List Of Contents | Contents of The Patrol of the Sun Dance Trail
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induced to strike a somewhat more rapid pace than he considered
wise at the beginning of an all-day journey.  Away down the street
between the silent shacks and stores and out among the straggling
residences that lined the trail.  Away past the Indian encampment
and the Police Barracks.  Away across the echoing bridge, whose
planks resounded like the rattle of rifles under the flying hoofs.
Away up the long stony hill, scrambling and scrabbling, but never
ceasing till they reached the level prairie at the top.  Away upon
the smooth resilient trail winding like a black ribbon over the
green bed of the prairie.  Away down long, long slopes to low, wide
valleys, and up long, long slopes to the next higher prairie level.
Away across the plain skirting sleughs where ducks of various
kinds, and in hundreds, quacked and plunged and fought joyously and
all unheeding.  Away with the morning air, rare and wondrously
exhilarating, rushing at them and past them and filling their
hearts with the keen zest of living.  Away beyond sight and sound
of the great world, past little shacks, the brave vanguard of
civilization, whose solitary loneliness only served to emphasize
their remoteness from the civilization which they heralded.  Away
from the haunts of men and through the haunts of wild things where
the shy coyote, his head thrown back over his shoulder, loped
laughing at them and their futile noisy speed.  Away through the
wide rich pasture lands where feeding herds of cattle and bands of
horses made up the wealth of the solitary rancher, whose low-built
wandering ranch house proclaimed at once his faith and his courage.
Away and ever away, the shining morning hours and the fleeting miles
racing with them, till by noon-day, all wet but still unweary, the
bronchos drew up at the Big River Stopping Place, forty miles from
the point of their departure.

Close behind the democrat rode Dr. Martin, the steady pace of his
wise old broncho making up upon the dashing but somewhat erratic
gait of the colts.

While the ladies passed into the primitive Stopping Place, the men
unhitched the ponies, stripped off their harness and proceeded to
rub them down from head to heel, wash out their mouths and remove
from them as far as they could by these attentions the travel marks
of the last six hours.

Big River could hardly be called even by the generous estimate of
the optimistic westerner a town.  It consisted of a blacksmith's
shop, with which was combined the Post Office, a little school,
which did for church--the farthest outpost of civilization--and a
manse, simple, neat and tiny, but with a wondrous air of comfort
about it, and very like the little Nova Scotian woman inside, who
made it a very vestibule of heaven for many a cowboy and rancher in
the district, and last, the Stopping Place run by a man who had won
the distinction of being well known to the Mounted Police and who
bore the suggestive name of Hell Gleeson, which appeared, however,
in the old English Registry as Hellmuth Raymond Gleeson.  The
Mounted Police thought it worth while often to run in upon Hell at
unexpected times, and more than once they had found it necessary to
invite him to contribute to Her Majesty's revenue as compensation
for Hell's objectionable habit of having in possession and of
retailing to his friends bad whisky without attending to the little
formality of a permit.

The Stopping Place was a rambling shack, or rather a series of
shacks, loosely joined together, whose ramifications were found by
Hell and his friends to be useful in an emergency.  The largest
room in the building was the bar, as it was called.  Behind the
counter, however, instead of the array of bottles and glasses
usually found in rooms bearing this name, the shelf was filled with
patent medicines, chiefly various brands of pain-killer.  Off the
bar was the dining-room, and behind the dining-room another and
smaller room, while the room most retired in the collection of
shacks constituting the Stopping Place was known in the neighborhood
as the "snake room," a room devoted to those unhappy wretches who,
under the influence of prolonged indulgence in Hell's bad whisky,
were reduced to such a mental and nervous condition that the
landscape of their dreams became alive with snakes of various sizes,
shapes and hues.

To Mandy familiarity had hardened her sensibilities to endurance of
all the grimy uncleanness of the place, but to Moira the appearance
of the house and especially of the dining-room filled her with
loathing unspeakable.

"Oh, Mandy," she groaned, "can we not eat outside somewhere?  This
is terrible."

Mandy thought for a moment.

"No," she cried, "but we will do better.  I know Mrs. Macintyre in
the manse.  I nursed her once last spring.  We will go and see

"Oh, that would not do," said Moira, her Scotch shy independence
shrinking from such an intrusion.

"And why not?"

"She doesn't know me--and there are four of us."

"Oh, nonsense, you don't know this country.  You don't know what
our visit will mean to the little woman, what a joy it will be to
her to see a new face, and I declare when she hears you are new out
from Scotland she will simply revel in you.  We are about to confer
a great favor upon Mrs. Macintyre."

If Moira had any lingering doubts as to the soundness of her
sister-in-law's opinion they vanished before the welcome she had
from the minister's wife.

"Mr. Cameron's sister?" she cried, with both hands extended, "and
just out from Scotland?  And where from?  From near Braemar?  And
our folk came from near Inverness.  Mhail Gaelic heaibh?"

"Go dearbh ha."

And on they went for some minutes in what Mrs. Macintyre called
"the dear old speech," till Mrs. Macintyre, remembering herself,
said to Mandy:

"But you do not understand the Gaelic?  Well, well, you will
forgive us.  And to think that in this far land I should find a
young lady like this to speak it to me!  Do you know, I am
forgetting it out here."  All the while she was speaking she was
laying the cloth and setting the table.  "And you have come all the
way from Calgary this morning?  What a drive for the young lady!
You must be tired out.  Would you lie down upon the bed for an
hour?  Then come away in to the bedroom and fresh yourselves up a
bit.  Come away in.  I'll get Mr. Cameron over."

"We are a big party," said Mandy, "for your wee house.  We have a
friend with us--Dr. Martin."

"Dr. Martin?  Indeed I know him well, and a fine man he is and that
kind and clever.  I'll get him too."

"Let me go for them," said Mandy.

"Very well, go then.  I'll just hurry the dinner."

"But are you quite sure," asked Mandy, "you can--you have
everything handy?  You know, Mrs. Macintyre, I know just how hard
it is to keep a stock of everything on hand."

"Well, we have bread and molasses--our butter is run out, it is
hard to get--and some bacon and potatoes and tea.  Will that do?"

"Oh, that will do fine.  And we have some things with us, if you
don't mind."

"Mind?  Not a bit, my dear.  You can just suit yourself."

The dinner was a glorious success.  The clean linen, the shining
dishes, the silver--for Mrs. Macintyre brought out her wedding
presents--gave the table a brilliantly festive appearance in the
eyes of those who had lived for some years in the western country.

"You don't appreciate the true significance of a table napkin, I
venture to say, Miss Cameron," said the doctor, "until you have
lived a year in this country at least, or how much an unspotted
table cloth means, or shining cutlery and crockery."

"Well, I have been two days at the Royal Hotel, whatever," replied

"The Royal Hotel!" exclaimed the doctor aghast.  "Our most palatial
Western hostelry--all the comforts and conveniences of civilization!"

"Anyway, I like this better," said Moira.  "It is like home."

"Is it, indeed, my dear?" said the minister's wife greatly
delighted.  "You have paid me a very fine tribute."

The hour lengthened into two, for when a departure was suggested
the doctor grew eloquent in urging delay.  The horses would be all
the better for the rest.  It would be fine driving in the evening.
They could easily make the Black Dog Ford before dark.  After that
the trail was good for twenty miles, where they would camp.  But
like all happy hours these hours fled past, and all too swiftly,
and soon the travelers were ready to depart.

Before the Stopping Place door Hell was holding down the bronchos,
while Cameron was packing in the valises and making all secure
again.  Near the wagon stood the doctor waiting their departure.

"You are going back from here, Dr. Martin?" said Moira.

"Yes," said the doctor, "I am going back."

"It has been good to see you," she said.  "I hope next time you
will know me."

"Ah, now, Miss Cameron, don't rub it in.  You see--but what's the
use?" continued the doctor.  "You had changed.  My picture of the
girl I had seen in the Highlands that day never changed and never
will change."  The doctor's keen gray eyes burned into hers for a
moment.  A slight flush came to her cheek and she found herself
embarrassed for want of words.  Her embarrassment was relieved by
the sound of hoofs pounding down the trail.

"Hello, who's this?" said the doctor, as they stood watching the
horseman approaching at a rapid pace and accompanied by a cloud of
dust.  Nearer and nearer he came, still on the gallop till within a
few yards of the group.

"My!" cried Moira.  "Whoever he is he will run us down!" and she
sprang into her place in the democrat.

Without slackening rein the rider came up to the Stopping Place
door at a full gallop, then at a single word his horse planted his
four feet solidly on the trail, and, plowing up the dirt, came to a
standstill; then, throwing up his magnificent head, he gave a loud
snort and stood, a perfect picture of equine beauty.

"Oh, what a horse!" breathed Moira.  "How perfectly splendid!  And
what a rider!" she added.  "Do you know him?"

"I do not," said the doctor, conscious of a feeling of hostility to
the stranger, and all the more because he was forced to acknowledge
to himself that the rider and his horse made a very striking
picture.  The man was tall and sinewy, with dark, clean-cut face,
thin lips, firm chin and deep-set, brown-gray eyes that glittered
like steel, and with that unmistakable something in his bearing
that suggested the breeding of a gentleman.  His horse was as
distinguished as its rider.  His coal black skin shone like silk,
his flat legs, sloping hips, well-ribbed barrel, small head, large,
flashing eyes, all proclaimed his high breeding.

"What a beauty!  What a beauty!" breathed Moira again to the

As if in answer to her praise the stranger, raising his Stetson,
swept her an elaborate bow, and, touching his horse, moved nearer
to the door of the Stopping Place and swung himself to the ground.

"Ah, Cameron, it's you, sure enough.  I can hardly believe my good

"Hello, Raven, that you?" said Cameron indifferently.  "Hope you
are fit?"  But he made no motion to offer his hand nor did he
introduce him to the company.  At the sound of his name Dr. Martin
started and swept his keen eyes over the stranger's face.  He had
heard that name before.

"Fit?" inquired the stranger whom Cameron had saluted as Raven.
"Fit as ever," a hard smile curling his lips as he noted Cameron's
omission.  "Hello, Hell!" he continued, his eyes falling upon that
individual, who was struggling with the restive ponies, "how goes
it with your noble self?"

Hastily Hell, leaving the bronchos for the moment, responded,
"Hello, Mr. Raven, mighty glad to see you!"

Meantime the bronchos, freed from Hell's supervision, and
apparently interested in the strange horse who was viewing them
with lordly disdain, turned their heads and took the liberty of
sniffing at the newcomer.  Instantly, with mouth wide open and ears
flat on his head, the black horse rushed at the bronchos.  With a
single bound they were off, the lines trailing in the dust.
Together Hell, Cameron and the doctor sprang for the wagon, but
before they could touch it it was whisked from underneath their
fingers as the bronchos dashed in a mad gallop down the trail,
Moira meantime clinging desperately to the seat of the pitching
wagon.  After them darted Cameron and for some moments it seemed as
if he could overtake the flying ponies, but gradually they drew
away and he gave up the chase.  After him followed the whole
company, his wife, the doctor, Hell, all in a blind horror of

"My God!  My God!" cried Cameron, his breath coming in sobbing
gasps.  "The cut bank!"

Hardly were the words out of his mouth when Raven came up at an
easy canter.

"Don't worry," he said quietly to Mandy, who was wringing her hands
in despair, "I'll get them."

Like a swallow for swiftness and for grace, the black stallion sped
away, flattening his body to the trail as he gathered speed.  The
bronchos had a hundred yards of a start, but they had not run
another hundred until the agonized group of watchers could see that
the stallion was gaining rapidly upon them.

"He'll get 'em," cried Hell, "he'll get 'em, by gum!"

"But can he turn them from the bank?" groaned Mandy.

"If anything in horse-flesh or man-flesh can do it," said Hell,
"it'll be done."

But a tail-race is a long race and a hundred yards' start is a
serious handicap in a quarter of a mile.  Down the sloping trail
the bronchos were running savagely, their noses close to earth,
their feet on the hard ground like the roar of a kettledrum, their
harness and trappings fluttering over their backs, the wagon
pitching like a ship in a gale, the girl clinging to its high seat
as a sailor to a swaying mast.  Behind, and swiftly drawing level
with the flying bronchos, sped the black horse, still with that
smooth grace of a skimming swallow and with such ease of motion as
made it seem as if he could readily have increased his speed had he
so chosen.

"My God! why doesn't he send the brute along?" cried Dr. Martin,
his stark face and staring eyes proclaiming his agony.

"He is up!  He is up!" cried Cameron.

The agonized watchers saw the rider lean far over the bronchos and
seize one line, then gradually begin to turn the flying ponies away
from the cut bank and steer them in a wide circle across the

"Thank God!  Thank God!  Oh, thank God!" cried the doctor brokenly,
wiping the sweat from his face.

"Let us go to head them off," said Cameron, setting off at a run,
leaving the doctor and his wife to follow.

As they watched with staring eyes the racing horses they saw Raven
bring back the line to the girl clinging to the wagon seat, then
the black stallion, shooting in front of the ponies, began to slow
down upon them, hampering their running till they were brought to
an easy canter, and, under the more active discipline of teeth and
hoofs, were forced to a trot and finally brought to a standstill,
and so held till Cameron and the doctor came up to them.

"Raven," gasped Cameron, fighting for his breath and coming forward

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