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One of the broken brigade Phillipps-Wolley, Clive 1897

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Array        This Edition is issued for circulation in India
and the Colonies only.
^m ONE   OP
THE BROKEN  BRIGADE
CLIVE PHILLIPPS-WOLLEY
AUIHOR OF «* SNAP,"  " GOLD GOLD IN CARIBOO," ETC.
LONDON
GEOBGE   BELL   &   SONS
AND BOMBAY
1897
^  CONTENTS
PART I
CHAPTER
I. In the "Old Country"
II. In the City op Sunshine
III. The Hired Man
IV. The Camp at Shawnigan
V. The Fool-Hen's Play ...
VI. ".Vengeance is Mine"
VII. In the House op Pain
I.
II.
III.
IV.
V.
VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.
X.
XI.
XII.
PAET II.
At Battle Creek
How some Englishmen make their Piles
A Determined Gibber ... ...
At Farwell Outpost
The Stage held up
Man-hunting
Christmas Eve
In the Heart of the Storm
In the Crees* Dead-Tent
The Note op a Hunting Hound
The Plot      ... ... ♦..
The Tryst at Sundown   ...
Postscript  PART   I.
    -  ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
CHAPTEE I.
IN THE "OLD COUNTBY/
It was night in the north-west corner of Berkshire, a
night in late summer. The times of the cuckoo, of
the early singing and building of birds, the times
of primrose and daffodil had passed; the promises of
spring had been kept, and the harvest which summer
had ripened stood ready for the reaper. But the
day's labour was over in the valley of the Thames,
and a sweet sleepy hush rested upon the hazy
water - meadows from which came already the
fragrance of the new-mown hay. Nature had put
her tired world to sleep, and the world slept well.
Where old Squire Verulam sat with his guests, at
the window opening upon the Manor House lawn,
it was so dark under the limes that a new-comer
KMi 4 ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
would only have detected the other men's presence
by the star-like points of their cigarettes.
Even when any of them spoke, which was not
often, their tones were so low that they were barely
audible above the whir and hum of the thousands of
night moths greedily drinking the honied dew from
the Manor House roses or darting about the great
geranium beds. The only sounds worth mentioning
which broke the sweet silence were the call of an
owl, or the occasional splash of a heavy trout feeding
in the darkness of the pool below.
Even the moon slumbered as yet, though by-and-
by she would rise in her fulness and reveal to men
the beauties of sleeping England. The whole atmosphere was charged with restfulness and peace, so that
even the voice of youth was hushed in unconscious
sympathy with the spirit of the time and place.
If any one had sought all the world over for a home
for an Englishman to live in, for a corner rich with
all the pleasures that a country life can give, he
would have found no more perfect Eden than the
valley of Kingdon-on-Thames.
There are lotus lands in the tropics where the
colours of sea and sky and flower are more vivid than IN THE "OLD COUNTRY." 5
any colours known in old Berkshire, where the scent
of flowers is heavier, the growth of foliage more
luxuriant, the earth a richer mother, and the sun a
fiercer and more constant lover, but these lands do
not suit English muscle and bone.
Everlasting sunshine saps the Anglo-Saxon's
strength, and in time weakens the iron Saxon will,
destroying the man's power to work even more effectually than the cruel cold and grey monotony of the
far north, though that numbs the intellect and dwarfs
the body. Undoubtedly Kingdon contained all that
was best for the body of man, while not far down the
beautiful historic river, rose the grey piles of the
mother of modern learning, and further down, near
its mouth, lay the world's mart, from which all news
worth knowing, all things worth having, came almost
hourly to the little Berkshire village.
At Kingdon a man might have rested content from
the cradle to the grave, and yet what was it that was
happening at the garden window on the banks of old
Father Thames? Just that which has happened a
thousand times in every village in our island; just
that which has made our England the power she is.
There in the soft gloom of a summer night in the
*** ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
middle of the fairest farm-lands of his own county,
surrounded by the best God makes of clay anywhere
on earth, " the whisper " (as Budyard Kipling calls it)
had come to a young strong heart yearning for the
lands " beyond the skyline, where the strange ways
go down."
For a long time no one had spoken. The " old
man," as every one (even his little daughter) called
him, kept silently puffing away at his cigarette. As
a rule, Mr. Veralam was sixteen, in spite of his grey
hair, and many a practical joke set down to the credit
of some schoolboy staying at the Manor should in
justice have been credited to the squire. On the
night on which this story opens the old man had lost
his fun; he was really sixty to-night, not sixteen,
and his eyes, as they rested dreamily on the dark
pool below the (river, had no sparkle in them. He
was counting the cost, and half afraid of the venture,
for he knew Noel Johns and his weakness as well as
his strength; he loved the boy and was proud of him,
with almost a father's pride; and though there had
been ,times when he had been as enthusiastic as Noel
himself, times when he had even told him that he
would be a fool to go on struggling in the " man- IN THE -"OLD COUNTRY."
stifled town," yet now that the eve of parting had
come, he could only see the dangers ahead, only
think of the six thousand miles which would soon lie
between the boy and himself, and of the changes
which the swift years might bring. The gallant
craft was safe in harbour now; why should it tempt
the dangers of the seas ? The betting he knew was
not all one way in Noel's case. Far from it. In the
race of life he had enormous odds in his favour, and
yet sitting there, in the dark, the old man could
not help remembering that good looks, good education,
a fine ear for music, a mellow voice, great skill in
all games which Englishmen are proud to excel in;
honesty, even, which could neither deceive nor (alas!)
distrust, good gifts, though they be at home, are not
all that a man needs in the colonies. Some of them
might as well be thrown overboard at starting; and
even the others, under favourable circumstances,
may lead to the devil and the bankruptcy court as
speedily as vulgar vices.
Suddenly Noel, who was lying outside on the lawn,
put his hands to his mouth and emitted a long-
drawn, lugubrious imitation of a wolf's howl. " Oo-
whoo-oo-oo!" the cry went ringing down the darkness $ ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
of the river, and so unexpected was it that each of
the party started from his dreams, and Pussy
(Verulam's fair daughter), sitting in the French
window by the lamplight, sprang to her feet and
turned so pale that even the jester saw it, and
apologized after his fashion.
"Why, iflBsy, are you developing nerves?" he
asked. " Who could have guessed it ? If I had
thought it possible to frighten you, I would not have
been so stupid, but really I wanted to break the
'overpowering silence of the prairie/ don't you
know; and that is quite the orthodox way to do it.
It seems to me that I am likely to have my share
of silence by-and-by."
" Well, if you don't like silence, shall I play to
you, Noel ?" asked the girl.
"Yes, play, Pussy. They have all lost their
tongues to-night. Play some of our old favourites.
Let ine light the candles for you," and he went to
the piano as he spoke.
" No, don't bother," she replied; " I know all your
favourite songs by heart. I ought to. They were
the first things you made me learn." And so saying,
she sat down and touched the notes. IN THE "OLD COUNTRY." 9
But though Pussy Verulam was only fifteen, a
mere child still, she could not forget that her old
playfellow was going to leave them that night; and
the consciousness of this took all the music out of
her fingers. Whatever was gay jarred on the stillness
of the summer night, whatever was sad accorded too
well with her own feelings, and when at last she
found herself unconsciously drifting into "Where
is now that merry party I remember long ago ?"
she closed the piano with an angry snap, and came
away from it.
" Never mind the music, Pussy," said the old man,
rousing himself to cover his daughter's retreat; " let
us talk. Tell us exactly what you mean to do, when
you reach the West, Noel."
" Give me just one more cigarette, little sweetheart,
and I will," said Noel, and as he reached over the
heads of the others to take one from the box she
offered him, the light from the red flaming lamp fell
upon her great grey eyes, and he could see that they
were dim, whilst the hand which held the cigarette-
box was as cold as if it were November instead of
July. He knew this because he had been clumsy
enough to touch that hand in taking his cigarette.
^ 10 ONE OF THE  BROKEN BRIGADE.
" Poor little playfellow!" he thought, | so there will
be one sore heart when I am gone, but it won't do to
make her sadder by letting her see how I feel the
parting." And so thinking, when he had lighted his
cigarette, he held it out at arm's length meditatively
for a moment, and then replied in the chaffing
manner which was second nature to him—
"Tell you just exactly what I mean to do out
West! That is rather a large order, you know. Of
course I mean to (make my pile;' every good
Britisher does; but how I mean to make it is a
matter of detail which I've not yet considered."
" Then, Noel, I'm afraid I shall have to lay odds
against your making that pile," said a handsome
curly-headed fellow, lying back in the shadow. In
features he was very like Noel Johns, but though
a tall man, he was slighter, and not so deep-chested
^ as that young Saxon.
" Do you think so, Cousin Trevor ? Well, I can't
bet on myself, for I've nothing to lose, and I can't
expect you to hack me because I know your opinion
about my lack of ' business capacity,' but I'll take
your good wishes, old chap, instead of your bet; and,
after all," he added more earnestly, turning to old IN THE "OLD COUNTRY."
11
Verulam, " I am beginning in the right way. In a
country of such infinite possibilities, a fellow ought
to go slow for a year or so; tie himself to nothing,
but just keep his eyes open and his mouth shut.
That is what Balmaine says, and Balmaine ought to
know."
" Oh, of course Balmaine ought to know, and that
is what the books say too," assented Trevor, carelessly ; " but I must say that I should like to have
my course a little more clearly mapped out, if I was
in your place. Have you ever heard of a man, Noel,
who really made money in the colonies except by a
profession—learnt at home ?"
" Of course I have, and so have you, Trevor,
dozens of times. Six months ago you were as keen
to go West, and as confident as I am. You would
have gone too if you had not come in to Cowley,"
replied Noel, hotly. " Talk of men who have made
money! Don't you remember Gurdon, or Balmaine
himself, for instance ?"
" Gurdon! " replied the other. " Yes, I remember
old Gurdon, of course, but he made his money by
pure bull-headed luck, and that was at the Cape too,
in diamonds." 12
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
"I don't know so much about that bull-headed
luck," retorted Noel. " Men who knew Gurdon at
the Cape, say that when others drank up their first
profits, he turned his diamonds into wages for more
men, and lived himself on bread and water and hard
labour. But, luck or no luck, it seems to me that
a lump sum which produces an income of close on
eight thousand a year is a good deal for any man
to make before he is thirty. A quarter of that would
content me."
" That is all right," Trevor admitted. " The few
succeed, the many fail, though, Noel; and there are
no diamonds in America, except on the ladies'
fingers."
"And in the prominent citizens' 'dickies,'"
laughed Noel. " But I am talking about Canada ;
I know nothing of America, and don't want to.
Canada and America are not the same thing, you
know, Trevor."
"Not yet, but they are going to be, are they
not, Noel ? We can't protect Canada from her
big neighbour, even if we want to, and she certainly
could not protect herself."
"I am not so sure about that.    The big fellow IN THE "OLD COUNTRY."
13
does not always win in a fight, and Canadian
pioneers are not the men to chuck up the sponge
in a hurry," replied Noel, who had a very warm
enthusiasm for his Canadian cousins.
"Much the same breed as the men they would
have to fight, are they not, Noel ?" asked the
old man, dryly. "I don't see myself why the
descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers should be
inferior to those of Hudson Bay pioneers, and such
like, or why the son of a man who has emigrated
to the States should differ much from the son of
one who emigrated to the North-West. Canada's
danger is a moral, not a physical, one. If you
allow your newspapers to draw their news, as
they copy their style, from the Yankees, annexation will soon follow. Why, that blackguardly
thing you showed me this morning could not even
speak respectfully of Her Majesty, and assumed as
a matter of course that its own premier was a thief."
"A thing like that doesn't represent the feeling
of the people," cried Noel. "They are loyal
enough, but 'ware politics and newspapers. I'm
not going in for them, though Balmaine says
politicians are the boys to fill their pockets."
£*
~&m 14 ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
" What did Balmaine do himself ?" asked
Trevor.
" Do you know his old' governor' ?" retorted Noel.
" Not well. I know that he had plenty of money,
and used to let Percy see very little of it."
" Yes, and so Percy went West; and now it would
make you cry with laughing to hear Percy talk of
giving old Sir John a fiver 'to go on the tear with,'
or ' to turn himself loose on/ as he sometimes puts
it," added Noel, with a broad grin.
" Irreverent young cub," said the old man.
"Did your friend learn his manners where he
made his money ?"
" Some of them, sir, I expect," replied Noel; " but
his heart is all right. You ask Sir John if there
is a better son in England than old Percy. That
fellow would give up his clubs and break stones on
the road to-morrow to get anything old Sir John
wanted, if it could not be got in any other way."
" And are we to have ' fivers to turn ourselves
loose on/when our young Croesus comes back?"
asked the Squire.
"Perhaps; ;or perhaps I shall play the game the
other way, and put your fivers into some rattling IN THE "OLD COUNTRY."
15
good thing out there, something out of which I
shall get a fat percentage, and in which your money
will stay. That's done too, you know, every day,"
he added. &#??
" Yes," replied Trevor; " and that seems about as
profitable a business as any I ever heard of out West,
for a smart man; but you are not smart enough
for that."
" Thank God!" ejaculated the old man.
" Yes, I suppose it's something to be thankful for;
but, look here, if we talk dollars any more, Miss
Grey-eyes will be asleep. What am I to bring you
home, Pussy ? A belt of wampum (don't ask what
it is, dear), or a collar of grizzly claws ? "
" Are there grizzlies where you are going, Noel ?"
" Why, of course, my dear," Trevor answered for
him. " Doesn't your supreme innocence understand
that wherever business is brisk, and a steady young
man likely to do well, there grizzlies abound ? "
"Don't chaff," replied Pussy, with spirit. "I
know as well as you do that grizzlies don't live in
cities; but Noel won't have to work all the time, and
if he thinks bears more interesting than dollars, I'm
sure I agree with him." 16 ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
" You would not be a Verulam if you didn't. I
wonder if any of our family ever guessed that fences
were not put up only to be jumped ? I doubt it.
We certainly," added the Squire, "are not a practical money-making people, we English country
gentlemen."
"Don't blaspheme against sport, sir," Noel protested. " It is not the only thing worth living for,
I grant you, but it is better than money-grubbing.
If there was no sport to be had in America, there
would have been mighty few Englishmen developing it to-day. It is the love of sport, or something
uncommonly like it, which makes Englishmen
colonize at all."
" Perhaps; but our fellows get almost as badly
done over the sport as they do over the dollars,"
said Trevor. " I don't believe the sport is half as
good out there as it is at home. I never met a
fellow yet, who had been any time out West, who
was fit to fill a butt on a decent moor; and, upon my
honour, I doubt whether the stalking is as good out
there as it is at home."
| Don't know, I'm sure. I've never tried either,
and you have only tried one; but whatever you do IN THE "OLD COUNTRY."
17
out West, you've got to do for yourself, Trevor, and
that is worth a good deal."
"WeLl, you may be right, and America may be
all you think it is," replied his cousin; " but I'd stop
here even now, if I were you, old fellow. England's
good enough for me."
" Good enough for you!" cried Noel, hotly.
" Good enough for you! Yes, she is good enough
for me, too, or for any sane man, God bless her!
It's my balance at my banker's which isn't good
enough for her. But what is the good of talking ?
All that was settled long ago."
"But why couldn't you farm here, just as well as
there, Noel ? " asked the old man.
" Because a younger son's place is not on the
family acres," replied Noel.
" And why not ? " asked the Squire.
" Why not ? Why," replied Noel, " because
you say so; yes, you and thousands like you. I
might stay and work at the bar, if I had patience
enough. I might go into the army if I had money
enough. I might stay and live upon my people if
I was mean enough, and I might go into business,
or farm for profit, if I was not a Johns of Kingdon.
c
1
■"■*»' —^ KH2
rs
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
You would think it rather plucky of me to \ run a
store ' in the North-West, but how would you like it
if I sold groceries in the village ?"
" No," he added, after a pause, " our places in the
world are different, Trevor, and I don't grumble.
You two have the best country in the world to live
in, but it is ready-made. I shall have the fun of
helping to make a country for myself. Our forlorn
hope has its charms. Now, Pussy, give us just one
more song before you go to bed. You don't mind
her singing ' Auld Lang Syne/ sir, do you ?"
"Of course not, of course not, boy," cried the
Squire; " good heavens, is it so late already ?" And
rising, the four joined hands, and sang together that
old song which is a sacrament to some of us, pledging themselves for all years to come to the friend
who stood on the brink, waiting to step out from the
light and warmth of home into the battle of life in
the Far West.
For a moment all stood, hands joined, listening as
the last notes floated down the dark river; then the old
man wrung the young one's hands in both his, and,
turning, said somewhat hoarsely to his daughter—
" Now, Pussy, bed! It's time for chicks to be at
roost.    Will you get her candle for her, Noel ?" IN THE "OLD COUNTRY.3
19
So Noel Johns went out for the last time into the
old familiar hall with its black panelling, and cases
of rare birds, not a few of which he had himself shot,
and its bough of mistletoe, still left hanging by common consent, as a souvenir of the merry romps of the
last Christmas, and there, at the foot of the stairs,
bade good-bye to Pussy Verulam. They had been
playfellows and neighbours all their lives. She had
been a dear little chum to him, and he a loyal
squire and helpmate to her in every sport and every
mischief she had fallen into since nursery days, but
that was all. On this summer night the two were
merely boy and girl, but as she stood in the lamplight, bidding him good-bye, the boy realized what
an exquisitely lovely woman this child-friend of his
must grow into.
Perhaps old Verulam's thoughts instinctively
followed the boy's, for he said suddenly, "Kiss
her, Noel. Perhaps it's the last chance you'll ever
get. Pussy may not be our Pussy any longer when
you come home again."
Nothing loth, the boy did as he was bid; kissed
the sweet young lips held up to him, and felt a
thrill flash through him and his eyes open, so that 20
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
he went away with a new knowledge and a new
sorrow. America might hold a fortune for him, but
England would still hold Pussy Verulam.
He was too wise to dream that sweet Pussy could
fcver be a younger son's portion, but for the first
time he realized the bitterness of being " only a
younger son," with his way to make in the world,
and with no time even to dream of great grey eyes
and sweet girlish lips for many a year to come.
Just at the last he felt that he envied his
cousin Trevor, not because he was the Squire of
Cowley, but because, being the Squire of Cowley, he
had a right to come to Kingdon whenever he chose,
a chance which poor Noel now thought the best
chance in the world.
After Pussy had gone to roost, the men went back
for a whisky and soda, and one last pipe. Pipes
always appeared at Kingdon as soon as the ladies
went, for, to tell the truth, the Kingdon men were
such Goths that they only tolerated cigarettes when
they could get nothing more substantial to smoke.
That last whisky and soda seemed as difficult to
' finish as the widow's cruse of oil, and the full moon
was high in the heavens when Noel's dogcart came IN THE "OLD COUNTRY."
21
round to the hall-door; and even then no one was
ready to say "good-bye."
However, the words of farewell had to be said at
last, the horse's hoofs rattled along the drive, the
lights from the open door vanished, and the shadows
of the big limes swallowed the wanderer up.
Along the road home, Noel passed a score of old
familiar landmarks. The white posts round the
village cricket-field reminded him of many a game
in which he had been Kingdon's hero. Trevor was
a good man all round, and a popular one too, but
the younger cousin had always been a turn the best
of the two at all English games, and the village
knew it and loved him for it. A yokel whose voice
he knew, but whose face he could not see, gave him
good night, and Noel's heart went out to him though
he knew that at that time of night his well-wisher
was most probably a poacher who had been out
after the Cowley rabbits.
Ah, well! just then Noel Johns would have
preferred a Kingdon poacher to a New York
millionaire. Anything that belonged to home was
dear to him, now that he was saying good-bye. But
nothing stops in this world, and Noel's horse was ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
among the least likely things to stop, at any rate, at
that time of night, anywhere between Kingdon and
his own stables, so the old familiar scenes flitted
rapidly past him, just as our lives will in the last
hour, and after he had once reached home he remembered nothing clearly. There was a turmoil of packing, a rush of trains, and then Liverpool and the great
Atlantic liner, with its mob of strange people on
board, homing Yankees and inquisitive globe-trotters,
and, above all, that spirit of gambling which seems
inseparable from anything that has once been in
contact with the other side of the herring-pond.
On board Noel was an immense favourite (such
as he always are), and soon, that jade Fortune set
her cap at him, for, being foolish enough to dabble
in speculation on the run of the ship, he won
enough to pay his passage, and to strengthen
the already growing conviction that the dear
old fogies at home were (as his Yankee friends
told him) " too conservative in their ideas about
money," which, after all, was easy enough to make,
if only you had pluck enough to try for it. Of
course he wrote home from Moville and from
Montreal, but, after that, Kingdon heard very little
of its fledgeling.    At one time he was staying with IN THE "OLD COUNTRY/1
23
friends whom he had picked up on the boat, people
who had taken a fancy to him, and who, it was
hinted, were about " to put him into a very good
thing." From subsequent letters, it appeared that
this very good thing was somewhere very far west,
for the postmarks came ever from further and
~ further away, until at last they had reached the
edge even of the great American continent, where it
seemed that Noel had temporarily settled down on
a ranche, and was engaged in growing—well, no one
seemed quite to know what he was growing. He
never was a good correspondent. Young men are not
as a rule; and no one blamed him for his silence.
His half-yearly remittance was always sent to the
same address—"Post-office, Victoria, B.C."—and
the remittance was always acknowledged, and no
extra money ever asked for, so that those who
believed in him looked for his speedy return as a
second young Balmaine. But the old man doubted,
and at the end of nearly three years, he astounded
his whole family circle by proposing that, for once,
they should give up the September partridges, start
some time early in June, and go for themselves to
see " what that place Canada really was like."
msemmm 24
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
CHAPTER II.
IN   THE  CITY  OF SUNSHINE.
It was June in Vancouver Island, and Trevor
Johns, who had come over with Mr. Verulam and
his daughter Pussy, to whom Trevor had now been
engaged for nearly a year, loafed down one of
Victoria's main streets, and entered the den of a real
estate-agent, a place with almost as much plate-glass
about it as a London gin-shop, and very nearly as
dangerous to its habitues.
" Come in, Johns, come into my room, and have
a cigarette," said the owner of this gorgeous office.
" I think I've fixed that Shawnigan business."
The speaker was a man of the fair German-Jew
type, not bad looking, but for an unpleasantly artificial
smile of which he made constant use, and with
manners of that peculiar polish which suggest the
London music-hall.     But Mr. Jacob Snape passed
I IN THE CITY OF  SUNSHINE.
muster well enough where he was, and his English
clothes, and a certain affectation of unbusinesslike
frankness, made some poor fools all the more ready
to trust him.
" Come in," he continued, " and sit down," closing
the door behind his guest as he spoke, and carelessly
turning a lot of papers face downwards on his desk.
" I've made a couple of thousand dollars on a deal
this morning. It's not much to a millionaire like
you, but it's pretty good for a poor beggar like me,
and I think it deserves a cigar," and so saying he
chose and lighted one, leaving half a dozen clients
(poor devils who wanted to borrow money rather
than lend it, or who had come for the interest on their
investments) to kick their heels at their leisure
outside his counter.
" Mr. Snape," his clerk said to them, " was busy."
And so he was, and his business this morning was
a very remunerative one, though a tenderfoot would
not have understood that at first sight.
" Two thousand dollars!" ejaculated Trevor, who
was more fond of money than such a good sportsman
ought to have been. "Why, that is four hundred
pounds !   Four hundred pounds made in a morning's
mm*
—-———l ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
work! I wish 1 knew how to make money as easily
as you fellows do."
" Oh, you don't want money. You came out here
for your health. I didn't; and, besides, we don't do
that every day, though, of course, in a place like
Victoria, any fool can do it pretty often, and a man
must do, to live as men live here. But hang the
business; let us talk about our fishing-trip. The
missus is going, and that pretty Miss Gilchrist, and
a couple of naval fellows, and I've arranged with a
rancher on the lake to let us have his house to sleep
in, and his boats to row about in."
" That seems excellent," remarked Trevor. " How
about provisions ?"
" Oh, I've sent up the liquor, and I'll see to the
grub, and as there is nothing very pressing to do in
town just now, we'll start to-morrow, if Mr. Verulam
and his daughter can be ready in time."
"The Verulams can be ready, and I know they
would like the trip; but I'm afraid, Mr. Snape,"
replied Trevor, hesitatingly, " that you are taking
a very great deal of trouble for comparative
strangers."
"We don't treat Englishmen  as strangers   here/ IN THE CITY OF SUNSHINE.
27
retorted Snape, " unless they wish us to; but say
the word.    Will you come ?"
" Certainly, if the Verulams wiU, I will; but
who's to do the cooking? Shall I hire a Chinaman ?" asked Trevor.
"No, that is not necessary; Jones the rancher
will cook, and wash dishes, and do all that sort of
thing."
" But," asked Trevor, " isn't that rather imposing
on the unfortunate Jones ? No doubt he would do
it for you, but he hasn't even seen us yet, and we
shall be a big party."
"So much the better for Jones," replied Snape,
easily; "I'm hiring the fellow, and of course he'll
make me pay for what he does. It will be a big
bonanza for him. Eanchers are not all quite what
you fancy out here. This fellow is a type of one
class. He was a sort of mud-student, who fooled
his money away here for awhile, bought a place to
clear and exist upon, and is now what we call a
remittance man."
" A remittance man ?" asked Trevor.
"Yes, isn't that good English?" replied Snape,
laughing.     "It means a fellow who doesn't know
^-~
^smm 28
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
any trade, and won't learn one; who lives on beans
and bacon when he can't kill a deer; goes out to
carry a surveyor's chain in the summer, and in
winter hibernates amongst his logs, or, if in town,
hangs around the post-office all day, looking for
letters from home. They are a confounded nuisance
to us, always wanting loans, and never able to pay
interest "
" Poor devils ! " muttered Trevor, sympathetically.
Snape looked surprised for a moment. The
comment struck him as odd. " Well, yes," he added
after a pause, " I don't suppose that they do have a
very good time, and yet some of them put on a hell
of a lot of side, wear knickerbockers in Government
Street as if this was a village, and fancy themselves
a good deal better than the men they borrow money
from."
"But how do they come to grief in the first
instance ?" asked Trevor.
"Oh, Lord knows," replied Snape, impatiently.
" Hang the remittance men. Let ns go up to the
Jarvises' tennis-party. We shall meet every one
worth meeting up there, and then we can arrange
about to-morrow." IN THE CITY OF  SUNSHINE.
29
Trevor, having nothing to do, assented, and calling
one of the only two hansoms in Victoria, Snape put
his friend in, and the two drove off, leaving the
unimportant clients still kicking their heels at his
counter. Of course the hansom would cost our
real-estate man a dollar, and the tram-car would
have taken him nearly to his destination for ten
cents, but when you are playing some games it pays
to play all through en prince ; and, besides, what does
a beggarly dollar more or less matter in Victoria in
boom times, when every train from the East brings
over fresh consignments of nice plump British
pigeons ready for plucking ?
The Jarvises' tennis-party was a weekly function,
and one at which a stranger certainly would see B.C.'s
capital at its best. Victoria, of course, is a young
town, and houses in it which have been houses for
as much as five and twenty years are rare, but in
five and twenty years assisted nature can do a great
deal on the Pacific slope, and there was no trace of
unpleasant newness, no raw stumps still standing
about the Jarvises' grounds. On the contrary, the
house itself was veiled in luxuriant creepers, the
fruit trees were well grown  and lavish of their mm
30
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
fruit, and the lawns were as perfect stretches of
firm green velvet as you will meet with anywhere.
Standing at the top of the rise by the house, you
could see the sea sweeping all round you, not a grey
monotonous expanse of water, but a gulf of blue,
flashing and alive with sunlight, dotted here and
there with wooded islands, and backed on two sides
by the white peaks of the mainland. In the nearer
distance were gardens full of blossom, and just
beyond them, again, a framework of dark sweet-
scented pine woods. The whole landscape suggested
rest and repose, and amongst the people on the
Jarvises' lawn there was an air of wealth and
ease in pleasant harmony with their natural
surroundings. Nature meant Victoria for the
Brighton of the Pacific, but some among its foolish
inhabitants will not have it so, and, unfortunately,
that speculative fever which is the curse of America,
has taken root and spread even in this garden of
Eden. This, of course, is inevitable. Speculation is
in the very air of the West, and wherever Americans
come it is rife. And there were Americans from
Seattle, from Tacoma, even from their beloved " N'
York," upon the Jarvises' tennis-lawn when Trevor IN THE CITY OF SUNSHINE.
31
reached it, and it was to one of these, a tall blonde,
handsome enough to make men stare even in Dublin,
where pretty women are the rule, that his friend first
introduced Johns.
" Miss Gilchrist," he said, " let me introduce my
friend, Mr. Trevor Johns."
" What is the gentleman's name ?" demanded the
beauty. " Oh, Mr. Trevor Johns! Pleased to meet
you, sir," and she held out a cordial hand to him;
and then to Miss Verulam who had also come up and
been introduced by Snape, " Miss Verulam! Pleased
to meet you, ma'am. And what do you think of this
little city ?    A daisy, ain't she ?"
" I beg your pardon," replied Pussy, not following
the drift of what her new friend said.
" Miss Gilchrist wants to know if you don't think
our little city a daisy," interposed Snape, with a
smile. "A daisy is our phrase for anything we
admire very much. Miss Gilchrist, for instance, is
our daisy just now."
" Now, Mr. Snape, none of your sauce !" retorted
the lady. "Oh, here's parper' and manner!
Manner, let me introduce Miss Verulam and Mr.
Johns.     Mr.   Johns is a capitalist   come   out to •KM
32 ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
invest in our western world, I reckon. Isn't that
so, Mr. Snape ?"
"No, I assure you, you misjudge me," replied
Trevor. " I know nothing of business, and am only
here for pleasure."
"You can't play that off on me, Mr. Johns,"
replied the girl slyly; " but, there, I won't give you
away.    Catch our business men asleep if you can! "
It seemed hopeless to protest, so Trevor changed
the subject by asking her if she played tennis.
" Why, certainly," she replied; " I just dote on it.
Shall we play ? I see Miss Jarvis wants two more
over there/' and, as Trevor promptly assented, she
turned to her mother, who stood near, a dutiful
parent laden with many encumbrances, and relieved
her of a racquet, replacing it with a light wrap, and
one or two other things not essential for active
exercise. After borrowing a hairpin or two, and
generally fixing herself up, she announced her
readiness for the fray.
At the end of that sett, Trevor was of opinion
that the old lady might just as well have kept
the racquet. He was not very much of a player him*
self, but knew enough of the game to understand that
g^Bi IN THE CITY OF SUNSHINE.
33
dresses from Worth's, with long tails to tumble over,
were too much of a handicap for any woman's skill.
However, when the game was over, his partner's
appetite for fruit and ices appeared to have benefited
by the exercise, and at least she had one advantage
over a party of genuine English girls, who had been
playing a really spirited game in the next court;
for whereas they, poor things, looked decidedly
hot and tumbled, Miss Gilchrist's complexion was
still unflushed, her dress in no disorder, and her
general appearance as unimpeachable as that of a
model from Bond Street.
In the breathing spaces between strawberries and
cream, Miss Gilchrist began to talk again.
"I guess you are quite new to this coast, Mr.
Johns ?" she remarked.
" Yes, quite," he replied. " I have hardly been
here a week yet, but it seems longer. I know so
many people already."
"Ah, I dare say that's so," assented the girl.
"Every one here is very pleasant and 'social/
Parper saw your arrival in the ' personals' in the
Colonist. Are you any relation to Mr. Trevor at
Portland ?"
f
ill 34
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
" No, I think not," he admitted. " I'm afraid I
am so shamefully ignorant that I hardly know
where Portland is."
"Nor to our Mr. Jones of Seattle?" she persisted.
"No; but then, you know, there are so many*
Joneses in the world." He did not like to remind
her that his name was not Jones, but Johns.
" That's correct," she answered; " but our E. P.
Jones of Seattle is a very prominent citizen. Made
quite a pile, too.    He's in the hardware business."
Trevor Johns gasped. What would Kingdon
have thought, he wondered, of a Trevor Johns in the
hardware business at the place with the awful
name ? But he was wise enough to conceal his
thoughts.
"You say 'our Mr. Jones/ Miss Gilchrist. Do
you mean by that that your home is at Seattle ? " -
" Yes, you bet it is. Parper is in business there.
Now, Mr. Johns, there's a city! You should see
Seattle!" she replied with enthusiasm.
" Why," he asked, " is it so very beautiful—better
than this ?"
" Well, I should say so," she replied, putting down
---:-•-- IN THE CITY  OF  SUNSHINE.
35
her plate, and drawing on her gloves; " this little
town ain't a circumstance to it. Why, there are
more four-story blocks in one street in Seattle
£han in the whole of Victoria—and brick blocks
too!"
"Yes, I suppose it must be a very fine city,"
murmured Trevor, feebly. His ideas were getting
somewhat muddled. This young woman was certainly too many for him, and it really did require
an effort to realize that the number of brick blocks
in a city had anything to do with enhancing its
beauty.
"A fine city! why, it's the queen city of the
Sound. That's what Seattle is right to-day, with
electric lights and tramways, and telephones to all
the residences, and everything just humming. But
say, Mr. Johns, I wouldn't like Mr. Jarvis to hear
us, but doesn't Victoria seem just a little sleepy to
you ?    Kind of mossy, don't you know."
And so this peri of the West babbled on, until
Trevor felt, when he left her to talk to some of his
other acquaintances on the lawn, that if Seattle
had many more such enthusiastic daughters, the
queen city of the Sound would stand in no need of
yii^m
Man;fggfe€-'.-/
_—_____ ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
advertising pamphlets. This is one of the strongest
points in your genuine Western American. To him
or her there is only one city in the world worth mentioning, and that is the one he belongs to; and his
loyalty to it, and his efforts to make it known as
"the hub of the universe," in season and out of
season, are beyond all praise.
And meanwhile Pussy Verulam had had a very
good time indeed. At first she had fallen into the
hands of some real "mossbaeks," British Columbians of the old Crown Colony days, charming
people who had kept their insular prejudices,
perhaps, and had let the world go by them without
making the most of it from a business point of view,
but who had kept other things better worth having
than their prejudices, and had enjoyed to the utmost
the beautiful world around them, its sport and its
country pleasures; people who had perhaps been
something of a drag on the runaway coach of
colonial ambition, but a very useful drag for all
that, which had possibly saved the coach more than
once, when it might have come to grief downhill.
To one of these, a Mr. Esmond, she had said
after a while, " Why, Mr. Esmond, you know yours IN THE CITY OF SUNSHINE. 37
is almost a Kingdon name! We have Esmonds
living not ten miles away from us at home."
"At Lycot," he answered. "Yes, those are my
brother's people. He died some years ago, but his
second son Charley, oddly enough, is here to-day.—
Ah, Charlie!" he cried, and a bronzed, hard-
looking young fellow, who was passing, stopped in
the middle of his chaff with a brother naval officer,
and came across to the group exclaiming, before his
uncle could introduce him, " Miss Verulam ! What
luck! Don't say you've forgotten me and last
year's Henley, and all the fun we had there ?"
" No, I've not forgotten you," she answered, laughing. " I'm afraid, Mr. Esmond, that none of the
people on that house-boat will ever forget you. He
was the most inveterate practical joker," she added,
turning to the elder man, " and the greatest tease in
the party."
" Oh, come, that's cruel! " he replied. " When a
young man makes good resolutions, and starts fresh
in a new world, his past should be held sacred. But
come and let me show you the lions, in token of
forgiveness. I know them all, and they'll all be
quite civil to such a beautiful Una."   And so saying, 38
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
the unblushing mariner made fast his prize, and
sailed away with her in tow, as if she belonged to
the ship. Nor was Mr. Esmond's the only familiar
face which Miss Verulam saw on the Jarvises' lawn
that day. Amongst the middies, shrinking somewhat
from the overpowering presence of their senior
officers, she discovered the son of a parson whose
church was almost within sight of her own home,
while two of the civilians on the lawn came up and
claimed her as an old acquaintance in the ball-room
and in the hunting-field.
These men of course had come out to shoot something later on, and the worn trout-flies in their caps
proclaimed that they had already been busy with
their work of destruction.
" Is it not a tiny world, after all ? " she asked of her
companion. " Here are we, six thousand miles from
England, and I declare that there are almost as
many people I know on this lawn as I should meet
in an afternoon drive round Kingdon."
" Yes, there seems to have been quite an exodus
for your special benefit," replied young Esmond,
demurely. "What are you looking surprised at?
* Exodus' ?    Oh, ' exodus' is all right.    Mrs. Bailey IN THE  CITY OF  SUNSHINE.
30
calls it so, and she's quite the most' prominent lady'
I know."
" I won't have you chaff Victorians," said Pussy,
shaking her racquet at him. " I'm in love with them
already."
1I dare say; so are we all," he replied; " but
may we not laugh at them a little sometimes ? They
do at us very freely. For instance, as I came down
Government Street to-day, a rude little boy wanted
to know 'if they was for wading up stream in.'
'They/ Miss Verulam, were as smart a pair of
knickerbocker breeches as ever walked into
Faringdon."
Pussy laughed, and then after a pause asked him,
"Are you not one of the party which goes to
Shawnigan to-morrow ?"
" Entirely at your service," he replied, with much
submission.
"Thank you, but I think I can take care of
myself," she replied.
"And therein you disagree with the supreme
organizer," he retorted; " for, in his wisdom, he
has provided two men and a fraction for each
lady." 40 ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
"To which class " she began mischievously,
and then added, " but perhaps I had better not ask."
" No, decidedly you had better not ask. A flag-
lieutenant is not a person to be unceremoniously
sat on. There's a subject for you to reflect on,"
and with a merry laugh he raised his hat and left
her.
The whole of that afternoon was as beautiful as
a dream and as sparkling as champagne to Pussy.
As hosts Victorians leave nothing to be desired.
Every one seemed bent on pleasing, and everything
lent itself to pleasure, while what struck the visitors
most was that every one in the province seemed able
to take a holiday.
The Jervises' tennis-party certainly was not the
only one in that month or even in that week. There
would be at least two like it, every day throughout
the season; and yet at it were judges, and advocates,
and business men of all sorts.
Every one seemed to have made a fortune and to
be bent on enjoying it, and Pussy, though only a girl,
could not help wondering where the working bees
were, and what were the factories, trades, and callings
from which all this wealth flowed. IN THE CITY OF SUNSHINE.
41
Were there no people, she wondered, who had
still work to do and money to make in this wonderful
" City of Sunshine" ? She supposed not, but if
money-making was so easy here, why was Noel not
here to meet them ? Surely he had not gone by this
wonderful place. And yet, though they had made a
good many inquiries about Noel Johns, they had
obtained no news of him as yet. Trevor opined that
he would " bob up serenely " before very long as a
fabulously Wealthy person in the hardware business
or as boss of a dry-goods store ; and, at any rate, it was
no good to worry about him, and so they all drifted
as every one drifts in the deliciously lazy West,
boating on the Gorge by moonlight, supping at the
Poodle Dog, being made much of by the " sailor men "
at Esquimalt, and more or less forgetting their
quest.
After all, it did not matter much for a month
or two. In a place like British Columbia, no one
could possibly come to grief, much less such a fellow
as Noel Johns. M-Jk.'^^s^mji^iMSS^'jtmmuu
ms®
42 ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
CHAPTEE   III.
THE   HIKED   MAN.
Eight o'clock in the morning is an early hour for
some ladies, to some even an unbecomingly early
one, but ten minutes before that time Pussy
Verulam, her cheeks aglow with the soft sea-breeze,
and her great grey eyes full of swiftly changing
lights and shades, paced gaily up the platform of
the E. and N. Eailway Station. Trevor and her
father were with her, of course, but the rest of the
party were late, and in spite of a chorus of wild
feminine shrieks, barely induced the officials to wait
long enough for them to bundle themselves and
their belongings into the hindmost carriage of the
train. The early rising and final rush had had a
bad effect upon Miss Gilchrist's nerves. For once
she was distinctly snappish, and her fair hair had
none of that coquettish crispness in its little curls to
which her admirers were accustomed.    "Picnics," THE  HIRED  MAN.
43
she opined, " didn't ought to begin until along about
the middle of the day, same as they did at Saratoga
and lake George, and such places." However,
luckily for her, the main part of the male contingent
was not to join the train until the next station, and
before that had been reached she had exerted her
fascinations upon the guard to such good purpose
that she obtained sole use of the baggage-car for
half an hour, and disappeared into it with a mysterious dressing-bag. When she reappeared, the syren
was herself again; her colour had returned, her curls
were as crisp as ever, and her temper as sunshiny
as the morning. Like his daughter, the colonel—of
course Gilchrist was a colonel as well as a financier
—seemed to have left some of his toilet operations
unfinished, but with him the completion of them
took less time, and required no secrecy. From a
little grip-sack he produced a pair of linen cuffs
which he affixed publicly to his flannel shirt, and
drawing a comb from his breast coat-pocket, he
arranged his side locks and beard. Then he lit
a cigatf, opened the daily paper, and no doubt felt
satisfied with himself and the world in general. The
colonel, however, was the only quiet one of the party.
—
J2L ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
Chrissy Gilchrist had come out to have a good time,
and she meant to have it, and lavished her sunny
smiles and little pleasantries on all and sundry.
The guard of course came in for his share, and
not even the innocent newsboy escaped, but the
majority of them were reserved for Trevor Johns,
who though a little appalled at first at her frank
advances, soon fell into the spirit of the thing, and
resigned himself contentedly to his fate. Eeally you
know, in a somewhat enervating climate like the
spring climate of British Columbia, it is much nicer
to be made love to than to make love; it is pleasant,
in a way, to know that you can't do wrong, that
you may smoke as much as you like, be as rude as
ever you please, sail as near the wind in your words
as you know how to—the nearer the better—and yet
never offend. All this was a change to Trevor, and,
though I regret to record it, the change rather pleased
him; and, besides, Chrissy was undoubtedly, as he put
it to himself, "an out-of-the-way pretty girl," and
therefore, in spite of the looks of wonder and disgust
which he saw more than once on Pussy's face, he
yielded himself to the syren, and sitting with her
on the step outside the carriage, watched the rolling ■THE HIHED MAN.
45
Wooded hills   go   by,   and   the   blue   lakes   they
embosomed;  let the wind blow Chrissy's fair hair
across his eyes as the train swung round a curve, and
altogether flirted abominably, enjoyed himself amazingly, and gave poor Pussy the very worst heartache
she had had since their trip began.    Of course the
old man saw it, and was sorry for Pussy; but what
could he do ? After all, he was the most confirmed old
flirt himself, and was rattling away in a semi-paternal
and altogether affectionate manner with a blue-eyed
young woman almost young enough to be his granddaughter.    For the first time in her life, Pussy, in
spite of her beauty, seemed to have dropped out
of the running, so that when she arrived at Shawnigan
she found herself standing alone on the little platform gazing out upon the beautiful quiet lake, with
eyes which had in them the lustre that dew gives
to the meadows.    She was used to Trevor's careless
flirtations with every pretty woman he met, but until
that day  she had never known him  so  entirely
carried away as to leave her out in the cold.    In
addition to all this, there was an unpleasant feeling
which was new to her.    For once she felt out of
tune with her surroundings.
i'U 46
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
" I think, madame, that you are one of Mr. Snape's
party. May I put your things into the boat ?" said
a voice at her side, and as she turned with a start
to the speaker, Pussy Verulam looked into a face
that she had not seen for three years.
"Noel!"
" Good God, Pussy !" exclaimed the man who had
spoken, and then the hot blood rushed into his face,
and raising his hat instead of taking the eagerly
outstretched hand, he added, " I beg your pardon,
Miss Verulam, but I am only Ned Jones here, and I
implore yon to forget that I was ever any one else.
Since we must meet in the next few days, I may
have a chance of explaining; and, if not, forget?' And
taking up an armful of gear, he walked with it down
to the boat.
" Forget" is an easy word to say. If there was no
difficulty in forgetting, this world would be an easier
one to live in; but if we cannot forget, if we cannot
bid it cease, we can at any rate hide our pain, and
Pussy being a woman, and a well-bred one, hid hers
bravely, so that when the rest of the party gathered
round her, no one noticed her trouble. She was quiet
and distraite, tired with the journey, and piqued, THE HIRED MAN.
47
Trevor thought, at his neglect, and so he was careful
of her, and tried to make amends, but neither he nor
any one else could have guessed that all the time her
thoughts were wandering to that tall bronzed fellow
in a flannel shirt and sadly patched blue overalls,
who was doing Mr. Snape's bidding like a common
porter on the wharf.
" Who is going to row the boat across, Jones ?"
asked Snape.
11 thought some of the men in your party would,"
answered the man in overalls. " The boat is light,
and it's pleasant rowing."
" Pleasant rowing ? " snarled Snape; " what, with
so many people, and all that luggage! You couldn't
hire me to do it. Why the devil didn't you get that
fellow Winston to come over and help you ?"
"Mr. Winston is away down the lake, fishing/'
replied Jones. "I didn't know that you wanted
more help, and I don't know whether he would have
come if I had known."
" Didn't know whether he would have come!
He'd have come fast enough for a dollar," sneered
the estate-agent. "It's some time to remittance
day, isn't it ?"
MM II
48 ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
"I  don't  know much of Winston's   business/1
replied Jones, coolly; " except that his place is not
mortgaged, so that perhaps remittance day does not
^matter so much to him."    And Jones looked Snape
quietly, but squarely, in the face.
A remittance man he might be, and terribly down
in his luck, but he was not a man to be bullied by
every purse-proud cnr, for all that. Snape saw this,
and, to avoid a scene, asked more civilly—
" Well, what do you mean us to do ?"
" There is only one thing you can do," replied
Jones, beginning to pile all the mass of luggage
into the biggest boat of the two. " If some of these
gentlemen will scull the ladies over to my shack, I
will try to get the luggage across. I dare say I can
do it in time."
" Well, do that," replied Snape. " Do you fellows
mind pulling the ladies across ? I'm not much
good myself in anything except a properly built
boat."
" Mind! " replied young Esmond. " Why, of
course not. What do you take us for? and what
is the matter with the boat ? But I'll tell you what
we'll do.    Here is another we can hire for the trip,
^SBgHSSSfef^JM^dSwi THE HIRED MAN.
I dare say; and if Sumner will help me, and Miss
Verulam will steer, I'll back our boat against yours
for—a pipe of baccy. That's not a big-enough stake
to shock you, is it ?" he added laughingly to Pussy. ^
To this Snape was obliged to agree, but even after
the party had been divided, the load in each boat was
a heavy one, and it was soon apparent that the boat
in which Snape was performing in an extraordinarily
agricultural fashion had no chance, so that the race
was abandoned by mutual consent, and the whole
party rowed slowly along side by side, trailing a line
from the stern of either boat, and now and then
adding a silvery trout of half a pound or so to the
possibilities of dinner.
A brighter picture could hardly have been found
than Shawnigan lake presented that afternoon; the
two boat-loads of merrymakers, and the brilliant
sunshades of the girls, affording just the touch of
colour and Life which the great expanse of blue water,
set in its frame of pinewood, required; but Pussy
could not close her eyes to the blot on the picture, to
that great, heavy, flat-bottomed tub piled high with
baggage, which crawled along so painfully in their
wake, propelled by one strong man earning his bitter
E WWWtPMUaBBHBi
50
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
' bread in the sweat of his brow. Pussy could well
remember the time when her old playfellow would
have done harder work for the mere fun of doing it,
and knew well that no man in the party was likely to
be his match on lake or river; but she understood, too,
that things were different now, and her cheek which
had flushed at Snape's insolent words to him, paled
as she watched the heavy boat drop further and
further astern.
"By Jove! I say, what a shame! Why, Snape,
that fellow will break his heart trying to scull that
mountain of luggage across," cried Captain Sumner,
one of those charming fellows who carry with them to
all our colonies the true flavour of the dear old country
air, and who couldn't be other than gentlemen if they
tried to be. "If you'll let me, I'm going to lend
him a hand for the rest of the way."
" Oh, nonsense," replied Snape, " he's all right.
Stop and have some lunch at the island, and just
one cocktail, if the ladies will allow it, and then we
can put out a spinner, and try for some of the bigger
fish between here and the camp. Besides, you have
done your share of work already."
" That was only a preliminary canter, and I'm just THE HIRED MAN.
51
'beginning to feel like work," insisted Sumner.
" Intercede for me with our host, Miss Verulam. You
have no notion how necessary severe exercise is to
middle-aged mariners with a tendency to grow fat."
The girls laughed. Sumner could afford to jest at
the dangers of corpulence for some time yet; but
Pussy's eyes rested on him gratefully, as she
replied—
" Yes, let him go, Mr. Snape. I believe we may
get our dressing-bags before dinner if he helps; and I
don't know what would happen if the boatman broke
down halfway."
"He won't break down," said Snape; "these
fellows are like pack-ponies, not much to look at,
but they'll last all day. They are used to work, you
see."
" Do you know that I don't agree with you, Mr.
Snape," replied Pussy, quietly, though she was very
white; " and I am rather a judge of rowing. We live
on the Thames, yon know, at home, and it seems
to me that your man there" (and the words, in
spite of her quiet tone, had a bitter ring in them) " is
something to look at as an oar. Don't you think so,
Trevor ?"
Mm\ >3jjjit&-T.fty>aw*
52
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
" Yes; I'll bet he never learned to row in America/'
replied her cousin unthinkingly; and then, seeing his
mistake, he added apologetically, " I mean, colonel,
that there is a difference of style between our rowing
and yours, though of course I'm not judge enough to
know which is the better."
"Guess you needn't ask me, Mr. Johns. Never
had any time to waste on such things myself. All
the exercise I ever took when I was a young man
was between my rooms and my office, and I took
that in the elevated railway most days," replied the
downright man of business.
"Well, Miss Verulam, I'm going to help him
even at the risk of having my style compared
unfavourably to his," assented Sumner. " Don't be
unkindly critical. Put me on board, and bring
the boat back, Esmond," he added, and together
the two shoved off and boarded the freight-boat,
which was now crawling slowly past the island
where the rancher's " guests " sat at lunch.
But though, with Sumner's sturdy help, the
freight-boat made somewhat better time than
before, it was a good half-hour longer in reaching
the   camping-ground   than   the   other   two   boats.
» THE HIRED MAN.
53
That half-hour was an unlucky one for Noel. At
the head of the lake, in the cool shadow of some
great cedars, tents had been pitched for the whole
party; hammocks had been swung between the
trees, and a camp-fire lighted, not because one
was needed in June, but for the sake of effect when
the light waned and pipes were lighted. But it
had been agreed that even in Vancouver Island in
June it would hardly do to trust absolutely to the
weather with ladies^ in camp, so that it had been
arranged that the meals should be served and the
ladies' beds put up in Ned Jones's shack, which was
reasonably rainproof in places. To this shack the
ladies therefore went on landing, to superintend the
laying of the table. A few touches of their deft
fingers, a few wreaths of maiden-hair fern and Oregon
grape gathered in the woods, soon made, with the glass
and silver and white napery which they had brought,
quite a pretty show in the bare hut; and then, her
duties performed, Pussy turned with feminine
curiosity to inspect her old playfellow's home,
never thinking that there might be anything which
he would care to conceal from her. In all conscience, the shack was uncompromising enough in 54
ONE OF  THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
its ugly nakedness. Eough pine poles laid on top
of one another, the crevices chinked with mud and
moss, made its walls; cedar slats roofed it, un-
planed planks floored it, and its only ornaments
were a few stags' heads, shot in the woods near by,
and a couple of ill-tanned panther-skins. An
inner room, into which the girls were shown to
dress for dinner (!), was more interesting and better
kept. It was Ned Jones's own den, and it showed
traces of another life than that its owner now led.
Tacked to the rough walls, without frames, were his
household gods, a score or so of photographs,
photographs of people who surely never expected
to look down upon a kinsman amid such beggarly
surroundings. Almost every man in that little
gallery wore a uniform; every woman bore about
her the stamp of a civilization older than that of
the West. To Pussy, the faces were most of them
faces of old friends, and one of the photographs put
up at the head of his rough cot, she turned
hurriedly with its face to the wall. She was only
sixteen when that photograph was taken, but it
was still too like her for her to run the risk—for
his sake—of having it recognized by any  of her THE HIRED MAN.
55
companions. Beyond the photographs, an old school
" blazer" thrown on his bed, and a tin tub hanging
on a nail, there was nothing else in the room
suggestive of home. Unfortunately, Noel had not
expected any one but Victorians in Snape's party,
and they of course would know what "baching it
in the woods" means, so he had taken no trouble
to conceal anything. On a swinging shelf of rough
lumber, hung on strips of deer-skin, was a motley
collection of pipes (the meerschaum he never
smoked for fear of breaking it, and the briar which
he had almost burnt away with constant use), a
chunk of T. and B. tobacco, and an empty bottle
labelled, "Walker's Imperial Club Eye." There
were two others like it on the floor of the room, and
all three were empty.
So, then, this was the end of it! This the real
explanation, whatever else he might tell her, "if the
^opportunity offered!" This was what Noel Johns
called ranching, and this was why Noel Johns had
become the hired man to Mr. Jacob Snape! Sick
and sorry, Pussy turned away. Girl-like, she could
not understand. To such as Pussy Verulam, the
coarser   vices,  such   as   drink,  are   unintelligible. 56
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
But she had seen the wreck, and she thought that
now she saw the rocks which had caused it, and
the memory of that last night at Kingdon came
back to her, and the contrast between then and
now was almost too hideously vivid for her to
endure. If she had only known the truth, she
would have known that those three miserable
empty bottles represented the total consumption of
alcohol in the shack for the last two years, and that
their contents had been drained by Noel and his
brother ranchers when Shawnigan woods were deep
in Christmas snows to the old folks at home.
But she did not know; she didn't even notice the
old wax drippings on them which showed why they
had been kept in a house where there were no other
candlesticks. All she felt was that the Noel she
knew was dead; Ned Jones lived in his place. All
she hoped for was that " the old man " would not
discover his fall. (   57   )
CHAPTEE IV.
THE OAMP AT SHAWNIGAN.
" Say, Pussy, did you notice how like that hired man
is to your young man ?"
It was Chrissy Gilchrist who spoke from the
hammock in which she was lazily swinging herself
after dinner. She had known Miss Verulam just two
days, but she called her " Pussy " already, and spoke
of her " young man " as if Miss Verulam were a cook,
and he a police-constable.
"My young man! Miss Gilchrist, who do you
mean ?"
" Why, who should I mean now, Miss Innocence ?
Mr. Trevor Johns, of course. Ain't he your young
man ? because if not, say so. He's just too sweet to
be left loose any longer, if you don't claim him."
Pussy Verulam made no answer, but the firelight
which fell in a broad wavering bar across her face as w*m
58
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
she leaned up against a great cedar pole, made her
look as if her whole face was aflame. The bar of red
light passed her and flickered away across beds of
waving maiden-hair ferns (which were knee-deep in
places) and over fallen logs, until it touched the group
of men, where they sat smoking their first after-
dinner pipe. Pussy was almost afraid that they
must have overheard what had been said, but they
were out of earshot, even of Miss Gilchrist's high-
pitched voice.
" Well, didn't you hear me, or are you dreaming
of the other one ?" persisted Pussy's persecutor. " I
believe I'll have to tell Mr. Johns that you are a bit
gone on the hired man."
" I wish that you wouldn't talk nonsense," answered
Pussy, coldly.    " I don't like it."
" Oh, come now, you ain't mad with me, are you ?
In America, girls like talking of their fiances. Don't
they do the same in the old country ?"
11 really don't know," pleaded Pussy. " This is
only my first, you know," she added, laughing a
little.
" Your first ? You don't say ? Why, now, I was
engaged to my first when I wasn't more'n fifteen. THE CAMP AT SHAWNIGAN.
59
That was Abel J. Walsh, in the soap business. But
parper just waltzed in, and Abel J. had to waltz
out."
"Poor Mr. Gilchrist!" remarked Pussy, sympathetically.      T hope you haven't tried him much."
" I guess it don't try him any, now; he's got used
to it. You see it's always been Hke that. The boys
come around and take you out for buggy rides and to
the theatre, and give you flowers and things, and then
when they drive yon home they talk nonsense, and
ask you things, and sometimes you get kinder tired
of saying 'no.' But when it comes to business,
their way of fixin' things don't suit parper, so he
jest romps in and fires them out."
I And what do you do ? I
" Oh, I don't do anything. Of course I'm sorry for
the ' boys'; but I do hope parper will give me fair
notice when he isn't going to take a hand in the
game any longer. It would make a whole heap of
difference."
Pussy laughed, but the gravity of the questions
which might arise if " parper" should suddenly
vacate his office, cast a temporary gloom over the
Seattle belle.   Pussy hoped for a moment that her
m 60
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
own affairs had escaped the fair Chrissy's memory,
but she was doomed to disappointment.
" Well," she heard her friend say at last, " you
ain't answered my question. Dont you think Mr.
Johns is very like the hired man ? "
" Is he ? Well, perhaps he is; but how quick of
you to notice it! I shouldn't have thought you
would have had time to."
" Because I was so busy with your Mr. Johns ?
Now, don't be mean, Pussy; you'll have enough of
him by-and-by; and he was the only man in the
party who had eyes for any one but you. But I
made time to have almost as good a look at the hired
man as you had, and that's saying a good deal. They
might almost have been brothers, those two, if Mr.
Jones hadn't been so brown, and hard, and dressed
like any ordinary dead beat."
" Dead beat! What is a dead beat ? Forgive my
ignorance, but yon know you told me I was only a
(what was it ?) tenderfoot, myself."
"A dead beat is a Here, Captain Sumner,"
cried Miss Gilchrist, as the men came strolling into
the firelight, " help me learn Miss Verulam American,
She don't know what a dead beat is."
|- THE CAMP AT SHAWNIGAN. 61
" Shocking, Miss Verulam!" laughed Sumner. " I
thought that nowadays all young ladies learned the
modern languages at their finishing schools. A
dead beat is an interesting species of the genus
tramp, variety whisky soak. He is found in most
Jarge cities, and is one of the few varieties of his
species who try to get into the lockup and can't.
The police won't collect him; he is too common,
and utterly unremunerative. But who are you
calling a dead beat, Miss Gilchrist? None of us,
I hope."
" No, yon ain't as bad as that, though yon did stay
half an hour too long over your pipes, and nearly
gave ns girls time to quarrel. We were saying that
Mr. Jones, your hired man, Mr. Snape, would have
been very like Mr. Johns there, if he hadn't been
dressed so like a dead beat."
" By Jove! you are right. I noticed it myself at
once. You must see your double, Johns; and I can
tell you he isn't one to be ashamed of. The man's
a gentleman, if he does dress like a dead beat/'
exclaimed Sumner.
"Yes, now you mention it," chimed in Snape,
" there is a likeness, and it's odd, too, as the names 62
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
are so alike. A distant cousin who has forgotten
how to spell his own name, eh, Johns ?"
"Perhaps. All Americans are our cousins, you
know," replied Trevor, carelessly; " but you have all
got the advantage of me. I've never had a glimpse
of his face yet. Where is he now ? I don't see him
about anywhere."
" Oh, I expect he's gone down to smoke his pipe
by the Chinaman's fire," replied Snape,
" By Gad! it seems hard luck to turn the fellow
out of his own shack, and not to offer him a place by
the fire," remarked Trevor. "Let ns ask him to
come up, and tell us all about the fishing."
"He wouldn't come if we.did. Better leave him
alone," suggested Snape. "He's more at home
amongst the Chinamen than he would be here."
Captain Sumner half opened his mouth to reply,
but shut it again, leaving the words unsaid. He did
not know Snape well, though he was his guest, but
he liked him best when he was talking of anything
but his hired man.
To change the conversation, some one asked what
the plans were for the next day.
" I haven't made any definite plans," replied Snape.
ff' THE CAMP AT SHAWNIGAN.
63
" I always hate plans when I am out for a holiday;
but those who want to loaf can loaf here; those who
want to catch big fish can go on up to Satlam.
You'll go to Satlam, I suppose, Mr. Verulam ?"
" Yes, Satlam for me, though if it was not for aU
these young men who cut me out, I would of course
rather stay with the ladies."
" Oh, I dare say, old man! " cried Trevor, who in
secret envied Mr. Verulam his freedom; " but yon
won't get the ladies to forgive your desertion, will
they, Miss Gilchrist ? "
" No, I won't, anyhow. I just relied on him and
parper to take care of me, and now the only two
men in the party worth anything are going. I shan't
even say good night to you. Come along, Mrs.
Snape." And Chrissy tumbled out of her hammock,
collected what she called her ictas (i.e. fan,
handkerchief, and other trifles), and made her way
to the side of a stout, useful-looking lady who had
been vainly endeavouring to keep herself awake for
the last half-hour. Poor Mrs. Snape! hers was indeed
a hard lot in camp. Nature had created her to mend
clothes, aboHsh spiders' webs, remove grease-spots,
and generally keep her home spick and span.    In 64
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
her own line, she was unrivalled and indefatigable,
ready to begin work at seven every morning, and to
keep at it, with three intervals for the consumption
of square meals, until nine in the evening. But at
or a little before nine Mrs. Snape's nature rebelled;
her jaw began to drop, her eyes to close, and, if
seated in her own armchair, her whole body
collapsed comfortably amongst the cushions, and
she slept peacefuUy until it was bedtime. But
in camp nothing could possibly be kept neat.
There were spiders' webs everywhere; caterpillars
in most places; and in the evening she dared not
recline in a hammock, because that would mean
instant slumber sound and noisy; whereas, if she sat
on a log, she was in constant danger of tumbling
off. She had fallen off once already, but luckily that
had been before the men had joined the party. For
the last five minutes Chrissy had been watching her
anxiously.
She had seen her turban tip coquettishly over her
ear, she had seen her toupe slide two inches further
down her nose, she had seen a bland smile spread all
over her dear fat old face as her ball of wool rolled
merrily from her lap into the red ashes, and by the
i'a THE CAMP AT SHAWNIGAN.
65
time Chrissy reached her, her feet had already given
two convulsive Httle kicks. Another second and
Mrs. Snape would have passed over into the shadow
which lay beyond the great log on which she had
perched, but Chrissy saved her, and, all unconscious of
the imminent danger from which she had escaped,
the good old lady gathered her chicks under her
wing, and plodded away towards the shack. The
road thither was a long one, and in the dark a very
rough one, as the poor lady found to her sorrow,
breaking her shins over logs, and slipping into bog-
holes over her sturdy ankles, while her undutiful
spouse left her severely alone, attaching himself to
Chrissy, and thus giving Pussy the opportunity she
wanted for five minutes' conversation with Trevor.
" Give me your arm, Trevor," she said; " I don't
want to tumble over these logs and break my nose;
and," she added in a lower tone, " drop behind the
others a little. I have something I want to tell
you."
" What is it, sweetheart ? I hope I am not in
disgrace," replied Trevor, doubtfully.
"Does your conscience pricl
jk you, sir
No, I'm
not   going   to   scold.      I   have   something
more
.-m. 66
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
important  to talk about.    Do you remember three
years ago singing ' Anld Lang Syne' at Kingdon ? "
" What, when Noel went away ?   Of course I do."
" Do you know where Noel is now ?"
" No; that is just what we want to find out, isn't
it ? Why, have you had the luck to hear of him
from any of these people to-night, Pussy ?"
" Yes, I heard of Noel to-night."
"You did! Who told yon? Where is he?"
asked Trevor, eagerly.
" Mr. Snape expected that he had gone off to the
Chinamen's camp, because he would feel more at
home there than he would with us," quoted Pussy,
quietly.
" What do yon mean, dear ? Snape doesn't know
Noel?"
" Oh, Trevor, can't yon understand ? Mr. Snape
doesn't know Noel Johns, but he hires Ned Jones,
and Ned Jones is Noel Johns. No wonder the
hired man is something like you, Trevor, is it ? "
" Pussy, are you chaffing ? Noel is somewhere
west, ranching."
"Well, can you get further west than this?
This is ranching,  or whisky-soaking,  or being a THE CAMP AT SHAWNIGAN.
67
dead beat, or any other vile thing these people like
to call it," cried the girl passionately. " That man
in the flannel shirt, who pulled the freight boat
across, was our Noel."
Trevor Johns had his faults, but jealousy was not
one of them. He knew the true tittle woman on his
arm too well to doubt her, though he could see now
that the sweet lips were quivering, and the great
grey eyes had overflowed at last. In the shadow
of the cedars, he passed his arm round her waist,
and pressed her closer to him, and then, true to
his nature, turned to her for advice. Trevor was
always ready to row, but he had learned already
to expect Pussy to steer.
" What are we to do ? We can't let him stay like
that."
"We cannot alter anything at present. All I
want yon to do is to be careful not to betray him.
He doesn't want to be recognized before these
people, so we must not recognize him."
" All right; but I can't see why he need mind.
A fellow can't help being poor, and I don't suppose
he need be ashamed of us."
" He probably has his reasons, Trevor; but, at any 68
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
rate, he doesn't want to be known as Noel Johns.
That should be enough for us."
" All right, I'll keep your secret, and I'll tell the
old man; but I hope that fellow Snape will keep a
civil tongue in his head. I don't much fancy seeing
my cousin ordered about by him."
"If Noel can stand it, we can. Good night,
Trevor."
" Good night, dear," he said, and the next moment
he saw her willowy figure pass through the light of
the open doorway. The door was closed, and the
light went out, and he found himself in a darkness which was intense. There was no moon, and
the trees stood so close together that you could not
see the stars, while the light of the camp-fire was
for the moment hidden. As Trevor and Pussy had
made their way to the shack, they had had the
glimmer from the open doorway to guide them. It
was not much, but when he turned his back upon
it, and passed over the path again, without light and
alone, Trevor Johns realized how great an influence
any guiding light, and any companionship, has in
shortening and making smooth our paths.
Suddenly   his   reverie was   broken   by a   wild THE CAMP AT SHAWNIGAN.
69
unearthly laugh, which came from somewhere in
the middle of the lake. It was only a loon calling,
and Trevor was woodsman enough to recognize the
cry, though he wondered at it, at such an hour, but
it made him shudder nevertheless, and mutter as he
hurried towards the camp-fire," Great Heaven ! if he
has been alone here for three years, I wonder that
he has not gone mad."
He had some reason for his thought. The depths
of the cedar forests and the still lakes they hide
and overshadow, are almost as full of horror when
the sun is hidden, and no voice of man breaks their
silence, as they are full of delight when the sunlight dances on their waters and girls' laughter
echoes down their aisles. A lonely life in the heart
of them, with only regret for a comrade, is such a
foretaste of hell as might break the spirit even of a
remittance man of twenty-three.
fciUf]
—d 70
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
CHAPTEE V.
THE FOOL-HEN S PLAY.
The next day the old man went np to Satlam to
fish, accompanied by Colonel Gilchrist and one or
two of the others. The old man meant business.
He had heard that British Columbian salmon would
not take a fly, but he didn't believe it. At any rate,
he meant to try them with such an assortment of
flies, jock scotts, silver doctors, and so forth, with
such skill and patience as he thought had never
been given to them before. Surely, he thought,
American salmon, as he called them, must yield to
British skill. The colonel, too, meant business, but
not with that gigantic " fishing-pole " which he was
"toting along." No, no! He would have a try
with " bugs " and " hoppers," just to pass away the
time, and maybe he would catch as many salmon
as Mr. Verulam; but he carried his fly-book in his THE  FOOL-HEN'S PLAY.
71
pocket too, and the fish he was after was bigger than
any salmon that ever went up the Frazer. Colonel
Gilchrist's fly-book was the prospectus of a mining
company in which he had an interest in Assineboia,
and before he went home he hoped to have enticed
with it a good many pounds of British capital into
his possession. But he said very little at first. In
his way Colonel Gilchrist was an exceedingly skilful
and experienced fisherman, and he knew the danger
of showing himself to his fish before he had hooked
him. As a matter of fact, neither of the anglers had
much success on that first expedition. They showed
the fish their lures ; they could see the great fellows
swimming about all around them, but they never got
a rise.
Meanwhile, those who had stayed behind in camp,
passed the time pleasantly enough, boating and
bathing, fishing in a lazy kind of way, and flirting
just as much as was good for them. But day after
day went by, and, in spite of Pussy's efforts, she never
got a chance of speaking to Noel alone. Whatever
had to be done about the camp, he did it; but his
work seemed to be done, the wood chopped, the
stores brought from the station, before any of the 72
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE,
party were astir; and after breakfast he was always
away with the men fishing or guiding them to some
likely place for bear, or bigger fish than those to be
found near the camp. As a rule, he went out with
Sumner or young Esmond, for of late Trevor and
Snape had been inseparable, though they rarely
seemed to catch anything; and, indeed, their chief
interest appeared to be in the receipt of the morning
paper, and in certain letters which Snape received
almost daily. As Trevor did not tell her what these
letters were about, the girl did not inquire, but she
could not help seeing that they appeared to contain
exceedingly pleasant news for Snape, in which Trevor
seemed to share. For some reason, which she could
not define even to herself, Pussy liked her host less
and less day by day, and would have been glad had
he and Trevor been less inseparable.
It was the last day of their stay at Shawnigan
when Pussy met Noel again. The girl had been
away by herself in the woods gathering a great
bunch of ferns and the sweet-scented deersfoot, as a
souvenir of her visit to the lake. The cedar swamp
in which she was resting was heavy with the sweet
scents of June, and the afternoon sunlight came in THE  FOOL-HEN'S PLAY.
73
broken bars through the warm darkness which the
great trees made. Pussy had had a long ramble and
was tired, and not quite certain of her way to camp,
so for awhile she leaned against the trunk of a huge
cedar which lay prone across the logging trail.
"Yon will have to go a long way round, Miss
Verulam, unless yon think that you conld climb over
with my help," said a voice above her; and, looking
up, the girl saw Noel, whose moccasined feet had
come along the great trunk as noiselessly as a bear's.
" It's higher than my head, Noel; but you have
helped me to climb higher than that before now."
" Why harp on the past, Miss Verulam ?" replied
the man; " when one has lost heaven, it is better to
let him forget it."
" I say ' no' to that; and as to referring to the past,
yon promised to tell me yonr story since that last
night at Kingdon. I have obeyed yon in keeping
your secret, now keep your promise to me."
" There is no story to tell—no story, at least, that
you could understand."
" Noel, did I not understand in the old days ?
Why not now ? Why should our old friendship
have changed ?" 74
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
| Because yon are no longer Pussy to me, nor I
Noel.   And as to promises "
" It's not necessary to break all, because yon have
broken one," said the girl, bitterly.
" Broken one ?" he asked almost angrily; and then
softening his tone at once, he added, " but I dare say.
What was it ? I promised to write, and didn't write;
or to make a fortune and come home, and I never
came ?"
" We didn't blame yon for not writing; the old
man thought yon were too busy. Is this the sort of
thing yon have been doing all the time ?"
"Yes, almost all the time. It's hard work, isn't
it ? and if I keep on steadily until the day of judgment, it may be remunerative. Did yon notice my
potato patch ? I felled fifty trees, some of them ten
feet through, to make that."
" But why do it ? Surely there is something
better than this to do out here! "
" Oh yes, there is. I shoot game for the market,
for instance, in the winter.    That pays."
" Pays! Yes, pays, perhaps, for bread and
meat."
"Well, not always, Miss Verulam.    Bacon and THE  FOOL-HEN'S  PLAY.
75
beans are about my form, as a rule, but cold potatoes
will do at a pinch. Yon needn't cook them more
than once every three days, if yon boil a good potfnl
at a time."
"And yet you waste your money on that vile
whisky!"
The words were hardly out of Pussy's mouth
before she repented them. After all, this was a man
to whom she was speaking, and not her old playfellow Noel. But the angry light faded from Noel's
eyes sooner than the colour from her cheeks, and he
answered quietly. " Did the man who told you that
I drank tell yon that I gambled too ? If not, ask
Snape; he can tell yon how I lost every penny, and
why the beggar they call Ned Jones starves on his
mortgaged farm."
So then it was true, after all; she had not misread the signs; the thumbed cards and the empty
bottles. Though her heart sank and her throat felt
as if it would burst with the sobs which she must
restrain, she could say nothing, She had hoped
that she had been mistaken, that all could be
explained. Now she knew why Noel, who went away
three years ago to conquer the world, was but a 76
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
land-shark's drudge, and in the bitterness of her
heart she walked wearily away from him without
attempting to reply.
"Pussy!"
The old name, and a tone in the speaker's voice
which made his cry sound like a prayer, made her
turn.
" Well, Noel."
" Why will you insist on knowing all about a poor
devil who has wrecked his own life ? "
"Forgive me, forgive me, Noel. I ought not to
have asked, but it is so hard to forget the dear old
days, and now- "
" Well, and even now, Pussy, think the best of me.
I've been a fool, but never worse, never worse, I
swear." And he caught her hands in his, and drew her
to him that he might see whether he had driven the
doubting trouble from her eyes.
" I believe yon," she said simply; " but oh, Noel,
why can you not be as strong as Trevor ?"
At Trevor's name he dropped her hands. " You
cannot jndge a man's strength until it has been
tried," he said coldly.
" That was not spoken like a Johns.    You know THE FOOL-HEN'S ?LAY. 77
as well as I do that nothing would ever tempt
Trevor to gamble, or—or "
" Drink; out with it, dear. Well, perhaps, if Trevor
never drank more than I have done in the last few
years, it would do him no harm. But there, forgive
me, Pussy; I'm not as good a fellow as my cousin,
and never was. Fortune is right to give him all the
prizes; but give me back your friendship, and try to
forget my fall."
The two had been walking slowly down the trail
as they talked, and had been so deeply engrossed in
each other that they had taken no notice of a
constant cheeping in the ferns by their side, nor of
certain little fluffy brown things which had been
trying to tumble out of their way as well as their
nngrown wings and feeble legs would let them.
Now, however, Noel and Pussy had come too close to
the brood, and what was this that they saw ? A bird
about as large as a partridge was rushing along the
trail towards them, its breast on the ground, its
feathers erect with fury, its eyes ablaze, and its beak
wide open. Half-frightened, the girl drew back, and
as she did so, the creature dashed right np to them,
hissing strangely as it came, and absolutely struck
mm 78
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
right and left at Noel's overalls : a thing of less than
two pounds' weight, which, with insignificant beak
and feeble claws, was actually contesting the road
with an armed giant a hundred times its weight.
" Steady, old lady, steady!" said Noel, looking
laughingly at his little foe, " I'm not going to hurt
your little ones. Be off with yon, will you ?" and he
tried to drive the bird gently away; but in spite of
all his efforts, the gallant little mother hung round
him, menacing him all the time, until the last of her
clumsy chicks had reached a place of safety. Then
she thought of herself; there was a quick rush of
brown wings, and she was gone. The forest play was
over.
"What a plucky little darling! What is it,
Noel ?" the girl asked, when the bird had flown.
" A grouse with chickens. Yes, they are as plucky
and self-sacrificing as anything in the world, I believe.
That is why they call them ' fool-hens/ I suppose."
" Fool-hens! I wish men had some of their
folly."
"So do I, Pussy. I suppose the best of them
have some of their courage; but self-sacrifice is the
virtue of your sex, isn't it ?"
i,.
aHnraBSaa THE FOOL-HEN'S  PLAY.
79
" Are yon laughing at me, or do you mean it ? "
" Of course I mean it."
" And do you think that yours is the nobler virtue ?
Do yon think it harder to dare than to deny yourself?"
" God forbid! but then, Pussy, I never had a very
high opinion of mere courage. If a fellow has it,
he can't help it, and it's no particular credit to him ;
if he is an Englishman, and hasn't got it, he ought
to be drowned as a lusus naturw."
Pussy laughed.
" Well, I won't go as fitf as that, but I do think
that most of us might take that fool-hen for a
model, without losing our self-respect."
" Yon don't know the fool-hen as I -do, Pussy.
When she has no chicks, she thoroughly deserves
her name. Why, that bird has so much confidence
in man's natural integrity that she will sit for an
hour on the limb of a pine for boys to throw stones
at her, and will never wake up to her mistake until
she lies a mass of crumpled feathers and broken
bones at the foot of the tree. I think, if you knew
my history, you might fancy me too like that fool-
hen." 80
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
" I would forgive any folly for such self-sacrifice
as hers."
"Would yon? Unfortunately every one has a
chance of making a fool of himself; the chances of
performing acts of heroism are rare in this ugly
work-a-day world; and as for self-sacrifice, some of
us are so beggared of all that makes life worth
living that we have nothing left to sacrifice. Can
yon fancy what it is to live year after year a nameless man in these woods, with nothing to do but to
fell trees and make a hideous mess of nature? to
stand at night, when the day's work is over,
amongst the trees yon have felled, and see the dark
come down amongst the stiff rows of pines ? Pines,
pines everywhere, and beyond, through the tops, a
glimpse of more pines; and somewhere through
them, a little inland sea, as still as the forest and as
dreary."
" But, Noel, you used to be so fond of the woods
in old times."
"And so I am still of the live woods, but these
are dead and dumb. Everything in them is the
same for ever and ever, and everything is dumb.
Why, even the creatures get cowed.   Who ever heard THE FOOL-HEN'S PLAY.
81
a bird sing here ? The very deer come like ghosts ;
the great bears pass like shadows. But come, Pussy,
yon must get back into the firelight. It is getting
too cheerless for yon in this cursed timber." And
so saying, he led her along the great fallen cedar,
which made a broad, raised roadway for them for
nearly a hundred yards above the underbrush, and so
down on to a trail and to the camp. Just before
reaching camp, Noel asked her, "Is Trevor a good
business man ?"
"I don't know," she answered; "I suppose he is.
I know he thinks he is; but Marshall, of course, does
most of his work for him^&t home. Why do you
ask?"
"Because they tell me that yon are going to
marry him, little friend," he answered gently, looking away from her; " and because it is necessary
for a man who would keep his own for those who
have a right to it, to be better business men here
than at home. Here yon can trust no one.
Tell Trevor that, and tell him that I include
even his friend Snape in those I would have him
distrust."
" But Snape is his host.    Whatever he may do to
G
i 82
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
others, surely he would not mislead a guest and a
friend."
"Perhaps you are right, but caution Trevor.
Stay ! Tell him, from me, that Snape was my best
friend once, and my host very often, but his hospitality cost me more than a yacht would have done,
and now I am his ' hired man.' Good night, Miss
Verulam/' he added, raising his cap as he spoke;
"yon can find your way home, I think." And so
saying, he turned and vanished down a side trail
which led away from the camp, leaving Pussy to
walk the rest of the distance with a couple of her
friends who had come out from the camp to meet
her.
That night, when he lay somewhere outside the
light of the camp-fires smoking his pipe in the
silence, which had grown on him as the moss had
grown on the cedars, she had to bear her part in the
pleasant raillery of the picnic-party; but when the
lights were out, and the camp was hushed, she lay
awake wondering long into the night, and was no
nearer the truth at the end of it than she was when
she first met him.
That he was ruined she saw; that he was heart-
» THE FOOL-HEN'S PLAY.
83
broken she felt; and yet he was the same old Noel,
and neither face nor bearing accorded with what she
took to be his admission, that his ruin was of his
own making. He had said he was a gambler, and
yet he looked neither gambler nor sot.
*m ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
CHAPTEE VI.
VENGEANCE IS MINE."
The day after Pussy's talk with Noel, the party
broke up; the naval men had their duties to resume,
Snape had business to attend to, and Chrissy Gilchrist
was wearying for her hotel and town .life. No forest
thing is more impatient of the restraint of captivity
than is your true American of the " pleasures " of
the country. There are, of course, grand exceptions
to this rule as to every other; there are not only
men, but gallant women, who have crossed the
plains, in the old dangerous days, in prairie schooners,
and have lived half their lives on the very edge of the
desert, but Americans as a race are exceptionally
gregarious, and ninety-nine out of every hundred
of them would crowd into cities, however mean and
beggarly, if they had the chance. A proof of this
spirit is afforded, if one be needed, by the fabulous 'VENGEANCE IS MINE."
85
prices paid for suburban lands, whilst infinitely
better lands for farming, which might be bought for
next to nothing, are left unoccupied. But I am
wandering from my story.
Owing to some miscalculation, the whole of our
picnic-party arrived at Shawnigan platform more
than an hour before the train was due. Snape of
course blamed that fool Jones.
"One would have thought that as the coming
of the train is the only event here in the day, you
might have known when it left," he grumbled.
"It used to leave about this time of day, but
I suppose the train times have been altered lately,"
replied Jones, indifferently. " I don't trouble the
train much myself. When I want to go to Victoria,
I generally walk."
"The deuce you do! Isnt it an awfully long
tramp ?" asked Trevor.
"Twenty-five or thirty miles, I suppose; but I
would rather walk that distance through the woods
than earn the fare, a dollar fifty, in any other way
that I know of."
f By Gad! I believe yon are right. I wonder if
you would mind my coining with you, if you are
^^MrriMiiMii
m 86
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
going in to-day ?" asked Trevor, glancing at the small
pack which Noel had strapped on his shoulders,
and thinking that the walk would give him the
opportunity he wanted of talking quietly to his
cousin, without any chance of interruption.
" I should like it," replied Noel, warmly; " only
it is a long way to town from here."
" But there are plenty of stations, are there not,
between here and there ?"
" Yes, five or six; but you will have to go right
through with it if yon start. There is only one
train a day from Shawnigan to Victoria."
" Yon are all right, Johns, the station-master says
the train isn't due for another hour and a half, and
she'U be an hour and a half late by the time she
gets to the ' Summit' to-day. So, if you start now,
yon can catch the train there. Yon will have had
enough of it in seven or eight miles, I expect," said
Sumner. " Come and have a drink before yon start.
Won't yon have one too ?" he added pleasantly to
Jones. "You'll be dry enough before yon get to
Victoria."
" No, thank you, Captain Sumner; there's lots of
water on the way,  and  I   never  touch  anything "VENGEANCE  IS  MINE."
87
stronger nowadays except to drink a toast in once
a year."
" By George! that's going a long while between
drinks," replied Sumner; and Pussy, who overheard
the answer, felt a twinge of conscience when she
remembered what a hurry she had been in to judge
her old playfellow.
" I say, why shouldn't we all walk as far as the
first station ?" suggested Sumner. " What do yon say,
ladies ? It's either that or a three hours' wait here;
and the station-master says the line is a regular
garden of wild flowers."
" Oh, let ns go, then !" cried Pussy, thoughtlessly.
" What do yon say, Miss Gilchrist ? "
"Well, I'll do my possible to get the guard to
pick np your bodies as we pass, but yon don't catch
Christina Gilchrist walking seven miles when she
can ride in a car."
After a little more discussion, it was arranged that
Trevor and Pussy should, at any rate, walk with Noel
as far as the first station, and there rejoin the rest
of the party, and it looked for a moment as if the
three old friends would at last get a chance of being
alone together for a couple of hours; Sumner and Villi!!!
i
88 ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
Esmond having gallantly decided to stay with the
beautiful American. But if either of the three
rejoiced, the joy was premature. For the last day
or two Snape had hung perpetually upon Trevor's
heels, as if he feared to leave him alone, and that
more especially when Jones was about. That he
had guessed the relationship which existed between
them was of course impossible, but he had marked
the likeness, and had been shrewd enough to see
that there was a natural sympathy existing between
his hired man and his guests, in which he himself
had no share.
He knew, too, what Jones might say of him and
his dealings, if he chose to; and, even at the cost
of a walk which he hated, he meant to prevent any
conversation which might interfere with his little
plans for Mr. Trevor Johns' future benefit; so, to
every one's surprise, and Noel's intense disgust,
he expressed his intention of joining the walking
party.
" What, you going to walk ?" remarked Sumner.
" I thought you told ns that the only way for a
rational man to travel was outside of a horse ?"
"So it is, but I haven't got a horse here; and as ! VENGEANCE IS MINE,5
89
this is the last day of our holiday, I must make the
most of it. I shall have to sit all day in my office
for the next month or two. Come on, Johns. Lead
the way for ns, Jones."
This was by no means what either Noel or his
cousin had bargained for, bnt there was no escape
for them, and the grin on Snape's face showed that
he knew it. With a mnttered malediction, Noel
shouldered his pack, and plodded steadily along the
line, getting his reward now and then in being
allowed to help Pussy over the trestle-bridges, or
in showing her some fresh fern or flower on the
side of the track.
It was whilst the others were on the line, and
whilst Noel and Pussy were busy digging up some
roots of the brilliant columbine, that she had a
chance of asking him, "Are yon really walking
to save the fare ? Are things as bad as that,
Noel?"
" As bad, Pussy, and worse. I am utterly stone-
broke," he replied, bending over the roots.
" But you've got your pay to draw from Snape
for yonr week's work."
" Not much!    I mean that is not quite so.    My
I'M
ttSs&^tm
!;;# 90
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
claim for work done is set off against the interest
I owe him on his confounded mortgage."
" But you've got the house and land," she
persisted.
" Yes, to-day I have; but he has been taking foreclosure proceedings against me, and that won't be
mine long."
" But, Noel, can't yon "
"No, I can't, Pussy. I can't do anything but
go; and, what is more, that is just what I want to
do. Better be stone-broke, and begin afresh as a
day-labourer, than go on eating my heart out in
that place; besides, I couldn't go back now that you
and the others have been there."
"Why not?"
" Mere sentiment, but I couldn't. I was trying
to forget, and you have made me remember. But
don't grieve, little sister. Yon have only done me
good, as yon always did."
" But what will yon do, Noel ? Yon must let my
father help yon.    Oh, how I wish he was here !"
" No, Pussy, that is just the one thing for which I
would never forgive you. I know, of course I know,
that it would be the natural thing for a remittance 'VENGEANCE  IS MINE."
91
man like myself to sponge on his friends, and I
know the old man would like to help me, but it
can't be. Without a little self-respect I couldn't live.
Leave me that, dear."
Pussy was silent, except for an odd choking
sound which the man's quick ear caught in a
moment.
" Good God! child, you are not crying for me ?
What a brute I am to have made yon! "
"Don't mind me, Noel," he heard her falter; "go
on gathering up those roots, or the others will notice.
I shall be all right in a minute."
o
And so she was, poor brave little heart, or as
nearly right as she could contrive to appear, with
cold white cheeks, and eyes which tried to smile
to hide the tears in them.
A minute later the others joined them, and Trevor
good-naturedly took charge of the bundle of roots,
saying—
" Yon can't take two packs, Jones. Yon have
a big-enongh one already."
" Yes, you've got a big pack for a night's stay in
Victoria," added Snape.   " What have yon got in it ?"
"My blankets,  a dozen rounds of ammunition,
I- ;li 92
ONE OP THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
an old pair of boots, a clean shirt, and some photographs ; aU mine under any circumstances, I believe,
Mr. Snape," retorted Noel, with an emphasis not lost
on two of his hearers.
" Oh yes, that's all right, quite right. I suppose
you don't mean to go back to the shack for a bit ?"
" No, not for some time." And then, as if an idea
had occurred to him, Noel raised his voice a trifle,
to be sure that Pussy would hear him. " I've heard
of a place down the line on the mainland. The pay
won't amount to much, but the work wiU be
regular."
It was a lie this, of course, but a very kindly
meant lie; and the flush on the girl's face, and the
glad look in her eyes, would have repaid Noel for
a worse one. Besides, it was always possible that
he might get such work. At any rate, he was going
to the mainland with his last few dollars, to look
for it.
"And what are you going to do about your
remittance, Mr. Jones ? Have you made arrangements about that, or can I see to having it and your
mail forwarded to you ? You'd better come in, and
see me about that to-morrow/' said Snape.
w "VENGEANCE  IS MINE."
93
It was the first time that Snape had used the
"Mr." as a prefix to his hired man's name, but
it had jnst dawned upon him that perhaps he had
not got the last drop of blood ont of his man yet,
and whilst there was a drop left, it might still be
worth while to be civil. Besides, if the farm did not
sell for the mortgage (and though it was worth more,
Snape meant to take care to buy it in for a good deal
less), there would always be Jones's personal covenant
and his remittance to fall back upon.
" I am sorry to say the remittance has been stopped,
Snape," replied Noel, his eyes beginning to twinkle
a little, though he lowered his voice so that Pussy
might not hear of his ntter destitution. " These are
all my goods on my back, and I think that they are
hardly worth attaching, even if yon conld attach
them, which yon can't."
Those who had been used to seeing Mr. Snape's
everyday smile of frank benevolence would have
been shocked at the ngly look and uglier curse of
which he was guilty at that moment, but the remittance man seemed to enjoy them, though his
enjoyment was cut short, for just at that moment
his quick ear caught the sound of the coming train. m
94,
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
For a second he seemed uncertain, and bent down
over the rails until his ear almost touched them.
Straightening himself, and turning quickly to Trevor
and his companion, who had lagged behind somewhat, he called out, " Hurry np, there, Miss Verulam.
Help her, Mr. Johns. The station is in sight, but the.
train will be round the corner in a few minutes, and
this is a steep down-grade." And then tossing his
pack and his rifle on the embankment, he ran back
and took one of Pussy's hands whilst Trevor took
the other, and between them the two hurried the
girl along over the ties in quicker time than Snape
could make. When the train whistled as it came
round the corner, Pussy Verulam, thanks to her
friend's help and to her own nimble feet, was safe at
the siding, very much out of breath, but laughing at
the run she had had. This was like the old days,
she thought, as. the memory of many a merry scramble
with those two recurred to her; and Noel, carried
away by the excitement of the moment, dropped all
his stiffness, and for the moment was himself again.
They had both forgotten Mr. Snape's existence.
Suddenly Trevor, who was looking back up the
line, caught Noel's arm.
1- f VENGEANCE IS  MINE."
95
" Look, Noel, look! What the devil's the matter
with Snape ?"
The line runs abruptly from the summit, and the
grade which the train enters upon directly it passes
through the cutting at the top of the divide is an
unusually sharp one.
Between this cutting and the station there was a
switch, and as Noel's eyes rested on the switch, his
face hardened cruelly and the corners of his month
curled in a bitter grin.
The cutting was choked with smoke, some of
•which was already trailing away over the soft green
of the cedars below, and from the centre of the dark
cloud the engine was rushing down to the platform
at such a pace that nothing but the strongest of airbrakes conld have pulled it up even there. Between
the cutting and the platform, nothing short of a
miracle conld stop it. And between the cutting and
the platform, right in the train's path, stood Snape,
the man who had wrought Noel's ruin, struggling
with frantic energy for freedom, and struggling in
vain, swaying his body now to the right, now to the
left, and anon making wild clutches at his foot which
seemed held as in a vice by the rails.   It was held in
I—=_ 96
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
a vice and by the rails themselves, along which
already hummed the low thunder of the coming
train. Snape could feel the vibration in his body,
and in his brain, and he shrieked and would, ratlike, have torn off his own limb to escape had
he had strength enough left in his feeble body to do
so. What had happened to him was what has
happened to many a braver man: he had caught his
heel in the jaws of the switch, and the more he
struggled the tighter grew the grip. In another
minute he must take his choice. If he had the cool
courage of the railway employe, he would throw
himself down at right angles to the track, the ankle
would snap, and the great engine would sweep by
and amputate the damaged limb as neatly as a
surgeon's knife; if not—well, if not, the engine
would still sweep on, and crush the little Jew as a
man's foot crushes a beetle.
"Trapped, by God!" came from between Noel's,
clenched teeth, and for a moment his hard face only
hardened, while all that was vindictive and devilish
in his nature gained the mastery, and showed itself
in his face.
" Oh, Noel, save him!" VENGEANCE IS MINE.5
97
It was no voice of an angel, only a trembling girl's
prayer, but the voice was a voice which the old Noel
had never disobeyed, a voice which had never
appealed to him in vain. Had she been able to
measure the danger she asked him to face, possibly
she would never have spoken; but she conld not
measure it. As for him, he never stayed to. She
had loosed the string, and like an arrow from the bow
he flew to do her bidding.
There was a rattle of rails, a roar of wheels, a
Volume of steam and smoke, and the girl closed her
eyes, sick and swooning. She dared not see them
die.
Had she dared to keep her eye open she would
have seen a knife flash twice round the trapped man's
foot, she would have seen him wrenched by a mighty
effort from the wreck of his brown-leather boot, and
tumbled headlong from nnder the very wheels of
the engine down the steep incline on the left-hand
side of the track, at the bottom of which he lay limp
and motionless.
The poor wretch had swooned, and so been saved
from part of the bitterness of death.
But she dared not open her eyes, so she neither
H
Ui i
vu- ,...   .^Tn. Iff
98
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
1 1
1
f
1   11
wfn1 l*lf F '
>lk
fcN 'ff-*T
saw what I have described nor that the great roaring
creature of iron and steam and fire, though baulked
of one victim, had revenged itself upon another.
As Noel flung his man clear of the track, Death
came very near to him. Its shadow was over him,
its hot breath in his face, and its iron hand reached
and all bnt caught him.
Quickly as he sprang back, he was not quick
enough. Some projecting point of the engine struck
him, and for a breathing-space it seemed as if he
must go down in the monster's path.
The next moment he, too, was whirling down the
slope. Death had failed to make good his grip, and
though Noel rolled over and over, and then lay very
still for awhile, he was not dead. Indeed, he was
on his feet before Snape, wiping the blood out of
his eyes with one hand and trying in vain to raise
the other. He was very unsteady on his legs, and
very white, and one arm hung limp and broken
by his side; bnt he was making light of his injuries
to the train hands who had picked him np when
Pussy and Trevor reached him.
"I'm all right, boys; just look after that chap,"
he was saying;  and one of them who stood with : VENGEANCE  IS   MINE.'
99
his hands in his pockets " sizing him up," spat out
a stream of tobacco-juice, and said—
" Say, boy, you're pretty gritty—damn me if you
ain't.    That there chap owes his neck to you."
" Yes, and I owe him a thousand dollars. That's
a good deal worse," muttered Noel, bitterly. He
had saved the man's life, bnt he hated him still.
If Pussy or the recording angel heard his words,
it is to be hoped that they judged him, not by his
words, but by his deeds. At any rate, she and
Trevor supported him into the train, and made him
as comfortable there as they conld. There was no
talk of walking now, and even if there had been
no one to pay his fare, the train would have carried
one passenger that day for nothing.
As for him, he never asked after Snape, who, but
for his fright and some unavoidably rough surgery
at Noel's hands, was none the worse for his
adventure. All through the journey down, Noel
lay half asleep or swooning with pain of his broken
arm and ribs, his eyes shut or dreamily fixed on
Pussy as she nursed him. Only once, when she bent
over him to rearrange a bandage which had slipped,
he smiled a little   bitterly and   whispered  feebly,
warn 100
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
" Miss Verulam, do yon know that I think I am more
like the fool-hen than ever. After being hit once,
I've given that little beast another chance." And
she, half ashamed to preach the old sweet faith in
which her own pure life had been led, laid her hand
timidly on his arm, and murmured too low for others
to hear, " Vengeance is mine ; I will repay, saith the
Lord." (  ioi  )
CHAPTEE VII.
IN THE  HOUSE OF  PAIN.
There is one institution in Victoria of which those
of her citizens who helped to build it, may weU be
proud. In the heyday of youth, when the soft air
of spring, blown off the sunlit sea, suggests nothing
but years of health and vigour and happiness, men
may pass the great white building on their way to
Oak Bay, Victoria's fairest suburb, without noticing,
certainly without admiring it. It is not beautiful—
even its kindest well-wishers must admit that; and
no one who conld pass on down the avenue to gaze
on the glories of a sunset on Mount Baker would
even stay to look at the Jubilee Hospital.
And yet, perhaps, when the greatest of all
reporters, God's recording angel, passes over the
capital of British Columbia, he may linger longer over
that plain white building, and even report on it more
d^MM^ 102
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
favourably to his Employer, than on the imposing
six-hundred-thousand-dollar building of politicians,
with which they boast that they anchored the capital
of the province to their city for ever. When the fever
of the gold-digger has passed, when the courage of
the pioneer is ebbing with the ebbing years, when the
thews of the lumberer are loosened, when the miner's
strength has been shattered by a blast, when
aneurism of the heart alone reminds the packer of
the vast burdens he has borne, it is there that he
maybe certain of finding rest and of realizing that in
all the selfish battle for bread, men have still, in one
instance, at least, remembered that they were men,
and in the chivalry of human nature provided a haven
of rest in which those worsted in the battle may
recruit for a space before they come np to the scratch
for another round, or go hence to their reward.
It was to this house of pain that they carried
Noel Johns, through hay-fields humming with
summer life, past thickets of dog-roses pink with
blossom; and here, thanks to skill and careful
nursing, his young bones soon began to mend. Pussy
Verulam and Trevor were, of course, daily visitors to
the sick man,  and even  Snape sent his card " to I IN  THE HOUSE OF  PAIN.
103
inquire " with a basket of fruit, which Noel would not
allow to remain in his room. Snape himself did not
come, but he explained to Trevor that Jones had such
an unfortunate and unreasonable prejudice against
him that he thought it better to keep away. That
was the worst of business. However kindly yon
might mean, and however much yon might wish to
benefit a client, there were always some fellows who
would visit their own follies npon their agents, and
blame them for the results of their own indiscretions.
With such men it was useless to argue, but it made
life very sad, very sad indeed !
So plausible was the man, and so gentle—when
on guard—that Trevor conld not help feeling that
Noel had misjudged him. In a mere matter of
business Noel had through his own recklessness
got himself into an unpleasant position with Snape.
But was that Snape's fault ? Trevor Johns thought
it might not be; and Snape's honse being a pleasant
one, rendered attractive by the glitter of alluring
speculations and the presence of Chrissy Gilchrist,
Trevor Johns haunted it more than ever, though he
did so as much as possible " on the quiet," for neither
the old man nor Pussy were  quite as reasonable
'lilni
|| 104
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
in their estimate of Snape as he was inclined
to be.
Meanwhile, Pussy's influence upon her old playmate became daily stronger. It was as if the
sun had at last penetrated a mountain valley,
where the frost had lain black and hard for years,
and little by little the thaw came, and all the
gracious things in the man's nature revived. In a
week he could talk of home and the old days by
the river; conld chaff merrily enough with the " old
man," and even told him one day that he would still
come back to Kingdon, and bring him " fivers " with
which to "go on the tear like Balmaine's old
governor." He even reminded Pussy that none of
America's multi-millionaires had even made their
fabulous fortunes until they had—at least once in
their careers—touched the bottom of Poverty's pit.
It was necessary, he said, to get down to bed-rock
before yon could hope to lay the foundations of a
really solid pile.
Noel Johns was young and naturally sanguine,
and rest and good food, such as he had been a
stranger to for years, were beginning to revive those
energies which had fallen asleep during his sojourns IN   THE  HOUSE OF PAIN.
105
in the moss-grown swamp near Shawnigan. But
the secret of his real name, and of his own intimacy
with the Verulams, did not leak ont. He did not
care to become a text for Victoria's gossips, or an
object of their pity, so that he remained what Snape
knew him as, a young fellow who had turned np on
the island with a good deal of cash, gone the pace in
Snape's set for one year, speculated by Snape's advice,
and, indeed, on his urgent request at his own dinner-
table ; and then, of course, " gone broke," borrowed
from his mentor, and remained his slave ever since.
Thanks to the fact that just then the Vernlams
were the vogue in Victoria, a good many people came
to call on the sick man; some kindly hearted folk
who had always liked the boy for himself, and some
portly flunkies of the local Croesus who dropped
their friends when Croesus dropped them, and
fawned on them again whenever Croesus gave the
hint. Altogether, what with the general regret that
any one had saved " that swindler Snape," and the
particular rejoicing at" the merciful providence which
had spared our esteemed fellow-citizen," there was
a good deal of interest excited in that boy Jones; and
if he had only recovered before the Verulams had
wmm ppprp
106
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
invested all their money, or made it plain that they
did not mean to invest any, it is not impossible that
a place in the Lands and Works Department might
have been found for him. But this sympathy, of
course, did not affect business even in the case of
Snape, who pushed on his foreclosure proceedings
with exemplary promptitude, so that before Noel
was up again "Little Kingdon," as he called his
forest farm, had been sold at auction, and bought in
by the highest bidder (Mrs. Snape), for a little more
than half the debt upon it. For the present this
satisfied Mr. Snape, especially as Verulam and Trevor
Johns still had money to invest, and Noel Johns
really had nothing, except the farm, worth seizing;
but Snape by no means forgot that his unsatisfied
claim against the man who had saved his life
was good against all he had, or might hereafter
become possessed of, in the province. To those
who have followed this story so far, it may be
interesting to know that "the block of land, part
cleared and part beautifully timbered, with romantic
English country dwelling-house, the property of a
lady who finds it necessary to reside in the city," was
sold a few months later to another young English-
m IN THE  HOUSE  OF  PAIN.
107
man for two thousand dollars (half cash and the
remainder at eight per cent.), " the amount of labour
and taste lavished upon the place by the late tenant
making it alone," as Mr. Snape naively remarked,
I well worth the money."
And all this time whilst Noel lay sick, the old man
was quietly going about the place, playing billiards
in the clnb, loafing round tennis-lawns, and keeping
his shrewd eyes very wide open indeed. In a week
he saw that Snape and Co. were omnipotent in the
town, that they had all the money at the back of
them, all the brains in their pay, and that it would
be hopeless for Noel to stay there if he meant to
fight him; and that the boy would fight, if he had a
chance, the old man knew very well.
"I had thought of buying your farm in, Noel,"
Verulam said to him, the day after the public sale;
" but I thought better of it."
" Who bought it eventually ?" asked Noel, with
interest.
" Mrs. Snape, for six hundred dollars."
"For six hundred doUars! It's assessed at one
thousand two hundred dollars, and her husband lent
me one thousand dollars upon it.     I suppose  he
II fA-fck^
I
108
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
will sell it to some unfortunate new chum for about
what I gave for it, and come down on me for the
balance of my debt to him, whenever I own anything in this province worth attaching. I hope you
won't think me an awful rogue, old man, but it
strikes me that I am very unlikely to own anything
in this province which Mr. Snape conld attach."
" Small blame to yon," replied Verulam. " Snape
has had his full pound of flesh already. We must
see if we cannot start you elsewhere, out of reach of
this ring, as soon as yon recover "
" Eh! " ejaculated Noel. " What's that, old man ?
Do yon want me to turn borrower again ? and with
no security at all this time ?"
"Nonsense, boy," replied the old man hotly.
" Pride is all very well, but not with your own
people. If we have not a right to lend yon a hand,
who the deuce has ? Your word is good enough for
ns."
" Yes, I know, you dear old chap, that yon think
so; but I don't. Noel Johns is going to make his
own capital this time, and when he does he'll stick
to it. But no more borrowing, not even from
you." IN  THE  HOUSE OF  PAIN. 109
And this was all that Verulam could get from
the boy, but he was not disheartened by it. He had
been accustomed for many a long year to rule as an
autocrat at Kingdon, and had no idea of yielding
on this point, even to his stubborn young friend;
and Noel, knowing this, became restless and thoughtful again, except when Pussy and Trevor were
present. Of course, they were with him every day,
and on the evening after the old man's visit they
were sitting by his bedside chatting as usual.
"Don't yon think yon could manage to walk now
if yon tried?" asked Trevor. "The doctor says
that yon are a lazy dog, and conld walk well enough
if yon chose, though he wouldn't if he were in your
place."   H%,
"What does Dr. Jack mean? Has any one
told him that I have been trying to walk ?"
" I don't know. But he says that Pussy is not to
come here any more. If yon want to see her yon
must come to ns. ' If I could lie in bed, and have
no worries, and be nursed by that girl, do yon think
I'd get well?—not much!' Tho/se were his exact
words. He did not mince matters to spare yonr
feelings, Pussy." ■110
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
Noel and Pussy both laughed a little nervously.
"Dr. Jack's speeches are like his surgery, there
is no humbug about them. Even if they are a bit
rough, they are wholesome," said Noel; "and I
expect it is almost time for me to put my shoulder
to the wheel again. Do yon think, Pussy, that the
old man is very angry because I would not let him
' finance ' me, as they call it ? He conld not expect
me to take his money, when I won't take my
mother's."
" Do yon mean that yon have refused to take your
allowance from home ?"
"Yes. Didn't yon know? Don't think me a
quixotic fool; but I want work now, hard work,
with no leisure.    Work to make me forget."
"What is it that yon are so anxious to forget,
Noel?"
It was a foolish question, and one which need
never have been asked, if those grey eyes had not
been so full of another man's image; but he
answered bravely—
" My follies, Puss, and my failures. I have to
prove to my own satisfaction, that I am not the
incompetent ass I appear to be; and the old man's &m
IN  THE  HOUSE OF  PAIN.
Ill
money would not help me to do that; but make my
peace with him—bless him !"
Pussy laughed. " Yon may make your peace
with him yourself,* if yon can get your way with
him; no one else ever did," she replied.
She remembered now a cablegram which the old
man had sent to Mrs. Johns, and she understood
what it meant. Noel's will might be strong, but
she felt satisfied that it would not be strong enough
to escape from the protecting care of those who
loved him.
She forgot that through long study Noel could
read every thought in her mind through her eyes.
" Well, little sister, it is time for yon to be going.
You are dining ont to-night. Don't get too intimate
with the financiers, Trevor."
" Who told yon I was dining 'with Snape tonight ?"
" Oh, a little bird. Every one knows everything
here. For instance, Pussy is not dining there,
though yon and the old man are."
" No, I'm dining with Mrs. Bnlley," said the girl,
flushing hotly. She wondered whether Noel, who
seemed omniscient, knew that she had asked Mrs.
i
111 112
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
Bulley if she might dine with her, half an hour after
she had received the Snapes' invitation.
The others might think it diplomatic to dine with
that man. For her part, she would rather dine with
the dogs. They, at any rate, were honest, and all of
them, to a puppy, Noel's friends.
Noel smiled as he watched that sweet tell-tale
face—
"Loyalty before all," he muttered; and then,
added aloud, "Yon are more of a Vernlam than a
Christian, I'm afraid, Pussy, after all. Yon don't
forget your friends, and yon can't forgive their
enemies. Good night, dear, and good-bye, perhaps."
"Why good-bye?" asked the girl, holding his
hand.
f Oh, I don't know. There is no limit to the
autocratic powers of Dr. Jack. He might 'fire
me out' before to-morrow morning, and send me
goodness knows where."
The words were said in jest, bnt either there was
a subtle tone of sadness underlying his laughter,
which the girl's quick ear canght and understood,
or else it was the prompting of that sixth sense, IN THE HOUSE OF  PAIN.
113
which does exist, although we know so little of it;
in any case, a sudden silence fell upon the three.
They had been together now for weeks, and a
warm grip of the hand had been always sufficient
to convey their feelings to each other.
To-day, for some reason which she could not have
explained, the girl stood doubting, one hand in
Noel's, the other in her lover's.
" May I, Trevor, for auld lang syne ?" she asked
simply, and reading his answer in his eyes, she
bent over the hospital-cot, and pressed her pure
young lips on the sick man's forehead.
The next moment she and Trevor had gone; and
Noel Johns, white to the lips, sat up in his bed,
staring blankly at the closed door.
" That settles it," he muttered. " I owe it to
them, and I owe it to myself. My God, how she
loves him!"
For a moment he lay still; then this sick man
scrambled from his bed, and began hurriedly to
throw everything which belonged to him into a tiny
grip-sack, and afterwards to dress himself in the
old blue overalls and grey flannel shirt of his ranching days.
I
ill ■ I
114
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
Five minutes later he rang his bell, laid a note
addressed to the doctor on his table, tossed his gripsack into the grass under his window, and, when the
nurse came, told her that, by the doctor's advice, he
was going to try a little walk for half an hour on the
path outside his window. Would she give him her
arm down the steps, as he was a little weak still ?
Nothing doubting, the nurse did as she was asked,
and left him walking slowly np and down in the
sunshine; but next morning, when Pussy came
tripping down the corridor, her hands full of flowers
fresh gathered for her friend, and a note from the
old man offering to drive Noel home to their rooms
for the rest of his convalescence, this same nnrse
met her with a strange story, which took all the
buoyancy out of Pussy's step, all the light out of her
beautiful eyes.
Noel had vanished. That was the substance of
her story. He had gone out to walk, or try to walk
for half an hour, and he had not come back again.
He must have planned it all beforehand, the nnrse
added, because he had taken most of his things with
him, and left a note for the doctor.
" But   there,  miss,"  she   added,  " it's   no   good IN THE  HOUSE OF  PAIN.
115
grieving. There's never any dependence to be
placed on those remittance men."
Pussy did not stay to rebuke the woman. Why
should she? She could not know that the remittance man—so Pussy thought—vanished because
he was too proud to be dependent even npon his
own people. Of course, Pussy herself never guessed
Noel's real reason; and though, when Trevor told her
at night that he and the old man had searched every
hotel and lodging-house in the city, and searched
them in vain, she laid her head on Trevor's shoulder
and sobbed as if her heart wonld break, it was
only for " the brother " who had so obstinately gone
out again into the world without a word to them,
without a coin, without a friend.
It was such a hideously great world, she felt, this
new world in which he had lost his way. It was so
easy in it to lose touch of those yon loved, and her
heart yearned for the old country, where men
measure distances by hours, and not by days; where
there are no trans-Continental railways, three thousand miles long, and where friends can never be
really far apart.
The old man read his daughter s heart in her face.
Ill •y-Mi*1
116
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
He, too, had had enough of North America, and
shared her longing to be at home. " He was too old
to go hunting big horns with Trevor," he said; and
so he and Pussy would make their way slowly home.
Trevor could follow them with his trophies.
And to this Trevor consented; but if Pussy and
the old man had guessed that the month to be spent
hunting mountain-sheep would have been spent in
speculation in mines, under the auspices of Colonel
Gilchrist, it is doubtful whether either she or the
old man would have shown so much " sweet reasonableness."
m   (   119   )
CHAPTEE I.
AT  BATTLE CREEK.
" How, Billy! Can we come in ? Gosh, how this
wind cuts ! Darned if I don't think one side of my
face has froze."
The speaker had thrown the low door open, and
bending his head to enter, had come into a square
room of very considerable size, a good deal less than
half furnished, in which a man sat on the edge of a
trestle-bed, cleaning the lock of a carbine.
As the new-comer entered and stood stamping
his feet to restore circulation in them, a rough wolfhound jumped off the bed and growled, bnt the next
moment put down his hackles, and laid his long
muzzle confidingly in the speaker's hand.
" Come here, Bran," cried the man on the bed;
and then, looking np, added, " Why,  is that yon
>
Louis ?   Come in and warm yourself.   Are you just
in from Maple ? "
lM I
120
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
" That's what, and not sorry to get in. I think
I'd have lost my ears if I hadn't had the old cap
on; these toques are no good in a wind." And so
saying, he drew a red woollen toque from his pocket,
and tossed it contemptuously on the table, after
which he divested himself of a great fur cap which
he had pulled down to his ears, and a pair of longhaired badger-skin gloves which came up to his
elbows.
" No, they are not much account; but who is that
yon have got with yon ?" asked the other, as a second
man came np to the door, and began to knock the
snow off his boots on the threshold.
" A countryman of yonrs, I reckon, having a look
round, and ' sizing' yon up, before he puts in for
five years of it. Johns, let me make yon acquainted
with Serjeant Stobart," replied Louis.
And as Noel came in, Stobart rose, a tall gaunt
man, not nnlike his wolf-honnd in general outlines,
and held out his hand saying, in a voice from which
all accent seemed to have vanished as by magic—
" So you want to join the force, Mr. Johns, do yon ?
You might do worse; it's lonesome at the posts
sometimes, but there is a good deal to do, what with AT  BATTLE   CREEK.
121
cattle-thieves and prairie fires; and it's all clean
out-of-doors work, which no man need be ashamed
to do. But I expect you're starving, are yon not?
Go and warm yourself whilst I see after the grub.
Hi, Ben," he added, raising his voice, "it's Louis
and a friend. Shall yon have some supper ready
soon ?"
"Eight away," came the answer from another
room, and the speaker, a tongh-looking soldier in
flannel shirt and long boots, followed his voice into
the room, and after shaking hands with Louis, began
to throw down knives and forks and plates npon the
board, for, true to the traditions of the North-West
police, he (being cook for the week) began to get
some food ready as soon as he heard the wheels
of Louis's waggon upon the road.
The North-West police have many and varied
duties to perform, and the men amongst whom they
live will tell yon that they perform them all like
white men, tracking and holding up horse-thieves,
keeping the marches, or stopping a prairie fire,
all as a matter of everyday business, and grumbling
only when it falls to their lot to look after the sale
of whisky in the saloons along the railway line.
1
ii E
122
ONE OF  THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
Until very lately their powers were extremely
full, entitling them even to hold up and confiscate
a train upon the rails, if it should refuse to slow
down and submit to inspection. Bnt the duty
which they perform most often, and with the
greatest good will, is that of hospitality. In
thousands of miles of rolling prairie, the North-
West police are the only possible hosts. Luckily
for them, their rations are so ample that they conld
never get through them unaided. As it is, in spite
of the " dead beats," who drift about the boundary
line; the would-be settlers prospecting for land;
and casuals of all kinds, there is still something
left for the coyotes and kitfoxes which hang round
every station.
" What have yon done with the waggon, Louis ?
I don't see it," said the cook, as he came in with
a steaming dish of roast meat.
" Well, that's good!" laughed Louis. " I guess yon
boys had ought to know by this time. What does
every fellow do who comes along your confounded
trail?"
" Got stuck in the crossing, eh ?"
" Got stuck! you bet I have, and taken my team AT  BATTLE CREEK.
123
out, and left the blooming old waggon where she
is, for yon fellows to get out afterwards. Serve yon
right, for having such a trail."
Stobart laughed.    Lonis and he were old friends.
"I've half a mind to leave the waggon there
all night, Lonis. I wonld, only the kitfoxes would
get away with the harness. But let us have the
grub, Ben, and we'll go and hitch a team on and pnll
your cart out afterwards."
" Have yon no Indians or thieves of any kind
round here ?" asked Noel, who knew that the waggon
had been left in a water-hole nearly half a mile from
the station.
" No; or, at least, if there are any, they wouldn't
steal from ns," answered the sergeant. " They would
have too far to carry their plunder, and there's not
covert enough to hide a coyote," and he pointed
through the little square panes of the window over a
long sea of grey, cheerless prairie, so bare that any
object upon it was magnified by contrast with the
dead unbroken expanse around, nntil a buffalo skull
half a mile away looked as big as a house, and a
badger as big as a bear.
" Now, boys, there's the hash; yon'd better go and 124
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
sit round," remarked the cook.    And then going to
the door, he shouted—
" Guess if yon fellows want a feed, you'd better
come and get it now."
% In spite of the.cold and their hunger, Louis and
Noel found time for a preliminary wash in the tin.
basin on the wood pile, outside; but the two who
answered Ben's last call had no nse for soap and
water, no time to waste in useless ceremonial^
Without a word they slouched in, almost before the
words were out of Ben's month, and . took their
places, helped themselves to what they conld get,
piling all kinds of victuals, meat, canned fruit,,
molasses and tomato-sauce on the same plate, and
ate ravenously with downcast looks, and in silence
unbroken by any attempt at conversation, or useless-
expression of gratitude. What they could get, they
reached across the table for and got; what any one
gave them, they took, and when they had eaten all
they conld, they rose and went out again.
As Louis came in, rubbing his red-brown cheeks
with a rough towel, his keen, narrow eyes fixed on
these men in a minute with a look of suspicion and
inquiry, bnt he said nothing, and took his seat as if AT BATTLE CREEK.
125
they had not been there. Stobart and the cook
meanwhile sat on the edges of their respective beds,
whittling away at their plugs of T and B, keeping
an eye on their guests' cups.
" Well, Johns, how does antelope hash go ?" asked
Louis, sticking his fork into another great slice, and
conveying it to his plate.    " Mighty good, isn't it ?"
"I don't know what wouldn't be   good now,"
replied Noel.    He had every desire to be civil, but
he could not for the life of him say more just then,
for his   jaws  were   aching with   the   attempt to
masticate fresh-killed antelope meat.
" Been killing much game lately ?" asked Lonis.
"No, not much.    The antelope are not down in
the cypress hills yet, and the wolves have driven
the deer out.    I never saw so many wolves as there
are about the country this fall."
"Big fellows?"
" Yes, big grey wolves. Bran and the bitch had
more than they could manage with an old vagabond
last week. He would have stood them off if I had
not helped them with my revolver."
"Looks as if it was going to be a hard winter.
Well,"  Louis  added, pushing his  plate away and an
126
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
rising. " A fellow can't go on eating for ever unless
he's an Englishman, eh, Johns ? so I'll have a smoke;
and then, Billy, yon might come and help me with
that waggon."
"All right, as soon as yon please. Have yon any
mail for ns ?"
" No, there are no letters, but I think there's a
package of newspapers. Come and see. It's not
dark yet." And, opening the door, he went out,
followed by Stobart.
As soon as they were outside, the scout's quick
eyes turned towards the room they had left, and
jerking his head in the direction of the table, he
asked, " Who's them two ?"
" Dead beats; came in yesterday," replied Stobart,
dropping naturally into the scout's laconic style.
"Say they've walked from the line; that's thirty
miles. They've done seventy miles, according to
their account, in two days, and had damned little
to eat whilst they were doing it."
" One of them has a pretty face on him," remarked
Lonis. "He'd make a prairie wolf howl to look
at him."
" Yes, he got that when he was chucked out of AT BATTLE CREEK.
127
a bar at Ophir; that's why they came across the
line."
" Shooting scrape ?"
" No; they didn't say so."
" Did they have any guns with them ?"
"No. That is all the outfit they had. It isn't
much." And the policeman pointed to two tiny
bundles about a foot square and six inches through,
thrown down against the wall of the house.
"WeU, they don't look dangerous; and it don't
matter to ns what they did at Ophir, until we get
orders about them; but we may as well keep an eye
on them, in case they should be wanted. I suppose
ailis.quiet about here ? no horse-thieves been heard
of lately ?"
I No; there's nothing for you to do, Louis, and
won't be for some time now, I expect. The next snow
we get will lie, and then things will close up for the
winter. I expect that that is about the last of those
fellows we shall see this fall;" and Stobart pointed
to a skein of geese high overhead, going south.
" Yes, it's coming, sure pop," said the half-breed,
his eyes fixed on the sky-line. " I shouldn't wonder
if it was to come to-night.   Let's go and get that
mii 128
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
waggon in anyway."    And the two went off into the
stable to harness four horses for the job.
On the way down to the mndhole in which the
waggon had stuck, Louis asked the sergeant if he had
heard any more of the sickness which had been
talked of among the Indians.
"No," Stobart replied, "not a word. I had almost
forgotten all about it. But yon know how quiet
they keep those things. Some one said it looked
like small-pox again. Do yon think there is anything in it ?"
" Who knows ? The wolves will want feeding
anyway, and there are no buffaloes for them, and not
many redskins," answered the scout, moodily. "It
seems as if white men and Crees can't both live on
these plains, though you'd think there was room
enough too."
" Why, Louis, yon don't go much on the Indians,
do yon?" asked Stobart, whose experience had
taught him that the half-breed always prefers to be
thought white.
■ "Not a great deal, but it's lonesome on the
plains, too, nowadays. The buffalo has gone, and
the elk and the antelope are going.    D—d if I AT  BATTLE  CREEK.
129
think there'll be anything left but buffalo skulls
and an odd coyote here and there soon."
" Aren't cattle better than buffaloes ?"
"Maybe they are; but there aren't as many of
them, and they want a sight more looking after.
There'll be less cattle and more room for settlers,
too, before this winter is over. If they didn't want
it themselves, seems a pity that the whites drove
the Crees and the game out of the country.    There's
-too much room now "
"Why, man, what's the matter with yon tonight ? Yon talk as if yon had caught the sickness
yourself," said Stobart.
The other did not answer for a while. He was
a man whom the police knew well, and entirely
trusted; a man to whom the vast seas of grass were
as familiar as the ways of his village to a villager; a
man of whom they all spoke in Assineboia as " white
core through;" bnt for the moment the wild blood
in him had asserted itself, and the sorrow of the
widowed prairie land found utterance through his lips.
" I guess yon're right, Billy," he said at last, with
a short laugh; "a drink of whisky would do me
good just now, though if it had not been for your
K 130
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
cursed whisky, and the diseases that came along
with it, there would be no need to feel lonesome on
the prairie."
" Yon should take a turn np at the Pinto Mine, if
that's what yon want. Yon can blow in a year's
pay in a week there if you've a mind to. There's
sure to be a saloon somewhere handy now they have
begun work again."
" That is just what I'd like to do, Billy, bnt it's
not my luck. The super can't spare me, he says;
and he has sent me down here now to get one of you
fellows to drive a stage down from that mine to the
railway line."
"Why didn't he send Paul, if he can't spare yon?
I donbt if any of onr fellows know the trail well,
though of course they can find it."
Louis's eyes had a langh in them, though his face
remained as grave as ever. He had a very high
opinion of the North-West Mounted Police, but, as
path-finders, preferred his own people.
" Paul don't fancy the job. There are some pretty
bad coulees between here and Pinto, and Paul
never did care about handling a team. Who will
you send ?" AT BATTLE CREEK.
131
" I suppose I had better send Ben; it will jnst suit
him as far as the driving goes. Is there much to
come out from the mine ?" Stobart added.
" They say so. This new outfit is making things
hum. They took in all they wanted to, and now it
seems they are going to begin to ship something
out."
" What happened to the other fellows—the men
in the first company that owned the Pinto ? Did
you hear ?"
" Got froze out," replied Lonis, laconically.
" Did yon hear who they were ?"
" The man who owned most of the stock, so they
say down at Maple, was a Britisher. Of course he
got left. The men who froze him out were land-
sharks from the coast; some said from the Sound,
some said from Victoria. I guess it will aU be in
the papers. We can look when we get this blooming
waggon out. Git up, there! git, will yon ?" And
Louis laid his whip heavily across the quarters of the
wheelers, whilst Stobart urged on the leaders, until,
after a great deal of floundering and splashing, the
waggon was dragged by sheer force to dry land.
For a moment the horses stood panting after their ONE OF  THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
exertions, their hot breath going ont in great white
columns into the darkening night; then Louis and
Stobart scrambled into their places, a whip cracked,
and the team started for the station, as the scout
expressed it, " licketty brindle."
Heaven only knows of what quaint, rustic phrase
this was a corruption, or how it came from hawthorn-
scented lanes to the mouth of a half-bred Cree, on
the wind-swept plains of Assineboia. (   133
CHAPTEE II.
HOW  SOME ENGLISHMEN   MAKE THEIR PILES.
Of course the North-West Mounted Police have
their head-quarters at Eegina. Their drill-hall,
officers' quarters, barracks, stores, and so forth, make
quite an imposing show in the capital of Assineboia,
but the force is only a thousand strong, all told;
it has an enormous frontier-line to watch, and a few
little odds and ends of work to do, such as to look
after the Indians, and preserve order generally in
the North-West.
Now, if anybody will take a map of the world
and look at this North-West Territory, of which
men speak flippantly, as if it were an unimportant
district measured by acres, and will compare it with
India, or even Australia, he will understand that a
thousand men are hardly "enough to go round/'
and will not be surprised to hear that the various 134
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
posts along the line are so small that one containing
half a dozen men is the exception.
Battle Creek was a more important post than most
of its neighbours, and a better built one, but as
Stobart and Lonis rattled np to its doors, it would
have seemed a lonely, miserable place to any eyes
less used to it than theirs.
The low, square log-hnts, with their mean, small-
paned windows, looked utterly insignificant in the
boundless waste in which they were set, without any
trees to shelter them, or any neighbours to share
the responsibility of their intrusion upon the
wilderness, and the vagabond wolves and homeless
wind which howled round the place, added nothing
to its homeliness.
But inside, when the stove was all aglow, and
pipes were lit, things improved a good deal. The
comforts of these frontiersmen are not altogether
neglected by those in authority. There is, for
instance, a fair stock of books kept in circulation
from post to post; Harper and the Sketch are not
unknown; and the men themselves have a breed of
hounds which give them all the sport they want.
Noel   Johns,  who was sitting smoking, with old
m HOW SOME ENGLISHMEN MAKE THEIR PILES. 135
Bran's head upon his knee, and an unopened Field
by his side, was beginning to think that, in spite of
the hideous ugliness of the world outside, Battle
Creek might not be a bad place to live in, when one
of the readers by the stove turned the current of his
thoughts back to his old life and his old home.
"Weren't yon fellows talking of the mine np
near Pinto Horse Butte ?" this man asked.
" Yes; Louis says that the super wants one of ns
to go up there and drive a stage down to the
railway. I guess you'll have to go, Ben. Why,
is there anything about the mine in the paper ?"
asked Stobart.
"Yes, in one of the Seattle papers. The Pinto
Mine.    That's it, I guess, isn't it ? "
" Yes, that's it, right enough."
"Well, here's what the paper says"—and the
speaker laid his pipe down, so as to give his reading
fair play—" j We are pleased to inform our readers
that the splendid property known as the Pinto Mine,
in Assineboia, has at last fallen into the right hands.
Canadians, of course, know nothing of mining, and
British capital is about as slow as the coming of
judgment-day..     Luckily   for  the  Pinto  Mine,   it 136
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
has been secured by our enterprising fellow-citizen,
Colonel Gilchrist, whose lovely and fascinating
daughter is so well known in our best social circles.
The Colonel is a rustler from away back, and a
business man who takes no chances. Whatever he
touches pays from the word " go," and his principal
partner in this new venture, although not a Seattle
man, is favourably known as one of the very few
Britishers across the Sound who have had sense
enough to catch on to American business principles.
This gentleman, Mr. Snape, was in the original
company, but seeing how things were likely to go,
with a lot of incompetent dudes from the East and
from England, to handle the business, he let go and
unloaded just in time.
"* We understand that some folk lost heavily; bnt
we may congratulate ourselves that no one from
this side got left.
"' The concern was unlimited, and as most of the
other people in it, after Mr. Snape let go, were not
overburdened with cash, the principal loss fell upon
one of those bine-blooded aristocrats from the old
country (a Mr. Trevor Johns, of Cowley, England),
who   are   trying   to   obtain   the  same   pernicious IBM
HOW SOME ENGLISHMEN MAKE THEIR PILES. 137
influence for their capital here which they have
established for it in the British Isles. We say the
loss could not have fallen upon more proper
shoulders.'"
The reader here dropped the paper and took up
his pipe again.
" Whew! that's pretty rough on the British
capitalist," remarked Stobart. " Poor devil! it seems
to me that they are always crying ont pretty loud
for him to come along, and when he is fool enough
to come, they rob him first, and curse him for
coming afterwards."
"That's so," put in Ben Sellick. "Yes, that's
exactly so; and it's pretty much the same all over
the West. We ' honk/ ' honk' for geese, and shoot
the beggars when they come to ns."
"What sort of liabilities do yon suppose that
company had ?" asked Noel, after a pause.
"The Lord alone knows, and the liquidator,"
replied Stobart; " pretty big ones, probably, if a
Britisher had to foot the bill. Why, by Jove ! Johns,
he wasn't a relative of yours, I hope, this Mr.
Trevor Johns ?"
"Yes; he is my cousin, and that scoundrel Snape
m
m 138
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
ruined me as he has ruined him," replied Noel,
quietly.
" To hell with all real-estate agents! " said a voice
from beside the stove; and the others, as they looked
up into Bob Pickaxe's savage brown face, remembered his story, and joined in a hearty
"Amen."
"I say, I am sorry for yon, Johns, and for your
cousin," said the sergeant, after a while. " I guess
he will have to come into the police too, now. It
is a rare home for broken men, if they are of the
right sort. But perhaps your cousin will get level
with his man yet." '^Wm
" That's not likely. He does not understand how
to play their games."
"Well, it's no use crying over spilt milk, only
don't curse Canadians for it. I'll bet this Snape
isn't a blue nose. Most of the scoundrels in that
business are newly imported scum from the old
country."
" That's how they get ns," added Pickaxe. " Set
a thief to catch a thief, and an Englishman to
swindle an Englishman."
" True, more's the pity," Stobart assented.   " These HOW SOME ENGLISHMEN MAKE THEIR PILES. 139
sharks are born with their wisdom-teeth full grown,
and have to file them down once a week, they keep
growing so. Have yon enough blankets, Johns ?
It gets pretty cold on the floor towards daybreak."
" Yes; I shall do all right, thank yon," Noel
answered.
" Then douse the glim; old Lonis there has been
snoring for an hour past. He takes no interest
in real-estate agents. Every doUar he gets he puts
into cattle, which he looks after himself. When he
wants them he can catch them; when he doesn't
he leaves the North-West Mounted Police to see to
their safe keeping."
"And what do you put your doUars into,
Stobart?"
" My pocket, until I get leave, and then they go
on the faro table. As well there as anywhere else,"
replied the sergeant. " Good night;" and so saying
he turned his face to the wall and slept.
There were six men in the room at Battle Creek
that night, not counting the guests; and, out of the
six, only one had been born in that state of life unto
which it pleases God to call nine men out of ten ;
that is to say, only one had been born to work for
ir 140
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
his own living, and yet a more careless, contented
lot than the men of that outpost it would have been
hard to find. If they had no money, at least they
had no worries, and no neighbours whose wealth
could contrast painfully with their own poverty.
Only Noel Johns lay awake on the hard deal
floor, thinking of Trevor's loss, wondering at the folly
of a man who would go to his ruin in spite of warning given, bnt grieving not so much for his cousin
as for Pnssy.
What would this mean to her? and how would
Trevor take the buffet of fortune ?
These were questions that kept him awake long
into the night, and he could find no answers to
them.
Of course Noel might go home; there would
always be something left, and the " old man" would
be able to find enough for two, if Trevor were to
marry Pussy; and as for Pussy, Trevor's misfortune
would make him doubly dear in her eyes, of that
he had no doubt.
But Trevor was not the nature to take a blow
without returning it. He had been spoiled by a too
kind fortune, but Noel knew the savage Welsh blood HOW SOME ENGLISHMEN MAKE THEIR PILES. 141
had not lost all its fighting properties, although
it had flowed so long in the quiet of a Berkshire
village.
He hardly thought Trevor would care for the
fool-hen's role. 142
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
CHAPTEE III.
A DETERMINED GIBBER.
There is no doubt about the cold in the early
morning at Battle Creek, Police blankets are, as
the men say, " good and thick," and Noel had
received a very generous share of them, but he
had neglected to fasten down their edges, so that
the little wind which comes before dawn, had crept
in and chilled him to the marrow.
The station was made, like many of its fellows,
by one of the scouts, an excellent rough carpenter,
but distinctly somewhat rough; the doors did not
fit the doorways with too nice accuracy, and no
one, of course, in Assineboia would dream of trying
to keep out the wind with list along the lintels,
or sand-bags at the door's foot.
At first Noel dropped off into a sound sleep. The
glow of the stove warmed him, and the other men's A  DETERMINED GIBBER.
143
snores made a lullaby for him, but as soon as the
glow had faded from the stove he woke with a shiver.
The stove was no longer bright with heat; there
was a.knot in the floor pushing its way into his
hip-bone, and the prairie wind was fairly screaming
under the doorway, and flowing in icy waves across
the floor.
For hours, it seemed to him, he lay tossing on
his bruised side, cursing the West, that country
of great opportunities in which he and Trevor had
come so hopelessly to grief, and longing for the cook
to wake and " fire up."
At last he turned over on the broad of his back,
and as there are no corners in one's back to be
rubbed off against the boards, he soon passed again
into dreamland.
But the cold and the eerie wind had given a hint
to his brain, and sleep was worse than waking. At
first his dreams were vague and formless, a mere
howling of wolves or wind and a swift procession
of figures, which he could not identify. Bnt by
degrees one form amongst these shifting shapes
grew definite, and always in front, with a wild,
hunted look distorting its handsome features, went 144
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
Trevor's well-known face. The shapes which followed changed so rapidly that he conld not tell
when they were one thing, when they were another,
but whatever they were, fiends or wolves, or merely
columns of drifting snow, they were always in
pursuit, Trevor always but one step ahead.
Through it all Noel had that strange consciousness
that he was dreaming, and at last by a violent effort
roused himself and sat up. It was easy to convince
himself of the unreality of his dreams as soon as
his eyes were open ; easy to identify the low-roofed
room and the vague outline of the four other men
sleeping around him; but the moment he lay back
again and began to doze, a face came to him ont of
the gloom which had surely nothing to do with
Assineboia. He could feel, as he lay there, a cool
white hand upon his brow; he could see great coils
of sunny hair, a small, graceful head, and tiny, shelllike ears, and, plainer than aU, those glorious eyes
out of whose grey depths a soul seemed pleading—
pleading with a dumb earnestness which made his
heart ache. He had no consciousness that he was
dreaming now. This was real; all else was false.
But what was it that she wanted of him ?  What were A DETERMINED GlBBEB.
145
those dear eyes asking for ? Why did not those sweet
lips speak ? The questions maddened him almost
as much as his own inability to speak or move,
That is the worst of dreams.
Yon must lie like one dead, yet with the brain
alive, striving to speak or move; but there can be
no speech or motion until the dream passes and the
sleeper wakes.
What if death should be like a dream, in which
the brain understands enough to realize the horrors
which surround it, in which the heart can still suffer,
still desire to speak, though the tongue be dumb and
the limbs frozen in an eternal frost ?
Of course, just as he seemed on the point of
solving the question, a voice broke in upon his
slumbers, and he woke.
" Better get out of them blankets, boys, and give
a feUow room to move around in," said the
voice.
Ben Sellick was trying to make up the fire, and
Noel's long legs were very much in the way of any
one who wanted to come near the stove.
In a moment Noel was on his feet. He was only
too glad of an excuse for shaking off the cold and 146
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
the misery of the dark hours, but it took him more
than one day to banish the pleading look on that
dream-face from his memory.
" I guess you found it pretty cold last night,"
remarked Ben; " the wind was blowin' right on to
this side of the shack, and a fellow catches all there
is of it there on the floor."
" Yes, it was pretty cold, and I'm not sorry to get
up," Noel owned. " Shall I go and chop some wood
for you ?"
" No ; that job's taken. I guess Louis thought he
might as well set his blood a movin' that way; but
you can go and see if he'll give yon a turn at the
axe. I'll have a fire and grub ready in a brace of
shakes."
But Johns did not care to wait even a brace of
shakes. What with his dreams, and that wind at
dawn, his teeth were absolutely chattering; so he
rose and passed out through the outer room to the
yard beyond. As he did so he saw the two dead
beats sitting like two crows on a bench against the
wall, as usual neither speaking nor doing anything,"
" Good morning," he said cheerily as he :passed; A  DETERMINED  GIBBER.
147
but he might as well have spoken to deaf-mutes, for
they neither answered nor moved.
Outside he found his friend the scout, in his
shirt-sleeves, making the chips fly. If any one could
thrive in such a cheerless world, that stalwart red-
brown fellow looked as if he could.
" Good morning, Louis."
" Good morning; so yon know enough to work to
get warm!    Want the axe ? "
Noel took it and soon restored circulation, and
began to think better of the world, even the nor'-
west quarter of it.
" I say, Lonis, don't those fellows ever open their
months except to put food in ?" he asked after a
while, jerking his head towards the room in which
the dead beats sat.
" Don't seem like it," retorted the scout. " Sit
there like a couple of starved coyotes on their tails
waiting for some one to chuck 'em a bone. I don't
cotton to those fellows much."
"You'd have thought the beggars would say
' thank yon/ for their bed and board; but they
didn't say a word that I heard last night."
" No,  nor won't.    But that  don't  signify here. 148
ONE OF  THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
Lots don't. Yon see, it's kinder natural just to drop
in and get fed. Every one does the same here. But
I shall ask Stobart to drop 'em a hint to hit the trail
again to day."
And so after breakfast he did, and the tramps
took the hint, and after a while tied on their tiny
wallets and slouched off without a word of thanks,
without a smile, without a sign of any kind—with no
money, no plans, no goal as far as any one knew;
and Noel stood watching them for a couple of miles
going slowly across the level plains, not walking side
by side, never apparently speaking to one another,
not even having the appearance of being companions
in misery, bnt just two meaningless, aimless human
atoms, drifting God knows where or why.
Turning to the sergeant, Noel asked him if he had
found out anything about his two guests.
" Not much," he answered. " I had to post them
up in my diary, so I got Ben to ask them their
names. The short one was ' Oly Olsen/ as near as
Ben conld get at it, a ' Swede or a Enssian, or some
bloomin' foreigner/ Ben said; and-they both came
from Ophir, and mean to make Maple Creek to-night."
" Maple Creek to-night ?   Why, it's forty miles to A  DETERMINED GIBBER.
149
Maple Creek! " cried Noel. "And that's not the way
to Maple Creek, is it ?" and he pointed the way
the two men were going.
The sergeant looked up (he was busy mending
harness at the time), and as he did so his face wore
a puzzled expression.
" No, by Gad! it isn't. I'll have to tell Louis
about that; though, after all, I don't snppose it
matters a great deal.    Poor devils! "
And that, for the moment, was the last of Oly
Olsen and his mate: just two tiny figures on the skyline, tramping into space. The longer one lives out
West, the more one is struck by the extraordinary
passion for wandering which seems to possess men
who have once crossed the plains. It is the same in
all prairie countries; certainly it is the same on the
steppes of Enssia. The great " beyond " which lies
behind the skyline has an irresistible fascination.
As Eamband, the historian of Enssia, finely says,
" The mountain keeps her own, the mountain calls
her wanderers to return; while the steppe, stretching
away to the dimmest horizon, invites yon to advance,
to ride at adventure, to go where the eyes glance,"
In some parts of the north-west of the States, whole 150
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
families may still be seen indefinitely migrating—-
'going up to spawn/ as the settlers say. One
typical instance occurs to me as I write, in which
an old man of seventy was encountered trekking for
the land beyond the skyline from a comfortable
homestead in Illinois, sufficient to keep him and all
his brood in plenty for the rest of his life, and aU
because he had "heerd tell that there was nation
fine land to be taken up somewheers away back in
Washington territory."
But Noel had been speculating long enough on
tramps and their ways, and the old sun had already
made such a good start upon his daily round that
Stobart was beginning to get impatient with Ben.
"Now then, Ben, if yon are going to pull out
to-day," he was saying, "it's about time yon
quit."
Ben looked surprised. He was not an irritatingly
active man. His favourite scheme of life was to
sleep until breakfast-time, smoke nntil lunch, take
a turn, perhaps, at something useful to get an
appetite for dinner, and then return to tobacco and
his blankets.
"All right,  if  yon  say  so,  sergeant;   but did A  DETERMINED GIBBER.
151
Louis say as it mattered when I went up for that
stage ? "
" Yes, yon bet he did. Said it mattered a whole
heap. You ought to be at Farwell to-night, and
at the mine to-morrow. I doubt yon can't
do it."
" Guess I'd better hitch np, then," remarked Ben,
knocking the ashes out of his pipe. " Which horses
shall I take ? "
" Best take Frank, and that grey horse, Sam,"
replied Stobart. " They will do yon all right from
here to Farwell, and yon can swap teams there."
"Don't Sam gib a bit at a hill ? " asked Ben.
" He used to," Stobart admitted; " bnt I think he
has forgotten that trick by now. He hasn't been
driven for quite a while."
" All right, then, I'll try the son of a gun," said
Ben ; and he slouched off to the stables to "fix up "
his team.
In half the time which an English groom would
have taken to harness one horse, Ben had hitched up
his team, and was round again at the station door
with a big lumbering waggon and two goodish-
looking horses. '    :iH
l
ill ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
"Say, Johns," he called, "yon ain't doing anything particular; you'd better come along. You'll
get to know the boys at Farwell, and if you're
coming into the force, yon may as well do that now
as later."
As Ben said, Noel was doing nothing particular,
so that he really felt that he might as well earn his
next day's food by lending Ben a hand.
" All right, I'll come. I'll be in at Maple in a
week, Lonis; and yon might just mention me to the
superintendent, and tell him I'd like to be taken on
when I come in, if yon fellows will have me."
"I'll tell Mm, and yon bet yonr life he'll take
yon on. Yon're about the sort we want," added the
scout, approvingly. "You're sure yon know the
way, Ben ?"
" Trust me for that; I've travelled it before."
" With another chap to show it to yon," muttered
Lonis, who didn't believe much in white men's
knowledge of the plains. " Well, yon won't be there
to-night, anyway," he added, looking critically at'
the sun's position in the heavens.
"Shan't I? then I'll crowd it so almighty close
there'll   be   nothing   much between  me  and it," A DETERMINED  GIBBER.
153
retorted Ben. " Git, yon critters," he added, cracking his whip. "Bye, boys;" and the old waggon
rattled and bumped over the rutty track to such an
extent that Noel couldn't keep his pipe between
his teeth. As it feU with a crash on the boards
of the waggon, Ben took out a cake of chewing-
tobacco.
" Take a chew of that," he remarked, offering it to
his companion. " Pipes are no account on duty.
You can't keep 'em in your month in a waggon, they
burn out in no time in a wind, and freeze to your
lips in a frost. Chewing is the only thing for a
scout."
But Noel was not to be persuaded. A mere
matter of prejudice, of course; bnt chewing still
seemed to him as filthy a habit as smoking did to
our ancestors.
Mile after mile the waggon bumped along, the
horses going now at a slow trot, where the track
was fairly smooth, now walking as the road got
rougher and more hilly, now taxing Ben's skill
and strength to the utmost, when the waggon
pressed hard on the horses down the side of a steep
gully. 154
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
" 'Minds me of old Paul, this does," remarked Ben,
as he pulled np at the bottom of a steeper pitch
than usual, to negotiate which in safety he had been
obliged to drive straight through a thick patch of
scrub, the boughs of which made a natural brake for
his waggon.
" Why of Paul ?" asked Noel.
"Why, Paul, yon know, don't care about drivin'
four horses, an' always gets out and walks, drivin'
'em afoot downhiU even now; bnt when he first
came to this country he knowed nothin' about 'em
at all. He was out drivin' with Louis one time,
and they came to a pretty bad pitch, and Lonis, he
wanted to rig up a break of some kind. ' What do
yon want a break for ?' asks Paul. ' To make ns go
slow downhill, of course, yon chump/ says Lonis.
' That's easy/ says Paul; ' yon don't want no brake
for that. Here's the hobbles here; let's hobble 'em.
Ho, ho !    Let's hobble 'em!' "
Though Noel saw the joke, he conld quite
appreciate Paul's scruples about the driving of a
four-in-hand down gullies; but he had still a good
deal to learn.
The   afternoon   had   already begun  to turn  to A   DETERMINED  GIBBER,
155
evening, and there was still no sign of any of the
landmarks which Ben had spoken of.
I You're sure we're on the right road, Ben ?" he
asked.
" Of course we are. What do yon take me for ? "
asked his Jehu. " We shall come to old man Hall's
cabin in half a mile or so."
But they didn't, nor did they come to it in an
hour or an hour and a half; and then the dusk
began to fall.
I It's further than yon thought, Ben," suggested
Noel.
"Yes, it's a bit further," admitted Ben. "I guess
I've miscalculated the distance a bit. It's two
years since I was along this trail."
This didn't sound reassuring, especially as the
dark had now really canght them, and the wind had
begun to shriek, as it only can on uplands of the
north-west prairies.
Above them was a skyline, a hilltop, from which
Ben was certain they would see the station; bnt it
was a long pnll np to it, and long before they
reached it, Sam gibbed. At first Ben treated this
lightly, but he conld not overcome it.    Sam gibbed, ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
and steadily refused to go another yard, and the
waggon was too heavily loaded for one horse to
pull it.
" Guess we must rest him a spell," remarked Ben,
and, dismounting, philosophically proceeded to light
his pipe. Bnt the rest was of no avail, and when
the two men got out and walked, to lighten the
load, it made no difference. For over an hour they
fought with that horse, trying in every way to
induce him to pull, if only to the top of the hill,
and, though good-tempered enough at first, it was at
last all Noel conld do to prevent the policeman from
shooting the " contrary son of a gun " in the traces.
Coaxing having failed, they tried the whip, but that
only made matters worse, and then a wind like the
beginning of a blizzard came screaming over the
top of the bluff and froze them to the marrow.
"Say here, take my rifle," said Ben, at length,
and let it off right close behind the beggar's ears.
See if that'll stir him. Let me ketch hold. Now
let her rip."
Noel did as he was bid, and at the first discharge
the horse made a plunge forward, and for a hundred
yards or so Noel saw horses and waggon going in A DETERMINED GIBBER.
167
breakneck fashion "all over the place." Bnt the
spurt was only a short one, and each succeeding
shot elicited less and less response from Sam; and
even when Ben took the rifle himself in one hand,
whilst he held the reins with the other, and fired
shot after shot from the box until his magazine was
empty, right over the gibber's ears, he gained very
tittle by his expenditure of ammunition.
It seemed as if they would have to make a night
of it on that high bluff, with half a blizzard blowing,
and snow falling, and to avoid this Noel was ready
to risk anything; for to be caught in a real blizzard
night mean the loss of a good deal more than a meal
and a night's rest.
" Take the brute ont, and I'll ride him on to the
station," he suggested.
1 Yon couldn't ride this brute. No man could, or
the other. They're mates for that. They'd either
of 'em buck a man so high he'd never come down,"
replied Ben; " but yon might walk on, and see if
yon can see anything from the top of the bluff."
"All right, I'll go," said Johns, and tramped out
into the dark, losing waggon and horses and all in
thirty  paces.     But he  could   see  nothing  of the
^^ 158
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
station, and after a while he feared he'd lost the
waggon, until nearly half an hour later, looking
back in the mist, now lit by starlight after the
snowstorm, he saw a gigantic figure come over the
top of a rise against the sky, and after a moment of
doubt recognized Ben and his team. At last the
driver had persuaded the driven to move, but at
what cost of strong language Noel never knew.
What he did know was that the stock of Ben's
carbine was smashed to atoms, and certain contusions next day showed that Sam's hide had been
in contact with something harder even than a prairie-
bred cnjnse. A five-mile tramp from the top of
the bluff took the two to old man Hall's cabin,
which had been half a mile off, according to Ben,
half an hour before Sam began to gib; bnt though
they reached Farwell in time for breakfast next
morning, Noel felt that Louis's contempt for white
prairie pilots was not without reason. (   159   )
CHAPTEE IV.
AT  FARWELL OUTPOST.
One station in the nor'-west is much like another.
The same lone lorn square cottages stand in every
case upon much the same waste of dry yellow grass,
or appear stranded in a white sea of snow which
makes the eyes ache with its blinding brilliancy.
But Farwell in the sun of early morning had a
cheerier look than most of them, and was palatial by
contrast with " old man Hall's." On the roof, within
arm's reach, lay half a dozen skulls of deer and
antelope; and over one of the doors some one had
nailed a huge bleached buffalo skull, killed before
the last of these beasts swam the Saskatchewan
and disappeared in 1885. In spite of these trophies,
as far as the eye could see (and it can see very far
indeed in the Cypress Hills), there was no trace of BHiHHBHEBI
160
one of The broken brigade.
life round Farwell. In the old days, looking from
the post across the plains, yon might have seen a
band of wapiti feeding in the distance, or far away
beyond the stream you would have noticed that the
yellow plains were starred with puffs of dust. These
puffs of dust marked the spots where the old bulls
lay wallowing. Now there were neither bull buffaloes
nor wapiti; even the bones of the one and the horns
of the other are getting scarce, except where they are
piled along the railway track for export to manure-
manufacturers.
Inside the post, when Ben arrived, it was almost as
still as on the plains. The fire was burning, so that
it was evident that some one was still about the
place; bnt the rooms were all empty, and it was not
until Ben had shouted himself hoarse that any one
appeared to answer his summons. Then a stout-
built, middle-aged man, hall-marked " Tommy
Atkins," put in an appearance.
" What in thunder arp yon raisin' Cain about ? I
he asked. " Don't yon know enough to walk inside
and help yourself, if you want anything, Ben, or do
yon want a couple of chaps to wait on yon ? "
" Why, yes, Tommy, I guess I know my way in; bssh
AT FARWELL OUTPOST.
161
but what's up ? Where's the boys ?" asked Ben, in
a conciliatory tone.
" Gone scoutin'," replied Atkins. " Some Yanks
has gone and killed a fellow over at Ophir, and as
their own police couldn't catch them, but let them
slip over the line, we have got to turn out and do
their dirty work for them," growled Tommy.
" Then are yon left alone ? " asked Ben.
"Just me and Bob. Bob's inside mindin' the
horses; bnt get in and warm yourselves, and I'll see
to your team."
After a few minutes' absence, Tommy returned in
somewhat better temper, for this ex-trumpeter in the
Eoyal Horse Artillery was glad enough to see a new
face, though it would have been contrary to his
nature to show his pleasure.
" What was that yon said about a shooting-scrape
at Ophir ? " asked Ben.
I Why, that chap Sword has got wiped out at last,
and served him d—d well right, by all accounts."
" What, Sword the road-agent ?"
I That's him. Seems he was running a tony
saloon at Ophir, and no one took any notice of him
until a pal of one of the fellows he killed away back
M
-^- 162
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
in the seventies, came along and blew his waistcoat
in with a charge of slugs."
" Bnt they won't hang the fellow for that. That's
common justice," ejaculated Ben.
" That may be, but it ain't regular."
" It doesn't seem very regular to leave a notorious
murderer and train-thief unmolested for years nnder
the very nose of a judge," remarked Noel.
Old Tommy looked up at this, and seemed to
recognize Noel's presence for the first time.
" That's like the blamed conceit of a tenderfoot,
ain't it, Ben?" he remarked, turning to Sellick.
" Perhaps you'd tell ns what yon think as they'd do
if they were to catch the chap who shot Sword,"
he added, in a tone of withering contempt, to Noel.
Although half inclined to resent the old man's
manner, Noel only laughed at it. " Why, I suppose
that as there is some justification for the act, they
wouldn't hang him."
" They might, and agen, they mightn't. I guess
his would be a ticklish position. The first killin'
is always a bit risky. Yon might hang for that,
though of course, if yon have any money, yon ain't
anyways likely to.    The second killin's safer.    You AT FARWELL   OUTPOST.
163
<may be made city marshal for that; but if you're
lucky, and kill three men, yon are city marshal as
sure as hell." r~rkfr
" You've got it figured out pretty correct, Tommy,"
Ben assented. " Yon didn't calculate, I suppose, how
many killings it would take to make a judge, did
yon ? Say, Johns, I wonder if those beauties who
stopped at Battle Creek had any share in this
business.    They came from Ophir."
" And didn't go right on to Maple, as they said
they intended to," added Johns.
I Did they tell yon as they came from Ophir ? "
asked Tommy.
" Yes, that's what they said."
" Then I guess they lied. If they had come from
Ophir, specially if they had had anything to do
with Sword, they wouldn't have told you they came
from there. Done something else, I guess, just as bad.
Got born when they weren't wanted, or chucked a
good thing when they had it, or wouldn't stand still
to be shot at, or some fool's trick or other."
"Yon ain't cheery this morning, boy. What's
the trouble ?" asked Ben.
But the ex-trumpeter made no intelligible reply. ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE,
He had not had his morning ride yet, and this
horse-breaker to the force had stiU a large stock
of ill temper on hand, which it would take a
really "mean" buck-jumper half an hour to get
rid of.
Ben and Noel conld hear him knocking the saucepans and frying-pans about in the kitchen for ten
minutes after he left them, as if they were live
things which had annoyed him.
" What is the matter with the fellow ?" asked
Johns, as soon as it was safe to speak; "is he
always like that ?"
" Pretty nigh always. Tommy's a first-rate good
chap, but there's no denying that he's a bit of a
crank. He's always specially cranky when there's
been a kiltin'."
" What, is he bloodthirsty ?    He doesn't look it."
" No, and he ain't. That's not his ticket at all.
Tommy is just the other way. If the Yanks only
got the fellows as Tommy held up for them, they'd
get almighty few. But there he goes to the horses,
so I can tell yon what is the matter with Tommy.
Wait till I tight up, though;" and digging out an
ember,  Ben lit his  corn-cob pipe,  and composed AT  FARWELL OUTPOST. 165
himself for a yarn, whilst the water in the billy was
a-boiling.
" Tommy came to ns from the States, yon know.
He was one of those chaps who declare their
intention of becoming American citizens, when
they never have no intentions of the kind. His fad
is that we have all been learned the wrong rules for
this country, and that's why the Yanks get away
with ns.
" But it would be against nature if Tommy didn't
think so, 'cos he was fool enough to try to buy land
in Uncle Sam's country, instead of getting it given
to him under his own flag. And that wasn't the
worst of it. Darned if he didn't go and marry an
American woman, and a widow woman at that.
Well, of course it didn't take long for what
Tommy swears the lawyers call " nncomfortabitity
of temper" to set in atween those two, and when
she wouldn't let him have no beer, and wanted him
to deed all his property over to her, Tommy said
he'd see her further first.    Then the scrap began.
" She got the drop on him, of course—that's in the
blood—and potted him in the back, from a doorway,
before he knowed the action had commenced; the 166
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE,
next shot she raised his hair, and the third would
most likely have finished him, and got her photo
into the New York Police Neios, only, as bad luck
would have it, Tommy had got his gun by that time,
and rattled her badly by shooting over her head.
Then he got a chance, and grabbed her weapon, lit
out before the neighbours came around to lend her
a hand, and got clear off. But she's been snin' him
for alimony, or somethin' of that sort, ever since,
and as she can't get anything ont of Tommy, she
just freezes on to his land. They say as poor old
Thomas up and told the judge that he thought
there had ought to be a close time for husbands,
but I guess the judge was a bachelor, for he
give it agen Thomas, and Thomas has had a down
on jndges and American law ever since. Yon bet
the boys left him here because they knowed he
would let any dead beat go who had happened to
break the law across the tine."
" I'm not so sure that I blame him," was Noel's
comment, when Ben had finished his story; " but
I think he is coming across the yard now, and I
know the billy is boiling, so we had better set to, if
yon really mean to get to the mine to night." AT  FARWELL  OUTPOST,
" Yon bet I mean to. It's only twenty-five miles
from here to East-end Post, and fifteen on from
there. Bnt I know a short cut that misses East-
end Post. That way it won't be more than thirty-
six miles."
I Quite enough too," muttered Johns.
I We've got to do it or bust, boy. What do yon
say, Tommy ? Can we make the mine to night, with
that team of yonrs \
" Make it ? Yes, make it easy before dark," he
replied; and the event proved that he was right. 168
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
CHATTER V.
THE  STAGE  HELD  UP.
" Great Scott! it's a weight, boy!"
Ben Seltick was the speaker. He and Noel Johns
between them were straining at a moderate-sized
iron-bound chest, which, to judge by their efforts,
was abnormally heavy for its size.
V. Yon may say that without lying, Ben," remarked
an onlooker; " bnt I gness Snape's heart would be
a deuced deal heavier if yon lost it."
" I suppose," replied Ben. " But we don't calculate to lose it, sonny."
" Well, look ont for road-agents. Sword may
not be the last of the gang. You've got some
shooting-irons along, haven't yon ?"
"I've got my carbine; brought it on the off
chance of seeing an antelope; bnt I expect Stobart
and those dogs of his have hunted them all out
of the country." THE  STAGE HELD UP.
169
" Yes, they're about as scarce as road-agents.   Are
you all right now ?"
" All except the mail-bag. Chuck that in."
The mail-bag was thrown in, the coach door
closed, pipes were lighted, and then Ben and Noel
climbed up to the box-seat. The coach which had
been built to rnn on the old Cariboo road, was a
covered concern, not unlike the famous Deadwood
coach, made to contain eight or ten passengers.
But the passengers' seats were empty. The treasure-
chest and the mail-bag had the inside of the coach
to themselves, and there was no one who wanted
a share of the blankets in which Noel and Ben were
enveloping themselves.
1 That carbine is going to be awfully in our way,"
remarked Noel.
" Can't yon fix it between ns ? " asked Ben.
" Not well.    It will keep shifting as soon as we
begin to move."
" Then shove it under the seat.    If we do see an
antelope, we can get it out in time."
" Is all set ?" the driver asked, gathering up his
reins.
" All set," Noel replied,   " Good-bye, boys." 170
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
The long lash flew out and cracked viciously in
the frosty air; the four lean-looking screws gave
a preliminary exhibition of their desire to go in
different directions, and then realizing the futility
of their efforts, settled down to business, and pnlled
the old stage ont on to the prairie. Surely there
never was a stage which creaked and groaned as
that one did. It had been laid aside for so long
that it probably resented this return to active life.
Its voice, at any rate, was not an enlivening element
in that morning's drive. ,
A week spent cruising about in the Cypress Hills
had to some extent acclimatized Noel to their
dreariness, but when the coach left Pinto Mine, there
was an ugly look about the sky which he had never
seen in it before. A dense grey clond was creeping
over everything, so that sky and prairie, as far as
yon could see, was all becoming of one tone and one
colour, except where, away to the east, a narrow rim
of yellowish light, not unlike the " ice glint" of the
arctic circle, showed low down on the horizon.
Such wind as there was came in short and
uncertain puffs, bnt what there was of it was of
such  a penetrating keenness  that, in  spite  of his THE   STAGE  HELD UP.
171
wraps, it chilled Noel to the marrow before Pinto
was out of sight. Bnt it takes some time to lose
sight of Pinto on the prairie, and the travelling for
the first mile or two was very slow, on account of
the deep drifts into which the first tight snow of
the season had been blown.
" There is not much of it yet except in these
dog-goned drifts," muttered Ben, as they weltered
through one of them, " bnt there is more of it to
come, and that, too, uncommon soon," he. added,
drawing on his huge badger-skin gloves, and looking
nervously at the horizon.
Noel, for the first time in his life, was beginning
to wish himself back again in the shelter of a
British Columbian forest. Sal lal bush, six feet
high, is very provoking, but even a canyon full of
sal lal is not as bad as the treeless uplands of
Assineboia, when the wind is rising, and the
thermometer has fallen about as low as it conveniently can. Unfortunately for him, Noel was
not equipped for the Nor'-West. He had needed
no winter gear upon Vancouver Island, and had had
no money to bny any with since he left British
Columbia.    So he buttoned a blanket  coat which 172
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE,
he had borrowed, up to the chin, sat on his hands
to keep them warm; and shivered until his teeth
chattered, for at every bump of the stage the rugs
flew apart, and let in the bitter prairie wind which
numbed whatever it touched.
There were other signs, besides those in the sky,
of the coming of the real winter of the Nor'-West.
Two or three times during the morning the coach
passed bands of cattle bearing the Crane Lake
brand, but they iwere all either sheltering in the
coulees or strung out across the plain, heading
steadily for home without stopping even to graze
by the way.
" It's coming, sure as death," muttered Ben, " and
it's jnst like my cursed luck to get caught in it.
But, say, Johns, if the cold nips yon so, why don't
yon ride inside? Yon don't help me any, sitting
here."
" But how about the wraps, Ben ?"
" Oh, yon jnst take your blanket and leave me
mine. I'd a deuced deal rather have one to myself
than my share of two," said Ben, pulling np his
team, and beginning to rearrange matters to his
Satisfaction.
Iii THE  STAGE HELD UP. 173
(j Shall I take the carbine inside ?" asked Noel.
" No; leave her where she is. Once I'm fixed to
rights, I wouldn't get down for the biggest bunch of
antelope I ever saw."
Noel looked at him and believed him.
His carbine was tucked away for safety under his
feet. The collar of his great fur coat was tied
securely with a piece of rope's end round his throat;
another piece of rope's end confined it at his waist,
while over all he had rolled his blanket, until he
looked more like an Egyptian mnmmy than a
mounted policeman. The nose—though naturally
a ruddy one—which jnst showed between his fur
cap and his coat collar, was already sufficiently
corpse-like in colour to increase his resemblance.
When Noel had settled himself in his corner of
the coach, old Ben turned stiffly round again in his
seat; put a quid of tobacco between his teeth, and
then shut his month permanently for the rest of the
drive. He felt that he was in for it, and was
prepared to rough it. Like the proverbial Texan
steer, he had never died in a winter on the range
yet, and guessed he'd pnU through this time, too,
" though he might be a bit poor at the finish." 174
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
Men who have these long, slow drives to make
seem to acquire a power of suffering without thinking; of sending their minds away into space, and
leaving their bodies to take care of themselves, until
the bad times have passed. Ben Seltick had driven
over many a thousand miles of prairie in his time,
and had really seen very few of the miles he had
driven over. He had driven for the most part as
he was driving now, with his physical eyes open
enough to warn him of danger, and to enable him to
guide his team, bnt with his mind a comfortable
blank, past which mile after mile of grey prairie and
greyer sky passed unnoticed and unremembered.
On his way back from the Pinto Mine, Ben
thought it better to take the trail past the East-
end Post, and there change horses; but though he
changed his team/and lit his pipe at East-end, he
would neither stop to eat, nor get down to warm
himself by the stove.
" No, no, boys, we are best as we are," he said;
" and there's no time to waste in fixing ourselves up
again. It's all we can do to make Farwell, and if
we don't make Farwell to-night, I don't know as
you'U ever see your team again." THE  STAGE  HELD  UP.
175
The man to whom he spoke looked for a second
or two at the horizon, and then, thinking apparently
that Ben was right, sang out some orders to one
of his fellows, and had the old team out of the
shafts, and the new team in, almost before Ben's
numbed fingers had cut np a pipeful of "plug."
Following Ben's advice, Noel remained curled up
in his corner, so that he saw nothing of the men
of the East-end Post, except the sergeant, who
gave him a light as he lay huddled np in his
blanket.
And then they were off again, bumping and
jolting from side to side, hour after hour, through a
world which was absolutely monotonous; the only
moving thing between the grey of the sky and the
grey of the prairie being themselves and a few
drifting snow-flakes, forerunners of what was to
come.
A conviction began to grow upon Noel that the
whole drive was a nightmare, and that if he could
only give himself the necessary shock, he would
wake and be rid of it. The shock came at last, but
Was administered from outside. For the last half-
hour there had been a long black line ahead of the 176
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE,
horses, cutting the grey of the prairie with strange
distinctness. As they drew near, the black tine
showed itself to be a fringe of cypress trees, running
along the edge of a big coulee almost large enough
to deserve to be called a valley. The banks of this
coulee were steep on both sides, but on the further
side the ascent was so much steeper than the descent
had been, that, though Ben sent his horses down at
a hand gallop, the impetus of their descent hardly
carried them halfway out of the coulee. Just as
they stopped of their own motion, a harsh voice
rang out with strange distinctness from the bank
above—
" Hold np there !"
They are three little words, but under certain
circumstances they have a terrible significance.
Brave men have trembled at them in every State
in the Union.
By a natural instinct Ben's hand strove to get to
his hip-pocket, but even had there been no rifle
bearing upon him, he could not have reached it
under thirty seconds, so wrapped and swathed in
blankets was he.
The cold sweat broke out on his forehead as he
I Sir THE  STAGE HELD  UP.
177
remembered where his carbine was, and that Noel
was as helpless as himself.
"Drop those reins and hold yonr hands up.
One! two ! "
It was more grace than ninety-nine stage robbers
in a hundred would have given to a victim, and had
Ben Seltick been less securely canght in the folds
of his own blanket, the delay, though momentary,
would have cost the highwayman dear. Bnt Ben
had laughed at the idea of being held up, and had
thrown caution to the winds, so that plucky as he
was, he had to drop the reins, and hold up his hands
before the fatal " three! " was pronounced.
As he did so, he saw on the brow of the bank
above him, a screen of cypress boughs, and protruding through them what looked like the barrels of
three rifles, all bearing on the box-seat of the coach.
The policeman was a brave man, bnt as he looked
down the barrels of those three rifles, his heart sank
into his boots. Death is not good at any time, and
death in the gloom of those cypress trees, with night
falling, and that shrieking wind for his mourner,
seemed peculiarly nninviting. Ben shuddered, but
he made another effort to save his employer's gold.
N
it 173
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
Had he had his horses on the flat, he would have
whipped them up and taken his chances. Three
bullets might miss him if the team got off at once;
bnt here, with horses blown, a steep bank to climb,
and snow drifted two feet deep in front of him, it
would have been suicide to try to bolt.
He knew this, but he didn't like giving in for
all that. " Quit foolin'," he said steadily; " do yon
think I can't see as it's only an umbrella, or some
damned thing that you've got there ? And if there
is one gun on me, there's another on yon in the
coach."
It was a sudden inspiration, and the road-agent's
quick turn of the head might have given Ben a
chance to change places with him if he had had a
gun handy; but he hadn't, so the chance was lost,
and the voice from behind the screen sounded more
imperatively than ever.
" Get down, and put that chest out," it growled;
and Noel, who was wide awake and listening now,
thought that the voice seemed a feigned voice.
"There are three rifles on yon; if yon don't get
down pretty lively yon shall hear their music.
Jim," the voice added, " drop that leader if he tries THE  STAGE HELD UP.
179
to bolt; Mike, keep yonr eye on the passenger; I'll
take care of the driver."
Noel wasn't sure whether he heard an answer or
not. The wind was shrieking so loudly now, that
yon could only catch the general drift of the first
man's commands, but he was evidently giving his
orders to his mates behind the drift, on his right and
left; and Ben, remembering that the whole history
of American stage-coach robberies shows no single
instance of wavering on the part of the road-agents,
got snllenly down into the road, and waited for
orders.
The whole success of a road-agent depends upon
one well-understood rule—he. never makes a threat
which he is not prepared to carry ont. Once he has
the drop on yon, his orders are "hands up," and
they must go up without hesitation, or the least
tittle contraction of the muscles of his forefinger will
send yon to kingdom come. His life or yours are
the stakes on the table, and he knows it; and there
is no man alive to-day, so quick that his hand
could reach his hip-pocket, before a man "having
the drop" could press the trigger. It's easy enough
when yon are not held np, to talk of what you 180
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
would do if yon were; when yon are held up, yon
must submit to the ignominy of holding np yonr
hands like other people, or yon must die, and it
hardly seems worth while, when the time comes,
to die for a roll of greasy bank-notes.
All this Ben knew; but as he stood in the road,
his mind was busy trying to think of some ruse to
save Snape's gold.
But it was no good.
"Tell that passenger to get out," said the voice;
and Noel had to crawl ont and stand humbly before
the cypress screen.
" Is he from the mine ? " the voice asked.
" No," answered Ben ; " he's in the force."
" Stand ont and show yonr face," said the voice;
and Noel had to obey.
"Isn't Snape along?" asked the voice, after a
moment's pause.
" No; he went out last week by Swift Current,"
"Damn him!"
Noel started. There was no doubt about the
change in the voice; there was a clear ring in that
heartfelt cnrse, with no feigned hoarseness in it, and,
strangely enough, the voice seemed familiar to Noel.
m THE  STAGE   HELD UP.
However, when the man spoke again it was in his
feigned voice: at least, the voice was as deep and
hoarse as ever.
" Put out the chest on the road," it said; and Ben,
feigning to misunderstand him, put out the mail-
bag.
" No nonsense, curse yon. Put ont the chest, if
yon care to live;" and at last, sorely against his will,
Ben Sellick dragged his charge into the middle of
the road.
"Now turn yonr horses round, and don't try
to get ont sight. That will do," the voice continued,
as Ben obeyed. "Now then, yon there, get in,"
it said to Johns, "and a word to both of yon.
Drive those horses as if hell was behind yon, back
to the mine. Tell Snape, when yon see him, that
the gold has gone to where it came from. Stop, or
look round, and it will be yonr own funeral. Quit!"
and as he ceased speaking a flame shot out from
the darkness of the screen, a report rang through
the narrow valley, and a bullet hissed spitefully just
over the quarters of the wheelers.
"A hint to hurry up, curse him," muttered Ben.
" It will be our turn by-and-by," and lashing the 182
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
frightened horses into a break-neck gallop, he dashed
out of the ravine, and put their heads straight for
East-end, whilst two more shots rattled over the
coach in quick succession.
In his humiliation one thought consoled Ben
Seltick. He had left the gold and the mails, with
which he had been entrusted, in the middle of that
dark ravine, and with them his own reputation.
But the East-end Post was barely nineteen miles
away (Farwell was only six, bnt that, alas! was
in the wrong direction); and there he would find
arms and friends who would hunt the road-agent
until they had him and the stolen gold, if he stayed
above ground.
There is no cover to hide snch men in Assineboia,
and Ben Seltick, though he had kept his eyes open,
had seen no sign of a horse' near the coulee. In
his mind the agents were "as good as gaoled
already," (   183   )
CHAPTEE VI.
MAN-HUNTING.
" Ben, don't look round and don't stop them, but
move yonr feet so that I can get that rifle."
Ben Seltick had almost forgotten Noel's existence
for the time, but he did as he was bid, and asked
without turning his head—
" What is the good of the gun now ?"
"Jnst this," Noel answered, putting his arm
through the opening at the end of the coach, and
withdrawing the weapon. "I am going to drop
out as soon as we pass behind that last clump of
cypress, and I want it. Did yon notice anything
about those three shots ?"
" No, except that the bullets came too close to
be pleasant."
"But the shots didn't come too close to have
been fired by one Winchester." 184
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
iiii
" What do yon mean ?"
"Either that only one man fired, or that there
was only one man to fire."
" Yon don't say! bnt no, one man dared not
do it."
"I believe one man did; if not there will be
somebody watching, and I shall have a pretty tongh
time of it. So long, Ben. I'd take short odds that
I have the man and the' gold waiting for yon by the
time yon get back from East-end;" and with a quiet
langh Noel dropped out from behind, as they swung
round the cypresses, as coolly and as nimbly as if he
had been getting ont of a bns in Piccadilly, and lay
there until the sound of the horses' feet, still cantering, was almost lost in the rising wind.
All through the scene described in the last
chapter, Noel Johns had kept his head, and in spite
of the growing darkness and the noisy wind, he had
noticed a good many things which had escaped Ben
Sellick's observation.
He had in the first place noticed the feigned voice,
and the sudden change of tone, when disappointed
rage revealed the real man for a moment; he had
heard the orders given to the men behind the rifles MAN-HUNTING. 185
on the right and on the left, and he thought that
there had been no answers given; he had seen, too,
another thing which happened as the road-agent
turned quickly to look |for the gun Ben said was
covering him from the coach; he had seen one of
the rifle-barrels, disturbed probably by his sudden
movement, tip forward, and then slowly slide out of
its place, and' rest point downwards on the ground
in front of the screen; and he had noted, too, that all
the three shots fired were consecutive, not simultaneous. Noel Johns felt as sure that there was
only one man behind the cypress screen as he ever
was of anything, and he chuckled to himself as he
thought of the excellent opening this adventure
would make for him in his new career. The capture
of a successful stage robber single-handed is not
an everyday occurrence, but this was just what he
thought he saw his way to achieving.
But for some time he lay still.
If he was wrong in his surmise; if, after all, the
man who held them up had confederates with him, it
was probable that one of them had crept through the
bush to watch the coach out of sight. In that case,
as soon as he crawled out from his hiding-place, he ONE OF  THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
might be greeted with a bullet through the body.
Like a sportsman preparing to crawl in to dangerous
game, he tried his carbine. The pnmp of the tittle
Winchester worked easily, and the magazine was full.
To make sure, even at the risk of being heard, hfl
ejected the cartridges. There were seven of them.
Carefully he picked them up and replaced them, put
one into the chamber, and then lying flat on his
stomach crawled out from his cover and across the
open to the edge of the coulee. It was nervous
work and slow, but he reached the bushes at last
and lay panting, bnt reassured. The worst of the
stalk was over, and he was now almost absolutely sure
that he was right. The dnsk was coming on rapidly.
Under the cypresses it was already dark. There
was no sound of any kind. The beat of the horses'
feet and the rattle of the stage had died away in the
distance; except for the creaking and groaning of
some dead tree in an occasional puff of wind, and
that little shiver which sometimes runs through
the bonghs, all was absolutely still. Behind him
lay the prairie, dim and vague, no sign of life upon
it anywhere, and in front the coulee, full of dark
trees and darker shadows.    As long as the darkness MAN-HUNTING. 187
was unbroken, it would be well with him. What
he feared was that a little red flame would spit out
from the darkness. If it did, he wondered whether
he would live to see it. He remembered how, a long
time ago, he had watched a friend stalking a buck.
He remembered the long time he waited whilst his
friend crawled in, and how he had seen the bnck fall
first, before it seemed to him, he saw the flash, and
long before, he heard the report. Well, it was a
merciful death anyway, and a man crawling on his
stomach through the shadows would be a good deal
harder to hit than a buck standing up in the open.
Gently parting the bushes in front of him, he
crawled forward. In spite of his utmost care a dry
leaf rustled here and there. Once a dry stick
cracked. The whole wood seemed to listen, and the
shadows to flit from bnsh to bush. The perspiration
stood in great beads on his brow, though his breath
froze hard on his moustache. But he went on, and,
at last only a hundred yards separated him from
that point on the road where the treasure-chest lay.
The road of course would be lighter than the bnsh,
but it would not be light enough to make it safe
to shoot at a hundred yards, so he wormed his "way ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
back again into cover, and crawled round until he
felt certain that if the man was by the chest, he
must be within fifty yards of him.    For Noel was
hunting his man as men hunt grizzlies, and expected
to kill him over his prey.    For a moment he lay
and listened.    Yes, there was some one there.    In
the stillness he conld hear him breathing, and Noel
thought that the beating of his own heart against his
ribs would betray him.    Then there came to him
the sound of tearing paper, and the noise of it in
the stillness  made him start and tighten his grip
on his rifle's barrel.    But he conld wait no longer.
Inch by inch he raised his head, and his rifle came
up with him inch by inch, until at last he looked
down the barrel—at what ?    A single, lonely figure
standing right ont in the  open by the mail-bag,
absolutely unconscious, or careless of danger, with
an open letter in his hand, which he seemed trying
in vain to read.     The treasure-chest lay where Ben
had put it.    No one seemed to have troubled to go
near it.
It was a strange position. Noel had expected
to find the man busy pocketing the treasure for
which he had broken the law and risked his life; 3BB
ma
MAN-HUNTING.
189
and instead he found the chest untouched, and the
man trying in the dim light to read some one else's
letters. As he looked at him, there came again
that uneasy consciousness of something in the man's
figure which was familiar to him, bnt before he
had time to think, jnst the edge of the rising moon
crept above the trees, and in its white tight the man
turned and confronted him. There was nothing in
that heavily bearded face, however, to strengthen
the suspicion which the man's real voice and the
outline of his figure had suggested.
Eising quickly Noel covered his man, and again
that strange command broke the stillness of the
cypresses—
" Hands up ! If yon stir yon are a dead man !"
Bnt the man made no attempt to stir. He didn't
even raise his hands, but let them hang closely by
his side, one of them still holding the letter. On the
side of the road, ten paces from him, lay his rifle;
the moonlight fell upon the screen, and showed
plainly now the two fir-poles which in the half-light
of an hour ago had imposed upon Ben Seltick. One
of them had slipped from its place, and lay exposed
in front of the ambuscade. ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
Noel walked ont into the open.
" You are my prisoner. If yon attempt to bolt, I
can't miss yon," he said.
" My gun is there. I've no chance, so yon must
do as you please. Better shoot, and have done with
it," was the answer.
This of course was clearly impossible. Had the
man resisted, Noel would have shot him tike a dog.
It would have made matters much easier for Noel,
and not very much worse for his captive. Bnt yon
can't shoot a man in cold blood, with the quiet moon
looking on, even if he tells yon to.
Noel was at a loss. He had got his man, bnt he
did not know what to do with him. However, he
remembered that Farwell conld not be more than
six miles off at the most, and, in any case, they could
not both of them stand there all night.
" Turn round and take the trail to Farwell," Noel
commanded; " I shall follow, and if yon turn round*
or leave the trail, I fire ! "
Without a word the man deliberately folded np the
letter he had been reading, put it- in his pocket,
and turning round moved off along the trail, his
hands in   his  pockets, his   head   down,   perfectly MAN-HUNTING. 191
indifferent, it seemed to his captor, as to where he
went, or who followed him.
In this fashion the two left the coulee, and silently
plodded on towards Farwell, whilst the wind, which
had risen again with the rising moon, came in short,
sharp puffs and little scurries, as if it was preparing
itself for more serious work. The silence of this
strange procession was intolerable to Noel, and
before long he became conscious that his coat was
covered with a fine, thick powder of snow, which
grew and grew until he could feel it underfoot, and
which soon so filled the air as to almost quench the
moonlight, obliging him to come closer to his captive
to keep him in sight. As he drew nearer, the man
stopped and turned round. As quick as thought
Noel raised his carbine, bnt the fellow, instead of
flinching, looked quietly down the threatening barrel,
and laughed in his face.
" No, no," he said; " I'm not on the fight. I told
you I would go quietly, and I will; bnt it seems to
me that yon might oblige me with a pipe of tobacco.
I've neither smoked nor eaten for a good many hours
now. Stand where yon are and throw it to me if
yon won't trust me any closer, though I don't see 192
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
m\\
why you should mind a struggle with a smaller man
than yourself."
After all, he was right, and Noel as he measured
him felt shamed by his prisoner's coolness, and
acted foolishly in consequence.
" Come as close as yon please," he answered; " I'll,
take my chance;" and drawing his pouch from his
pocket, he offered it to him, looking curiously into
his bearded sun-tanned face as he did so. The face
he saw certainly was not one which he remembered,
and yet there was a trick about it somewhere (it
might have been about the fearless grey eyes) which
reminded him in a curious indefinite fashion of
some one;he had seen before: some one whose features
he had stored up in one of the pigeon-holes of his
brain, but in a pigeon-hole to which for the moment
he could not find his way.
Undoubtedly there was something about this road-
agent out of keeping with his surroundings. In
spite of his feigned voice and his occasional slang,
there was no trace of the Canadian twang in his
speech; and in spite of the rents in them, and
the service they had seen, it was evident that
the clothes he wore had not originally been of the mam
MAN-HUNTING.
193
ordinary prairie cut and fashion. Even the pipe,
which he was quietly filling from Noel's pouch, was,
if the tight could be relied upon, an English briar, as
like one of Loewe's pipes which he had in his own
pocket as two peas in a pod. The "old man" had
given Noel his pipe the day of the railway accident
on the E. and N. Eailway. It was the last of a
dozen, which the foolish old man had imported
before he knew the virtues of a " corn cob."
As the road-agent handed him back his ponch,
Noel took ont his own pipe, and proceeded to fill it;
the man's eyes rested on it as he did so.
" Our pipes are a good deal alike. They might
be brothers, or cousins, mightn't they ? " he asked
chaffingly. "They are both of them a good deal
the worse for wear, though."
I Yes, they are both English. I suppose we are
like them in that."
The man made no answer, but turned to follow
•the trail again, stopping, however, after the first half-
dozen paces to say—
II suppose yon know the trail to Farwell ?"
" Yes, this is it," Noel answered. " Why do yon
ask?"
0 194
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
" Oh, if this is it, that is all right, only this would
be a bad night to be left out in. It is beginning to
snow in earnest." And so saying he turned np the
collar of his coat with a shiver and trudged on once
more.
Perhaps it was only the monotony of the walk and
the constant strain upon his vigilance which affected
his judgment, or perhaps it was the ngly look of
the night which made him nnusnally anxions to get
under cover; but whatever the cause, Noel began to
think that the last six miles between Cypress
Conlee and Farwell were the longest ever measured,
and when a second low black tine in front, seen
faintly in the snow and night, warned him that they
had reached a second timbered coulee, he called to the
man in front of him—
" Do yon know this conlee ? "
" Yes, I know it,  bnt it's not on the way to
Farwell."
" Not on the way to Farwell!  Where is it, then ? "
" Between Farwell and Battle Creek."
For the moment Noel thought that the man had
wilfully misled him, but he banished the idea at
once.    If it had been his object to mislead him, why MAN-HUNTING.
195
should he expose his plot now? But he certainly
did not remember another coulee between Cypress
Coulee and Farwell. For a while he peered into
the night, for some familiar landmark, but there
are no landmarks, or very few, upon the prairie, even
in the daytime. He listened, hoping to hear the
sound of the policemen's horses' feet upon the snow,
but a moment's reflection convinced him that it was
too soon to expect them yet. He was fairly lost,
and he knew it.
His prisoner's voice broke in upon his meditations.
" Well, are you satisfied that we are lost ?" he
asked, " or that you are, at any rate ?"
" I certainly don't know this coulee: but it makes
no difference, we can find some shelter here and
wait for daylight," he replied stubbornly; "unless
yon like to try to find the way to Farwell for us,
and I don't suppose yon wiU do that."
" I'U try, if yon teU me to. I'd rather spend the
night there than here; but I'm not sure that I conld
find the way, and Farwell must be a long way from
here, but I know of a police-shack close by, where
we could get shelter if you chose to."
Again Noel hesitated.    It looked very much as if 196
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
his prisoner was leading him into a trap ; but it was
in any case a choice of evils, and he began to realize
that he would find it almost impossible to keep this
man with him through the dark honrs of the night
unless he stayed voluntarily, so that when he asked
him again to make np his mind whether he would
go or stay, Noel bade him curtly " go ahead," and
followed him down into the timber. Ten minutes'
floundering in the bnsh proved that the road-agent's
local knowledge was reliable, as it brought them to
one of those small one-roomed log cabins, which the
police have put up here and there as rest houses
for benighted members of the force, or other storm-
stayed travellers.
"They've forgotten to leave a key, of course,"
grumbled the man, " but I suppose this will do as
well," and raising his foot, he drove in the frail door
with his heel, and entering, struck a match, by the
light of which Noel could see a wide open fireplace,
down the chimney of which the snow had already
drifted freely, a rough table, and a few empty meat-
tins, and other relics of the last tenants.
" There is a candle-stump here, if the rats haven't
taken it out of the tin where I put it:   they eat wmm^s^s^m
MAN-HUNTING.
197
everything," muttered the man, feeling about in the
chinks of the cabin wall, and finally producing
the end of a candle, which he lit, and placed on
the table.
" They've laid the cloth for ns," he added, pointing to the snow, with which the table was covered.
" It only wants a little fire and some food to make
things quite comfortable," and so saying, he went
ont again, and returned in a few minutes carrying a.
huge armful of shingles and planks torn from an
onthonse.
"I didn't ask leave," he remarked as he came in,
" bnt yon must consider me a prisoner on parole
for to-night."
Noel had hardly noticed how both of them had
unconsciously dropped their relative positions as
captor and captive, bnt he started more at the man's
voice than at his words. For the second time he
had forgotten his disguise, and, bnt for the utterly
inconsistent surroundings, Noel conld hardly have
helped recognizing his voice. Bnt the man saw his
mistake as soon as he had made it, and relapsed at
once into silence, or spoke, when obliged to, in the
hoarse tone he had at first adopted. 198
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
" Yon are a queer beggar for a road-agent," Noel
answered; " bnt I accept the position: only remember, I too shall keep my word. My life is nearly
as much at yonr mercy as yonr life is at mine.
Still, if you were to kill me, the boys would catch
yon sooner or later, and then  "
" Then I should swing for it. Yes, I know, and
I would almost as soon swing as not. However,
yon can go to sleep in peace if yon want to. I shall
be here when yon wake," and so saying, he raked
together a few odds and ends of hay, which were on
the floor, and made room npon them for Noel and
himself. 2SBBB
(   199   )
CHAPTEE VII.
CHRISTMAS  EVE.
For an honr perhaps those two lay smoking in the
firelight without speaking even a word, and only
shifting now and then to escape the bitter wind
which howled under the door, or the acrid wood
smoke which was driven down the chimney, making
their eyes shut and water with pain. The hay npon
which they lay was damp, and grew every minnte
damper as the heat of their bodies, or of the little
fire, thawed the snow which had drifted amongst it,
so that from time to time they had to rise and dry
themselves before the burning logs.
" Pretty miserable for Christmas Eve," at last
remarked the road-agent.
" Christmas Eve !" ejaculated Noel. " This isn't
Christmas Eve, is it ? "
I So the almanac says.    At least, it is the 24th 200
ONE OF THE BROKER BRIGADE.
of December. I don't know, whether there are any
Christmas Eves in this cursed country."
"Then yon are an old countryman, like myself?"
" Yes, I'm an old countryman, bnt not like yourself.    Yon are for the law.    I'm against it."
" Bnt why ? Surely yon might do better than
this ?"
" Perhaps; it wouldn't seem difficult; but have
yon done any better by abiding by the law, than I
by breaking it ? A man must either rob or be
robbed. I've tried both, and neither game seems to
pay."
Noel was silent; he found it difficult to answer this
man's question. He knew of one man at least who
had robbed, and of another who had been robbed; and
now, whilst one lay half-freezing in that police-shack,
the other was probably dispensing lavish hospitality
in his own house in Victoria—to men who knew him,
and knew what a real estate-agent is, and forgave
him for his success and his good wine; and to others
who did not know, and who would in consequence
pay for their stupid ignorance.
These latter, no donbt birds of passage, would in
their hearts vote  Snape  "a bit of a cad," but a
;       ii CHRISTMAS EVE.
201
liberal good fellow for a colonist, never guessing that
he and such as he are the men who mar, not make,
colonies; and that though things are dear in British
Columbia, Mr. Snape would, when he " totted up " his
account for that Christmas Eve entertainment before
going to bed, find the balance very much npon his
side. How? yon ask. Merely because nnder the
influence of his genial smile, and liberal libations
of his Undoubted '47 port, Brown had taken several
shares in his company for the reclamation of the
Whitwater Morass, and Smith had agreed to buy
that excellent corner on George Street at fifty per
cent, more than it was worth, and at least thirty-five
per cent, more than Snape meant to pay to its owner.
Well, it was no nse thinking of these things. He
had been taught one set of rules, Snape another; and,
after all, there were worse places than the police-
shack. He conld hear a coyote outside, and he
pitied the wretched little vagrant. That anything
having in it the breath of life conld survive on such
a night seemed impossible, for the drifting snow
seemed to be burying everything, and, in spite of
their efforts, was drifting so thickly down the wide
open chimney as to extinguish the fire.    When the
fill
m 202
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
fire went out, hope seemed to go with it. They could
not even sit smoking any longer, drawing fancy
pictures in the glowing embers. The quiet of the
grave settled on the hnt, and bit by bit the dampness
which the heat had created disappeared, and everything grew hard and crisp again to the touch. Even
the legs of the men's trousers, which had been soaked
through with melted snow, stiffened and hardened
nntil they cracked when they moved, and their breath
froze npon their moustaches. The door which Noel
tried to open was snow-blocked, and where he could
feel that there should have been a space to see
through, he could see nothing. Outside there
was a really solid darkness, which blinded the stars,
and kept falling, falling with a soft silent insistence.
Shutting the door again, he groped his way back to
his corner, reached for his rifle and laid it by his
side. For a moment it occurred to him that his
captive might have drawn his cartridges in the dark,
and opening the breech as noiselessly as he conld,
he felt for the cartridge which should be in the
magazine, and found it there. Comparatively noiseless as his action had been, the other heard it, and
laughed a low, harsh langh. CHRISTMAS EVE. 203
" It is not worth it, mate," the voice said. " Why
should I try to escape, or yon either? Maybe, it
would be better for you if I were to kill yon, if I
could. Better for yon, I mean. If you're so keen to
live, better come and tie close here and keep your
blood warm a bit longer.    I shan't touch the rifle."
" It's not as bad as that," answered Noel; " but
company is better for both of us, I grant yon," and
so saying he laid down the rifle, and the two made
the most of the wisp of hay on the floor, and crept
close to one another and lay there, listening to the
scurrying feet of live things on the table and round
the hut looking for crumbs, and looking in vain.
For hours it seemed to Noel that he lay there slowly
stiffening with cold, then sleep came, and he passed at
once from winter prairies of Assineboia to the
summer meadows of the Thames. He was in the
old hall again at Kingdon, giving Pussy Verulam
that farewell kiss, and hearing the old man's good
wishes for his voyage ; or he was with his child love
in the woods at home by the keeper's cottage, or
sculling her on the long sunny reaches of the
Thames, or listening to her sweet voice in the
hospital in Victoria.   Suddenly the dreams vanished, 204
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
Ill:
and he woke. A light, bright by comparison with the
gloom around it, had fallen across his eyelids and
awoke him. Without stirring he looked and saw his
companion sitting up beside him, the end of the
candle which he had saved lighted again, reading a
letter. From end to end he seemed to read it, and
then let it fall with a groan which sounded like the
bursting of a strong heart. " My God, Pussy, if I
had only known ! " the man muttered, and his hand.
clenched and his whole figure seemed to writhe with.
pain, while the voice was no longer the feigned voice
which Noel had heard nntil then, so that when he
turned his face towards his captor, the red beard gone
and all disguise laid aside, the two looked into each
other's faces and understood why in the jaws of
death both were thinking of the same sweet English
girl.
" Trevor, my God ! is it yon ?" gasped Noel.
"Yes,  I'm  Trevor  Johns, Noel,  or was  Trevor
Johns nntil yesterday.    To-morrow, I suppose, I shall
be the road-agent who held np the Pinto coach, and.
was  found frozen  stiff alongside his  captor, Noel
Johns, the policeman," and Trevor laughed bitterly.
" I wish there was no more real danger than that," CHRISTMAS EVE. 205
replied Noel. " But why in Heaven's name did yon
hold up the coach ? Yon wouldn't have robbed it ?"
" Wouldn't have robbed it! wouldn't I ? Whose
money was it that was in that chest, mine or theirs ?
Honesty is the best policy some folks say, and I
dare say it may be, but I'd like to get an accurate
definition of honesty. I only know one law, that
I have seen justified in my experience."
"And that?"
" The devil takes care of his own. But, there,
cousin, the game is played now, and can't be helped.
Perhaps we shall get a second innings somewhere,
and know the rules better. Let us blow out the
candle, and I'll tell you a story as we used to when
Euth thought we had gone to sleep. Shall we move
this rifle now ? It is a bit in the way, and I don't
suppose you want it now, do you ? "
For answer Noel took the carbine, and tossed
it roughly across the floor, where it fell softly enough
amongst the drifted snow.
" You know I stayed behind when Pussy and the
old man went home ? " Trevor asked.
"Yes, with those Gilchrists," replied Noel,
bitterly. 206
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
" And was very properly punished for my folly.
That girl played with me like a cat with a mouse.
I felt ashamed of myself all the time, because I
thought she was fond of me, and she left for Tacoma
with a dry-goods' man, in an avalanche of flowers,
the day after her father got me into his cursed
company."
Trevor waited for some comment from his cousin,
but getting none, went on—
"Served me deuced well right, I suppose you
think, and I suppose it did; but I paid pretty dearly
for a flirtation in which the girl made all the
running.    You heard what it cost me ? "
" Yes.    Everything."
"Everything ; and you still wonder that I meant
to get enough back to take me out of this cursed
country ?"
" But you did not touch the gold, Trevor ?"
" No; but I would have done, if I could have
opened the chest. I found these first," and he held
up two letters.
" What interest could they have for yon ?" asked
Noel.
" You shall read them and see.    They were sent CHRISTMAS EVE. 207
to me when Trevor Johns was principal owner of
the Pinto Mine, and were on their way back marked,
' Not known there.' "
Noel took the proffered letters, and striking a
match, looked round for the candle-end which he had
laid aside a few minutes earlier. But starvation
sharpens the wits| and gives courage to the feeble,
and there were other starving things in the police-
shack besides the two men that night. The tireless
feet, which they had heard pattering round in the
earlier hours of darkness, had passed by them whilst
they talked, and some hungry, bright-eyed beast had
seized and carried off the neglected candle-end.
" Gone, by Jove ! " muttered Trevor. " It's a great
country. I wonder if they will steal our bones
when we are dead; they will if they can make anything of them."
" Find some dry wood if you can," suggested Noel,
" and if yon have any matches, let me have them.
We must ' fire up' again."
Trevor did as he was bid, and by dint of much
coaxing the two made a flame big enough to spell
out the two letters by.
The first  of  these  was   from  Trevor's man  of 208
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
business, and was dated, " Kingdon, Gloucestershire,
November 3rd." It had crossed some three thousand
miles of sea, and nearly as many miles of land, since
it left the private room of Mr. Gaines, senior partner
in the firm of Gaines and Co. Possibly when that
snug and highly respectable person wrote it in his
comfortable armchair, some slight twinge of envy
touched him; envy, not altogether unreasonable,
of the lucky correspondent, still under thirty, into
whose pockets wealth flowed unsought, unworked
for.
Well, at any rate, there would be very considerable
pickings for Gaines and Co. in the administration
of Mr. Trevor Johns' estate, but the senior partner
deeply regretted that " that silly young idiot"
(a synonym for " our respected client ") should have
acquired a taste for mining, and mining too in
America! Mr. Gaines was a gentleman of insular
prejudices, and hated America and Americans almost
as much as Americans hate the English. However,
marriage he supposed would cure this folly; and
there, again, had ever man such luck ? This boy was
engaged to the beautiful Miss Verulam, the pride
of the whole country.   Lucky dog!    He could marry CHRISTMAS EVE.
209
a beautiful woman: some hard-working men he
knew of had to marry rich women—and the thought
made him strike his bell angrily, and rate a meek
clerk who answered it for an imaginary fault which
the poor devil was too polite to deny.
But Fortune has a queer way of distributing her
gifts. If Mr. Gaines could by any possibility have
seen the reading of his letter, he might have come
to the conclusion that we all get about a fair deal
after all.
" My dear Sir" (he wrote),
" It is my painful duty to announce the
death of our late respected client, your uncle, Mr.
Hughes, of the Marsh, who died somewhat unexpectedly last week. As you know, Mr. Hughes,
in addition to being well-stricken in years, had
been ailing slightly for some months, but his
sudden death from aneurism of the heart was
none the less a severe shock to all who had had
the pleasure of knowing him. Although the pernicious system of free trade has done much to injure
the landed interest of late, Mr. Hughes died a very
rich man, and though he has seen fit to devise the
p
11
tii-   .' :*
*£ 210
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
Marsh estate to your cousin, Mr. Noel Johns, he has
left the residue of his property, real and personal,
to you. I have, therefore, my dear sir, much
pleasure in congratulating yon on yonr succession
to the Trefnant property, and on the addition of
something tike £150,000 to your personal property.
" Should you elect to leave the management of the
property in our hands, we shall respect the trust,
and treat the property committed to our care with
that careful consideration which, we venture to
believe, helped not a tittle to put it upon its present
substantial basis. Awaiting your commands, I am,
my dear sir, •
" Yours obediently,
"L. Gaines."
For a moment Noel looked incredulously at the
paper in his hand, and then dashing it down he
cried—
" Great Scott, what luck! Why, Trevor, our
troubles are over."
" Yours are, if you can get out of this storm and
find your way to the tine," his cousin answered sadly;
" but there is no chance for me, that I can see."
*• CHRISTMAS EVE.
211
" Why not, man ? You've lost one estate, but
you have got another; and as for this storm, there
never was a blizzard in the nor'-west that I
wouldn't worry through, somehow, if Trefnant was
waiting for me on the other side; and this is no
blizzard yet."
"How about that little incident of the stagecoach ?"
Noel's face changed in a moment. With his mind
fixed on home, and the good luck which had come
to his cousin and himself, he had, for the moment,
forgotten the real position of affairs.
" You see," Trevor went on, " you are bound in
honour to give me up, and if you do, I shall never
see England again until it is too late. Poor tittle
Pussy! " and the strong man groaned as if his heart
would break.
"I'm not in the police, though I don't know
whether that makes much .difference," muttered
Noel, speaking to himself rather than to his cousin.
"None. Your duty is plain. If we escape the
storm, I must stay here, but you can go home, old
chap.    It's no fault of yours."
" Go home ?   and I suppose in time everything
*9*
111 212
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
would come to me, and Noel Johns would do extremely well, at his cousins expense; an honourable
role you propose for me to play, cousin."
" Forgive me, Noel. I know you would help me
if you could," said Trevor. " But what can yon do ?
Fate has been too strong for us, and I can see no
way out."
Noel made no answer. He had made up his
mind that Trevor owed the law nothing, or but
very little, and for himself he was not bound to it
by any pledge or pay. At any rate, he was for the
time like crusty Tommy Atkins, the alimony man,
" agin the law."
"Am I to read Pussy's letter ?" he asked, after
a pause.
" Yes, read it, and remember, Noel, that if you
get home without me, you must lie to her for her own
sake. She must never know of this miserable affair,
if we can help it. You'll see she thought of you,
though she does not seem to have heard of your
good fortune."
Noel took the delicate paper in his hands, and
bending over the embers, felt half ashamed as he
looked into the tender heart laid bare before him.
ml CHRISTMAS EVE.
213
" My dear Old Boy " (he read),
" Are you not utterly ashamed of yourself
for staying away so long ? Are big-horn sheep and
gold mines really the only things which are detaining you? Mind, Trevor, the best of us are
jealous, sometimes, and even if I were heart-sick
with waiting for you, I should get over it, or hide
it, if you kept away much longer.
"Seriously, the 'old man' says you ought to
lose no time in coming home now, as since your
uncle's death (of course, you heard of that), there are
so many things for you to attend to here.
" It is perfectly wicked, I think, to go on grubbing
for more money now, in those horrid American
mines. You will have more than you can spend in
your own country, so come back at once, and if you
can, dear, bring back that poor boy of ours with you.
The old man is always thinking of him, and it seems
to me too hard that he should be left out in the
cold, whilst all the rest of us here at Kingdon are to
be so happy. We might make Noel our agent, when
we are married. He is too proud to take any
money which he did not earn, even from us. I
wonder why old Mr. Hughes left him nothing.   He 214
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
was his uncle as much as he was yours, but poor
Noel never had any luck. We must try to make
it up to him, you and I. But, there, come back, and
come soon, and we will.make the old home home
again.    I want to see the old man laugh as he used
o o
to do; I want to hear the house noisy again; I don't
mind even if you leave your guns about, or if those
muddy spaniels do come into the drawing-room; I'll
forgive anything except delay. I want your arm
round my waist, Trevor, to give me courage, for I
think it's all gone with my heart, dear, and I want
you to come at once, and forget that I ever wrote
such a foolish letter, or I shall repent when I
really am,
" Your tittle wife,
" Pussy."
When Noel handed the letter back to his cousin,
there were tears in his eyes which the wood smoke
had not caused, and a choking sensation in his
throat which for a time prevented speech.
When he found his voice at last, he laid his hand
on Trevor's arm, and said, with a queer, false laugh,
which was very like a sob— CHRISTMAS EVE.
215
" Thank you, old man. I don't think I ought to
have read it, but it wiU be quite easy.now to
hand you over to the chain-gang—quite easy; and
then I think I'll go home and see your little wife
Pussy." 216
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
CHAPTEE VIII.
IN THE HEART  OF THE STORM.
The storm which Ben Seltick and the bands of
homing cattle had predicted had come at last.
It had hung about, as such storms will, for a couple
of days, but now it had put out the stars, and outside the police-shack the darkness moved and fell,
growing thicker and thicker every moment, until
even the prairie wind seemed paralyzed by the weight
of the noiseless flakes. Noel Johns, who had been
peering through the door into the dark, groped his
way back again to the wisp of damp hay, and lay
down beside his cousin.
" Trevor," he said, " there is one chance for us.
It is a poor one, but if this snowfall stops, we must
try it."
" Better do your duty, and let me take my
chance," replied the other.
m;  *
It IN THE HEART OF THE  STORM.
217
" We won't argue that question. I have made up
my mind about my duty. I am not a servant of the
law, and I don't think either justice or honour
compels me to give you up. In any case, I don't
mean to," he added firmly.
" You always were a fool, cousin," said Trevor,
"but a brave and honest one. Well, if you will
have it so, what is this chance ? "
" This snowstorm. It will stop the pursuit for
one thing, and Ben Seltick will probably conclude
. that we have been lost in it."
" In which conclusion he will probably be right."
" Possibly; but if you will only rouse yourself,
. and make a fight for it, he may be wrong. Whilst
they think we are stiffening under the snow, we
might be plodding through it to the line."
" The boundary line ? You are mad; that must be
a hundred miles from here."
" No ; the Canadian Pacific. If we reach that we
. may be able to board a train going East, and show
these fellows a clean pair of heels after all. It is
simply a question of endurance. Do you think you
could walk another thirty miles through the snow
without food ?" 218 ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
" No, I'm pretty sure I couldn't; but you might,
and I would rather die in the open than either here
or in prison."
Noel almost groaned. He knew the terrible
difficulty of the task before them, and realized that
the man whose life he wanted to save had lost
heart already, and was broken down with hunger,
fatigue, and misery. How could he hope to drag
such a man through thirty miles of snow-drifts ?
" Well, we cannot start yet, so we may as well
lie down and try to sleep. We shall want all our
strength for to-morrow," he said, and after piling on
the last of the wood, he lay down by his cousin, and
made believe to sleep, whilst Trevor, utterly
exhausted, dropped off into a doze. Meanwhile,
in the growing cold, Noel Johns fought the great
battle of his life—the battle between a pure love
and self-interest. His mind had never been
clearer than it was that night. He saw aU the
possible loss or gain; he realized all the risk;
recognized that for him there could be no reward,
and made up his mind to do his duty. But it was
very hard. He was younger than Trevor, and had
hitherto had no share, or only a small one, in the IN THE HEART OF THE STORM.
219
good things of life, and now for the first time a
prospect of an almost perfect life opened before him.
As the Squire of the Marsh he would have almost
everything he coveted. He knew every acre of the
estate, every room in that dear old Manor House,
almost every fence which a horse would have to clear
in his way across the farms. He could absolutely see,
as he lay there with his eyes shut, the gorse which
was such a sure find for a fox, or the pool below the
larch wood, where the wild ducks bred, and to
which the teal came in the winter evenings; or the
long bank above the house, where you were always
sure on an autumn evening of half a dozen shots at
crossing rabbits. Yes, he knew it all, and knew
that after his sojourn in the West he would appreciate it as he could never have appreciated it before.
If he chose to hold his prisoner in the shack for
another day, the police would, he felt sure, find
them, and after a little more hardship he, Noel
Johns, would be free to go home and be happy.
And as for Trevor ? Well, Trevor had made a fool
of himself, and must pay for his own folly. He had
won the only thing Noel cared for, Pussy Verulam's
love, and trifled with it for the sake of a vulgar, 220
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
yeUow-headed hussy, whose manners would not
have qualified her for a place as housemaid at Kingdon. Yes, that was all very true, but in spite of
all that, Pussy loved Trevor, and unless he would
break her heart he must save her lover for her.
Here a voice whispered in his ear, " Need Pussy
ever know ? Wouldn't time console her ? And
then "
He would listen no further. His cheeks burned
even in the dark and cold of that miserable hut, as
he thought of Noel Johns, a rich man grown richer
by his cousin's disappearance or death, shirking the
question in those grey eyes he loved so well—
" Where is Abel, thy brother ?"
" Great Scott!" he muttered to himself, " what am
I thinking of? Am I going to set my happiness
before hers ?" and as he said so, he sprang to his
feet, brushed away the last shred of doubt, of feeble
self-pity and of human selfishness, and braced himself for the last struggle against Fate.
" Eouse up, Trevor. The snow has stopped, and
it's tight enough to see," he cried, and Trevor sat
stiffly up and shivered until his teeth chattered.
" Do you know the way, Noel ? " m
IN THE HEART OF THE STORM.
221
" No, there is no way to know; but the line is a
long one, and if we go due north from here we must
cut it.    Are you ready ?"
" I suppose so; there is no breakfast to wait for,"
replied Trevor, and the two pushed through the
weight of snow which lay against the door, climbed
out of the coulee and set their faces resolutely
towards the north.
As they reached the edge of the coulee dawn came*
and they saw the pale tight creep over the long, white,
treeless waste. At first the day was very still. The
heavy snowfall had stopped, and towards ten o'clock
the sun even showed himself. He looked cheerful,
but there was no warmth to be got from him; still
that mattered little, for after a time the exercise of
plodding through snow a foot deep on the flat, waist
deep sometimes in the coulees, will warm a man in
any climate. For hours the two cousins kept on.
The work was terrible, but the prize was freedom, and
both men had been trained from childhood in all
manner of athletics to make every muscle do its
utmost.
It was nearly midday when the two stood resting
for a moment.
ill 222 ONE OF  THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
" What has become of the sun again, Noel ?" asked
Trevor.
" I suppose that blot represents him up there. I
wish we had a compass."
"Why?"
" Because I am afraid those are more snow-clouds,"
he answered, pointing to the heavy, yellowish banks
of cloud in which the sun seemed lost, "and if it-
begins to snow again, we shall only have the wind to
steer by. If that shifts, God only knows what will
become of us."
"Never mind, shove on, old fellow," replied
Trevor, "the snow hasn't begun yet; but, I say, are
those antelope or wolves ?" and he pointed towards
the skyline behind them.
"Neither, Trevor," replied Noel, after a pause.
" They are the Mounted Police."
" Then the game is up, thank God for it! I am
utterly sick of this anyway," and he was just walking out of the coulee in which they had been resting
when Noel caught him by the arm and held him back.
" Don't be a cur. Isn't Pussy worth fighting for ? 1
he hissed savagely into his ear. " Lie down here.
I don't believe they have seen us yet." IN THE HEART OF THE STORM.
223
" But they must find our tracks, and then what
chance have we ?"
"That," replied Noel, and pointed to where the
sun had been and where now there was nothing but
a dull, yellowish blot amidst a mass of seething grey
clouds, which drifted hither and thither, or were torn
into rags and sent spinning in wreaths and streamers
across the sky. Meanwhile the wind was rising with
a rapidity which Trevor had never seen equalled.
" The blizzard will save us from them, at any rate,"
muttered Noel. "Take hold of my hand, Trevor.
If we ever part in this, we shall never meet again.
Look at it coming."
In the dull light which still remained to them
they could see the snow, which an hour before had
been a quiet carpet under their feet, rising and
flowing towards them. For nearly three feet from
the ground these snow-waves rose, and swept after
them, growing higher and higher as the wind worked
itself up into wilder fury. Between them and their
pursuers a curtain had been spread, and taking
advantage of it, and guided by the wind, Noel set his
teeth, and gripping his cousin's hand, floundered
stubbornly onward.    Now and again there would 224
ONE OF  THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
come a rift in the clouds, and an interval of dim
light. In one of these Trevor tried to wrap an overcoat he wore more tightly round his head and
shoulders, the wind seeming to go through his cap
and bore into his brain with a gimlet of ice. But
the wind got under the coat and wrenched it from
him. For a moment it was above his head, a dark
spot in the gloom; the next it vanished. In another
place, as they plunged up to their thighs in a snowbank, the whole bank seemed to explode beneath
them; there was a whirring of strong wings, and
then the wind knocked the great birds down again,,
and the cousins saw them skulking along in front,
their necks craned out, their heads on one side, and
their tails blown almost over their heads.
" They had holed up in that bank," said Noel,
looking at the prairie-chicken as he spoke. " I expect
it is our only chance now."
" No ; better keep going, Noel. If I stopped now
I could never go on again," replied Trevor, and the
two plodded on again towards the north.
" Shouldn't we pass the line without seeing it ? 1
asked Trevor. " Surely it must be buried several feet
deep in snow by now." IN THE HEART OF THE  STORM.
225
" The rails may be buried, but the telegraph poles
will show us where we are."
" Well, if there is a line in the country, we must
strike it soon.    We have been going ten hours."
Noel made no answer. Even if his cousin's
calculation of time was accurate, it did not follow
that they had travelled anything tike thirty miles.
Men don't make three miles an hour in the snow,
even if they keep in the right direction all the time,
and he was not sure that they had done that. But
he saw that Trevor could not go much further.
Those who have tried it, know how hard it is for
tired men to keep up the mechanical action of their
legs when every step is an effort, when all the spring
has gone from the stride, when the muscles are
weary, and there is no goal in sight. Milestones or
any landmarks on a journey help a tired man. To
reach the milestone costs an effort, but the effort
brings its reward. When the stone comes in sight
it is a palpable witness that something has been
achieved, a sure promise that there is only so much
more to be done. But without the milestones it is
weary work, and in the dim sea of snow which was
beneath, above, and around the cousins, they seemed,
Q 226
ONE OF  THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
in spite of their efforts, to make no way, to gain
nothing. And the more Trevor staggered in his
stride, the more the storm grew, the more the darkness deepened, and the wilder the wind shrieked. It
was by sheer force alone now that Noel managed to
drag his companion out of the deeper drifts. If
Noel would have let him, he would have sunk long
ago, and been content to lie and wait for death. A
longing to sleep had crept over him, the darkness
tempted him, the wind was a lullaby to him, the
very monotony of his own ceaseless stride induced
sleep.
" Let me be, Noel; let me sleep," he muttered, as
Noel dragged him along, his eyes closing involuntarily as he walked, and at last even the younger
man's strength gave out, and he stood there alone,
looking out with white face and moving tips into
the hurrying darkness around him. Trevor was at
his feet unconscious ; there was no light, no hope,
no landmark, and his prayer went up, so it seemed
to him, unheard, whilst without a sound the flow
of the drifting flakes swept over them, resting on
their heads and shoulders, piling up in drifts about
their knees, settling down on them, creeping over IN THE HEART OF THE STORM. 227
them. It was silent work, but swift. In a tittle
while Noel, too, must succumb, and when the storm
ceased, and the sun shone again, the only trace of
them and their troubles would be two long swellings
on the blinding, white winter carpet of the prairie.
He felt that he had fought his last round with
Fate, and lost; and now he stood waiting as the dumb
beasts wait for death, careless of his surroundings,
his mind far away in the dear old home. Like a
man in a dream he saw the home-faces beyond the
grey gloom of the prairie, heard the home-voices
above the wail of the winter wind, and he was
conscious that it was Christmas, but Christmas in
Kingdon-by-the-Thames,not Christmas on the prairies
of Assineboia. The church-bells were throbbing
in the frosty air, and there was tight and music and
an atmosphere of home. What was this that they
were singing, too ? He could not catch the words,
but the air seemed familiar to him, and surely the
refrain was " Noel! Noel!."
He did not understand it, but the repetition of
the words struck him, amused him, and then
fascinated him. Then the voice changed; it was
a singing voice no longer, though the refrain was the 228
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
same, even that" Noel! Noel!" but the voice shrilled
in the distance, begged, entreated, pleaded with him,
until the whole universe seemed to throb with its
wild prayer. He tried to close his ears to it. Sleep
was too deep, too sweet to be broken, for any piteous
cry from a half-forgotten world. But the cry was
still with him—it would not cease. It pursued him,
it maddened him, it made his heart beat again, and
then at last he knew the voice, and understood what
it wanted of him, and, rousing himself in the very
shadow of death, sprang to his feet and answered
it_« Pussy!" (   229   )
CHAPTEE IX.
IN THE CREES'  DEAD-TENT.
They say that men who succumb to cold and fall
asleep in the snow never wake again by natural
means. That may be. It follows, then, that the
means by which Noel Johns was aroused from the
snowdrift were unnatural. That, too, is possible.
We know so little about all the great things of life,
that it is impossible for us to decide; and as most
men take very little interest in anything except the
money-market, and their own balance at the bank,
these questions if natural or supernatural are not
worth considering. All that matters to us is, that
at that cry of " Noel! Noel! " he woke as men wake
who have a. great and imminent danger to face—
woke with every sense on the alert, every muscle
strung. As he gazed out into the black heart of
the storm, the curtain of falling flakes parted for 230
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
a moment, and through the rift he saw, vague and
monstrous, a tall conical tent.
Had Noel Johns not been standing on that narrow
border between life and death, he might have
shrunk back in fear, he might have doubted the
voice, he might have preferred death in the snow
to such a haven from the storm, for the Cree's teepee,
seen through the whirling drifts, now black and
close at hand, now fading away and melting into
the distance, looked sufficiently weird and fantastic.
But Noel Johns stopped neither to wonder nor to
doubt. He knew the voice which had called him
back, and bending over his cousin, he swept the
snow from him, gathered him up in his arms (full
now of a new strength), and staggered with him to
the teepee.
"He sleeps soundly," he muttered, as Trevor's
head swung heavily over his shoulder; " but he can't
be dead, or she would not have called me. These
fellows seem to sleep as soundly," he added, shaking
the skin covering of the teepee until the whole fabric
rocked under his hands. But in spite of his violence
no one either woke or stirred within. The teepee
seemed to be deserted.    No smoke curled from its IN THE CREES' DEAD-TENT.
231
peak; there was no sound of life within, and yet as
Noel groped about in the snow for the entrance his
hands rested on a pair of snow-shoes, and a dog-
sledge.
" Queer, that they should have left these," he
muttered. " Hallo there!" But only the tent
groaning in the wind answered him; and even when,
having found the entrance, he stepped inside, into a
darkness deeper than the darkness of the storm, and
cried the Indian salutation, " Clahowya!" only the
storm shrieked back, " Clahowya!" as it drove the
snow-waves before it. Noel shuddered as he stood
alone in the intense darkness. It seemed that the
winds made mock of his loneliness.
But here, at any rate, there was shelter from the
storm; and in ministering to Trevor he soon forgot
himself and his surroundings. Trevor was very fast
asleep, and, in spite of his cousin's efforts, he would
not wake. Noel chafed his hands and his feet; he
shook him, until his poor head seemed about to roll
off his shoulders; he beat him, until his heart bled for
him. But he would not wake. " My God, I shall lose
him after all!" he groaned. " If only I had a fire!"
And then, strange as it may seem, he first thought of 232
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
I
striking a match and inspecting the interior in
which he found himself. Until that moment he had
had no thought for anything except the waking of
Trevor.
His pockets were full of drifted snow, but his
body!was not warm enough to make it melt; and even
if it had melted, it would have done no harm, for
his matches were safe in that best-of-all matchboxes, an empty brass cartridge case, with a cork in
the end of it.
Drawing this out, and taking a bunch of wooden
matches from it, he struck one of them, and in a
moment a pale blue flame was struggling for life
between the palms of his hands. Gradually the
wood caught, and the light leaped out through his
fingers and went prying into the dark corners of the
tent. It found there wood chopped and piled ready
for burning, cooking utensils standing ready for use,
all the requisites of a redskin cuisine round the
hearth, and then the tight stole on towards a shadow
blacker than the rest, but as it reached this the little
flame went out. The mystery of that end of the
tent was still unsolved, nor did Noel trouble to
solve it.    It was enough for him that there was wood IN THE CREES* DEAD-TENT.
233
piled by the hearth, and that heat meant life to
Trevor. In the dark he dragged his cousin alongside
the hearth, then, in the dark still—for matches are
too precious to men situated as they were to be
wasted—he helped himself to wood from the Indian's
store, cut long kindlings with his hunting-knife, laid
the fire, and then lit it. The long stivers of cotton-
wood caught, the flames ran up them, quivered for a
moment as if afraid of the overwhelming darkness,
and then went out, all except one red spark, which
glowed and glowed as Noel fanned it with his
breath, until slowly it made good its hold, and the
loud crackling of wood sounded like words of
comfort in that dreary place. The cotton-wood is
an excellent friend to the men who dwell on the
prairies. Its green fluttering leaves make a pleasant
asylum for the birds by the rare streams in the
spring-time, its graceful shape is an ornament to the
cruelly monotonous expanse of the prairie, the gold
of its autumn foliage lends a beauty to the dying
year, and in winter its dry logs seem to be the only
things which keep in them any of the warmth and
merriment of more favoured climes.
Noel Johns blessed the cotton-wood, as the sparks 234
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
flew upwards and the flames danced merrily on the
hearth, but he had no time even to warm himself.
His whole time was taken up with the attempt to
restore his cousin to life, and the pain of it. And
at last his efforts were rewarded; but Trevor was
wiser than his cousin, and instead of thanking him
for bringing him back to life and life's misery, only
cursed him for the pain he had brought him back to.
But pain passes, and Noel took tittle heed of his
curses. He was alive, and might still be saved, and
that to Noel was the only important thing, so he
wrapped him in his own coat and sat down himself
by the fire, to roast one side of him whilst the other
froze. For some minutes he sat there on his heels,
wondering who owned the tent, and why the owners
had left it. If they had not meant to come back,
surely they would not have left the store of wood
and all the camp outfit which lay around. Were
they lost in the blizzard ? he wondered ; but no, that
could never be. White men lose their way, and
because they are ignorant of the signs in the sky
are caught in blizzards and perish ; but not Indians.
And this was undoubtedly a red man's home.
He looked up and peered into  the  dark corners, IN THE CREES' DEAD-TENT.
235
but he could distinguish nothing clearly by the
dim tight of the smouldering logs, so he stirred
them and added fresh fuel, and as the fire blazed
up he looked again, and, brave man though he was,
his blood curdled, his flesh froze, and his hair rose on
his scalp at the horror of the thing he saw.
No wonder the little light of the match had seemed
to shrink from that patch of gloom ; no wonder the
wind howled and wailed so eerily ; no wonder if the
chill of the grave rested upon that tent, for it was a
grave, and there in the shadow sat the dead whose
uninvited guests they were.
Behind them all the time, silent and motionless,
had been the figure of one whose head was bowed
down, whose hands were clasped about his knees.
Over his head a blanket was wrapped, cowl fashion,
so that his face and most of his figure were hidden
from view. Only just enough of outline could be
seen through the folds of the blanket to show that
the figure was that of a human being—a human
being who neither spoke nor stirred.
For a moment Noel thought that the blanket was
lifted from beneath; but it was only the wind which
moved it.    The hands seemed about to unclench;
* 236
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
but it was only the play of the firelight upon their
long, thin fingers. The man slept, and would never
wake again. He could see now, as the light played
more boldly about it, how the body had been
propped up in a grim semblance of life, when it
should have been at rest as other men are, when the
days of waiting and working are over. The tent in
which they were was a Cree dead-tent. That was
why no smoke curled from its peak; that was why
the wind sobbed round it in such ceaseless moanings.
The sledges outside had been left for the dead to
journey on; the firewood by the cold hearth was for
the dead's use; the weapons for it to hunt with, and
fight with in another world; the tent, too, so the
Crees believed, would, when the prairie winds had
rent it, and the winter snows rotted it, vanish into
earth, and be pitched again on some happier hunting-
grounds, those hunting-grounds to which the spring
flowers go, and whither the great bands of buffalo
have betaken themselves for safety from the white
man's Winchester.
As Noel sat fascinated by the silent form opposite
to him, he began to wonder what his history might
be.   Who killed him ?   Who left him there ?    There IN THE CREES' DEAD-TENT.      237
were no Crees that he knew of much nearer than
Battle Creek. Was it possible that this was one of
them; and that, after all, he and Trevor had passed
by Farwell, and were now not far from Stobart's
station ? It seemed likely enough; and then, as if
some one had repeated them in his ear, he heard
Stobart's words, " Yes; they've got small-pox
again: the old chief, Tintinamous, died of it last
week."
He started, and turned to see who had spoken;
but there was no one else in the tent. Trevor was
sleeping quietly, and that other never moved. So,
then, this was the end of it. They had fled from the
law to the blizzard, and escaped from the blizzard
to take refuge in this pest-house. The toils of
death were all round them, and there seemed no
way of escape. It was too late even to try. They
had breathed the tainted air, they had touched the
dead man's things, and the night and storm held
them prisoners, whether they would or not. Had
he been alone, Noel would have taken his chance in
the open ; as it was, he sat sullenly there, facing the
dead and waiting for morning, whilst the cold grew
and grew until the very tent-poles cracked with the 238
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
intensity of it. The ordinary Englishman does not
know what cold is. " Forty degrees below zero"
means nothing to him. It is represented by certain
figures, and that is all. But forty degrees below
zero on paper, and forty degrees below zero upon
the plains, are two widely different things.
Even a roaring camp-fire, the logs of which are
the boles of forest trees, does not seem to materially
help against such cold as that; and Noel began
to find that, if the dead man's stock of wood was
to last until morning, he would have to reduce
his fire to such a size as might perhaps suffice to
boil a billy over. To warm Trevor, Noel had
stripped himself of his coat, and crept almost
into the fire to keep himself alive; but now, as the
night waned, and the fire grew less and less, he
began to freeze. And yet in the tent there were
blankets enough for half a dozen men. The Crees,
when they left their chief, had not done things by
halves. The rifle they had left him was worth as
much as a month's hunting would produce; the axe
and the sledges were of the best; the billy and
frying-pan had never been used; and by his side was
a pile of Hudson Bay blankets, worth perhaps thirty IN THE CREES' DEAD-TENT.
239
or forty dollars. Noel had had his eye on them for
half an hour or more, but the dead sat guarding
them, and that hideous disease which all men dread
probably lurked in their folds. Only Chinamen
seem to treat small-pox with indifference. Indians
dread it, and die by tribes from its ravages, but take
no precautions against it. They are fatalists, and
when it comes, huddle together like sheep, drop in
their tracks, die on the warpath, and let their dead
lie where they drop. They would never hesitate to
share a blanket in which a man had died. Why
should he hesitate to use these blankets left
with their dead ? Noel felt he must risk it.
There was no other way. The last tittle log of wood
was on the fire; and though he had almost ceased to
feel the cold, he knew that that was but a proof of
the power it had gained over him. He was almost
too stiff to move, and his heart beat slower and
slower. That fatal torpor was creeping over him
again; and if he yielded to that, good-bye to Trevor's
chance of escape. For a few more minutes he sat
glaring at the silent watcher opposite him : it
seemed as if they two were playing some fearful
game of chance;   and then he rose, and walking
Mi
M 240
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
steadily across the floor in the last flicker of his
dying fire, took the blankets from the heap. He
had done much for love's sake; for love's sake he
would risk even this. As the last spark died out on
the hearth, he heard Trevor wake and groan in the
darkness; but he took no notice of him. Boiled in
the dead man's blankets, he lay still, and at last he
slept. Without tight Trevor would not be likely to
find that fatal pile, and even if he did, Noel could
not help it. Nature had given way at last. What
with anxiety, weariness, and hunger, the strong man
could resist no longer. As soon as the least degree
of warmth returned to his body, Noel slept. He
had earned his sleep. 241 )
CHAPTEE X.
THE NOTE OF A HUNTING HOUND.
1 Drop them, you fool! drop them !
As he spoke Noel Johns sprang to his feet, and,
catching his cousin by the arm, wrenched from him
the blankets he had taken from the dead Cree's
pile.
Feeble as he was, and taken by surprise, Trevor
let them go, and staggered beneath his cousin's
heavy hand, so that the matcn which he had lighted
went out, and left the two standing in a darkness
through which already feeble threads of grey
morning light were beginning to steal.
"Hands off! Are you mad?" Trevor asked
savagely. "Why should I not take them as well
as you ?   Do you want them all ?"
" No ; I want none of them, neither do you." And,
as he spoke, Noel shook the blankets he had worn
R 242
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
from his shoulders with a shudder as if they burned
his flesh.
" Thank God, I am free from them !" he muttered;
but, though the blankets slid down upon the floor
and slowly settled into a tumbled heap, little shreds
of their wool clung to him.
He was not quite free from them yet.
"But you have used them, and kept warm in
them. Why should not I use them too ?" asked
Trevor.
" Because I have sworn to save your life, and will,
Trevor, ay, in spite of you. It is your duty to live ;
for me it does not matter."
" I don't see the difference; but if you take so
much interest in my life, you had better let me keep
the blankets.    I am freezing.   Why do you object?"
" Do you see whose blankets they are ? "
"They were that dead thing's, I suppose. But
what then? He doesn't want them any more, and
I do."
" Do you know how that ' dead thing' died ? "
asked Noel.
" No ; nor care."
"You might if you knew.    A fortnight ago he Pi
THE NOTE OF A HUNTING HOUND.
243
died of smaU-pox, and those, pointing to the wraps
which Trevor had dropped, are his blankets. Do
you understand ?"
Trevor started, and for a moment was silent with
horror; but he recovered himself immediately.
" How can you know that ? You have never dared
to raise that," and his voice vibrated with loathing
as he pointed to the dead man's cowl.
f No; I had no need to," Noel answered. " I
know what it hides without looking. That thing
was Tintinamous Quist, the Cree chief, a fortnight
ago, and he died of small-pox. The police knew all
about it at Maple Creek when I was there."
" And yet you slept in his blankets!"
"Yes, I slept in them. My life is my own.
Yours belongs to—others."
His lips even then were loath to divulge his secret,
but at last a tight broke upon Trevor.
" My God ! " he cried, " and you did this for her !
I have been wrapped in your clothes and you in his
for her sake! Oh, Pussy, Pussy, what a mistake you
have made!" and Trevor covered his face with his
hands.
" Nonsense,  man;  don't be a fool!"  said Noel, 244
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
roughly. "Pussy has made no mistake, and there
is no harm done. I took a bit of risk, and slept well
in consequence. You had to freeze all night; and,
after all, most likely Tintinamous never wore them.
At any rate, it's done now, so come outside; we have
seen enough of that thing," and as he spoke he pushed
open the door of the teepee, and in doing so must
have rasped against the frozen hide with his shoulder.
That, at any rate, would account for the strange
noise they heard, and yet such tricks does sound
play with heated imaginations, that to both men
it sounded like a grim chuckle, and both turned
simultaneously to look at the cowled figure by the
hearth.
" My God, he's laughing at us! " cried Trevor,
with a shudder.
"We'll stop his laughing," Noel muttered, with
an oath, and, gathering up the dead embers and all
the odds and ends of unburnt chips, he piled them
and the blankets against the wall of the hut, and
set fire to the pile. But it was no easy matter to
burn the teepee. The hide of which its walls were
made was thick.
The red man's home of tanned hide will outlast
?lj,4$ PI
THE NOTE OF A HUNTING HOUND.
245
some of our jerry-builders' villas, and this teepee had
stood for at least fifty scorching Indian summers,
until all grease and animal matter had been dried
out of it. Besides, the snow lay upon it in places
in spite of the sharp slope of the walls, and kept the
flames at bay. But at last they made good their
hold, and began to eat into the pictured histories
of Cree life, painted with no tittle skill upon the
outside of his house—fights and buffalo hunts and
canoe-trips. If you can judge of a race by its art,
love plays a small part in the redskin's life. It is
unrepresented in his picture-galleries.
" Come," said Noel, when he saw his work was
done, turning once more in the grey dawn towards
the north, where the great line lay, "one more
effort. The fight is never lost until the end of the
last round, and there are two chances in our favour
to-day."
" How two ?" asked Trevor, following him.
" We may reach the Canadian Pacific Eailway or we
may be rescued by the men from Maple Creek. If
Maple Creek is anywhere near here, they should see
the fire."
" And what then ?" 246
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
"Leave that to me, Trevor. I don't think they
can have heard of the stage robbery at Maple
Creek; and if they have, I think I can fix it. They
would hardly care to hold men who have the smallpox."
During the night the wind had dropped, the sky
had never a cloud in it, and the first rays of the sun
sparkled from a blinding sheet of new-fallen snow.
No doubt the thermometer still registered something
very terrible in cold, but there was no wind to
bring it home to them, to drive it into their hearts
and down their throats. And it was well for them
that there was no wind ; for, in spite of the change in
their favour, they had both become so feeble, that
they could scarcely make as good progress now, over
the crisp, hard frozen crust in bright sunlight, with
no wind to buffet them, no drifting snow to blind
them, as they had made the day before in the darkness of the storm.
At the first pause for breath—and they paused
soon, be sure—they turned and, looking back, watched
the flames leaping above the peak of the teepee:
they saw its walls split, and saw even in its lurid
interior the Cree chief still sitting, though the red THE NOTE OF A HUNTING HOUND.        247
sparks poured round him as thick as summer rain.
When they looked again the walls had fallen in, and
the flames had died down. The teepee had gone, but
either their eyes mocked them, or else there still sat
that cowled figure, its head bowed, its hands clenched
round its knees, still watching, still waiting by its
ruined hearth.
The strength of starving men soon ebbs, and
before they had been walking half an hour, Noel
realized that his cousin was " played out." By nine,
Trevor could not walk a couple of hundred yards
without stopping; by half-past, he was leaning
heavily on his cousin's arm, and Noel himself felt,
every time he raised his foot, as if a fifty-pound
weight was attached to it. And still the prairie
stretched on into apparently infinite distance, unbroken, interminable. It seemed useless to go on
struggling. The horizon came no nearer, and there
was no other goal to make for; so that, when at last
Trevor fell and refused to rise again, Noel too felt
that he might as well lie down beside him, and
finish his troubles there.
" It's all up, Noel," Trevor moaned from the snow;
11 can't go another yard.    My legs won't obey my 248
ONE OF THE  BROKEN BRIGADE.
will any more ; I can't shove one foot in front of the
other."
But Noel made no answer.
" You have done all that a man could do, old
fellow," Trevor continued, " and I've been a cur
to let you stay by me so long. Now go and save
yourself.    You can't save me."
But still Noel made no answer, nor any sign of
leaving him, but stood shading his eyes from the
glare of the sun, and staring intently at the skyline
before him. But he could not see clearly, for the
sun on the snow dazzled him; and, besides, his
knees were now so weak that he swayed as he
stood.    He, too, was almost too weak to stand.
" Get on to your knees, Trevor," he said hastily,
" and look, if you can, over there to the north-west.
Those are not coyotes, are they ? They look too large,
but there is something wrong with my eyes this
morning.    I can't see clearly."
With Noel's help, Trevor raised himself, and
strained his eyes to make out the two objects which
had arrested his cousin's attention.
" Coyotes or wolves," he muttered, sinking back
again: " it doesn't much matter, does it ?    I suppose THE NOTE OF A HUNTING HOUND.
249
the brutes will have the decency to wait until we
are dead; and if they don't, we can't help it."
" They are neither coyotes nor wolves," insisted
Noel, still gazing at them eagerly. " They are too
big for coyotes, and they don't slink like wolves.
Great Heaven, if I could only see clearly for one
moment! Look again, Trevor. What is that behind
them coming over the ridge ? Surely it is a man on
horseback!"
But Trevor was past caring, and would not raise
himself again. " It may be," he said; " but if it
were, he would not see us. He is too far off, and
luck is against us.    Why worry any more ?"
But hope had given the younger man fresh
strength, and his eyes never left the three objects
which came slowly towards them, until a deep note
came to him booming over the snow. Again and
again it came, that rich music which Englishmen
love so well. There is nothing like it in the world,
the note of the hunting hound.
Dead-beat, walked to a standstill, starving as he
was, that music sent Noel's life-blood leaping through
his veins again, and a faint flush of colour came to
his haggard cheek.   " Do you hear it, Trevor, our own
UBS 250
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
Berkshire music ? It is Stobart! and those great
hounds of his!    We are saved my boy, saved !"
It was as Noel said.
In front, coming straight towards them over the
snow, was a swift grey thing running for dear life ;
behind it, fully extended, were two giant hounds
running savagely for blood; and toiling far behind
the hounds was the horseman to whom they
belonged.
Once the coyote passed behind a hummock of
snow, and for a moment the hounds checked. They
were running by sight, and not by scent. But the
coyote showed himself again, and in a second his
pursuers saw him, and dashed after him with a cry
which must have raised every bristle on the poor little
vagrant's back. On the flat, ;with no snow on the
ground, a fast horse will run up to an ordinary coyote
in a half-mile spin, if the horse starts on anything
like fair terms with him; but in the deep snow the
sergeant's horse had no chance at all, and even the
hounds laboured at a disadvantage. The coyote's
tight frame seemed to skim the snow and pass over
it like the shadow of a flying cloud; but the hounds
broke the crust, and it was a good mile before their
:» THE NOTE OF A HUNTING HOUND.
251
strength told, their powerful jaws closed across his
spine, and hounds and coyote rolled over and over, a
confused mass in a flurry of scattered snow.
Noel had stood spellbound, watching the chase;
but now, when the hounds killed within half a mile
of him, he put his finger in his ear. in old-country
fashion, and let out such a yell as startled the
silent prairie.
In Berkshire, where men are lusty, and starvation
unknown, that yell might not have reflected much
credit on the man who emitted it; but in the
Cypress Hills, coming from the throat of so
weary a man, it was a wonderful effort. And it
answered its purpose, for the sergeant looked up, and
saw for the first time the two figures ahead of him.
When his hounds were running, Stobart would have
ridden past the colonel of his own regiment without
seeing him. The sergeant saw them, but the
sergeant was a deliberate man. If the figures he
saw wanted him, they could wait. They had
probably waited some time already. Well! they
could go on waiting. His hounds would not, and,
being a reasonable sportsman, he did not expect
them to; so he quietly dismounted, and performed 252 ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
that grey vagabond's obsequies properly and in order,
and not until he had transferred the coyote's brush
from the place for which nature had designed it to
his own saddle-bow, not until he had broken up the
quarry and caressed and rewarded his favourites,
did he come riding towards the cousins.
As he came up he recognized Noel.
" Great Scott, Johns! is that you ? What in
thunder have you been doing to yourself ? and who
is that at your feet ?"
" Give me some whisky, and I'll tell you," Noel
managed to say. His strength was leaving him
again, now that the excitement had passed. " No !
throw me the flask," he added, as Stobart came
alongside. " You mustn't come too close to us-
Keep back."
" What do you mean ? ".asked the sergeant. " Are
you off your head ? "    But he threw him the flask.
Before answering him, Noel put the flask to
Trevor's lips, thanking Providence that whisky was
no longer prohibited in the North-West Territory,
In old days a moderate man tike Stobart dared
not have taken the generous fluid about with him in
such open fashion, although more of it probably was THE NOTE OF A HUNTING HOUND.
drunk then than now, men laying in a stock, camel
fashion, whenever they got a chance. When he had
put new life into his cousin and himself, he turned
to his friend. "No, sergeant, I'm not crazed, but
starving; and, what is worse, we slept last night in
old Tintinamous' dead tent."
" What ?    He died of small-pox !"
" I know.   That is why I don't want you to come
any nearer: and that is one reason why I am not
going to return your flask," he added, with a ghost of
a smile.
" Keep it, boy; keep it!" the generous fellow cried.
" But say! that is bad about the tent. Didn't you
know about it ?"
" Not until we were inside, and, even if we had,
we could not well have helped going in. It was
death in the blizzard or a chance of small-pox in the
teepee."
" A chance! Well, it can't be helped. I've got
a shack of my own, and all the boys are away hunting those fellows from Ophir. You can go into my
shack, and, if anything happens, I can look after
you.    I've had it."
And so it was  arranged,  the sergeant turning 254
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
mi
himself into a sick-nurse, and his hut into a smallpox ward, without a murmur, for comparative
strangers, as if it was the most natural thing in the
world.
Verily, the warm human hearts are not all in the
great cities. (   255   )
CHAPTEE XI.
THE  PLOT.
Dead stillness hung round Battle Creek: the stillness of the depth of winter in the North West.
Nearly a week had passed since the cousins had
been brought into the station riding on Stobart's
sorrel, whilst he plodded through the snow in front
of them, and none of the other men, stationed at
the post, had as yet returned from their hunt after
the men from Ophir. True to his promise, Stobart
had housed Noel and Trevor in his own shack, and
watched over them until Noel began to sicken.
Then he insisted upon Trevor's removal to other
quarters, and tried to persuade him to leave the
nursing in his hands. But to this Trevor would not
consent. It was little enough he could do for the
man  who  had risked all to save him, but that he 256
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
would do. As for Noel, the shadow of the Cree tent
was upon him; the shreds of the Cree's blanket still
clung to him; a presentiment possessed him which
no reasoning could shake. There is an instinct
which warns men of death, as it warns dumb
animals, and this instinct was warning Noel Johns.
For a day or two he tried to persuade himself that
languor and the vague " malaise " which possessed
him were nothing more than mere weariness, but the
weariness grew instead of lessening, and pain, which
he tried to conceal in his waking hours, took
possession of him. In the night his sleep was broken
by dreams, and always in his dreams he went back
to the Cree tent. Trevor, who slept by his bedside,
heard him talking in his sleep night after night, and
by degrees learnt the drift of his dreams. He was
gambling in the dead-tent with that cowled figure in
the shadow for some undefined stake, and the play
always ended in the same way, the poor lad's hand
moving as if he were throwing down a pack of cards,
and his tips muttered, " In six days' time, at sundown." Trevor had been telling Stobart of these
dreams, as the two sat outside the hut on the wood
pile, when the sergeant put down his pipe with the THE PLOT.
257
air of a man who had made up his mind that it was
time to act, and said shortly—
" It is no good to shut our eyes any longer, Trevor.
He has got that cursed thing, and there is only one
chance, if we mean to save him."
I" What chance ?" replied the other. " What can
we do here ?" and he looked bitterly out over the
endless waste of snow. " It seems to me that in
this cursed country a man must die like a dog for
want of help."
" That's so most times. Pioneers and such-like
live alone, and die alone when their time comes. The
men of the ' broken brigade' have got to be at the
front, and you can't have surgeons and ambulance-
waggons there all the time. But there is a doctor
not such a great way off, as it happens."
" A doctor! Where ? Why the devil did you
never say anything about him before ? "
" Time enough now," replied the sergeant. " I'm
not so sure that the journey won't do him more
harm than the doctor can do him good. But we
may as well try : he'll die here, anyway."
" Where is this doctor ? " asked Trevor. " And
who is he ? "
s 258
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
"Clennel, the C. P. E. man, and I guess he is staying at Brown's, just beyond Forres. At least, that is
where he stays most of the time when he is around
this section of the country."
" How far is it to Brown's ?"
" Well, it's thirty, or nearly thirty, miles to the
line, and Brown's is nearly a mile beyond the
tine."
" Thirty-one miles, and in this cold! Could he
live through it ?" asked Trevor.
" God knows! I guess not; but it's his only
chance," replied Stobart. "He has got the notion
set in his head that he has to meet that dead Cree at
sundown to-morrow; and if we let him stay here
thinking about it, he'll meet him as sure as the sun
sets. I've known men take notions of that kind
before."
" Then we must risk it.    But will he come ?"
"He would but for one thing," replied Stobart,
" if it was only for the chance of dying in the open,
instead of in that room."
" And what is that one thing ?" asked Trevor.
«You "
" Me!   What do you mean ?   I want him to go." THE PLOT.
259
" I know, and it's not your fault. But don't you
know why Noel watches that trail to Farwell all day
long ? Don't you know why he counts the hours
between this and sundown to-morrow ?"
" I didn't know he did."
" Like enough. He wouldn't let you see if he
could help it; he's pretty sly, is Noel. This is the
way he has put it up. At sundown to-morrow he has
to send in his chips, and square up with the Cree (Lord
knows why, but he's crazed, so that don't matter);
and if none of the police come along before he dies,
he means to stay here as Trevor Johns, while you get
out of the country as Noel. You are like enough
to one another, to make his scheme work; but you
might be seized at Brown's."
" And I am to buy my freedom with my cousin's
life! You must have a good opinion of Trevor
Johns."
" Better than I had," answered the sergeant, not
unkindly; " and if Noel dies it would be robbing
him not to take the freedom he has bought for
you. But I'm going to take a hand in this game, and
make it a bit fairer all round. It's my duty to give
you up, isn't it ? " 260
ONE OF THE BROKEN  BRIGADE.
" The sooner the better," replied Trevor, sadly.
" That's so; and if you'd robbed the stage, I would
have had you at Maple Creek before this. As it is,
I don't know that it much matters ; and if Noel will
make an effort to save himself, I'll give you a chance.
The men at Brown's don't know either of you, and
if you like to swap names before starting from here
that is no concern of mine, unless Noel recovers. If
he dies, you are Noel Johns, and can go where the
hell you please; if he lives, you are Trevor Johns,
who held the stage, and must stay right here. How
does that strike you ?"
" I'll do my part, if Noel will do his," replied
Trevor, after a pause.   " Come and persuade him."
They found Noel, as the sergeant had said, with
his eyes fixed on the miserable little window, looking out on the Farwell trail.
As they entered, he turned to them and asked—
" Well, boys, what time is it ? "
"About four," Stobart replied, with a quick
glance at Trevor. " The sun will be down in
another half-hour.    It sets early now."
" As early as that, does it ?" he asked, and as he
turned over on his side, they heard him mutter, "At ■I
THE PLOT.
261
four-thirty to-morrow; I wonder what time that is
at home ?"
" We want to take you to Forres to-morrow, Noel,"
Stobart blurted out. " It seems to us you are pretty
sick, and we want you to see a doctor."
Noel half turned to them again. " A doctor ?"
he asked.    " Is there a doctor at Forres ?"
" There should be, and we want you to see him.
Will you come ?"
" What is the good, old chap ? No doctor could
cure me."
"That is what we don't know," replied Stobart;
" and anyhow, we thought you would be quieter
there than here. I'm expecting some of the boys
along to-morrow."
" Some of the boys!" Noel exclaimed, sitting up
excitedly, and glancing at the window again.
" Who ? Some of those from Farwell or East End,
I expect.    It's time some of them were around."
Noel thought for a moment, and then turning to
Trevor, asked him if he would mind leaving him and
the sergeant alone together for a few moments.
" It's just a matter of business, old feUow, so you
won't mind," he added, as Trevor went out. 262 ONE OF  THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
When they were alone he lay for some moments
apparently lost in thought.
"You have been a bit of a woodsman in your
time," he said at length to Stobart, who stood near.
" Did you ever see a fool-hen with her chicks in
early summer ?"
Stobart thought he was wandering again, but
humoured him.    " Yes, lad, I have, many times."
" The Siwashes on the coast used to kill the poor
beggars whilst they were fussing after their chicks.
That is hard enough, but it's worse when they kill
the chicks too."
" The brutes would kill anything. A Siwash has
no pity."
" But a white should have. Stobart, are you
going to give up Trevor when I'm dead? Won't
one of us satisfy the law ?"
Then Stobart understood him and spoke out.
" Look here, Johns, this is all tom-rot about your
dying, and I've got my duty to perform; but I am a
white man, and I'll make a deal with you. If you
will try to get to Forres to-morrow, I'll give Trevor
a chance. You and he can change names, and
if   you   should   die,   the   one   who   calls   himself THE PLOT.
Noel Johns can quit the country. I'll shut my
mouth. But if you get well, Trevor has sworn to
give himself up, and I'll see that he does so."
" He won't want much forcing, poor old chap!"
replied Noel; " but 111 accept your terms. If I live
after sundown to-morrow, you can do what you
like with Trevor.    When will you start ? "
" As soon as it is tight enough," Stobart answered;
" we have a long wray to go."
" Shall we make Forres by sundown ?"
" Not by a jug-ful," was the enigmatical reply.
And so the matter was settled, and Noel turned
again on his pillow, to wonder what Pussy and the
old man would be doing at four-thirty to-morrow.
If they were sure not to reach Forres before
sundown, there need be very little risk of Trevor's
detection. 264
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
CHAPTEE XII.
THE TKYST AT  SUNDOWN.
" Did you put his watch on last night ?"
" Yes; just an hour, as we agreed."
" And are you sure he didn't know about it ?"
" Sure.    He was fast asleep when I altered it."
" That's good.    Then I think we'll make him miss
his  appointment with old Tintinamous.    We had
better go and wake him now."
The speakers were Stobart and Trevor, and the
time early morning on the sixth day.
When they entered Noel's room, they found him
already wide awake, watching the grey tight steal
over the snow.
" You're early, Stobart," he said; " the sun is not
up yet."
" I guess he is," the other answered; " but he can't THE TRYST AT SUNDOWN.
make himself seen through the clouds. It's a grey
day. What time do you make it by your watch ?
Mine has stopped."
Noel put his hand under his pillow, and brought
out his watch. "By Jove! you are right. Why,
man, it's eight o'clock."
"Yes, it's late, I know; but we'U make Forres
fairly early to-night. Lean on me, and we'U pack
you into the sleigh."
Noel obeyed, and in another ten minutes the
party was ready to start, the sergeant and Trevor
occupying the front seat, while the sick man,
swathed in rugs, was securely lashed in behind.
The best horses on the station were harnessed to
the sleigh; the thickest robes which the force
possessed were piled upon Noel to protect him from
the bitter wind, though every robe he touched would
have to be destroyed; the broad shoulders of his two
friends gave him some shelter, and yet he shuddered
in the midst of his robes. The full bitterness of the
winter had settled down on the plains of Assineboia, and the country looked as cheerless and
forbidding as a new gravestone.
There was not a vestige of life anywhere; not an 266
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
antelope, or the track of one, to break the snow's
monotony; not a wing to vary the dead grey of the
sky; nothing, except on a far skyline the slouching
figure of a huge wolf, his quarters carried low, his
tail brushing the snow, his whole outline as gaunt
and ghoul-like as even the imagination of a Dore
could have made it.
"I expect those grey devils are starving about
now," muttered Stobart, his eyes resting on the wolf.
" I never knew deer and antelope so scarce before,
and it's a bad rabbit year too."
" I wonder where he got his last meal ?" said
Trevor, without thinking, and immediately there
rose before his mind's eye the picture of a lonely
figure crouching over the ruins of its home. It
was almost as if some one had answered his
thought, and Trevor started nervously, and hoped
that the same idea might not occur to his cousin.
But Noel made no sign.
" The Indians up north tell you that those big
grey wolves are the spirits of their dead," said
Stobart, after a pause. " If they are, I don't think
much of their happy hunting-grounds. I'd rather
be a dead Cree than a live wolf, to-day," he added, THE TRYST AT SUNDOWN.
267
and drew his robes closer round him with his
disengaged hand.
Trevor kicked the speaker as well as he was
able to, but his legs were hampered in his robes, and
Stobart was slow to take a hint, so the words were
spoken; and though Noel said nothing at the time,
his eyes never left the gaunt figure on the skyline,
until it slunk over a rise and was lost to sight.
After such an unfortunate commencement, it was
hardly to be wondered at that the conversation
flagged. Men talk very tittle on these long winter
drives, and Noel seemed to be faint and drowsy,
whilst the tips of the two in front were sealed by
the bitter wind which met them.
The sleigh swept on silently over the white waste,
the grey sky grew darker and more sullen, and only
once, towards noon, was there a faint gleam in the
clouds overhead which might have betokened the
presence of the sun.
When the other two noticed this, Noel was, as fax
as they could judge, fast asleep, his head hanging
heavily, and rolling with every lurch of the sleigh.
Everything was going well with the conspirators.
At three the clouds were so heavy that another 268 ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE,
snowfall seemed imminent, but it held off hour
after hour, whilst the wind kept piling up the grey
banks in the heavens, ever thicker and thicker, until
there was a shadow tike the shadow of coming night
upon the snow.
" Look at your watch, and see what the time is,"
Stobart whispered at last to Trevor, and he, obeying
him, drew out an old silver "hunter" from his
pocket, and glancing at it whispered—
" Five by me, four in reality."
"If the sun doesn't show up in another half-hour
he won't show up at all," muttered Stobart, "and
even if Noel does wake up now, it don't much
matter: no man could tell that his watch was lying
to-day."
"Have we much further to go?" asked Trevor.
" He ties there as if he was dead already."
" Not more than a couple of miles or so, after we
reach that next bluff. You can see the telegraph-
poles along the line, from the other side of it."
This was encouraging; but in spite of the horses'
speed the time dragged heavily. Noel's torpor
astonished his companions. Hitherto he had been
full of nervous fears for Trevor'sN safety, excitable, at THE TRYST AT SUNDOWN.
269
times almost delirious; now he lay there like one
dead, and even when they convinced themselves
that he still lived, they could not shake off the
gloom which oppressed them.
" A day like this would give any one the blues,"
growled Stobart, savagely. But dreary as the day
was, he knew that it was not the dreariness of the
day which oppressed his spirits.
There was something more than that; an indefinable dread which hung over them, a terror following
them from which they could not escape.
They had deceived Noel; themselves they could
not deceive; and the ghastly presentiment at
which they had laughed now invaded their own
minds. Though the sun was invisible, and though
they dared not have admitted the fact to each other,
they were both of them watching for sundown,
watching for it long after their timepieces told them
that the hour of it was past.
" Where is the sun now ?"
It was as if a voice had put the thought of their
hearts into words, and both men started nervously;
but Trevor pulled himself together and answered
Noel bravely— 270
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
"What! are you awake at last, Noel ?"
"Yes, awake, wide awake and waiting. Where
is the sun ?"
" Set this half-hour."
" Set ? set ?    Isn't this the sixth day ?"
" The sixth or the seventh.    What matters ?"
" But I had to meet " Noel began in a dazed
way, passing his hand hopelessly across his forehead.
" You had to meet Dr. Clennel, at Brown's, in half
an hour's time," broke in Stobart, cheerily; " and so
you shall, boy, and he'll have you on the train for
the old country in a fortnight, and Trevor too." But
though he spoke so confidently, the sergeant kept
looking anxiously at the grey clouds to the west.
" There are the poles, Noel," he cried a moment
later; " and there is the line which takes Englishmen
home.    One more effort, and you are both saved."
As he spoke a long, low moaning wail came from
the gloom behind the sleigh, which gathered strength
and grew into a hideous longdrawn howl, and then
died away again in the distance.
Again it came from some remote part of the'
prairie, making the lonely lands shudder with the
misery and savagery of its music! THE TRYST AT SUNDOWN.
271
" The dead Crees are hunting" whispered Noel,
hoarsely, and there was a horror in his voice, which
chilled the others more than the prairie wind.
"The wolves are running a deer, or howling
for want of one," retorted Stobart, angrily lashing
his horses. " They are generaHy on the move about
nightfall."
Eight ahead of them now the men could see the
tight of Brown's shack, standing out tike a beacon
in the snowy waste, and the horses seemed to
recognize it as a haven of safety, and strain every
muscle to reach it. They knew what the howl of
the wolves meant to them and their kind, for they
had heard it many a night, when picketed too far
from the dying embers of a camp-fire, or when left
in small bands in the hills where they were bred.
But though the horses laid back their ears and
galloped for their lives, the howling came nearer
and nearer. If the wolves were running a deer, the
deer was following directly in the wake of Stobart's
sleigh.
." Here they come ! Two, three, five of them !
Tintinamoui leading" cried Noel, hoarsely, rising
in his seat and struggling to throw off his wraps, 272 ONE   OF  THE  BROKEN  BRIGADE.
as five long shadows swept over the rise behind
them.
" For God's sake hold him down, Trevor! hold him
down!" yelled Stobart, standing up, and lashing his
horses madly. "He is clean mad, and we are all
but there.    Those brutes can never be hunting us."
But they were, and the horses knew it, and the
sick man knew it, and struggled to throw himself
out to meet them, while the band of swift shadows
grew and grew, and crept closer and closer at every
stride.
In five minutes the foremost of them was racing
alongside the sleigh; and though Trevor emptied his
six-shooter amongst them, the wolves took no notice
of the little red spurts of flame, or the hissing bullets,
which kicked up the snow under their bellies.
Trevor dared not loosen his grip upon his cousin, and
the pace at which they were travelling made the
sleigh rock beneath him, so that it was small wonder
if he made bad shooting. But when the wolves
neither stopped nor swerved, a hideous doubt entered
even into his sane mind. " Were these grey devils
nothing but prairie wolves ? Had not the prairie,
indeed, spewed up its dead ?" THE TRYST AT SUNDOWN.
273
Some one, he remembered, had told him long ago
that the American grey wolf, big as he is, never
molests men; that he never hunts in packs, as the
Eussian wolves do; and yet these gaunt brutes (there
seemed to be twenty or thirty of them now) were
leaping at the horses' throats, and snatching at the
very rugs in which the men were wrapped.
Their gleaming eyes flashed greedily in the dusk
on every side, the strong musky stench of their
bodies fouled the air; and though they were running
' mute now for blood, the sobbing of the frantic horses,
and the clashing of the wolves' white fangs, sent
a terrible message to the men's brains.
And yet there was the light of Brown's shack only
just ahead of them. Surely they could reach it in
time. He had just lighted his lamps, and in another
five minutes they would all be safe in the glow of
them. Even now they were passing under the wires
which, in a few seconds, could carry a cry for help
to those dear old friends at Kingdon!
At that moment there was a sudden shock, and
the sleigh stopped dead. One of the horses had
stumbled and fallen over the hidden rails, and in
less time than it takes to write it the wolves swooped
Rll T 274
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
down on their prey, and each man was fighting for
his life.
Even then, with his fingers buried jin the coarse
grey bristles of the brute at his throat, Trevor saw
a tall figure dash to the side of the fallen horse, saw
the wolves give back for a moment, and saw the
gleam of -steel in the gloom. The next moment
a sudden jerk threw him back upon the seat, the
horses made a wild plunge forward, and the sleigh
whirled over the snow at a madder pace than
ever.
There were only three horses now. The near
leader was gone. Some one had cut the harness
which held him, and he lay where he fell, his life-
blood dabbling the grey muzzles of those prairie
fiends.
" Where is Noel ?"
There was no one to speak, and yet Trevor heard
the words as distinctly as if they had been shouted
into his ear, and turning he saw that the back seat
was empty.
"Noel!" he cried. "Stobart, stop! My God,
where is Noel ? "
But Stobart  could not stop.     The horses were THE TRYST AT SUNDOWN.
275
beyond any human power to stop them. To control
such panic as theirs the sergeant's strong arms were
as useless as an infant's.
Without pausing to calculate the danger, Trevor
sprang from the sleigh, and rolled headlong in the
snow.
The snow broke his fall, and half blinded and
dizzy though he was, he yet regained his feet and
ran wildly back toward the line.
But he was too late. Before he could gain his
side, he saw his cousin make his last stand against
fate.
The hounds of hell were round him on every side,
but his tall figure towered above them still.
Perhaps the madman's frenzy helped him, perhaps
he was sane again, but for the old Berserk madness
which lurks still in every Englishman's blood.
But he was fighting with empty hands against
fangs and claws, and such a fight could not last
long.
Once Trevor saw him swing a huge brute clear
above his head, and dash him down with a dull
thud amongst his fellows.
And then a weird scream sounded in the west, 276
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
a long vibrating shriek, such as  that with  which
Irish peasants tell that the banshee heralds death.
The fight for life was taking place right between
the rails of Canada's iron road, and coming down it,
hurrying eastward, was a huge eye of fire.
The wolves saw it and fled, vanished like spectres
at cock-crow—all but one gigantic brute, who flew at
Noel's throat, and stood there wrestling with him,
face to face, and chest to chest.
Trevor was almost up to them now, but they took
no heed of his coming. He tried to cry out, but his
voice stuck in his throat. It was like a nightmare;
the two were unconscious of aught except of each
other, swaying backwards and forwards in the
grey light, the man's hands gripping at the wolf's
throat, and the brute's hoary muzzle pressing closer
and closer to the man, whilst its claws tore the shirt
from his chest in ribbons.
And, meanwhile, a red light was creeping along
the rails, and the thunder of wheels drew nearer;
there was the clank and clang of steel against steel,
a blaze of fire, a bevy of dancing sparks, a long
plume of smoke floating away across the snow, a
fleeting picture of bright faces at the windows safe THE TRYST AT SUNDOWN. 277
from the snow and the storm. And the eastward-
bound express went by.
As the roar of it died away in the distance, there
was a dull red glow low down in the west. What
they had been looking for had come at last, in spite
of the lying timepieces. The sun of the sixth day
had set, and Stobart and Trevor Johns were bending
over all that remained of the man who left Kingdon
to make his pile in America.
But the carcase of that great grey wolf they never
found. Probably the cow-catcher of the train, which
passed over Noel, caught his enemy and flung its
body into some snowdrift hundreds of yards away;
or perhaps—but no. This is the nineteenth century,
and we have done with superstitions and all childish
things.
" Well, lad, he died fighting like a man in the open,
and I guess that's just how he would have wanted to
die," said the sergeant, as he laid the body tenderly
upon the sleigh, which the men from Brown's had
now brought up.
" And for the sake of the woman he loved," added
Trevor, " may God rest his gallant soul!" 278
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE.
POSTSCEIPT.
Theke is little to add. Men inured to hardships,
and living face to face with nature, know how to
appreciate courage and self-devotion. Sergeant
Stobart lied to his comrades, a little for form's sake;
but he had no need to. It leaked out, perhaps, somehow that the dead man was Noel Johns, but they
wrote Trevor Johns on the simple little cross which
marks his last resting-place, and curious passengers,
who see that lonely cross from the windows of their
Pullman car, are told that it is the grave of the road-
agent who held up the Pinto coach in 188—. But
when he had outlived all danger of carrying on the
red man's curse to other countries, the men at
Brown's put a passenger on the east-bound train
whom they called Noel Johns.
It is true that in England, down at Kingdon-on-
the-Thames, there is still a Mr. Trevor Johns, of
•*,- POSTSCRIPT.
279
Cowley. But what matter? Perhaps he took his
cousin's name, to keep his memory green in the
old place; but it is odd that even now, if you could
look into the dim sweet graveyard by the river, you
would see an old greyhaired man, and a fair type of
English womanhood, bending over a marble tablet,
beneath a wreath of rose bushes, on which there is a
somewhat unusual carving—the figure of a bird,
running towards you, its wings spread, its feathers
ruffled, its beak open.
There must be some mistake, for the bird is not
any English bird we know, and yet so well carved
that we can hardly think that the sculptor's incompetence is to blame for its strangeness in our eyes.
Underneath is written a simple legend : " He died
for others."
As the girl and the old man turn away to the dark
river, where the trout are rising madly at the white
moth, the old man mutters something which sounds
like a line from Kipling—
" Follow after, follow after, for the harvest is sown.
By the stones about the wayside ye shall come to your own."
THE END. PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS,  LIMITED
LONDON AND BECCLES.    lllili
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