And so MacNair had become a power in the Northland, respected by the officers of the Hudson Bay Company, a friend of the Indians, and a terror to those who looked upon the red man as their natural prey.
Step by step, the events that had been the milestones of this man’s life recurred to his mind as he tramped tirelessly through the scrub growth of the barrens toward a spot upon the shore of the lake—the only grass plot within a radius of five hundred miles. Throwing himself down beside a low, sodded mound in the centre of the plot, he idly watched the great flocks of water fowls disport themselves upon the surface of the lake.
How long he lay there, he had no means of knowing, when suddenly his ears detected the soft swish of paddles. He leaped to his feet and, peering toward the water, saw, close to the shore, a canoe manned by four stalwart paddlers. He looked closer, scarcely able to credit his eyes. And at the same moment, in response to a low-voiced order, the canoe swung abruptly shoreward and grated upon the shingle of the beach. Two figures stepped out, and Chloe Elliston, followed by Big Lena, advanced boldly toward him. MacNair’s jaw closed with a snap as the girl approached smiling. For in the smile was no hint of friendliness—only defiance, not unmingled with contempt.
“You see, Mr. Brute MacNair,” she said, “I have kept my word. I told you I would invade your kingdom—and here I am.”
MacNair did not reply, but stood leaning upon his rifle. His attitude angered her.
“Well,” she said, “what are you going to do about it?” Still the man did not answer, and, stooping, plucked a tiny weed from among the blades of grass. The girl’s eyes followed his movements. She started and looked searchingly into his face. For the first time she noticed that the mound was a grave.
“Oh, forgive me!” Chloe cried, “I—I did not know that I was intruding upon—sacred ground!” There was real concern in her voice, and the lines of Bob MacNair’s face softened.
“It is no matter,” he said. “She who sleeps here will not be disturbed.”
The unlooked for gentleness of the man’s tone, the simple dignity of his words, went straight to Chloe Elliston’s heart. She felt suddenly ashamed of her air of flippant defiance, felt mean, and small, and self-conscious. She forgot for the moment that this big, quiet man who stood before her was rough, even boorish in his manner, and that he was the oppressor and debaucher of Indians.