He glanced rapidly to right and left, then slipped a small object into the stranger’s hand.
“Ba, I t’ink does ole man is know dat. I t’ink he kip you here till tam w’en dose perdrix and duck is all grow up beeg’ nuff so he can fly.”
“I’m not watched,” said the young man in eager tones: “I’ll slip away to-night.”
“Dat no good,” objected Picard. “Wat you do? S’pose you do dat, dose coureurs keel you toute suite. Dey is have good excuse, an’ you is have nothing to mak’ de fight. You sleep away, and dose ole man is sen’ out plaintee Injun. Dey is fine you sure. Ba, eef he sen’ you out, den he sen’ onlee two Injun. Maybee you fight dem; I don’ know. Non, mon ami, eef you is wan’ get away w’en dose ole man he don’ know eet, you mus’ have dose carabine. Den you is have wan leetle chance. Ba, eef you is not have heem dose carabine, you mus’ need dose leetle grub he geev you, and not plaintee Injun follow you, onlee two.”
“And I cannot get the rifle.”
“An’ dose ole man is don’ sen’ you out till eet is too late for mak’ de grub on de fores’. Dat’s w’at I t’ink. Dat ees not fonny for you.”
Ned Trent’s eyes were almost black with thought. Suddenly he threw his head up.
“I’ll make him send me out now,” he asserted confidently.
“How you mak’ eet him?”
“I’ll talk turkey to him till he’s so mad he can’t see straight. Then maybe he’ll send me out right away.”
“How you mak’ eet him so mad? inquired Picard, with mild curiosity.
“Never you mind—I’ll do it”
“Ba oui,” ruminated Picard, “He is get mad pret’ queeck. I t’ink p’raps dat plan he go all right. You was get heem mad plaintee easy. Den maybee he is sen’ you out toute suite—maybee he is shoot you.”
“I’ll take the chances—my friend.”
“Ba oui,” shrugged Achille Picard, “eet is wan chance.”
He commenced to roll another cigarette.
Having sat buried in thought for a full five minutes after the traders of the winter posts had left him, Galen Albret thrust back his chair and walked into a room, long, low, and heavily raftered, strikingly unlike the Council Room. Its floor was overlaid with dark rugs; a piano of ancient model filled one corner; pictures and books broke the wall; the lamps and the windows were shaded, a woman’s work-basket and a tea-set occupied a large table. Only a certain barbaric profusion of furs, the huge fireplace, and the rough rafters of the ceiling differentiated the place from the drawing-room of a well-to-do family anywhere.
Galen Albret sank heavily into a chair and struck a bell. A tall, slightly stooped English servant, with correct side whiskers and incompetent, watery blue eyes, answered. To him said the Factor: