Tanya brought trouble with her . . . But Macpherson was a solitary man, and the Russian Lady was very lovely

ARTHUR MAYSE August 1 1945


Tanya brought trouble with her . . . But Macpherson was a solitary man, and the Russian Lady was very lovely

ARTHUR MAYSE August 1 1945


Tanya brought trouble with her . . . But Macpherson was a solitary man, and the Russian Lady was very lovely


HIGH TIDE was past and the ebb was already chuckling through the narrows when Andrew Macpherson got up from his drift log and walked slowly toward the cabin at the edge of the dark timber where the Russian woman lay sleeping. Perhaps, rested and fed, she could offer her own solution to the problem she had brought with her.

The full moon that hung over the straits between Vancouver Island and the New Caledonia coast flooded the downlands with white light, blanching the roof of the home which Andrew had built, two years ago in the spring of 1845, solid and foursquare of udzed logs after the pattern of the Nova Scotia house where he was born. He stood for u moment with one foot on the stoop, a rueful smile in his beard. By Indian reasoning the slave woman was his chattel now, bought with his winter stores, with the dried venison, the cured salmon, the smoked clams plaited on willow withes.

Andrew’s kindliness was as vast as his stature, and he was in no way sorry he had redeemed her from the Haidas—but what was he, a bachelor and a man already promised, to do with her?

It was 12 hours now since the war canoes had quitted his home cove, resuming their southward raid with 800 tattooed killers chanting at the paddles, and he was still no nearer a solution.

He opened the door softly, easing it back so that its brass hinges would not creak. She lay on the bed that he had carpentered in the fashion of a ship’s berth, her dark hair spread on the pillow, moonlight like a sword across the smooth oval of her face. Andrew studied her with a catch in his breathing. He was a slow man, deliberate in thought as in movement, and his blood was not easily fired. But looking down at this woman who was still half a child, he could almost wish himself not betrothed to Elizabeth Madden of the estuary farm.

That thought was simple treason! The frown still grooved his broad forehead as he bent to shake the Russian woman by the shoulder. Her eyes opened, and with a gesture that was purely automatic she raised an arm to shield her face.

Blows had been her portion, then Andrew had heard tales of other white slaves held in the Queen Charlotte Islands from which the Haidas forayed south each year.

“There is nothing to fear,” he said, in his warm, heavy voice. “Nothing!”

Her eyebrows were thin and finely arched; lu r black eyes stared up at him, taking in his lean, towering hejght and his shoulders almost as wide across as the doorway, his beard and the corn-tassel hair that brushed the collar of his buckskin smock. It rejoiced Andrew beyond reason to see her smile. That morning, when she waded ashore from the lead canoe of the flotilla with her ragged, flame-red dress kilted above her white knees, her face had been void of all expression, as if the shaman of the Haidas indeed held her soul captive in his wooden medicine rattle.

“You will eat now,” Andrew told her. “1 have food ready for you here. Later we will talk.”

She ate hungrily from the pewter dish of stewthickened with crumbled ship’s biscuit. There was something pathetic in her daintiness, for it was

obvious to Andrew that she was half-starved. He watched her. standing with his back to the stone hearth on which fir bark burned with the warmth and steady glow of coal.

“Now,” he said when she had finished her meal, “it is time we talked of what is to be done with you.” “Yes,” she said, in her voice that was too light, too quick for the slow-footed English. “Yes, sailorman. But first, you have a comb?”

Again with that sense of treason upon him, Andrew opened the carved teak wood chest which he had made for Elizabeth’s wedding gift out of planking from his trading schooner— the trim 50-footer whose bones had lain high on the cove beach since the autumn of ’44. From the chest he took a small box of lighter wood, intricately inlaid. It had been his mother’s, that casket, and it had gone with him in all his tarings since he sailed out of Lunenburg Harbor as ship’s boy in the Jamaica trade almost 20 years ago. It held womantilings -combs, pins, his mother’s rings and brooches — all precious beyond their weight in gold to any girl of this remote British colony.

“You called me a sailor,” he said, watching the

Russian woman tug a comb through her tangled, shining hair. “Why? Is it still so very plain? I’ve been a landsman these two years and rr*ore.”

She said, pins in her mouth, winding a heavy plait around her head, “Your house! Inside it is like a little ship. And only a sailor wears a knife so, at his back. I have seen many sailors . . . these things I know.”

ANDREW’S wonder increased. She was no sailor’s . girl, even in this dress so scandalously tattered that the sight of her brought the blood hotly to his cheeks. Perhaps she was even a great lady; at least, never in all his wanderings had he seen her like. She gave her hair a final pat, and dropped gracefully to the adzed half-log, with its peg legs, by the fireside.

Now that the time had come for talking, Andrew found himself without words on his tongue. He stood before her, awkward as any schoolboy; in another moment he would be fidgeting his feet on his own hearth, under his own roof!

But the Russian woman seemed to realize how it was with him. It was curious, the way she could read his mind, like a dark witch.

“My name is Tanya BostrianofT,” she told him. “I sailed from Nikolaevsk in my father’s brigantine last October, and we were blown off our course by gales, one gale on the heels of another. Then we lost our foremast and struck a reef, down among the Indian islands. My father was drowned and most of the crew with him. The Haidas came out to us in canoes, and those of us who were left they took ashore.”

“Where were you bound?” Andrew asked her. “To Sitka,” she said. “I was to have been married there.”

She added, matter-of-factly, “I have been LisTscheam’s slave ever since, until you bought me today.”

“Who is Lis-Tseheam?” Andrew asked. “And if you were a slave, why did they bring you from the islands?”

“He’s the chief who called you ‘raven man,’ ” Tanya Bostrianoff told him. “The leader of the war party, the Indian as tall as you . . . and almost as wide. Did you know it was only the raven tattooed across your chest that saved you from the knives? He thought you were a brother of the raven clan.”

“I am brother to no Haida,” Andrew said, “and it is not a raven but an eagle.”

Tanya chuckled, and to Andrew’s ears the sound was like spring water glancing over sunshiny pebbles. “Don’t be put out at it. The mistake was lucky, for both of us. They brought me south because I stowed away under the cedar matting in Lis-Tscheam’s canoe. I thought to escape when we reached a settlement.”

“You may thank the good Lord,” Andrew said soberly, “that they did not take your head when they found you aboard.”

“I have already thanked Him,” Tanya said, “but I have yet to thank you.”

She was no longer smiling, he saw. Sudden tears softened the brightness of her long eyes.

“I have a brother in California,” she said. “Perhaps if I find passage south I can make my home with him till a ship sails for Sitka. My mother is dead, may the saints rest her. I have no one, no one at all, in Russia.”

So the problem was still as far from immediate answer as ever. It might be months, half a year even, before any vessel larger than a war canoe passed this way. Andrew brooded with his hands clasped behind his back, looking down at the girl’s bent head. He racked his brain mightily, and of a sudden the answer came to him. It was simplicity itself, and he was vaguely surprised that it had not occurred to him earlier.

“1 have friends south a few miles,” he said. “John Madden, his wife, their son and three daughters. The eldest of those daughters,” he added, “will soon be my wife. I’ll take you to them, and they will keep you until the next ship comes north from Fort Victoria.” Tanya nodded. She rose, a slender woman, but roundly, sweetly formed. She had to tilt her head to look up into his face.

“I think it will be better if I take you to them now,” Andrew said, “tonight!”

“Your friends may be dead,” Tanya said. “You were fortunate. Just how fortunate I do not believe you know.”

“Their buildings are well-hidden from the shore,” Andrew reassured her. He reached his long-barrelled Hawkens rifle from its pegs beside the door and shrugged into the shoulder belt from which dangled powder horn and bullet pouch. He told Tanya, stubbornly, “It is better that I take you to them now.”

MOONLIGHT made every blade of downlands grass distinct, but the timber was dark with a blackness that could almost be touched. Andrew took the lead, not from discourtesy, but because only such woods-trained feet as his could find a way along a trail travelled more often by deer than by men. Occasionally an axe blaze glimmered vaguely against a trunk a few feet ahead, but for the most part his cowhide boots felt out the path that wound between the giant firs. He carried his rifle capped. There were panther as well as deer in these endless forests; and wolves, great beasts high as a calf at the shoulder, packhunted between the inland mountains and the sea. He was not afraid, for his was the utter confidence of great strength, and he smiled in the dark when he felt the girl’s fingers close on the skirt of his smock. Better that way—he could guide her more easily through the four miles of wilderness between his cabin and John Madden’s farm at the river mouth.

They travelled almost noiselessly. From the Haidas, doubtless many miles south by now, they had nothing to fear. Presently Andrew found himself enjoying this expedition. Then the trail dipped coastward toward the Salish Indian village two miles north of Madden’s place, and the pleasure went clean out of him as they emerged from the timber into the ragged clearingabove the straits.

The rancherees, the wonderful long houses the Indians had built for themselves of hewn cedar, had been burned to the ground.

Embers still glowed up at them like sullen eyes. Dark, formless masses littered the packed earth under the totem poles. These,

Andrew saw, were bodies of men, women and children; they were headless and each lay where club or knife had felled it.

This was slaughter complete and absolute!

The woman was right, Andrew reflected—he had been far more fortunate than he knew.

They were worse than any wolves, these raiders from the foggy northern islands, and he could better understand now why the softer tribesmen of the lower coast shuddered at mere mention of the Haida name.

He took Tanya’s hand, feeling it tremble in his grasp, and hurried her across the clearing into the sanctuary of the farther woods.

Tanya was clinging to the tail of his buckskin smock again. She tweaked at it to gain his attention. “This English girl you will soon marry,” she said. “Tell me about her.

Are her eyes blue? Is she tall like me, or short? She is a good cook, l suppose.”

“Her eyes are as blue as mine,” Andrew told her, somewhat bewildered by this spate of questions. “She is shorter than you,

Tanya a fine, strong girl with cheeks red jmd plump as apples and hair like brass.

There is no better cook this side of Fort Victoria, or at the fort itself, for that matter.”

“1 am a very poor cook,” Tanya murmured behind him in her soft, rather husky voice.

“At home, servants cooked for us. 1 mysell had three maids and an English governess.”

“You will find no servants or maids here,”

Andrew told her grimly. “If you wish to learn to cook, my Elizabeth will teach you.

They were jogging down toward the estuary now; and he saw with relief that Madden’s cabin and log barn still stood, black and bold in the all-penetrating moonlight.

“This man at Sitka,” he said casually.

“The man you are going to marry. He will have given you up for dead. It will be a joy to him when a ship brings you there.”

“I have no doubt it will be,” Tanya said.

“The Fathers will ring the church bells for us.” She sat down on a fallen log where dark and moonlight merged in a filigree of shadows. “You stride as if you were eager to be rid of me, and there are more holes than soles to my shoes.”

“Rest, then,” Andrew told her. He had not noticed her feet before, but he saw now that her shoes shared the ruined bravery of her crimson gown. Such footgear might be well enough for a Sitka mansion, but it was no wear for this land, for these wild woods.

“Your feet are bleeding,” he said. “Tanya,

I should have seen!”

He picked her up, lightly as if she had been a child, and strode down the open slope toward Madden’s

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house. J t occurred to him, disturbingly, that he would have felt less compunction for Elizabeth than for the Russian woman, under like circumstances. Rut then Elizabeth would not have been night-walking the woods with him; and even if she were, her trail-toughened feet would never have bled.

“Your man at Sitka,” he said, feeling Í the warmth of Tanya’s arms around his neck. “He is very rich?”

“Rich enough,” she replied. “And i almost as big as you, and I think betterlooking. He will thank you for setting me free.”

Andrew grunted deep in his throat.

^ He made to set her down but her arms I still clung. He saw her face, white and I smiling in the fey moonlight, then her lips were on his in a light, swift kiss. “His thanks and mine for buying me i from Lis-Tseheam,” she whispered.

I “And now, sailorman, put me down, before we come to your Elizabeth.” “That was not seemly,” Andrew scolded at her in a shocked growl. “You should not have done that. I am a man as good as married!” His cheeks I were burning clear down into his golden beard, but the delight in him was as if 100 pipers had passed that way, and he hailed John Madden’s cabin with a woods-shaking bellow.

THEY waited for minutes before the stout split-log door opened a cautious crack. Moonglow shone cold on the barrel of a musket, and Madden’s voice, when he called to them, was compound of fear and suspicion.

“Who’s there? Speak up or I’ll blast ! ye to kingdom come!”

I “Put up your musket,” Andrew I shouted. “The Haidas are gone. It’s ¡ me, your neighbor, Macpherson.”

Madden flung the door full open. He stood with the fireglow behind him, a blocky, bandy-legged man with head thrust forward. “You’re long enough getting here,” he said in a grumbling voice. “Who’s that with ye, Macpherj son?”

“A woman,” Andrew told him. “The Haidas had her. I bought her.”

Madden was still staring; his plump wife peered over his shoulder, and behind them, inside the cabin, Andrew could see Elizabeth’s yellow head.

He said, in mild impatience, “Her name is Tanya Bostrianoff. I brought her down to you. When the next ship passes this way she will sail for California.”

Mrs. Madden’s voice cut sharply through her husband’s dubious mumble. “Well, bring her inside, Macpherson. Let’s have a look at the poor creature!”

Tanya stood, straight and rounded and slim, in the centre of the puncheon floor. The Maddens start'd at her, John and his wife, their half-grown, i gangling son, Elizabeth and her two \ younger sisters. It came to Andrew that they were beefy beside Tanya,

1 bulging all of them with a rude and high-colored health. Annoyance was building in him; she might be some strange sea monster cast up by the tide, the way they all gawked at her with their pale blue eyes.

“You say the Indians had her.” Mrs. Madden’s voice was flat. “And that you bought her from them.”

“At a great price.” Tanya’s voice, low and husky, carried a hint of subtle amusement. There was a pride about her that went strangely with her dress and her shoes, and her bare, brushscratched legs. “Ho paid half a canoe i load of deer meat and salmon and ! smoked clams for me.”

Andrew' inclined his head. He looked

directly at Elizabeth, who stood by the fire, solid and rather shapeless in her grey homespun gown, with her two heavy braids pulling her hair back from her forehead. She must have been busy at soapmaking earlier in the day; her arms were mottled white and purple to the elbow still.

Elizabeth returned his gaze. Her cheeks were even redder than usual, and he realized with bewilderment that she was angry.

“My comb,” Elizabeth said. “That’s my comb she’s wearing.”

He had not noticed till then, but his mother’s finest comb, her carved tortoise shell, glimmered Spanishfashion in Tanya’s smooth black hair.

Andrew was minded to tell Elizabeth that the teakwood chest and the casket were not yet hers, but he judged it more prudent to hold his tongue. There were crosscurrents here that he could feel but not analyze. Whatever this was, it was a thing between women; Madden, goggling from one to the other like a red rock cod hauled up from deep water, was as bewildered as himself.

“I think,” Mrs. Madden said, as one pronouncing judgment, “you’d have done better to have left her with the Indians.”

Tanya’s chin went up. She said to Andrew, in a voice icy as her Russian seas, “Have you other friends? I will not stay in this house.”

Elizabeth laughed, coarsely, it seemed to Andrew. Her tone was shrill. “That you won’t! We’ll have no Haida castoff here.”

Andrew heard Tanya’s sharply indrawn breath. While his brain was still plunging, the Russian woman took two quick steps across the floor. The smack of her palm against Elizabeth’s face was sharp as the crack of his own rifle.

He interposed his bulk between the two. Elizabeth was a spitting fury; her nails raked his cheek before he could thrust her away, and she screeched at him, “I’ll never marry you . . . never!” The last words he heard, as he followed Tanya’s straight back through the doorway, were Mrs. Madden’s:

“I blame you for this, John. I knew what would come of letting my girl take up with a Bluenose Scotchman!” Madden panted after them up the slope. It was almost in Andrew to be sorry for the stumpy little man. He had been a good enough neighbor, even though he was prone to borrow and not to return.

“Women!” Madden puffed. “Swear to ye, Macpherson, I’ll never understand ’em. You . . . girl . . . come back! They’ll make ye welcome if I have to trounce the pair of ’em !”

Tanya laughed. She told him, kindly enough, “It is not a matter for a man to understand. If you are wise, Mr. Madden, you will let bad enough alone. But tell me this . . . How is it the Haidas passed you by today?” “Uh?” Madden goggled at her. “They didn’t. We was ready for the devils, my son and me with two muskets apiece and the women to load. We peppered ’em proper before ever they made to turn into the river mouth.”

Tanya said gravely, “That was the act of a fool. When they raid south they stop only if supplies run low. But when they return north they’ll remember, and your muskets won’t stop them.”

“We’ll take care of ’em, lady,” Madden said stoutly enough. “We’re English folk, we are. We don’t take to the woods for a parcel of savages!”

“For all that,” Tanya told him, “you’d do well to hide when the Haidas return north. If you don’t there will be

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English heads under the matting in the canoes!”

She turned and walked toward the timber fringe. Mind still in a whirl, Andrew muttered a good-by to Madden and followed her. His problem, far from being solved, was now more complicated than ever.

It was outrageous, but he could not be sorry. He wondered, cramping his stride to Tanya’s shorter pace, whether he would ever have courted Elizabeth save for very loneliness.

He remembered the girl’s torn feet then, and with clumsy gentleness lifted her in his arms.

“You will stay in my cabin,” he told her. “There is no place else for you. The nights are warm—when I landed here I lived first in a brush hut, and I can live so again.”

Tanya was weeping silently with her face against the breast of his buckskin smock. “I am an evil woman,” she said in a choked and shaky voice. “Andrew, I have lost you your Elizabeth. They were right—you should never have taken me from the Indians.”

“The comb was not hers,” Andrew growled. “It is yours, Tanya. I give it to you. I will make you shoes, and there is good cloth in the chest. I think you need, badly, a better dress than this!”

He spent the rest of that night above tide line at the cove, resting on a bed of dried seaweed with his arms under his head. Long after moonset he was still awake. There had been no day like this in the two years since he beached his gale-battered sloop in the cove^—indeed, no day to match it in all his life! She was a grand lady, he was now certain of that. Also, she was very ; beautiful.

THERE! was a dreamlike quality about the days that followed. The downlands grass was crisp with latesummer drouth, the New Caledonia mountains were misted over in gentle haze, and the straits between were colored like mother-of-pearl in the breathless calm. Andrew worked hard as ever at his land clearing, driving his single field, like a wedge, deeper and deeper still into the forest. He hunted deer, and dug clams with Tanya kneeling beside him in the soft sand of the low tide flats, like a very child for excitement, and together they went to trap salmon at the river mouth. They saw nothing of the Maddens J during those weeks, nor did they speak of them

End it must sometime, Andrew knew. Already there were signs of deepening fall. The dogwood was past its second bloom, the vine maple was flushing scarlet. Soon the rains would begin. But each day was a new delight, and he refused to think of the future— of the day when a ship’s boat would pull into the cove and the Russian woman would go away from him.

He had all but forgotten the Haidas,

; although his rifle leaned in an angle of ! his pole fence as he worked, and his ! knife with the deerhorn haft and the I 10-in. blade rode ready to hand in its j sheath at the back of his belt. Brother j of the raven clan he might be, made so I by the botched eagle tattooed on his j chest in some Levant port; but the j passport might not keep him safe from j the raiders twice!

He was working so, grubbing a fire ! hole among the roots of a great fir at the j upper limit of his field, when he heard j Tanya call, a wordless cry, faintly j heard, but carrying an urgency that j straightened his back and sent him I lunging for his rifle.

She stood on a low hillock by the cabin, looking through the timber 1 screen across the downlands, shading

her eyes with one hand. Andrew went to stand beside her. As in a waking dream he saw a wolf’s-head prow slide past the tip of the southern point, then the whole lean black hull of the 60-foot war canoe opened his cove.

There were other canoes, five of them, each shaped from a single mighty log. With paddlers spaced along the thwarts, they drove down the cove, a ruffle of foam under each graceful prow.

“It is too late for the woods,” Andrew said. He pondered the matter, conscious that Tanya’s hand had crept into his and that her slender fingers were cold against his palm. He hoped the Haidas had no more white captives to be ransomed for his newly gathered supplies!

There were 40 Indians in the leading canoe, a score to each side. If trouble came he could account for two of them with the Hawkens rifle . . . three perhaps. Not enough to matter. He leaned the rifle against the side logs of the cabin, and with Tanya’s hand still in his strode down through the crisp rustling brown grass toward the cove.

As the flotilla neared, he saw that there were others in the lead canoe beside the tattooed paddlers whose lank hair dangled greasily on their shoulders. Amidships, huddled close together, were John Madden and his wife. He glimpsed Elizabeth’s yellow hair and the bowed heads of her two sisters. At least those heads were still on their shoulders!

They waited while the paddlers backed water, checking the great dugout canoe precisely at the edge of the shallows.

The man who rose in the stern, setting the steering paddle aside, was tall even for a Haida. His shoulders were almost as broad as Andrew’s own; he was immensely deep of chest, muscular rather than sinewy, and his skin shone like fine copper in the sunlight as he made his way up the canoe. He cuffed Elizabeth aside, put his bare foot on Madden’s shoulder and stepped over him, swaggering forward until he stood balanced in the narrow cleft of the bows. He was stripped save for an apron of woven cedar bark slung from a thong around his middle. Standing there, tattooed boldly on arms and chest, long hair thrust back from his face, he looked like a second prow piece, more savage far than the glowering wolf’s-head below him.

He was Lis-Tscheam, the leader, the war chief who, with a grin like the snarl of a panther, had thrust Tanya roughly ashore that other day when Andrew ransomed her with his winter’s stores.

High over them, staring down, he addressed the Russian woman in a harsh clucking. She listened for a moment then turned to Andrew.

“I learned something of their language, living among them . . . He says your friends fired on him treacherously. He will take them north to the islands and kill them there. He will not harm you, since you are also of the raven clan. But since these are your friends, he will take me back from you.”

Madden, crouched amidships, raised his voice in a monotonous chant. For a moment Andrew thought that terror had driven him mad. Lis-Tscheam frowned over his shoulder, and the brawny paddler beside the Englishman cuffed him into silence.

But not before Andrew had caught his words:

“There was a ship down the channel. When I saw the canoes I sent my son around the Island in his yawl. If ye make talk with this savage they may come in time.”

Madden was not without courage, Andrew thought, and perhaps desperation had whetted his wits. Certainly

once the canoe flotilla was under way, only a fast-sailing vessel could overtake it.

“Ask the chief,” Andrew said to Tanya, “what he will do with you.”

She spoke to the Haida in that same clucking dialect. His answer was curt, contemptuous.

“He will raise a new totem when he returns to the islands,” Tanya said, her eyes large in a face gone ivory-pale. “When it rises 1 will be under it, alive . . . Andrew, I have seen it done. 1 know!”

The hard core of anger that had been growing in Andrew burst. He could feel its bitter juices coursing through him.

“Tell him he will raise no totem in his islands,” he growled. “Tell him I am no brother of his, and that I fight for what I have bought.”

Lis-Tscheam heard her out, lips drawing back from his white teeth. He stooped, and when he straightened he gripped such a weapon as Andrew had never seen before—a knife with a short, broad blade projecting above the handgrasp, and a longer blade below.

In the same motion, he vaulted over the bows.

Spray in a dazzling shower, kicked up by the Haida’s feet, left Andrew half-blinded. He whipped his own knife from its sheath; and on the instant Lis-Tscheam was upon him.

He staggered back before the fury of that rush, still clearing the spray from his eyes. The lower blade of the Haida knife licked at his chest, and the short upper blade nicked his chin in the light swift backhand stroke. He had seen knife work aplenty in the hot ports of the south but never such work as this!

It came to him, fleetingly, that it might even be he, and not Lis-Tscheam, who lay with the tide’s edge reddening around him when this fight was over. The canoes would foam north, home to their savage islands, and Tanya . . .

The Haida had backed him from sand to shingle. A pebble turned treacherously under his heel, and he lurched backward, his guard wide open. He heard Tanya’s scream, sharp and wild and despairful as a sea gull’s cry, and Lis-Tscheam’s grunt of triumph—saw the war chief’s arm whip back even as he twisted away. The long lower blade of the Haida knife drove between his upper arm and chest, raking his ribs.

Too close! But his feet were well under him now, his eyes were clear, and there were tricks of the knife that perhaps not even this fighter from the islands knew. Still falling back, sucking in his stomach to avoid the blade as the Haida drove at him again, Andrew grinned into the broad contorted face. His left hand snaked out to LisTscheam’s knife wrist. He pushed straight up, twisting till he felt the raider’s arm crunch in the socket. At the same time he spun his own knife in his right hand, caught it, and with blade reversed drove the heavy brass pommel squarely between LisTscheam’s eyes.

Those eyes dulled as if a sudden film had been spread over them. LisTscheam buckled at the knees and fell all his length in the sand.

Andrew towered above him, feet braced, dragging air into his lungs in great gulps. He was tempted to finish this business, to sink his knife between those copper shoulders; hut Tanya was

beside him and her hand was light on his wrist. Andrew sighed, and kicked the double-bladed Haida knife into the


In the canoes there was an uneasy muttering. The raiders were peering, not at him, but back toward the straits

peering and pointing. Andrew raised bis head and saw white topsails lifting on the other side of the first treeless, low island in the passage.

Lis-Tscheam moaned and stirred on the sand. He got to one knee, and Andrew, knife still ready, pulled him to his feet. The Haida gazed at him, bleeding from his nose; that blow would have crumpled a less substantial skull.

He spoke thickly, his depthless, dull-black eyes steady on Andrew’s, then with a great dignity he turned toward his canoe.

“If you come to the islands,” Tanya interpreted, “he will make you a chief only less great than he. And he will give you many slaves—-all of them better than I.”

The ship, a three-master, ghosted out from the weather side of the island. She was a Boston trader, Andrew judged, hound north for Alaska, and even at this distance he could see the sailors clustered by their guns. Evidently Lis-Tscheam and his pack knew by hitter experience the effect of grapeshot on a canoe flotilla. Without ceremony they bundled the Maddens overside, husband, wife and daughters splashing in sequence into four-foot water. Paddles dug deep; the cove boiled as the canoes turned almost in their own lengths and forged out toward the straits.

Andrew returned his knife to the sheath. He was glad, in a curious way, that he had not been required to kill the Haida chief. He said to Tanya, a heavy sadness in his voice, “There is your ship. You will he going away now, not to your brother in California, but I think direct to Sitka.”

“And they will ring the hells for us,” Tanya said. Her head was turned away; his mother’s comb of carved tortoise shell gleamed in her hair. She was watching the Maddens as they trudged down the beach, strung out in single file like a family of ducks, hastening south toward their estuary farm. “I think, if you wish, you can still make peace with your Elizabeth.”

“He will he kind to you, this man at Sitka?” Andrew asked, eying the ship’s boat that plodded toward shore through t he windless September calm.

“I don’t know,” Tanya answered. “He was my father’s choice, not mine, Andrew. He might he more cruel even than a Haida.” She swung to face him. She was wearing the patched crimson dress; and in her long, steady gaze was mischief and more than mischief— a tenderness that set his blood pounding as the fight with Lis-Tscheam had never done. “I don’t want to go to Sitka. You are a stupid man, Andrew, with a mind as slow as a turtle’s, but I am afraid 1 love you.”

“And I you,” Andrew said. There should he other words but they would not come to him. He put his arm around her, noting that her sleek head came just to his shoulder. “The ship’s captain yonder will marry us. By spring, Tanya, you will he a better cook even than Elizabeth.”


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