By the fire Lapierre’s eyes followed the girl until she disappeared within the tent, and as he looked a huge figure arose from the deep shadows of the scrub, and with a hand grasping the flap of the tent, turned and stared, silent and grim and forbidding, straight into Lapierre’s eyes.
The man turned away with a frown. The figure was Big Lena.
PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS
At the mouth of the Slave River the outfit was transferred to twelve large freight canoes, each carrying three tons, and manned by six lean-shouldered canoemen, in charge of one Louis LeFroy, Lapierre’s boss canoeman. Straight across the vast expanse of Great Slave Lake they headed, and skirting the shore of the north arm, upon the evening of the second day, entered the Yellow Knife River.
The site selected by Pierre Lapierre for Chloe Elliston’s school was, in point of location, as the quarter-breed had said, an excellent one. Upon a level plateau at the top of the high bank that slants steeply to the water of the Yellow Knife River, a short distance above its mouth, Lapierre set the canoemen to cutting the timber and brush from a wide area. The girl had come into the North fully prepared for a long sojourn, and in her thirty-odd tons of outfit were found all tools necessary for the clearing of land and the erection of buildings. Brushwood and trees fell before the axes of the half-breeds and Indians, who worked in a sort of frenzy under the lashing drive of Lapierre’s tongue; and the night skies glowed red in the flare of the flames where the brush and tree-tops burned in the clearing.
Two days later a rectangular clearing, three hundred by five hundred feet, was completed, and early in the morning of the third day Chloe stood beside Lapierre and looked over the cleared oblong with its piles of smoking grey ashes, and its groups of logs that lay ready to be rolled into place to form the walls of her buildings.
Lapierre seemed ill at ease. Immediately upon the arrival of the outfit he had dispatched two of his own Indians northward to spy upon the movements of MacNair, for the man made no secret of his desire to be well upon his way before the trader should learn of the building of the fort on the river.
It had been Chloe’s idea to lay out her “village,” as she called it, upon a rather elaborate scheme, the plans for which had been drawn by an architect whose clients’ tastes ran to million-dollar “summer cottages” at Seashore-by-the-Sea.
First, there was to be the school itself, an ornate building of crossed rafters and overhanging eaves. Then the dormitories, two long, parallel buildings with halls, individual rooms, and baths—one for the women and one for men—the two to be connected by a common dining-hall in such a manner as to form three sides of a hollow square. Connected to the dining-hall was to be a commodious kitchen, and back of that a fully equipped carpenter-shop and a laundry.