“That’s soon fixed,” said Grant.
He opened a roll-top desk, and wrote a note which he read out:
“’Constable Flett has been detained in the neighborhood of this homestead through having rendered, at my request, valuable assistance in rounding up a bunch of cattle, scattered in crossing the flooded river.’”
“Thanks,” said Flett. “That kind of thing counts when they’re choosing a corporal.”
Grant turned to George with a smile.
“Keep in with the police, Lansing—I’ve known a good supper now and then go a long way. They may worry you about fireguards and fencing, but they’ll stand by you when you’re in trouble, if you treat them right. If it’s a matter of straying stock, a sick horse, or you don’t know how to roof a new barn, you have only to send for the nearest trooper.”
“Aren’t these things a little outside their duties?” Edgar asked.
The constable grinned.
“Most anything that wants doing badly is right in our line.”
“Sure,” said Grant. “It’s not long since Flett went two hundred miles over the snow with a dog-team to settle a little difference between an Indian and his wife. Then he once brought a hurt trapper a fortnight’s journey on his sledge, sleeping in the snow, in the bitterest weather. They were quite alone, and the hurt man was crazy most of the time.”
“Then you’re supposed to look after the settlers, as well as to keep order?” suggested Edgar, looking admiringly at the sturdy young constable.
“That’s so,” replied Flett. “They certainly need it. Last winter we struck one crowd in a lonely shack up north—man, woman, and several children huddled on the floor, with nothing to eat, and the stove out—at forty degrees below. There was a bluff a few miles off, but they hadn’t a tool of any kind to cut cordwood with. Took us quite a while to haul them up some stores, though we made twelve-hour marches between our camps in the snow. We had to hustle that trip.”
He paused and resumed:
“Better keep an eye on that bunch of young horses, Mr. Grant; bring them up nearer the house when the nights get darker. Those Clydesdales are mighty fine beasts and prices are high.”
Grant looked astonished.
“I’ve been here a good many years, and I’ve never lost a horse,” he declared.
“It doesn’t follow you’ll always be as lucky,” the trooper said pointedly.
“I was told that property is as safe in the West as it is in England,” Edgar broke in.
“Just so,” remarked the trooper. “They say that kind of thing. I never was in the old country, but young mavericks aren’t the only stock to go missing in Alberta, which isn’t a long way off. The boys there have their hands full now and then, and we have three or four of the worst toughs I’ve struck right in Sage Butte.”
Grant leaned forward on the table, looking steadily at him.