He came to think a great deal of Picard, his comrade. But he revealed nothing of his secret to him, or of the new desire that was growing in him. And as the Winter lengthened this desire became a deep and abiding yearning. It was with him night and day. He dreamed of it when he slept, and it was never out of his thoughts when awake. He wanted to go home. And when he thought of home, it was not of the Landing, and not of the country south. For him home meant only one place in the world now—the place where Marette had lived. Somewhere, hidden in the mountains far north and west, was that mysterious Valley of Silent Men where they had been going when her body died. And the spirit of her wanted him to go to it now. It was like a voice pleading with him, urging him to go, to live there always where she had lived. He began to plan, and in this planning he found new joy and new life. He would find her home, her people, the valley that was to have been their paradise. So late in February, with his share of the Winter catch in his pack, he said good-by to Picard and faced the River again.
Kent had not forgotten that he was an outlaw, but he was not afraid. Now that he had something new and thrilling to fight for, he fell back again upon what he called “the finesse of the game.” He approached Chippewyan cautiously, although he was sure that even his old friends at the Landing would fail to recognize him now. His beard was four or five inches long, and his hair was shaggy and uncut. Picard had made him a coat, that winter, of young caribou skin, and it was fringed like an Indian’s. Kent chose his time and entered Chippewyan just before dusk.
Oil lamps were burning in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s store when he went in with his furs. The place was empty, except for the factor’s clerk, and for an hour he bartered. He bought a new outfit, a Winchester rifle, and all the supplies he could carry. He did not forget a razor and a pair of shears, and when he was done he still had the value of two silver fox skins in cash. He left Chippewyan that same night, and by the light of a Winter moon made his camp half a dozen miles northward toward Smith Landing.
He was on the Slave River now and for weeks traveled slowly but steadily northward on snowshoes. He avoided Fort Smith and Smith Landing and struck westward before he came to Fort Resolution. It was in April that he struck Hay River Post, where the Hay River empties into Great Slave Lake. Until the ice broke up, Kent worked at Hay River. When it was safe, he started down the Mackenzie in a canoe. It was late in June when he turned up the Liard to the South Nahani.
“You go straight through between the sources of the North and the South Nahani,” Marette had told him. “It is there you find the Sulphur Country, and beyond the Sulphur Country is the Valley of Silent Men.”