“What did he do to you?” she cried, a constriction of dread at her heart.
A ghost of a smile touched the immobile face of the native. “Apache stuff, he called it.”
“West burned his feet to make him tell where you were,” Beresford told her gently.
“Oh!” she cried, in horror.
“Good old Onistah. He gamed it out. Wouldn’t say a word. West saw us coming and hit the trail.”
“Is he—is he—?”
“I mean Onistah.”
“Suffering to beat the band, but not a whimper out of him. He’s not permanently hurt—be walking around in a week or two.”
“You poor boy!” the girl cried softly, and she put her arm under the Indian’s head to lift it to an easier position.
The dumb lips of the Blackfoot did not thank her, but the dark eyes gave her the gratitude of a heart wholly hers.
All that night the house was a hospital. The country was one where men had learned to look after hurts without much professional aid. In a rough way Angus McRae was something of a doctor. He dressed the wounds of both the injured, using the small medical kit he had brought with him.
Whaley was a bit of a stoic himself. The philosophy of his class was to take good fortune or ill undemonstratively. He was lucky to be alive. Why whine about what must be?
But as the fever grew on him with the lengthening hours, he passed into delirium. Sometimes he groaned with pain. Again he fell into disconnected babble of early days. He was back again with his father and mother, living over his wild and erring youth.
“... Don’t tell Mother. I’ll square it all right if you keep it from her.... Rotten run of cards. Ninety-seven dollars. You’ll have to wait, I tell you.... Mother, Mother, if you won’t cry like that ...”
McRae used the simple remedies he had. In themselves they were, he knew, of little value. He must rely on good nursing and the man’s hardy constitution to pull him through.
With Morse and Beresford he discussed the best course to follow. It was decided that Morse should take Onistah and Jessie back to Faraway next day and return with a load of provisions. Whaley’s fever must run its period. It was impossible to tell yet whether he would live or die, but for some days at least it would not be safe to move him.
NOT GOING ALONE
“Morse, I’ve watched ye through four-five days of near-hell. I ken nane I’d rather tak wi’ me as a lone companion on the long traverse. You’re canny an’ you’re bold. That’s why I’m trustin’ my lass to your care. It’s a short bit of a trip, an’ far as I can see there’s nae danger. But the fear’s in me. That’s the truth, man. Gie me your word you’ll no’ let her oot o’ your sight till ye hand her ower to my wife at Faraway.”