One evening a month after Ed Matheson started out with his gruesome burden to Wolf Bight, Dick Blake was sitting alone in the tilt at the junction of his and Ed’s trails, smoking his after supper pipe and meditating on the happenings of the preceding weeks. There were some things in connection with the tragedy that he had never been able to quite clear up. Why, for instance, he asked himself, did Micmac John steal the furs and then leave them in the tilt where they were found? Had the half-breed been suddenly smitten by his conscience? That seemed most unlikely, for Dick had never discovered any indication that Micmac possessed a conscience. No possible solution of the problem presented itself. A hundred times he had probed the question, and always ended by saying, as he did now,
“‘Tis strange—wonderful strange, an’ I can’t make un out.”
He arose and knocked the ashes out of his pipe, filled the stove with wood, and then looked out into the night before going to his bunk. It was snowing thick and fast.
“’Tis well to-morrow’s Sunday,” he remarked. “The’s nasty weather comin’.”
“That they is,” said a voice so close to his elbow that he started back in surprise,
“Why, hello, Ed. You were givin’ me a rare start, sneakin’ in as quiet’s a rabbit. How is un?”
“Fine,” said Ed, who had just come around the corner of the tilt in time to hear Dick’s remark in reference to the weather. “Who un talkin’ to?”
“To a sensible man as agrees wi’ me,” answered Dick facetiously. “A feller does get wonderful lonesome seem’ no one an’ has t’ talk t’ hisself sometimes.”
The two entered the tilt and Ed threw off his adikey while Dick put the kettle over.
“Well,” asked Dick, when Ed was finally seated, “how’d th’ mother take un?”
“Rare hard on th’ start off,” said Ed. “‘Twere th’ hardest thing I ever done, tellin’ she, an’ ‘twere all I could do t’ keep from breakin’ down myself. I ’most cried, I were feelin so bad for un.
“Douglas were there an’ Bessie were visitin’ th’ sick maid, which were a blessin’, fer Richard were away on his trail.
“I goes in an’ finds un happy an’ thinkin’ maybe Bob’d be comin’. I finds th’ bones gettin’ weak in my legs, soon’s I sees un, an’ th’ mother, soon’s she sees me up an’ says she’s knowin’ somethin’ happened t’ Bob, an’ I has t’ tell she wi’out waitin’ t’ try t’ make un easy’s I’d been plannin’ t’ do. She ’most faints, but after a while she asks me t’ tell she how Bob were killed, an’ I tells.
“Then she’s wantin’ t’ see a bit o’ the clothes we found, an’ when she looks un over she raises her head an’ says, ’Them weren’t Bob’s. I knows Bob’s clothes, an’ them weren’t his! When I tells ’bout findin’ two axes she says Bob were havin’ only one axe, an’ then she’s believin’ Bob wasn’t got by th’ wolves, an’ is livin’ somewheres.