He blessed the man who had been known as Dirty Fingers, but whom he could not think of now in the terms of that name. He blessed the day he had heard that chance story of Fingers, far north. He no longer regarded him as the fat pig of a man he had been for so many years. For he looked upon the miracle of a great awakening. He had seen the soul of Fingers lift itself up out of its tabernacle of flesh and grow young again; he had seen stagnant blood race with new fire. He had seen emotions roused that had slept for long years. And he felt toward Fingers, in the face of that awakening, differently than he had felt toward any other living man. His emotion was one of deep and embracing comradeship.
Father Layonne did not come again until afternoon, and then he brought information that thrilled Kent. The missioner had walked down to see Fingers, and Fingers was not on his porch. Neither was the dog. He had knocked loudly on the door, but there was no answer. Where was Fingers? Kent shook his head, feigning an anxious questioning, but inside him his heart was leaping. He knew! He told Father Layonne he was afraid all Fingers’ knowledge of the law could do him but little good, that Fingers had told him as much, and the little missioner went away considerably depressed. He would talk with Fingers again, he said, and offer certain suggestions he had in mind. Kent chuckled when he was gone. How shocked le Pere would be if he, too, could know!
The next morning Father Layonne came again, and his information was even more thrilling to Kent. The missioner was displeased with Fingers. Last night, noticing a light in his shack, he had walked down to see him. And he had found three men closely drawn up about a table with Dirty Fingers. One of them was Ponte, the half-breed; another was Kinoo the outcast Dog Rib from over on Sand Creek; the third was Mooie, the old Indian trailer. Kent wanted to jump up and shout, for those three were the three greatest trailers in all that part of the Northland. Fingers had lost no time, and he wanted to voice his approbation like a small boy on the Fourth of July.
But his face, seen by Father Layonne, betrayed none of the excitement that was in his blood. Fingers had told him he was going into a timber deal with these men, a long-distance deal where there would be much traveling, and that he could not interrupt himself just then to talk about Kent. Would Father Layonne come again in the morning? And he had gone again that morning, and Fingers’ place was locked up!
All the rest of the day Kent waited eagerly for Fingers. For the first time Kedsty came to see him, and as a matter of courtesy said he hoped Fingers might be of assistance to him. He did not mention Mercer and remained no longer than a couple of minutes, standing outside the cell. In the afternoon Doctor Cardigan came and shook hands warmly with Kent. He had found a tough job waiting for him, he said. Mercer was all cut up, in a literal as well as a mental way. He had five teeth missing, and he had to have seventeen stitches taken in his face. It was Cardigan’s opinion that some one had given him a considerable beating—and he grinned at Kent. Then he added in a whisper,