I had a consciousness of some impending horror. And I was shaking and all a sweat—with fear, too—gripping fear!
Yet the old name sounded as sweet as ever to my lips.
The Indian drew the stool near me and sat down. “You meet Mlle. Jacqueline in New York?” he asked.
“I brought her back,” I answered.
“I know,” the Indian answered. “I meet Simon; drive him from St. Boniface to chateau. He want shoot you. I say no, you blind man, him leave you die in snow. I take Ma’m’selle Jacqueline to St. Boniface when she run ’way. Simon not here then or I be ’fraid. Simon bad man. He give my gal to Jean Petitjean. My gal good gal till Simon give her to Jean Petitjean. Simon bad man. Me kill him one day.”
I saw a glimmer of hope now, though of what I hardly knew; or perhaps it was only the desire to talk of Jacqueline and hear her name upon my lips and Pierre’s.
“Pierre Caribou,” I said, “wouldn’t you like to have the old days back when M. Duchaine was master and there was no Simon Leroux?”
He did not answer me, but I saw his face-muscles twitch. Then he pulled a pipe from his pocket and stuffed it with a handful of coarse tobacco. He handed it to me and struck a match and held it to the bowl.
When the tobacco was alight he took another pipe and began smoking also.
I had not smoked for days, and I inhaled the rank tobacco-fumes through the old pipe gratefully. I was smoking, with an Indian, and that meant what it has always meant. A black cloud seemed to have been lifted from my mind. And I was not trembling any more.
But how warily I was reaching out toward my companion.
“Pierre, I came here to save Mlle. Jacqueline,” I said.
“No can save him,” he answered. “No can fight against Simon.”
“What, in the devil’s name, is his power, then?” I cried.
“Le diable,” he replied. He may have misunderstood me, but the answer was apt. “No use fight him,” he said. “All finish now. Old times, him finish, and my gal, too. Soon Pierre Caribou, him finish. No can fight Simon. Perhaps old Pierre kill him, nobody else.” He looked steadily at me. “I poison him dogs,” he added.
“What?” I exclaimed.
“Simon, him tell me long ago nobody come to chateau. So you finish, too, maybe. What he tell you, you go?”
“Lacroix is going to take me to Pere Antoine’s cabin to-morrow morning,” I answered.
The Indian grunted. “Simon no mean to let you go,” he said. “He mean kill you. You know too much. Sometime he kill me, too, or I kill him. Once I live in old chateau at St. Boniface with old M’sieur Duchaine. Good days then, not like how. Hunt plenty game. Fine people come from Quebec, not like Simon. M’sieur Charles small boy then. All finish now.”
“Pierre,” I said, taking him by the arm, “what is the Old Angel—le Vieil Ange?”