West, revolver close at hand, cut thongs from the caribou skins. He tied his captive hand and foot, then removed his moccasins and duffles. From the fire he raked out a live coal and put it on a flat chip. This he brought across the room.
“Changed yore mind any? Where’s the girl?” he demanded.
Onistah looked at him, impassive as only an Indian can be.
“Still sulky, eh? We’ll see about that.”
The convict knelt on the man’s ankles and pushed the coal against the naked sole of the brown foot.
An involuntary deep shudder went through the Blackfoot’s body. The foot twitched. An acrid odor of burning flesh filled the room. No sound came from the locked lips.
The tormentor removed the coal. “I ain’t begun to play with you yet. I’m gonna give you some real Apache stuff ’fore I’m through. Where’s the girl? I’m gonna find out if I have to boil you in grease.”
Still Onistah said nothing.
West brought another coal. “We’ll try the other foot,” he said.
Again the pungent acrid odor rose to the nostrils.
“How about it now?” the convict questioned.
No answer came. This time Onistah had fainted.
“Is A’ well wi’ you, lass?”
Jessie’s shoes crunched on the snow-crust. She traveled fast. In spite of Onistah’s assurance her heart was troubled for him. West and Whaley would study the tracks and come to at least an approximation of the truth. She did not dare think of what the gorilla-man would do to her friend if they captured him.
And how was it possible that they would not find him? His footsteps would be stamped deep in the snow. He could not travel fast. Since he had become a Christian, the Blackfoot, with the simplicity of a mind not used to the complexities of modern life, accepted the words of Jesus literally. He would not take a human life to save his own.
She blamed herself for escaping at his expense. The right thing would have been to send him back again for her father. But West had become such a horrible obsession with her that the sight of him even at a distance had put her in a panic.
From the end of the lake she followed the trail Onistah had made. It took into the woods, veering sharply to the right. The timber was open. Even where the snow was deep, the crust was firm enough to hold.
In her anxiety it seemed that hours passed. The sun was still fairly high, but she knew how quickly it sank these winter days.
She skirted a morass, climbed a long hill, and saw before her another lake. On the shore was a camp. A fire was burning, and over this a man stooping.
At the sound of her call, the man looked up. He rose and began to run toward her. She snowshoed down the hill, a little blindly, for the mist of glad tears brimmed her eyes.