“Good-by,” said he.
She raised her lips of her own accord, and he kissed them reverently.
“Good-by,” she murmured.
He turned away with an effort and ran down the beach to the canoe.
“Good-by, good-by,” she murmured, under her breath. “Ah, good-by! I love you! Oh, I do love you!”
Then suddenly from the bushes leaped dark figures. The still night was broken by the sound of a violent scuffle—blows—a fall. She heard Ned Trent’s voice calling to her from the melee.
“Go back at once!” he commanded, clearly and steadily. “You can do no good. I order you to go home before they search the woods.”
But she crouched in dazed terror, her pupils wide to the dim light. She saw them bind him, and stand waiting; she saw a canoe glide out of the darkness; she saw the occupants of the canoe disembark; she saw them exhibit her little rifle, and heard them explain in Cree, that they had followed the man swimming. Then she knew that the cause was lost, and fled as swiftly as she could through the forest.
Galen Albret had chosen to interrogate his recaptured prisoner alone. He sat again, in the arm-chair of the Council Room. The place was flooded with sun. It touched the high-lights of the time-darkened, rough furniture, it picked out the brasses, it glorified the whitewashed walls. In its uncompromising illumination Me-en-gan, the bows-man, standing straight and tall and silent by the door, studied his master’s face and knew him to be deeply angered.
For Galen Albret was at this moment called upon to deal with a problem more subtle than any with which his policy had been puzzled in thirty years. It was bad enough that, in repeated defiance of his authority, this stranger should persist in his attempt to break the Company’s monopoly; it was bad enough that he had, when captured, borne himself with so impudent an air of assurance; it was bad enough that he should have made open love to the Factor’s daughter, should have laughed scornfully in the Factor’s very face. But now the case had become grave. In some mysterious manner he had succeeded in corrupting one of the Company’s servants. Treachery was therefore to be dealt with.
Some facts Galen Albret had well in hand. Others eluded him persistently. He had, of course, known promptly enough of the disappearance of a canoe, and had thereupon dispatched his Indians to the recapture. The Reverend Archibald Crane had reported that two figures had been seen in the act of leaving camp, one by the river, the other by the Woods Trail. But here the Factor’s investigations encountered a check. The rifle brought in by his Indians, to his bewilderment, he recognized not at all. His repeated cross-questionings, when they touched on the question of Ned Trent’s companion, got no farther than the Cree wooden stolidity. No, they had seen no one, neither presence, sign, nor trail. But Galen Albret, versed in the psychology of his savage allies, knew they lied. He suspected them of clan loyalty to one of their own number; and yet they had never failed him before. Now, his heavy revolver at his right hand, he interviewed Ned Trent, alone, except for the Indian by the portal.