Then from nine hundred throats there shot up to the sky, turquoise and pink and calm, such a sound as all the northland knew,—the wild blood-cry of the savage.
It filled the arching aisles of the shouldering forest, rolled down the breast of the river, and echoed in the cabins of the post, and with it there broke loose the leashed wildness of the Indians. There was one vast surging around the lodge where Ridgar knelt with the figure of the chief in his arms, another where a tumbling horde fought to get to the factor and De Courtenay.
At the stockade gate Prix Laroux, swift of foot and strong as twenty men in the exigency of the moment, swept the women into his arms and rushed them within the post. Above the hideous turmoil his voice rose in carrying command,
“Into the post! Into the post,—every man inside! Man the rampart!”
It fell on ears startled into apathy by the suddenness of the tragic happening, and there was a wild confusion of white people pulling out of the mass like threads, all headed for the open gate. Swift as light those guards of the guns on the rampart sprang to place, the watcher of the portal swung the great studded gate ready for the clanging close, and, in a twinkling, so alert to peril do they become who pierce the wilderness, there were without only that howling mass of savages, De Courtenay, McElroy, and Edmonton Ridgar gazing with dimmed vision into the fast glazing eyes of the dying chief.
Only they? Standing where she had leaped at the cavalier’s kiss, her eyes wide, her lips apart, was Maren Le Moyne. In the hurrying rush of frantic people she had been forgotten and she was utterly helpless.
As in a dream she saw the leaping forms close in upon the two men who fought for her, knew that those of De Seviere were pouring past her to safety, heard the boom of the great gate as it swung into place, and for her life she could move. neither hand nor foot. Her body stood frozen as in those horrid dreams of night when one is conscious, yet held, in a clutch of steel.
Over the heaving heads with their waving eagle feathers she saw the head and shoulders of De Courtenay rise, tipped sidewise so that his long curls swung clear, shining in the light, and already he was bound with thongs of hide.
She saw his handsome face again sparkling with that smile that was so brilliant and that bore such infinite shades of meaning.
Now it was full of devil-may-care, as if he shrugged his shoulders at a loss at cards, and in that second it fell upon her standing in horror.
“Ah, Ma’amselle!” he called, across the surging feathers; “the tune changes! But you have my heart, and I,—I have one kiss! Adieu, my Maid of the Long Trail! The chance was worth its turning.”
Then the shining head sank into the mass and she heard no more.