car; what could he do? Beyond Fort Calbert were several small places on the line where there were neither police nor men wdio either feared or were friendly to the law.
He turned to the station master, saying:
“Craig, can’t you wire ahead and see if you can get that car of whisky cut off, I believe it’s on that train.”
“How’d I know what car to cut out; besides,
I’ve no jurisdiction outside my own station. As it is the company ’ll have a bill of damages to pay, and of course, somebody on a three-legged stool at the head office ’ll try to cut it out of my pay.
You’d better have your men put those packages back in the car, so I can seal it up. I’m going in to wire the Superintendent of the Western Division at Winnipeg to report the whole thing to your Commissioner at Regina.”
Some Stoney Indians, with the Sarcees, watched sadly the return of the broken barrels of desire to the car; not since they had looted the H. B. Co.’s store at Fort Pitt had there been such a pleasing prospect of something for nothing.
The constables mounted the horses and with the police wagon departed.
Sergeant Jerry Platt, in a little detour passed close to Carney, saying as he slacked his pace: “Bulldog, you’re too damn hot for this country; Montana, I wóuld suggest as a wider field. But we’ll get the goods on you yet, old top.”
“Then Montana might prove attractive, dear Jerry.”
The Major walked away stiffly, pondering over this mixed-up affair. He would wire to one of his outposts up in the hills; but he was handicapped by his want of data. With whisky as the bone of contention everybody’s hand would be against the force—the very train men, if they could get away with it.
Carney had viewed the incident with complacency. If 6100 contained groceries then the other car, for there was one, had got safely through with its holding of liquor. Carney had known before the telegrams were sent that Jack Arliss was shipping two cars, one of goods and one of whisky; one consigned to John Ross, and one to Dan Stewart; and John Ross was also of the gang, though ostensibly an industrious storekeeper in the next town to Bald Rock, Dan Stewart’s habitat. How Arliss had double-crossed the police, either by shifting the goods or juggling the shipping bills, did not matter.
Carney’s telegram telling Arliss that the police at Fort Calbert were going to seize 6100 made it a sure thing for that gentleman to shoot through the whisky under another number, and a day ahead of the suspected car.
Back at the Fort Major Kane called in Sergeant Jerry for a consultation. Jerry had been in the
force for many years; he had risen from the position of scout and knew every trick and curve of the game; besides, which was almost a greater asset, he was liked of the citizens.
“Bulldog ’ll stay right here,” he advised; “he’s got brains, the cool kind that don’t sputter in the pan. It wouldn’t do a bit of good to round him up, for we haven’t got a thing on him—not a thing. He’s so well liked that nobody ’ll give him away; he plays the game like Robin Hood used to. Dan Stewart ’ll handle this stuff; but till you’ve clapped your hands on somebody with the goods we’ll be guessing. A lot of it’ll be run into the plains—there isn’t a rancher wouldn’t buy a barrel of it, and swear he’d never heard of it. Every white man is against this law, sir. They don’t think Carney’s breakin’ the law.”
The Major pondered a little, then he said: “In-
struct the Sergeant-Major to send out a patrol up toward the foothills, with orders to get some of this consignment, and some of the runners at any cost.”
So that night a patrol rode into the Western gloom.
XTEXT day, as Sergeant Jerry strolled out of the stockade gate, he was accosted by a French halfbreed, who intimated that for a matter of ten dollars, paid in hand, he would tell Jerry where he could nab a big lot of whisky as it was being run the following night.
The informant refused Jerry’s invitation to accompany him to the Commanding Officer. To insist would only frighten the breed, and a frightened breed always lied; so Jerry, taking a gambling chance, passed over the ten, and learned that in the night a whisky caravan would come along the trail that crossed the ford at Whispering Water, heading for Fort Calbert* itself.
This was quite in keeping with Carney’s audacity, and Jerry, still wondering that anybody would give away Bulldog, carried the information to the Major.
“We’ll have to act on it,” Major Kane declared; “sometimes a breed will sell his own wife for a slab of bacon.” -
When night had settled down over the prairie Sergeant Jerry Platt, Corporal McBane, and three constables rode quietly through the gates, and, skirting the west wall of the stockade, drifted away to the south-west.
At ten o’clock the police were snugly hidden in the heavy willow bush of the little valley through which rippled Whispering Water; their horses had been taken back on the trail by one constable.
A bullseye lantern fastened to a stake just topped a rock. In this position, when the slide was pulled, its rays would light up the trail where it dipped from the cut bank to the stream.
'T'HEY lay for an hour -*■ in the little bluff of willows. A moon that had hung in the Western sky wandering lazily toward the distant saw-toothed ridge of the Rockies, had passed behind the gigantic stone wall, and a sombre gloom had obliterated the uneven edge of the cut bank. In the belly of the valley it was just a well of blackness, cut at times by a pencilled line of silver where the waters swirled around a cutting rock. The stillness was oppressive for the air was dead; no winger of the night passed; no animal of the prairie, gopher or coyote, disturbed the solemn hush; nobody spoke; in each one’s mind was the unworded thought that they waited for a man that was known to be without fear, a man to whom odds meant little or nothing.
As they lay belly to earth in the heavy grass Corporal McBane pivoted his body on elbows close to Sergeant Jerry and whispered: “I’m glad, man, you suggested the flare. In the dark, wi’ promiscuous shootin’, there might be killin’, and I’d no like to pot Bulldog mysel’, even if he is a whisky runner.”
Jerry laughed a soft, throaty chuckle. “You’d have a fine chance. Mac, with that old .44 Enfield pepperbox against, Carney with his .45 Colt; he just plays it like a girl fingerin’ the keys of a piano; those gray cat eyes of his can see in t.he dark.”
“Well, wi’ the flare on him he’ll quit. It’s only damn fools that won’t wait for a better chance.”
“We had him once before,” Jerry said reflectively, “and he gave us the shp; just for the hell of it, too, for it was that train hold-up, and it was proved ufter he had nothing to do with it. But listen to this, Scottie. Wo both like Bulldog, but if he bucks us, we belong to the Force.”
“Aye, I’m aware of it, Sergeant; and Bulldog him-
self wouldn’t thank us to spit on our salt. But what makes you think he’ll be with this outfit?”
“Because it’s just one of his damned mad capers to run it into Fort Calbert under our nose, and he wouldn’t ask anyone to run the risk and not be there.”
But McBane had a Scotch reluctance to believe in foolish bravado. “It’s no sense, Sergeant,” he objected, “and Carney’s verra clever.”
CUDDENLY, on top of the cut bank where the trail ^ dipped through the sandy wall, something blurred the blue-black sky; there was a heavy slipping, sliding noise as if a giant sheet of sand-paper was being shoved along the earth. There was the creaking of wood on wood, the dull thump of an axle in a hub; a softened, just perceptible thud, thud of muffled hoofs.
The shuffling noise that was as if some serpent dragged its length over the deep sands of the cut was opposite the armed men when the voice of Sergeant Platt rang out in a sharp command:
“Halt! Hands up—you are covered! If you move we fire!”
At the first word, “Halt!” the bullseye threw its arrogant blare of light upon the creeping thing of noise. It painted against the cut bank the blearyeyed cayuse, the archaic Red River cart, and the unformidable figure of the Honorable Reginald Fordyce-Anstruther—that was all. That is to say all but five square tins, atop of which sat the outlaw, Reggie.
It was a goblined, pathetically inadequate figure sitting atop the tins, the lean, attenuated arms held high as if in beseechment.
Sergeant Jerry cursed softly; then he laughed; and Corporal McBane exclaimed: “Ma God! it’s like
catchin’ a red herrin’.”
But Jerry, careful scout, w'hispered: “Circle to the rear, Corporal; keep out of the light; it may be a i blind.”
Soon McBane’s voice was heard from the cut bank, “All clear, Sergeant.”
Then Sergeant Jerry, stepping into the open, examined the exhibit. Instead of carrying concealed weapons Reggie had a fair load of concealed spirits; he was fully half drunk. Questions only brought some nebulous answers about the permit being up in Fort Calbert, and that he was bringing in the goods. Even Jerry’s proverbial good nature was sorely taxed.
“I’m gettin’ fed up on these damned tricks of Bulldog’s,” he growled, “for that’s what it is.”
“I’m not sure,” McBane objected; “this ninny may ha’ blabbed, and yon breed, hearin’ it, saw a chance to make a shillin’ or two.”
« However, Reggie, and his cayuse and the whisky were attached and escorted in to barracks.
Perhaps it was the fortifying courage of the whisky the villain had imbibed that caused him to bear up remarkably well under this misfortune of the very great possibility of losing his not-too-valuable outfit; or he may have known of some fairy who would make good his fine.
In the morning the liquor was very formally taken out to the usual sacrifice place, just at the back of the barracks, and in the presence of the Superintendent and a'small guard of constables, poured in a gurgling libation upon the thirsting sand bank of a little ravine. Then the empty tins were tossed disdainfully into the coulee.
Back in the Fort Major Kane said: “This was all
a blind, Sergeant Platt; none of the stuff will come down this way—they’ll run it up among the miners and lumberjacks. Take Lemoine the scout, and pick up some of the patrols up about the Pass.”
IN half-an-hour Sergeant Jerry rode out from the Fort into the West; and by the middle of the afternoon Corporal McBane reported to the O.C. that the few constables remaining in the Fort were drunk— half were in the guard room.
The Major was horrified. Where had the liquor come from? Corporal McBane didn’t know.
In his perplexity the Major, stick in hand, stalked angrily to the scene of the morning sacrifice. The mound apparently had not been disturbed. He had a nebulous idea that perhaps the men had chewed up the saturated earth. He jabbed viciously at the spot with his walking stick as if spearing the alcoholic demon. At the third thrust his stick went through, suggesting a hole. With boot and hand the Major sent the sand flying. A foot down he came upon a gunny sack. Beneath this was a neat cross-hatching of willow wands resting atop an iron grating that was supported by a tub; a tub boned from the laundry, but the strong odor that struck the Superintendent’s nostrils was not suds—it was whisky.
He yanked the tub out of the cavity and kicked it into the coulee. Then he stood up and mopped his perspiring forehead, muttering: “The devils! the
cursed stuff! It’s that damned outlaw, Bulldog Carney, that’s put them up to this. The liquor that poor waster brought in was just a blind, the tip from the half-breed was part of his devilish plot. It’s a game to put my men on the blink while he runs that carload.”
Rage swirled in the Major’s heart as he turned toward the Fort; but before he had reached the gates his sense—and the little man had lots of it—laid embargo on his tongue, and he passed silently to his quarters to sit on the verandah and curse softly to himself.
He was sick of the whole whisky business. He had been in the Mounted from the very first, fifteen years or so of it now. They had not come into the Territories to be pitted against the social desires of the white inhabitants who were in all other things lawabiding: but here this very thing took up more than half their time and energy. And it was a losing game with the cunning and desires of a hundred men pitted against every one of his force.
There were rumors that it was soon to be changed— the trade legitimatized; that is, for Alberta to the Athabasca border. With a small army of clever whisky traders, no licenses, no supervision against them, it was a matter of impossibility to keep liquor from the half-breeds, who were a sort of carry-on station to the Indians.
To trail murderers, gun-men, cattle and horse thieves, day after day across the trackless prairie, or the white sheet-of-snow buried plain, was an exhilarating game—it was something to stimulate the esprit de corps; a Mounted Policeman, feeling, when he had landed his man, full reward for all his hardships and danger; but to poke around like an ordinary city sleuth and bag some poor devil of a breed with a bottle of whisky, only to have him up before the magistrate for a small fine was, to say the least, disquieting; it made • his men half ashamed of their mission.
Of course the present incident was not petty; it was like Bulldog Carney himself—big; and the Major would have given, right there, a half year’s pay to have bagged Bulldog, and so, perhaps have broken up the ring.
But determined as the force was, the British law was greater still. Without absolute convicting evidence Carney would have been acquitted, and the Major perhaps censured for making a mistake.
At headquarters was a fixed edict: “Take no posi-
tion from which you will have to recede,” which meant really, “Don’t make mistakes.”
As the little man sat thinking over these many things, sore at heart at the quirky thrust Fate had dealt him, for he loved the Mounted, loved his duties, loved the very men, until sometimes breaking under the strain of service in the lonely wastes they cracked and a dirty streak, yellow or black, showed—then he was a tiger, a martinet; no sparing. “Out you go, you hound!” he would snap; “you’re a disgrace to the force, and it’s got to be Kept clean.”
Then “Dismissed” would be written opposite the man’s name in the annual report that went from the Commissioner at Regina to the Comptroller at Ottawa.
The chorus of a refrain floated to his ears from the guard house—it was “The Stirrup Cup.”
“God! England,” the little man groaned. “That’s Cavendish singing,” he muttered.
How long and broad the highway of life, how human, how weakly human those who travelled it. Cavendish, a younger son of a noble family, a constable at sixty cents a day! They were all like that— not of noble family, but adventurers, roamers, men who had broken the shackles of restraint all over the world. That was largely why they were in the Mounted; certainly not because of the sixty cents a day. And, so, how, even in his bitterness of set awry authority, could the incident of the tub be a heinous crime on their part?
t — “By gad!” -and the little man popped from his chair and paced the verandah, saying ‘ iiiwardly : “They’re my boys; I’d like to forgive them, and shoot Carney—damn him ! He’s at the bottom of it.”
THE great arrogant sun, supreme in his regal gold, had slipped down behind the jagged mountain peaks as Carney, on his little buckskin, and the blond giant FitzHerbert on a bay, swung at a lope out of Fort Calbert for a breather over the prairie.
As they rode, almost silently, they suddenly heard the shuffling “pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat” of a cayuse, and in a little cloud of white dust to the west there grew to their eyes the blurred form of a horseman that seemed to droop almost to the horn of his saddle.
“A tired nichie,” FitzHerbert commented; “he
smells sowbelly frying in the town—he hasn’t eaten for a moon, I should say.”
The dust cloud swirled closer, and Carney’s gray eyes picked out the familiar form of Lathy George, one of Dan Stewart’s men. The rider yanked his cayuse to a stand when they met, almost reeling from the saddle in exhaustion. The cayuse spread his legs, drooped his head, and the flanks of his lean belly pumped as if his lungs were parched.
“Hello, Bulldog.” Then the man looked warily at Carney’s companion.
FitzHerbert saw the look and knew from the stranger’s physical shatterment that some vital errand had spurred him; so he touched a heel to his bay’s flank, and moved slowly along the trail.
The rider of the cayuse in tired, panting gasps gave Carney his message.
“All right, George,” Bulldog commented at the finish, “go to the Victoria, feed your horse, have a good supper, get a room and sleep.”
“What’ll I do, boss, when I wake up—how long’ll I sleep?”
“As long as you like—a week if you want.”
“What’ll I do then—don’t you need me?”
“No, play with your toes if you like.”
Lathy George pulled his reeling cayuse together, and pushed on. Carney gave a whistle, and FitzHerbert, wheeling his bay, turned.
“I’ve got to go back to town,” Carney said.
“I’ll go too,” the other volunteered; “this devilish boundlessness is like a painted sky above a painted ocean—it gives me the lonely willies.”
“There’s hell to pay back yonder,” Carney said, jerking a thumb over his shoulder
“It’s always back there, or over yonder—never here when there’s any hell to pay,” FitzHerbert commented dejectedly; “it’s just one long plaintive Sabbath.”
“I’ve got to go back to the foothills soon’s I’ve got into evening dress,” Carney continued.
“Me, too, if there’s action there.”
“Hardly, my dear boy; it’s purely a matter of diplomacy.”
“Absolutely, Bulldog; that’s why you’re going. You’re going to kiss somebody on both cheeks, pat him on the back, and say ‘here’s a wrist watch for you’— you love it. What’s happened?”
“The Stcnies are on the war path.”
“Ugly devils—part Sioux. They’re hunters—bloodletters— first cousins to the Kilkenny cats. In the rebellion a few years ago, only for the Wood Crees they’d have murdered every white prisoner that came into their hands.”
“Yes, they’re peppery devils. In the Frog Lake massacre one of them, Itoka, killed a white man or two and was hanged for it.”
“What started them now?” FitzHerbert asked. “Whisky.”
TVITZHERBERT stole a glance at Carney’s stolid face; then he whispered; Carney’s word had been like a gasp of confession, for, undoubtedly, the liquor was from the car.
“How did they make the haul?” he asked.
“The Stonies have just had their Treaty Payment, and there’s a new regulation that they may go off the reserve at Morley to make their fall hunt in the mountains, at this time; they were on their w-ay, under Chief Standing Bear, when they ran into the gent we’ve just met, and his mates in the Vermillion Valley. George was running two loads of whisky up to the lumber camps.”
“Great! that combination—lumberjacks, Stonies, and Whisky; it would be as if hell had opened a chute —there’ll be murder.”
“I know Standing Bear; he made me a blood brother of his. I did him a bit of a turn. I was coming through the Flathead Valley once, and the old fellow had insulted a grizzley. The grizzley was peeved, for the Stoney had peppered a couple of silly bullets into the brute’s shoulder. I happened to get in a lucky shot and stopped the silver-tip when he was about to shampoo old Standing Bear.”
“Yes, I heard about that, you and your little buckskin. Say, Bulldog, that little devil must have the pluck of a lion—they say he carried you right up to the grizzley, and you pumped him full of .45.”
“That’s just a yarn,” Carney asserted; “but anyway, the chief and I are good friends. I’m going to pull out and persuade him to go back to the reserve. Jerry Platt has gone down in that direction, and you know what the Sergeant is, Fitz—he’ll stack up against that tribe alone; if they’re full of fire-water, and have been rowing with the lumber jacks—their squaws will be along and you know what that means —Jerry stands a mighty good chance of being killed. I feel that it will be sort of my fault.”
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“It’s rotten to go alone, Bulldog. I’ll get a dozen of the fellows, and w'e’ll play rugby with those devilish nichiez if they don’t act like gentlemen.”
Carney laughed. “If you’d been at Duck Lake or Cut Knife you’d know all about that. Your bally Remittance Men wouldn’t have a chance, Fitz—not a chance. It would be a fight—your hot heads would start it—and after the first shot you wouldn’t see anything to shoot at; you’d see the red spit of their rifles, and hear the singing note of their bullets. These Stonies are hunters; they can outwit a big-horn in the mountains; first thing he knows of their ap-
“How are you going to do it then, Mister Man? Go in and get shot up just because you feel that it’s your fault?” “No, I’m going to try and make good. If I can hook up with Jeri’y Platt we’ll ¡ put before them the strongest kind of an argument, the only kind they’ll listen to. They’ll obey the police generally, I because they know the ‘Redcoat’ is an agent of the Queen, the White Mother i who feeds them; but, being drunk, the young bucks will be hostile—some of them will feel like pulling the White Mother’s nose. But Standing Bear has got sense and he promised me when we
tribe was pledged to me. I’m going down to collect—do you see, Fitz?”
They were riding into town now, and FitzHerbert made another plea: “Let me go with you, Bulldog. I’m petrified with fanning the air with my eyes, and nothing doing. I sit here in this damned village watching the west wind blow the boulders up the street, and the east wind blow them back again till they’re worn to the size of golf balls. I’m atrophied; my insides are like an enamelled pot from the damned alkaline dust.”
“Sorry, my dear boy, but I know whât would happen if you went with me. While I’d be holding a pow-wow with Standing Bear one of those boozed Stonies would spit in your eye, and you’d knock him down; then hell would break loose.”
“You’re generally right, Bulldog, Mister Some-man; none of us have got the cooi courage you’ve got. I guess it’s rather moral cowardice. I’ve seen you stand more abuse than a mule-skinner gives his mule and not lose caste over it, because we all knew.” He held out his big hand saying: “Good luck, old
boy! I rather fancy Standing Bear will be back on his reserve or this will be good-bye to Bulldog.”
IT was dark when Carney rode out of Fort Calbert heading for the heavy gloomed line of the Vermillions. The little buckskin pricked his ears, threw up his head with a playful clamp at the bit, and broke into a long graceful lope; beneath them the chocolate trail swam by like shadow chasing shadow over a mirror. A red-faced moon that had come peeping over Fort Calbert, chased the rider, traversing the blue upturned prairie above, as if it were too hurried to rebuke with its silent serenity the turbulent ones in the foothills. It cast a mystic, sleepy haze over the plain that lay in restful lethargy, bathed in an atmosphere so peaceful that Carney’s mission seemed but the promptings of a phantasmagoria. There was a pungent, acrid taint of burning grass in the sleepy air, and off to the south glinted against the horizon the peeping ¿red eyes of a prairie fire. They were like the rimmed lights of a shore-held city.
The way was always up hill, the low unperceived grade of the prairie uplifting so gradually to the foothills, and the buckskin, as if his instinct told him that their way was long, broke his lope into the easy shuffling pace of a cayuse.
Carney, roused from the reverie into which the somnolence of the gentle night had cast him, patted the. slim neck approvingly. Then his mind slipped back into the fairy boat that ferried it across leagues of ocean to the land of green hills and oak-hidden castles.
Something of the squalid endeavor ahead bred in his mind a distaste for his life of adventure. Was it good enough? Danger, the pitting of hiswits against other wits, carried a savor of excitement that was better than remembering. The foolish past could only be kept in oblivion by action, by strain, by danger, by adventure, by winning out against odds; but the thing ahead, drunken, brawling lumberjacks and Indians thrust back into primitive savagery because of him, put in his soul the taste of the ashes of regret.
Even the test he was going to put himself to was not enough to deaden this suddenly awakened remorse. To the blond giant he had minimized the danger, the prospect of conflict, but he knew that he was playing a game with Fate that the roll of the dice would decide. He was going to pit himself against the young bucks of the Stonies. They were an offshoot of the Sioux; in their veins ran fighting blood, the blood of killers; and inflamed by liquor the blood would be the blood of ghazis. It would all depend upon Standing Bear, for Carney could not quit, could not weaken; he must turn them back from the valley of the Vermillion, or remain there with his face upturned to the sky, and his soul seeking the Ferryman at the crossing of the Styx.
HE had ridden three hours, scarce conscious of anything but the mental traverse, when the palpitating beat of hoofs pounding the drum-like turf fell upon his ears. From far down the trail to the West came the sound that
was like the drum of a mating pheasant’s wings..
The trail he rode dipped into a little hollow. Here he slipped from the saddle, led the buckskin to one side, and dropped the bridle rein over his head. Then he took a newspaper from his pocket, canopied it into a little gray mound on the trail, and, drawing his gun, stepped five paces to one side and waited.
All this precaution was that he might hold converse with the galloping horseman without the startling semblance of a hold-up; sometimes the too abrupt command to halt meant a pistol shot.
As the pound of the hoofs neared, the rhythmic cadence separated into staccato beats of, “pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat, pit-apat,” and Carney muttered: “Rather
like a drunken nichie; he’s riding hellbent-for-leather.”
Now the racing horseman was close; now he loomed against the sky as he topped the farther bank. Half way down the dipping trail the cayuse saw the paper mound, and with his prairiebred instinct took it for a crouching wolf. With a squealing snort he swerved, propped, and his rider, in search of equilibrium, shot over his head. As he staggered to his feet a strong hand was on his arm, and a disagreeably cold circle of steel was touching his check.
“By gar!” the frightened traveler cried aghast, “don’t s’oot me.”
Carney laughed, and lowering his gun said: “Certainly not, boy—just a
precaution, that’s all. Where are you going?”
“I’m goin’ to de Fort, me,” the French half-breed replied. “De Stoney nichies an’ de lumber jacks is raise hell; by gar! Dere’s fine row; dey s’oot de Sergeant, Jerry Platt.”
“Jus’ by Yellowstone Creek, De Stonies pitch dere tepees dere.”
“Where’s the Sergeant?”
“I don’ know, me. He get de bullet in de shoulder, but he swear by le bon Dieu dat he’ll get hes man, an’ mak’ de Injun go back to hes reserve. He’s hell of brave mans, dat Jerry.”
“All right, boy,” Carney said; “you ride on to the Fort, and tell the Superintendent that Bulldog Carney—”
“Sacre! Bulldog Carney?” the poor breed gasped the words much as if the devil had clapped him on the shoulder.
“Ye3; tell him that Bulldog Carney has gone to help Jerry Platt put the fear of God into those drunken bums. Now pull out.”
The breed, who had hung to the bridle rein, mounted his cayuse, crying, as he clattered away: “May de Holy Mudder give you de help, Bulldog. Dat’s me, Ba’tiste, wish dat.”
Then Carney swung to the back of the little buckskin, and pushed on to the help of Jerry Platt.
DOZING in the saddle he rode while the gallant horse ate up mile after mile in that steady shuffling trot that he had learned from his cold-blooded brothers of the plains.
The grade was now steeper; they were approaching the foothills that rose first in undulating mounds like a heavy ground swell ; then commenced to take shape against the sky line, looking like the escarpments of a fort.
The trail Carney followed wound, as he knew, into the Vermillion Valley, at the upper end of which, near the gap, the Indians were encamped on Yellowstone Creek.
The Indians’ clock, the long-handled dipper, had swung around the North star off to Carney’s right, and he had tabulated the hours by its sweep. It was near morning he knew, for the handle was climbing up in the East.
Then, faintly at first, there carried to his ears the droning tump-tump, tump-tump, tump-tump, tump-tump! of tom-toms, punctuated at intervals by a shrill, high-pitched sing-song of “Hi-yi, hi-yi, hi-yi, hi-yi!”
Carney pulled his buckskin to a halt, his trained ear interpreted the wellknown time that was beaten from the tom-tom; it was the gambling note. That w’as the Indians all over; when drunk to squat on the ground in a circle, a blanket between them to hide the guessing bean, and one of their num-
ber beating an exciting tattoo from the skin-covered hoop, ceasing his flagellation at times to tighten the sagging skin by the heat of a fire.
Carney slipped from the buckskin’s back, stripped the saddle off, picketed the horse, and stretched himself on the turf, muttering as he drifted into quick slumber: “The cold gray light of morn-
ing is the birth time of the yellow streak—I’ll tackle them then.”
The sun was flicking the upper benches of the Vermillion Range when Carney opened his eyes. He sat up and watched the golden light leap down the mountain side from crag to crag as the fount of all this liquid gold climbed majestically the eastern sky.
As Carney stood up the buckskin canted to his feet. Bulldog laid his cheek against the soft mouse-colored nose, and said: “Patsy, old boy, it’s business first this morning—we’ll eat afterwards; though you’ve had a fair snack of this jolly buffalo grass, I see from your tummy.”
The tom-tom was still troubling the morning air, and the crackle of two or three gunshots came down the valley.
As Carney saddled the buckskin he tried to formulate a plan. There was nothing to plan about; he had no clue to where he might find Platt—that part of it was all chance. Failing to locate the Sergeant he must go on and play his hand alone against the Stonies.
AS he rode, the trail wound along the flat bank of a little lake that was like an oval turquoise set in platinum and dull gold. Beyond it skirted the lake’s feeder, a rippling stream that threw cascades of pearl tints and sapphire as it splashed over and against the stubborn rocks. From beyond, on the far side, floated down from green fir-clad the haunting melody of a French-Canadian song. It was like riding into a valley of peace; and just around the bend Were the droning tomtoms. As Carney rounded the bend in the trail he could see the smoke-stained tepees of the Stonies.
At that instant the valley was filled with the vocal turmoil of yelping, snarling dogs, the pack dogs of the Indians.
At first Carney thought that he was the incentive to this demonstration; but a quick searching look discovered a khaki-clad figure on a bay police horse, taking a ford of the shallow stream. It was Sergeant Jerry Platt, all alone save. for a half-breed scout that trailed behind.
Pandemonium broke loose in the Indian encampment. Half-naked bucks swarmed in and out among the tepees like rabbits in a muskeg; some of them still groggy, pitched headlong over a root, or a stone. Many of them raced for their hobbled ponies, and clambered to their backs. Two or three had rushed from their tepees, Winchester in hand, and when they saw the policeman banged at the unoffending sky in the way of bravado.
Carney shook up his mount, and at a smart canter reached the Sergeant just as his horse came up to the level of the trail fifty yards short of the camp.
Platt’s shoulder had been roughly bandaged by the guide, and his left arm was bound across his chest in the way of a sling. The Sergeant’s face, that yesterday had been the genial, merry face of Jerry, was drawn and haggard; grim determination had buried the boyishness that many had said would never leave him. His blue eyes warmed out of their dreadful cold tired fixity, and his voice essayed some of the old-time recklessness as he called: “Hello, Bull-
dog. What in the name of lost mavericks are you doing here—collecting?” “Came to give you a hand, Jerry.”
“A hand, Bulldog?”
“That’s the palaver, Jerry. Somebody ran me in the news of this”—he swept an arm toward the tepees—“and I’ve ridden all night to help bust this hellery. Heard on the trail you’d got pinked.”
“Not much—just through the flesh. A couple of drunken lumberjacks potted me from cover. I've been over at the Company's shacks, but I’m pretty sure they’ve taken cover with the Indians. I’ll get them if they’re here. But I’ve
got to herd these bronc-headed bucks back to the reserve.”
“They’ll put up an argument, Sergeant.”
“I expect it; but it’s got to be done. They’ll go back, or Corporal McBane will get a promotion—he’s next in line to Jerry Platt.”
“Good stuff, Jerry. I’ll—”
BULLDOG’S statement of what he would do was cut short by the whining moan of a bullet cutting the air above their heads. A little cloud of white smoke was spiraling up from the door of a tepee.
“That’s bluff,” Jerry grunted.
“We’ve got to move in, Jerry—if we hesitate after that they’ll buzz like flies. If you start kicking an Indian off the lot, keep him moving. I’m under your command; I’ve sworn myself in, a special; but I know Standing Bear well, and if you’ll allow it, I’ll make a powwow. But I’m in it to the finish, boy.” “Thanks, Bulldog”—they were moving along at a steady walk of the horses toward the tepees—; “but you know our way—you’ve got to stand a hell of a lot of dirt; if you don’t, Bulldog, and start anything, you’ll make me wish you hadn’t come. It’s better to get wiped out than be known as having lost our heads. D’you get it?”
“I’m on, Jerry.”
Carney knew Standing Bear’s tepee; it was larger than the others; on its moose-skin cover was painted his caste mark, something meant to represent a huge-toothed grizzley.
But everything animate in the camp was now focused on their advent. The old men of wisdom, the half-naked bucks, squaws, dogs, ponies, it was a shifting, interminably twisting kaleidoscope of gaudy, draggled, vociferous creatures.
A little dry laugh issued from Jerry’s lips, and he grunted: “Some circus,
Bulldog. Keep an eye skinned that those two, skulking Frenchmen don’t slip from a tepee.”
Standing Bear stood in front of his tepee. He was a big, fine-looking Indian. Over his strong Sioux-like features hovered a half-drunken gravity. In one hand he held an eagle’s wing, token of chieftainship, and the other hand rested suggestively upon the butt of a .45 revolver.
Carney knew enough Stoney to make himself understood, for he had hunted much with the tribe.
“Ho, Chief of the mighty hunters,” he greeted.
“Why does the Redcoat come?” AnS Standing Bear indicated the Sergeant with a sweep of the eagle wing.
“We come as friends to Chief Standing Bear,” Carney answered.
“Huh, that is good. The trail is open; now you may pass.”
“Not so, Chief,” Carney aryswei'ed softly. “Harm has been done. Two white men, with evil in their hearts against the police of the Great White Mother, whose children the Stonies are, have wounded one of her Redcoat soldiers; and also the White Mother has sent a message by her Redcoat that Standing Bear is to take his braves back to the reserve.”
At this the bucks, who had been listening impatiently, broke into a clamor of defiance; the high-pitched battle cry of “hi-yi, yi-yi, yi-hi!” rose from fifty throats. The mounted braves swirled their ponies, driving them with quirt and heel in a mad pony war dance. Half-a-dozen times the lean racing cayuse bumped into the mounts of the two white men.
Running Antelope, a Stoney whose always evil face had been made horrible by the sweep of a bear’s claws, raced his pony, chest on, against the buckskin, thrust his ugly visage almost into Carney’s face, and spat.
Bulldog wiped it off with the barrel of bis gun, then dropped the gun back into its holster, saying quietly: “Some day, Running Antelope, I’ll cover that stain with your blood.”
The Sergeant sat as stolid as a bronze statue.
The squaws stood in groups either side the Chief’s tepee, and hurled foul epithets at the two white men. Little
copper-skinned imps threw handfuls of sand, and gravel, and bits of turf.
The dogs howled and snapped as they skulked amongst their red masters.
“We wiii not go back to the reserve, Bulldog,” the Chief said with solemn dignity, and held the eagle wing above his head; “it is the time of our hunt, and a new treaty has been made that we go to the hunt when the payment is made. Of the two pale faces that have done evil I know not.”
“They are here in the tepees,” Bulldog declared.
“The tepees are the homes of my tribe, and what is there is there. Go back while the trail is open, Bulldog, you and the Redcoat; my braves may do harm if you remain.”
“Chief, we are blood brothers—was it not so spoken?”
“Standing Bear has said that it is so, Bulldog.”
“And Standing Bear said that when his white brother asked a gift Standing Bear would hear the words of his brother.”
“Standing Bear said that, Bulldog.” “Then, Chief, Bulldog askes the favor, not for himself, but for the good of Standing Bear and his braves.”
“What asks the Bulldog of Standing Bear?”
“That he give into the hand of the White Mother’s Redcoat the two moneas, the Frenchmen; and that he strike the tepees and command the squaws to load them on the travois, and lead the braves back to the reserve.” Running Antelope pushed himself between Carney and the Chief, and in rapid, fierce language denounced this request to Standing Bear.
A ringing whoop of approval from the bucks greeted Antelope’s harangue.
“My braves will not go back to the reserve, Bulldog,” the Chief declared.
“Is Standing Bear Chief of the Stonies?” Carney asked; “or is he an old outcast buffalo bull—and does the herd follow Running Antelope?”
The Chief’s face twisted with the shock of this thrust, and Running Antelope scowled and flashed a hunting knife from his belt.
“If Standing Bear is Chief of the Stonies, the White Mother’s Redcoat asks him to deliver the two evil moneas?” Carney added.
Standing Bear seemed to waver; his yellow-streaked, black pointed eyes swept back and forth from the faces of the white men to the faces of the braves.
In a few rapid words Carney explained to Sergeant Platt the situation, saying: “Now is the test, Jerry. We’ve
got to act. I’ve a hunch the two men you want are in that old blackguard’s tepee. Shall I carry out something I mean to do?”
“Don’t strike an Indian, Bulldog; don’t wound one; anything else goes. If they start shooting, go to it—then we’ll fight to the finish.”
The Sergeant pulled out his watch; saying: “Give them five minutes to
strike the topee, that may cow them. We’ve got to keep going.”
Standing Bear saw the watch, and asked: “What medicine does the Red-
Carney explained that the Sergeant gave him five minutes to strike his tepee as a sign to the others.
“And if Standing Bear says that talk is not good talk, that a Chief of the Stonies is not a dog to be driven from his hunting, what will the Redcoat do?” the Chief asked haughtily.
But Carney simply answered: “Bull-
dog is the friend of Standing Bear, his blood brother, but at the end of fiveminutes Bulldog and the White Mother’s soldier will lead the Stonies back to the reserve.”
A silence followed this; the dreadful heaviness of a sudden stilling of the tumult, for the Chief, raising his eagle wing had commanded silence.
“Standing Bear will wait to see the medicine making of the Redcoat,” he said to Carney.
FjNE minute, two minutes, three minutes, four minutes; the two men sat their horses facing the sullen redskins. A thrilling exhilaration was tingling the nerves of Carney; a test such as this lifted him. And Jerry, as
brave as Bulldog, sat throned on his duty, waiting, patient—but it must be.
“The five minutes are up,” he said quietly.
Carney seemed toying with his lariat idly as he answered: “Put your watch
back in your pocket, Jerry, and command, in the Queen’s name, Standing Bear to strike his tepee. The authority game, old boy. I’ll interpret, and if he doesn’t obey I’m going to pull his shack down. Does that go?”
“It does, and the Lord be with us.” Jerry dropped the watch dramatically into his pocket, raised his voice in solemn declamation, and Carney interpreted the command.
The Chief seemed to waver; his eyes were shifty, like the eyes of a wolf that hesitates between a charge and a skulk away.
“Speak,” Carney commanded: “tell your braves to strike their tepees.” “Go back on the trail, Bulldog.”
STANDING BEAR’S words were cut short by the zipp of a rope; from Carney’s right hand the lariat floated up like the loosening coils of a snake, the noose settled down over the keypole, at a pull of the rein the little buckskin raced backward, and the tepee collapsed to earth like a pricked balloon.
The extraordinary, unlooked-for event had the effect of a sudden, vivid shaft of lightning from out a troubled sky. Half paralyzed the Indians stood in gasping suspense, and into the Chief’s clever brain flashed the knowledge that all his bluff had failed, that he must yield or take the awful consequence of thrusting his little tribe into a war with the great nation of the palefaces; he must yield or kill, and to kill a Redcoat on duty, or even Bulldog, a paleface who had not struck a tribesman, meant the dreaded punishment of hanging.
The god of chance took the matter out of his hands.
From the entangling folds of the skin tepee two swarthy, flannel-shirt white men wriggled like badgers escaping from a hole, and stood up gazing about in bewilderment. One of them had ■drawn a gun, and in the hand of the other was a vicious knife.
Sergeant Jerry drew a pair of handcuffs from a pocket, and pushed his way forward to cut off the retreat of the Frenchmen, commanding: “You
are under arrest—hands up!”
As he spoke, with an ugly oath the man with the gun fired. The report was echoed by the crack of Carney’s gun and the Frenchman’s hand dropped to his side, his pistol clattering to earth.
Sergeant Jerry threw the handcuffs to the man with the knife, saying sharply: “Shackle yourself by the right
wrist to the left wrist of your companion.”
The man hesitated, sweeping with his vicious eyes the band of the cowed Indians.
One look at the gun in Carney’s hands and muttering, “Sacre! dem damn Injuns is coward dogs!” he picked up the chained rings and snapped them on his mate’s wrists and his own.
Carney turned to Standing Bear who stood pertified by the rapidity of events.
“Chief,” he said, “with these white outcasts the way is different, they are evil ; the Indians are children of the White Mother.”
The W'ily old Chief quickly repudiated the two Frenchmen; he could see that the policeman and Bulldog were not to be bluffed.
“If the two moneas have bToken the law, take them,” he said magnanimously; “but tell the Redcoat that Standing Bear and his tribe will go from here up into the hills for the hunt, for to return to the reserve would bring hunger to the Stonies when the white rain lies on the ground. Ask the Redcoat to say that this is good, that we may go quickly, and the evil be at an end.”
Carney conveyed this to Jerry. It was perhaps the better way, he advised, for the breaking up of the hunt, during which they laid in a stock of meat for the winter, and skins and furs, would be a distinct hardship.
“You can take the prisoners in, Sergeant,” Carney said, “and I’ll stay with Standing Bear till they’re up in the mountains away from the lumberjacks.”
“They must destroy any whisky they have,” Jerry declared.
This the Chief agreed to do.
In half an hour the tepees were all down, packed on the poled travois, blankets and bundles were strapped to the backs of the dogs, and in a struggling line the Stonies were heading for the hills.
Toward the east the two Frenchmen, linked together, plodded sullenly over the trail, and behind them rode Sergeant Jerry and his half-breed scout.