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his name?--I'll forget my own next--"

"Riel?" suggested the Inspector.

"Yes, Riel.  That Frenchman is planning a big coup in the spring.
You know they presented him with a house the other day, ready
furnished, at Batoche, to keep him in the country.  Oh, the half-
breeds are very keen on this.  And what is worse, I believe a lot
of whites are in with them too.  A chap named Jackson, and another
named Scott, and Isbister and some others.  These names are spoken
of on every one of our reserves.  I tell you, sir," he said,
turning his blind eyes toward the Superintendent, "I consider it
very serious indeed.  And worst of all, the biggest villain of the
lot, Little Pine, Cree Chief you know, our bitterest enemy--except
Little Thunder, who fortunately is cleared out of the country--you
remember, sir, that chap Raven saw about that."

The Superintendent nodded.

"Well--where was I?--Oh, yes, Little Pine, the biggest villain of
them all, is somewhere about here.  I got word of him when I was at
the Blood Reserve on my way home some ten days ago.  I heard he was
with the Blackfeet, but I found no sign of him there.  But he is in
the neighborhood, and he is specially bound to see old Crowfoot.  I
understand he is a particularly successful pleader, and unusually
cunning, and I am afraid of Crowfoot.  I saw the old Chief.  He was
very cordial and is apparently loyal enough as yet, but you know,
sir, how much that may mean.  I think that is all," said Cameron,
putting his hand up to his head.  "I have a great deal more to tell
you, but it will not come back to me now.  Little Pine must be
attended to, and for a day or two I am sorry I am hardly fit--
awfully sorry."  His voice sank into a kind of undertone.

"Sorry?" cried the Superintendent, deeply stirred at the sight of
his obvious collapse.  "Sorry?  Don't you use that word again.  You
have nothing to be sorry for, but everything to be proud of.  You
have done a great service to your country, and we will not forget
it.  In a few days you will be fit and we shall show our gratitude
by calling upon you to do something more.  Hello, who's that?"  A
horseman had ridden past the window toward the stables.  Moira ran
to look out.

"Oh!" she cried, "it is that Mr. Raven.  I would know his splendid
horse anywhere."

"Raven!" said Cameron sharply and wide awake.

"Raven, by Jove!" muttered the Inspector.

"Raven!  Well, I call that cool!" said the Superintendent, a hard
look upon his face.

But the laws of hospitality are nowhere so imperative as on the
western plains.  Cameron rose from his chair muttering, "Must look
after his horse."

"You sit down," said Mandy firmly.  "You are not going out."

"Well, hardly," said the Inspector.  "Here, Jerry, go and show him
where to get things, and--"  He hesitated.

"Bring him in," cried Mandy heartily.  The men stood silent,
looking at Cameron.

"Certainly, bring him in," he said firmly, "a day like this," he
added, as if in apology.

"Why, of course," cried Mandy, looking from one to the other in
surprise.  "Why not?  He is a perfectly splendid man."

"Oh, he is really splendid!" replied Moira, her cheeks burning and
her eyes flashing.  "You remember," she cried, addressing the
Inspector, "how he saved my life the day I arrived at this ranch."

"Oh, yes," replied the Inspector briefly, "I believe I did hear
that."  But there was little enthusiasm in his voice.

"Well, I think he is splendid," repeated Moira.  "Do not you think

The Inspector had an awkward moment.

"Eh?--well--I can't say I know him very well."

"And his horse!  What a beauty it is!" continued the girl.

"Ah, yes, a most beautiful animal, quite remarkable horse, splendid
horse; in fact one of the finest, if not the very finest, in this
whole country.  And that is saying a good deal, too, Miss Moira.
You see, this country breeds good horses."  And the Inspector went
on to discourse in full detail and with elaborate illustration upon
the various breeds of horses the country could produce, and to
classify the wonderful black stallion ridden by Raven, and all with
such diligence and enthusiasm that no other of the party had an
opportunity to take part in the conversation till Raven, in the
convoy of Jerry, was seen approaching the house.  Then the
Superintendent rose.

"Well, Mrs. Cameron, I fear we must take our departure.  These are
rather crowded days with us."

"What?" exclaimed Mandy.  "Within an hour of dinner?  We can hardly
allow that, you know.  Besides, Mr. Cameron wants to have a great
deal more talk with you."

The Superintendent attempted to set forth various other reasons for
a hasty departure, but they all seemed to lack sincerity, and after
a few more ineffective trials he surrendered and sat down again in

The next moment the door opened and Raven, followed by Jerry,
stepped into the room.  As his eye fell upon the Superintendent,
instinctively he dropped his hands to his hips and made an
involuntary movement backward, but only for an instant.  Immediately
he came forward and greeted Mandy with fine, old-fashioned

"So delighted to meet you again, Mrs. Cameron, and also to meet
your charming sister."  He shook hands with both the ladies very
warmly.  "Ah, Superintendent," he continued, "delighted to see you.
And you, Inspector," he said, giving them a nod as he laid off his
outer leather riding coat.  "Hope I see you flourishing," he
continued.  His debonair manner had in it a quizzical touch of
humor.  "Ah, Cameron, home again I see.  I came across your tracks
the other day."

The men, who had risen to their feet upon his entrance, stood
regarding him stiffly and made no other sign of recognition than a
curt nod and a single word of greeting.

"You have had quite a trip," he continued, addressing himself to
Cameron, and taking the chair offered by Mandy.  "I followed you
part way, but you travel too fast for me.  Much too strenuous work
I found it.  Why," he continued, looking narrowly at Cameron, "you
are badly punished.  When did you get in?"

"Two hours ago, Mr. Raven," said Mandy quickly, for her husband sat
gazing stupidly into the fire.  "And he is quite done up."

"Two hours ago?" exclaimed Raven in utter surprise.  "Do you mean
to say that you have been traveling these last three days?"

Cameron nodded.

"Why, my dear sir, not even the Indians face such cold.  Only the
Mounted Police venture out in weather like this--and those who want
to get away from them.  Ha! ha!  Eh? Inspector?  Ha! ha!"  His gay,
careless laugh rang out in the most cheery fashion.  But only the
ladies joined.  The men stood grimly silent.

Mandy could not understand their grim and gloomy silence.  By her
cordiality she sought to cover up and atone for the studied and
almost insulting indifference of her husband and her other guests.
In these attempts she was loyally supported by her sister-in-law,
whose anger was roused by the all too obvious efforts on the part
of her brother and his friends to ignore this stranger, if not to
treat him with contempt.  There was nothing in Raven's manner to
indicate that he observed anything amiss in the bearing of the male
members of the company about the fire.  He met the attempt of the
ladies at conversation with a brilliancy of effort that quite
captivated them, and, in spite of themselves, drew the Superintendent
and the Inspector into the flow of talk.

As the hour of the midday meal approached Mandy rose from her place
by the fire and said:

"You will stay with us to dinner, Mr. Raven?  We dine at midday.
It is not often we have such a distinguished and interesting

"Thank you, no," said Raven.  "I merely looked in to give your
husband a bit of interesting information.  And, by the way, I have
a bit of information that might interest the Superintendent as

"Well," said Mandy, "we are to have the pleasure of the
Superintendent and the Inspector to dinner with us to-day, and you
can give them all the information you think necessary while you are

Raven hesitated while he glanced at the faces of the men beside
him.  What he read there drew from him a little hard smile of
amused contempt.

"Please do not ask me again, Mrs. Cameron," he said.  "You know not
how you strain my powers of resistance when I really dare not--may
not," he corrected himself with a quick glance at the Superintendent,
"stay in this most interesting company and enjoy your most grateful
hospitality any longer.  And now my information is soon given.
First of all for you, Cameron--I shall not apologize to you, Mrs.
Cameron, for delivering it in your presence.  I do you the honor to
believe that you ought to know--briefly my information is this.
Little Pine, in whose movements you are all interested, I
understand, is at this present moment lodging with the Sarcee
Indians, and next week will move on to visit old Crowfoot.  The
Sarcee visit amounts to little, but the visit to old Crowfoot--well,
I need say no more to you, Cameron.  Probably you know more about
the inside workings of old Crowfoot's mind than I do."

"Visiting Crowfoot?" exclaimed Cameron.  "Then I was there too

"That is his present intention, and I have no doubt the program
will be carried out," said Raven.  "My information is from the
inside.  Of course," he continued, "I know you have run across the
trail of the North Cree and Salteaux runners from Big Bear and
Beardy.  They are not to be despised.  But Little Pine is a
different person from these gentlemen.  The big game is scheduled
for the early spring, will probably come off in about six weeks.
And now," he said, rising from his chair, "I must be off."

At this point Smith came in and quietly took a seat beside Jerry
near the door.

"And what's your information for me, Mr. Raven?" inquired the
Superintendent.  "You are not going to deprive me of my bit of

"Ah, yes--news," replied Raven, sitting down again.  "Briefly this.
Little Thunder has yielded to some powerful pressure and has again
found it necessary to visit this country, I need hardly add,
against my desire."

"Little Thunder?" exclaimed the Superintendent, and his tone
indicated something more than surprise.  "Then there will be
something doing.  And where does this--ah--this--ah--friend of
yours propose to locate himself?"

"This friend of mine," replied Raven, with a hard gleam in his eye
and a bitter smile curling his lips, "who would gladly adorn his
person with my scalp if he might, will not ask my opinion as to his
location, and probably not yours either, Mr. Superintendent."  As
Raven ceased speaking he once more rose from his chair, put on his
leather riding coat and took up his cap and gauntlets.  "Farewell,
Mrs. Cameron," he said, offering her his hand.  "Believe me, it has
been a rare treat to see you and to sit by your fireside for one
brief half-hour."

"Oh, but Mr. Raven, you are not to think of leaving us before
dinner.  Why this haste?"

"The trail I take," said Raven in a grave voice, "is full of
pitfalls and I must take it when I can.  The Superintendent knows,"
he added.  But his smile awoke no response in the Superintendent,
who sat rigidly silent.

"It's a mighty cold day outside, "interjected Smith, "and blowing
up something I think."

"Oh, hang it, Raven!" blurted out Cameron, who sat stupidly gazing
into the fire, "Stay and eat.  This is no kind of day to go out
hungry.  It is too beastly cold."

"Thanks, Cameron, it IS a cold day, too cold to stay."

"Do stay, Mr. Raven," pleaded Moira.

He turned swiftly and looked into her soft brown eyes now filled
with warm kindly light.

"Alas, Miss Cameron," he replied in a low voice, turning his back
upon the others, his voice and his attitude seeming to isolate the
girl from the rest of the company, "believe me, if I do not stay it
is not because I do not want to, but because I cannot."

"You cannot?" echoed Moira in an equally low tone.

"I cannot," he replied.  Then, raising his voice, "Ask the
Superintendent.  He knows that I cannot."

"Do you know?" said Moira, turning upon the Superintendent, "What
does he mean?"

The Superintendent rose angrily.

"Mr. Raven chooses to be mysterious," he said.  "If he cannot
remain here he knows why without appealing to me."

"Ah, my dear Superintendent, how unfeeling!  You hardly do yourself
justice," said Raven, proceeding to draw on his gloves.  His
drawling voice seemed to irritate the Superintendent beyond

"Justice?" he exclaimed sharply.  "Justice is a word you should
hesitate to use."

"You see, Miss Cameron," said Raven with an injured air, "why I
cannot remain."

"No, I do not!" cried Moira in hot indignation.  "I do not see,"
she repeated, "and if the Superintendent does I think he should
explain."  Her voice rang out sharp and clear.  It wakened her
brother as if from a daze.

"Tut, tut, Moira!" he exclaimed.  "Do not interfere where you do
not understand."

"Then why make insinuations that cannot be explained?" cried his
sister, standing up very straight and looking the Superintendent
fair in the face.

"Explained?" echoed the Superintendent in a cool, almost
contemptuous, voice.  "There are certain things best not explained,
but believe me if Mr. Raven desires explanation he can have it."

The men were all on their feet.  Quickly Moira turned to Raven with
a gesture of appeal and a look of loyal confidence in her eyes.
For a moment the hard, cynical face was illumined with a smile of
rare beauty, but only for a moment.  The gleam passed and the old,
hard, cynical face turned in challenge to the Superintendent.

"Explain!" he said bitterly, defiantly.  "Go on if you can."

The Superintendent stood silent.

"Ah!" breathed Moira, a thrill of triumphant relief in her voice,
"he cannot explain."

With dramatic swiftness the explanation came.  It was from Jerry.

"H'explain?" cried the little half-breed, quivering with rage.
"H'explain?  What for he can no h'explain?  Dem horse he steal de
night-tam'--dat whiskee he trade on de Indian.  Bah!  He no good--
he one beeg tief.  Me--I put him one sure place he no steal no

A few moments of tense silence held the group rigid.  In the center
stood Raven, his face pale, hard, but smiling, before him Moira,
waiting, eager, with lips parted and eyes aglow with successive
passions, indignation, doubt, fear, horror, grief.  Again that
swift and subtle change touched Raven's face as his eyes rested
upon the face of the girl before him.

"Now you know why I cannot stay," he said gently, almost sadly.

"It is not true," murmured Moira, piteous appeal in voice and eyes.
A spasm crossed the pale face upon which her eyes rested, then the
old cynical look returned.

"Once more, thank you, Mrs. Cameron," he said with a bow to Mandy,
"for a happy half-hour by your fireside, and farewell."

"Good-by," said Mandy sadly.

He turned to Moira.

"Oh, good-by, good-by," cried the girl impulsively, reaching out
her hand.

"Good-by," he said simply.  "I shall not forget that you were kind

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