Ripley laughed. “You think I’m goin’ to pay you to tell me the name of the man we’ve already got locked up?”
“You got MacNair lock up,” Du Mont leered knowingly. “Bien! You t’ink MacNair run de wheeskey. But MacNair, she ain’t run no wheeskey. You mak’ de deal wit’ me. Ba Gos’! I’m not jus’ tell you de name, I’m tell you so you fin’ w’at you call de proof! I no fin’ de proof—you no turn me loose. Voila!”
Corporal Ripley was a keen judge of men, and he knew that the vindictive and outraged Metis was in just the right mood to tell all he knew. Also Ripley believed that the man knew much. Therefore, he made the deal. And it is a tribute to the Mounted that the crafty and suspicious Metis accepted, without question, the word of the corporal when he promised to do all in his power to secure their liberty in return for the evidence that would convict “the man higher up.”
Corporal Ripley was a man of quick decision; with him to decide was to act. Within an hour from the time Du Mont concluded his story the two officers with their prisoners were headed for Fort Saskatchewan. Both Du Mont and Xavier realized that their only hope for clemency lay in their ability to aid the authorities in building up a clear case against Lapierre, and during the ten days of snow-trail that ended at Athabasca Landing each tried to outdo the other in explaining what he knew of the workings of Lapierre’s intricate system.
At the Landing, Ripley reported to the superintendent commanding N Division, who immediately sent for the prisoners and submitted them to a cross-examination that lasted far into the night, and the following morning the corporal escorted them to Fort Saskatchewan, where they were to remain in jail to await the verification of their story.
Division commanders are a law unto themselves, and much to his surprise, two days later, Bob MacNair was released upon his own recognizance. Whereupon, without a moment’s delay, he bought the best dog-team obtainable and headed into the North accompanied by Corporal Ripley, who was armed with a warrant for the arrest of Pierre Lapierre.
THE LOUCHOUX GIRL
Winter laid a heavy hand upon the country of the Great Slave. Blizzard after howling blizzard came out of the North until the buildings of Chloe Elliston’s school lay drifted to the eaves in the centre of the snow-swept clearing.
With the drifting snows and the bitter, intense cold that isolated the little colony from the great world to the southward, came a sense of peace and quietude that contrasted sharply with the turbulent, surcharged atmosphere with which the girl had been surrounded from the moment she had unwittingly become a factor in the machinations of the warring masters of wolf-land.
With MacNair safely behind the bars of a jail far to the southward, and Lapierre somewhere upon the distant rivers, the Indians for the first time relaxed from the strain of tense expectancy. Of her own original Indians, those who had remained at the school by command of the crafty Lapierre, there remained only LeFroy and a few of the older men who were unfit to go on the trap-lines, together with the women and children.