List Of Contents | Contents of The Patrol of the Sun Dance Trail
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hoped--there was no holding of Cameron any longer.  Married he
would be and without delay.

The only drag in the proceedings had come from the Superintendent,
who, on getting wind of Cameron's purpose, had thought, by promptly
promoting him from Corporal to Sergeant, to tie him more tightly to
the Service and hold him, if only for a few months, "till this
trouble should blow over."  But Cameron knew of no trouble.  The
trouble was only in the Superintendent's mind, or indeed was only a
shrewd scheme to hold Cameron to his duty.  A rancher he would be,
and a famous rancher's wife Mandy would make.  And as for his
sister Moira, had she not highly specialized in pigs and poultry on
the old home farm at the Cuagh Oir?  There was no stopping the
resistless rush of his passionate purpose.  Everything combined to
urge him on.  Even his college mate and one time football comrade
of the old Edinburgh days, the wise, cool-headed Dr. Martin, now in
charge of the Canadian Pacific Railway Hospital, as also the little
nurse who, through those momentous months of Mandy's transforming,
had been to her guide, philosopher and friend, both had agreed that
there was no good reason for delay.  True, Cameron had no means of
getting inside the doctor's mind and therefore had no knowledge of
the vision that came nightly to torment him in his dreams and the
memory that came daily to haunt his waking hours; a vision and a
memory of a trim little figure in a blue serge gown, of eyes brown,
now sunny with laughing light, now soft with unshed tears, of hair
that got itself into a most bewildering perplexity of waves and
curls, of lips curving deliciously, of a voice with a wonderfully
soft Highland accent; the vision and memory of Moira, Cameron's
sister, as she had appeared to him in the Glen Cuagh Oir at her
father's door.  Had Cameron known of this tormenting vision and
this haunting memory he might have questioned the perfect sincerity
of his friend's counsel.  But Dr. Martin kept his secret well and
none shared with him his visions and his dreams.

So there had been only the Superintendent to oppose.

Hence, because no really valid objection could be offered, the
marriage was made.  And with much shrieking of engines--it seemed
as if all the engines with their crews within a hundred miles had
gathered to the celebration--with loud thunder of exploding
torpedoes, with tumultuous cheering of the construction gangs
hauled thither on gravel trains, with congratulations of railroad
officials and of the doctor, with the tearful smiles of the little
nurse, and with grudging but finally hearty good wishes of the
Superintendent, they had ridden off down the Kootenay Trail for
their honeymoon, on their way to the Big Horn Ranch some hundreds
of miles across the mountains.

There on the Big Horn Ranch through the long summer days together
they rode the ranges after the cattle, cooking their food in the
open and camping under the stars where night found them, care-free
and deeply happy, drinking long full draughts of that mingled wine
of life into which health and youth and love and God's sweet sun
and air poured their rare vintage.  The world was far away and
quite forgotten.

Summer deepened into autumn, the fall round-up was approaching, and
there came a September day of such limpid light and such nippy
sprightly air as to suggest to Mandy nothing less than a holiday.

"Let's strike!" she cried to her husband, as she looked out toward
the rolling hills and the overtopping peaks shining clear in the
early morning light.  "Let's strike and go a-fishing."

Her husband let his eyes wander over the full curves of her strong
and supple body and rest upon the face, brown and wholesome, lit
with her deep blue eyes and crowned with the red-gold masses of her
hair, and exclaimed:

"You need a holiday, Mandy.  I can see it in the drooping lines of
your figure, and in the paling of your cheeks.  In short," moving
toward her, "you need some one to care for you."

"Not just at this moment, young man," she cried, darting round the
table.  "But, come, what do you say to a day's fishing away up the
Little Horn?"

"The Little Horn?"

"Yes, you know the little creek running into the Big Horn away up
the gulch where we went one day in the spring.  You said there were
fish there."

"Yes, but why 'Little Horn,' pray?  And who calls it so?  I suppose
you know that the Big Horn gets its name from the Big Horn, the
mountain sheep that once roamed the rocks yonder, and in that sense
there's no Little Horn."

"Well, 'Little Horn' I call it," said his wife, "and shall.  And if
the big stream is the Big Horn, surely the little stream should be
the Little Horn.  But what about the fishing?  Is it a go?"

"Well, rather!  Get the grub, as your Canadian speech hath it."

"My Canadian speech!" echoed his wife scornfully.  "You're just as
much Canadian as I am."

"And I shall get the ponies.  Half an hour will do for me."

"And less for me," cried Mandy, dancing off to her work.

And she was right.  For, clever housekeeper that she was, she stood
with her hamper packed and the fishing tackle ready long before her
husband appeared with the ponies.

The trail led steadily upward through winding valleys, but for the
most part along the Big Horn, till as it neared a scraggy pine-wood
it bore sharply to the left, and, clambering round an immense
shoulder of rock, it emerged upon a long and comparatively level
ridge of land that rolled in gentle undulations down into a wide
park-like valley set out with clumps of birch and poplar, with here
and there the shimmer of a lake showing between the yellow and
brown of the leaves.

"Oh, what a picture!" cried Mandy, reining up her pony.  "What a
ranch that would make, Allan!  Who owns it?  Why did we never come
this way before?"

"Piegan Reserve," said her husband briefly.

"How beautiful!  How did they get this particular bit?"

"They gave up a lot for it," said Cameron drily.

"But think, such a lovely bit of country for a few Indians!  How
many are there?"

"Some hundreds.  Five hundred or so.  And a tricky bunch they are.
They're over-fond of cattle to be really desirable neighbors."

"Well, I think it rather a pity!"

"Look yonder!" cried her husband, sweeping his arm toward the
eastern horizon.  From the height on which they stood a wonderful
panorama of hill and valley, river, lake and plain lay spread out
before them.  "All that and for nine hundred miles beyond that line
these Indians and their kin gave up to us under persuasion.  There
was something due them, eh?  Let's move on."

For a mile or more the trail ran along the high plateau skirting
the Piegan Reserve, where it branched sharply to the right.
Cameron paused.

"You see that trail?" pointing to the branch that led to the left
and downward into the valley.  "That is one of the oldest and most
famous of all Indian trails.  It strikes down through the Crow's
Nest Pass and beyond the pass joins the ancient Sun Dance Trail.
That's my old beat.  And weird things are a-doing along that same
old Sun Dance Trail this blessed minute or I miss my guess.  I
venture to say that this old trail has often been marked with blood
from end to end in the fierce old days."

"Let's go," said Mandy, with a shudder, and, turning her pony to
the right, she took the trail that led them down from the plateau,
plunged into a valley, wound among rocks and thickets of pine till
it reached a tumbling mountain torrent of gray-blue water, fed from
glaciers high up between the great peaks beyond.

"My Little Horn!" cried Mandy with delight.

Down by its rushing water they scrambled till they came to a sunny
glade where the little fretful torrent pitched itself headlong into
a deep shady pool, whence, as if rested in those quiet deeps, it
issued at first with gentle murmuring till, out of earshot of the
pool, it broke again into turbulent raging, brawling its way to the
Big Horn below.

Mandy could hardly wait for the unloading and tethering of the

"Now," she cried, when all was ready, "for my very first fish.  How
shall I fling this hook and where?"

"Try a cast yonder, just beside that overhanging willow.  Don't
splash!  Try again--drop it lightly.  That's better.  Don't tell me
you've never cast a fly before."

"Never in my life."

"Let it float down a bit.  Now back.  Hold it up and let it dance
there.  I'll just have a pipe."

But next moment Cameron's pipe was forgotten.  With a shout he
sprang to his wife's side.

"By Jove, you've got him!"

"No!  No!  Leave me alone!  Just tell me what to do.  Go away!
Don't touch me!  Oh-h-h!  He's gone!"

"Not a bit.  Reel him up--reel him up a little."

"Oh, I can't reel the thing!  Oh!  Oh-h-h!  Is he gone?"

"Hold up.  Don't haul him too quickly--keep him playing.  Wait till
I get the net."  He rushed for the landing net.

"Oh, he's gone!  He's gone!  Oh, I'm so mad!"  She stamped savagely
on the grass.  "He was a monster."

"They always are," said her husband gravely.  "The fellows that get
off, I mean."

"Now you're just laughing at me, and I won't have it!  I could just
sit down and cry!  My very first fish!"

"Never mind, Mandy, we'll get him or just as good a one again."

"Never!  He'll never bite again.  He isn't such a fool."

"Well, they do.  They're just like the rest of us.  They keep
nibbling till they get caught; else there would be no fun in
fishing or in--  Now try another throw--same place--a little
farther down.  Ah!  That was a fine cast.  Once more.  No, no, not
that way.  Flip it lightly and if you ever get a bite hold your rod
so.  See?  Press the end against your body so that you can reel
your fish in.  And don't hurry these big fellows.  You lose them
and you lose your fun."

"I don't want the fun," cried Mandy, "but I do want that fish and
I'm going to get him."

"By Jove, I believe you just will!"  The young man's dark eyes
flashed an admiring glance over the strong, supple, swaying figure
of the girl at his side, whose every move, as she cast her fly,
seemed specially designed to reveal some new combination of the
graceful curves of her well-knit body.

"Keep flicking there.  You'll get him.  He's just sulking.  If he
only knew, he'd hurry up."

"Knew what?"

"Who was fishing for him."

"Oh!  Oh!  I've got him."  The girl was dancing excitedly along the
bank.  "No!  Oh, what a wretch!  He's gone.  Now if I get him you
tell me what to do, but don't touch me."

"All you have to do is to hold him steady at the first.  Keep your
line fairly tight.  If he begins to plunge, give him line.  If he
slacks, reel in.  Keep him nice and steady, just like a horse on
the bit."

"Oh, why didn't you tell me before?  I know exactly what that
means--just like a colt, eh?  I can handle a colt."

"Exactly!  Now try lower down--let your fly float down a bit--

Again there was a wild shriek from the girl.

"Oh, I've got him sure!  Now get the net."

"Don't jump about so!  Steady now--steady--that's better.  Fine!
Fine work!  Let him go a bit--no, check--wind him up.  Look out!
Not too quick!  Fine!  Oh!  Look out!  Get him away from that jam!
Reel him up!  Quick!  Now play him!  Let me help you."

"Don't you dare touch this rod, Allan Cameron, or there'll be

"Quite right--pardon me--quite right.  Steady!  You'll get him
sure.  And he's a beauty, a perfect Rainbow beauty."

"Keep quiet, now," admonished Mandy.  "Don't shout so.  Tell me
quietly what to do."

"Do as you like.  You can handle him.  Just watch and wait--feel
him all the time.  Ah-h-h!  For Heaven's sake don't let him into
that jam!  There he goes up stream!  That's better!  Good!"

"Don't get so excited!  Don't yell so!" again admonished Mandy.
"Tell me quietly."

"Quietly?  Who's yelling, I'd like to know?  Who's excited?  I
won't say another word.  I'll get the landing-net ready for the
final act."

"Don't leave me!  Tell me just what to do.  He's getting tired, I

"Watch him close.  Wind him up a bit.  Get all the line in you can.
Steady!  Let go!  Let go!  Let him run!  Now wind him again.  Wait,
hold him so, just a moment--a little nearer!  Hurrah!  Hurrah!
I've got him and he's a beauty--a perfectly typical Rainbow trout."

"Oh, you beauty!" cried Mandy, down on her knees beside the trout
that lay flapping on the grass.  "What a shame!  Oh, what a shame!
Oh, put him in again, Allan, I don't want him.  Poor dear, what a

"But we must weigh him, you see," remonstrated her husband.  "And
we need him for tea, you know.  He really doesn't feel it much.
There are lots more.  Try another cast.  I'll attend to this chap."

"I feel just like a murderer," said Mandy.  "But isn't it glorious?
Well, I'll just try one more.  Aren't you going to get your rod out

"Well, rather!  What a pool, all unspoiled, all unfished!"

"Does no one fish up here?"

"Yes, the Police come at times from the Fort.  And Wyckham, our
neighbor.  And old man Thatcher, a born angler, though he says it's
not sport, but murder."

"Why not sport?"

"Why?  Old Thatcher said to me one day, 'Them fish would climb a
tree to get at your hook.  That ain't no sport.'"

But sport, and noble sport, they found it through the long
afternoon, so that, when through the scraggy pines the sun began to
show red in the western sky, a score or more lusty, glittering,
speckled Rainbow trout lay on the grass beside the shady pool.

Tired with their sport, they lay upon the grassy sward, luxuriating
in the warm sun.

"Now, Allan," cried Mandy, "I'll make tea ready if you get some
wood for the fire.  You ought to be thankful I taught you how to
use the ax.  Do you remember?"

"Thankful?  Well, I should say.  Do YOU remember that day, Mandy?"

"Remember!" cried the girl, with horror in her tone.  "Oh, don't
speak of it.  It's too awful to think of."

"Awful what?"

"Ugh!" she shuddered, "I can't bear to think of it.  I wish you
could forget."

"Forget what?"

"What?  How can you ask?  That awful, horrid, uncouth, sloppy
girl."  Again Mandy shuddered.  "Those hands, big, coarse, red,

"Yes," cried Allan savagely, "the badge of slavery for a whole
household of folk too ignorant to know the price that was being
paid for the service rendered them."

"And the hair," continued Mandy relentlessly, "uncombed, filthy,
horrid.  And the dress, and--"

"Stop it!" cried Allan peremptorily.

"No, let me go on.  The stupid face, the ignorant mind, the uncouth
speech, the vulgar manners.  Oh, I loathe the picture, and I wonder
you can ever bear to look at her again.  And, oh, I wish you could

"Forget!"  The young man's lean, swarthy face seemed to light up
with the deep glowing fires in his dark eyes.  His voice grew
vibrant.  "Forget!  Never while I live.  Do you know what _I_

"Ah, spare me!" moaned his wife, putting her hands over his mouth.

"Do you know what _I_ remember?" he repeated, pulling her hands
away and holding them fast.  "A girl with hands, face, hair, form,
dress, manners damned to coarseness by a cruel environment?  That?

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