Out in the clearing the flames roared and crackled. Rifles spat. And before her the Indian was again lining his sights. Grasping the heavy rifle by the barrel, Chloe whirled it high above her and brought it down with a crash upon the head of the kneeling savage. The man crumpled as dead men crumple—in an ugly, twisted heap. Fierce, swift exultation shot through the girl’s brain as she stood beside the formless thing on the ground. She looked up—squarely into the eyes of MacNair, who had turned at the sound of her outcry.
“I said you would fight!” called the man. “I have seen it in your eyes. They are the eyes of the man on the wall.”
Then, abruptly, he turned and disappeared in the direction of the river.
LAPIERRE RETURNS FROM THE SOUTH
When Pierre Lapierre left Chloe Elliston’s school after the completion of the buildings, he proceeded at once to his own rendezvous on Lac du Mort.
This shrewdly chosen stronghold was situated on a high, jutting point that rose abruptly from the waters of the inland lake, which surrounded it upon three sides. The land side was protected by an enormous black spruce swamp. This headland terminated in a small, rock-rimmed plateau, perhaps three acres in extent, and was so situated as to be practically impregnable against the attack of an ordinary force; the rim-rocks forming a natural barricade which reduced the necessity for artificial fortification to a minimum. Across the neck of the tiny peninsula, Lapierre had thrown a strong stockade of logs, and from the lake access was had only by means of a narrow, one-man trail that slanted and twisted among the rocks of the precipitous cliff side.
The plateau itself was sparsely covered with a growth of stunted spruce and banskian, which served as a screen both for the stockade and the long, low, fort-like building of logs, which was Lapierre’s main cache for the storing of fur, goods of barter, and contraband whiskey. The fort was provisioned to withstand a siege, and it was there that the crafty quarter-breed had succeeded in storing two hundred Mauser rifles and many cases of ammunition. Among Lapierre’s followers it was known as the “Bastile du Mort.” A safe haven of refuge for the hard-pressed, and, in event of necessity, the one place in all the North where they might hope indefinitely to defy their enemies.
The secret of this fort had been well guarded, and outside of Lapierre’s organized band, but one man knew its location—and few even guessed its existence. There were vague rumours about the Hudson Bay posts, and in the barracks of the Mounted, that Lapierre maintained such a fort, but its location was accredited to one of the numerous islands of the extreme western arm of Great Slave Lake.