“MALBROUCK S’EN VA-T-EN GUERRE”
Inspector MacLean was present in person when the two man-hunters of the North-West Mounted returned to Faraway. Their reception was in the nature of a pageant. Gayly dressed voyageurs and trappers, singing old river songs that had been handed down to them from their fathers, unharnessed the dogs and dragged the cariole into town. In it sat Beresford, still unfit for long and heavy mushing. Beside it slouched West, head down, hands tied behind his back, the eyes from the matted face sending sidling messages of hate at the capering crowd. At his heels moved Morse, grim and tireless, an unromantic figure of dominant efficiency.
Long before the worn travelers and their escort reached the village, Jessie could hear the gay lilt of the chantey that heralded their coming:
“Malbrouck s’en va-t-en guerre,
The girl hummed it herself, heart athrob with excitement. She found herself joining in the cheer of welcome that rose joyously when the cavalcade drew into sight. In her cheeks fluttered eager flags of greeting. Tears brimmed the soft eyes, so that she could hardly distinguish Tom Morse and Win Beresford, the one lean and gaunt and grim, the other pale and hollow-eyed from illness, but scattering smiles of largesse. For her heart was crying, in a paraphrase of the great parable, “He was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”
Beresford caught sight of the Inspector’s face and chuckled like a schoolboy caught in mischief. This gay procession, with its half-breeds in tri-colored woolen coats, its gay-plumed voyageurs suggesting gallant troubadours of old in slashed belts and tassels, was not quite the sort of return to set Inspector MacLean cheering. Externally, at least, he was a piece of military machinery. A trooper did his work, and that ended it. In the North-West Mounted it was not necessary to make a gala day of it because a constable brought in his man. If he didn’t bring him in—well, that would be another and a sadder story for the officer who fell down on the assignment.
As soon as Beresford and Morse had disposed of their prisoner and shaken off their exuberant friends, they reported to the Inspector. He sat at a desk and listened dryly to their story. Not till they had finished did he make any comment.
“You’ll have a week’s furlough to recuperate, Constable Beresford. After that report to the Writing-on-Stone detachment for orders. Here’s a voucher for your pay, Special Constable Morse. I’ll say to you both that it was a difficult job well done.” He hesitated a moment, then proceeded to free his mind. “As for this Roman triumph business—victory procession with prisoners chained to your chariot wheels—quite unnecessary, I call it.”
Beresford explained, smilingly. “We really couldn’t help it, sir. They were bound to make a Roman holiday out of us whether we wanted to or not. You know how excitable the French are. Had to have their little frolic out of it.”