“By midwinter I will have him the finest dog in the pack, mon pere!”
This was the time for Pierrot to say what was in his mind. He smiled. Diantre—would not that beast the factor fall into the very devil of a rage when he found how he had been cheated! And yet—
He tried to make his voice quiet and commonplace.
“I am going to send you down to the school at Nelson House again this winter, ma cherie,” he said. “Baree will help draw you down on the first good snow.”
The Willow was tying a knot in Baree’s babiche, and she rose slowly to her feet and looked at Pierrot. Her eyes were big and dark and steady.
“I am not going, mon pere!”
It was the first time Nepeese had ever said that to Pierrot—in just that way. It thrilled him. And he could scarcely face the look in her eyes. He was not good at bluffing. She saw what was in his face; it seemed to him that she was reading what was in his mind, and that she grew a little taller as she stood there. Certainly her breath came quicker, and he could see the throb of her breast. Nepeese did not wait for him to gather speech.
“I am not going!” she repeated with even greater finality, and bent again over Baree.
With a shrug of his shoulders Pierrot watched her. After all, was he not glad? Would his heart not have turned sick if she had been happy at the thought of leaving him? He moved to her side and with great gentleness laid a hand on her glossy head. Up from under it the Willow smiled at him. Between them they heard the click of Baree’s jaws as he rested his muzzle on the Willow’s arm. For the first time in weeks the world seemed suddenly filled with sunshine for Pierrot. When he went back to the cabin he held his head higher. Nepeese would not leave him! He laughed softly. He rubbed his hands together. His fear of the factor from Lac Bain was gone. From the cabin door he looked back at Nepeese and Baree.
“The Saints be blessed!” he murmured. “Now—now—it is Pierrot Du Quesne who knows what to do!”
Back to Lac Bain, late in September, came MacDonald the map maker. For ten days Gregson, the investigating agent, had been Bush McTaggart’s guest at the Post, and twice in that time it had come into Marie’s mind to creep upon him while he slept and kill him. The factor himself paid little attention to her now, a fact which would have made her happy if it had not been for Gregson. He was enraptured with the wild, sinuous beauty of the Cree girl, and McTaggart, without jealousy, encouraged him. He was tired of Marie.
McTaggart told Gregson this. He wanted to get rid of her, and if he—Gregson—could possibly take her along with him it would be a great favor. He explained why. A little later, when the deep snows came, he was going to bring the daughter of Pierrot Du Quesne to the Post. In the rottenness of their brotherhood he told of his visit, of the manner of his reception, and of the incident at the chasm. In spite of all this, he assured Gregson, Pierrot’s girl would soon be at Lac Bain.