List Of Contents | Contents of The Patrol of the Sun Dance Trail
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first to Moira, then to the doctor.

Moira hurried to the tent door.

"They are all gone," she exclaimed.  "Thank God!  How awful they

"Huh!" replied the Chief, moving out past her.  "Him drink, him
crazee--no drink, no crazee."  At the door he paused, and, looking
back, said once more with increased emphasis, "Huh!  Him good
squaw," and finally disappeared.

"By Jove!" said the doctor with a delighted chuckle.  "The old boy
is a man of some discernment I can see.  But the kid and you saved
the day, Miss Moira."

"Oh, what nonsense you are talking.  It was truly awful, and how
splendidly you--you--"

"Well, I caught him rather a neat one, I confess.  I wonder if the
brute is sleeping yet.  But you did the trick finally, Miss Moira."

"Huh," grunted Mandy derisively, "Good man--good squaw, eh?"



The bitter weather following an autumn of unusual mildness had set
in with the New Year and had continued without a break for fifteen
days.  A heavy fall of snow with a blizzard blowing sixty miles an
hour had made the trails almost impassable, indeed quite so to any
but to those bent on desperate business or to Her Majesty's North
West Mounted Police.  To these gallant riders all trails stood open
at all seasons of the year, no matter what snow might fall or
blizzard blow, so long as duty called them forth.

The trail from the fort to the Big Horn Ranch, however, was so
wind-swept that the snow was blown away, which made the going fairly
easy, and the Superintendent, Inspector Dickson and Jerry trotted
along freely enough in the face of a keen southwester that cut to
the bone.  It was surely some desperate business indeed that sent
them out into the face of that cutting wind which made even these
hardy riders, burned hard and dry by scorching suns and biting
blizzards, wince and shelter their faces with their gauntleted

"Deuce of a wind, this!" said the Superintendent.

"It is the raw southwester that gets to the bone," replied
Inspector Dickson.  "This will blow up a chinook before night."

"I wonder if he has got into shelter," said the Superintendent.
"This has been an unusually hard fortnight, and I am afraid he went
rather light."

"Oh, he's sure to be all right," replied the Inspector quickly.
"He was riding, but he took his snowshoes with him for timber work.
He's hardly the man to get caught and he won't quit easily."

"No, he won't quit, but there are times when human endurance fails.
Not that I fear anything like that for Cameron," added the
Superintendent hastily.

"Oh, he's not the man to fall down," replied the Inspector.  "He
goes the limit, but he keeps his head.  He's no reckless fool."

"Well, you ought to know him," said the Superintendent.  "You have
been through some things together, but this last week has been
about the worst that I have known.  This fortnight will be
remembered in the annals of this country.  And it came so
unexpectedly.  What do you think about it, Jerry?" continued the
Superintendent, turning to the half-breed.

"He good man--cold ver' bad--ver' long.  S'pose catch heem on
plains--ver' bad."

The Inspector touched his horse to a canter.  The vision that
floated before his mind's eye while the half-breed was speaking he
hated to contemplate.

"He's all right.  He has come through too many tight places to fail
here," said the Inspector in a tone almost of defiance, and refused
to talk further upon the subject.  But he kept urging the pace till
they drew up at the stables of the Big Horn Ranch.

The Inspector's first glance upon opening the stable door swept the
stall where Ginger was wont to conduct his melancholy ruminations.
It gave him a start to see the stall empty.

"Hello, Smith!" he cried as that individual appeared with a bundle
of hay from the stack in the yard outside.  "Boss home?"

"Has Mr. Cameron returned?" inquired the Superintendent in the same
breath, and in spite of himself a note of anxiety had crept into
his voice.  The three men stood waiting, their tense attitude
expressing the anxiety they would not put into words.  The
deliberate Smith, who had transferred his services from old
Thatcher to Cameron and who had taken the ranch and all persons and
things belonging to it into his immediate charge, disposed of his
bundle in a stall, and then facing them said slowly:

"Guess he's all right."

"Is he home?" asked the Inspector sharply.

"Oh, he's home all right.  Gone to bed, I think," answered Smith
with maddening calmness.

The Inspector cursed him between his teeth and turned away from the
others till his eyes should be clear again.

"We will just look in on Mrs. Cameron for a few minutes," said the
Superintendent.  "We won't disturb him."

Leaving Jerry to put up their horses, they went into the ranch-
house and found the ladies in a state of suppressed excitement.
Mandy met them at the door with an eager welcome, holding out to
them trembling hands.

"Oh, I am so glad you have come!" she cried.  "It was all I could
do to hold him back from going to you even as he was.  He was quite
set on going and only lay down on promise that I should wake him in
an hour.  Sit down here by the fire.  An hour, mind you," she
continued, talking rapidly and under obvious excitement, "and him
so blind and exhausted that--"  She paused abruptly, unable to
command her voice.

"He ought to sleep twelve hours straight," said the Superintendent
with emphasis, "and twenty-four would be better, with suitable
breaks for refreshment," he added in a lighter tone, glancing at
Mandy's face.

"Yes, indeed," she replied, "for he has had little enough to eat
the last three days.  And that reminds me--" she hurried to the
pantry and returned with the teapot--"you must be cold,
Superintendent.  Ah, this terrible cold!  A hot cup of tea will be
just the thing.  It will take only five minutes--and it is better
than punch, though perhaps you men do not think so."  She laughed
somewhat wildly.

"Why, Mrs. Cameron," said the Superintendent in a shocked,
bantering voice, "how can you imagine we should be guilty of such
heresy--in this prohibition country, too?"

"Oh, I know you men," replied Mandy.  "We keep some Scotch in the
house--beside the laudanum.  Some people can't take tea, you know,"
she added with an uncertain smile, struggling to regain control of
herself.  "But all the same, I am a nurse, and I know that after
exposure tea is better."

"Ah, well," replied the Superintendent, "I bow to your experience,"
making a brave attempt to meet her mood and declining to note her
unusual excitement.

In the specified five minutes the tea was ready.

"I could quite accept your tea-drinking theory, Mrs. Cameron," said
Inspector Dickson, "if--if, mark you--I should always get such tea
as this.  But I don't believe Jerry here would agree."

Jerry, who had just entered, stood waiting explanation.

"Mrs. Cameron has just been upholding the virtue of a good cup of
tea, Jerry, over a hot Scotch after a cold ride.  Now what's your
unbiased opinion?"

A slight grin wrinkled the cracks in Jerry's leather-skin face.

"Hot whisky--good for fun--for cold no good.  Whisky good for
sleep--for long trail no good."

"Thank you, Jerry," cried Mandy enthusiastically.

"Oh, that's all right, Jerry," said the Inspector, joining in the
general laugh that followed, "but I don't think Miss Moira here
would agree with you in regard to the merits of her national

"Oh, I am not so sure," cried the young lady, entering into the
mood of the others.  "Of course, I am Scotch and naturally stand up
for my country and for its customs, but, to be strictly honest, I
remember hearing my brother say that Scotch was bad training for

"Good again!" cried Mandy.  "You see, when anything serious is on,
the wisest people cut out the Scotch, as the boys say."

"You are quite right, Mrs. Cameron," said the Superintendent,
becoming grave.  "On the long trail and in the bitter cold we drop
the Scotch and bank on tea.  As for whisky, the Lord knows it gives
the Police enough trouble in this country.  If it were not for the
whisky half our work would be cut out.  But tell me, how is Mr.
Cameron?" he added, as he handed back his cup for another supply of

"Done up, or more nearly done up than ever I have seen him, or than
I ever want to see him again."  Mandy paused abruptly, handed him
his cup of tea, passed into the pantry and for some moments did not
appear again.

"Oh, it was terrible to see him," said Moira, clasping her hands
and speaking in an eager, excited voice.  "He came, poor boy,
stumbling toward the door.  He had to leave his horse, you know,
some miles away.  Through the window we saw him coming along--and
we did not know him--he staggered as if--as if--actually as if he
were drunk."  Her laugh was almost hysterical.  "And he could not
find the latch--and when we opened the door his eyes were--oh!--so
terrible!--wild--and bloodshot--and blind!  Oh, I cannot tell you
about it!" she exclaimed, her voice breaking and her tears falling
fast.  "And he could hardly speak to us.  We had to cut off his
snow-shoes--and his gauntlets and his clothes were like iron.  He
could not sit down--he just--just--lay on the floor--till--my
sister--"  Here the girl's sobs interrupted her story.

"Great Heavens!" cried the Superintendent.  "What a mercy he
reached home!"

The Inspector had risen and came round to Moira's side.

"Don't try to tell me any more," he said in a husky voice, patting
her gently on the shoulder.  "He is here with us, safe, poor chap.
My God!" he cried in an undertone, "what he must have gone

At this point Mandy returned and took her place again quietly by
the fire.

"It was this sudden spell of cold that nearly killed him," she said
in a quiet voice.  "He was not fully prepared for it, and it caught
him at the end of his trip, too, when he was nearly played out.
You see, he was five weeks away and he had only expected to be

"Yes, I know, Mrs. Cameron," said the Inspector.

"An unexpected emergency seems to have arisen."

"I don't know what it was," replied Mandy.  "He could tell me
little, but he was determined to go on to the fort."

"I know something about his plans," said the Inspector.  "He had
proposed a tour of the reserves, beginning with the Piegans and
ending with the Bloods."

"And we know something of his work, too, Mrs. Cameron," said the
Superintendent.  "Superintendent Strong has sent us a very fine
report indeed of your husband's work.  We do not talk about these
things, you know, in the Police, but we can appreciate them all the
same.  Superintendent Strong's letter is one you would like to
keep.  I shall send it to you.  Knowing Superintendent Strong as I

"I know him too," said Mandy with a little laugh.

"Well, then, you will be able to appreciate all the more any word
of commendation he would utter.  He practically attributes the
present state of quiet and the apparent collapse of this conspiracy
business to your husband's efforts.  This, of course, is no
compensation for his sufferings or yours, but I think it right that
you should know the facts."  The Superintendent had risen to his
feet and had delivered his little speech in his very finest manner.

"Thank you," said Mandy simply.

"We had expected him back a week ago," said the Inspector.  "We
know he must have had some serious cause for delay."

"I do not know about that," replied Mandy, "but I do know he was
most anxious to go on to the fort.  He had some information to
give, he said, which was of the first importance.  And I am glad
you are here.  He will be saved that trip, which would really be
dangerous in his present condition.  And I don't believe I could
have stopped him, but I should have gone with him.  His hour will
soon be up."

"Don't think of waking him," said the Superintendent.  "We can wait
two hours, or three hours, or more if necessary.  Let him sleep."

"He would waken himself if he were not so fearfully done up.  He
has a trick of waking at any hour he sets," said Mandy.

A few minutes later Cameron justified her remarks by appearing from
the inner room.  The men, accustomed as they were to the ravages of
the winter trail upon their comrades, started to their feet in
horror.  Blindly Cameron felt his way to them, shading his blood-
shot eyes from the light.  His face was blistered and peeled as if
he had come through a fire, his lips swollen and distorted, his
hands trembling and showing on every finger the marks of frost
bite, and his feet dragging as he shuffled across the floor.

"My dear fellow, my dear fellow," cried the Inspector, springing up
to meet him and grasping him by both arms to lead him to a chair.
"You ran it too close that time.  Here is the Superintendent to
lecture you.  Sit down, old man, sit down right here."  The
Inspector deposited him in the chair, and, striding hurriedly to
the window, stood there looking out upon the bleak winter snow.

"Hello, Cameron," said the Superintendent, shaking him by the hand
with hearty cheerfulness.  "Glad, awfully glad to see you.  Fine
bit of work, very fine bit of work.  Very complimentary report
about you."

"I don't know what you refer to, sir," said Cameron, speaking
thickly, "but I am glad you are here, for I have an important
communication to make."

"Oh, that's all right," said the Superintendent.  "Don't worry
about that.  And take your own time.  First of all, how are you
feeling?  Snow-blind, I see," he continued, critically examining
him, "and generally used up."

"Rather knocked up," replied Cameron, his tongue refusing to move
with its accustomed ease.  "But shall be fit in a day or two.
Beastly sleepy, but cannot sleep somehow.  Shall feel better when
my mind is at rest.  I cannot report fully just now."

"Oh, let the report rest.  We know something already."

"How is that?"

"Superintendent Strong has sent us in a report, and a very
creditable report, too."

"Oh," replied Cameron indifferently.  "Well, the thing I want to
say is that though all looks quiet--there is less horse stealing
this month, and less moving about from the reserves--yet I believe
a serious outbreak is impending."

The Inspector, who had come around and taken a seat beside him,
touched his knee at this point with an admonishing pressure.

"Eh?" said Cameron, turning toward him.  "Oh, my people here know.
You need not have any fear about them."  A little smile distorted
his face as he laid his hand upon his wife's shoulder.  "But--where
was I?  I cannot get the hang of things."  He was as a man feeling
his way through a maze.

"Oh, let it go," said the Inspector.  "Wait till you have had some

"No, I must--I must get this out.  Well, anyway, the principal
thing is that Big Bear, Beardy, Poundmaker--though I am not sure
about Poundmaker--have runners on every reserve and they are
arranging for a big meeting in the spring, to which every tribe
North and West is to send representatives.  That Frenchman--what's

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