And then I saw Lacroix again. I was sure of it now. He was peering after me from among the rocks, and, as I turned, he was scuttling away into the tunnel.
I followed him. I had always mistrusted the man; more, even, than Leroux. I felt that his furtive presence there portended something more evil than my own fate and Jacqueline’s must be.
I followed him hotly; but he must have known every fissure in the cliff, for he vanished before my eyes, apparently through the solid rock, and when I reached the place of his disappearance I could find no sign of any passage there.
Well, there was no use in following him further. I paced the tunnel restlessly. The sleigh ought to be at the mine in five minutes more. I turned back to take a last look at the cataract.
The sublime grandeur of those thousand tons of water, shot from the glacier’s edge above, still held me in its spell of awe. I cast my eyes toward the chateau and over the frozen lake toward the distant, unknown mountains.
Then I turned resolutely away.
And at that moment I heard Leroux’s voice hailing me, and looked round to see him emerge from the tunnel at my side. He was staring in bewilderment at the cataract.
“Hewlett, I don’t know what possessed me to take the wrong turn to-night!” he cried. “I have come through that tunnel a hundred times and never missed the path before.”
He swung round petulantly, and at that moment a shadow glided out of the darkness and stood in front of him. It was Pierre Caribou, lean, sinewy and old. He blocked the path and faced Leroux in silence.
Leroux looked at him, and an oath broke from his lips as he read the other’s purpose upon his face. Squaring his mighty shoulders and clenching his fists, he leaped at him headlong.
Pierre stepped quietly aside, and Simon measured his full length within the tunnel. But, when he had scrambled to his feet with a bellowing challenge, Pierre was in front of him again.
“What are you here for?” roared Leroux, but in a quavering voice that did not sound like his own. “Get out of the way or I’ll smash your face!”
The Indian still blocked the passage. “Your time come now, Simon. All finish now,” he answered.
Simon drew back a pace and watched him, and I heard him breathing like one who has run a race.
“You come here one, two year ago,” Pierre continued. “You eat up home of M. Duchaine, my master. Old M. Duchaine my master, too. I belong here. You eat up all, come back, eat up some more. Then you sell Mlle. Jacqueline to Louis d’Epernay. You made her run ’way to New York. I ask your diable when your time come. Your diable he say wait. I wait. Mlle. Jacqueline come back. I ask your diable again. He say wait some more. Now your diable tell me he send you here to-night because your time come, and all finish now.”