The young man turned to the girl, his lips set in a thin, hard line. “Bully West. The dog’s gone back and is bringin’ him here, I reckon. Like to meet him?”
She knew the reputation of Bully West, notorious as a brawler and a libertine. Who in all the North did not know of it? Her heart fluttered a signal of despair.
“I—I can get away yet—up the valley,” she said in a whisper, eyes quick with fear.
He smiled grimly. “You mean we can.”
“Hit the trail.”
She turned and led the way into the darkness.
ANGUS McRAE DOES HIS DUTY
The harsh shout came to them again, and with it a volley of oaths that polluted the night.
Sleeping Dawn quickened her pace. The character of Bully West was sufficiently advertised in that single outburst. She conceived him bloated, wolfish, malignant, a man whose mind traveled through filthy green swamps breeding fever and disease. Hard though this young man was, in spite of her hatred of him, of her doubt as to what lay behind those inscrutable, reddish-brown eyes of his, she would a hundred times rather take chances with him than with Bully West. He was at least a youth. There was always the possibility that he might not yet have escaped entirely from the tenderness of boyhood.
Morse followed her silently with long, tireless, strides. The girl continued to puzzle him. Even her manner of walking expressed personality. There was none of the flat-footed Indian shuffle about her gait. She moved lightly, springily, as one does who finds in it the joy of calling upon abundant strength.
She was half Scotch, of course. That helped to explain her. The words of an old song hummed themselves through his mind.
“Yestreen I met a winsome lass,
a bonny lass was she,
As ever climbed the mountain-side, or tripped aboon the lea;
She wore nae gold, nae jewels bright, nor silk nor satin rare,
But just the plaidie that a queen might well be proud to wear.”
Jessie McRae wore nothing half so picturesque as the tartan. Her clothes were dingy and dust-stained. But they could not eclipse the divine, dusky youth of her. She was slender, as a panther is, and her movements had more than a suggestion of the same sinuous grace.
Of the absurdity of such thoughts he was quite aware. She was a good-looking breed. Let it go at that. In story-books there were Indian princesses, but in real life there were only squaws.
Not till they were out of the danger zone did he speak. “Where’s your father’s camp?”
She pointed toward the northwest. “You don’t need to be afraid. He’ll pay you for the damage I did.”
He looked at her in the steady, appraising way she was to learn as a peculiarity of his.
“I’m not afraid,” he drawled. “I’ll get my pay—and you’ll get yours.”