“By God, young man!” he thundered, “you go too far! Take heed! I will not stand this! Do not you presume to make love to my daughter before my eyes!”
And Ned Trent, just within the dusky circle of lamplight, where the bold, sneering lines of Ins face stood out in relief against the twilight of the room, threw back his head and laughed. It was a clear laugh, but low, and in it were all the devils of triumph, and of insolence. Where the studied insult of words had failed, this single cachinnation succeeded. The Trade saw his opponent’s eyes narrow. For a moment he thought the Factor was about to spring on him.
Then, with an effort that blackened his face with blood, Galen Albret controlled himself, and fell to striking the call-bell violently and repeatedly with the palm of his hand. After a moment Matthews, the English servant, came running in. To him the Factor was at first physically unable to utter a syllable. Then finally he managed to ejaculate the name of his bowsman with such violence of gesture that the frightened servant comprehended by sheer force of terror and ran out again in search of Me-en-gan.
This supreme effort seemed to clear the way for speech. Galen Albret began to address his opponent hoarsely in quick, disjointed sentences, a gasp for breath between each.
“You revived an old legend—la Longue Traverse—the myth. It shall be real—to—you—I will make it so. By God, you shall not defy me——”
Ned Trent smiled. “You do not deceive me,” he rejoined, coolly.
“Silence!” cried the Factor. “Silence!—You shall speak no more!—You have said enough——”
Me-en-gan glided into the room. Galen Albret at once addressed him in the Ojibway language, gaining control of himself as he went on.
“Listen to me well,” he commanded. “You shall make a count of all rifles in this place—at once. Let no one furnish this man with food or arms. You know the story of la Longue Traverse. This man shall take it. So inform my people, I, the Factor, decree it so. Prepare all things at once—understand, at once!”
Ned Trent waited to hear no more, but sauntered from the room whistling gayly a boatman’s song. His point was gained.
Outside, the long Northern twilight with its beautiful shadows of crimson was descending from the upper regions of the east A light wind breathed up-river from the bay. The Free Trader drew his lungs full of the evening air.
“Just the same, I think she will come,” said he to himself. “La Longue Traverse, even at once, is a pretty slim chance. But this second string to my bow is better. I believe I’ll get the rifle—if she comes!”
Virginia ran quickly up the narrow stairs to her own room, where she threw herself on the bed and buried her face in the pillows.