Saturday, 7 April 2018

The Specter at Serpent’s Cut


The Specter at Serpent’s Cut
By Frank L. Packard
Author of The Blood of Kings”Spitzer,” Etc.
From The Popular Magazine October 1911, No. 6, Vol. 21.
Digitized for Stillwoods.Blogspot.Ca by Doug Frizzle April 2018.
Our research has so far not attached this story to any of Frank Packard’s books /drf.

The “spook doctor” drops into Big Cloud and adds one more topic for the expatiation of the talkative railroad man, Matthew Agamemnon. He is still a talker, but the occult is taboo. There’s a reason.

SUMMED up short, the Hill Division is a vicious piece of track; also, it is a classic in its profound contempt for the stereotyped equations and formulas of engineering. And it is that way for the very simple reason that it could not be any other way. The mountains objected, and objected strenuously, to the process of manhandling. They were there first, the mountains, that was all, and their surrender was a bitter matter.
So, from Big Cloud, the divisional point, at the eastern fringe of the Rockies, to where the foothills of the Sierras on the western side merge with the more open, rolling country, the right of way performs gyrations that would not shame an acrobatic star. It sweeps through the rifts in the range like a freed bird from the open door of its cage, clings to cañon edges where a hissing stream bubbles and boils eighteen hundred feet below, burrows its way into the heart of things in long tunnels and short ones, circles a projecting spur in a dizzy whirl, and shoots from the higher to the lower levels in grades whose percentages the passenger department does not deem it policy to specify in its advertising literature, but before which the men in the cabs and the cabooses shut their teeth and try hard to remember the prayers they learned at their mothers’ knees.
Some parts of it are worse than others naturally; but no part of it, to the last inch of its mileage, is pretty—leaving out the scenery, which is grand.
And what with cuts and fills and borings and trestles and bridges, in an effort to unsnarl a few knots in the tangle, the company has been tinkering with it pretty well ever since the last spike was sent home and the small army of consulting scientists, with a flourish of trumpets, bowed gracefully to the managing director of the Transcontinental —and withdrew to seek other worlds to conquer. However—
This is Terhune’s story; and it goes back to the time when “Royal” Carleton was superintendent and Tommy Regan, big-hearted as he was gruff, was master mechanic. Terhune was an engineer. His full name was Matthew Agamem­non Terhune—the only excuse for which seems to have been that his parents were possessed of a sense of euphony, or one of them, maybe, a first-grammar education in Greek.
Anyway, Terhune was dutifully appreciative—he signed in full.
Clarihue, the turner, swore at him at first for usurping more than the allotted space ruled off on the grease-smeared pages of the book in the roundhouse that recorded the goings and comings of the engine crews; but eventually he became wise enough to content himself with a snort of disgust amplified by a spurt of black-strap juice pitward. Terhune, given an opportunity, would argue that, or any other matter under the sun, with a calm and dispassionate flow of words that had Tennyson’s brook for continuity beaten seven ways for Sunday.
“Matthew Aggie-mem-gong Terhune!” choked Clarihue. “The fathead wind bag!”
Regan put it a little differently.
“Talk!” said the master mechanic. “Talk! The man’s a debating society, that’s what he is. He’ll talk when he’s dead. I don’t know what kind of springs he’s got on his tongue. I wish I did. I’d equip the motive power department with them. What?”
The division, however, being generally in a hurry, called him plain “Matt.”
With the exception of Clarihue, perhaps, no one ever got mad at Terhune. If it is true that obesity is a sign of good nature, Terhune is simply a case in point. He exuded it from every pore of his fat, dumpy body; and he dispensed it alike on the just and on the unjust.
Certainly, the man was more or less of a consummate ass; but any inclination to kick him on that score vanished with one glance at his great babyish moon face, with its two little, round blue eyes that stared out from under a straggling collection of sandy hairs, which fringed, much after the fashion of a monk’s tonsure, an otherwise bald and shiny head. After that glance it was all off. There was no getting mad at Matt.
Professionally, Terhune was all right as far as he went. Nothing startling, nothing out of the way—not even a regular run. Regan used him as a sort of ever-ready substitute for anything that might turn up. And, as far as Matthew Agamemnon Terhune was concerned, it appeared to be all one to him. Switch­ing, yard work, local freight, double heading, anything—he took it as it came, complacently, good-naturedly. So that it did not bar him from talking, he was happy.
He could talk in a cab; and there, perforce, he had an audience. The fireman had his choice between being the target for Matt’s views and theories on an astounding range of subjects—or jumping! From the Alaskan Boundary Question to the Fresh Air Movement Matt was posted—and, if not profoundly posted, his ideas, at least, had the merit of being original.
Now all of the above is, on the face of it, extraneous to the fact that, during a winter of pretty heavy running, the Serpent’s Cut had netted an appalling number of disasters, even for that bedeviled piece of construction that never under any circumstances was known to behave itself for better than a month at a stretch; but, extraneous as it may appear, it had, for all that, a very direct bearing on Matthew Agamemnon and his propensity for argument and talk.
However, in any event, the driven-to-desperation directors down East, when they got the cold figures that totaled up the claims and represented the amount of rolling stock reposing on the scrap heap from six months’ running in the Serpent’s Cut, voted, though they bit their lips when they did it, some sweeping and extensive alterations on that particular stretch of track. And when the plans came out in the spring, they called for a new bridge across the Muskrat River at the foot of the grade, and a rock cut from the mouth of Number One Tunnel to straighten the bridge approach.
It was a big piece of work—about the biggest the company had ever undertaken; everybody realized that. So, once the improvements were decided upon, they went at it with a rush; and the lower slopes and stretches of the mountains were just beginning to shed their winter coats, when a brigade of engineers, bridgemen, foremen, Polacks, Swedes, Russians, and what not moved into construction camp on the banks of the Muskrat.
Then the bridge material and the thousand and one other odds and ends of supplies began to pour into the Big Cloud yards—it was all out from the East then—and there followed, in the natural order of things, a daily-work special to the camp. Regan gave it to Terhune, of course; and gave him, besides, the various engines as they came out of the shops to break in after their overhauling. Also he gave him as fireman young Charlie Spence, brother, by the way, of the chief dispatcher.
Take it all around, it was an incongruous-looking outfit that Matt pulled out of the yards those days. Generally a big ten-wheeler, spick and span, glistening in fresh paint, with Terhune obliterating the cab window and bounc­ing up and down on his seat like a cheerful rubber ball; and little Spence, who had never run anything but “spare” be­fore, expanding his chest in the gangway fit to bust the buttons off his un­dershirt; while trailing behind, slewing, rattling, bumping, came a hybrid conglomeration of gondolas, reversible gravel dumps, flats groaning under blocked and shored-up steel bridge girders; maybe a box car here and there, by way of picturesqueness; and, to wind things up, on the tail end, a caboose that was out of the ark, and not much bigger than a baby carriage. That was Work Special 117 west, 118 east.
So, west to the Muskrat in the morning, lugging back the empties at night, became, for the time being, Terhune’s run—and it suited him as no job had ever suited him before. Except for the trip to the water tank and turntable at Beaver Tail, two miles west of the camp, he had the day pretty much to himself; and there were new men on the work, men he did not know. Or, perhaps, to put the matter in a truer perspective, men who did not know Matthew Agamemnon Terhune—for the engineer corps, like the material, came out from the East.
Matt buttonholed Ferguson, the chief, on the first morning, and opened on him with the Newfoundland Fisheries Dispute.
Ferguson, who was a receptive Scot, lifted his scraggy eyebrows and rose to the bait—Terhune’s introduction invariably carried a glimmer of sense; but, being busy at the moment, he invited Terhune to dinner to hear the rest of it; where incidentally he introduced his staff, which consisted of a couple of sea­soned assistants and another couple of embryonic engineers, whose names, plus a small edition of the alphabet recently forged on by a fond and trusting Alma Mater, were Podger and Clark.
It wasn’t an expensive invitation from the viewpoint of the exchequer of the engineers’ mess—Terhune was too busy to eat—and for about a week Matt had a standing invitation; but after that, whether some one tipped the Scotchman off, or the combined galaxy of mathematical talent got the answer for themselves, Terhune’s midday repast consisted of what he fished out of his own dinner pail.
Terhune might have been a little puzzled at this change of front; but certainly he was not abashed. Nothing, so far, in all of Matthew Agamemnon Terhune’s forty-three years of life had ever abashed him. Furthermore, if the construction engineers’ mess renounced him as an organization, certain units of it did not; for, while the canny Scotchman and his two assistants politely and unostentatiously avoided Matthew, the guileless and demure Podger and Clark continued to hang, and to all appearances to hang breathlessly, upon the words that fell from the engineer’s lips.
Things went on this way for some two weeks; and then suddenly, coincident with the advent to Big Cloud of one Senorita Vera Cabello, the Alaskan Boundary Question, the Fresh Air Movement, the Newfoundland Fisheries Dispute, and all other subjects of character, scope, and vital import similar, were blown away, as fluff is blown before a gale of wind, in the face of a new and weightier matter for research and discussion. That is, it was new, and therefore weightier to Terhune.
Regan, with ungracious bluntness, called her a “spook doctor”—but the master mechanic was always blunt. Miss Cabello—pardon, Senorita Vera Cabello, in her advertisements in the Big Cloud Weekly World’s Era, announced herself as a “seeress renowned on two hemispheres,” and followed with a modest compilation of her qualifica­tions and attainments.
She was the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter—of course. Under the great teacher Yagagama, she had studied the mystic laws of crystal gazing in the far Orient. At her command were, not one, but two familiars of the dread other world, with whom she was in constant communion for the benefit of those who consulted her; and further, by special arrangement and appointment —for which there was an extra fee— she would, for a brief space, recall the ethereal forms of any dear departed on request—always provided that the “rapport,” whatever that meant, was propitious and favorable, a risk to which the client subscribed in his accompanied-by-the-fee application for the seance.
The Senorita Cabello was clever— whatever else might be said of her, let that be understood. She gave a free public performance in the fire hall on the night of her arrival. Terhune attended this—and was impressed. There was a black cabinet on the stage and black hangings and misty, white shapes moving about, potent tributes to the senorita’s powers. Terhune bulked large in a front chair, his moon face puckered, his little, round eyes like pin points, as he stared into the Egyptian blackness in front of him.
For a wonder he didn’t say much that night; but the next night he presented himself at the senorita’s apartments, which she had meanwhile opened over Dinkelman’s clothing emporium on Main Street.
There wasn’t any silly business about it as far as the engineer was concerned; that is, there wasn’t any glamour of feminine charms exerting any undue influence upon him—the senorita was neither comely nor in the flower of her youth. Brought down to a simple equation, the idea of the occult and its mysteries caught Matthew Agamemnon hard; and the latter part of the senorita’s advertisement caught him harder.
Terhune had never forgiven his twin brother Sime for the inopportune and fatal attack of heart failure, some five years previous, with which the defunct had so arbitrarily terminated, at its most crucial moment, the argument upon which they had been engaged at the time. He most earnestly desired to converse with Sime.
The senorita agreed. It took her a few seconds to get the line clear and warm up to her work; but, inside of three minutes by the watch, she was writhing around on the floor like a serpent stung by bees, choking and squeal­ing and foaming at the mouth.
Terhune had seen a cat in a fit once; and there was one thing about him that was common to every engineer on the Hill Division—which was to act promptly in an emergency. There was a pitcher of water on the table. Terhune seized it, and heaved the contents violently into her face.
The stiffening limbs relaxed with amazing mobility, and the Senorita Vera Cabello sat up with surprising suddenness. What she said is not recorded, because Terhune didn’t quite get the rights of it himself; but when he left, he carried with him a sort of hazy realization that he had only himself to blame for sidetracking the “rapport” with Sime—and just at the psychological instant when it was about to be consummated, too.
Therefore, he tried it again the following evening. This time he sternly refrained from even a thought of the water pitcher—which incidentally had been removed—but Sime, perhaps because he had got close enough to witness the proceedings of the night before, seemed a little diffident about taking a chance on getting mixed up with the turmoil and strife of things terrestrial. Sime did not appear; but Mat­thew was still optimistic.
Blow much of the engineer’s last pay check, in a very brief interval of time, became the property of Senorita Vera Cabello is a personal matter, and Terhune’s own business. Terhune never said. If Sime was stubborn, so was Matthew Agamemnon. Being twins, it was natural; but let that go.
And the senorita was clever. Pend­ing connections with Sime, she fascinated Matthew by initiating him into the first degree of the mysteries of the Beyond—and hinted at much more. She spoke in a far-away voice of dwellers within the first and second and third spheres, wise counselors and mentors to mankind; of apparitions, wraiths, and specters, who appeared to mortals when something of dire moment was impending. But—the world was blind and gross and crass—few, very few, could see or understand. It was necessary to be attuned, to be sensitive.
“Zar are many t’ings in heaven an’ earth—” she quoted; and sold Matthew Agamemnon a little literature on the subject.
At first, Terhune, like a man feeling his way on a new run, and wary of getting his signals mixed, confined his reflections on this now all-engrossing matter to young Spence, his fireman.
Spence listened incredulously.
“I dunno what you mean,” said he, “ ‘bout visitations from the other world an’ appuritshuns an’ wreaths an’ that sort; but if it’s ghosts you’re drivin’ at, I don’t take no stock in ’em. Never saw one; did you?”
This was the challenge direct. Terhune blinked his little eyes fast, and proceeded to get his hand, or, rather, his tongue, in on Spence—and scored cleanly. Spence, on the evening run back that night, took to dodging, between shovelfuls, the shadows of the telegraph poles as they flitted across the gangway; and, as Work Special 118 pulled into the Big Cloud yards, he confessed to a “creepy, cricidy feelin’ up an’ down his spine.”
With this victory as a credential of proficiency, Terhune opened fire the following day on the construction camp. And on that day, and for some ensuing ones, he bombarded it pitilessly. He caught Ferguson on the narrow ledge of an excavation where the chief couldn’t get away. He cornered the assistants more than once. He labored patiently with excitable Russians, staring Swedes, and half-witted Polacks, whose knowledge of English was summed up in the few choice and polite phrases with which they were accustomed to be addressed by their lords and masters, the road bosses and foremen. He talked to everybody; and no man, except perhaps Sime, who was dead, could pace Matthew Agamemnon on talk.
But of all his audience, Podger and Clark alone were solicitious and sympathetic. At the start, like Spence, they asked him if he had ever seen a ghost himself. Matthew regretted that he had not; but, in lieu of personal testimony, offered an imposing array of authentic statistics, which he now had at his fingers’ ends, of people who had.
Clark was unquestionably impressed. So was Podger. But their conversion was a lower and more stubborn matter than Spence’s. They yielded a point here and there from time to time, as men whose convictions are reluctantly overridden; but it was several days before they made a full and unconditional surrender.
However, if it took longer than it did with Spence, once converted, having been trained in a mathematical school of hard fact, their conversion was not the passive conversion of the fireman. Instead, it was practical, and—but the red is against us, and we’ll have to slow up till we get the track.
To-day, now that Ferguson has built his bridge and gouged his cut through the mountain walls, you can see the mouth of Number One Tunnel staring at you like a little black eye up the grade all the way from the bridge; but you couldn’t then, for the right of way swept out of the tunnel into a long half-mile curve close up against the bare gray rock of the mountainside following the river bend; and, still curving at the bottom, where it crossed the Muskrat, hit the old wooden trestle on the tangent.
This didn’t leave much room for a siding anywhere; but, what with Terhune and his dump carts and the work in general, a siding there had to be from the first, so they tapped the main line as far up as they could squeeze in, paralleled it down to the trestle, and left the last two rails bent up and sticking out over the water, with the river for a bumper.
About the only rights Terhune and his Work Special had were this same Muskrat siding and the three-mile stretch from there to Blazer, the first station east of the camp; the latter be­cause, once Matt had pulled out, he was in the clear, with nothing on earth to reach him till the operator at Blazer could wave a tissue in his face.
So, also, because there was quiet in the Serpent’s Cut and a lull in the traffic for an hour or so around six o’clock, Terhune was scheduled to leave the Muskrat at six-fifteen each night and run to Blazer for orders. After that, if he wasn’t laid out more than two or three times by the wayside, he would eventually make the Big Cloud yards by eight or eight-thirty—in time to keep a one-sided appointment with his tantalizingly elusive relation, and imbibe mystic lore from the senorita, after her customary earnest, if unproductive, fit was at an end.
Matthew Agamemnon Terhune had become a busy man, take it all round; for the more he listened to the senorita on subjects touching the dread familiars across the Styx, the firmer became his belief and the stronger grew his desire to enlighten the unenlightened—so the harder he talked.
And possibly there is a moral here. Certainly no one ever had a less fertile soil for the sowing of seed than was the field wherein Matthew Agamemnon labored; and yet, to-day, the first canon in the creed of the Hill Division, bar no man among them, not even the pick-swinging Russians and Swedes and Polacks, is ghosts.
It simply goes to show what sincerity and unbounded perseverance will do; for, on the Friday night when Terhune pulled out from the Muskrat siding, a week after Senorita Vera Cabello’s arrival at Big Cloud, the only disciples he had were young Spence, his fireman, and those two learned bachelors of science, Clark and Podger.
In the first flush of spring the days are still short, and it had already shut down pretty black when Terhune, on the dot of six-fifteen, moved up the siding and cautiously negotiated the mainline switch for the bumping, groaning, rattling string that trailed behind him.
You can come down the stretch from the tunnel to the trestle at a fairly stiff clip, for the arc of the curve is wide; but going up is quite another matter, with a trifle better than a four-per-cent grade to climb. Terhune had a heavier load than usual that night; and his pace was little faster than a man’s walk as he crawled up for the tunnel’s mouth, his engine entering her protest in long, hoarse, growling barks from her exhaust, and coughing a hemorrhage of sparks and red-hot cinders from her stack.
There wasn’t much of the right of way in sight, for the beam of the electric headlight, with the curve of the track, just cut the left-hand rail a few yards ahead, and then shot away like a truant child to play among the trees and foliage of the Muskrat Valley that was opening up below. The effect of this might have been pretty, but it did not appeal to Terhune—he had seen it before; and, besides, he had other things on his mind. So, by the time they were well up to the tunnel, having got snugly and comfortably settled on his seat, he cast, after a professional glance at his gauges, an introspective eye across the cab at Spence,
“There’s none so blind,” said he, with originality, “as them as won’t see. There’s hundreds and hundreds of cases with evidence enough to back ‘em up that no one with any sense could turn down. Now take that drummer ghost somewheres over in Scotland that always plays his drum as a warning when one of the family’s going to die. No one disputes that, do they? Well, then, how about that?”
“I think they’re horrid things,” said young Spence uncomfortably.
“I don’t say they’re not,” admitted Terhune, wagging his head sapiently. “I don’t say they’re not, but— What’s that!” The words burst from his lips in a dull, frozen gasp of terror, followed on the instant by a wild, incoherent yell from the fireman.
With a lurch as it struck the straight, and the roar of the deep-toned exhaust swelling into a thousand thunders that reverberated hollow and cavernous from the vaulted roof, the big ten-wheeled mogul had shoved her nose into the round, inky black mouth of the tunnel; and the headlight, wavering back to its duty, was throwing its beam far into the opening. And there, where the shaft of light focused ahead upon the rails, was a sight that made Terhune’s blood run cold.
Full in the right of way, facing the train, one hand upheld, as though in warning, the light shimmering through his ghostly body onto the rail beyond, stood the white, shadowy specter figure of a man.
Great clammy beads of perspiration sprang to Terhune’s forehead, his fat, florid cheeks paled to ivory, and the fringe of hair around his head seemed to rise up until it stood out straight and stiff; then, working like a madman, he jammed in the throttle, applied the “air,” shot the reversing lever over the full segment into the last notch, whipped the throttle wide open again, released the “air,” and, for all the world like huge pinwheels, the sparks flying from the tires, the drivers began to race backward.
No train before or since on the Hill Division ever came to as abrupt a stop as did Work Special 118 east on that night. The jerk threw Spence halfway up the coal on the tender; and Terhune spit blood from loosened teeth for a week afterward. With any initial speed, the flats and the gravel dumps and the box cars would have telescoped them­selves to splinters. As it was, they came together with a rattle and bang and crunch and grind of battered buffers that would have put a park of artillery in the toy pistol class.
Then the mogul began to bite into the rails, and the train began to back out of the tunnel and down the grade; but, ahead of it, leading the way, the coupler shivered like a bit of pastry from the terrific snap-the-whip wrench it had received, sailed the ancient caboose. And swaying, writhing, squeaking, squealing, followed the rest of the Work Special, with Terhune, all flabby fat now, hang­ing from the cab window, his whistle, from pure nervousness, going like a chattering magpie, and his teeth, after one last sight of the apparition as they swung clear of the tunnel, going like a pair of castanets.
The train crew in the caboose, by the time they got their scattered senses together from the shock that had bowled them like ninepins over the stove and left them wrestling with the stovepipe, found themselves halfway back to the trestle, with the speed of their crazy conveyance increasing at every foot. They let out a concerted yell, and jumped.
Down below, at the din infernal, lights were flashing all around the camp. Some one rushed to the switch, and threw it for the siding. The caboose, for all its age, took it like a young colt, whisked the length of it, shot off the up-canted end rails, and, describing a neat parabola in the air, plumped, in a clean dive, into the bosom of the Muskrat. And it was only the fierce swing and jolt of the engine as it took the switch, and the wild yell of the man beside it as he swung the main line open again, that momentarily restored Terhune’s wits sufficiently to check the train and save the rest of his outfit from the same fate.
As he came to a stop, men clustered around him; but for the first time in his life Matthew Agamemnon’s tongue clove to the roof of his mouth, and he was dumb. He could only hang weakly in the gangway as the volley of questions came at him thick and fast.
Then suddenly, from the tunnel’s mouth, came the long, shrill siren scream of a 1600 class mountain racer, then the pur of steel, the dull rumble of beating trucks growing louder and louder; and, bursting like a cannon’s tongue flame from the curve, the glare of a headlight shot streaming into the night. A roar, a whirl, a row of lights flashing like diamonds from a solid string of brass-vestibuled Pullmans swept by, took the trestle with a tattoo that echoed far up and down the valley, and was gone. And behind her, the questions silenced, men with blanched, awed faces saw Matthew Agamemnon Terhune, with a hysterical sob, collapse limply on the floor of his cab.

Just a series of illogical, disconnected happenings? Perhaps. It depends on the way you look at it. Queer things happen in life. If it had not been for the mechanical bent that enabled Podger and Clark to tinker so effectually with bits of wire and gauze sheeting, and Matthew Agamemnon’s propensity for talk that inspired them to do so, and the advent of Senorita Vera Cabello, who inspired Matthew Agamemnon, the be-Pullmaned Convention Special with clear rights to Glacier Junction, twenty miles west of the Muskrat, which would, none the less, have hit Blazer on the tick of her schedule, with no reason on earth for holding her up, since she had time and to spare to get past the siding before Terhune pulled out, and which would just as surely have had a breakdown a mile west of Blazer, delaying her fifteen minutes, a delay that, in the face of her rights through, her crew were concerned only in making up, would—but what’s the use!
Chance, or luck, or something more than that, if you’d rather, whatever you like to call it; that was all that stood between three hundred conventionites, to say nothing of two train and engine crews, and a shambles quick and absolute, that night.
However, that as it may be, it was a week before Matthew Agamemnon climbed into a cab again; and in the meantime, at the polite solicitation of the town marshal incident to a few unpaid bills, the senorita had departed from Big Cloud. This, from the standpoint of the psychologist, was a misfortune. His visits perforce ended. There was no telling whether the Specter of Serpent’s Cut, as they came to call it, had enhanced or shattered Terhune’s belief in her and, concretely, in the occult. Not that Matthew Agamemnon was silenced; far from it. He talked harder than ever, as far as that goes, only he talked exclusively on such subjects as the Alaskan Boundary Question, the Fresh Air Movement, and the Newfoundland Fisheries Dispute.

THE SCIENCE OF THE FLAPJACK

NOW twist your wrist
And bow your back,
And learn to turn
The good flapjack.
Give it a flip
When rich and brown,
Catch it kerslap!
When it comes down.

Give it a coat
Of sorghum thick,
Or bacon grease
Will do the trick;
Or even plain—
Not near half bad,
If a day’s tramp
Or hunt you've had.

Flapjack, you helped
The trail to clear
Through all the wilds
Of the frontier.
Well your humble
Part you played,
For by your strength
The West was made.
Robert V. Carr.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Murder at the Duck Club


Hesketh Prichard (1876-1922)
A short story from November Joe: Detective of the Woods (1918). Short detective stories in Canada.
Here is a little background on the author and the subject detective.
Digitized by Doug Frizzle for Stillwoods.Blogspot.Ca 2018 April.

November Joe had come to Quebec to lay in his stores against the winter’s trapping. He had told me that the best grounds in Maine were becoming poorer and poorer and that he had decided to go in on the south side of the St Lawrence, somewhere beyond Rimouski.
I knew that November was coming since two hours before his arrival a cable had been brought in for him, for when in Quebec, although he stayed at a downtown boarding-house, he was in the habit of using my office as a permanent address. I was therefore not at all surprised to hear his soft voice rallying my old clerk in the outer office. A more crabbed person than Hugh Witherspoon it would be impossible to meet, but it cannot be denied that like so many others he had a kindliness for November. Presently there was a knock at the door and Joe, his hat held between his two hands, sidled into the room. He was never quite at ease except in the open, and as he came towards me with his shy smile, his moccasins fell noiselessly on the polished boards.
I handed him his telegram, which he opened at once. It ran:
Offer you fifty dollars a day to come at once to Tamarind Duck Club.
Eileen M. East.

Joe whistled and characteristically said nothing.
‘Who is Eileen M. East?’ I asked.
Joe made no reply for a moment, then he indicated the telegram and said:—
‘This has been redirected from Lavette. Postmaster Tom knew I’d be in to see you. Miss East was one of an American party I was with, ‘way up on Thompson’s salmon river this spring.’
At this moment a clerk knocked and entered, bringing with him a second telegram. Joe read it:
You must come. Murder done. A matter of life and death.
Please reply.Eileen M. East.

‘Will you write out an answer for me?’ asked Joe.
I nodded. Joe is slow with the pen.
‘“Miss Eileen M. East.” Please put that, sir, and then “arriving on 3.38,” and sign.’
‘How shall I sign it?’ said I.
‘Just write “November.”’
I did so, and ringing again for the clerk I directed him to give the telegram to the boy who was waiting. There was a moment’s silence, then—
‘Can you come along, Mr Quaritch?’
I looked at the business which had accumulated on my desk, for, as I have had occasion to observe more than once, I am a very busy man indeed, or, at least, I ought to be, for my interests, as were those of my father and grandfather, are bound up with the development of the Dominion of Canada and range through the vegetable and mineral kingdoms to water-power and the lighting of many of our greatest cities.
‘Yes, but I must have ten minutes in which to give Witherspoon his instructions.’
Joe went to the door. ‘The boss wants you right away, old man,’ I heard him say.
Witherspoon shuffled into my room.
‘I’ll go and get a rig,’ continued November, ‘and have it waiting outside. We haven’t overmuch time if we’re going to call at your country place for your outfit.’
A quarter of an hour later Joe and I were bowling along in the rig drawn by a particularly good horse. I live with my sister some distance out on the St Louis road, and thither we drove at all speed.
My sister had gone out to tea with some friends, but she is well accustomed to my always erratic movements, so that I felt quite at ease when I left a note explaining that I was leaving Quebec for a day or two with November Joe.
We reached the station just in time and were soon steaming along through the farmlands that surround Quebec City.
You who read this may or may not have heard of the Tamarind Duck Club. It is a small association composed chiefly of Montreal and New York business men, to which I had leased the sporting rights of a chain of lakes lying on one of my properties not very far from the waters of the St Lawrence. To these lakes the ducks fly in from the tide each evening, and in the fall very fine sport is to be obtained there, the guns often averaging ten and twenty brace of birds, the latter number being the limit permitted to each shooter by the rules. During the season there are generally two or three members at the clubhouse, which, though but a log hut, is warm and comfortable. In fact, the Tamarind Club has a waiting list of those who desire to belong to it quite out of all proportion to its capacity.
All these facts marshalled themselves and passed through my mind as the train rolled on, and at length I said to Joe: ‘Murder done at the Tamarind Club! It seems incredible. It must be that some poacher has shot one of the guides.’
‘Maybe,’ said Joe, ‘but Miss East said “a matter of life and death”; what can that mean? That’s what I’m asking myself. But here we are! It won’t be long before we know a bit more.’
The cars drew up at the little siding which is situated within a walk of the Tamarind Club. We jumped down just as a girl, possessing dark and vivid good looks of a quite arresting kind, stepped from the agent’s office and caught November impulsively by the hand.
‘Oh, Joe, I am so glad to see you!’
November Joe always had a distinct appeal to women; high or low, whatever their station in life, they like him. Of course, his looks were in his favour. Women generally do find a kind glance for six foot of strength and sinew, es­pecially when surmounted by a perfectly poised head and features such as Joe’s. He had a curious deprecating manner, too, that carried its own charm, and he appeared unable to speak two sentences to any woman without giving her the impression that he was entirely at her service— which, indeed, he was.
‘When I got your message from Lavette, I come right along,’ said the woodsman simply; ‘Mr Quaritch come, too. It’s from him the Club holds its lease.’
Miss East sent me a flash of her dark eyes, and I saw they were full of trouble.
‘I hope you will be on my side, Mr Quaritch,’ she said. ‘Just now I need friends badly.’
‘What is it, Miss Eileen?’ asked Joe, as she paused. ‘Uncle has been shot, Joe.’
‘Mr Harrison?’
‘Yes.’
‘I’m terrible sorry to hear that. He was a fine, just man.’
‘But that is not all. There is something even worse! . . . They say it was Mr Galt who shot him.’
‘Mr Galt!’ exclaimed November in surprise. ‘It ain’t possible!’
‘I know! I know! Yet everyone believes that he did it. I sent for you to prove to them that he is innocent. You will, won’t you, Joe?’
‘I’ll sure do my best.’
I saw her struggle for self-control; the way she got herself in hand was splendid.
‘I must tell you how it happened,’ she said, ‘and we can be walking on at the same time, for I want you, Joe, to see the place before dark. . . . Yesterday afternoon there were five of us at the club. I was the only woman and the men settled to go out after the ducks in the evening, for though it had been wet all day, the wind went round and it began to blow clear about three o’clock. Four shooters went out; there was uncle and Mr Hinx, and Egbert Simonson, and— and Ted Galt.’
‘Is that the same Mr Hinx who was salmon-fishing with us early this year?’
‘Yes. . . . Most evenings I go with uncle, but yesterday the bush was so wet that I decided not to go, so the four men went, and at the usual time the others all came back. At half-past seven, I began to get anxious, so I sent Tim Carter, the head guide, to see if anything was wrong. He found my uncle dead in his screen.’
‘And what brought Mr Galt’s name into it?’
She hesitated for a second.
‘He and uncle had a good way to go to their places, which were next to each other. They walked together, and their voices were heard, very loud, as if they were quarrel­ling. Egbert Simonson complained about it when he came in—said they made enough noise to disturb the lake, and after that, of course, Ted was suspected.’
‘Did Mr Galt own they’d had any words?’ inquired Joe.
‘Yes. Uncle was angry with him,’ she admitted, and a colour showed for a moment in her cheeks. ‘Ted is not a rich man, Joe; you know that.’
‘Huh!’ said Joe with complete comprehension. Then, after a pause, he asked: ‘Who is it suspects Mr Galt?’
‘It was Tim Carter who got the evidence together against him.’
Evidence?
‘Uncle and Ted were placed next each other at the shoot.’
‘And had Mr Harrison or Mr Galt the outside place?’
‘Ted had.’
‘Well, who was on the other side of your uncle?’ I suppose there must have been someone.’
‘It was Mr Hinx.’
‘Then what makes Carter so sure it was Mr Galt done it?’
‘Ah! That is the awful thing. My uncle was killed with number six shot.’
‘Yes?’
‘And Ted is the only one who uses number six size. The others all had number four.’
Joe whistled, and was silent for some moments. Then he said:
‘I think, Miss Eileen, I’d as soon you didn’t tell me any more. I’d like best to have Mr Galt’s and Carter’s stories at first-hand from theirselves.’
The girl stopped short. ‘But, November, you don’t believe it was Ted!’
‘I sure don’t,’ he said. ‘Mr Galt ain’t that kind of a man. Where is he?’
‘Didn’t I tell you? Some police came out on the last train. They have him under arrest. It is dreadful!’
* * *
Half an hour later November Joe was face to face with Carter, who gave him no very warm welcome, and added nothing to the following statement, which he had dictated to the police inspector and signed in affidavit form:
‘Last evening roundabout five o’clock, four members of the club, Harrison, Hinx, Simonson, and Galt, started out for Reedy Neck. Reedy Neck is near half a mile long by a hundred yards wide. It is a kind of a promontory of low ground that sticks out into Goose Lake. The members walked to their places. I did not accompany them, because I had been ordered to take a canoe round to the north side of the lake, so as I could move any ducks that might pitch on that part of the lake over the guns. There are six screens on Reedy Neck. Before starting, the members drew lots for places as per Rule 16. Galt drew number one, that is the screen nearest the end of the Neck and farthest from the clubhouse. Harrison got number two. Number three was unoccupied. Hinx was in number four, and Simonson in number five.
‘Reedy Neck is covered along its whole length with bush and rushes, and the gunners cannot see one another. The screens consist of sunk pits with facings of rushes and alders.
‘The shooting began before I was round to the north side, and continued till it was dark. Several hundred ducks flew in from the estuary. I waited about ten minutes after the last shot was fired and then went back to the clubhouse. When I got there, I found Harrison had not returned. I heard this from Simonson, who was angry because, he said, Harrison and Galt had talked in loud, excited tones as they went to their places.
‘He was annoyed because he was of opinion that their voices had frightened some bunches of duck at which he might have got a shot.
‘At half-past seven Miss East, niece to Harrison, came into the clubhouse kitchen, where I was at the time arranging to have the dead ducks picked up. You cannot pick them up while the flight is on because of scaring the others. When the wind is from the north, like it was last evening, it drifts the dead birds on to the south shore of Goose Lake. I told Noel Charles and Yinez, two of the club under-guides, to see about the pick-up. Miss East told me that her Uncle Harrison had not come in, and I had better go and see what was keeping him. She was afraid that he might have got bogged down in the swamp, as it was dark. She was worried-like, and Sitawanga Sally, the Indian squaw cook, tried to cheer her. She said the path from Reedy Neck was easy to follow.
‘I left Miss East with Sally and went out. There was a bit of moonlight. I went down to Reedy Neck and found Harrison in number two screen. He was dead, and already stiff. I concluded he must have shot him­self by accident. I lifted the body to carry it back. When I was about fifty yards from the club I shouted. Galt came running out. I told him Harrison had shot himself. He said, “Good God! How awful for Eilie. ‘Miss East had heard me, and was with us the next minute. She was greatly put about.
‘We carried the body in and laid it on a bed. It was then I looked at the wound for the first time. Sally, the cook, was with me to lay out the body.
‘I said: “He couldn’t have shot himself this way.
‘I said this because I saw the shot had spread so much that I knew it could not have been fired at very close quarters. Sally agreed with me. I do not know whether her opinion is worth anything. It may be. Most Indian women of sixty years old have seen dead men. I put my finger in the wound and drew out a shot. We then covered up the body with a point-four blanket and left it.
‘I locked the door and took away the key. I did this because the wound was a dreadful one, and I thought it better that Miss East should not see the body. I then went to the gun-room and compared the shot I had taken from the wound with other sizes. It was a number six shot. The only club member who uses number six shot is Mr Galt. Harrison, Simonson, and Hinx all use number four. I said nothing to anyone about the number six shot.
‘At dawn I went back to Reedy Neck and worked out all the details. It was easy, for they were plain in the soft mud. There was no sign of any one except Galt having passed number two screen. His returning footsteps were along the edge of the water until he came to number two screen where Harrison was. Then his tracks led up to the silt towards it. He must have been within twelve paces of Harrison. There he paused, as I could tell by the tracks. I suggest it was then that he fired the shot. Next he went back to the edge of the lake and continued towards the clubhouse.
‘After making this examination I spoke to Simon­son, the senior member. I understand that he cabled for the police.
‘Signed, t. caster.’
I read out this statement while November listened with the curiously minute attention that he always accorded to the written or printed word. When I had finished he forbore to ask any questions, but expressed a desire to speak with Galt. We found him in the custody of a tall young trooper, who, at the command of the inspector, considerately left us to ourselves.
Joe shook hands gravely and warmly.
‘Now, Mr Galt, I’m right sorry about all this, and glad that Miss Eileen sent for me.’
‘She sent for you?’ cried Galt.
‘Sure.’
‘That’s the best news I’ve had since I was arrested. It shows that she believes I am innocent.’
‘’Course she does!’ said Joe. ‘And now will you tell me everything you can remember of what happened yesterday, before Mr Harrison was found dead?’
Galt was silent for a moment.
‘Here goes!’ he said at length. ‘I’ll begin at the beginning. In the early afternoon I went for a walk in the woods with Ei—Miss East. I asked her to marry me. She said, yes. I’m not a rich man, though I’m not exactly a poor one.’
‘No,’ agreed Joe, to whom a tenth of Galt’s income would have been riches beyond his farthest dream.
‘Anyway,’ continued Galt, ‘we guessed we might have trouble with her uncle, Mr Harrison, and, on the principle of not shirking a bad talk, we arranged that I was to take the first opportunity of putting Mr Harrison wise as to the position of affairs. By the time we returned to the clubhouse, we found Hinx, Simonson, Harrison, and Guide Carter just starting for the evening flight. I joined them, and, as luck would have it, I drew the next screen to Mr Harrison. Simonson and Hinx went off together, and I was left with Harrison, so I started in and told him how Eileen and I had fixed to get married.’
Joe gave the sideways jerk of the head which signified his comprehension.
‘He was furious,’ went on Galt, ‘even more angry than I expected a judge—he was a judge in the States—would ever be. He accused me of being after her dollars rather than herself.’
‘He couldn’t’a’ really thought that,’ said Joe judicially; ‘that is, unless he was blind.’
Galt smiled.
‘Thanks, November, Eilie always told me you were a courtier of the woods. As to Harrison, I dare say he would not have been so hard on me, only unfortunately I had crossed him once or twice in matters about the club. I blackballed a fellow he proposed this spring.’
‘Blackballed? What does that amount to?’ inquired Joe.
‘Opposed his becoming a member.’
‘That so? Go on.’
‘As I was telling you, he gave me the rough side of his tongue. I begged him not to decide in a hurry, as we meant to get married anyway, but we’d sooner do it with his good will. That, of course, made him madder than ever. So, see­ing I was not likely to do any good just then, I left him and went to my own screen, which was next to his at the very end of the Neck.’
‘Where did you leave him?’
‘About fifty yards on this side of his screen.’
‘And after that?’
‘I had not been ten minutes in my screen when the ducks began to come in. They kept on coming. I must have fired between seventy and eighty cartridges. Harrison, too, was banging away.’
‘Could you see him?’
‘No, the reeds are too high, but more than once I saw the ducks he shot fall. I could see them because they were twenty or thirty yards high in the air.’
Joe nodded.
‘At a quarter past six the flight was pretty well over and the firing along the line grew less and less frequent. At the half-past it had stopped altogether, and I decided to go back to the clubhouse.’
‘One minute,’ put in Joe. ‘What time was it when Harrison fired the last shot that you remember?’
‘It must have been about ten minutes past six.’
‘Did any birds pass over him after that?’
‘I thought so.’
‘And he did not fire at them?’
‘No.’
‘Were you not surprised at that?’
‘Not very. It was pretty dark, and Harrison was not a quick shot.’
‘Now tell me all the details you can call to mind of your walk back to the club.’
‘I picked up my gun and my cartridge bags, which were nearly empty, and walked along the edge of the water until I was opposite Harrison’s screen. There I paused. I thought I’d have another try to persuade him. I called out his name. There was no answer. So I walked up the mudbank and shouted again.’
‘From the top of the bank? Could you see into the screen?’
‘Partially, but it was dark, and as I did not catch sight of Harrison I concluded he had already returned to the club, so I retraced my steps to the edge of the water and came back to the club myself.’
‘You met no one on the way?’
‘I fancied I saw a figure on the south shore.’
‘Whereabouts?’
‘About opposite number three screen on Reedy Neck.’
‘Have you nothing more to tell me?’
‘No, I can’t remember anything more. But I want to ask you this question. Why have I been arrested? There can be but little evidence against me.’
November looked Galt in the face. ‘I wish that was so,’ he said, ‘but it ain’t. You see, Mr Harrison was killed with number six shot.’
‘What of that?’
‘You are the only club member who uses that size.’
‘Good Heavens!’
‘See here, Mr Galt,’ went on Joe, ‘there’s that fact of the shot, and there’s the fact that your tracks are the only ones that pass Mr Harrison’s screen; besides which the quarrel between you was overheard.’
‘It is a chain of coincidences—a complete chain,’ cried Galt in dismay.
Joe nodded and left the room without more words.
As soon as we were clear of the building I asked him what he thought of it all.
He turned the question on me. ‘And what do you think?’
‘The evidence against Galt is about as strong as it need be,’ I said sorrowfully. ‘Here we have a man shot in a screen. The only person who passed anywhere near was the prisoner. The deed was done with number six shot; the only man using number six is again the prisoner. When you add to that the quarrel, which was a pretty hot one by all accounts, why, you have as complete a case as any prosecu­tion need wish to handle.’
‘That’s so,’ agreed Joe. ‘And the worst of it is that Galt’s own story don’t help us any.’
‘Do you believe he is telling the truth?’
‘That’s the one thing that I do believe.’ I demurred.
‘Well, you know, if he had been telling lies,’ said Joe, ‘he’d have made a better story of it, wouldn’t he? Let’s get along to Reedy Neck.’
So to Reedy Neck we went. For the benefit of my readers I must describe it. Reedy Neck is a promontory of mud and rush which extends, as I have said, some eight hundred yards into the lake. At no point does it rise twelve feet above the level of the water.
From the moment that he set foot upon it, November Joe examined every yard of ground with infinite care, and as he walked kept up a running commentary upon the tracks and their, to him, obvious story. At first there were many footprints, but presently these thinned to two.
‘Look here,’ said Joe. ‘The tapped boots is Harrison and the moccasins is Galt. Here must have been the spot where Galt told Harrison he is going to marry Miss Eileen. See, Harrison stopped, stamped back on his heels, and drove down the butt of his gun into the mud.’
‘Yes, I see.’
‘And here,’ continued Joe, ‘they separated. Harrison’s tracks go up the bank, Galt’s passes on. We'll follow Galt’s first.’
Which we did. They led us straight to the duck screen he had occupied. Crouching in it as he would have done, we found that a sea of reeds shut in the view on every side. The mud floor of the screen was covered with empty shells.
‘That’s where he knelt waiting for the ducks,’ said Joe, pointing to a circular cavity; ‘his knee made that. There’s little to be learnt here.’
And we began to follow Galt’s trail back. The returning tracks ran along a lower line by the edge of the water, until nearly opposite the scene of the tragedy they swerved at right angles, and went up the bank to within a few yards of the screen where Harrison’s body had been found.
‘He stopped here,’ said Joe, ‘stopped for quite a while. Now Mr Quaritch, I’ll see what I can find out.’
‘You’ll not find much,’ said a voice behind us. ‘At least, not much that has not been found out before. If I was you, November, I’d give it up as a bad job. Galt done it. The tracks is plain as print.’
‘There’s some says that print don’t always tell the truth, Tim Carter,’ answered Joe sturdily.
Carter, a powerful stubborn-faced woodsman, with wild brown hair and small side-whiskers, began to walk forward, but Joe held up his hand.
‘Stand you back, Tim,’ said he, ‘I don’t want you rooting around and tearing up the ground with your feet.’
Carter sat down beside me on a driftwood log that lay among the reeds, and together we watched November; I with sympathy, for Miss East’s eager hopes lived in my consciousness. Carter’s face, however, wore an expression of supercilious amusement.
Such a methodical examination I had rarely seen Joe make, and that very fact damped my expectations. First of all he followed out every line of tracks. Then he made a series of measurements, and last of all began to pick up and look over the gun wads which lay about in great numbers. Suddenly he darted forward, and picked up one that lay close beside my foot.
‘You are both witnesses where I found this,’ he cried. Carter rose. ‘I’ll mark the place if you like,’ he said with a laugh.
‘That’s good! Do it.’
Carter thrust a stick into the ground. ‘Now,’ asked he, ‘what next?’
But Joe was paying no attention. He was engaged in examining the piece of driftwood from which we had risen, and the shore near the water in its vicinity. At length, evidently satisfied, he came to me.
‘I want you to take charge of this,’ he said, handing me the gun wad; ‘it’ll likely be needed in evidence.’
Carter listened and grinned. ‘Finished, Joe?’
‘Yes, here.’
‘Whereaway next?’
‘To the south shore.’
‘Want me along?’
‘Please yourself.’
It was a long walk, undertaken in silence. The two woodsmen were obviously antagonistic. Carter, being pleased to believe Galt guilty, was consequently full of suspicion towards any attitude of mind that seemed to question his conclusions. November’s point of view I had not fathomed. It is possible that he could see light where to me all was utter darkness. On the other hand, I could not, as I have said, conceive a more convincing chain of evidence than that which had led Carter straight from the crime to Galt— the quarrel, the number six shot, the fact that Galt had been within ten yards of the murdered man’s hiding-place about the time the murder must have been committed.
I went all over it again. There seemed no break, and when I thought of Eileen East, I groaned in spirit. She believed in Galt, and, even more for her sake than for his, I longed for November to confound the sullen Carter, though how this much-to-be-desired end might be brought about I failed to see.
At length we reached the south shore.
‘Any one been round this side to-day?’ asked Joe.
‘Can’t say. If they have, you’re such a plumb-sure trail-reader, you’ll know, won’t you?’ Carter retorted grimly.
Without answering, Joe signed to us to remain where we were, while he crossed and cut diagonally from the lake shore to the mountain. After that he went down to the boathouse where the canoes were kept. A moment later his voice rose in a call. We found him looking into one of the canoes.
‘When was this one last out?’ he asked.
‘Not since Friday.’
‘That’s funny,’ said Joe.
We followed his pointing finger. In the bottom of the boat was a little pool of blood.
‘Can you account for that, Tim Carter?’
‘Vinez and Noel Charles must have taken the canoe when they picked up the shot ducks this morning,’ said Carter.
‘They didn’t go near the boathouse,’ returned Joe. ‘I found their tracks. They lead down by the hill over there.’
‘I suppose you think this blood’s got something to do with the murder?’ sneered Carter.
‘I’m sure inclined that way,’ said Joe.
As we walked back to the clubhouse my mind was in a whirl. I have already said that I could see little daylight through the tangle of signs and clues, and now I was aware that the prospect looked more complicated than ever. As we approached the clubhouse, Miss East, who had evidently been watching for us, ran out.
‘Well,’ she cried breathlessly, ‘what have you done? Have you found out everything?’
‘I’ll want to look over the members’ guns before I answer that,’ said Joe.
‘They are all in the gun-room.’
We entered a little annex to the club where the guns were kept.
Carter picked out one. ‘Here’s Galt’s.’
Joe lifted it carelessly. ‘Twelve calibre,’ said he, examin­ing it.
‘Sure,’ said Carter. ‘All the others uses twelves, except Simonson. His is number ten.’
‘Which of them has two guns?’
‘Only Simonson.’
‘Where are they?’
‘Here’s the one he used last night.’
‘And the fellow to it . . . his second gun?’
‘In the case there.’
Joe picked out the weapon, fitted it together, and looked it over attentively. Then with equal care he took it apart and replaced it in the case.
‘Joe, have you nothing to tell me? Joe!’ cried Miss East, her face vivid with fear and hope.
‘I’d like to ask Sitawanga Sally a question,’ said Novem­ber, ‘and maybe Mr Galt might as well hear it.’
At a sign from Eileen, Carter, with a look of deep disgust on his face, went to fetch the woman and the suspected man. Galt came in first, accompanied by the police inspector. Meanwhile Joe had taken up Galt’s gun and glanced through the barrels. As Sitawanga Sally entered, he snapped it to.
She was a full-blooded Indian and, like many of her race, now that the first bloom of youth was past, she might have been any age. Her high cheekbones and wispy hair surrounded sullen eyes. She stood and fixed them on Joe with an expressionless stare. November returned it.
‘Say, Sally,’ said he, at last. ‘What for you kill old man Harrison?’
‘No, no! Me not kill’um! Galt kill’um!’ she replied, showing her yellow fangs under a bulging upper lip.
Joe shook his head. ‘It don’t go any, Sally,’ said he. ‘I know you shot him with Mr Simonson’s second gun in the case over there.’
‘Me no kill’um! Me no kill’um! she cried.
Her arms, raised high for a moment in excitement, dropped suddenly, and she fell again into the stoicism which was her normal condition.
‘You’d better put in your facts, Joe,’ said the inspector briskly.
‘I’m free to own,’ began November in his soft, easy manner, ‘that it was quite a while before I could see anything to shake Carter’s evidence. My mind was made up it wasn’t Galt done it, so it must’a’ been somebody else. But I could find no tracks—only Galt’s and Carter’s, and Carter’s bore out his story right enough. Consequently I set out to look for a third person, and it was plain that the only way a third person could have come was in a canoe.
‘Yet there wasn’t no signs of a canoe being beached, though I searched careful for them. Still I knew the shot was never fired from the water, which was too far off from where Mr Harrison’s body was found for that to be possible. So you see it only left me one way out. Some one come in a canoe, stepped out on the big driftwood log lying near the screen, walked up along it to the end, and shot Mr Harrison from there.
‘Now the distance from the log to Mr Harrison’s body is above eleven yards, and yet the shot had not spread much—we saw that—so I guessed, whoever he was, the murderer must’a’ used a chokebore gun that threw the shot very close and strong, and I began to think the thing must have been done with a bigger bore gun than a twelve. So I started to search afresh, and in time I found a wad (Mr Quaritch there has it)—a ten-bore wad recently fired.
‘Now, Mr Harrison had a twelve-bore and so’d Mr Galt. The only man who owned a ten was Mr Simonson, and he was the farthest away of all in the screen near the club­house. Besides, he was wearing boots with nails in the soles, and he could never’a’ walked down that bit of driftwood without leaving pretty clear traces. So it weren’t him, but I got pretty certain it were some one using a full-choke ten-bore and wearing either moccasins or rubbers. Another point, the murder weren’t done on impulse, but whoever was guilty had thought it all out beforehand.’
‘Why do you say that?’ chipped in the officer.
‘The number six shot. There weren’t no ten-bore shells loaded with number six. The one who done it must have loaded them cartridges o’ purpose to bring suspicion on Mr Galt.’
‘I see.’
‘Well,’ went on Joe. ‘That’s as far as the examining of Reedy Neck took me, and there was nothing better left to do but to go round and have a look at the canoes. Besides, Mr Galt told me and Mr Quaritch he’d seen some one moving about there on the south shore just after the time the murder was committed. So round we went, and there, sure enough, I come on the tracks of a pair of small moccasins leading down to the canoe house and coming up again.
“‘Sitawanga Sally,” says I to myself, “those footmarks looks mighty like yours.”’
‘But the blood, the blood in the canoe—it couldn’t have been Harrison’s?’
‘No, it weren’t,’ said Joe. ‘It were Sally’s own. She’s weak and them ten-bore guns kicks amazing. I guessed it bled her nose. Look at her swelled cheek and lip.’
All the time, as Joe’s words proved how he had drawn the net round her, I watched the stoic face of the Indian squaw. When he pointed to her swollen mouth, her features took life, and an expression of the wildest and most vindictive passion that I have ever seen flashed out upon them. Recognizing the hopelessness of her position she threw aside all subterfuge.
‘Yes, me kill’um Harrison!’ she cried. ‘Me kill’um good!’
‘Oh, Sally,’ cried Eileen. ‘He was always so kind to you!’
‘Harrison devil!’ answered the Indian woman passion­ately. ‘Me swear kill’um Moon-of-Leaves time. Harrison kill’um Prairie Chicken—my son.’
‘What does she mean?’ Eileen looked round wildly at us.
‘I think I can tell you that,’ said the inspector. ‘Moon-of-Leaves means June, and wasn’t Mr Harrison a judge back in the States?’
‘Yes.’
‘And he had sometimes to deal with the Indians from the Reserve. I remember hearing this woman’s son got into trouble for stealing horses.’
‘Bad man say Prairie Chicken steal’um,’ broke in Sally. ‘Black clothes—black clothes—men talk-talk. Then old man Harrison talk. Take away Prairie Chicken—far, far. Me follows.’
‘That’s so,’ said the inspector. ‘I remember some judge tried Prairie Chicken, and gave him ten years. It may have been Judge Harrison. The Chicken died in gaol. If that is so, it explains everything. Indians never forget.’
‘Prairie Chicken, he dead. Me swear kill’um Harrison. Now Prairie Chicken happy. Me ready join’um,’ said the old squaw, and relapsed once more into her stolid silence.
‘She thought Mr Harrison was directly responsible for the death of her son,’ added the inspector.
‘Poor woman!’ said Eileen.
* * *
There is not much to add. Subsequent inquiries confirmed the inspector’s facts and made it clear that Sitawanga Sally, learning that Harrison belonged to the Tamarind Club, had taken service there for the direct purpose of avenging her son. No doubt she noticed the affection which was growing between Eileen and Galt, and attempted to incriminate the latter so as to obtain a fuller measure of revenge as well as to draw suspicion away from herself.
Blood for blood is still the Indian creed. It is simple and it is direct.
I think the whole case was best summed up by November himself:
‘I guess our civilized justice does seem wonderful topsy-turvy to them Indians sometimes,’ said he.

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.