“Thank God you have come in time!” he said, still holding Kent’s hand. “She thought you were dead. And I know, Kent, that it was killing her. We had to watch her at night. Sometimes she would wander out into the valley. She said she was looking for you. It was that way tonight.”
Kent gulped hard. “I understand now,” he said. “It was the living soul of her that was pulling me here. I—”
He took his pack with its precious contents from his shoulders, listening to McTrigger. They sat down. What McTrigger was saying seemed of trifling consequence beside the fact that Marette was somewhere beyond the other door, alive, and that he would see her again very soon. He did not see why McTrigger should tell him that the older woman was his wife. Even the fact that a splendid chance had thrown Marette upon a log wedged between two rocks in the Chute, and that this log, breaking away, had carried her to the opposite side of the river miles below, was trivial with the thought that only a door separated them now. But he listened. He heard McTrigger tell how Marette had searched for him those days when he was lost in fever at Andre Boileau’s cabin, how she had given him up for dead, and how in those same days Laselle’s brigade had floated down, and she had come north with it. Later he would marvel over these things, but now he listened, and his eyes turned toward the door. It was then that McTrigger drove something home. It was like a shot piercing Kent’s brain. McTrigger was speaking quietly of O’Connor. He said:
“But you probably came by way of Fort Simpson, Kent, and O’Connor has told you all this. It was he who brought Marette back home through the Sulphur Country.”
Kent sprang to his feet. It took McTrigger but a moment to read the truth in his face.
“Good God, do you mean to tell me you don’t know, Kent?” he whispered tensely, rising in front of the other. “Haven’t you seen O’Connor? Haven’t you come in touch with the Police anywhere within the last year? Don’t you know—?”
“I know nothing,” breathed Kent.
For a space McTrigger stared at him in amazement
“I have been in hiding,” said Kent. “All this time I have been keeping away from the Police.”
McTrigger drew a deep breath. Again his hands gripped Kent’s, and his voice was incredulous, filled with a great wonder. “And you have come to her, to her old home, believing that Marette killed Kedsty! It is hard to believe. And yet—” Into his face came suddenly a look of grief, almost of pain, and Kent, following his eyes, saw that he was looking at a big stone fireplace in the end of the room.
“It was O’Connor who worked the thing out last Winter,” he said, speaking with, an effort. “I must tell you before you see her again. You must understand everything. It will not do to have her tell you. See—”
Kent followed him to the fireplace. From the shelf over the stonework McTrigger took a picture and gave it to him. It was a snapshot, the picture of a bare-headed man standing in the open with the sun shining on him.