The Valley of Silent Men eBook

James Oliver Curwood
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 287 pages of information about The Valley of Silent Men.

“Yes, it’s all very funny,” agreed Kent.  “That’s what I’ve been telling myself right along, old man.  You see, a little thing like a bullet changed it all.  For if the bullet hadn’t got me, I assure you I wouldn’t have given Kedsty that confession, and an innocent man would have been hanged.  As it is, Kedsty is shocked, demoralized.  I’m the first man to soil the honor of the finest Service on the face of the earth, and I’m in Kedsty’s division.  Quite natural that he should be upset.  And as for the girl—­”

He shrugged his shoulders and tried to laugh.  “Perhaps she came in this morning with one of the up-river scows and was merely taking a little constitutional,” he suggested.  “Didn’t you ever notice, O’Connor, that in a certain light under poplar trees one’s face is sometimes ghastly?”

“Yes, I’ve noticed it, when the trees are in full leaf, but not when they’re just opening, Jimmy.  It was the girl.  Her eyes shattered every nerve in him.  And his first words were an order for me to free McTrigger, coupled with the lie that he was coming back to see Cardigan.  And if you could have seen her eyes when she turned them on me!  They were blue—­blue as violets—­but shooting fire.  I could imagine black eyes like that, but not blue ones.  Kedsty simply wilted in their blaze.  And there was a reason—­I know it—­a reason that sent his mind like lightning to the man in the cell!”

“Now, that you leave me out of it, the thing begins to get interesting,” said Kent.  “It’s a matter of the relationship of this blonde girl and—­”

“She isn’t blonde—­and I’m not leaving you out of it,” interrupted O’Connor.  “I never saw anything so black in my life as her hair.  It was magnificent.  If you saw that girl once, you would never forget her again as long as you lived.  She has never been in Athabasca Landing before, or anywhere near here.  If she had, we surely would have heard about her.  She came for a purpose, and I believe that purpose was accomplished when Kedsty gave me the order to free McTrigger.”

“That’s possible, and probable,” agreed Kent.  “I always said you were the best clue-analyst in the force, Bucky.  But I don’t see where I come in.”

O’Connor smiled grimly.  “You don’t?  Well, I may be both blind and a fool, and perhaps a little excited.  But it seemed to me that from the moment Inspector Kedsty laid his eyes on that girl he was a little too anxious to let McTrigger go and hang you in his place.  A little too anxious, Kent.”

The irony of the thing brought a hard smile to Kent’s lips as he nodded for the cigars.  “I’ll try one of these on top of the pipe,” he said, nipping off the end of the cigar with his teeth.  “And you forget that I’m not going to hang, Bucky.  Cardigan has given me until tomorrow night.  Perhaps until the next day.  Did you see Rossand’s fleet leaving for up north?  It made me think of three years ago!”

O’Connor was gripping his hand again.  The coldness of it sent a chill into the staff-sergeant’s heart.  He rose and looked through the upper part of the window, so that the twitching in his throat was hidden from Kent.  Then he went to the door.

Project Gutenberg
The Valley of Silent Men from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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