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Huldowget : a story of the North Pacific coast McKelvie, B. A. (Bruce Alistair), 1889-1960 1926

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Array  HULDOWGET is a
powerful story of conflict
between the superstitions of
the Indians and the convictions of white men. It is
something new in Canadian
literature. Written by a man
who has known from infancy the rugged coast of
Western Canada and her
untamed Indians, here is a
unique story replete with the
legendry of the North, with
the odor of the fresh, damp
forests, and with the salt
of the sea.  c76oa
4& ^w.SZ/. *^ew/ B. A. McKELVIE
Chief factor of the Native Sons of British Columbia, whose
of Indian life in the Northwest has just been publish
publisheoiff^ r HULDOWGET  HULDOWGET
1926 All rights reserved
JS3, tZT-
PA <?aa5
ASS //?
Prior to the discovery of gold in British Columbia,
in 1858, the country was controlled entirely by the
Hudson's Bay Company. The servants of the company were the only white men in the great territory
west of the Rocky Mountains and north of Old Oregon.
The native population at that time was estimated
to be from 100,000 to 150,000, but to-day, after less
than threescore years and ten of the white man's
occupation and civilisation, there are but 25,000 on
Government reservations. The white man's diseases
and his fire-water have wiped whole tribes out of
Scattered along the seven thousand miles of tidal
waters of Canada's Pacific province are numerous
reserves where remnants of once powerful nations
have been gathered. Here the Federal Government
agents seek to combat the causes which have decimated
the aborigines.
In its wisdom the Government has endeavoured
to replace ancient customs and tribal rites with the
civilisation of the white man. The potlatch—a peculiar
banking system—has been banned, and the bartering
of coppers has been declared illegal. No longer are
the winter ceremonials, with their weird and fantastic
dances, held, and no trials of endurance mark the
initiation of young braves into the secret organisations
of the Coast, The Government frowns on such things. HULDOWGET
The authorities may prohibit, but they cannot
eliminate from the minds of those who listen in the
lodges to the tales of the old men the desire for a
return to the exciting times that are no more, when
the customs of centuries held sway. Nor can the instruction of teacher and missionary altogether banish the
fear that arises at the mention of evil spirits.
"I have seen," says a friend, "young men who had
been educated in the schools turn pale and tremble
when it was rumoured in the village that some man
or woman was invoking the aid of evil spirits. I have
known men to die—gradually fade away—when they
believed a spell had been cast upon them. It is hard
indeed to remove in a few years the superstitions of
countless centuries."
The hunting of the huldowget and the trial by the
mouse are barbaric customs which a few years ago
were common, and which to-day are followed when
opportunity offers to do so beyond the scrutiny of
the law.
It is only a few months ago that Mounted Police
penetrated the trackless Northland to bring to trial
those charged with the murder of a boy suspected of
exercising an evil influence over others.
Records of different Government agencies reveal
dozens of instances of the fight which the authorities
and missioners are waging against the return of the
shaman, or medicine man.
The story of self-sacrifice and devotion of the
missionaries of the Coast is one of great inspiration.
In the earlier days of Christianity among the natives
of British Columbia and Alaska the lives of these FOREWORD vii
devoted men were in constant danger, but they faced
their trials and difficulties without complaint, toiling
ceaselessly to help the Indians. Praise is especially
due to those splendid women, the wives of the Protestant missionaries, who assisted them in their work.
In the story of Huldowget an effort has been made
to picture some of the trials and tribulations, the
dangers and disappointments of a missioner and his
wife, but no pen can do full justice to the men and
women of whom Father David and Mother are types.
An endeavour has also been made to portray in a
slight measure the confusion that often arises in the
mind of the native when asked to accept new doctrines
in place of those held by his forefathers. Not long ago
an Indian woman asked me to explain why the stories
she told were bad and those the missioner related were
good. Her spiritual adviser had told her to discard
her practice of story-telling. "He said," she explained,
"it was bad for me to tell how the eagle talked. Then
he tells me about Balaam's ass. Why, if my story is
bad, is his story good ?" I could not answer.
B. A. M.
Foreword   .
An Evil Omen    .
An Unexpected Passenger
Old Superstitions
The Face at the Fort
The Medicine Maker .
•      53
The Evil Spirit .
Uncanny Happenings .
The Canoe-Maker's Trail
The Mesahchie Box   .
Disturbing Doctrines.
A Night of Horrors .
Voices at Dawn.
Hunting the Huldowget
The Fight .
Trial by the Mouse  .
The Creeping Shadow
The Fire Needles
The Greater Service.
" I wonder, David, if the Mission Board will send the
nurse. It seems too bad to have to ask for help, but
I really cannot go on much longer unaided—and it
is not for myself I ask for assistance, but for the sake
of the work."
"I know, my dear," affectionately answered the
big, grey-bearded medical missionary. "It has been a
long, trying service—forty years in this place. But,"
he continued more cheerfully, "I am sure that the
answer to our letter will come "
"What is that? Listen!" interrupted his wife.
From the village came the sounds of song, the
plaintive wailing of Indians chanting; now slow and
mournful, now quickening in crescendo to an abrupt
termination, only to be repeated again and again.
The old couple sat looking at each other without
speaking, the face of each expressing a dread that
neither would voice, for it had been many years since
they had heard a similar air in the village that clustered about the ruins of the abandoned trading-post
of Fort Oliver, and neither wished to recall to the other
the memory of those early days.
At last the missioner broke silence.   "It must be
those Alaskan Indians," he said. "They came to-day
for the oolichan fishing. They have no right here."
Further comment was cut short by a rapping at
the door of the Mission House. Dr. Main waring responded to admit to the hallwa}/ a crippled native,
whose agitation suggested that he was the bearer of
news of some importance.
"Come in, Paul," invited the priest. "What is it?"
The young man remained standing in the hallway.
"No, Father David," he answered, in fairly good
English, "I just come to tell you something."
" The people make prayer to Nexnox to send plenty
"The Alaska people."
"And our people, what are they doing?"
"They watch. I come to tell you. I must go"; and
the Indian opened the door and disappeared into the
failing light of the early spring afternoon.
"Who was it? What is the matter, David?"
"It was Paul," answered the doctor, re-entering the
room. "He says those Alaskans are making mischief.
They are praying to their heathen god, Nexnox, and
are making the oolichan fishing sacrifices. I must go
at once. Where are my boots?"
Father David was soon striding towards one of the
larger houses set aside for the use of the strangers
on their arrival that morning from the North. As he
neared the place the chanting ceased and gave way
to the united supplication of many voices, punctuated
by the blowing of spirit whistles. AN  EVIL OMEN
The missionary recognised the prayer. It was an
appeal to the supernatural helper of the Being in the
sky to favour them in their fishing.
On entering the narrow doorway, he stood for a
moment surveying the scene, unobserved by the actors
in the strange rite or by those of his own flock who
viewed the ceremony with fascination.
On the earthen floor a great fire was blazing, the
flames leaping up until they almost licked the cedar-
log rafters and scorched the hideous carved face of
Nexnox, suspended below the smoke-hole in the roof.
The lurid, dancing fight cast grotesque shadows through
the weaving smoke on the circle of faces about the
blaze. Men and women passed slowly around the fire,
shouting in the guttural language of their race:
"Nexnox, Nexnox, be good to us. Give us lots of
oolichans or we will die. See, Great Chief, we give you
something. It is all we have."
At each repetition of the prayer the Indians threw
upon the burning pile wooden dishes containing food,
cedar baskets, articles of clothing and fragments of a
fine canoe that had been splintered for the purpose.
At the first sign of the flames dying down beneath the
weight of slow combustibles, a big, broad-shouldered
man, naked to the waist, ladled fish grease from a
large box on the fire and again it flamed brightly.
When his eyes had become accustomed to the sting
of the smoke, Father David advanced to the outer
fringe of spectators and, in a powerful voice that rang
out above the shouting of the worshippers, thundered:
"Stop this idolatry! What means all this?"
The circling chain of men and women halted and 4 HULDOWGET
broke. Had the wooden mask given answer to his
petitioners, greater consternation could not have
resulted, and indeed several, worked to a state of
religious frenzy, collapsed to the floor, calling, as
they grovelled in the dirt, "Nexnox has spoken!"
"Away with you, worshippers of Baal!" exclaimed
the missioner, pushing his way towards the fire. The
crowd melted before him. Members of the Fort Oliver
band slipped out of the building and disappeared, while
the strangers ran from him, gathering on the farther
side of the burning pile for mutual protection. As he
moved towards them, berating them in their own
tongue, they edged away, keeping the flames between
them and this scolding giant in black.
"When the sun comes, you go," he ordered, when
he ended his tirade.
Murmurs, and then shouts of defiance, answered him.
Lifting his voice, he thundered: "When the sun
comes, you go."
He turned and started for the door. Hardly had he
taken half a dozen steps when a savage sprang after
him, and a knife-blade flashed in the light of the fire.
Quick as was the native, the priest was quicker; he
stepped aside, half-turned and caught the descending
arm in a powerful grasp. He gave a quick twist: there
was a sickening sound of splintering bone and a cry of
pain broke from the Indian.
Father David did not release his hold, but, turning
to the natives, who were too astonished to move, he
said, "I will fix this man's arm," and he left the
building, dragging his assailant after him.
In the dispensary of his little hospital the doctor AN  EVIL OMEN
set the fractured bone. Then, having followed the
age-old custom of making a present of goodwill, he
permitted the man to go to his friends.
"You had someone in the dispensary; I did not
want to bother you," observed his wife when, a few
moments later, Father David sat down to his evening
meal. "Who was it?"
"Oh, one of the strangers had a broken arm, that
was all."
" And the trouble in the village, dear ?" she ventured.
"They were praying to Nexnox, but they stopped
when I appeared. They are going away in the morning, so there is nothing for you to worry about," he
assured her.
Mother did not question him further, although she
knew that he had found cause for anxiety. She was not
surprised, therefore, when he announced, a little later,
that he was going out.
He had not gone far before he became aware that
something was causing a stir in the village. No men
were in sight about the Indian shacks and the squaws
he encountered hurried by without speaking.
"What is it, Martha?" he asked one woman. "What
is the matter? Come, tell me," he pressed, as she
hesitated to answer.
"The men are meeting," was the reply.
"About what?"
"About you sending the people from the North
"Well, well, I must see about it. Where are they?"
" In Chief John Peter's house. Don't say I told you."
"No, Martha, I won't. Good night!" oa»
Surprise showed on every face when Father David
entered the house where the council was being held.
The chief was speaking, but he stopped and looked
at the intruder in blank amazement.
"Go on, chief," urged the missionary. "You were
talking about me?"
There was a sullen whispering, and then a voice:
"Yes, go on, chief. Tell him what we think."
"The people say " and he stopped.
"Yes?" encouraged the priest.
"They say," went on the chief, "you did bad. You
make us 'shamed "
Exclamations of assent encouraged him, and John
Peter went on more boldly: "You do bad to send
our friends away. They go now. No stop for sun. You
do bad for us. The people say you must send for our
friends and tell them to come back. That is what the
people say; that is what I say. I have spoken."
All eyes turned to the missionary. He looked down
upon them from his superior height and noted the
angry expression on every countenance.
"Children, children!" he exclaimed tenderly. "I
will make answer to your chief, but first let us sing ";
and he broke into one of the favourite hymns of his
congregation. He knew these simple folk better than
they did themselves, and in a moment they were
lustily following him in a song of praise.
"Now, children," he said, when the singing ceased,
" I will make answer to you.
"I have lived with you forty snows. When Mother
and I came here our hair was black like the raven;
now it is white like the swan. You have known me, AN  EVIL  OMEN 7
chief, since you were a little boy. Did you ever know
my words to be bad? Did you ever know the words
of Mother to be bad? Did you, chief?"
"No," was the grudging answer.
"That is good. All the time we worked to help the
people; to tell them of God's way. All the time we
to tried to help the people when they were sick, and to
teach the boys and girls. Are my words good words ?
Are they true?"
"Yes," agreed several.
"Did the Alaska people ever do as much for you?
Do you want us to go away and the Alaska people
to come?"
"No, no."
"You know the Nexnox way is not God's way;
that it is the old way, the bad way. Do you want
that way or God's way?"
"No," shouted a dozen voices, "we want the good
"That is good; for if you want the Nexnox way,
then I will not stay. If you want us to stay we will
be glad, but I will not send for the Alaska people. It
is for you to say."
"We want you," stammered the chief. "You must
not go."
"Then we will stay. We want to help you all. We
are both getting old, and, when we are gone, we want
the people to be cared for when they are sick. Mother
is getting tired, and she must have help, so we may
have another one here to help her, and perhaps to
nurse the sick people. You will be good to the new
nurse when she comes? I have spoken."
There was silence for a moment and then a babel
of voices. The thought of losing Father David and
Mother had never entered their minds, while the very
suggestion of another white resident at Fort Oliver
was itself sufficient to agitate the assembly.
The chief arose and motioned for silence. "Father
David," he began, using the form of address that the
priest had encouraged because of the difficulty that
pronunciation of his surname presented, and by reason
of the paternal care he sought to exercise over his
flock—" Father David, we have heard your words, and
they are good. We want you to stay. We are sorry
for our black hearts to you.
"You are like good canoe, we all know. We ride
with you when lots of storm come and nobody gets
lost. Perhaps other canoe like Alaska people. He look
nice, but we not know him well. Big storm come;
canoe break and all men are lost.
"What you tell us about another woman come, we
not know. We wait and see what this new klootchmans
like. Maybe we like her, maybe not. We like Mother.
We like you. We want for you to stay."
Then the Indians crowded around him, endeavouring
like children who have been detected in some prank to
ingratiate themselves with a parent who has corrected
them. They shook him by the hand, told him of their
love for him, and belittled their late guests who had
been the cause of the trouble.
It was late when Father David reached home.
Mother had retired, and he threw himself down in
his easy-chair before the fireplace and stirred the
embers into flame. He wanted to think, for he was V
puzzled. He could not understand why his people had
permitted the heathen ceremony. It worried him, for
there had been several happenings of late that evidenced
a sinister influence at work among the natives.
Try as he would, he could not focus his mind on
the problem, and his thoughts went back to the early
years of his ministry, when he brought his wife, as a
bride, from the East to the North Pacific Coast.
Their first home had been in one of the buildings of
the old trading-post, where the privacy of their abode
was continually invaded by threatening shamans in fantastic garb, beating drums, shaking rattles and blowing
horns to call down destructive spirits upon them.
The smoke-filled interior of the old hall, with its
leaking roof and windows covered with cotton to
mitigate the intensity of the winter winds, was pictured in all its wealth of cruel detail in his memory.
He recalled their first attempts to eat the dried fish
and unpalatable oolichan grease, regarded by the
natives as a great delicacy.
They had nearly perished when, on an errand of
mercy to the bedside of one of their friends who
could not altogether free himself from his old superstitious beliefs, and was gradually succumbing to the
machinations of the medicine men, their blankets had
been stolen. All night long they crouched over the
smoking fire that burned slowly on the hearth, while
outside the gale drove sleet and hail through the
chinks between the logs of their dwelling. Illness
followed, and it was only the providential arrival of
another missionary on his way to Metlakatla that
prevented the shamans from forcing their way into **
the building to practise their gruesome rites over
them in their helplessness.
There rose before him a scene which recalled the
horror with which he had viewed it in the second year
of their life among the Indians. News had been brought
of the killing of a party from Fort Oliver by the warriors
of another tribe, sixty miles to the north. Instantly
there was wild tumult in the village. The howlings of
the medicine men, the wailing of the women and the
bloodthirsty whoopings of the braves, the firing of
muskets and the pounding of drums, made the night
Men blackened their faces with the sombre paint
of war. The shamans worked themselves into a frenzy
as they led the dance of death about the great fire on
the beach. Then, screaming and yelping like a pack
of hounds on the scent, they dashed away from the
circle of light to return, dragging by the hair of her
head, a terrified woman who had married into the
tribe from among the people against whom they were
about to make war.
Before Father David could intervene, perhaps to his
own destruction, she had been beaten to death and her
body had been torn limb from limb by the fiends.
He could see once more the return of the defeated
warriors, and could almost hear again the grievings of
the squaws as the toll of battle was recited. It was
from that moment that he dated his own slow success,
for he had seized upon the opportunity to denounce
the medicine men who had predicted the destruction
of their enemies as false prophets, and the natives
had listened. AN  EVIL OMEN n
Then came the ceremonies of peace, with the exchange of goods in reparation for the losses. Their
late enemies came to Fort Oliver in state to accept
tribute, and a great feast was prepared for them. He
had been a witness of the scattering of the swans'
down over guest and host alike. His knowledge of the
language was such by this time that he was able to
address the gathering, and he likened the message of
Holy Love that he bore to the gentle falling of the
white feathers that signified eternal friendship.
There had followed no rush of converts to his teachings, but one by one, slowly and with diffidence, they
had come, until after a time, such was the number
that had banded together, there was less open hostility
towards him and Mother, and less derision expressed
of those who embraced the faith.
The medicine sect had not relinquished its efforts
to combat the growing influence of the priest, and at
every opportunity attempted to undo his work. Time
and time again did the shamans seek to win back
their waning power.
The first chapel which had been erected, a crudely
constructed edifice, the medicine men destroyed by
fire and sought to resurrect from its ashes their
former dominion. It had been a blow to Father David
and Mother, for it had been consumed before it could
be consecrated by a service within its walls.
Undaunted, they immediately set to work to rebuild
on a larger scale, and by example and precept succeeded, not only in holding together their little
band of worshippers, but obtained additions to their
congregation. 12 HULDOWGET
Year after year the grim fight continued, until at
last, to all appearances, shamanism was dead, but
this, Father David suspected, was not true. Among
the older men and women who had known and feared
the influences of the medicine men, there were some
who still held, in secret, to their first beliefs.
He recollected the last open defiance of the shaman
cult. A powerful man, one of the medicine men from
Alaska, had appeared at Fort Oliver. He was almost
as tall as Father David himself, and stood head and
shoulders above the natives of the vicinity. He had
attempted to sow seeds of dissension in the village.
The priest warned him away, but the stranger replied
by slapping the face of the big white doctor.
Father David turned pale. He clenched his hands,
but made no effort to retaliate. Instead, he turned
his head, presenting the other cheek, and the shaman,
mistaking the action for one of cowardice, repeated
the blow.
"Father, I have obeyed Thy command," exclaimed
the missionary, and, with an unholy joy in his heart,
he flew at the stranger.
With a single blow he knocked him down, and when
the Indian arose he planted his great fist full on the
painted face. The shaman dropped like a stunned
bullock. Reaching down, Father David picked him
up and, lifting him above his head, carried the inert
form down to the water's edge and cast it into
the sea.
The shock revived the necromancer, whose bedraggled appearance, as he struggled to his feet in
the shallow water, was seized upon by the priest as AN EVIL OMEN
an  illustration  of  the  futility   and  wickedness  of
Since that time there had been no open parading of
shamanism, but of late an insidious propaganda was
being spread among the villages of the Coast, and he
believed that the Nexnox dance had been inspired by a
necromancer of more than ordinary cunning, who carefully concealed his identity. The thought troubled him. CHAPTER II
"This is a hell o' a country," declared the watchman
at Sliam cannery, as he spat spitefully at the oily,
rain-splashed swells that slopped about the piling of
the wharf.
"What's the matter now, Bill?" good-naturedly
queried the young man who was tinkering with the
engine of the raised-deck motor-boat, looking up from
his work to his guest, who was perched half in and
half out of the cabin. "The lonely fife gettin' you?"
"Uh huh," grunted the other, adding as he filled
his pipe: "Too blasted much rain, rain, rain; too
much mist an* not enough sunshine fer me. I'm sick
o' it."
"Go on, Bill," chided .the other. "I'm surprised,
t' hear an old sourdough like you talk that way.
Now, if it had been some chechako, I could savvy
it, but you—why, you've been in this North country
since they planted the first trees."
"Yes, I know, but this is my las' season, I'm tellin'
you. I'm through, Collishaw, I'm through."
"Uh huh," agreed the other placidly, as he screwed
an oil-cup down on the engine. "Uh huh, heard you say
the same thing last year."
"Maybe, but this time I'm tellin' you; I'm fed up
on it."
"Sure thing."
"Until next winter, and then I'll find you here as
handsome and as crabbed as ever," predicted the
younger man.
"Th' hell you will"; and again he expectorated to
emphasise his statement.
"Why don't you get married, Bill?"
"Why don't I what? "
"Get yourself a wife. There are lots of nice girls
who'd be glad t' get you."
"Nuthin' doing; I ain't no squaw man—not yet,"
exploded Bill.
"Don't need to marry a squaw. There's heaps of
pretty nice-looking half-breeds on the Coast."
"Why don't you get one yerself?" countered Bill.
"Me? Oh, I will, maybe, sometime, when I'm as
old as you, but not just now. I'm not the marryin'
"Uh huh!" grunted the watchman, and then,
returning to his grievance " But on the square, now,
ain't this a hell o' a country?"
" No, Bill, it is not"; and there was a note of seriousness in the voice of the speaker. "The North is getting
me, Bill."
"How? come,"
"I can't just tell you what I mean, in a way that
you'd understand it. I'd have to use highbrow language to describe it, and that lingo would be out of
place here, wouldn't it ? "
" Kinda, I wouldn't get you at all; but all the same,
tell me what you mean, 'the North's gettin' you.'" i6
"Well, let's see how I can explain it," answered the
boatman, as he pushed his sou'wester back on his
head and ran his fingers through his wavy brown hair.
"I don't see just how I can get it across to you—and
it should not be necessary, for if ever there was a man
in the thrall of the North, it's you "
"In the what? That sounds like a fightin' word,"
exclaimed the watchman belligerently.
"Keep your shirt on, Bill," grinned Collishaw. "The
thrall means the service—the hold of the North. The
North is cruel to its friends. It beats them and freezes
them; it fights them for everything they get, and lets
go its wealth like a miser. Sometimes it smiles, but
mostly it frowns—but still men stay. They desert the
easy ways of the cities and the comforts of civilisation
to come back to the hardships and the struggles they
know they will face—and they like it."
"That's highbrow stuff, but I get you all right,"
assented Bill, after a pause. "I get you."
"Well, when men are like that, the North has
got 'em."
" Guess ye're right! Just like squaws we be—the more
we're licked, the better we seem t' like it. We must
be married to the damn' country.
"I mind once," went on Bill, "when I went out
with quite a wad o' money—went out cursin' the
country; I was sure glad t' get back again.
"Say," he added, "them people in the cities take
awful chances, with their street cars and autos an'
everythin'. I'd sure hate t' be shut up like they are.
Believe me, I nearly smothered in those big hotels;
an' the streets—they was jus' like walkin' along the AN UNEXPECTED PASSENGER   17
bottom o' a big canyon—you know, Jack, buildin's
shut you in—there ain't no room to spread yourself
like. Yes, I guess ye're right—this ain't such a hell o'
a country after all—but I sure do wish it'd quit
rainin' fer a spell."
Suddenly out of the mist sounded the deep note of
a steamer's whistle.
Bill jumped to his feet. "What the blue blazes d'yu
know about that! A steamer!" he exclaimed, as he
swung himself over to the loading-slip. "Say, Colli-
shaw, better get yer boat outa th' way—an' do it
quick "
Already the boat owner had his engine spinning,
and as Bill cast off the headline, the launch backed
slowly away from the approaching steamer, now
showing a big black mass against the lighter shade
of the rain mist.
At half-speed the vessel approached, taking the
shape of a rusty, sea-battered, snub-nosed freighter
—not one of those boats pictured in colours on attractive pamphlets advertising summer cruises, but of
the class of slow-moving, storm-battling drudges of
commerce that make possible the gradual development
of the serried coast-line of the North Pacific.
When within hailing distance, Bill was ready with
his favourite prefix to a query, "What th' " but
he was arrested in the completion of his question by
the strange antics of the captain, who waved his arms,
shook his fist, and after pointing with a huge forefinger to the deck below, placed his hand over his
mouth, which Bill rightly concluded enjoined silence.
Having  caught  the headline and made fast  the HULDOWGET
spring, the watchman lifted his eyes in puzzled interrogation to the man on the bridge, who, he noted, was
wearing the uniform of his rank instead of the usual
greasy cap and blue jersey that was his accustomed
Cupping his hands in the form of a megaphone, the
captain leaned far over the little bridge of his boat,
and whispered in a voice that carried like a fog-horn,
"Got a lady aboard fer you."
"A lady—fer me!" cried the watchman in alarm.
" No, not fer you, y' fathead," answered the skipper.
"You conceited ol' chump, what'd a lady want wi'
you ? She's a passenger booked fer here—leastways fer
Fort Oliver, but I guess you've got to look after her
till she can get over to Father David. And see that
you treat her right, or by the great Jehosaphat you'll
answer t' me."
The gang-plank was run out while they were talking,
and a young woman, escorted by the mate, crossed to
the dock, a deck-hand following with her hand baggage.
The watchman stood gazing at the girl in utter and
incredulous amazement, until the mate came forward :
"Bill, this is the young lady who is going to Fort
"What th' " began Bill, when a look from the
mate and an ejaculation from the bridge stopped him
so suddenly that he almost choked. Doffing his hat,
he approached, and after vigorously wiping his hand
on his coat, extended his paw in greeting.
"This is Miss Cunningham," announced the mate,
"and this," indicating Bill, with a stubby thumb, "is
Bill Dorsett, the man in charge here." AN UNEXPECTED PASSENGER
"Glad t' meet you," interjected Bill as the mate
continued with the air of a lecturer:
"He ain't much t' look at, miss, but he ain't too
bad when y' gets t' know him."
There was freight to unload, for new machinery was
to be installed in the cannery, and it was coming piece
by piece. The last time the ship's crane swung over
the dock was to unsling a big steamer trunk.
"Mine," said the girl, as she pointed to the piece.
" Good-bye," called the captain, and the lines having
been thrown off, the steamer churned her way back
from the river mouth and disappeared again in the
"Well, miss," said Bill, addressing himself to his
charge, "I really don't know what t' do with you."
The "chug-chug" of a gas-engine coming slowly
towards the dock was heard, and Bill's troubled brow
cleared. He ran to the edge of the wharf: "Collishaw.
Oh, Jack, I want you."
"Well, I'm coming as fast as I can; keep your hair
on"; and the boat drew up at the berth she had quitted
for the larger craft.
"I want you t' go over t' Fort Oliver," shouted the
cannery man, leaning over the string piece.
"Oh, you do, do you?" questioned the other. "I
thought you wanted to have me stay here for the
night an' play solo with you. I "
"Shs-s-s!" warned Bill.
"Beg your pardon," exclaimed Collishaw as he
caught sight of the young woman who had moved
forward to see the person with whom the watchman
was conversing. 20
"You see, miss, this is Jack Collishaw, the Indian
policeman," explained the cannery guardian, when his
friend had clambered to the wharf deck.
"Oh, but you don't " and she hesitated and
"No, ma'm," and the young man laughed pleasantly,
"I'm not a native. My old friend Bill would have been
more correct if he had said I was the policeman for
the Department of Indian Affairs. But why are we
standing here in the rain?" and he led the way to
the protection of one of the big buildings.
"Now, Bill, what can I do for you?"
"It's this way, as I understand it: this young lady
is goin' t' Fort Oliver—leastways, she wants to—an'
as I can't take her there, it's up t' you t' do it. There
ain't no place where she can stay aroun' here. The
manager's house is all right, but it ain't had anyone
in it since las' season."
" Why, certainly, I'll be pleased to substitute for my
friend here and escort you to Fort Oliver, Miss ? "
"Cunningham, Mary Cunningham."
"Thanks. You already know my name, so we will
consider ourselves properly introduced."
"Yes, it's informal, but quite effective," she laughed.
" Bill, I'm ashamed of you," chided Collishaw. " You
have let Miss Cunningham stand in the rain until her
hat and coat are all wet. Hustle around and see if you
can't find her some oilskins."
"You know," he said, turning to the girl, "a sou'wester," and he touched the visor-like peak of his
oiled hat, "and a coat like this, with rubber boots,
form the universal garb on the North Coast from AN UNEXPECTED PASSENGER  21
October until April, for it rains most of the time
between those months."
Bill returned with a hat, coat and rubber boots.
"They belong to Mrs. Drain, the manager's wife,"
he explained. "She left 'em when she went South.
Send 'em back any time it suits you, an' it'll be
all right."
"Just go down in the cabin and put on those dry
things," advised the policeman, and he assisted her
down to the deck. "Bill and I will get your things
It was with some difficulty that they managed to
get the heavy trunk down the incline and on to the
deck of the launch. "Must be goin' t' stay quite a
spell," puffed the watchman as he hung on to the strap
to keep it from sliding too rapidly.
The girl appeared a moment later, smilingly parading
herself in sea clothing. Collishaw dropped below, started
the engine, cast off the lines and backed away from
the wharf, while Miss Cunningham waved adieu to
the watchman.
"Great old character," commented Collishaw, but it
was not at the receding form of the cannery man that
he was looking. He was studying the girl who, half-
turned, was still trying to make out the details of the
fishery plant through the mist.
The prospect pleased him, for Mary Cunningham
was a beautiful girl, with golden hair and blue eyes that
held a suggestion of the dreamer in their depths. Her
nose was just a trifle short of the perfect, Collishaw
decided, while the well-modelled mouth and the set
of the sharply-defined chin belied the story of her 22
eyes. "They are the windows of the soul," he told
himself, as he turned to direct the course of the boat,
"and the nature that is expressed there don't match
with the determination of that chin and mouth."
The girl was talking now, and as she did so, she
was covertly scanning the face of the policeman. John
Collishaw was a little above the average height, broad-
shouldered and thick-set. Steel-grey eyes looked out
from under a broad intelligent forehead, while a finely-
chiselled nose was set above a straight thin-lipped
mouth and square-cut chin. She judged that he was
about thirty.
"Are you well acquainted with Dr. Mainwarjng?"
she asked.
" Dr. Mainwaring ? "
"Yes; the missionary at Fort Oliver."
"Oh, you mean Father David," he answered. "Yes;
know him very well indeed. Furniy, though, I should
have forgotten his name, but, you see, he is always
called 'Father David,' and his good wife is known as
'Mother,' to everyone for miles around."
"What kind of a man is he?" questioned the girl.
" Why, don't you know him ?"
"No. You see, I am going to Fort Oliver as a nurse;
to help in the work there, and I have never met
either of them."
"You are—no, surely, you don't mean it! You are
going to live at Fort Oliver, and—nurse Indians?"
and he whistled softly in amazement.
"Yes," responded the girl, "that is my field of
" But, surely, you could have—well—found employ- AN UNEXPECTED PASSENGER  23
ment without coming away up here to this lonesome
part of the Coast ? " he exclaimed after a pause.
"Oh, it's not the need of employment, of earning
my living, that brings me here; it's the idea of the
service itself—to do good, and make others happier."
The policeman looked at her in astonishment. In
his experience in the North he had met many strange
characters, men and women, but this was something
new to him. He could understand a missionary, fired
by the flame of his holy office, devoting his life to
working among the natives, and even comprehend the
devotion and self-sacrifice on the part of a missioner's
wife; but for a young woman voluntarily to cut herself adrift from the fascinations and comforts of city
life! It was beyond him.
She interrupted his thoughts by repeating her
question, "What kind of a man is he?"
"Father David," he replied, "is one of the whitest
men in the world, and Mother—well, she is a dear.
They have lived here for forty years; working all the
time for others. If they don't get to Heaven, there's not
much chance for the rest of us, who have been trying
to play the game of Life in a sort of half-decent way.
" Father David is one of the biggest men, physically
and morally, I've ever seen. He stands well over six
feet—about six feet four, I'd judge, and is built in
proportion, and in spite of his age, he's so powerful
he don't know the limit of his strength.
"Mother—well, she's just one of the sweetest little
women alive; just like a fellow's own mother.
"They're deeply in love with one another," he continued, " and it'll do you good to see their devotion to
L 24
each other. You'll be happy with them—if the lone-
someness of the North doesn't frighten you away."
"It will not do that," answered the nurse.
"They had a hard time here in the early days," he
went on. "The medicine men tried to frighten them
with their charms and incantations. Several times they
even attempted to kill Father David, but he kept on
with his work, and "
"Do the medicine men still practise their arts?"
she interrupted with some show of eagerness. " I wonder
if they are anything like the fakirs of India. My aunt
used to tell me about the wonderful feats performed
by the Indian magicians in the Punjaub. I used to
listen to her by the hour. I would just love to see some
of the things she described."
"All trickery," snapped the policeman; "all clever
"But," she persisted, "no one has ever been able to
find out how they do some of those things, if they
are tricksters."
"'If they are tricksters'!" he repeated. "Why, of
course they are"; and then in a more bantering tone,
" But I thought that nurses were all practical-minded
and didn't believe in hobgoblins and fairies, and
couldn't be deceived by the jugglery of Indian fakirs."
To his utter astonishment the nurse commenced a
serious defence of her position. "Well," she said,
somewhat defiantly, "have not some of our great
scientists accepted theories that have been ridiculed
for years; theories that are opening up new lines of
thought, not incompatible with the teachings of
centuries?" a
Collishaw made no answer, and the girl went on,
"Of course, I don't say that I believe in the Indian
fakirs, for I've never seen them, or that I am a convert to Spiritualism, but when leading medical men
and scientists are giving such subjects serious thought,
I am not going to say they are all wrong."
The policeman changed the subject, and they talked
of many things as the boat chugged along, hugging the
rocky coast-line. The shore, for the most part, rose
abruptly from the sea to timbered heights which were
lost in the low-hanging mists. The forested slopes that
could be discerned through the vapour appeared dark
and mysterious to the girl, while the dozens of cataracts
that fell, roaring and splashing, down the mountain
sides from sources found in the melting snow and
draining muskeg far up in the obscurity of the higher
altitudes, thrilled and delighted her.
"There is Fort Oliver," exclaimed Collishaw at last,
and he pointed ahead. She rose from her seat at the
companionway and stood beside him, as he indicated
the objects of interest that could be seen but dimly
at the distance.
"The village snuggles at the foot of such slopes as
we have been passing," he told her. "There is a little
valley going back for several miles, and through it a
small stream runs. Just now it is swollen by rains, but
later on it will be almost dry. There is a good sloping
beach of shingle, in the form of a crescent. It extends
from the hill on this side to the old fort occupying a
point of land at the mouth of the creek.
"There! see that big white building. That's the
Mission House and hospital. It's a roomy place, for 26
Father David always keeps two or three spare beds
for poor devils like myself whose work takes them up
and down the Coast.
"Look! there is the church. The old one was too
small, so they pulled it down and built a larger one.
"There is Father David himself," he added.
"There, coming down to meet us. Hide down there.
Don't let him see you"; and Mary dropped down to
her seat on the companionway.
Collishaw threw the engine into neutral. The boat
slowed down as it approached the landing-stage, and
the girl heard the voice of the priest raised in greeting:
"Didn't expect you, John, lad. What brings you this
way? My lambs are all behaving—they'd better, or
I'd know the reason why. Didn't see a young lady at
Sliam looking for me, did "
A peal of feminine laughter stopped him. "Eh!
wha—what's that?" he demanded.
Mary appeared. She could not conceal her amusement at the manner in which Father David was ready
to guarantee the behaviour of his flock, and his
confusion on discovering her.
But as the policeman assisted her ashore she
approached the priest. "I must beg your pardon, Dr.
Mainwaring," she said, "but really, you do look so
capable of enforcing your doctrines, that—well, I just
couldn't help it. You will forgive me, won't you? I'm
Miss Cunningham."
"Forgive you? Why, child, there's nothing to forgive, bless your heart"; and he extended an immense
hand in welcome. AN UNEXPECTED PASSENGER   27
"No, you don't," exclaimed Collishaw, and he caught
the girl's arm and gently drew it aside.
"Why, Mr. Collishaw, what do you mean?" she
indignantly demanded.
"It's all right, Miss Cunningham; I just didn't want
you to start your duties with a couple of crushed
fingers. Father David is sometimes so enthusiastic in
his handshaking that he uses more power than he
intends, that's all."
"John, you rascal, I've a good mind to shake you,"
laughed the doctor, adding, "Don't believe all he tells
you about me, for he's not one of my parishioners,
and I'm not responsible for his veracity." Again he
put forth his hand and buried the girl's small one in
his grasp.
"Now, where's your trunk?"
"I'm afraid it's very heavy," she responded, and
pointed to the big box stowed under a tarpaulin in
the cockpit.
As the priest pulled the trunk from the boat and,
without effort, hoisted it to his broad shoulder, she
realised the truth of what had been told her of the
tremendous strength of the man. She found that she
had almost to run to keep up with his long, easy strides,
as he led the way up the beach.
Collishaw followed with the hand baggage.
Setting his burden down in the hallway of the house,
Father David exclaimed, "Take off your things. This
is your home."
She did as she was directed and her golden hair fell
in picturesque disorder about her face.
"Mother!" called the missioner, when they were in 28
the big sitting-room. "Mother, come and see who's
"Coming, dear "; and the door to the kitchen opened
to admit Mother, who stepped into the room, stopped
and stood facing the stranger.
The bright eyes of the older woman searched the
face of the nurse, while her hands nervously turned
and twisted the corner of her apron.
Mary felt as if her soul was being bared before the
kindly scrutiny, and in that moment was bred within
her an affection, and an almost overpowering desire
for the regard of the white-haired little woman. "What
if she failed?" The thought frightened her.
The big missioner watched the faces of the two
women closely, and the tenseness of the moment was
reflected in his anxious eyes and clenched hands.
"Thank God!" he whispered fervently as the women,
each satisfied with what she had found in the other,
embraced. To hide the moisture that filled his eyes
he turned and brought his big hand with a resounding
"whack" on the shoulder of the policeman who had
just entered. " John!" he exclaimed. " You're a rascal."
" I may be," answered the other as he ruefully rubbed
the back of his neck, "but even a rogue has a trial
before he's punished." CHAPTER III
old superstitions
Supper was over and the fire was blazing in the big
open fire-place of wave-rounded stones and clay. Father
David and John Collishaw drew their chairs close to the
blaze and produced tobacco and pipes, while the women
continued their conversation over the empty tea-cups.
"John," whispered the doctor, motioning with the
stem of his pipe toward the dining-room, " John, this
is a happy day for me, for Mother likes her, and I think
Miss Cunningham likes Mother.
"It's been a lonely life for the little woman here all
these years. With me it has not been so bad, for I've
had my work with the Indians, my medicine and my
books, and above all—Mother. It's only recently that
I've come to realise that she has had only me—and
I must be a bit of a trial at times.
"I was afraid they might send some person who
would be hard to get along with, and that would have
been worse than no one at all. I'm glad it was Miss
Cunningham they selected."
"She'll love your wife; she can't help it," declared
John. " She seems to be an exceptionally nice sort of a
girl, and takes an interest in everything she sees. She
had me guessing for a time with her questions on the
way over. She wanted to know the name of every point,
bay and boulder.
"But for the life of me, I can't understand why a
j f
girl of her type should be willing to come to such an
out-of-the-way place as Fort Oliver. I asked her, and
she told me that it was a matter of service to humanity.
I should have thought she would have found a field for
her skill closer to civilisation."
"You cannot tell, John. She may feel she is called
to come here. It is not for us to question the motives
that may have been directed by the Divine Will."
They smoked for a time in silence, then Father
David asked, "No trouble about, I hope?"
"Well—no," answered the younger man slowly. "Of
course, the cause of my coming here to-day was Miss
Cunningham, but I had intended to nose down this
way in a day or so, anyway. To tell the truth, it's just
a ' hunch.' Perhaps you never feel the force of a 'hunch'
—a sort of compelling something; call it what you like
—that seems to urge you on to do something without
apparent reason for your act. Once you have acted you
may feel foolish, but you feel uneasy if you don't.
"I really came over this way because I heard that
Caleb Thompson, the half-breed, was prowling around
the reserves. I have no reason to suspect Thompson of
anything, but I never feel just right when he's in this
part of the country. He gets on my nerves."
Father David puffed away at his pipe for a moment
without speaking. "So Caleb is around again," he
muttered half to himself, and then to his guest, "I
don't feel quite comfortable when he's around, either.
Strange that a man like him should cause such
uneasiness. Of course, you know his story?"
Collishaw shook his head, and after a pause the
priest went on: OLD SUPERSTITIONS
"He's the son of a captain of a small trading
schooner and the daughter of one of the chiefs of
Slianch. A strange creature was the captain. He
married the girl in the belief that eventually he
would become a chief himself, for he had a passion
to attain rank, even if it was only as head-man of an
Indian village. He came from the State of Maine, he
once told me, and had led an adventurous life as a
sailor. In some manner he became possessed of a small
sloop and started as a trader along the coast. I do not
imagine that it was so much the profit of the enterprise and the opportunity to command his own craft
that appealed to him. I flattered him by always calling
him 'Captain,' a dignity which he assumed with all
the pomp and circumstance that the commander of a
battleship might adopt.
"He did not long survive his marriage, and died
just before the birth of his son, who was named ' Caleb'
after him. The babe, of course, was brought up by the
mother in the native manner.
"The captain left some papers and these the woman
brought to me. I wrote to an address I found there,
and four years later an answer came from Thompson's
brother in the State of Maine. It was but an acknowledgment of my letter. Two years passed and, when
the boy was six, a queer little man came to see me.
"He spoke in quick, abrupt sentences. 'Am Thompson's brother,' he snapped at me by way of introduction.
'Caleb was a fool; married a squaw; son a half-breed.
Don't know what to do with him. Can't take him
back to Maine.'
" He was looking about my place all the time he was 32
talking. 'You seem comfortable,' he exclaimed. 'Think
I'll make a preacher out of him. Then he can teach
Indians.' He thanked me for my advice, although I
had given him none, declined my invitation to stay,
and went away in the canoe that had brought him.
" I later heard that he had taken the boy South and
placed him in a school. From time to time in the
succeeding years I learned that Caleb was progressing
in his studies, and was preparing to carry out his uncle's
plan for him and qualify as a Methodist missionary.
"Just why he failed to seek ordination, I never did
find out, but something went wrong and he left college,
and came back to his native village. I met him shortly
after and endeavoured to be nice to him, but he
spurned my offers of friendship. Since then, seven or
eight years ago, he has flitted from village to village
throughout this vast country, silent, inscrutable,
"I have no evidence for saying so, John," continued Father David, dropping his voice and leaning
toward his friend, "but my suspicion is that he's
practising necromancy."
"Oh, go on. You don't mean to tell me that you
honestly believe the Indians are still that gullible,
after mixing with the whites at the canneries and on
the fishing banks, that they would let those old tricks
fool them?" was the incredulous exclamation of the
policeman. "I've never seen anything that would
suggest the practising of sorcery to me."
"Quite possible, John," answered the priest, "but
perhaps you wouldn't recognise the signs of the
medicine man's activities if you saw them." OLD SUPERSTITIONS 33
The younger man flushed slightly. "Of course,
Father David, I have only been here four years, and
have not had your opportunity of studying the natives."
"Of course not, boy," answered the missioner kindly,
" and when they can carry on their work and deceive
me, as I suspect they are doing, it is not surprising if
you can't detect them."
"And you really think the shaman can find Indians
who will listen to him, and upon whom he can sponge ?"
"John," said Father David sadly, "some of the
Indians are mighty fine men, but, remember, we have
only been teaching them the story of the Bible for a
few short years, compared to the countless centuries
in which their forefathers believed in idols of their own
making, and the spirits of the forest, the sea and the
air. I fear that in a crucial test between the old superstitions and the story of Christianity, which so many
of our own people will not accept, it would be found
that the deep-rooted beliefs and fears would prove, in
many, that our teachings had reached but to the
fringe of their minds.
"I am getting old, John, and perhaps I look at
these things in a different way than I did when I was
younger; not that I am one whit less opposed to the
wickedness of the medicine men, but I am more
tolerant and sympathetic in my regard for the beliefs
of others."
" You surely do not sympathise with necromancy ?"
" Certainly not. Don't mistake me. The hideous rites
and devilish dances of the necromancers still fill me
with rage and disgust when I recall them, but I do
regard with greater leniency those who can't altogether
^ 34
put aside their inherited superstitions and accept the
story of Divine Love we have been trying to instil
into their minds and hearts.
"Look here," he challenged, "you're superstitious
yourself. We all are, despite our boasted civilisation.
Show me the man who, somewhere in his make-up,
is not a prey to some odd belief or foolish tradition.
You believe in 'hunches,' as you call them. Others
will not start a journey on Friday, or sleep in a room
numbered 13. Some place faith in a four-leaf clover
and some in a cast-off horseshoe.
"I, myself, follow a superstitious custom," and he
smiled sheepishly. "I always put my right foot first
across the threshold when I'm entering a house. Why
I do it, I cannot tell, and have no reason for it, except
that my father always did the same thing, and his
father before him, declaring that to do otherwise was
to bring bad luck on the occupants of the house.
"Who are we, then, to blame the Indian if he
can't shake himself free from the customs and beliefs
of ages?"
"I guess you're right; I never looked at it in that
light before," agreed Collishaw. "But it is a surprise
to me that the natives should still—even a few of
them—fear the power of the shaman."
"Not only do they believe in the power of the
medicine man to banish evil spirits or cause them to
harm any person who is distasteful to him, but sometimes, in secret, the Indians permit him to carry out
old tribal customs which are forbidden by law. The
very existence of the law against necromancy testifies
to the possibility of its practice. OLD SUPERSTITIONS
"It is not so many years ago that there was a trial
by the mouse not far from here."
"Trial by the mouse! What's that?" asked the
younger man, leaning forward.
"Well," commenced the doctor, speaking slowly, "it
was an old and very wicked custom of deciding the guilt
or innocence of a person suspected of doing another
a wrong; and it was so cruel and barbarous that
even the savages only resorted to it when all other
means failed.
"Usually it was to decide which of several suspects
were guilty of a crime. A mouse was caught and caged.
Two men of influence in the village were chosen as
watchers or referees. They purged themselves by eating
the pulverised ashes of roasted frogs or by drinking
sea-water, the idea being that having empty stomachs
they must necessarily have clean minds.
"The suspects were placed in front of the cage.
The medicine man called out their names in a slow
monotone, while squaws beat time on their drums and
maintained a low, doleful chant. The watchers kept
their eyes on the little animal in the cage, and sooner
or later it would, in its fright, cringe farther back in
its cage. In doing so it would nod its head. The name
being called at that instant was that of the guilty
"What happened then?"
The old man hesitated. He seemed lost in thought;
to be reviewing the past.
"There was a missionary who witnessed such a
trial," he said at last. "He was hidden away and
watched the whole ceremony. He lacked the courage
, 36
of the moment to go in and attempt to put a stop to
it until the penalty was about to be inflicted. The
man had been sentenced to the hemlock needle torture.
"He was stripped and pitchy needles were pressed
into the flesh of his back. They were set on fire. It
was awful"; and he shuddered.
"But what of the missionary; what did he do?"
demanded Collishaw excitedly.
"He rushed into the circle, threw some of the
natives aside and seized the tortured wretch before
the astonished Indians realised he was there. He
carried him away and nursed him back to health."
"Didn't the Indians try and stop him?" persisted
the policeman.
"Oh, yes," answered Father David. "One of them
stabbed him, cut him on the arm, but he soon got
over that."
Father David rose. "Here are the ladies," he exclaimed. As he reached out to place a chair near the
fire for Miss Cunningham, the sleeve of his right arm
was drawn back almost to the elbow.
John * Collishaw almost exclaimed aloud when he
saw the white mark of a knife-wound extending in a
jagged half-circle from beneath the cuff down Father
David's arm, almost to the wrist.
Refusing the proffered chair with a smile, the girl
dropped down on the floor beside Mother's rocker. Not
a word was spoken for several minutes, then a sigh
escaped from the beaming old priest. It was a sigh
of contentment.
"Why do you sigh?" asked his wife.
"Was   I   sighing?"   demanded   Father   David  in OLD SUPERSTITIONS 37
genuine astonishment. "Surely it must have been the
Song of the Wind that you heard."
" ' The Song of the Wind'!" exclaimed the girl.
"That sounds poetic, doesn't it, Mr. Collishaw? What
is it?"
As she sat with the warm reflection of the fire
playing on her golden hair and pleasing features,
Collishaw thought he had never beheld a prettier
picture. She looked at him with puzzled inquiry in
her blue eyes, and he suddenly realised that she had
asked him a question which he had failed to answer.
He flushed to the roots of his hair.
"Perhaps Father David can tell you better than I,"
he stammered, not sure of her query.
"Then you will tell me, won't you?" she pleaded.
"What is the Song of the Wind? I don't know anything about this big strange country of yours, so you
will tell me about it, Doctor Mainwaring, please?"
"It is just a simple Indian legend," answered Father
David. "It's a story they tell of the sighing of the
wind over the water, and like so many of their stories,
it has a sad ending; but there is a certain beauty to it.
"Ages and ages ago the villages on this part of the
Coast were in the grip of a famine. The great fish chiefs
were angry and did not send food supplies to these
waters. The beautiful daughter of the head chief of one
of the villages was filled with a desire to find food
for the suffering ones, and every morning she took
her clam digging-stick, and her clam basket, and
went down on the beach when the tide was out to
hunt in the sands for clams.
"One morning she heard a bird calling her name. HULDOWGET
She looked up, not recognising in the bird that spoke
an evil spirit.
"'Walk along the shore until you come to a big
black rock with a sea-gull sitting on top of it,' the bird
told her. 'Dig there and you will find food for the
people.' So she did so.
"She soon found the rock with the gull, and started
to dig. She found one or two clams for her basket,
and then dug deeper. She put her hand down to pick
up another, and her fingers were seized by the great
King Clam. She struggled but could not free herself.
"To her horror she saw that the tide had changed
and Was coming in. She cried out for help, but no
one heard her.
"Swiftly the sea moved in upon her until it was
about her skirts as she knelt on the sands. She was
afraid and again cried out, but the sea continued to
rise, and as it gradually crept higher and higher, her
heart became brave. She started to sing the songs of
her people. She sang of their prowess in war, and of
their accomplishments in the arts of peace. Still higher
and higher rose the tide. It was about her neck now,
but she continued her songs.
"Now it was almost to her mouth, and she started
to sing her own death-song, but before she had finished
the waters closed over her.
" So, at night, when you hear the wind moaning and
sighing over the water and the trees of the forest
rustling their branches in tune to the lapping of the
waves on the beach, you may know that it is the voice
of the Indian girl, singing again the uncompleted song
of her passing." OLD SUPERSTITIONS
Silence followed Father David's story. There were
tears in Mary Cunningham's eyes and she could not
trust herself to speak for a time. At last she ventured,
" I think that is a very pretty story—a tale of devotion
and service. I thank you for it."
"Some Indian stories are all right, but others are
ludicrous in the extreme," Collishaw declared. "There
is that story you were telling me the other day, Father,
of the manner in which the islands were formed.
That's absurd."
"To your mind, perhaps, but not to these people
who have lived for ages in close contact with Nature.
To them the birds and the beasts have intelligence
equal to man, and we who have listened to iEsop's
Fables, and hold as sacred the story of Balaam—can
we deny them the right to believe that at one time the
wild life of the forests and air spoke a language common
with man?"
"Oh, doctor, won't you please tell me that story,
too?" pleaded the nurse.
"Let Collishaw do it; he should for his impertinence
in denying the beauty of the legend."
"Yes, Mr. Collishaw, please do!"
"I don't know if I can remember all the details,"
hesitated the policeman," but it was something like this:
"Centuries ago, the great chief of all the eagles was
flying over a village on the Nass River. A young boy
seized his bow and shot an arrow at the bird. Other
boys joined him and soon a number of them were
trying to strike the eagle.
"The great bird, instead of flying away, circled over
the village, and flew lower and lower. Men now joined 4°
the youths and, in spite of their superior skill, none
could hit the bird.
"The eagle kept wheeling in narrowing circles, and
in their efforts to keep him in sight the men and boys
were soon in a compact group.
"Suddenly it swooped down and seized one young
man by the hair of his head and lifted him from the
ground. As he rose above the others, a friend caught
him by the heels, and he too was raised. He found he
could not let go, for some strange power held him fast.
In turn his lower limbs were caught by another, and
so on, until every male in the village was a link in
the human chain.
"Higher and higher the eagle flew, straight at the
face of the sun. When he was away above the clouds
he stopped in mid-air and started to swing the long line
of human beings, gently at first, then faster and faster,
until the poor wretches had gained a terrific momentum.
Then the great eagle released his hold and the power
that held the chain together was gone. Away through
space they flew, to fall into the sea.
"Where each Indian splashed there arose an island.
Large islands represent the men who were of importance in the tribe, and the smaller ones those of less
consequence, and rocks are the children, in proportion
to their size. So that is the way the islands were
formed, according to the Indians."
"I don't see anything especially ludicrous in that
story," declared the girl when he had concluded. " What
I do see is a lesson—in fact, two lessons; the first, not
to wantonly destroy wild life, and the second, one of
heroic self-sacrifice, which in this instance is rewarded with everlasting monuments in the sea. I'll never look
at an island again without a feeling of reverence and
She spoke with such earnestness that Collishaw
looked at her in some alarm, remembering their conversation of the afternoon, and her readiness to defend
the fakirs of India because of the stories she had
heard in her childhood.
"That's all right, Miss Cunningham," he replied
soberly, "but don't let your romantic nature carry
you the length of believing all these stories. If you do,
you'll regret it some day."
"Thank you for the warning," answered the girl
with some coldness.
" Come, come, you young people must not get excited
about the silly stories the Indians tell." It was Mother
who spoke. She had taken no part in the previous
conversation, but had sat gently rocking to and fro,
as her busy hands plied her knitting-needles. "David,"
she added, "you started this, so you just go and
prepare a nice cup of tea before we go to bed. Nellie
has gone to her uncle's for the night, so you must
take her place as punishment for your thoughtlessness."
The grey-bearded priest shifted uneasily, and then
lifted his great bulk from the chair, looking for all
the world like a schoolboy who had been reproved for
some mischievous act.
"See how I'm bossed," he laughed, and, stooping
down, he picked his wife up as a mother would a child,
kissed her and gently replaced her on her chair again.
"Oh, David, don't be silly!" she exclaimed as he
stamped away to the kitchen to prepare the tea. CHAPTER IV
Mary Cunningham awoke the next morning to hear
the pounding of the surf on the shingle of the beach.
It was some time before she could realise where she
was; then, as sleep gave place in. her brain to the
recollection of the events of the previous evening, she
sprang from her bed and ran to the window.
It was a glorious morning, one of those rare occasions
in the early spring on the North Coast when the sun,
for a brief period, dispels the rain and permits the
rugged coast to be viewed in all its massive grandeur.
Before the eyes of the girl stretched the waters of
the bay, gleaming and glistening as the sunlight struck
the foam-topped waves that raced in stately and
regular procession to shatter themselves on the shore.
In the distance the protecting island, with its bluff
base and heavy growth of timber, recalled the story
she had heard of the formation of the islands of the
Coast, and idly she fell to wondering what manner of
man had been the genesis of the tree-clad rock. The
legend had intrigued her fancy, and now she let her
imagination run riot, as she pictured the place as an
eternal monument to a gallant young warrior who had
sacrificed himself in a vain attempt to save his fellows.
Her reverie was broken by the sound of voices and
she turned to look toward the landing-stage, where
Father David and Collishaw were busy with the policeman's boat. It was the voice of the younger man that
disturbed her, and instantly she remembered his warning of the night before and without reason she was
annoyed. What right had he to talk to her as if she
was a child? His kindness in bringing her from Sliam
had not given him the privilege of dictating her beliefs.
Then she laughed at her own pettishness, for hers
was not a nature to cherish spite. She decided, however, to be just a trifle cool in her manner, in order,
she told herself, to let him know he had transgressed
the limits of acquaintanceship. He had seen fit to
challenge her views, and had undertaken to enclose her
enjoyment of the legendary of the natives within a
wall of prejudice. She would put him in his place—
and the thought pleased her.
Hastily dressing, she hurried to the living-room
where Mother greeted her smilingly.
"I'm afraid I over-slept, Mrs. Main waring," she
apologised; "I hope I have not delayed you."
"Oh, no," answered the older woman. "You were
tired after your long trip, and it was only right that
you should rest. I will have Nellie prepare some breakfast for you, and serve it here. If you will excuse me
for a little while, I will leave you, for I have my tasks
to do. You see, I try to teach the three ' R's' to some
of the children."
As the door closed behind Mother, Mary stood for
a moment lost in thought. Her eyes filled with tears.
"My, what noble souls they are!" she exclaimed.
"May I be worthy of their trust."
Suddenly there came a cry of fright and pain from HULDOWGET
the kitchen. Instantly sentiment and emotionalism
were forgotten, and it was Nurse Cunningham who
rushed towards the sound. In the kitchen she saw a
half-breed girl, evidently Nellie, the servant of whom
she had heard mention. Blood was flowing from a
deep cut in her left hand, where a sharp knife had
inflicted a wound when it slipped from a shelf above
the table at which the girl had been working.
"Here, let me see it," Mary commanded, and the
girl obeyed.
Seizing a pan, the nurse emptied the contents of
the kettle into the dish and told the half-breed to bathe
the cut while she ran to the dispensary, where she had
seen a bottle of iodine when Father David had shown
her about the premises.
Returning with the disinfectant and bandages she
dressed the wound.
Nellie did not say a word or give utterance to a
sound after the first startled scream, but with large,
fawn-like eyes, in which there was a strange expression, half fright, half wonder, she watched the deft
fingers of the nurse as she did her work.
Somewhat above the average height of the native
women, and with sharper features and lighter complexion, Nellie was rather pleasing in appearance. She
was not a native of Fort Oliver, although her mother
was of the tribe. She had been born at Slianch, and
had been brought to her mother's people when her
parents perished in the upsetting of a canoe when she
was but a baby. Ever since she was old enough to make
herself useful about the place she had found employment at the Mission, working in the kitchen until she THE  FACE AT THE  FORT
had acquired, under the direction of Mother, whom
she adored, a skill in cookery and the household arts
that made her now almost indispensable.
Nor had her education been neglected. She had been
taught to read and write, and had adventured some
distance into the mysteries of mathematics, sufficient
to meet the requirements of figuring any of the problems that might arise when the time came for her to
fulfil the destiny which is the goal and ambition of
every Indian girl—marriage, and the consequent care
of a home for her husband and progeny.
"There, I think that'll do," said Mary, when the
bandaging had been completed. "How did it happen? "
"The knife fell," answered Nellie simply. "Thank
you," she added after a pause.
"Oh, that's all right. That's my work, you see;
I'm Miss Cunningham, and I guess you are Nellie.
Am I right?"
"What's your other name?" asked the white girl.
"Oh, just Nellie, I guess," was the answer.
"But you must have another name," insisted Mary.
"Maybe I have. My uncle, he's James Charley;
maybe I'm Nellie Charley. It don't matter. Bye-'n'-
bye, p'rhaps, I get me a man; then I'll be his squaw
—his wife—and have his name, so it don't matter
what it is now—I'm Nellie."
"Poor child," murmured Mary as she looked at the
tall, bronzed young woman. " What a future! No hope
of independence—of service—just the bondage of
married life. Poor thing."
Despite her injury, Nellie contrived to set an appe- "
tising meal before the nurse in an incredibly short space
of time, and when she was complimented on the performance she only laughed and ran back to the kitchen.
Hardly had Mary finished her breakfast than Father
David and Collishaw entered, the voice of the priest
booming out his morning greeting as soon as the door
was opened.
"Ho, ho, happy day to you," he cried. "We've been
out in God's own cathedral, getting some of His own
tonic—fresh air."
"Good morning, Miss Cunningham," volunteered
the policeman more sedately.
"Good morning to both of you," answered the girl.
"I'm afraid I slept in—and I'm really ashamed of
myself for doing so."
"Not at all, not at all; you were tired and deserved
your beauty sleep," declared the missioner.
"But I've been working," she laughed. "I've had
my first patient."
"Eh, what? Not you, John, was it? "
"No, indeed."
"Who, then?"
"Nellie," and she told of the girl's misfortune.
"Not serious, I hope," and there was a note of
concern in his voice.
"No, just a clean cut."
" I must see," and Father David strode to the kitchen.
For a moment there was an awkward silence, then
Collishaw blurted out, "I hope our silly stories didn't
disturb your dreams last night."
Almost before she flashed back a reply he realised
he had said a foolish thing. THE  FACE AT THE  FORT
"Thank you, but I expressed my opinion of the
worth of the stories last night."
Although surprised at the belligerent attitude
assumed by the girl, the policeman persisted: "Yes,
I know, but don't let your imagination and romantic
nature carry you to the length of believing in them."
"Thank you again, but I think I'm quite able to
take care of myself," she replied haughtily. Then,
ashamed of her rudeness to one who undoubtedly was
sincere in the advice he was proffering, she smiled.
"Come, don't let us quarrel over my beliefs or disbeliefs, they're not worth it."
Father David returned and picked up his hat. "I
must go out and visit the sick," he announced. "You
don't need to bother coming with me to-day, Miss
Cunningham," he added, noticing that Mary rose as
if to accompany him. " You'll get plenty of work before
you've been here long, and you just take it easy for
a day or two. John will take you to look at the sights."
"Yes," agreed the policeman, "I'll be delighted to
do so, and I'd advise you to do as Father David
suggests, as goodness only knows when you'll have
such a fine day again. You know it's a great place,
this, for rain in the winter and spring, but the summer
time—it's just glorious."
"Don't overlook any of the places of interest,"
laughed the missioner as he took his departure.
"I think he's a dear," exclaimed the girl, as the
door closed behind Father David; "and Mother, too,
she's just wonderful. I feel grateful to them already."
"Yes," responded Collishaw warmly, "they're both
wonderful. They've been doing a great work in this 48 HULDOWGET
country, and the whole Coast has benefited by their
labours. They have been very kind to me, and whenever I feel depressed and blue, and things don't seem
to be going right, I think of them, and it seems to
brace me up. I come here to spend a day or two
whenever I can; they do a fellow so much good."
While he was talking, Mary was putting on her
hat and coat. They stepped outside, and she obtained
her first real view of the village in which she had
volunteered to labour.
The Mission was near the beach, at one end of the
village, and at some little distance from it was the
white-painted church, with its little belfry, surmounted
by a cross. Between the Mission and the point where
the old fort was built on rising ground the village
straggled, following the contour of the tide-line.
The houses, for the most part, were rudely constructed shacks, some boasting weather-boards of
milled and planed lumber, but the majority were of
rough upright boards, or shakes, sealed with battens.
Square, ugly little houses they were, with roofs sloping
only enough to permit the rain or melting snow to
run off. An occasional window served to dimly illuminate the interiors. Stove-pipes thrust through the
upper sidewalls or roofs evidenced that many adopted
the white man's stove in preference to the open fires
that burned in the single room of the dwellings in
olden days.
Several of the buildings had been painted, but time
and weather had peeled off or faded the colouring,
leaving the boards beneath partially bare, and more unsightly than those to which no brush had been applied. THE  FACE  AT THE  FORT
Grotesque markings, intended to picture animal,
bird, or fish forms, were streaked on some of the
dwellings, while before three or four of the houses
decaying totem poles leaned awkwardly at different
angles, their peculiarly carved lengths smeared with
pigments of native manufacture. Each told a story of
bygone glory or spiritual adventure.
One building, larger than the rest, had several of
these symbolical cedar timbers erected before it. It
was the council hall—the meeting-place where matters
of moment to the village were discussed.
Canoes were drawn up on the beach, their long,
sharp, curved prows and graceful lines testifying to
centuries of experience in the art of fashioning craft
from single logs. At anchor rode a number of gasoline
launches and Columbia River fishing-boats.
John and Mary started towards the old fort, and
as they walked he pointed out to her the peculiarities
of the village and its inhabitants.
They passed several men, dark-skinned fellows, with
broad, almost Mongolian features, great powerful
shoulders and bodies, narrow hips and short lower
limbs. The Indians looked stolidly at the girl, and
muttered reply to Collishaw's "Klahowya tillikum."
Women, mostly fat, shapeless females, clothed in nondescript garments of glaring colours, with handkerchiefs
of vivid hues tied tightly about their heads, were seen
waddling about the houses, while children, their flat
faces betraying astonishment at the sight of the white
girl, appeared at the doorways, or could be seen
peering from behind rocks or from the cover of the
underbrush. Every family seemed to possess a pack *
of mongrel dogs which set up a yapping and barking
at the approach of the strangers, only to run yelping
for the shelter of the bush when Collishaw tossed
pebbles at them.
Everything she saw delighted Mary. The slow-
motioned men, the squaws, the children and even
the curs, pleased her fancy, but it was the weed-
entangled ruins of the old Hudson's Bay post that
made the greatest appeal to her imagination.
The old hall, with its great central room, she peopled
again in her mind with the picturesque old traders,
carrying on their barter with the natives for furs. The
broken stockade was once more a formidable means
of defence, and the remaining bastion, unroofed and
tottering to its fall, was menacing the village with its
little cannon, from which, at any moment, red fire
might flash and round-shot or canister be sent on its
way to cause havoc among the homes of the natives.
She played about the place like a schoolgirl, commanding Collishaw to set guard on the fortifications,
as she imagined the old chief factor had done when
trouble threatened from hostile tribes.
They explored the wrecked buildings and wondered
at the purposes to which they had been put in former
times. One structure alone seemed to have fared better
than the rest, although great holes appeared in the
roof, and the moss and clay had long disappeared
from between the logs that formed its walls. It was
a windowless place, and only the narrow doorway
permitted a bright patch of light to penetrate the
gloom of its interior.
It was damp and musty, and as they stepped into
j9 it, a big rat scampered across the earthen floor to
disappear through an opening in a rotted base log.
"Ugh!" shuddered Mary; "let's get out of here;
I don't like it. It seems haunted."
"I think it's the old salmon house," Collishaw
advised her.
"But what's the matter?" he demanded as the
girl uttered an exclamation of fright as they stepped
out into the open air.
"I saw a man. He was over there."
" Over there, behind that bush, and he was watching
Before she ceased speaking the policeman had crossed
the intervening space, but although he searched the
vicinity, he could find no one. Not a sign of a human
was visible.
"Come, you're nervous; that old building has
frightened you. It was the sudden change from the
dark interior to the light that gave you the impression
of seeing someone," said Collishaw.
"No," she insisted. "I saw him quite distinctly—
and, oh, he had such funny eyes. He didn't look like
one of those Indians we passed. He was not as dark,
and he was better dressed. I'm sure I saw a man."
"What's that you say?" demanded the policeman
excitedly. "He had funny eyes? Were they narrow-
set, sort of piercing eyes?"
"Yes, yes."
"He was clean shaven?"
"I'm not sure; it was his eyes that attracted me."
"Would you know him again?" 52
"I'm sure I would. I only saw him for a second,
but I'd know him again."
Mary shuddered again at the thought of being spied
upon. She reached up and took Collishaw's arm." Let's
go back to Father David," she said. ass
Collishaw took his departure from Fort Oliver the
day after the visit to the old fort, and Mary entered
in earnest upon her duties. It was with some regret
that she bade adieu to the policeman. Friendships are
easily formed in the Northland and their worth is
often put to the test within a few hours of birth.
Equally true it is that animosities and enmities and
antagonisms exist between men who have never
spoken. It is the intuitive instincts of man quickened
by the unconscious forces of the primeval—the response
of the mind to the vibrations of Nature.
Mary was a little surprised at her liking for this
man whom she had met only by chance three days
before, and her failure to keep her promise to herself
to treat him with coolness. She was not sentimental
in her regard for the opposite sex, and while she
enjoyed the companionship of many young men, she
regarded them as friends and not as prospective
suitors, nor as such did she for a single instant look
upon Collishaw. It had not been her custom, however, to admit to the circle of her friendship one upon
such short acquaintance.
She had been reared by a maiden aunt whose
memory she revered, and whose example had been
her inspiration. Disappointed in her affections early in
53 *
life, the aunt had enlisted as an army nurse and had
spent a number of years in Egypt and India. The
mysticism and theosophy of the East had influenced
her to such an extent that even the religious ardour
of her declining days had not banished her respect
for the philosophies of the Orient. She had instilled
into the mind of her ward that a successful fife was
not measured by material possessions, but by the
amount of good that could be accomplished.
The lives of Father David and Mother during their
years of toil among the natives appealed strongly to
the girl. The gentleness of the big missionary as he
doctored the ailing, his patience and solicitude for his
"children," brought tears to her eyes.
Mary could not understand the conversations that
were carried on between the priest and the older
natives in the guttural language of the tribe, or the
Chinook of the fur-traders, but the devotion of his
parishioners was evidenced in many ways. The younger
men and women responded to his questions in slow,
hesitating English, with occasional recourse to the
trade jargon, when they failed to find in the limited
vocabularies they had acquired through Mother's
teaching expression for their thoughts.
In the presence of the white nurse they appeared
shy and ill at ease. Father David took care to explain
her purpose among them and introduced her as his
"You'll have to learn Chinook, Miss Cunningham,"
he remarked as they passed from house to house in
their first tour of the village.
"There is one thing, doctor, that I would like you
to learn first, if I may be bold enough to suggest
it," she said.
"Good gracious! what is it?"
"Not to call me 'Miss Cunningham.' My name's
"Mercy me! So I shall; and I was just wondering
when I should dare to do so "; and he laughed.
"And now, please, tell me about Chinook."
"It was a jargon invented by the early traders.
There were so many different tribal languages and
dialects in the country west of the Rockies that it
was necessary to adopt a common means of expression
suitable to the commerce of the day. The entire vocabulary consists of three or four hundred words, sufficient
for the purposes of barter. Of late some few additional
words have been added by the Catholic priests, but,
all told, about five hundred words comprise the jargon.
The native languages are more difficult to master, but
with Chinook and English you can get along very
well. At first it may trouble you to translate your
thoughts into Chinook, and it may puzzle you even
after you have a grasp of the jargon."
"In what way? I was always good at Latin at
school, and was considered to be fairly proficient in
French. Surely a language of a few hundred words
can offer no great obstacles."
"Well," mused Father David, "you may get on to
it all right, but let me illustrate it by giving you the
translation of the Lord's Prayer. Of course, you know
it in English. This is the way it sounds after it has
been retranslated from Chinook:
"Our Father who stays in the above, good in our
i •
hearts be your name. Good, your chief among all people;
good your will upon earth as in the above. Give every
day our food. If we do bad be not angry, and if anyone makes bad to us, not we angry to them. Send
away from us all bad."
"And what is it in Chinook?"
The missionary stopped, lifted his hat and Mary
bowed her head as he repeated:
"Nesika papa klaksta mitlite kopa saghalie. Kloshe
kopa nesika tumtum mika name; kloshe mika tyee kopa
konaway tiUikum. Kloshe mika tumtum kopa illahie
kahkwa kopa saghalie. Potlatch konaway sun nesika
muckamuck. Spose nesika mamook mesahchie wake
nika hyas solleks kopa klaska. Mahsh siah kopa nesika
konawau mesahchie. Kloshe Kahkwa."
"You must teach me that. What could be more
fitting than the Lord's Prayer for my first lesson?"
suggested the girl.
"It shall be so," agreed Father David.
They walked a few steps in silence, then a startled
cry escaped from the lips of the girl.
"What is it?" demanded her companion.
"That man!"
"What man? where?"
"Over there. Coming out of that house."
"I don't see anyone. Who was it?"
" I don't know. I only saw him once before "
"By the fort. He has such cruel, piercing eyes. He
was hiding and he looked at me. I can't forget his
eyes. I just saw him for an instant as he came out of
the third house from the end of the row. He turned THE  MEDICINE  MAKER
and I recognised him; then he disappeared. I think
he must be a half-breed."
"A half-breed with peculiar eyes," muttered the
priest, and then with conviction, "It's Caleb Thompson"; and he started towards the shack indicated by
Mary at such a pace that she was forced to half run
to keep up with him.
"Caleb Thompson," he repeated to himself, and then
aloud, "I know what he's been up to: Mary Elizabeth's son is sick. He's been making medicine. I'm
not going to stand for him corrupting my children by
his sorcery; no, indeed!"
Without the ceremony of knocking, the big man
burst into the house, with Mary at his heels. Once
inside he stopped still and sniffed the air like a bird-
dog on the scent, as if seeking some peculiar odour in
the many that pervaded the gloomy interior.
Thin partitions divided the dwelling into several
rooms. It was an untidy place, almost bare of furniture. A door opened and the frightened face of a
hideously wrinkled old squaw peered at them through
the opening. "Umph, I thought so," was his only
comment as a particularly rancid perfume floated into
the room, and he brushed the klootchman aside and
entered what was evidently the kitchen. Mary followed.
On a small rusty stove a dark unsavoury-looking
mess was brewing in an old iron kettle. Father David
picked it up, opened the back door and hurled it
The old hag cried out in protest, but he paid not
the slightest attention to her, and she retreated to a
far corner of the room, from where she glared at him
^ 5*
with such a venomous expression that the white girl
started back in alarm.
The missioner returned to the stove, and stooping
down, opened the door of the fire-box and raked out
four white round stones, which he booted across the
uncarpeted floor and kicked outside.
"She's been making shaman medicine," he exclaimed, and, turning to the old woman who cowered
in the corner at his approach, he berated her in the
native tongue with such effect that she began to
Turning from the wretched klootchman, the missioner entered the third room of the shack. On a
rude bed lay a young man, his bright eyes and flushed
countenance bespeaking a high fever.
Father David stood for a moment looking down at
the sick man. Then the anger died out of his face,
and when he spoke Mary was surprised at the gentleness of his voice, which had, only a moment before,
cut like the lash of a whip.
He addressed the sufferer in English: "Simon, my
boy, why didn't you send for me when you became
Then, recollecting the immediate reason for his visit,
"Has Caleb Thompson been here? "
Simon nodded.
"I thought so."
"Mary," he said, "run back to the dispensary and
bring me some of those pills you will find directly
above the scales, and that bottle of mixture I showed
you this morning."
As she hurried away on her errand, Mary could not THE  MEDICINE  MAKER
help wondering at the strange scene she had witnessed.
Her curiosity was aroused, and she determined to ask
the doctor the ingredients of the mixture which the
old woman had been stewing.
She found, on her return, that brief as had been her
absence, Father David had tidied the bedroom and
had induced the old squaw to a feverish activity in
cleaning the other rooms of the shack.
They remained for some time, and before their
departure Simon had fallen into a sleep.
"Unless he shows improvement to-morrow, I'll have
him removed to the hospital," declared the doctor
"But what was the matter?" asked Mary. "Why
did you scold the old woman?"
"She was practising shamanism: making medicine
to drive away the evil spirits," he answered. "That
man Thompson is at the bottom of it. He's no good,
cultus. He's a shaman, or medicine man—a sorcerer.
But I could not get old Mary Elizabeth to acknowledge
that he had advised her," he added.
"While you were away I bullied her a bit, trying
to get her to admit it, but she's a stubborn old thing.
I've had lots of trouble with her. She's like a fox.
She readily admitted that Thompson had been there,
but took all the responsibility for making the medicine."
"And the white ^stones—what were they?"
"They were a part of the charm. If they had cracked
in the fire, she would have believed that her son would
die. If she had her way and had a lot of medicine men
about him, he would die, and no mistake about it."
The old missionary was much depressed by the
occurrence   For years he had waged a war against
fl 6o
necromancers, and had come to believe that even
although the old superstitions still lived in the minds
of some, Fort Oliver, at least, had been purged of
the influences of the medicine cult. He did not talk
much during the supper hour.
Nellie was busy clearing away the dishes from the
table when a knock was heard at the door. The servant,
at a nod from Mother, answered it, returning a moment
later to say that Caleb Thompson was without and
desired to speak to Father David.
"What can he want with me?" exclaimed the
missionary in astonishment. "Show him in."
As Thompson followed Nellie into the room, Mary
could hardly prevent herself from crying out. There
was no mistaking him—Caleb Thompson was the man
with the narrow, hypnotic eyes; the eyes that had
* stared at her amid the ruins of the old fort.
"Well," demanded Father David, "what can I do
for you, Caleb ?"
The half-breed looked inquiringly at Mary and then
back at the missionary. "Excuse me, sir, and you
too, Mrs. Mainwaring, but I thought you would be
alone. I did not mean to intrude."
"That is all right, Caleb," answered the priest.
"This is Miss Cunningham, who has come here as my
assistant in the hospital work. This, Miss Cunningham,
is Caleb Thompson—of Slianch.
"You may speak before Miss Cunningham," went
on Father David coldly, for he realised tjiat he had
been forced to make an introduction which he fancied
was at least partly the desire that had prompted
"Well, sir," said Thompson, seating himself on a
convenient chair, "I'm told by Mary Elizabeth that
you suspect me of practising shamanism among the
people. I—I came to disabuse your mind of such ideas."
The audacity of the man unnerved Father David. He
made no answer, and after a pause the other went on:
"I can't understand how you could suspect me of
doing such a thing. My education and the other advantages I have enjoyed should, if nothing else, be a
safeguard to me against any such unjust charges. Just
because you find an old woman who has more faith
in the ancient remedies of her people than in your
medicine—you will pardon me, doctor—in a house
where I visited, is no reason why you should accuse
me of lessening her confidence in your prescriptions."
Despite himself, the doctor felt that he was at a
disadvantage in dealing with this man, and although
indignation welled up within him, he could only reply:
"I am sorry if I have misjudged your reason for
coming to Fort Oliver. You know the difficulties that
have beset the way of the Church in ridding the people
of their old superstitions and foolish doctrines. What,
then, can you expect when you are seen coming out
of a house where shamanism is being practised, when
you are the only stranger in the village?
"Besides, Caleb," went on the doctor, "you know
that this is not the first time that you have been
suspected of the same thing. It's peculiar indeed, is
it not, that happenings of a similar kind should take
place in different villages at the time of your visits
to them."
"Yes," answered Thompson, and there was such a HP
ring of sincerity in his voice as he continued, that it
was with difficulty that the missionary disbelieved
him. "It's strange, and it is because of these unfortunate coincidences that I have come to you as soon
as I heard that you suspected me—in order that you
might do justice to me and to your own good self by
ridding your mind of such thoughts."
Appreciating the advantage he had gained, and
realising that to remain longer might prove dangerous,
the half-breed rose and excused himself. He hesitated
a moment and then stepped forward, his thin Hps
curved in a smile, and extended his hand to the
missioner. Father David, finding no ready excuse for
refusing the courtesy, accepted it.
Turning to Mother, he shook hands with her, and
then, bowing to Mary, he said, "I'm pleased to have
had the honour of meeting you, Miss Cunningham."
The girl controlled herself with an effort and inclined
her head slightly in acknowledgment.
"Oh, how I dislike that man," she exclaimed when
the door closed behind him.
" So do I," declared Father David. CHAPTER VI
"Is there anything else you want me to do, Mother?"
called Nellie from the kitchen. "I'm going to my
uncle's now."
"Nothing, dear. Good-night."
The half-breed girl, softly crooning a song, stepped
out of the back door into the darkness, and started
towards the village. She had not gone far when she
was halted by hearing her name called from the
shadows. She gave a start as she recognised it to be
the voice of a man, and would have cried out in
alarm had not the speaker continued, "It's all right,
Miss Nellie, don't be frightened," and Caleb Thompson stepped from the shade of a low bush, where he
had been awaiting her appearance.
Thompson knew how to win and hold the attention
of the females of his race, and many a girl of mixed
blood would only be too pleased to have him pay her
court. He had never shown any inclination to wed,
and klootchman and half-breed belle alike waited with
expectancy the day when he would nominate the
woman who was to be his squaw. His sudden appearance was not an unagreeable surprise to the girl, and
she exclaimed:
"Oh, Mr. Thompson, you scared me!"
"I did not mean to," he apologised, and continued
with well-simulated concern, " What is the matter with
your hand, Nellie? I noticed the bandage when I was
at the Mission and it worried me."
The girl blushed with pleasure as she told him of
the mishap. Truly, she thought, it was kind of him
to be so solicitous.
"And did Father David bandage it?"
"No; it was Miss Cunningham."
"That yellow-haired girl?"
"Umph!" grunted Thompson. "Do you like her?"
"Yes. She's nice."
"Not as nice as you," answered Thompson, and he
noted in the moonlight that the compliment pleased.
"A cat can be nice, but a cat has claws and an
evil spirit."
"What do you mean?"
" Walk with me and I'll tell you "; and together they
started along the beach, away from the dwellings.
For several minutes nothing was said; then the
man suddenly demanded, "You love the doctor and
"Yes," answered the girl. "I'd die for them."
"Perhaps it will not be necessary."
"Why, what do you mean? What is it? You tell
me "; and she seized him by the arm.
" I like Father David and the old lady, too," declared
Thompson, " and someone else in the household as well,"
he added slyly. "I would not like to see any harm
come to the Mission."
"What is it? Tell me," insisted the girl. THE  EVIL SPIRIT
Thompson dropped his voice to a whisper: "The
yellow-haired girl has an evil spirit," he hissed.
"No evil spirit can hurt Father David and Mother;
those are old stories," but there was a note of fear in
her voice as she made denial. Thompson's keen ear
caught it and he was satisfied.
"Our mothers' people," he went on, softly at first,
but increasing the intensity of his tone, "before the
white man came, were strong and powerful. They were
as the stones on the shore; no man could count them,
and their villages were everywhere. They believed in
spirits—good ones and bad ones. Then the white man
came and the people took up his ways. Where are they
now? They are only a handful: no longer are they
mighty in war or great hunters. They live on land
the white man does not want and sets aside for them.
No more do they carve totems or tell the stories of
the past in the making of blankets. No, they are fast
passing away and soon they will be forgotten."
Nellie was silent, but she trembled as a leaf in the
wind as the insidious logic of the tempter drove
distrust into her soul.
"The religion of Father David tells you to allow
the Spirit of God to come into your heart—does it
not?" argued Thompson. "And does it not tell you
to rid yourself of the spirit of evil—the devil? and
what is the difference between the evil spirit, whether
he is called the Devil or Txamsem, or is known as
the Evil One or Huldowget?
"And," he went on when she made no reply, "if a
good spirit can enter the body of a man or woman,
so can a bad spirit. Is it not so?"
J* 66
"May be," whispered the girl.
"Don't mistake me," urged the man. "I believe
in the teachings of Father David, but I believe also
in the power of the spirits as our mothers' people
knew them.
"I am a wise man," boasted Thompson. "I went
to the big schools of the city, and I have the power
to know who has evil spirits. The yellow-haired girl
has a bad spirit. She may not know it, but it is there
all the same. It will harm Father David and Mother
unless something is done."
The eyes of the girl blazed with passion. "I'll kill
her if she hurts them," she threatened fiercely.
"No, no; that would not be right, and it would not
help them. It is the spirit that must be killed. You
can have that done without harming the girl—or letting
her know you are doing it."
"By helping me. I can get rid of the huldowget in
the young woman, and protect the doctor and the
old lady. I have the power. Will you help me;
will you?"
The intensity of his tone and the i earnestness of
his manner was such that Nellie replied without
hesitation: "Yes; what do you want me to do?"
"To-morrow is church day. You won't be working
late; meet me when the sun is sinking, at the old
fort, and I'll tell you."
They turned and slowly retraced their steps. Nothing
more was said until the buildings were close at hand.
"Now, you go ahead," he advised. "We must not be
seen together, and remember, don't breathe a word of THE  EVIL SPIRIT
this to anyone. We're working for the doctor and the
old lady—and the yellow-haired girl as well. If you
speak, you'll spoil everything. Do you understand?"
"Then promise me."
"I promise."
"That's fine; good night."
"Good night," replied Nellie, as Thompson disappeared in the deeper shadows.
Sunday morning, as was his custom, Father David
visited his patients and in the afternoon conducted
services in the church. Mary accompanied him on his
tour, and was delighted to find the condition of Simon,
Mary Elizabeth's son, much improved.
On their return to the modest luncheon that preceded Divine worship, she noticed that her movements
about the house were keenly observed by the servant
girl. This, she thought, was but the natural curiosity
on the part of one to whom she must appear more or
less strange. She determined that she must show Nellie
some little attentions and win her regard. It might
be, she told herself, that she could bring some measure
of sunshine into what must be a somewhat drab
existence, and she realised at the same time that the
young half-breed woman could teach her a great deal
which would be of benefit to her in her work among
the natives.
She waited for Nellie and walked beside her across
the distance that separated the Mission House from
the church. Mary sought to engage the girl in conversation, and plied her with questions about different
things, hoping to lead her into discussion on a topic 68
that would appeal to her. She received only curt,
muttered replies. Sensing the reluctance on the part
of the other to respond to her advances, Mary naturally
attributed it to shyness, and renewed her endeavours
to draw the half-breed out of her shell of reserve.
Her failure only made her more determined to
accomplish her objective and win the friendship of
the domestic.
The service was conducted by Father David in the
native language. Unable to follow the sermon, Mary
had ample opportunity to study those about her.
She marvelled at the decorum and attitude of
reverence on the part of the Indians, and could not
help contrasting their devotion with congregations in
the more fashionable churches in the cities, to the
advantage of the natives. What surprised her most,
although, she reasoned, there was no cause for it, was
to observe, seated near the back of the church, their
visitor of the previous evening. Thompson appeared
to be as deeply interested and impressed with the
remarks of the priest as any person in the building.
When the service was over and they were filing out
of the church, she noticed a look pass between Thompson and the girl at her side, which seemed to convey
more than the courteous nod that was exchanged
between them. Mary was on the point of asking her
companion if she was well acquainted with the man,
but hesitated to do so, fearing that the girl might
mistake her query as an effort to pry into her private
affairs. Even if there was some understanding between
Thompson and Nellie, she thought it was no concern
of hers, and because she had taken a sudden dislike THE  EVIL SPIRIT
to the man was no reason why others should share it.
Instead, as they walked back to the Mission, she continued her chatter about persons and things in the
village, hoping to penetrate the armour of the girl's
reserve, but without success.
"I wonder," she mused, "if Nellie is jealous of my
place in the household; if she thinks that my coming
will lessen her in the affections of Father David and
It seemed to be a reasonable solution of the strange
manner of the half-breed servant, and she decided that
everything within her power must be done to disabuse
the girl's mind of any such thoughts.
There were several things to be done in the late
afternoon. Sustaining foods, which Mother had prepared, and medicines to be taken to some of the
villagers, and Father David required her assistance in
the dispensary in binding a crushed finger which one
of the young men had received. She did not see Nellie
again until the evening meal was being served. Then,
remembering her determination to win the affection of
the girl, she insisted on helping to clear away the
dishes and wash them.
"You must have that finger dressed again before
you go out," she said, having noticed that the bandage
had become soaked with water and soiled in her duties
about the kitchen.
"No," was the sullen answer; "it's good enough."
"Don't you think she should have that dressing
renewed ? " Mary appealed to Mother.
"Why, certainly. Run along with Mary and let her
fix your hand."
J 7°
"I don't want to," stubbornly insisted the girl,
looking out of the window at the sinking sun.
"Don't be foolish; go along."
"No, not to-night," she said with such decision that
her mistress was surprised. "I'm going," and picking
up her shawl, she threw it over her head and shoulders
and opened the door. "Father David can do it in the
morning, maybe," she added, and stepped out into the
twilight, slamming the door behind her.
"That's strange. I've never known Nellie to act that
way before," exclaimed the older woman.
"Perhaps it's my fault. I should not have insisted.
She does not know me yet, or understand my interest
in her," suggested the nurse. "We mustn't let her
think that my coming is going to make any difference
—and it must not—in your relations with her. She's
only a child, and it may be that she looks on me as
one who may usurp her place in your regard."
"Certainly I will treat her just the same. Poor child,
I never expected her to think anything like that,"
replied Mother. "You're right, we'll both endeavour
to show her that we love her."
Nellie turned in the direction of the old fort as
soon as she quitted the Mission House. It was almost
dark, and when she was far enough away that her
footsteps could no longer be heard, she increased her
pace to a half-run.
She was out of breath when, nervous and excited,
she reached the broken palisades. Thompson was waiting for her. "You're late," he said. "I expected you
half an hour ago."
"I couldn't come sooner"; and she proceeded to tell THE
him of the manner in which she had left the Mission
House in order to keep her appointment with him.
Quick to seize upon anything that would further
his grip on the girl, the renegade exclaimed, "What
did I tell you? It was the evil spirit in the yellow-
haired girl that tried to prevent you coming here.
You're lucky that you did."
" I came as soon as I could."
"Yes," he agreed, "I guess you did. It's good for
you that you didn't let the evil spirit keep you away."
Nellie shuddered.
"Did she talk to you to-day when you went to the
church?" he asked, anxious to discover if Mary had
intercepted the look that had passed between them.
"Yes, a great deal."
"About what?"
"Did she ask about me?"
"That's good. Did you answer her pleasantly?"
"No," responded the girl. "I don't want to talk to
her. I hate her. She's trying to hurt them."
"You silly girl," exclaimed Thompson sharply,
"that's why the evil spirit tried to stop you. You
mustn't let it appear that you suspect anything. You
must pretend to be her friend. If you don't, we can't
do anything to help Father David and Mother. She
doesn't know that she has an evil spirit. It's not her
fault, and to kill the bad medicine of the huldowget
you must have her confidence. Now you do as I tell
you; it's the only way."
Nellie began to cry softly. "I'll try," she whimpered. 1
"That's fine. Now don't cry," he urged, and then,
in a milder and more hesitating tone, "Some day,
Nellie, I'm going to marry. I want a wife who is clever
and can help me. You, too, want to marry—am
I right?"
"Yes," she whispered, and there was a fluttering of
her heart that choked back further words.
"Then you do just as I say and maybe " He
did not complete the sentence, but a sudden joy and
hope filled the girl.
"I'll do anything you say," she eagerly volunteered.
"That's right. Now listen to me." He dropped his
voice and she bent forward to hear the instructions
that he whispered.
Thompson spoke for a long time in slow intensive
speech until he was satisfied he had made his meaning
clear. Then he made her repeat his instructions, painstakingly going over with her portions which he thought
she might forget.
"That's good," he said at last. "Now to-morrow
I go away. I'll come again, but no one will see me. I'll
look beneath that white stone by the old fire-place in
the big building there," and he motioned towards the
tumbled ruins of the former quarters of the trading
company's officers, silhouetted against the lighter shade
of the evening sky. "I'll expect to find what I seek,
and if I don't—well, it'll be better that you don't
forget to do what I've told you."
"I'll do it," answered Nellie.
"You must," he insisted. "And now you'd better
go home."
As she rose and turned to obey, Thompson put out THE  EVIL SPIRIT
his hand and stopped her, and as she half turned, he
kissed her. "Now remember all I've told you, dear,
and it'll be well."
It was the first time that a man had touched her
lips with his and the sensation thrilled her. She almost
reeled as the blood pounded through her veins, and
her heart was filled with a strange new happiness.
"I'll not forget—I'll do anything for you," she
Caleb Thompson, as he moved off in the direction
of the little river beyond the fort, where his canoe was
drawn up, chuckled to himself. He knew that by that
single simulation of regard he had won greater obedience
than by all his thinly-veiled threats of what would
follow disregard of his orders.
It was a girl of a totally different mood that Mary
found in the kitchen the next morning. She smiled
at the nurse when she entered, and held out her
injured hand.
"I was a mean girl last night," she said. "You
were very kind, but I was not feeling very good. I'm
all right to-day, and I'm sorry."
"I, too, am sorry," said Mary. "I should not have
bothered-you. Was it a headache?"
" Yes," lied the half-breed.
"Why didn't you tell me? I might have done something to help you. I want to be your friend, Nellie, if
you'll let me. Will you?"
Mary did something for which the other was
totally unprepared. She took Nellie into her arms
and kissed her. 74 HULDOWGET
It was the second time that she had been kissed
within the space of a few hours, and the soft lips of
the white girl seemed to rob her of the ecstasy that
the other had given her. She remembered the bargain
that had been sealed with that kiss of the night before,
and remembering it, she burst into tears. CHAPTER VII
Spring lengthened into golden summer, and the friendship between the two young women grew and developed.
Mary took a great interest in her companion and pictured to her some of the big world outside, which had
been as a closed book to the servant girl. In turn,
the half-breed instructed the white nurse in the lore
of the North Coast, finding her at all times a ready
and eager listener.
Despite her best endeavours, however, to penetrate
into the confidential recesses of the girl's mind, Mary
always felt that there was a barrier of reserve—a
closed chamber which had been purposely locked
against her. While sensing this she made no effort
to discover the reason and never intimated by word
or action that she was conscious of the obstruction in
their otherwise cordial relations. She did not know
that to keep the secret and prevent herself from
opening her heart to the nurse, Nellie had often to
stand with clenched hands and gritted teeth and
fight a battle with herself—a fight wherein the active
mind sought to overcome the promptings of the
unconscious will.
"She has a bad spirit," the girl would tell herself.
"I must do it; I must, for the good Father and
Mother." Then fiercely, "I must, I will do it. The
huldowget must be killed. Why did she come here
and make me like her ? Why is she so kind ? It makes
it hard for me."
Then more gently, "She don't know—she means no
harm. She is good herself—and don't mean anything
bad," and the half-breed Would weep for her friend.
Though she knew it not, each time Nellie's resistance
and determination became weaker and she found it
more difficult to carry out the dictates of Caleb Thompson. It was only by recalling the picture he had painted
of the dire consequences of failure to comply with his
instructions that she brought herself to do his bidding
at all. Gradually she grew slower in compliance with
the schedule of acts to which she was committed,
and finally hesitated and stopped, love having temporarily conquered fear.
At first it had been the half-spoken promise, the
suggested affection and hope that some day he would
claim her as his bride that bound the girl in willing
servitude to the rascal whose native cunning had been
augmented by his schooling in the deceit and deceptions of his white brothers. As time went on and her
liking for Mary Cunningham increased, Nellie found
less and less satisfaction in the contemplation of herself as the wife of Caleb Thompson, and it was the fear
of his narrow-set hypnotic eyes that haunted her.
Mary Cunningham had applied herself assiduously
to learning all that she could of the ways, customs and
beliefs of the Indians among whom she had chosen to
labour. Her knowledge of Chinook was soon such that
it was no longer necessary for the doctor or Nellie
to accompany her on her visits to the homes of the UNCANNY HAPPENINGS 77
natives, and they no longer looked upon her with
curious, speculative eyes, but accepted her presence in
the village without comment. The dogs barked less at
her as she approached to make her daily visits to the
different houses along the beach. Even the old squaws,
who had at first been diffident about entering conversation with Father David or Mother when she
was present, would give slow-voiced answers to her
queries. She made friends with the children and could
often be seen surrounded by a dozen or more half-
clothed little creatures, who watched her every action,
and delighted to draw her attention by their antics.
Mary found her work interesting, although she had
but little actual nursing to do, there not having been a
bed case in the hospital since her arrival. But there
had been several happenings which caused her annoyance and mystified and worried her.
She never spoke to Father David or Mother of these
occurrences. Her love and regard for the great, simple-
hearted old doctor and his devoted little wife increased
every day, and not for anything would she make complaint to them of the things that puzzled her. Besides,
she argued to herself, of themselves these things would
appear trivial in the telling. She did discuss them with
Nellie, who advised against speaking to the missionary
or his wife, saying that they might think she was not
content to stay at Fort Oliver. This argument coincided with her own ideas and made her more than ever
determined not to bother her friends with her troubles.
The first of the series of strange incidents took place
two days after Nellie had agreed to accept her friendship.  She  had  called the  half-breed  to  her  room -fnum—.,
to show her some of the treasures of her wardrobe.
After having examined the articles, they laughed and
chatted and talked in the way that young women do
over inconsequential matters. Mary, in passing the
small mirror that hung above the table that served
for her dressing-stand, glanced in the glass and saw
that her hair was in some disarray. Almost unconsciously she reached down to pick up her comb with
which to catch the erring strands. She lifted it, and
then uttered a cry of surprise, for except the two end
pieces, there was not a tooth in the comb. Every one
had been broken off close to the base.
"What is the matter?" asked Nellie.
"Look! Look!" and she held out the broken piece
of ivory. "How ever did that happen?"
Nellie's eyes opened wide in astonishment. "Was it
like that this morning?" she asked.
"No, certainly not. I used it, and it was all right
then. What could have happened?"
"Perhaps you dropped it and stepped on it,"
suggested the servant. "Let's look on the floor."
"Yes; let's see where the teeth are"; and together
they dropped to their hands and knees. Not a sign
of a comb tooth was visible. The well-worn carpet
and old-fashioned rag mats were spotlessly clean, and
every inch of their surfaces was scanned without
Mary looked at Nellie for a moment without speaking,
then in a low tone, "Isn't that strange? " she asked.
"It is," agreed the other. "I wonder "
"Wonder what?"
"Oh, nothing, but it's awfully strange. Are you
sure you didn't do something with it and then forget
about it ?"
"Certainly not. It was all right when I used it this
morning, I tell you."
The half-breed regarded her with such a peculiar,
searching scrutiny, that Mary felt a sense of uneasiness creeping over her. "What is it, Nellie?" she asked.
"Why do you look at me like that?"
"Oh," answered Nellie, "I was thinking, that's all.
I was just thinking how strange it was—funny things
happen sometimes."
" What do you mean ?"
"Nothing—but it is funny, ain't it?"
Mary sought to question her further but without
satisfaction, the other replying in the same enigmatic
manner, "It's strange; it's funny."
When the domestic had retired to the kitchen, Mary
repeated her search of the room, and for a long time
sat on her bed, going over in her mind the events of
the day. She was sure that the comb was undamaged
when she left the room that morning. How then
could it have happened?
There was something so mysterious about the
incident that it worried her for several days, until
a fresh occurrence claimed her attention.
She had been sewing, and had been suddenly called
away to attend, with Father David, upon a case in
the village. She put down her work and went out.
On returning several hours later, she took it up again,
but could not find her thimble. She remembered
distinctly taking it off her finger and placing it with
her sewing on a small table. It was of silver, a birth- HULDOWGET
day gift from her aunt some years before, and she
valued it very highly as a keepsake.
She called Nellie and explained her loss. Together
they searched the living-room, but could find no trace
of the missing thimble.
"That's funny," exclaimed the half-breed, as they
prosecuted their examination of the room.
"The way you lose things. It was your comb before,
and now it's your thimble."
"It is strange," agreed Mary, and she was conscious
that Nellie was again looking at her with the same
weird gaze. She felt a sudden indefinite fear clutching
at her, such as haunts the dark and silent pathways
of the forest.
"What—what is it, do you think?" she asked
"I don't know—but it's funny," declared Nellie.
" Perhaps you put it in your pocket when you went
out, and lost it," the servant suggested after a pause.
"Perhaps I did," agreed the nurse, but she knew
very well that she had not done so.
There was something unreal about the thing, and she
puzzled and fretted herself about it for a time. Hers
was an imaginative mind. She had been brought up to
accept certain beliefs in the supernatural, and while she
did not actually attribute either the loss of her thimble
or the disappearance of the teeth of her comb to any
spiritual agency, she could not altogether shake off the
eerie feeling that from time to time assailed her.
Nothing happened to further disturb her for some
weeks, and she had almost forgotten the incidents UNCANNY HAPPENINGS
which had so vexed her when she had an experience
that came near to prostrating her.
She had been called out in the middle of the night
to a family where a new life was being ushered in, and
was tired and weary. It was a lovely warm afternoon
and she stretched herself on a rustic lounge chair Father
David had fashioned, in the shade of the Mission. She
had intended to read, but after several attempts to
focus her attention on the printed page she abandoned the idea and let the book fall to the ground at
her side.
There was hardly a ripple on the sunlit bay, save
where a spring salmon rose to snatch at some insect
that had flown too close to the surface. She looked
with listless eyes at the tranquil scene and then away
off at Kiaso Island, and idly she recalled the story of
its formation. Sleep overpowered her, and it must have
been the legend of which she had been thinking that
made her dream of the teller, for in her vision John
Collishaw appeared. It was a troubled dream. She was
caught in a deep morass from which she could not
extricate herself, and he was on higher ground. She
cried for him to come and help her, but instead of the
policeman, it was the half-breed, Caleb Thompson,
who came to her assistance—came with a sneer on his
lips and mockery in his eyes.
She awoke with a start, and brushed her hand
across her eyes to blot out the memory of her nightmare, and then sprang to her feet with a wild shriek,
her senses reeling with horror. Transfixed by fear, she
stood gazing in awful fright at the sleeve of her blouse.
It was spotted with fresh blood. HULDOWGET
Father David and Mother were absent, but Nellie,
in the kitchen, heard the agonised cry and ran to
her. "What is it?" she shouted as she rounded the
corner of the house.
"Look! look!" was all the answer she could give,
as with eyes starting from their sockets she motioned
with her hand to the red splotch on the white fabric.
"What is it? Are you hurt? What has happened?"
The words tumbled from Nellie's lips.
"No, I'm not hurt. I don't know where it came
"See! There's more of it," and the girl pointed to
half a dozen other stains on Mary's skirt.
For a moment the nurse swaged, tottered and would
have fallen had not the servant caught her. Nellie
was strong, and it was but with little difficulty that
she half carried, half dragged the senseless white girl
to the house and into her bedroom. Setting down her
burden on the bed, she ran to the kitchen and returned
with a glass of water, some of which she dashed over
the blanched face of the nurse.
An outburst of wild, half-hysterical weeping followed,
and Nellie feared for a time she would not be able to
control her own feelings. After a few moments, however,
she managed to soothe her friend, and assisted her to
disrobe and get between the sheets.
"Don't be frightened," she crooned. "It might have
come from a wounded bird flying above you."
" Do you think so ?" gasped Mary, anxious to find
some explanation, however improbable, for the gruesome stains.
" Yes," answered the other. " What else could it be ?"
"I don't know. That's the trouble. I don't know";
and again she shook with sobbing.
Nellie turned and looked out of the window. Tears
stood out in her eyes, and it was only by biting her
lips that she could prevent herself from crying aloud.
After a time Mary ceased her weeping. "Nellie," she
said," don't tell Father David or Mother anything about
this. I don't want them to worry. Besides, they might
not understand—they might think it was the sight of
blood that unnerved me. It wasn't—it was—was—well,
it was just the terrible uncanniness of it all. You won't
tell them ?" she pleaded.
"No," was the answer. "But what'll they say if they
find you sick?"
"You're right," declared Mary after a pause. "I
must pull myself together. I must get up. I'm ashamed
of myself really," and summoning all her courage and
determination, she rose and started to dress.
"See who is coming," suddenly exclaimed Nellie,
who had returned to the window.
"See, coming around the point"; and she motioned
towards the headland.
"I see a motor-boat, but who's in it?" demanded
Mary, lacking the experience of the other to distinguish
at such a distance the peculiarities of individual craft.
"It's Collishaw's—the policeman"; and, observing
a slight flush of pleasure spread over the pale cheek
of her companion, a new hope was born in the heart
of the half-breed.
"You like him?" she asked in an eager voice,
almost a whisper. -
"Yes, I think he's very nice."
"Why don't you get him for your man; marry
him, eh?"
"Oh, Nellie!" exclaimed Mary in surprise. "Don't
be so silly. I don't want to marry him or anyone else.
You shouldn't say such things."
Again the servant's expression changed. This time
to one of astonishment. "And don't you want to get
a man—ever? And to get married and have children?"
To her mind it was unheard of that any woman should
deny the natural destiny of her sex.
"I never think of such things," answered Mary
sharply. "I have work to do for the suffering—and
please, Nellie, don't ever say anything like that to
me again."
Puzzled by the attitude of her companion, Nellie
quietly withdrew from the room, but there was taking
shape in her mind a vague, indefinite plan which suggested an escape from the misery that had been filling
her life. " If she only would, then they would go away
from here. I must try." But the thought of parting
with Mary caused a pang of regret.
Dropping to a chair, she broke into tears, and she
was still crying when Mary entered the kitchen a few
minutes later.
John Collishaw had made several trips to Fort
Oliver since the day when he brought Mary to the
Mission from Sliam. In fact, so frequent had his visits
become that Father David slyly remarked to his wife:
"Seems as if we need a lot of looking after by the
Indian Department since Mary arrived. John certainly
finds lots to do about here this summer." UNCANNY HAPPENINGS 85
A strong friendship had naturally developed between
the nurse and the handsome young policeman, which on
the part of Collishaw promised to become something
stronger. Mary had not considered him other than a
warm friend in whose society she delighted, and the
query of the half-breed had come as a distinct shock to
her, which could only result in the creation of a certain
reserve in the future expressions of her friendship.
John Collishaw had no doubts as to the measure of
his regard for the nurse. At first he had laughed at
the idea of his falling in love, for he had, with the
conceit of sturdy young manhood, often told himself
that no woman could induce him to sacrifice his freedom and put his head in the matrimonial noose. He
found, however, a special delight in the society of this
splendid young woman, and began after a time to
temporise with his former resolutions, saying that if
ever he did decide to marry, it would be to a girl like
Mary Cunningham. Each time he met her he found it
more and more difficult to leave Fort Oliver, and he
discovered after each visit more and more excuses for
returning to the place.
When Mary opened the door in response to his
knock, and smiled a welcome, he felt that he had
never beheld a more entrancing vision of loveliness.
He stammered out his greeting, for a strange shyness
seemed to overwhelm him, and he became more confused as he realised that he was acting like an awkward schoolboy. He thrust a parcel into her hands,
exclaiming at the same time: " Here, Miss Cunningham,
I brought you some candy. Thought you'd like it. Got
it off the boat at Sliam. Where's Father David ?" HULDOWGET
The girl looked down at him from her vantage point
on the doorstep and burst into a laugh, in which he
joined. "My goodness, Mr. Collishaw," she said, "you
do talk fast. Thanks for the candy, and Father David
will be back in a moment. But won't you come in?
Really, I don't want to stand here all day, holding
the door open for you."
" Thanks "; and he entered.
He had been planning all day what he would say
when they met. He had framed many smart speeches
to the tune of the engine, but now, seated in her
presence, he could not remember a single one.
"Well, what's the news from the big world outside?" she asked, when silence threatened to become
"Boy hurt at Slianch," answered the policeman, as
if reciting a lesson, for it was his custom when visiting
the Mission to gather, on his way there, all items of
interest from the trading boats and Coast camps, for
Father David's information. "Three Indians drowned
near Kincolith," he went on. "Turkey wants to go to
war again—whisky boat captured at Port Simpson—
trouble near Aiyansh with medicine man—killed all
the dogs in a village—good thing to get rid of the
curs—must catch the medicine man "
"Oh, don't," protested Mary, unable to longer
restrain her laughter. " You're wound up like a phonograph. What ails you to-day?"
Before he could give answer the door burst open
and Father David appeared. "Oh ho!" he boomed.
"Am I disturbing a t$te-ct,-tite? No? Well, John, glad
to see you. How's your behaviour? Hope there's no UNCANNY  HAPPENINGS
trouble about? That's good. Didn't think there was,
but you can never tell, can you?"
"No, doctor, there's nothing wrong here that I know
of, but there's some trouble in the district. I was just
telling Miss Cunningham about it. There is a medicine
man at work again. I'm on my way down the coast
to some of the villages where the rattles have been
going pretty strong. I can't understand it at all.
I thought all that stuff was done away with long
ago—that the missionaries had dispelled the old ideas
about those things, but evidently there's some evil
influence at work to try and bring back the old
"There is," answered the old man gravely. "The
Evil One is always seeking to restore his kingdom,
and he always finds those who are ready to help him.
I saw some signs here at Fort Oliver not long ago,
but I could not get enough evidence to make a complaint to you about it. I have my suspicions, but you
can't act on suspicions. You know, without me telling
you, who it is that I suspect."
Collishaw nodded. " Yes, and I have the same idea,
but the trouble is to catch him. He's been schooled
in the guile of the white man, and retains the cunning
of the Indian. But this thing's got to be stopped, and
it's how to go about it that's worrying me. I thought
I'd ask your advice. Candidly, I didn't believe the
tales I'd heard of the influence of these men, but
natives come to me almost white with fear, saying
that spells are being worked against them."
"Yes, I know, John. I've seen Indians die when
they thought an evil spirit had been set against them HULDOWGET
by a medicine man. Men who were leaders in war,
and who would not hesitate to attack a grizzly with
a knife, have died before my very eyes in the early
days, under the influence of medicine men."
"Those old shamans seemed capable of anything,
from what I can learn," agreed the policeman. "They
tell me that they did some remarkable things, too.
Lately, some peculiar things have been recounted to
me by one or two of the older men, who still speak in
whispers of some of the actions of the spirits, or	
Why, what's the matter, Miss Cunningham?"
Mary was leaning forward in her chair. Her eyes
were filled with horror, and her face was deathly pale.
As they talked, the terror of her experience of the
afternoon had returned, and an awful question had
arisen in her mind—could it be that she was bewitched? The exclamation of the policeman had
broken the spell that held her, and with a faint cry
she swooned, dropping back in her chair.
Both men sprang to their feet. " Here, John," shouted
the doctor, "hold her while I get something for her";
and he dashed away in the direction of the dispensary.
Kneeling beside the girl's chair, John lifted her head
to his shoulder and supported her in that position.
Presently her eyes opened. "There, there, you'll be
all right in a moment," he said as she sought to move.
"Just lie still for a little while."
"You won't let them touch me, will you?" she
half cried in terror.
" Who ? what ?" demanded Collishaw. " Certainly not j
no one'll hurt you."
With a sigh she again lapsed into unconsciousness, UNCANNY  HAPPENINGS
just as Father David returned and the door leading
to the kitchen gently closed.
Nellie had been attracted by the disturbance and
had looked in to see the girl resting in Collishaw's
arms. There was a happy smile on the face of the
Mary quickly recovered under the ministrations of
the old doctor. "I'm all right now," she murmured,
and in reply to his question smiled weakly. "I went
to sleep outside in the sun, and I guess it was too
much for me."
Father David had called Nellie and ordered her to
assist Mary to bed. " You must take care of yourself,"
he said, when she protested against retiring. "You
just take it easy for a few days, for you've been
working pretty hard lately."
"There's something on the child's mind," he said to
Collishaw when they were alone. " I wonder what it is."
"I think that it was our talk of the medicine men
and evil spirits," suggested the policeman.
"Well, you may be right, but she once told me that
her aunt had spent years in India and used to tell her
stories of the fakirs and their works. Her mind may
be receptive to the spirit tales of this country."
"Rubbish, John, rubbish! You can't tell me a girl
with a hospital training—a practical girl—would pay
any attention to the native legends and beliefs. No,
there's something else. She may tell me some day.
If she does, all right, but I'm not going to bother
her about it."
"Hope you're right," commented the younger man. CHAPTER VIII
Despite the physical exhaustion and mental agony of
the day, Mary found sleep elusive. As she tossed about
on her pillow, the lapping of the waves on the shingle,
the sighing of the wind over the water and the creaking
of the forest trees, noises that usually lulled her to
slumber, seemed to drum on her brain and fill her
mind with unpleasant fancies.
"How are you, dear?" It was the quiet voice of
Mother. "I heard you, so came in to sit with you for
a little while, if I may."
" I'm so glad you came," whispered Mary, as Mother
took a seat beside the bed and looked out of the
window across the bay.
"I'm afraid," said the little woman sadly, "that
the influences of the North are a little too much for
you. Now, tell me," and she smiled sweetly, "is it not
the loneliness of Fort Oliver that is troubling you? "
There was something in her voice, an indefinite
yearning, sympathy and appeal, that the younger
woman was quick to sense and appreciate. She seemed
to feel the unspoken fear in the mind of her friend.
Mother believed that the absence from the city, with
its gaiety and excitement, had proven to be too
much for her and had caused her breakdown, and
it might eventually lead to her leaving Fort Oliver
and the Mission.
"No, Mother," and she reached out and patted the
wrinkled hands; "it's not the loneliness. I'm happy
as I can be, with you and Father David, and I'm not
going to desert and go back to the city. I'm going
to stay right here—if you'll let me, but after to-day
I'm—I'm afraid you'll not want to keep me." Tears
filled her eyes and she turned her head away.
"There, there," answered Mother brightly, "you'll
stay with us—certainly you shall; who said you
wouldn't? Don't worry about your little attack this
afternoon, but don't sleep in the sun again. You
know, if we women didn't do something like that
once in a while, we wouldn't be entitled to be called
the weaker sex.
"You know, dear, I fainted once. Yes, I did, but
David don't know it to this day. It would have
worried him, and he had enough troubles then. It
was when we first came here and everything was still
more or less strange to me."
"Tell me about it, please."
"I don't think I should. You'd better go to sleep."
" Please!"
"It was a long, long time ago; in the second year
of our stay here. David was called to attend at one of
the other villages where the small-pox had broken
out. He went to fight the disease, to vaccinate and
quarantine. I was left alone.
"The natives were very much frightened and excited. They feared the small-pox more than anything
else. David vaccinated all who would submit to it
before he went away. It was the first time that preventive serums had been used among them, and only
J 92
a few would trust our remedies enough to become
"While David was away trying to protect the other
villages from the scourge, those who had been vaccinated here began to suffer from the inflammation that
followed. The medicine men were quick to perceive an
opportunity to combat our influence. They told the
people we were trying to kill them off and had poisoned
their arms so they could not fight.
"They went to those who had been vaccinated and
told them that their arms would wither so that they
could never hunt or paddle a canoe again, and that
the affliction would spread to all members of the
tribe. When this was brought about, then white men
would come and kill them.
"Shamans came to our home and threatened me.
I could not speak the language very well then, but
I pretended that I was not afraid of them, and did
not lock the door. One of the chiefs, who was sympathetic towards us, although at that time he had not
professed the faith, was among those who followed the
medicine men, and I addressed him.
"'It is false,' I said. 'We have brought you the
message of life, not death. When your son was sick,
chief, and the shamans could not cast out the evil
spirits, who was it cured him and looked after him ?'
"'Father David,' he answered.
"'And has not Father David told you the story of
Life, and has he not brought you food for your spirit?'
I asked. 'What do you do when a dog bites you when
you feed it? Father David has fed you: are you dogs?
I have spoken.' THE CAJtfOE-MAKER'S TRAIL    93
"He was a chief of the eagle crest and was very
powerful among the people and had a lot of influence
all along the Coast. When I was through talking he
stepped to my side.
"'The squaw of the white father has spoken good
words,' he said. 'He has spoken to us and his words
were like the scattering of swans' down. They were
words of peace, not war. Did he not say his medicine
would make our arms sore for a little time? Is not
the haightly-lahaksh (small-pox) worse than a sick
arm? It is the spirit of small-pox coming out. If any
man hurts this woman he must do hurt to me, Kodonsh,
chief of the eagle crest. You have heard my words.'
"After that they were afraid to touch me, but all
night long they kept up a noise in the village, beating
drums, blowing horns and pounding rattles. They
danced and yelled in an effort to frighten away the
evil spirit of the disease. They attacked and almost
killed a slave who had been captured in youth in the
part of the country where the small-pox made its
appearance,^ fearing that he might be harbouring the
spirit of the disease. In fact, they thought they had
beaten him to death, but he recovered. It was a
terrible time.
" I did not leave the house until I saw from a window
the canoe returning with David. Then I fainted, but
by the time he reached shore I was all right again.
I did not want to tell him, you see, because it might
prevent him from going away again when his duty
called him."
Mary gazed in open-mouthed astonishment at the
quiet-mannered, gentle little old lady who recited her
, 94
confession of "weakness" in such a placid manner.
"And you went through all that, and other trials
like it, when you were my age!" she exclaimed.
"Oh, yes."
"And I faint because of—of sleeping in the sun.
I'm ashamed of myself. I'm better right now," declared
Mary decisively. "I'm going to get right up."
" No, my dear, you're going to go to sleep. It's time
you were in bed, anyway. It's nearly ten o'clock and
I've been gossiping away here, keeping you awake.
I'm ashamed."
"But it's not dark yet."
"You forget that the days are long up here in the
summer. I'm going to leave you now. I'm a silly old
woman to be telling you such frightful things"; and
she bent and kissed the girl before leaving the room.
Despite her intention to forget her troubles, Mary
lay a long time before she fell into a fitful sleep.
The sun was shining over the tree-tops when she
awoke. A delicious odour of fir and cedar, and the salt
air of the sea pervaded the room and gave her strength.
She rose, filled with fresh courage.
Nellie had kept some breakfast for her and, as she
ate, the servant smiled at her in a whimsical way.
"Miss Mary," she said, "I know what's the matter
with you; it's love."
"Perhaps," was the idle answer, "I'm in love with
Father David and Mother."
"Perhaps," mocked the half-breed, but, absorbed in
her thoughts, Mary paid no heed to the remark. She
was going over the events of the preceding day, from
the time she went to sleep in the chair until she swooned while listening to the doctor and policeman
discussing the activities of a suspected necromancer.
She was trying to analyse and understand why their
talk had so affected her.
When, a few moments later, she appeared at the door
of the Mission, it was to see John Collishaw engaged
in conversation with Simon, the young Indian, who
had now recovered from his illness. The policeman
waved for her to join them. She did so, to find them
arguing the respective merits of canoes and engined
"We were just going over behind the fort to see a
canoe that Simon is making," he said. "Run and get
your hat and come along with us."
"Long time before white man he come," said the
native, when Mary had gone for her hat, "my people
make big canoe. Maybe ten, twelve, fi'teen mans ride
in one. More big canoe come from Queen Charlotte
Islands. Haida people make him; more big cedar tree
grow there."
"Did you get your war canoes from the Haidas?"
"Yep," was the answer, and then Simon went on:
"Them come here catch oolichan grease. We sellem
for big canoe. Haida mans bring over big canoe, go
back old one. Haida war canoe ride maybe twenty,
twenty-fi' men when they go fight other mans."
Mary rejoined them and Simon led the way. They
walked past the old fort to the edge of the rivulet,
where a trail skirted the stream. Following this, they
plunged into the forest, and as they walked, Collishaw explained to her the manner in which the
natives fashioned their canoes from cedar trees, in the
early days, using stone chisels and fire to hollow them
out, and hot rocks in water to steam the wood so
that it could be drawn and shaped into the graceful
lines of the swift-moving little vessels.
"Those old Indian canoe-makers were masters of
their craft," he explained. "The Haida canoes were
the largest on the Coast, by reason of the fine cedars
growing on the islands. The Haidas took a great pride
in their work—and indeed they should, for what horses
were to the Indians of the plains, canoes were to these
people. They were a tough lot, were the Haidas. They
made periodical raids along the Coast as far south as
Puget Sound, earning for themselves the reputation
of being the terrors of the North. They exacted tribute
from weaker nations, and seized and enslaved men
and women of tribes who did not pay them for
"They put me in mind of the old Norsemen—
regular vandals of the sea. They would put out in
storms in their canoes, that their descendants would
not face in powerful motor launches. Nor did they
depend entirely on the paddle, for their boats were
fitted with double sails, spread out like wings. Just
where they learned the art of sailing has been a
mystery to me, for there were not many uncultured
native races who possessed the same ideas of navigation
and seamanship in their wild state as the Haidas."
So they talked as they followed Simon, until they
heard the sound of chopping, and soon came upon the
workers. Two men were engaged with hatchet, adze
and chisel in fashioning a canoe from a log.
The combined scent of the hemlock needles and THE CANOE-MAKER'S TRAIL    97
freshly-hewn cedar, the bright sunlight filtering through
the foliage, and the babbling waters as they fell and
splashed over the boulder-strewn bed of the creek,
delighted the girl and filled her soul with contentment.
They lingered for some time, watching the workmen
at their tasks, and praised their efforts until the
Indians fairly glowed with the satisfaction they made
no effort to conceal. Simon remained to assist his
friends, and the policeman and nurse turned to retrace
their steps.
"This is wonderful," exclaimed the girl enthusiastically. "I just love all this. I'm going to come here
often. It's just like a park."
They were walking slowly, their footsteps muffled
by the carpet of fir, spruce, and hemlock needles and
moss. Nothing was said for some time. All nature
seemed to be rejoicing, and at the moment, the girl
thought, human utterance would be akin to desecration
of a holy place.
At last, as they neared the trail end, Collishaw spoke.
"Mary," he ventured, using her name with some
hesitation—"do you mind if I call you Mary?"
She caught her breath, turned towards him and
looked searchingly into his flushed face. She saw in
that brief scrutiny into the very depths of his soul.
"My friends all call me Mary," she answered,
"and I like to think we're friends."
"We certainly are, and "
"That's good, and we can call each other by our
Christian names, just as if we were at school together,"
she interrupted. "Let's get real well acquainted," she
went on, with a trace of nervous haste in her voice.
"I've told you how I was brought up by my aunt, who
had been a nurse, and how she trained me for the
same service; and how I determined to be just like
her—to give my life to suffering humanity and—and
die an old maid—in fact, you know all about me, but
I've heard very little of your career or adventures."
It had been a saying of this same worldly-wise old
aunt, "Get a man to talk about himself and he'll
forget all else," that had prompted her to ask his
story; and in doing so she had reiterated her own
conception of her duty and purpose in life.
Collishaw looked at her as they walked. The flush
had died out of his cheeks, and his lips were drawn
tight as if he was suffering pain.
"Oh, I've not much of a story," he said at last,
with a mirthless laugh. "My life was always more or
less colourless until recent years. My parents were well-
to-do people in the East, and they spent their money
freely on my education and in gratifying my whims.
I'm afraid I didn't appreciate their kindness as I
should have. I was taught everything but that which
would be of practical use to me, and cultivated habits
that were idle and expensive.
"Then came the war. We'll not discuss that. I was
only eighteen when I enlisted."
"And you're a veteran," exclaimed Mary. "You
never told me that before."
"No, why should I?" he asked. "I only did my
duty as did millions of other young fellows. I was
lucky enough to return uncrippled. It was more than
thousands of other men—men with responsibilities—
with famihes to support, did. Why should I parade THE CANOE-MAKER'S TRAIL    99
my service, or boast of what small contribution I was
able to make to the cause of the Empire?
"Had I been crippled—suffered like some of those
brave lads who are now trying to carry on with only
one arm, or one leg, or in the darkness of perpetual
night—I might have felt that there was a debt owing
to me, but my wounds did not permanently disable me.
"I tell you, Mary," he went on earnestly, "it was
easy to go when the bands were playing and the bugles
were calling. It was pleasant to hear the momentary
acclaim of the rejoicing crowds after the armistice,
but the real suffering of the war is going on now, and
will continue for years. There are heroes fighting a
more desperate fight to-day to keep themselves and
their families alive, than they faced in France. There
are widows struggling to raise families, boys denied
the care and educational advantages that would have
been theirs had their fathers returned; men with
weakened constitutions and broken bodies fighting to
maintain themselves in competition with physically
perfect men, and the public looks upon what meagre
assistance it gives to them in the light of charity—
nor do they obtain that assistance that is theirs by
right. Those men and widows and fatherless children
are the ones who have every right to expect a helping
hand—not as a charity but as interest on the investment of life and suffering made for the Empire—those
have the right, I have not."
Mary had never heard him talk that way before,
and she liked him the more for the expression of his
views. His face showed the earnestness of his convictions, and she could see that the subject was one 100
that was close to his heart. After a pause, he continued
in a less emphatic vein.
"The war gave me something. It taught me to
realise my position; to appreciate the futility of being
a loafer. I came back determined to be a sponger on
my parents no longer, and after visiting the dear old
mother and dad, I came West. I tried a number of
things before I drifted up to this country, where I
finally found employment as policeman for the Indian
Department. So, you see," he concluded, "there's
nothing much in my life to talk about—just a very
ordinary career so far, devoid of any accomplishment."
" I don't think so," declared the girl.
Collishaw looked at his watch. "Goodness!" he
exclaimed, "it's nearly noon, and I have to make
the villages below the Dundee cannery before dark.
I must hurry away."
Mary walked to the float, where his boat was tied,
with him, for he refused her invitation to stay for
luncheon. She waved him farewell as he pushed off
and started the engine turning, and stood with her
golden hair blowing about her face until the boat was
in the passage between the island and mainland.
From the Mission, Nellie watched her, and smiled
happily to herself. CHAPTER IX
The salmon-fishing season was at its height and the
majority of the Fort Oliver Indians were absent from
their homes, garnering the silver harvest of the sea for
the insatiable maws of the "Iron Chinks" at the Sliam
cannery. Night and day, men toiled with boats and
gill-nets, seeking to enmesh the much-prized sockeye,
the king of the salmon tribe, while squaws and young
girls worked in the different processes of canning the
freshly caught fish. They worked beside almond-eyed
Chinese and tiny Japanese women, packing, loading on
to the travelling belt to the cooker, or labelled and
cased the still warm tins for the markets of the world.
Nor were the ancient fishing grounds free from the
competition of modern times. The natives vied with
the more active and industrious little brown men from
across the Pacific, and the sturdy fishermen from the
North Sea and the fjords of Scandinavia, in making
returns to the cannery wharf. The run was on. Sock-
eyes were coming in thousands, and these were the
fish that spelled profits to cannery men and fishermen
alike. Overhead expenses could be made from the
cohoe pack, but sockeyes signified success to operators
and affluence to the toilers, according to their respective views of prosperity.
So it was that at the village of Fort Oliver only 102
the older men and women, the small children and the
infirm remained.
Father David was frequently away from the Mission
for days at a time, for it was his custom to follow his
flock to the fishing grounds, and there to keep watch
over them. Men, white of skin, but black of heart,
degraded creatures, usually invaded the waters where
the fishers drifted their nets, preying on the weakness
of the natives. They bartered vile alcoholic concoctions
for money or fish—they cared not which—for a sock-
eye was worth its price to the independent buyers
for other canneries, and no questions were asked from
these men as to who had netted the fish. Occasionally
one of the bootleggers would be caught by fishery
protective officers, or the provincial police, and for
a time the others would lessen their activities, only
to return like flies chased from a sugar bowl.
Long experience in combating the activities of
these evil-doers had taught Father David to anticipate their actions, and he often assisted in apprehending
them. In gas-boat or canoe he was a familiar sight
during the fishing season, laughing and jesting with
the fishers and searching with a practised eye for
evidences of contraband among the natives. His efforts
were appreciated alike by police and canners, for the
former looked upon him as a valuable ally and the
operators knew only too well that fire-water destroyed
the efficiency of the Indians.
These weeks, when the run was on, were busy ones
for John Collishaw, and he found but little time or
opportunity to visit his friends at Fort Oliver. In the
agency to which he was attached were a number of THE  MESAHCHIE  BOX
canneries employing natives, and over these wards of
the Government he had to keep a careful watch.
Mary carried on her routine work at the Mission,
visiting the sick, giving advice and encouragement to
the old men and women and instructing the children,
and in turn seeking instruction from them all, for she
was essaying to learn the native language, having
mastered the Chinook jargon. She was making rapid
strides in her studies, assisted greatly by the teachings
of Mother and Nellie.
The nurse was worried about Mother. Although she
would not admit it, nor make complaint, the little
woman was far from well, but she refused to let the
younger woman assume her duties.
"No, dear," she protested when Mary urged her to
take a rest for a few days. "It's nothing. I'll be all
right in a day or so. I wouldn't like to have David
return and find me ill. It would worry him, and might
keep him from his duties."
On the occasions when Father David did return for
a brief visit he was tired and worn out. Mother would
then appear bright and cheerful and would not permit Mary to suggest that she was not in her usual
good health. But after the priest departed Mary could
observe that each time the reaction was more serious,
and Mother appeared weaker and less determined in
her opposition to the efforts of the nurse and Nellie
to care for her.
"But I must visit the sick. I've done it for years,
child, and they expect it," she argued when Mary
coaxed her to cease her labours for a time.
"That may be," agreed the other, "but one thing 104 HULDOWGET
is certain; if you work yourself into a serious illness
they will be deprived of your care for a longer time.
You must let me take up your duties for a time.
You formerly did it all; surely I can do the same for
a short while."
At last she consented and Mary was kept busy. If
it had not been for her anxiety for Mother, she would
have been very happy. None of the annoyances that
had so disturbed and frightened her during her first
few weeks at the Mission had recurred, and although
she thought of them at times, they did not cause her
such fear as formerly. She was absorbed in her work,
and delighted in the knowledge that she was bringing
a measure of sunshine and cheer into the sombre lives
of those in need of it.
Mother did not improve, and it was not long until
Father David, on one of his visits home, noticed the
change in his wife, which she could no longer conceal.
"I'm worried about Mother," he told his assistant.
"I feel as if I should stay here, but I'm needed over
there at the cannery. I know you and Nellie are
taking good care of her—as good as I could give
her. I have prepared this medicine for her; see that
she takes it."
"Go on, David. You have your work to do. God
will take care of me, and I am having the best of
attention from the girls," interjected Mother. "You
must not let me keep you from your duty."
"It is rest that she needs," he explained to Mary,
when he was leaving the next day. "Don't let her do
any work, and whatever happens, see that she does
not become excited. It seems to be a needless warning THE  MESAHCHIE  BOX
here in Fort Oliver these days," he added with a
smile, "for there is but little excitement—not like
the old days when each day had its own unknown
Mother's condition remained unchanged. She did not
seem to benefit by the treatment Father David had
prescribed, nor did she appear to grow worse. Mary
and Nellie were constant in their care of her, and the
half-breed especially was devoted in her attention. An
excellent cook, Nellie prepared tasty dishes for the
invalid in an effort to intrigue her appetite. Often
Mother would eat when she had no desire to do so,
just to please and justify the praise she lavished on
the cookery, knowing well the delight it would give
the girl.
Nellie was returning to the Mission one afternoon
from an errand when an old Indian motioned for her
to stop. She did so and awaited his approach. He
hobbled up to her and whispered:
"Caleb Thompson wants to see you. He says you
will know where to meet him."
Nellie caught her breath. She knew instantly the
purpose of the message, and for a moment thought of
answering with a refusal.
"He says he will come to the Mission if you don't,"
the old fellow said.
"Oh, he mustn't," she exclaimed. "Tell him I'll see
him to-night."
The Indian limped away, leaving the girl wild-eyed
with fear. Then rebellion surged within her. She would
be done with all this. She would free herself from the
phantom of terror that had possessed her for so long. io6
She had no difficulty in keeping the appointment
this time. She mentioned that she felt tired and would
take a walk.
"That's right, Nellie," readily agreed the nurse.
" You've been too much in the house, and a walk will
do you good."
Thompson was waiting for her. "Well," he exclaimed
sternly, when she arrived at the old fort. "What have
you to say for yourself? "
"What do you mean?" she demanded, trying to
avoid his compelling gaze.
"Why haven't you carried out my instructions?"
The girl trembled in every limb. She did not answer
and Thompson seized her by the wrist, twisting it
until she cried out in pain.
"I did not want to," she declared defiantly. "She's
going to get married and leave here, so I didn't think
it mattered."
"She's going to get married? Who to? " and he bent
down until he could look into her eyes.
"To the policeman; to Collishaw."
"Oh, she's going to marry Collishaw!" he mocked.
"I think not."
"Yes, she is," stubbornly insisted the girl.
"You he. She's not going to marry him, I tell you."
Nellie stood her ground and faced him, although
her heart was pounding and her teeth were chattering
with terror.
"She is."
Thompson saw that he was making no headway
with the girl and suddenly changed his attitude. The
harshness of his voice gave way to a pleasing purr. He smiled at her. "Nellie," he said, "you are a good
girl. You like this yellow-haired nurse and you're afraid
some harm will come to her. It won't. She will be
married soon, but in the meantime the evil spirit she
possesses is doing harm.
"Is it not so that Mother is sick?" He shot the
question at her.
"Yes," was the startled answer.
"What did I tell you?"
The girl hung her head. Her face paled and her
limbs shook as a leaf in the wind.
"You carried out my instructions for a time and
no harm came to her. Then you stopped and now she
is sick. If she dies you will be to blame."
"Oh, no. She must not," almost screamed the
unhappy servant, and then she burst into tears.
Thompson regarded her for a moment. There was
a pleased expression on his face. "Stop your crying,
woman," he ordered. "It may not be too late. You
may be able to save her."
"How?" she snivelled.
"By doing what I tell you."
Thompson again instructed her in the things he
wished her to do. For a long time he talked, and then,
as before, had her repeat his directions.
As she was about to leave him he asked, "Do you
ever read the Bible ? "
"Yes," she answered in surprise. "Why?"
"Well, there are some passages I want you to study,"
he said. "Here they are," and he handed her a slip of
paper. "Sit down again."
For nearly an hour Caleb Thompson talked on the io8
texts he had chosen for her to read. At length he told
her, "Now you can go."
As she turned he again stopped her, and repeated
the kiss he had given at their former meeting. This
time it did not thrill her as on the previous occasion,
but still she felt an irresistible attraction towards the
man. He frightened her and at the same time impelled
her to do his will.
Thompson gazed at her through half-closed lids as
she slowly made her way down the incline towards
the village. " I think you require further urging, young
woman," he murmured to himself.
Nellie did not sleep that night. She lay awake trying
to make a decision. It was a fight between her regard
for Mary Cunningham and her fear of Caleb Thompson
and the supernatural powers he seemed to possess.
The thought of Mother's illness, a gradual wasting
away, without apparent pain, just as had the men
and women of the village in the olden times when a
spell had been cast upon them, convinced her that
evil spirits were indeed at work, but she could not
bring herself to believe that the fault was that of the
kindly white nurse. With the coming of daylight her
courage grew, and she almost decided to defy the
man, despite his renewed half-suggested promise to
make her his wife.
It was with this thought in mind that she rose
earlier than usual, and having lighted the kitchen fire,
picked up the water bucket to go to the well, for she
had neglected to bring water for the breakfast cooking
the night before.
She had not gone many steps when with a sudden THE  MESAHCHIE  BOX
cry she dropped the pail and jumped back in alarm.
Directly in front of her on the little pathway was a
small oblong cedar box. For a full minute she stood
staring at it, her face ashen grey. Finally she summoned courage enough to stoop and lift the lid. Her
jaw dropped, and she clutched at her breast, as she
gazed in horror at a small doll, crudely fashioned out
of the skin of some animal. Through the heart of the
image was thrust a fish bone.
"A mesahchie box!" she whispered hoarsely. "A
mesahchie box! It's the threat of death"; and she
started to cry.
"I must do it. I must do it," she sobbed, as with
the pail half-filled with water she stumbled back to
the house.
"You don't look well to-day, Nellie," observed Mary
when she came into the kitchen. " You look as if you'd
been crying."
"I have. I had the toothache."
" You poor thing. I'll get you something for it"; and
Mary went to the dispensary for toothache drops.
"Take care of yourself. You've been working too
hard, and you're run down," advised the nurse. " Let me
get Mother's breakfast. You rest yourself for a while."
Later in the day Mary went to her room to change
her house slippers for the strong Oxfords she wore
about the village.
She reached behind the curtain that partitioned off
one corner of her room as a clothes closet, and picked
up the shoes. The laces were gone. Dropping the shoes,
she reached for her buttoned boots, only to find that
they were devoid of buttons. I IO
She could not prevent an exclamation of alarm. The
old fear returned. For a moment she stood looking at
the footwear, and then turned and threw herself on
the bed and gave way to a paroxysm of weeping.
" What is it ? Why should I have to suffer from these
mysterious visitations?" she asked herself.
Nellie came to her chamber a moment later. " What's
the matter ?" she asked, when she saw the nurse in tears.
"Look," and Mary pointed to the shoes.
The half-breed exclaimed in surprise, " It's strange,
Miss Mary. It may be because you leave your window
open. It may come in there."
"It?" cried the white girl in consternation. "It;
what do you mean by ' It' ?"
"Whatever took your laces and buttons," was the
bland answer.
Mary worried over the singular happening and when,
three days later, she discovered that a piece had been
cut from her raincoat she was almost frantic with fear.
"This is awful," she cried as she showed the torn
garment to the servant. "It's terrible. I don't know
what to do. It wouldn't be so bad if I knew what was
the cause of all these things, but it's the strangeness
of it all that frightens me. And it never happens to
anyone else—just to me."
The absence of any visible agency for these small
acts of destruction gave the girl a sense of sickening
fear. She became nervous and uneasy in her room at
night, lying for hours at a time unable to sleep, with
ears alert for the slightest sound out of the ordinary,
and with eyes straining into the darkness. CHAPTER X
Mother was sleeping, and Mary and Nellie had stolen
away to enjoy a brief period of rest in the cool of the
long summer evening. They were seated on a log on
the beach, near the Mission, when Mary broached the
subject which was uppermost in her mind.
"Nellie," she said, "the other day when—when that
strange thing happened to my shoes, you said that' It'
might have come and taken the laces and buttons.
What did you mean? I want you to tell me."
"You wouldn't understand."
"Why wouldn't I?"
"Lots of funny things happen here. People who
were born on the Coast can understand, but those
from the cities, they can't."
"But, Nellie," persisted the other, "perhaps I can
understand what you mean. Try me. Tell me, for anything is better than this awful uncertainty. I don't
know when something is going to happen again—and
—it gets on my nerves."
"Well," said Nellie slowly, "when anything, like
you losing your laces, happens—well, when the people
don't know what takes them, they just say 'It'—
that's all."
"No, it's not, Nellie. You have not told me what
this thing is. For goodness' sake, tell me."
"I don't know," hesitated the girl. "It may be a
bad spirit or something like that."
"Do you believe in those sort of things?" asked
the white girl timidly.
"Sometimes I do; sometimes I don't. Do you?"
and the half-breed looked at her with that same odd,
searching look that she had noted before.
"Really, I don't know," slowly answered the nurse.
"I don't suppose I do, really, but sometimes I kind
of half believe in some of the things I've heard. I
suppose I'm very wicked, a sort of a heathen, but
I can't help it."
They were silent for a time. Then Mary said with
a nervous half-laugh, "I wonder what Father David
would say if he heard us ? "
Nellie smiled. " He wouldn't like it. He's like a father
to me, but he's the same as all the white people. He
don't understand—he can't. He thinks the people
shouldn't make totems, or anything like that, and
everything the people did before the white man came,
should go."
She hesitated for a moment, and then pointed at
the church steeple. "What do you see on top of the
church?" she asked.
"Why, the Cross, of course."
"Well, it's a totem," asserted Nellie. "It tells you
about a story."
"Oh, how can you say such things! You shouldn't
compare the crucifix with a totem pole," exclaimed Mary.
"Why not?" and then, with a fight laugh, "Well,
perhaps it ain't just the same, but it tells you of a
story, don't it?" DISTURBING DOCTRINES      113
"Yes, the story of Christianity."
"And totem poles, they tell about other stories."
"But you believe in the Bible and Christianity?"
demanded the white girl.
" Sure—but I believe in some of the Indian stories too.''
"But there's only one God, and Christ our Saviour."
"Yes, and there's lots of devils," argued the servant.
" The Bible says so. There's a big one and lots of little
ones. One time one man or woman, maybe, had
seven devils."
Mary looked in astonishment at her companion,
amazed at the strange theology she was expounding.
"And if lots of evil spirits, like that, could go into
anybody, then it's sure they could go into animals.
They do, too," she declared with conviction.
"How do you know?"
"It says so in the Bible."
"When they were all in a man and then they chased
out of him and they went into a lot of pigs."
After a pause the half-breed continued: "When the
Indians think funny things are being done that they
don't know the reason for—and perhaps it's a bad
spirit, or something—why they just say ' It' instead of
saying it's a bad spirit or a 'huldowget.'"
Mary shuddered. She was conscious of a sinking
sensation, a sort of sickening fear stealing over her.
"Let's talk of something else," she said.
"Do you want me to tell you about the Raven?"
Nellie suggested. "It's all about how the people came
into the world, and everything about how light came.
It is an old story." ii4
" Do you mean that they have a story of the
The half-breed nodded, and after a moment's silence,
went on:
" Long time ago—long, long ago, before the big flood,
everything was dark. Only one man lived in the world.
Up in the sky there was an old man. He had a daughter.
He owned the light. He had one maa, or big box, with
the sun in it; and one with the moon in it; and one
with the stars in it.
"The man in the world—his name was Wigett. He
wanted to get the maas with the light. By his supernatural power he made himself into a bird. He flew
up through the hole in the sky.
" He didn't know how he was going to get into the
old man's house. He watched, and after a while the
girl she came out to the spring to get a drink. Then
Wigett he changed himself into a hemlock needle. He
fell down on the water. The girl she swallowed him
when she drank the water.
"After a while the girl had a baby. It was Wigett,
but she didn't know it was him.
"The old man he was fond of the baby. He used to
play with him. Then one day after the baby was
pretty big he started to cry and he wouldn't stop.
"Then the old man he gave him the maa with the
stars to play with. Wigett he rolled the box to the
hole in the sky. He took the lid off and let the stars
fall through.
" He thought that there was not enough light. Then
he went back again. After a while he began to cry
again. The old man was afraid to let him have the maa DISTURBING DOCTRINES      115
with the moon, but he cried all the time. Then the
old man let him have it and he did the same thing.
"Then he wanted to get the box with the sun. It
was a long time before he got it. At last the old man
let him have it. As soon as Wigett got it, he used his
power again. He changed himself to a bird and he
flew down to the World with the box.
"There were some people or animals or something
fishing for oolichans on the Nass River. Wigett he
said, 'Give me something to eat.' They said, 'Go and
get some for yourself!' He was mad, and he told them
if they don't give him something he'll break open the
box and let the light out. They said, 'You are a big
liar. You ain't got any light.' Then Wigett he broke
the box open and the light came out. Then he saw
that they were not men he had been talking to, but
they were frogs. Then when they saw the light they
all ran down the river to an island and they turned
to stone. You can see them there now, too."
"What a peculiar story," commented Mary.
"There's another one. It tells about the Nass people,
too, and explains why sometimes the trees make a
creaking noise."
"Let's hear it."
" I don't know this one so well. I only heard it once
—one time at Port Simpson. A man from up the river
was telling it.
"He said once, long time ago, all the people on the
Nass River died except one old woman and her daughter.
The old woman she did not know where to get someone
to marry her girl.
"Then the squirrel said he would. The squaw she n6
said ' No.' Deer he said he would—that he was good-
looking and could run fast, and would make a good
husband. She told him he would not do. Then Grizzly
Bear said he would marry her, because he was strong
and could get lots of food, she should let him marry
her daughter, but the old woman she said ' No' again.
She said her daughter should only marry a man.
"At last there was a great white light came down
from the sky. Down this light came a white man. The
old woman and the girl they were afraid. They hid
themselves. He went to the place.
"He said, 'I've come to marry your daughter.'
And the old squaw she said, 'Yes, you are a man;
you can marry my daughter.'
"The white man said he could not marry her there.
He must take them both to his father's home—up in
the sky. He wrapped them in his blanket and told
them not to look out at all. Then he started to go up
in the sky.
"The girl she kept her eyes shut, but the old
woman she wanted to look out. She didn't think the
man would know. She lifted the blanket just a little
bit and looked out.
"They stopped going up and started to come down
"When they were down on the ground, the white
man went to a big tree. He pulled a limb out. It left
a hole in the tree. Then he put the old woman in the
hole, and he put the limb back again. So when you
hear creaking in the trees, you will know it's the spirit
of the old lady trying to get out."
"What a dreadful punishment!" exclaimed Mary. &m
"No worse than what happened to Mrs. Lott. She
looked back when that town was burning up, and she
was made into salt."
"Why, that's so!"
The stories and strange arguments of the half-breed
made a greater impression on the mind of Mary Cunningham than she at first realised. She had always
accepted the teachings of the Bible without reserve,
and now, to have native customs and Indian superstitions paralleled with the stories in which she had
believed from childhood was bewildering to her already
vexed and frightened mind. Her faith in the Scriptures
was not lessened by the odd doctrines to which she
had listened, but it did make her the more sympathetic and receptive to the influences that were being
set against her.
Little did she think that Nellie had been but playing
a part, and that the contentions she had advanced so
adroitly were the product of a far brighter mind that
had schooled her in the role, realising that sooner or
later an opportunity would arise when so unsuspected
a weapon could be used to prepare her for a more
ready acceptance of that which, under ordinary circumstances, she would reject.
In her own room that night she turned to the
incidents in the Bible to which Nellie had alluded,
and having found them, studied them carefully. She
closed the book and sat for a long time, caught in a
whirlpool of doubt and despair. The more she worried,
the more the native legends and beliefs in spirits
seemed compatible with Christianity.
She determined, at last, that she would discuss the
_J n8
subject with the missioner when he again visited Fort
Oliver. But when Father David did arrive there were
so many things to be done by him for Mother, and the
people of the village, in the brief time at his disposal,
that she did not have an opportunity of engaging him
in a quiet discussion of her doubts and fears. The priest
was worried. He did not find the improvement in his
wife's condition that he had expected, although he
was gratified to find that she was no worse.
He would have gladly remained at home, and indeed
would have done so had not the brave little woman
insisted that he return to his labours.
"I may be away longer than usual," he protested.
"The salmon runs will be over shortly, and I want
to be there when the men are paid off to prevent
them, if I can, falling victims to those who would rob
them of their earnings and leave them helpless for the
winter. The Indian agent asked me to stay, and John
Collishaw wants what help I can give him.
" Oh, by the way, Mary, John sent his respects. He
said that he might look in, on his way to or from the
canneries farther down, if he could."
This was indeed good news to Mary. She felt that
she could tell all her troubles to her friend and he
would give her the advice and assistance she needed.
She was sure of his sympathy and counted on his
understanding. She rather hesitated to approach the
missionary on the subject as she had planned, and
now that he had told her of Collishaw's intention to
visit Fort Oliver, she decided to await the arrival of
the policeman.
It was with some anxiety and a peculiar foreboding
that Mary saw Father David go away. The happenings
of the past months, trivial as they seemed, and the
singular theories of the only person with whom she
could carry on intimate conversation, combined to
depress her when the big, fatherly old man bade her
adieu. She had not, since coming to Fort Oliver, been
so lonely and desolate.
She felt like a child in a darkened room, knowing
that there was nothing there to do her injury, but
still afraid. The mysticism of the North was weaving
its spell over her; the web was being directed by an
unseen hand.
At times she reasoned with herself and sought to
laugh away her growing uneasiness, but without
success. Her mind continually reverted to the troubles
which only became magnified by the absence of one
with whom she could discuss them. She could not
speak to Mother of her doubts and fears, and to talk
on the subject to Nellie might only result in further
complicating the tangle.
"If I only knew what is behind it all, I would be
content," she would exclaim. The wizardry of the
Orient as related to her by her aunt years before,
all came back to haunt her. Forgotten stories of
fakirs and magicians she remembered in all their
weird details, and they served only to frighten her
further as she compared the incidents with the stories
of West Coast sorcery.
"This can't continue," she told herself. "I can't
stand it. I must do something to get a grip on myself,
or I'll break down"; and she exerted her conscious
will to erase the subject from her mind, and threw 120
herself with the vigour of desperation into her work.
While it was possible to forget her fears during the
day, the very concentration she practised to do so
only seemed to invite the spectres of her wildest
fancies to take possession of her dreams.
She was careful that the invalid should not suspect
that she was harassed by any anxieties. In the
presence of Mother she forced herself to simulate a
cheerfulness that she did not feel, and sought by her
demeanour and actions to encourage and interest her
patient. She was often rewarded by a gentle smile on
the pale face of the little woman, who sat for the
greater part of each day in a big easy-chair near the
sea window of the big living-room.
" I don't know what I would do without you, Mary,"
she said one day. "You and Nellie have both been so
kind and thoughtful."
"No more than you deserve. All we want is for you
to regain your strength and be your own dear self
again," the nurse answered, and leaning down, kissed
the wrinkled forehead. " Come, it's time that you were
in bed "; and she assisted her patient to her chamber.
It had been a hard, trying day, and Mary was almost
worn out. Having made Mother comfortable for the
night, she decided to go to bed, hoping to obtain
some needed rest.
She opened the door of her room and stepped in;
as she did so, she saw a huge rat rush across the
floor, frightened at her approach, spring to the sill of
the open window and disappear in the gathering
shadows of night. She uttered a cry of terror. The
room swam before her eyes. She staggered towards DISTURBING DOCTRINES      121
the window, closed it, and then turned and threw
herself across the bed, giving way to a fit of hysterical
How long she lay there she did not know, but it
was dark when she recovered herself, and only partially
undressing, crawled beneath the covers. CHAPTER XI
Mary awakened when the first signs of dawn heralded,
in mystic grey, the approach of another day. For a
time she lay trying to unravel the skein of doubt and
despair that seemed to be imprisoning her mind and
enmeshing her soul, until at last she realised the
futility of her endeavours, and recognised that to
continue to strike blindly at the unseen and indefinite
was but to blunt the edge of her judgment and destroy
the balance of her imagination.
She dressed quickly and, stepping softly, passed
through the silent house, opened the front door and
slipped outside. Almost instinctively she turned towards
the landing-stage and stretched out her arms towards
the East, where Nature, with a lavish hand, was smearing the sky with great streaks of vivid yellow. She
looked like some goddess of the ancients making her
appeal to the Sun, or like the daughter of a Viking
tendering offerings to the storm king for the safe return
of her lord. Her golden hair fell over her shoulders in
picturesque disorder, and caught by puffs of the early
morning breeze, blew about her face. Behind her the
details of the forest were still lost in the masses of the
night mist. Eveiything was so big and- so quiet and
so mysterious, and she so small, that for an instant
the vastness of it all chilled and frightened her, but
IL «—^
all thought of self was lost in a sense of wonderment
and astonishment at the majestic beauty of the scene.
The pure air, fresh with the smell of fir and cedars,
and seasoned with the salt of the sea, was a healing
balm to her soul, while the gentle lapping of the tiny
waves on the pebbled shore was as a strain of comforting music. She wrapped her shawl about her
shoulders and sat down on the boards of the float,
watching with fascinated interest and delight the
budding of the day, with its bringing into being new
hopes, new disappointments, new joys and new sorrows.
Gradually, as she watched, the sky took on a more
intense tone; banks of clouds commenced to gather on
the horizon—hard-lined, greasy-looking clouds—and as
the tints of colour gave way to darker shades in
which the more sombre greys predominated, scud
squadrons formed and charged across the heavens on
the wings of the morning.
Overhead a sea-bird called, and soon wild water-fowl,
in regular formations, were winging landward to find
refuge and resting-place on "the surface of mountain
lakes. Even tawny old gulls, veterans of a thousand
battles with the fury of the elements, and the slate-
blue birds of less mature experience, forsook their
seeking for food in the less protected waters of the
wider channels seaward, and whirled and turned,
screaming and scolding, in great circles over the shore.
Inexperienced as she was in the wisdom of the
weather, Mary could read and recognise the coming
storm. Soon there was a stir among the houses and
first one, then another, and finally half a dozen old
men and squaws were down on the beach. Canoes 124 HULDOWGET
were dragged above the high-tide mark, and the one
or two gasoline launches riding at anchor, or moored
to buoys, were visited, and additional weights were
dropped to prevent dragging, while cabin hatches
were secured and port lights locked.
It was a new and interesting experience to Mary.
The hurry and excitement of the Indians; the uneasy
rustling and sighing of the trees; the overcasting sky,
and the mobilisation of the clouds with the strange
white light that occasionally broke in the darkening
distance, held her attention. Then, far out on the
leaden surface of the bay, appeared a black patch of
agitated water; another and then another, until the
squall struck fairly. A white line of foam broke around
the end of the island, and the heavy, oily waters of
the cove were transformed, as if by magic, into silver-
crested waves, dancing and tossing in wildest confusion,
until forming in regular lines they rushed in great
semicircular battalions to dash themselves against the
shore-line. Larger and larger they grew until giant
combers were crashing on the beach, only to retreat,
grasping and clawing at the pebbles, to join with the
succeeding wall of water in another vain attempt to
clutch and tear and destroy.
The wind-driven spume lashed and drenched Mary
as she turned to make her way back to the Mission.
She had forgotten the passage of time, so interested
and absorbed had she been in witnessing the birth of
the storm. It was only as she stumbled, shoulders
hunched against the wind, back to the house, that
she realised that her teeth were chattering with cold,
and that she had been nearly two hours on the beach. " Thunderbird, he spik soon," shouted an old man
as he climbed the grade with her. "He spik bad."
Hardly had she gained the shelter of the house than
the very heavens seemed to split asunder above her.
She looked up aghast, and was almost blinded by a
flash of lightning. There followed a torrential downpour of rain that hammered the sun-dried shingles of
the roof until it sounded like a drum.
Nellie was just bestirring herself in the kitchen
when Mary entered the house. In the confusion of
the storm she was able to regain her room without
attracting attention.
All day long the storm raged, the thunder rolling,
now among the hills, now crashing above the nearer
tree-tops and then far out at sea, while forked flashes
of lightning crumpled giant trees, split great rocks, or
flared across the grey vault of the sky to strike harmlessly in the tumbling waters of the ocean.
Donning rubber boots and oilskins, Mary fared forth
into the tempest, making her way with difficulty from
house to house, carrying on her ordinary work among
the sick as best she could, and comforting those whose
hearts were filled with terror of the storm. It was all
that she could do, at times, to make headway against
the fury of the wind blasts, and she wondered how the
Hi-constructed Indian habitations withstood the force
of the gale. The Mission shuddered and rocked again
and again, as a gust of greater violence would strike it.
Mother was nervous. She was thinking of Father
David; worrying for fear that his boat had not made
convenient shelter, although her better judgment told
her that he was safe. She fretted herself with the
reasonless apprehension of an invalid, until she was in
high fever. Nellie was in constant attendance upon
her throughout the day, while Mary devoted what
time she could spare from her other duties, to attempt
to comfort and reassure her.
As the day wore on and dull morning passed to
drear afternoon, the hurricane increased in intensity.
The house rocked on its foundations, and the rain
drove fiercely against window-pane and weather-board.
Darkness closed in as supper was being prepared. The
murk of the late afternoon was suddenly torn apart
by a flash of lightning close to the Mission, followed
instantly by a crashing of wood and the wild cries
of humans in distress.
"Goodness! It's struck one of the houses," shouted
Mary. "Come on"; and she dashed to the dispensary
for an emergency kit. Nellie followed the nurse out
into the darkness after stopping for a moment to
assure the invalid that she would soon return with
news of the accident.
The girls made their way with all possible speed to
the spot where already a number of Indians had
gathered. Lightning had struck and splintered a huge
tree which, in falling, had crashed against the side of a
dwelling, causing it to collapse.
Several old men were at work, feverishly tearing and
pulling at the wreckage, from beneath which cries of
agony could be heard above the howling of the storm.
Cupping her hands, a squaw shouted into Nellie's
ear that a small boy was caught beneath the timbers.
The girls waited to hear no more, but rushed forward
to assist in the work of rescue, and were soon tugging NIGHT OF HORRORS        127
and lifting with all the strength of their strong young
bodies. It was only the work of a few minutes before
they were able to release the now unconscious child, a
boy of ten, a happy, good-natured little fellow named
Mark, who was a great favourite with all.
Ordering his removal to the nearest house, Mary
made a hasty examination of his hurts, and stanched
the flow of blood from several nasty cuts on his head.
Men and women, and even children, crowded into the
hut, and soon she saw it would be impossible to treat
the boy in the place. Calling two men, she told them
to secure something upon which the lad could be
carried to the hospital, while she sent Nellie ahead
to prepare a bed for his reception.
It was the first time since her coming to Fort Oliver
that there had been a case necessitating hospital treatment. Three beds comprised the larger ward, while a
single cot was set up in a smaller room. A door led
into the combined surgery and dispensary, which
formed a connection with the Mission House itself.
There was a covered passage between the house and
the hospital, which was used as the entrance to the
latter and which was closed by a heavy door. It was
through this corridor she directed the carrying of the
boy, and when the Indians would have followed, she
locked the door, sending the stretcher-bearers out
through the house. Such was their curiosity, however,
that for an hour the natives hung about the hospital,
seeking to peer in through the windows of the ward
to see what was going on within. Only the grandmother of the boy was admitted for a short space
after he had been bandaged. 128
As Mary, with the coolness and efficiency bred by
long training in the admitting office of a large hospital,
examined and bandaged the wounds, Nellie was filled
with awe and admiration for the manner in which the
white girl went about her task.
"I am afraid," the nurse said, when the boy was at
last between the white sheets of one of the cots, "that
he is injured internally. I wish we could reach Father
David, but that's impossible," she added as the building
shook before an extra strong blast.
"Will he die?" asked Nellie tremulously.
"I don't know, but the chances are against him."
"Oh, I'm frightened," half sobbed the other.
"You'd better go back to the house and look after
Mother," advised Mary. "You can do nothing here
and she may be wanting something."
Nellie hurried away, returning half an hour later with
supper on a tray. She reported that Mother was worse.
The excitement and worry occasioned by the accident
and her own inability to be of service to the afflicted had
been too much for her and she suffered in consequence.
Mary did not wait to touch the food that had been
brought, but leaving the servant to watch the native
boy, she ran through the dispensary, into the house
and to Mother's room. She found the little woman
feverish and excited, her cheeks flushed and her eyes
unnaturally bright. Remembering the instructions she
had received from Father David for the treatment of
his wife in such an emergency, Mary mixed a nerve-
soothing draught for her, and talked quietly with her
for a few moments. She took her departure as soon as
she saw that the medicine was taking effect. A NIGHT  OF  HORRORS        129
Nellie was crouched beside the small heater, in
which a fire blazed in the hospital hallway, when
Mary returned. From time to time she glanced timidly
through the half-opened doorway at the motionless
figure beneath the white spread, fearful that the unseen messenger which she realised was not far off,
had arrived.
"Oh, I'm so glad you've come," exclaimed the girl
in a half-whisper as the nurse appeared.
"Yes, dear," answered the other kindly. "I know
how you feel, but there's work for you to do. Mother
is very sick and she shouldn't be left alone for long."
"She's not going ?" interrupted Nellie, hesitating to frame in speech the query her frightened
eyes completed.
"I hope not; I don't think so. We mustn't let her,"
answered Mary, a catch in her voice.
The face of the half-breed darkened, and her lids
narrowed to twin slits through which her eyes blazed
fiercely. "You had better not," she hissed.
"Why, Nellie, what do you mean?" But the girl
had gone, and had taken with her the untouched meal
on the tray.
For a moment Mary stood gazing in dumb astonishment at the door through which Nellie had disappeared. "What's the matter with the child; has
she gone crazy?" she asked in perplexity, and then
more gently, "I guess she's worried about Mother.
It's been a hard day for her. She must be unnerved."
Still bewildered by Nellie's actions, Mary turned
towards the little ward and approached the bed where
Mark lay. The laboured breathing and bloodstained «4*.
froth about the babyish mouth confirmed her worst
fears. She had seen too many die to think there was
a chance of saving the little life that was burning out
like the flickering flame of a candle. There were tears
in her eyes when she bent over and wiped the boy's lips.
It was with a sinking heart and tired body that she
returned to her place beside the stove in the hall and
prepared for the vigil of the night. Outside the wind
screamed and whistled, rattling the windows, against
which the rain kept up a continuous drumming, while
above all the other noises in the medley of the storm,
the sea pounded and beat the beach in an angry and
incessant roar.
The spluttering wick of the bracket lamp cast
grotesque, dancing shadows on the white board walls
and across the floor of the ward. They caught her
attention and, idly at first, almost dully, she followed
them with her eyes, until at last her imagination
quickened to their antics and gave them weird and
fantastic shapes and illusionary substance.
An uncomfortable chill stole over her, and it was
with a start that she realised she was letting her fancy
frighten her. She got up and walked over to the cot
again, just to do something. "I wish I had brought
a book or some work with me," she thought, and was
tempted to run into the house to procure something
with which to occupy the hours, but decided against
it. "I must be getting nervous," she murmured, and
then she remembered Nellie.
What could be the matter with the girl? She was so
strange, with her peculiar outlook on life and odd
beliefs! Back to her mind came all the fears and per- A NIGHT OF HORRORS
plexities that had so terrorised her, and which, in the
excitement of the day, she had almost forgotten. She
shivered, afraid of her own thoughts.
"I must not let myself do that again," she said
almost fiercely, speaking aloud. "I've got to get a
grip on myself "; and for lack of something to do, she
again tiptoed to the bedside of the injured boy. There
was nothing that she could do for him other than
the bandaging that had already been effected, and she
returned to the hallway.
Seated once more in front of the fire, she sat for a
time gazing at the coals that glowed through the half-
opened door. As she looked, a face appeared to take
form in the heart of the fire, and lips and eyes smiled
encouragingly out at her. It was the face of John
Collishaw she fancied she saw, and the sight warmed
her heart. She made no effort to dispel the illusion,
but welcomed it as does the stranger in a strange
land the appearance of a close friend.
Her eyes grew heavy and her head began to nod,
until at last her senses succumbed to the plea of her
fatigued body and she slept. How long she slumbered
she did not know. When she awoke with a start it
was to find that the fire had burned out and the chill
of early morning was in the air.
It was with a feeling of nervous guilt she approached
the bed, only to find that the little figure beneath the
coverings had not altered its position. The breathing
was more laboured, but otherwise she noted no change.
There was something different—something changed
—and at first, still half asleep, she could not discover
it. She moved uneasily about the room and peered 0*^^^^^
into the gloom of the passage and, finding nothing
there, timorously approached the outer door, to find
it securely bolted. On returning to the stove to rekindle the fire, she suddenly understood what it was
that was missing. It was the sound of the wind. The
storm had blown itself out; no longer was the house
being shaken by each recurrent blast, or the windows
pelted by driven rain. Only the steady booming of the
surf could be heard in a continuous hollow-toned roar,
which soon fretted the girl with its monotony.
She was cold, unrested by her sleep, and weakened
by her long abstinence from food. The cramped position she had assumed in her slumber had stiffened her
muscles, causing them to ache. She was miserable and
uncomfortable. Her powers of resistance were lowered,
and her jaded nerves started at every sound of the
night that reached her above the pounding of the sea.
Her mind became a prey to the stories she had heard.
All the lore of the natives, and the mysteries of the
forest, haunted her, while the annoyances and peculiar
happenings of the past few months were magnified in
her imagination. She tried to articulate a prayer—to
appeal to a higher protection—but her thoughts only
became confused with the doctrines of Nellie, and she
could not seem to so direct her plea as to obtain any
comfort from it.
Dawn was just breaking when suddenly a voice
sounded. It startled her, before she realised it was
that of the boy. She hastened to his side, duty for
the moment overcoming fear. "What is it, Mark?"
she whispered as she knelt down, but the answer was
only a mumble of incoherent words. He was talking A NIGHT OF HORRORS        133
in the delirium of death. She knew the end was but
a short distance away, and she felt her powerlessness
to prevent its coming.
As she bent over the bed there came a sharp, distinct
rapping at the window. She looked up in alarm and
then with a cry of terror sprang to her feet. She sought
to turn and run, but her limbs refused to act. She
was held spellbound, paralysed by fear, and could only
gaze in horror at the window where, framed against
the misty background of dawning day, a horrible
painted face with great round gleaming eyes stared
in at her.
For a full minute the apparition was motionless,
and then its tremendous jaw dropped slowly, opening
a blood-red mouth lined with fang-like teeth. Slowly
it closed again, and the face vanished as suddenly as
it had come.
Mary turned, her senses reeling, staggered a few
steps, and fell in a dead faint across one of the unoccupied beds.
It was half an hour before consciousness returned.
At first she was dazed—could not understand where
she was or how she had come there. Then as reason
came back she remembered it all, and wild terror
again seized her. Weak and trembling, she managed
to gain her feet. The room was filled with the cold
light of early day, which mocked the feeble glow of
the oil lamp. She swayed to and fro for a few seconds
and then tottered to the bed of the injured boy. He
was not talking now; no longer his breath came in
tortured gasps. The reaper had come.
"Dead!" she exclaimed dully.  "Dead!" and she
J *34
gazed uncomprehendingly down at the lifeless form.
Panic seized her. She must escape from this awful
room. Her brain was in a whirl and her heart was
choking her. She must fly—must get out into the open
air—away from this hideous chamber of horrors.
Blindly she stumbled towards the door. Only instinct directed her steps as she groped her way, with
unseeing eyes, along the passageway. She reached the
door and fumbled for the bolt. She could not find it.
She became as a trapped animal, screaming aloud in
her fright, clawing the rough-hewn panels with her
finger-nails, and pounding the heavy timbers with
her fists.
She was being crushed by the fear that lurked in
the shadows. She must escape and find human companionship. Her soul cried out against the " aloneness "
that encompassed her, and mind, heart and very being
found expression in one anguished cry: "John!" It
was a prayer, and an agonised appeal for help.
At last she found the lock, shot back the bolt. The
door opened and she staggered outside. CHAPTER  XII
"Wha's fashin' ye, Jock?" demanded Malcolm Fin-
layson, the red-headed, red-bearded manager of the
Dundee cannery, as he glared from beneath bushy
eyebrows at John Collishaw. "Here it's blawin' the
wors' storm in years, an' ye're worrin' tae be awa oot
in't in yon wee cockle-shell o; a boat."
" I don't know, Malcolm," replied Collishaw uneasily,
"why I want to be on my way, but I do, that's all. It
kind of gets on my nerves to be kept back by a storm
—not that I'm anxious to leave you," he hastened to
add, knowing the sensitive nature of the Scot. " You're
a decent old rascal, and I like you, and all that, but
I don't feel just right this trip."
"Aye, bit it's a' o' thairty mile tae Fort Oliver,
an' there's naethin' sae pressin' as to mak' ye risk
yersel' tae see they ugly Siwashes. Bit noo I think
on't, is there nae a wee sonsie lass stayin' wi' the auld
doctor ?" and his eye twinkled merrily.
Malcolm Finlay son had two failings. One he was
unable to gratify at the moment owing to the delay
of the freight boat, and its failure to bring on the
last trip a supply of his native distillation. The other
was a readiness to at all times engage in argument
on the subject of religion, and particularly his theories
on predestination. Collishaw, as did everyone along
the Coast, knew of Malcolm's weaknesses, to the extent
that his acquaintances refused to supply him with
liquor, and avoided engaging him in debate. Invariably the first led to the second, and when Malcolm
was properly launched on his favourite topic, he was
a fortunate man indeed who could get away from him
until the whole of the dogmas and doctrines of the
Presbyterian Church, with a few of his own fire-and-
brimstone ideas, had been expounded.
Collishaw, seeing the older man had unwittingly
stumbled on the secret of his anxiety to be on his
way, could see no other way of escaping the confession which he feared the inquisitive old Scot would
worm out of him. "You surprise me, Malcolm," he
declared with severity. "I never thought you'd mock
the handiwork of the Lord."
"Wh—wha's ailin' ye?" demanded Finlayson.
"Why, sneering at the Indians—calling them ugly.
Why, you might have been one yourself ii you hadn't
been a Scotsman."
"Aye," answered Finlayson, bringing his huge fist
down with a crash on the table of the room where they
were sitting. "Aye, an' it shaws th' infallible weesdom
o' the Lord, bless His name."
" By making the Indians ugly ?"
"Nae, aiblins that's their ain fault; bit in makin'
me a Scot."
John laughed aloud at his friend's conceit.
"Laugh, laugh yer heid off," shouted Malcolm, as
his eye lighted with the fire of religious controversy.
"Oh, go on, Malcolm, who wouldn't laugh at your
opinion of your countrymen!" bantered the police- VOICES AT DAWN 137
man. "You people who didn't know enough to wear
trousers until recently think Heaven's your own private
stamping ground."
"Aye, an' why not? Did nae Adam an' Eve speak
Gaelic in the Garden o' Eden?" and he launched
into his argument to prove that the Scots were the
chosen race.
John knew it required to be a patient listener, for
the man whom Malcolm Finlayson considered to be
an ideal antagonist in matters of theology was he
who would allow the Scot to do all the talking. An
occasional "yes," or "no," or more often only a nod
of the head, were John's only contributions to the
debate which commenced shortly after supper and
concluded nearly three hours later.
"Jock, lad," Finlayson concluded huskily, "A'm
thinkin' ye're improvin' in yer understan'in' o' th'
Word. It's too bad ye're nae Scottish, bit A'm thinkin'
perhaps it's nae yer fault yer faither was yin o' they
Canadian folk, an' yer mither an' English body. Ye
ken, Jock," he added sadly, "A'm no jis' sartin' if
Canadians are included in the Great Plan at a'. I
canna jis' see them in the prophecees—bit mind, dinna
be dispairin', they may be gittin' intae Heaven after
a', bit o' course they'll nae be as near the Throne as
the Scots."
"You may be right," agreed the policeman. "I'll
not argue the point, for you seem to have it all doped
out. But, Malcolm, I think the wind's dropping."
"Ye mon be richt."
The wind was not striking with such force as
before, although the sheltered position of the cannery mMLm
prevented it catching the full burden of the sou'wester. Collishaw stepped to the door, followed by the
canner, and they went out into the night, passing
along the wet slippery dock toward the office where
the storekeeper was at work on his books.
The storekeeper, a heavy-set young fellow, was
singing as he worked beneath a swinging oil lamp,
and John motioned to his companion not to disturb
him until he had concluded. It was evident that the
ditty was of his own composition, and he was singing
it with due regard to the genius of the composer.
You are my pretty Indian squaw,
Kloshe tum-tum kopa nika;1
I'm going to take you home to maw,
Kloshe tum-tum kopa nika;
She'll give you pretty things to wear,
Kloshe tum-tum kopa nika;
And teach you how to comb your hair,
Kloshe tum-tum kopa nika;
You'll be to her a pride and joy,
Kloshe tum-tum kopa nika;
If you will only have her boy,
Kloshe tum-tum kopa nika.
How many more verses there were to the love song,
Collishaw did not learn, for Finlayson exclaimed,
" Stop yer blitherin' aboot yer squaw, an' tell us hoo's
th' gless."
The storeman turned with a sheepish grin, not
untouched with a certain pride. "How'd you like
my song?" he asked.
"Fine," answered the policeman, but the Scot only
grunted as he leaned over to get a look at the barometer
above the desk.
1 Good heart towards me. VOICES AT DAWN
"Aye, Jock, she's gaein' up," he announced. "The
wind'll be doon enough fer ye tae start awa' aboot
"Well," commented Bates, the storekeeper, "it's
sure been a rough un to-day. The old thunderbird
was sure making a noise and "
" Thinderbird, losh!" snorted Finlayson in derision.
"Did ye ever hear sich blitherin', Jock?"
"Don't you believe in the thunderbird?" asked the
policeman in mock astonishment.
"Nae fear."
" Did you ever hear the Indians tell the yarn ?"
Finlayson shook his head, and Collishaw remarked,
" Bates, | tell Malcolm the story. He don't seem to
know why it thunders."
"It ain't much of a yarn. Not like some of 'em,"
commenced Bates. "But the Indians believe there's
a big bird, somethin' like an eagle, only about a million
times bigger. When he flies around, the sky gets dark;
the flappin' of his wings causes the thunder and the
wind. When he winks his eyes there's lightning. On
his back there's a lake, and the flappin' of his wings
shakes water out of it, and that makes the rain. He
keeps on goin' till he catches a whale. He takes it to
the top of a mountain and eats it. He's some bird all
right, I'll tell the world."
"And, Finlayson," added Collishaw, "they say if you
ever see one of them eating a whale you'll become rich."
"Aye, an' sae y' will if by ony chance ye find th'
end o' a rainbow," responded the canner.
Leaving Bates to again take up his song, Collishaw
and Finlayson went back to the Scot's quarters, where 140
John had spent the preceding night as the cannery
manager's guest.
"Do you ever have hunches?" asked the younger
man when they were once more out of the wind.
"Wha' d'ye mean?"
"Oh, I can't exactly explain. It's just a sort of a
feeling that something's going to happen. You know
what I mean."
"A ken fine what ye mean," nodded the other.
"It's the secon' sight. I had an auntie wha thocht
she had it, bit th' doctor said it wis only a bit wind
on her stummick."
"No," laughed Collishaw. "It's not my stomach.
It's my mind."
"A'm telled," went on Malcolm seriously, "there's
they in th' Hielan's wha hae it a' richt. Dis it bother
ye much, Jock?"
"I don't think I've anything like the second sight,
but occasionally I get strange desires, sort of feelings
that I ought to do things. I can't explain it. Now
to-day I've been thinking I should be over at Fort
Oliver—that there's trouble there. I can't tell why
I think so—but I do, that's all."
"Feedlesticks, Jock; it's yon canned corn ye had.
I thocht it'd be troublin' ye. Ye're jis' like ma auntie
—it's yer stummick," Finlayson assured him. "Come
awa t' yer bed."
Obedient to the advice of his host, John turned in,
climbing into the bunk on one side of the small room
that served the Scot as a bed-chamber, while Finlayson clambered into the other. For a time they lay
talking across the narrow room. "Jis' turn doon th' VOICES AT DAWN 141
licht when ye're ready," said the canner at last, nodding
to where a smoky oil lamp sat on the packing-case
that served for a dresser.
Collishaw hesitated to do so for some time, for he
knew the lamp gave out an even more pungent odour
with the wick turned down than when burning a full
flame. Had he carried out his own desire he would
have extinguished it altogether, but he knew it was
the custom of his friend to do otherwise, so he leaned
over and turned the light down until only a narrow
rim of flame appeared above the burner. Then, rolling
over, he endeavoured to follow the example of
Finlayson, who was already filling the place with
his nocturnal song.
Try as he would, John could not go to sleep.
The uneasiness that had oppressed him all day only
became more intense when he closed his eyes. He
imagined he could see Mary, and she was beckoning
to him. She was in distress, but the nature of her
(fifficulty he could not determine. He tossed and
twisted about on his bed for several hours, turning
from one side to the other, changing the position of
the pillow in vain attempts to induce slumber. Finally
he did doze off, to dream again of Mary Cunningham,
but only to awake with a start.
Day was just breaking. The cold light of dawn was
stealing through the unwashed window of the room.
Below him the splashing and slushing of the waters
about the piling of the wharf told him a heavy sea
was still running. In the opposite bunk Finlayson
snored in untuneful crescendo.
Suddenly, as if the speaker was in the room, he -eJ*a
thought he heard his name called. It was an anguished
appeal and the voice was that of Mary. He jumped
to his feet, his mind made up.
"Wha's the maitter?" demanded Finlayson, sitting
up in bed and rubbing his eyes.
"I'm beating it right away," announced Collishaw
decisively, as he hastened to dress himself. "I'm going."
"Ye're gaein' t' dae naethin' o' the sort," declared
the other, swinging his long legs over the side of
his bunk.
"Malcolm," answered John earnestly, "I must."
The canner ran his thick fingers through his shock
of tousled red hair, while he watched Collishaw in a
puzzled way for a moment. He rose and started to
dress with feverish haste.
"What are you doing?" asked the policeman.
"There's no need for you to get up. Go back to
your sleep."
"Ye're set in yer ways, Jock, an' I'm thinkin' ye
are daft, for it's suicide t' gae oot there in yer wee
boat; bit daft or no, ye're nae gaein' t' leave Malcolm
Finlayson's roof wi' an empty stummick"; and he
thumped his way out to the kitchen.
Collishaw could not deny the wisdom of fortifying
himself with food before leaving, and he thanked his
friend for his thoughtfulness.
It was not long before a bright fire was burning in
the stove and the kettle was singing. Bacon and eggs
were soon fried and, almost before he deemed it possible, John was seated at a substantial breakfast of
hot coffee, bacon and eggs, and biscuits.
"See ye eat every bit o' it," ordered Finlayson. VOICES AT DAWN
" It's no' as sustainin' as parritch, bit there's no time
t' mak' it fer ye."
The big Scotsman was moving about the room as
John ate, muttering to himself of "daft yins," but
when the policeman had finished his breakfast, the
canner thrust a thermos flask into his hand, saying:
"I've naethin' stronger t' offer ye, bit this'll dae ye
some good. Ye'll be needin' it."
It was useless to try and thank Finlayson and John
knew it, so he accepted the gift without a word and
thrust it into the pocket of his slicker coat.
The policeman's boat had been moored in the shallow
water behind the cannery wharf, where it had ridden
out the storm in safety.
"Jock," called the Scotsman when John had the
engine turning over. "Ye'll jis' mak' all they port
lichts fas', an' be closin' th' companion way too, fer
yon cockpit, where ye'll be standin', is gaein' t' fill,
the firs' crack."
It was good advice, and the policeman proceeded
to carry it out. He secured the fastenings of the ports,
which fortunately were of heavy plate glass, and
secured the hatchway against flooding from following
seas. Taking his place at the wheel, where his engine
controls were located, he waved good-bye to his friend
as the boat headed away from the wharf.
"Good-bye, ye loon," shouted Finlayson in answer
to his adieu.
The Dundee cannery was situated well within the
mouth of a small river, which was sheltered from the
fury of the storms by a well-wooded island. Behind
this rode the fishing fleet, and as Collishaw threaded
~ 144
his way among the craft, the chugging of his engine
attracted attention aboard one or two of the large
fish collectors. Several men called to him, warning him
that the sea was still running high outside, but he only
waved them greeting and continued. Already he felt
the swell, and he had not yet entered the narrow
passage through which the river broke to the sea.
Now he was in the gut, and his boat was plunging
and wallowing about, and spray was splashing over
him as the water pounded against the side of the
launch. Nor'-nor'-west he ran, taking the cross-seas
while he could still have a measure of protection from
the island. Now the headland was passed, and he was
in the full sweep of the long rollers. On and on he
ploughed, turning due north. The great seas struck
and buffeted the boat. The sturdy little craft shivered
and shook as she plunged and rolled, a quarter on
to the sea.
Collishaw held to the course for half an hour, although
his arms ached from the tugging of the wheel, and he
was standing knee deep in the water of the cockpit.
He was holding well out to sea in order that he might
run with the waves on the longer course to Fort
Oliver. When he was three miles from shore he threw
over the wheel and brought the boat head up with
the seas.
The strain relaxed somewhat on his arms, and the
boat increased her speed, shaking herself for a brief
moment. "Taking the bit in your teeth, old girl," he
commented. The next instant the craft slithered down
a giant wave to bury her nose in the green wall of
water in front.  Not anticipating the action or the VOICES AT DAWN
abrupt stop, Collishaw was thrown against the wheel
with tremendous force. He felt a sharp pain across his
right side. "Good Lord!" he muttered; "a rib gone."
Recovering, the launch fought her way gallantly up
the rise of another wave, poised for a second on the
crest, and plunged down in a splash of spume to again
dig her bows into the water before she could respond
to the lift of the following sea. This time Collishaw
was braced for the shock, but he was totally unprepared for the sudden blow dealt from behind as a
big comber broke over the stern and hurled him against
the cabin. The dinghy, which had been lightly lashed
on the cabin deck, went by the board a few minutes
later, the lashings fraying through with the continual
pitching and rolling.
Mile after mile he continued the battle with the sea,
maintaining his grip on the wheel until his hands
were numbed. His teeth were clenched so tightly that
his jaws ached with the tension, while his body was
chilled and bruised. Then he noted a change. The
waves were flattening a trifle. They were longer and
more uniform in their swell. For some time now he
had not been deluged by pursuing seas, while the nose
of the boat did not dig as deeply as before into the
waves ahead. He shifted his position and loosened one
hand from the wheel. The fingers were stiff and sore,
but he fumbled at the fastenings of his coat until he
opened it, and from the inside pocket drew out the
thermos flask. With some difiiculty he unscrewed the
top and drank deeply of the contents. The warm
coffee revived him.
On and on ploughed the little boat, pitching and 146 HULDOWGET
tossing, and rolling from side to side, but keeping
steadily on her way. Collishaw hesitated to attempt
to bail the cockpit until the seas were smoother still.
He recognised that while the water chilled and benumbed his limbs, the added weight in the little hold
kept the stern down and the propeller from racing.
Several hours later he could see Fort Oliver in the
distance, through the small strait between the mainland and Kiaso Island. As he came nearer his anxiety
increased instead of diminished. The seas were almost
flattened out now, and he had managed to free the
cockpit of water with the small hand-pump he used
for bailing purposes. The pain in his side was acute,
and every muscle of his body seemed to ache, while
his teeth chattered with the cold. But before him
was the vision of Mary Cunningham, and in his ears
reverberated that pleading, despairing cry.
The steady stroke of his faithful engine began to
wear on his nerves. He wanted speed and more speed
—to cover the intervening distance in a second.
Anxiously he strained his eyes towards the village.
Now he could make out the steeple of the church,
and now the white-painted Mission. There were the
ruins of the old fort, and the homes of the natives
bathed in the bright sunshine of the morning.
He was entering the bay now, and for the first time
the thought crossed his mind: "What if the hunch
was wrong!" He sincerely hoped so, and he knew that
in any event Mary would be pleased to see him.
Bringing his boat to a gentle stop at the remaining
section of the landing-stage, for the major portion had
been torn away by the storm, he clambered ashore VOICES AT DAWN 147
with some difficulty and made fast. His limbs were
stiffer than he had imagined, and his feet were swollen
in his rubber boots, making walking painful. Despite
his anxiety to hurry, he found he must move slowly
at first, but as circulation quickened he could increase
his pace.
As Collishaw rounded the corner of the Mission he
came to a stop, and then started forward. Indians
were carrying something out of the hospital on a
plank, and over the form was a sheet.
"What—who is it? What has happened?" he asked.
The natives halted and eyed him sullenly. "Him
boy. Him dead. Make ready to bury," answered an
old man.
" Where's Mary—the nurse ? " he demanded.
"Dunno," replied the native, and a look of fright
entered his dark eyes as he spoke in a whisper to the
others, and they started away.
"Here, you, stop," shouted the policeman. "You
lie. Tell me "; and he seized the Indian by the shoulder
with a grip that hurt.
"Dunno," persisted the old fellow stubbornly, and
then, "Ask him," and he motioned towards the house
from which Nellie had just emerged. She stopped short
when she saw Collishaw, and her face paled. Striding up
to her, John repeated his question: "Where's Mary?"
The half-breed was plainly frightened. "Tell me,"
he ordered.
She tried to speak, but no words came. "Hurry
up," he shouted, and he was not good to look upon.
His hair was wet-matted and salt-encrusted, and his
face worked convulsively beneath a two days' stubble HULDOWGET
of beard, while his bloodshot eyes blazed fiercely from
red-rimmed lids.
"Tell me, and tell me quick."
"She's at the fort," gasped Nellie.
" At the fort! What's she doing there ? "
"They're killing the huldowget," she whispered
"Good God!" cried the man, and the exclamation
was a prayer.
"Come on," he cried, and started to run, unmindful
of his swollen limbs and bruised and aching body.
Involuntarily Nellie followed. CHAPTER XIII
Wild-eyed and fear-wracked, Mary staggered from
the hospital. She had no thought of where she was
going. Impelled by blind, unreasoning fear and primeval
instinct, she sought only to flee from the place; to
escape from the terror that had seared her senses.
Unseeing, she ran, stumbled and fell, only to rise and
continue her uneven, broken, tottering course.
Past the houses of the village, about which the dogs
were beginning to stir themselves; past the sanctuary
of the church, its doors blown open by the wind, she
fled; on towards the ruin of the white man's first
habitation, until tripping again, she fell headlong and
lay prone, almost within touch of the ancient palisade.
Here it was that relief came to her—the relief that
only a woman can find in tears. Throughout the torture
of the night she had remained dry-eyed, but now, with
her face pillowed on the wet moss and withered bracken,
she wept with all the anguish of mental suffering.
In the outpouring of her grief Mary did not hear
the soft approach of footsteps, nor sense the presence
of a witness to her woe, until a voice said kindly:
"There, there, Miss Cunningham, don't cry any
more. It will be all right"; and a hand gently touched
her shoulder.
It was so sudden and unexpected that the nurse
149 mJ^
involuntarily ceased her sobbing and looked up, to
see Caleb Thompson bending over her.
"Now don't try and talk, Miss Cunningham, please,"
he said when she was about to speak. "Just try and
be quiet for a moment, and you will soon be yourself
Despite her dislike of the man, Mary welcomed his
company as does a castaway the fellowship of a dumb
animal in his misery. Here at least was a human being,
with powers of understanding and expression.
" I know everything," Thompson continued in a low,
melancholy tone. " I understand all—it is given to me
to do so. I know the little boy has gone."
Mary sat up with a start.
"I know all—everything."
"What—what do you know?" she asked in a
frightened whisper.
"It is given to me to know. I know what you have
suffered. I'm sorry for you and would help you if you
would let me."
" How? What do you mean—how can you help me ? "
"There are many strange things in this big, wild
country," he answered. "Things that perhaps you can
never understand—or hope to. You need my help,
I know you do, and I would gladly be of service to
you, if you would let me."
"Ye—s, but what do you mean?—I don't understand."
Thompson looked at her steadily for a few seconds
without speaking, then asked, " Are you strong enough
to hear something?"
Mary was silent. She swallowed hard, and clenched, HUNTING THE  HULDOWGET   151
her hands until the nails dug into her palms. At last
she nodded.
The half-breed leaned towards her until his face was
but a few inches from hers. His dark eyes seemed to
flash fire from between narrowed lids, until she thought
they would scorch her very soul. "Miss Cunningham,"
he said in a whisper, "you are pursued by an evil
spirit—a huldowget."
"Oh, good God have mercy on me!" gasped the
girl as the last vestige of colour fled from her face,
leaving it ashen grey.
"While the huldowget is following you," and he
spoke slowly, and with a deliberation that made every
word a hammer on her brain, "every person you
nurse will—die."
The girl shrieked and would have fallen had he not
caught and steadied her.
"But you can get rid of it—save yourself," he said
quickly. "There's hope. I'll save you, if you'll let me."
"Oh, oh, this is terrible: I'll go mad! " screamed the
girl. "And I've been nursing Mother!" And then in
a spirit of self-accusation bordering on hysteria: "No
wonder she is sick. It's all my fault. I'm to blame.
Kill me; I'm wicked—Oh, this is awful!" And she
wrung her hands, twisting her fingers until the joints
"No, no," shouted Thompson, realising he had
almost gone too far, and catching her by the wrist,
he held her roughly while he compelled her gaze.
"No, no," he repeated sternly. "I've told you that
I'll help you; that it'll be all right, if you say you
want my help. Do you ? " 152 HULDOWGET
"Yes, yes," answered the frenzied girl. "I'll do anything—anything you say, if you'll only help me."
"That's good. You're sensible now. It's now 6.30";
and he looked at his watch. "Go home. Don't tell
any person what's happened. Go to your room; wash
yourself and tidy your hair. Take four white pebbles
and put them in the four corners of your room and
put a green twig of cedar beneath your bed, and then
in two hours come to me here at the old fort."
"I will," answered Mary.
"Mind you don't tell anyone what's happened, or
where you're going," he warned. " You'd better speak
to Mother and let her think you've gone to bed. Don't
worry about anything; I'll attend to the remains of
the boy. They'll be removed to his uncle's. All you
have to do is to obey my instructions."
"Yes," she answered dully.
As Mary was about to move away Thompson stopped
her, and pointing to the ground said, "There are some
white pebbles. I mustn't touch them, but you pick
them up. They'll suit the purpose."
Obedient to his will, she stooped and tremblingly
gathered the stones, and Caleb Thompson, watching
her closely, smiled a quiet smile of satisfaction. " There's
a twig that will do," he said, indicating a near-by
growth, and she snapped it off. He waved her away
with his hand, and again she docilely obeyed.
Mary walked back to the Mission, her mind in a
daze, only remembering that she must do the things
that Thompson had instructed. Her eyes were fixed
straight ahead of her, uncomprehending that which
she saw. Her head was thrust forward and her jaws HUNTING THE  HULDOWGET   153
were set, while in her hands she clutched tightly four
small white pebbles and a sprig of cedar.
Mechanically she entered the passageway between
the house and hospital, and gained her room by way
of the dispensary. Still in a stupor, she repeated in a
monotone the half-breed's words: "Take four white
pebbles and put them in the four corners of your
room, and put a green twig beneath your bed."
Dropping to her hands and knees, she reached under
the bed and placed the bit of cedar there, and then
crawled, first to one corner and then to the others,
and placed one pebble at each.
She rose and washed her soiled hands and face, and
brushed her hair with the same care with which she
would have prepared for a garden party or church
festival, but her actions were purely involuntary, for
her conscious mind was for the moment numbed and
Having completed her toilet, she dropped into a
chair beside the window, allowing her hands to fall
idly to her lap, and thus awaited the passing of time.
Only once did a flicker of interest chase the expression
of vacuous melancholy from her countenance. It was
when she caught the flash of the morning sun reflected
from the port lights of a launch being buffeted by the
still high-running seas, a dozen miles at sea.
Slowly the minute hand of the little clock on her
dresser circled the dial, and the hour of eight was
passed. Dully she watched the almost imperceptible
movement of the large hand for another five minutes.
Then with a sharp intaking of breath she rose. It was
time to face—she knew not what—but before doing iS4
so she had to pass through an ordeal that she did know
and dreaded. It was to meet Mother—to face the little
woman she loved with the devotion of a daughter, and
whose life, by some strange mystery of the Northland,
she seemed to hold in her keeping.
She could not proceed for a moment, and had to
steady herself against the wall. "O God," she gasped,
"help me. Take me if you want, but don't let me
bring grief to this household."
For another minute she stood with closed eyes, and
then by a tremendous effort of will she walked firmly
across the floor, opened the door and went out. As
she approached Mother's room she came face to face
with Nellie. "She's sleeping," whispered the servant
almost defiantly.
Mary recoiled as if she had been struck. She had
forgotten the servant girl and her grim, half-uttered
threat of the night before. Now it all came back to
her with the sting of a whip-lash. Nellie must know
of her sinister influence in the Mission; she must have
discovered the malefic power of her presence in the
It was with difficulty that she restrained herself
from screaming aloud a denial of the charge she knew
lurked in the mind of the half-breed—or protesting
her innocence of wrong motive or intent. She swayed
unsteadily. She clasped her head, which seemed as if
it must burst. There came a glimmering—a faint spark
of hope, that steadied her; perhaps Caleb Thompson
would be able to save her from this awful fault, and
free her from the enormity of the guilt which she felt
and which was driving her to the verge of madness. HUNTING THE  HULDOWGET   155
"I'm going to bed. The boy has gone," she muttered
thickly, and staggered towards her room. She did not
enter, but continued through the dispensary and out
of the building by the way she had entered. Once
outside she turned her face toward the old fort.
She did not look back, but with wild staring eyes,
like those of a trapped doe, gritted teeth and clenched
hands, she made haste to the place where Thompson
was already awaiting her coming.
From behind a curtain Nellie saw her go, and
smiled happily.
A number of Indians had gathered at the abandoned fort to assist in the ceremony, while others, less
willing openly to associate themselves with the sorcerer
in his rites, stood at some little distance, watching
with more or less sympathetic interest the preparations
for the ceremony.
A lesser number of aged men and women, gathering
the children they could induce to follow them, went
to the church, and there with heavy hearts offered
prayer for the deliverance of their village from the
threatened return of the thrall of the medicine man,
from which the coming of Father David had freed
them. Now from the priest's own house the ancient
practices were to be revived. No wonder they were
dismayed, knowing nothing of the cause, and fearful
only of the effect of this public acknowledgment of
the power of the shaman. And as they prayed Mary
stumbled on, not comprehending, not reasoning, only
blindly striving to avert the black doom that threatened; reaching out for some material assistance, some
human comfort and understanding in her hour of need. i56
The natives, gathered in whispering, muttering
groups, eyed her strangely as she passed and ascended
the slope to the old fortress. The Indians standing in
a semicircle in front of the decaying bastion with its
empty, yawning ports and vacant loopholes, opened
their ranks to permit her to pass through to the centre
of the little knot, silently closing in again behind her.
Caleb Thompson stood in the middle of the group
—not the suave, educated man of two hours before,
but Thompson the necromancer, the medicine man.
On his head was a hat fashioned from the skin of
some animal and decorated with ermine pelts, while
about his neck he wore a collar of buckskin from which
hung wolves' teeth and the claws of the grizzly bear.
An apron of woven goat hair, fringed with dried sea-
grass and cedar roots, covered him from waist to knees.
Beneath this he wore the blue serge trousers and brown
shoes of the white man. Slung about his neck on a
thong was a large wooden horn, while attached to his
belt was a rattle, carved to represent the sun.
In his right hand Thompson held a mirror, such as
could be found on any well-appointed dressing-table.
Squatted on the ground immediately behind the
necromancer were several old squaws, one of whom
appeared to be his chief assistant. Despite her nervousness and fear, Mary recognised the old woman. She
was Simon's mother, the same whom Father David
had scolded for practising witchcraft when her son
was ill. She wore a dirty red blanket about her
shoulders, while on her head was a bonnet of shark
hide and porcupine quills. She was drumming on an
oblong cedar box, over which was stretched a dried HUNTING THE  HULDOWGET   157
skin, and as the white girl approached she commenced
a low unmelodious chant, swaying to and fro in harmony with her weird music. The other women beat
time with flat sticks, following the lead of Mary
Thompson nodded in recognition as Mary entered
the circle. When she was seated, in obedience to his
gesture, he suddenly emitted a piercing yell and
jumped up in the air and then dropped to his hands
and knees, only to spring up and turn to the east,
wheel to the west, and then address himself to the
north and south. Seizing the rattle and horn, he
placed the latter to his lips and blew a blast, while
he pounded his right thigh with the rattle. Again he
faced east, west, north and south, stopping at each
of the cardinal points of the compass to summon with
horn, rattle and voice the huldowget from its hiding.
The old squaw and her companions maintained a
drumming all the while, the chant now dying down
to a plaintive whisper, now increasing to a frenzied wail,
in which all joined, their bodies swaying in time with
the drum and sticks and the motions of the old hag.
Catching up the mirror Thompson presented it, face
from him, to the four winds, the circle parting and
closing again in order to permit its magic eye to see
unobstructed into the distance. Having turned the
glass to the sky and the earth, he suddenly straightened
to his full height. His body trembled, and beads of
perspiration stood out on his forehead. His eyes blazed
with the light of fanaticism and his breath came in
quick, convulsive gasps through his distended nostrils.
Mary looked on in terror. Her heart seemed as if it 158 HULDOWGET
would choke her, while her brain was in such a whirl
that she fancied it would burst from her head. She
no longer saw the circle of swaying figures about her,
nor heard the droning of the voices in the wild, barbaric chant that continued unceasingly. She only saw
Thompson. His actions hypnotised her and compelled
her entire attention.
Now the necromancer was looking in the mirror
which was held close to his face. He seemed to be
seeking something in the reflection he saw there.
Slowly he pivoted, and again the circle parted to
permit him an unobstructed view.
He was facing the north-east, and was looking into
the reflected south-west, where the passage opened
between the island and mainland. What he saw there
caused him to stop for an instant, and the natives
dropped their song. It was not the huldowget he had
discovered, but a sea-battered motor-boat headed for
the landing-stage. For a second only did he pause,
and then he turned more rapidly. He must hurry.
Now he was searching the woods behind him. His
body stiffened, and finally he came to a dead stop,
every muscle rigid.
Mary Elizabeth beat her drum with increased vigour,
screaming a savage paean of victory in which the others
joined. One man leaned over the crouching white girl
and seized the wooden horn, blowing it with all his
might, while a squaw picked up the rattle and beat
it against her body.
"I see," said Thompson, speaking slowly, as if in
a trance, "the evil spirit—the huldowget—hiding in
that bush beside the bastion." HUNTING THE  HULDOWGET   159
" Come, Miss Cunningham," he said in English, " see."
Shaking in every limb, Mary rose and peered into the
glass. "Where?" she whispered through parched lips.
"There, there; see. It's in that clump of bushes."
"Yes," she gasped. "I see the bushes."
" My power tells me that is where it has been hiding,
but it is dead. Its evil heart has vanished."
"Go and see," he ordered the Indians.
Fearfully they approached the place and stopped.
"Search it," commanded the necromancer, and
timidly one or two advanced and parted the bushes
and peered into the tangled growth.
"Hurry," exclaimed Thompson, looking back over
his shoulder, to see the motor-launch half-way across
the bay.
" You have found it ?" he demanded.
"Come, Miss Cunningham. You must see it taken
out," he said; and then, "Show me the place." Mary
Elizabeth pointed to the spot where two men were
bending the bushes back.
" Pull it out," said Thompson. There was no response,
the natives shuffling uneasily, eyeing each other in
"You do it, Mary Elizabeth," said Thompson sternly,
and the squaw reached down and caught something.
With a fiendish yell she pulled it clear of the bush.
It was a big rat, and the old woman had it by the
tail. As she held it aloft she stared wildly at the dead
animal; blood was dripping from a jagged tear in
its stomach.
Mary Cunningham was paralysed by fear. Her eyes 160 HULDOWGET
nearly started from their sockets as she looked at
the dead rodent, swinging and turning slowly as the
klootchman, her own face paled, held it at arm's
length. The natives crowded in close, each face expressing fear and awe. They gazed spellbound at the rat.
"Drop it," ordered Thompson, and the squaw gladly
"Miss Cunningham," he said, turning to the girl, "do
you doubt this was the huldowget that pursued you ?"
"No, no. It must be. It was in my room the other
night," she answered stupidly.
"Open it and see what's inside," he directed, and
two squaws dropped to their haunches, and with sticks
pried open the wound in the rat's belly. They scraped
out an odd assortment of things on to the wet grass.
Mary, who was watching, screamed.
"Do you recognise anything?" asked Thompson, as
with a stick he separated the different articles. "Is
this yours ? " and he indicated a silver thimble.
"Yes," panted Mary.
"And this?" and he pointed to a piece of bloodstained cloth.
"God help me! " she shrieked. "It's from my coat."
"And these? And these?" went on the man as he
touched a pair of knotted shoe laces, some shoe
buttons and comb teeth.
"All mine," she cried. "All mine."
She stood for a moment gazing in horror at the
collection on the grass. Then pressing her hands to
her head, with a groan she collapsed.
"Quick," shouted Thompson excitedly, looking
. toward the beach, where the boat was just approach- '- ■,
ing the dock. "Bring water. Here, get it from the
creek," he called, and a woman seized the felt hat from
an old man and ran to the brook, now swollen to the
proportions of a small river. She returned in a moment
with the hat filled to the brim.
The shaman dashed some of the contents over the
face of the insensible girl, while squaws rubbed her
throat, breast and wrists. The treatment was effective
and at last she sighed and opened her eyes. "Where
am I ?" she asked weakly.
"You're all right. The huldowget's dead," answered
"Oh, yes! I remember"; and she shuddered and
started to cry.
"Yes, that huldowget is dead," said Thompson,
again glancing over his shoulder and speaking rapidly.
"That one's dead, but there are others."
" Oh, no. Don't say that. It can't be!" Mary screamed
incredulous denial.
"Yes, it's so."
"But you will save me? You will kill them too? "
she pleaded.
"On one condition.''
"What is it? I'll do anything."
"Then promise to marry me."
Even to her terrorised senses this sudden proposal
came as a horrible shock. She looked at the crouching
figure of the half-breed in amazement. "No, I can't
do that," she whispered.
"Then perhaps you'll attend to your own evil
spirits," hissed the man, his eyes narrowing. "Perhaps this one can be brought back to life," he said i62 HULDOWGET
cruelly as he picked up the dead rat and dangled it
before her eyes.
" Don't, don't!" shrieked the girl, trying to shield
her eyes from the sight with her uplifted arm. "Stop
it. Don't do it."
"But I will."
"Oh, don't. Please don't." But the shaman for
answer drew the carcass across her bare arm.
"I will. I will. I will marry you," she screeched,
frantic with fear. "I'll marry you"; and she burst
into wild hysterical laughter.
"I'll marry you," she repeated and sprang to her
feet and made one or two steps towards the Mission,
the awe-stricken Indians falling back in terror from
her. "I'll marry you"—again the piercing, mirthless
Even Thompson was not prepared for this outbreak
and could only look at her in frightened surprise. He
made no effort to follow as she broke through the
circle and then stopped.
A figure was advancing unsteadily towards the hill.
She looked at it dully for a second, and reason returned. "Oh, John!" she cried, stretched out her arms
towards the policeman, tottered and fell insensible to
the ground. CHAPTER XIV
Collishaw had no idea what he would do when he
arrived at the fort, nor did he outline any plan as he
ran. All that he knew was that Mary Cunningham was
there and that she was in trouble and needed him. It
was his heart not his head that urged his jaded limbs
to greater speed, and through his clenched teeth he
cursed because he could not force himself to move
faster. His heavy sea boots retarded him and made
his running awkward and erratic.
He could see Indians standing in little groups at
some distance from the fort, apparently interested in
the proceedings of a larger congregation about the
ruins of the old bastion. As he passed these little knots
of men and women they fell in behind him, following
at a slower pace, moving nearer to see what would
happen when the representative of the law came face
to face with the necromancer and his adherents in the
practice of the old arts.
Nellie, despite herself, had followed Collishaw, running at his heels for the greater part of the way. As
they neared the place, she gradually dropped back and
became hidden in the crowd of curious Indians who
followed him. The natives moved forward, confident
that now the policeman had arrived they would not be
accused of having taken part in the medicine man's
magic, not having been included in the number of those
whom the officer found surrounding the sorcerer.
Collishaw heard a woman's voice raised in wild
hysterical laughter. He recognised it and a pang shot
through his heart. It was the voice of Mary Cunningham.
Suddenly there was a movement in the group at
the top of the rising ground. The assembly which had
been intent on some object or person encircled within
its numbers, stirred and opened.
The policeman stopped, his bloodshot eyes staring
in horrified amazement. Mary, her head thrown back
and her hands tearing at her golden hair, broke out
from the crowd, screaming and laughing hysterically.
She hesitated, looked full at him for an instant and,
extending her arms to him, called his name. It was
a similar call to that he had heard in the early morning
hours at Dundee cannery; the cry that had brought
him through the storm-driven waters to her—the cry
of an agonised soul.
Before he could reach her she had tottered and
fallen. In an instant he was at her side. Forgetful of
all else, he dropped to the ground and gathered her
in his arms, while the Indians pressed around and
watched them in silent wonderment.
"Mary, Mary," he pleaded. "Speak to me. I've
come, Mary."
She made no answer.
"Mary, oh,. Mary, what have they done to you?"
And then sweeping the circle of brown faces with a
glare of such ferocity that those in the front rank
instinctively shrank back against those behind, " What
have you hounds of Hell been doing to her?" THE FIGHT
Spying the frightened face of Nellie in the throng,
he pointed an accusing finger at her. " Here, you she-
devil, come here and take care of her. I'm going to
find out who is responsible for this."
Nellie came guiltily forward and knelt by the unconscious form of the white girl.
"Get someone to help you, and get her home to
bed—quick," he ordered, and his tone brooked no
Nellie motioned to a woman whose face showed some
expression of sympathy, and together they lifted the
unconscious form of the white girl to a sitting posture.
There occurred at that moment a stir in the crowd
and Caleb Thompson, arrayed in his shaman costume,
forced his way through the massed natives. Collishaw,
who was bending over the nurse, looked up as the
half-breed appeared.
"What have you been doing with the woman who
is to be my wife ?" demanded the sorcerer.
" She's promised before all these people to marry me."
Before Collishaw could make answer there was a cry
of rage from beside him and Nellie, changed in an
instant from a timorous, phlegmatic half-breed girl to
a veritable tigress, sprang to her feet. "You lie," she
screamed. "You promised to marry me"; and she
rushed at the man in an effort to tear him with her
It was Collishaw who prevented her doing so. " Leave
this to me," he said sternly. "You get Mary away
from here—damned quick. Get her home."
"Yes," assented Thompson, eager to free himself of MM
the presence of the jealous girl, whom he had not
observed before making his former remark. "Get
her home."
Nellie hesitated. Tears were streaming down her
cheeks, tears of bitter rage. "Go," shouted Collishaw,
and she motioned to the squaw who was still supporting Mary. Together they lifted her. The crowd
opened and they carried her away.
Wild rage flamed in Collishaw's breast. He needed
nothing more than the barbaric dress of Thompson
to tell him the whole story, but he realised that he
must spar for time to permit Mary to be carried to
the Mission.
"So it's you, Thompson," he said, contempt curling
his lip. " So it's you who frightens women and children."
Caleb Thompson only shrugged his shoulders.
"Why did you do it, you dog?"
Still the necromancer was silent.
"Why don't you answer, you snake?"
"She asked me to," snarled the shaman.
"You lie."
" Besides, I don't see that it's any of your business.
She's going to marry me," sneered Thompson.
"It's a he." A red film came before Collishaw's eyes.
" It's a damned lie "; and he sprang at the half-breed.
Thompson had been expecting attack and was prepared for it. Lifting the wooden horn, which he had
unslung from his neck, he struck the white man
across the face with it.
Stunned for an instant, Collishaw reeled back. Blood
spurted from his mouth and, recovering, he spat out
several broken teeth. mmm
The blow had a sobering effect on him. He realised
that he must fight carefully and not with the blind
rage of a madman. Remembering a trick of boxing he
had learned in the army, he feigned to be more dazed
than he actually was, hoping to deceive his antagonist.
The Indians widened the circle, moving back from
the combatants, leaving them plenty of space in which
to fight. Thompson was not one who would willingly
provoke personal encounter, preferring always to win
his objective by stealth and cunning, but when necessity arose he was not afraid of open warfare.
Recollecting the duty of his office, and believing
that it might further mislead Thompson, the policeman
called, "Help me arrest him."
Not an Indian responded. The men only shifted
uneasily arid backed away.
As he had anticipated, Thompson mistook the call
for assistance as a display of cowardice and advanced,
smiling grimly, the wooden trumpet upraised to strike
again. Collishaw covered up, swayed for an instant
and, as the blow descended, stepped aside and forward,
crashing his fist full on the other's face.
The shaman dropped the horn and staggered back.
The white man followed his advantage and caught
him a terrific left to the chin that sent him reeling
into the front rank of the spectators.
In an instant Thompson was back in the ring.
Crouching low, his arms outspread like a wrestler, he
circled around the policeman, who could not move
with the same agility in his heavy boots.
Thompson darted forward and John swung for his
face, but missed and grazed his shoulder. His next .i68 HULDOWGET
blow struck the top of the half-breed's head, and by
the pain that darted up his left arm he knew he had
splintered the bones of his hand.
With the instinct of the primitive battler Thompson
reached for the white man's hair. He loosened his
hold when Collishaw drove a smashing uppercut to
his face.
The half-breed recoiled and, stepping back a few
paces, threw off the collar and apron that were, to
some extent, impeding his movements. His head-gear
had been knocked off in the first encounter. Blood
was streaming from a cut on one cheek, and his left
eye was closing.
Collishaw was in an even worse state. One hand was
useless for anything but defence. His mouth was cut
and swollen, and his face was lined with red scratches
where the half-breed had dug into the flesh. His
breath came in short painful gasps, for his broken
rib was hurting him intensely. He knew that he must
harbour his strength, so made no effort to follow
Thompson, but took full advantage of the moment's
His eyes blazing with hate, the necromancer advanced
again. Slowly he circled the policeman, then faster and
faster, turning and twisting and finally rushing in, his
hands reaching for the other's throat. Collishaw met
him with a jab to the face that made him draw back
for an instant, but only to come on again.
This time he managed to grasp John about the left
arm and around the body, but Collishaw battered him
over the kidneys and punched the back of his neck
until he let go. He came on once more and again THE  FIGHT
secured a hold. This time the medicine man, with the
savagery of his mother's race, sank his teeth into the
white man's shoulder. Yelling with pain, Collishaw
seized him by the hair of the head, and getting his
disabled hand beneath the other's chin, tore him loose
and threw him from him. He did not hesitate now,
but followed. All thought of scientific fighting was
gone. He only wanted to punish and destroy.
Putting all his strength into the blow, he caught
the half-breed fair on the point of his unprotected
chin and sent him crashing in a heap to the ground.
In an instant he was on top of him, his fingers encircling
his adversary's throat.
Someone in the crowd called out, and Collishaw was
seized from behind in a powerful embrace and was
torn off the body of his senseless foe. Tighter and
tighter he was squeezed; the pain of his broken rib
was excruciating. He struggled to free himself; then
all went black and he knew no more.
The crowd surged forward about the unconscious
men, talking and muttering excitedly. Forcing her
way through the mob, Nellie got to the inner circle,
only to recoil at the sight of the bloodstained forms
inert on the wet grass.
With the assistance of the squaw she had experienced
no difficulty in carrying Mary to the Mission and to her
room. Here, under Nellie's direction, the woman undressed Mary and put her in bed.
Remembering her mistress, the servant went to
Mother's room, and in response to her questions said
that Mary, tired after her duties of the night, was
asleep. She had already placed food before the invalid, ™A*.
whose wants were few. The injured boy, she told
Mother, was still alive and Mary had instructed her
what to do for his care during the day. She was sorry,
she said, she could not give her mistress the care and
attention she should receive.
"You go right ahead, dear," was the answer. "I'm
really in no pain—just weak, that's all. I had a good
rest, and with what you've brought me, I can make
myself quite comfortable. Our duty is to see that the
injured boy is cared for, and I think it's splendid of
you to act the way you're doing."
The girl hung her head for a moment, shame
reddening her cheeks.
"I've called Martha in," she said at length. "You
know she helped us before."
"She'll be in the house all day and will do anything
you want."
"That was very thoughtful of you, dear," answered
Mother as Nellie withdrew.
In the girl's mind a plan was already taking form.
She saw how Thompson had duped and deceived her,
and made her act a part in his nefarious scheme.
Going quickly to Mary's room she motioned to the
squaw to come out into the hall.
"Martha," she said, "you will look after Mother
and her," nodding towards the half-opened door.
"Don't tell Mother what's happened, and let her
think Mark's all right and that I'm with him. I may
not be back until late."
The squaw nodded.
Catching up her shawl, Nellie ran through the dis- *£»
pensary and out by the hospital entrance. She must
do something, but what, she did not know. Fury
raged in her heart against Caleb Thompson. Her mind
was in a confusion. She wanted revenge—a revenge
that would torture him as her conscience was making
her suffer now. How could she accomplish it?
She could only think of one thing—one plan. It
was to get word to Father David. She must get someone to go for him. The idea was drumming on her
brain ever since she discovered the perfidy of the
necromancer. She must get Father David at once—
before it was too late.
She ran towards the fort. There in the crowd she
could surely find some person to go for the doctor.
Perhaps Collishaw himself would make the journey in
his launch.
She reached the edge of the mob just as the fight
ended and, making her way into the centre, she witnessed the result. Anxiously she looked about her.
There was not one there whom she could trust—not
one that she could depend on to take the message.
She would go herself if she had a boat. The canoes
were all drawn up above high-water mark and they
were too heavy for her to launch unaided. If she tried
to do so she might be prevented. It was too great a
risk to attempt the task.
She looked about at the milling crowd again and
scanned the sullen faces. No, not a single one was
there to whom she could appeal. Then her eyes rested
on the face of old Mary Elizabeth, who was sitting
on the ground with Thompson's head pillowed on
her lap, bathing his temples with water. Already the 172
necromancer was recovering. His eyes were opening.
She must hurry.
An idea came as she gazed at the old woman. Yes,
surely! Mary Elizabeth's son was a canoe-builder.
Yes, she remembered now that he had been working
on a canoe, a small one, just before he went away to
the cannery—perhaps he had not taken it with him.
Elbowing her way through the crush, she walked
rapidly past the fort, and once out of sight of the
natives, turned and ran as fast as she could along the
trail that skirted the creek. Her heart was throbbing
with excitement. Her feet beat dully on the sodden
leaves and splashed through puddles of rain water,
but mixed emotions of hope and fear drove her on
until, catching her foot on a trailing root, she stumbled
and fell, twisting her ankle.
Despite the pain, she was up in an instant and on
her way, her lips tightly compressed to prevent the
cries that the injured ankle sought to force from her
at every step. Now she was nearing the place. Yes,
there was the canoe, just as Simon had left it, turned
bottom up on two trestles. It was almost completed,
only the finishing touches remained to be given the
up-tilted prow. Glancing beneath the craft, she almost
shouted with joy, for there was a newly-fashioned
Lifting one end of the dug-out, she held it braced
against her body while she pushed the trestle aside.
She let the bow down to the ground, and then limping
to the other end she lifted it off, turning the craft
over as she lowered it.
The launching of a fourteen-foot canoe offered no THE  FIGHT 173
difficulties to Nellie, and in a few moments she had
it in the waters of the creek.
Stepping in, she seized the paddle and shoved off.
The current caught the little craft and shot it down
stream towards the sea. Carefully she guided it along
the near shore, taking full advantage of the cover
thus afforded by the bank. As she neared the salt
water, however, she edged it out into mid-stream, and
then towards the opposite side of the creek. If she
could escape detection as she emerged from the mouth
of the river, she knew she might make her escape.
She would take the opposite side of the bay and cross
in the protecting shade of the island.
Her heart was pounding with fright as she dipped
her paddle and propelled the light canoe with all the
might of her strong young arms. It darted ahead, out
into the bay, not a hundred yards from the fort. With
a wide sweep of the paddle she turned away from the
village, and in a dozen vigorous strokes was beyond
the little point and out of view. Fortune had favoured
her. She had not been seen. CHAPTER XV
Collishaw regained consciousness to find himself lying
on the earthen floor of an old building. Through the
broken roof above him he could glimpse small patches
of the blue sky, which only served to increase the
murk of the interior. The place smelled strongly of
moist mould and decay.
His head was throbbing with a dull pain. His left
shoulder was stiff and numb and his hand was swollen
and useless. His side felt as if it was being seared by
a hot iron, while every joint and muscle of his
body was aching. His tongue was dry and his throat
For several minutes he lay trying to collect his
scattered senses—to recollect what had happened and
endeavour to discover the cause of his being in this
place. Gradually memory returned. He remembered
the fight, and his last desperate attempt to throttle
Thompson. Ah! that must be it. He had killed the
half-breed and he was in jail. The thought did not
disturb him. Dazed as he was, it gave him a certain
savage joy. He had strangled the necromancer and
Mary was safe.
Mary! Now he recalled everything. His coming to
the fort; the crowd; Mary's collapse and her being
carried away.
174 TRIAL  BY THE  MOUSE        175
"Mary." He muttered the name through swollen,
blood-caked lips, and it seemed to act as a magic
tonic. He attempted to rise but fell back, and realised
for the first time that he was tied hand and foot.
He was helpless.
The exertion tortured his pain-racked body and he
groaned aloud in his agony.
There was a movement in the room opposite to him,
and he knew that he was not alone. A young man
with a lame leg and withered arm hobbled across the
intervening space and stood above him.
Collishaw knew the youth. He had often seen him
on his visits to the Mission. A cripple from birth,
Father David and Mother had rather favoured him,
and had shown him many kindnesses.
"Paul," whispered Collishaw thickly, "water."
"Don't know," answered the young man, also in a
whisper, looking around in some trepidation. "Maybe;
I see"; and he moved away in the direction in which
John fancied was the door. He was gone for some
little time, but when he returned he carried in his
hand a cupped leaf which contained a little more than
a mouthful of muddy water.
"Him not much good," he whispered. "Catchum
from mud-hole. S'pose me go to creek, maybe other
mans see me"; and bending down, he moistened the
white man's lips, and then gave him the dirty liquid
to drink. But Collishaw was not particular, and drained
every drop.
Taking the leaf, the Indian went to a far corner
and ground it into the soil with his heel, after which
he kicked the dirt over the place. 176 HULDOWGET
Refreshed somewhat by the drink Collishaw a^ked:
"Paul, where am I?"
"Old salmon house."
"What are they going to do with me?"
"Dunno," answered Paul stolidly. "Maybe kill you,
I dunno."
" Untie me, will you ? "
"No. S'pose me do, maybe kill me."
John Collishaw was not afraid of the quick death
he had faced a thousand times in the trenches, a death
in the heat of battle, or a sudden blotting out of life
in the twinkling of an eye from shell-burst or machine-
gun fire. But to be butchered in cold blood, trussed-up
like a goose, with no chance of saving himself—he
shuddered at the thought. And Mary! What would
become of her?
Hot blood raced through his body. The veins stood
out on his forehead and neck as he thought of her
being left alone, at the mercy of such fiends as had
terrorised her that morning. He rolled, twisted, gnashed
his teeth in his rage, until exhausted, he ceased and
lay still.
"No good do that," advised Paul quietly.
Collishaw did not reply for several minutes, and then:
"You're right, Paul. Tell me, did I Idll Thompson?"
"No, him all right; beat him, you no kill him."
The policeman cursed bitterly that he had not
committed murder.
"Say, Paul," he ventured; "put me up against
the wall."
"You be good man?" demanded the Indian.
"Yes. I promise." TRIAL BY THE  MOUSE        177
"All right"; and the Indian, with his one good arm,
managed to drag the policeman to the side wall, where
he propped him against the logs.
"Why are you helping Thompson?" John asked
after a pause.
The Indian came close and, bending down, looked
the white man in the eyes. "Paul no help Thompson,"
he said earnestly. "Paul stay with you; s'pose some
other mans stay, maybe kill you. Me your friend."
The sincerity of the man was such that Collishaw
could not disbelieve him. "Thanks," he said. "I'll not
forget this if I come through. What are they going to
do with the white girl?" he asked fearfully.
"Dunno"; and Paul shook his head. "Him all right
now. Him in Mission. Bad mans 'fraid go there. Maybe
three four mans and some klootchmans stay in church
house and pray. Me there, then come up here see what
is matter. S'pose bad mans try touch Mission house"
—and he spoke with slow deliberation—"maybe
lots shooting."
"Thank God," ejaculated Collishaw fervently; and
after a space, "But surely there's some way to
prevent bloodshed."
For some minutes he was silent, his brow puckered
in thought. Suddenly his face brightened. "Yes, by
Jove, there is a chance. It's an even break anyway," he
exclaimed. " Paul, come here. I want to whisper to you."
When the Indian bent down, Collishaw spoke rapidly.
At first a look of incredulous amazement spread over
the cripple's countenance, and he shook his head doubtfully. "But it's my only chance," argued the captive.
"I'm not afraid." 178 HULDOWGET
"Maybe," agreed the native dubiously.
"But you'll act as interpreter: you'll tell the others
what I say?"
Paul nodded acquiescence.
"Then I think you'd better put me back where
I was, and when they come, you abuse me. It will
look as if you were my enemy."
Again the Indian nodded, and did as he had been
After a wait of what seemed to Collishaw to be
hours, but was in reality but a few minutes, Paul
hobbled to the end of the building and applied his
eye to a chink between the logs.
"They come," he whispered.
"How many?"
"Maybe eight, ten."
Returning to his station, the Indian started to berate
his charge, and in a sneering tone taunted him with
his helplessness, and heaped insults upon him and
his ancestors.
Collishaw snarled back answers, and from time to
time twisted and rolled about in efforts to free himself. These manifestations were only rewarded by
further maledictions and jeers from his keeper.
It was not long before John's senses, keenly attuned
to such a purpose, told him that some person was
peering into the interior between the logs. He increased
the violence of his struggles to free himself and the
vehemence of language with which he answered the
jibes of the cripple.
A moment later he heard unmistakable sounds of
approaching voices and then that of Thompson at the mm
TRIAL BY THE  MOUSE        179
doorway in conversation with Paul, who made reply
in the native tongue.
Striding over to where Collishaw lay, the half-breed
kicked him viciously. " How do you like that ?" he
Collishaw only groaned.
Again the necromancer kicked him cruelly, and the
old men and squaws who had followed him into the
place laughed like children.
"You dirty coward," called the policeman, glaring
up at his enemy.
" Eat that with this dirt"; and Thompson picked up
a handful of earth and threw it in his face.
"You'll pay for this, Thompson," spluttered John.
" Well, you won't be there to see me do it," threatened
the other.
"So you would kill me, and have all these people
die with you?" was the answer Collishaw framed
in Chinook.
There was an uneasy stir among the crowd, for
they were not yet prepared to follow their new leader
into the shadow of the white man's gallows. Often
King George's policeman neglected to bring to task
offenders against the lesser laws of his chiefs at Ottawa,
but the pursuit of the perpetrators of murder never
slackened. Thompson was quick to appreciate the
effect of the warning on his adherents, and viciously
repeated his kicking.
Despite the pain he was suffering, Collishaw followed
up his momentary advantage by calling out in the
traders' jargon that he wished to talk to the people.
There was a murmur among the natives, which
Thompson immediately stopped by starting to harangue them, and then turning to the helpless man
before him, exclaimed, " You fool, who said you were
to be killed? You're going to be kept prisoner though,
until I marry the nurse."
"I want to talk to the people," insisted the policeman. "Are you cowards that you refuse to hear a
man speak?"
There was a muttering of dissent.
"Then hear me."
"Go ahead; make your talk, damn you," hissed the
half-breed, punctuating his remarks with a still more
vicious kick.
"I want to talk to you in your own speech," said
the captive. "Let Paul be my tongue."
There was an exclamation of approval from the
"Unloosen me, that I may talk like a man and not
a beast. If my words are not good, then tie me again."
Paul started to interpret the speech, and without
waiting for the sanction of Thompson, one of the men
cut the bonds that held the policeman's hands, allowing
him to sit up. Collishaw did not press for further
concessions, realising that to do so might be to his
"Hear my words; they are good words," he said,
speaking slowly and deliberately. "You have done
injury to King George when you hurt me, but I will
not speak of that, for King George's chiefs know how
to punish those who do wrong. But you have been
like the dog that bites the hand that gives it food.
You have listened to the words of Father David. He TRIAL  BY THE  MOUSE '      181
has been good to you, and now you have gone away
from him and have taken one from his house the
wrong way. You have followed Thompson, who is
bad, and left Father David, who is good. You have
helped Thompson, who would make the white girl
his squaw. It is not for him to do so "
"I'll show you," interrupted the half-breed.
"It's not for you to decide," went on Collishaw.
"Who will, then?"
"The mouse." Collishaw shot back the answer and
the half-breed recoiled, stunned and startled, and a
slight exclamation of terror escaped him. He sought
to interfere, to stop Collishaw, but John was talking
rapidly now and Paul was translating each word as
it fell from his lips.
" I call for trial by the mouse. Thompson has brought
back the old medicine to the village. He cannot refuse
to have the mouse decide between us. I challenge him
to have trial. I call for men to watch the mouse. Is
he afraid? Does the medicine man refuse his own
medicine? Then he is a coward and fit only to be
with the women—not men."
"Stop, you fool," almost screamed the necromancer.
"Do you know what you're asking?"
The effect on the natives was startling. Had Collishaw
suddenly changed form before them their consternation
could not have been greater. Several faces showed unmistakable indications of fear.
The policeman had asked for a revival of an ancient
custom that none had anticipated. One or two seemed
to welcome the suggestion, and their dark eyes
sparkled with the sudden light of savagery. Over the i82 HULDOWGET
wrinkled, evil countenance of Mary Elizabeth broke
a smile of fiendish delight. Not since she was a young
woman, and her uncle was the chief shaman of the
tribe, had she heard such a demand, and it was as
music to her ears.
"The judgment of the mouse! The judgment of the
mouse!" she croaked in ecstasy.
"We fought as King George men decide their
quarrels, but we did not finish. Let the mouse decide
in native fashion," concluded Collishaw.
As the policeman ceased the crowd broke out into
excited, noisy conversation which stopped as suddenly as it had started, and with one accord they
turned questioning eyes on Thompson. The necromancer could hardly control the shaking of his limbs.
Cold sweat stood out in great beads on his brow. His
throat had become parched and his tongue clove to
the roof of his mouth. For nearly a minute he could
say nothing. This was a blow he had not expected.
He realised that the edifice of power which he had so
long striven to build, and which was almost completed,
was tottering. To refuse was to win the contempt of
the people over whom he had sought mastery, and
make himself the laughing-stock of the Coast. He had
planned for months his triumph of to-day, when he
was to assert himself boldly as the great medicine
man who had come to bring back the glory of departed shamanism. He was to signalise the event by an
incursion into the very home of the veteran missioner.
By clever strategy he had hoped to win for himself a
white wife who, he believed, would be the means of
saving himself from the prosecution of the law. He TRIAL BY THE  MOUSE        183
had reasoned that for the sake of the work of the church,
the humbled priest would endeavour to hush the
matter and would not have recourse to the authorities.
Through the ill-timed arrival of this pestilential
policeman his schemes had been interfered with, but
luckily he had been able to overcome the white man
in their first encounter. This had strengthened his
position temporarily. Now, in the very hour of his
victory, when he had come to taunt and torture his
helpless rival, the white man had shattered his dream
of power and affluence.
Refuse he could not and retain even a vestige of
influence. To do so meant voluntary exile. Acceptance
meant facing the possibility of failure with all its
attendant barbarities, and the crushing for ever of
any hope of again establishing the age-old doctrines
of heathenism. Acceptance also offered the chance of
success—an even chance, nothing more, for he knew
that, while he might influence the mind of man, he
could not compel obedience in the smallest and most
timid creature of the animal kingdom.
Murder flamed in his heart. His hand stole beneath
the shaman apron to the hilt of the knife that was
hidden there. If he could only plunge it into the heart
of the policeman; but he could not—not just then.
There was a deathly silence. The natives were watching
him, and he looked dumbly back at them.
"Let us hear your words." It was the voice of the
old squaw addressing him in his own tongue.
"He is crazy," answered Thompson thickly. "He
does not know what he asks."
"The judgment of the mouse!" insisted the old
hag, her wrinkled, leathery face and hungry, merciless
eyes gleaming hideously in the half-light of the shed.
"He knows what he asks." It was Paul who spoke,
and one or two of the party nodded.
Thompson hesitated. Surely there must be some
way to escape from this predicament with which he
had been so suddenly confronted. Time—if he could
only obtain time, he knew he could contrive some
way out of this maze that befogged his wits and
threatened him with destruction.
"What right has this white man to interfere in our
old customs? " he argued desperately. "It is not for
him to seek the judgment of the mouse."
"He has the same right as you had to seek the
huldowget for the white woman." Again it was Paul
who gave answer, and he continued: "The half-breed
is afraid of his own medicine. His heart is filled with
water. Let him leave us and go live with the children
of his own village."
"No, no," denied Thompson fearfully, as he steadied
himself against the wall. "I'm not afraid. I will accept
the judgment of the mouse, and it will prove that the
medicine of your fathers is good. I have spoken."
Collishaw had been watching, with every nerve and
sense alert, the struggle that had been going on within
the mind of the half-breed. He could almost read the
thoughts of his enemy and knew that he would ultimately accept the inevitable. He noted the effort that
it required for Thompson to make his decision; how
his eyes had taken on the look of a wounded wild
animal at bay, and the working of his throat and the
twitching of the muscles of his face.
— TRIAL BY THE  MOUSE        185
Hardly had the half-breed spoken than Collishaw
called out in a voice of authority, "Seize him and take
his knife away."
Involuntarily the Indians fell upon Thompson and
pinioned his arms and robbed him of his sheath-knife.
As he had anticipated, the necromancer had not had
time to recover from the reaction that followed his
acceptance of the challenge, and he submitted dumbly
to being searched.
"Bind him as the policeman is bound," ordered Paul,
who assumed leadership. In a trice it was done, and
Thompson was propped against one wall and opposite
to him Collishaw was placed.
"Now," said Paul to the natives, "go get the mouse
and the cage and bring them to the old house over
there. I will stay and guard these men."
As the group of fearful, wondering natives turned
to go, he halted them. "Andrew and Joseph Jimmy
will watch the mouse," he said. "Let them eat frogs'
ashes or drink sea-water, that they may have empty
bellies and clean minds."
"I have frogs' ashes," shouted Mary Elizabeth
"That is well."
The man addressed as Joseph Jimmy would have
protested against his selection as referee, but the others,
happy to have escaped the responsibility, would not
permit him to do so and led him grumblingly away. CHAPTER XVI
Collishaw looked dully across at his enemy and
fellow-captive. The strain had been terrible, and, now
that it was over, the agony of his bruised and broken
body was such that his brain no longer functioned as
a sensitive organ. Nature provides a point at which
physical anguish ceases to be recorded on the nerve
centres of the mind—a saturation point beyond which
it is impossible for physical emotions to become
registered—where the faculties of feeling fail, and
mental inertia mercifully develops. Collishaw had
reached this extreme limit of suffering. He looked
uncomprehendingly across in the half-gloom of the
shed with unseeing eyes. Then his head fell slowly
forward. A sigh like that of a tired child escaped him
and he lapsed into unconsciousness.
Thompson's puffed and swollen face showed the
marks of the fight of the morning. One eye was almost
closed, but from between narrowed lids it showed as
clearly as its mate the fear and mental suffering that
was torturing his soul. Gifted with an active imagination and cultivated with a veneer of education, the
half-breed lacked the stoicism and fortitude of his
mother's people. Cruel and calculating, and ready tjb
engage in physical battle for the attainment of his
ends when necessity drove, he was not inured to mental
suffering or to the tortures of slow uncertainty.
Now as he sat with his back against the wall and
saw Collishaw's head sink forward, he mistook the
white man's attitude for one of sleep. It maddened
and terrorised him. It unnerved him to think that his
enemy could find repose in the shadow of the approaching ordeal. There must be some trick, some prepared
plan of which he knew nothing, by which the policeman was to escape and he was to suffer. Collishaw
had no right to sleep while he was in such torment;
he was not going to permit it; the white man must
keep him company in misery.
"Wake up, you dog," he hissed.
There was no answer.
"Wake up, I say; wake up, you snake!" he cried
almost hysterically.
"Shut up," Paul ordered.
" I won't. He's got to keep awake. I'm not going to
stand for it"; and he began feverishly to tear at the
strong knots that bound his lower limbs.
"Stop," shouted the cripple; but the half-breed paid
no attention.
"Stop it," repeated the guard, and when there was
no sign of compliance with his order, he brought the
heavy stick he used as a crutch down on Thompson's
With a cry of pain the half-crazed necromancer
dropped the knots and clasped his hands to his bosom,
while he cringed closer to the dead wood of the walls.
"Do that again and I'll hit you on the head,"
threatened Paul.
"Don't do it," whimpered Thompson.
For a time he sat still, watching the cripple closely. ^^~
Then a look of craftiness crept over his disfigured
features. "Paul," he whispered, "Paul, untie me and
I will pay you well."
"I'll buy you a new gun and a canoe."
"I'll give you a gallon of whisky."
"Shut up."
"Then I'll put the evil spirits on you "; and his face
was contorted with hatred.
Paul shuddered and paled, but he answered, "Use
such threats to frighten women and children. Now
shut up or I'll make you."
While he was talking Thompson had been digging
in the earth beside him, and now his hand closed over
a fairly large stone.
"Look! Who is that?" he exclaimed, pointing to
the doorway. Paul turned, and at the same time
stepped to one side. It was fortunate for him that he
did so, for the rock, hurled with all the force that the
half-breed could command, flew past his head and
struck against the end wall of the shed.
With surprising agility in one so lame, the Indian
whirled, his face dark with passion, and, lifting his
crutch, brought it smashing down through the defence
of uplifted arms, on top of Thompson's head. With
a groan the half-breed rolled over, stunned.
Without bothering to see if he had killed the
sorcerer, Paul grunted and limped over to the block
of wood that served him as a seat, and fell to contemplating the unconscious forms before him.
It was nearly an hour before Thompson showed THE CREEPING SHADOW
signs of recovery. He sighed, turned his head slowly
from side to side, and then opened his eyes. For a
moment he lay in a daze, looking fixedly up at the
torn roof.
"You be good now," admonished Paul, again
speaking in the aboriginal tongue.
"Uh! Where am I?"
"You are here, and if you try any more evil tricks
I'll kill you," answered the cripple grimly.
" Oh, my head!" exclaimed the shaman, pressing his
hands to his temples.
"Keep still and I'll not hurt you, but if you try
and talk to me, I'll fix you."
Thompson pushed himself up to a sitting posture.
"Get me some water," he begged.
"No. I can't trust you."
The sound of their voices had the effect of bringing
Collishaw from his daze, back to a full realisation of
his sufferings. He groaned, and the sound delighted
the half-breed.
"Do it again. It's music to me," he sneered.
"You devil," answered the white man.
The other only laughed. "Go on," he mocked.
"Groan. I like to know you're suffering."
Collishaw forgot his pain in his murderous hate of
the man. The very intensity of his passion cooled and
steadied him. He looked across the room at the half-
breed and remembered the paralysis of fear that had
seized him when faced with the decision of trusting
his fate to the old tribal custom.
"Thompson," he said, speaking slowly and with a
cold incisiveness  that  drilled  each  word  into   the 190 HULDOWGET
consciousness of his enemy—"Thompson, you will do
the suffering when the mouse decides. I will be there
to see it, Thompson. Can't you just see yourself turning and twisting in torment? Can't you hear the fire
crackling and the squaws drumming in tune to your
"Stop, stop, for God's sake stop," shrieked the
wretch, his face livid with fear.
"Yes, you can hear them," went on Collishaw
quickly and, pointing at the necromancer as he
leaned forward, "Listen, Thompson. You can hear
them now. Look, look, see your tormentors!"
The half-breed screamed in a delirium of fright,
"No, no, don't touch me; leave me alone," and fell
to sobbing.
"Now perhaps you'll not mock me," muttered
Collishaw, as he turned his bruised cheek to the
wall and closed his eyes wearily. Such was his physical
exhaustion that despite the pangs of his wounds he
It was evening when he awakened to find that
the hour of trial had arrived. The place was almost
dark and Indians filled the interior. Paul was speaking:
"The trial will be held in the old potlatch hall," he
said. "Unbind these men and give them water. Help
them to the place."
Two natives came to Collishaw and cut the ropes
that tied him.
"Cut my boots off me," he told them, and with
some trouble the canvas and rubber was severed and
his heavy sea-boots were removed, bringing almost
instant relief to his swollen limbs. THE CREEPING SHADOW      191
Before the work was completed a boy brought water
from the creek and gave him to drink. The supply
was sufficient for him to bathe his temples and pour
the remainder over his head and shoulders.
He essayed to rise, but found that his feet and legs
were too numbed and stiff to permit walking. With
the assistance of the two men who had liberated him
he finally managed to stand upright, and with an arm
about the neck of each started for the door. Thompson, with the help of another native, followed. In
passing his enemy, Collishaw obtained one glance at
the fear-blanched face and, in spite of his hatred
for the man, could not forbear to pity him.
Stepping out into the softening light of departing
day, he paused for a moment to look about him.
Indians were standing in silent little groups, and he
realised that few had remained behind in the village
church. From the position of the sun he knew there
would be less than an hour of daylight left, and he
wondered if night would bring eternal darkness for
him. Standing in the open space between the old
salmon shed and the larger building which, in the
olden times, was the great dining-hall where factor
and trader, clerk and apprentice gathered to dine
sumptuously or meagrely as the food supplies permitted, and where mirth and jollity, laughter and
jest featured the welcoming of the daring old sea-
captains who came at infrequent intervals to take
away the fur harvest of the forest, he paused for a
moment in silent prayer.
John Collishaw was not a deeply religious man, and
he scorned the idea of appealing for Divine intervention 192 HULDOWGET
in a moment of personal danger only to neglect his
devotions in more tranquil periods. His prayer now
was not for himself. "O Lord," he whispered, "I'm
not asking you to save me, but, in the name of your
Son who suffered, protect Mary if anything happens
to me, and don't let the work of Father David be
Urged on by his companions, he stumbled forward.
It seemed fitting that this old hall, the first abode
of the white man, should be the place chosen for the
revival of the aboriginal tribunal which his coming
had relegated to the realm of tradition. The big room
had, in the days of the Hudson's Bay traders' occupancy, been very comfortable. Framed of squared
logs and sealed with moss and clay, it had withstood
the winds and shut out the winter cold. The floors
had been of whip-sawed lumber and the doors of
heavy-edged and planed spruce. A great open fireplace gave warmth to the interior, which had been
lighted by two small windows, facing the west to
catch the last rays of departing day. The window
openings would have been larger, but Fort Oliver had
boasted real glass in the frames of these windows, and
the openings had been cut to fit the panes and not
the glass fashioned to the openings.
The destroying hand of time and the depredations
and necessities of the Indians had left the place a
sorry wreck. The flooring had long since disappeared;
the doors had been carried away to answer other purposes, and the two western windows were without
glass. In one of these remained a portion of the frame,
from which the four small fights had been removed. THE CREEPING SHADOW      193
The front porch which had dignified the place and
set it aside from the other buildings of similar architecture in the fort was no more, and the rain and snow
of many winters had beaten in through the gaping
doorway and windows. The shakes and cedar bark
that had once shingled the roof had been shorn almost
completely off the sea side by succeeding gales.
The room had an almost nauseating odour of dank
decay about its mildewed walls and rotting rafters,
while in the unlighted recesses and dark corners great
grey rats, disturbed by the approach of humans,
scurried fearfully to secret hiding-places beneath the
foundation logs or in nooks and crannies of the
crumbling fireplace.
There was a sense of clammy uncanniness about
the musty interior that caused Collishaw to shudder
as he stepped over the splintered threshold to the
damp earthen floor.
The mouse was already there. It was caged in a
little box woven from split cedar branches, so fashioned
that there was no escape for the tiny prisoner whose
every movement could be observed.
A discarded salmon-case had been brought from
the village, and on top of this the wicker cage was
placed. The dozen Indians who were already there
were watching, with awesome dread and respect, the
tiny creature that was to be sole judge and arbiter
between two human beings.
Joseph Jimmy and Andrew, the men chosen as
referees, pale and ghastly from recent retchings and
fearful of their terrible responsibility, were standing
apart from their fellows, their faces twitching with i94 HULDOWGET
nervousness. Only old Mary Elizabeth seemed to contemplate the impending barbarities with pleasurable
anticipation. She cackled mirthfully as she chose a
place for herself and drum and directed three other
frightened old women to their stations. Two of them
had crudely-made cedar boxes similar to the more
finished instrument that Mary Elizabeth carried, and
the third held two wide, flat polished bones, about a
foot in length.
Collishaw felt a sickening fear steal over him as he
glanced quickly around and then at the little animal
that would decide his fate with a nod. By a tremendous
effort of will he overcame the horror that gripped him,
and turned to see the approach of his enemy.
Thompson reached the doorway, looked inside at
the solemn-miened group of witnesses to the affair
and started back. His face filled with horror, his jaw
dropped and he swayed unsteadily, so that he required
assistance to move forward.
Paul followed Thompson, and after him came fourteen or fifteen more Indians, who moved timidly to
the door and stopped.
"Come in or go away," ordered Paul. "There must
be light from the door."
Ten or a dozen timidly entered and edged to the
back of the big room.
"Is everything ready?" asked Paul.
"Yes"; and Mary Elizabeth nodded happily.
"Move the mouse forward so there will be good
light," the cripple commanded, and the salmon-case
was shifted several feet closer to the window with the
broken cross-frames. THE CREEPING  SHADOW     195
Collishaw did not pay any particular attention to
this or the succeeding orders that Paul issued for the
better arrangement of the principal witnesses and
actors in the affair. The human mind is peculiarly
constituted. Often in times of great stress the thing
that attracts attention is not the vital element of the
crisis, but some indifferent and wholly extraneous
subject, or some minor detail only remotely connected
with the issue. So it was now with John Collishaw.
He seemed oblivious to the preparations being made
for the trial, and riveted his attention for the time
being on the shadow cast by the broken window-frame
in the square patch of sunlight that fell directly in
front of the salmon-case.
Dully he watched it move almost imperceptibly
forward, until when Paul, standing directly behind the
box, announced that all was in readiness, it had started
slowly to mount the smooth side of the case.
Recalled from his preoccupied following of the
shadow by the self-appointed master of ceremonies,
Collishaw nodded affirmatively his preparedness to
proceed. He was seated in front and to one side of
the mouse, while Thompson was directly opposite.
Joseph Jimmy was crouched beside the box, his eyes
level with the little cage, while Andrew occupied a
similar position on the other side.
Squatted on the ground in a semicircle behind Paul
were Mary Elizabeth and her assistants, while in a
large sweep almost enclosing the actors in this strange
savage drama were the half-frightened spectators.
Paul raised his hand and the three drums and the
bone clappers beat time, slowly at first, but quickening 196 HULDOWGET
slightly at a signal from the conductor. When the
measure was to his liking he again motioned, and the
squaws, maintaining the same methodical beating,
started to croon a weird unmusical chant. Their
bodies swayed from side to side, in keeping with
the monotonous drone of their voices.
The whole thing was so strange, so unreal, and so
fiendish in its savagery, that Collishaw could hardly
realise that it was not some awful hallucination, and
that he was actually in jeopardy of his life or reason,
before a tribunal such as even the hellish injustice of the
ancient Druids had never conceived. He looked across
the narrow space that separated him from Thompson,
and the abject terror in that disfigured and distorted
face convinced him of the gruesome reality of it all.
"If it will save Mary, I don't care," he told himself, and, closing his eyes, he repeated his prayer for
her protection, while in his ears droned the squaws in
dreadful monotony.
Somehow, he seemed relieved by his appeal to the
Almighty, and when he opened his eyes it was to look
with amazement at the shadow mounting more quickly
now as the sinking sun sought refuge behind the
western horizon. It startled and fascinated him.
Now Paul commenced to call: "John—Caleb—
John—Caleb." The names were enunciated slowly and
distinctly, a measured pause between each. The cold
sweat stood out on John's forehead now. His breath
came in deep, spasmodic gasps—an inhalation of dread
and fear as his name was called and an exhalation
of relief and thankfulness as that of his adversary
was uttered. THE CREEPING SHADOW      197
He looked towards the sunlit side of the box for
hope and encouragement, and then again at the lips
of the cripple.
" John — Caleb — John — Caleb — John — Caleb,"
called the Indian; "uughm-uughm-uughm," went the
drums, and " thlak-thlak-thlak" the sharper note of
the bones.
Now the room was darkening. A cloud was passing
in front of the fading orb of day, but still the measured
time of that awful medley of death continued unchanged, and above the other noises the clear, carefully timed voice of Paul: "John—Caleb — John —
The watchers of the mouse, their attention riveted
on the small animal, strained their eyes to see the
better in the lessened light of the room. Collishaw
dropped his eyes to the box. There was no longer a
shadow there. He felt as if hope had been snatched
from him—that he was doomed.
"John—Caleb—John—Caleb," went on the voice
of the cripple, above the droning of the swaying old
women and the regular beating of their drums.
Suddenly the cloud passed, and with the last bright
ray that the sun sent forth—a promise of a brighter
day coming—the shadow reappeared. It fell directly
across the cage. "John—Caleb—John—Caleb."
A startled cry broke from the referees. The tiny
mouse had given judgment. The sudden coming of
the shadow had caused it to cringe farther back in
its prison, and, in doing so, it had nodded in its efforts
to get away from—the shadow of the Cross.
There was a hush; a deadly silence. Collishaw and 198
Thompson both leaned forward, eyes bulging, nostrils
distended, limbs shaking, senses reeling. Each had
heard, and one hoped while the other feared that
over-wrought nerves had deceived him in the name.
"What did the mouse decide?" asked Paul.
Men and women looked fearfully at each other.
"What did the mouse decide?"
" Caleb is guilty," answered the watchers in tremulous
A double cry rent the air; one the agonised shriek
of a mortal in hopeless terror, the other a woman's
scream of joy and thankfulness.
It was the feminine voice that Collishaw heard. He
half rose as he turned towards the door. There was no
mistaking—there, framed in the doorway, was Mary.
He echoed her "Thank God," stretched out his arms
to her and pitched forward. She caught him as he
fell and, sinking down beside him, cushioned his head
on her lap. CHAPTER   XVII
Thompson rose uncertainly, his hands groping aimlessly, as if seeking something that eluded him. He
stood on legs spread far apart, his body swaying slowly
from side to side, while through his wide-opened mouth
his breath came and went in laboured gasps. His
unseeing gaze became fixed on one face and then
The Indians, appalled by the sight, recoiled as if
fearing destruction from his sightless look.
Then he saw Mary bending over the unconscious
white man. He gazed at them with a vacuous expression on his face; memory returned and a wild berserker
rage filled him. With a demoniacal cry he plunged
forward, his eyes gleaming with murder and his fingers
outstretched fike the talons of a hawk descending on
its prey. He would rend them with his bare hands.
The girl looked up, and an exclamation of fright
escaped her as she threw herself forward to shield the
policeman's head with her body. She closed her eyes
against the sight of this fiend who terrorised her
and to whom she had pledged herself only a few
hours before.
She waited, her flesh cringing from the onslaught,
but in her soul there was a strange joy that she might
buffer in protecting the bruised face of the man who
o 199 jM
had so sacrificed himself for her, and thus in a measure
atone for the agonies she had brought upon him.
The blow did not fall. Thompson did not reach the
objects of his wrath. Indians threw themselves upon
him, and with savage yells and imprecations hurled
him, fighting and screaming, to the ground. He was
no longer the great medicine man. He could no longer
command evil spirits to do them hurt. They had witnessed his failure and it had been in the fire of his
own making. With that strange perversity of human
nature, be it in untutored native or cultured Caucasian,
the downfall of a popular idol is always greeted by
his former admirers in proportion to his previous
eminence. And so it was now. These Indians who
had, that very day, been prepared to follow him in
open defiance of the law to the very foot of the scaffold, if need be, were now anxious only to accomplish
his utter humiliation and defeat.
He fought like a tiger, lasliing out with his feet and
striking and tearing with his hands at those nearest
to him, but his efforts were futile against the numbers
that assailed him. They struck at him, screaming
insults, and those closest to him kicked viciously,
their blows losing effectiveness by the very desire of
those behind to press forward to boot the prostrate
form of the half-breed.
In vain did Paul call out to leave the sorcerer alone.
He no longer commanded their attention. All trace
of the white man's civilisation had vanished, and
they were once more creatures of the wild, bent only
on revenge and torture.
Mary Elizabeth, her lips drawn back over her yellow THE  FIRE  NEEDLES 201
fangs and her eyes lighted with fanatical purpose until
they blazed like living coals, wormed her way through
the fighting, screaming crowd, until she attained the
inner circle, and with her long claw-like nails marked
the face of her former friend and mentor.
The sight of the hideous old creature caused even the
inflamed passions of the savages to cool for an instant,
and compelled attention to the directions she shrieked:
"The fire! The fire! Get wood for the fire!"
"The fire!" A dozen voices echoed her cry, and men
and women rushed to do her bidding. The old hearth
was soon heaped high with twigs, splintered windblown shakes and branches of deadwood. A match
was applied and flames shot up through the pile,
crackling and hissing. Smoke wreathed through the
old building, shadowing for an instant the lust-drunken
faces limned in the red radiance of the blaze.
Thompson, his face streaming blood, sought to rise,
but again he was hurled to the ground.
"The needles! Get the needles!" shouted the old
hag, and several men, lighting their way with burning
brands snatched from the fire, disappeared into the
darkness of the forest to return with evergreens.
"No, no," screamed Thompson. "Not the needles.
For God's sake, not the burning needles. I'll do
anything "
Despite his screams and heedless of his cries for
mercy, his tormentors dragged him towards the fire.
The gaudy but dirt-bespattered dress of the medicine
cult was torn from his quivering limbs and was ruthlessly cast aside. The wolves' teeth and grizzly claws,
but so shortly before potent with mystic charm to these 202 HULDOWGET
people, held no terrors now. They cut away the apron
of shamanism that girded his waist and severed the
cedar withes of his necklace. The white man's shirt of
fine linen was ripped from his back, and he appeared,
stripped to the waist as he lay on the ground, too
paralysed by fear to attempt to rise.
An old squaw, whose lower lip still bore the scarred
hole where an ancient labret had been set, with devilish
delight rolled him over until his bare neck reddened
in the heat of the burning wood.
Others were engaged in feverishly stripping the fir
and spruce branches, and now needles were ready.
Thompson, moaning and groaning piteously, was
dragged from the hearth, and Mary Elizabeth, with
another, commenced to force them into the tender
and quivering flesh of his back. His tortured cries
were terrible to hear.
Mary Cunningham, aghast with horror, realised her
impotence and inability to do anything to stop the
savages. She could only cover her ears and close her
eyes—and pray.
Paul had disappeared when the fire was lighted.
There was none to whom she could appeal for assistance,
for she feared that to attract attention to herself and
the insensible policeman would be to invite similar
treatment to that being accorded the half-breed.
When the necromancer, writhing and twisting in
anguish, sought in a frenzy of desperation to fight
against the final torment, Mary took advantage of the
shadows of the crowd in front of the fireplace to drag
the senseless policeman to the door.
It was a tremendous task, for she feared to rise THE  FIRE  NEEDLES 203
from her knees, and he lay a dead weight. It required
every ounce of her strength to pull him forward a
few inches. With each meagre gain she stopped to
look back at the fiends about the fire.
Gradually, little by little, inch by inch, she lessened
the distance to the door. If she could only get him
from the building she could hide with him in the
forest until help could be secured!
She had almost attained the threshold when she
sensed some person standing there. She had been
detected and stopped! Such was the thought that
fear drove through her brain. She was to be prevented
from the attainment of her purpose.
The wild fury of despair surged through her, and
she half rose to fling herself on the person who thus
blocked the way to escape. She stopped; her heart
almost ceased its beating; she would have called out,
but a choking in her throat prevented articulation,
for outlined against the lighter shade of the night sky
was the great, rugged form of Father David.
For an instant only the priest stood looking in at
the wild scene of paganistic brutality before him. He
threw back his head and uttered a mighty shout that
filled the building with its volume:
" Stop it, you devils!"
Followed his battle-cry, "The Sword of the Lord
and of Gideon," and with a bound he was among
the erring members of his congregation.
The suddenness of his appearance and the manner
of his coming startled the natives into instant submission and filled them with a desire to escape.
"You would, would you?" he cried, as he struck 204 HULDOWGET
out with his open palms. "You stiff-necked and disobedient people"; and one and then another felt the
terrific force of his heavy hand.
"You would have trial by the mouse!" and he
lashed out with his foot and sent the salmon-case
flying across the room to bowl over a squaw who was
attempting to escape from the building.
Again and again he repeated his war-cry, darting
hither and thither, his long arms working like flails.
Every blow knocked an Indian down, only to rise
again and dash, squealing and whimpering, about the
room in vain efforts to avoid further chastisement.
One would almost achieve the portal when the priest
would be upon him, and with a powerful heave throw
him back among the milling pack.
"You, Matthew!" and he caught one old fellow
and cuffed his ears. "Get back there"; and he sent
the man reeling against another, who was edging
towards the opening.
"You, Solomon! I'm surprised. Named after the
Lord's anointed!" and he slapped Solomon. "You,
too, Rebecca!" and she was sent shrieking across the
room, to cringe in a corner.
"And you, Mary Elizabeth! The devil's in you";
and he picked the old crone up and shook her until
her teeth rattled. "You would lead my children
astray!" and he flung her from him.
He stopped for an instant, his face crimson with
rage. "Where is he? Where is he?" he cried, and
spying Thompson, "Ah, there you are, crawling on
your belly like the snake that you are," he exclaimed
as he rushed at the half-breed. THE  FIRE   NEEDLES 205
"There you are," he repeated as he stooped down
and seized the hapless sorcerer in his powerful grasp.
With one hand he raised him to his feet and with the
other he enclosed Thompson's throat.
"You would lead these people to the devil, would
you?" and he shook the man as a terrier would a rat.
"I'll teach you, I will," he threatened, and again
and again he shook the wretch. Thompson's eyes
stood out from their sockets and his tongue was forced
between his teeth, while his face gradually took on a
darker hue.
Just how far the enraged missioner would have gone
in his wrath was uncertain, for Mary threw herself on
him and seized him by the arm.
"Father David!" she cried. "Stop! stop! you're
killing him. You're choking him to death. Stop it."
"Eh, what?" and he loosened his hold. The half-
breed fell in a crumpled heap, gasping and choking
and fighting for breath.
"Forgive me, Lord, I was nearly committing the
sin that marked Cain," he muttered. "But, Lord,
there was justification for chastisement."
He paused and then lifted his head, and again
the mighty shout rang out: "The Sword of the Lord
and of Gideon."
Those Indians who had escaped from the building
during the brief time in which he was dealing with
Thompson, hearing it, fled with startled cries as fast
as their ages and infirmities would permit, into the
forest or along the beach, some one way, some another, but all urged on by the fear of the priest's
vengeance. They remained in hiding for several days, 206
until they thought his anger would have cooled. In
the years that he had been among them they had
occasionally seen him in righteous rage, but never
before had they beheld him so wild and war-like.
The missionary bent over the sorcerer, watching
him with some concern showing on his honest old
face. At last, with a satisfied sigh, he said, more to
himself than the half-breed, "I've cheated the devil.
He's not going to get you for awhile."
Turning to Mary, he shook his head as he looked
at her, standing with downcast eyes in the glow of
the firelight.
"Little girl, little girl," he said with such a note of
sorrow in his voice that she burst into tears. "Poor
little Mary"; and he put his hand tenderly upon
her head.
"But where's John?" he asked anxiously. "Have
they ?" He hesitated to complete the query.
"No, Father. He's here, but he's hurt."
"Where? Show me."
"There"; and she motioned to the prostrate form
near the wall, where she had dragged Collishaw when
the priest appeared.
"Here he is"; and she ran to the policeman and
knelt beside him.
"I don't think there are any bones broken," ventured Mary, "unless it be one of his ribs. I've not
had much chance of finding out. I tried to do so before
moving him, but it was all so terrible I could not do
much. I thought they were going to kill us both, and—
and—I deserved it"; and again she started to sob.
"Poor lad," repeated the old man, and he gathered THE  FIRE   NEEDLES 207
the policeman in his arms with no more effort than a
mother lifting her babe. "Come," he exclaimed, "this
is no time for tears. Come along"; and he stepped to
the door. Mary followed.
Forms appeared in the darkness outside.
"Who are you? " demanded Father David.
A shout of delight gave answer and half a dozen
men, armed with rifles, followed Paul into the light
of the doorway. "It's you, Father David! We not
know you come," said the cripple. "We glad. We
come stop the people burning Thompson. These men
pray in church all day. God bring you back to us."
"Praise His name," was the fervent response of the
priest; "the seed was not all on stony ground.
"Thank you, my children," he added, and then,
looking back into the old hall, " Better bring Thompson
along. He needs some attention."
Without further speech the old doctor started away
with his burden. Mary followed as best she could, but
found it impossible to keep up with his long strides.
Weak from her exertions and the horrible spectacle
she had witnessed, she could not hurry and gradually
fell behind.
As she stumbled along, every outstanding object
was transformed in the darkness, by her imagination,
as a new and horrible menace. She cried aloud, and
found no relief in tears.
Now some person was walking beside her, someone
whose footsteps were halting. She would have screamed
but her throat suddenly parched. She cringed, as if
from a hand that would seize her, and fell.
" You'd better take my arm." It was the voice of Nellie. 208 HULDOWGET
"Oh, Nellie, it's you! Where have you been all
day?" For the moment she forgot her fear of the
girl who had believed her possessed of some malignant power.
"I went for Father David."
" You went for Father David! Why, he was at Sliam."
"Yes, I went there."
"Who with?"
"I went alone, in a canoe."
" But how did you get there to the fort ?" questioned
the servant. "I thought you were in bed."
"I stayed there till quite late. Then I woke and
found you gone and Martha there, and I made her
tell me what happened, and then I went to look for
John—for Mr. Collishaw, and—and—Nellie, it was
terrible," she sobbed.
"Never mind, Miss Mary," soothed the other.
"Never mind; come on, they'll be needing us." CHAPTER XVIII
The guest chamber at the Mission was always ready,
and to this Father David carried Collishaw and set
him gently down on the bed.
Martha appeared from the kitchen and he nodded
to her. "Stay here with him for a moment. Get his
coat and shirt off "; and he disappeared in the direction
of Mother's room.
Father David reappeared shortly, and there was less
anxiety in his face, for he had found his wife much
improved, having slept well during the day.
The doctor was in the dispensary when they carried
Thompson in. " Put him in the hospital, and I'll attend
to him presently," he said, as he gathered bandages,
antiseptic dressings and ointments, and started for
Collishaw's room. No longer was he the missioner
fretting over the waywardness of his flock, but the
keen-eyed, iron-nerved man of medicine.
As he passed through the living-room he saw Mary
sitting on a chair. There was a vacant stare in her
dry eyes. Near her, gazing pityingly at her, was the
half-breed girl.
He stopped and looked at the nurse. "I'll see if
she'll respond," he murmured, and, turning, issued
some instructions to Nellie. She disappeared, and
returned in a moment with Mary's white cap and
nurse's apron.
"Come, Miss Cunningham," said the doctor sharply.
"There's need of you in the sick-room"; and he held
her uniform before her.
"What? Yes?" she answered.
"Come, put these on"; and he dropped them on
her lap.
For an instant she looked at them dully. Then all
the force of her training came to her aid. "Yes,
doctor," she answered, and stood up. With a slight
smile and nod of his head, Father David proceeded
on his way. "I knew it would work," he told himself.
"Training is a wonderful thing. It will save her from
herself. The nurse will overcome the woman."
A moment later and Mary was beside him at the
bedside of Collishaw. As Father David had anticipated, she was once again the competent, careful
nurse, efficient in her work, and sympathetic and
considerate towards her patients.
"I don't like the look of that shoulder," commented
the doctor. "His hand is badly broken, but that will
mend all right; so will his rib; but there's danger
of infection in that wound on his shoulder where
Thompson bit him.
"There's only one thing that will prevent it"; and
he looked searchingly at the girl. " It's careful nursing."
He noted how she paled. " Do you think you're capable
of undertaking the task?"
"I am." There was an eagerness and a note of
determination in her answer that satisfied him.
" Then I'll leave him in your charge. You'd better stay
with him to-night. I can relieve you in the morning."
"Yes, sir," she said. "I will stay."
"He's in a delirium now. You might give him this
when he wakes"; and he indicated a small vial on
which he had marked directions.
"Yes, doctor."
"She will be able to carry on all right," muttered
Father David as he hurried away to attend to Thompson. "Poor child, but love is a great doctor."
Thompson's injuries were painful but not necessarily of a serious character. He was soon bandaged
and in bed, in a cot beside the one little Mark had
occupied the previous night. He looked at the still
rumpled bed clothing and shuddered at the sight,
then timidly asked that someone might stay the
night with him. The doctor nodded grimly, for he
had learned of the tragedy of the early morning and
understood. He sent for the two men who had carried
the necromancer to the hospital, and charged them
with the task of keeping vigil.
Mary sat beside Collishaw's bed, her cool hand
pressed on his heated brow, while great tears stood
out in the corners of her eyes and slowly trickled
down to fall on the coverlet. She forced back those
that would have followed.
"He'll hate me after this," she told herself and,
despite her effort to prevent them, tears again welled
to her eyes and her bosom heaved with emotion.
Now he was muttering. It was a prayer. She leaned
forward, her ears straining to catch his words. "O
Lord," he whispered, "I'm not asking you to save
me, but in the name of your Son who suffered, protect
Mary if anything happens to me, and don't let the
work of Father David be undone." 212 HULDOWGET
Her heart filled with a great joy. This had been
his prayer in a moment of great torment—not for
himself, but for her and Father David. She stooped
down and kissed him, and it seemed as if his wandering
mind comprehended, for a smile flickered over his
bruised and swollen mouth.
During the long night he went over the trial of the
day in his ravings, and from his utterances Mary
pieced together the whole story of his sacrifice. Her
name occurred frequently, and each mention of it
only served to convince her further of the manner in
which this fine young fellow loved her. She could not
but reproach herself with her unworthiness for so great
and holy an affection, and she kissed again and again
the finger-tips that showed from beneath the bandages
of his broken hand.
The dawn of another day was chasing the darkness
of night from the room when Collishaw half sat up in
bed. He pointed his right hand at the foot of the bed.
"See, see," he exclaimed. "See the shadow, see it.
Look, look, it's crawling up the box. There it goes.
It will save me. O God, hurry it.—Now it's gone,
I'm lost," and he sobbed. "No, there it is again.
Look, see it on the cage. See it, it's the shadow of
the Cross—I'm saved." He fell back on his pillow,
mumbling softly, "It's defeated the spirit of darkness."
A moment later and Mary knew by his measured
breathing that the delirium had given way to sleep.
She fell on her knees and poured out her soul in
When two hours later Father David relieved Mary
he marvelled at the change in the girl. She seemed to THE  GREATER SERVICE      213
have regained her strength by her night of watching,
and there was something in her face, a look of peace
and contentment, that had not been there the
night before.
"I can stay here longer," she protested. "I'm
not tired."
" No, you'd better go," he said. "You need the rest."
In the living-room, where breakfast had been spread
for her, she paused to refresh herself with a cup of tea.
Nellie approached with hanging head and flung herself down beside Mary, and buried her face in her lap.
"Oh," she wailed, "can you ever forgive me for
what I did?"
"You have done nothing to me," exclaimed the
white girl in astonishment.
"Yes, I have. I helped Caleb Thompson"; and
she poured out the whole miserable tale of her confederacy with the necromancer while Mary listened
in amazement.
"It was me sprinkled blood on you when you were
asleep—chicken blood," she wailed. "It was me put
the rat in your room to frighten you, and cut your
coat, and took the other things," she confessed. "He
told me you had a huldowget that would harm Mother
and Father David."
Only once did Mary interrupt: "Oh, Nellie!" she
said, and then, as the other concluded her recital,
"Can you tell me what it was I saw at the window
in the hospital?"
"That," said the girl, "was one of the old devil
masks. Thompson was watching you, and he put it
up against the window to scare you."
J 214
There was silence for a few moments, broken only
by the sobbing of the half-breed girl. Mary gently
stroked the bowed head on her lap, as she looked
with unseeing eyes out of the window at the waters
of the bay, which sparkled and glittered beneath the
morning sun. Her thoughts were with the man in the
sick-room and the knowledge of the suffering that
had been his, and of the great love he had disclosed
in his unconscious talk.
"Can you ever forgive me?" pleaded the servant.
"Nellie," Mary said gently, and she lifted the tear-
stained face so that she could look the girl in the
eyes—"Nellie," and she smiled sweetly, "can I blame
you when my own faith was so weak? I can forgive
you. I do so freely, for what I have suffered, but we
both—you and I—must beg forgiveness from Mr.
Collishaw and from Father David." Stooping, she
kissed the half-breed girl.
There came a loud rapping at the door, and before
Nellie could dry her eyes and respond to the summons
it opened to admit a big, rough-looking man with a
flaming red beard. "Whaur's Jock Collishaw, lassie?"
he demanded brusquely. " His boat's doon yonder, bit
whaur's the lad? "
"Ah, Finlayson, it's you," exclaimed Father David,
entering the room. "I'm glad indeed to see you."
"An' me t' see yersel', Faither," answered the
manager of the Dundee cannery. " Bit A'm seekin'
Collishaw. He stairted awa' in his wee boat frae the
cannery in the storm an' A've been worrit aboot
him since."
" He's hurt, Finlayson; but he'll be all right, I trust." "Hurted! Losh! The puir laddie. A tell'd him nae
tae try it, bit he would. He did it despite me. Bit
hoo did it a' happen?"
"Oh, he tried to stop a necromancer—a half-breed
—from carrying on his devilry, and there was a fight.
But—here, let me introduce you to Miss Cunningham,
our nurse and assistant here," added Father David as
Mary rose to leave the room.
"Good losh!" exclaimed Finlayson, and he dropped
into a chair and stared in open-mouthed amazement
at the girl. He extended his great rough hand, stopped,
looked searchingly at the nurse for a moment, and
then almost shouted:
"It was nae the canned corn! A see it a' the noo.
A was richt the firs' time, A was."
"What has canned corn to do with Miss Cunningham, Malcolm? Are you daft?" demanded Father
David in astonishment.
"Naethin', naethin' at a'," laughed the Scot as he
grasped Mary's hand and shook it again and again.
"Naethin' at a'," he repeated. "Bit ye see, Jock said
as he kenned he should be here an' in the airly morn
he said he'd a bit hunch like, an' I couldna stop him
comin'. A tell'd him it was canned corn we had fer
supper that was botherin' him"; and again the canner
shook with laughter. "Bit noo, I see it a'. It was th'
lassie here that was wantin' him."
Then soberly he asked, "Miss, aboot daybreak, did
ye call him—kind o' send oot a mind message
tae him?"
Mary looked at Father David and her eyes filled
with tears. 216 HULDOWGET
"Miss Cunningham," started the priest, "has had
a very trying time, Malcolm, so perhaps "
"Yes," interrupted Mary. "Yes, Father David. I did
call for him about daybreak—I—I called with all my
mind and all my soul and my very being—and—
and he came."
"Good losh!" exclaimed Finlayson, and he dropped
his jaw and stared in open-mouthed amazement at
the girl.
"Yes, I know; I understand," said the priest sympathetically. "I know, Mary. Now you run right along
and get some rest."
"Losh! She mist be Hielan' an' hae the secon'
sight," announced Finlayson with conviction when she
had gone.
When the canner heard the full story of the day he
insisted on staying at the Mission, "tae gie a nan'
aboot the place," as he described it, and Father
David, not sure to what extent the righting of the
wrongs done by the necromancer would require his
attention, gladly availed himself of the offer.
So it was that when Collishaw awoke that afternoon
he found Finlayson sitting by his bedside. The policeman looked at him for a moment, then down at the
white sheets. "Malcolm," he whispered, "is that you?"
"Aye, it's me," softly answered the Scot.
"Where am I?"
"Ye're in Faither Dauvid's house."
"And Mary—Miss Cunningham?"
"The lassie's fine," Finlayson assured him. "She's
haein' a bit sleep. She wis wi' you all nicht."
"And Father David? " THE  GREATER SERVICE      217
"He's aboot the village fer a wee. He's fine tae."
"Thank God.
"And, Finlayson, where's the other man—the half-
breed—Thompson; where's he?"
"He's nae sae fine," chuckled the canner. "He's in
the hospital. He'll be gettin' better though, an' that's
nae sae fine either," he added.
"Bit noo, the auld doctor says ye're nae tae talk,
an' ye're tae drink this "; and he lifted Collishaw's head
from the pillow with as much gentleness as a girl
would have shown, and held the glass while John drank.
The invalid was soon asleep again, and as Finlayson
sat watching, he exclaimed softly to himself, "This
love's a queer thing. Solomon was richt when he
said there's nae understandin' the way'o' a lad an'
a lass—an' Solomon kenned a' aboot them if ony
man did."
Gradually Collishaw gained in strength. As Father
David feared, the injury to his shoulder was the most
troublesome of his hurts. The broken rib and the bones
of his smashed hand mended rapidly, but the bite of
the sorcerer festered and caused him much pain.
Mary was in constant attendance, while Mother, now
slowly recovering from her illness, came often to sit
with him. Finlayson, too, the salmon run being well
over, came often to "hae a crack wi' the lad."
As soon as Mary considered him to be strong enough,
she and Nellie both came to his bedside to beg forgiveness and pour out anew their confessions. But he
stopped them and refused to listen, declaring that he
had nothing to forgive. He would not, thereafter,
permit them to even mention the affair. 218 HULDOWGET
But while he evaded discussing the fight and the
ordeal through which he had passed with others, his
own mind was filled with it, and often at night as he
lay awake he worried over it, for he believed that the
service he had rendered Mary had made it impossible
for him to attain his soul's desire. He could not, he
reasoned, hope now to speak of his regard, for it would
appear as if he was asking for payment of a debt. It
was this thought that retarded his complete recovery
more than the wounds he had received.
And Mary, watching him day by day, wondered
why it was that he did not voice the love for her
that his eyes assured her he possessed. Perhaps, she
told herself, he did not want to wed one who had
proved so untrustworthy, and many nights her pillow
was wet with tears as she thought of the penalty of
her lack of faith.
"There's something I can't understand worrying
the boy," Father David confided to his wife. "He's
not getting along as well as he should."
"Yes, David, I've noticed it too. I wonder what it
can be ?"
It remained for Finlayson to discover the cause.
On one of his visits to Fort Oliver the Scot was
sitting with Collishaw before the fire. They were alone
in the room.
"Jock, lad," he said, "ye're worrit aboot somethin'.
Noo A'm auld enough tae be yer faither, sae ye'll
no be mindin' me; bit is it aboot yon lassie?"
Collishaw did not answer.
"Well, jis' be gettin' better an' get marrit tae her,
fer she'll hae ye the meenute ye'll ask her." THE  GREATER SERVICE
"But, Malcolm," exclaimed the other, "I can't
ask her."
"An' why not? Ye're no marrit already?"
"Certainly not."
"An' there's nae ither lass?"
"No. But you don't understand—you couldn't, so
let's not speak of it any more."
"Weel, jis' as ye say, Jock," answered the Scot.
"Jis' as ye say"; but a plan was slowly taking shape
in his mind.
"Miss Mary," said Finlayson, a day or two later,
"A'm wantin' tae hae a wurrd wi' ye. Let's gae
When they were seated on a log on the beach he
ventured, "Ye'll nae be gettin' mad wi' me, lassie, fer
what A'm aboot tae say, fer it's concernin' Jock."
"Concerning Mr. Collishaw?"
"Aye. He's nae gettin' weel as fas' as he should,
an' it's nae his hurts either. It's his heid and his hairt
that's botherin' him, an' the auld doctor has nae lotion
that'll cure that trouble."
"Yes?" whispered the girl so low that it was hardly
"An' it's you that's tile cause. Noo, dinna be
greetin'," he cried in alarm as he saw tears spring
to her eyes. "A hae been speirin' him aboot it."
"You've been doing what to him? "
"Speirin' him—askin' him."
"Yes, yes?"
"Weel, ye see, it's somethin' A dinna understan'.
Noo if it wis aboot fish, A'd ken all aboot it, bit
aboot love " 220 HULDOWGET
"But, Malcolm, what did he say?" Her voice was
"Oh, aye," went on the canner, "he said as he
couldna ask ye. He wants tae all richt, bit he canna
dae it."
"Oh, Malcolm, you darling," cried the girl, and she
threw her arms about the astonished Scotsman's neck
and kissed him, and then jumped up and ran off to
the house and to her room.
"Good losh!" exclaimed Finlayson, and after a
moment, "Malcolm, ye auld scoundrel, ye may nae
look the pairt, bit A'm thinkin' ye're a braw cupid,"
and he laughed uproariously. "Aye, Malcolm, ye red-
heided auld cupid, ye."
Collishaw was to go out the following day for the
first time, and it had been arranged that Finlayson
was to accompany him, but at the breakfast table he
began to make excuses. "A'm thinkin' A canna dae
it," he said. "A mist pother aboot wi' the engine o'
my boat. Perhaps Mary'd gae a wee walk wi' ye, Jock."
And so it was that Mary accompanied him on his
walk. The first chills of autumn were painting the
foliage of the forest with glorious shades of old gold,
crimson and orange. The simshine of midday was breaking through the branches, weaving a wonderful tracery
of shadow and light on the leaf-strewn pathway beside
the creek. They stopped to permit Collishaw to rest,
"John," she said tremblingly, "do you remember
the last time we walked up this pathway?"
He nodded.
"And—and I said," she blushed, "that my life was
devoted to service." THE  GREATER SERVICE      221
Again he motioned with his head, not trusting himself to speak.
"John," and she dropped her head, "yours has been
the greater service."
He was trembling from head to foot as if seized
by a chill.
They were both silent. Then she looked up at him,
her face crimson with blushes.
"Must I say it, John? You may speak; I'm yours—
if you want me."
"Mary," was all that he could say. He opened wide
his arms, and with a glad cry she pillowed her head
against his breast.
FINIS X North Pacific Coast, by B* A. McKelvie, Vancouver, the publishers
of Everyman-s Library have, indeed,
found a "tale^which holdeth children
from play and old men from the
chimney corner." It will also' hold
many a middle-aged man and woman
from sleep with its series of climaxes
and its final breathless Indian witchcraft scene.
For Huldowget is a thrilling story
of the clash between the customs of
the aborigines of Canada and those
Who now hold the land. Its author
is well known as the popular chief
factor of, the Native Sons of British
Columbia and an ardent historian. This
is his first fiction book. It comes
closely after a History of British Columbia by the same author, and will
be followed soon by his book for boys
called Black Canyon, a tale of the
Fraser Canyon.
Huldowget* s plot is built on the fact
that spirit worship and the Indian
devil dances still hold sway under a
su*,f acinar of Christianity in settlements within a few miles of the heart
of Canadian civilization. Its scene is
4. Northern British Columbia coast
fishing village, where a mission has
been, established forty years. ^
Here, indeed, is a book of action.
Thrill follows thrill. Last minute rescues add to the excitement and mysterious happenings contribute those
touches: that * make ghost stories so
irresistible. >The' movement is swift
and decisive. Even the description is
conveyed by; action, and one of the
word pictures is, that of sea birds
fleeing to>< safety as a mighty storm
sweeps toward the Indian settlement.
For Mr. McKelvie has woven the
spirit of unrest not only Into the
hearts of a once docile Indian mission
flock, but has. Imbued the earth and
sea and air with it.
• The plot gathers speed chapter by
chapter^f^It is a placid reader who
quietly opens the first page of Huldowget. He is shown a small mission at
Fort Oliver, up the coast. The missionary, apparently successful after
forty years of service In winning the
Indian village to Christianity, hears
grim rumors that a "shaman," or witch
doctor, has come secretly into the settlement and is practicing horrible
rites. Huldowget is Tsimpshean for
"evil spirit," which the witch doctor
dares to tell the Indians has entered
the  body  of  the beautiful  white  girl.
At once, In the first chapter, the bat-
tie between the cultures of two great
races is Joined. Father David, missionary, has not "only the patient loving spirit of his Master,  but  is con
sumed with tne energy of the Crusader.
Almost before the gauntlet is thrown-
he takes the field. Practically each
chapter thereafter is a skirmish or
engagement between cohorts of the two
sides. And none are lacking in action.
There is a love element too. For
the witch doctor, a half-breed, wants
to wed the missionary's assistant, a
beautiful girl. But a British Columbia police officer also falls In love with
her. The girl loves the white man,
but falls tinder the .spell of the breed.
So the tenseness of the original situation is doubled;
Then.- other excitements are added,
all relevant to the plot and all consequent on the situation briefly told in
the first few pages.
Finally comes the grim denouement
when the -white jj policeman and the
half-breed, witch 1 dbbtor; Are pitted
against each other In a primitive trial
scene. ' ijflls
A terrified mouse holds their fate In
the balance. ^M* Hwm
For the two men are being tried by
the north coast Indian parallel of our
ancient.   trial    by    fire-—:tiie    trial   by
1 mouse.    A1 movement by thev little ani-
l mal when in the presence of the men
1 on trial fixes the guilt on one of them,
j say  the   rules   of* this   rite.      Fortunately   in  this' story,    the   frightened
mouse,   by   an   instinctive    movement,
gives   life    to    the    white    man,    and
awards   the   death   and   torture   with
demoniacal- rites to his enemy. Fortunately too the half-breed is rescued at
the last moment from the penalty for
his crimes by help from an unhopedfor  quarter.
So the story ends happily ever after;
and the reader sinks to the sleep ■ of
The reader of Huldowget is swept
whole-heartedly along in this torrent
of happenings. Indeed, the most prob-1
able   criticism   of   the  author  will  be
that he hurries up too much. He has
conceived an incomparable situation in
which the civilizations of two peoples
are mobilized against each other. Indians, and their spirit worship, is
what the story is about, and a few
readers would like a little more time
to dwell on the problem.
Largely  by  speed  and  concentrated
action, Mr. McKelvie has successfully
• impressed   on   the   reader   that   Indian
1 beliefs  can  not  be  wholly  wiped  out
I in a generation.    After nearly half a
I century of service  Father David was
still   not   In   absolute   control   of   his
people, runs the story.
Perhaps In no other way than by
swift action could the author have so
distinctly and definitely filled the mind
of the oasual reader with the depth
of   Indian  veneration   for   the  beliefs of his fathers. Having served that
purpose he quiokly ends his book. Yet
the more thoughtful reader, whose interest has thus been so spectacularly
aroused, is left with a slight feeling
of disappointment that the historian
was unable to pursue further some of
the problems raised in the story, and
that the graphic writer did not develop a little more the original characters gathered together there.
I For real insight and imagination are
j shown In some brief glimpses of tribal
life and of missionary experiences,
Mr. McKelvie refuses to be the
judge when he touches on certain aspects of our religion. He throws
them into contrast with the beliefs
of his north coast Indians. But he
shows In his dialogue that the Indians
find some of our .Old and New Testament stories as difficult for them to
believe as we think theirs are.
A Canadian ethnologist, Mr. B. Sapir,
says the Indians of the' ooast had a
vague notion of one supreme being,
and Mr. McKelvie bears him out. He
has one of his Indian characters tell
a Nass legend of the creation. Very
interesting, it is a little cruder than
ours,    jfig^l f?H
Here It is:
There was one old man dwelling in
the sky. He owned the light He had
one "maa" or big box with the sun in
it, and one with the moon in it and
a third containing the stars. In all
the world there was only one man,
named Wiggett JHe wanted these
things. So he changed himself into a
raven and flew up through the hole in
the sky to the old man's home.    And
using the old man's daughter, he obtained  all  these valuable boxes.
He emptied the ones containing the
stars and the moon through the hole
in the sky and they spread over the
heavens. He took down to earth the
box containing the sun, and thus the
world had light. This man Wiggett
also formed several coast islands.
Here Is an illuminating dialogue on
another question: ,
"What   do   you   see   on   the   top   off!
the   church?"   asks   one   of   the   char-p
acters in Huldowget of another.
"Why, the cross, of course,"
"Well, Ifs a totem," is the response.
"It tells the story of Christianity. The^
totem   poles   are   symbols   of   Indian;
stories    while     the     cross     tells    of
Christianity." This thesis is elaborated!
Here   is  the  Lord's  Prayer   In  Chinook:
"Our Father who stays in the above!
good in our hearts be your name. Good
your chief among all people; good youij
will upon earth as In the above.    Give
every day our food. If we do bad be
not angry, and if anyone makes bad
to us, not angry we to them. Send
away from us all bad.**
It will be seen that the Indian's
conception of our religion must thus-
be considerably limited by difficulties
of language. It will indeed be understood also that much of the successful evangelism, on the coast must have
been the result less of the doctrines
of the Testaments, scarcely understood
by them, than of the examples set by
the missionaries themselves, who fled
comfort and braved danger to spread
the Gospel. Mr. McKelvie pays well-
deserved tribute to their work in his
Thus in Huldowget we have not only
a hair-raising story, but brief glimpses
of the task, requiring imagination and
courage, of those who would weave
into the best of the Indian religion
the best in our own.
We have six main characters in
Huldowget. Father David, the missionary, is a giant who believes in
muscular Christianity. He subdues
his enemies by brawn and holds his
flock together by love. Their well-
being is his heart His battle-cry is
the sword of the Lord and of Gideon.
With his two fists he almost kills an
enemy, and then sends him to his own
little mission hospital and tends him
until  cured.
Mother, the missionary's wife, is at
heart a womanly counterpart of her
husband. Mary, the heroine, is assistant at the hospital, and her soul of a
mystic is fruitful soil for the machinations of the half-breed witch doctor.
In his description of the storm, Mr.
McKelvie pictures her looking over the
rising waters. Her golden hair over
her shoulders in picturesque disorder,
she "looked like some goddess of the
ancients making her appeal to the sun,
or like the daughter of a Viking tendering offerings to the storm king for
the safe return of her lord."
'Nellie, the Indian girl, Is domestic
of the missionary's household, and her
religion is a veneer of Christianity,
with an Instinctive dread of Huldowget Her real religion is one of service to the beloved missionary and his
The half-breed witch doctor is a
combination of the worst elements in
two races. He works magic for his
own ends, wherein he resembles the
medicine man, whom Paul Kane, the
artist met in his Journey froin Toronto to the Coast more than "sixty
years ago, and who sold six days of
favorable winds to the artist for a
plug of tobacco, having reduced it
from an initial demand of three days
for a pound of tobacco. Personally,
I should have wished Mr., McKelvie
had not made suoh a bad man a half-
breed,   for   I   have   met   many   half-
. breeds who are  industrious  and lovable.
Collishaw, the policeman, is a brave
man, who loves the golden-haired
nurse, and whose fearlessness helps
win the day for the white man. A
seventh character is Finlayson, whose
fetish Is the doctrine of the Presbyterian Church, and whose besetting sin
Is love of whisky. There are plenty
of Indians, too, in the story.
All these characters cast themselves
with all the force of their beings and
all the movement of which they are
capable into working out the theme of
a story of action.
! Mr. McKelvie is to be congratulated
on this, his first story, and may be
expected eventually to take a definite
place in  the world of the  historian-
l novelist. _<3, g.
Here's Unique Praise
For Novel Written
Ti yrR. B. A. McKELVIE, author ht
IYI "Huldowget," has received the
following letter of commendation.
It is written in Chinook and probably
is unique among literary criticisms:
Mr. B. A. McKelvie,
Papa of Huldowget Book,
Province- Newspaper.
Nika hyas klossh tumtum. kopa mika
"book yaka neme Huldowget. Mika
mamook delate kloosh tsum pepa; mike
delate kloosh kumutx knoawa itka
kopa Siwash wawa.
Mika kakhwa Siwash tillicum.
Spose mika mammook hlyu tsum
peepa, kopa Siwash tillicum mika
iskum hiyu chickamun.
Nika chako kopa Kak-wee-kin River
by by mika kooli nika house yaka
mamook salmon. Kopa kole ilahie
klosh muckamuck.
A free translation of the above letter
is as follows:
• I have a good feeling to your book
named   Huldowget.     Your   action   is
straight good writing. You have understanding of all what Siwash. talk.
j You like your Siwash friend.
If you work on big writing paper
for. Siwash friends you will receive lots
of money.
I come to Kak-wee-kin River. By
and by you travel to my house, lots
of salmon; in winter good food.
■crj   rain..*. ~    ^iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin
=    Also by =
Author of "Huldowget"
§§ In The Early History of British Columbia, Mr §=
§§ McKelvie has caught the spirit of the times of |
H which he writes, and has entertainingly depicted §
H the pageantry of the country in its progression 1
§= from a wilderness to the present day.
Cloth, 60 cents.    Leather, $1.00


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