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Bulldog Carney

William Alexander Fraser

  Produced by David Widger from page images generouslyprovided by the Internet Archive


  By W. A. Fraser




  |I've thought it over many ways and I'm going to tell this story asit happened, for I believe the reader will feel he is getting a truepicture of things as they were but will not be again. A little paddingup of the love interest, a little spilling of blood, would, perhaps,make it stronger technically, but would it lessen his faith that thecurious thing happened? It's beyond me to know--I write it as it was.

  To begin at the beginning, Cameron was peeved. He was rather a diffidentchap, never merging harmoniously into the western atmosphere; what savedhim from rude knocks was the fact that he was lean of speech. He stoodon the board sidewalk in front of the Alberta Hotel and gazed dejectedlyacross a trench of black mud that represented the main street. He hatedthe sight of squalid, ramshackle Edmonton, but still more did he dislikethe turmoil that was within the hotel.

  A lean-faced man, with small piercing gray eyes, had ridden his buckskincayuse into the bar and was buying. Nagel's furtrading men, toppingoff their spree in town before the long trip to Great Slave Lake, wereenthusiastically, vociferously naming their tipple. A freighter, Billythe Piper, was playing the "Arkansaw Traveller" on a tin whistle.

  When the gray-eyed man on the buckskin pushed his way into the bar, thewhistle had almost clattered to the floor from the piper's hand; then hegasped, so low that no one heard him, "By cripes! Bulldog Carney!" Therewas apprehension trembling in his hushed voice. Well he knew that if hehad clarioned the name something would have happened Billy the Piper.A quick furtive look darting over the faces of his companions told himthat no one else had recognized the horseman.

  Outside, Cameron, irritated by the rasping tin whistle groaned, "My God!a land of bums!" Three days he had waited to pick up a man to replacea member of his gang down at Fort Victor who had taken a sudden chillthrough intercepting a plug of cold lead.

  Diagonally across the lane of ooze two men waded and clambered to theboard sidewalk just beside Cameron to stamp the muck from their boots.One of the two, Cayuse Gray, spoke:

  "This feller'll pull his freight with you, boss, if terms is right; he'sa hell of a worker."

  Half turning, Cameron's Scotch eyes took keen cognizance of the"feller": a shudder twitched his shoulders. He had never seen a morewolfish face set atop a man's neck. It was a sinister face; not thethin, vulpine sneak visage of a thief, but lowering; black sullen eyespeered boldly up from under shaggy brows that almost met a mop of blackhair, the forehead was so low. It was a hungry face, as if its ownerhad a standing account against the world. But Cameron wanted a strongworker, and his business instinct found strength and endurance in thatheavy-shouldered frame, and strong, wide-set legs.

  "What's your name?" he asked.

  "Jack Wolf," the man answered.

  The questioner shivered; it was as if the speaker had named the thoughtthat was in his mind.

  Cayuse Gray tongued a chew of tobacco into his cheek, spat, and added,"Jack the Wolf is what he gets most oftenest."

  "From damn broncho-headed fools," Wolf retorted angrily.

  At that instant a strangling Salvation Army band tramped around thecorner into Jasper Avenue, and, forming a circle, cut loose with brassand tambourine. As the wail from the instruments went up the men in thebar, led by Billy the Piper, swarmed out.

  A half-breed roared out a profane parody on the Salvation hymn:--=

  ```"There are flies on you, and there're flies on


  ```But there ain't no flies on Je-e-e-sus."=

  This crude humor appealed to the men who had issued from the bar; theyshouted in delight.

  A girl who had started forward with her tambourine to collect stoodaghast at the profanity, her blue eyes wide in horror.

  The breed broke into a drunken laugh: "That's damn fine new songs for deArmy bums, Miss," he jeered.

  The buckskin cayuse, whose mouse-colored muzzle had been stickingthrough the door, now pushed to the sidewalk, and his rider, stoopinghis lithe figure, took the right ear of the breed in lean bony fingerswith a grip that suggested he was squeezing a lemon. "You dirty swine!"he snarled; "you're insulting the two greatest things on earth--God anda woman. Apologize, you hound!"

  Probably the breed would have capitulated readily, but his river-mates'ears were not in a death grip, and they were bellicose with bad liquor.There was an angry yell of defiance; events moved with alacrity.Profanity, the passionate profanity of anger, smote the air; a beerbottle hurtled through the open door, missed its mark,--the man on thebuckskin,--but, end on, found a bull's-eye between the Wolf's shoulderblades, and that gentleman dove parabolically into the black mud ofJasper Avenue.

  A silence smote the Salvation Army band. Like the Arab it folded itsinstruments and stole away.

  A Mounted Policeman, attracted by the clamour, reined his horse to thesidewalk to quiet with a few words of admonition this bar-room row. Heslipped from the saddle; but at the second step forward he checked asthe thin face of the horseman turned and the steel-gray eyes methis own. "Get down off that cayuse, Bulldog Carney,--I want you!" hecommanded in sharp clicking tones.

  Happenings followed this. There was the bark of a 6-gun, a flash, thePoliceman's horse jerked his head spasmodically, a little jet of redspurted from his forehead, and he collapsed, his knees burrowing intothe black mud and as the buckskin cleared the sidewalk in a leap, thehalf-breed, two steel-like fingers in his shirt band, was swung behindthe rider.

  With a spring like a panther the policeman reached his fallen horse, butas he swung his gun from its holster he held it poised silent; to shootwas to kill the breed.

  Fifty yards down the street Carney dumped his burden into a deep puddle,and with a ringing cry of defiance sped away. Half-a-dozen guns were outand barking vainly after the escaping man.

  Carney cut down the bush-road that wound its sinuous way to the riverflat, some two hundred feet below the town level. The ferry, swingingfrom the steel hawser, that stretched across the river, was snugglingthe bank.

  "Some luck," the rider of the buckskin chuckled. To the ferryman he saidin a crisp voice: "Cut her out; I'm in a hurry!"

  The ferryman grinned. "For one passenger, eh? Might you happen to be theGov'nor General, by any chanct?"

  Carney's handy gun held its ominous eye on the boatman, and its owneranswered, "I happen to be a man in a hell of a hurry. If you want totravel with me get busy."

  The thin lips of the speaker had puckered till they resembled a slit ina dried orange. The small gray eyes were barely discernible between thehalfclosed lids; there was something devilish compelling in that leanparchment face; it told of demoniac concentration in the brain behind.

  The ferryman knew. With a pole he swung the stern of the flat barge downstream, the iron pulleys on the cable whined a screeching protest, thehawsers creaked, the swift current wedged against the tangented side ofthe ferry, and swiftly Bulldog Carney and his buckskin were shot acrossthe muddy old Saskatchewan.

  On the other side he handed the boatman a five-dollar bill, and with agrim smile said: "Take a little stroll with me to the top of the hill;there's some drunken bums across there whose company I don't want."

  At the top of the south bank Carney mounted his buckskin and melted awayinto the poplar-covered landscape; stepped out of the story for the timebeing.

  Back at the Alberta the general assembly was rearranging itself. TheMounted Policeman, now set afoot by the death of his horse, had hurrieddown to the barracks to report; possibly to follow up Carney's trailwith a new mount.

  The half-breed had come back from the pud
dle a thing of black ooze andprofanity.

  Jack the Wolf, having dug the mud from his eyes, and ears, and neckband, was in the hotel making terms with Cameron for the summer's workat Fort Victor.

  Billy the Piper was revealing intimate history of Bulldog Carney. Fromsaid narrative it appeared that Bulldog was as humorous a bandit as everslit a throat. Billy had freighted whisky for Carney when that gentlemanwas king of the booze runners.

  "Why didn't you spill the beans, Billy?" Nagel queried; "there's athousand on Carney's head all the time. We'd 've tied him horn and hoofand copped the dough."

  "Dif'rent here," the Piper growled; "I've saw a man flick his gun andpot at Carney when Bulldog told him to throw up his hands, and all thatcuss did was laugh and thrown his own gun up coverin' the other broncho;but it was enough--the other guy's hands went up too quick. If I'd setthe pack on him, havin' so to speak no just cause, well, Nagel, you'dbeen lookin' round for another freighter. He's the queerest cuss I everstacked up agen. It kinder seems as if jokes is his religion; an' whenhe's out to play he's plumb hostile. Don't monkey none with his game, ismy advice to you fellers." Nagel stepped to the door, thrust his swarthyface through it, and, seeing that the policeman had gone, came back tothe bar and said: "Boys, the drinks is on me cause I see a man, a realman."

  He poured whisky into a glass and waited with it held high till theothers had done likewise; then he said in a voice that vibrated withadmiration:

  "Here's to Bulldog Carney! Gad, I love a man! When that damn troopercalls him, what does he do? You or me would 've quit cold or pluggedMister Khaki-jacket--we'd had to. Not so Bulldog. He thinks with hisnut, and both hands, and both feet; I don't need to tell you boyswhat happened; you see it, and it were done pretty. Here's to BulldogCarney!" Nagel held his hand out to the Piper: "Shake, Billy. If you'dgive that cuss away I'd 've kicked you into kingdom come, knowin' him asI do now."

  The population of Fort Victor, drawing the color line, was four people:the Hudson's Bay Factor, a missionary minister and his wife, and aschool teacher, Lucy Black. Half-breeds and Indians came and went,constituting a floating population; Cam-aron and his men were temporarycitizens.

  Lucy Black was lathy of construction, several years past her girlhood,and not an animated girl. She was a professional religionist. If therewere seeming voids in her life they were filled with this dominatingpassion of moral reclamation; if she worked without enthusiasm she madeup for it in insistent persistence. It was as if a diluted strain of theold Inquisition had percolated down through the blood of centuries andfound a subdued existence in this pale-haired, blue-eyed woman.

  When Cameron brought Jack the Wolf to Fort Victor it was evident to thelittle teacher that he was morally an Augean stable: a man whowandered in mental darkness; his soul was dying for want of spiritualnourishment.

  On the seventy-mile ride in the Red River buck-board from Edmonton toFort Victor the morose wolf had punctuated every remark with virileoaths, their original angularity suggesting that his meditative momentswere spent in coining appropriate expressions for his perfervid view oflife. Twice Cameron's blood had surged hot as the Wolf, at some triflingperversity of the horses, had struck viciously.

  Perhaps it was the very soullessness of the Wolf that roused thereligious fanaticism of the little school teacher; or perhaps it wasthat strange contrariness in nature that causes the widely divergent tolean eachotherward. At any rate a miracle grew in Fort Victor. Jackthe Wolf and the little teacher strolled together in the evening as thegreat sun swept down over the rolling prairie to the west; and sometimesthe full-faced moon, topping the poplar bluffs to the east, found Jackslouching at Lucy's feet while she, sitting on a camp stool, talkedBible to him.

  At first Cameron rubbed his eyes as if his Scotch vision had somehowgone agley; but, gradually, whatever incongruity had manifested at firstdied away.

  As a worker Wolf was wonderful; his thirst for toil was like his thirstfor moral betterment--insatiable. The missionary in a chat with Cameronexplained it very succinctly: Wolf, like many other Westerners, hadnever had a chance to know the difference between right and wrong; butthe One who missed not the sparrow's fall had led him to the port ofsalvation, Fort Victor--Glory to God! The poor fellow's very wickednesswas but the result of neglect. Lucy was the worker in the Lord'svineyard who had been chosen to lead this man into a better life.

  It did seem very simple, very all right. Tough characters were alwaysbeing saved all over the world--regenerated, metamorphosed, and who wasJack the Wolf that he should be excluded from salvation.

  At any rate Cameron's survey gang, vitalized by the abnormal energy ofWolf, became a high-powered machine.

  The half-breeds, when couraged by bad liquor, shed their religion andbecame barbaric, vulgarly vicious. The missionary had always waiteduntil this condition had passed, then remonstrance and a gift of baconwith, perhaps, a bag of flour, had brought repentance. This method Jackthe Wolf declared was all wrong; the breeds were like train-dogs, heaffirmed, and should be taught respect for God's agents in aproper muscular manner. So the first time three French half-breeds,enthusiastically drunk, invaded the little log schoolhouse and declaredschool was out, sending the teacher home with tears of shame in herblue eyes, Jack reestablished the dignity of the church by generouslywalloping the three backsliders.

  It is wonderful how the solitude of waste places will blossom the mostordinary woman into a flower of delight to the masculine eye; and thelean, anaemic, scrawny-haired school teacher had held as admirers allof Cameron's gang, and one Sergeant Heath of the Mounted Police whom shehad known in the Klondike, and who had lately come to Edmonton. With hernegative nature she had appreciated them pretty much equally; but whenthe business of salvaging this prairie derelict came to hand the otherswere practically ignored.

  For two months Fort Victor was thus; the Wolf always the willing workerand well on the way, seemingly, to redemption.

  Cameron's foreman, Bill Slade, a much-whiskered, wise old man, was theonly one of little faith. Once he said to Cameron:

  "I don't like it none too much; it takes no end of worry to make a silkpurse out of a sow's ear; Jack has blossomed too quick; he's a boozefighter, and that kind always laps up mental stimulants to keep the bluedevils away."

  "You're doing the lad an injustice, I think," Cameron said. "I wasprejudiced myself at first."

  Slade pulled a heavy hand three times down his big beard, spat a shaftof tobacco juice, took his hat off, straightened out a couple of dentsin it, and put it back on his head:

  "You best stick to that prejudice feeling, Boss--first guesses about afeller most gener'ly pans out pretty fair. And I'd keep an eye kinderskinned if you have any fuss with Jack; I see him look at you once ortwice when you corrected his way of doin' things."

  Cameron laughed.

  "'Tain't no laughin' matter, Boss. When a feller's been used to cussin'like hell he can't keep healthy bottlin' it up. And all that dirtinessthat's in the Wolf 'll bust out some day same's you touched a match to atin of powder; he'll throw back."

  "There's nobody to worry about except the little school teacher,"Cameron said meditatively.

  This time it was Slade who chuckled. "The school-mam's as safe ashouses. She ain't got a pint of red blood in 'em blue veins of hers,'tain't nothin' but vinegar. Jack's just tryin' to sober up on herreligion, that's all; it kind of makes him forget horse stealin' an'such while he makes a stake workin' here."

  Then one morning Jack had passed into perihelion.

  Cameron took his double-barreled shot gun, meaning to pick up someprairie chicken while he was out looking over his men's work. As hepassed the shack where his men bunked he noticed the door open. Thiswas careless, for train dogs were always prowling about for just sucha chance for loot. He stepped through the door and took a peep into theother room. There sat the Wolf at a pine table playing solitaire.

  "What's the matter?" the Scotchman asked. "I've quit," the Wolf answeredsurlily.

  "Quit?" Cameron
queried. "The gang can't carry on without a chain man."

  "I don't care a damn. It don't make no dif'rence to me. I'm sick of thattough bunch--swearin' and cussin', and tellin' smutty stories all day; aman can't keep decent in that outfit."

  "Ma God!" Startled by this, Cameron harked back to his most expressiveScotch.

  "You needn't swear 'bout it, Boss; you yourself ain't never give me nosquare deal; you've treated me like a breed."

  This palpable lie fired Cameron's Scotch blood; also the malignant lookthat Slade had seen was now in the wolfish eyes. It was a murder look,enhanced by the hypocritical attitude Jack had taken.

  "You're a scoundrel!" Cameron blurted; "I wouldn't keep you on thework. The sooner Fort Victor is shut of you the better for all hands,especially the women folks. You're a scoundrel."

  Jack sprang to his feet; his hand went back to a hip pocket; but hisblazing wolfish eyes were looking into the muzzle of the double-barrelgun that Cameron had swung straight from his hip, both fingers on thetriggers.

  "Put your hands flat on the table, you blackguard," Cameron commanded."If I weren't a married man I'd blow the top of your head off; you're nogood on earth; you'd be better dead, but my wife would worry because Idid the deed."

  The Wolf's empty hand had come forward and was placed, palm downward, onthe table.

  "Now, you hound, you're just a bluffer. I'll show you what I think ofyou. I'm going to turn my back, walk out, and send a breed up to FortSaskatchewan for a policeman to gather you in."

  Cameron dropped the muzzle of his gun, turned on his heel and startedout.

  "Come back and settle with me," the Wolf demanded.

  "I'll settle with you in jail, you blackguard!" Cameron threw over hisshoulder, stalking on.

  Plodding along, not without nervous twitchings of apprehension, theScotchman heard behind him the voice of the Wolf saying. "Don't do that,Mr. Cameron; I flew off the handle and so did you, but I didn't meannothin'."

  Cameron, ignoring the Wolf's plea, went along to his shack and wrotea note, the ugly visage of the Wolf hovering at the open door. He washumbled, beaten. Gun-play in Montana, where the Wolf had left a badrecord, was one thing, but with a cordon of Mounted Police between himand the border it was a different matter; also he was wanted for a moreserious crime than a threat to shoot, and once in the toils this mightcrop up. So he pleaded. But Cameron was obdurate; the Wolf had no rightto stick up his work and quit at a moment's notice.

  Then Jack had an inspiration. He brought Lucy Black. Like woman of alltime her faith having been given she stood pat, a flush rouging herbleached cheeks as, earnest in her mission, she pleaded for the "waywardboy," as she euphemistically designated this coyote. Cameron was tolet him go to lead the better life; thrown into the pen of the policebarracks, among bad characters, he would become contaminated. The policehad always persecuted her Jack.

  Cameron mentally exclaimed again, "Ma God!" as he saw tears in theneutral blue-tinted eyes. Indeed it was time that the Wolf sought anew runway. He had a curious Scotch reverence for women, and was almostreconciled to the loss of a man over the breaking up of this situation.

  Jack was paid the wages due; but at his request for a horse to takehim back to Edmonton the Scotchman laughed. "I'm not making presents ofhorses to-day," he said; "and I'll take good care that nobody else hereis shy a horse when you go, Jack. You'll take the hoof express--it'sgood enough for you."

  So the Wolf tramped out of Fort Victor with a pack slung over hisshoulder; and the next day Sergeant Heath swung into town looking verydebonaire in his khaki, sitting atop the bright blood-bay police horse.

  He hunted up Cameron, saying: "You've a man here that I want--Jack Wolf.They've found his prospecting partner dead up on the Smoky River, witha bullet hole in the back of his head. We want Jack at Edmonton toexplain."

  "He's gone."

  "Gone! When?"


  The Sergeant stared helplessly at the Scotchman. A light dawned uponCameron. "Did you, by any chance, send word that you were coming?" heasked.

  "I'll be back, mister," and Heath darted from the shack, swung to hissaddle, and galloped toward the little log school house.

  Cameron waited. In half an hour the Sergeant was back, a troubled lookin his face.

  "I'll tell you," he said dejectedly, "women are hell; they ought to beinterned when there's business on."

  "The little school teacher?"

  "The little fool!"

  "You trusted her and wrote you were coming, eh?"

  "I did."

  "Then, my friend, I'm afraid you were the foolish one."

  "How was I to know that rustler had been 'making bad medicine'--had putthe evil eye on Lucy? Gad, man, she's plumb locoed; she stuck up forhim; spun me the most glimmering tale--she's got a dime novel skinnedfour ways of the pack. According to her the police stood in with BulldogCarney on a train holdup, and made this poor innocent lamb the goat.They persecuted him, and he had to flee. Now he's given his heart toGod, and has gone away to buy a ranch and send for Lucy, where the twoof them are to live happy ever after."

  "Ma God!" the Scotchman cried with vehemence.

  "That bean-headed affair in calico gave him five hundred she's pinchedup against her chest for years."

  Cameron gasped and stared blankly; even his reverent exclamatory standbyseemed inadequate.

  "What time yesterday did the Wolf pull out?" the Sergeant asked.

  "About three o'clock."



  "He'll rustle a cayuse the first chance he gets, but if he stays afoothe'll hit Edmonton to-night, seventy miles."

  "To catch the morning train for Calgary," Cameron suggested.

  "You don't know the Wolf, Boss; he's got his namesake of the forestskinned to death when it comes to covering up his trail--no train forhim now that he knows I'm on his track; he'll just touch civilizationfor grub till he makes the border for Montana. I've got to get him. Ifyou'll stake me to a fill-up of bacon and a chew of oats for the horseI'll eat and pull out."

  In an hour Sergeant Heath shook hands with Cameron saying: "If you'lljust not say a word about how that cuss got the message I'll be muchobliged. It would break me if it dribbled to headquarters."

  Then he rode down the ribbon of roadway that wound to the river bed,forded the old Saskatchewan that was at its summer depth, mounted thesouth bank and disappeared.

  When Jack the Wolf left Fort Victor he headed straight for a little logshack, across the river, where Descoign, a French half-breed, lived. Thefamily was away berry picking, and Jack twisted a rope into an Indianbridle and borrowed a cayuse from the log corral. The cayuse was somedevil, and that evening, thirty miles south, he chewed loose the ropehobble on his two front feet, and left the Wolf afoot.

  Luck set in against Jack just there, for he found no more borrowablehorses till he came to where the trail forked ten miles short of FortSaskatchewan. To the right, running southwest, lay the well beatentrail that passed through Fort Saskatchewan to cross the river and onto Edmonton. The trail that switched to the left, running southeast, wasthe old, now rarely-used one that stretched away hundreds of miles toWinnipeg.

  The Wolf was a veritable Indian in his slow cunning; a gambler wheremoney was the stake, but where his freedom, perhaps his life, wasinvolved he could wait, and wait, and play the game more than safe. TheWinnipeg trail would be deserted--Jack knew that; a man could travel itthe round of the clock and meet nobody, most like. Seventy miles beyondhe could leave it, and heading due west, strike the Calgary railroad andboard a train at some small station. No notice would be taken of him,for trappers, prospectors, men from distant ranches, morose, untalkativemen, were always drifting toward the rails, coming up out of the silentsolitudes of the wastes, unquestioned and unquestioning.

  The Wolf knew that he would be followed; he knew that Sergeant Heathwould pull out on his trail and follow relentlessly, seeking the gloryof capturing his man single-handed. That was the _
esprit de corps_ ofthese riders of the prairies, and Heath was, _par excellence_, large inconceit.

  A sinister sneer lifted the upper lip of the trailing man until hisstrong teeth glistened like veritable wolf fangs. He had full confidencein his ability to outguess Sergeant Heath or any other MountedPoliceman.

  He had stopped at the fork of the trail long enough to light his pipe,looking down the Fort Saskatchewan-Edmonton road thinking. He knew theold Winnipeg trail ran approximately ten or twelve miles east of therailroad south for a hundred miles or more; where it crossed a trailrunning into Red Deer, half-way between Edmonton and Calgary, it wasabout ten miles east of that town.

  He swung his blanket pack to his back and stepped blithely along theEdmonton chocolate-colored highway muttering: "You red-coated snobs,you're waiting for Jack. A nice baited trap. And behind, herding me in,my brave Sergeant. Well, I'm coming."

  Where there was a matrix of black mud he took care to leave a footprint;where there was dust he walked in it, in one or the other of the everpersisting two furrow-like paths that had been worn through the strongprairie turf by the hammering hoofs of two horses abreast, and grindingwheels of wagon and buckboard. For two miles he followed the trail tillhe sighted a shack with a man chopping in the front yard. Here the Wolfwent in and begged some matches and a drink of milk; incidentally heasked how far it was to Edmonton. Then he went back to the trail--stilltoward Edmonton. The Wolf had plenty of matches, and he didn't need themilk, but the man would tell Sergeant Heath when he came along of theone he had seen heading for Edmonton.

  For a quarter of a mile Jack walked on the turf beside the road, twiceputting down a foot in the dust to make a print; then he walked onthe road for a short distance and again took to the turf. He saw a rigcoming from behind, and popped into a cover of poplar bushes until ithad passed. Then he went back to the road and left prints of his feetin the black soft dust, that would indicate that he had climbed intoa waggon here from behind. This accomplished he turned east across theprairie, reach-ing the old Winnipeg trail, a mile away; then he turnedsouth.

  At noon he came to a little lake and ate his bacon raw, not risking thesmoke of a fire; then on in that tireless Indian plod--toes in, and headhung forward, that is so easy on the working joints--hour afterhour; it was not a walk, it was more like the dog-trot of a cayuse, easyspringing short steps, always on the balls of his wide strong feet.

  At five he ate again, then on. He travelled till midnight, the shadowygloom having blurred his path at ten o'clock. Then he slept in a thickclump of saskatoon bushes.

  At three it was daylight, and screened as he was and thirsting forhis drink of hot tea, he built a small fire and brewed the inspiringbeverage. On forked sticks he broiled some bacon; then on again.

  All day he travelled. In the afternoon elation began to creep into hisveins; he was well past Edmonton now. At night he would take the dipperon his right hand and cut across the prairie straight west; by morninghe would reach steel; the train leaving Edmonton would come along aboutten, and he would be in Calgary that night. Then he could go east,or west, or south to the Montana border by rail. Heath would go on toEdmonton; the police would spend two or three days searching all theshacks and Indian and half-breed camps, and they would watch the dailyoutgoing train.

  There was one chance that they might wire Calgary to look out for him;but there was no course open without some risk of capture; he was upagainst that possibility. It was a gamble, and he was playing his handthe best he knew how. Even approaching Calgary he would swing from thetrain on some grade, and work his way into town at night to a shackwhere Montana Dick lived. Dick would know what was doing.

  Toward evening the trail gradually swung to the east skirting muskegcountry. At first the Wolf took little notice of the angle of detour;he was thankful he followed a trail, for trails never led one intoimpassable country; the muskeg would run out and the trail swing westagain. But for two hours he plugged along, quickening his pace, for herealized now that he was covering miles which had to be made up when heswung west again.

  Perhaps it was the depressing continuance of the desolate muskeg throughwhich the shadowy figures of startled hares darted that cast the tiringman into foreboding. Into his furtive mind crept a suspicion that he wasbeing trailed. So insidiously had this dread birthed that at first itwas simply worry, a feeling as if the tremendous void of the prairiewas closing in on him, that now and then a white boulder ahead was acrouching wolf. He shivered, shook his wide shoulders and cursed. It wasthat he was tiring, perhaps.

  Then suddenly the thing took form, mental form--something _was_ on histrail. This primitive creature was like an Indian--gifted with the sixthsense that knows when somebody is coming though he may be a day's marchaway; the mental wireless that animals possess. He tried to laugh itoff; to dissipate the unrest with blasphemy; but it wouldn't down.

  The prairie was like a huge platter, everything stood out against theluminous evening sky like the sails of a ship at sea. If it were Heathtrailing, and that man saw him, he would never reach the railroad.His footprints lay along the trail, for it was hard going on theheavily-grassed turf. To cut across the muskeg that stretched for mileswould trap him. In the morning light the Sergeant would discover thathis tracks had disappeared, and would know just where he had gone.Being mounted the Sergeant would soon make up for the few hours ofdarkness--would reach the railway and wire down the line.

  The Wolf plodded on for half a mile, then he left the trail where theground was rolling, cut east for five hundred yards, and circled back.On the top of a cut-bank that was fringed with wolf willow he crouchedto watch. The sun had slipped through purple clouds, and dropping belowthem into a sea of greenish-yellow space, had bathed in blood the wholemass of tesselated vapour; suddenly outlined against this gloriousbackground a horse and man silhouetted, the stiff erect seat in thesaddle, the docked tail of the horse, square cut at the hocks, told thewatcher that it was a policeman.

  When the rider had passed the Wolf trailed him, keeping east of theroad where his visibility was low against the darkening side of thevast dome. Half a mile beyond where the Wolf had turned, the Sergeantstopped, dismounted, and, leading the horse, with head low hung searchedthe trail for the tracks that had now disappeared. Approaching night,coming first over the prairie, had blurred it into a gigantic rug ofsombre hue. The trail was like a softened stripe; footprints might bethere, merged into the pattern till they were indiscernible.

  A small oval lake showed in the edge of the muskeg beside the trail, itssides festooned by strong-growing blue-joint, wild oats, wolf willow,saskatoon bushes, and silver-leafed poplar. Ducks, startled from theirnests, floating nests built of interwoven rush leaves and grass, rosein circling flights, uttering plaintive rebukes. Three giant sandhillcranes flopped their sail-like wings, folded their long spindle shanksstraight out behind, and soared away like kites.

  Crouched back beside the trail the Wolf watched and waited. He knew whatthe Sergeant would do; having lost the trail of his quarry he wouldcamp there, beside good water, tether his horse to the picket-pin bythe hackamore rope, eat, and sleep till daylight, which would come aboutthree o'clock; then he would cast about for the Wolf's tracks, gallopalong the southern trail, and when he did not pick them up would surmisethat Jack had cut across the muskeg land; then he would round thesouthern end of the swamp and head for the railway.

  "I must get him," the Wolf muttered mercilessly; "gentle him if I can,if not--get him."

  He saw the Sergeant unsaddle his horse, picket him, and eat a cold meal;this rather than beacon his presence by a glimmering fire.

  The Wolf, belly to earth, wormed closer, slithering over the gillardias,crunching their yellow blooms beneath his evil body, his revolver heldbetween his strong teeth as his grimy paws felt the ground for twigsthat might crack.

  If the Sergeant would unbuckle his revolver belt, and perhaps go down tothe water for a drink, or even to the horse that was at the far end ofthe picket line, his nose buried deep
in the succulent wild-pea vine,then the Wolf would rush his man, and the Sergeant, disarmed, wouldthrow up his hands.

  The Wolf did not want on his head the death of a Mounted Policeman, forthen the "Redcoats" would trail him to all corners of the earth. All hislife there would be someone on his trail. It was too big a price. Evenif the murder thought had been paramount, in that dim light the firstshot meant not overmuch.

  So Jack waited. Once the horse threw up his head, cocked his earsfretfully, and stood like a bronze statue; then he blew a breath ofdiscontent through his spread nostrils, and again buried his muzzle inthe pea vine and sweet-grass.

  Heath had seen this movement of the horse and ceased cutting at the plugof tobacco with which he was filling his pipe; he stood up, and searchedwith his eyes the mysterious gloomed prairie.

  The Wolf, flat to earth, scarce breathed.

  The Sergeant snuffed out the match hidden in his cupped hands over thebowl, put the pipe in his pocket, and, revolver in hand, walked in anarrow circle; slowly, stealthily, stopping every few feet to listen;not daring to go too far lest the man he was after might be hiddensomewhere and cut out his horse. He passed within ten feet of where theWolf lay, just a gray mound against the gray turf.

  The Sergeant went back to his blanket and with his saddle for a pillowlay down, the tiny glow of his pipe showing the Wolf that he smoked. Hehad not removed his pistol belt.

  The Wolf lying there commenced to think grimly how easy it would be tokill the policeman as he slept; to wiggle, snake-like to within a fewfeet and then the shot. But killing was a losing game, the blunderingtrick of a man who easily lost control; the absolutely last resort whena man was cornered beyond escape and saw a long term at Stony Mountainahead of him, or the gallows. The Wolf would wait till all the advantagewas with him. Besides, the horse was like a watch-dog. The Wolf was downwind from them now, but if he moved enough to rouse the horse, or thewind shifted--no, he would wait. In the morning the Sergeant, less waryin the daylight, might give him his chance.

  Fortunately it was late in the summer and that terrible pest, themosquito, had run his course.

  The Wolf slipped back a few yards deeper into the scrub, and, tired,slept. He knew that at the first wash of gray in the eastern sky theducks would wake him. He slept like an animal, scarce slipping fromconsciousness; a stamp of the horse's hoof on the sounding turf bringinghim wide awake. Once a gopher raced across his legs, and he all butsprang to his feet thinking the Sergeant had grappled with him. Againa great horned owl at a twist of Jack's head as he dreamed, swoopedsilently and struck, thinking it a hare.

  Brought out of his sleep by the myriad noises of the waterfowl theWolf knew that night was past, and the dice of chance were about to bethrown. He crept back to where the Sergeant was in full view, the horse,his sides ballooned by the great feed of sweet-pea vine, lay at rest,his muzzle on the earth, his drooped ears showing that he slept.

  Waked by the harsh cry of a loon that swept by rending the air with hisdeath-like scream, the Sergeant sat bolt upright and rubbed his eyessleepily. He rose, stretched his arms above his head, and stood for aminute looking off toward the eastern sky that was now taking on a rosetint. The horse, with a little snort, canted to his feet and sniffedtoward the water; the Sergeant pulled the picket-pin and led him to thelake for a drink.

  Hungrily the Wolf looked at the carbine that lay across the saddle, butthe Sergeant watered his horse without passing behind the bushes. Itwas a chance; but still the Wolf waited, thinking, "I want an ace in thehole when I play this hand."

  Sergeant Heath slipped the picket-pin back into the turf, saddled hishorse, and stood mentally debating something. Evidently the somethinghad to do with Jack's whereabouts, for Heath next climbed a shortdistance up a poplar, and with his field glasses scanned the surroundingprairie. This seemed to satisfy him; he dropped back to earth, gatheredsome dry poplar branches and built a little fire; hanging by a forkedstick he drove in the ground his copper tea pail half full of water.

  Then the thing the Wolf had half expectantly waited for happened. TheSergeant took off his revolver belt, his khaki coat, rolled up thesleeves of his gray flannel shirt, turned down its collar, took a pieceof soap and a towel from the roll of his blanket and went to the waterto wash away the black dust of the prairie trail that was thick andheavy on his face and in his hair. Eyes and ears full of suds, splashingand blowing water, the noise of the Wolf's rapid creep to the fire wasunheard.

  When the Sergeant, leisurely drying his face on the towel, stood up andturned about he was looking into the yawning maw of his own heavy policerevolver, and the Wolf was saying: "Come here beside the fire and stripto the buff--I want them duds. There won't nothin' happen you unlessyou get hostile, then you'll get yours too damn quick. Just do as you'retold and don't make no fool play; I'm in a hurry."

  Of course the Sergeant, not being an imbecile, obeyed.

  "Now get up in that tree and stay there while I dress," the Wolfordered. In three minutes he was arrayed in the habiliments of SergeantHeath; then he said, "Come down and put on my shirt."

  In the pocket of the khaki coat that the Wolf now wore were a pair ofsteel handcuffs; he tossed them to the man in the shirt commanding,"Click these on."

  "I say," the Sergeant expostulated, "can't I have the pants and the coatand your boots?"

  The Wolf sneered: "Dif'rent here my bounder; I got to make a get-away.I'll tell you what I'll do--I'll give you your choice of three ways:I'll stake you to the clothes, bind and gag you; or I'll rip one ofthese .44 plugs through you; or I'll let you run foot loose with a shirton your back; I reckon you won't go far on this wire grass in barefeet."

  "I don't walk on my pants."

  "That's just what you would do; the pants and coat would cut up intoabout four pairs of moccasins; they'd be as good as duffel cloth."

  "I'll starve."

  "That's your look-out. You'd lie awake nights worrying about where JackWolf would get a dinner--I guess not. I ought to shoot you. The damnpolice are nothin' but a lot of dirty dogs anyway. Get busy and cookgrub for two--bacon and tea, while I sit here holdin' this gun on you."

  The Sergeant was a grotesque figure cooking with the manacles on hiswrists, and clad only in a shirt.

  When they had eaten the Wolf bridled the horse, curled up the picketline and tied it to the saddle horn, rolled the blanket and with thecarbine strapped it to the saddle, also his own blanket.

  "I'm goin' to grubstake you," he said, "leave you rations for threedays; that's more than you'd do for me. I'll turn your horse loose nearsteel, I ain't horse stealin', myself--I'm only borrowin'."

  When he was ready to mount a thought struck the Wolf. It could hardlybe pity for the forlorn condition of Heath; it must have been cunning--aplay against the off chance of the Sergeant being picked up by somebodythat day. He said:

  "You fellers in the force pull a gag that you keep your word, don'tyou?"

  "We try to."

  "I'll give you another chance, then. I don't want to see nobody put ina hole when there ain't no call for it. If you give me your word, on thehonor of a Mounted Policeman, swear it, that you'll give me four days'start before you squeal I'll stake you to the clothes and boots; thenyou can get out in two days and be none the worse."

  "I'll see you in hell first. A Mounted Policeman doesn't compromise witha horse thief--with a skunk who steals a working girl's money."

  "You'll keep palaverin' till I blow the top of your head off," the Wolfsnarled. "You'll look sweet trampin' in to some town in about a weekaskin' somebody to file off the handcuffs Jack the Wolf snapped on you,won't you?"

  "I won't get any place in a week with these handcuffs on," the Sergeantobjected; "even if a pack of coyotes tackled me I couldn't protectmyself."

  The Wolf pondered this. If he could get away without it he didn't wantthe death of a man on his hands--there was nothing in it. So he unlockedthe handcuffs, dangled them in his fingers debatingly, and then threwthem far out into the bushes, say
ing, with a leer; "I might get stuck upby somebody, and if they clamped these on to me it would make a get-awayharder."

  "Give me some matches," pleaded the Sergeant.

  With this request the Wolf complied saying, "I don't want to do nothin'mean unless it helps me out of a hole."

  Then Jack swung to the saddle and continued on the trail. For four mileshe rode, wondering at the persistence of the muskeg. But now he had ahorse and twenty-four hours ahead before train time; he should worry.

  Another four miles, and to the south he could see a line of low rollinghills that meant the end of the swamps. Even where he rode the prairierose and fell, the trail dipping into hollows, on its rise to sweep overhigher land. Perhaps some of these ridges ran right through the muskegs;but there was no hurry.

  Suddenly as the Wolf breasted an upland he saw a man leisurely cinchinga saddle on a buckskin horse.

  "Hell!" the Wolf growled as he swung his mounts, "that's the buckskinthat I see at the Alberta; that's Bulldog; I don't want no mix-up withhim."

  He clattered down to the hollow he had left, and raced for the hidingscreen of the bushed muskeg. He was almost certain Carney had not seenhim, for the other had given no sign; he would wait in the cover untilCarney had gone; perhaps he could keep right on across the bad lands,for his horse, as yet, sunk but hoof deep. He drew rein in thick coverand waited.

  Suddenly the horse threw up his head, curved his neck backward, cockedhis ears and whinnied. The Wolf could hear a splashing, sucking sound ofhoofs back on the tell-tale trail he had left.

  With a curse he drove his spurs into the horse's flanks, and thestartled animal sprang from the cutting rowels, the ooze throwing up ina shower.

  A dozen yards and the horse stumbled, almost coming to his knees; herecovered at the lash of Jack's quirt, and struggled on; now going halfthe depth of his cannon bones in the yielding muck, he was flounderinglike a drunken man; in ten feet his legs went to the knees.

  Quirt and spur drove him a few feet; then he lurched heavily, and witha writhing struggle against the sucking sands stood trembling; from hisspread mouth came a scream of terror--he knew.

  And now the Wolf knew. With terrifying dread he remembered--he hadridden into the "Lakes of the Shifting Sands." This was the country theywere in and he had forgotten. The sweat of fear stood out on the lowforehead; all the tales that he had heard of men who had disappearedfrom off the face of the earth, swallowed up in these quicksands, cameback to him with numbing force. To spring from the horse meant but twoor three wallowing strides and then to be sucked down in the claimingquicksands.

  The horse's belly was against the black muck. The Wolf had drawn hisfeet up; he gave a cry for help. A voice answered, and twisting his headabout he saw, twenty yards away, Carney on the buckskin. About the man'sthin lips a smile hovered. He sneered:

  "You're up against it, Mister Policeman; what name'll I turn in back atbarracks?"

  Jack knew that it was Carney, and that Carney might know Heath by sight,so he lied:

  "I'm Sergeant Phillips; for God's sake help me out."

  Bulldog sneered. "Why should I--God doesn't love a sneaking policehound."

  The Wolf pleaded, for his horse was gradually sinking; his struggles nowstilled for the beast knew that he was doomed.

  "All right," Carney said suddenly. "One condition--never mind, I'llsave you first--there isn't too much time. Now break your gun, emptythe cartridges out and drop it back into the holster," he commanded."Unsling your picket line, fasten it under your armpits, and if I canget my cow-rope to you tie the two together."

  He slipped from the saddle and led the horse as far out as he dared,seemingly having found firmer ground a little to one side. Then takinghis cow-rope, he worked his way still farther out, placing his feet onthe tufted grass that stuck up in little mounds through the treacherousooze. Then calling, "Look out!" he swung the rope. The Wolf caught itat the first throw and tied his own to it. Carney worked his way back,looped the rope over the horn, swung to the saddle, and calling, "Flopover on your belly--look out!" he started his horse, veritably towingthe Wolf to safe ground.

  The rope slacked; the Wolf, though half smothered with muck, drew hisrevolver and tried to slip two cartridges into the cylinder.

  A sharp voice cried, "Stop that, you swine!" and raising his eyes he wasgazing into Carney's gun. "Come up here on the dry ground," the lattercommanded. "Stand there, unbuckle your belt and let it drop. Now taketen paces straight ahead." Carney salvaged the weapon and belt ofcartridges.

  "Build a fire, quick!" he next ordered, leaning casually against hishorse, one hand resting on the butt of his revolver.

  He tossed a couple of dry matches to the Wolf when the latter had builta little mound of dry poplar twigs and birch bark.

  When the fire was going Carney said: "Peel your coat and dry it; standclose to the fire so your pants dry too--I want that suit."

  The Wolf was startled. Was retribution so hot on his trail? Was Carneyabout to set him afoot just as he had set afoot Sergeant Heath? His twohundred dollars and Lucy Black's five hundred were in the pocket ofthat coat also. As he took it off he turned it upside down, hoping fora chance to slip the parcel of money to the ground unnoticed of hiscaptor.

  "Throw the jacket here," Carney commanded; "seems to be papers in thepocket."

  When the coat had been tossed to him, Carney sat down on a fallen tree,took from it two packets--one of papers, and another wrapped in strongpaper. He opened the papers, reading them with one eye while with theother he watched the man by the fire. Presently he sneered: "Say, you'resome liar--even for a government hound; your name's not Phillips, it'sHeath. You're the waster who fooled the little girl at Golden. You'rethe bounder who came down from the Klondike to gather Bulldog Carney in;you shot off your mouth all along the line that you were going to takehim singlehanded. You bet a man in Edmonton a hundred you'd tie him hoofand horn. Well, you lose, for I'm going to rope you first, see? Turn youover to the Government tied up like a bag of spuds; that's just what I'mgoing to do, Sergeant Liar. I'm going to break you for the sake of thatlittle girl at Golden, for she was my friend and I'm Bulldog Carney.Soon as that suit is dried a bit you'll strip and pass it over; thenyou'll get into my togs and I'm going to turn you over to the police asBulldog Carney.

  "D'you get me, kid?" Carney chuckled. "That'll break you, won't it,Mister Sergeant Heath? You can't stay in the Force a joke; you'll neverlive it down if you live to be a thousand--you've boasted too much."

  The Wolf had remained silent--waiting. He had an advantage if his captordid not know him. Now he was frightened; to be turned in at Edmonton byCarney was as bad as being taken by Sergeant Heath.

  "You can't pull that stuff, Carney," he objected; "the minute I tellthem who I am and who you are they'll grab you too quick. They'll knowme; perhaps some of them'll know you."

  A sneering "Ha!" came from between the thin lips of the man on the log."Not where we're going they won't, Sergeant. I know a little place overon the rail"--and he jerked his thumb toward the west--"where there'stwo policemen that don't know much of anything; they've never seeneither of us. You ain't been at Edmonton more'n a couple of months sinceyou came from the Klondike. But they do know that Bulldog Carney iswanted at Calgary and that there's a thousand dollars to the man thatbrings him in."

  At this the Wolf pricked his ears; he saw light--a flood of it. If thisthing went through, and he was sent on to Calgary as Bulldog Carney,he would be turned loose at once as not being the man. The police atCalgary had cause to know just what Carney looked like for he had beenin their clutches and escaped.

  But Jack must bluff--appear to be the angry Sergeant. So he said:"They'll know me at Calgary, and you'll get hell for this."

  Now Carney laughed out joyously. "I don't give a damn if they do. Can'tyou get it through your wooden police head that I just want this littlepleasantry driven home so that you're the goat of that nanny band,the Mounted Police; then you'll send in your papers and go back to

  As Carney talked he had opened the paper packet. Now he gave a crisp"Hello! what have we here?" as a sheaf of bills appeared.

  The Wolf had been watching for Carney's eyes to leave him for fiveseconds. One hand rested in his trousers pocket. He drew it out anddropped a knife, treading it into the sand and ashes.

  "Seven hundred," Bulldog continued. "Rather a tidy sum for a policemanto be toting. Is this police money?"

  The Wolf hesitated; it was a delicate situation. Jack wanted that moneybut a slip might ruin his escape. If Bulldog suspected that Jack was nota policeman he would jump to the conclusion that he had killed the ownerof the horse and clothes. Also Carney would not believe that a policemanon duty wandered about with seven hundred in his pocket; if Jack claimedit all Carney would say he lied and keep it as Government money.

  "Five hundred is Government money I was bringin' in from a post, and twohundred is my own," he answered.

  "I'll keep the Government money," Bulldog said crisply; "the Governmentrobbed me of my ranch--said I had no title. And I'll keep yours, too;it's coming to you."

  "If luck strings with you, Carney, and you get away with this dirtytrick, what you say'll make good--I'll have to quit the Force; an' Iwant to get home down east. Give me a chance; let me have my own twohundred."

  "I think you're lying--a man in the Force doesn't get two hundred ahead,not honest. But I'll toss you whether I give you one hundred or two,"Carney said, taking a half dollar from his pocket. "Call!" and he spunit in the air.

  "Heads!" the Wolf cried.

  The coin fell tails up. "Here's your hundred," and Bulldog passed thebills to their owner.

  "I see here," he continued, "your order to arrest Bulldog Carney. Well,you've made good, haven't you. And here's another for Jack the Wolf; youmissed him, didn't you? Where's he--what's he done lately? He played mea dirty trick once; tipped off the police as to where they'd get me. Inever saw him, but if you could stake me to a sight of the Wolf I'dgive you this six hundred. He's the real hound that I've got a low downgrudge against. What's his description--what does he look like?"

  "He's a tall slim chap--looks like a breed, 'cause he's got nigger bloodin him," the Wolf lied.

  "I'll get him some day," Carney said; "and now them duds are aboutcooked--peel!"

  The Wolf stripped, gray shirt and all.

  "Now step back fifteen paces while I make my toilet," Carney commanded,toying with his 6-gun in the way of emphasis.

  In two minutes he was transformed into Sergeant Heath of the N. W. M.P., revolver belt and all. He threw his own clothes to the Wolf, andlighted his pipe.

  When Jack had dressed Carney said: "I saved your life, so I don't wantyou to make me throw it away again. I don't want a muss when I turn youover to the police in the morning. There ain't much chance they'd listento you if you put up a holler that you were Sergeant Heath--they'd laughat you, but if they did make a break at me there's be shooting, andyou'd sure be plumb in line of a careless bullet--see? I'm going to stayclose to you till you're on that train."

  Of course this was just what the Wolf wanted; to go down the line asBulldog Carney, handcuffed to a policeman, would be like a passport forJack the Wolf. Nobody would even speak to him--the policeman would seeto that.

  "You're dead set on putting this crazy thing through, are you?" heasked.

  "You bet I am--I'd rather work this racket than go to my own wedding."

  "Well, so's you won't think your damn threat to shoot keeps me mum, I'lljust tell you that if you get that far with it I ain't going to givemyself away. You've called the turn, Carney; I'd be a joke even if Ionly got as far as the first barracks a prisoner. If I go in as BulldogCarney I won't come out as Sergeant Heath--I'll disappear as MisterSomebody. I'm sick of the Force anyway. They'll never know what happenedSergeant Heath from me--I couldn't stand the guying. But if I everstack up against you, Carney, I'll kill you for it." This last was purebluff--for fear Carney's suspicions might be aroused by the other'sready compliance.

  Carney scowled; then he laughed, sneering: "I've heard women talk likethat in the dance halls. You cook some bacon and tea at that fire--thenwe'll pull out."

  As the Wolf knelt beside the fire to blow the embers into a blaze hefound a chance to slip the knife he had buried into his pocket.

  When they had eaten they took the trail, heading south to pass the lowerend of the great muskegs. Carney rode the buckskin, and the Wolf strodealong in front, his mind possessed of elation at the prospect of beinghelped out of the country, and depression over the loss of his money.Curiously the loss of his own one hundred seemed a greater enormity thanthat of the school teacher's five hundred. That money had been easilycome by, but he had toiled a month for the hundred. What right hadCarney to steal his labor--to rob a workman. As they plugged along mileafter mile, a fierce determination to get the money back took possessionof Jack.

  If he could get it he could get the horse. He would fix Bulldog some wayso that the latter would not stop him. He must have the clothes, too.The khaki suit obsessed him; it was a red flag to his hot mind.

  They spelled and ate in the early evening; and when they started foranother hour's tramp Carney tied his cow-rope tightly about the Wolf'swaist, saying: "If you'd tried to cut out in these gloomy hills I'dbe peeved. Just keep that line taut in front of the buckskin and therewon't be no argument."

  In an hour Carney called a halt, saying: "We'll camp by this bit ofwater, and hit the trail in the early morning. We ain't more than tenmiles from steel, and we'll make some place before train time." Carneyhad both the police picket line and his own. He drove a picket in theground, looped the line that was about the Wolf's waist over it, andsaid.

  "I don't want to be suspicious of a mate jumping me in the dark, so I'llsleep across this line and you'll keep to the other end of it; if youso much as wink at it I guess I'll wake. I've got a bad conscience andsleep light. We'll build a fire and you'll keep to the other side of itsame's we were neighbors in a city and didn't know each other."

  Twice, as they ate, Carney caught a sullen, vicious look in Jack's eyes.It was as clearly a murder look as he had ever seen; and more thanonce he had faced eyes that thirsted for his life. He wondered at thepsychology of it; it was not like his idea of Sergeant Heath. From whathe had been told of that policeman he had fancied him a vain, swaggeringchap who had had his ego fattened by the three stripes on his arm. Hedetermined to take a few extra precautions, for he did not wish to lieawake.

  "We'll turn in," he said when they had eaten; "I'll hobble you, same's ashy cayuse, for fear you'd walk in your sleep, Sergeant."

  He bound the Wolf's ankles, and tied his wrists behind his back,saying, as he knotted the rope, "What the devil did you do with yourhandcuffs--thought you johnnies always had a pair in your pocket?"

  "They were in the saddle holster and went down with my horse," the Wolflied.

  Carney's nerves were of steel, his brain worked with exquisiteprecision. When it told him there was nothing to fear, that hisprecautions had made all things safe, his mind rested, untortured byjerky nerves; so in five minutes he slept.

  The Wolf mastered his weariness and lay awake, waiting to carry out thesomething that had been in his mind. Six hundred dollars was a stake toplay for; also clad once again in the police suit, with the buckskin tocarry him to the railroad, he could get away; money was always a goodthing to bribe his way through. Never once had he put his hand in thepocket where lay the knife he had secreted at the time he had changedclothes with Carney, as he trailed hour after hour in front of thebuckskin. He knew that Carney was just the cool-nerved man that wouldsleep--not lie awake through fear over nothing.

  In the way of test he shuffled his feet and drew from the half-driedgrass a rasping sound. It partly disturbed the sleeper; he changed thesteady rhythm of his breathing; he even drew a heavy-sighing breath;had he been lying awake watching the Wolf he would have stilled hisbreathing to listen.

  The Wolf waited until the rhythmic
breaths of the sleeper told that hehad lapsed again into the deeper sleep. Slowly, silently the Wolf workedhis hands to the side pocket, drew out the knife and cut the cords thatbound his wrists. It took time, for he worked with caution. Then hewaited. The buckskin, his nose deep in the grass, blew the pollen of theflowered carpet from his nostrils.

  Carney stirred and raised his head. The buckskin blew through hisnostrils again, ending with a luxurious sigh of content; then washeard the clip-clip of his strong teeth scything the grass. Carney,recognizing what had waked him, turned over and slept again.

  Ten minutes, and the Wolf, drawing up his feet slowly, silently, sawedthrough the rope on his ankles. Then with spread fingers he searched thegrass for a stone the size of a goose egg, beside which he had purposelylain down. When his fingers touched it he unknotted the handkerchiefthat had been part of Carney's make-up and which was now about his neck,and in one corner tied the stone, fastening the other end about hiswrist. Now he had a slung-shot that with one blow would render the otherman helpless.

  Then he commenced his crawl.

  A pale, watery, three-quarter moon had climbed listlessly up the easternsky changing the sombre prairie into a vast spirit land, draping withghostly garments bush and shrub.

  Purposely Carney had tethered the buckskin down wind from where he andthe Wolf lay. Jack had not read anything out of this action, but Carneyknew the sensitive wariness of his horse,--the scent of the stranger inhis nostrils would keep him restless, and any unusual move on the partof the prisoner would agitate the buckskin. Also he had only pretendedto drive the picket pin at some distance away; in the dark he hadtrailed it back and worked it into the loose soil at his very feet. Thiswas more a move of habitual care than a belief that the bound man couldwork his way, creeping and rolling, to the picket-pin, pull it, and getaway with the horse.

  At the Wolfs first move the buckskin threw up his head, and, with earscocked forward, studied the shifting blurred shadow. Perhaps it wasthe scent of his master's clothes which the Wolf wore that agitated hismind, that cast him to wondering whether his master was moving about;or, perhaps as animals instinctively have a nervous dread of a viciousman he distrusted the stranger; perhaps, in the dim uncertain light, hisprairie dread came back to him and he thought it a wolf that had creptinto camp. He took a step forward; then another, shaking his headirritably. A vibration trembled along the picket line that now layacross Carney's foot and he stirred restlessly.

  The Wolf flattened himself to earth and snored. Five minutes he waited,cursing softly the restless horse. Then again he moved, so slowly thateven the watchful animal scarce detected it.

  He was debating two plans: a swift rush and a swing of his slung shot,or the silent approach. The former meant inevitably the death of one orthe other--the crushed skull of Carney, or, if the latter were byany chance awake, a bullet through the Wolf. He could feel his heartpounding against the turf as he scraped along, inch by inch. A bare tenfeet, and he could put his hand on the butt of Carney's gun and snatchit from the holster; if he missed, then the slung shot.

  The horse, roused, was growing more restless, more inquisitive.Sometimes he took an impatient snap at the grass with his teeth; butonly to throw his head up again, take a step forward, shake his head,and exhale a whistling breath.

  Now the Wolf had squirmed his body five feet forward. Another yardand he could reach the pistol; and there was no sign that Carney hadwakened--just the steady breathing of a sleeping man.

  The Wolf lay perfectly still for ten seconds, for the buckskin seeminglyhad quieted; he was standing, his head low hung, as if he slept on hisfeet.

  Carney's face was toward the creeping man and was in shadow. Anotheryard, and now slowly the Wolf gathered his legs under him till he restedlike a sprinter ready for a spring; his left hand crept forward towardthe pistol stock that was within reach; the stone-laden handkerchief wastwisted about the two first fingers of his right.

  Yes, Carney slept.

  As the Wolf's finger tips slid along the pistol butt the wrist wasseized in fingers of steel, he was twisted almost face to earth, and thebutt of Carney's own gun, in the latter's right hand, clipped him overthe eye and he slipped into dreamland. When he came to workmen wereriveting a boiler in the top of his head; somebody with an augur wasboring a hole in his forehead; he had been asleep for ages and hadwakened in a strange land. He sat up groggily and stared vacantly ata man who sat beside a camp fire smoking a pipe. Over the camp fire acopper kettle hung and a scent of broiling bacon came to his nostrils.The man beside the fire took the pipe from his mouth and said: "I hopedI had cracked your skull, you swine. Where did you pick up that thugtrick of a stone in the handkerchief? As you are troubled with insomniawe'll hit the trail again."

  With the picket line around his waist once more Jack trudged aheadof the buckskin, in the night gloom the shadowy cavalcade cutting astrange, weird figure as though a boat were being towed across sleepingwaters.

  The Wolf, groggy from the blow that had almost cracked his skull, waswobbly on his legs--his feet were heavy as though he wore a diver'sleaden boots. As he waded through a patch of wild rose the briars clungto his legs, and, half dazed he cried out, thinking he struggled in theshifting sands.

  "Shut up!" The words clipped from the thin lips of the rider behind.

  They dipped into a hollow and the played-out man went half to his kneesin the morass. A few lurching steps and overstrained nature broke; hecollapsed like a jointed doll--he toppled head first into the mire andlay there.

  The buckskin plunged forward in the treacherous going, and the bag of aman was skidded to firm ground by the picket line, where he sat wipingthe mud from his face, and looking very all in.

  Carney slipped to the ground and stood beside his captive. "You'resoft, my bucko--I knew Sergeant Heath had a yellow streak," he sneered;"boasters generally have. I guess we'll rest till daylight. I've a wayof hobbling a bad man that'll hold you this time, I fancy."

  He drove the picket-pin of the rope that tethered the buckskin, and tenfeet away he drove the other picket pin. He made the Wolf lie on hisside and fastened him by a wrist to each peg so that one arm was behindand one in front.

  Carney chuckled as he surveyed the spread-eagle man: "You'll find sometrouble getting out of that, my bucko; you can't get your hands togetherand you can't get your teeth at either rope. Now I _will_ have a sleep."

  The Wolf was in a state of half coma; even untethered he probably wouldhave slept like a log; and Carney was tired; he, too, slumbered, thesoft stealing gray of the early morning not bringing him back out of thevalley of rest till a glint of sunlight throwing over the prairie grasstouched his eyes, and the warmth gradually pushed the lids back.

  He rose, built a fire, and finding water made a pot of tea. Then hesaddled the buckskin, and untethered the Wolf, saying: "We'll eat a biteand pull out."

  The rest and sleep had refreshed the Wolf, and he plodded on in frontof the buckskin feeling that though his money was gone his chances ofescape were good.

  At eight o'clock the square forms of log shacks leaning groggily againsta sloping hill came into view; it was Hobbema; and, swinging a little tothe left, in an hour they were close to the Post.

  Carney knew where the police shack lay, and skirting the town he drew upin front of a log shack, an iron-barred window at the end proclaiming itwas the Barracks. He slipped from the saddle, dropped the rein over hishorse's head, and said quietly to the Wolf: "Knock on the door, open it,and step inside," the muzzle of his gun emphasizing the command.

  He followed close at the Wolf's heels, standing in the open door as thelatter entered. He had expected to see perhaps one, not more than twoconstables, but at a little square table three men in khaki sat eatingbreakfast.

  "Good morning, gentlemen," Carney said cheerily; "I've brought you aprisoner, Bulldog Carney."

  The one who sat at table with his back to the door turned his head atthis; then he sprang to his feet, peered into the prisoner's face andlaughed.<
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  "Bulldog nothing, Sergeant; you've bagged the Wolf."

  The speaker thrust his face almost into the Wolf's. "Where's myuniform--where's my horse? I've got you now--set me afoot to starve,would you, you damn thief--you murderer! Where's the five hundreddollars you stole from the little teacher at Fort Victor?"

  He was trembling with passion; words flew from his lips like bulletsfrom a gatling--it was a torrent.

  But fast as the accusation had come, into Carney's quick mind flashedthe truth--the speaker was Sergeant Heath. The game was up. Still itwas amusing. What a devilish droll blunder he had made. His hands creptquietly to his two guns, the police gun in the belt and his own beneaththe khaki coat.

  Also the Wolf knew his game was up. His blood surged hot at the thoughtthat Carney's meddling had trapped him. He was caught, but the author ofhis evil luck should not escape.

  "_That's Bulldog Carney!_" he cried fiercely; "don't let him get away."

  Startled, the two constables at the table sprang to their feet.

  A sharp, crisp voice said: "The first man that reaches for a gun drops."They were covered by two guns held in the steady hands of the man whosesmall gray eyes watched from out narrowed lids.

  "I'll make you a present of the Wolf," Carney said quietly; "I thought Ihad Sergeant Heath. I could almost forgive this man, if he weren't sucha skunk, for doing the job for me. Now I want you chaps to pass, one byone, into the pen," and he nodded toward a heavy wooden door that ledfrom the room they were in to the other room that had been fitted up asa cell. "I see your carbines and gunbelts on the rack--you really shouldhave been properly in uniform by this time; I'll dump them out on theprairie somewhere, and you'll find them in the course of a day or so.Step in, boys, and you go first, Wolf."

  When the four men had passed through the door Carney dropped the heavywooden bar into place, turned the key in the padlock, gathered up thefire arms, mounted the buckskin, and rode into the west.

  A week later the little school teacher at Fort Victor received throughthe mail a packet that contained five hundred dollars, and this note:--

  Dear Miss Black:--

  I am sending you the five hundred dollars that you bet on a bad man. Nowoman can afford to bet on even a _good_ man. Stick to the kids, forI've heard they love you. If those Indians hadn't picked up SergeantHeath and got him to Hobbema before I got away with your money Iwouldn't have known, and you'd have lost out.

  Yours delightedly,

  Bulldog Carney.