“So I find you. Hungry?”
“No. I shot a fox.”
“Then we go now.” He looked at her feet. “Where your snowshoes?”
“West took them to keep me here. I’m making a pair. Come. We’ll finish them.”
They moved toward the house. Onistah stopped. The girl followed his eyes. They were fastened on a laden dog-train with two men moving across a lake near the shore of which the cabin had been built.
Her fear-filled gaze came back to the Indian.
“It’s West and Mr.
Whaley. What’ll we do?”
Already he was kneeling, fumbling with the straps of his snowshoes. “You go find your father. Follow trail to camp. Then you send him here. I hide in woods.”
“No—no. They’ll find you, and that West would shoot you.”
“Onistah know tricks. They no find him.”
He fastened the snow-webs on her feet while she was still protesting. She glanced again at the dog-train jogging steadily forward. If she was going, it must be at once. Soon it would be too late for either of them to escape.
“You will hide in the woods, won’t you, so they can’t find you?” she implored.
He smiled reassurance. “Go,” he said.
Another moment, and she was pushing over the crust along the trail by which the Blackfoot had come.
The hunters brought back three caribou and two sacks of rabbits, supplies enough to enable West to reach Lookout. The dogs were stronger than when they had set out, for they had gorged themselves on the parts of the game unfit for human use.
Nothing had been said by either of the men as to what was to be done with Jessie McRae, but the question was in the background of both their thoughts, just as was the growing anger toward each other that consumed them. They rarely spoke. Neither of them let the other drop behind him. Neither had slept a wink the previous night. Instead, they had kept themselves awake with hot tea. Fagged out after a day of hard hunting, each was convinced his life depended on wakefulness. West’s iron strength had stood the strain without any outward signs of collapse, but Whaley was stumbling with fatigue as he dragged himself along beside the sled.
The bad feeling between the partners was near the explosion point. It was bound to come before the fugitive started on his long trip north. The fellow had a single-track mind. He still intended to take the girl with him. When Whaley interfered, there would be a fight. It could not come too soon to suit West. His brooding had reached the point where he was morally certain that the gambler meant to betray him to the police and set them on his track.
Smoke was rising from the chimney of the hut. No doubt the McRae girl was inside, waiting for them with a heart of fear fluttering in her bosom. Whaley’s thin lips set grimly. Soon now it would be a show-down.