THE TIMBER PIRATE

CHARLES CHRISTOPHER JENKINS August 15 1922

THE TIMBER PIRATE

CHARLES CHRISTOPHER JENKINS August 15 1922

THE TIMBER PIRATE

CHARLES CHRISTOPHER JENKINS

NIGHT’S sable curtain was soon to fall on the shortlived drama of a winter day in the Laurentians. The departing sub-arctic sun, in its last

pale glory, sent up from the omnipresent whiteness myriads of glistening beams that stabbed the eyes like leaping darts of fire. Of sounds there was oppressive absence. Not even a vagrant breeze-sighed in the tree-tops; but at irregular intervals the intense stillness was smitten by the lugubrious “Spon-n-n-n-g!” of some aged tree splitting open to the heart, where freezing moisture expanded in its crevices. All life and warmth seemed utterly exterminated in the pre-twilight calm, save for the distant Monarch of Day slowly receding from his stark white world of desolation.

Yet even in these desolate wastes man moved and had his being; for, on the trail that wound down from the heights to the northwest, there was the ribbon-like tracing of a dog sled and beside it the oval imprints of snowshoes. At a small, cleared area in the scrub timber, just above where the trail, dipped into a mighty, spruce-bearded ravine, the sled marks and the snowshoe patterns ceased.

On this spot, by a camp fire in the snow, hunched an elderly white man wrapped to his throat in blankets, beard and eyebrows thickly frosted from the vapor of his breath. His face, the wasted face of one who had endured physical suffering, was bereft of tangible expression; his eyes fixed dully on the slow-leaping, soundless flames from which there ascended into the zero-freighted air a wispy, hairlike strand of smoke. Round about him were scattered canvas packsacks, rolls of b r i g h t-colored woollen blankets, fire-blackened pots and pans, two light chopaxes and a shortbarrelled repeating rifle. Nearby on the trail, a spent and footsore string of sled dogs lay flattened in the snow.

Noses stretched to the fire, eyes closed and limbs inert, they might be mistaken for dead and frozen things but for the occasional faint heave of their flanks as their trained lungs drew sparingly of the biting oz-

Of asudden the deathlike calm was shattered by the whining crack of a high-power rifle. Closer by, there was a swish and flap of clumsy wings,

anda dowdy, __

slate-colored wegse-ke-jak c i r-

cled the camp uttering dismal cries of "Meat—meat—

Every canine head came to life with a start. Tie figure in the blankets winced as though struck from lehind

by' an unseen icy fist, doubling forward in a racking fit of coughing that reverberated through the solitudes in listless and sympathetic echoes. The man desisted with a choking gasp, his frame shaking in a palsy. Weakly he slumped back against a nearby pack-sack, hands clutching at his heart.

“Laddie,” he called in a voice that was pitifully faint, “Laddie—oh, Laddie!”

His arms sagged and went limp by his sides, his breath coming and going in the swift, sibilant gasps of a life flickering out from exhaustion.

A WOLF-DOG in the sled pack pricked up his pointed ears, and, straining away from his fellows, sniffed weirdly in the direction of the stricken man. The treacherous huskie leaped savagely against his restraining harness, a low, ominous growl issuing from the ugly curve of his long, trembling jaws. A wooly black-and-tan of the faithful Collie strain gave a snarl of warning; then, with bristles arising on his thick, powerful neck, leaped at the throat of the traitor. That was the signal for a general release of pent-up canine irritation. In a trice the whole sled pack was engaged in a furious free-for-all of flying fur and white-flashing fangs.

“Lie down!”

The command came low, deep and vibrant with a faint

click of teeth. In electric unison the pack flattened, cowering silent in their places—all but the loyal Collie, which turned with slow-wagging tail and crouching rump to express its fealty as the scrub of the trail parted and a tall

youth of spare but powerful build strode into the camp with the carcase of a young buck deer on his shoulder.

The newcomer flung the deer and his rifle to the snow and rushed to the side of the dying man, applying a pocket flask to his lips, while he raised him on an arm with the tenderness of a woman. But the elder one was sinking fast—was beyond human

For a few moments only he rallied. “Laddie—thank God—you came,” he murmured weakly. “It is the end— the end of the trail—for me. There is so much—so much left undone, Laddie—so much wrong—an erring old man should undo—but you—you, Alexander, my boy—you

won’t forget—the mine—the gold mine—goes to-”

The young man bent close to catch the whispered

Suddenly the invalid straightened as though galvanized in a last brief lease of life, eyes fixed on some vision above and beyond his companion.

“Black Jack! Black Jack Carlstone!” He cried it as one who cries from the wells of the heart. “Black Jack,

my one true friend—and you-you will see that the

boy—you will see that he carries out my will-.”

His body sagged and his head dropped limply on h's chest before he finished.

WITH reverent touch the young man closed the tired old eyes, while his own welled up and there came a suggestion of a stifled sob in his throat. Mutely, for

some moments, he remained on one knee in the snow, stoically still, looking into the face of the dead man, as though questioning the cruel vagaries of fate.

But as quickly h i s expression changed. Presently, when he rose and strode ->A over to the fire,

a hard, uncanny light flickered over his face—a face whose intense pallor accentuated the blackness of his extraordinary eyes. Framed in the close-fitting muskrat cap, it was a face that bespoke undeveloped power, strikingly handsome in its mephistophelian mold and portending a sagacity beyond its years.

He stood with arms out-stretched to the setting sun, for the moment transformed to a pagan chieftain, and from his lips there issued the single word, “ Kee-aml” which in the Indian means: “Nothing matters!”

“The gold mine goes to--.” Slowly he

repeated the dead man’s injunction. The lids of his black eyes narrowed until they became slits of flame and the lines of his m'' mouth set close-pressed and—cruel?

But, when he turned and addressed the corpse, his features relaxed and his voice was gutturally soft and musical: “It ?*'" be as you willed, my kindest friend—but, for the prei the mine is lent to me.”

The sun, now a great, boiling globe under a far glaze of scarlet, eased down upon the bleak, wes

ranges, bordering their purple-shrouded crests with a narrow edging of brightest gold; hesitated one brief second in fiery farewell, then plunged behind the ragged rim of the northern world. Night swept with swift stealth across the wilderness, transforming it to a realm of spectre-like shadows.

A solemn hush, like a requiem of nature for the day that was dead, fell over the forests.

The lone figure by the camp fire bent forward strangely as though gripped by an inward paroxysm.

As he did so, the deeps of the woods vibrated with a long-drawn, unearthly cry, that echoed and re-echoed its fearsome notes far in the hills. It had seemed to rise from nowhere, a howl neither human nor bestial but a demoniac blending of both; half anguished wail, half mocking laughter.

No prowling timber wolf broke the succeeding silence with an answering call.

Even the wolf-dog in the sled pack cowered deeper in his snowy bed in whimpering fear.

CHAPTER I Acey Smith

LOUIS HAMMOND, picking his J way in the rapidly-f ailing twilight, dodged a pot-hole in the pulp camp’s “main street,” looked up at the unexpected sound of a woman’s voice, and, misplacing a foot, went sp awling into another.

He arose bespattered and with icecold ooze seeping to his ankles over the tops of his city shoes.

The young man barely checked the exclamation more forceful than polite that rose to his tongue when a lithe, girlish form, close-wrapped to the throat in a light fall coat, stepped out to the road from the shadowy verandah of the building that had been pointed out to him as the office of the camp superintendent.

A big'man in a reefer and high boots laced to the knees followed; but before he gained her side, the woman turned.

“No, I thank you,” Hammond heard her decline in a bright voice.

“It is only a step down to the dock.”

The man bowed deferentially, lifted his narrow-brimmed stetson with a courtliness oddly at variance with his rough garb, followed her with Jiis eyes for a moment, then wheeled and returned to the building.

On the Nannabijou limits, in the farthest reaches of Lake Superior’s wild north shore, was about the last place on earth Hammond expected to encounter a white woman, especially one whose voice and every movement betokened long association in refined environment. Her verve and grace were the more apparent to him as she came tripping surefootedly down through the half-light toward the water-front.

She passed him on the other side of the road, and just then the door of a camp to his right was flung open emitting a widening flood of yellow lamplight that threw them both in relief.

LJ AMMOND caught a fleeting glimpse of an oval little face, fascinating in its contour; of a daintily-moulded mouth and chin and fine, high-arched eyebrows traced as with the delicate brush of an artist. He looked into great darkened blue eyes that held startled recognition; saw her lips open in a suppressed gasp, then she hurried on as though fearful he might accost her.

The time, the place and the extremely odd circumstances under which he had last felt the magnetic sway of those eyes beneath the unforgettable brows recurred to him as, with wildly-beating pulse, he stood wiping the mud from his hands and clothes with his pocket-handkerchief.

After her figure merged into the gloom down by the dock he waited, despite the chill that was searching at his damp ankles. Soon he heard subdued voices and the preliminary cough of a marine engine being started. Followed the even chug-chug of the motor’s exhaust and a moving finger of light from a small marine search-light swept out and felt its way through the channel in the ' ^mense field of pulpwood booms that all but filled Naniou Bay. Out beyond the booms the boat headed due

ho was the girl, and by what odd coincidence did she ¡pear in this ungodly place? But in the maze of other

inexplicable circumstances that had surrounded him since the night of the twenty-third of September when he had accepted his present strange mission, he for the moment gave up trying to figure.it out. The damp, oppressive

gloom of a Northern Ontario pulp camp after sundown is not contributive to romancing, and Hammond had pressing business in hand.

He crossed the road and knocked at the door of the superintendent’s office.

“pOME IN!”

“ The command came clear and loud with an odd vibrating quality in its not inhospitable note.

The room which Hammond entered, an office in the fore of the superintendent’s living and sleeping quarters, presented a scene of orderly confusion. Its desks were littered with newspapers, magazines and typewritten flimsies, and on its wall-shelves sprawled reference books, encyclopedias, dictionaries and thumb-worn volumes of the classics. The place struck Hammond as being not unlike the work-rooms of free-lance writing men he had known. But the one occupant, a tall, magnificently setup figure of a man, was obviously not of the type that put their dreams on paper, but live them.

He barely glanced up when Hammond entered.

The visitor, awaiting recognition, was struck by the Conscious power and subtle craftiness that lurked in the pale, exotic features of the other. Stratagem, deep and super-capable, might be read in the eyes, black as night,

whose lids contracted ever so faintly now in a dreamy, faraway glaze. Wide, coldly-moulded temples, under close-cropped, crisp black hair, surmounted a face not to_ be put out of memory once even casually visualized, and the whole bespoke a mind that, one sensed, worked a dual lightning shift, analysing and sifting its impressions ever in advance of action and word. The lower features narrowed symmetrically to the alert, square-set chin; spare beneath the rounded prominence of the cheekbones, with a sensitive mouth that could compress thinlipped with a flicker in its half-smile that was cruel as sin.

THE superintendent walked slowly over to a desk and tossed down the limp-covered encyclopedia volume he had been perusing, then he turned and studied Hammond qtleerly, quite as one might study an inanimate object in the depths of a mental problem, only this man’s eyes held a ghostly, diabolical light.

“Mr. Hammond, what do you know of amnesia?” was his startling first question.

“Not a great deal,” replied Hammond seeking to show no outward evidence of surprise. “Refers to loss of identity or something of that sort. That encyclopedia ought to--”

“That being so,” cut in the other seeming to return to actual surroundings, “will you please be seated and tell me what’s on your mind. Smoke?” Hammond lifted a cigarette from the other’s case.

“You are Mr. A. C. Smith, the superintendent?”

“Acey Smith will do—out here.” “As you seem to already know, my name is Hammond. I came looking for a job.”

“A job?” He swept Hammond’s raiment with his scornful eyes.

“What’s so suddenly gone wrong with the world of white collars and derby hats?”

“I brought this letter of introduction from Hon. J. J. Slack, M.P.” “Well,” Acey Smith grunted amusedly, tore open the envelope and merely glanced at the contents. He turned to Hammond with a trace of a sneer playing about his mouth. “Indicates I’m not to bother trying to find out what you”re wanted for and to slap you on the pay-roll at a hundred a month and

Hammond stifled indignant surprise. “I suppose you have something I can do?”

“Do?” There was. something like a hiss in Acey Smith’s halflaugh. “Take in the scenery, I’d suggest. There’s a devil of a lot of it going to waste hereabouts.” “There’s a mistake somewhere, Mr. Smith. I didn’t come out here to loaf, but to tackle a job and earn the money.”

The other sniffed in better-natured scorn. “Say, Hammond,” he derided, “why not be more specific with a poor, benighted bush superintendent? Y ou know as well as the scribe angel knows that old Man J. J. isn’t forking you out the North Star’s good money for what you’re going to do, but for what you’ve done.”

HAMMOND, remembering a warning, became cautious. “Nevertheless,” he persisted, “I would at least like to make a show of earning the money.”

“That’s better,” approved Acey Smith. “Tell me what you did for a living before J. J. tucked you out

Again Hammond felt the need of being guarded before those black, soul-searching eyes. “Lawyer,” he prevari-

“Full-fledged?”

“No, student.”

“H’m, hard-boiled is the only kind I could use. Oh, well, if you find it hard to keep your mind occupied you might camouflage as an extra check with the pole-counting squad. But your principal business, young man, will be doing as you damned well please, except when you get explicit orders to do otherwise.

“By the way,” in a more friendly tone, “how was J. J. looking when you last saw him?”

“Pretty fit, though he seemed worried.”

“Politics is a hell of a game, isn’t it?” pronounced Acey Smith. “But you had better be turning in; you look mussed up and tired. You bunk with the head cook in the little shack next door up. First thing in the morning slip over to the camp store and get a bush outfit. Those parlor duds of yours are high-sign invitations to the ‘flu,’ and we don’t encourage funerals.”

Hammond thanked him, said good-night and turned to leave the room. His hand was on the door-latch when Acey Smith seemed to glide through the air to his side. He felt his wrist seized in a grip of steel.

“Spy!”

It came a hissing accusation that sent Hammond’s hot Iblood to his head. He flung the other free of him. “No, damn you,” he answered fiercely, “and I’m not a timber wolf either!”

He could not have explained what inspired him to say that, but,at the words, Acey Smith cowered back as one might from the clinging clout of a logging whip. Hammond did not know that a man's face could at one moment hold so much of evil as leaped at him from Smith’s. His head jerked back and the eyes that darted fire at Hammond were no longer the eyes of a human being. The taut lips bared back from the even white teeth in a hateful snarl: then Acey Smith’s hands went up to his face convulsively, the palms cupping his lower features.

He whirled on a heel like an Ojibway in a war dance. Next instant, when he faced Hammond, he was laughing quietly. “We’ll drop the play-acting,” he said, “and I’ll take you up and introduce you to your shack-mate, Sandy Macdougal, the cook.”

“You are sure I am not a spy?”

“I am satisfied you are not what I feared for your own welfare you might have been. Let’s go.”

But the cook had turned in and was snoring raucously when they reached his quarters, a substantial log shack that stood directly opposite the huge dining camp. A sullen fire gave out fitful, subdued cracklings in the little sheet-iron heater banked for the night with green wood.

Acey Smith lighted a wall lamp. Only one of the four bunks built into the further wall was occupied, so Acey Smith directed Hammond to the vacant lower bunk, bade him good-night and left abruptly.

THE young man did not immediately retire in spite of his fatigue. Instead, he sat down by the stove, lit his pipe and tried mentally to sift something tangible out of the hodge-podge of mystery that had surrounded him since the night of September the twenty-third when he had allowed himself to be pitch-forked into a commission without definite instructions as to how he was to act or whom he was to accept as frieilds or enemies. Surely the whole world had not gone mad since that hour; there must be a sane method back of the whole thing somewhere; but try as he could, cudgel his imagination as he might, he could build up no theory that was at all satisfying.

Then, after he retired, came memory of the sinister gleam on the face of Acey Smith when he had flung him off over there at the door of his office. That was no “playacting.” as Smith had tried to pass it off. For the moment the man had been in deadly earnest, Hammond was sure of that.

But a pair of great, startled blue eyes, under fine, high-arched eyebrows, came to drive all other haunts of the night away. Those eyes seemed to speak to him out of the shadows, and the fear in them took him back again to the night of the twenty-third of the month when Fate had literally seized him by the scruff of the neck, yanked him out of a commonplace groove in life and tossed him into a vortex of baffling intrigue and mystery.

CHAPTER II

A Strange Pact on a Train

ON THE night of September twentythird, Louis Hammond had been train-bound from Saskatoon east. The transcontinental on which he was traveling had long since passed the Saskatchewan and Manitoba boundaries and was thundering over the muskegs and through the rock-cuts in the great wilderness of the Ontario divide. While the porter was making up his berth, Hammond sought the smoker; but it happened that a garrulous traveler was there holding forth on how the League of Nations should have disposed of things to bring about eternal peace, and the young man fled precipitately as he might have from the deadly presence of a virulent plague.

He passed on to the next coach, a compartment and parlor car. The little smoker there promised peace and quiet. In it there sat alone a spare, grey little man, with a cadaverous face, who looked up from the book in his lap and gazed interestedly at Hammond. The latter lit his

pipe, and taking a seat in the opposite corner beside the window, peered into the moon-bathed night and out over the shadowy wastes to the ragged ranges, where fitful wisps of ground aurora seemed to race with the train like wild ghouls of the night startled from their eyries by this mad, man-made thing tearing through the solitudes.

“Wild country, isn’t it?”

The voice of the little grey man startled Hammond from his reverie. “It is, magnificently so,” he replied. “There is something in its very hostile majesty that fascinates me immensely.”

“Yes. Easterner, I suppose?”

“Not exactly.” Hammond laughed. The other’s geniality drew him out of his mood. “You see, I’ve been a Westerner too, and right here I feel sort of neutral.”

The little grey man laughed with him, a low, sociable cackle. “Still,” he pursued, “I’d wager you’re not a traveling man.”

“No,” a bit wearily. “Newspaper man—ex-newspaper man, I hope.”

THE announcement seemed to agitate the little man more than such a commonplace announcement should. He was silent a moment while he brought forth a silver card-case. He lifted a bit of pasteboard from it, scrutinized it through his glasses, hesitated as though about to replace it in the card-case, then quite deliberately passed it to Hammond, who took it in at a glance:—

Eulas Daly,

United States Consul,

KAM CITY, Ontario, Can.

Hammond drew out one of his own cards from a vestpocket and reciprocated. The other still seemed needlessly perturbed. He spoke up at last as though it had

cost him some effort to select a tactful opening: “And so you’ve quit the Fourth Estate, Mr. Hammond?”

“I intend tv, that is, if I can otherwise earn a decent livelihood. I’ve had five years of the living-ghost world

and it has lost its glamor. I want to get clear of its grin and live things for awhile.”

“So—that is it? Quite natural too.” Mr. Daly seemed to be feeling his way, syllable by syllable. “Do you know, it is almost providential that you should have come in here at this moment, Mr. Hammond.”

“Yes?”

“It’s this way—you see: I just a few moments ago left a party who is privately seeking the services of a man of your particular type—and he wants him right away.”

“A newspaper publisher?” wryly.

“No—no, not a publisher. By George, I’ll bring him here to meet you. What do you say?”

“Hold on,” cried Hammond detaining him. “What is the job and who is the man?”

“Your first question I cannot answer, because I do not definitely know myself,” replied the American consul. “But you have just hinted to me that you would like to play a part in big things, and if there’s one man on the continent who holds that opportunity for you in the hollow of his hand it’s Norman T. Gildersleeve.”

The little grey man stood at the green-curtained entrance of the smoker, an expectant twinkle in his grey eyes. “What do you say?” he repeated.

“Go ahead,” agreed Hammond. “There can be no harm in meeting him, anyway.”

After Eulas Daly had gone, Hammond kept turning the name over in his mind: Gildersleeve—Norman T. Gildersleeve, where had he read or heard that name before? Somehow it seemed connected with big business and stock market reports. Very likely he was looking for a private secretary, a biographer or a publicity agent. Well, any one of those things wouldn’t be so bad, and it would be a change from the exacting grind of the daily newspaper where one was always behind the scenes of big things in process, but never, never quite a part of them. Hammond was twenty-five, the age of limitless discontent,alone in the world and intensely ambitious.

But he was far from guessing the extraordinary nature of the proposition that was about to be put up to him.

“\/ïR. GILDERSLEEVE wishes to see iVl y0U alone in his stateroom.” Hammond noted that much of the previous enthusiasm had gone from the little consul’s manner. His tone now was businesslike, matter-of-fact. No doubt, conjectured Hammond; he had hoped to be a party to the interview he had been instrumental in bringing about.

At the door of Gildersleeve’s stateroom, Hammond shook the hand of Eulas Daly with a word of thanks for the interest he had volunteered in the matter. “I’ll see you later and tell you all about it,” he said, a promise which, for unexpected reasons, he never kept.

Hammond found Gildersleeve with a litter of papers and documents about him and more protruding from the open jaws of a traveling-bag. He was the cut of a typical captain of big business; middle-aged, iron-grey, with a keen, cold face and the drift of a busy career stamped all over his personality. Two tiny spots, livid white, one below either eye, lent rather a sinister tone to his face, especially when his brilliant dark eyes, set too close to the hawklike nose, were looking straight at you. At first glance, those two marks appeared to be birth-marks, but closer scrutiny disclosed them to be scars.

He did not offer his hand at first; just favored the younger man with a glance that was as swift as it was penetrating, then turned the document face down on the little leaf-table before him and motioned his visitor to a seat. When he spoke, Hammond felt an electric urge to be brief and to the point.

“Mr. Daly has told me what he knows of you," he opened. “Now, will you kindly oblige me with such details as you think important about yourself and your capabilities?”

Hammond’s training had disciplined him in the terse use of language. He told it all in less than ten minutes’ time.

Gildersleeve appraised him keenly, interestedly. “Good,” he approved. “You’ll no doubt do, provided you care to accept what I have to offer you. In any case, can I expect you to regard this interview as strictly confidential ?

“You can,” replied Hammond simply. "As you no doubt know, such a promise from a newspaperman is regarded as sacred."

“Then we’ll get down to business. Would you, for ln-

stance, be prepared to undertake an assignment, entailing little effort beyond strict caution and secrecy, without being too inquisitive as to what its objects were?”

“That would depend on a number of things,” cautiously suggested the younger man. “It would have to be distinctly understood it was clean and above-board.”

“The moral side of it need not for a moment worry you,” smiled Gildersleeve. “You will be asked to do nothing that would conflict with your standards of honor, however strict they may be. In fact, in this particular case, it would be best for you to avoid even the appearance of trickery.”

“If I knew more about the nature of the job. Mr. Gildersleeve, I could better judge my capabilities of taking hold.”

“Your newspaper training in mixing with men, combined with a close-mouthed attitude will carry you through,” assured the other. “I’m not saying there will be no risks, but such risks will be largely contingent upon your own shrewd behaviour.”

/"GILDERSLEEVE gazed at the window for a silent moment, then continued: “The proposition in brief is this: You are to secure for yourself a position of a clerical nature; say pole-counter, time-keeper or officeassistant, with the North Star Towing and Contracting Company, out at their camps on the Nannabijou pulpwood limits, located about twenty miles southeast of the Port of Kam City, on the North Shore of Lake Superior. You are to hold whatever job you select until I communicate with you, and, while you are engaged at it, you are to forget that you have been a newspaper man, maintaining absolute silence to all concerned as to your past and as to why I sent you out there. On these two points, I’d like to repeat with emphasis, you must be particularly cautious.

“Now, as to remuneration: You will be paid by me personally on the completion of the contract at the rate of one thousand dollars a month for such time as you put in, in addition to such salary as you draw for your work from the company operating the limits. Afterwards, if you point up to my expectations, I’ll be in a position to offer you a berth that will perhaps be more congenial and unclouded by the mystery that must for the time being surround this one.

“What do you think about it, Mr. Hammond?”

Hammond was for the moment lost for an answer. This high-salaried offer, though it distinctly appealed to his adventuring spirit, took him off his feet and the concealed object of his mission at the pulpwood limits made him hesitate.

“I am not expected to spy on anyone?” he insisted.

“I have assured you there will be nothing underhand about it,” Gildersleeve reminded him.

“There is, however, a possibility I might not succeed in securing a position with the contracting company.” “There is such a possibility—a remote one, but the way will be made easy for you. At Kam City you will make personal application to Hon. J. .1. Slack, M. P., president of the North Star Towing and Contracting Company, presenting to him a letter of introduction I will furnish you with.”

The train slowed down to a grinding stop at a small flag station. It was but a moment until it was in motion again.

“I’ll take it,” decided Hammond.

Before Gildersleeve could reply there came a light, insistent tapping at the door of the stateroom. A colored porter entered, bearing a sealed envelope, passed it to Gildersleeve with a flash of very white teeth and retired.

Gildersleeve ripped the message from the envelope, glanced at its contents and pushed the button at his el-

( “Porter,” he requested when the latter re-appeared, “how long does the train stop at Moose Horn Station?” ^Twenty minutes, sah. We take on watah there, sah.” Very well, porter,” acknowledged Gildersleeve passing the black man a tip.

He reached for pen and railway stationery, and while he wrote hurriedly said: “This note to J. J. Slack will act as the open sesame to the job, Mr. Hammond. You may read it before I seal it.”

Hammond took the proffered sheet and read:—

En Route to Kam City, Sept. 23. Hon. ,).J. Slack, M.P.,

Pres. North Star Co.,

Kam City, Ontario.

My dear Slack:—Am under immediate necessity of finding a berth out in the woods for the bearer. Louis Hammond. Put him on at a clerical job, not

too arduous, at a good salary and charge the latter up to my account. Please do so as quietly as possible, as it is highly essential that my connection in this matter should remain absolutely confidential.

Yours very truly,

NORMAN T. GILDERSLEEVE. “Now, Mr. Hammond,” Gildersleeve went on as he sealed and addressed the envelope, “we’ll consider the matter closed for the present. Sorry for the terrific rush, but there is an emergent matter that presses for my immediate attention.”

He arose and grasped the young man’s hand. That strong grip was reassuring, but it. did not altogether dissipate a presentiment growing on Hammond that he had let himself in for something that was even more potential in its possibilities than it looked to be on the surface. There was no more to be said, however, unless he changed his mind and threw up the whole thing. He had not the slightest desire to do that.

/"AUTSIDE the stateroom door, Hammond stopped dead in his tracks. He was looking into a woman’s face that was startlingly, un really beautiful.

She had risen from among the chairs in the drawingroom of the coach, a dazzling apparition with great wonder eyes under finely-pencilled, high-arched brows. For the moment he was conscious he was staring stupidly, unable to help himself; then her dark-fringed eye-lids dropped and the faintest traces of a vagrant, smile lit up her divinely-moulded features.

Hammond swung hastily down the aisle. Quite in a whirl he pitched into the smoker. The train slowpd down under a sudden shuddering of air brakes.

He looked out the window. A sign-board on the tiny frame building beyond the equally diminutive platform told him it was Moose Horn Station.

A stateroom door opened somewhere and he heard a passenger hurry along the aisle, out of the coach and down the train steps. Next instant he saw Norman T. Gildersleeve, the man he had just been talking to, appear on the station platform, wearing a light overcoat and carrying a small black bag. Gildersleeve looked swiftly about the area where the dull station lamp-light and the glow from the car windows fell, then hurried around the

side of the station building and disappeared irt the shadows.

He had barely gone when another form seemed to rise out of the shadows near the train somewhere, a tall, graceful figure of a woman in sable furs and wearing a large picture hat. As if Hammond’s stare had attracted her, she turned and glanced for a fleeting instant at the car window. Hers was a savage, dark beauty, with eyes so intense they glowed like luminous discs of blackness in the shadowy light.

The woman went rapidly to the station, passed in the door, remained a moment, re-appeared and returned down the platform to the train.

Hammond strode out to the vestibuled platform of the • coach. He watched the station area closely for Norman T. Gildersleeve’s return. But Gildersleeve did not come

The engine’s bell sounded and the train moved out. Hammond thought of his berth, but some movement within drew his gaze through the glass door of the compartment coach. The door of Gildersleeve’s stateroom was open, and the little grey man, Eulas Daly, passed in, closing the door behind him. Hammond was sure Gildersleeve was not with him and that he could not have preceded him.

THE young man was about to leave when a silent form emerged from the shadow near the coach door. It was the wonderful girl he had seen in the drawing-room, but there was great perplexity in her face now.

The train was rapidly accumulating the even roar of its maximum speed. The girl looked back and her eyes met Hammond’s beyond the glass of the platform door. Her hand went to her lips as though to stifle a cry that trembled there. The fright registered upon her face went to him like the stab of a knife. Plainly, he was the cause of that fright. Mystified, and somehow deeply hurt, he drew back into the shadows and she fled like one fearing for her life.

With confusion still upon him, Hammond hurried to his berth in the Pullman.

CHAPTER III

“Honor Sinks Where Commerce Long Prevails”

NEXT morning, the events of the previous evening all seemed to Hammond like a hazy dream. Only the sealed letter from Gildersleeve to Hon. J. J. Slack, M. P., president of the North Star Towing and Contracting Company, smacked of tangibility, for he saw nothing further of Gildersleeve, the girl with the high-arched eyebrows or even the U. S. consul, Eulas Daly. He could not go prowling back through the compartment coach, and besides he was really pressed for time to dress and breakfast before the train pulled into Kam City.

His first experience was a disappointment. At the head office of the North Star Company he was informed that Hon. J. J. Slack was away at the Dominion capital on business, but would possibly be back before noon of the following day. He had therefore a wait of two days in the lakeport city.

Hammond improved his time by paying a visit to the sites of two enormous pulp and paper mills under course of construction near the water front. There was a curious rivalry of big interests told of there.

The young man was the more interested on learning that one of these plants, the Kam City Pulp ánd Paper mill, was to derive its supply of pulp poles almost exclusively from the Nannabijou Limits, where Gildersleeve had assigned him to go. The Nannabijou Limits were said to be the largest in all the North, a government block on which the Kam City Company had secured conditional rights to the timber that very summer after a long legal battle with competitors and the signing of a hard and fast agreement with the Ontario government that their mill must be running to full capacity, manufacturing paper from wood cut on the Nannabijou Limits by October the twenty-third of that very year. Incase they were not in a position to do so from any cause whatever they stood to lose all rights to the timber.

THE stories which Hammond gained from various sources regarding this situation were conflicting and at best rather incoherent. Out of it all he gathered that it was the result of a war between two highly capitalized organizations to gain supremacy. It seemed that originally both the North Star Company and the Kam City Company were applicants for the cutting rights on the Nannabijou, and because a pledge had been made by the government during an election campaign that not one pole might be cut and carried away from the limits unless it were manufactured into paper in Kam City, both companies, to prove their good faith, had purchased in Kam City and had started the building of their mills before their applications went in. The North Star Company was finally awarded the rights to the limits on an explicit agreement that they were to have their

mill in full operation the following October. There was an additional stipulation that in order to renew their yearly rights on October the twenty-third they must commence the installation of their machinery by June the first. This latter clause, it was said, was added because of the North Star’s reputation for trickery, the government being determined that whoever cut the poles on the Nannabijou must be making paper from them on the specified date, October the twenty-third.

The North Star had immediately commenced cutting operations on the limits. The construction of their mill, too, was rushed, but June rolled around without their having received any machinery to install in it. On the other hand, the Kam City Company, who had gone on with their mill just the same as if they held the contract, were getting their machinery on the ground and had actually commenced the installation of some of it. The Kam City Company immediately made a second application for the cutting rights on the limits, claiming that the North Star Company had forfeited theirs through non-performance of contract. Then there ensued a battle royal in the courts and before the Ontario legislature.

There were weeks of lobbying, during which Slack, the president of the North Star, and a bevy of lawyers representing that company endeavored to hold the cutting rights and gain an extension of time till the North Star Company completed their mill, making the claim, which may or may not have been true, that they could not secure delivery of the paper-making machinery on order on account of the steel famine which then existed. But the provincial government obstinately stood out for the terms of the agreement. Slack was seeking to bring higher political pressure to bear from Ottawa when the Kam City Company’s application was granted, their cutting rights to obtain from the date the North Star’s expired, October the twenty-third, conditional that their mill should be in full operation on that date. In order that they might have wood to grind, an additional fiat was issued constraining the North Star to make delivery of their cut on the limits to the mill of the Kam City Company at a price to be fixed by a commission, in sufficient time for the latter to commence operations, and in sufficient quantities to keep the said mills running during the subsequent winter months. On the twentythird, the North Star were to surrender the limits to the Kam City organization.

Then a strange thing happened. The North Star Company suddenly changed its tactics, bowed to the decree of the government and withdrew all their suits in the courts of law. Immediately, however, a number of members, who were known to be under the thumb of the North Star, brought down a rider to be inserted in the agreement with the Kam City Company to the effect that if the latter company, from any cause whatsoever, failed to have their mill in full operation by October the twenty-third, with every prospect of continuous operation from then on, their rights should be cancelled and the same rights revert to the original holders, the North Star Company, the latter in such a case to get an extension of time for the installation of their machinery at their mill.

The Kam City Company’s lawyers made a brilliant battle for relief from this rider, which, they pointed out, would nullify their hard-won rights in case of unforeseen exigencies or accident. The North Star’s representatives pointed out that the North Star Company had had their rights cancelled on this very basis, and what had been considered fair treatment for one company should be fair for another. The government, tired of haggling and secretly fearing to further antagonize the powerful North Star Company, made the rider law which the Kam City Company must agree to live up to.

Thus was brought about the curious situation wherein the North Star Company, with a mill of their own practically completed except for the installation of machinery, were forced to cut and deliver wood from the Nannabijou for their rival. On the other hand, the Kam City Company had also to accept this system for the time being whether they liked it or not. It was obvious that they did so because they could not help themselves: they had to have millions of poles ready for immediate delivery at their city docks in time to live up to their agreement and the North Star Company owned all the available tugs and machinery so necessary to rush the poles to the mill site.

For once it was believed that a coup had been put over on the wily North Star Company; but they took their medicine without murmur, and not only went on with the cutting and booming of poles at the limits as before, but rushed the completion of their huge pulp mill building. People wondered what they hoped to do with it, because the Nannabijou limits now secured by the Kam City Company would give the latter the full • advantage in paper-making competition, not only because they were by far the largest limits in the North, but because they were drained by the mighty Nannabijou River and its tributaries, simplifying the matter of transporting the poles to the lake-front, from far inland. It was true that three other limits on the North Shore were controlled by companies believed to be subsidiaries of the North Star, but they were infinitely small compared with the Nannabijou forests.

At any rate, the two bjg pulp and paper mills were . on their way. Kam City was getting the benefit of construction work that would total somewhere in the neighborhood of six or seven million dollars, and the public, as usual, was mostly concerned with thé wealth immediately in sight.

HAMMOND incidentally gathered from what he heard here and there that Hon. J. J. Slack, M.P., president of the North Star Company, was a big man in Kam City, but he also discovered a general impression abroad that he was really a figure-head-— that his every move in the commercial world w«s dictated by a power behind, mysterious as it was ingenious and powerful. Even the policies which he espoused in the House of Commons were attributed to master minds somewhere back of the scenes. None had ever been able to put their finger on the source of his inspiration, but wiseacre socialist leaders maintained it was that much-abused, vague quantity known as “big interests," and the mob were contented to accept it as a good enough theory.

Hon. J. J. Slack, M. P., who held a place in the cabinet at Ottawa without portfolio, it seemed, was a tricky politician, a hailfellow-well-met and nothing more. Before his election to the Commons he was a struggling barrister whose battle for a mere existence was a case of Greek meet Greek: afterwards, he suddenly blossomed forth as president of the North Star Towing and Contracting Company, which those on the inside claimed was the parent of some twenty-seven flourishing subsidiary enterprises, including a fleet of grain-carrying freighters on the upper lakes, a grain storage trust operating elevators half way across the continent, a fur-trading company \ that had gradually dominated the adjace^

districts to the exclusion of all rivals and a string of powerful newspapers in various cities and towns all the way from thé head of the Great Lakes to the Pacific Coast.

THE North Star Towing and Contracting Company and its leading subsidiaries had at one time and another been accused of the boldest commercial piracies, gigantic briberies and glaring steals. If there was a big campaign “barrel” in evidence during an election it was usually set down as North Star money—and always, it seemed, the man the North Star backed had the most votes when the ballot counting was over. But never did the North Star Company or its satellites appear in the courts of law as defendants or face a commission of inquiry. There were settlements of a quiet nature—if there had to be. They wielded a long arm of retribution when their self-appropriated privileges were interfered with—wielded it with such cunning and far-reaching effect that even powerful rival corporations and high government officials learned, not without cost to themselves at times, it was the better part of wisdom not to stand in their way.

Whose money financed this sinister business only the company’s bankers knew, and they kept that knowledge to themselves. The business seemed in some mysterious manner to run itself—so successfully that it reached out and dominated what it pleased, with an uncanny penchant for stamping out rivals and smashing all opposition in its path. Its progress and expansion had a certainty and a swiftness of a thing on the tables of Destiny. Its sub-managers were all reputed to be clever rogues, deliberately chosen because past performances had given proof that a working conscience was the least of their moral burdens. Strange to say, none of them had ever been known to double-cross the North Star subsidiary for which they worked. Perhaps this, in a sense, was due to a knowledge that nowhere else could they secure positions so lucrative or power of a kind such as they wielded under Slack. But more likely there was a deeper reason; a sense of an unseen guiding mind whom none could name but all felt—a power in the background that could make and unmake, could create and destroy at its pleasure.

Slack’s sudden ascension to command of all the varied industries dominated by the North Star interests was at first lightly taken. Merely a figurehead president appointed for political strategy, everyone said. All of which did not in the least disturb the Hon. J. J. Slack. He went smilingly on his way, accumulating millions, quite contented to be underrated in the matter of personal ability.

The executives of the North Star and its subsidiaries soon learned in a quiet but effective manner that Slack’s word was law; that, wherever his counsels might come from, he was at all times clothed with absolute executive authority.

T HE thing that puzzled the gossiping public was why the North Star Com pany had been so willing to cut and de liver the poles from the Nannabijou Limits for their hated rival, the Kam City Pulp and Paper Mills. With an almost exclusive monopoly on towing and loading equipment, they could have been almost certain of tying up delivery to the Kam City Company for an indefinite period by simply ceasing operations on the Nannabijou Limits until long-drawn out action in the courts forced them to abide by what was in a legal sense unprecedented action on the part of the government. Instead, the North Star carried on their cutting and booming as before. By many this was looked on as portentous; the North Star's quiet submission was too obvious to be natural and without deeper designs, as was also the fact that, though they had not even yet received their machinery, they were going on with the completion of their pulp and paper mill building. But more ominous than any other feature was the editorial silence of. the North Star newspapers on this particular question. From the day that the North Star changed its tactics before the govetnment, the newspapers, currently believed to be under the control of the North Star, never again so much as. mentioned the matter of the cutting rights on the Nannabijou Limits. Goose-bone prophets foresaw the utter elimination of the North Star coming. It was a situation analogous to that of a great general ordering his heaviest guns to cease firing and retire at a tirnewhen petty strategistsconceive

that victory could be gained only by continued attack.

Hammond saw plainly enough now that through his deal on the train with Norman T. Gildersleeve, he had tumbled in a small way into the vortex of big things, and he had a notion that for the next few' weeks at least he was not going to suffer from monotony. Gildersleeve must be in some manner financially interested; but no one with whom Hammond came in contact could throw any light on that phase of the situation. A man named Duff, of Toronto, they said, was president of the Kam City Pulp and Paper Mills, backed by international capital in which American financial interests held control. A man named Norman T. Gildersleeve had at one time been a big factor in the North, but he had long since been driven out of business in Canada by the

irrepressible North Star. No, it couldn’t be he—he had surely had enough of “bucking” the North Star.

Hammond was bound to find out Gildersleeve’s connection with the affair, if he could do so without arousing suspicion as to his interest in the matter. He hoped Slack would drop some hint of Gildersleeve’s identity when he saw him.

But Slack did no such thing. Hammond was among the first to interview the politician on his return from Ottawa.

Hon. J. J. Slack, M. P., was a big man, physically

handsome in a plump, comfortable way, urbane and pleasing of address—almost oily. His face registered acute surprise as he sat across the desk from Hammond in his private office reading Gildersleeve’s brief letter of introduction. He actually seemed to be trying to conceal great perturbation, but he made no comment, and to Hammond s adroitly thrown out feelers for information regarding Gildersleeve he made guarded, unsatisfying

replies. All of which is second-nature with a seasoned politician.

He did not call a stenographer, but scrawled out something on a letterhead and sealed it in an official envelope. Then he wrote a couple of words across the face of a card he took from a drawer of his desk and handed both

to his visitor.

“I am delighted to comply with Mr. Gildersleeve’s request,” he observed. “In the envelope is a letter of introduction to Mr. A. C. Smith, superintendent for the North Star Company at the Nannabijou Limits, Mr. Hammond. The card is a pass which will take care of your transportation out on any of the tugs leaving our local docks this afternoon.”

He was pleasant and smiling about it, but his abrupt rising from his seat intimated that the interview was at an end. Hammond thanked him for his courtesy and hurried1 to the dock.

LATER that same afternoon a messenger boy entered Hon. J. J. Slack’s private office and delivered to him a sealed yellow envelope. It contained a marconigram in code, which, after some moments of patient study, Slack deciphered as follows;—

Be prepared sensational news. Authorize papers print verbatim all despatches signed Musson. Keep strict lookout and wire explicit details regarding all strangers seeking to get to limits. (Sgd.) “J. C. X.” Slack’s fat hands trembled. His face became red and white by turns like that of one who has been discovered in a grievous blunder. He jabbed excitedly at a push-button on the side of his desk.

A lean, bespectacled man, with a foxlike face, responded from the outer office. “You wanted me, Mr. Slack?”

“Yes, Jackson, send a man to the docks right away,” cried Slack. “Tell him to look up a fellow named Hammond who has a pass out on the tug and bring him back here to me. Tell him to tell Hammond there’s been an oversight and I want to see him right away.”

The fox-faced man craned his neck at the south window of the office. “The tug’s: gone, Mr. Slack,” he announced. “She’s a mile out in the lake now.”

Whereat Jackson discreetly withdrewwhile the Hon. J. J. Slack, M. P., made the air sing with dark, unparliamentarycurses.

CHAPTER IV

“A Stoic of the Woods—A Man Without A Tear”

WHEN Acey Smith returned to his office after taking Hammond to his sleeping quarters the night the latter arrived at the Nannabijou limits, he sat long by his desk in strange cogitation, his eyes narrowed to brooding slits, his mouth drawn over his even, white teeth, until it became a long, cruel hairline, in a face that no longer masked its ruthless craftiness. Acey Smith believed the faculties became most acute after midnight. Most of the problems that arose in the province of his activities were solved in the dead hours of the night. And when a light burned late in Acey Smith’s office—well, there were sometimes orders to execute that proved an unlovely surprise for one or more persons of consequence on the morrow.

Of all the executives of the North Star Towing and Contracting Company and its subsidiaries, Acey Smith was the deepest enigma, a man who lived for the most part to himself, kept no counsel with his fellows. Of his antecedents there was little known. He had risen from obscurity to the post of superintendent for the North Star Company; in fact had been its chief out-of-doors executive since its inception as a one-tug-and-barge salvaging and towing concern. He had seen it rise to a position dominating the marine business of the Upper Lakes and spread out commercial branches into the lumber limits, the fur territories, urban manufacturing and even the grain belts of the prairie west. The North Star became the mightiest commercial octupus of the North and the Northwest, but Acey Smith never moved beyond the post of superintendent for the parent company and general over-man of the subsidiaries.

Why this was, not even his brother executives of the North Star enterprises could understand. That he Continued on page 43

The Timber Pirate

Continued from, page 12

•“held cards“ with the real directors of the •company was more in their confidence than the president, Hon. J. J. Slack him self. Deeper ones sensed some secret personal barrier that precluded his promotion.

IN TRUTH, there were times when Acey Smith cursed bitterly a creature that had put a weakness upon him through his mother— startled her before he was born with a black curse that stuck.

The Latin races in the cutting gangs steadfastly held Acey Smith ■ was in league with the Evil One, a superstition which gained weight from a tale of oldtimers of how he had once “broken” a Finnish bully of the camps with his bare hands. Smith had gone out to reprimand •the Finn for causing a disturbance, whereat the latter made use of a name that is a fighting-word wherever men revere the honor of their parents.

The superintendent’s form leaped out of his mackinaw reefer like the unsheathing of a rapier. The giant rushed him with a roar; flailed at him with his great ape-like arms, intending first to knock him to the ground and then stamp and lacerate him with his caulked boots, after a refined custom of victors in back-country encounters of those days.

Instead, the great Finn halted abruptly •a few feet from Acey Smith with a queer sound that was half sob, half moan.

The Boss’s arms had shot out like flickers of light to the throat and face of the other, and what happened after that would pale the story of the cruellest onesided prize-fight on record. They carried the Finn away, a bleeding, quivering mass with a head that wabbled weirdly on a swollen, distorted neck.

It was the Finn’s last fight. Just what happened he never told, and at mention of it he would jabber incoherent things through teeth that chattered like those of one in the grip of the ague. When he recovered sufficiently to get upon his feet, he left camp at a limping run and was never seen in those precincts again.

It was the look upon Acey Smith’s face on that occasion that left an indelible impress upon the memory of witnesses—a light of incarnate fury and hate that sat there while he pummelled the other into a pulp. None had ever seen such a baneful gleam on the face of a man, and among those bard-bitten, devil-may-care lumberjacks there was none who wished to ever look upon its like again.

What the witnesses to that fight had seen in'Acey Smith’s face was a something that was always there, subdued almost beyond detection in his normal, butever leaping in flickers to his features when powerful impulses were upon him—an all-crushing, sinister thing, that seemed to be crying out from within him; “Destroy! Destroy! Destroy!”

That was what Louis Hammond had seen, momentarily, when Acey Smith had gripped his wrist ht the door. It had brought upon Hammond an unknown fear ¡ that it took all his strength of will to hide.

But now, in the privacy of his midnight I meditations, conflicting emotions were , mirrored in the countenance of the master of the Nannabijou camps. As he sat pondering by his desk the remnants of that evil light leaped alternately to his ■eyes, only to dissipate in a softer glow that seemed to signal the triumph of some better element of his nature.

TWO problems assailed Acey Smith— one the hidden reason for sending Louis Hammond to the limits and the other the haunting eyes of a beautiful woman whose visit to his office earlier in the evening had brought a magical surprise.

It was not that either of their visits was unexpected. He had been apprised of their coming through the North Star’s own channels of information. “As for Hammond,” he finally deduced, “he’s merely a stool-pigeon—nothing more. But for what purpose? That’s what must "be found out right away." it He picked up Slack’s letter of introduction. It was a somewhat different epistle from what he had inferred it was «to Hammond:—

Dear A. C. S.—The bearer, one Louis Hammond, has evidently got something on the Big Quarrie, who wants us to keep him hidden on the limits at a good salary. It might be a good idea to hang onto him and

draw him out. What he knowsjmight be of value to us. J. J. Slack.

Acey Smith tore the letter into tiny shreds and dropped them into the stove.

“Slack,” he passed judgment, “has about as much real thinking matter above his eyebrows as a yellow chipmunk.”

HAMMOND and Slack were soon out of Acey Smith’s thoughts. He paced the floor in slow, thoughtful strides, every now and then pausing to gaze at a certain point near the door. An onlooker would have been amazed at the metamorphosis that had come over the man. The harsh lines had receded from his face and a something came in their place that in another might have been taken for the light of a tender sentiment.

Memory of a gentle presence gripped him—gripped him with the thrill of a golden song and an abandonment to its witchery that was a back-cry from a youth this man of iron had never lived in its fullness.

In his mental eye he could see her standing as she had stood in his doorway, hesitant and waiting for him who was for the moment held too spell-bound to speak.

God, what eyes! They had seemed to play into the very soul of him as shafts of the morning sun golden and gladden the dourest recesses of the wilderness hills. She was a beautiful woman in all the wonderfully potential things that simple phrase conjures in the fancy of a man who has seen the world and what tawdry stuff lies behind much of its glint and glitter. Yet Acey Smith had never set eyes on this woman before.

SHE had introduced herself as Miss Josephine Stone, of Calgary, Alta., who had taken up temporary residence on Amtheyst Island, a picturesque reef formerly used as a summer resort and situated about a mile and a half northwest of the docks of the Nannabijou limits. She had come there from the West, she said, accompanied by a woman companion, Mrs. Johnson, in compliance with a letter she had received from Mr. J. C. Eckes, of the North Star Towing and Contracting Company, who had intimated that information of vital interest to her could only be communicated to her sometime within the next few weeks, and to accommodate her and any companions and servants she thought necessary to bring with her a cottage had been prepared for her occupancy on Amethyst Island. A cheque, drawn on the North Star Company, to cover her expenses, had been enclosed with the letter, which enjoined her to the strictest secrecy. But, she added, she had been directed to call upon Mr. A. C. Smith, superintendent at the limits, at her earliest convenience after she got settled on Amethyst Island. Mr. Smith, her letter had stated, would see to her welfare until such time as it was possible for her to be put in possession of the information referred to.

“It is all so mysterious,” she concluded. “It is more like something you would read about in a book.”

“But it is all very well, I assure you, Miss Stone,” replied Acey Smith. “Won’t you be seated?”

“Oh, I’m afraid I cannot remain long. Mrs. Johnson came over with me from the Island and I left her waiting at the dock.” ' “You find things comfortable and congenial at the Island?”

“Very. I think it is such a delightful spot. Just like a holiday for me, and I can get over and back to the city so conveniently in the motor-boat provided.” “You would not be averse to remaining there for say, three to four weeks, if necessary?”

“Oh!” She had evidently not been prepared for such a request. “In the meantime, am I to know what this is all about, Mr. Smith?”

“I am very sorry I am not in a position to fully explain to you what must seem like a very queer proceeding,” he answered, “and I can only ask you to be content to await developments.”

“But Mr. Eckes-—when am I to meet him?”

“J. C. X?” Acey Smith pronounced it short and in a cautious whisper. '

“Yes.”

“That would be out of the question.” “But I understood I was to meet him here.”

“You have misinterpreted the letter, Miss Stone. Nowhere does it refer to such a meeting.”

The girl bit her nether lip. Her eyes flashed dangerously. "If that’s the answer,” she said coldly, “we may as well end this farce at once. I will return to Calgary to-morrow.”

Genuine alarm came into Acey Smith’s face. “But, Miss Stone,” he cried, “you don’t know how much it is in your own interests that you stay—how greatly you would jeopardize matters by leaving!” “That is just it—I don't know! I feel I have a right to know if I am to be asked to remain.”

THERE could be no mistaking the determination in her voice and manner. Plainly she was poignantly disappointed. The superintendent gazed fixedly into space for a silent period. “Give me time,” he requested. “Give me time to find out what I may tell you. Will you do that?” "To-morrow?”

“To-morrow morning, if you say so.” “Shall I call here?”

“No. I will go to the Island—with your permission.”

“Thank you, Mr. Smith. I will look for you at 10.30.”

He accompanied her, hat in hand, to the door. She softly declined his offer of escort to the dock, a declination that left no hurt. She was a Western girl with a Western girl’s notions of independence in such matters.

Acey Smith had reluctantly applied himself to another pressing matter with thoughts of her forcing themselves uppermost. Then Hammond had come. Hammond—oh, well, he wanted to forget Hammond and those other things for just

In spite of (he predicament the girl’s ultimatum had apparently placed him in, Acey Smith had pleasure in anticipating the keeping of that appointment at Amethyst Island on the following day. Before retiring, he took from a wardrobe in his private quarters, a neatly pressed dark suit of tailor-made clothes and laid them out in his room, with fine shoes and immaculate white linen.

Awakening the following morning he sat up in bed, and, gazing at the city garments, laughed a harsh, soulless laugh. “Fool,” he syllabled grimly. “Fool—

double-fool!”

He garbed himself in his bush clothes and placed the Tine raiment back in the wardrobe.

AN HOUR later that morning, in the cook’s quarters, Louis Hammond came out of a dreamless sleep and for some moments sat blinkingly trying to adjust himself to his new surroundings. He wasn’t so sure now he was going to like his new job or its environment. Used to an active routine, he would much rather have had some set schedule of duties to perform than be left to find his own means of occupying his time. There was something highly unsatisfactory about the whole transaction, he felt, and had it not been for the element of mystery that challenged his patience, he likely would have dropped the assignment and left the place by the first tug for the city.

As if it were an echo of his thoughts, there came the shrill tooting of theincomingmorningtug down by the dock. Hammond rolled out of his bunk and ran to the four-paned window of the cabin. The tug had already been docked and snubbed, with the despatch characteristic of Upper Lakes sailormen.

The crew, hustling off supplies, paused while a single passenger, a young woman wearing sable furs and a large picture hat, landed. Something familiar about her caused Hammond to watch by the window while she came leisurely up the camp road.

He started back with a suppressed exclamation as her features became discernible. It was the face of the darkeyed woman he had seen get off the train at Moose Horn Station in the wake of Norman T. Gildersleeve.

She turned and walked into the office of the superintendent without rapping on the door.

“All our trails seem to lead to Acey Smith’s office,” grimly ruminated Hammond as he turned from the window.

DREAKFAST, however, was uppermost in Hammond’s mind at the moment, and hastily donning his clothes, he hurried over to the dining camp just

across the road from his sleeping quarters. He expected a sharp reprimand for being late, but he was met by a genial-faced, auburn-haired young man who introduced himself as his shack-mate, Sandy Macdougal, head cook.

“There’s orders from the Big Boss you're to feed when you like and sleep as long as you want,” the cook said smilingly as he indicated a place at one of the long plank tables set out with accurately aligned rows of graniteware dishes and great graniteware bowls of white sugar.

One of Macdougal’s bull cooks brought in oatmeal porridge, a platter heaped high with bacon and eggs, toast, a jug of Snowshoe syrup and a big graniteware pot of steaming coffee.

HAMMOND had the diner to himself. He never remembered an occasion in his life when he felt so hungry or a meal appealed to him as so inviting. There is something in the tang of the open-air North that puts a real edge on one’s appetite, and there are no workers so particular about the skill of the men who cook meals for them as lumberjacks.

Macdougal returned from the kitchen a few moments later, and lighting a cigarette sat down on the plank bench near Hammond with back and elbows on the table.

“I saw your duds when I tumbled out this morning,” he remarked, “but I suspected you were some friend of the boss’s who’d come late in the night and I didn’t wake you—Well, for the love of Mike, look who’s here!”

Hammond whirled.

At the door of the diner stood a weird figure. His face was swarthy, almost black, with livid red scars on the cheekbones below each eye. Straight black hair, coarse as a horse’s mane, fell in glossy strands to his shoulders from his uncovered head, where a single eagle’s feather was fastened at the back with a band of purple bound round the temples and the brow. He wore a much-beaded, close-fitting costume of brightly-colored blanket-cloth, shoepack moccasins and string upon string of glistening white wolf’s teeth around his neck.

His was a face of deep sagacity, features aquiline and regular as a white man’s but possessing that solemn majesty of the headmen of Northern tribes.

It was made the more forbidding by the self-inflicted wounds in the cheeks, and the whites of his eyes showed garishly as he leisurely surveyed the room.

“Ogima Bush,” he announced in a deep voice that commanded respect in spite of his bizarre appearance. “Ogima Bush look to find Big Boss.”

“Mr. Smith?” It was Macdougal who spoke.

“ Un-n-n-n—Smid. Maybe you know where me find?”

“Gone,” informed Macdougal, throwing out his arms expressively. “Gone away out on lake early. Maybe not be back for long time.”

The Indian grunted. “Maybe you te’1 ! him Big Boss Ogima Bush come to see j him? Tell him big medicine man.” “Allright,” assented Macdougal.

The Indian turned and shuffled out, i but not before he had fixed Hammond \ for one fleeting instant with an uncanny ¡ flash from his fierce black eyes, a glint in | them that seemed to pierce the young man through and through.

“Some motion picture get-up that,” Hammond observed, when the door closed behind him. “An Indian chief, I suppose?”

“No, worse than that,” sniffed the cook. “He’s what they call a medicine man; even the whites out here step out of the trail to let that bird pass. Besides, one’s got to be civil to them red-skinned loafers,” he explained, “because the super is some way cahoots with them and their pagan deviltry. Some say he’s really one of^ them only he happened to be born

HAMMOND had to laugh over the other’s rueful seriousness. “But is Smith really out?” he questioned. “I saw a lady come off the tug this morning and go into his office.”

“A pretty little devil with dark eyes and a flashy set of furs?”

Hammond nodded.

“That’s Yvonne,” said Sandy the cook. “Yes, and maybe she wasn’t rearin’ mad when she found the Big Boss was out. She’s got to go back on the tug this morning, and nobody here, not even

Mooney, the assistant super, knows where Smith’s gone or when he’ll be

Breakfast finished, Hammond lit his pipe and strolled out intending to look up the camp store and secure the bush clothing Acey Smith had the night before advised him to get for himself.

At the door his attention was attracted to the dock by the tooting of the tug now making ready to pull out. Two figures stood in earnest conversation at the foot of the tug’s tiny gangway. The one was the girl in the sable furs and picture hat and the other was a tall, black-bearded man in a rusty black suit, the coat of which was over-long and square cut at the bottom.

“Now'I wonder what Yvonne is chinnin’ to that old goof about?” speculated the cook at Hammond’s shoulder. “He’s another character that just bumped into camp a day or so ago.”

“Looks like some sort of a preacher,” hazarded Hammond.

I “That’s what he calls himself—Rev. Nathan Stubbs,” replied Sandy. “He holds psalm-singing sessions nights and Sundays, but he’s never around camp through the day when the Big Boss is here. The Big Boss gave Mooney orders to keep him out of his sight because he always made him feel like committin’ murder. Smith’s funny that way; some people he takes a violent dislike to right

One of the tug’s men plucked at the girl’s sleeve and motioned her to hurry up the gangway. The Rev. Nathan Stubbs lifted his hat and shook hands with her when they parted.

“That’s funny—damn funny.” There was perplexity in Macdougal’s undertone observation. “I can’t understand Yvonne making up to the likes of him.”

“Does she often come out here?” Hammond asked it with an incautious inflection. He sensed that when it was too

The other eyed him queerly, almost suspiciously. “Now maybe that ain’t any of my business to be gassin’ about,” the cook declared. “But you don’t look like a snoop, and I don’t know anything that’s worth quizzin’ me for at that. I’ll advise you this much, mate. Don’t be surprised at anything you see or hear out here, and if you know what’s good for you, you won’t go pryin’ into what you don’t understand. It’s a queer layout this, a mighty ¡queer layout—and Acey Smith, the Big ¡Boss, is the queerest thing in it.”

CHAPTER V The Way of a Woman

VIEWED from the deck of a great lakes steamer traveling the commercial lane that runs less than two miles south of it, Amethyst Island is but a black speck among a hundred other foam-rimmed islets that dot Superior’s ragged north shore, an infinitesimal bit of rock and dry land before a frowning background of deep-riven hills, where range upon range breasts out from Nannabijou Point and disappears into the purple of the northern horizon. Time and evolution work few changes on those hills 3Í desolation which rear their black, fantastic peaks above hostile, spruce-bearded flanks like age-chained monsters scorning in lofty nudity the might of man to ïfface or reclaim their barrenness. Everywhere they whisper of dark potentialities; )f secret placeswhere awfulstillness reigns, >f skulking grey wolves and gleaming white 3onee.

To the right of the cliff-like point and seemingly rising just back of the skirting woods opposite Amethyst Island is the Cup of Nannabijou, a castle-like circle of plack cliffs, whose base is really a stiff walk from the shore line. It is territory to this day shunned by wandering Indian bribes, believed to be the prison in which Nannabijou, the Indian demi-god, attempted to wall up Animi kee, the Thunder Devil; and this belief is strengthened in poor Lo’s mind by the magnetic lashes which play up from the hills on Iiights preceding electrical storms.

Along a depression at the base of the Jiffs flows Solomon Creek on its way to ,oin the mighty, amber-colored Nanna!»ijou River before the latter empties into (he bay. Solomon Creek tumbles out in a oaming white cascade from a great issure in the cliffs, being the outlet for a impid mountain lake confined by the ¡rails of the Cup, a gleaming pool of gold iÿ day and a mystic black mirror of the

stars by night. In the rocks the Indians see the images of the men and beasts of their pagan worship; from a distance out on the lake the whole resembles the form of a recumbent giant lying on his back on the face of the waters.

But Amethyst Island itself, on closer inspection, proves of happier mien thàn its forbidding surroundings and of dimensions somewhat more significant than one would guess from the steamboat routes. Its area would equal half a city block and its shoreline is grooved with patches of picturesque birch gleaming white among the mountain ash and spruce, while here and there a lofty, isolated white pine rears its whispering crest above the lower foliage with an air of patriarchal guardianship. A half-dozen log cabins of substantial size and dove-tailed construction stand in the cleared center, relics of a bygone silver mining boom, later renovated by wealthy city families into summer resort cottages.

IN THE most easterly of these cottages osephine Stone, of Calgary, had taken up her temporary residence. On this particular morning, which had broken in crisp, autumnal loveliness, she had been astir from an early hour, and with her Indian maid and her companion, Mrs. Johnson, had set in order the appointments of the little front room with exacting care. No detail had been overlooked to make the best of such furnishings as the building boasted; even the blinds Miss Stone had herself accurately adjusted so that the softest light illumined the room. In the broad fireplace, built of native amethyst-encrusted boulders, a birchfire crackled in subdued cheeriness. On the table which centered the room stood a vase of fresh-gathered ferns, a bit of dull green coloring that toned with the dignified quiet all about.

But Josephine Stone needed no artificial setting. A dream of fresh young womanly loveliness she was; a gentle presence that would brighten and glorify the most monotonous surroundings. Men„ wherever she had appeared, had been swayed by this girl’s rare beauty, by the chqrm of her voice and her every gesture.

She had long since learned her power over men; this morning she was minded to test it—impelled by that resistless motive that has been called a woman’s curiosity—the motive that first brought mortal man to grief.

She moved about the room as one who is suppressing by will thé tensest inward anxiety. Her Indian woman dismissed, she had tried to interest herself in a book, but her gaze most of the time was centered through the eastern window on a jutting point of the lake’s shoreline.

Josephine Stone dropped the book and caught at her breath. Round the point there suddenly flashed the slender red hull of a racing motor-boat, bow reared in air above a creamy wavelet that widened V-like in its wake. The boat swept down the shoreline and the muffled staccato of its engines ceased abruptly as it dived from view under the shrubbery that fringed the island.

THE girl watched with bated breath.

From an opening in the shrubbery, there almost immediately burst into view the figure of a man who seemed the incarnation of this wild place. Spare was he, but of height, build and movement that bespoke physical strength of lightning-like potentialities. The exotic pallor of his handsome face accentuated the blackness of his alert, flashing eyes.

The Indian man-of-all-work, splitting firewood at the side of the cottage, looked up, gasped and scuttled from view. His wolf-dog sat back on his haunches, tilted his grey snout in air and sent forth a long, dolorous howl that brought mocking echoes from the cliffs of the mainland.

The visitor, quite unconcerned by the seeming panic his appearance provoked, strode easily to the front door.

Josephine Stone rose all a-tremble. A fear unaccountable had suddenly swept over her, but when she opened the door for him there was no longer outward trace of it.

“Oh, Mr. Smith,” she voiced, “I know I have put you to a lot of trouble to come over here this morning. It is really too good of you simply to accommodate a stranger.”

“I will not have you mention it, Miss Stone,”, he waived with a courtly smile

“it is 1 rather who should offer apolo' "“You?"

“Fm late. Delayed by the discovery of a defecti ve boom on my way here. Had lo go hack and notify one of the boom-tenders.”

"You have heavy responsibilities.” There was the faintest of inflections on the last word. It brought a momentary gleam of hard alertness to the face of Acey Smith. But he as quickly hid it in a light laugh. “It all came through my weakness for traveling by water,” he went on. “You see there is a shorter cut by the land trail here, though I would have had to signal for one of your boats to get over to the island.”

“Won’t you be seated?” She indicated the easy chair by the window and herself sank gracefully to the nearby couch.

“Mr. Smith,” she opened in a nervous confusion that brought the faintest of pink to her delicate throat and cheeks, “I fear I am asking of you too great a favor —that I am about to request too much.” “If you had not asked me to come here and offer what little service I may,” he replied, “I would consider I had been robbed of one of the most wonderful opportunities of my lifetime.”

“But have you considered the full nature of my request?”

The spell of those wonder eyes under the high-arched brows was upon him. “Name it,” he urged. “I must obey.” “You must not compromise yourself before you know it all.”

“I have already compromised myself. I have promised to do anything within my power.”

She stirred on the couch, came ever so little nearer to him. “I have feared my request might be an impossible one.”

“An impossible one?”

“Yes—yet—I had hoped almost that you might—”

“Please,” he encouraged. “Tell me what it is.”

“I

want to meet the man you call J. C.

X.”

HAD she plunged ice-cold water upon him the effect on Acey Smith could not have been more startling. His face went ashen at the name, his long hands gripping convulsively at the arms of the chair. He glanced apprehensively about the room, even behind him, then sprang bolt upright.

"J.C. X.!” He breathed it hoarsely. “There are no others within hearing?” “Not a soul.” It was she who was the calmer now. She too had risen, was standing with a thrilling nearness to him, so close to be within the province of his arms had he obeyed an almost irresistible impulse that was upon him to sweep her to him. She looked up at him, a steadiness in the appeal of her eyes.

Under the sway of those eyes decision within him wavered. When he spoke, it was in a tone of solemn pronouncement: “Miss Stone, you have asked of me what should he impossible.”

“But you can make it a possibility?” “The ultimate decision lies with—J. C. X.” Again that furtive glance about the room as he pronounced the name in a whispered undertone. “It were better— perhaps—that you should not meet J. C. X.”

“Is he so terrible?”

“No, it is not that. If I could in some way act as intermediary, for instance?” But the girl was in no wise willing to let slip away her hard-won concession. “It would not do,” she negatived. “I am sorry, for I know I could trust you as such, but I feel it is imperative that I should meet J. C. X. if that which I was sent for is to be properly explained.”

His eyes searched her face. “What do you know of J. C. X.?” he asked.

“Nothing—positively nothing. Oh, I

wish I could explain. I hate being mysterious, but for the present I must ask you to accept my statement that it appeals to me as vital to meet him. Can you accept such a statement?”

Under stress of her anxiety she had unconsciously placed an ivory-white little hand upon his sleeve. He thrilled at the pressure.

“I can and do accept it,” he returned. “What is more, when the time is opportune, you shall meet the one you desire to. But you must be patient; for a little while there will be obstacles which are insurmountable.”

“Oh, how can I thank you, Mr. Smith?” Impulsively she seized his hand in both her own, artlessly as a child might do it.

OT even a saint might have resisted Ix that delicate, desirable presence so near. Acey Smith was far from saint. His long, powerful hands closed over hers, a devil of gleaming black triumph leaping to the eyes that feasted on her face.

But even as she drew away, trembling like a captured bird, he released her abruptly. His head shot forward and he whirled with his back toward her, his hands cupping at his face in the convulsive fashion of one who is strangling.

She was standing mute in stupefied fright when he faced her again, quite his former self, a trace of a shamed smile on his lips. “I am sorry,” he offered in a contrite tone.

“It was perhaps my fault—” She started to say that before its significance struck her.

“It was not!” he declared. “I had forgotten for the moment that—that I am merely a means to an end. It will not happen again.”

The girl did her best to hide her mystification. Before he left, Acey Smith informed her the tugs plying daily between the pulp camp and the city were at her service. He had made arrangements not only for her passage back and forth but for the carrying of such supplies out as she needed from time to time. This would be much more satisfactory than depending on the motor-boat, he told her, as from now on the weather on the northern reaches of Superior was not dependable.

As for the unexplained purpose for which she had been brought to the Island, he hoped she would be tolerant of a delay in bringing things about that would not only take time but patience and foresight on the part of others. He did not mention J. C. X. again nor the meeting he had promised to arrange for Miss Stone. But intuitively the latter knew two things; the one was that he would be as good as his word and the other that he almost dreaded mention of J. C. X.

Besides, Josephine Stone was but two generations removed from Canadian pioneer stock, and, like the women of her race, was not prone to question the moods and whimsicalities of men of the forests.

WHEN Acey Smith left Amethyst Island he did not immediately head back for the pulp camp, but crossec .over to the mainland opposite, where ht beached the bow of his long, slendei racer at the foot of a narrow trail tha' wound up into the densely wooded hills Snubbing the boat to the shrubbery, hi struck off up the trail and was gone fo almost an hour.

Shortly after his form had been swal lowed up in the bush, there appeared a the foot of the trail a tall, dark-beardet man in the garb of a preacher. He peerei at the island from the screen of the bush and there concealed from view squattei in the foliage with eyes upon the cottage silent, immovable as a statue.

Josephine Stone came out upon th cottage steps and opened a book in he lap. If the figure in the woods noticed he he gave no sign.

After a long interval there came fror out of the depths of the forest, far away a low reverberating intonation as of som deep soft gong being struck. A few me ments elapsed and the mellow note agai; swooned mystically over the wastes.

The faintest traces of a smile brok over the face of the man hidden in th bushes as the girl on the steps started t her feet and looked about her in bí wilderment. She picked up her book an disappeared into the cottage.

Twice again with a short interval bí tween there came a gonglike alarum froi far up in the silent wastes. The blacl bearded man rose at the sound of the las stroke of the gong. With patient cautio he drew from the shrubbery a cache canoe, launched it and with silent stroki skimmed westward along the shoreline.

Twenty minutes later Acey Smith carr striding down the trail, carrying on h back a partially filled woodsman’s pad

At the foot of the trail he paused ; though reading some sign in the sands the beach.

He swung the packsack from his show ders into the cockpit of the boat, pusht) off the craft and headed it toward tlf pulp camp docks.

There was a scowl on his face as blaij as a thunder cloud.

CHAPTER VI A Millionaire Vanishes

AS THE days went by Louis Hammond familiarized himself with the pulp camp and its environs. He had plenty of time on his hands, for, as Acey Smith had predicted, there was little else for him to do except “take in the scenery.”

He gained a liberal education in the garnering of the raw product for the paper making industry. The Nannabijou limits, he learned, comprised an enormous block of wilderness territory, most of which, outside of the great muskegs and mountain lakes, was covered with, forests of spruce, balsam and birch, representing billions of money when transformed into the white paper on which the great and lesser newspapers pnd magazines of the United States as well as Canada would be printed, sooner or later.

The limits stretched east down the North Shore from the foot of the Nairnabijou range far beyond a point of vision and extended due north inland a good fifty or sixty miles. They were bisected by the mighty Nannabijou River, which emptied into the bay at the western fringe of the camp between deep, precipitous banks. It was this stream that made the Nannabijou limits so desirable, because it made transportation of the cut poles by water possible from the furthest inland reaches of the territory. Armies of men were engaged in cutting, bucksawing and decking poles into the river, ■there being camp after camp, some of them larger than that at the waterfront, for a good twenty miles up the stream. ¡Men and teams were constantly employed 'hauling supplies back to them. Yet it was ¡said that this season’s cut would scarcely 'make a scratch on the gigantic Nanna¡bijou forests.

■ From the mouth of the Nannabijou the eut and barked poles poured into the bay in a wide, glistening white ribbon, day and night, continually expanding the tremendous booms, where Hammond was told there was already nearly a million dollars’ worth of pulpwood. Later on, power-driven mechanical loaders on scows would transfer the poles from the booms to the holds of huge pulp-pole carriers, and in these they would be towed by tugs to the mill yards in Kam City.

A large portion of the wood must be delivered that very fall so that the Kam City Pulp and Paper Company could have their mills in operation on contract time in October. Otherwise, the latter company would forfeit their hard-won rights on the limits, and by the terms of the final fiat of the Ontario Government the North Star Towing and Contracting Company, at present operating the limits, were bound to deliver the wood in sufficient quantities to keep the Kam City Company’s mills running all winter.

It was a stupendous undertaking—the most colossal in the history of papermaking. And woven into this was the Intense rivalry of the two powerful paper ’companies concerned, a tension of bitter jiatred that was the more ominous because surface indications told noting of vhat the inevitable climax might be.

rj AMMOND gained much of his inforO mation about the limits from his Hhack-mate, Sandy Macdougal, the cook, Who, in the evening, over a bottle of rye Whiskey, became quite loquacious. It was hrough Macdougal he learned of the presence of the girl with the high-arched eyebrows on Amethyst Island, a bit of information that brought about a secret determination to somehow or other come in (contact with her, much as the mere idea (if meeting her face to face again perturbed him.

j Of Acey Smith he saw little, caught only ¡¡ocasional glimpses of him now and then [is he went in and out of his office. No one 'eemed to know where he kept himse'f a 'arge part of the time. Actual operations (if the camps and dealings with the men yere carried on almost entirely by the l.ssistant superintendent, a raw-boned, katchet-faced young man named Mooney, ivho was as uncommunicative as a slab ‘>f trap rock.

Ogima Bush, the Indian medicine man, eemed to have the freedom of the camp, o which he paid frequent visits, mixing nth the workers of his own race of whom here were several hundred employed in ■reeking up jams in the river and tending he booms in the bay. They were what

was known as the “white water” men because of their hazardous work in the foaming rapids.

Rev. Nathan Stubbs, the camp preacher, journeyed back and forth from one camp to the other. He slept in a shack fixed up for himself somewhere in the fastnesses of Nannabijou mountain. He appeared to studiously avoid meeting Hammond as he did most of the executives of the limits; and a feature that struck the young man as rather odd was that he never saw Ogima Bush or the Rev. Nathan Stubbs and Acey Smith together or even in the camp at the one time, though the medicine man frequently inquired as to the superintendent’s whereabouts and on such occasions immediately struck off as though he had an appointment with him somewhere. It was plain that Acey Smith looked upon the preacher as a pest and insisted on him making himself scarce when he was about camp; as for the medicine man, there seemed to be some understanding between him and the superintendent whereby the former was quite confident of his status and privileges anywhere on the limits.

There was something queer—so queer as to be absolutely uncanny—about this gigantic pulp camp. Hammond could see that every intelligent worker in it sensed this, but nobody understood it or could tangibly grasp a gilmmer of what it was. Everywhere among the men and their petty executives there was an undercurrent of something akin to superstitious awe of the company and those who directed its affairs.

Even Acey Smith himself seemed to be obsessed with this same haunting apprehension. When he issued orders, he did so more like one who was interpreting definite commands from elsewhere. As Sandy Macdougal analysed it to Hammond after his own peculiar fashion, “One felt as though the whole show was being run by someone or something that didn't cast a shadow."

HIS enforced idleness brought a notion to the young ex-newspaper man that he could improve his time by writing, even if it were only a diary of his experiences. He felt he must have something to occupy his time besides roaming over the tote roads and riding around in the fussy little gasoline tugs of the boomtenders. So, early one morning, he presented himself at Acey Smith’s office and asked if he might have some loose writing paper. Acey Smith quite readily complied with his wishes, going to the rear of his office and bringing to Hammond several pads of blank sheets.

“I had been expecting you to come around for this,” he said, the ghost of an exultant flicker playing at the corners of his mouth. “The ruling hobby will force itself to the surface sooner or later, won’t it. Mr. Hammond?”

“Meaning just what?”

“Just this: Set a man at doing nothing long enough and habit will drive him back to the haunts of his old rut—especially if that rut is writing for publication.”

Hammond suppressed a start at this broad hint at knowledge of his identity. “I have no designs for writing anything for publication, if that’s what you’re driving at,” he retorted.

“I have not the remotest notion that you will,” Acey Smith assured him with a tinge of sarcasm in his tones. “In fact, I am quite confident that for the present you won’t reach a publisher.”

He stared strangely at Hammond for a silent second, his black eyes glazing in a weird fixity. Hammond was conscious Acey Smith was speaking now more as one trying to interpret a whim of the back mind: “Now, if I were a novelist, which I am not, and in the mood, likewise absent, I might make myself the author of the queerest tale ever written. It’s a pity the world gets most of its literature second-hand and consequently garbled: the man who lives things doesn’t write, and the man who writes never seems able to live the things he writes about.

“Real writers then must be men born twice who never touched pen to paper until their second existence, don’t you think so, Mr. Hammond?”

“I have never considered it from that angle,” replied the younger man. “Thank you for the paper, Mr. Smith.”

"Think it over,” urged Acey Smith enigmatically as he whirled on a heel and returned to his desk,

HAMMOND wont away inwardly chagrined as a disguised man who has had his wig and false beard suddenly whisked from his head and face. His I attempt to conceal his identity from Acey Smith surely had been a ridiculous farce, j Perhaps the pulp camp superintendent j knew more than he did himself about what purpose lay behind his being sent to ! the limits.

The situation was a humiliating one, j Hammond bitterly conceded as he sat ; alone in the cabin he shared with the cook, j It would be bad enough to be found out J and know what one was found out for, but it was infinitely more exasperating to feel that he was a marked man without knowing the exact nature of the prediea• ment he had allowed himself to be dropped. into. Acey Smith had a manner of making Hammond feel like a mere outsider every time they came in contact, and the latter, completely in the dark as to the objects of his own mission, was as impotent to meet and parry the other’s stinging thrusts as a man who fences with a blindfold on. Smith did not exactly despise him, he had reason to believe that; it was Smith’s lightly-concealed exultation over knowledge of his helplessness that galled him.

Hammond longed to meet the other on fair ground—in a battle of wits or fists, he was not particular which, so long as he could exact satisfaction for his hurt pride. But this fighting in the dark was a hopeless business, and he was becoming weary of it.

Yet—what did Smith know? What did he know?

With this conjecture came an inspiration that brought Hammond a newer and a clearer viewpoint. When he more calmly looked the situation over in the seclusion of his quarters, it struck him Acey Smith was merely guessing. He had not definitely referred to him as an exnewspaper man, but had merely insinuated he knew him to be a writer. This was a thing one so shrewd of observation as the pulp camp master might easily surmise when Hammond asked for writing paper. That subsequent drifting of his on to the status of fiction writers was a cast for information; his reference to the genius of writing men an obvious attempt at flattery—and the hook was baited with a hint that he himself had a life-story that would be worth while getting hold of.

The whole thing seemed so clear now that Hammond accused himself of stupidity in not seeing through it before. Hammond’s plan therefore would be to follow the plane of the least resistance and let Smith go on thinking what he pleased. Even better still, why not approach Smith for that “queerest tale” he had referred to and make a play to his vanity? No douht egotism was Acey Smith’s most vulnerable point and the open sesame to his confidence, as Hammond in his journalistic experience had found it to be with most despotic executives, high or

But no, that would not do. There was one thing in the way still. If he only knew what he was here for he could act. As it was, he feared to take the initiative lest he blunder into something that would upset the plan Norman T. Gildersleeve had in mind that night on the train when he had engaged Hammond at a thousand dollars a month to stay at the pulp camp until he received further orders. No matter how he theorized and tried to prop it up with possible purposes it appealed more and more to him as a crazy assignment. Bagfuls of mail were brought over daily on the tugs, and, so far as Hammond could see, it was delivered direct and with considerable despatch all over the camps. It should therefore be an easy matter for Gildersleeve to write him, if it were only a few lines, to let him know whether or not things were progressing as they should.

Y hy didn’t Gildersleeve communicate with him?

I HE plump figure and ruddy visage of A Sandy Macdougal appeared momentarily at the cabin doorway and he flung a bundle of newspapers across at Hammond. “The Big Boss left them at the breakfast table this morning and said you might like to see them,” he explained.

I guess he’s beat it somewhere for the day for [ saw him leave with his pack on hit' Prick justa minute or two after you

left his office. Come over to the beanery for a chat when you’re through reading

up the news.”

The head cook turned and departed for his realm of bake ovens and enamelled

That was Acey Smith's humiliating system all over again, ruminated Hammond. Smith had eaten that very morning just two seats away from Hammond with the newspapers spread on the table before him. When he had finished he had folded them tip and sat smoking until Hammond left the diner. Why did he wait until Hammond went out and then tell the cook to give him the papers? It was a by-word around the camps that Acey Smith never did anything out of the ordinary without a definite object in view, lie was evidently baiting Hammond for a purpose.

Nevertheless, Hammond gathered up the newspapers gratefully. They were the first of recent date he had seen since coming to the pulp camp. The light in the cabin was none too bright, so Hammond took the papers outside and seated himself on a rustic bench, back of the cabin.

The outer paper in the bundle was the Kam City Star of the previous morning, but Hammond, his eyes starting from their sockets, scarcely noted the date tine in the shock that went home from the three-column heading that fairly shouted at him in black-faced gothic from the upper left-hand corner of the front page:

Man Resembling Norman T. Gildersleeve Reported Seen Near Prince Albert, Sask.

May be Missing Pulp and Paper Magnate

In fevered haste, Hammond skipped over the sub-headings to the despatch below them date-lined from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, with date of the day pre-

To-day, lumbermen coming in from the woods north of here told of the arrival in the McKenzie camps of a middle-aged stranger strongly resembling the descriptions sent broadcast of the missing Norman T. Gildersleeve, of New York, head of the International Investments Corporation, whose disappearance from a transcontinental train bound east from Winnipeg, on the night of Sept. 23, caused a sensation in financial circles in Canada and the United States.

Strength is lent the theory that the man is Norman T. Gildersleeve by the statement of the lumbermen that the stranger seemed to be afflicted with loss of memory. He told the superintendent of the camps that he had seemed to come out of a state^of trance after leaving a train at the terminus of the bush railway and had no idea who he was or where he c ame from. He put up for the night at the lumber camp, but the next morning disappeared as mysteriously as he had arrived.

Mr. Gildersleeve, it will be remembered, first dropped out of sight while on a train bound from Winnipeg, Man., to Kam City, Ont. His intended visit to the latter place, it is understood, was in connection with the construction of the Kam City Pulp and Paper Mills plant, a Canadian subsidiary of the International Investments Corporation, now being erected at the lakeport town.

Since Mr. Gildersleeve’s disappearance the police of the Dominion have been vainly scouring the country for trace of him. The news from the McKenzie Camps to-day will no doubt provide a fresh trail, though how Mr. Gildersleeve could travel back west almost a thousand miles without being identified by someone, particularly trainmen, is beyond the comprehension of authorities here.

There followed a grist of newspaper theories in which Hammond was not particularly interested. He scoured through the newspaper and two others in the bundle, but found no other items throwing further light on the mystery. An editorial in the edition he had first read caught his eye. It dealt with the odd circumstances of Norman T. Gildersleeve’s disappearance and was headed:

AMNESIA, OR LOSS OF IDENTITY. I Amnesia—amnesia—where had HamI

mond recently heard or read that word?

'hen with an electric start he remembered hat disconcerting first question Acey Imith had put to him the night he arived at the pulp catpp: “What do you now about amnesia?”

A coincidence it must have been, he fleeted on calmer deduction. Acey imith, out here at the pulp limits, twenty files from the nearest outpost of civiliztion, could then have no knowledge of îildersleeve’s disappearance several hunIred miles west of the port of Kam City.

And yet—yet the girl with the highrched eyebrows had just been in to see imith previous to Hammond’s visit. She lad been in the same coach of the transontinental when Gildersleeve had got out ,t Moose Horn Station and failed to reurn—and her nervous perturbation on wo occasions when she had caught sight >f Hammond had been marked.

Great heavens, it could not be that she —this beautiful creature he had dreamed ibout, whose wondrous blue eyes haunted lis waking hours—that she knew and had carried the news to Acey Smith! Hamnond tried to banish the thought as a low, mfounded suspicion. It was merely a linister muddle of events, he told himself, nto which she, more so than himself, had »een innocently drawn. That was it— ¡ertainly that was it.

He leaped to his feet and turned at a •aucous, croaking sound behind him.

A hoarse, half-angry, half-startled exdamation came through his teeth as his ;aze fell upon the gloomy, spectrelike Igure of Ogima Bush the medicine man itanding between two birch trees directly jehind him. The Indian was as immovible, as untouched in face by any human ‘motion as if he had always stood there, a ;arved figure in bronze. The scars on his ;heek-bones. gleamed in fresh and horrid scarlet lividity, and his eyes with their parish white setting glowing like embers of hate in a gargoyle of unspeakable wickedness.

“What do you want?” demanded Hammond sharply.

“Un-n-n-nugh.” The medicine man’s eyes centered on Hammond as they might have had he been a passing wesseke-jak while he gutturalled it. “Ogima Bush takes what he wants. Kaw-gaygo esca-boba?”

He turned leisurely, chuckling queerly in his throat as. he uttered the question in Ojibway.

Then he strode off into the bush quite unconcerned as to what answer Hammond might make.

CHAPTER VII The Hill of Lurking Death

“/"'vLD Leather Face seems to be peeved about it, doesn’t he?”

It was Sandy Macdougal who spoke. He had returned from the cook-house unnoticed by Hammond and had evidently been an amused spectator while the dialogue was going on between Hammond and Ogima Bush.

“Did you get what he croaked at you, Hammond?” he asked.

“I caught something about him ‘taking what he wanted’ or words to that effect.” “He said: ‘Ogima takes what he wants,’ and then he asked, ‘ Kaw-gaygo escaboba?' That’s Indian for ‘Have you got nothing?’ Sounds foolish, but when an Indian asks it the way he did—that way, look out! He’s either looking for whiskey, or trouble.”

“Well, he’s rapping at the door of the goat’s house for wool this time,” laughed Hammond. “I haven’t seen anything that looked like good whiskey in a blue moon, and as for trouble I can locate plenty of it without quarreling with a red-skin.”

“Speakin’ of whiskey,” Sandy’s eyes crinkled, “how’d you like a little .nip right now?”

“A drink?”

“Sure. You’re lookin’ sort of all bowled over about something, and a little snort would brace you up. Come on in the shack.”

Inside the cabin Macdougal closed the door and hooked it on the inside. He lifted some loose flooring in the corner and brought up a black bottle. “You needn’t be afraid of this,” he assured Hammond as he poured him a draught in a metal cup. “It’s sealed rye goods I got on a doctor’s prescription. But I got to keep it dark because there’s two things the Big Boss is death on any of us totin’ around camp; the one is six-guns and the other is whiskey........Here’s how!”

Macdougal guzzled a generous cupful straight. Hammond perforce had to take his neat, too.

The cook made to fill the two cups

“No thanks,” declined Hammond. “I don’t hit it as a general thing, but I’ll admit that’s fairly smooth stuff.”

Sandy tossed off another stiff one. Then he sat down smacking his lips' as though it agreed with him immensely. “You never met that copper-faced old rat before you came out here?” he asked presently.

“Who—Ogima Bush? No, I never set eyes on him until that morning he wandered in while I was at breakfast.”

“H’m—h’m—well!” Macdougal studied his cup reflectively one minute. “You know, I thought at first maybe you and him might be cahoots on something. One don’t know who’s who out in this queer dump. But I’ve sized you up as a decent head, no matter what your business might be, and you takin’ a nip with me now and then has raised you a bit more in my notions of you.”

“Good heavens,” smiled Hammond, “you surely didn’t think I was in league with that near-agent of Satan?”

“I ain’t sayin’ I was sure of anything,” cut back Macdougal slightly irritated. “Only, I had one of my flash hunches that first morning he dropped into the diner that there was something between him and you. It was the way he looked at you, I guess. Since, I’ve been figurin’ it out it’s all on his side and maybe you don’t know anything about it.

“However,” he followed up deliberately, “what I been debatin’ in my own mind the past day or so was about tellin’ you something for your own good.”

MACDOUGAL appeared to be in the throes of that mental debate as he sat with his eyes glued on hisempty cup. He seemed to arriveat twodecisions suddenly. The first was to have another tidy drink.

“Great hootch that.” He grimaced gratefully. “Now, look here, Hammond, it’s this: That old red-skinned side-wheeler don’t mean you no good, and, if you’ll take it from -me, I think he’s figurin’ on how much of a boost it’d take to shoot you over one of them steep cliffs back in the bush if you happened to be near the edge.

“Now wait— I ain’t given to guessin’ nor romancin’ either. I got a sharp eye that sees more’n most people gives it credit for. Every time you ain’t lookin’ that old Indian is a-watchin’ you out of the corner of his wicked old lids in a queer, creepy way, just like a weasel watches a chipmunk he’s figurin’ on for breakfast. Besides, sometimes you go out in the bush and he slips out a little later in the same direction. At first I tells myself: ‘The two of them has a date on to meet out there on some scheme they’re hatchin’ up —maybe bootleggin’.” But I hunched it later there was nothin’ to that. He’s layin’ for you for some reason I don’t know anything about; that’s what I wanted to tell you.”

HAMMOND lit a cigarette to cover up any concern he might have disclosed. “That’s certainly interesting to me, Sandy,” he acknowledged, “and it’s deucedly good of you—”

“Nothin’ of the kind!” interposed the other. “And that ain’t all. Acey Smith’s got another Indian trailin’ you.”

“Trailing me? The deuce you say!”

“I said it.”

“But what makes you think Acey Smith’s got anything to do with it?” Macdougal shrugged. “Who else? he asked. More whiskey than was discreet had loosened up his tongue. “Who else do you think? Who else but Acey Smith keeps every straw-boss in the camp jumpy all the time just so they won’t get too busy comparin’ notes and find out what’s what? That man’s a devil, and there ain’t two ways about that.

“I got next to this stunt through an accident,” the cook went on. “Was over hidin’ in some green stuff on the side of the Second Hill the other morning figurin’ on snipin’ a couple of partridge when I sees you go by on the tote road. Then I see a long, skinny-lookin’ Indian slippin’ through the brush close to my ‘hide’ after you. A couple of minutes more and along comes old Leather Face, the medicine man, as pompous as you please; but it ain’t long before I discovers that his nibs is a-watching both of you, though he makes a big

face of Lein’ unconcerned and about his own business. Now, what do you think of that layout, son?”

jUAMMOND was thoughtful If he A A were to admit the truth his breath was literally taken away by the revelat ion. “Smith must attach a lot of importance to me to hire two of them to watch me,” was what he said.

“I ain’t so sure both of them is hired to watch you,” observed his friend. “Medicine men are too stuck on themselves to do shadowin’ jobs. They go after bigger stuff. Smith uses them to put the fear of the Lord into the Indian workers when he needs them. That’s one of the reasons why he lets old fakirs like Bush loaf around the camp and do what they please. No Indian gives any back talk about what the medicine man says or does, because they think he can make a Windigo any time he feels like it to bring them bad luck.”

“Well, then, Sandy,” urged Hammond, “what’s your theory? I’ll admit it’s got me beaten.”

“I got it figured out ás one of two things,” replied the cook. “Either you’re hired by outside parties to get something on Smith or the North Star he’s afraid you’ll find out, and he’s havin’ you shadowed—or else, well, don’t take offence if I say it plain that this looks to me more like it: You’ve been sent out here by some of the higher-ups for him to take care of you and he has that Indian guy watchin’ to see that nothin’ happens to you.”

'T'HAT did set Hammond thinking. A “Good heavens,” he expostulated, “I’m not a child or a green-horn in the woods that I can’t look after myself. Smith knows that. No, no, Sandy, you’re away out'on your theories this time.”

“Am I now?” ruffled the cook. “Let me tell you, Smith knows too that you ain’t any smarter than some of the other fellows who paid for their smartness by cashin’ in to some kind of a lurkin’ death out there in the sticks that comes down on a man without any warnin’ and lets him into Kingdom Come without even a yelp bein’ heard from him.”

Hammond was convinced the liquor in Sandy was doing the talking now. But he tactfully asked: “Ever know of anything like that happening to anyone, or is it just some of that camp gossip about spooks over on the mountain?”

“Camp gossip and spooks me eye!” derided the other. “Ain’t there been men disappeared aroundhere just as if they was swallowed up bones and all bysomething roamin’ round the hills? Yes, I know what you’re goin’ to say next about accidents happenin’, and all that sort of thing. ’Course there’s muck-holes in the muskegs that they might have walked into or been pushed into and never be seen again. But nobody here thinks that’s just what happened. No, sir, you couldn’t tell them that. There ain’t an Indian will go up in them hills west of here after sundown for life nor money, and white that are wise won’t do it neither.

LISTEN. This much I know from what I saw myself: Last summer there was a pale-faced city gink came out here on a ioafin’ holiday. He came pretty much like you did, and nobody knew anything about him unless it was the super, who keeps what he knows to himself. This lad put in his time makin’ pictures on pieces of card-board on a frame of sticks he took around with him. The Big Boss warned him and everybody else warned him if he left the camps not to wander off the tote roads, and to keep away from the hill they call the Cup of Nannabijou. But it didn’t do any good. One morning they finds his hat floatin’ in the lake back of the beaver dam on Solomon Creek. That’s the creek that runs down the hill into the river and has the rapids in it. They never found anything else, not a hair or a bit of the hide of him. D’you get that?” “Likely slipped andfell into the rapids.” suggested Hammond.

“That’s what one of them coroner’s juries would say,” agreed the cook, “but you couldn’t make any old timers out here believe it. Besides, his picturedrawing outfit was found a couple of hundred yards away from the creek all set up the way he’d been workin’ on it when he got his finis. The Indians always said there was one of their old time devils lived up in the Cup on the hill,

and the rest of us is prepared to believe there’s something uncanny there it ain’t good business to monkey with.”

Macdougal fished out his watch. “Gripes,” he exclaimed, “it’s eleven and I should’ve heen back at the cook-house half an hour ago.”

1 le put his bottle hack under the boards after a final rejuvenator. At the door of the cabin he paused unsteadily as though gripped by an after-thought. “Anyway, Hammond, I’d pack a gun if I was you,” he advised. “If you ain’t got a gat. of your own, there’s an army six-gun and some shells to fit it in that pack of mine on the wall, and you’re welcome to t he loan of it.”

Before Hammond could thank him he was gone and soon there resounded from the cook-house a mixture of expletives and highly ornamented opinions in general on “worthless, soldierin’ bull cooks,” which proved that Sandy, plus dispensary whiskey, was trying to make up for lost time over the pots and pans.

'■pHAT afternoon Hammond wandered 1 out into the woods to quietly think things over. He selected a spot at the top of a bald hill where anyone shadowing him would have difficulty in finding sufficient cover within a hundred yards in any given direction. Lighting his pipe, he started piecing things together as they had occurred since he made that extraordinary bargain with Norman T. Gildersleeve on the night of September the Twenty-third. First, Gildersleeve had engaged him to come out here and put in his time any old way he cared to, so long as he did not disclose his identity or the facts of his bargain with Gildersleeve. Secondly, Gildersleeve had confided nothing to him as to the object of his mission and had not even told him that he, Gildersleeve, was the head of the corporation that financed the company that had gained the cutting rights on the Nannabijou limits over the head of the North Star Towing and Contracting Company now in control. In the third place, there were the cold facts that Gildersleeve had almost immediately disappeared and Hammond was left in the air out at the pulp camp, an object of suspicion constantly shadowed and still left totally at sea as to what he was to do

He initiated some of the methods he had used with considerah’e success in his old police court reporting days to devise plausible theories for crime mysteries but none of them functioned satisfactorily. Gildersleeve, for one thing, was a keen, hard-headed business man. If he wasn’t he could never have reached and maintained a place at the head of a big financial corporation. On the other hand, he had certainly shown no symptoms of mental derangement while Hammond had been talking to him, and if he had been stricken with amnesia, as the papers said, it must have been after he left the train at Moose Horn Station. Therefore, when he engaged Hammond, a total stranger to him previously, at one thousand dollars a month, plus his keep and a hundred dollars as a camouflage salary, he must have had some deep, important motive. It could not have been for espionage work: in fact, Hammond remembered, Gildersleeve had emphasized the point that he, Hammond, would not be asked to do anything more than fit into any job that was assigned to him while he kept his identity concealed.

THERE was every reason to conclude, Hammond theorized, that the whole . object of his residence át the pulp camp was to make himself a mystery. Perhaps he was thus unconsciously impersonating someone else for a purpose that only more knowledge of the situation would disclose. This theory was plausible enough when he sized the thing up from the angle of his agreement with Gildersleeve, alone.

There had been surrounding circumstances, however, that led him mentally around in circles and up against baffling blank walls. There had been the strange perturbation of Eulas Daly, the U. S. Consul, when the latter had approached Hammond regarding meeting Gildersleeve, and the appearance of the darkeyed woman wearing the sable furs on the platform of Moose Horn Station after Gildersleeve had gone out, wearing his overcoat and carrying his bag with no apparent intention of returning to catch the train. A woman does not get off a

train at a wilderness station in the dead oil the night merely to look over the scenery,l and the mystery of her performance wag‘ heightened by her subsequent appearancéi at the pulp camp in search of Acey Smith. She was known there, for Sandy Macrt dougal had spoken familiarly of her as¡ “Yvonne,” but had afterwards refused to, discuss her.

Acey Smith’s question about amnesia that first night he had arrived at the: Nannabijou Limits struck Hammond as a: very, very odd coincidence—if it was ái coincidence. Still, Acey Smith could not! have had definite knowledge of the manner of Gildersleeve’s disappearance at that stage of proceedings. So Hammond discarded that incident as unsolvable for the present and therefore an impediment to clear thinking.

The girl with the high-arched eyebrows constantly loomed up in the background of all his conjectures, a beautiful, distracting presence, but Hammond could not bring himself to the point of concluding she was in any way consciously connected with this queer business. She might be Gildersleeve’s private secretary, or even his daughter, which circumstances might explain her visit tothe camp as one in quest of possible information as to Gildersieeve’s whereabouts. But the articles in the papers made no mention of anyone accompanying Gildersleeve on his journey, and, if there had been, that point would scarcely be overlooked, though it sorely puzzled Hammond on that same score how it came about that there was no mention made either of Eulas Daly being with the magnate. Why was it that Daly didn’t tell the authorities what he knew about the matter?

Finally, there were Gildersleeve’s instructions to Hammond to stick to his post at the pulp camp no matter what happened until such time as he was communicated with. Possible happenings in Gildersleeve’s mind could not have included his dropping out of sight, grimly concluded Hammond.

OUT of it all Hammond could sift but two simple conclusions that would stand analysis, one of which was that Gildersleeve had actually been stricken and was wandering about the West somewhere without knowledge of who he was: and the other that Gildersleeve must have met with foul play and the man who was seen above Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, was someone else so afflicted, or feigning such affliction, who strongly resembled

In the first case, Hammond’s remaining at the camp would be useless unless Gildersleeve suddenly recovered his memory and returned to his duties. The second possibility would make it incumbent upon Hammond to tell the authorities what he knew with the least possible delay.

It all left him in a dilemma as to how he should act so as to take no chances on making a blunder of things. But wait— there was one link in the mystery, one of the first links at that, that he had so far overlooked in the matter of its possibilities. That link was Eulas Daly, U. S. consul at Kam City, the man who had brought about his meeting with Gildersleeve. Why not slip over to the city and see Daly? Daly might be able to throw new light on the situation without Hammond disclosing anything that was confidential between him and Gildersleeve. He’d see about that at once anyway.

Hammond glanced at his watch and sprang to his feet. A tug would be pulling out for Kam City in less than an hour. That would just allow him time to get back to camp and change his clothes for the trip. He planned to spend the night and the following day in the city if Daly’s information were re-assuring. If it were not he felt he must immediately see the police and tell them what he knew.

The young man hurried over the trail quite unconscious of the lithe, dark figure that rose from its hiding place at the edge of the bush and stole along in his wake as silent as a shadow. He reached the camp, changed his clothes, had a bite to eat in Sandy Macdougal’s kitchen and hurried to the superintendent’s quarters in search of a pass over on the tug.

Hammond was due to run into two new surprises, the first of which was a galling disappointment and the second of such a thrilling nature from a purely speculative standpoint that, for the time being, he forgot all about the first.

To be Continued