“You know I didn’t mean that, little pal.” His sunny smile was disarming. “What I mean is that he’s sorry for what he did. Why not give him a chance to be friends?”
“Well, we gave him a chance to-night, didn’t we? And he chose not to take it. What do you want me to do—go and thank him kindly for having me whipped?”
Beresford gave up with a shrug. He knew when he had said enough. Some day the seed he had dropped might germinate.
“Wouldn’t it be a good idea to work a W.B. on that case?” he asked with friendly impudence. “Then if I lost it, whoever found it could return it.”
“I don’t give presents to people who lose them,” she parried.
Her dancing eyes were very bright as they met his. She loved the trim lines of his clean beautiful youth and the soul expressed by them.
Matapi-Koma waddled into the room and the Mounted Policeman transferred his attention to her. She weighed two hundred twelve pounds, but was not sensitive on the subject. Beresford claimed anxiously that she was growing thin.
The Indian woman merely smiled on him benignantly. She liked him, as all women did. And she hoped that he would stay in the country and marry Sleeping Dawn.
ONISTAH READS SIGN
McRae fitted Jessie’s snowshoes.
“You’ll be hame before the dark, lass,” he said, a little anxiously.
The hunter turned to Onistah. “She’s in your care, lad. Gin the weather changes, or threatens to, let the traps go and strike for the toon. You’re no’ to tak chances.”
“Back assam weputch (very early),” promised the Blackfoot.
He was proud of the trust confided to him. To him McRae was a great man. Among many of the trappers and the free traders the old Scot’s word was law. They came to him with their disputes for settlement and abided by his decisions. For Angus was not only the patriarch of the clan, if such a loose confederation of followers could be called a clan; he was esteemed for his goodness and practical common sense.
Onistah’s heart swelled with an emotion that was more than vanity. His heart filled with gladness that Jessie should choose him as guide and companion to snowshoe with her out into the white forests where her traps were set. For the young Indian loved her dumbly, without any hope of reward, in much the same way that some of her rough soldiers must have loved Joan of Arc. Jessie was a mistress whose least whim he felt it a duty to obey. He had worshiped her ever since he had seen her, a little eager warm-hearted child, playing in his mother’s wigwam. She was as much beyond his reach as the North Star. Yet her swift tender smile was for him just as it was for Fergus.
They shuffled out of the village into the forest that crept up to the settlement on all sides. Soon they were deep in its shadows, pushing along the edge of a muskeg which they skirted carefully in order not to be hampered by its treacherous boggy footing.