“Down, Kazan—down!” she commanded.
At the sound of her voice he relaxed.
“Down!” she repeated, and her free hand fell on his head again. He slunk to her feet. But his lips were still drawn back. Thorpe was watching him. He wondered at the deadly venom that shot from the wolfish eyes, and looked at McCready. The big guide had uncoiled his long dog-whip. A strange look had come into his face. He was staring hard at Kazan. Suddenly he leaned forward, with both hands on his knees, and for a tense moment or two he seemed to forget that Isobel Thorpe’s wonderful blue eyes were looking at him.
That one word—charge—was taught only to the dogs in the service of the Northwest Mounted Police. Kazan did not move. McCready straightened, and quick as a shot sent the long lash of his whip curling out into the night with a crack like a pistol report.
The rumble in Kazan’s throat deepened to a snarling growl, but not a muscle of his body moved. McCready turned to Thorpe.
“I could have sworn that I knew that dog,” he said. “If it’s Pedro, he’s bad!”
Thorpe was taking the chain. Only the girl saw the look that came for an instant into McCready’s face. It made her shiver. A few minutes before, when the train had first stopped at Les Pas, she had offered her hand to this man and she had seen the same thing then. But even as she shuddered she recalled the many things her husband had told her of the forest people. She had grown to love them, to admire their big rough manhood and loyal hearts, before he had brought her among them; and suddenly she smiled at McCready, struggling to overcome that thrill of fear and dislike.
“He doesn’t like you,” she laughed at him softly. “Won’t you make friends with him?”
She drew Kazan toward him, with Thorpe holding the end of the chain. McCready came to her side as she bent over the dog. His back was to Thorpe as he hunched down. Isobel’s bowed head was within a foot of his face. He could see the glow in her cheek and the pouting curve of her mouth as she quieted the low rumbling in Kazan’s throat. Thorpe stood ready to pull back on the chain, but for a moment McCready was between him and his wife, and he could not see McCready’s face. The man’s eyes were not on Kazan. He was staring at the girl.
“You’re brave,” he said. “I don’t dare do that. He would take off my hand!”
He took the lantern from Thorpe and led the way to a narrow snow-path branching off, from the track. Hidden back in the thick spruce was the camp that Thorpe had left a fortnight before. There were two tents there now in place of the one that he and his guide had used. A big fire was burning in front of them. Close to the fire was a long sledge, and fastened to trees just within the outer circle of firelight Kazan saw the shadowy forms and gleaming