Bare-headed, the rest of the party gathered around their officer. Long and sadly Kilbride gazed down upon the still forms outlined under their covering. Twice he essayed to speak, but each time his voice failed him.
“Men!” he said at last huskily, as if to himself. “Men! is this what I have brought you into? . . . Is this—”
He choked, and was silent awhile; then; “Oh!” cried he suddenly, “God knows! . . . under the circumstances I used the best judgment I—”
But Slavin broke in and laid a tremulous hand on his superior’s shoulder. “No! no! Sorr! . . . hush! for th’ love av Christ! . . . Ye must not—” the soft Hibernian brogue sank to a gentle hush—“niver fear . . . for thim that’s died doin’ their juty! . . . ‘Tis th’ Peace, Sorr—th’ Peace everlastin’ . . . for Hornsby an’ Wade. They were good men. . . .”
Yorke bent down and, drawing back a fold of the blanket, exposed two still white faces. In the centre of Hornsby’s forehead all beheld Gully’s terrible sign-manual. Wade had been shot through the throat.
“Hornsby!” gasped Yorke brokenly, “poor old Gus Hornsby!” . . . He turned a tired, drawn face up to Slavin’s. “He was with us in the Yukon, Burke. Remember how we used to rag him when he first came to us as a cheechaco buck? But the poor beggar never used to get sore over it . . . always seemed sort of . . . patient . . . and happy . . . no matter how we joshed him. . . .”
Gently he replaced the blanket, stared stupidly a moment at the grim, haggard face of his sergeant, then he burst out crying and wandered away from the sad scene.
That very night, while gentle sleep
The people’s eyelids kiss’d,
Two stern-faced men set out from Lynn,
Through the cold and heavy mist;
And Eugene Aram walk’d between,
With gyves upon his wrist.
“THE DREAM OF EUGENE ARAM”
Slowly the memorable June day had drawn to a close, and now darkness had set in and the moon shone brightly down upon the old detachment of Davidsburg. It had been a strenuous day for Inspector Kilbride and his subordinates, as many details of the eventful case had to be arranged ere they could leave with their prisoner on the night’s train for the Post.
The inspector’s first care, naturally, had been the slow and careful conveyance of the wounded men (Redmond included)—and the dead—down to the special train which still awaited them on the Davidsburg siding. The bulk of the party departed with them, the officer retaining Slavin, Yorke, and McSporran. A coroner’s inquest, held that afternoon upon the remains of the unfortunate hobo, Drinkwater, had resulted in a verdict of “wilful murder” being returned against Ruthven Gully. Two days later, at the Post, similar verdicts were rendered in the cases of poor Hornsby and Wade.