Rounding Out the Saga
A thrilling chapter from the heroic record of the Mounted Police Force s administration of the King’s justice in the Far Fforth
T. MORRIS LONGSTRETH
UTUKITO welcomed Jin’s command to turn back. It is not for an Eskimo to question a white man’s orders, but even the dogdriver’s phlegmatic temperament had been dismayed by the stupendous trip ahead. It was already the time of equal day and night, the load was heavy, the dogs numbered only eleven, their feed was scanty, the provisions for Jin and himself were meagre, too. And where did this madman want to go? Down the vast length of Baffin Island, across the trackless solitudes of Keewatin to Chesterfield. To Utukito such a trip was incomprehensible, his mind blurred at the thought of it, but Jin had commanded, and Jin was a white man.
Captain Bob Janes, “Jin” to the natives of Northern Baffin Island, had been too long sunk in his own thoughts to notice his driver’s moods. The long trip, doubtful of success from the conception, had nevertheless been something to absorb his thoughts, an anchor to his sanity, the last resource open to his hopes. The decision to abandon it was
heartbreaking. But the natives had told him it was impossible to get through at this advanced season. He had closed his ears to them, but he had feared they were right. Now he knew.
The komatik, carrying what wealth he had been able to glean from the Arctic wastes, was at his feet. It mocked him. The dogs, glad for this unexpected respite, shot enquiring glances at him from their bright eyes. The Iglulik hunters and Utukito fixed unblinking curious stares on the bulky, red-bearded figure of the white man. The little group remained motionless, oblivious of the cold which froze their sweat-sodden garments, and the wind-swept snow which tore and stung at every exposed bit of flesh. There was no doubt; Jin intended to return. The komatik was turned, the dogs threw their ■weight into the harness, Utukito made brief farewell to the hunters who had undoubtedly saved his life by their advice to Jin.
Janes himself felt the relief of the easier going, and gave way to his fancies, the one life left to him. Perhaps it was as well. Better to turn back now than a month later or peg out on the way. He had too much to live for, too many people to pay back in their own coin before he died. His ever latent anger was rekindled. And now he remembered fresh causes of wrath: the Igluliks were intending to trade at Fullerton, with the Hudson’s Bay there. Rats deserting'a sinking ship! A new wave of bitterness rushed over him. They realized that he had no more trade goods or provisions, and rather than face him they would travel twice as far to his rivals. It had not taken them long to forget his gifts, the debts they had incurred. But his books showed. 1917 . 1918
they’d pay up, if it was the last thing they ever did. He’d come back and see to that, curse them, and curse their country, and the opposition who had demanded half of his hard-earned wealth to carry it and him back to civilization. What if they did have the laugh on him now for turning back after swearing he’d see them in hell
and carry the stuff out overland before he’d accept their terms. Well, it wasn’t too late. Perhaps this was the year the Kite would come.
Memory flitted to his backers’ ship; never had it seemed so lovely, that unlovely boat. He could see her still at Pond’s Inlet as she beut her way into the wind almost four years back in the fall of 1916, Could they still be angry back home in Newfoundand, his backers at St. John’s? He had taken a decision on his own responsibility, to be sure; he had increased the niggardly stores they’d given him by others at Labrador and had charged it to them. But they must have seen by now that it was as much for their good as for his own. Could men leave a man to starve, and die, and rot, because
he’d used his own judgment? They didn’t know
what he’d put up with. They didn't know the opposition he’d had, or how difficult it was for him
to communicate with them. Why, he hadn’t been
able even to write to his wife— much leas business letters of explanation. Curse them for unfeeling brutes! Utukito, hearing Jin talking so to himself, knew that the bad feeling was on his master again. Janes shook a clenched fist at the grey heavens.
He’d worked hard. How he’d sweated to bring trade to his post on Patricia River. And he’d done it, too. And if they’d backed him up, he’d’ve kept the trade and they’d all be rich today. Rich,
instead of this . . and a wave of homesickness drenched him with self-pity. His longing for the simplest comforts had become a passion, and he contrasted the neat painted cottage of St, John’s, the warm meals, the delights of company, with his ugly, tar-papered shack at the post, and swore.
Memory went back still further; to his introduction to the North on the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1910-11. What a fool he had been to come back ! Ten years of his life given over to what? To this: a few furs on a komatik, swollen feet, a smoldering hatred in his heart, and for the future, blankness.
He struggled on behind the dogs, and a surge of the old indomitable pride warmed him. Bob Janes would show them yet. The North couldn't beat him. No, nor all the opposition traders in Baffin Island, either. He’d make Cape Craufurd on his way back and see if he could get some fox skins from the Eskimo there. Didn’t they owe him money? As God lived they'd pay. He’d show them that no Eskimo could put it over a white man. He’d thrown the fear of him into them already. Well,
they’d be a devil oí a lot more afraid if they didn’t come across with what they owed him. It was like them to try and make out that what he’d given them in ’16 and ’17 were gifts. As if he’d been such a fool! They knew better, too, the swine. But if he could only get foxes at Cape Craufurd, he’d have something real to show when the ship came. When the ship came! That was the goal of every thought, for years. Doubt of its coming had taken the shape of an invisible taunter always at his ear. Often he argued with it aloud. Of course it would come sometime. But would it? suggested the taunter. It had to. How to get food to tide him over till that time, that was the question. His lips watered at the thought of food, real food. No more seal meat. Seal meat! Nausea turned him weak, intensifying the gloom of the March day that was swallowing up the komatik and dogs, and making him feel as remote and impersonal as one of the flakes of snow that melted against his flushed face.
A White Man Stranded
THE excuse for the Eskimo village at. Cape Craufurd, there at the northernmost tip of Baffin Island, was the giant crack in the ice which appeared every spring. Seal had been scarce. The igloos, nine in number, housed twenty-one men with their families when Janes arrived.
The trader knew he was not welcome. He had dunned every one of the Eskimo too often to be a cheerful sight. But now he was desperate, and he determined that he’d be less welcome yet unless they gave him the skins he was owed. They could wait until summer for their powder and ammunition, their knives and tobacco. When his boat came he’d let them have what they needed. But now he was as badly off as they were. If it hadn’t been for the supplies from the Government, caches at Albert Harbor and Beechy Island, he wouldn’t have lasted as long as this.
It took the best part of three days for Janes to realize that, in their stolid way, the Eskimo were as stubborn as he was. Time after time he approached an igloo, with his account-book in hand, endeavoring to obtain the inmates’ fox skins, only to be met with the expressionless reply that they had none. Their very lack of emotion made the rebuffs more maddening.
When the trader finally realized that these blankfaced people were adamant, something snapped in him. To and fro he strode before the igloos, talking loudly and threatening the natives. If they didn’t give him their pelts, no one else would get them. He would shoot their dogs, the Eskimo themselves. They had fox skins they owed him for supplies and trade goods from 1917, and he was going to have the skins. Next summer they should have supplies. Now he had none to give. Couldn’t they see that? What had become of the $10,000 worth of goods he had brought in 1916? They had it all.
Utukito watched his master with growing uneasiness, knowing how frightened the other Eskimos were of Jin, believing him sick in the head and capable of killing them all. Even if he just killed their cogs, what would they do? They would starve. Utukito knew' they had hidden their rifles; not one was to be seen standing outside the igloos as was customary. They had no more resoect for Jin. A white man should have plenty of food, of trade goods, of ammunition, or he couldn’t expect the poor Eskimo to work for him. Utukito had hidden his own rifle in the contagion of the others’ fear. He knew how angry Jin could be. Once he had taken Jin’s rifle to shoot a walrus and Jin had turned the color of snow for rage and had told Utukito that if he had had his rifle he would have shot the natives that minute, who would not give him their skins.
Quaquajuak had been more frightened than all the others. He had arrived at the camp the day after Jin and Utukito, when coming once from Pond’s Inlet to trade. Jin had been angry then, too, and had told Quaquajuak that he couldn’t trade. Quaquajuak had been so frightened at Jin that he had gone far out on the ice and built an igloo. His nose bled and his heart became weak, but he w'as too afraid to go back into the village.
Nukudlah, as Utukito knew, made Jin angrier than all the rest, because, as they said in the igloos, Nukudlah w’anted Kudlu, Jin’s woman. Jin had often said that he would kill Nukudlah if he caught, him near his trading post. But Nukudlah was brave and strong. It made Utukito uneasy to see him talking with the others. They were planning something they would not tell Utukito because he was Jin’s man.
But he heard some of the talk and it all said that Jin was a bad man for the Eskimo. He wanted furs and had nothing in return. Last winter orre hunter had given him twenty musk-ox skins, twelve fox, and ten bear, his catch for two years, and Jin had promised him a boat, a rifle, and a tent, w'hen the ship came in. But it didn’t come and the hunter had nothing. Ahteetah told how Jin had shaken his rifle
at him and made him give up fur. Nukudlah’s father said that Jin had attacked him with a knife.
On the fifth day of their stay at the village, Jin was angrier than ever before, and Utukito could see that everyone was afraid. Even the night before, all the families had crowded into two igloos because of their fear. In the morning some of the men went to fish for seal at the crack in the ice. Their wives begged them not to go because of Jin, but there was no food for anyone or the dogs. The wives of Nukudlah and Kunun, the two hunters at whom Jin was the angriest, became so frightened in the afternoon that they ran out to their husbands on the ice, and begged to sleep out there. Utukito hoped Jin would soon be ready to go back to his post, for he was becoming more afraid each day.
The Killing at Cape Craufurd
^[EXT morning Janes woke, feeling as if a burden ^ ^ had been lifted from his spirits. It was the light, the sun. The endless darkness with its cloud of misery and cold and gloom and fear was gone, and summer would soon arrive. Not the summer of Newfoundland, with its green refreshing forests on every hand, but a summer whose very brevity was an intensifier of the joy. And then the boat would come! How foolish he’d been to think of taking the hazardous trip to Chesterfield. He must have been mad.
The village was a long one, built on a single street, and they had given Jin an igloo on one end, the farthest from Nukudlah’s. The occupants of Palmee’s igloo were astounded to hear Jin whistling and singing. They glanced furtively inside. The trader was dancing around in the small space. They looked significantly at one another. There was no longer any doubt. Nukudlah was right. Jin had a sickness in the head.
It was the first cheerful day that Captain Robert S. Janes had known for many months. He was so cheerful that he had invited some Eskimo, who had given him part of their catch of seal, inside to eat the fresh meat with him. Unknown to the host, while his feast was going on, the last details of a plot were being arranged in another igloo farther down the street.
It was nearing 10 p.m., and the plotters had arranged for Urureungnak to go tell Jin that Nukudlah had some skins for him. The emissary assented. But his heart misgave him and he went back without giving the message.
In Janes’ igloo the feast was drawing to an end when Urureungnak finally stuck his head into the door. His somewhat sinister countenance was twisted into a semblance of amiability as he said to the trader, “Jin,
Nookudlah has fox skins for you now. He is waiting for you in his igloo.”
The tidings fitted into Janes’ new found spirits. Nukudlah! The one above all others whom he would have last expected to relent in his stubbornness. This was fortune. With Nukudlah friendly, the rest were sure to follow. By heaven, there was time yet to double his load of furs before the snow got soft. He left the meal, stepped from the igloo, and followed Urureungnak past the line of snow huts.
About halfway, when opposite another igloo, Urureungnak stopped for a moment. Janes noticed that a komatik had been left in an odd fashion, barring the entrance. The village, too, had gone strangely quiet for a time when there was plenty of meat. He heard words from some man hidden: “Bring him ahead.” It sounded like Nukudlah’s voice. “I can’t see him.”
“Come on,” said Janes.
Urureungnak did not stir. The unnatural quiet had again fallen. Janes looked around; an explosion sounded, a blow caught him under his right lower rib. He looked down and stared stupidly. It was blood, bright blood oozing through the cloth of his coat. He fell in a heap, and a spurt of fire flew out of his pipe.
Utukito heard the shot and peeped from his igloo. He saw his master sprawling in the snow. One of the hunters approached him, pushed him over. The dogdriver saw Jin make an effort to lift himself and call out. A second hunter appeared with a rifle from behind a komatik standing in front of an igloo. There was a thin blue thread of smoke still curling from his rifle barrel. The hunter advanced toward the recumbent heap to within two paces, and pointed the gun.
There was another explosion.
Enter the Mounted
CTAFF-SERGEANT JOY of the Mounted Police ^ stepped ashore on Baffin Island with the exhilaration of a man entering a new world. Instinctively he knew that he was going to like this wild, bleak land as his glance swept from the berg-dotted channel to the white peaks of Bylot Island. It was to be his kingdom for a winter.
To the kingdom had come a worthy king, a powerful, slow-talking man with a face sombre even in repose, a man whose usual habit was gentleness, yet who could throw all the resources of a long experience with men and nature into the purpose he willed to achieve. For the North was not new to Joy. He had made himself at home in northern Saskatchewan, in the gloomy Mackenzie, and he regarded this new territory of the eastern Arctic, not as the ultimate of desolation, but as an opportunity to a long-coveted success. Pond’s Inlet, Baffin Island, the whole half million miles of melancholy emptiness were not to Alfred Joy a doom but a career. And it was no small compliment that to him, singly, should be given the job of opening up a territory new to the Force.
It was murder that had brought him. The news reached Ottawa with the speed of gossip from three unrelated sources. A scientist exploring the west coast of Hudson Bay heard the tale and told the nearest Mounted Policeman. A constable much farther north heard it from a wandering native who had listened to the talk in a distant igloo. And the Pond’s Inlet trader, although 200 miles from the scene of the crime, sent out a carefully worded account to the Mounted Police headquarters.
This story, as well as it was known, had been given to Joy by the Commissioner together with these instructions:
“I wish you to make a thorough investigation in this case and, acting on the information you obtain take any action which may appear advisable. It will be necessary for you first to prove that a murder has actually taken place, and to do this in your capacity as coroner, you will have to have the body exhumed, and an examination made of same, in an endeavor to produce evidence showing the cause of death; then, if you can obtain enough men to form a jury, you will hold a coroner’s inquest, and should the evidence disclosed at same warrant it, in your capacity as a justice of the peace, you will arrange for the laying of the information and complaint against the alleged murderer. After issuing a “warrant to apprehend” you will have him arrested and a preliminary enquiry held by yourself as justice of the peace, and should the evidence against the accused prove sufficient, you will, of course, commit him for trial.”
Versatility, it can be seen, was to be the keynote; nor was versatility to stop on shedding one's police coat for a coroner’s or that for a justice’s. There were other considerations such as learning something of the country which would have to be scoured for murderer and witnesses, not to mention the
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body; the necessity for learning the dialect of the Baffin Island Eskimo; and precious little time remained before the almost perpetual winter resumed.
Fortunately the ship which had set him down in the new land had also brought material for a Hudson’s Bay Company Post at Pond’s Inlet. This meant quarters, and better still it promised an interpreter who could have no prejudice in the coming investigation. And this was a matter of crucial importance. Already the attitude of the scattering of natives troubled Joy. That such a mild and friendly folk, as the Eskimo usually are, could be so distrustful and suspicious made the staff sergeant think deeply to himself. Not one would approach him, not one would speak; they regarded him with fear. There was, as he realized, no way of forcing their friendship; they would have to be won over gradually, and he set himself to this additional task.
The fortune that attends the wakeful now brought Joy an Eskimo, a great traveller, and the policeman managed to intercept him before he had had a chance to speak to the others, and the newcomer responded to Joy’s genuine interest in his journeyings. Kumahapik said that he knew all the natives who had been at Cape Craufurd at the time of Jin’s death and was able to give their names. He also knew where they were likely to be found at the moment. Joy produced his map, and the two put their heads together to plot out a route that would corral the murderer and witnesses. Two of the latter, said Kumahapik, were 200 miles to the north; four others were almost as far to the south; still another was a bare 150 miles from Pond’s Inlet.
These were disturbing revelations. The season of winter travel, after the period of absolute dark, was too short to accomplish such distances. Yet. these men were essential to the coroner’s inquest before warrants for the arrest could be issued. And hanging over any schedule that might be worked out was the necessity for completing both the inquest and the preliminary hearing before the following summer brought the boat from civilization to take back reports of the progress he had made in his task.
And then there was the matter of the body. Kumahapik, the blessed information bureau, said that he had seen the box, supposed to be holding the remains of Robert Janes, when he was passing Cape Craufurd the previous spring. He had been at a distance, but the box, made by natives who had heard of the murder, appeared to be intact. The snow, though, would be too deep to find the box by the time the season was far enough advanced for safe travel.
The Dash That Failed
T F ANYBODY might have been per-
mitted some despair it was Joy, with trouble enough for a detachment on his hands and September at hand. The weather w'as continuing mild and it suggested to Joy that he try a dash to Cape Craufurd by the Hudson’s Bay Company’s gas boat while there was still open water. The distance would be 200 miles, over the broad waters of Eclipse Sound, north through the narrower stretch of Navy Board Inlet, out into the open Lancaster Sound and so on to the goal. The body had already been at its resting place for a year and a half; if another three or four months were allowed to elapse, who could say w'hat would be left, especially since the implicated persons might learn of the law’s arrival, take alarm, and destroy the evidence of their crime?
So, together with one other white man —one of the very few whom fate had stranded at Pond’s Inlet—and five
Eskimo, Joy made his start on September 6 in the gas boat, towing a whaleboat equipped with mast, sails, and oars, one month’s provisions for seven mouths, two barrels of gasoline, ten gallons of motor oil, and a few unuttered anxieties. It would have been a bold attempt with a picked crew of men whom he knew and could trust and in a less uneasy season. But they had not got sixty miles to sea before the deceptive calm was replaced by a fury of northern winds and sudden darknass. High waves smashed at the boats and drenched the men. The Eskimo huddled together in terror; the motor stopped.
All night long Joy kept h¡3 men at the oars in a desperate effort to keep a general direction toward land. The strain was too much for one of them; with a shriek he began tossing things overboard into the hissing darkness. He had done much damage before he could be restrained. It was only forty-eight hours later that Joy, exhausted, dropped asleep, secure in the knowledge that they were safely anchored at last and could wait for the storm to ride itself out before making another attempt to reach Cape Craufurd.
He was awakened by the frantic tugging of an Eskimo, whose signs required no interpreter. The gas boat was gone, cut loose from its anchor. The hysterical one of the first night had done this seemingly irreparable injury. His overstrained mind harbored some strange quirk that sought safety in this defeatist way.
With the memory of the $5,000 personal liability bond which he had given to the Hudson’s Bay Company for the boat tearing at Joy’s self-control, the policeman scanned the sea, first with naked eye, then with glasses. Nothing was to be seen but steel-grey breakers and foam-crested waves stretching to the low horizon. Despair would have incapacitated a lesser man, but there was still a chance, the mountains at his back offering a wider range of vision. A few hours later, from a summit, Joy’s glasses picked out a speck drifting some twenty-five miles out on the Sound. Before night, after back-breaking work rowing the unwieldy whaleboat, the gas boat was retrieved, undamaged.
It was two days later that the appearance of drift ice in Navy Board Inlet shattered the last hope of reaching Cape Craufurd. This ice was, all agreed, a sure sign that the entrance to Lancaster Sound was already blocked. There could be no more water travel for another year. There was nothing to do but turn back and wait. This was as well, for the gas boat would not function. For twenty-four hours the men rowed the whaleboat, towing its huge and useless companion. Then another gale broke, darkness obliterated the course, the rising sea threatened to swamp them, panic broke out again, and at its height the unbalanced one, who had cut the gas boat adrift before, shrieked out that they were all going to die and repeated his action. Only Joy’s stern directions subdued the Eskimo’s terror, manoeuvred the whaleboat to the gas boat, which was recaptured and brought the party back to Pond’s Inlet.
CO FAR Joy’s efforts had beim fruitless; ^ and it was December before he was equipped for the overland trip to Cape Craufurd. The natives remained unapproachable in the main, and though the Eskimo women showed signs of friendliness, the men restrained them. Even in unexpected quarters there was opposition, one interpreter refusing to accompany the policeman, the other wishing to refuse. Dog-feed was strangely unprocurable at any price. It was as if a cloud of invisible hostility encompassed the man, and not wholly from native quarters. Finally
Joy decided to make a move, ill-equipped as he was.
Three days out, cold weather of the utmost severity set in and continued day after day without change. Darkness was complete. In a week the dog-feed was exhausted, and during the next eight days four of them died. At a miserable igloo Joy came upon an Eskimo family practically destitute. The man was a cripple, but professed to know the Cape Craufurd district well; so Joy gave his family what food he could spare and took him along to assist in the search.
The condition of the dogs grew steadily worse. A northern husky will survive clear cold weather, even in a state of starvation, much longer than he will in wind and storm such as the little party were enduring. A few days before Christmas the drifter raged so fiercely that a halt had to be called. On the fourth morning the Eskimo showed Joy where a bear had been at the igloo during the night and had walked between the exhausted dogs without their being aware of his presence, something unique in the policeman’s experience of starving dogs.
The tedium of storm gave over temporarily and the patrol reached Cape Craufurd. Joy set two of the Eskimo to hunting seal, while with the other he began the search for Janes’ body. Another storm whipped in from the sea, and when it had blown itself out the searchers came upon the desired box on a high ledge of a mountain face where it had been placed by kindly Eskimo the year before. Indomitability had won out again, the first part of the Commissioner’s instructions had been complied with. With the body safe, Joy determined to take advantage of his proximity to Arctic Bay, where, as Kumahapik had said, one or two of the witnesses might likely be found.
It was a mere sixty miles and Joy was surprised to see a large village of igloos looming ahead. The Arctic Bay natives, more than fifty in number, were no less surprised to see a white man. They had no notion of risking the presence of another without enquiry and told the Eskimo to come forward but for Joy to wait. A brief discussion satisfied them and a conference was held in an igloo. Some of the Arctic Bay natives had seen the murder of Jin and they repeated to Joy how much afraid of the man they were.
This was satisfying news to Joy. He could now hasten back to Pond’s Inlet, hold his inquest, and proceed to the next duty in an orderly manner. Several Arctic Bay families accompanied him south, but by contrast the outward trip had been a pleasure jaunt. Storm succeeded storm, the ice was full of cracks and pressure ridges, darkness made progress extremely slow and painful; at times no more than five miles were covered in a day. Again the dog-feed ran short and for the last ten days the party subsisted mainly on their nerve.
J IsH E year was well advanced when Joy, now as coroner, opened the inquest, with a Hudson’s Bay employee as special constable and the rest of the white population, the three traders, as jurymen. Janes’ body was identified by the Arctic Bay witnesses, and the story for the first time fully told. For two years Jin’s queer actions had filled the neighborhood, the forty or fifty thousand square miles of immediate hunting ground, with fear. He was sick in the head, the witnesses averred and finally Nukudlah, who had most at stake, had determined to kill him. It was arranged for one of them to inveigle Jin from the igloo by saying that Nukudlah had fox skins for him. This was done, and Nukudlah who was in hiding shot Jin as he passed.
The story of the murder received by the Commissioner had mentioned nothing of this development, which meant that there was an accessory to the crime. Joy turned to his interpreter. “Ask what was the name of the Eskimo who told Jin that Nukudlah wished to see him.”
To Joy’s astonishment the Arctic Bay Eskimo who had been doing the talking turned and pointed to one of Joy’s own men, the native cripple whom he had picked up on his way from Pond’s Inlet. Further question confirmed the fact, and the cripple Urureungnak’s demeanor left no room for doubt. Ahteetah, it was learned, was the Eskimo’s name who had pushed Jin over as he was attempting to rise. Utukito’s account of his travels with Janes closed the evidence.
Three birds had fallen to the one stone: the verdict placed Janes’ death at Nukudlah’s door, with the cripple Urureungnak and Ahteetah as aiders and abettors. Thus the second part of the Commissioner’s instructions had been fulfilled, and, as soon as Nukudlah had been secured, the preliminary hearing could be held.
It must not be thought that all was now plain sailing for Joy. To begin with, there were not sufficient accommodations at Pond’s Inlet to take care of this first host of witnesses. Nor, important as Urureungnak’s presence was, could he be kept from his family; so Joy sent him back with impressive instructions to return before the sun was high, first assuming his rôle of J.P. in order to satisfy judicial procedure and receive the written information and complaint of special constable Parsons against the three natives.
Still greater difficulties loomed in the matter of Nukudlah’s arrest. The two interpreters flatly refused to make the long trip to Hecla and Fury Strait where the fugitive was supposed to be; and had they been willing, there were no dogs, since the Eskimo were jealously guarding those left by the famine. So Joy commandeered a native with his dog-team and was preparing to overcome the scruples of one interpreter or the other in some way when he discovered that the Iglooliks, Nukudlah’s tribe, would soon arrive from Hecla and Fury for their annual trading.
Joy’s position was visibly improving, although the results were still intangible.
Somewhere in was south was Nukudlah, somewhere in the north,Ahteetah, and somewhere between was Urureungnak; but the means for obtaining each was now distinct in Joy’s brain while formerly there had been no means at all. The policeman waited, doing his utmost to win over the Eskimo nearby. And at length the reward of his incredible persistence began to materialize. Nukudlah’s tribe arrived at the end of April. They were miserable and said that sickness had destroyed most of their dogs, causing some members to be left behind. Nukudlah was one of these, but the others were sure, they said, that he would come to Pond’s Inlet if the white government man would send for him. Joy took them at their word, dispatching an Eskimo with instructions to Nukudlah to return with him at once. Joy sent a message to the same effect to Ahteetah, whom he had previously seen at the Arctic Gold camp.
The cripple Urureungnak came as he had promised, but June was well under way with no sign of Ahteetah. This was ominous. Then one morning Ahteetah’s brother was reported in the vicinity. He had brought a message for Joy. The brother said that he had left Ahteetah some 400 miles off, but that Ahteetah had sent word that he could not come to Pond’s Inlet until the next year as he was going hunting in the opposite direction.
Joy listened to the brother’s message with expressionless features. At the finish, speaking through the interpreter slowly
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and impressively, he said: “Edineyah, tomorrow morning have your dog team ready. We must go and get your brother Ahteetah and bring him here. I will go.”
The next morning Edineyah came to Joy in the midst of his preparations for the long patrol. “Let us wait,” he said. “My brother might not have gone yet.”
A great light broke over the policeman, but he answered just as gravely, and a few more questions brought a confession from Edineyah that Ahteetah was only fifty or sixty miles away, waiting for him to return with ammunition and other necessities so that both might flee together.
“If you will give me the supplies I need,” said the brother, “I will go and get Ahteetah and bring him back here with me.”
“I will give you the supplies,” replied Joy, “and you can go and get your brother, but you will leave your wife and family here until you return.”
Startled, the brother said, “I cannot do that”
“Then I will take your dog team and go with another Eskimo to get your brother,” countered Joy.
Edineyah thought a moment, then said: “If you will let another Eskimo go, Ahteetah will come back with him. I will stay here with you.”
Justice Is Done
TT 'WAS only a day or two later that
Nukudlah appeared in answer to the summons he had received. Thus, with the arrival of Ahteetah, all the accused were present. But by this time most of the witnesses were at Button Point, forty-five miles away, hunting. So it was necessary to bundle up all the appurtenances of a preliminary hearing and transport prisoners and jurymen to the hunting grounds.
The preliminary hearing before A. H. Joy, J.P., was a repetition of the coroner’s inquest, except that the evidence was complete and the accused were present in custody. Nukudlah and cripple Urureungnak admitted their parts in the tragedy, but Ahteetah denied any intention of assisting in the crime when he had pushed Janes over. Nukudlah justified the killing as self-defense. Jin, he said, had repeatedly threatened his life, and he was afraid that if he did not kill Jin first, he, and perhaps all the rest, would be killed by him.
Ten days had elapsed before all the witnesses could be heard; the novelty ¡ was fatiguing to them, and they sweated in the ordeal. The verdict was inescapable, and the three accused were committed for trial at the next court of competent jurisdiction. Joy made his report, and while another ten months’ winter fell fiercely alike upon the law and its victims in Baffin Island, down below the Commissioner was seconding his Staff Sergeant by arranging for the murder trial at Pond’s Inlet in the ensuing summer. And at last, late in the summer of 1923, the curtain rose upon an unprecedented sight in the new frame shelter of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Through August, a snowstorm was beating on the panes. No less than His Honor Judge Rivet, of Montreal, in the dignity of wig and gown, presided. On the one side sat the barristers for the Crown, on the other those for the defense. Inspector Wilcox, the officer commanding, Staff Sergeant Joy in his final rôle of deputy sheriff, Corporal Jakeman, orderly to the judge, and two constables as escort to the prisoners, were clad in their official scarlet. Against one wall sat the jury picked from the crew of the Arctic, and i opposite them the long-haired prisoners in heavy skin clothes. Every other spot was occupied by gaping natives. The august decorum of civilized trials ruled every step, and at length—the jury remaining out twenty minutes—Nukudlah was found guilty of manslaughter. It
was true that a white man had invaded his land to get what he could out of it, had terrified the natives with threats, had taken Nukudlah’s woman, but Nukudlah had underestimated the white man’s justice. So the verdict was ten years’ imprisonment in Manitoba for Nukudlah, while Urureungnak was given two years and Ahteetah acquitted.
The main purpose of the investigation and prosecution had been served. From one end of Baffin Island to another, yes, and beyond in all directions as far as the roving nomads went, the marvels of the great visitation were discussed.
And for Staff Sergeant Joy, now Inspector? The learned Judge halted long enough in his summing up of the trial to say:
“This work has been accomplished through many and varied hardships in a wild and desolate country, being alone as a white man, among uncivilized people, some of whom were directly or indirectly responsible for the killing of Robert S. Janes, during winter, in continual darkness, having to go through the terrible storms prevailing at that time of year. Mr. Joy deserves the highest praise and countenance for his work and success which has crowned his most meritorious efforts. I must say that I am not in the least surprised at the conduct of Mr. Joy, because such has been only in keeping with the traditions of that noble Force which has won for itself a reputation of heroic devotion to duty, tenacity of purpose, endurance, bravery, and unflinching faithfulness to its details.”
To the man himself, with an intense temperament underflowing an exterior or majestic calm, the fact was sweeter than any words. He had come singlehanded to a great land and had occupied it. It was the last large unit of vacancy that he had policed. He had rounded out the saga of the Force. History would add deed to deed, but there is something in primacy, and while the annals exist, what Moody was to Hudson Bay, Constantine to the Yukon, and Fitzgerald to the lower Mackenzie, Joy will be to the Eastern Arctic.
Editor’s Note—This is the fifth article of a series by Messrs. Longstreth and Vernon on famous cases handled by the Mounted Police.
How the Briton Pays
COMMENT was made in this column recently about the extraordinary weight of taxation borne by the British public. Some idea of what this means may be gleaned from the following comparison of the British income tax with the income tax presently in force in this country. The figures are as follows:
Income Tax, Non-Householders
Tax in Tax in Income Canada Britain
$ 3,000 .......... $ 24 $ 254
4.000 .......... 44 442
5.000 .......... 72 629
12,500 .......... 536 2,348
Householders (No Dependents)
S 5,000 .......... $ 32 $ 528
10.000 .......... 232 1,584
15.000 .......... 632 2,964
The Canadian tax is reasonably heavy, as heavy as the people of this country care to pay. In comparison with the British tax, however, it is
practically nothing; and it is not a pleasant thing to remember that something of what the Britisher pays goes toward the maintenance of an institution from which this country derives benefit, but toward which its people pay nothing.—Ottawa Journal.