“I’m thinkin’,” said David, “whoever ’twere took Lem’s silver fox and our boat went to Newfoundland to sell the fur.”
“There’s no doubtin’ that,” agreed Andy.
TRAILING THE HALF-BREED
Eli Horn paused in the enclosed porch to shoulder his provision pack, left there upon his arrival home earlier in the evening. He was passing from the porch when Doctor Joe opened the door.
“Eli,” said Doctor Joe, closing the door behind him, “may I have a word with you?”
“Aye, sir,” and Eli stopped.
“I just wished to speak a word of warning,” said Doctor Joe quietly. “Be cautious, Eli, and do nothing you’ll regret. Don’t be too hasty. We suspect Indian Jake, but none of us knows certainly that he shot your father or took the silver fox skin.”
“There’s no doubtin’ he took un! Pop says he took un, and he knows. I’m goin’ to get the silver if I has to kill Injun Jake.”
Eli spoke in even, quiet tones, but with the dogged determination of the man trained to pit his powers of endurance against Nature and the wilderness. He gave no suggestion of boastfulness, but rather of the man who has an ordinary duty to perform, and is bent upon doing it to the best of his ability.
“Don’t you think you had better wait and start in the morning? It’s a nasty night to be out,” Doctor Joe suggested. “’Twill be hard to make your way to-night with the wind against you as well as the dark. If you wait until morning it will give us time to talk things over.”
“I’ll not stop till I gets the silver,” Eli stubbornly declared, “and I’ll get un or kill Injun Jake.”
“See here, Eli,” Doctor Joe laid his hand on Eli’s arm, “your father says he was not shot until sundown. Indian Jake was at our camp at Flat Point within the hour after sundown. He never could have paddled that distance against a down wind in an hour. The boys and I were four hours coming over here from Flat Point Camp, and I know Indian Jake could not have covered the distance in anything like an hour.”
“’Twere some trick of his! He shot un and he took the silver!” Eli insisted. “Good-bye, sir. I’ve got to be goin’ or he’ll slip away from me.”
“Be careful, Eli,” Doctor Joe pleaded. “Don’t shoot unless you’re forced to do so to protect yourself.”
“’Twill be Injun Jake’ll have to be careful,” returned Eli as he strode away in the darkness, and Doctor Joe knew that Eli had it in his heart to do murder.
The night was pitchy black and a drizzling rain was falling, but Eli had often travelled on as dark nights, and he was determined. He chose a light skiff rigged with a leg-o’-mutton sail. The wind was against him and with the sail reefed and the mast unstepped and stowed in the bottom of the boat, he slipped a pair of oars into the locks and with strong, even strokes pulled away, hugging the shore, that he might take advantage of the lee of the land.