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It was still early morning when Cameron rode into the barrack-yard at Fort Calgary. To the Sergeant in charge, the Superintendent of Police having departed to Macleod, he reported the events of the preceding night.
"What about that rumor, Sergeant?" he inquired after he had told his tale.
"Well, I had the details yesterday," replied the Sergeant. "Colonel Otter and a column of some three hundred men with three guns went out after Pound-maker. The Indians were apparently strongly posted and could not be dislodged, and I guess our men were glad to get out of the scrape as easily as they did."
"Great Heavens!" cried Cameron, more to himself than to the officer, "what will this mean to us here?"
The Sergeant shrugged his shoulders.
"The Lord only knows!" he said.
"Well, my business presses all the more," said Cameron. "I'm going after this Sioux. Jerry is already on his trail. I suppose you cannot let me have three or four men? There is liable to be trouble and we cannot afford to make a mess of this thing."
"Jerry came in last night asking for a man," replied the Sergeant, "but I could not spare one. However, we will do our best and send you on the very first men that come in."
"Send on half a dozen to-morrow at the very latest," replied Cameron. "I shall rely upon you. Let me give you my trail."
He left a plan of the Ghost River Trail with the Sergeant and rode to look up Dr. Martin. He found the doctor still in bed and wrathful at being disturbed.
"I say, Cameron," he growled, "what in thunder do you mean by roaming round this way at night and waking up Christian people out of their sleep?"
"Sorry, old boy," replied Cameron, "but my business is rather important."
And then while the doctor sat and shivered in his night clothes upon the side of the bed Cameron gave him in detail the history of the previous evening and outlined his plan for the capture of the Sioux.
Dr. Martin listened intently, noting the various points and sketching an outline of the trail as Cameron described it.
"I wanted you to know, Martin, in case anything happened. For, well, you know how it is with my wife just now. A shock might kill her."
The doctor growled an indistinct reply.
"That is all, old chap. Good-by," said Cameron, pressing his hand. "This I feel is my last go with old Copperhead."
"Your last go?"
"Oh, don't be alarmed," he replied lightly. "I am going to get him this time. There will be no trifling henceforth. Well, good-by, I am off. By the way, the Sergeant at the barracks has promised to send on half a dozen men to-morrow to back me up. You might just keep him in mind of that, for things are so pressing here that he might quite well imagine that he could not spare the men."
"Well, that is rather better," said Martin. "The Sergeant will send those men all right, or I will know the reason why. Hope you get your game. Good-by, old man."
A day's ride brought Cameron to Kananaskis, where the Sun Dance Trail ends on one side of the Bow River and the Ghost River Trail begins on the other. There he found signs to indicate that Jerry was before him on his way to the Manitou Rock. As Cameron was preparing to camp for the night there came over him a strong but unaccountable presentiment of approaching evil, an irresistible feeling that he ought to press forward.
"Pshaw! I will be seeing spooks next!" he said impatiently to himself. "I suppose it is the Highlander in me that is seeing visions and dreaming dreams. I must eat, however, no matter what is going to happen."
Leaving his horse saddled, but removing the bridle, he gave him his feed of oats, then he boiled his tea and made his own supper. As he was eating the feeling grew more strongly upon him that he should not camp but go forward at once. At the same time he made the discovery that the weariness that had almost overpowered him during the last half-hour of his ride had completely vanished. Hence, with the feeling of half contemptuous anger at himself for yielding to his presentiment, he packed up his kit again, bridled his horse, and rode on.
The trail was indeed, as Jerry said, "no trail." It was rugged with broken rocks and cumbered with fallen trees, and as it proceeded became more indistinct. His horse, too, from sheer weariness, for he had already done his full day's journey, was growing less sure footed and so went stumbling noisily along. Cameron began to regret his folly in yielding to a mere unreasoning imagination and he resolved to spend the night at the first camping-ground that should offer. The light of the long spring day was beginning to fade from the sky and in the forest the deep shadows were beginning to gather. Still no suitable camping-ground presented itself and Cameron stubbornly pressed forward through the forest that grew denser and more difficult at every step. After some hours of steady plodding the trees began to be sensibly larger, the birch and poplar gave place to spruce and pine and the underbrush almost entirely disappeared. The trail, too, became better, winding between the large trees which, with clean trunks, stood wide apart and arranged themselves in stately high-arched aisles and long corridors. From the lofty branches overhead the gray moss hung in long streamers, as Jerry had said, giving to the trees an ancient and weird appearance. Along these silent, solemn, gray-festooned aisles and corridors Cameron rode with an uncanny sensation that unseen eyes were peering out upon him from those dim and festooned corridors on either side. Impatiently he strove to shake off the feeling, but in vain. At length, forced by the growing darkness, he decided to camp, when through the shadowy and silent forest there came to his ears the welcome sound of running water. It was to Cameron like the sound of a human voice. He almost called aloud to the running stream as to a friend. It was the Ghost River.
In a few minutes he had reached the water and after picketing his horse some little distance down the stream and away from the trail, he rolled himself in his blanket to sleep. The moon rising above the high tree-tops filled the forest aisles with a soft unearthly light. As his eye followed down the long dim aisles there grew once more upon him the feeling that he was being watched by unseen eyes. Vainly he cursed himself for his folly. He could not sleep. A twig broke near him. He lay still listening with every nerve taut. He fancied he could hear soft feet about him and stealing near. With his two guns in hand he sat bolt upright. Straight before him and not more than ten feet away the form of an Indian was plainly to be seen. A slight sound to his right drew his eyes in that direction. There, too, stood the silent form of an Indian, on his left also an Indian. Suddenly from behind him a deep, guttural voice spoke, "Look this way!" He turned sharply and found himself gazing into a rifle-barrel a few feet from his face. "Now look back!" said the voice. He glanced to right and left, only to find rifles leveled at him from every side.
"White man put down his guns on ground!" said the same guttural voice.
"Indian speak no more," said the voice in a deep growl.
Cameron put his guns down.
"Stand up!" said the voice.
Cameron obeyed. Out from behind the Indian with the leveled rifle glided another Indian form. It was Copperhead. Two more Indians appeared with him. All thought of resistance passed from Cameron's mind. It would mean instant death, and, what to Cameron was worse than death, the certain failure of his plans. While he lived he still had hope. Besides, there would be the Police next day.
With savage, cruel haste Copperhead bound his hands behind his back and as a further precaution threw a cord about his neck.
"Come!" he said, giving the cord a quick jerk.
"Copperhead," said Cameron through his clenched teeth, "you will one day wish you had never done this thing."
"No speak!" said Copperhead gruffly, jerking the cord so heavily as almost to throw Cameron off his feet.
Through the night Cameron stumbled on with his captors, Copperhead in front and the others following. Half dead with sleeplessness and blind with rage he walked on as if in a hideous nightmare, mechanically watching the feet of the Indian immediately in front of him and thus saving himself many a cruel fall and a more cruel jerking of the cord about his neck, for such was Copperhead's method of lifting him to his feet when he fell. It seemed to him as if the night would never pass or the journey end.
At length the throbbing of the Indian drum fell upon his ears. It was to him a welcome sound. Nothing could be much more agonizing than what he was at present enduring. As they approached the Indian camp one of his captors raised a wild, wailing cry which resounded through the forest with an unearthly sound. Never had such a cry fallen upon Cameron's ears. It was the old-time cry of the Indian warriors announcing that they were returning in triumph bringing their captives with them. The drum-beat ceased. Again the cry was raised, when from the Indian encampment came in reply a chorus of similar cries followed by a rush of braves to meet the approaching warriors and to welcome them and their captives.
With loud and discordant exultation straight into the circle of the firelight cast from many fires Copperhead and his companions marched their captive. On every side naked painted Indians to the number of several score crowded in tumultuous uproar. Not for many years had these Indians witnessed their ancient and joyous sport of baiting a prisoner.
As Cameron came into the clear light of the fire instantly low murmurs ran round the crowd, for to many of them he was well known. Then silence fell upon them. His presence there was clearly a shock to many of them. To take prisoner one of the Mounted Police and to submit him to indignity stirred strange emotions in their hearts. The keen eye of Copperhead noted the sudden change of the mood of the Indians and immediately he gave orders to those who held Cameron in charge, with the result that they hurried him off and thrust him into a little low hut constructed of brush and open in front where, after tying his feet securely, they left him with an Indian on guard in front.
For some moments Cameron lay stupid with weariness and pain till his weariness overpowered his pain and he sank into sleep. He was recalled to consciousness by the sensation of something digging into his ribs. As he sat up half asleep a low "hist!" startled him wide awake. His heart leaped as he heard out of the darkness a whispered word, "Jerry here." Cameron rolled over and came close against the little half-breed, bound as he was himself. Again came the "hist!"
"Me all lak' youse'f," said Jerry. "No spik any. Look out front."
The Indian on guard was eagerly looking and listening to what was going on before him beside the fire. At one side of the circle sat the Indians in council. Copperhead was standing and speaking to them.
"What is he saying?" said Cameron, his mouth close to Jerry's ear.
"He say dey keel us queeck. Indian no lak' keel. Dey scare Police get 'em. Copperhead he ver' mad. Say he keel us heemse'f--queeck."
Again and again and with ever increasing vehemence Copperhead urged his views upon the hesitating Indians, well aware that by involving them in such a deed of blood he would irrevocably commit them to rebellion. But he was dealing with men well-nigh as subtle as himself, and for the very same reason as he pressed them to the deed they shrank back from it. They were not yet quite prepared to burn their bridges behind them. Indeed some of them suggested the wisdom of holding the prisoners as hostages in case of necessity arising in the future.
"What Indians are here?" whispered Cameron.
"Piegan, Sarcee, Blood," breathed Jerry. "No Blackfeet come--not yet--Copperhead he look, look, look all yesterday for Blackfeet coming. Blackfeet come to-morrow mebbe--den Indian mak' beeg medicine. Copperhead he go meet Blackfeet dis day--he catch you-- he go 'gain to-morrow mebbe--dunno."
Meantime the discussion in the council was drawing to a climax. With the astuteness of a true leader Copperhead ceased to urge his view, and, unable to secure the best, wisely determined to content himself with the second-best. His vehement tone gave place to one of persuasion. Finally an agreement appeared to be reached by all. With one consent the council rose and with hands uplifted they all appeared to take some solemn oath.
"What are they saying?" whispered Cameron.
"He say," replied Jerry, "he go meet Blackfeet and when he bring 'em back den dey keel us sure t'ing. But," added Jerry with a cheerful giggle, "he not keel 'em yet, by Gar!"
For some minutes they waited in silence, then they saw Copperhead with his bodyguard of Sioux disappear from the circle of the firelight into the shadows of the forest.
"Now you go sleep," whispered Jerry. "Me keep watch."
Even before he had finished speaking Cameron had lain back upon the ground and in spite of the pain in his tightly bound limbs such was his utter exhaustion that he fell fast asleep.
It seemed to him but a moment when he was again awakened by the touch of a hand stealing over his face. The hand reached his lips and rested there, when he started up wide-awake. A soft hiss from the back of the hut arrested him.
"No noise," said a soft guttural voice. Again the hand was thrust through the brush wall, this time bearing a knife. "Cut string," whispered the voice, while the hand kept feeling for the thongs that bound Cameron's hands. In a few moments Cameron was free from his bonds.
"Give me the knife," he whispered. It was placed in his hands.
"Tell you squaw," said the voice, "sick boy not forget."
"I will tell her," replied Cameron. "She will never forget you." The boy laid his hand on Cameron's lips and was gone.
Soon Jerry too was free. Slowly they wormed their way through the flimsy brush wall at the back, and, crouching low, looked about them. The camp was deep in sleep. The fires were smoldering in their ashes. Not an Indian was moving. Lying across the front of their little hut the sleeping form of their guard could be seen. The forest was still black behind them, but already there was in the paling stars the faint promise of the dawn. Hardly daring to breathe, they rose and stood looking at each other.
"No stir," said Jerry with his lips at Cameron's ear. He dropped on his hands and knees and began carefully to remove every twig from his path so that his feet might rest only upon the deep leafy mold of the forest. Carefully Cameron followed his example, and, working slowly and painfully, they gained the cover of the dark forest away from the circle of the firelight.
Scarcely had they reached that shelter when an Indian rose from beside a fire, raked the embers together, and threw some sticks upon it. As Cameron stood watching him, his heart-beat thumping in his ears, a rotten twig snapped under his feet. The Indian turned his face in their direction, and, bending forward, appeared to be listening intently. Instantly Jerry, stooping down, made a scrambling noise in the leaves, ending with a thump upon the ground. Immediately the Indian relaxed his listening attitude, satisfied that a rabbit was scurrying through the forest upon his own errand bent. Rigidly silent they stood, watching him till long after he had lain down again in his place, then once more they began their painful advance, clearing treacherous twigs from every place where their feet should rest. Fortunately for their going the forest here was largely free from underbrush. Working carefully and painfully for half an hour, and avoiding the trail by the Ghost River, they made their way out of hearing of the camp and then set off at such speed as their path allowed, Jerry in the lead and Cameron following.
"Where are you going, Jerry?" inquired Cameron as the little half- breed, without halt or hesitation, went slipping through the forest.
"Kananaskis," said Jerry. "Strike trail near Bow Reever."
"Hold up for a moment, Jerry. I want to talk to you," said Cameron.
"No! Mak' speed now. Stop in brush."
"All right," said Cameron, following close upon his heels.
The morning broadened into day, but they made no pause till they had left behind them the open timber and gained the cover of the forest where the underbrush grew thick. Then Jerry, finding a dry and sheltered spot, threw himself down and stretched himself at full length waiting for Cameron's word.
"Tired, Jerry?" said Cameron.
"Non," replied the little man scornfully. "When lie down tak' 'em easy."
"Good! Now listen! Copperhead is on his way to meet the Blackfeet, but I fancy he is going to be disappointed." Then Cameron narrated to Jerry the story of his recent interview with Crowfoot. "So I don't think," he concluded, "any Blackfeet will come. Copperhead and Running Stream are going to be sold this time. Besides that the Police are on their way to Kananaskis following our trail. They will reach Kananaskis to-night and start for Ghost River to-morrow. We ought to get Copperhead between us somewhere on the Ghost River trail and we must get him to-day. Where will he be now?"
Jerry considered the matter, then, pointing straight eastward, he replied:
"On trail Kananaskis not far from Ghost Reever."
"Will he be that far?" inquired Cameron. "He would have to sleep and eat, Jerry."
"Non! No sleep--hit sam' tam' he run."
"Then it is quite possible," said Cameron, "that we may head him off."
"Mebbe--dunno how fas' he go," said Jerry.
"By the way, Jerry, when do we eat?" inquired Cameron.
"Pull belt tight," said Jerry with a grin. "Hit at cache on trail."
"Do you mean to say you had the good sense to cache some grub, Jerry, on your way down?"
"Jerry lak' squirrel," replied the half-breed. "Cache grub many place--sometam come good."
"Great head, Jerry. Now, where is the cache?"
"Halfway Kananaskis to Ghost Reever."
"Then, Jerry, we must make that Ghost River trail and make it quick if we are to intercept Copperhead."
"Bon! We mus' mak' beeg speed for sure." And "make big speed" they did, with the result that by midday they struck the trail not far from Jerry's cache. As they approached the trail they proceeded with extreme caution, for they knew that at any moment they might run upon Copperhead and his band or upon some of their Indian pursuers who would assuredly be following them hard. A careful scrutiny of the trail showed that neither Copperhead nor their pursuers had yet passed by.
"Come now ver' soon," said Jerry, as he left the trail, and, plunging into the brush, led the way with unerring precision to where he had made his cache. Quickly they secured the food and with it made their way back to a position from which they could command a view of the trail.
"Go sleep now," said Jerry, after they had done. "Me watch one hour."
Gladly Cameron availed himself of the opportunity to catch up his sleep, in which he was many hours behind. He stretched himself on the ground and in a moment's time lay as completely unconscious as if dead. But before half of his allotted time was gone he was awakened by Jerry's hand pressing steadily upon his arm.
"Indian come," whispered the half-breed. Instantly Cameron was wide-awake and fully alert.
"How many, Jerry?" he asked, lying with his ear to the ground.
"Dunno. T'ree--four mebbe."
They had not long to wait. Almost as Jerry was speaking the figure of an Indian came into view, running with that tireless trot that can wear out any wild animal that roams the woods.
"Copperhead!" whispered Cameron, tightening his belt and making as if to rise.
"Wait!" replied Jerry. "One more."
Following Copperhead, and running not close upon him but at some distance behind, came another Indian, then another, till three had passed their hiding-place.
"Four against two, Jerry," said Cameron. "That is all right. They have their knives, I see, but only one gun. We have no guns and only one knife. But Jerry, we can go in and kill them with our bare hands."
Jerry nodded carelessly. He had fought too often against much greater odds in Police battles to be unduly disturbed at the present odds.
Silently and at a safe distance behind they fell into the wake of the running Indians, Jerry with his moccasined feet leading the way. Mile after mile they followed the trail, ever on the alert for the doubling back of those whom they were pursuing. Suddenly Cameron heard a sharp hiss from Jerry in front. Swiftly he flung himself into the brush and lay still. Within a minute he saw coming back upon the trail an Indian, silent as a shadow and listening at every step. The Indian passed his hiding-place and for some minutes Cameron lay watching until he saw him return in the same stealthy manner. After some minutes had elapsed a soft hiss from Jerry brought Cameron cautiously out upon the trail once more.
"All right," whispered Jerry. "All Indians pass on before." And once more they went forward.
A second time during the afternoon Jerry's warning hiss sent Cameron into the brush to allow an Indian to scout his back trail. It was clear that the presence of Cameron and the half-breed upon the Ghost River trail had awakened the suspicion in Copperhead's mind that the plan to hold a powwow at Manitou Rock was known to the Police and that they were on his trail. It became therefore increasingly evident to Cameron that any plan that involved the possibility of taking Copperhead unawares would have to be abandoned. He called Jerry back to him.
"Jerry," he said, "if that Indian doubles back on his track again I mean to get him. If we get him the other chaps will follow. If I only had a gun! But this knife is no use to me."
"Give heem to me," said Jerry eagerly. "I find heem good."
It was toward the close of the afternoon when again Jerry's hiss warned Cameron that the Indian was returning upon his trail. Cameron stepped into the brush at the side, and, crouching low, prepared for the encounter, but as he was about to spring Jerry flashed past him, and, hurling himself upon the Indian's back, gripped him by the throat and bore him choking to earth, knocking the wind out of him and rendering him powerless. Jerry's knife descended once bright, once red, and the Indian with a horrible gasping cry lay still.
"Quick!" cried Cameron, seizing the dead man by the shoulders. "Lift him up!"
Jerry sprang to seize the legs, and, taking care not to break down the brush on either side of the trail, they lifted the body into the thick underwood and concealing themselves beside it awaited events. Hardly were they out of sight when they heard the soft pad of several feet running down the trail. Opposite them the feet stopped abruptly.
"Huh!" grunted the Indian runner, and darted back by the way he had come.
"Heem see blood," whispered Jerry. "Go back tell Copperhead."
With every nerve strung to its highest tension they waited, crouching, Jerry tingling and quivering with the intensity of his excitement, Cameron quiet, cool, as if assured of the issue.
"I am going to get that devil this time, Jerry," he breathed. "He dragged me by the neck once. I will show him something."
Jerry laid his hand upon his arm. At a little distance from them there was a sound of creeping steps. A few moments they waited and at their side the brush began to quiver. A moment later beside Cameron's face a hand carrying a rifle parted the screen of spruce boughs. Quick as a flash Cameron seized the wrist, gripping it with both hands, and, putting his weight into the swing, flung himself backwards; at the same time catching the body with his knee, he heaved it clear over their heads and landed it hard against a tree. The rifle tumbled from the Indian's hand and he lay squirming on the ground. Immediately as Jerry sprang for the rifle a second Indian thrust his face through the screen, caught sight of Jerry with the rifle, darted back and disappeared with Jerry hard upon his trail. Scarcely had they vanished into the brush when Cameron, hearing a slight sound at his back, turned swiftly to see a tall Indian charging upon him with knife raised to strike. He had barely time to thrust up his arm and divert the blow from his neck to his shoulder when the Indian was upon him like a wild cat.
"Ha! Copperhead!" cried Cameron with exultation, as he flung him off. "At last I have you! Your time has come!"
The Sioux paused in his attack, looking scornfully at his antagonist. He was dressed in a highly embroidered tight-fitting deerskin coat and leggings.
"Huh!" he grunted in a voice of quiet, concentrated fury. "The white dog will die."
"No, Copperhead," replied Cameron quietly. "You have a knife, I have none, but I shall lead you like a dog into the Police guard- house."
The Sioux said nothing in reply, but kept circling lightly on his toes waiting his chance to spring. As the two men stood facing each other there was little to choose between them in physical strength and agility as well as in intelligent fighting qualities. There was this difference, however, that the Indian's fighting had ever been to kill, the white man's simply to win. But this difference to-day had ceased to exist. There was in Cameron's mind the determination to kill if need be. One immense advantage the Indian held in that he possessed a weapon in the use of which he was a master and by means of which he had already inflicted a serious wound upon his enemy, a wound which as yet was but slightly felt. To deprive the Indian of that knife was Cameron's first aim. That once achieved, the end could not long be delayed; for the Indian, though a skillful wrestler, knows little of the art of fighting with his hands.
As Cameron stood on guard watching his enemy's movements, his mind recalled in swift review the various wrongs he had suffered at his hands, the fright and insult to his wife, the devastation of his home, the cattle-raid involving the death of Raven, and lastly he remembered with a deep rage his recent humiliation at the Indian's hands and how he had been hauled along by the neck and led like a dog into the Indian camp. At these recollections he became conscious of a burning desire to humiliate the redskin who had dared to do these things to him.
With this in mind he waited the Indian's attack. The attack came swift as a serpent's dart, a feint to strike, a swift recoil, then like a flash of light a hard drive with the knife. But quick as was the Indian's drive Cameron was quicker. Catching the knife- hand at the wrist he drew it sharply down, meeting at the same time the Indian's chin with a short, hard uppercut that jarred his head so seriously that his grip on the knife relaxed and it fell from his hand. Cameron kicked it behind him into the brush while the Indian, with a mighty wrench, released himself from Cameron's grip and sprang back free. For some time the Indian kept away out of Cameron's reach as if uncertain of himself. Cameron taunted him.
"Onawata has had enough! He cannot fight unless he has a knife! See! I will punish the great Sioux Chief like a little child."
So saying, Cameron stepped quickly toward him, made a few passes and once, twice, with his open hand slapped the Indian's face hard. In a mad fury of passion the Indian rushed upon him. Cameron met him with blows, one, two, three, the last one heavy enough to lay him on the ground insensible.
"Oh, get up!" said Cameron contemptuously, kicking him as he might a dog. "Get up and be a man!"
Slowly the Indian rose, wiping his bleeding lips, hate burning in his eyes, but in them also a new look, one of fear.
"Ha! Onawata is a great fighter!" smiled Cameron, enjoying to the full the humiliation of his enemy.
Slowly the Indian gathered himself together. He was no coward and he was by no means beaten as yet, but this kind of fighting was new to him. He apparently determined to avoid those hammering fists of the white man. With extraordinary agility he kept out of Cameron's reach, circling about him and dodging in and out among the trees. While thus pressing hard upon the Sioux Cameron suddenly became conscious of a sensation of weakness. The bloodletting of the knife wound was beginning to tell. Cameron began to dread that if ever this Indian made up his mind to run away he might yet escape. He began to regret his trifling with him and he resolved to end the fight as soon as possible with a knock-out blow.
The quick eye of the Indian perceived that Cameron's breath was coming quicker, and, still keeping carefully out of his enemy's reach, he danced about more swiftly than ever. Cameron realized that he must bring the matter quickly to an end. Feigning a weakness greater than he felt, he induced the Indian to run in upon him, but this time the Indian avoided the smashing blow with which Cameron met him, and, locking his arms about his antagonist and gripping him by the wounded shoulder, began steadily to wear him to the ground. Sickened by the intensity of the pain in his wounded shoulder, Cameron felt his strength rapidly leaving him. Gradually the Indian shifted his hand up from the shoulder to the neck, the fingers working their way toward Cameron's face. Well did Cameron know the savage trick which the Indian had in mind. In a few minutes more those fingers would be in Cameron's eyes pressing the eyeballs from their sockets. It was now the Indian's turn to jibe.
"Huh!" he exclaimed. "White man no good. Soon he see no more."
The taunt served to stimulate every ounce of Cameron's remaining strength. With a mighty effort he wrenched the Indian's hand from his face, and, tearing himself free, swung his clenched fist with all his weight upon the Indian's neck. The blow struck just beneath the jugular vein. The Indian's grip relaxed, he staggered back a pace, half stunned. Summoning all his force, Cameron followed up with one straight blow upon the chin. He needed no other. As if stricken by an axe the Indian fell to the earth and lay as if dead. Sinking on the ground beside him Cameron exerted all his will-power to keep himself from fainting. After a few minutes' fierce struggle with himself he was sufficiently revived to be able to bind the Indian's hands behind his back with his belt. Searching among the brushwood, he found the Indian's knife, and cut from his leather trousers sufficient thongs to bind his legs, working with fierce and concentrated energy while his strength lasted. At length as the hands were drawn tight darkness fell upon his eyes and he sank down unconscious beside his foe.
"There, that's better! He has lost a lot of blood, but we have checked that flow and he will soon be right. Hello, old man! Just waking up, are you? Lie perfectly still. Come, you must lie still. What? Oh, Copperhead? Well, he is safe enough. What? No, never fear. We know the old snake and we have tied him fast. Jerry has a fine assortment of knots adorning his person. Now, no more talking for half a day. Your wound is clean enough. A mighty close shave it was, but by to-morrow you will be fairly fit. Copperhead? Oh, never mind Copperhead. I assure you he is safe enough. Hardly fit to travel yet. What happened to him? Looks as if a tree had fallen upon him." To which chatter of Dr. Martin's Cameron could only make feeble answer, "For God's sake don't let him go!"
After the capture of Copperhead the camp at Manitou Lake faded away, for when the Police Patrol under Jerry's guidance rode up the Ghost River Trail they found only the cold ashes of camp-fires and the debris that remains after a powwow.
Three days later Cameron rode back into Fort Calgary, sore but content, for at his stirrup and bound to his saddle-horn rode the Sioux Chief, proud, untamed, but a prisoner. As he rode into the little town his quick eyes flashed scorn upon all the curious gazers, but in their depths beneath the scorn there looked forth an agony that only Cameron saw and understood. He had played for a great stake and had lost.
As the patrol rode into Fort Calgary the little town was in an uproar of jubilation.
"What's the row?" inquired the doctor, for Cameron felt too weary to inquire.
"A great victory for the troops!" said a young chap dressed in cow- boy garb. "Middleton has smashed the half-breeds at Batoche. Riel is captured. The whole rebellion business is bust up."
Cameron threw a swift glance at the Sioux's face. A fierce anxiety looked out of the gleaming eyes.
"Tell him, Jerry," said Cameron to the half-breed who rode at his other side.
As Jerry told the Indian of the total collapse of the rebellion and the capture of its leader the stern face grew eloquent with contempt.
"Bah!" he said, spitting on the ground. "Riel he much fool--no good fight. Indian got no Chief--no Chief." The look on his face all too clearly revealed that his soul was experiencing the bitterness of death.
Cameron almost pitied him, but he spoke no word. There was nothing that one could say and besides he was far too weary for anything but rest. At the gate of the Barrack yard his old Superintendent from Fort Macleod met the party.
"You are wounded, Cameron?" exclaimed the Superintendent, glancing in alarm at Cameron's wan face.
"I have got him," replied Cameron, loosing the lariat from the horn of his saddle and handing the end to an orderly. "But," he added, "it seems hardly worth while now."
"Worth while! Worth while!" exclaimed the Superintendent with as much excitement as he ever allowed to appear in his tone. "Let me tell you, Cameron, that if any one thing has kept me from getting into a blue funk during these months it was the feeling that you were on patrol along the Sun Dance Trail."
"Funk?" exclaimed Cameron with a smile. "Funk?" But while he smiled he looked into the cold, gray eyes of his Chief, and, noting the unwonted glow in them, he felt that after all his work as the Patrol of the Sun Dance Trail was perhaps worth while.
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