“Then you shouldn’t have much difficulty in trailing your men. Suppose a fellow turned up with four exceptionally good horses and offered them to an American farmer or dealer, wouldn’t it arouse suspicion?”
“It might,” said Flett, with a meaning smile. “But the thing’s not so simple as it looks. We all know that Canadian steers and horses have been run off and disposed of across the frontier; and now and then a few from that side have disappeared in Canada. This points to there being a way of getting rid of them; some mean white on a lonely holding will take them at half-value, and pass them along. What we have to do is to send a man over quietly to investigate, and get the sheriffs and deputies to keep their eyes open. I’m going to beg the Regina people to let me be that man.”
“You may as well understand that it isn’t the return of the horses Grant wants so much as the conviction of the men who waylaid him.”
“Then,” said Flett, pointedly, “he must be mighty mad.”
Hardie joined in George’s laugh; but the constable went on:
“I believe we’re going to get them; but it will take time—all summer, perhaps. I’ve known our boys lay hands on a man they wanted, eighteen months afterward.”
“In one way, I don’t think that’s much to their credit,” the clergyman remarked.
Taking up the knife George had handed him, Flett pointed to some initials scratched on the bone haft.
“Kind of foolish thing for the fellow to put his name on his tools; but I don’t know anybody those letters might stand for. Now you describe him as clearly as you can, while I put it down.”
George did as he was bidden, and added: “There were two more—one of them looked like Langside—and I believe a fourth man, though I may be mistaken in this. They were moving about pretty rapidly and the light was bad.”
Flett got up.
“I’ll have word sent along to Regina, and then try to locate their trail until instructions come. I want to get about it right away, but there’s this blamed fellow who knocked out his partner at the Sachem, and it will take me most of a day’s ride before I can hand him on to Davies. It’s a charge that nobody’s going to worry about, and it’s a pity he couldn’t have escaped. Still, that’s the kind of thing that can’t happen too often.”
He went out and George turned to Hardie.
“How does the matter strike you?”
“I’ve an idea that Flett was right in saying it was the limit. There was a certain romance about these disturbances when they began; they were a novelty in this part of Canada. People took them lightly, glad of something amusing or exciting to talk about. It was through popular indifference that the gang first gained a footing, but by degrees it became evident that they couldn’t be dislodged without a vigorous effort. People shrank from making it; and, with Beamish backing them, the fellows got steadily bolder and better organized. All the time, however, they were really at the mercy of the general body of orderly citizens. Now they have gone too far; this last affair can’t be tolerated. Instead of apathy, there’ll be an outbreak of indignation; and I expect the people who might have stopped the thing at the beginning will denounce the police.”