To test a man, take him fishing—And if you meet a Frère Coreau you’ll find drama as well
BEN AMES WILLIAMS
THE BOY standing in front of the tent on the gravel bar at Beaver Bogan did not move, except that his head turned constantly from side to side; yet there was a tenseness in the way he stood, in the way his
was a tenseness in the way he stood, in the way his head swung, in the way his eyes looked first up-river and then down the mile-long straight reach below the bogan.
Without actually doing so he seemed to crouch a little, like an animal that has been alarmed and is alertly ready to leap into flight when that first faint warning is confirmed.
Clearly he was afraid of something. His glance stared long down-river, as though what he feared was most likely to come from that direction. He looked more briefly upstream. His eye touched the canoe pulled ashore here on the bar, then rested hopelessly on the man asleep beside him, then swung again downstream.
The boy was fourteen or fifteen years old, very thin and wiry, yet tall for his age. Vaguely, he seemed starved. His name was Frère Coreau. The man asleep was his father, Joe Coreau, warden of Dick Tripp’s ten miles of salmon water which began a mile and a half up-river from Beaver Bogan. Joe slept fiat on his back, the afternoon sun scalding on his face, breathing heavily. His right leg was gone below the knee, had been replaced by a wooden peg obviously hand-hewn. Joe had in fact made the artificial leg himself.
The whisky bottle lay beside Joe on the gravel, near his hand. When his grasp slackened some time before, the bottle fell sidewise and spilled some of its contents. The boy let the whisky spill.
The fact that his father lay here in drunken sleep was a
matter of life and death to Frère Coreau; since it might cost Joe Coreau his job. For men with only one leg, jobs are hard to find. Joe Coreau’s job was Frère’s living as well as his father’s; and Frère was acutely conscious of the thin line between survival and destruction. His life had always run precariously close to that thin line.
So the boy now was tensely vigilant. Not once a week did anyone come up-river this far; but someone might come today.
And while Frère watched now, a canoe did round the bend a mile downstream.
Frère dropped low so that he could not be seen from the distant canoe and began at once to try to rouse his father. Words and shakings proved useless; so he took a towel from the tent and wetted it in the river and came back to slap his father’s face with it, coldly, stingingly. There was a pale zeal of terror in him now.
He roused Joe at last, enough to get the man erect and on his crutches. The approaching canoe was still half a mile away. Joe’s canoe on the beach was two rods from the tent. Five minutes and two falls covered the distance.
Frère got his father into the bow of the canoe, and himself poled in the stern. He hoped to be able to escape upstream before the other canoe arrived; but the current just beyond the mouth of Beaver Bogan came strongly down across a terrace of gravel, and Joe Coreau was not much help. Frère could not make it. The canoe kept swinging out of control. The other canoe drew near.
Presently, with a despairing backward glance. Frère recognized Perry Burton, one of Dick Tripp’s guides, in
the stem of the other canoe. There was a fisherman in the bow. They were close at hand.
Frère Coreau was beaten; but at least his father now was erect, kneeling in the bow, able to talk, perhaps to meet this situation. Frère could do no more. In a white despair, the boy turned his cralt across the river toward the other canoe.
MR. SAWTELL. the fisherman in the bow of Perry Burton’s canoe, on his way up-river for a few' days at Dick Tripp’s upper camps, had been lulled half asleep by the rocking-chair motion of the canoe as Perry, erect in the stern, poled without respite, easily, tirelessly. Now and then, to suit the current. Perry changed sides; and when he did so. the canoe heeled an inch the other w-ay and Mr. Sawtell shifted his weight for greater comfort.
They had been since mid-forenoon upon the way. They had stopped to boil the kettle at Mink Bogan, and Perry named the place, and w'hen afterward they pushed on, Mr. Sawtell said idly:
“Curious word, bogan. They call such dead backwaters ‘logans’ in Maine, ‘lagoons' in Mississippi. An Indian word is the common root, I suppose.’’
Perry said nothing. A fish hawk screamed and took flight from the big white birch on the right; the brood of sheldrake which had kept ahead of them now for miles, squattered noisily around the next bend. In a quiet pool, Mr. Sawtell looked into the clear water beside the canoe and saw three or four grilse, pale blue transparencies with black fins and tails, move aside and drop downstream. Tall spruces on
the headland steep above them at a bend were still and beautiful against the still blue sky. On the bar beside them, all the bits of gravel, each a little flattened, were laid like shingles overlapping, slanting downstream; and Mr. Sawtell, noticing, thought that was probably why such bars were sometimes called "shingle.”
A long reach of broad and quiet river opened out ahead. “They call this stretch long look ’em!’ ” said Perry. “We can see all of a mile.”
Far up-river, above the white gravel of a bar, there was a cone of brown. “Looks like a tent,” Mr. Sawtell remarked.
“Mr. Boult and Mr. Marden are tenting there ” Perry assented. “That's Beaver Bogan.”
“Is this still the club water?”
“Yes, It’s a mile and a half above the bogan to Mr. Tripp's first pools.”
Silence for a time. Once Mr. Sawtell said: "I saw
something move, beside the tent.”
Perry did not speak. The canoe glided on. The pole, iron-shod, clacked sharply against rocks. On the recover, water dripped from the pole with a rustling sound, and the high bank gave back the whisper in echo, as though some wild creature stirred rustling in the underbrush.
“There’s a |x>le,” Mr. Sawtell remarked. Half a mile aheac^Uie peeled spruce gleamed white in the sun. “Thtty’re getting into their canoe.”
“Members of the club, are they?”
“No., Mr. Boult used to lx:. He resigned. But club members don’t fish up here much. It’s too far. So Mr. Boult rented the three up|>er jxxils from the club for a week, and brought Mr. Marden. They guide themselves.” Clearly, this last phrase was in Ferry’s mind a label, a caste iriark!
"Mr. Marden used to be a member too?”
“No. He’s a friend of Mr. Boult’s I judge.” It was as though by this qualification Perry gave Mr. Marden the benefit of the doubt. He added: “They’re a long time getting off in that canoe!”
The canoe was on the upstream side of the bar; and Mr. Sawtell from where be sat, low. could only see the upper end of the jxile. and occasionally a moving head. Yet -Perry’s tone when he spoke of Q«ir slowness in embarking had subtly changed, as thou$ he perceived something unusual. Mr. Sawtell wished hé could see more clearly. He felt a slightly deeper surge and thrust beneath him. Perry was hurrying.
Then they rounded the bend. The other canoe was a hundred yards ahead, swinging broadside at the foot of a run; and a man squatted on his hunkers in the bow, his head down, and a boy in the stern labored in a desperate futility.
Perry slowed and almost stopped. The other canoe swung broadside in the current, out of control; and the boy looked across at them. Then, as though he were pretty tired, he sat down and paddled with his pole, slowly now, toward them.
AS THEY approached, the man in the bow lifted his heavy head. He held the gunwale with both hands, and watched Perry as the canoes drew together; and when they were near he asked a question in dull, careful tones. “How far you going?”
Perry answered: "Up to the camp.”
The boy sjx>ke in quick low urgencies in French. The man in the bow, without turning, said: “Wait.” He asked Perry :
"To the camp?"
The man mumbled. The boy spoke again. The man repeated: "Wait !”
Mr. Sawtell thought the boy was afraid, very deeply afraid of something. He thought the boy had a well-shaped head, a gtxxi eye. a firm mouth and chin.
But he thought there was something queer about the man. The man’s eyes were glazed, and his face was red and he blinked hard in the strong sun.
The man said, to himself: “We’d better go back up.” He said something about a place called Gleeson’s Run. The boy spoke and the man said, for the third time: "Wait!" He seemed to lx* kxisening a buckle around his right knee. The two canoes were twenty feet apart, almost motionless in slack water near the bank.
Perry Burton did not s|«ak. He watched impassively. The man rose on his knees in the bow of the cant«. He picked up a pole much shorter than the one the boy was using. They began to pole upstream, slanting across the river, the boy in the stern working with a will and skilfully, now that the man’s strength supplemented his insufficient powers.
Perry, keeping to the other side of the river, followed; but he went more slowly, let them draw ahead.
When the two canoes were so far apart that he could not be overheard, Mr. Sawtell said, full of a curiosity he was careful to restrain: “The boy poles well.”
"Two years ago, when he first came on the river, he didn’t know a thing about it.”
“Who are they?”
“That’s Je« Coreau. He’s the guardian on Dick Tripp's water. The boy. they call him Frère.”
“Guess it’s his name. He's Joe's oldest.” The canoe ahead was out of sight now, around a bend. “Joe is jagged,” said Perry briefly.
"1 thought there was something wrong.”
“Mr. Boult and Mr. Marden have got him drunk. They’ve gone up on Dick Tripp’s water, and he knows it. That’s why he and Frère are hurrying; to get ’em off before we get up there. We'll go easy, give ’em a chance.”
“The boy was scared.”
"Sure, he knew! Joe might lose his job. if Dick Tripp hears about it.”
“Why doesn’t his father pole the canoe?”
“Joe has to pole kneeling down. Lost his leg two years ago. He’s made himself a wooden one, but he can’t stand up to pole.”
Mr. Sawtell thought of Captain Ahab and his peg leg that fitted snug into a hole on his quarter deck while he pursued Moby Dick about the Seven Seas; and he told Perry his thought, but Perry said:
“No deck to bore a hole in, in a canoe.” He added : “Joe used to guide for Dick Tripp; so Dick put him in as guardian up here, and Joe brought Frère to help him get around.” lie added: "Joe never took a drink till he lost his leg. But he will now, any time you offer.”
And he said after a moment: “Him and the boy, they stay up here all winter, to guard the camps. Don’t see anyone at all, sometimes, for five months on end. It’s hard for Frère. He can’t read, or talk English. He’s never been to school. If he saw his own death in the paper, he couldn’t read it enough to know he was dead.”
“Don’t children here have to go to school?”
“There’s no school in the district.”
A little silence. Mr. Sawtell reflected: “All winter alone. Just those two. The boy taking care of the man ... It must be hard on the youngster.”
“It’s all the way Joe’s got to make a living. If Dick Tripp finds out he let them get him drunk, he’ll likely lose his job.”
"Boult and Marden must be a fine pair -getting a man drunk, making him risk his job. I’d like to tell them so.” Perry spät overside. “Setting a man like Joe for warden is like setting a cat to watch cream. Here’s where Dick Tripp’s water begins.” ,
“Then they are up ahead of us poaching? We'll see them?”
Perry said: “No, they’ll carry their canoe ashore till we’re gone by. Hide in the woods. That might fool some, but it won’t fool me. I’ve done it plenty times myself— when I was a boy.”
Mr. Sawtell said: “That Frère is a nice-looking boy.”
BILL BOULT knew all the answers, all the short cuts.
Marden was head of the firm and Bill’s boss. Bill was a newcomer in the organization; but he counted on quick advancement. His record had impressed Jim Marden. Boult got results. The sales manager’s job would be vacant presently. Marden was reluctant to advance Bill over men who had been longer with the company; but Bill’s performances almost compelled it.
Bill might have let his work speak for itself, but he knew the sales manager's job would presently be open, andhe knew all the short cuts. He made it his business to find out some things about Jim Marden. He found out that Marden liked fishing. Trout fishing.
Fishing was right down Bill’s alley. Arranging for his vacation, two weeks before, he told Mr. Marden: “I’m going salmon fishing. Greatest sport in the world!”
“Isn’t that a rich man's game?” Marden asked. “I’ve always thought I’d like to try it but it sounds expensive.” “Not if you know the short cuts,” Boult assured him. “I was a sucker once, belonged to a club, all that sort of thing. But not any more. See here, why don’t you come along, let me show you how it's done . . . "
The idea appealed to Jim Marden. Also, if he spent a week or so in the wilderness with Bill, he would know a lot more about the man’s qualifications for that place as sales manager. So he consented, and Bill made the arrangements, and they came tenting at Beaver Bogan, on the upper end of the club water, with three pcxils at their disposal tor a modest daily fee.
But the first day showed Marden that the pools were small. There was not much water available. Marden said so, and Bill Boult laughed confidently. He was a laughing man, not very tall, decidedly fat. willing to let Marden do the heavy poling; and Marden had already noticed that Bill was apt somehow to fish the best spots himself.
Boult laughed and said: “Don't worry! I ll fix that in a day or two. Get us plenty of water."
Marden noticed, when they set out next morning, that Boult put a bottle a third full of whisky in the canoe. "We won’t want a drink till we get in, will we?” he suggested.
“That’s for bait,” said Bill Boult, and winked. “That will catch us some salmon.” And he laughed again.
They were fishing Gleeson’s. their upper pool, in early afternoon when a canoe came downstream with a man in the bow. a boy in the stem. Bill hailed it.
“Hullo, Joe Coreau!" he shouted. “Come alongside.” Mr. Marden thought the boy in the stern looked like a line boy. When the canoes were close, Bill shook hands with Joe Coreau. Bill produced the whisky bottle and a cup. Bill said:
"We’ll have one for old times. Joe.”
The boy said something in French. Joe Coreau hesitated, then he made a hissing sound, then he took the drink, and Bill took one.
Marden declined. He was watching the boy. Marden’s was college French; the boy had addressed his father in a patois, not easily intelligible, but Marden understood. He was interested in the boy.
“Another!” said Bill Boult. “Good stuff, eh. Joe?”
“Good stuff,” said Joe Coreau. The bottle was empty. He looked at it regretfully.
“Wish I’d brought more,” Bill declared. “I brought a special bottle along for you. I’ll fetch it up tomorrow.” He added casually: “Unless you want to drop dowm and get it? it’s in the duffel bag in the tent.”
Joe Coreau looked at the sun. The boy spoke softly, urgently. Joe said: “Wait!” He said to Bill Boult: “At Beaver Bogan?”
“Yes. In my duffel bag. You might as well go get it.”
Joe nodded. He spoke to the boy. They went dowmstream.
When they were out of sight. Bill Boult said exultantly:
“And that’s how I first met your grandfather ! Pull up the anchor! There’s a pool about a mile and a half upstream that’s as good as any pool on the river.”
“But isn’t that on Mr. Tripp’s water?”
“It’s ours now! Joe’ll drink himself to sleep in the tent, stay there till we kick him out. Let’s go.”
“I’d rather not fish another man's water.”
"It’s part of the game. Everybody does it. If you’re particular, I’ll do the fishing; but come on, let's go.”
"KifARDEN had a curious feeling that something was ^ 1 happening which was not his business. He felt himself a spectator, a passive looker on. He thought something
about giving a man enough rope ... He did as Bill Boult directed.
On the way up-river. Bill was voluble. He told Marden about Joe Coreau’s leg. and about Joe Coreau’s boy, and about what a cime Joe Coreau’s boy sometimes had handling his father when Joe was drunk, and about the long winters which they spent alone together in the stillness of snowbound forest, beside the icebound river, seeing no one for months on end.
“They get queer,” he said. “Like sheep herders. But you can get all the fishing you want up here, if you know how to handle them.”
When they reached the promised pool. Marden let Bill do the fishing; but Bill had no luck. After an hour or two. Joe Coreau and the boy reappeared, hurrying up-river toward them.
Marden said: “Here comes the warden. Better stop, hadn’t you?"
Bill chuckled. “He’s so drunk by this time he won’t know what water this is.”
But when the other craft came alongside. Joe Coreau— though his tone was humble—said: “You’ll have to get off the water, Mr. Boult. Perry Burton and a sport are coming up-river right behind us.”
Bill Boult said : “Oh, we’ll bluff it out ! Tell them we’re sightseeing.”
Joe seemed to grope for words. I le said: “Maybe you'd get off the river out of sight till they go by.”
So Bill laughed and agreed: “All right. Anything to oblige.”
Joe and the boy waited while Bill and Marden landed and carried the canoe up the bank out of sight among tall ferns. Then he and his son went on.
Marden said: "The warden was worried, Boult.”
“He'd lose his job,” Bill Boult explained, “if Dick Tripp found out.” He laughed. “But I'd want to lose a job like that if it was mine !”
They heard a jx>le clack, down-river; and they crouched low and stayed hidden while Perry Burton and Mr. Sawtell passed and went out of sight up-river. Then Bill said: “Now we’re okay. We’ll get a salmon here, before sundown.”
They put the canoe into the water again. Boult fished, and he was cheerily voluble; but Marden was silent, and he thought about the terror in the face of Joe Coreau’s boy.
About half-past five. Bill hooked a salmon. While he was playing it, absorbed and inattentive to all else, another canoe came around the bend just below them. I)ick Tripp, with Paul Thompson lo |*>le him, had decided to spend two or three days with Mr. Sawtell on his upper water. By the time Marden and Boult discovered the other canoe, it was too late for retreat or subterfuge.
Paul Thompson held his canoe on the |*>le. and he and Mr. Tripp watched Bill land and beach his salmon. Then they came alongside.
\y^R. MARDEN listened to what followed in silence, offering no word; but he observed with interest the sweat of embarrassed guilt on Bill Boult’s brow. He thought Bill laughed too loudly. This was, after all. not so funny as Bill pretended. Also. Bill presented the stolen salmon to Dick Tripp too effusively.
Dick Tripp spoke briefly. He did not bluster or threaten; but his words were like lashes that raised welts on fat Bill Boult. Then Mr. Tripp and Paul Thompson went away up-river; but though they did not look back. Bill did not propose that he and Marden stay on and fish some more.
They went downstream to their own place, and Bill now was not so talkative. After supj>er he said the fishing was poor. “We might as well break camp tomorrow and go home,” he declared, almost uneasily.
Marden did not argue the point ; but he hoj)cd they would not go too soon. There was a feeling of unfinished business in the air. He had a definite conviction that something was going to happen to Bill Boult; and he wanted to be there to see.
Also, before he slept that night, he thought for a long time about the boy. Frère Coreau.
But up at Dick Tripp’s camp that night, no one thought much about Frère Coreau. Dick cross-examined Joe. He elicited Joe's reluctant, shamed confession; and he dealt with the situation in biting words.
Frère listened. The boy could understand only a little that they said ; but he understood their tones. I íe seemed to crouch in the corner of the kitchen where the conversation occurred; and his eyes whipped from his father to Dick Tripp as each spoke.
Dick forgot Frère was there for a while, until the boy came suddenly to stand beside his father, as though to share the blame. That embarrassed Dick, so he went out to join Mr. Sawtell for the evening fishing.
The boy asked his father a question. What did Mr. Tripp say? Joe Coreau would not tell him. so Frère knew.
In the morning when the camp awoke, someone discovered that Frère and his father’s canoe wrere missing. There was no reason for him to go upstream, nowhere to go nothing beyond the camp but the dwindling river and the
wilderness. Continued on page 35
Continued from page 7—Starts on page 5
So after breakfast Dick Tripp and Paul Thompson went downstream to see where Frère had gone, and why. Mr. Sawtell was curious, so he and Perry followed them.
But they did not find the boy till they came down to the tent at Beaver Bogan again.
AT BEAVER BOGAN, Jim Marden -xx‘ was first up that morning. Dawn mist lay along the water when he built the fire and put water to boil. Bill Boult called some question from the tent, but he did not get up. Jim went to flip a fly across the ripple at the brook mouth a few rods upstream. Sun burned the mist away, and Marden caught four trout, and cleaned them and went back to shape and replenish the fire.
The water was boiling. He put bacon to frizzle in the pan, rubbed the trout well with salt and pepper inside and out, and put them in with the bacon. He washed his hands at streamside and put coffee in the pot. He turned the trout, sliced bread ready to toast, and called:
“Breakfast’s about ready, Bill!”
Bill came yawning to the tent door in orange silk pyjamas, a soft fat man resplendent in the dawn. He stretched, and then he stared past Jim; and a canoe’s bow grated on gravel behind Jim Marden. Jim turned to look.
Here was the boy, this Frère Coreau. Marden saw streaks on his cheeks where tears had run. Bill Boult came from the tent toward the fire, toward Jim Marden, almost warily, as though for protection.
He was barefooted, and the gravel of the bar hurt his fat feet. He winced and said, “Ouch!”
Jim Marden started the toast, propping it, impaled on sharpened sticks, to face the fire.
The boy left the canoe securely aground. He came toward them. He said something as he came. He was looking at Bill Boult. He spoke in French, and Bill asked:
“What’s he say, Jim?”
Marden set the coffee back. “He says you got his father drunk," he interpreted, without rising, tending the fire. “He says you made his father lose his job. So he says lie’s going to beat the what’s the word? - suet, I think. He says he’s going to beat the suet out of you.”
The boy, during this interchange, had paused, looking from one man to the other doubtfully. He was only three or four inches shorter than Bill Boult; but he was thin and lean, so Bill must have been almost a hundred pounds the heavier.
Thus the threat was absurd. Nevertheless Marden did not smile as be reoeated it. But Bill laughed loudly.
While he was laughing, the boy hit him.
The boy did not seem to know much about fighting. He did not hit with his fist, and the blow was not a punch. He
hit with a full arm swing, his hand half open; but he hit out so quickly that Bill Boult had no time to dodge or block.
The boy’s hand hit Bill in the mouth, with a sharp, cracking sound; and there was blood on Bill’s mouth at once, either from a cut lip or from fingernails. Bill stepped backward and hurt his feet on the gravel and half fell, and the boy seemed to hit him three or four times very fast, crack, crack, crack, crack!
They were so near the fire that the boy’s foot dislodged the stick Jim Marden had propped over one rock and under another to serve as a crane to support the coffeepot. That did no harm, because Jim had already set the coffee aside; but it did threaten to overturn the frying pan full of trout, and while Marden was salvaging them, the toast burned, so he threw the burned bread into the coals and sliced more and started fresh toast, squatting by the fire.
About the fourth time the boy slapped him. Bill Boult got hold of one of those flying hands and dragged the youngster toward him. He was still under the impression that he was a man dealing with a boy. He panted something about “. . . spank the living daylights out of you,” and tried to bend the boy across his knee, and then he bawled like a gored ox:
“Hey! He bit me!”
He let go of the boy and held up his hand to look at it, as though incredulously, and the boy swarmed all over him, hitting wildly.
npilE BOY was sobbing all the time; but his teeth were clenched so that his sobs only made hissing sounds.
The boy swarmed over Bill, and the fat man tripped and fell backward on the gravel and yelled as his soft flesh was bruised; and the boy jumped up in the air as though to land on him with both feet, and Bill rolled hastily aside and grabbed one of the boy’s legs and pulled him down. The boy braced his feet against Bill and kicked himself free, and they both scrambled to their feet and Bill cried furiously:
“I’ll wring your blasted neck !”
He lunged toward the boy, and Frère Coreau kicked him in the shins, and Bill hit him and knocked Frère rolling head over heels. The boy lay still a moment, and Bill grabbed his arm and jerked him limply to his feet, and picked up a slender springy beech stick which Marden had cut to use as a poker, and cut viciously at the boy’s legs.
Jim stood up at that, but the boy bit Bill’s hand that gripped his arm; and Bill squalled, and the boy tore free.
So Jim squatted by the fire again and turned the toast.
While he was doing this he heard Bill grunt, and looked up. The boy apparentlyhad butted Bill in the stomach. Bill seemed sick, and the boy stood panting and sobbing, and surveyed him, and then
he tried to kick Bill, and Bill caught his foot and jerked and the boy went down. But he rolled aside and dodged to his feet as Bill plunged toward him, and Bill fell on his face where the boy had been; and the boy jumped on his back and held him down for a moment, swinging wildly with both hands, and Bill yelled:
“Jim! He’s trying to kill me!”
The toast was just about done. Jim would not risk spoiling another batch. Bill heaved himself to his feet, and the boy hung on his back, hugged him tight around the neck from behind; and Bill tore the boy’s hands free and shook him off, and tried to come near Jim. He kept crying, over and over: “Jim! Jim! Jim!”
He seemed to have abandoned his plan to spank the boy. Frère Coreau jumped at him from behind, jumped high on his shoulders, his arms around Bill’s head, his legs around Bill’s middle. Bill fell forward and rolled over and kicked himself free and got to his knees; hut before he could get up, the boy dived at him and butted Bill hard in the face and knocked him backward, and jumped on top of him, straddling him, and swung wild blows at Bill’s fat arms wrapped protectingly around his face.
Bill begged in panic: “Jim! Pull him off ! Pull him off me !”
Jim decided the toast was done. He drew it away from the lire, and turned to watch them.
The boy got off Bill and stood up. Bill lay flat on his back, not trying now to rise. The boy drew back a pace with the obvious intention of taking a good running jump to land with both feet on Bill’s soft middle.
So Jim touched his arm detainingly. The boy whirled to face this new foe; but Jim smiled. He said quietly:
"Soi sage! C’est fini!” And, in careful slow French, not quite sure of being understood, pointing toward the frying pan: "Voilà! Les truites!” And he offered an invitation. ‘Wash your face and take breakfast with me..”
The boy hiccoughed with sobs. Bill, fiat on his back, groaned, and peered up at them with swollen eyes, cautiously, from behind the shield of his arms. But he did not move. The boy hesitated, staring at him, not quite satisfied.
“What do you wish?” Jim Marden urged. “It is not necessary to kill that—” He chuckled, found his phrase without being quite sure of genders: “Celte boule de suif!”
Bill was a resplendent orange heap now somewhat soiled, abject on the gravel like a whipped puppy. The boy looked from Bill to Jim, and suddenly his eyes twinkled and he said something.
Jim hoped piously that what the boy said did not mean what he was afraid it did mean. He laughed, and he led Frère Coreau to the riverside to remove battle
stains. Continued on page 38
Continued from page 36
Then trout and toast and coffee wel-
TWO CANOES, one behind the other, presently came around the bend above Beaver Bogan. Frère Coreau and Jim Marden were sitting side by side on a drift log on the bar. Bill Boult was not in sight. The canoes grounded lightly, and Jim Marden rose and walked toward them; and the boy came beside him and stood quietly.
Marden said; “Mr. Tripp, I want to apologize for my part in what happened here yesterday.”
Dick Tripp nodded. “New on the river, aren’t you? I guess you didn’t understand.” He dismissed the subject. “We missed the boy,” he suggested in mild enquiry.
“He came down here to—” Marden smiled faintly. “To beat the suet out of Mr. Boult. Or so he said.”
“And Mr. Boult was gone?”
“No. He’s in the tent. The boy did it.” Dick Tripp spoke to Frère, a question; but Marden answered him. He said: “He did it because Mr. Boult got his father drunk, made him lose his job with you.” Tripp said quietly: “I don’t fire a man who can’t get another job. I’ll take care of Joe.”
“I thought you would,” Marden agreed. He explained: “But Joe will have to get one of his other sons to help him up here. Frère is going home with me. School, and a job later.”
After a moment Tripp said doubtfully: “Frère will make a hand—if he has a chance. Butthat’s a lot for you to do.” “I owe him a lot,” Marden explained. “He’s saved me from making a serious mistake in my business.”
“He’s never had any schooling. He’ll have a hard row to hoe.”
Marden chuckled. He dropped his arm across Frère’s shoulder in a quiet affection. He said confidently: "Well, after watching him work on Mr. Boult, I guess the harder the row, the harder Frère will hoe.”