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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about The Gun-Brand.

Moreover, he invariably contrived to implicate one whom he intended to use, in some crime of a graver nature than he would be called upon to commit in the general run of his duties.  This crime he would stage in some fastness where its detection by an officer of the Mounted was exceedingly unlikely; and most commonly consisted in the murder of an Indian, whose weighted body would be lowered to the bottom of a convenient lake or river.  Lapierre witnesses would appear and the man was irrevocably within the toil.  Had he chosen, Pierre Lapierre could have lowered a grappling hook unerringly upon a dozen weighted skeletons.

Over the head of the recruit now hung an easily proven charge of murder.  If during his future activities as whiskey-runner, smuggler, or in whatever particular field of endeavour he was assigned, plans should miscarry—­an arrest be made—­this man would take his prison sentence in silence rather than seek to implicate Lapierre, who with a word could summon the witnesses that would swear the hemp about his neck.

The system worked.  Now and again plans did miscarry—­arrests were made by the Mounted, men were caught “with the goods,” or arrested upon evidence that even Lapierre’s intricate alibi scheme could not refute.  But, upon conviction, the unlucky prisoner always accepted his sentence—­for at his shoulder stalked a spectre, and in his heart was the fear lest the thin lips of Pierre Lapierre would speak.

With such consummate skill and finesse did Lapierre plot, however, and with such Machiavelian cunning and eclat were his plans carried out, that few failed.  And those that did were credited by the authorities to individual or sporadic acts, rather than to the work of an intricate organization presided over by a master mind.

The gang numbered, all told, upward of two hundred of the hardest characters upon the frontier.  Only Lapierre knew its exact strength, but each member knew that if he did not “run straight”—­if he, by word or act or deed, sought to implicate an accomplice—­his life would be worth just exactly the price of “the powder to blow him to hell.”

A few there were outside the organization who suspected Pierre Lapierre—­but only a few:  an officer or two of the Mounted and a few factors of the H.B.C.  But these could prove nothing.  They bided their time.  One man knew him for what he was.  One, in all the North, as powerful in his way as Lapierre was in his.  The one man who had spies in Lapierre’s employ, and who did not fear him.  The one man Pierre Lapierre feared—­Bob MacNair.  And he, too, bided his time.

CHAPTER VIII

A SHOT IN THE NIGHT

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