Dead! Houston saw Medaine Robinette
pass in the distance, and his eyes followed her until
she had rounded the curve by the dead aspens,-the
eyes of lost hope. For it was upon life that
he had planned and dreamed; that the woman of the
lonely cabin would stand by her promise made in a
time of stress and right at least some of the wrongs
which had been his burden. But now-
“She-she didn’t tell you anything
before she went?”
Ba’tiste shook his head.
“She would not speak to me.
Nothing would, she tell me. At first I go alone-then
yesterday, when the snow, he pack, I take Golemar.
Then she is unconscious. All day and night
I stay beside the bed, but she do not open her eye.
Then, with the morning, she sigh, and peuff!
She is gone.”
“Without a word.”
It spelled blackness for Houston where there had
been light. “I-I-suppose
you’ve taken charge of everything.”
“Oui! But I have
look at nothing-if that is what you mean.”
“No-I just had something
here that you ought to have,” Houston fumbled
in his pockets. “She would want it around
her neck, I feel sure, I when she is .”
But the sudden glare in Ba’tiste’s
eyes stopped him as he brought forth the crucifix
and its tangled chain. The giant’s hands
raised. His big lips twisted. A lunge
and he had come forward, savage, almost beast-like.
“You!” He bellowed.
“Where you get that? Hear me, where you
“From her. She-”
“Then come! Come-quick
with me!” He almost dragged the younger man
away, hurrying him toward the sled and its broad-backed
old horses. “We must go to the cabin, oui-yes!
Hurry-” Houston saw that he was
trembling. “Eet is the thing I look for-the
thing I look for!”
“Ba’tiste! What do you mean?”
“My Julienne,” came hoarsely. “Eet
is my Julienne’s!”
Already they were in the sled, the
wolf-dog perched between them, and hurrying along
the mushy road, which followed the lesser raises of
snow, taking advantage of every windbreak and avoiding
the greater drifts of the highway itself. Two
miles they went, the horses urged to their greatest
speed. Then, with a leap, Ba’tiste cleared
the runners and motioned to the man behind him.
“Come with me! Golemar!
You shall stay behind. You shall fall in the
drift-” The old man was talking excitedly,
almost childishly. “No? Then come-Eet
is your own self that must be careful. Ba’teese,
he cannot watch you. Come!”
At a run, he went forward, to thread
his way through the pines, to flounder where the snow
had not melted, to go waist-deep at times, but still
to rush onward at a speed which taxed even Houston’s
younger strength to keep him in sight. The wolf-dog
buried itself in the snow, Houston pulling it forth
time after time, and lugging it at long intervals.
Then at last came the little clearing,-and
the cabin. Ba’tiste already was within.
Houston avoided the figure on the
bed as he entered and dropped beside the older man,
already dragging forth the drawers of the bureau and
pawing excitedly among the trinkets there. He
gasped and pulled forth a string of beads, holding
them trembling to the light, and veering from his
jumbled English to a stream of French. Then a
watch, a ring, and a locket with a curly strand of
baby hair. The giant sobbed.
“My Pierre-eet was my Pierre!”
Houston had raised suddenly, was staring in the direction
of an old commode in the corner. At the door
the wolf-dog sniffed and snarled. Ba’tiste,
bending among the lost trinkets that once had been
his wife’s, did not hear. Houston grasped
him by the shoulder and shook him excitedly.
There’s some one hiding-over there
in the corner. I heard sounds-look
“Hiding? No. There
is no one here-no one but Ba’tiste
and his memories. No one-”
“I tell you I heard some one.
The commode moved. I know!”
He rose, only to suddenly veer and
flatten himself against the wall. The yellow
blaze of aimless revolver fire had spurted from the
corner; then the plunging form of a gnarled, gangling,
limping man, who rushed past Houston to the door,
swerved there, and once more raised the revolver.
But he did not fire.
A furry, snarling thing had leaped
at him, knocking the revolver from his hand in its
plunging ascent. Then a cry,-a gurgling
growl. Teeth had clenched at the throat of the
man; together they rolled through the door to the
snow without, Golemar, his hold broken by the fall,
striving again for the death clutch, the man screaming
in sudden frantic fear.
“Take him off!” The voice
of the thin-visaged Fred Thayer was shrill now.
“Take him off-I’ll tell you
about it-she did it-she did it!
Take him off!”
had appeared in the doorway. Below the dog whirled
in obedience to his command and edged back, teeth still
bared, eyes vigilant, waiting for the first movement
of the man on the ground. Houston went forward
and stood peering down at the frightened, huddled
form of Thayer, wiping the blood from the fang wound
in his neck.
“You’ll tell about what?” came with
The man stared, suddenly aware that
he had spoken of a thing that had been mentioned by
neither Ba’tiste nor Houston. His lips
worked crookedly. He tried to smile, but it
ended only in a misshapen snarl.
“I thought you fellows were
looking for something. I-I-wanted
to get the dog off.”
“We were. We’ve
found it. Ba’tiste,” and Houston
forced back the tigerish form of the big French-Canadian.
“You walk in front of us. I’m-I’m
afraid to trust you right now. And don’t
turn back. Do you promise?”
The big hands worked convulsively.
The eyes took on a newer, fiercer glare.
“He is the man, eh? His
conscience, eet speak when there is no one to ask
the question. He-”
“Go on, Ba’tiste.
Please.” Houston’s voice was that
of a pleading son. Once more the big muscles
knotted, the arms churned; the giant’s teeth
showed between furled lips in a sudden beast-like expression.
“Ba’tiste! Do you
want to add murder to murder? This is out of
our hands now; it’s a matter of law. Now,
go ahead-for me.”
With an effort the Canadian obeyed,
the wolf-dog trotting beside him, Houston following,
one hand locked about the buckle of the thinner man’s
belt, the other half supporting him as he limped and
reeled through the snow.
“It’s my hip-”
The man’s mind had gone to trivial things.
“I sprained it-about ten days ago.
I’d been living over here with her up till
the storm. Then I had to be at camp. I-”
“That was your child, then?”
Fred Thayer was silent. Barry
Houston repeated the question commandingly.
There could be no secrecy now; events had gone too
far. For a third time the accusation came and
the man beside him turned angrily.
“Whose would you think it was?”
Houston did not answer. They
stumbled on through the snow-drifted woods, finally
to reach the open space leading to the sleigh.
Thayer drew back.
“What’s the use of taking
me into town?” he begged. “She’s
dead and gone; you can’t harm her now.”
“We’re not inquiring about her.”
“But she’s the one that
did it. She told me-when she first
got sick. Those are her things in there.
“Have I asked you about anything?”
Houston bit the words at him. Again the man
was silent. They reached the sled, and Ba’tiste
pointed to the seat.
“In there,” he ordered.
“Ba’teese will walk. Ba’teese
afraid-too close.” And then,
in silence, the trip to town was made, at last to
draw up in front of the boarding house. Houston
called to a bystander.
“Is the ’phone working-to Montview?”
“Yeh. Think it is. Got it opened
“Then call up over there and
tell the sheriff we want him. It has to do with
the Renaud murder.”
The loafer sprang to the street and
veered across, shouting the news as he went, while
Ba’tiste made hurried arrangements regarding
the silent form of the lonely cabin. A few moments
later, the makeshift boarding-house lobby was crowded,
while Barry Houston, reverting to the bitter lessons
he had learned during the days of his own cross-examinations,
took his place in front of the accused man.
“In the first place, Thayer,”
he commanded. “You might as well know
one thing. You’re caught. The goods
are on you. You’re going up if for nothing
else than an attempt to murder Ba’tiste Renaud
“I-I thought you were robbers.”
“You know that’s a lie.
But that’s a matter for the court room.
There are greater things. In the first place-”
“About that other-”
Still he clung to his one shred of a story, his only
possibility of hope. Conscience had prompted
the first outcry; now there was nothing to do but
follow the lead. “I don’t know anything.
She told me-that’s all. And
she’s dead now.”
“Ah, oui!” Ba’tiste
had edged forward. “She is dead.
And because she is dead-because she have
suffer and die, you would lay to her door murder!
Eet is the lie! Where then is the ten thousand
dollar she took-if she kill my Julienne?
Eh? Where is the gun with which she shot her?
Ah, you cringe! For why you do that-for
why do you not look at Ba’teese when he talk
about his Julienne! Eh? Is eet that you
are afraid? Is eet that your teeth are on your
tongue, to keep eet from the truth? Oui!
You are the man-you are the man!”
“I don’t know anything
about it. She told me she did it-that
those were Mrs. Renaud’s things.”
“Ah! Then you have nev’
see that ring, which my Julienne, she wore on her
finger. Ah, no? You have nev’ see,
in all the time that you come to Ba’teese house,
the string of bead about her neck. Oui!
Eet is the lie, you tell. You have see them-eet
is the lie!”
And thus the battle progressed, the
old man storming, the frowning, sullen captive in
the chair replying in monosyllables, or refusing to
answer at all. An hour passed, while Tabernacle
crowded the little lobby and overflowed to the street.
One by one Ba’tiste brought forth the trinkets
and laid them before the thin-faced man. He forced
them into his hands. He demanded that he explain
why he had said nothing of their presence in the lonely
cabin, when he had known them, every one, from having
seen them time after time in the home of Renaud.
The afternoon grew old. The sheriff arrived,-and
still the contest went on. Then, with a sudden
shifting of the head, a sudden break of reserve, Thayer
leaned forward and rubbed his gnarled hands, one against
“All right!” he snapped.
“Have it your way. No use in trying to
lay it on the woman-you could prove an
alibi for her. You’re right. I killed
“Both?” They stared at
him. Thayer nodded, still looking at the floor,
his tongue licking suddenly dry lips.
“Yeh, both of ’em.
One brought on the other. Mrs. Renaud and John
Corbin-they called him Tom Langdon back