“I can’ do eet,” he declared. “I can’ do eet for t’ousand dollar—ten t’ousand. I don’t t’ink you fin’ anywan on dis settlement w’at can dare do eet. He is wan devil. He’s count all de carabine on dis pos’, an’ w’en he is mees wan, he fin’ out purty queek who is tak’ heem.”
“Steal one from someone else,” suggested Trent.
“He fin’ out jess sam’,” objected the half-breed, obstinately. “You don’ know heem. He mak’ you geev yourself away, when he lak’ do dat.” The smile had left the man’s face. This was evidently too serious a matter to be taken lightly.
“Well, come with me, then,” urged Ned Trent, with some impatience. “A thousand dollars I’ll give you. With that you can be rich somewhere else.”
But the man was becoming more and more uneasy, glancing furtively from left to right and back again, in an evident panic lest the conversation be overheard, although the nearest dwelling-house was a score of yards distant.
“Hush,” he whispered. “You mustn’t talk lak’ dat. Dose ole man fin’ you out. You can’ hide away from heem. Ole tam long ago, Pierre Cadotte is stole feefteen skin of de otter—de sea-otter—and he is sol’ dem on Winnipeg. He is get ’bout thousand beaver—five hunder’ dollar. Den he is mak’ dose longue voyage wes’—ver’ far wes’—on dit Peace Reever. He is mak’ heem dose cabane, w’ere he is leev long tam wid wan man of Mackenzie. He is call it hees nam’ Dick Henderson. I is meet Dick Henderson on Winnipeg las’ year, w’en I mak’ paddle on dem Factor Brigade, an’ dose High Commissionaire. He is tol’ me wan night pret’ late he wake up all de queeck he can w’en he is hear wan noise in dose cabane, an’ he is see wan Injun, lak’ phantome ’gainst de moon to de door. Dick Henderson he is ‘sleep, he don’ know w’at he mus’ do. Does Injun is step ver’ sof’ an’ go on bunk of Pierre Cadotte. Pierre Cadotte is mak’ de beeg cry. Dick Henderson say he no see dose Injun no more, an’ he fin’ de door shut’ Ba Pierre Cadotte, she’s go dead. He is mak’ wan beeg hole in hees ches’.”
“Some enemy, some robber frightened Away because the Henderson man woke up, probably,” suggested Ned Trent.
The half-breed laid his hand impressively on the other’s arm and leaned forward until his bright black eyes were within a foot of the other’s face.
“Wen dose Injun is stan’ heem in de moonlight, Dick Henderson is see hees face. Dick Henderson is know all dose Injun. He is tole me dat Injun is not Peace Reever Injun. Dick Henderson is say dose Injun is Ojibway Injun—Ojibway Injun two t’ousand mile wes’—on Peace Reever! Dat’s curi’s!”
“I was tell you nodder story—” went on Achille, after a moment.
“Never mind,” interrupted the Trader. “I believe you.”
“Maybee,” said Achille cheerfully, “you stan’ some show—not moche—eef he sen’ you out pret’ queeck. Does small perdrix is yonge, an’ dose duck. Maybee you is catch dem, maybee you is keel dem wit’ bow an’ arrow. Dat’s not beeg chance. You mus’ geev dose coureurs de bois de sleep w’en you arrive. Voila, I geev you my knife!”