List Of Contents | Contents of The Patrol of the Sun Dance Trail
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With startling abruptness he gave utterance to his thoughts.

"We must get him--and quick.  Things are moving too rapidly for any
delay.  The truth is," he continued, with a deepening impatience in
his voice, "the truth is we are short-handed.  We ought to be able
to patrol every trail in this country.  That old villain has fooled
us to-day and he'll fool us again.  And he has fooled Pinault, the
smartest breed we've got.  He's far too clever to be around loose
among our Indians."

Again they rode along in silence, the Superintendent thinking

"I know where he is!" he exclaimed suddenly, pulling up his horse.
"I know where he is--this blessed minute.  He's on the Sun Dance
Trail and in the Sun Dance Canyon, and they're having the biggest
kind of a powwow."

"The Sun Dance!" echoed the Sergeant.  "By Jove, if only Sergeant
Cameron were on this job!  He knows the Sun Dance inside and out,
every foot."

The Superintendent swung his horse sharply round to face his

"Cameron!" he exclaimed thoughtfully.  "Cameron!  I believe you're
right.  He's the man--the very man.  But," he added with sudden
remembrance, "he's left the Force."

"Left the Force, sir.  Yes, sir," echoed the Sergeant with a grin.
"He appeared to have a fairly good reason, too."

"Reason!" snorted the Superintendent.  "Reason!  What in--?  What
did he--?  Why did he pull off that fool stunt at this particular
time?  A kid like him has no business getting married."

"Mighty fine girl, sir," suggested the Sergeant warmly.  "Mighty
lucky chap.  Not many fellows could resist such a sharp attack as
he had."

"Fine girl!  Oh, of course, of course--fine girl certainly.  Fine
girl.  But what's that got to do with it?"

"Well, sir," ventured the Sergeant in a tone of surprise, "a good
deal, sir, I should say.  By Jove, sir, I could have--if I could
have pulled it off myself--but of course she was an old flame of
Cameron's and I'd no chance."

"But the Service, sir!" exclaimed the Superintendent with growing
indignation.  "The Service!  Why!  Cameron was right in line for
promotion.  He had the making of a most useful officer.  And with
this trouble coming on it was--it was--a highly foolish, indeed a
highly reprehensible proceeding, sir."  The Superintendent was
rapidly mounting his pet hobby, which was the Force in which he
had the honor to be an officer, the far-famed North West Mounted
Police.  For the Service he had sacrificed everything in life,
ease, wealth, home, yes, even wife and family, to a certain extent.
With him the Force was a passion.  For it he lived and breathed.
That anyone should desert it for any cause soever was to him an act
unexplainable.  He almost reckoned it treason.

But the question was one that touched the Sergeant as well, and
deeply.  Hence, though he well knew his Chief's dominant passion,
he ventured an argument.

"A mighty fine girl, sir, something very special.  She saw me
through a mountain fever once, and I know--"

"Oh, the deuce take it, Sergeant!  The girl is all right.  I grant
you all that.  But is that any reason why a man should desert the
Force?  And now of all times?  He's only a kid.  So is she.  She
can't be twenty-five."

"Twenty-five?  Good Lord, no!" exclaimed the shocked Sergeant.
"She isn't a day over twenty.  Why, look at her.  She's--"

"Oh, tut-tut!  If she's twenty it makes it all the worse.  Why
couldn't they wait till this fuss was over?  Why, sir, when I was
twenty--"  The Superintendent paused abruptly.

"Yes, sir?"  The Sergeant's manner was respectful and expectant.

"Never mind," said the Superintendent.  "Why rush the thing, I

"Well, sir, I did hear that there was a sudden change in Cameron's
home affairs in Scotland, sir.  His father died suddenly, I
believe.  The estate was sold up and his sister, the only other
child, was left all alone.  Cameron felt it necessary to get a home
together--though I don't suppose he needed any excuse.  Never saw a
man so hard hit myself."

"Except yourself, Sergeant, eh?" said the Superintendent, relaxing
into a grim smile.

"Oh, well, of course, sir, I'm not going to deny it.  But you see,"
continued the Sergeant, his pride being touched, "he had known her
down East--worked on her father's farm--young gentleman--fresh from
college--culture, you know, manner--style and that sort of thing--
rushed her clean off her feet."

"I thought you said it was Cameron who was the one hard hit?"

"So it was, sir.  Hadn't seen her for a couple of years or so.
Left her a country lass, uncouth, ignorant--at least so they say."

"Who say?"

"Well, her friends--Dr. Martin and the nurse at the hospital.  But
I can't believe them, simply impossible.  That this girl two years
ago should have been an ignorant, clumsy, uncouth country lass is
impossible.  However, Cameron came on her here, transfigured,
glorified so to speak, consequently fell over neck in love, went
quite batty in fact.  A secret flame apparently smoldering all
these months suddenly burst into a blaze--a blaze, by Jove!--
regular conflagration.  And no wonder, sir, when you look at her,
her face, her form, her style--"

"Oh, come, Sergeant, we'll move on.  Let's keep at the business in
hand.  The question is what's to do.  That old snake Copperhead is
three hundred miles from here on the Sun Dance, plotting hell for
this country, and we want him.  As you say, Cameron's our man.  I
wonder," continued the Superintendent after a pause, "I wonder if
we could get him."

"I should say certainly not!" replied the Sergeant promptly.  "He's
only a few months married, sir."

"He might," mused the Superintendent, "if it were properly put to
him.  It would be a great thing for the Service.  He's the man.  By
the Lord Harry, he's the only man!  In short," with a resounding
whack upon his thigh, "he has got to come.  The situation is too
serious for trifling."

"Trifling?" said the Sergeant to himself in undertone.

"We'll go for him.  We'll send for him."  The Superintendent turned
and glanced at his companion.

"Not me, sir, I hope.  You can quite see, sir, I'd be a mighty poor
advocate.  Couldn't face those blue eyes, sir.  They make me grow
quite weak.  Chills and fever--in short, temporary delirium."

"Oh, well, Sergeant," replied the Superintendent, "if it's as bad
as that--"

"You don't know her, sir.  Those eyes!  They can burn in blue flame
or melt in--"

"Oh, yes, yes, I've no doubt."  The Superintendent's voice had a
touch of pity, if not contempt.  "We won't expose you, Sergeant.
But all the same we'll make a try for Cameron."  His voice grew
stern.  His lips drew to a line.  "And we'll get him."

The Sergeant's horse took a sudden plunge forward.

"Here, you beast!" he cried, with a fierce oath.  "Come back here!
What's the matter with you?"  He threw the animal back on his
haunches with a savage jerk, a most unaccustomed thing with the

"Yes," pursued the Superintendent, "the situation demands it.
Cameron's the man.  It's his old stamping-ground.  He knows every
twist of its trails.  And he's a wonder, a genius for handling just
such a business as this."

The Sergeant made no reply.  He was apparently having some trouble
with his horse.

"Of course," continued the Superintendent, with a glance at his
Sergeant's face, "it's hard on her, but--" dismissing that feature
of the case lightly--"in a situation like this everything must give
way.  The latest news is exceedingly grave.  The trouble along the
Saskatchewan looks to me exceedingly serious.  These half-breeds
there have real grievances.  I know them well, excitable, turbulent
in their spirits, uncontrollable, but easily handled if decently
treated.  They've sent their petitions again and again to Ottawa,
and here are these Members of Parliament making fool speeches, and
the Government pooh-poohing the whole movement, and meantime Riel
orating and organizing."

"Riel?  Who's he?" inquired the Sergeant.

"Riel?  You don't know Riel?  That's what comes of being an island-
bred Britisher.  You people know nothing outside your own little
two by four patch on the world's map.  Haven't you heard of Riel?"

"Oh, yes, by the way, I've heard about the Johnny.  Mixed up in
something before in this country, wasn't he?"

"Well, rather!  The rebel leader of 1870.  Cost us some considerable
trouble, too.  There's bound to be mischief where that hair-brained
four-flusher gets a crowd to listen to him.  For egoist though he
is, he possesses a wonderful power over the half-breeds.  He knows
how to work.  And somehow, too, they're suspicious of all Canadians,
as they call the new settlers from the East, ready to believe
anything they're told, and with plenty of courage to risk a row."

"What's the row about, anyway?" inquired the Sergeant.  "I could
never quite get it."

"Oh, there are many causes.  These half-breeds are squatters, many
of them.  They have introduced the same system of survey on the
Saskatchewan as their ancestors had on the St. Lawrence, and later
on the Red, the system of 'Strip Farms.'  That is, farms with
narrow fronts upon the river and extending back from a mile to four
miles, a poor arrangement for farming but mighty fine for social
purposes.  I tell you, it takes the loneliness and isolation out of
pioneer life.  I've lived among them, and the strip-farm survey
possesses distinct social advantages.  You have two rows of houses
a few rods apart, and between them the river, affording an ice
roadway in the winter and a waterway in the summer.  And to see a
flotilla of canoes full of young people, with fiddles and
concertinas going, paddle down the river on their way to a
neighbor's house for a dance, is something to remember.  For my
part I don't wonder that these people resent the action of the
Government in introducing a completely new survey without saying
'by your leave.'  There are troubles, too, about their land

"How many of these half-breeds are there anyway?"

"Well, only a few hundreds I should say.  But it isn't the half-
breeds we fear.  The mischief of it is they have been sending
runners all through this country to their red-skin friends and
relatives, holding out all sorts of promises, the restoration of
their hunting grounds to the Indians, the establishing of an empire
of the North, from which the white race shall be excluded.  I've
heard them.  Just enough truth and sense in the whole mad scheme to
appeal to the Indian mind.  The older men, the chiefs, are quiet so
far, but the young braves are getting out of hand.  You see they
have no longer their ancient excitement of war and the chase.  Life
has grown monotonous, to the young men especially, on the reserves.
They are chafing under control, and the prospect of a fight appeals
to them.  In every tribe sun dances are being held, braves are
being made, and from across the other side weapons are being
introduced.  And now that this old snake Copperhead has crossed the
line the thing takes an ugly look.  He's undeniably brainy, a
fearless fighter, an extraordinary organizer, has great influence
with his own people and is greatly respected among our tribes.  If
an Indian war should break out with Copperhead running it--well--!
That's why it's important to get this old devil.  And it must be
done quietly.  Any movement in force on our part would set the
prairie on fire.  The thing has got to be done by one or two men.
That's why we must have Cameron."

In spite of his indignation the Sergeant was impressed.  Never had
he heard his Chief discourse at such length, and never had he heard
his Chief use the word "danger."  It began to dawn upon his mind
that possibly it might not be such a crime as he had at first
considered it to lure Cameron away from his newly made home and his
newly wedded wife to do this bit of service for his country in an
hour of serious if not desperate need.



But Sergeant Cameron was done with the Service for ever.  An
accumulating current of events had swept him from his place in the
Force, as an unheeding traveler crossing a mountain torrent is
swept from his feet by a raging freshet.  The sudden blazing of his
smoldering love into a consuming flame for the clumsy country girl,
for whom two years ago he had cherished a pitying affection, threw
up upon the horizon of his life and into startling clearness a new
and absorbing objective.  In one brief quarter of an hour his life
had gathered itself into a single purpose; a purpose, to wit, to
make a home to which he might bring this girl he had come to love
with such swift and fierce intensity, to make a home for her where
she could be his own, and for ever.  All the vehement passion of
his Highland nature was concentrated upon the accomplishing of this
purpose.  That he should ever have come to love Mandy Haley, the
overworked slattern on her father's Ontario farm, while a thing of
wonder, was not the chief wonder to him.  His wonder now was that
he should ever have been so besottedly dull of wit and so stupidly
unseeing as to allow the unlovely exterior of the girl to hide the
radiant soul within.  That in two brief years she had transformed
herself into a woman of such perfectly balanced efficiency in her
profession as nurse, and a creature of such fascinating comeliness,
was only another proof of his own insensate egotism, and another
proof, too, of those rare powers that slumbered in the girl's soul
unknown to herself and to her world.  Small wonder that with her
unfolding Cameron's whole world should become new.

Hard upon this experience the unexpected news of his father's death
and of the consequent winding up of the tangled affairs of the
estate threw upon Cameron the responsibility of caring for his
young sister, now left alone in the Homeland, except for distant
kindred of whom they had but slight knowledge.

A home was immediately and imperatively necessary, and hence he
must at once, as a preliminary, be married.  Cameron fortunately
remembered that young Fraser, whom he had known in his Fort Macleod
days, was dead keen to get rid of the "Big Horn Ranch."  This ranch
lay nestling cozily among the foothills and in sight of the
towering peaks of the Rockies, and was so well watered with little
lakes and streams that when his eyes fell upon it Cameron was
conscious of a sharp pang of homesickness, so suggestive was it of
the beloved Glen Cuagh Oir of his own Homeland.  There would be a
thousand pounds or more left from his father's estate.  Everybody
said it was a safe, indeed a most profitable investment.

A week's leave of absence sufficed for Cameron to close the deal
with Fraser, a reckless and gallant young Highlander, whose
chivalrous soul, kindling at Cameron's romantic story, prompted a
generous reduction in the price of the ranch and its outfit
complete.  Hence when Mandy's shrewd and experienced head had
scanned the contract and cast up the inventory of steers and
horses, with pigs and poultry thrown in, and had found nothing
amiss with the deal--indeed it was rather better than she had

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