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Title: Dick Kent at Half-Way House
Author: Richards, Milton
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dick Kent at Half-Way House" ***

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[Illustration: “Dick,” he trembled, “What happen? You shoot this
man—you—” (_Page 174_)]

                               DICK KENT
                           AT HALF WAY HOUSE

                           By MILTON RICHARDS

                               Author of
                  “Dick Kent With the Mounted Police,”
                     “Dick Kent in the Far North,”
                     “Dick Kent With the Eskimos,”
                        “Dick Kent, Fur Trader,”
                  “Dick Kent With the Malemute Mail,”
                      “Dick Kent on Special Duty,”
                  “Tom Blake’s Mysterious Adventure,”
                      “The Valdmere Mystery,” etc.

                          [Illustration: Logo]

                           A. L. BURT COMPANY
                         Publishers    New York

                          Printed in U. S. A.

               BOYS _of the_ ROYAL MOUNTED POLICE SERIES

                        FOR BOYS 12 TO 16 YEARS
                           By MILTON RICHARDS


                            Copyright, 1929
                         By A. L. BURT COMPANY
                          Printed in U. S. A.


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
  I Dinosaur’s Island                                                  3
  II Two Visitors                                                     10
  III Suspicion Grows                                                 18
  IV The First Encounter                                              28
  V Dick Finds a Canoe                                                37
  VI A Bleak Prospect                                                 45
  VII Breeds Don’t Count                                              53
  VIII A Human Gorilla                                                61
  IX Bows and Arrows                                                  66
  X Toma’s Daring Plan                                                74
  XI A Canoe at Last                                                  82
  XII The Meeting on the River                                        91
  XIII Half Way House                                                100
  XIV Charges and Counter-charges                                    107
  XV A Threatening Letter                                            115
  XVI A Midnight Raid                                                123
  XVII A Hidden Pit                                                  132
  XVIII Take the Offensive                                           141
  XIX Troubles Come Fast                                             150
  XX Toma Brings News                                                158
  XXI Frazer’s Ruse                                                  167
  XXII Tension Tightens                                              176
  XXIII The Police Take Charge                                       183
  XXIV Near Frazer’s Cabin                                           191
  XXV Gathering up the Threads                                       199
  XXVI Frazer’s Confession                                           205
  XXVII Toma’s Scar                                                  214
  XXVIII Leave-taking                                                222
  XXIX The River Pilot                                               231
  XXX Back from the Barracks                                         243
  XXXI He Who Laughs Last                                            253

                      DICK KENT AT HALF WAY HOUSE

                               CHAPTER I.
                           DINOSAUR’S ISLAND.

Just before dusk, riding in on a slight swell, the canoe touched on the
leeward side of the island. It was a wooded island, similar to a score
of others that dotted that lake. There was little to differentiate it
from its brothers except that in its very center the fir and balsam had
graciously withdrawn to permit a huge shaft of solid rock to raise its
head loftily and majestically skyward.

The three young men who disembarked from the canoe, stood looking toward
the shaft with something like eagerness in their eyes. Then one of them

“There it is! The rock of the dinosaur!”

Another of the trio, a stockily built boy with light blue eyes and sandy
complexion, removed a battered felt hat that had been crammed down over
his well-shaped head and ran his fingers through a mop of corn-colored

“Bones! Toma—bones!”

The remaining member of the party, swarthy, dark, soft-footed, agile as
a panther, grinned as he stooped down to tie the strings of one of his

“Mebbe this not right place after all,” he said.

The first speaker turned swiftly at this and regarded the stooping
figure. What had induced Toma to make that remark? The description that
had been given them by Mr. Donald Frazer, factor at Half Way House,
fitted this island exactly: an island in a lake of many islands, an
island with a tall rock. Dick Kent remembered as well as if it had been
only yesterday.

“It’s three hundred miles northwest of here in a country of innumerable
lakes,” the factor had directed them. “These lakes all drain into the
Half Way River. They are all very close together, forming a sort of
chain. Most of the lakes are dotted with a few islands, but there is one
lake, near the center of the chain, that has more islands than all the
rest—scores of small wooded islands. On one of these you will find a
tall, spindling rock. The island with that rock is the island of the

So remembering this conversation, Dick could not believe with Toma that
they might have come to the wrong place. Here was the wooded island.
Here was the spindling rock. Here was the lake of many islands.

“Why don’t you think it’s the right place?” he demanded.

The young Indian straightened up quickly, his eyes twinkling.

“Why you get so worried, Dick?” he inquired blandly. “I no say this the
wrong place. Mebbe so, mebbe not. Plenty islands I see in other lakes
an’ plenty rocks too.”

“But not a rock as tall as that one,” objected Sandy.

Dick nodded his head.

“Yes, and most of the other lakes we explored had only a few islands.
This one tallies exactly with the description Mr. Frazer gave us.”

Toma grinned again.

“All right,” he waved their arguments aside. “What you say, we go see?”

The three boys pushed forward. The island was scarcely more than four or
five acres in area. In a few minutes they reached the center, coming to
a full stop near the base of the pinnacle. They found a peculiar
formation here. In some prehistoric time a gigantic upheaval had thrust
the underlying strata to a position very nearly perpendicular. In other
words, layer upon layer of substratum had been lifted up out of the
earth and exposed to view. Embedded in one of the layers of rock was the
huge fossil of a prehistoric reptile. Its immense frame could be seen
very distinctly from where the boys were standing. Supported by the
rock, much of which had crumbled away, the skull of the dinosaur rested
lightly against the side of the pinnacle and the bones of the rest of
the body, still joined and intact, extended downward to the edge of a
deep pit.

The effect of all this was ghastly. Staring at it, one was conscious of
an indescribable feeling that the fleshless body of the dinosaur still
retained life and that it had clambered out of the deep pit beneath it
and was now endeavoring to climb the tall, spindling spire of granite.
So lifelike and terrible indeed, did the primeval monster appear, that
for a full five minutes the three boys stood there without as much as
moving a muscle.

Suddenly the tension snapped as Dick burst into a roar of laughter. He
laughed until the tears came into his eyes and coursed down his cheeks.
He roared and slapped his thigh and sat down on a rock, swaying back and
forth in a paroxysm of uncontrollable mirth.

Toma and Sandy stared at their chum in utter amazement. They surveyed
each other blankly. They looked quickly over at the dinosaur in the
belief that possibly they had overlooked something.

“See here,” began Sandy, “what in the name of common sense are you
yowling about? If you can possibly see anything funny in that grewsome
mass of bones your sense of humor is warped. Stop it, Dick! Stop it, I
say before you drive me daft. Stop!”

Dick raised his head and wiped his eyes. He was still choking.

“You—you see nothing funny?” he gasped.

“I do not!”

“What do you think of our friend, the dinosaur?” and Dick indulged in
another convulsive chuckle.

Sandy’s eyes flashed fire.


“Look at it! Look at it!” shrieked Dick. “Its size! Must weigh
tons—tons, Sandy. And—we’ve come—three hundred miles—laboring under
impression—going to carry it back on a raft.”


“On a raft,” continued Dick. “That thing on a raft. If you can, just get
that picture in that slow mind of yours.”

Toma was grinning broadly now.

“The portages,” he wondered.

“Yes, think of carrying that huge skeleton over the portages.”

“Why it—it can’t be done,” stated the young Scotchman, beginning to see
the light. “Absolutely out of question. We’ve come on a fool’s errand.
Mr. Frazer must have—”

“Known it!” Dick took the words out of his chum’s mouth. “Of course, he
knew it. Can’t you see, Sandy, we’ve been victimized, made the butt of
one of the worst jokes I’ve ever heard of. No wonder they all grinned
and acted so queerly when we left the post. By this time, half the
people in this north country are laughing up their sleeves. It’s all a
hoax. I’ll bet that London museum Mr. Frazer told us about hasn’t even
made an offer for this dinosaur.”

“You mean the whole affair from beginning to end was planned by that
fool and his friends?”


“And that we’ve not only lost what we thought was a chance to make a few
hundred dollars but have become the laughing stock of—of—” Sandy choked
and gurgled.

“Right again,” grinned Dick. “You’re learning fast.”

Sandy’s color drained from his cheeks and he sat down quickly,
endeavoring to control the fierce gathering storm within.

“And _you_ call that a good joke,” he inquired bitterly, “a friendly,
decent joke that sent us packing through a hundred dangers at the risk
of life and limb? _You_ can laugh at that?”

“Well, what would you have me do? Sit down and cry? Not I. Might as well
make the best of it. I’ll go back and laugh with ’em.”

“I laugh too,” said Toma. And he did.

Sandy continued to glower. He looked up at the dinosaur. Then he put his
head in his hands and groaned.

                              CHAPTER II.
                             TWO VISITORS.

Dick Kent had plenty of time that night to think about the crude joke
Mr. Frazer, the factor at Half Way House, had played upon them. The
factor must have known full well that the mammoth skeleton of the
dinosaur could not be conveyed easily up the river on an ordinary raft.
He must have known, too, of the utter impossibility of packing the huge
creature over the thirteen portages that are to be found between the
island of the granite shaft and the trading post, three hundred miles up
the river.

Given sufficient leisure to think the matter over, Dick decided that he
did not blame Sandy one bit for the anger and bitterness that Frazer’s
trickery had aroused. The young Scotchman had eaten his supper in a huff
and later had retired to his blankets in a manner that was, to say the
very least, thoroughly hostile and unfriendly. His actions indicated
very plainly that he, for one, didn’t consider this business of the
dinosaur as the sort of joke that could pass unnoticed or unforgiven, or
that could be laughed down or yet dismissed with a shrug. It rankled and
cut deep. Some day Mr. Frazer would hear about it.

Dick turned his eyes toward the campfire and watched the shadows
creeping up to the bright circle its glimmering light made. He lay quite
still, listening to the monotonous beat of the water around the shore of
the island. He was dimly aware of the tall granite slab that thrust up
its pointed head in cold disdain of the lowly trees under it. Far away
somewhere a loon called out mockingly and derisively to its mate.

Sandy woke on the following morning in a better humor. Over a hot cup of
tea and a crisp rasher of bacon, he apologized for his behavior on the
previous night.

“I had no reason to be angry with you, Dick,” he stated contritely. “But
you irritated me because you took it all so good-naturedly. It can’t be
denied that the joke is on us, but you surely know that he went too far
with it. He never should have permitted us to start out. Our time is
worth something and we paid the factor a good stiff price for our
grubstake. Then there are all those cumbersome tools we brought
along—rock chisels, pickaxes, hatchets and what not. We paid for them
out of our own hard-earned money. A very expensive practical joke, if
you ask me.”

In the act of raising a cup of steaming beverage to his lips, Toma
paused and his dark eyes fell upon Sandy’s face.

“Mebbe not so much joke like you think. Mebbe Mr. Frazer him not want us
to stay at Half Way House any longer. Mebbe he think your Uncle Walter
send us fellows down to spy on him an’ he no like that.”

Both Dick and Sandy started. They had never looked at the situation from
quite that angle. The young Indian’s statement had induced a new train
of thought. Come to think of it, why had Sandy’s uncle, Mr. Walter
MacClaren, factor at Fort Good Faith and superintendent for the Hudson
Bay Company for all that vast northern territory, sent them over to Half
Way House in the first place? Sandy looked at Dick searchingly for
another moment, then broke forth:

“Gee, I never thought about that. Toma, you’re too deep for us. I can
begin to see now.”

Dick pursed his lips, scowling slightly.

“Mr. MacClaren said that the hunting was good up around Half Way House
and that we’d enjoy our summer’s vacation there. He didn’t tell us that
he was suspicious of Mr. Frazer. Naturally he wouldn’t. He wanted us to
find that out for ourselves. Sandy,” he glanced eagerly across at his
chum, “as far as you know, has Mr. Frazer a reputation for being much of
a practical joker?”

Sandy put down his cup and proceeded to pour out his second helping of

“No, I’ve never heard that he was. And certainly he doesn’t look the
part. I wouldn’t call him frivolous. My impression of him has always
been that he is inclined to be sort of taciturn, reserved and fairly

At this juncture, Toma again broke into the discussion.

“He not look like man that see anything to laugh about ever. I no like
that fellow very much. I no like them friends he keep alla time hanging
around the post. Look like bad men to me.”

On many occasions previously during their sojourn in the North, the two
boys had come to place a good deal of reliance on the young Indian’s
snap judgment. He had an almost uncanny ability to read character and of
finding hidden traits, both good and bad, in the persons with whom he
came in contact. Seldom did he err.

“He’s referring to Wolf Brennan and Toby McCallum,” said Sandy. “Well, I
don’t know as one could call them Frazer’s friends.”

“I see Mr. Frazer talk with them many times,” Toma wagged his head.
“When I come close they hush up—don’t talk any more. An’ one time I see
a light in Mr. Frazer’s room late, ’bout two o’clock, I think. An’ there
through the window I see ’em. Wolf Brennan, McCallum, Frazer an’ two
Indians I do not know.”

“Why didn’t you tell us this before?” demanded Dick.

That was the way with Toma—ever reticent. His uncommunicativeness often
became a source of despair to his two chums.

“You no ask me.”

“But how did we know?” glared Sandy. “We weren’t up at two o’clock that

“I no tell you that,” Toma explained, “because I think mebbe you no want
to hear bad things about Mr. Frazer.”

“You cherub!” Sandy snorted.

“Sandy,” questioned Dick, “how does Mr. Frazer stand with the company?”

Sandy stirred the oatmeal, sugar and bacon grease together in what was
to Dick an unappetizing mess.

“Uncle Walter never told me.”

“But haven’t you heard?” Dick persisted.

“No, I haven’t,” Sandy commenced to eat his favorite dish. “Uncle Walter
never tells me anything about his business. He’s as close-mouthed as the
average Scotchman, I guess.”

“There are some ways in which you do not resemble him in the least,”
pointed out Dick, winking at Toma.

No more was said on the subject then. As soon as they had washed their
breakfast dishes, Dick and Sandy went over for another view of the
dinosaur, while Toma set out to explore the island. The dinosaur, in the
bright morning sunlight, seemed to be as ugly and repellent as it had
been in the evening’s shadows on the night before. Again they were awed
by its presence. It seemed inconceivable that anything so huge and ugly
had ever walked upon the earth.

“How’d you like to meet one of those things alive?” asked Sandy.

“Not for me. A bullet would probably flatten out on its scaly hide. At
the best, it would feel like no more than a pin-prick. And Mr. Frazer
told us we could bring that thing back on a raft. He must have known
better, because he was here two years ago and saw it with his own eyes.”

“Of course, he knew better,” growled Sandy.

The bushes parted behind them. First Toma’s head was thrust through and
then his body. He motioned to them eagerly.

“Come on,” he said. “I show you something. Come quick!”

They turned and followed him, finding it difficult to keep pace with
him, so quickly did he go. They came presently to a fringe of willows
not far from the western shore of the lake. The young Indian motioned
them to be seated.

“Watch out there in the lake,” he commanded them. “Pretty soon you see
something. Keep very quiet. No talk now.”

Both waited expectantly. Out ahead of them the lake rippled and
sparkled. Suddenly a canoe glided within their range of vision—a canoe
containing two occupants. Their paddles dipping in unison, the two men
sat very straight, one in, the center and one in the stern, two mackinaw
coated figures, two bearded white men whom the boys recognized
instantly. In the excitement of the moment, Sandy jabbed his elbow in
Dick’s ribs.

“Cracky!” he blurted out. “What’s up now? Wolf Brennan and Toby
McCallum! They’re coming here.”

But in this Sandy was mistaken. The canoe did not pause, did not waver.
It swept in fairly close to the island then, as if it had suddenly
changed its mind, it swerved sharply and continued on its course. The
two men sat like statues until they were thirty or forty yards away.
Then Wolf Brennan craned his thick, bull-like neck and looked back.

Even at that distance the boys caught the expression that distorted the
man’s coarse features. A leer, a mocking, unfriendly grin, a diabolical,
fiendish sneer!

Abruptly he turned and the paddle, gripped in his huge ape-like hands,
glinted in the sunlight as it smote the gleaming water.

                              CHAPTER III.
                            SUSPICION GROWS.

“Now what are they up to?”

Dick’s hands clenched as he spoke. He half rose from his kneeling
position behind the willow copse and glared at Sandy as if he expected
that that young man could answer the question.

“Yes, what are they up to?” he repeated in a low tense voice. “Messrs.
Brennan and McCallum must be on our trail. And from the look that Wolf
just now directed toward this island, they know we’re here. The whole
thing is a puzzle to me. I don’t know what to think of it.”

“What I can’t understand,” said Sandy in a breathless voice, “is why
they did not stop. They’ve gone right on. The reasonable and decent
thing for them to do would be to come over and say ‘hello’. They might,
at least, have shown that they were hospitable.”

“Wonder if Frazer sent them,” mused Dick.

Sandy pursed his lips and scowled as he looked out toward the flashing
crests of water.

“I shouldn’t wonder,” he answered. “Now that we’ve found the little
joker in this deal of the dinosaur, I’m inclined to think he has.
Further than that, I’m prompted to believe that there was something more
than the mere playing of a practical joke that induced Factor Frazer to
get us to come out here. There must be some deviltry afoot at Half Way
House. Our presence there isn’t wanted. He sent us up here on this wild
goose chase to get us out of the way, and, working on this hypothesis,
the next logical inference is that Wolf Brennan and Toby McCallum have
trailed us all the way up here.”

Dick motioned Sandy and Toma to follow him to the opposite side of the
island. Arriving at their camp, he turned upon his two chums.

“I’ve been thinking of what you’ve just said, Sandy,” he remarked, as he
began packing their luggage. “I want to tell you that I believe you’ve
hit the nail on the head. Something underhanded is taking place at Half
Way House. We’ve been sent out here to be kept in ignorance of what is
going on. They know that all of us are attached to the Mounted Police
reserve and it would be fatal to their plans to have us there at the
post. Wolf Brennan and his pal are out here to watch us, to see that we
do not return. I—”

The young Scotchman interrupted him.

“Hold on there a moment, Dick. I don’t know as I’d care to go that far.
I gather from what you’ve just said that you mean they’ve been
commissioned by Frazer to put us out of the way.”

Dick smiled. “No, I didn’t quite mean that, Sandy. I don’t think we’ll
be murdered. Not that. As long as we stay on this island, or remain here
in this vicinity, we’ll be safe enough. We might stay here all summer,
and we’d never see them again, never be bothered, but—”

“Yes, yes,” said Sandy impatiently, “go on, Dick.”

“But,” continued Dick, “let us leave this island or this vicinity and
then trouble aplenty.”

“You mean they’ll attempt to stop us if we start back for Half Way

“Yes, that’s exactly what I mean,” said Dick. “They’ll harass us at
every turn. I’m convinced of it. I won’t say they’ll resort to open
violence if underhanded methods will avail.”

“Oh come, Dick, surely not.”

“As I live, I sincerely believe it. I wouldn’t put these thoughts in
your mind, if I didn’t But I can easily prove my point.”


“By starting back.”

“What—you mean right now?”

“No better time than now. If my suspicions are correct, we’ll run into
some snag within the next day or two.”

“Is that why you were starting to pack that luggage?”


Sandy tongued his cheek and in the bright light of that perfect morning
he squinted at his chum. In that brief interval he did some quick

“Wait a minute, Dick,” he finally broke forth. “Let’s not be too hasty.”

“But I’m not hasty. No use staying here any longer that I can see. We’ve
all agreed that it’s out of the question to bother with the dinosaur.
There’s absolutely nothing we can do here unless it is to put in a few
weeks fishing and hunting, and somehow,” Dick stroked back the hair from
his forehead, “I’m in no mood for that. Let’s start back and see what

“No, I think I have a better plan. Let’s postpone that return trip until
we’ve had a chance to interview Messrs. Brennan and McCallum.”

“Just what do you propose to do?”

“Well,” began Sandy, “I doubt if they are aware that we’ve seen them. We
can jump into our canoe, slip down along the east side of the lake and
come upon them in such a way that they’ll think our meeting is quite
accidental. We’ll profess great surprise at seeing them. We’ll ask them
point-blank what they are doing out here.”

Dick laughed. “Yes, and not learn a thing. They’ll have a very plausible
story, don’t worry about that. And why go to all that trouble anyway? If
you want to talk to them, Sandy, let’s jump in the canoe and overtake
them at once.”

“All right. Just as you say. I’m ready.”

“What do you think about it?” Dick turned upon the young Indian.

Toma deliberated for nearly a minute. His eyes flecked and his gaze

“No harm we go see them. Take jus’ a few minutes an’ we find out what
they say. Come on.”

They dragged their canoe down to the water and Sandy pushed off. The
light craft bobbed and swayed for twenty feet through the blue, almost
unruffled surface near shore, then headed straight out toward the
gradually disappearing speck retreating in the distance. For fully ten
minutes no one spoke. The little vessel leaped and darted through the
blue, sparkling element. In another ten minutes the other canoe had
grown appreciably larger. Between strokes, Dick puffed:

“Remember, Sandy, this is your suggestion. You’re the spokesman.”

“Leave it to me,” the other retorted. “I know just what I’m going to

“Whatever you do,” Dick warned him, “don’t let them guess that we’re
suspicious of them.”

“I won’t,” growled Sandy.

Thus it happened that when they pulled abreast of the smaller craft, it
was Sandy who hailed them. The two men raised their paddles and
permitted their canoe to be overhauled. There ensued an exchange of

“Why didn’t you stop?” asked Sandy.

“Stop?” Wolf Brendan rubbed his unshaven chin and stared questioningly.
“Stop where?”

“Why, at the island, of course.”

Brennan continued to stare blankly, almost foolishly. He was a good

“There’s a hull lot of islands in this here lake. What island do you

“The dinosaur’s island, of course. You saw us, didn’t you?”

“Nope, we didn’t see yuh. Knew yuh was up here, o’ course, getting them
bones of that thar dinosaur, but we didn’t know just where—which island,
I mean.”

“You weren’t very far behind us on the trail.”

“Nope, ’bout a day I guess. Seen your campfire along the trail. One was
still smoking when we got to it.”

“We sort o’ half suspected we’d run across yuh somewheres,” McCallum
interjected. “So this yere is the lake of the dinosaur? ’Magine yuh
fellows will be pretty busy durin’ the next few weeks gettin’ them bones
chipped out o’ the rock ready for shippin’.”

“No,” Sandy informed them, “we’re not going to bother with it. The
thing’s too big for us to handle.”

“Yuh can build a big raft,” McCallum suggested.

“What about the portages?” There was a faint note of anger in Sandy’s

“Yuh’ll have to pack it, o’ course,” McCallum said. “But it’s almost as
easy to build a big raft as a small one.”

“The dinosaur’s skeleton is too big and too heavy to pack,” declared
Sandy haughtily.

“Yuh don’t say.”

“It certainly is.”

“What yuh gonna do then?”

“We’ve given it up,” Sandy spoke harshly. “We’re starting back to Half
Way House this afternoon.”

Wolf Brennan spat in the water and glanced inquiringly at the three
occupants in the other canoe.

“If yuh fellows was right smart now, yuh wouldn’t give up so easily.
There’s a lot o’ money to be made if yuh can manage to get that big
lizard back where it can be took to one o’ the company’s steamers. If I
was making a contract now,” Wolf Brennan spat in the water again, “I’m
thinkin’ I’d move Heaven an’ earth afore I’d give up.”

Sandy glanced back at him.

“I’m not saying we’ll never get the dinosaur out. But if we do, it won’t
be this summer and it won’t be on a raft one is required to pole up a
river that has thirteen portages.”

“How else could yuh get it out?”

“I don’t know. We haven’t thought about that—yet. Perhaps this winter we
may come to some definite conclusion.”

“So yuh’re goin’ back to Half Way House?”

“You bet we are.”

“Too bad.”

“And where are you going?” Sandy inquired innocently.

Wolf Brennan glanced at McCallum for a brief interval and between them
passed a significant and knowing look.

“Sort o’ figured we’d go prospectin’ for a time.”


Brennan seemed to be hazy on this point. He coughed embarrassedly and
looked again at his partner.

“’Tother side o’ the lake there’s some hills an’ we kind o’ thought we’d
put in a week or two jus’ sort o’ looking’ around.”

“What side of the lake?” persisted Sandy.

“On the north side,” Brennan answered. “If yuh’re startin’ back for the
post this afternoon, we may see yuh again.”

“I shouldn’t wonder. Because we are starting for the post this

Brennan blinked and again he looked at McCallum. Evidently this was
McCallum’s cue for he spoke up.

“Mebbe if yuh’d stick around for a while,” he suggested, “the four of us
could figure out some way to get out that dinosaur.”

“Five of us,” corrected Dick, speaking for the first time. “You’ve
overlooked Toma.”

“Breeds don’t count.”

“This one here,” stated Dick furiously, stooping over and patting Toma
on the shoulder, “is as good as any dirty, bewhiskered white man that
ever came over the trail from Half Way House. You can take that
statement in any way you see fit, McCallum.”

“Regular spit-fire, ain’t yuh?”

“I’m not accustomed to have my friends insulted.”

McCallum removed his hat and bowed gravely.

“I shore beg your pardon. I didn’t mean no offense. Along toward
evening, me an’ Wolf will drop over to your little island and pay yuh
our respects.”

“Suit yourself,” said Sandy, “but we won’t be there. As I’ve already
told you, we’re starting back to Half Way House this afternoon.”

What Sandy read in McCallum’s eyes was a challenge, but it was Wolf
Brennan who spoke.

“Mebbe,” he said.

                              CHAPTER IV.
                          THE FIRST ENCOUNTER.

The first night on their return trip to Half Way House the boys camped
twenty miles south of the lake. Here they received their first set-back.
In the morning they awoke to find their canoe was gone. Rage in their
hearts, they gathered in a little group and stared at the place where it
had been. They guessed immediately what had happened. After the first
shock, Dick scowled and looked at his two chums.

“Well, we know where we stand now,” he declared grimly.

“Three against two,” blurted Sandy. “They can’t stop us.”

Dick mopped his moist forehead and dug the tip of one moccasin into the
loose sand.

“That may be true. We have the advantage in numbers. But I’d also like
to point out to you that even though that is so the odds are in their
favor, nevertheless. We never know when to look for them. They’ll strike
when we least expect it and always from under cover. They’ve already won
the first round. Poling up the river in a raft is a tedious and
disheartening undertaking. It will take us three times as long to reach
our destination. I don’t know as I’m in favor of going on in that way.”

“Why not?”

“Too much danger.”

“Not any more danger than there was in the canoe,” objected Sandy.

“Probably not. But until this moment we haven’t been sure in our own
minds that Wolf Brennan and Toby McCallum have taken the offensive. Now
we know. There’s absolutely no question about it. They’ve struck once
and they’ll strike again too. The next time it may be a stray shot that
will get one of us.”

“What do you mean by a stray shot?” demanded Sandy.

“If one of us gets killed it might as well be a stray shot, mightn’t it?
I mean, it will be a difficult thing to prove that we were deliberately
fired on and that those two miscreants did the firing.”

“You propose then to walk back?”

“Yes, I think it will be safer.”

“But they can shoot us just as well while we are going through the woods
as they can if we were aboard a raft.”

“I don’t agree with you there. There’s no better mark that I can think
of then three standing figures on a raft, no obstructions of any kind to
check the progress of a bullet, the best sort of cover along the shore
in which they can hide.”

“Well, I don’t mind walking,” said Sandy. “But what about our luggage
here? We can’t carry all of that. I’m mighty glad now we left those
tools back there at the island of the dinosaur.”

“I’d suggest that we make a cache, right here, of what we can not carry.
If we are to travel swiftly, we ought not to pack more than fifty pounds
each. Isn’t that right, Toma?”

The Indian nodded. “Not more than fifty pounds. That way we travel
quick. Think much better like you say not to pole up river in raft. Next
time Wolf Brennan him not be so easy on us.”

Sandy suddenly clapped his hands. His face brightened and he laughed

“Cracky! I’ve just had an inspiration. We’ll beat them at their own
game. We won’t set our course along the river. We’ll go a more
roundabout way and put them off our trail entirely.”

“But how?” questioned Dick, greatly interested.

“I just happened to remember,” explained Sandy, “that sixty miles
southwest of here is the Clear Spring River. It’s a large stream, fairly
navigable. On this river, near what is called the Great Heart Portage,
is an old trading post, now deserted, once the headquarters for an
independent fur company. If I remember correctly, Uncle Walter said that
this independent company has been out of business for something like
eight years. But their stores and warehouses are still there. These have
been made over into dwelling houses and are occupied by half-breeds and
Indians during the winter months. If we proceed in a straight line
toward this old trading post, we ought to reach it in two days. When we
arrive there, the chances are, we may find Indians in the vicinity and
may be able to purchase another canoe. If we do, we’ll proceed up the
Clear Spring River to Halstead’s Island, which will bring us about
fifteen miles west of Half Way House.” Sandy paused and regarded Dick
and Toma questioningly. “What do you think of that for a plan?”

“Good,” declared Toma.

“I like it very much,” smiled Dick. “It ought to throw Brennan and
McCallum completely off our trail. They’ll be waiting for us somewhere a
short distance up the river and, when we fail to put in an appearance
either by raft or on foot, they won’t know what has become of us. I
doubt if they’ll ever tumble to the fact that we’ve gone over to the
Clear Spring River. When they do come back here to investigate and
stumble upon our trail, we’ll be so far away they won’t be able to
overtake us.”

While Dick had been talking, Toma paced restlessly back and forth near
the campfire. For some unexplainable reason, he felt uneasy. For several
minutes now, he had been watching closely a thicket of elders as a cat
might watch a mouse. On two different occasions the leaves and branches
of the elders had stirred gently. A light breeze flowed down along the
river valley, yet it was so vagrant and listless that it scarcely could
be felt fanning one’s cheek. Yet he had distinctly seen the elders
moving. His quick eye had noted this and his first thought had been that
possibly a squirrel was playing there. Catching up his rifle, he strode
straight over to the clustered thicket and parted the branches. As he
peered within, for one fleeting moment he was under the impression that
he had caught sight of something brown. Then he heard a stealthy
movement, followed, by the unmistakable crackling of dry branches.

Pushing his way within the thicket, he paused to listen. He could hear
no further sound. Yet something told him that that fleeting glimpse of
something brown had not been of an animal but of a man—Wolf Brennan or

He took a few steps forward, critically examining the ground. A barely
audible sound escaped his lips. He stooped quickly over the faint
imprint of a moccasined foot. Satisfied, his suspicions confirmed, he
dashed on through the thicket, emerging at its farther side, just as two
figures topped a low hill not thirty feet ahead. Toma raised his rifle
to his shoulder in a lightning motion, then came a blinding explosion
and the two men ducked their heads as a bullet whistled between them.

The skulkers did not hesitate for even a fraction of a second. They
dashed down the hill toward the thicker growth just below. Just as they
entered this welcome barrier, a second bullet clipped the leaves above
their heads.

In the wild scramble that followed, Wolf Brennan lost his hat. Cursing,
he started back for it when still another lead pellet whizzed past, so
close to his face that he thought better of it, turned and plunged on
after his companion.

Soon afterward, Toma strode back into camp as calmly as if nothing
happened. His expression was reserved and dignified. Except for a faint
sparkle in his eyes, one could never have guessed that only a short time
before he had been so busy.

“What were you shooting at?” Dick and Sandy demanded.

The young Indian smiled faintly.

“A wolf,” he answered.

“Where did you see it? Pshaw, you’re joking,” accused Sandy. “A wolf!
One seldom sees a wolf during the summer.”

“I see ’em wolf,” declared Toma, “an’ I shoot at him one, two, three

“Yes, we heard you,” said Dick. “Hit him?”

“I not try very hard. I have lots fun scare that wolf. Wolf no good to
eat unless one pretty near starve. Why for I kill him?”

“I’d kill a wolf any time I had a chance,” declared Dick. “I hate them.”

Sandy started to say something, then suddenly paused. Of a sudden his
eyes had grown very round and he stared at Toma as if fascinated. He was
looking straight at the young Indian’s hip pocket. From it a bulky
object protruded. The object was brown and it was a little difficult to
tell just what it was, nevertheless, Sandy had his suspicions. He strode
forward quickly and yanked it from his chum’s pocket. He smoothed it and
held it out for better inspection.

“Where did you get it?” he demanded.

At the sharp question, Dick turned and he, too, stood goggling.

“I no tell you a lie,” Toma explained. “That fellow him wolf all
right—Wolf Brennan.”

Dick turned pale. “Did you kill him?” he cried in horror. “Tell the
truth, Toma, you didn’t hit him, surely? You wouldn’t do that.”

“I just tell you I like make ’em run. Wolf Brennan, Toby McCallum do
very fast run back there in the trees,” Toma pointed away in the
direction he had just come. “Mebbe next time them fellows think twice
before they try spy on our camp.”

For a brief interval, Dick and Sandy grinned over the mental picture of
those two racing figures, but their mirth was short-lived. The same
thought came to each at the same time.

“I’ll bet they heard what we were talking about,” gasped Sandy.

“Sure they did,” said Dick.

“In that case, no use going to Clear Spring River. Might as well go on
the way we planned in the first place”—dolefully.

“Might as well.”

Toma, who had been gazing up and down along the shore, suddenly broke

“What you think them fellows do with our canoe?”

“Set it adrift, of course,” grunted Sandy. “It’s probably miles away by
this time. Might even have reached the Lake of Many Islands.”

Toma rubbed his forehead with a grimy hand.

“Mebbe not. Mebbe current take it close in to shore an’ that canoe not
very far away this minute.”

“Possible, I’ll admit,” agreed Dick, “but not very probable. More likely
they took it out here in mid-stream and sunk it.”

“If you fellow stay here,” suggested Toma, “I very willing to walk back
to see if mebbe I find it.”

“No,” said Dick, “I wouldn’t want you to do that. I mean it isn’t fair
that you should take all the risks and do all the work, Toma. Let’s toss
a coin to see who goes.”

It was agreed. They tossed the coin and Dick lost. A few minutes later,
carrying his rifle and a few emergency rations, he waved good-bye to his
two chums and started out.

                               CHAPTER V.
                          DICK FINDS A CANOE.

Dick had no definite plan in mind other than to proceed down the river
in search of their missing canoe. As Toma had suggested, there was a
possible chance that the unscrupulous Wolf Brennan and his partner had
set the craft adrift, believing that it would be carried by the current
into the Lake of Many Islands—out of sight and out of reach of their
three young opponents. If this was the plan that Wolf had actually put
into effect, there was still a frail chance for its recovery. It might
have floated out of the main current and subsequently been washed
ashore. If Dick were lucky, he might come upon it. It was a somewhat
hopeless quest yet, under the circumstances, it might be well worth the

“I won’t waste more than a few hours,” Dick decided, as he picked his
way along the rock-strewn shore. “If I don’t find it within five miles
from camp, I’ll give up.”

At the end of an hour, his patience was rewarded. Turning a bend in the
stream, his heart gave a quick leap. Two hundred yards ahead was what
looked to be very much like the thing he sought. It was a canoe—that
much he knew. It was close to shore, drifting idly, round and round a
circular pool on his own side of the river. He emitted a fervid sigh of
satisfaction and relief and bounded forward. Fifty feet from his
objective he stopped short, his breath catching.

It was not their canoe at all. It was the one in which only the day
before, he had seen Wolf Brennan and Toby McCallum pass by the island of
the dinosaur. The realization had come so unexpectedly that, for a time,
Dick was almost too dazed and bewildered to collect his scattered wits.

So Brennan and his partner had lost their canoe, too? How had that
happened? Had they left it partly in the water and partly on shore, and
had the current succeeded in tugging it away? It seemed probable. The
river played no favorites.

And then Dick saw something that caused his pulses to leap with
excitement. In the white sand, twenty feet from where the craft was
bobbing idly, were the marks made by the canoe when it had been beached,
and around these marks were the unmistakable imprints of moccasined

Dick could not suppress a grin of appreciation. Well-trained canoe that!
A very obliging current! Caught in a net-work of in-shore eddies, moving
round and round in a circle, the canoe was nearly as safe as if it had
been dragged clear of the water and deposited in the white sand along
the beach.

Coincident with this discovery, there came the realization that he was
treading on dangerous ground. Having left their canoe here, very
naturally the partners would return. Perhaps they already had. For all
Dick knew to the contrary, right at this moment from behind some leafy
ambuscade they might be watching his approach. The thought frightened
him. He paused dead in his tracks, undecided what to do. After the
reception Wolf had received back there at the boys’ camp, it was only
reasonable to suppose that neither of the partners would hesitate about
using their own weapons. On the other hand, if they were still lingering
in the vicinity of the other camp or had paused to rest somewhere, he
would be missing a golden opportunity if caution or the fear of a bullet
kept him from making a closer approach.

Come to think of it, he was in as much danger here, a mere fifty yards
from his goal, as he would be if he were actually at the side of the
canoe. Already he was within rifle range. But they hadn’t fired. Were
they waiting for him to come just a wee mite closer, or was it really
true that they hadn’t yet arrived upon the scene?

For a full minute Dick stood there, unable to decide. His heart pounded
like a trip-hammer. Three times he took a step forward and thrice he
stopped short, in panic at the thought of what might happen to him if he
could command the courage to go on.

And then, almost beside himself from the inactivity and suspense, he
gathered together the fluttering, loose ends of a waning decision,
gritted his teeth, and darted forward. Bounding along at top speed, in a
few seconds he came abreast of the canoe, checked himself, then splashed
out waist-deep into the water and clambered aboard.

He dropped his rifle, frantically seized one of the paddles and was half
way out into the river before he was sufficiently recovered from his
fright to realize that he had actually made good his escape. Yet he
continued to paddle furiously. Never before had he bucked a current with
such fierce and desperate ardor. He swept round the bend in the river,
perspiration pouring from every pore, working with a dogged, automatic,
machine-like regularity. Seemingly he could not, dare not ease up for
even as much as a split-second.

On and on he raced. A thin, white line of foam trailed off in his wake.
Now and again in his eager haste, his paddle scooped the water in the
air behind him, where the freshening breeze caught it and whirled it

He was limp as a rag and utterly spent when he reached camp. Toma and
Sandy, who stood watching him as he glided up to shore, blinked in

He had not the breath to answer their eager questions. He lay back in
the stern, puffing, gasping, while the blood throbbed in his head with
such insistence that for a time he actually believed that his temples
would burst. His vision was somewhat obscured, too. Through a sort of
haze he could perceive Sandy dancing wildly like a jungle savage.

“Dick, you lucky beggar!” shrieked the suddenly daft and madly plunging
young maniac. “What’s the meaning of this? O boy! Cracky! If you haven’t
turned the tables after all. What a come-back! I’ll bet if either one of
’em had gold teeth you’d have stolen them, too. Where’d you get it?”

Not yet able to speak intelligently, Dick pointed down the river.

“You did, eh?”

Dick nodded.

“Fight ’em?” Sandy persisted.

Dick shook his head.

“Well, that’s too bad. I was hoping that you had left them back there to
nurse a couple of broken heads. Serve ’em right after what they did to
our canoe.”

Dick sat up, his breathing now less violent.

“Ju—just what do you mean, Sandy? Have you found it?”

“You bet we have. Toma and I found it in your absence. It’s not down the
river at all. It’s over there in the brush, just where they carried it
after smashing it up with rocks. We must have slept like logs not to
have heard them.”

Dick thrust his two arms into the water over the side of the canoe and
commenced to bathe his hot, sweat-streaked face.

“Well, it doesn’t matter now. We have this.”

“Yes, thanks to you. What do you say we leave this accursed place before
something else happens? Toma and I can bring over the luggage while you
sit there and rest a bit. You need it. When we saw you first, I’m only
exaggerating a little when I say you were travelling at the rate of
twenty knots an hour.”

“I’ll admit I was frightened.”

“You must have been. Next time we want to get a little speed in a pinch,
I’m going to frighten you myself.”

“Cut out the talking, Sandy, and let’s start. I’m afraid to linger here
much longer. Don’t forget that we’ve stirred up a hornets’ nest by
taking a flying shot at Messrs. Brennan and McCallum, and now have added
insult to injury by appropriating their canoe.”

“Serves ’em right.”


Dick did not finish the sentence. A warning shout from Toma was followed
instantly by a sinister crack of a rifle and the whine of a bullet. The
young Indian came running, carrying part of the luggage. Dazed by the
suddenness of the attack, they could not determine at first from whence
the murderous leaden messenger had come. A second puff of smoke revealed
the place the two outlaws were hiding. Sitting in the canoe, Dick
returned their fire, while Sandy, strangely calm for him, sprang up the
bank to fetch what remained of their provisions.

When they were ready to embark, the firing had ceased. But it was only a
lull before the storm. Changing their position, this time creeping down
closer to the shore, Wolf Brennan and his companion blazed away at the
speeding, bobbing mark out there in the water. In order to save
themselves, the three boys dropped their paddles and sprawled at full
length in the bottom of the canoe.

“Whatever you do—keep down!” panted Dick.

Crack! Crack! Crack! Wood splintered around them. Running wild in the
current now, their craft started down stream. Suddenly, water commenced
pouring in through one side. They were sinking—and drifting as they
sank. Calm though he was, Dick had a feeling that they were
irretrievably lost. The water was like ice, chilling one to the marrow.
The opposite shore was still a long distance away.

“Be ready!” Dick called sharply. “Swim! Keep under as much as possible!”

Like a man dying, the canoe gurgled and went down. A bullet spat in the
water where it had been. A yell of triumph sounded from the shore.

“Dive!” shivered Dick. “We’ll make it!”

                              CHAPTER VI.
                           A BLEAK PROSPECT.

Drenched and exhausted, they waded ashore. They wrung the water out of
their dripping garments, eyeing each other soberly. His mouth grim, Toma
turned and waved defiance at their two enemies, who stood watching them
from the opposite side.

Dick was too overcome, too utterly sick at heart even for speech. His
mind dwelt upon their awful plight. No catastrophe, except death itself,
could have been more terrible. Canoe, supplies, guns—everything they
possessed—had gone to the bottom of the river. In one stroke, fate had
delivered a fearful blow. They were face to face with starvation, that
grimmest of all spectres of the wild. They were two hundred miles from
the nearest trading post—and food. The country through which they must
pass was unsettled, except for roving bands of Indians, and here and
there, probably, a white hunter or prospector. Without rifles, it would
be very difficult to obtain game. They had not even matches with which
to light a fire.

Standing there, shivering and despondent, Sandy addressed his chums:

“We’re alive, and that’s about all. An hour ago the odds were in our
favor. Not now. The tables have been turned. The advantage is theirs. At
least, they have rifles and matches.”

Despondently, they turned out their pockets. Each of the boys had a
hunting knife. Dick had three fish hooks and a line. Sandy produced a
watch, compass, and an emergency kit containing bandages and medicine.
Toma pulled out an odd assortment of articles, including three wire
nails, a mouth-organ, a bottle of perfume, a mirror, and a package of
dried dates. That was all, not counting a small amount of money which
each one carried.

“The prospect doesn’t look very bright,” sighed Dick. “Fish will have to
keep us alive until we get back to the post. Toma,” he turned eagerly
upon the young Indian, “do you know how to start a fire without

“Yes,” Toma nodded.

“Well, that will help some. We haven’t any salt to eat with our fish,
but in this sort of emergency I guess we can’t complain. One thing that
pleases me, that makes all this endurable, is that Wolf Brennan and Toby
McCallum are not apt to bother us any more. We’re on opposite sides of
the river, and by the time they can build a raft, we’ll be a good many
miles ahead of them. If you fellows are willing, I’d just as soon walk
all night.”

“But we can’t walk without food,” Sandy reminded him. “We must stop,
catch a few fish, and make a fire. In time the sun will dry out our
clothing, so we don’t need to worry about that.”

Toma led the way as they pushed on. It was late when they stopped. Dick
immediately repaired to the river, where he caught four trout. In the
meantime, Sandy watched Toma making a fire. It was a slow process. The
young Indian walked up through the woods, and from the stem of a number
of weeds he gathered a handful of pith. Next he procured dry moss, and,
from the shore of the river, a hard rock about the size of a man’s hand.
Proceeding with these materials to a place sheltered from the wind and
handy to fuel, he squatted down, holding the rock in one hand and his
knife in the other. With the ball of pith on the ground in front of him,
working with incredible speed, he struck knife and rock together,
sending a shower of red sparks upon the inflammable substance below.

Presently, it began to smoulder. Lying prone, he blew upon it gently.
Delicate, fine pencils of smoke arose, then a tiny flame, no larger than
that made by a match, flamed up from the pith. With a quick motion,
still continuing to blow, Toma sprinkled over his embryo fire a quantity
of dry moss. The little flame rose higher. He added a few tiny twigs and
the outer husks of the weeds, from which he had taken the pith. Within
five minutes their campfire was blazing brightly, and when Dick returned
with the trout, he stood there staring in wonderment.

“Did you do that, Toma?”

“Yes, I do ’em.”

“What with?” Dick inquired curiously.

“The steel of his hunting knife and an ordinary rock,” explained Sandy.
“Struck them together and made sparks. The sparks ignited a little ball
of fluff he gathered from some weeds in the woods.”

“That not ordinary rock,” Toma pointed out. “That what Indian call
fire-rock. Make spark easy. Not always you find rock like that. If I use
different kind of rock, it take much longer.”

When they had eaten their supper, consisting of the four trout, baked
over the fire, they all felt much more cheerful. Dick and Sandy spent an
interesting half-hour receiving instructions in the art of fire making.
Both soon discovered that it was not as easy as it looked. Each made
several futile attempts before he finally succeeded. When they left
camp, setting out upon their lonely night’s journey, much to the young
Indian’s amusement, Dick took the fire-rock with him.

“We find plenty more rock like that along the river,” Toma told him.
“Why you carry that extra load?”

“It’s not heavy,” Dick grinned. “Besides it fits nicely into my left
hip-pocket. I don’t intend to take any chances about finding another
rock as good as this. I know I can make a fire with this one and I might
not be so fortunate with some other kind.”

Toma laughed again as they made their way through the enveloping spring
twilight. The air was exhilarating and the quiet earth was touched with
a solemn beauty. Not a breath of air stirred through the fir and balsam
along the slope. A fragrant earth smell uprose from the rich soil. They
passed shrubs that flamed with white and crimson flowers. Dick became so
impressed with the loveliness of it all that for a time he quite forgot
about their dilemma. Later, when he did remember it, it didn’t seem so
terrible after all.

“We’ll fool them yet,” he announced cheerily. “If we can manage to get
food as we go along, there’s no reason why we can’t arrive at Half Way
House in time to upset Frazer’s plans.”

“We must do it,” replied Sandy soberly.

“It won’t be easy,” warned Dick.

“I know that. It makes me all the more anxious to succeed. I’m not very
apt to forget this experience for a long time. If the factor really is
up to some underhanded work—and the actions of Brennan and McCallum have
indicated that pretty plainly—I, for one, intend to get to the bottom of

“That’s the spirit,” applauded Dick. “We’ll show him. We’ll go till we
drop. If anything happens to one of us, the other two must carry on.”

They paused at that and shook hands all around. Then they went on more
grimly and doggedly. All night they tramped. When the early morning sun
blazed a new trail across the blue field of the sky, they made a second
camp, started another fire with flint and steel and devoured hungrily,
almost ravenously, the six trout which Dick had the good fortune to
catch in a deep, quiet pool near the shore of the river.

In catching the trout, Dick had used clams for bait. Watching him, the
operation had given Sandy an idea. He set out along the shore, returning
at the end of an hour with thirty large clams, which he placed in a hole
he had scooped out in the sand.

“When we’ve had a few hours sleep,” he told Dick and Toma proudly, “I’ll
roast these fellows in the hot ashes and we’ll have a change of diet.”

“Not a bad idea,” Dick rejoined. “I’m almost hungry enough to eat them
right now.”

They slept longer than they had intended. It was late afternoon when
they awoke. The warm sun, beating down upon their tired bodies, had kept
them as warm and comfortable as if they had been wrapped in blankets. So
refreshed were they when they had clambered up from their couches of
white sand that Toma was moved to remark:

“Not bad idea to sleep daytime an’ travel night. At night fellow sleep
by campfire with no blankets get cold. No rest good.”

“True,” agreed Dick. “We’ll do most of our travelling at night. Wish I
knew what time it was. Too bad the water spoiled Sandy’s watch. By the
look of that sun, I’d say it was about three o’clock in the afternoon.”

Toma squinted up at it and shook his head.

“Five o’clock,” he corrected. “Soon as we get something to eat, better
tramp some more. Dick, you give ’em me fishhook and line an’ mebbe by
time you an’ Sandy get fire ready an’ bake clams, I catch some more

Toma had better luck even than Dick. A few minutes before the clams were
baked, he appeared upon the scene with eight speckled beauties, none of
which weighed less than two pounds. They cleaned and baked them all,
wrapped up five in Dick’s moose-hide coat, made a pack of it, and
started out upon their journey.

They went jubilantly. It was many hours before the sun swung down toward
the northwestern horizon. Just as the twilight waned and the half-night
of the Arctic dropped its mantle over the earth, Toma, who was twenty
yards in the lead, suddenly stopped short and threw up his hands,
shouting for his two companions to hurry. When they reached his side, he
pointed down at the loose sand at his feet.

“Go—ood Heavens!” stammered Dick.

In the sand, plainly distinguishable, were the imprints of naked human

                              CHAPTER VII.
                          BREEDS DON’T COUNT.

Who made those naked footprints in the sand? For hours afterward the
boys puzzled over it, but could come to no satisfactory conclusion.
Indians, as they well knew, seldom went barefoot. If, on the other hand,
the tracks had been made by a white man, who was he and from whence had
he come? Though they searched long and diligently for the remains of a
campfire or other evidences of the stranger’s presence, none was to be
found. The tracks could be followed for a distance of nearly a quarter
of a mile along the shore, after which they turned away from the river
and became lost in the thick moss that carpeted the woods.

Nor could they pick up the tracks again. Toma, whom nature and training
had specially fitted for this kind of work, was forced to admit,
finally, that even he was baffled. Given a little more time, he believed
that he could find other imprints, but inasmuch as Sandy and Dick chafed
at the delay already caused by the mysterious, barefoot stranger, he
decided to concur with popular sentiment and try to think no more about

But it was not thus to be dismissed so lightly. The passing of time
seemed only to add fresh interest to the puzzle. During the next two
days it was the popular topic of discussion. New theories were advanced
by one or other of the boys, argued over sometimes for hours, then
relegated to the limbo of dead and forgotten things.

On the morning of the third day, however, while travelling over a rough
section of country near the winding, interminable river, Dick was
reminded again of the tracks. His own toes had worn through his
moccasins. There was a hole about the size of a silver dollar in each
one of his heels. In another day or so, he, too, would be walking
barefoot, much as he dreaded to think of it, making those peculiar and
tragic marks in the sand.

He glanced over at Sandy’s moccasins and noted with a sinking of the
heart that his were even in worse condition than his own. Toma’s were in
better shape, but also very badly worn. Soon they must all endure the
torture of going unshod, or else cut up their moosehide coats and make
new footgear.

None of the three wanted to part with his coat. The nights were often
chilly and it would be a positive hardship to do without them.

“I’d almost as soon go barefoot,” declared Sandy.

“Yes, I know,” Dick’s face clouded, “but do you think we can endure
these forced marches if our feet are cut and bruised? Mine are beginning
to cause me untold suffering now. You, Sandy, are limping. No! Don’t try
to deny it. I’ve been watching you. A few more bruises, a few more
scratches and cuts, and we won’t be able to walk five miles a day. You
may not have noticed it, but already we have begun to slacken down. I
don’t believe we made more than eighteen miles yesterday. We put in the
hours but we don’t seem to get the results. I’ll admit that it’s tough
going through here, but we won’t find anything better until we reach the
seventh portage.”

“I know it,” sighed the other. “Yet I hate to part with my coat.
Say—where in the dickens has Toma gone?”

“I saw him around here only a few minutes ago,” Dick answered
absent-mindedly, still absorbed with the pressing problem of footgear.

“No, you didn’t,” his chum flatly contradicted. “He’s been away a long
time now—over an hour, I’m sure. I’m beginning to worry about him.”

“Probably away somewhere getting fish for breakfast,” Dick decided.

“He’s done that already.”

“You couldn’t lose that restless scamp if you tried, so stop worrying.”

“I can’t help it,” grumbled Sandy.

Dick suddenly sat up straight, the perplexed lines vanishing from his

“Say, I’ll bet I know. He’s gone off to snare rabbits. He’s been
complaining a lot lately about our fish diet. I recall now that when we
were walking along together early this morning he informed me that at
our next stop he intended to set out some snares.”

“Don’t blame him one bit. I’m tired of this fish diet myself. Every time
I wake up, I examine my body to see if I haven’t started to grow

Dick laughed. “Fish are called brain-food, Sandy. Don’t forget that. By
the time we reach Half Way House, we’ll all be very learned and wise.”

“I much prefer to wallow along in ignorance,” Sandy retorted. “I hate
fish. When we get home I never want to see another. Lately, about all I
can think about is flapjacks and coffee and thick slices of white bread
with a top covering of butter. Last night, or to be more exact,
yesterday afternoon while I slept, I dreamed that Uncle Walter had just
received one of those big plum puddings from England and that he made me
a present of the whole of it.”

Sandy paused to moisten his lips.

“I never had such a vivid dream,” he went on. “At one sitting I ate the
whole of it. It had dates and raisins in it, and currants and nuts, and
there was a rich sauce that I kept pouring over it and—yum, yum—”

“Stop! Stop!” Dick shouted, vainly trying to shut out the appetizing
picture. “You can tell the rest of that some other time when I’m in a
better condition to appreciate it.”

“Well, if you won’t listen to me,” Sandy said aggrievedly, “I’m going to
curl up here in the sun and go to sleep. Maybe I’ll dream about another
plum pudding.”

“Think I’ll roll in too,” said Dick, smiling at the idiom.

_Sans_ blankets or covering of any kind, even a coat, there was, of
course, nothing to roll into. One simply stretched out in the sunshine,
covered one’s face with a handkerchief to keep away the flies and fell
away into deep slumber. He felt particularly tired today and decided
that, as soon as Toma returned, he’d follow Sandy’s example. He lay
back, his arms pillowed under his head, watching a few widely scattered
fleecy clouds floating lazily along under the deep blue field of the

He did not hear the young Indian steal quietly into camp more than two
hours later, having fallen asleep in spite of himself. But when he did
recover consciousness, Toma was the first person his eyes lighted upon.
The Indian was standing less than twenty feet away, his back toward him,
and he was busily absorbed in feeding a freshly-kindled fire. Something
unusual about the native boy’s appearance immediately attracted Dick’s
attention. He saw what it was. Toma, apparently, had rolled up his
moose-hide trousers and had gone wading for clams. From his ankles to
his knees his legs were bare.

“Did you get any clams, Toma?” Dick inquired sleepily. “How long have
you been back? Why didn’t you wake me, Toma?”

The young Indian answered none of Dick’s questions. However, he smiled
somewhat sheepishly as he turned around and faced his chum. Then Dick
gave utterance to a prolonged exclamation of genuine astonishment. His
eyes widened perceptibly. He sat up very quickly, contemplating Toma as
one might contemplate a man from Mars.

“What in blue blazes have you done with the bottom of your pants?”
gasped Dick.

“I cut ’em off,” answered Toma, flushing.

“Yes, I see you have—but why?”

By way of explanation, and not without a touch of the Indian’s native
dignity, he strode over to a pile of driftwood and fished out of it two
new moccasins. Excellent work, Dick could see at a glance; moccasins of
which anyone might have been proud.

“Sew ’em all same like squaw,” said Toma.

“But you had no needle.”

“Make ’em needle out of stick,” came the prompt reply.

“But what about the sinew, Toma? You had no thread. How could you sew
without thread?”

Toma hung his head. He hated to make this admission, but the truth must
come out. Toma was always truthful.

“I use part of fish-line,” he explained.

“Part of the fish-line?” gurgled Dick.

“Yes, I use ’em part of the fish-line.”

“Well, I must admit that you made _good_ use of it. There is really more
than we require anyway. I’m glad for your sake, Toma. Who, beside
yourself, would ever have thought of a stunt like that? They’ll come in
mighty handy for you, of course, but won’t you feel cold, Toma? When the
winds are chilly I’m afraid you’ll suffer.”

Toma shook his head, bit his lips and stared very hard at some imaginary
object across the river. It was plain that he was keenly embarrassed and
quite at a loss to know what to say. Finally, he found the words that he
had been vainly striving for and quickly blurted them out:

“Dick, I no can stand it any longer to see Sandy all time limp. Mebbe
two, three more days Sandy sit down and feet swollen so bad not walk any

He gulped, averted his eyes, then tossed the result of his handiwork
over at the sleeper’s side. Dick took in the little tableau, feeling
suddenly very sick and mean and miserable and selfish. He did not try to
hide the tears that came into his eyes. Through a sort of mist he saw
Sandy’s blurred form stretched out there on the sand. Then he glanced at
Toma, who looked very ludicrous and silly standing there in his
abbreviated trousers, the cool night wind blowing over his bare legs.

At that instant there popped into his mind the sarcastic utterance of
one Toby McCallum:

“Breeds don’t count!”

                             CHAPTER VIII.
                            A HUMAN GORILLA.

Neither that day nor the following did the boys succeed in getting a
single trout. It was an unforeseen calamity and they were wholly
unprepared for it. At first, they could not understand it. They knew
that the river teemed with fish. Up to this time, they had had no
trouble in catching all they had required. That blazing hot noon when
Sandy returned to camp empty-handed and reported that not one member of
the countless schools of trout and white-fish, that literally darkened
the stream, would rise to his bait, Dick could not believe his ears.

“You couldn’t have tried very hard, Sandy,” he chided him. “Here, give
me that line. You never were much of a fisherman, that is the trouble
with you. You haven’t the patience, Sandy.”

The young Scotchman relinquished the line, his eyes stormy.

“I’ll admit I’m no fisherman,” he blurted, “but please don’t tell me
that I didn’t try, because I did, or that I haven’t the patience because
I have. I’ve caught nearly as many trout on this trip as you have. But
they aren’t biting today at all. I think the river must be bewitched.”

Dick smiled knowingly and confidently, unsheathed his hunting knife and
cut a long alder pole. Then, winking at Toma, he hurried over to the
river, sure in his belief that he’d show Sandy a thing or two about the
gentle art of fishing.

He baited his hook and cast his line. Repeatedly he whipped the swift
water, grinning. In a moment he’d feel that sharp tug, experience that
old familiar thrill. Poor Sandy! At best, he was only a half-hearted
fisherman, had never learned to love the sport, had never entered into
it with the enthusiasm and spirit that made for proficiency. The minute
passed, but he was not discouraged. Back and forth his line flipped over
the water. The smile left his face. He scowled, swung in his line,
walked fifty or sixty yards upstream and tried again.

An hour—two hours—he was very grim now, but he just couldn’t give up.
There were fish here. He must get fish. They had no other food except
clams and it was not possible to get many of them. Good Lord, what would
happen if their one heretofore unfailing source of sustenance were cut
off? Following their long tramp that previous night, they were all weak
from hunger. He was so famished right now that he could even relish
eating a dead crow. Despondently, he sat down on a rock, still whipping
the water. A shadow appeared from behind him and he heard a voice:

“What’s the matter, Dick? No catch ’em one yet?”

Dick turned his head. He looked up into Toma’s serious face and gulped
down a lump in his throat.

“I don’t understand it. I don’t understand it!” he wailed.

The young Indian regarded the river with a sober, thoughtful face.

“Long time I been ’fraid about this,” he sighed. “All the time I hope
mebbe I’m wrong. River too swift here to get many fish. No pools along
here. Trout keep in central current an’ hurry on to better feeding place
down the river.”

“So that’s the reason. But, Toma, what are we going to do? We must eat,
somehow, and for nearly thirty miles the river is just like this. Is it
starvation? Has it come to that?”

“Mebbe not starve, but get mighty hungry.”

“Perhaps we could kill a few birds with stones,” Dick suggested

“I know better plan than that. We do like Indians before white men come.
I make ’em bows an’ arrows. Only trouble is we no shoot straight at

“But what about the strings for our bows?”

“We use fish-line.”

Dick slid off the rock, his expression more hopeful.

“All right, let’s set to work. I’ll help you, Toma. We’ll eat birds for
dinner, squirrels—anything! Perhaps we might even be lucky enough to get
a rabbit. If we don’t find something to eat pretty soon we’ll——”

The words died in his throat. On that instant back at camp, Sandy let
out a scream—a ringing, pulsating, vibrant, piercing scream of terror.
Looking back, they perceived Sandy tearing along toward them, arms and
legs swinging, hat gone and the loose sides of his unbuttoned jacket
billowing up in the wind.

While Dick stood there, wondering what it was all about, Toma stooped
swiftly then straightened up, a rock in either hand, his cheeks the
color of yellow parchment. At that moment, Dick caught sight of the
apparition himself. His eyes popped and unconsciously he made a queer,
choking noise in his throat. A thing that looked like a beast and yet,
somewhat resembled a man, was making its way slowly down the steep bank
toward their campfire. The horrible creature’s face was covered with a
long black beard and the hair of his head straggled down over his eyes
and fluffed out in a sinuous black wave around his shoulders.

It was a man undoubtedly—but what a man! A skin of some sort had been
wrapped and tied around his torso, but both his arms and legs were quite
naked. In every sense—a wild man. His huge frame supported bulging
muscles. His chest expanded like a barrel. He walked with a gliding
motion. His head rotated from side to side and, during the breathless
silence that followed Sandy’s arrival, they could hear him clucking and
grunting to himself.

The three boys waited there, rigid with terror. Never before had they
seen a wild man. His awful appearance, his constant gibbering, his
bobbing head and fearful eyes reminded Dick of gorillas and huge hairy
apes, whose pictures he had often studied in his natural history book at
school. When the hideous creature had turned from a momentary inspection
of their campfire and commenced gliding toward them, with one accord
they shrieked and fled.

They had no thought of their sore feet now, neither were they aware of
the incessant, gnawing pains of hunger. In a great crisis of this sort,
the mind has a peculiar tendency to become wholly subjective to the
feelings of instinct. Instinct inherited from a thousand generations of
jungle-prowling ancestors, told them to flee—and they fled.

                              CHAPTER IX.
                            BOWS AND ARROWS.

Soon they headed away from the shore into the thickets of willow and
jack-pine and began to climb the ascent that led away from the river, up
and up, until right ahead they could see the somber, interminable green
of the forest. It was cool here, a welcome coolness after the stiff
climb. They were all panting for breath, fearful lest the wild man be
still in pursuit of them. None of the boys wanted to meet him, cared
about engaging in a hand to hand fight with that gorilla-like monster.
So, plunging in the forest, they continued on, leaving the river far
behind. At the end of a half hour, they swung south, guided by the sun,
and continued their difficult journey in the direction of Half Way

When Dick felt perfectly sure that they were no longer being followed,
he called a halt and brought up the subject closest to all of them.

“What about something to eat?” he inquired. “This will never do. We must
eat. Toma, let’s put your plan into execution.”

“You mean ’em bows and arrows? All right, you get ’em fish-line.”

Dick handed it to him. With his hunting knife the young Indian set to
work, cutting and fashioning the bows, while Dick and Sandy sharpened
some straight sticks for arrows. Under Toma’s instructions, they tufted
one end of each arrow with some tough, fibrous bark the young Indian
found for them. In a little less than twenty minutes they were ready.
Walking at a distance of about one hundred yards apart and, still moving
south, they commenced to hunt.

Dick was not very hopeful. The first bird he saw, a bird that resembled
a king-fisher, he shot at and missed. Five minutes later, his heart
landed up in his throat as a rabbit scurried into his path and, for the
second time he bent his bow and again he missed. He missed a squirrel
that ran up a tree in front of him. Recovering his arrows each time, he
took five shots at the squirrel and in the end lost sight of it. Every
minute he was becoming more discouraged and more hungry. The arrows
never went just where he expected. Usually, he was a foot or two wide of
his mark, whether that mark was moving or stationary. After what seemed
like an hour, he pressed over more to his right to discover if either of
the others had had any better luck. There he found Sandy.

“How are you getting on?” he inquired eagerly.

Sandy turned his head. No need to ask him how he had fared. The
discouraged lines in his face told the story. His words confirmed it.

“Dick, I’ve seen two rabbits and three grouse and I failed to get any of
them. Think I’m too excited and eager. What did you get?”

“Nothing!” Dick’s eyes were tragic.

The young Scotchman averted his face.

“Cripes!” he choked.

When he turned toward Dick again the latter experienced a momentary
feeling of utter discouragement and despair. Slow starvation—had it come
to that? He noticed how gaunt and drawn his chum’s face was.

“Every minute that we have to spare, we must practice with these bows
and arrows, Sandy,” Dick told him. “It’s our only salvation. In time
we’ll grow expert in their use. I had a chance once to take up archery
and now I wish I had.”

They heard a shout near at hand. The bushes parted and Toma plunged
forward to join them. Toma was carrying something. What was it? Staring,
Sandy suddenly let out a whoop and bounded forward to meet him.

“A porcupine!” he shouted. “Dick, Dick, come here! A porcupine and two
rabbits! Thank God for that.”

Dick merely stood there, gasping—doubting the evidence of his own
senses. A queer feeling swept through him. It was not merely joy at the
successful outcome of their hunt, but a feeling of relief, of tension
relaxed. The future did not look quite so dark now. With food they could
make it. Good old Toma! Faithful ever, a wonderful help in time of
stress or emergency.

All the boys contended that they had never tasted anything so good as
that porcupine, which they roasted, Indian fashion, over the fire. When
they had eaten they were actually happy. For nearly an hour Toma
instructed them in the use of their bows and arrows. Then they sat down
to decide what to do next.

“I don’t know what would be the best plan,” puzzled Dick, “keep on as
we’re doing or retrace our steps to the river. What would you boys

“Go back to the river,” answered Toma unhesitatingly.

“But why?” asked Dick.

“Follow the river,” explained Toma, “an’ then no chance we get lost. Bad
to get lost now without grub, blankets. Pretty soon all our clothes wear
out. What we do then?”

“Yes, that’s true,” agreed Dick. “There’s no danger of getting lost if
we follow the river. The only thing I was thinking of, will we find as
much game in the river valley as we will up here?”

“Not much difference,” returned Toma. “Hunting pretty much the same
everywhere. It’s like what you call ’em—luck. If we lucky we see many
things to shoot. If not see ’em, no luck. ’Nother thing, by an’ by,
fishing get good again.”

Seeing the wisdom in all that Toma had said, they returned to the river
valley without discussing the matter further. After partaking of the
porcupine they had become more optimistic and were determined now to
push on to their destination more hurriedly. It was agreed that not only
would they walk all that night, but part of the next day before they
made camp. They had still some of the roasted porcupine and rabbit, so
it would not be necessary to stop long for lunch.

An hour later, breaking through a willow thicket, they perceived the
slope leading to the river, descended it and continued along the shore.
Occasionally, while they were marching, Dick and Sandy would test their
marksmanship by firing at some object ahead, picking up the arrow again
when they reached it. The interminable twilight of the Arctic made this
possible and it was not long before each of the boys began to note a
decided improvement in his marksmanship.

The feet of the three adventurers grew more sore and swollen through the
passing of the hours. Yet they pushed doggedly on. They had walked so
much that the action had become mechanical. Sometimes they plodded ahead
with eyes half-closed, nearly asleep. The twilight faded and the day
sprang forth. The gray morning mist lifted from the river. A hot sun
threw its slanting rays across the strip of white sand along which the
boys were proceeding.

Suddenly, Toma who was in the lead, stopped quickly, called sharply to
his two chums and pointed ahead.

“Look!” he shouted.

On their side of the river, less than a quarter of a mile away, gently
eddying among the tops of the spruce and balsam, were thin spirals of

“A campfire!” shrieked Sandy in wonder. “Oh boy, we’re in luck! Maybe we
can get help—a canoe or a gun.”

Unmindful of his great weariness and tortured feet, he had started out
on a dead run, when Dick called to him sharply.

“Just a minute, Sandy. Not so fast. It may be Wolf Brennan and Toby

Sandy stopped dead in his tracks.

“What’s that? Are you mad? If they had come up the river, we’d have seen

“I’m not so sure. They might have passed us while we slept, or yesterday
when we were in the woods after that experience with the wild man. One
can never be too sure, Sandy. Our best plan is not to rush that camp, to
make sure who they are before we let ourselves be seen.”

“That is right, Dick,” agreed Toma. “Brennan an’ McCallum very bad; also
very clever fellow. No tell just where they may be now.”

Sandy, quick to see the wisdom propounded by his two friends, nodded in
agreement while he waited for them to come up. They left the flat, sandy
shore, where they could easily be seen, and proceeded thereafter through
the jack-pine and willows farther up along the slope. Inside of twenty
minutes they had approached to within a short distance of the place
where the smoke was ascending.

At first they could see no one. They waited in a breathless inactivity.
The brush was very thick and, from where they crouched, the boys could
see only the light streamers of smoke drifting up from among a heavy
copse of willow. Indeed, to determine who might be sitting around the
campfire, the boys soon saw that it would be necessary to creep even
closer. This they did not care to do for fear that the sound of their
light movement might be detected. If only one of the campers would rise
up behind that brush. For ten long minutes they waited, undecided
whether to take the chance or not, For ten long minutes they watched the
smoke rising, curling and eddying up through the trees. Putting his
hands to his lips, Dick rose stealthily and tiptoed forward another
twenty feet, this time more to the right. Then through a narrow opening
in the thicket he caught sight of a kneeling form which he recognized
instantly. It was McCallum! And as McCallum put up a hand and leaned to
one side to evade a momentary puff of smoke from the fire, he saw Wolf
Brennan and another man. The third person sat in such a position that
Dick caught only his profile and so did not immediately recognize him.

Even when this third person did present a better view, Dick pondered
over his identity. There was something vaguely familiar about him. Where
had he seen him? A repulsive looking man, heavily bearded with deep-set,
staring eyes. His flannel shirt, open at the neck, revealed a hairy,
bear-like chest. The man was huge and muscular. One more look, then Dick
sat down, gasping. A slow flush mounted his cheeks. He knew now. It was
the wild man!

                               CHAPTER X.
                          TOMA’S DARING PLAN.

“Can’t be!” gasped Sandy.

“I tell you it is! The wild man. With McCallum and Brennan.”

The young Scotchman sank down to a sitting position, staring across at
Dick. Just then he had no words to voice his astonishment. But not so

“What’s that you tell ’em Sandy an’ me? This fellow look like crazy man
now wear clothes? Sit there an’ talk McCallum an’ Brennan like he got
some sense after all?”

“Yes, that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to tell you.”

“No believe.”

“Slip over there then and see for yourself. It’s true, Toma. He looks
different now, but it’s the same person undoubtedly.”

The young Indian still shook his head in unbelief as he crawled forward
to the place Dick had recently vacated. For several minutes he crouched
there, his eyes on the three men, then cautiously returned.

“Am I right?” demanded Dick.

“You say right. It is that fellow. He no more crazy than you an’ me. He
look like wild man, that’s all. I think mebbe Wolf Brennan tell him come
over dress like that to make us big scare.”

“That’s what I think.”

Sandy caught at Dick’s arm.

“Well,” he said nervously, “let’s get away from here before we’re

Dick did not reply. His face was serious, absorbed. He was thinking

“Let’s get out of here,” Sandy insisted. “Remember, Dick, they’re armed
and we aren’t.”

“Just a moment, Sandy. It’s just occurred to me that these men must have
a canoe or craft of some kind. I’ve been wondering if it wouldn’t be
possible to get it away from them a little later when they fall asleep.
If we can successfully put such a plan into effect, it won’t take us
long to get to Half Way House.”

Toma emphatically nodded his head.

“Yes, if they got canoe, we try get it.”

Sandy brightened visibly.

“I’m willing to take the chance,” he said. “This constant walking has
begun to tell upon us all. We have still a long way to go. Yes, I’m
willing to take the chance,” he repeated eagerly.

It was hot where the three boys sat. The sun, now directly overhead,
beat down upon them with fierce, penetrating insistence. Not a breath of
wind stirred along the river valley. Dick wiped away the beads of
moisture that stood out upon his face and commenced fanning himself with
his broad-rimmed hat.

“First of all we must find out for certain whether they have a canoe,”
he pointed out. “If they have, it’s probably hid in the brush near the
river. We must try to find out exactly where it is.”

Sandy nodded his head.

“Do you suppose there is any chance that the three of them will take a
nap?” he inquired.

“Extremely likely,” rejoined Dick. “From what I can make out, they’re
preparing their mid-day meal now. After they have eaten, they’ll do
either one of two things, embark on their journey again immediately or
sit around and rest for an hour or two. I’m very much inclined to the
latter view. Unlike ourselves, they’re in no hurry to return to Half Way
House. They’ve been sent out here to watch us. No doubt, they think that
after the scare we received yesterday, we’re still up in the woods.”

“I shouldn’t wonder,” Sandy half grinned.

“You think we better try get gun as well as canoe?” Toma asked.

“That depends a good deal upon circumstances. I mean, we’ll get one if
we can do it without taking too much of a chance.”

“You suggest waiting here then until we find out what they’re going to

Dick nodded. “We’re as safe here as anywhere.”

“Let’s creep a little closer,” suggested Toma.

“No, we’d better stay here. In these bushes they can’t see us. If we’re
quiet, they can’t hear us either.”

During the interval of deep silence that followed, they could hear quite
distinctly the voices of the three men. Occasionally, too, there came to
their ears the rattle of a kettle or the clatter of a spoon. The
ascending streamers of smoke thinned gradually and finally disappeared.
Now and again, Wolf Brennan’s harsh laugh fell across the quiet air.

The minutes slipped by. Dick began to wonder if they would never cease
talking. The drone of their voices continued on unintermittingly, for an
hour or more, before the sequestered camp became quiet. Not until then
did Dick turn and motion to his companions.

“Now’s our chance,” he whispered. “Toma, you and Sandy follow me down
along the shore of the river and we’ll try to find that canoe. We must
take our time. In case they hear us we’ll make a break for the trees and
climb the slope.”

Moving slowly, cautiously, Dick led the way down to the river. They were
glad when they reached the belt of white sand. Their footsteps could not
be heard here. They proceeded about fifty yards, to a point just below
the place where the three men were camped. Though they looked up along
the bank eagerly, they had seen no trace of the outlaws’ craft. But
presently, Toma moved closer to Dick, nudging him in the elbow.

“I see it,” he breathed.


The young Indian pointed. “Right there,” he said.

Dick’s heart nearly stood still. The canoe was farther up the bank than
he had expected. The three men had carried it within thirty feet of the
place where they had built their fire. Its graceful lines standing out
sharply against the background of green brush—never had the boys looked
upon anything they wanted so much and yet which seemed so unattainable.
Even if Wolf Brennan and his two unprepossessing companions were
sleeping soundly, how could they ever contrive to creep up there
unheard, pick up the canoe and make their way back to the river?

It would be a terrible risk. Careful though they might be, it would be
almost impossible to secure the prize without arousing the sleepers.
Disheartened, the boys crouched down close to the bank.

“Guess we’ll have to give it up,” murmured Sandy, “We’ll lose our lives
in the attempt.”

Dick groaned. “And when they wake up, they’ll start up the river again
and we’ll probably never have another chance.”

As he spoke, he looked at Toma and noticed a sudden sparkle of
determination in the young Indian’s eyes. Toma had become excited,
restless. His hands moved along the edge of the bank nervously.

“Tell you what we do,” he proposed. “I have plan. Listen, Dick. You two
fellows stay here. Keep down close to bank so they no see you. While you
do that I circle round through the trees an’ come down on them from
above, making loud noise. Pretty soon I wake ’em up. I try keep hid. By
an’ by, them fellows think mebbe it’s a bear an’ come up an’ try find
it. Soon they do that, you, Sandy run up quick, get canoe.”

“And leave you in the lurch,” protested Sandy. “I guess not. You’ll get
a bullet for your pains.”

Toma shook his head. “No ’fraid of that. I keep plenty hid alla time.
Pretty soon them fellows give up an’ go back to camp.”

“But what will you do?” inquired Dick.

“I keep right on till I come to bend in river. You an’ Sandy be watch,
look for me alla time an’ soon I come down to shore you paddle in an’
pick me up.”

Dick’s face grew instantly grave.

“The plan might or might not work,” he decided. “Supposing, Toma, that
only one or two of them leave camp. How do you know they’ll all follow

“I not know that,” the young Indian admitted. “But pretty good chance
they all come when I make noise.”

“But if only two should follow you, what will we do?” persisted Dick.

“Mebbe you get chance to get canoe anyway. If one fellow stay at camp,
he very much like to know what other two fellow do, what you call ’em,
he be excite. He keep look up that way. Then mebbe you an’ Sandy creep
up close behind him with club an’ knock him down.”

Dick’s breath caught. He and Sandy were staring questioningly and a
little wildly into each other’s eyes.

Toma persisted. “What you say ’bout that?”

“I couldn’t do it, Dick,” Sandy exploded. “There’s something sneaky and
cowardly about creeping up and knocking a man down with a club. I just
can’t do it. I can’t!”

“He try same by you,” the young Indian scowled. “What for you not do it
to him?”

“If we had a rope,” said Dick, “we might grab him and tie him up.”

Toma’s face fell. “Why we talk ’bout that now? Mebbe all three follow
me. It’s only chance I see to get canoe.”

“All right,” Dick suddenly came to a decision. “We’ll risk it. We’ve
delayed long enough now. Get busy, Toma, and carry out your plan just as
you’ve told it to us.”

The Indian’s sober features lighted into a broad smile. Swinging about
without further preliminary, he broke into a dog-trot, then, twenty
yards further down the shore, turned and began making his way up the
steep embankment. The boys watched him for a while, whereupon they
turned and looked at each other, their cheeks flushed with excitement.
Dick reached over quickly and laid his right hand on Sandy’s shaking

“We’re in for it now,” he said.

                              CHAPTER XI.
                            A CANOE AT LAST.

The first intimation Dick and Sandy had that Toma had arrived opposite
the outlaws’ camp was when they saw Wolf Brennan spring to his feet,
rifle in hand, and call sharply to his two friends. Immediately after
that, a crackling in the brush, made by Toma, came to their ears.

“A moose!” shouted Wolf Brennan, pointing.

The other two, disturbed from their slumbers, scrambled to a place
beside Brennan, their attitudes that of tense watching.

Breathless with excitement, Dick wondered if Toma’s ruse would work. The
three men stood there immobile as three statues. The crackling noise up
along the slope continued. Finally, when the boys had begun to believe
that the outlaws were too clever for them, Wolf Brennan turned upon his
two compatriots, growling:

“Toby, yuh stay here while me and Willison take a run up there tuh see
what’s up. All ready, Willison, grab your gun.”

Willison obeyed implicitly, following Wolf Brennan up along the slope to
the first ridge on the ascent. Toby McCallum, one hand against a tree,
stood and watched them depart. Dick nudged Sandy.

“Now!” he whispered tersely. “You drag down the canoe while I attend to

They clambered up the low embankment, moving swiftly and quietly.
Reaching the canoe, Sandy paused while Dick gathering momentum, leaped
straight over a low barricade of scraggy brush and hurled himself
straight at his adversary.

Turning in time to see Dick leaping for him, McCallum instinctively
raised one arm to ward off the attack. However, this defensive action
came too late. With all his weight behind it, Dick struck McCallum in a
flying tackle just above the knees. The outlaw crashed down like a sack
of wheat. He was somewhat stunned by the impact of the fall, but, even
then, tried to reach out for his rifle, lying on the ground barely two
feet away.

In the meantime, perceiving both Dick and McCallum struggling on the
ground, locked in each other’s arms, Sandy dropped the bow of the canoe
and hurried to the rescue. Just as Dick succeeded in pinioning
McCallum’s arms under him, Sandy caught up the outlaw’s gun.

“Quick, Dick!” he shouted. “I’ve got it.”

Dick released his hold and staggered to his feet.

“Glad you came, Sandy,” he panted. “McCallum, lay right there,” he
ordered savagely, “if you know what’s good for you.”

While Sandy covered their prisoner, Dick stooped and unbuckled the
cartridge belt from around McCallum’s waist, placed it about his own,
then took the rifle from Sandy’s trembling hands.

“Hurry, Sandy!” he blurted. “Go over and pull down that canoe. I’ll
watch McCallum here until you’re ready.”

The prospector’s face was livid with rage and humiliation as Sandy
departed. Suddenly, to Dick’s surprise, he opened his mouth and shouted
at the top of his voice. It was a warning, clarion call that echoed and
re-echoed through that quiet forest place.

Dick’s cheeks blanched. “Yell all you like,” he told McCallum. “We’ll
get away just the same.”

From his position there on the ground, the outlaw glared up, his face
crimson with fury, and broke into a torrent of abusive oaths.

“Yuh’ll pay for this,” he snarled. “Yuh ain’t got safe back tuh Half Way
House yet. It’ll take a hull lot more than one canoe and one rifle tuh
get yuh there. Remember that.”

“Yes, I’ll remember it,” said Dick tensely, “and I’ll be on the lookout
for you too.”

“Yuh better,” growled the other.

Dick did not reply. Out of the corner of one eye he was watching Sandy’s
progress toward the shore. The moment the canoe slid across the belt of
yellow sand, he addressed himself to McCallum.

“If you get off the ground before I reach the river, I’ll take a
pot-shot at you,” he threatened. “We’re desperate—and I mean business.
Just try it if you like.”

Evidently McCallum took Dick at his word, for he did not so much as move
a muscle as Dick sped down to the shore where Sandy awaited him. He
jumped into the canoe and Sandy pushed off. Putting down his rifle, he
seized one of the oars and began paddling frantically. The canoe rocked
and swayed as it darted over the water. Spray dashed up around them.
They swept into the central channel, desperately bucking the swift
current. It was a race against death. Any moment now Wolf Brennan would
return and commence firing from shore. In the glare of the sun, the
river roared about them. They paddled as they had never paddled before.
The shoreline gradually receded. On and on they swept. Perspiration
poured out upon their foreheads and trickled into their eyes. Their
breath struggled in their throats.

Zip! A bullet whistled between them and spat viciously into the water.
Crack! A puff of smoke from shore, and Dick’s paddle leaped out of his
hands, punctured by a speeding pellet of destruction.

With a quick, convulsive movement of his arm, Dick retrieved his paddle
and as he did so he caught a glimpse of three figures running along the

“Make for the opposite side!” he screeched to Sandy. “We must get out of
rifle range.”

“But Toma—” faltered Sandy.

“He’ll look after himself. Quick, Sandy!” His own paddle clove the water
again just as a third bullet whistled above their heads.

In a few minutes more their danger perceptibly decreased. The fire from
the two on shore was now going more wide of its mark. Soon it ceased
altogether. They were close to the opposite shore now, still paddling

“Dick, I can’t stand this pace much longer,” Sandy gasped

“All right, ease up. We’ll run ashore for a minute or two.”

When Sandy had grunted his approval, Dick turned the bow of the canoe
sharply and the light, graceful craft grated upon the white sand and
came to a full stop.

“Good gracious, Dick,” Sandy gurgled, springing out, “that was a close
call. I’m afraid they’re going to capture Toma.”

Dick shook his head. “Not that boy. He’s too clever for them,” he
replied, still breathing heavily.

“But how will we ever manage to pick him up again?” blurted the young

“Have to await our chance. Toma will keep an eye on us. He’ll make his
way along the opposite shore. When he thinks the time is propitious,
he’ll give us a signal.”

“I hope so,” said Sandy prayerfully. “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t
be where we are now.”

“True. But don’t worry about him. He’s clever, as you ought to know by
now. I haven’t the least fear that Brennan will ever succeed in
capturing him.”

“What do you propose to do now?” asked Sandy.

Dick pursed his lips. “When we are rested, we’ll paddle along this side
of the river slowly so that Toma will have plenty of time to keep up
with us. We’ll go up the river a mile or two and then stop for the
night. We’ll build a fire close to the shore so that Toma will know just
where we are, what we are doing. We’ll have to take turns sleeping
tonight. I don’t think there is any danger that Brennan’s party will
build a raft and come over, yet it will be wise to be on our guard. Now
that they know we have a rifle, they’ll think twice before they try a
stunt like that.”

The remainder of the afternoon passed uneventfully. They saw no more of
Brennan and his friends, neither did they catch a glimpse of Toma. Just
before dusk they disembarked in a sheltered spot and by means of the
fire stone soon had a blazing campfire near the shore. While Dick
watched it and gathered more drift-wood and dry branches, Sandy took the
rifle and went up along the slope in search of game. Within twenty
minutes he came back carrying a rabbit.

“Wish Toma was here to enjoy it with us,” he stated a little
sorrowfully. “Dick, I’m terribly afraid that something has happened to
him. I try to make myself believe that he’s safe, but the feeling still

Dick laughed away Sandy’s fears while he prepared supper and later as
they gathered brush for a high bon-fire. The fire would keep them warm
that night, Dick explained. Also it would be a beacon to let Toma know
just where they were.

“We’ll keep it burning brightly until morning,” he told Sandy. “What
part of the night would you like to keep watch?” he inquired.

“From now until a little after midnight,” replied Sandy.

So it was decided. A pale dusk covered the earth when Dick stretched out
by the fire and went to sleep, but it was much darker than usual when he
was awakened by his weary chum and notified that it was his turn to
stand guard.

“Keep the fire going good, Dick,” Sandy instructed sleepily. “It’s
chilly and I’d like to have an unbroken sleep.”

The young Scotchman was slumbering deeply, curled up alongside the
comforting blaze, by the time Dick had returned with his first arm-load
of wood. The older boy smiled as he looked down at him. What an eventful
day it had been, he mused. No wonder Sandy was so tired. The
difficulties and hardships of the past week had tested strength,
endurance and nerve to the utmost. They couldn’t go on indefinitely like
this. The hard pace had begun to tell. By the look of him, Sandy
couldn’t stand much more of it. His cheeks were sunken and there were
deep hollows under his eyes.

The young leader sighed and sat down with his back to the fire, his gaze
wandering. Up overhead the clouds seemed to be gathering for rain.
Through a narrow rift shone a handful of brilliant stars and a white
half-circle of moon. Down below, glinting mysteriously, was the wide
path of the river. Tonight its song was as mournful as the weird music
of an Indian lullabye.

Dick continued to sit there half musing, half dreaming, until suddenly
down near the shore he heard a loud splash. He bolted to his feet and
ran for his rifle. Wolf Brennan—was his first thought. Wolf Brennan and
Toby McCallum! They had made a raft and come over after all!

He caught the rifle to him, when a muffled figure staggered up over the
bank, shaking himself like a dog that had been thrown into a
mill-pond—shaking and blowing and shivering, and beating his arms to
quicken the circulation in his body.

Dick gave one short, sharp cry, dropped his rifle and darted forward,
arms outstretched.

“Toma! Toma!” he called.

                              CHAPTER XII.
                       THE MEETING ON THE RIVER.

When Sandy awoke on the following morning, his joy was unbounded. Taking
one look at Toma, he gasped and daubed frantically at his sleep-stained
eyes. Both the young Indian and Dick laughed at the young Scotchman’s

“How did you get here?” asked Sandy, finding his voice.

“I swim across the river,” grinned Toma.

“What’s that! Across the river!” Sandy’s eyes grew wide.

“Yes, that’s what I do. River cold and swift, but me, I think pretty
sure I make it.”

“He arrived here in the middle of the night,” explained Dick. “It was
about an hour after you woke me up to relieve you for guard duty.”

Sandy looked out at the river that swirled and rolled along northward.
At the point where Toma had crossed, it was over half a mile wide. Its
waters were swift and as cold as ice. A remarkable feat even for an

All the boys were happy and in high spirits when they embarked in the
canoe an hour later and resumed their journey upstream. Though it was
hard work to paddle incessantly against the strong current, it was
nevertheless a welcome relief after the days they had spent in
travelling on foot. All day they sweated at their task. They were miles
away from Wolf Brennan and his party by the time that night fell. They
were turning in towards shore to make camp, when Toma, who was sitting
in the bow, suddenly sang out:

“Canoe! Canoe! I see ’em canoe!”

Instantly Dick and Sandy straightened up, their eyes almost staring from
their heads.

“Where?” they demanded in one voice.

“Oh, I see it now!” Sandy shouted. “Hold into mid-stream Toma, so we’ll
meet him. Small canoe. Just one man. Wonder who it is?”

The canoe and its lone occupant drifted toward them. Closer and closer
it came. The man, industriously plying his paddle, took form. Dick’s
heart leaped and he suddenly went weak all over. He recognized the garb
of that lonely traveller. No mistaking that broad-brimmed hat and
scarlet coat. A mounted policeman! All of the boys had become so
breathlessly interested in trying to determine the identity of the
occupant of the canoe that he was within two hundred yards of them
before any of them spoke again. Then, suddenly Dick raised his paddle
and waved a frantic, hilarious greeting.

“Corporal Rand!” he shrieked.

The policeman had never received a more spontaneous and noisy welcome.
The three chums howled and shrieked. They rent the air with their
huzzas. In the stern, Sandy laughingly reached out, caught the prow of
Rand’s canoe and both crafts floated down stream nearly fifty yards
while they exchanged greetings. Then, as if moved by a common impulse
they swerved to the left and presently disembarked at the edge of a
sand-bar projecting out from shore.

“I never expected to meet any of you here,” stated the corporal, pulling
up his canoe. “Thought you were all over at Fort Good Faith. In fact, I
sent a letter over there less than a week ago, asking you to meet me at
Half Way House.”

“You did?” gasped Dick and Sandy.

“Yes, and I was disappointed when you didn’t show up.”

Dick’s expression was one of amazement.

“Didn’t Factor Frazer tell you where we had gone?” he demanded.

“Why no. Did he know?”

“Certainly he knew.” There was an angry quaver in Dick’s voice. “He was
the one that sent us up here.”

“Did you let him know that you expected us from Fort Good Faith?”
inquired Sandy.

The corporal nodded.

“And he said nothing?”

“Not a word.”

In jerky, angry sentences, Dick told Corporal Rand of the dinosaur and
of the incidents leading up to their journey to the island of the
granite shaft. Out of breath at last, he paused and Sandy took up the
narrative where he left off, relating in the minutest detail everything
that had happened subsequent to their departure from the island. Rand
listened without once asking a question or making a comment. Even after
Sandy had finished, he sat silent and thoughtful, the toe of one boot
tracing patterns in the sand.

“Why don’t you laugh?” asked Sandy.

Corporal Rand straightened up. “Laugh? What for?”

“Why, at the beautiful joke Factor Frazer played upon us.”

Corporal Rand’s brows knit and his mouth tightened.

“It doesn’t impress me as being particularly amusing.”

“What do you make of it all?”

The policeman raised his eyes toward the young Scotchman and half

“I’ll be perfectly frank. I haven’t the least idea.”

“Can you imagine what we have done to incur their enmity—Factor
Frazer’s, Wolf Brennan’s and Toby McCallum’s?”


“When I first saw you, do you know what I thought?” inquired the young
leader of the trio.

“No. What did you think, Dick?”

“I thought perhaps you had guessed that we were in trouble and had come
to our rescue.”

Corporal Rand shook his head. “No, I am on patrol duty.”

“But why did you wish to meet us at Half Way House?” persisted Dick.

“That’s a different story. The police have another little job for you.”

“What is it?” the boys inquired in unison.

“Wanted you to go over to Caribou Lake to investigate a rumor.”

The three boys gathered more closely around the policeman.

“What rumor?” asked Dick.

Corporal Rand rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

“It concerns a certain Conroy Miller, a prospector who has been working
up in that section. Miller has not been heard from since last fall. He
sent word down to Ford Laird by an Indian that he proposed to trap all
winter in the vicinity of Caribou Lake, where he had staked out a few
mining claims, and asked Factor Goodwin to send out a quantity of
supplies. On the first of December last year the Indian, who had brought
in the message, and several companions with dog teams, took the supplies
out to Miller and afterward returned, reporting that Miller had received
them and wished to thank the factor for his kindly co-operation.

“Well, a few weeks ago a trapper, a German named Lutz, reported to the
Fort McKenzie detachment that he had passed through the Caribou Lake
region and had stopped at Miller’s cabin. He reported that the cabin was
well stocked with provisions but that no one was there. In fact, there
was every evidence that the cabin had not been tenanted for months.
Dishes were on the table just as Miller had left them. In one corner of
the room was a quantity of green fur and a pile of traps. Dust had
settled everywhere, proving conclusively that Miller had not been at
home for a long time.”

Corporal Rand paused for a moment, then resumed.

“Lutz, who is an honorable fellow in every way, became frightened,
jumped to the conclusion that Miller had met with an accident and
searched the vicinity in an attempt to find the prospector’s body.
Unsuccessful in this, he proceeded straight to McKenzie Barracks and
reported the matter to us.”

“Are you on your way there now?” Dick cut in.

“Yes. I wanted you boys to go along to help search for the body. When
you failed to meet me at Half Way House, I started on alone.”

“You hold to the Lutz theory then, that he met with an accident while
trapping?” interrogated Sandy.

“We have come to no definite conclusions yet. We may find his body there
and we may not. If we don’t, I propose to follow up another lead, that
he has met with foul play.”

“Foul play?” cried Dick.

“Yes, it is possible. There are many rumors floating around about him.
Nothing tangible yet. However, there is one thing we have made a note
of. On April third, an Indian named Henri Karek claims he met Miller on
the trail between Thunder River and Lynx Lake. He stated further that
Miller was in the best of health and carried a good grub supply. His
destination, he told the Indian, was Fort Laird.”

“Wonder if the Indian really met him,” mused Dick.

“He met someone by the name of Miller,” replied the corporal, “but
whether it was our man or not is a debatable question. Since then other
stories have been circulated, most of them, I fear, without foundation.
If it was really Conroy Miller that Karek met on the trail, he never
reached his destination. That much I have found out by making inquiries
at Fort Laird.”

The corporal paused abruptly, regarding the boys through half closed
lids. Dick wondered what he was thinking about.

“How long since you left the dinosaur’s island?” the policeman suddenly

“Just two weeks ago today,” Sandy replied.

“You’ve had an unusual experience. Went hungry, didn’t you? Looks as if
you’d been living on a diet of fish and no mistake. Honestly, Dick, I
believe you’ve lost ten pounds.”

“I think I have,” came the unconcerned rejoinder.

“Wolf and McCallum will have to answer for this some day, but I don’t
want to do anything now. We’ll give them plenty of rope and see if they
won’t eventually hang themselves. Now about that pseudo-wildman you
spoke of, I can’t seem to place him—unless it’s old Bill Willison, an
eccentric trapper who used to live in the vicinity of Fort Laird.”

“That’s who it is!” Dick exclaimed. “I remember now. They called him

“Too bad he’s fallen into their net. He’s not a vicious character and
would harm no one if left alone. The old man is as rugged as the hills
and they say as old as Methuselah. If he has joined Brennan’s party, it
was under compulsion. Of that I feel sure. No doubt, the canoe you have
belongs to him.”

“Does the old man wander around sometimes just dressed in furs and
without any shoes or moccasins?”

Rand laughed. “Yes. The other clothes you saw him in, he wears only when
he goes to a trading post for supplies. In his own natural habitat, old
Willison is almost as wild as he looks.”

“Then Brennan and McCallum sent him to frighten us?” asked Sandy.


Toma edged closer, waiting for a chance to break into the conversation.
Corporal Rand noted his look.

“Yes, Toma, what is it?” he asked kindly.

The young Indian put his hand to his stomach and grinned.

“If you got some tea, corporal,” he hinted, “I like ’em get your kettle
and put some water over the fire. No taste tea for over two weeks.”

“Just fish and rabbits,” grunted Sandy.

“And don’t forget the clams and porcupine,” appended Dick.

                             CHAPTER XIII.
                            HALF WAY HOUSE.

Cool air rose from the river, driving before it long, grey streamers of
mist. Up through the trees it spread, close to the ground, dense as
smoke. Across the sandbar, well up on the bank above, in the deep shadow
of the balsam, a bright fire etched in bold relief the faces of Corporal
Rand and the three boys. They made a complete circle around the fire and
were conversing eagerly. Just now it was Sandy who held the center of

“Something underhanded going on at Half Way House,” he explained to the
corporal. “I think that Uncle Walter is suspicious of Factor Frazer. I
don’t know exactly what the trouble is, but I think it has something to
do with the way Mr. Frazer has been keeping his accounts. You see, Uncle
Walter is Chief Factor for this district and audits the books of all the
trading posts. He acted very mysterious when he asked us to go over to
Half Way House. Didn’t he, Dick?”

“Yes, he did,” Dick corroborated his chum.

“It looks to me,” Sandy went on, “as if Mr. Frazer suspected that we
were spies sent by my uncle and took the method he did to get rid of

“Seems very likely,” smiled the policeman.

“Wolf Brennan and Toby McCallum were at the post when we left,”
continued Sandy. “After what has happened, we can draw only one
conclusion, that these two men are paid emissaries of Frazer’s. I
suspect he wants to keep us out here until he has had time to cover up
some sort of deviltry.”

Corporal Rand rose and gazed down into the fire.

“It would seem so, Sandy. Something deeply mysterious afoot there.
Probably another case for the police to solve. I’ve never known it to
fail. No sooner do we hear of an important case and start working upon
it, than something else crops up. We’ve done nothing but patrol duty
until this Miller case came to our attention. I start out upon this case
when I learn of this business at Half Way House. Probably before I get
back from Caribou Lake, there will be a murder or two added to the
growing list of crimes.”

“Do you plan to have us accompany you to Caribou Lake?” Dick asked.

“When I met you out here this afternoon, that was my intention. But now
that I’ve talked with you and heard your story I’ve changed my mind.
It’s more important that you should go on to Half Way House. By
travelling as fast as you can, you should make it in four more days.”

“What will we do when we get there?” asked Dick.

“That’s up to you,” Corporal Rand spoke grimly. “You handled the
Dewberry case very nicely. I’m really in no position to advise you or
help you in any way because I don’t know what’s wrong there. If I were
you though, the minute I arrived I’d confront Frazer and demand an
explanation. I’d mention Wolf Brennan and McCallum too. Make it plain
that you intend to take up the matter with the police.”

“Do you believe there is a chance that he may confess?” asked Sandy

“No, I don’t. But there is a chance that your accusations may sweep him
off his guard, that he will blurt out something that will give you a
clue to the mystery.”

“I never thought of that,” said Dick.

“I’ll divide my grubstake with you,” Rand went on. “I haven’t much, but
you’re welcome to half of it. I can give you tea, rice, a little sugar,
part of a slab of bacon and about ten pounds of flour.”

“You may run yourself short,” Dick hesitated.

“No,” smiled Rand. “I can look after myself.”

“Now that we’ve met you, I hate to separate so soon.”

“It can’t be helped,” smiled the policeman. “And that reminds me that
it’s getting late. We must hurry to bed if we expect to make an early
start tomorrow.”

Following a good breakfast the next morning, the boys loaded their
canoe, shook hands with the corporal and, just at six o’clock by Rand’s
watch, the two canoes floated out into the river, separated and began
speeding on their respective ways. All day the boys worked like Trojans.
In spite of a delay of over an hour at one portage, they managed to
travel over forty miles before they stopped at dusk to make camp.

The second day was more or less a repetition of the first and, on the
afternoon of the third day since their meeting with Corporal Rand, they
drew up at the boat landing at Half Way House, tired but exultant.

They walked up along the well-beaten path toward the trading post, the
cynosure of curious eyes. And indeed, this was not to be wondered at.
Their appearance resembled scarecrows more than human beings. They were
ragged from head to foot. Their faces were burned a deep brown from the
exposure to sun and wind. As they made their way past a row of cabins,
the company’s warehouse and finally to the store itself, Toma’s
abbreviated trousers caused a good deal of merriment among lounging
groups of Indians and half-breeds.

Though they were exultant, they were also grim. Dick’s eyes were hard as
he led his two companions through those tittering groups. His hands were
clenched tightly at his sides and, reaching the entrance he flung open
the door and strode defiantly in. Toma and Sandy followed, their manner

Behind the counter, busily occupied in rearranging merchandise on the
shelves, the factor, Mr. Donald Frazer had not noticed their entrance.
When he did look around, his face paled.

“Y—y—you!” he trembled.

Three pairs of glaring, unfriendly eyes bored into the wavering optics
of the man behind the counter. As yet, not one of the boys had spoken. A
deep and ominous silence settled over the room.

“We’re back!” Dick cleared his throat.

“So I perceive,” the factor attempted to make light of the matter, but
his effort at jocularity proved a dismal failure.

“We’re back,” Dick repeated, his voice harsh and cold, “and we demand an
accounting. You’re a miserable snake, Frazer, and you have a lot to
answer for. Before we report this matter to the police, perhaps you’d
like to do a little explaining on your own account.”

The factor’s right hand reached out and he grasped the counter for
support. He tried to speak, but in his fear and great agitation, the
words would not come. A queer rumbling in his throat, his jaw muscles
twitching, his face white, he stood there helplessly staring at the
three determined figures confronting him.

“Didn’t expect us back, did you?” almost snarled Dick. “Had an idea that
we’d starve out there, didn’t you? Thought that your friends, Wolf
Brennan and Toby McCallum, would settle our hash for good and all,
didn’t you? Well, we’re back. What do you propose to do about it?”

Frazer’s face distorted queerly and he protested angrily.

“What sort of a plot are you trying to lay at my door?” he wheezed.
“Brennan and McCallum—I don’t understand you. What have they to do with
me? If you had trouble with them, it was not of my making.”

“Don’t try to deny that you didn’t send them. You did.”

At this juncture Sandy completely lost his temper. In a flash, he had
bounded over the counter, seizing Frazer by the throat.

“You wretch!” he shouted, shaking the factor as a cat might shake a
mouse. “You wretch! Don’t lie to us! You sent us out there to the island
of the dinosaur for no other reason than to get rid of us. And then,”
Sandy shrieked “you instructed those two miserable rats to follow us to
make sure we didn’t get back.”

The factor was a powerful man and Sandy’s advantage was only temporary.
Frazer flung him off, stepped back and his fist crashed into Sandy’s
face sending him reeling back, where he toppled and fell over a packing
case. The resounding impact of his fall was sufficiently heavy to shake
the room. Dick and Toma cried out angrily and they, too, leaped over the
barrier. Retreating before them, Frazer sped down along the space behind
the counter, reached up in one of the shelves and whipped out a
revolver, just as Dick made a lurch for him.

“Stand back!” he cried, breathing hard.

An inner door flew open. There came the sound of running footsteps. Dick
turned in time to see, to his unutterable astonishment, the commanding
figure of Sandy’s uncle, Mr. Walter MacClaren.

                              CHAPTER XIV.
                      CHARGES AND COUNTER-CHARGES.

“Mr. Frazer,” ordered Factor MacClaren, “put down that gun. Dick, what’s
the meaning of this?”

Before Dick had time to reply, Sandy’s head uprose behind the counter,
twisted around and presented a blood-stained face to his uncle. At sight
of it, Mr. MacClaren started back in dismay.

“Good Heavens, Sandy—you too! What have you boys been up to?” He whirled
toward Frazer again. “Put down that gun, I told you. Put it down! Mr.
Frazer, Dick, Sandy, I demand an explanation. Are you all mad?”

“If you want the truth, they attacked me first.” Frazer had grown more
calm now. “Your own nephew grabbed me by the throat and I knocked him
down. These other two miscreants were coming toward me just as you ran
in. I picked up the revolver as a last resort. I have a right to defend

Mr. Walter MacClaren sat down in a chair, produced a handkerchief and
feverishly mopped his brow. Sandy clambered over the counter and
advanced toward him. Dick was still trembling and fighting mad. Toma’s
lips were drawn tightly across his teeth. There was still an atmosphere
of tension in the room. Sandy’s voice broke the quiet.

“Uncle Walter, that man is no better than a murderer. He sent us up Half
Way River on a fool’s errand, then hired a couple of his confederates to
track us down and try to kill us.”

Mr. MacClaren stared at his nephew incredulously. It was his Scottish
caution that moved him to exclaim.

“Careful, Sandy. Careful, Sandy, my boy. Those are hard words. A
murderer, you say. Are you prepared to back up your statements?”

“I am,” spat Sandy.

“Mr. MacClaren, he lies.” It was Frazer’s voice. “There is no truth in
what he says. The boys are laboring under a delusion. If they’ve been
attacked while away on their trip, it was not through any of my
conniving. I have nothing whatever to do with Wolf Brennan and Toby
McCallum. Those men are not in my employ, as these three young men seem
to believe.”

“They have been in your employ, haven’t they?” MacClaren asked drily.

“Indeed, they have not,” protested Frazer.

“If that is true, how do you account for the three entries in your own
ledger under the date of March third, seventh and fifteenth? According
to your own books, you paid McCallum and Brennan for work done here at
the post.”

“Yes, I’ll admit that but—” Frazer paused slightly confused.

“They have been in your employ then?” Mr. MacClaren persisted.

“Little tasks about the post here,” the other retorted. “Does it
necessarily follow that they are in my employ regularly?”

“No, it doesn’t. But it does give us a line on the type of men you do

“You’re prejudiced,” flamed Frazer.

“Not at all. If these boys are wrong, I shall insist that they
apologize. But it hasn’t been proved that they are wrong yet. Sandy, go
on with your story.”

During its recital, Mr. MacClaren’s eyes narrowed. He turned again upon
the factor.

“You must have known, Mr. Frazer, that the boys could never bring back
the bones of that dinosaur. Isn’t that true?”

“No, it isn’t. I never saw the dinosaur. I had no idea that it was so

“Look here,” protested Dick, “I can bring witnesses here to prove that
you visited the dinosaur’s island two years ago.”

Sandy’s uncle ignored the sally. He asked the post manager another

“You promised the boys six hundred dollars if they would bring the bones
of the dinosaur back here to Half Way House. Is that correct?”

“Yes, sir.”

“As I understand it, the bones of the dinosaur were to be sold to a
famous London Museum. Is that also correct?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You have a letter from that museum making a certain offer.”

“Yes, Mr. MacClaren, I have.”

“May I see it?”

“You could see it if I had any desire to show it to you, but I haven’t.
I consider it none of your business.”

Mr. MacClaren smiled grimly at this affront.

“Very well. That may not be my business, but what you do here as a
factor of a Hudson’s Bay Company’s post is my business. Does your
contract permit you to engage in any enterprise not connected with that
of the company?”

“On my own time, yes.”

“You’d better re-read your contract.”

“I’ve already done that,” sneered the other.

“When I came over here today,” Mr. MacClaren’s voice was deathly calm,
“an audit of your books showed that you had robbed the company of over
two thousand dollars. I suppose you had a perfect right to do that under
the terms of your contract?”

“I object to that word ‘robbed’,” rasped Frazer. “I’ll admit to a
shortage but I’ve covered it.”

“Yes, when I drew your attention to it.”

“I paid back every cent of it in gold.”

“Where did you get the gold?” sneered Mr. MacClaren. “How did you come
in possession of it? There’s another point that may need a little

“You know as well as I do that we take gold over the counter in exchange
for goods.”

“Correct. But whenever we do we keep a record of the transaction. In
auditing your books, I found no such record.”

“The more you talk the farther you get away from the subject under
discussion. You asked me what was wrong here and I told you. Your own
nephew assaulted me without cause. Not only that, but he made a very
serious charge against me, a charge without any foundation whatsoever.”

“Whose word can I take for that?” inquired Mr. MacClaren sarcastically
and angrily.


“But I do not consider that your word is sufficient. You’ve lied to me
repeatedly. You lied to me this afternoon. Your conduct generally is so
deceitful and dishonest that I think I was perfectly justified in asking
for your resignation.”

“By doing that you haven’t hurt my feelings in the least. For some time
past, I have been seriously thinking of quitting the service anyway. In
fact, not long ago I completed arrangements to take charge of an
independent trading post shortly to be established at Caribou Lake.”

At the mention of the name, Caribou Lake, Dick pricked up his ears. That
was the name of the place Corporal Rand was proceeding to.

“It is your privilege to go anywhere you like,” Dick heard Mr. MacClaren

Sandy looked across at Frazer, a peculiar gleam in his eyes. At that
moment he presented a most unusual appearance. His bruised lips had
swollen to twice their normal size. His cheeks were smeared with blood.

“If you’ll permit me to say so,” he blurted forth, “I’d like to prophesy
that you’ll not take charge at Caribou Lake either. I propose to swear
out a warrant for your arrest.”

Frazer’s face grew a shade whiter, but he recovered himself quickly.

“Two can play at the same game,” he reminded Sandy.

“My charge is a more serious one.”

“What is your charge?”

“Attempted murder.”

The man behind the counter laughed a mirthless laugh and made an ugly

“You may have a lot of trouble proving that.”

“I expect to,” said Sandy calmly, “but we’ll get you in the end. Please
don’t forget that. This matter isn’t settled by a long way.”

Mr. MacClaren rose hastily to his feet.

“Enough,” he said. “Argument will get us nowhere. Mr. Frazer will be
leaving us tonight and after his departure we’ll have plenty of time to
discuss your case.”

The factor darted from behind the counter and strode over to where Mr.
MacClaren stood.

“I didn’t say I was going tonight,” he snarled, his face close to that
of his superior.

“No, but I’m saying it. In fact, I insist upon it.”

“You’re exceeding your authority. You have no right to compel me to go.”

“Nevertheless, that is my intention.”

“I refuse to go.”

Coming from a mysterious place, a revolver leaped into MacClaren’s
hands. Dick was astounded. He had never suspected that Sandy’s uncle
could draw a gun so quickly. Its cold nozzle sprang forward pressing
against the front of Frazer’s coat.

“We won’t argue the matter,” he declared pleasantly. “I’ll accompany you
to your room while you pack your things. After that I’ll arrange for a
transport. Much as we may dislike to part with your company, Mr. Frazer,
I think it is for the good of all concerned. Turn and march to your

Frazer complied hurriedly, his features swollen with rage. The two
figures passed through the inner doorway, their footsteps echoed down
the long corridor and, presently, in the trading room a deep silence

Mopping the blood from his face with a handkerchief which Dick
moistened, Sandy was soon more presentable.

“That was a mighty wallop he gave me,” half grinned the injured one.
“Still, I suppose that it was coming to me. Shouldn’t have lost my

“It’s probably just as well that things have turned out as they have,”
Dick reassured him.

                              CHAPTER XV.
                         A THREATENING LETTER.

The next morning, after the departure of Donald Frazer, Harold Scott,
Frazer’s assistant, was placed in charge of the company’s post at Half
Way House. Having made the appointment, Sandy’s uncle issued final
instructions and then prepared for an immediate departure for Fort Good

“I’d just as soon you’d stay here for a week or two,” he told the boys.
“There is a bare possibility that Frazer may return to cause trouble.
Mr. Scott may require your help.”

This request on the part of Mr. MacClaren met with general approval, for
none of them believed that Frazer’s real perfidy had yet been uncovered.
Something deeper and more mysterious was afoot. Frazer’s attempt to rob
the company was not, they reasoned, his only crime. He was mixed up in
other and more sinister affairs. Wolf Brennan and Toby McCallum were,
undoubtedly, part of the gang who were operating under Frazer’s

“Where do you suppose Frazer will go?” Sandy inquired of Dick soon after
Mr. MacClaren’s leave taking. “Do you think that he is really
establishing a new trading post at Caribou Lake?”

“No, I don’t,” Dick replied. “I think that was a fabrication, pure and
simple. There wouldn’t be enough money in it for him. That is a very
sparsely inhabited district. Few Indians trap there during the winter
and I doubt very much whether the fur trade would warrant the
establishment of a post.”

“That’s what I’ve always heard. The country is rugged and hilly, better
adapted to mining and prospecting than to trapping.”

“Exactly. Frazer has no intention of engaging in trade there. You could
tell when he said it, that it was a lie. He has other projects in mind.”

“All I know is,” put in Sandy, “that anyone that would associate with
characters like Wolf Brennan and Toby McCallum can’t be very honest

“Where do you suppose he got the gold to cover his shortage?” Dick

“Probably stole it. That’s Uncle Walter’s belief too. It’s another case
of robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Dick and Sandy were sitting on a bench outside the trading room while
this discussion was going on. It was a lovely morning and after the
rigorous activities of their experience down river, it seemed good
merely to sit there basking in the sun. Some distance away, Toma
sauntered about among the idling groups of Indians and half-breeds who
came here to trade. Presently, he came strolling up with that shrewd
gleam in his eyes that denoted some new discovery. Dick looked up and
smiled as he approached.

“What’s on your mind now, Toma?”

Without preamble, the young Indian plunged into his subject.

“You remember them two fellow, Indian boys, I tell you ’bout I see in
that room one night with Toby McCallum, Wolf Brennan an’ Mr. Frazer?”

Dick scratched his head. “Let me see. You mean that time when you saw
the light burning in Frazer’s room at two o’clock in the morning?”

“Yes. Them two fellow here.”

“Here at the post?” inquired Sandy, straightening up in his seat.


“What are they doing?”

“They just hang ’round. Do nothing like us. I find out they have tepee
down near the river.”

“Well, what about it?” demanded Dick. “They have a right to stay there
if they want to, haven’t they?”

Toma grinned. “That just the trouble. Why they want to stay here now
that their friend, Mr. Frazer, go ’way? They very good friend Mr.
Frazer, you think they like go ’long too.”

“Perhaps they’ll follow later,” surmised Sandy.

“Mebbe so. But I think I know why they stay here.”

“Why?” asked Dick.

“’Cause Mr. Frazer tell ’em to. Mr. Frazer talk with them two fellow
just before he go. I see him do that. I see they very careful nobody
hear what they say too.”

Dick felt a momentary quickening of his pulses.

“Good boy! No one could ever accuse you of being slow-witted. I know
what’s on your mind now. You believe that these two Indians have been
left behind purposely—that they’ll be up to some mischief before long.”

“Yes, Dick, them very bad fellow. Other Indians say that. Like drink
alla time an’ get in trouble.”

Toma scowled and took a seat on the bench beside Sandy. For one full
moment no one spoke.

“There are two reasons why Frazer instructed those two Indians to remain
here. Either they intend to cause Scott all the trouble they can or they
are waiting for the arrival of Wolf Brennan and Toby McCallum,” said

“We’ll keep an eye on them,” stated Sandy darkly. “We might possibly
learn something to our advantage.”

Toma turned his head. “There they are now,” he said.

Two Indians came down the path toward the trading room, walking one
behind the other. Both were sinister looking men, Dick thought. He
wondered if they were intending to enter the store to make some purchase
or whether the object of their visit was to appraise himself and his two
chums. He bent his head toward Sandy and whispered in a low voice.

“Slip into the trading room and see what they do.”

The young Scotchman rose, stretched himself languidly, imitated a yawn
and lounged through the open door. The two Indians followed him in. Dick
winked at Toma, produced his hunting knife and began whittling on a
stick. For five minutes they waited. At the end of that time the Indians
came out, one of them carrying a package under his arm. Just outside the
door, looking about them for a moment idly, they took a seat on the
bench near Dick and Toma.

The action was wholly unexpected and Dick was taken unawares. Were the
two Indians giving them a secret appraisal? Was there an ulterior motive
behind this seemingly trivial act? To add to his surprise, one of the
two men addressed him.

“You come up the river yesterday?” he asked.

“Yes,” answered Dick.

“River more high than last year,” said the Indian conversationally.

“I believe it is,” Dick nodded.

“You come back prospecting trip, eh?”

Dick shook his head. “No, we weren’t prospecting.”

“How you like ’em new factor?” came the next question.

“Mr. Scott is a very nice fellow,” replied Dick, half smiling to

“Mr. Frazer fine fellow too.”

Dick looked startled. “I’m—I’m glad you like him,” he stammered.

“You no like him?” persisted the Indian.

“Why do you ask me that question?” Dick wanted to know.

The Indian did not answer.

“You call ’em your name Dick Kent?”


The Indian rolled a cigarette and lighted it, inhaling the smoke deeply,
puffing with satisfaction. Sandy came out and, perceiving his seat
occupied, stood leaning lazily against the door frame. An interval of
silence, then Dick’s questioner fumbled in his pocket and drew forth a
slip of white paper which he handed over with a slight bow.

“What’s this?” Dick asked.

“That am letter for you. By an’ by you read.”

The Indian rose to his feet beckoning to his companion.

“By an’ by you read,” he repeated.

“Who is this letter from?”

“I not know that.” A slight frown settled between the native’s eyes.

“But who gave it to you?” persisted Dick.

“Fellow come up river this morning gave it to me. Tell ’em me give it to
you. Tell ’em me you read it by an’ by.

“But don’t you know this man’s name?”

“Fellow name—” the Indian hesitated, “fellow say his name John Clark. By
an’ by you read letter.”

The speaker smiled a sort of twisted smile, took his companion by the
arm and hurriedly made his departure.

Puzzled, Dick looked down at the letter in his hands. Then he glanced up
at Sandy. He gulped. Who was John Clark? He had never heard of him.

“For goodness sake, don’t keep me in suspense!” It was Sandy’s voice.
“Open the letter.”

Dick complied hurriedly. Sandy left his position by the door and slumped
in the seat beside him. A bit of a white paper fluttered in Dick’s
hands. He read in a choked voice:

  “Mr. Dick Kent:

  “If everything goes well, I’ll be seein’ you a few days after you
  receive this letter. Mebbe you can guess why. Mebbe it won’t be very
  good for your health if you stop very long at Half Way House.


“So that’s it!” Sandy exclaimed excitedly.

“A threat,” said Dick.

“Wolf come an’ shoot you, Dick,” grinned Toma. “That fellow mad all
over. While you got chance, you better run away.”

Dick laughed. Yet, in spite of his laughter, he did not feel very happy
at that moment. Wolf Brennan was a desperate character. The Wolf felt
that he had a grievance and would try to settle his score.

                              CHAPTER XVI.
                            A MIDNIGHT RAID.

Dick did not sleep well that night. Though he was not willing to admit
it even to himself, Wolf Brennan’s threatening letter had upset him. He
lay for a long time on his bed in the loft over the trading room, his
mind active and restless. Close at hand, he could hear the even
breathing of Sandy and Toma and, through the open window, there was
borne to him the soughing of the wind in the pines. It was a clear June
night of half darkness and only partially stilled woodland noises. Birds
still peeped sleepily in the trees, the little denizens of the forest
spaces still moved about as they had during the brighter hours of day.

Lying there, Dick was aware of a myriad night sounds. The staunch old
log building, built nearly eighty years before by members of the
Honorable, the Hudson’s Bay Company, creaked and groaned in the brisk
night wind. Something was flapping up there on the roof. Was that a bird
that made that peculiar pecking noise just under the eaves? Trying
desperately to sleep, Dick succeeded only in becoming more and more
awake with each passing moment.

In despair, finally, he swung his legs over his bunk, reached for his
clothes and commenced to dress.

“I’ll go outside,” he thought, “and walk around for a while. The
exercise may make me sleepy.”

He slipped quietly down the stairway and thence outside. Walking
briskly, he turned his steps toward the river and, upon reaching the
boat landing, sat down with his back against one of the pilings,
watching the water eddying along under him.

Along the shore for nearly a quarter of a mile, both up and down stream,
were the brown, skin tepees of the post population. About them the
stillness of night had descended. From the inverted, cone-like top of
one of them, smoke issued. Dick sat and watched it speculatively. The
members of that household were up early. Probably someone sick. Through
the translucent walls he could see the faint reflection of a fire

Must be someone sick, he mused. An Indian child perhaps. A papoose
suffering an attack of colic. Once he thought he heard a child’s
plaintive whimper.

The flap was drawn aside and a figure emerged. Behind the first figure
came a second. Dick drew in his breath sharply, slid along the rough
planking and concealed himself behind a flat-bottomed boat which had
been drawn up on the pier for caulking. Lying flat on his stomach, he
raised his head and peeped over the top.

The Indians, who had brought the letter from Wolf Brennan, were making
their way along the shore. They walked after the manner of men who knew
where they were going. Reaching a point just opposite the boat landing,
they swung sharply to the left, taking the path that led up along the
warehouse to the trading post.

Dick’s heart thumped excitedly as he rose soon afterward and commenced
following them. He went leisurely. He endeavored to keep himself
concealed as much as possible by walking, not along the path, but
through the bushes that grew on either side of it. For two hundred yards
he stalked his quarry, finally bringing up in a clump of willows not
sixty feet from the trading room. Lying concealed, his eyes were glued
upon the forms of the two prowlers, who had strolled boldly up to the
building itself.

Dick’s mind raced. What was the intention of those two midnight raiders?
What were they up to? Had they designs upon the life of Mr. Scott, the
new incumbent? Was this to be the first in a long series of reprisals
aimed at Mr. MacClaren and the Hudson’s Bay Company by a disgruntled
former factor and his insidious crew?

Now that it was too late, Dick regretted his folly in coming out of
doors without first taking the precaution to arm himself. In case the
two men broke into the trading room—and that seemed to be their
intention—what could he do to prevent further depredations? Two against
one, and they were armed. He was no match for either one of them
physically. To make matters still worse, he recalled that he had left
the door, leading to the loft, unlocked. If the Indians succeeded in
forcing the door of the trading room, they would have easy access to
Factor Scott’s room, which adjoined the hall at the top of the stairs
just across from the space that the boys occupied.

Almost desperate because of his helplessness, it suddenly occurred to
Dick that probably the best way to prevent the Indians’ entrance would
be to call out sharply, attracting attention to himself. Such a move
might cost him his life, but on the other hand, it might arouse the
sleeping occupants of the post. In the very act of inflating his lungs
another plan popped into his head.

Why not, he asked himself, follow the two Indians inside? In a flash,
there had come to him a mental picture of the revolver Donald Frazer had
returned to the shelf behind the counter yesterday afternoon. If the
Indians went up the stairway, he would rush in, seize the weapon and
could probably reach the factor’s room in time.

His body bent forward almost at right angles, he slipped out from behind
his place of concealment and very cautiously commenced working his way
forward. He was within thirty paces of the trading room door by the time
the two Indians had forced the lock and had gained admittance. When the
door closed behind them, he sprinted lightly across, not to the door but
to the window. The interior space was dark and shadowy, yet he could
make out the two forms hesitating near the counter. To their left was
the door leading to the loft. Twenty feet to their right was another
door leading to the cellar. To Dick’s great astonishment, instead of
making their way to the stairway, they turned in the opposite direction,
tip-toed across the floor, flung open the door and descended below.

No unexpected move on their part could have surprised him more. What did
they expect to find in the basement? Dick had been there often and knew
what it contained—packing cases, boxes, rolls of wrapping paper, yes,
and—suddenly Dick grinned. He thought he knew now. All his panic over
nothing. Petty thievery, not murder, was the motive behind the Indians’
forced entrance. Liquor was what they had come for. The Indians’ love of
fire-water had led them here.

Realizing this, his tension relaxed. He decided not to go in to get the
revolver after all. He’d wait until they reappeared—that would be safer.
He’d keep hid. If he opened the door and stepped upon the trading room
floor, no matter how quiet his footsteps, they would be sure to be
heard. The loss of the liquor would be little compared to the risk he
took. He’d have the goods on them anyway. Tomorrow the factor could
swear out a warrant and place them under arrest.

“No,” decided Dick, “I’ll wait and bide my time.”

He had not long to wait. The cellar door opened and the two prowlers
appeared, carrying two burlap sacks, bulging with what looked like
bottles, and so heavy that the two stalwart natives bent under their

Dick slipped around the corner of the trading room, flattened himself
against the side of the building and waited tensely. He heard the outer
door creak lightly. He heard light footsteps pattering across the ground
outside, gradually growing less distinct as they paced off the distance
to the warehouse. As Dick peeped out around his corner, they passed the
warehouse and disappeared from view.

Dick hurried inside, bounded up the stairway and knocked loudly at the
factor’s door.

“Who’s there?” inquired a sleepy voice.

“It is I—Dick Kent, Mr. Scott. I’d like to see you.”

The creaking of a bed, the sound of footsteps moving across the floor,
and the door swung open.

“Hello, Dick. Come on in. What’s the trouble?”

“Mr. Scott,” announced Dick breathlessly, following the other inside,
“I’ve just been a witness to a bit of thieving. Two Indians broke into
the trading room and made their way to the cellar where they stole
something. I thing it was liquor. They came out carrying burlap sacks
full of what looked like bottles.”

“Do you think you could identify the two thieves?” asked Mr. Scott,
motioning Dick to a chair.

“Yes, I can. I can even take you to their tepee. Rough looking
characters. No doubt, you know them well.”

“Pierre and Henri Mekewai,” guessed the factor. “They’re about the
roughest looking pair that hang around the post.”

“I don’t know their names,” replied Dick, “but as I told you, I can
identify them. I saw them come out of the tepee and followed them up

The new factor’s eyes widened and he regarded Dick in some surprise.

“You saw them come out of their tepee?” he blurted. “What were you doing
outside at this time of the night?”

“Oh, I assure you, I wasn’t up to any mischief,” smiled Dick. “Restless
and couldn’t sleep. Thought that if I went out and walked around a while
I could come back and get a little rest.”

The factor proceeded to dress.

“If you’ll wait just a minute,” he instructed, “we’ll go down and
investigate. I shouldn’t wonder but what you are right about the liquor.
That’s an Indian’s old trick. It’s a frequent occurrence. Don’t know why
we keep the stuff. It’s only a temptation to many a poor devil who seems
powerless to resist it.”

Mr. Scott continued to chat amiably while he pulled on his clothes. A
few minutes later, he led the way to the basement. Reaching the bottom
of the flight of stairs, he struck a match and lighted a candle that
stood on a shelf. Dick following close behind him, he walked straight
over to a pile of cases in the far corner, stooped down and began
examining them carefully.

“I happen to know just how much there is here, so it won’t take long to
determine the extent of our loss,” Mr. Scott pointed out.

Dick held the candle while the factor took inventory. At the end of five
minutes he straightened up, looked at Dick searchingly, then bent down
and made a second examination.

“What’s the matter?” asked Dick.

“Can’t understand it. It seems to be all here.”

“What! All of it?”

“Yes, all of it. Every case and every bottle. Nothing missing.”

Dick whistled in surprise.

“If that’s true, they’ve taken something else.”

“But there’s nothing else down here in this cellar that anyone could
possibly want. I mean, nothing of value.”

“Are you sure?” gasped Dick.


“But I tell you, they came up the cellarway carrying two burlap
sacks—sacks full of something. I saw them with my own eyes, Mr. Scott. I
wasn’t dreaming. I tell you they took something.”

The factor scratched his head, continuing to stare at Dick, an
expression of wonderment in his eyes.

“That beats me. Don’t know what to make of it.”

Wondering and still perplexed, they ascended to the upper floor.

                             CHAPTER XVII.
                             A HIDDEN PIT.

Factor Scott decided that he would not prefer charges against the two
Indians until he had definitely discovered what they had stolen. But in
the days that passed, to his increasing astonishment, he could find
nothing missing. What had the two prowlers taken from the cellar? It was
a question that was threshed over, pro and con, for many an hour. In
Sandy’s opinion, the solution to the mystery was to be found in only one
way: namely, that Factor Scott had taken a hurried inventory a few days
previous to the robbery and that there were more cases of liquor in the
cellar than he had on record.

“He can say what he likes,” insisted Sandy. “There is the real solution.
Those two Indians wanted fire-water and they broke in and got it.”

However, when Dick reported this theory to the factor, Mr. Scott had a
good laugh over it.

“It wasn’t liquor,” he smiled, “you can tell Sandy for me. Even if I did
make a mistake in my reckoning, I insist that it wasn’t bottles of rum
that the Indians stole.”

“How do you know that?” asked Dick.

“It’s all very simple. If the Indians had stolen liquor they would have
proceeded to get gloriously drunk. They wouldn’t have been able to
resist the temptation. I know Indian nature well enough for that.”

“You’re quite right.” laughed Dick. “We’ll eliminate such an hypothesis.
Now what I’d like to know is, what did they steal out of that cellar?”

The factor bit his lips. “I confess that I don’t know. Every day for the
past three weeks I’ve gone to the cellar and, if there was anything
there beside those empty packing boxes, the cases of liquor and wrapping
paper, I’d have seen it. If it wasn’t for the evidence of the broken
lock on the trading room door, I’d be very much inclined to believe that
you have been the victim of a nightmare or an hallucination.”

“And I wouldn’t blame you in the least,” stated Dick smiling. “However,
as you say, that broken lock is pretty conclusive evidence of a forced
entrance. Of course, you have only my word as to the rest of the story.”

“I wouldn’t doubt you, Dick,” the factor patted his shoulder. “I know
you’re sincere and truthful about this. I really believe that you saw
the two Indians come up from the cellar carrying those two loaded burlap
sacks. By the way, Dick, if those had contained bottles you’d have heard
the rattle.”

“That’s true. No sound came from the sacks.” Dick paused and stroked his
chin reflectively. “Pshaw! We don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Mr.
Scott, will you give me permission to go down into that cellar and
examine it carefully? I just want to satisfy myself that we haven’t
overlooked anything.”

“Certainly. I’d be glad to have you. I’ve been down there myself a
number of times since the robbery. I’ve gone over every foot of space
and found nothing at all suspicious; found nothing that might give me a
clue to what the Mekewai brothers stole. But though I searched
carefully, I might have overlooked something. Two pairs of eyes are
better than one. Go down and look for yourself.”

Dick went down. He lighted the candle that was always to be found on the
shelf near the bottom of the stairway, and explored every inch of space
in that dark interior. The floor of the cellar was constructed of heavy
planks nailed to logs which had been sunk into the earth. In a country
where cement was almost unknown, it was as good a flooring for a
basement as could be found anywhere. Starting at one end of the cellar,
Dick examined every plank in the floor. The planks had been in the
cellar for a long time and they made a clattering noise as he walked
over them. This suggested an idea. He wondered if any of the planks were
loose. He went up to the trading room, procured a heavy chisel and
returned and tried to pry up the planks.

The eighth plank over from the bottom of the stairway, to his great
glee, he discovered was loose. It came up when he exerted a slight
pressure upon it. Grasping the plank next to it, he found that that also
was loose. Pulling up this second board he received a rude shock. The
edge of a gaping hole, freshly dug in the earth, was visible there under
the planking. Removing another section of the floor, he completely
uncovered it. Reaching out for the candle, he explored the shallow pit

The hole was about three feet wide, six feet long and three feet deep.
The dirt taken from it had been thrown under the planking between the
logs used as support for the floor. The pit was absolutely empty.

Dick’s first impulse was to return to the trading room and report his
discovery to Mr. Scott. But on second thought he decided not to do this.
He would work on the case alone, not even saying anything to Sandy and
Toma. He would find out what the Indians had taken out of that pit. When
he did, something told him that he would have a clear case against

He replaced the flooring hurriedly, scraped dust over the loose planks
and ascended to the room above. Busy waiting on a number of customers,
the factor did not accost him. Dick proceeded straight outside and sat
down on the long bench to think it over.

In a few minutes he came to a decision. He got quickly to his feet,
re-entered the trading room and made his way upstairs to the loft. From
among his personal belongings he picked up a small black automatic,
thrust it in his hip pocket and again made his way outside. The first
person he saw was Toma.

“Where you go, Dick, in so big hurry?” the young Indian asked.

Previously, when he had made his plans, Dick had decided to play a lone
hand, but now it would be a little awkward getting rid of Toma. Well it
would do no harm in taking him along. Toma was close-mouthed and
dependable. He might prove to be of valuable assistance in an emergency.

“I’m going down to see those two Indians,” Dick informed him. “Care to
come along?”

“Yes,” grunted his chum.

Dick took him by the arm. “Come along then,” he said.

Together they hurried along the foot trail in the direction of the
river. Passing the warehouse, a voice called out lustily.

“Hey there!”

It was Sandy. Dick and Toma paused while the third member of the trio
shambled up.

“Where are you fellows going?” Sandy inquired suspiciously.

Dick gave up. He could see how impossible it was now to keep anything
from two friends like these. Then and there he confessed.

Both Sandy and Toma were astonished at the outcome of Dick’s

“A hole under the floor of the cellar!” Sandy exclaimed. “Good Heavens,
what do you suppose Factor Frazer has been concealing there?”

“I don’t know but I have a hunch,” Dick answered, proud of the
impression he had made.

“Tell us,” pleaded Sandy.

“I haven’t time just now. I’m anxious to get over to the Mekewai
brothers’ tepee to have a look around. There’s a remote chance that
we’ll find those two sacks of loot.”

Sandy balked. “If we’re going over there,” he said, “I want a gun.”

“I have one,” Dick patted his hip pocket. “Anyway I don’t think they’ll
have the courage to attack us in broad daylight. Hurry if you’re

They followed Dick down the path to the river, then along the shore to
the Mekewai tepee. His two chums crowding close behind him, Dick knocked
gently against the closed flap.

“Hello! Hello!” he called.

They heard subdued voices within. The flap was drawn aside and the
Mekewai boys stooped down and peered at them through the entrance.

“What you want?” one of them asked gruffly.

“Came over to see if you could lend us a canoe so that we can go
fishing,” lied Dick. “Our own is damaged and we are having it repaired.”

“No have canoe,” growled one of the Mekewai boys.

But Dick was not put off so easily.

“Do you know anyone that has?”

“Come in,” one of the Indians invited, “an’ I try think where mebbe you
find one.”

Dick pressed a coin in the hand of each of the two brothers.

“Wish you could,” he said, stepping inside.

One glance told Dick what he wanted to know. There were no sacks here.
Nothing at all of an incriminating nature. Dick was tremendously
disappointed and he could not resist turning his head and looking at

Sandy was amused. There was a twinkle in his eyes and the beginning of a
smile puckering the corners of his mouth.

“I think mebbe I know fellow that has canoe,” one of the Indians spoke
up. “How much you like pay?”

“We didn’t want to buy one,” stated Sandy, helping Dick out. “We wanted
to borrow one.”

“Don’t know anybody like ’em borrow you canoe.”

“Thank you,” said Dick, backing toward the door. “In that case we’ll
have to wait until our own is repaired.”

The three boys went out, Dick scowling, Sandy and Toma amused over the

“Never mind, old chap,” consoled Sandy, “you may have better luck next
time. By the way, what do you think they’ve done with the stuff?”

“Don’t worry, they’ve either hidden it somewhere or have sent it over to
Frazer. I hardly expected to find it there. There was about one chance
in a thousand.”

“Now that we’re on the subject,” coaxed Sandy, “Perhaps you’ll be
willing to tell me what your hunch is. What did those two Indians bring
up out of that pit?”

“Gold,” came the answer unhesitatingly.

Sandy looked dubious. “What makes you think it was gold?”

“I’ll tell you why. If you recall the conversation between your Uncle
Walter and Frazer the day we had the trouble in the trading room, you
will remember that Frazer said that he had paid the shortage in gold.
That’s the only reason I have for suspecting that it was gold that the
Indians took out of the cellar. If Frazer had two thousand dollars worth
of gold, sufficient to cover his shortage, it is not unlikely that he
had more of it stored away somewhere. Frazer did not explain
satisfactorily to your uncle how he had obtained that gold. The
inference is that he stole it.”

“Seems reasonable,” said Sandy, “and I wonder from whom.”

                             CHAPTER XVIII.
                          TAKE THE OFFENSIVE.

The next morning, Wolf Brennan and Toby McCallum arrived at Half Way
House. Sandy, who was walking along the river at the time, witnessed
their approach, a grim and dour pair aboard a light raft, which they
poled and shoved against the tugging current.

Sandy did not wait for them to put in at the boat landing. Suddenly
fearful, he hastened up to the post to spread the alarm. Dick and Toma
received the news calmly. The former went immediately to his room,
buckled on his revolver and returned to the trading room to announce to
his two chums that he proposed to go down to the river forthwith to meet
the new arrivals.

“Dick,” exploded Sandy, “you’re crazy! Have you forgotten the letter you

Dick shook his head. “No, I haven’t. That’s the very reason I’m going
down there. If they think they can intimidate me, they’re badly
mistaken. If I show the white feather they’ll make life miserable for
me—not only for me but for all of us. The best thing to do is put on a
bold front and go down there and show them that I’m not afraid.”

“Cracky!” admired Sandy. “I wouldn’t have the nerve to do that. They may
pull a gun and shoot you.”

“You show ’em pretty good sense, Dick,” declared Toma, indicating by his
expression how proud he was of his chum. “When them fellow see you down
at the boat landing they won’t know what to think.”

“Come on,” said Dick, “let’s hurry.”

They ran all the way down to the river. They arrived there just as the
two outlaws drove their raft up to the landing and made fast. Pushing
his way through the crowd, Dick was one of the first to welcome them.

“Hello, Wolf. Hello, Toby. I see you’ve got back. I received your
letter, Brennan.”

The outlaws were nonplused, taken aback by the unexpectedness of Dick’s
greeting. Both were seething with fury. In the very act of reaching for
his gun, Wolf paused and bethought himself of the mounted police. For
all he knew, this might be a trap for them to fall into.

“Yes, we got back,” growled Wolf, his face red with humiliation. “We got
back an’ we’re going to stay here fer awhile. We got a lot of business
to attend to here at Half Way House,” he hinted darkly. “Just as soon as
we’ve seen Factor Frazer, we got a little matter we want to talk over
with yuh.”

Looking around and perceiving no mounted policemen in the crowd, Wolf
raised his voice.

“A little matter we want to discuss with yuh an’ your friends.”

“Factor Frazer isn’t here any more,” Dick told them.

Both the men gave a quick start, staring at him incredulously.

“You’re lyin’,” croaked McCallum.

“Go and see for yourself,” Dick spoke calmly. “Mr. Scott is in charge
here now.”

The news had a very unusual effect upon the two newcomers. McCallum went
suddenly pale and the frown upon Wolf Brennan’s forehead blackened like
a thunder cloud. Yet is was apparent that they only half believed Dick’s
statement. Seizing his rifle and a small bag of luggage, Wolf motioned
to his companion and they lumbered up the path toward the trading post.
The boys followed them all the way, slipping through the door just as
Brennan demanded:

“Where’s Donald Frazer?”

Scott turned quickly at the sound of the gruff voice.

“Mr. Frazer isn’t here any more.”

“Where is he?”

“That’s a question, Mr. Brennan, that I can’t answer. I do not happen to
be in Mr. Frazer’s confidence. The former factor went away very suddenly
and left no forwarding address. Otherwise I might suggest that you could
write to him.”

The sarcasm was lost upon Brennan.

“I believe yuh know an’ don’t want to tell us,” McCallum growled.

Wolf Brennan marched to the counter and made a few purchases. When this
had been done, he turned, held a whispered consultation with his
partner, then again approached the factor.

“Got any liquor?” he snarled.

“A little,” answered Scott, not wishing to sell it to him.

Brennan’s ugly face lighted up and he started for the cellar door.

“I know where yuh keep it,” he said, “an’ I’ll go down an’ fetch a
couple of bottles. That’s the way I always done when Frazer was here.”

Factor Scott came around the corner of the counter, his cheeks flushed
with anger.

“Mr. Frazer isn’t here now,” he informed Brennan hotly. “If you want two
bottles of liquor, I’ll get it myself. And while we’re on the subject,
I’ll tell you this much: I don’t care about selling the stuff to people
like you and McCallum. Also I want to warn you, if you get drunk and
cause any trouble around the post, I’ll put you on the list and you’ll
never get another drop from me as long as I remain in charge here.”

The two partners exchanged significant glances and Wolf’s face fell.
Observing this, Scott believed that it was his threat that caused their
sudden dejection. But not Dick. He could see through the wily plan of
the big prospector. Brennan wanted to go down to the cellar alone to
fetch his two bottles because, by doing so, he would have an opportunity
to look into the pit and see if the gold was still there.

When Scott returned with the bottles, McCallum paid for them and the two
partners stalked out. Watching their exit, the factor turned grimly to

“When did they get here?” he asked.

“Just a short time ago. We met them at the boat landing when they

Factor Scott scowled. “I hope they decide to leave again before they
commence to drink that rum. They’re vicious. Frazer seemed to get along
with them well enough but it was because he let them have their own way.
All winter they’ve been a regular pest around here, have instigated more
fights and have caused more trouble than any other twenty men in this
entire region. But now that I’m in charge,” Factor Scott’s lips
tightened, “they don’t want to try their bullying methods with me.”

Soon afterward the boys went outside and sat down on the bench to
discuss the new development.

“Brennan didn’t fool me when he suggested going to the cellar,” Sandy

“You’re thinking about the pit, aren’t you?” smiled Dick. “The same
thought came into my mind. Wolf wanted to find out whether or not Frazer
had taken the gold.”

“What do you suppose they’ll do next?” mused Sandy.

Toma rose nervously and paced back and forth in front of the store
building. Abruptly he stopped in front of Dick, frowning.

“Them fellow go to find Pierre and Henri Mekewai,” he said. “Why not we
go ’long too? Mebbe we find out where they hide the gold.”

“Why not?” Sandy bounced to his feet. “Listen, Dick. I have an
inspiration. Let’s cut straight through the woods over to the river and
hide in the brush behind the Mekewai tepee. If you recall, their tepee
is set at the bottom of a slope just below a heavy thicket of alders.
The alder bushes are only about twenty feet from the tepee. If they
commence drinking, they’ll talk loud enough so that we’ll be able to
catch a good deal of what they say.”

Dick was so pleased with this plan that he clapped Sandy on the back,
suggesting that they start at once. Less than a quarter of an hour
later, they crawled on hands and knees into the thicket at the place
designated. It was very quiet in the tepee. The only sound they heard
was the murmur of the river.

“They haven’t arrived here yet,” Dick whispered. “But I’m pretty sure
they’ll be along in a few minutes. Just now, I imagine, they’re making
inquiries down at the boat landing. You see, they don’t know yet whether
the Mekewai boys are here or whether they have gone with Frazer.”

Toma parted the bushes and looked out.

“I see somebody come,” he announced excitedly.

Dick and Sandy rose to their knees and they, too, peered down along the

“Brennan and McCallum all right,” Sandy whispered breathlessly.

Dick nudged his chum, “Careful!” he warned. “Let’s all sit down and be
very quiet.”

Soon afterward they could hear voices in the tepee, the loud domineering
voice of Wolf Brennan, the rasping snarl of Toby McCallum and the
broken, guttural tones of one of the Mekewai boys. Only occasionally,
however, did they catch a word they could understand.

But true to Sandy’s prediction, the voices grew more noisy. They had
probably opened one of the bottles. Heavy oaths punctured the talk now.
An argument of some sort seemed to be in progress.

“It’s a lie!” suddenly screamed McCallum.

Then the boys heard quite distinctly Wolf thunder out: “Where’s Henri?”

Sandy leaned close to Dick whispering in his ear: “Hear that? Only one
of the Mekewai boys is inside there. Wonder where the other is?”

At that moment Dick felt a thrill of excitement go through him. Brennan
was speaking and he had heard another sentence.

“If yuh didn’t bury it in a safe place, yuh’ll have to answer for it.”

“Plenty safe,” they heard Pierre Mekewai answer.

A roar of ribald laughter was followed by splintering glass. Evidently,
they had already finished one bottle and had broken it. The voices
subsided a little hereafter and the three boys were straining their ears
in an effort to make out what was being said, when a soft, cat-like
tread sounded behind them.

Dick whirled, his hand darting to the revolver at his side. Sandy gave a
low exclamation of dismay. Toma grunted. Approaching them was the other
Mekewai brother. He carried a rifle. His pock-scarred face was twisted
in a hideous leer.

“What you fellow do here?” he demanded.

“Haven’t we a right to sit here if we want to?” trembled Dick.

“You go ’way pretty quick,” threatened the Indian.

The boys rose to their feet, feeling like culprits caught in the act of
committing some petty offense.

“You go quick,” snarled the Indian. “If you come back again, next time I

                              CHAPTER XIX.
                          TROUBLES COME FAST.

Retiring to his room that night, Dick sat down in a chair near the open
window and stooped to unlace his moccasins. The loft was smothering.
Sunshine still streamed into the room. All day a furnace glare had lain
over the river valley. Outside the grass was dry and the leaves of the
white poplar curled from the intense heat. One of the longest days in
the year, it would be three hours yet before the crimson ball of the
sun, rolling through the northwestern sky, would sink to the line of the
horizon. Ten feet away, sitting on the edge of his bunk, Sandy puffed
and wiped his perspiring brow.

“Whew! Let’s postpone going to sleep for a while and slip down to the
river and have a dip. It will be the third time we’ve been in today, but
we have to try to keep cool somehow. Cracky! But isn’t this loft hot.”

In the act of pulling off one moccasin, Dick paused, considering Sandy’s
suggestion. He rose from the chair and stood looking out of the window.

“I’ll bet that’s where Toma is now,” he guessed.

Just then he saw a movement in the brush, caught the bright gleam of sun
upon steel, and stepped back just as the screen on the window shivered
from the lightning stroke of a bullet. Something that felt like a breath
of hot wind scorched his side. Two holes appeared as if by magic in his
bulging flannel shirt. A vicious thud behind him and another hole showed
in a pine log on the opposite wall.

“Cracky!” exclaimed Sandy again. “Dick are you hurt?”

“Almost got me that time.” Trembling, Dick walked over and exhibited the
tell-tale holes.

“Didn’t it even nick you?” gurgled Sandy.

“Not a bit. That was lucky. I caught a glimpse of the man that fired the

“Who was it?”

“Pierre Mekewai.”

“Wolf put him up to it.”

“No question about that. Now that he’s got a little liquor into him,
he’s commencing measures of retaliation.”

The door opened below and someone came bounding up the stairs.
White-faced, Factor Scott bounded into the room.

“Did someone fire through the window just now?”

“Yes,” answered Dick.

“The devil!” exploded the factor. “As soon as I heard the report
outside, I ran out to see if I could see anyone. Wonder what practical
joker did that?”

“It wasn’t a practical joker,” stormed Sandy. “It was an assassin. He—he
tried to kill Dick. Dick was standing in front of the window. The bullet
went right through his shirt. Come here, Mr. Scott, and look at it.”

The factor, amazement written in his face, crossed the room as he was
bidden. His eyes grew very wide and his lips compressed tightly.

“Heavens! What a close call, Dick. You’re lucky you’re alive.”

“Don’t I know it,” trembled Dick.

“That settles it,” the factor’s breath caught and he plunked down in a
chair. “Tomorrow I’m going to send word to the police.”

“No, I wish you wouldn’t.”

Mr. Scott started in surprise.

“Wish I wouldn’t! Why not? When murder is attempted I think it’s about
time something was done about it. When the police come, they’ll find out
who fired that bullet.”

“I already know who fired the bullet.”

“Who?” the factor’s voice snapped.

“Pierre Mekewai.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. I saw him.”

“Very well then, I’ll put him under arrest. But what—Good Heavens, what
grudge has he against you?”

“It’s not his grudge. It’s Brennan’s and McCallum’s. We had some trouble
down river. They’re trying to even the score, that’s all.”

“In that case we’ll have them all placed under arrest.”

“No, not yet, Mr. Scott. For certain reasons of my own I do not wish
anything done about this for the time being, anyway. And as for the
police, until we find we can’t cope with the situation ourselves, we
won’t call them.”

“Dick, I think you’re mad.”

“No, not mad,” Dick smiled. “I’m merely carrying out, or I should say
Sandy, Toma and I are carrying out certain investigations.”

“For whom?”

“The mounted police.”

Factor breathed an expansive sigh.

“Well all I hope is that everything will come out all right. I’d hate to
have any of you boys get hurt.”

“For our own sakes, I hope so too,” grinned Sandy.

“But what’s at the bottom of this?” the factor commenced all over again.
“You can’t make me believe that men will attempt murder because of some
trivial grudge.”

“I’m not trying to,” retorted Dick. “We’re not sure what it’s all about
ourselves. But we propose to find out.”

“Good for you!” applauded the factor.

Next morning, when Dick and Sandy awoke, there was another surprise in
store for them. Bounding from his bed, the former was the first to make
the discovery. He stood, staring in dismay. Across the room, Toma’s bunk
had not been disturbed. Where was he? Overcome with sudden fear, he
stepped forward, gasping.

“Sandy!” he shrieked, pointing. “Sandy!”

The young Scotchman became so weak at the thought of what might have
happened, that he gave utterance to a little cry of dismay and sat down.

“It’s all our fault,” he moaned. “We shouldn’t have gone to bed until we
had found out where he had gone. Something terrible has occurred or he’d
have been back long before this.”

“I’m afraid so,” Dick was forced to admit.

“He knows we’d worry about him if he stayed out all night. He wouldn’t
do it either unless he was hurt—or—or——” Sandy’s voice broke.

The boys commenced feverishly to tear into their clothes, and, in less
than two minutes, they were bounding down the stairs into the trading
room. Factor Scott looked up in surprise at their precipitous entrance.

“What’s wrong now?”

“Mr. Scott, have you seen Toma?”

The factor rubbed his chin. “Why, no, I haven’t. Didn’t he come in last

The boys did not answer. Bolting to the door, they ran outside. They
began searching everywhere. They made inquiries of every person they
met. Organizing a search party, they scoured the woods in the vicinity
of the post. That afternoon at three o’clock, beaten and discouraged,
they returned to the trading room to see if by any chance Toma had
returned during their absence. Factor Scott met them at the door.

Dick’s and Sandy’s dejected appearance told the story. The factor knew
without asking that they had been unsuccessful. He endeavored to comfort

“We mustn’t worry,” he said, placing a kindly arm about the shoulders of
the disconsolate pair. “I feel sure that Toma is safe. I really can’t
make myself believe there has been foul play.”

“Wish I could think that,” Sandy’s eyes were tragic.

“Mr. Scott,” requested Dick, “may we see you alone for a few moments?”

“Why, yes. Certainly.”

Dick turned and dismissed the search party and he and Sandy followed the
factor inside. They went directly to the little room at the back. Scott
closed and locked the door.

“What is it, Dick?” he asked.

“Sandy and I have come to a decision. We’re going to have it out with
Brennan, McCallum and the two Mekewai brothers. We’re convinced that
those four men know where Toma is—wh—what has happened to him. They’re
going to tell us or we’ll know the reason why.”

Aghast, the factor stood and stared at the two boys.

“What!” he exclaimed. “You’d go there? Why, they’ll kill you. You’re no
match for them. Just pause to consider, Dick. Don’t be rash. There must
be a better way than that.”

“If there is,” Dick’s tones struck coldly upon the ears of the older
man, “I wish you’d tell me. If they haven’t already killed him, there’s
a chance that Toma may be over at the Mekewai tepee.”

“You mean held prisoner?”

“Yes, there’s a faint chance. I haven’t much hope that we’ll find him. I
believe that they murdered him, just as they tried to murder me last

“If you’re determined to go,” suggested the factor, “can’t I send a few
men along with you?”

“No, we’ll go alone. We don’t know whom we can absolutely trust. Thank
you for your willingness to help. Come on, Sandy.”

As they walked back into the trading room, the younger boy, who was in
the lead, stopped unexpectedly and gave vent to an ear-splitting


In the doorway swayed the young Indian. A livid scar streaked his
forehead. His hat was gone and his hair was crusted with blood. He stood
there, smiling feebly. In a moment two strong pair of arms encircled him
and bore him triumphantly and joyously into the room. Sandy was sobbing
like a child. Dick laughed half hysterically, his eyes filled with

“I’ll bring some bandages,” shouted the factor.

                              CHAPTER XX.
                           TOMA BRINGS NEWS.

Though Sandy and Dick were anxious to find out what had happened to
Toma, they did not ask him a question until his head had been bandaged,
food had been given him, and he had been made comfortable in a bed

“Now tell us all about it if you feel strong enough, Toma,” said Dick,
as he, Sandy and the factor bent over him.

“I tell you pretty quick,” the young Indian smiled up at them weakly.
“Not very much I remember what happen. Last night I take ’em my rifle
an’ walk away through the woods. Think mebbe I shoot partridge or two.
By an’ by, I come to old mission trail, ’bout two miles from here. It
very hot in the woods an’ I sit down on a log to rest. I sit there mebbe
ten, mebbe twenty minutes. All at once I hear ’em sound like partridge
make try fly through the brush. I look ’round when something hit me on
the head, knock me off the log. Everything turn black. Not remember
nothing after that. Stay there all night just like a dead man. When I
wake up, sun shining. Feel sick, dizzy, when I try sit up. Want drink of
water very bad. Tongue all swell so big that it hurt me if I close my

“Ugh!” shuddered the factor. “Imagine that sort of agony out there all

“And he isn’t telling half of it.” As he spoke Sandy bent forward and
brushed back a wisp of black hair that had fallen over the patient’s
bandaged head.

“Then what did you do?” asked Dick.

“Well,” continued Toma, “I want water very much. I think ’em me ’bout
little creek I cross night before. Long way off that creek. Part time I
walk hold on trees, other time I crawl. I get tired an’ think no use.
Too weak to get there. But after I lay still little while, I feel
better. Then I go on some more. After very long time I come to creek. I
very glad then. I crawl right over an’ lay down in water. I drink not
too much at first, then after while some more. I began feel better. I
stay mebbe one hour at the little creek then I come on here.”

“And that’s all you can tell?” gasped the factor.

“Yes, I say everything I know.”

“Did you see the man that struck you on the head?”

“No see ’em,” answered the young Indian.

“Where did you leave your gun?”

“Somebody take gun. Take money too. Everything gone when I wake up.”

“This isn’t a bullet wound on your head,” Dick told him. “It was made by
some sharp instrument.”

“Knife,” guessed Toma. “Place where I thought I hear partridge only
little way behind me—not more than fifteen feet. What I think happen,
man creep up that far an’ throw ’em knife.”

“You’re probably right,” said Dick. “An Indian, not a white man attacked
you. As a general thing a white man doesn’t know much about knife
throwing. No doubt, it was one of the Mekewai brothers.”

Toma nodded his head slightly, lying there on the pillow.

“I think mebbe Mekewai too.”

“What induced you to go hunting at that hour?” inquired Sandy
reproachfully. “Was that your real reason for going off alone?”

The Indian flushed. “That only one reason,” he admitted.

“What were some of the others?” Dick smiled. Toma hesitated, looking at
the factor. Mr. Scott interpreted that look.

“If you like, I’ll withdraw,” he announced cheerily.

“No, Mr. Scott, stay right where you are. You might as well hear the
rest of the story. Toma, you can trust Mr. Scott implicitly. Now what
was another reason?”

“I know,” interrupted Sandy eagerly. “He was out trying to find the
place where the Mekewai brothers hid those sacks. Come now, confess.
Isn’t that what you were doing?”

To the surprise of everyone, Toma shook his head.

“No,” he said emphatically; “I not go look that time. One other time I
go look everywhere an’ try find. But last night I have something else
make me go. I think mebbe I find the factor.”

“Who, me?” almost shrieked Scott.

“No, Mr. Frazer, the factor Sandy’s uncle send away.”

Scott laughed uproariously. “Good gracious, my boy! What a queer fancy.
Frazer! Why he’s miles away.”

There was one thing Toma did not like and that was to be ridiculed. His
eyes darkened angrily. A slow flush mounted to his cheeks. He appealed
to his two friends.

“Dick, Sandy—I tell you that not so crazy like you think. Factor Frazer
come here two nights ago.”

“I can’t believe it——” began Dick.

“Wait a minute! Wait a minute!” cried Sandy excitedly. “Toma wouldn’t
make that statement if he didn’t have a good reason for doing so. Hold
on there, you two fellows! Not so fast! Give him time to explain. Toma,
if they won’t believe you, I will. What makes you so sure Donald Frazer
was here two nights ago?”

“Old Indian he tell ’em me he see Frazer go past his tepee with Wolf
Brennan an’ Toby McCallum. Him very good Indian an’ I don’t think he
tell lie. Him Indian fellow that live next to last tepee south of the
boat landing. I talk with him yesterday when he tell me that. He say
nearly everybody know now Frazer stay in little cabin not far away in
the woods—some place near mission trail. That’s why I go that way.”

“Donald Frazer’s presence here can mean only one thing,” decided the
factor. “He is planning revenge for being dismissed from the service. By
nature a revengeful man, he’ll retaliate in every way that he can. We
must be ready for him.”

“What do you think he’ll do? Personally, I can’t see that he can
accomplish much—one man against as powerful a company as the Hudson’s
Bay.” As Sandy spoke, he reached for a chair, which he pulled toward the
factor. “Sit down, Mr. Scott. And please tell us what you think Frazer
will do. Seems to me he’s wasting time.”

The factor thanked Sandy and slipped into the chair. For a moment the
room was quiet. Toma put out his hand weakly and tugged at the blankets
that had been tucked in around him. It was still uncomfortably warm
upstairs, almost as hot as it had been on the day before when Dick had
been fired upon.

Mr. Scott cleared his throat. “Every factor has his following,” he
commenced. “Frazer has been here eight years and has made many friends,
of course. These friends will sympathize with him now that he has lost
his position and will be ready to believe that he has been treated
unjustly. It will divert trade to independent companies. He may be able
to influence many of our best customers against us. Not only that, if he
has no scruples about employing more criminal methods—and I don’t think
he has—he can tamper with incoming shipments of merchandise and outgoing
shipments of fur. He can do incalculable damage in so many different
ways that I can’t begin to enumerate or even think of all of them.”

“We must be on our guard incessantly,” Dick advised.

“Even if we are, I doubt if we’ll be able to stop him. The only sure way
would be to have the police come over and take him into custody. When
Corporal Rand gets back from his patrol, I’ll lay the matter before

“I’m afraid it will be weeks before Corporal Rand returns,” said Dick,
shaking his head.

“That’s unfortunate.”

“Yes, it is,” agreed the young man. “Sandy and I will do all we can, but
I guess we’ll have more than our hands full fighting that crowd.”

“And they won’t fight fair,” lamented Sandy. “Cowardly tactics,
unscrupulous methods—snakes in the grass all of them. Yesterday they
almost killed Dick, and now they have wounded Toma. They won’t stop at
anything. With all deference to your opinion, Mr. Scott, I do not
believe that revenge is Frazer’s only motive. There is some other
reason; something less devious, more deep and mysterious. Dick, we might
as well tell Mr. Scott about that pit in the cellar.”

“What’s that!” the factor bounded from his chair.

Dick’s face changed color. He had not expected that Sandy would blurt
out about that discovery.

“I should have told you,” he apologized. “I——”

“A pit in the cellar!” Scott gasped. “I don’t understand.”

“Under the floor,” explained Dick. “The planking is loose. A hole—quite
a large hole there. Frazer evidently knew about it; probably had it dug.
Those burlap sacks the Mekewai brothers brought up that night must have
come from that hole; been hidden there.”

The factor mumbled incoherently, staring at the two young men opposite.
He sank into his chair again, brought out a handkerchief and mopped his
perspiring face.

“A pit, you say? Under the floor! Well, good gracious! How——”

“That isn’t all. You might as well hear the rest of it,” Dick
interrupted, glaring at Sandy. “We have pretty good reasons to suspect
that Frazer hired the Mekewai brothers to get those sacks. Frazer’s
loot, we believe. Probably gold. Two other persons know all about the
sacks, too—Wolf Brennan and Toby McCallum.”

“A conspiracy!” exploded the factor. “What else have you found out?”

“Nothing, except that we know the Mekewai brothers buried the loot

In great agitation, the factor filled and lit his pipe. He puffed for a
moment in silence.

“I can begin to see where I’ve been duped, too,” he told them. “What
you’ve just divulged helps to throw light on some of Frazer’s former
actions. For one thing, it was never quite clear to me why he kept
sending me away on such trivial errands. Twice during the month
preceding his discharge, I was despatched to outlying districts
ostensibly to drum up trade among the Indians. It seemed foolish to me
at the time, but I had no choice in the matter. It didn’t make a bit of
difference how busy we were, he’d always find some pretext to send me

“Exactly! He worked the same scheme on us,” Sandy cut in. “Say! What’s
the matter with you, Toma?”

The injured boy raised his hand, commanding silence.

“Listen,” he said. “I think I hear somebody come up the stairs.”

                              CHAPTER XXI.
                             FRAZER’S RUSE.

Dick ran to the door and opened it. In the hallway outside was the young
half-breed boy, whom Mr. Scott employed in various capacities.

“Yes, yes, Meschel, what is it?”

The boy’s eyes were round and staring.

“Mr. Scott here?” he cried. “Tell Mr. Scott to come quick. Fellow
downstairs very drunk, try to break in through the window.”

“Who was he?” demanded the factor, who now stood immediately behind
Dick. “But never mind, Meschel, I’ll be right down.”

He followed the half-breed below. Dick and Sandy joined him.

“Mr. Scott,” said Dick, “I think Meschel must be dreaming. Who would
break in at this time of day? They don’t need to. All they have to do is
to walk in through the front door.”

“So it would seem,” smiled the factor, “but after the many surprises
we’ve received in the last few days, I’m prepared for anything. What
window did they try to break in, Meschel?”

“Window at the back where you have your office,” the half-breed replied
promptly. “Two women come in an’ buy some cloth an’ right after I hear
some noise that seem like it come from your office. Just as soon as I
open the door, a man standing in front of the window outside, put down
the screen an’ run away. Screen lying on ground now. You see that for

It was just as Meschel had told them. Making their way into the little
office, the factor, Dick and Sandy stood looking at the evidence of the
marauder’s recent visit.

The factor turned to Meschel. “You must have seen who it was.”

“Not sure because I was very much scare.”

“Come now, Meschel, you know better than that. If he stood just in front
of the window facing you, you could easily identify him. You’ve already
told me that he was drunk. If you had that much eye for detail, surely
you can give me a description of him.”

The half-breed blinked and a slow flush of embarrassment mounted his
swarthy face.

“Yes, Mr. Scott, I know who it was. But I’m ’fraid tell you because you
go make that fellow trouble an’ afterward sometime he come kill me.”

A slight frown of perplexity appeared upon the factor’s thoughtful brow.

“What’s that, Meschel? You know who it is and won’t tell me? You’re
afraid of the consequences?”

“I tell you,” whimpered Meschel, “but I am very much ’fraid. Pierre
Mekewai—that’s the fellow I see.”

Mr. Scott swallowed heavily, commenced pacing back and forth. His face
was touched with pallor. He stopped before Dick and Sandy.

“Frazer’s work! Now what do you suppose he was up to?”

The disclosure acted upon Dick like a cold shower. He stood with lips
pressed, staring at the screen outside. Near him, Sandy clenched his
fists convulsively.

“Mr. Scott,” asked Dick at length, “have you any way to bar the windows?
It may be Frazer’s intention to burn down the post.”

“Not in broad daylight, surely. No, I think that more likely what they
were after were the company’s books. Another thing, as Frazer knows, we
often keep money in this room, valuable papers and accounts. It would be
a serious loss to this post if we should lose them. All the records
dealing with transactions with our fur customers are here. However, your
suggestion to bar the windows is a good one. I’ll send for the
blacksmith at once.”

“From now on,” said Dick, “we’d better keep close watch day and night.”

The factor nodded. “Two night watchmen armed with rifles. You and Sandy
can help me during the day.”

It was well that these precautions were taken. That same night, two
Indians, hired for the positions for night watchmen, repulsed three
efforts on the part of Frazer’s men to gain admittance. So persistent
were these attempts to enter the post, that Dick began to believe that
something even of more value than the company’s records were at stake.
At ten o’clock on the following morning, he and Mr. Scott were
discussing this phase of it, when a young half-breed bolted through the
open door of the trading room, shouting wildly.

“Fire, Meester Scott! The warehouse eet ees burn! Come queek!”

The factor tore around the end of the counter, his eyes blazing like two

“My God!” he cried. “The fur! Thousands of dollars worth waiting for
shipment.” He raced to the door. “Come on!” he shouted.

The boys followed closely behind the racing form of the factor. They
could see the fire now. Dense volumes of smoke curled up from the eaves
of the building. As yet, no flame was discernible but the smoke was
thick. They had almost reached the burning building, when suddenly Dick
stopped. Through his mind there had flashed an appalling thought. The
trading post was unguarded. Everyone had rushed to the fire. Hadn’t the
warehouse been purposely set on fire with this end in view? For a
moment, he watched Sandy and the factor racing on, then turned quickly
and sprinted back to the trading room.

Purposely leaving the door open behind him, revolver in hand, he
concealed himself behind the counter and waited. Through the door and
open windows there came to him the frenzied shouts of the fire fighters.
Even in the trading room he could detect the rancid smell of smoke. He
wondered if he had been foolish in coming here when his assistance was
so urgently required back there at the warehouse. He crouched low, his
thought a conflicting whirl. Once he half started to his feet, deciding
that his suspicions were groundless and that he must hurry to the aid of
his comrades. But again he thought better of it and stooped still lower,
breathlessly waiting.

A step sounded outside. Whispering voices, then the stealthy movement of
feet across the floor. He gripped his revolver convulsively. He dare not
look up for fear that he might be discovered. He did not wish to
confront them yet. What were they here for? Why had they made those
repeated attempts to break in?

The door of the factor’s office opened and closed. He could hear muffled
voices in there, the faint shuffling of feet, the creaking of what
sounded like a drawer. Stealthy as a cat, he rose to an upright
position, tip-toed around the counter and, with desperate caution, made
his way over to the door of the factor’s office. His hand stole
tremblingly to the knob. Just before he closed over it, he heard a husky

“Quick! Someone may come back any moment. It’s here! You take one and
I’ll take the other.”

Steeling himself for the ordeal, Dick turned the knob and kicked the
door open. A wicked, pock-marked face, with wolfish fangs bared,
confronted him. Behind Henri Mekewai stood the figure of Donald Frazer.

“Make one move,” said Dick in a voice of deathly calm, “and I’ll blow
your brains out.”

The renegade Indian snarled like a cornered beast. Frazer’s first spasm
of fear was followed by a low cry of rage. His unsteady, sinister eyes
squinted into Dick’s, then with a lightning motion his hand flashed
toward his belt.

The room roared with the explosion. Frazer’s revolver clattered to the
floor. He held up a bleeding hand, like one scarcely crediting the
evidence of his senses.

“Next time,” Dick growled, “I won’t be so easy on you. Move back to the
wall, Mekewai, if you make another move like that, I’ll shoot you where
you stand. Stand back!”

Wincing with pain, the former factor hurriedly obeyed. The Indian
followed him. As they did so, Dick’s gaze flashed to the open roll-top
desk and on that instant his eyes popped.

There on the flat surface in front of him were two large leather
pokes—prospector’s pokes, bulging with gold. At sight of them, his heart
leaped. He was so startled and astonished at seeing them there, that for
a period he was off guard. Perceiving the momentary laxing of vigilance,
the Indian dove headlong, straight toward Dick, who, recovering his
presence of mind, tried to slip to one side and fire at the same time.
The revolver exploded harmlessly, the bullet crashing into the wall
opposite. Hurled back through the door, Dick landed in a heap just
inside the trading room, Mekewai on top of him. But even then, Dick had
not lost the instinct of self-preservation. His opponent’s head was just
above him and he struck out boldly with his clubbed weapon. Mekewai
groaned, went limp and slipped to one side. Dick scrambled to his knees
just in time to dive furiously for the speeding form of Frazer, who had
bounded through the open office door.

It was a glancing tackle, yet it was almost sufficient to knock Frazer
from the perpendicular. Crashing up against the wall, the fleeing man
inadvertently dropped one of the pokes and was trying to reach it when
Dick made a second lunge for him.

Almost cornered, Frazer leaped frantically straight over Dick’s head and
darted for the door. A bullet whistled after him, missing him by a scant
two inches.

Dick groped to his feet, stepped over the prostrate heap on the floor
and stumbled back into the little office, where he picked up Frazer’s
revolver. Then returning quickly, he got the poke Frazer had dropped,
slipped both revolver and gold under the counter in the trading room and
was just stooping down to examine the unconscious prisoner, when the
door of the loft opened and Toma, his face flushed with excitement,
staggered toward him.

“Dick,” he trembled, “What happen? You shoot this man—you——”

“Toma, get back to bed,” Dick interrupted whirling about, confronting
his chum. “Don’t worry—everything all right—now. Frazer and Mekewai—I—I
tried to capture both of them and—and Frazer got away. My fault too. I
was careless.”

“Why they come?” the young Indian demanded, steadying himself by holding
on to the counter.

“Gold! In the office, Toma. Frazer had it concealed there.”

Dick’s chum stood and stared incredulously.

“They get ’em?” he croaked.

“Part of it.”

Then, without explaining further, Dick strode over, procured a rope from
the company’s stock and commenced binding up his unconscious prisoner.

                             CHAPTER XXII.
                           TENSION TIGHTENS.

Toma walked nervously to the door and peered out.

“No go back to bed,” he stated. “I stay up. Dick, you run get Sandy an’
try follow Frazer. Tell ’em factor I am here all alone to watch Mekewai
an’ gold. Soon as factor get back here, then I go to bed.”

There was less smoke drifting in through the door now, an indication
that the fire at the warehouse might be under control. But it would be
some time before Scott, Meschel and Sandy returned. No doubt, they and
others had taken a good deal of the fur from the warehouse to a safe
distance outside. Dick was very anxious to know how the fight with the
fire was progressing. Yet, he feared to leave the trading room, even for
a moment, while the wounded Indian and gold were still there. Indeed,
Dick half expected that Frazer would return with the second Mekewai
brother and probably Wolf Brennan and Toby McCallum. In such an event,
Toma would be no match for them. By the same token, it was doubtful
whether the combined efforts of himself and Toma would be sufficient to
repulse them.

“You better go quick,” insisted Toma.

Dick turned beseeching eyes toward his valiant comrade.

“Toma, I can’t do it. I’m afraid. The minute I go through that door,
they’ll be down upon you like a pack of wolves. Four against one—what
chance would you have?”

Toma had started to protest, when Dick caught sight of an ominous glint
of metal less than a hundred yards away. Without further adieu, he
sprang forward and slammed the door, bolted and locked it. Then from the
front window, he and Toma looked out toward the place where the former
had seen the stealthy movement.

“Over behind that brush! Look!”

The young Indian drew in his breath sharply.

“I see ’em three men, Wolf, McCallum an’ Frazer.”

Alert, Dick stepped back. “Look out, Toma,” he jerked. “They may fire.
What do you say we route them out of there? They don’t know yet that
we’ve seen them. If you’ll stand guard here, I’ll run up to the loft and
fetch our rifles.”

When Dick returned, Toma was still standing there.

“Have they gone yet?” he inquired.


The boys fired three rounds at the screen of willows and presently the
skulkers broke and fled precipitously. To Dick’s amazement, Toma
continued to discharge his rifle.

“What’s the idea?” he snapped. “You can’t hit them now. Isn’t one chance
in a thousand that a stray bullet will get to them.”

“That not why I shoot,” Toma informed him cooly. “Factor, Sandy, they
hear noise. They come back.”

Dick grinned. “Yes, that is a good way to summon them. If the factor
hears that, he’ll go frantic.”

And in truth the boys did not have long to wait. They heard voices
outside, then, before they had time to open it, loud pounding on the

“Good gracious, Dick, what is going on here?” the factor shouted as he
came into the room, quickly followed by Sandy and Meschel.

“Cracky!” Sandy’s eyes popped. “What’s that?” He stood staring at the
now groaning form of Henri Mekewai.

“Frazer was here in your absence. So was that scum you see lying on the
floor. There’s a secret compartment in the wall of your office and two
pokes of gold were concealed there. I walked in upon them just as they
were taking it from its hiding place. I was so surprised at seeing the
gold that, even though I had them covered, I was off guard for a moment
and the Indian leaped upon me.”

“And you shot him!” gasped Sandy.

“No, I struck him over the head when we tumbled to the floor.
Previously, I had wounded Frazer in the hand when he tried to reach for
his gun. During my struggle with Henri, Frazer seized the two pokes and
started to rush by me. I grabbed for him and nearly upset him. He
dropped one of the pokes, but in spite of all I could do, he escaped
with the other.”

“But who were you shooting at just before we came?”

“Frazer and the two prospectors. They were returning to get the other
poke. Did you succeed in saving most of the fur?”

“Some of it was badly scorched and ruined,” the factor informed him.
“However, the fire is out now. I have placed Langley, the blacksmith,
and two half-breeds in charge. The fire is of very mysterious origin. It
broke out among the bales of fur in the back of the building. I believe
now it was the work of an incendiary. No doubt, Frazer started it. When
Sandy’s uncle drove him away from the post, he probably took one of the
keys of the warehouse with him. Today when no one was looking, either he
or one of his accomplices boldly entered, started the fire, then came
out and locked the door.”

“There’s no question but what Frazer set the fire,” said Dick grimly. “I
suspected it from the first. I followed you and Sandy almost to the
warehouse, when it suddenly occurred to me that we had left the door to
the trading room open and the place unprotected.” He paused and looked
earnestly up into the factor’s face. “Can’t you see,” he went on, “that
it was all of a prearranged plan? Unsuccessful in his efforts to get
into your office, Frazer hit upon the very clever idea of firing the
warehouse, knowing that all of us would rush out to the scene of the
fire, leaving this place wholly unguarded.”

Mr. Scott thumped his two hands together and looked at Dick admiringly.

“You’re right. If it hadn’t been for you, they’d have succeeded.”

“You mean, they almost succeeded in spite of me. Don’t forget they got
one of those pokes.”

The factor moved forward. “Show me the place where the gold was hid. You
spoke of a secret compartment. I want to see it.”

Dick led the way into the little office and pointed at the gaping hole
in the wall. When closed, the door of the compartment fitted so nicely
into its place that, standing three feet away, it was almost impossible
to tell where it was. To complete the deception, a calendar had been
hung down over it from a nail in the wall.

“And you didn’t know a thing about that cabinet?” Surprised, Dick turned
upon the factor.

“No, it’s a revelation to me.”

“I wonder from whom he stole the gold.”

Mr. Scott shook his head. “I can’t imagine. It’s all a mystery to me. In
spite of the fact that I’ve been working here for nearly three years, I
must confess to a complete ignorance of Frazer’s nefarious schemes. I
always suspected, however, that he was dishonest and I had almost proved
to my satisfaction that he was stealing from the company. It was no
surprise to me, therefore, when Mr. MacClaren came over from Fort Good
Faith to audit the books.”

Sandy had grown restless and impatient.

“Where’s the gold?” he demanded.

“Come on,” said Dick, leading the way, “and I’ll show you that too.”

Returning to the trading room, he stepped behind the counter, stooped
and lifted up for their inspection both poke and gun.

“Do you suppose they’ll come back for it?” the factor inquired

“Of course they will. They won’t be satisfied with half of it. Just
before you came over from the warehouse, they were preparing to rush the

“What will be their next ruse,” puzzled Sandy.

“I don’t know but you may depend on it, they’ll think of some scheme.
Frazer is a dangerous opponent. There is only one way that I can see to
put a stop to this.”

“How?” Sandy and Scott inquired in one breath.

“Just this,” Dick gestured emphatically. “Assume the offensive
ourselves. Instead of waiting for him to carry the fight into our
territory, let’s go down and make it interesting for him.”

“Now I think you talk sense,” Toma’s eyes snapped.

“We’ll do it,” Sandy exclaimed excitedly.

“Right now,” Toma appended.

“You bet!” Sandy began dancing up and down. “I have an idea. We’ll
recruit a little party and start out. There’s Langley, the blacksmith,
and those two half-breeds down at the warehouse, Toma, Dick and myself.
That makes six in all. Six against four.”

“Seven,” corrected a vibrant, musical voice.

Startled, every person in the room turned sharply and looked in the
direction from which the voice had come. Dick gasped and reached out
toward the counter for support.

There in the doorway stood Corporal Rand!

                             CHAPTER XXIII.
                        THE POLICE TAKE CHARGE.

Corporal Rand immediately took charge.

“Now,” he said, “tell me all about it.”

He listened gravely to the story the boys told, while he sat there near
the open doorway, through which there poured the hot sun of early
afternoon. Bronzed and weather-beaten was the corporal, but hard as
nails, a steel spring in action.

“Making merry in my absence, eh?” His eyes glinted as he spoke. “Where
can I find these men?”

“You might find a few of them over at the Mekewai tepee,” replied Dick.
“I do not know whether Frazer will be there or not. Toma says that the
former factor occupies a cabin somewhere near the Old Mission road.”

“I’ll slip over to the tepee,” announced the policeman as calmly as if
he spoke of entering the adjoining room. “If Wolf Brennan and McCallum
are away with Frazer, I may be able to pick up the other Mekewai boy.”

“May I go with you?” asked Dick eagerly.

To Dick’s great disappointment, the corporal shook his head.

“No, I’ll go alone,” he smiled. “You can stay here and rest on your
oars. I think you’ve done enough for one day, Dick, old chap. I may call
upon you later. Now if you’ll tell me where I can find this Mekewai
tepee, I’ll be ever so much obliged to you.”

“Turn down the bank to your right when you get to the boat landing,”
instructed Dick. “It’s the fourth tepee.”

Corporal Rand rose, yawned and walked over to where Henry Mekewai lay
trussed up on the floor. To Dick’s surprise, he spoke to him.

“Where’s your brother?” he demanded.

The Indian’s ugly, repulsive face twisted into a snarl at the sound of
the voice. He did not know it was the policeman that spoke to him. His
eyes, averted, gazed at the wall beside him.

“Where’s your brother?” persisted the quiet voice.

Henri Mekewai turned his head surlily and looked up. He started visibly.
In common with other natives of that vast northern territory, he
possessed an almost superstitious dread of anyone wearing that flaming
red coat. Sudden terror leaped into his eyes.

“Where’s your brother?” the corporal asked for the third and last time.

“My brother he——” the Indian paused and moistened his dry lips.

“Yes, go on.”

“My brother in our tepee, I think. I not sure.”

“Where are Brennan and McCallum?”

“Find ’em in tepee,” answered the Indian like a parrot.

“Do they stay with you?”


“And where does Frazer stay?”

“He stay in cabin two mile from Half Way House. Pretty close to Old
Mission trail.”

Corporal Rand turned away.

“You’d better lock him up in a room somewhere,” he instructed Dick.
“Take off these bonds. I may talk to him again later when I come back.”

Without further word, the policeman spun on his heel and clanked out,
spurs rattling, his body very straight and trim and pleasing to the eye.
He was absent just twenty minutes, by Dick’s watch. When he returned,
two figures preceded him—Wolf Brennan and Toby McCallum, a somewhat
worried looking pair. They came shame-facedly into the room, slinking
like two whipped curs. Gone was their blustering courage and
cocksureness. Rand motioned them over to one side of the room a little

“Don’t try to move,” he ordered, “if you know what’s good for you. Mr.
Scott, is the other prisoner locked up?”

“Yes, Corporal.”

“Do you think you can find a place for these two men?”

“In the office. The windows are barred.”

The policeman beckoned to the two prisoners, then strode forward and
opened the door.

“Get in there,” he commanded.

Wolf Brennan and his partner lost no time in doing as they were told.
The door was locked behind them.

“Now, Dick.”

“Yes, Corporal Rand,” Dick stepped forward.

“I’ll want you and Sandy to accompany me. We’ll get an early supper and
leave here around seven o’clock. I think I know where Frazer’s cabin is.
I propose to swing completely around it and come in from the opposite
side. That will mean about six miles of steady tramping.”

“Why not go straight there?” asked Sandy.

“Because they may be on the lookout for us. They may be watching the
road leading from the post. I want to surprise them.”

The corporal sat down in a chair while the three boys crowded around

“We’re all mighty glad you got back,” Sandy broke forth eagerly. “You
certainly came at an opportune time. How did you manage to get here so

“Because I didn’t go as far as I expected to,” Rand smiled. “It’s rather
a long story, Sandy, and I don’t intend to burden you with it now. My
destination, as you may remember, was Caribou Lake. However, I got no
further than the lower waters of the Half Way River. I was drifting
along one day, half asleep, when I saw a canoe approaching. The occupant
of the little craft proved to be Jim Maynard, an old friend of mine. Jim
is a trapper and prospector and has been working all winter up in the
region of Caribou Lake. When I told him I was going up to Miller’s
cabin, he seemed surprised. ‘You won’t find him there,’ he told me. He
explained to me that he had visited at Miller’s cabin just two days
before the latter left by dog team for the south. I asked if Miller had
told him his destination. He replied that he had, Miller, it appeared,
was going out to Fort Laird.”

“But he never got there,” Sandy interrupted.

“No, he never got there. Something happened to him en route. He might
have lost his way in a storm and both he and his dogs perished.”

“So the mystery is still a mystery.”

The policeman nodded. “Time probably will solve it. Some day, I expect,
a lone traveller wandering through the vast wilderness space south of
Caribou Lake will run across his bleached skeleton. The north has many
secrets,” he went on, half to himself, “many of which will never be

“I wish we could solve this mystery that surrounds Frazer,” put in Dick.
“He had a good deal of gold hidden here, corporal. First we discover the
place where he had it concealed in the basement, now we find the secret
compartment in the little room. Of course, it is stolen gold. But from
whom did he steal it?”

“Gold in the basement!” the policeman stared at Dick. “You didn’t
mention that. So he had it there too?”

Dick nodded. “Very cleverly concealed just like it was in the office.
Only in the cellar, instead of having a secret niche in the wall, he
took up a portion of the plank flooring, dug a pit and hid it in there
in burlap sacks.”

“Burlap sacks!” Rand looked incredulous. “That is very unusual. How do
you know he had it in burlap sacks?”

“Because I saw them,” and Dick narrated the incidents of the night the
Mekewai brothers broke into the trading room and descended to the

“You are really sure that they carried this gold in burlap sacks?”

“Yes, Corporal.”

“And you say the sacks were nearly full?”

“Why, yes,” Dick looked puzzled, wondering what the policeman was
driving at.

“But how do you know it was gold they carried in those burlap sacks?”

“We didn’t, of course. We merely surmised that. It was something very
valuable or they wouldn’t have been so anxious to get it.”

“I grant you that. But did you ever stop to consider how much a sack of
gold, one of the heaviest metals, would weigh? And didn’t it ever occur
to you that if a man had gold enough to fill a burlap sack, he’d be
wealthy enough to afford a container a little more durable and
dependable than burlap?”

“Why, I never thought of that,” Dick scratched his head.

“The inference is, that it wasn’t gold. Only a fool would put so
precious a metal in burlap sacks.”

“Yes, that seems reasonable,” Dick smiled sheepishly. “But if it wasn’t
gold, what was it?”

Corporal Rand laughed heartily.

“Now, my boy, you’re asking me a very difficult question. If we can find
what they did with those sacks, I might be able to tell you.”

“I know what they did with those sacks,” Dick informed him.

“Very well, please tell me.”

“They buried them.”

“Why are you so sure?”

“We overheard one of the Mekewai boys tell Wolf Brennan and Toby
McCallum that they had buried the sacks in a safe place.”

“In a safe place,” mused the policeman aloud.

“Yes,” Sandy corroborated his chum, “those were the very words he used.”

Corporal Rand sat for a moment immersed in thought. Then suddenly he
started to his feet.

“I think I’ll go in and have a talk with Henri Mekewai,” he said.

                             CHAPTER XXIV.
                          NEAR FRAZER’S CABIN.

When Corporal Rand came out of the room in which Henri Mekewai was
imprisoned, the boys met him in the hall outside.

“What luck?” asked Sandy.

“Not a word out of him,” Rand growled a little testily. “Couldn’t get
him to admit that he had even taken the sacks out of the cellar. Claims
that he knows nothing about it. I tried to frighten him, but it’s no
use. The only way to get to the bottom of this is to find Frazer himself
and force a confession.”

“It will soon be time now to start after him,” Sandy looked at his
watch. “Ten minutes to six now. Supper is waiting for us in the dining

“When we go, shall we take our rifles,” asked Dick.

“No, just our revolvers.”

On the way to the supper table, Toma swung in behind Corporal Rand, his
face utterly disconsolate. Looking at him, one might have thought that
he had just lost his nearest and dearest friend. His lower lip quivered.
Unshed tears stood in his eyes. In the dining room, when Rand drew out
his chair to sit down, Toma stood near him gulping.

“Corporal Rand.”

“Yes, Toma,”—kindly.

“Corporal Rand, I feel ’em much better now.”

The policeman turned his head and surveyed the drawn, haggard face.

“You certainly don’t look it. You ought to be in bed.”

“Tomorrow,” smiled the young Indian, “I take ’em off bandages.”

“I’m glad to hear that, Toma.”

A deep sigh. “Corporal Rand, I feel plenty strong go along you, Dick an’

The policeman shook his head as he reached over and patted the young
man’s arm.

“Like to have you, Toma. If you hadn’t been wounded. I’d say yes. You’re
really in no condition to go.”

To the surprise of everyone, Toma swung on his heel and walked out of
the room. Sandy’s face clouded.

“Poor devil!” he exclaimed. “That upset him so much he won’t even eat
his supper.”

“It is hard on him,” sympathized Dick, looking down at his plate. “The
minute you brought up the matter, Toma set his heart on accompanying us.
It is a terrible blow to him. He loves action and wants to be in at the

“I appreciate all that, but you must remember that if he overtaxes
himself, a thing which he is very apt to do, it is liable to cause
complications. He still has a slight fever. Tell that by looking at him.
Eyes heavy, cheeks flushed. No, boys, for his own sake, I can’t permit
him to go.”

Not long afterward, Corporal Rand and the two boys left the trading
post, hurrying away through the woods. They had slipped off so quietly
and unobtrusively that few persons were aware of their going. Rand set
the pace, walking with long, easy strides. Through dense thickets of
alders, through the shadowed coolness of fir and balsam, across rippling
green meadows of luxuriant grass, they made their way. Except now and
then for a low order respecting their route, the policeman did not talk.
Only the noises of the forest and the steady beat of their footsteps
could be heard. Sandy was nervous and continually consulted his watch.

“Eight o’clock,” he finally announced to Dick. “Ought to be getting
there pretty soon.”

On and on they tramped. Rand never hesitated. He seemed to be sure of
his route. Dick knew they were swinging around in a wide arc, yet he
marvelled at the policeman’s sense of location. When they plunged
through the trees out to the Old Mission road, for the first time since
their departure, he raised his hand commanding them to stop.

“We’re very close to their cabin now,” he explained in a low voice.
“Straight north,” he pointed, “about three hundred yards. We will
separate here and attempt to make our approach from three directions.
Dick and I will start out, Dick to the right and I to the left and come
upon them, if possible, coincident with your approach from the north,
Sandy. You have the shortest distance to go, therefore you must proceed
slowly. I hope to corner them in the cabin.”

The corporal paused. “Now is there anything you’d like to ask me?”

The boys shook their heads.

“Very well then, we’ll start. Don’t shoot unless it is absolutely
necessary. Good luck!”

They separated in silence. Down the road Dick hurried, watchful as a
lynx. The sunlight streamed aslant, a glare in his eyes, bright gold
where it touched the leaves of the poplar. Swerving abruptly to his
right when he had gone a distance of about two hundred yards, he darted
in among the trees, zig-zagging to avoid clumps of underbrush, his right
hand resting lightly on his hip close to the butt of his revolver. He
made little sound as he advanced, and was actually preparing for a final
sprint up to the cabin when, less than thirty feet straight ahead, he
caught a flashing glimpse of a human figure.

Breathless, he stopped short, swung in behind a large tree and stood
there trembling. To his ears there came the faint trampling of feet. A
voice cracked across the stillness.

Suddenly, his heart almost stopped beating. They had halted just within
the clump of bushes ahead, as though they had sensed his presence. Had
they seen him? Fearful now, he yanked out his revolver, crouched closer
to the tree and waited. Frazer’s harsh tones broke forth anew.

“I don’t care what you say, Pierre, it isn’t safe here. Sooner or later,
someone may happen upon it.”

“I dig ’em down deep,” the Indian reassured him.

“Can’t help it. Too close to the post. Hundred places you might have
chosen better than this. I tell you, someone is apt to stumble upon it.”

“You ’fraid,” accused the Indian.

Frazer’s voice rose angrily. “Yes, I am afraid, you black cut-throat,
and you ought to be afraid too. Tonight we’ll dig it up and——”

“Ssh!” cautioned the Indian. “I think I hear something.”

Dick had heard something too—a slight crackling in the brush behind him
and a little off to his right. A shiver of apprehension coursed down
along his spine. Dizzy with weakness, he shrank still closer to the
tree. Just then Pierre Mekewai plunged forward, his quick Indian eyes
catching sight of Dick’s protruding arm. Firing from his hip, he darted
back to cover. The bullet sliced the bark of the balsam. Dick heard the
sound of running footsteps. A full half-minute passed.

“Stop!” commanded a voice some distance away, followed by the crack of a

His heart pumping, Dick bounded from behind the tree, into the
underbrush, believing that both Frazer and the Indian had fled. Too late
he discovered his mistake. A blinding flash almost in his face, a sharp
pain in his left arm, the distorted picture of the white fear-struck
face of Frazer!

Carried forward by his own momentum, he collided with his opponent,
striking up the arm that still held the smoking weapon. Grappling, they
went down. The struggle was short and spirited.

“I’ve got you!” rumbled Dick, his hands fastened like leeches upon the
other’s wrists. “Drop that gun!”

He was still holding Frazer when the policeman came running up. The
corporal purloined the revolvers of both vanquished and victor. He
assisted Dick to his feet.

“Good boy!” he breathed. “Hurt badly?”

Before Dick had time to answer, Sandy joined them.

“You’re wounded!” shouted the newcomer. “Can’t you see, you’re wounded.”

“Just a scratch,” Dick smiled feebly. “A mere flesh wound, Sandy.
Corporal Rand, will you twist on a tourniquet? I’m sorry that Mekewai
got away. It was my fault. I think I was too hasty.”

“You’re good,” grinned Rand. “I’ll take a little of the responsibility
of Mekewai’s escape myself. When he went past me, I called to him to

“Then you shot at him,” guessed Dick. “That was your revolver I heard.”

“Yes, he’s wounded.”

The policeman stepped forward and prodded Frazer with his foot.

“Get up!” he ordered savagely.

When the former factor had groped to an upright position, Corporal Rand
turned upon Sandy.

“Watch him,” he instructed, “while I look after Dick’s arm.”

The policeman worked hurriedly and in a manner that left no doubt in the
minds of his onlookers that he knew his business. He had just stepped
back to relieve Sandy when, through the screen of trees ahead, two
figures hove into view. Perceiving them, Dick exclaimed softly under his

“Bless, me, if he didn’t come along after all,” gasped Corporal Rand.
“The rascal!”

Hands clawing the air, Pierre Mekewai, savage and vindictive-looking
even in defeat, marched toward them. Ten paces behind, equally savage
and vindictive-looking, came the Indian’s captor—a young man with a
bandage wound around his head!

“By cripes!” Sandy broke the stillness. “By Golly, it’s the first time
that Toma ever disobeyed an order.”

Corporal Rand tried to look severe, bit his lips, then presently threw
back his head and laughed.

                              CHAPTER XXV.
                       GATHERING UP THE THREADS.

In the cabin, recently occupied by Donald Frazer, they found the poke.
It was the mate to the one Dick had picked up off the floor of the
trading room at Half Way House earlier in the day. Frazer’s face fell
when Corporal Rand pulled it out of the pack lying in the corner.

“Gold—sure enough!” the policeman’s eyes sparkled. “You made a big haul
from somewhere, didn’t you, Frazer?”

The prisoner ignored the thrust.

“I came by it honestly.”

“Glad to hear that.”

“It’s mine and I’m going to have it. You can turn over that other poke
too. Walter MacClaren’s fault I didn’t take it all with me in the first
place. He had no right to drive me away from Half Way House at the point
of a gun. There isn’t a court in the land that wouldn’t exonerate me of
the charges you’ll bring against me.”

Corporal Rand laughed sarcastically.

“You talk like a fool.”

“We’ll see,” growled Frazer. “I’ve a right to fight for my own. No man
can keep from me by force what rightfully belongs to me.”

“Are you referring now to the gold?”


“You really have the nerve to stand there and make an assertion like
that?” snapped the corporal “It was stolen and you know it.”

“You can’t prove it.”

“Oh yes, I can. Not very difficult either. The proof is less than a
hundred yards away.”

Donald Frazer went deathly pale.

“What’s that—hundred yards—you, you—do you know what you’re talking

“Yes,” grimly smiled the policeman. “I do. If you don’t believe me,
we’ll go there together and dig it up.”

Frazer staggered back as if from a blow. Every vestige of color drained
from his cheeks. In terror his hands went up clutching his throat.

“You—you know!” The sound that issued from his lips was a low breath of

“Yes, I know. A horrible crime! You, Brennan, McCallum and the two
Indians will have to answer for it, Frazer. Bit by bit, these boys here
have unearthed the evidence that will hang you as assuredly as I’m
standing here. Miller’s murder will not go unavenged.”

Frazer crumpled like a leaf and would have fallen had not Sandy caught
him. Dick whirled upon the mounted policeman at the mention of the
missing prospector’s name, for a full minute not able to speak. He, too,
was trembling violently over the very unexpectedness of the revelation.

“Miller!” he cried, when he had found his voice. “The man from Caribou
Lake! How do you know that?”

“By putting two and two together, Dick,” Corporal Rand answered
unhesitatingly. “To you boys belong most of the credit. The evidence I
had was inconsequential until it was added to what you had unearthed

“I don’t think I quite understand,” puzzled Dick.

“Very well then, let’s review the case. Let’s start with Miller, the
prospector. At Caribou Lake last fall, Miller made a very rich strike.
Before the freeze-up, he had taken out over thirty thousand dollars
worth of gold. He remained at his claim all winter, rigging up
windlasses, trapping in his spare time, preparing for the active
resumption of work in the spring. Late in March, he suddenly decided
that he needed more equipment and tools. When Jim Langley visited Miller
at Caribou Lake on March twenty-third, the latter explained to his
friend that he was setting out for Fort Laird on the twenty-fifth, just
two days later. Miller showed Langley two pokes filled with gold—the
gold he had mined the previous fall—and told Langley that he was taking
it with him.

“From that point, we almost lose trace of Miller. Setting out by dog
team from Caribou Lake, he failed to arrive at his destination. The last
seen of him was on April third, between Thunder River and Lynx Lake, by
an Indian named Henri Karek. The prospector was in good health and had
plenty of grub, the Indian claimed.

“I do not know whether you remember or not, but between April third and
April tenth we had one of the warmest chinooks we have ever experienced
so early in the year. The trails were running water and most of the snow
in the open melted. From Lynx Lake to Fort Laird, a distance of
eighty-five miles, there is a lot of open country and two small rivers,
which flood badly during the wet season. Now on the other hand, between
Lynx Lake and Half Way House, a distance of a hundred and twenty miles,
there are no rivers at all and the trail threads its way through heavy
forests that protect the snow.”

Corporal Rand paused. “Do you follow me?” he asked.

Dick and Sandy nodded eagerly.

“Yes, yes, Corporal. Please go on.”

“That chinook will explain why Miller didn’t continue on his way to Fort
Laird. Swollen rivers to cross, poor trail. Remember he had a sledge and
dog team.”

“So he changed his mind and came on to Half Way House,” Sandy

“Naturally he would,” the policeman replied. “Put yourself in his place.
Wouldn’t you have done the same?”


“And don’t forget he had two large pokes of gold. Deducing that he came
on to Half Way House, what happened? Well, for one thing, he was robbed.
It is something more than mere coincidence that Frazer has, or I should
say, had two pokes of gold in his possession. The gold was hidden in a
secret place. Isn’t that true?” Corporal Rand addressed Dick.

“Yes, it’s quite true.”

“Now we’ve come to your discovery of the pit in the cellar. What was in
this pit? More gold? No. Furs? Possibly, but not very likely. One need
not keep fur so carefully hid. Mr. Frazer, with perfect impunity and no
fear of detection, could have kept stolen fur in the company’s
warehouse. So, by elimination and deduction, we arrive gradually at a
startling conclusion, namely that the contents of that pit—something
that was kept in two burlap sacks—was even of more importance to Mr.
Frazer than the gold.”

“How did you make that out?” Sandy again interrupted.

“I’ll prove it to you. When Mr. MacClaren discharged Frazer and drove
him away from the post at the point of a gun, there were two things that
the latter was unable to take away with him: the gold hid in the office
and the sacks concealed in the pit. If the gold had been of more value
to Frazer than the contents of the pit, he’d have tried to get the gold
first, wouldn’t he?”

“Yes, he would,” agreed Sandy.

“But instead of trying to get the gold first, he sent the Mekewai
brothers to procure the two sacks. Why?”

“Yes, yes, why?” blurted Sandy.

“Because he was terribly afraid that in his absence someone would
stumble upon what he had hidden in the cellar.”

“I can’t make it out,” Sandy scratched his head. “Can you, Dick?”

“Yes,” Dick whispered through white lips. “I understand now. God help
the man that did it. Don’t ask, Sandy—don’t ask. It’s too unutterably
horrible. For your own peace of mind, it is better that you should never

                             CHAPTER XXVI.
                          FRAZER’S CONFESSION.

Donald Frazer’s confession, made on the day following his capture,
corroborated the statements which had been made by Corporal Rand. The
actual murder, according to Frazer, had been committed by Pierre and
Henri Mekewai in the trading room at Half Way House on the night of
April 18th, just ten days after the prospector had been seen at Lynx
Lake by the Indian, Henri Karek, and within two hours after his,
Miller’s, arrival at the post.

“He drove in at ten o’clock or very shortly after,” Frazer told them.
“Since morning it had snowed heavily and the wind had risen almost to a
gale. There were five of us in the trading room at the time, Wolf
Brennan, Toby McCallum, the two Mekewai brothers and myself. We had all
been drinking for several hours. The first intimation we had of Miller’s
arrival was when we heard the sound of a sledge outside, then a voice
calling through the door. Brennan and McCallum went out and assisted
Miller to unharness and feed his team and later helped him carry in his
grub-box, blankets and the two pokes containing gold. Miller was chilled
to the bone and had not eaten for twelve hours. He asked me if I could
get supper for him. He especially wanted a hot cup of tea. He was very
tired, he said, and wished to get to bed as quickly as possible.

“I went to the door of the loft to summon my native boy, Meschel, who,
like Mr. Scott, had already retired, when Wolf Brennan called me to one
side, suggesting in an undertone that he would do the work himself.
Immediately afterward Wolf started for the kitchen, winking at me
covertly as he went past. On some pretext or other, I followed him a few
minutes later, and there in the kitchen, while Wolf brewed the tea and
prepared the lunch, he told me about the two pokes.

“‘They’re worth thousands’, he informed me. ‘Gold enough there to buy
our way into Kingdom Come’.”

“At first I was appalled at the thought.

“‘You mean to murder him’?” I asked.

“Wolf told me that that was exactly what he meant. For a few hundred
dollars and a bottle of rum, he said, the Mekewai boys would be willing
to slip up behind Miller while he ate and knife him in the back.

“I told him flatly that I wouldn’t be party to such a crime. I was
horrified. The mere thought of it sent cold shivers running down my
back. But after we had two or three more drinks from a bottle, I looked
at it differently. For days I had been desperate, wondering where I
could get enough money to repay what I had borrowed from company
funds—in all about two thousand dollars.”

“Why had you borrowed that amount?” interrupted Corporal Rand:

“Money I had lost at cards. I had to cover my shortage before the books
were audited or else suffer disgrace and probably imprisonment. I lived
in constant fear of Mr. MacClaren’s coming. Here was a chance to get
myself out of a very bad hole. I took it.”

Frazer lowered his eyes and a deep silence crept over the little room.

“Within thirty minutes of the time I came to a decision,” he resumed,
“the crime had been committed. Miller’s death was almost instantaneous.
At my suggestion, we dug the pit under the floor in the cellar. The
Mekewai boys concealed the body there, were paid their blood-money and
bottle of rum and went home singing.”

“Singing!” gasped Dick.

“Yes, they went home singing,” repeated the former factor. “Just as soon
as they had gone, Brennan, McCallum and I held a short conference and it
was decided that I should keep the gold in my possession until it could
be sold to advantage. The money received for it would be divided equally
among the three of us. Before entering the service of the Hudson’s Bay
Company I was a cabinetmaker by trade and that night I told them that I
could easily construct a wall-cabinet in my office, where we could hide
the gold.

“The next morning the Mekewai brothers came over before daybreak—as it
had been previously planned—to get the dead man’s effects. The dogs were
sold to an Indian, who resides at Fort Chipewayan, and all the others
things were weighted with rocks and sunk through a hole in the ice in
Half Way River.

“Miller’s body was the only thing we had to worry about. As the days
passed, I began to see that I would never know one moment’s peace as
long as the corpse remained in the cellar. My waking hours were filled
with grim spectres of fear and horror, with a constant dread of
discovery. The thing preyed upon my mind so much that finally I summoned
Wolf and Toby and explained to them that we must find a safer burial
place. The body, I told them, had to be moved. I simply couldn’t stand
the worry and suspense any longer. I was rapidly becoming a physical and
mental wreck. I jumped at my own shadow.

“Brennan and McCallum endeavored to laugh away my fears, but I was
obdurate. Wolf pointed out that moving the body again presented unusual
difficulties. Even at night there was a chance that someone might see
us. The days were getting longer, he said. Neither he nor his partner,
he made it quite plain, wished to have anything to do with such a
perilous and unnecessary undertaking.

“Thus the matter rested for several days, and then I had an inspiration.
As soon as I could send Mr. Scott away, I hired the Mekewai brothers to
come over late at night and dismember the body. They put it in sacks and
agreed to come back on the following night and take the sacks away and
bury them.”

Frazer paused, wiping his perspiring face.

“We could not carry out this plan because on the very next morning these
three boys appeared. I can not begin to tell you, Corporal Rand, how
their coming startled me. I was afraid that the mounted police had in
some mysterious way got wind of the murder and had sent them here to spy
upon me. I recalled that during the previous summer the boys had
assisted you in solving the Dewberry case. By the end of the week,
frantic, desperate, I began to plan how I could get them to leave the
post without arousing their suspicions.”

Again Frazer paused and again, he daubed at his flushed sweat-streaked

“I need not tell you how I eventually succeeded. You all know what
subsequently occurred. But I was afraid even when the boys departed for
the island of the dinosaur that they could see into my little game and
would return as soon as they were out of sight of the post. In order to
make sure on this point, I sent Brennan and McCallum to watch them
closely and prevent them from coming back again.

“Strange as it may seem, I had no opportunity during the next few weeks
to remove Miller’s body from the cellar. People dropped in at the post
unexpectedly. Mr. Stearns, an old friend of mine, came up from Fort
Vermilion and remained with me for several days. No sooner had he left
than a party of prospectors arrived on the scene and camped in the trees
just outside the trading room for a full week. Then you put in an
appearance, Corporal, and _within two hours of your departure Mr.
MacClaren walked in upon me_.”

Startled by these disclosures, Sandy leaned over and whispered in Dick’s

“Divine interference! And some people doubt the existence of God!”

“Please continue with your confession,” the policeman instructed Frazer.

“I have nothing more to tell.”

Corporal Rand turned his head thoughtfully and looked out of the window.
Another deep silence pervaded the room.

“Does old Bill Willison know anything about the murder of Miller?” he
asked finally.

Frazer shook his head. “No, not a thing. He’s as innocent as a babe. He
doesn’t enter into this case at all except in a small way. He lives in a
cabin now along the lower stretches of Half Way River. When Wolf and
Toby lost their canoe, they walked back in the woods to Willison’s place
and hired him to take them up river in pursuit of these boys. On the
way, they conceived the plan of dressing Willison like a wild man and
frightening the boys so badly that they would leave the course of the
river and strike off toward Fort Good Faith.”

“It didn’t work, did it?” glared Sandy.

“No comments, please!” came the corporal’s sharp reprimand.

“You set fire to the warehouse.” The policeman turned again to Frazer.

“Yes, it was a ruse to get Scott and these boys out of the post.”

“Did you instruct Pierre Mekewai to shoot at Dick that night Dick stood
near the window of the loft?”

“No, Corporal, I did not. Those instructions were issued by Wolf Brennan
who bore this young man a grudge.”

“Who threw the knife that wounded young John Toma?”

“Henri Mekewai.”

“By your orders?”

“No, sir. I knew nothing about it until afterwards.”

Corporal Rand gathered up the sheets of foolscap on the desk in front of

“I have your confession here, Mr. Frazer, word for word, just as you
have told it to us. Are there any other statements you wish to make
apropos of this case?”

Frazer raised his head and for the first time that afternoon he looked
straight into the eyes of his questioner.

“With your permission, Corporal,” he stated in a hollow, choking voice,
“I’d like to say that heinous as my crime is and black as my character
may seem to you, I am ready and willing to pay the penalty. I want you
all to know that I hold no brief for myself, expect no sympathy or
mercy. On the other hand, I’d like to have you understand, to believe
somehow, that here at the last I am a changed man, an altogether
different person than he who was one of the slayers of Conroy Miller.
Before God, now that it is too late, I am deeply and sincerely sorry.
Crime is a terrible thing, Corporal, and if I had my life to live again
I swear to you——”

In the middle of a sentence, Frazer stopped short, sank back in his
chair and covered his face with his hands. In the deep silence that
followed Dick looked searchingly at Sandy and together they rose and
tip-toed out of the room. They did not pause until they had reached the
path, leading to the river.

“How sweet and cool the air is outside,” remarked Sandy.

                             CHAPTER XXVII.
                              TOMA’S SCAR.

Corporal Rand met the three boys just outside the trading room. He, too,
breathed deeply of the cool, sweet air, his eyes shining with relief.

“Well,” he announced smiling, “the worst is over. Five prisoners in safe
custody and everyone of them has confessed. The Mekewai brothers were
more reticent than the other three, but I have enough evidence to hang
them all. Another case has gone down in the police records.”

“Perhaps if we had known,” grinned Sandy, “we might not have come at
all. What about it, Toma?”

The young Indian moved over and sat down on the bench, his thoughtful,
dark eyes turned toward the fringe of poplar and balsam that ran in a
zig-zag line around the natural clearing that harbored the white, log
building of the great fur company. For a moment he did not speak.

“I think I come anyway,” he answered finally. “I like alla time plenty
move around. Plenty excitement, too, once in a while.”

“Well you got the excitement,” grunted Sandy. “Enough to do for a long
time. You can be thankful that this job is finished.”

“Mebbe not so thankful like you think,” Toma retorted evasively.

Corporal Rand looked up in surprise.

“You must like fighting better than I do,” he smiled. “In my line of
duty I’m forced into it sometimes, but just between you and me, I’d
prefer staying out. Now tell us, Toma, why you’re not glad that our
troubles are all over.”

“I am glad,” the young Indian objected. “Pretty hard for me I try to
make you understand. Mebbe you no feel like I feel. What you say if bad
fellow come up, sneaking like coyote, an’ make ’em scar on your head
that stay there till you die? How you like it stay all night in woods
alla same dead man? Make me more mad than ever I feel before. I like do
to that Mekewai fellow just what he do to me. No chance now. No chance I
ever fight that man again. Tomorrow, next day mebbe, all these bad
fellows you take away to Mackenzie Barracks an’ I no see ’em any more.”

It was a long speech for Toma. Dick and Sandy looked at him in
astonishment while Corporal Rand moved over, sat down beside him and in
a friendly way, threw one arm over his heaving shoulders.

“I understand what you mean,” he said kindly. “But you mustn’t forget
that this Henri Mekewai will be punished for all his misdeeds. He has
many crimes to answer for. You mustn’t feel that way about it. You
helped to capture him, Toma, and that is surely revenge enough.”

“But he no carry scar on his head,” the young Indian pointed out.

“True enough. But he carries other scars that one can’t see. His heart
and soul are scarred with wickedness and, no doubt, he will be compelled
to pay the life penalty.”

Knowing something of the Indian’s point of view, in his own mind, Dick
did not blame Toma for the stand he took. An eye for an eye and a tooth
for a tooth. It had been bred in Toma, was the product of generations of
savage, relentless ancestors—part of the Indian’s code.

“I didn’t know you were so blood-thirsty, Toma,” Sandy poked fun at him.
“You mustn’t think of such things.”

Toma averted his eyes, flushing under the criticism.

“I think alla time about that scar,” he said.

The policeman drummed thoughtfully on the bench for a moment, then again
he addressed the young man beside him.

“Yes, Toma, you must forget. If you’ll promise me to overlook this
slight, I’ll give you and Sandy a chance to earn a little extra police
pay during the next two weeks. Tomorrow I will be compelled to take my
five prisoners back to the Mackenzie River Barracks. You and Sandy can
render me valuable aid by accompanying my party. I hate to take any
chance of losing them now. One can’t be too careful. They are dangerous
criminals, desperate men all, and would take the first chance offered
them for a break for liberty.”

The young Indian’s eyes brightened.

“Thank you, Corporal, I like that very much.”

“Two weeks at full police pay. I’m giving you and Sandy this chance
because on the last occasion it was Dick who helped me.”

“That’s splendid of you, Corporal,” Sandy’s face was beaming. “I’d like
to hear what Inspector Cameron says when we bring them in. Aren’t you
jealous, Dick?”

Dick laughed. “No, Sandy, the arrangements suits me perfectly. The
experiences of the past few days have been so vigorous that I am ready
to take a short vacation. I shall wait here till you return.”

The mounted policeman rose preparatory to entering the trading post.

“Very well, then, that is the understanding. You, Toma, and Sandy are to
accompany me. We’ll leave here at six o’clock, journeying up the river
in two canoes as far as Painter’s Ferry, where we will disembark and
proceed eastward overland to the Mackenzie River Trail. When we reach
Moose Lake, I think I can arrange for horses to take us the remainder of
the way. I left my own mount at Painter’s Ferry.”

“How long do you think it will take us to make the trip?” Sandy asked

“About seven days. I’ve made it in five on a hurried patrol, but with
the prisoners, of course, we’ll not be able to travel quite so fast.”

“I can expect Sandy and Toma back here then in about twelve or fourteen
days?” Dick asked anxiously.

“Yes, it will take about that long. I suppose, Dick, that you will put
in your time fishing.”

When Dick shook his head, Sandy broke out into a roar of merriment.

“Dick’s had all the fishing he wants in one summer,” he explained to the
corporal. “When we were down river, just after leaving the island of the
dinosaur, we lost all our grub and had to fish or go hungry.”

Corporal Rand smiled. “I had almost forgotten. Well, anyway, I’m not
worrying about Dick being utterly bored anywhere. He’ll find plenty to
keep him busy.”

Bright and early on the following morning, Corporal Rand led out the
five prisoners in preparation for their departure. All arrangements had
been completed. At the river, drawn up alongside the landing wharf, were
two large canoes, packed with grub for the journey to Painter’s Ferry.
It had been arranged that four men would go in each canoe, Donald
Frazer, Wolf Brennan, Pierre Mekewai and Corporal Rand in one, Henri
Mekewai, Toby McCallum, Sandy and Toma in the other. The prisoners were
to furnish the motive power for the two crafts. Not only would this keep
them out of mischief, but it would give their guards a better
opportunity to watch for any attempt at treachery. As a further
precaution, no rifles were to be taken. Sandy and Toma carried revolvers
in holsters strapped under their left armpits with coats worn over them.

An inquisitive, jabbering crowd followed them to the boat landing. Upon
their arrival there, Corporal Rand ordered the prisoners to their
respective canoes, and while this command was being carried out, a most
unusual thing happened. Instead of stepping into the canoe, Henri
Mekewai, the last one to move forward to take his place, suddenly
lurched forward and leaped straight into the river.

The action was totally unexpected. By the time Dick and the Corporal had
sprung to the end of the wharf, the Indian was thirty feet away, his
long arms cutting the water with quick powerful strokes. A sudden
splash, and he had negotiated the swift inshore current, where he
half-raised from the water, took a deep breath and dove out of sight.
While Dick stood dazed by the quickness of it all, he heard a quick
pattering of feet behind him and turned his head just in time to see
Toma executing a graceful, running leap that carried him flying through
the air and into the river a full twenty feet from the wharf.

His next vivid impression was of Corporal Rand. Revolver in hand, the
policeman stepped into the nearest canoe, calling out as he did so:

“Sandy, Dick—watch the other boat while I go out and fetch Mekewai!”
Then to the three prisoners: “Your paddles, men, and hurry! I’ll shoot
the first one who doesn’t do his duty. Now—!”

The craft shot forward. One eye on the prisoner, Dick watched the
progress, excitement tugging at his heart. He was sure now that Henri
Mekewai had made his escape. On various occasions, he had witnessed
remarkable feats of endurance and prowess of Indian swimmers. He feared
that Toma had no chance to overtake his enemy. Out there in the current,
he could see two bobbing heads about forty feet apart. Two bobbing heads
sweeping quickly down the stream.

“Look, Dick!” Sandy shouted. “Toma is gaining! He’ll catch him yet
before the canoe gets there. Look, look, Dick!”

A cold shiver suddenly struck its icy fingers through Dick’s chest. For
a moment he doubted the evidence of his senses. For the first time, he
noticed something that previously had escaped his attention. As Toma
raised one arm in a desperate forward stroke, in the bright sun he
caught the glint of steel.

He could see more easily now. Toma was swimming with a knife grasped
firmly in his right hand. Like a flash, there came to Dick a horrible
realization. The young Indian was planning his revenge! An eye for an
eye and a tooth for a tooth. The memory of that insidious attack in the
woods near the Mission Trail apparently burned in his mind with undimmed
fury. An insult and injury never to be forgotten!

Sick at heart, the two silent watchers on the wharf, half turned and
gazed solemnly into each other’s tense, set faces.

“Once an Indian, always an Indian,” blurted Sandy. “I’m afraid Toma is
going to break _his_ promise to Corporal Rand.”

                            CHAPTER XXVIII.

Toma overtook Henri Mekewai in mid-stream and, with arm upraised
brandishing the knife, checked the other’s flight until Corporal Rand
and the canoe arrived. Not until the two swimmers were pulled aboard did
Dick’s tension relax. He was glad that it was all over, relieved beyond
measure that Toma had not committed his rash act. He stepped back from
the edge of the wharf, breathing a sigh of relief. He knew now that not
in vain had the young Indian given his promise to Corporal Rand.

“I was afraid for a minute,” he heard Sandy’s voice. “Terribly afraid,
Dick. I thought that in the excitement of the moment, Toma might forget
himself. I can see now that he didn’t pull out that knife to attack
Henri Mekewai. Merely wanted to defend himself. And I don’t blame him
either. I’d hate to be in a similar position without some means of

“So would I,” Dick agreed. “He showed good judgment, that is all, and
quick thinking in a time of emergency. Just the same, for a moment it
looked as if he really intended to use that knife.”

Sandy laughed relievedly. “Neither one of us would have thought a thing
about it if we hadn’t remembered what Toma had said about carrying that
scar. But we should have known him better than to believe that he really
would break his promise to Corporal Rand.”

The canoe was returning now. It sped back toward the landing and, a
short time later breasting the current, shot inshore, coming to a full
stop next to the other craft. Rand’s voice rang out sharply:

“Toma, we’ll wait here while you run up to the post to get a change of
clothes. While you’re up there, you’d better procure another revolver
from Mr. Scott and a box of ammunition. It’s poor policy to take a
chance with wet cartridges.”

Toma grinned as he stepped ashore. “All right, Corporal, I go hurry.”

In a moment more he had sped away through the crowd, the object of
admiration and respect on the part of the half score of Indians and
half-breeds that thronged the landing wharf.

“Pretty close call,” Rand looked over at Dick. “Took me wholly unawares.
Keep my eyes open next time.”

“Weren’t you afraid for a time?” Dick asked.

“Afraid of what?”

“That Toma would use that knife,” Dick answered.

“No, not in the least. He’d given me his promise. I was sure he wouldn’t
attack Mekewai unless it was to prevent him from escaping. As a matter
of fact, he held the prisoner for nearly twenty seconds there in
mid-stream until we arrived. If it hadn’t been for him, I fully believe
that Mekewai would have contrived to reach the opposite shore. A
splendid swimmer.”

“But not as good as Toma,” Sandy pointed out.

“That was proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. All right, Sandy, slip into
the other canoe and we’ll be on our way as soon as Toma returns. Pierre,
you get in beside Sandy.”

For a moment the policeman grew grim. “For the benefit of the rest of
you prisoners,” he glared around him, “I’d like to say that if another
person attempts to escape, I’ll show no mercy. I’ll shoot the next man
who tries it.”

Wolf Brennan raised his shaggy head and looked straight over at the
stern guardian of the law.

“I won’t answer fer the rest of them, Corporal, but yuh can bank on me.”

“Good for you, Wolf.”

“An’ me too,” said Toby McCallum.

“Thank you, Toby.”

“If it ain’t out of order,” Brennan spoke again, “I’m kind o’ curious
tuh know just where you’re takin’ us.”

“Mackenzie Barracks,” snapped the officer.

For a period of nearly ten minutes, conversation waned. Sandy had taken
his place in the canoe and kept glancing back toward the trading post,
looking for Toma.

“Don’t be so impatient, Sandy,” Dick advised him. “He’ll be along
presently. When you get there, give my respects to Inspector Cameron.”


A well-known figure made his way along the path from the warehouse. Not
long afterward, the young Indian, attired in dry clothing and grinning
broadly, took his place in the canoe beside Sandy. The order was given
to start. Paddles dipped in the water.

“Good-bye, Dick, good-bye!” shrieked Sandy and Toma.

“Good-bye,” Dick answered, feeling suddenly very lonely and out of it.

Corporal Rand turned, smiled and waved his hand.

“Keep out of mischief, Dick,” he advised him.

“I’ll try to,” responded Dick.

To the surprise of everyone, Wolf Brennan swung half way around and
leered back toward shore.

“Don’t go diggin’ up no more dinosaur’s bones,” he called out mockingly,
while Toby McCallum bent forward and gave vent to a cackling, jarring

On that instant, Dick’s face shadowed and he bit his lips. The threat
had gone home. So they had thrown that up to him? His hands clenched as
he turned about facing the tittering crowd.

Dinosaur’s bones! Like a ghost of the past, it had come up to haunt him.
The memory was not a very pleasant one. The picture burned in his
mind—three credulous young men starting out on a fool’s errand. How
easily they had all been taken in. A mere child, he reasoned bitterly,
would have known better. Eyes straight to the fore, he strode angrily
across the landing and up the familiar, well-beaten, path.

“I’ll show them yet,” he blurted angrily to himself. “I’ll make it my
business to wipe out that disgrace if it’s the last thing I do.”

In the trading room, Mr. Scott awaited him.

“Well, have they gone?” he inquired eagerly.

“Yes,” answered Dick, forcing a smile, “they’re on their way now.”

“Their start wasn’t very propitious, was it?” The factor moved back to
the counter.


“Why Dick,” accused the factor, “you look as if you hadn’t a hope in the
world. I wouldn’t worry if I were you. Your friends will return safely.
Two weeks isn’t very long, Dick, when you stop to consider.”

“I wasn’t thinking of that. I—I mean I know they will. It isn’t that.”

“For goodness sake, then, what is the matter?”

Dick slumped into a chair, removed his hat and ran his fingers through
his hair.

“Mr. Scott,” he began, “we’ve been pretty good friends and I’m going to
take you into my confidence. Something is troubling me. Perhaps you can
help. Perhaps——” he paused, regarding the other perplexedly.

“You can depend on me,” the other did not hesitate. “What is it?”

“It concerns the dinosaur.”

“Dinosaur!” gasped the factor.

“Yes. I’ve decided that I’m going to do something about it. Have you
ever seen it, Mr. Scott?”

The factor shook his head. “No, never,” he answered. “I’ve heard of it
though. I was here two years ago when Donald Frazer went up to look at
it. Quite a curiosity, I believe.”

“You’re right. It is. It must be a very valuable fossil. I believe that
Frazer was right when he told us, Sandy, Toma and me, that it was very
valuable. No doubt, some museum somewhere would be glad to pay real
money for it.”

“I shouldn’t wonder. But what are you driving at, Dick? You’re the most
restless scamp I ever saw. Exactly what is on your mind now?”

“I’d like to make a contract with someone to take that dinosaur
outside—to sell it.”

“Is it because you are short of money? If you are, I——”

“No,” Dick interrupted, “that isn’t it at all. I want to take out that
dinosaur for reasons of my own, Mr. Scott.”

“You’re really serious about this?”

“Never more serious in my life.”

“Well what do you want me to do to help you?”

“First of all, I want your advice. Just for the sake of
argument—supposing that it were humanly possible to remove the skeleton
from that island—where could one be likely to sell it?”

Mr. Scott pursed his lips and gazed at Dick thoughtfully.

“Well I must confess that that’s a big order. Guess I’ll have to think
it over. Have a sleep on it. No, wait a minute! Tell you, Dick, what I’d
do if I were in your shoes and really wanted to sell that dinosaur. I’d
write to the Canadian Geographical Society at Toronto and get their
advice. They know all about such things. Just the sort of project they’d
be interested in.”

“Thank you,” said Dick, his eyes shining. “I appreciate your suggestion.
Now we come to the really difficult part. Supposing that the society
really is interested, how in the name of all that’s worth while am I
going to solve the problem of transporting—conveying it outside?
Remember the thing must weigh tons.”

“As large as that?”


The factor wrinkled his nose in perplexity. “That lets out a raft or
canoe. Why not build a scow?”

For a moment, Dick’s heart leaped. Then suddenly he became serious

“No, that wouldn’t do either. Even a scow would be battered hopelessly
about in the rapids. The dinosaur, unless very carefully taken apart and
crated—and I wouldn’t know how to do that—could not be carried over the
portages. And even if it could be, you couldn’t portage a scow. If you
let it go through the rapids, it would be broken up. Remember, too, that
you are bucking an upstream current. What motive power would you use for
the scow?”

Mr. Scott threw up his hands in a gesture of mock despair.

“Enough! Enough!” he cried. “I can see now that a scow is out of the

“At the same time,” puzzled Dick, “it wasn’t a bad suggestion. As you
know, the skeleton of the dinosaur is on an island in the center of a
lake. We could build a scow to take it to shore. But what to do with it
after we got it there, is more than I can tell you. I’ve racked my
brains trying to figure it all out. From the lake of the dinosaur to Big
Rock River, a tributary of the Peace, is over five hundred miles. There
are no trails. Even if we had plenty of horses and wagons, it would be
absolutely impossible to take the dinosaur out that way.”

“I give up,” sighed the factor. “From what you have told me, that
dinosaur seems to be pretty safe from molestation. It’s a hard problem,
and just now I can’t think of any solution. Why bother with it, Dick?
The game isn’t worth the candle.”

Dick shook his head stubbornly. “There must be some way. Nothing is
impossible. I won’t give up yet. I won’t!”

Mr. Scott was surprised at the other’s vehemence. He stared at Dick
wonderingly, then turned and strode over to the door. Just then a
customer came in and the subject was dropped. His brows puckered, Dick
lounged to the door and looked outside.

“Hang the luck!” he whispered to himself. “The farther I get into this
thing, the more difficult it appears.”

With an impatient, angry gesture, he yanked his hat down over his eyes
and strode outside.

                             CHAPTER XXIX.
                            THE RIVER PILOT.

On the next day, the routine and monotony of life at the post was broken
by the arrival of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s steamer from Painter’s
Ferry. It carried a cargo of merchandise and the bi-monthly mail for
persons residing at the post and vicinity. Dick was on hand when it hove
to and tied up at the landing. Factor Scott was also there and waved his
hand at the pilot, Captain Morrison, who stood near the rail while the
gang plank was lowered. A moment later, a crowd of passengers trooped
down to the shore. Dick followed the factor who went aboard to speak to
the captain.

“You’re a day ahead of your schedule,” he smiled as they shook hands.

Captain Morrison was a grizzled veteran of twenty years’ continuous
service with the great fur company. Few men knew the North better than
he. On the Athabasca, the Peace and the Mackenzie Rivers and Great Slave
Lake he had passed a long and eventful career. Scarcely a white person
in the North that he had not met at some time or other. He smiled when
he saw Dick, stepped forward and extended a brawny hand.

“Perhaps you don’t remember me, my boy. You’re Dick Kent, aren’t you? I
was at Peace River Crossing two years ago when you made that flight from
near Fort Good Faith to the Crossing in that airplane with that fire

“At the time of the small-pox epidemic,” Dick recalled. “I remember you

“I had the _Northern Queen_ then. My run was from Fort Vermilion to
Hudson’s Hope. Got transferred up here this spring.”

Morrison turned for a moment to call out instructions to the first mate,
then resumed:

“Still assisting the police?”

“Occasionally,” answered Dick.

“That’s what I thought. We passed Corporal Rand, Mr. Frazer and a number
of others in two canoes. Where are they bound for?”

“Mackenzie Barracks,” answered Mr. Scott.

“Frazer accompanying the policeman?”


“Had some trouble here?” persisted the captain.

It was a little difficult for Mr. Scott to explain the circumstances. He
hesitated, looking at Dick.

“You have guessed correctly, Captain Morrison. Donald Frazer, the former
factor here, has been arrested for complicity in the murder of Conroy
Miller, a prospector. The motive was robbery. With the exception of the
two young men you might have noticed in one of the canoes, all the
others in the party were implicated.”

Captain Morrison stalked to the rail and looked down at the scene of
activity below. His mouth twitched and he wiped his perspiring face with
a shaky hand.

“Good Heavens! I never would have suspected—it is hard to
believe—Frazer! The last person on earth I’d associate with such a

“That’s true,” Mr. Scott admitted. “He’s changed a lot in the last two
or three years. Gambling and drinking led up to it. He was pressed for
money, had appropriated funds belonging to the company.”

“Weren’t two of those prisoners Toby McCallum and Wolf Brennan? Seems to
me I recognized them.”

“That’s who they were. The others were Henri and Pierre Mekewai, two

“Never heard of the Indians, but Toby McCallum and Wolf Brennan I know
well. Very unscrupulous, both of them. At one time, about ten years ago,
they worked under me. I was on the Athabasca then. My run was from
Gruard to Athabasca Landing. Lazy, impertinent, light fingered. I had
the devil’s own time with them. Finally forced to dismiss them from my

“How far do you run up the river?” Dick asked, hoping to change the

“I go as far as Big Rock Lake. During high water, occasionally I go down
Big Rock River which flows into the Peace.”

Dick started. “You mean to say, Captain, that in high water you can run
your steamer clear from here to Peace River Crossing?”

“Quite right, my boy. A month ago I could have done it quite easily. But
not now. Under the present arrangement, all the supplies for these
northern posts in this immediate territory, are freighted across country
from Peace to Big Rock Lake. Costs the company a pile of money, too. If
the cost wasn’t so prohibitive, we would deepen the channel in Big Rock

At this juncture, Morrison was called away to supervise the work of
unloading cargo stored in the hold. Dick and Mr. Scott watched the
proceedings for a time, then turned and retraced their steps to the

“You don’t know how hard it was to tell Captain Morrison about Frazer,”
confided the latter. “He and Frazer were pretty close friends at one
time, I believe. I’ve often heard the former factor speak of him in
rather laudatory terms.”

“It was quite a shock to him. You could see that. By the way, when does
Captain Morrison make the return trip to Big Rock Lake?”

“Early tomorrow morning. He always ties up here for the night. All
afternoon they’ll be loading cordwood which, as you know, they use for
fuel. Also, I have nearly two hundred bales of fur ready for shipment.”

So, as was his usual custom, the grizzled pilot of the North’s great
waterways remained at Half Way House for the night. Dick spent the
afternoon in a futile wandering about, still pondering over the problem
of the dinosaur. The captain’s statement, that in the spring, when water
was high, his steamer could proceed as far south as Peace River
Crossing, filled him with unbounded joy. If only he could think of some
way—some plan by which he could bring the fossil from the Lake of Many
Islands to Half Way House, his perplexity would be at an end.

“It can’t be impossible,” he kept repeating to himself over and over in
a monotonous, mournful undertone. “I simply must think of some way
before the boys return.”

But how? Almost within his reach, that remaining barrier of three
hundred miles of wilderness held him from his goal. The thought was
maddening. Restless as a sprite, he paced back and forth between the
post and the river at least twenty times. Again he considered Mr.
Scott’s suggestion regarding a scow. Wasn’t there some way of pushing or
hauling such an unwieldy craft through the rapids opposite the portages?
For a time, he seriously considered the advisability of a gasoline motor
in the scow.

Of all the plans that had come into his mind, the last seemed most
feasible. Yet, it had its drawbacks too. In the first place, he didn’t
have a motor or the gasoline with which to run it. It would cost a lot
of money and a good deal of time would elapse before he could even hope
to try out his plan. In case that it should prove to be impracticable,
he would be out a good sum of money and no nearer a workable solution.

After supper, he sat in the dining room, still pondering the question.
He could hear Captain Morrison and Mr. Scott conversing in low tones at
the opposite side of the room. Now and again, a word or phrase came to
him. Tonight Captain Morrison was in a reminiscent mood and he regaled
his host with many tales of a long lifetime spent in the northern
Canadian wilderness. His voice droned on and on happily. Occasionally he
lapsed into thoughtful silences, industriously sucking his pipe. The
room was pleasantly warm and Dick felt tired and sleepy.

He rose lazily to his feet and went to a window and looked out. He was
standing close to Captain Morrison now and could hear every word that
was being said. In spite of himself, he became interested.

“In 1904, I think it was,” Morrison paused for a moment, puffing at his
pipe. “Yes, 1904. I was running on this river same as I am now. A
different steamer though, the _Lady Marian_. Trim little vessel she was
and, at that time, the fastest boat that ever headed into these northern
waters. She was new and spick as a pin. I was proud of her. I wasn’t a
bit ashamed when that distinguished party of Hudson’s Bay officials, I
was telling you about, came out here from London, England on their round
of inspection.

“There were a couple of Lords and an Earl or two in that party. I picked
them up at Big Rock Lake and steamed up here for Half Way House in one
of the worst storms I have ever seen. It had rained steady for six days.
River flowing like a torrent. Drift bumping up against us every few
minutes. So nasty outside that not one of the party could come out on
deck. Thermometer dropping every hour. That was in April, too—the tail
end of the month. My second trip since the ice went out. Near Painter’s
Ferry I was standing in the bow, watching the drift, when I heard
someone come up behind me and felt a hand on my arm. I turned, and so
help me Bob, if it wasn’t the commissioner himself.

“‘When do we arrive at Half Way House?’ he asked me.

“‘In about six more hours,’ I told him.

“He nodded to me, pinched my arm in a friendly way and went below. I
kept watching the drift until the dark came. All the time the storm was
increasing. The rain turned into a wet, blinding snow. It kept getting
colder every minute. I was afraid of the drift and slowed down until I
was barely drifting with the current.

“With the engines quiet and the darkness growing more and more intense,
I began to see that I could never make Half Way House in six hours. So I
went below and explained my difficulties. The commissioner was a very
grave man and a little impatient at the delay.

“‘Why don’t you put on a little more steam?’ he asked me.

“‘I’m afraid of crashing into the drift,’ I told him.

“He hesitated, twirled the ends of his waxed mustache and turned to the
rest of the party.

“‘Are you gentlemen willing to take the risk?’ he inquired. ‘If you are,
I’ll give the captain here instructions to go ahead more quickly.’

“There wasn’t a dissenting voice. They were all anxious, it seemed, to
get on to their destination. I went down and gave the engineer his

“‘Full steam ahead,’ I said a little angrily. ‘Give her all you’ve got.
The commissioner and his party are in a hurry to get to Half Way House.’

“Soon after, when I went to the deck, the _Lady Marian_ was thundering
under my feet like a huge locomotive. We drove straight into a head
wind, a furious storm of sleet and snow. It kept me busy trying to
figure out where I was. Every little while, I was compelled to take
soundings. The minutes and the hours slipped on. The night was black as
a crow’s wing. Snow piling up in drifts along the deck—slippery as ice.
Still no sight of Half Way House. I couldn’t see a light twinkling. I
was certain that we must be close upon it by that time and finally I
rang orders to the engineer to slow down and, a few minutes later, to
stop altogether.

“Nearly frozen, I stood there like a lost child gazing out through the
storm. One thing that worried me was the rate of speed we were drifting.
I had never seen the current so swift here before. It literally boiled
around us. When the steamer went forward again, the velocity of the
current increased. Then two miles farther on, it became steadier, less

“For a long time I stood out there on the deck, shivering, weary,
disgusted, unable to account for the phenomenon. I knew the river like
you gentlemen know a book. I had never run into anything like that
before. Between Painter’s Ferry and Half Way House, such a current
simply did not exist. Then suddenly, like a clap out of a blue sky, it
struck me all at once. I got so blamed mad that I felt like jumping
overboard. For the first time in all my life, I had committed an
unpardonable error.”

“What was it?” asked Dick, unable to contain himself any longer.

With maddening deliberateness, the old river man silently filled and
relighted his pipe. He turned toward his young questioner and grinned

“In the terrific storm and darkness,” he explained, “I had run
completely past Half Way House and down an uncharted stretch of river
six miles past the first portage. All things considered, I was mighty
fortunate. If it had been a few weeks later, I would have run slap-dash
into the rocks there at the portage.”

“Did you go back to Half Way House that same night?”

Captain Morrison laughed and shook his head.

“No, that’s the best part of it. It hurt like blazes to go below and
tell that distinguished party what a fool I had made of myself. But
instead of becoming angry, as I had supposed they would, they had a good
laugh over it and instructed me to pull in a little closer to shore
where we wouldn’t drag anchor, and stop for the night.

“The next morning was beautiful. The wind had changed into the west and
one could feel the faint stirrings of a regular chinook. I was getting
ready to turn back, when the commissioner came on deck, all rosy and
smiling, and asked me how I had spent the night.

“‘Fine,’ I told him.

“‘Have you got a good head of steam?’

“‘Yes, sir,’ I answered. ‘I can take you back to the trading post in a
little over an hour and a quarter.’

“I had stepped forward to give my orders to my engineer, when he called
me back.

“‘Have you ever been this far down the river before?’ he asked me.

“I told him that I had not. I explained to him that there were no
trading posts further down the river and that navigation was impossible
except during high flood.

“‘The lower part of the river has never been charted then?’ he said.

“I shook my head.

“‘Very well then, Captain Morrison, we’ll go on down the river and chart
it. We’ll stop at Half Way House on our return.’”

Dick suddenly strode forward and placed an eager, trembling hand on the
broad shoulders of the river pilot.

“And did you really chart the river?” he asked in a queer, tense voice.

“Yes, that’s what we did,” the other replied promptly. “We were away two
weeks. Went three hundred and fifty miles by actual count.”

Dick suddenly threw his hat in the air.

“Whoopee!” he shouted,

                              CHAPTER XXX.
                        BACK FROM THE BARRACKS.

“Captain Morrison,” said Dick, shaking the pilot’s hand, “I can’t begin
to tell you how thankful I am that I remained here tonight and listened
to that interesting account of your experiences. It has solved a great
problem for me.”

“What problem? I don’t understand. How have I helped you?” Captain
Morrison’s questions came like staccato explosions.

“Did you ever hear of the dinosaur in the Lake of Many Islands?” Dick

The river man rubbed his forehead thoughtfully,

“No, I don’t believe that I have. Is there a dinosaur there?”

“On the island of the granite shaft,” explained Dick. “A huge skeleton
of a dinosaur, or what has been described as a dinosaur, a big skeleton
weighing tons. At Mr. Scott’s suggestion, I’m writing out to the
Canadian Geographical Society to see if they will be interested in
buying it, or at least, finding a purchaser. My great problem was to
discover how to get the thing out of there if I did succeed in selling
it. I’ve been studying over it for weeks. Until you came here tonight, I
had no idea that it was possible to descend the river in a steamer even
in high water.”

“You didn’t!” gasped the captain.

“No, I didn’t. None of us did.”

“I thought that nearly every one knew that the river had been charted,”
mused the old pilot. “I have the chart in my possession right now. In
the morning, if you will accompany me to the steamer, I’ll show it to

“Splendid,” enthused Dick. “Now comes the next difficulty. Do you think
the Hudson’s Bay Company would consider a proposal to transport the
skeleton from the Lake of Many Islands to Peace River Crossing?”

“Why not?” the captain looked at Dick in surprise. “We carry thousands
of dollars worth of freight every year for private individuals.”

“When would be the best time to go up there for it?” came Dick’s next

“That depends a good deal upon the season. Ordinarily, I should say, the
latter part of April or the first part of May. Certainly not until the
snow has all melted and the first spring rains have come.”

“If I can find a purchaser, can I depend upon yours or some other
steamer to do the work for me. The reason I’m asking you this is because
I’d hate to enter into any sort of contract and then discover at the
last minute that you were too busy to make the trip.”

“That difficulty can be solved easily. Let me know just as soon as you
have completed arrangements with the society and I’ll charter a steamer
for you.”

“Thank you, Captain Morrison. That’s very good of you. I’ll write a
letter tonight and will send it out to the Canadian Geographical Society
in the mail that you are taking with you tomorrow. Even allowing for
delays, I ought to hear from them within two months. If the answer is
favorable, I’ll get in touch with you just as soon as I can.”

“Very well, Dick, I’ll expect to hear from you. Now, if I’m not too
inquisitive, do you think that such an undertaking as the one you
propose will be a profitable venture on your part?”

“I really don’t know,” came the startling answer. “To be perfectly frank
with you, I don’t care if I don’t make a single penny.”

Captain Morrison’s eyes popped.

“What’s that? You don’t care? You—you——”

Factor Scott’s amused laugh broke across the room.

“Look here, Dick,” he expostulated, “in fairness to the captain, you
ought to give him your real reason for wanting to fetch out the

“All right, Mr. Scott, I will.”

Dick pulled forward a chair and sat down.

“If you have just a moment or two more to spare, I’ll tell you. For a
long time now it had been a sore point with me. A number of weeks ago,
at the instance of Mr. Frazer, I went up there to the island of the
dinosaur, accompanied by my two friends, Sandy MacClaren and John
Toma—the two young men you saw yesterday with Corporal Rand. Mr. Frazer
had promised us quite a large sum of money if we would bring the
skeleton back to Half Way House. Not until we arrived at the island and
saw how large the dinosaur was, did we learn that the expedition was
planned by the factor merely to get us out of the way. It was a fool’s
errand. It made us all feel silly. Quite a few people, who have heard
about it, had a good laugh at our expense. I can take a joke as well as
the next one, but this joke was too raw to suit me, or my chums either.
We had paid out quite a large sum of money for tools and grubstake and
were forced to endure untold, almost unbelievable hardships.”

Captain Morrison’s eyes shadowed.

“Atrocious!” he pronounced. “I don’t blame you in the least for feeling
as you do.”

Soon afterward, Dick bade good-night to Factor Scott and the genial
river pilot and retired to his room in the loft to write his letter to
the Canadian Geographical Society. On the following morning, he was up
bright and early and, after a hurried breakfast, went down to the
landing wharf, his epistle in hand.

Captain Morrison greeted him cheerily.

“Good morning, young man, you’re abroad early. Were you afraid I’d pull
anchor before you had time to mail that precious letter? Bet you didn’t
sleep a wink last night.”

Dick flushed under the steady gaze.

“In strict confidence, I didn’t sleep very much, but I guess it was more
than a wink. I feel rested, anyway—and happy, too.”

The captain yanked his blue cap farther down over his eyes and bellowed
out an order. A sailor, standing idly near the gangplank, jumped as if
he had been shot.

“Got to watch them every minute,” grumbled the captain. “By the way, I
told you to come over and see that chart. If you’ll come with me to the
cabin, I’ll give you a peep at it. Rather proud of that chart. Made
under very unusual circumstances. Has the sanction and approval of the
highest officials of the Hudson’s Bay Company.”

For nearly an hour Dick remained aboard with the captain, studying the
chart and listening to the account of that memorable journey down the
river. When the time came for him to go ashore, he shook hands with his
benefactor, thanking him once more.

“I never would have solved the problem if it hadn’t been for you,” he
declared earnestly, squeezing the pilot’s rough hand. “You can’t realize
how happy it has made me.”

“Even happier than the satisfaction of knowing you helped to bring those
crooks to justice?” inquired the other slyly.

Dick smiled modestly. “No, I wouldn’t say that. What I mean is that
everything has worked out so nicely. The slate is almost wiped clean.
Somehow it seemed that our job wasn’t fully completed until we had
settled the fate of that dinosaur.”

Captain Morrison laughed, shook hands again and Dick hurried down the
gangplank just as the steamer’s whistle shrieked out its warning. He
turned to wave a last good-bye then thoughtfully made his way up to the

“Never saw such a change in anyone in my life,” commented the factor as
Dick breezed through the open door. “Your smile would warm the heart of
a stone.”

“That’s just the way I feel,” chuckled the young man. “All I have to do
now is enjoy a well-earned vacation while I’m waiting for Sandy and

“I bet you can hardly wait until they come. They’ll be as pleased as
punch when you tell them the news.”

However, during the next few days, in which he had plenty of time to
think it all over, Dick decided that he would say absolutely nothing
about the dinosaur for the present. Instead, he would keep that for a
surprise until he had received word from the Canadian Geographical
Society. By so doing, if the society’s letter was unfavorable toward the
project, no one would be disappointed except himself.

Nevertheless, he counted the days, almost the hours, while he waited for
his chums’ return. When the thirteenth day came and passed, little lines
of worry and impatience began to etch his smooth, brown forehead. On the
fourteenth day, he had grown so restless that he found it utterly
impossible to remain in one place more than a few minutes at a time. He
walked around the post like a lost soul. What was keeping them? Had the
prisoners escaped? Through his mind there flashed in review a hundred
scenes of lurid, sanguinary combat, through which he could follow the
sinister, gliding form of two Mekewai brothers—triumphant at last. So
vividly did his troubled imagination conjure up these fantastic horrors,
that he could actually see Sandy, Corporal Rand and Toma lying prone and
lifeless in the shadow of the sentinel trees along the gloomy, woodland
trail to Fort Mackenzie.

At four o’clock in the afternoon, almost crazed by his obsessions, he
wandered back toward the trading room, then suddenly stopped short as if
transfixed. Coming out of the woods, less than a hundred yards away,
were two well-known figures—two laughing and noisy young men.

A thrill of joy coursed through him.

“Hello, Dick!” they both shouted as their friend bounded forward to meet

By the time he had joined them, Sandy and Toma had slipped off their
shoulder-packs, heedlessly letting them fall to the ground.

“Fooled you, didn’t we?” cried the former. “Instead of returning by
Painter’s Ferry, we struck straight across country. Had a glorious time.
Toma shot a moose.”

“How did the prisoners behave?” Dick demanded.

“Everything went just like clock-work,” replied Sandy. “No trouble at
all. The Mekewais were docile as two lambs. We both had the satisfaction
of seeing the lot of them thrown into iron cells, where they’ll remain
until the day of the trial. When that time comes, we’ll be the Crown’s
chief witnesses. Inspector Cameron asked me to tell you that.”

“We’ll all be ready,” smiled Dick.

“Inspector Cameron sent his very kindest regards to you,” continued the
young man. “He says that we’re getting better and better all the time.
Here’s your check, Dick.”

“Thank you,” said the recipient of the money, glancing at the bit of
paper while he flushed with pride and pleasure.

“And that isn’t all,” Sandy hurried on. “I almost forgot to tell you an
important bit of news. The story of Miller’s strike at Caribou Lake has
precipitated a gold rush. Hundreds of prospectors are on their way there
and a few already staked out claims. The police think that there’ll be
an important camp established near Miller’s claim before the summer is
over. Constable Perry left two days after our arrival, to go up there
and keep order. The chances are that he’ll be stationed there

“Too bad that Miller isn’t there himself,” said Dick. “If his life
hadn’t been cut short, he might have lived to become very, very

“That’s true,” Sandy’s face shadowed a little.

Toma turned radiantly upon Dick.

“What you do alla time we be gone?” he asked curiously. “Sandy an’ me
tell each other that you get so lonesome that——”

Interrupting him, Dick put aside the implications with a lordly gesture.

“Not a bit of it. Never had a more interesting time in my life.”

“You didn’t even miss us!” gasped Sandy.

Dick flushed as he stooped to pick up the forgotten shoulder-packs.

“Sandy,” he reproved him, “sometimes I think you talk too much. Come on
now, Factor Scott will be waiting for you.”

                             CHAPTER XXXI.
                          HE WHO LAUGHS LAST.

Two months later at Fort Good Faith, Dick received a letter which caused
him to exclaim excitedly and then call out in an eager voice to Sandy,
who stood just across the room conversing with a half-breed trapper from
Willing River.

“Sandy, come here!”

Dick’s chum swung obediently on his heel and hurried over.

“Yes, Dick. What’s up now?”

“A letter about the dinosaur,” explained Dick. “Arrived here just now
from the Canadian Geographical Society.”

Sandy’s expression changed suddenly from eagerness to surprise.

“Our dinosaur up there at the Lake of Many Islands!” he gasped.

Dick nodded. “The very same.”

“You mean to tell me you’ve been corresponding with the Canadian
Geographical Society about that mountain of bones?” inquired the other

“Yes, Sandy, that’s what I’ve been doing.”

The next question was a very natural one:

“But why?”

“To prove the old saying that the man who laughs last laughs best,”
answered Dick enigmatically.

“What do you mean by that?”

“I mean just this: Up until the time we encountered the dinosaur, we
never tackled any task we didn’t successfully finish. But that dinosaur
stuck us. We didn’t know how we’d get the brute out of the country. We
lost a certain amount of prestige when we set out upon that undertaking.
It made us look like fools. With the exception of Corporal Rand,
everybody had a good laugh over it.”

“But it was our first experience of the kind,” Sandy expostulated. “We
knew nothing about fossil hunting. Except in a hazy way, we didn’t even
know what a dinosaur was. The mistake was natural. I’ll admit that the
joke was on us, but almost anyone else, even an older person, might have
been taken in by it.”

“True enough, Sandy.” Dick’s hand rested lightly on his friend’s
shoulder. “Still I think you’ll agree with me that if we succeed in
getting the dinosaur away from the island, we can feel more like facing
the world again.”

“Well, what have you done about it? What does the letter say?”

Dick handed over the sheet of paper.

“Read it,” he said.

                                                         Ottawa, Canada,
                                                       August 2nd, 1923.

  Mr. Richard Kent,
  Fort Good Faith,
  N. W. T.
  Dear Sir:

In reply to your letter, dated June 27th, I wish to say that our society
is very much interested in your proposal and early next spring will
undertake the preliminary work of exhuming, crating and shipping the
fossil you have described. Our representative, Mr. Claymore, has been
instructed to proceed at once to Fort Good Faith, where he will arrive
about September 1st to take up with you more fully the project of
transporting the dinosaur from Half Way River to the end-of-steel at
Peace River Crossing.

                           Yours very truly,
                                                  (Signed) L. P. Graham,
                                              Secretary for the Society.

Sandy glanced up when he had finished reading, thoughtfully folded the
letter and handed it back to his chum.

“I suppose you know what you’re doing, Dick. Made all your plans?”

Dick nodded emphatically. “Yes, down to the last detail.”

“Taking Toma and me with you?”—a slight frown and an assumed air of
great indifference.

“You bet I am,” grinned Dick. “You ought to know that without asking.
You and Toma are to furnish the brains for my working party.”

                                THE END

                          Transcriber’s Notes

--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
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  spellings and dialect unchanged.

--Added a Table of Contents based on chapter headings.

--In the text versions, delimited italics text in _underscores_ (the
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