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TIIE BURLINGTON FREE PRESS AND TIMES; TltURSDAY, OCTOTWR 10, IMS.
Author of "The Danocr
do tbe Bobbs-Merrill Co
The Caribou Carnival.
THE education of the little Me
lisse begun at once, while the
post wus still deserted. It be
gun, first of nil, with Mnballa.
She stnred dumbly and with shuttered
tnltti at these two creatures who told
her of wonderful things In tbe up
bring of a child-things of which she
had never so much as heard rumor be
fore. Iler mother Instincts were arous
ed, but with Cree stoicism she made
no betrayul of them.
The leather tanned immobility of
Jier face underwent no whit of change
when Cummins solemnly declared that
the llttlo Mellsso wns about to begin
teething. She sat grimly and watched
them In silence when between them
upon a bearsUin stretched on tbe floor
they tried vainly to persuade Mollsse
to use her feet.
Weeks passed and Williams came in
from the southern forests. Mukcc fol
lowed him from the edge of the Bar
rens. Old Per-ee. partly Eskimo, re
turned from the Eskimo people, three
quarters starved and with half of his
dogs stolen. From the north, east,
west and south the post's fur rangers
trailed back. Llfo was resumed.
Thcro was a softness In the air, n
growing warmth in tbe midday sun.
The days of the big change were near.
And when they came, John Cummins
and Jan Thoreau, of all the factor's
people, wore patches at their knees.
One afternoon in the beginning of
the mush snow a long team of rakish
malemutes, driven by an Athabasca
French-Canadian, raced wildly into the
clearing about the post. The entire
post rushed out to meet the newcomer.
He was Jean de Gravois, the most im
portant man in the Fond du Lac coun
try, for whose goodwill the company
paid a small bonus. That he bad made
a record catch even the children knew
by tbe size of the packs on his sledge
and by the swagger In his walk.
Gravois was usually one of the last
to appear at the annual gathering of
tbe wilderness fur gatherers. He was
a big man In reputation ns he was
small in stature. He was one of tbe
few of his kind who bad developed
personal vanity along with unerring
cunning In the ways of the wild. Ev
erybody liked Gravois, for he had a
big soul in him and was as fearless as
n lynx, and he liked everybody, includ
Ho explained his early arrival by an
nouncing In a nonchalant manner that
after he had given bis malemutes a
day's rest he was going on to Fort
Churchill to bring buck a wife. Ho
hinted with n punctuating crack of his
whip that be would inttke a second
visit nnd a more Interesting one at
just nbout tbe time when the trappers
were there In force.
Jan Thoreau listened to him, hunch
ing his shoulders a little at the other's
manifest air of Importance, in turn
tbe French Canadian scrutinized Jan
Every hour after the half breed's ar
rival quickened the pulse of expectan
cy at the post. For six months it had
been a small and solitary unit of life
In the heart of a big desolation. Tbe
first snow bad smothered It In a lone
liness that was almost the loneliness
f desertion, With that first snow be
ran the harvest days oT the trappers
Now the change was at hand It
was like the brenth of spr -r to the
awakening wilderness. The forest
people were moving Trap lines were
being broken, shacks abandoned,
ledge dogs put to harness. On the
day that Jean de Gravola left for
Hudson bay tbe company's supplies
came In from Fort Churchill seven
toboggan) drawn by Eskimo dogs,
laden with flour and cloth, fifty pounds
f beads, ammunition and a hundred
other things, to be exchanged for tbe
furs that would soon be In London
Fearfully Jan Thoreou ran out to
meet the sledges. There were seven
Indians and one white man. Jan
thrust himself close to look at the
white man. He wore two revolver
bolsters and carried an automatic.
Unquestionably he was not a mission
ary, but an agent of the company, well
prepared to are tor tno company!
Jan nurrlea back to tbe cabin, his
heart bubbling with a strange joy.
"There ees no mlssioner, Melissa!"
&o cried triumphantly, dropping be
side her, his face glowing with the
gladness of bis tldlugs. "You shall be
good and beautiful, lak ber, but you
shall not be buptlze by mlssioner! Ho
has not cornel"
A few minutes later Cummins camo
In. One of bis hands was torn and
"Those Eskimo dogs nre demons!"
ho growled. "If they know how to
stand on their legs they'd eut our hus
kies alive. Will you help me with
Jan wns at work In an Instant ban
daging the wounded band.
"It ees not deep," be said, and then,
without looking up, be added. "Tbe
mlssioner did not como."
"No," said Cummins shortly. "Nel
tber has tbe mall. He Is with that"
He did not notice the sudden trem
ble of Jan's fingers, nor did he see
the startled look that shot Into tbe
boy's down turned eyes. Jan finished
his bandaging without betraying bis
emotion and went back with Cummins
to the company's store.
The next morning twoChlppewaynns
trailed in with a team of mongrel curs
from the south. Thereafter Cummins
found but little time to devote to Me
llsse. The snow wns softening rapid
ly, and the dally Increasing warmth of
tho sun hastened the movement of the
trappers. Mukco's people from tho
western natron lands arrived first,
bringing with them great loads of
musk ox and caribou skins nnd on
army of big footed, long legged Mac
kenzie hounds that pulled like horses
and walled like whipped puppies when
the huskies and Eskimo dogs set upon
From east and west and south all
trails now led to the post. By tho end
of the third day after the arrival of
the company's supplies a babel of
fighting, yelling, ceaselessly moving
QlSCOru I1RU urivuil luuu luu iikiivu mm
quiet in which Cummins' wife had
died. The fighting and discord were
among the dogs, and tho yelling wns n
necessary human accompaniment. Half
a hundred packs, almost ns wild and
as savage as the wolves from whom
half of them possessed a strong Inheri
tance of blood, were thrown suddenly
into warring confusion.
There wns no cessation In the battle
of the fangs. Half a dozen battles
were fought to tho death each dny
and night Those that died were chief
ly the south bred curs mixtures of
mastiff, Great Dane and sheep dogs
nnd the fatally slow Mackenzie hounds.
Vet beyond all this discord nnd
bloody strife there wns a great, throb-'
blng human happiness a beating of '
honest hearts filled to overflowing
with tho Joys of tbe moment, a weld-1
lug of new friendships, a renewal of '
old ones, a closer union of the broth-1
erhood that holds together nil things
under the cold gray of the northern ,
skies. There were no bickerings among !
the hunters. !
Tbeso were days of unprecedented j
prosperity nnd triumph for tho baby,
as they were for the company. The
cabin was half Oiled with strange
things, for all went to look upon the '
little Melisse and gave something to
her. There were polar bears' teeth. '
brought down by tho little black men 1
who In turn had got them from the I
coast people; strange gods caned from I
wood, bits of fur, bushy foxtails, lynx I
paws, dried fruits, candy bought nt
fabulous prices in the store and musk
always and incessantly musk from
Mnkeo's people of the West Barrens.
Jan bad not played upon his violin
since the coming of Jean de Gravois.
but one evening he tuned his strings
and said to Mcllsse:
"They have been good to you, my
Melisse. 1 will give them ze museek
of ze vlolon."
It wns the big night nt the post the
night that is known from Athabasca to
Hudson bay as the night of the cari
bou roast A week bad passed, and
there were no more furs to be disposed
of. In tbe company's ledger each man
had received his credit, and in the com.
pnny's store tbe furs were piled high
nnd safe. Three caribou had been kill
ed by Per-ee and his hunters, and on
this night, when Jan took down his
violin from its peg on tbe wall, a huge
Are blazed In tbe open, and on spits six
inches in diameter tbe caribou were
Tbe air was filled with tbe sound and
odor of the carnival. Above the fight
ing and snarling of dogs tho forest
people lifted their volceR In wild cele
bration, forgetting in this one holiday
of the year the silence that they would
enrry back into tbe solitudes with
them. Shrill voices rose in meaning
less cries above the roaring of the Ore.
Caribou whips snapped fiercely. Chip
pewayans, Crees. Eskimos and breeds
crowded in the red glare. The factor's
men shouted nnd sang like mnd, for
this was the company's annual "good
time 'the show that would lure many
of these same men back again at the
end of another trnpplng sea sou.
nuge boxes of white bread were
plnced near to the fire. A tub of real
butter, brought o.OOO miles from across
the sea for the occnslon, was set on m
gun case thrown where tbe heat played
upon It In yellow glory. In n giant cop
per kettle, over n smaller fire, bubbled
and steamed half n barrel of coffee
The richness of the odors that drift
ed In the nlr -et tbe dogs gathering
upon their haunches beyond the wnlt
lng circle of masters, their lips drip
ping, their fangs snapping In an eager
ness that was not for the flesh of bat
tle. And above It all there gleamed
down a billion stars from out of the
skies and tbe aurora flung Us banners
through tho pale nlgbt
Seated upon the edge of one of tbe
trend noxes, .lau begun to pray, it
was not tbe low, sweet music of Cum
mins and tbe little Melisse that be play
ed uow, but a wild, walling song that
he had found in tbe autumn winds,
It burst above tbe crackling fire and
the tumult of man and dog in u weird
and savage beuuty thirt hushed all
sound, and life ubont him became like
life Btruck suddenly dead. After a
while his violin sang a lower song, and
sweeter; and still softer it became, and
more sweet, until he was playing that
which be loved most of all tho music
that bad filled the little cabin when
Cummins' wife died.
As be continued to play there came
an Interruption to the silence a low re
frain that was almost like that of tbe
moaning wind. It grew beyond the
tense circle of men, until a song of In
finite sndness rose from tbe throats of
a hundred dogs In response to Jan
Cummins saw the surrounding cor
don become thinner as man crushed
closer to man, and he saw strained
faces turned from the player to where
the dogs sat full throated upon their
haunches, with their heads pointed
straight to tho stars in tbe sky.
"For the love of heaven, play no
more of thatl" be cried in tbe boy's
car. "Play something fast"
Jan lifted bis head as if from a
dream. In an Instant be perceived the
strange effect of bis music, and bis
bow raced across the strings of bis
violin lu a rhythm swift and buoyant
bis voice rising shrill and clear lu
words familiar to them all:
"Oh, ie carlboo-oo-oo, se cariboo oo-oo,
He roaa on high,
Jen' under ze eky,
Ze boeg white carlboo-oo-ool
"Oh, se carlboo-oo-oo, ze carlboo-oo-oo,
He brown an' lulo an' sweet I
Zo carlboo-oo-oo he ver" polite
He roaa' on high,
Jes' under se sky,
He ready now to coma an' eat I"
With yells that rose above tho last
words of tbe song Mukoe and bis Crees
tugged at their poles, and the roasted
caribou fell upon tho snow, Jan drew
back and, with bis violin hugged un
der one arm, watched tbe wild revelers
air, with bared knives flashing in the
firelight, they crowded to tbe feast
Williams, the factor, Joined htm.
"Looks like a fight, doesn't It, Jan?
Once 1 snw n fight at ft caribou roast."
"So did I," snld Jan, who had not
taken his eyes from the Jostling crowd.
"It wns far to tho west nnd north,"
continued Williams, "beyond tbo Great
"Far beyond," said Jan, lifting his
eyes quietly. "It wns ver' nenr to zo
Great Bear. For who you fight at zo
The factor wns silent, and the mus
cles of bis arms grow like steel as he
saw tho madness In Jan's face. Sud
denly be reached out nnd gripped tho
boy's wrists. Jan made no effort to
evade the clutch.
"For who yon fight?" ho cried again.
"For who yon fight nt ze Great Bear?"
"We tried to kill n man, but he got
away," said Williams, speaking so low
that only Jan heard. "He was" The
"Ze mlsslonerl" panted .Inn.
The wild light went out of his eyes
ns ho stared up at Williams, nnd the
softer glow which came Into them
loosened nt once the factor's grip on
the boy's wrists.
"Yes, the mlssioner."
Jan drew back. He evaded meeting
the eyes of Cummins as he made his
wny among the men. There wns a
new burst of song ns Mukce nnd his
Crees pulled down n second cnrlbou,
but the boy paid no attention to the
fresh excitement. He thrust his knife
Into Its shenth nnd rnn ran swiftly
through the packs of dogs fighting nnd
snarling over the scraps that had been
thrown to them, past Mnbnlla. who
wns wntchlng the snvnge banquet
around the big fire, and Into the little
cnbln to Mollsse.
Here be flung himself upon his knees,
nnd for the first time he cnught tho
bnby in his arms, holding her close to
him and rocking her to nnd fro ns he
cried out sobblngly the words which
she did not understand.
"An' when 1 fin' heotn an' kill heera
I will come bnck to you, my angel
Melisse." he whispered. "And then
yon will luf Jan Thorenu for letting
out the blood of n mlsslonerl"
ne put her bnck Into the little bed.
kissed her again and turned to the
For a few morrents Jnn stood with
his back to Melisse and his eyes upon
the carnival about n great tire. As he
looked the third caribou was pulled
down from Its spit, and the multitude
of dogs rushed In upon the abandoned
rnrcasses of the other two.
He caught his breath quickly as a
loud shout nnd the walling yelp of a
hurt dog rose for an instant above all
other sounds. Only one thing wns
wanting to complete another picture
in his brain a scene which had burned
Itself Into his life forever and which
he strove to fight back ns he stood
staring from the doorway. He hnlf
expected it to come the shrill scream
of a boyish voice, nn Instant's sullen
quiet, then the low throated thunder ol
Impending vengeance nnd the fight.
With marvelous quickness his excit
ed mind reconstructed the scene he
fore him Into the scene that had been,
ne heard tbe scream again, which had
been his voice, saw as if in a dream
the frenzied rush of men nnd the flash
of knives, nnd then from where he lay,
trampled and bleeding In the snow, the
long, lean team of swift huskies that
had carried In mnd flight the one
whoso life those knives sought
Williams had been there; he had
seen the fight his knife had flashed
with thp others In Its demand for life.
And yet he -.Inn Thorenu had not
been recognized by the fnctor out there
beside the rarlbiiu roast!
He hurried toward the fire. Hnlf
wny across the open he stopped. From
out of the forest opposite Cummins'
cabin there trailed slowly a team of
dogs. In the shadows of the spruce,
bidden from the revelers, the team
halted. Jan heard the low voices of
men, and n figure detached Itself from
the gloom, walking slowly and in tbe
munner of one near to exhaustion In
tbe direction of tbe carnival.
The Fight at Dawn.
IT was a new team. It had come
from the trails to the east, and
Jan's heart gave a sudden Jump
as ho thought of tho missionary
who was expected with the overdue
mall. At first he had a mind to Inter
cept the figure laboring ncross the
open, but without apparent reason be
changed bis course and approached the
As he came nearer he observed a sec
ond figure, which rose from behind
He 8hot Out a Powerful Fist and Sent
the Boy Reeling to the Qround.
the dogs and advanced to meet him.
A dozen paces ahead of tho team It
stopped and walled.
"Our dogs are so ueur cxhntiKUon
that we're afrnld to take them any
nearer," said u voice, "They'd die like
puppies under thoso packsl"
Tho voice thrilled Jan. He advanced
with his bnck to the fire, so that he
could see the stranger.
"You como from Churchill 7' he
His words were hardly a question.
They wero moro of nn oxcuso for him
to draw nenrer, nnd he turned a little,
so that for an instant tbe glowing fire
flashed In his eyes.
"Yes; wo started from the Etawnej
Just a week ago today."
Jan had come very near. The stran
ger Interrupted himself to stare Intt
the thin, fierce face that nnd grown
like a white cameo almost within
reach of him. With a startled cry he
drew a step back, and Jan's violin
dropped to the snow.
For no longer than n breath there
was silence. Tho man wormed him
self back Into tho shadows Inch by
Inch, followed by the white face of tho
boy. Then there came shrilly from
Jnn's Hps the mad shrieking of a name,
and his knife Unshed as he leaped at
the other's breast.
Tho stranger wns quicker thnn he
With n sudden movement ho cleared
himself of tho blow, and us Jan's nrm
went past him, the point of the knlfa
ripping his coat sleeve, he shot out a
powerful fist and sent the boy reeling
to the gro-.id.
Stunned and bleeding, .Tan dragged
himself to his knees. He saw the dogs
turning, heard a low volco urging them
to the trail and saw tho sledge disap
pear Into tbe forest. He staggered
from his knees to his feet and stood
swaying in his weakness. Then he
lie forgot that he was leaving bis
knife in tho snow, forgot thnt back
there nbout the tire there were othet
dogs nnd other men. ne followed.
sickened by tbe blow, but gaining
strength as he pursued. Ahead of him
he could hear tbo sound of the tobog
gnn nnd the cautious lushing of a whip
over the backs of the tired huskies,
The sounds filled him with fierce
strength. He wiped away tho warm
trickle of blood that ran over bis cheek
nnd begun to run. slowly at first,
swingiug In the easy wolf lope of tbe
forest runner, with his elbows close to
At thnt pace he could have followed
for hours, losing when the pnek took a
spurt, gaining when they lagged, an In
slstent Nemesis just behind when the
weighted dogs lay down lu their traces.
When he beard the cracking of the
whip growing fainter he dropped his
arms straight to his sides nnd ran
more swiftly, his brain reeling with the
madness of his desire to reach the
sledge, to drag from It the man who
hud struck him. to choke life from the
face thnt haunted that mental picture
of his. grinning at hlra and gloating al
ways from the shadow world. Just be
yond the pale, sweet loveliness of the
woman who lived in It
He did not feel tbe soft un packed
snow under the bent of his feet He
received tbe Insh of low hanging bush
es without experiencing the sensation
of their sting. Only he knew thnt he
wnnted nlr more and more nlr-and
(o get It he ran with open month,
struggling and gasping for It and yet
not knowing that Jean de Grnvols
would have called him a tool for tbe
manner In which he sought It.
He heard uilutly
the run of Hie .!.-.. i ... lie heard
It uo longer lii. heart welled in a
final bursting effort, and In- plunged
on until ut Inst his leg-. iTiimpled
under hlra and he pitched fare down
ward in the snow, like a thing stung
by sudden d until.
It was them, with his scratched and
bleeding face, lying in the snow, that
reason began to return to blni. After
a llttlo while he dragged himself weak
ly to his knees, still panting from the
mad effort he had made to overtake
the sledge. From a great distance he
heard faintly the noise of shouting, tbe
whispering echo of half a hundred
voices, and he knew thnt the sound
came from the revelers at the post
It was proof to him that there had
been no Interruption to the carnival
and that the scene nt the edge of the
forest hud been witnessed by none. He
turned ngnln on the trail.
Where the forest broke into nn open,
lighted by the stars, bo found blood
In the footprints of the lending dog.
Ilulfwny ncross tbe open he saw where
the leader had swung out from the
trail nnd the others of the puck bad
crowded nbout him. to be urged on
by the lashings of tho man's whip.
Other signs of the pack's growing ex
haustion followed close.
The man uow traveled beside the
sledge where the trnll wns rough nnd
rode where it was smooth and bard.
The deep Imprints of his heeled hoots
in the soft snow showed that he ran
for only a short distance nt a time
n hundred yards or less and that aft
er ench running spell he brought the
pnek to a wnlk. He wns heavy and
lacked endurance, and this discovery
brought a low cry of exultation to
He fell Into a dog trot. Mile after
mile dropped behind him. Other miles
were nhcad of blm. nn endless wilder
ness of miles, and through them tbe
pack persisted, keoplng always beyond
sound and vision.
Tho stars began fading out of the
skies. Jan followed more nnd more
slowly. There was hard breathing ef
fort now In bis running-effort that
caused him physlcnl pain nnd discom
fort. Ills feet stumbled occasionally
in the snow. His legs from thlcrb to
knee began to ache with the gnawing
torment that centers In the marrow
bone, nnd with this beginning of tho
"runner's cramp" he was filled with ft
new and poiguunt terror.
Would the dogs beat him out? Slough
ln lu his trail, bleeding at every foot
would they still drag their burden be
youd the reach of his vengeance? Tbe
fear fastened Itself upon him. urging
him to greater effort, and he called
upon tho last of bis strength In a spurt
that carried him to where the thick
spruce gave place to thin bush nnd tbe
bush to the barren and rocky side of a
huge ridge, up which tbe troll climbed
strong and well defined. For a few
poces he followed It, then slipped and
rolled bnck as tbe fatal paralysis dead
ened all power of movement In his
limbs. He lay where be fell, moaning
out his grlof with wide staring eyes
turned straight up Into the cold gray
of the starless sky.
For a long time ho was motionless.
Then he began slowly to crawl up the
trnll. Some of tbe dull paralytic ache
was gone from his limbs, and ns he
worked his blood began to warm them
Into new strength until he stood up
and sniffed like nn animal in tbe wind
thnt was coming over the ridge from
There was something in that wind
that thrilled him. It stung his nostrils
to a quick sensing of the nearness
of something that was human. He
smelted smoke. In It there wns tho
pungent odor of green balsam mixed
with a faint perfume of pitch pine,
and because the odor of pitch grew
stronger ns ho ascended he knew thnt
It was a small lire that was making
tho smoko, with none of tho fierce, dry
woods to burn up the smell. It was
a flro hidden among the rocks, a tiny
fire, over which the fleeing mlssioner
was cooking his breakfast.
Jan almost moaned aloud to his glad
ness, and the old mad strength return
ed to his body. Near the summit ot
the ridge bo picked up a club. It was
a short, thick club with the heavy end
knotted and twisted.
Cautiously be lifted his face over the
rocks and looked out upon a plateau
still deep in snow swept bare by the
winter's winds and covered with rocks
and bushes, nis face was so white
that nt a little distance It might have
been taken for a snow hare. It went
whiter when a few yards nway he snw
the fire, the man and the dogs.
The man wns close to tho little blnze,
his brond shoulders bunched over,
steadying a smnll pot over tbe flame.
Beyond him were the dogs huddled
nbout the sledge. Inanimate as death.
Jan drew himself over the rocks.
Once he hud seen n big footed lynx
creep upon a wide nwoke fox, and, like
thnt lynx, he crept upon the man be
side tbe fire. One ift' tbe tired dogs
moved, and his pointed nostrils quiv
ered In the air. Jan lay flat In the
snow. Then the dog's muzzle dropped
between bis paws, and the boy moved
Inch by Inch he ndvnuced. The inch
es multiplied themselves Into a foot
the foot lengthened Into yards, and
still the man remained hunched over
his simmering pot In a flash Jan took
the last leap, and bis club crashed
down upon the mlssloner's bend. The
man pitched over like n tog, and. with
a shrill cry. the boy was at his throat.
"I am Jan Thorenu!" he shrieked.
"I am Jnn Thoreuti .Ian Thoreau
rome to kepi you!" He dropped his
i-lub nnd was upon the man's chest,
tils slender fingers tightening like steel
"Ire about the thick thront of his en
'my "I keel you slow rIow!" he cried
as the mlssioner struggled weakly.
The grout thick body heaved under
iilui. nut! he put nil his strength Into
his hands. Something struck blm In
the face. Something struck him again
mil ugulu, but he felt neither the pain
nor the force of it, nnd his voice sob
bed out his triumph as he choked. Tbe
man's hands reached up and tore nt
his hair, but Jnn snw only the mis
doner's mottled fuco growing more
mottled nnd his eyes staring In greater
agony up Into his own.
"I am Jan Thoreau," he panted again
anil again. "I am .Tau Thoreau, an' I
i eel you keel you!"
The blood poured from his face. It
blinded him until he could no longer
( the one from which he wns chok
ing life. He bent down his head to es
I'iipo the blows. Tho man's body
heaved more and more; It turned until
lie wns half under It, but still he hung
to the thick throat, ns the weasel hangs
lu tenacious death to the jugutnr of Its
The mlssloner's weight wns upon
blm In crushing force uow. His huge
hands struck and tore at the boy's head
There Was Death In Eaeh of the Two
and face, nnd then they had fastened
themselves nt his neck. Jan was con.
seious of a terrible effort to take In
breath, but ho was uot conscious of
pain. Tho clutch did not frighten him.
It did not make him loosen his grip.
Ills fingers dug deeper. He strove to
cry out still his words of triumph, but
he could make uo sound, except a gasp
ing like thnt which came from between
the gaiilng Jaws of tho man whose life
his body and soul wero lighting to
There was denth In each of the two
grips, but tbe man's was stronger, and
his neck was larger and tougher, so
that after n time he staggered to his
knees and then to bis feet, while Jan
lay upon his back, his face and hair
red with blood, bis eyes wide open and
with a lifeless glare in them. The mls
sioner looked down upon his victim In
horror. As the life that had nearly
ebbed out of him poured back into his
body ho staggered among the dogs,
fastened them to the sledge and urged
them down tho mountain into tbe plain.
Thcro was soon no sound of the sledge.
Half a mile down the ridge, where It
sloped up gradually from the forests
and swamps of the plain, a team of
powerful malemutes were running at
tbe head of a toboggan. On the sledge
... a .....,n t.1V . & .
nna a juuiift unit Vrtd WOUlUq. nOW
beside the sledge, now nt tho head of
the dogs, cracking his whip and shout
lng joyously, ran Jean do Grnvols.
Ho wns bringing back with him n
splendid young woman wllh big lus
trous eyes nnd hnlr thnt shono with
tho gloss of n raven's wing In tho sun.
She Inughod nt htm proudly as he
danced and leaped beside her, reply
ing softly In Crco, which Is the most
beautiful language In tho world, to
everything that ho said.
Jean leaped and ran, crncked his
cnrlbou whip and shouted nnd snng
until ho wns pnntlng nnd red In the
face. Just ns lowakn had cnlled upon
him to stop nnd get n second wind the
mnlcmntes dropped back upon their
haunches where Jnn Thoreau Iny,
twisted and bleeding, In the snow.
"What Is this?" cried Jean.
no caught Jan's limp head nnd
shoulders up In his arms and cnlled
shrilly to Iowaka, who wns disentan
gling herself from the thick furs In
which he hnd wrapped her.
"It Is the fiddler I told you about,
who lives with Williams at Post Lac
Bain!" he outed excitedly In Croc.
"He has been murdered. Ho hns
been choked to death nnd torn to
pieces In the face ns If by an animal."
Jean's eyes roved nbout ns lowakn
kneeled tiesldc him. "Whnt n fight!"
he gnsped. "See the footprints a big
man and n smnll boy, nnd tho mur
derer hns gone on n sledge!"
"no Is warm," said lowakn. "It
may be that he Is not dead."
Jean de Grnvols sprnng to his feet,
his llttlo black eyes flnshlng with a
ilnngerous fire. In n single leap ho
was nt the side of the sledge throw
ing off the furs nnd bundles and nil
I'thcr objects except his rllle.
"He is dead, Iownka. Look at tho
purple and blnck In his face. It is
Jean de Gravois who will catch the
murderer, and you will stay hero nnd
make yourself a camp. IIl-o-o-o-o!"
ho shouted to the malemutes.
Tho team twisted sinuously nnd
swiftly In the trnll ns be sped over tho
edge of the mountain. Upon the plain
below he knelt upon the toboggan, with
his rifle In front of him, and at Ills low,
hissing commands, which rencned no
farther thuu tho dogs' oars, the team
stretched their long bodies In pursuit
of the mlssioner and his huskies.
Jean knew that whoever was ahead
of him wns not far away, and ho
laughed and hunched his shoulders
when he saw that his magnificent
malemutes wero mnklng three times
the speed of the huskier It wn9 n
short chase. It led across the narrow
plain nnd into n dense tangle of swamp,
where the huskies bad picked their
wny in nimlcss wandering until they
entne out in thick balsam and Bank
slnn pine. Half n mile farther on, and
the trail broke Into an open which
led down to tho smooth surface of a
lake, and two-thirds across the lake
was tbe fleeing mlssioner.
THE malemute leader flung open
his jaws in a deep baying tri
umph, and with n savage yell
Jean cracked his caribou whip
over his back. He saw tbe man ahead
of him lean over the end of his sledge
as he urged bis dogs, but the huskies
went no faster, and then he caught a
glitter of something that Unshed for a
moment in the sun.
"Ah!" said Jean softly ns n bullet
sang over his head, "no fires nt Jean
de Gravois!" He dropped his whip,
and there was n wnrm glow of happi
ness In his little dark face ns he level
ed his rifle over the backs of his male
mutes. "He tires at Jean de Gravois,
and it is Jenn who can hamstring n
caribou at 300 yards on the run!"
For an Instant, nt the crnck of his
rifle there was no movement ahead,
then something rolled from the sledge
and lay doubled up In the snow. A
hundred yards beyond it the huskies
stopped In a rabble and turned to look
at the npproachlng strangers.
Beside It Jean stopped, nnd when he
snw the face that stared up at htm.
he clutched his thin hnnds In his long
b.nck hair and cried out In shrill amaze
ment nnd horror:
"The saints In heaven. It Is the mls
sioner from Churchill!"
He turned the man over nnd found
where his bullet hnd entered under
one arm and come out from under the
other. There was no spnrk of life left.
The mlssioner was already dead.
"The mlssioner from Churchill!" ho
He looked up nt the worm sun and
kicked the melting snow under his
"It will thaw very soon," he said to
himself, looking again nt thedend mnn,
"nnd then he will go Into the lake."
He headed his malemutes back to the
forest. Then tin rnn out nnd cut tho
trnces of the exhnusted huskies, and
with his whip scattered them In free
dom over the ice.
"Go to tho wolves!" he shouted in
Cree. "Hide yourselves from the post,
or Jenn de Gravois will cut out your
tongues and take your skins off alive!"
When he came bnck to the top of tho
mountain Jean found Iowaka making
hot coffee, while Jnn wns bundled up
In furs near the fire.
"It is as I said." she called. "He Is
Thus It happened thnt tho return of
Jean de Gravois to tho post was even
more dramntlc than he had schemed It
to be, for he brought back with him
not only a benutiful wlfo from Church
III, but also the hnlf dead Jan Thoreau
from the scene of battle on the moun
tain. And In the mystery of it nil he
reveled for two days, for Jean de Gra
vois said not a word about the dead
man on the lake beyond the forest, nor
did the huskies como back into their
bondage to give a hint of the missing
From the day after tho caribou roast
tbe fur gatherers began scattering.
Tbe Eskimos left tbe next morning.
On tbe second day Mnkee's people
from the west set off along tbe edge
of tbo Barrens. Most of tbe others left
by ones and twos Into tbe wilderness
to tbe south and east.
'Less than a dozen still put off their
return to the late spring trapping, and
among these were Jean do Gravois
and his wife. Jean wnltcd until tho
third day. Then he went to seo Jan.
Tke boy was bolstered up lu his cot,
with Cummins balancing tho little
4iUBe on the edgo of tho bed when
he came In.
For a time Jean sat nnd watched
them In silence. Then he made a sign
to Cummins, who Joined him at the,
"I am going tho Athobnsca way to
dny," ho said. "I wish to talk with
tho boy before I go. I havo a word
to say to blm which no ears should
hear but his own. Will It bo right?"
"Talk to him ns long ns you like,
snld Cummins, "but don't worry him
nbout tho mlsslonnry. You'll not gel
n word from hlrn."
Jnn's eyes spoke with a devotlo
grenter thnn words ns Jean do Or
vols enme nnd snt close beside htm
He know thnt It wns Jean who hnd
brought him nllve Into tho post.
"Ah, It was wan be-e-a-u-tlful fight,"
ho said softly. "You are a brave boy,
"You did not seo It?" asked Jan.
Unconsciously the words enme from
hlra In French. Jean cnught one of
his thin hands nnd laughed Joyfully,
for the spirit of him was French to
the bottom of his soul.
"I seo It? No, neither I nor Iowaka,
fint there It was In the snow, as plain
ns the eyes In your fnce. And did I
not follow the trnll thnt staggered
down tho mountnln, while Iownka
brought you back to life? And when
I enme to the lako did I not seo some
thing black out upon It, like n charred
log? And when I came to It was It
not the dead body of the mlssioner
from Churchill? Eh, Jan Thorenu?"
Jnn snt up In his bed, with a sharp
"The thaw will open up tne lane m
a few days. Then he will go down In
the first slush." Aud Jean looked about
him cnutlouely ngnln nnd whispered
low "if you seo nnythlng about the
dead mlssioner that you do not under
stand think of Jean de Gravois."
He rose to his feet and bent over
Jon's white fnce.
"I nm going the Athnbasca wny to
day," he finished. "Perhaps, Jan Thor.
eiui, you will hear after a time that It
would be best for Jean de Gravois
never to return again to this Post Lac
Bain, If so you will find him be
tween Fond du Lac and the Beaver
river." He passed out.
When Cummins returned be found
Jan's checks flushed and the boy In a
"Devil take that Gravois!" he growl
ed. "He hns been n brother to me," said
Jnn simply. "I love him."
On the second day after the French
man's departure Jan rose free of the
fever which had threatened him for a
time, and In the afternoon ho har
nessed Cummins' dogs. The last of the
trappers had started from the post thatl
morning, their sledges and dogs sink
ing heavily in the deepening slush, and
Jan set off over the smooth toboggan
trail made by the company's agent la
his return to Fort Churchill.
This trail followed close along the
base of tbo ridge upon which he had
fought the missionary. Joining that of
Jean do Gravois miles beyond. Jan
climbed the ridge. From where he had
made his attack he followed the al
most obliterated trail of the French
man and his malemutes until he cams
to tbe lake, and then he knew that
Jean de Gravois had spoken the truth,
for he found the missionary with his
fnce hnlf buried In tbe slush, stark
He no longer bad to guess at the
meaning of Jean's words. The bullet
holo under the dead man's arms was
too large to escape eyes like Jan's. Into
the little hidden world which ho treas
ured in his heart there came another
face, to remain always with blm the
face of the courageous little forest
dandy who was hurrying with his
bride back into tho country of the
From that night Jan's eyes were no
longer filled with the nervous, glitter,
lng flashes which at times had given
him an appearance almost of madness.
In place of their searching suspicions,
there was a warmer and more com
panionable glow, and Cummins felt
the effect of the change.
A Cree trapper had found Jan's via
Itn in the snow and had brought It t
Mnbnlla. Before Cummins finished hit
supper tho boy began to play, and h(
continued to play until tbe lights a(
the rost went out and both the mat
and the child were deep in sleep
Then Jan stopped. There was the Art
of a keen wakefulness in bis eyes m
he carefully unfastened tho strings ol
his Instrument and held It close to th(
oil lamp, so that he could peer dowf
through tho nnrrow aperture in tht
He looked again nt Cummins. Thi
mnn was sleeping with his face to tht
wall. With the hooked wire which h(
used for cleaning bis revolver Jnn
ilshed gently at the very end of the
box, aud after three or four efforts
the wiro caught In something soft,
which he pulled toward him. Through
the bulge In the "F" hole he dragged
forth n smnll, tightly rolled cylinder
of faded red cloth.
For n few moments he sat watching
the deep breathing of Cummins, un
rolling the cloth ns ho watched, until
he had sprend out upon the table bo
fore him a number of closely written
pages of paper. He weighted them nl
one end with his violin and held them
down nt the other with his hnnds.
Tho writing was in French. Several
of tho pages were in a heavy mascu
line hand, the words running one upon
nnother so closely that In places they
seemed to be connected, and from
them Jan took bis fingers, so that they
rolled up like a spring. Over the oth
ers he bent his head, nnd there came
from him n low, sobbing breath.
On these pages the writing was that
of n woman, and from the paper there
still rose a faint, sweet scent of helio
trope. For tinlf on hour Jan gazed
upon them, rending the words slowly
until he enme to tho last pnge.
A new and strange longing crept
Into his heart, ne stretched out his
arms, with the papers and hts violin
clutched In bis hands, as if a wonder
ful spirit wns calling to him.
For the first tinfe in his lonely llfi
It came to blm this call of the great
world beyond the wilderness and sud
denly he crushed the woman's lettei
to his tips, nnd bis voice burst front
him In whispering, thrilling eagernessi
"I will come to you some day w'ei
ze leetle Melisse come too."
He rolled tho written pnges togeth
er, wrapped them In tho faded red
cloth aud concealed them again In tht;