List Of Contents | Contents of The Patrol of the Sun Dance Trail
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High up on the hillside in the midst of a rugged group of jack
pines the Union Jack shook out its folds gallantly in the breeze
that swept down the Kicking Horse Pass.  That gallant flag marked
the headquarters of Superintendent Strong, of the North West
Mounted Police, whose special duty it was to preserve law and order
along the construction line of the Canadian Pacific Railway
Company, now pushed west some scores of miles.

Along the tote-road, which ran parallel to the steel, a man, dark
of skin, slight but wiry, came running, his hard panting, his
streaming face, his open mouth proclaiming his exhaustion.  At a
little trail that led to the left he paused, noted its course
toward the flaunting flag, turned into it, then struggled up the
rocky hillside till he came to the wooden shack, with a deep porch
running round it, and surrounded by a rustic fence which enclosed a
garden whose neatness illustrated a characteristic of the British
soldier.  The runner passed in through the gate and up the little
gravel walk and began to ascend the steps.

"Halt!"  A quick sharp voice arrested him.  "What do you want
here?"  From the side of the shack an orderly appeared, neat, trim
and dandified in appearance, from his polished boots to his wide
cowboy hat.

"Beeg Chief," panted the runner.  "Me--see--beeg Chief--queeck."

The orderly looked him over and hesitated.

"What do you want Big Chief for?"

"Me--want--say somet'ing," said the little man, fighting to recover
his breath, "somet'ing beeg--sure beeg."  He made a step toward the

"Halt there!" said the orderly sharply.  "Keep out, you half-

"See--beeg Chief--queeck," panted the half-breed, for so he was,
with fierce insistence.

The orderly hesitated.  A year ago he would have hustled him off
the porch in short order.  But these days were anxious days.
Rumors wild and terrifying were running through the trails of the
dark forest.  Everywhere were suspicion and unrest.  The Indian
tribes throughout the western territories and in the eastern part
of British Columbia, under cover of an unwonted quiet, were in a
state of excitement, and this none knew better than the North West
Mounted Police.  With stoical unconcern the Police patroled their
beats, rode in upon the reserves, careless, cheery, but with eyes
vigilant for signs and with ears alert for sounds of the coming
storm.  Only the Mounted Police, however, and a few old-timers who
knew the Indians and their half-breed kindred gave a single
moment's thought to the bare possibility of danger.  The vast
majority of the Canadian people knew nothing of the tempestuous
gatherings of French half-breed settlers in little hamlets upon the
northern plains along the Saskatchewan.  The fiery resolutions
reported now and then in the newspapers reciting the wrongs and
proclaiming the rights of these remote, ignorant, insignificant,
half-tamed pioneers of civilization roused but faint interest in
the minds of the people of Canada.  Formal resolutions and
petitions of rights had been regularly sent during the past two
years to Ottawa and there as regularly pigeon-holed above the desks
of deputy ministers.  The politicians had a somewhat dim notion
that there was some sort of row on among the "breeds" about Prince
Albert and Battleford, but this concerned them little.  The members
of the Opposition found in the resolutions and petitions of rights
useful ammunition for attack upon the Government.  In purple
periods the leader arraigned the supineness and the indifference of
the Premier and his Government to "the rights and wrongs of our
fellow-citizens who, amid the hardships of a pioneer civilization,
were laying broad and deep the foundations of Empire."  But after
the smoke and noise of the explosion had passed both Opposition and
Government speedily forgot the half-breed and his tempestuous
gatherings in the stores and schoolhouses, at church doors and in
open camps, along the banks of the far away Saskatchewan.

There were a few men, however, that could not forget.  An Indian
agent here and there with a sense of responsibility beyond the
pickings of his post, a Hudson Bay factor whose long experience in
handling the affairs of half-breeds and Indians instructed him to
read as from a printed page what to others were meaningless and
incoherent happenings, and above all the officers of the Mounted
Police, whose duty it was to preserve the "pax Britannica" over
some three hundred thousand square miles of Her Majesty's dominions
in this far northwest reach of Empire, these carried night and day
an uneasiness in their minds which found vent from time to time in
reports and telegraphic messages to members of Government and other
officials at headquarters, who slept on, however, undisturbed.  But
the word was passed along the line of Police posts over the plains
and far out into British Columbia to watch for signs and to be on
guard.  The Police paid little heed to the high-sounding resolutions
of a few angry excitable half-breeds, who, daring though they were
and thoroughly able to give a good account of themselves in any
trouble that might arise, were quite insignificant in number; but
there was another peril, so serious, so terrible, that the oldest
officer on the force spoke of it with face growing grave and with
lowered voice--the peril of an Indian uprising.

All this and more made the trim orderly hesitate.  A runner with
news was not to be kicked unceremoniously off the porch in these
days, but to be considered.

"You want to see the Superintendent, eh?"

"Oui, for sure--queeck--run ten mile," replied the half-breed with
angry impatience.

"All right," said the orderly, "what's your name?"

"Name?  Me, Pinault--Pierre Pinault.  Ah, sacr-r-e!  Beeg Chief
know me--Pinault."  The little man drew himself up.

"All right!  Wait!" replied the orderly, and passed into the shack.
He had hardly disappeared when he was back again, obviously shaken
out of his correct military form.

"Go in!" he said sharply.  "Get a move on!  What are you waiting

The half-breed threw him a sidelong glance of contempt and passed
quickly into the "Beeg Chief's" presence.

Superintendent Strong was a man prompt in decision and prompt in
action, a man of courage, too, unquestioned, and with that bulldog
spirit that sees things through to a finish.  To these qualities it
was that he owed his present command, for it was no insignificant
business to keep the peace and to make the law run along the line
of the Canadian Pacific Railway through the Kicking Horse Pass
during construction days.

The half-breed had been but a few minutes with the Chief when the
orderly was again startled out of his military decorum by the
bursting open of the Superintendent's door and the sharp rattle of
the Superintendent's orders.

"Send Sergeant Ferry to me at once and have my horse and his
brought round immediately!"  The orderly sprang to attention and

"Yes, sir!" he replied, and swiftly departed.

A few minutes' conference with Sergeant Ferry, a few brief commands
to the orderly, and the Superintendent and Sergeant were on their
way down the steep hillside toward the tote-road that led eastward
through the pass.  A half-hour's ride brought them to a trail that
led off to the south, into which the Superintendent, followed by
the Sergeant, turned his horse.  Not a word was spoken by either
man.  It was not the Superintendent's custom to share his plans
with his subordinate officers until it became necessary.  "What
you keep behind your teeth," was a favorite maxim with the
Superintendent, "will harm neither yourself nor any other man."
They were on the old Kootenay Trail, for a hundred years and more
the ancient pathway of barter and of war for the Indian tribes that
hunted the western plains and the foothill country and brought
their pelts to the coast by way of the Columbia River.  Along the
lower levels the old trail ran, avoiding, with the sure instinct of
a skilled engineer, nature's obstacles, and taking full advantage
of every sloping hillside and every open stretch of woods.  Now and
then, however, the trail must needs burrow through a deep thicket
of spruce and jack pine and scramble up a rocky ridge, where the
horses, trained as they were in mountain climbing, had all they
could do to keep their feet.

Ten miles and more they followed the tortuous trail, skirting
mountain peaks and burrowing through underbrush, scrambling up
rocky ridges and sliding down their farther sides, till they came
to a park-like country where from the grassy sward the big Douglas
firs, trimmed clear of lower growth and standing spaced apart,
lifted on red and glistening trunks their lofty crowns of tufted
evergreen far above the lesser trees.

As they approached the open country the Superintendent proceeded
with greater caution, pausing now and then to listen.

"There ought to be a big powwow going on somewhere near," he said
to his Sergeant, "but I can hear nothing.  Can you?"

The Sergeant leaned over his horse's ears.

"No, sir, not a sound."

"And yet it can't be far away," growled the Superintendent.

The trail led through the big firs and dipped into a little grassy
valley set round with thickets on every side.  Into this open glade
they rode.  The Superintendent was plainly disturbed and irritated;
irritated because surprised and puzzled.  Where he had expected to
find a big Indian powwow he found only a quiet sunny glade in the
midst of a silent forest.  Sergeant Ferry waited behind him in
respectful silence, too wise to offer any observation upon the
situation.  Hence in the Superintendent grew a deeper irritation.

"Well, I'll be--!"  He paused abruptly.  The Superintendent rarely
used profanity.  He reserved this form of emphasis for supreme
moments.  He was possessed of a dramatic temperament and
appreciated at its full value the effect of a climax.  The climax
had not yet arrived, hence his self-control.

"Exactly so," said the Sergeant, determined to be agreeable.

"What's that?"

"They don't seem to be here, sir," replied the Sergeant, staring up
into the trees.

"Where?" cried the Superintendent, following the direction of the
Sergeant's eyes.  "Do you suppose they're a lot of confounded

"Exactly--that is--no, sir, not at all, sir.  But--"

"They were to have been here," said the Superintendent angrily.
"My information was most positive and trustworthy."

"Exactly so, sir," replied the Sergeant.  "But they haven't been
here at all!"  The Superintendent impatiently glared at the
Sergeant, as if he were somehow responsible for this inexplicable
failure upon the part of the Indians.

"Exactly--that is--no, sir.  No sign.  Not a sign."  The Sergeant
was most emphatic.

"Well, then, where in--where--?  The Superintendent felt himself
rapidly approaching an emotional climax and took himself back with
a jerk.  "Well," be continued, with obvious self-control, "let's
look about a bit."

With keen and practised eyes they searched the glade, and the
forest round about it, and the trails leading to it.

"Not a sign," said the Superintendent emphatically, "and for the
first time in my experience Pinault is wrong--the very first time.
He was dead sure."

"Pinault--generally right, sir," observed the Sergeant.


"Exactly so.  But this time--"

"He's been fooled," declared the Superintendent.  "A big sun dance
was planned for this identical spot.  They were all to be here,
every tribe represented, the Stonies even had been drawn into it,
some of the young bloods I suppose.  And, more than that, the Sioux
from across the line."

"The Sioux, eh?" said the Sergeant.  "I didn't know the Sioux were
in this."

"Ah, perhaps not, but I have information that the Sioux--in fact--"
here the Superintendent dropped his voice and unconsciously glanced
about him, "the Sioux are very much in this, and old Copperhead
himself is the moving spirit of the whole business."

"Copperhead!" exclaimed the Sergeant in an equally subdued tone.

"Yes, sir, that old devil is taking a hand in the game.  My
information was that he was to have been here to-day, and, by the
Lord Harry! if he had been we would have put him where the dogs
wouldn't bite him.  The thing is growing serious."

"Serious!" exclaimed the Sergeant in unwonted excitement.  "You
just bet--that is exactly so, sir.  Why the Sioux must be good for
a thousand."

"A thousand!" exclaimed the Superintendent.  "I've the most
positive information that the Sioux could place in the war path two
thousand fighting-men inside of a month.  And old Copperhead is at
the bottom of it all.  We want that old snake, and we want him
badly."  And the Superintendent swung on to his horse and set off
on the return trip.

"Well, sir, we generally get what we want in that way," volunteered
the Sergeant, following his chief.

"We do--in the long run.  But in this same old Copperhead we have
the acutest Indian brain in all the western country.  Sitting Bull
was a fighter, Copperhead is a schemer."

They rode in silence, the Sergeant busy with a dozen schemes whereby
he might lay old Copperhead by the heels; the Superintendent
planning likewise.  But in the Superintendent's plans the Sergeant
had no place.  The capture of the great Sioux schemer must be
entrusted to a cooler head than that of the impulsive, daring,
loyal-hearted Sergeant.



For full five miles they rode in unbroken silence, the Superintendent
going before with head pressed down on his breast and eyes fixed
upon the winding trail.  A heavy load lay upon him.  True, his
immediate sphere of duty lay along the line of the Canadian Pacific
Railway, but as an officer of Her Majesty's North West Mounted
Police he shared with the other officers of that force the full
responsibility of holding in steadfast loyalty the tribes of Western
Indians.  His knowledge of the presence in the country of the
arch-plotter of the powerful and warlike Sioux from across the line
entailed a new burden.  Well he knew that his superior officer would
simply expect him to deal with the situation in a satisfactory
manner.  But how, was the puzzle.  A mere handful of men he had
under his immediate command and these dispersed in ones and twos
along the line of railway, and not one of them fit to cope with the
cunning and daring Sioux.

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