“I spoke for that first, Tom. Had miners on it, I thought.”
The American laughed sardonically. “It was a present for a good boy,” he explained. “I’ve a notion somebody was glad I was mushin’ with you on this trip. Maybe you can guess why. Anyhow, I drew a present out of it.”
“I see you did,” Beresford answered, grinning.
“I’m to look after you proper an’ see you’re tucked up.”
“Oh, that’s it?”
“That’s just it.”
The constable looked at him queerly, started to say something, then changed his mind.
A PICTURE IN A LOCKET
It was characteristic of McRae that he had insisted on bringing Whaley to his own home to recuperate. “It’s nursin’ you need, man, an’ guid food. Ye’ll get baith at the hoose.”
The trader protested, and was overruled. His Cree wife was not just now able to look after him. McRae’s wife and daughter made good his promise, and the wounded man thrived under their care.
On an afternoon Whaley lay on the bed in his room smoking. Beside him sat Lemoine, also puffing at a pipe. The trapper had brought to the ex-gambler a strange tale of a locket and a ring he had seen bought by a half-breed from a Blackfoot squaw who claimed to have had it eighteen years. He had just finished telling of it when Jessie knocked at the door and came into the room with a bowl of caribou broth.
Whaley pretended to resent this solicitude, but his objection was a fraud. He liked this girl fussing over him. His attitude toward her was wholly changed. Thinking of her as a white girl, he looked at her with respect.
“No more slops,” he said. “Bring me a good caribou steak and I’ll say thank you.”
“You’re to eat what Mother sends,” she told him.
Lemoine had risen from the chair on which he had been sitting. He stared at her, a queer look of puzzled astonishment in his eyes. Jessie became aware of his gaze and flashed on him a look of annoyance.
“Have you seen a ghost, Mr. Lemoine?” she asked.
“By gar, maybeso, Miss Jessie. The picture in the locket, it jus’ lak you—same hair, same eyes, same smile.”
“What picture in what locket?”
“The locket I see at Whoop-Up, the one Pierre Roubideaux buy from old Makoye-kin’s squaw.”
“A picture of a Blackfoot?”
“No-o. Maybe French—maybe from the ’Merican country. I do not know.”
Whaley took the pipe from his mouth and sat up, the chill eyes in his white face fixed and intent. “Go back to Whoop-Up, Lemoine. Buy that locket and that ring for me from Pierre Roubideaux. See Makoye-kin—and his squaw. Find out where she got it—and when. Run down the whole story.”
The trapper took off a fur cap and scratched his curly poll. “Mais—pourquois? All that will take money, is it not so?”