“He! He!” she cried. “Is he gone?”
Instantly Galen Albret had her in his arms.
“It is all right,” he soothed, drawing her close to his great breast. “All right. You are my own little girl.”
For perhaps ten minutes Ned Trent lingered near the door of the Council Room until he had assured himself that Virginia was in no serious danger. Then he began to pace the room examining minutely the various objects that ornamented it. He paused longest at the full length portrait of Sir George Simpson, the Company’s great traveller, with his mild blue eyes, his kindly face, denying the potency of his official frown, his snowy hair and whiskers. The painted man and the real man looked at each, other inquiringly. The latter shook his head. “You travelled the wild country far,” said he, thoughtfully. “You knew many men of many lands. And wherever you went they tell me you made friends. And yet, as you embodied this Company to all these people, and so made for the fanatical loyalty that is destroying me, I suppose you and I are enemies!” He shrugged his shoulders whimsically and turned away.
Thence he cast a fleeting glance out the window at the long reach of the Moose and the blue bay gleaming in the distance. He tried the outside door. It was locked. Taken with a new idea he proceeded at once to the third door of the apartment. It opened.
He found himself in a small and much-littered room containing a desk, two chairs, a vast quantity of papers, a stuffed bird or so, and a row of account-books. Evidently the Factor’s private office,
Ned Trent returned to the main room and listened intently for several minutes. After that he ran back to the office and began hastily to open and rummage, one after another, the drawers of the desk. He discovered and concealed several bits of string, a desk-knife, and a box of matches. Then he uttered a guarded exclamation of delight. He had found a small revolver, and with it part of a box of cartridges.
“A chance!” he exulted: “a chance!”
The game would be desperate. He would be forced first of all to seek out and kill the men detailed to shadow him—a toy revolver against rifles; white man against trained savages. And after that he would have, with the cartridges remaining, to assure his subsistence. Still it was a chance.
He closed the drawers and the door, and resumed his seat in the arm-chair by the council table.
For over an hour thereafter he awaited the next move in the game. He was already swinging up the pendulum arc. The case did not appear utterly hopeless. He resolved, through Me-en-gan, whom he divined as a friend of the girl’s, to smuggle a message to Virginia bidding her hope. Already his imagination had conducted him to Quebec, when in August he would search her out and make her his own.