Jolly Roger did not answer, but crawled through the hole and found the sledge in the outer darkness. He heard Peter coming after him, and he saw Porter's bloodless face in the illumination of the alcohol lamp, where he waited to help him with the dunnage. In those seconds he fought to get a grip on himself. A quarter of an hour ago he had laughed at the thought of the law. Never had it seemed to be so far away from him, and never had he been more utterly isolated from the world. His mind was still a bit dazed by the thing that had happened. The police had not trailed him. They had not ferreted him out, nor had they stumbled upon him by accident. It was he who had gone out into the night and deliberately dragged them in! Of all the trickery fate had played upon him this was the least to be expected.

His mind began to work more swiftly as in darkness he cut the babiche cordage that bound the patrol dunnage to the sledge. "N" Division, he told himself, was away over in the Athabasca country. He had never heard of Porter, nor of Superintendent Tavish, and inasmuch as the outfit was evidently a special escort to Fort Churchill it was very likely that Porter and his companions would not be thinking of outlaws, and especially of Jolly Roger McKay. This was his one chance. To attempt an escape through the blizzard was not only a desperate hazard. It was death.

There were only two packs on the sledge, and these he passed through the hole to Porter. A few moments later he was holding a flask of liquor to the lips of the gray-bearded man, while the girl looked at him with eyes that were widening as the snow-sting left them. Tavish gulped, and his mittened hand closed on the girl's arm.

"I'm all right, Jo," he mumbled. "All right—"

His eyes met McKay's, and then took in the snow walls of the dug-out. They were deep, piercing eyes, overhung by shaggy brows. Jolly Roger felt the intentness of their gaze as he gave the girl a swallow of the brandy, and then passed the flask to Porter.

"You have saved our lives," said Tavish, in a voice that was clearer. "I don't just understand how it happened. I remember stumbling in the darkness, and being unable to rise. I was behind the sledge. Porter and Breault were dragging it, and Josephine, my daughter, was sheltered under the blankets. After that—"

He paused, and Jolly Roger explained how it all had come about. He pointed to Peter. It was the dog, he said. Peter had insisted there was someone outside, and they had taken a chance by going in search of them. He was John Cummings, a fox trapper, and the storm had caught him fifty miles from his cabin. He was traveling without a dog-sledge, and had only a pack-outfit.

Breault, the third man, had regained his wind, and was listening to him. One look at his dark, thin face told McKay that he was the wilderness man of the three. He was staring at Jolly Roger in a strange sort of way. And then, as if catching himself, he nodded, and began rubbing his frosted face with handfuls of snow.

Porter had thrown off his heavy coat, and was unpacking one of the dunnage sacks. He and the girl seemed to have suffered less than the other two. Jo, the girl, was looking at him. And then her eyes turned to Jolly Roger. They were large, fine eyes, wide open and clear now. There was something of splendid strength about her as she smiled at McKay. She was not of the hysterical sort. He could see that.

"If we could have some hot soup," she suggested. "May we?"

There was gratitude in her eyes, which she made no attempt to express in words. Jolly Roger liked her. And Peter crept up behind her, and watched her as she followed Breault's example, and rubbed the cheeks of the bearded man with snow.

"There's an alcohol stove in the other pack," said Breault, with his hard, narrow eyes fixed steadily on Jolly Roger's face. "By the way, what did you say your name was?"

"Cummings—John Cummings."

Breault made no answer. During the next half hour Jolly Roger felt stealing over him a growing sense of uneasiness. They drank soup and ate bannock. It grew warm, and the girl threw off the heavy fur garment that enveloped her. Color returned into her cheeks. Her eyes were bright, and in her voice was a tremble of happiness at finding warmth and life where she had expected death. Porter's friendliness was almost brotherly. He explained what had happened. Two rascally Chippewyans had deserted them, stealing off into darkness and storm with both dog teams and one of their sledges. After that they had fought on, seeking for a drift into which they might dig a refuge. But the Barren was as smooth as a table. They had shouted, and Miss Tavish had screamed—not because they expected to find assistance—but on account of Tavish falling in the storm, and losing himself. It was quite a joke, Porter thought, that Superintendent Tavish, one of the iron men of the service, should have given up the ghost so easily.

Tavish smiled grimly. They were all in good humor, and happy, with the possible exception of Breault. Not once did he laugh or smile. Yet Jolly Roger noted that each time he spoke the others were specially attentive. There was something repressive and mysterious about the man, and the girl would cut herself short in the middle of a laugh if he happened to speak, and the softness of her mouth would harden in an instant. He understood the significance of her gladness, and of Porter's, for twice he saw their hands come together, and their fingers entwine. And in their eyes was something which they could not hide when they looked at each other. But Breault puzzled him. He did not know that Breault was the best man-hunter in "N" Division, which reached from Athabasca Landing to the Arctic Ocean, or that up and down the two thousand-mile stretch of the Three River Country he was known as Shingoos, the Ferret.

The girl fell asleep first that night, with her cheek on her father's shoulder. Breault, the Ferret, rolled himself in a blanket, and breathed deeply. Porter still smoked his pipe, and looked wistfully at the pale face of Josephine Tavish. He smiled a bit proudly at McKay.

"She's mine," he whispered. "We're going to be married."

Jolly Roger wanted to reach over and grip his hand.

He nodded, a little lump coming in his throat.

"I know how you feel," he said. "When I heard her calling out there—it made me think—of a girl down south."

"Down south?" queried Porter. "Why down south—if you care for her—and you up here?"

McKay shrugged his shoulders. He had said too much. Neither he nor Porter knew that Breault's eyes were half open, and that he was listening.

Jolly Roger held up a hand, as if something in the wailing of the storm had caught his attention.

"We'll have two or three days of this. Better turn in, Porter. I'm going to dig out another room—for Miss Tavish. I'm afraid she'll need the convenience of a private room before we're able to move. It's an easy job—and passes the time away."

"I'll help," offered Porter.

For an hour they worked, using McKay's snowshoes as shovels. During that hour Breault did not close his eyes. A curious smile curled his thin lips as he watched Jolly Roger. And when at last Porter turned in, and slept, the Ferret sat up, and stretched himself. McKay had finished his room, and was beginning a tunnel which would lead as a back door out of the drift, when Breault came in and picked up the snowshoe which Porter had used.

"I'll take my turn," he said. "I'm a bit nervous, and not at all sleepy, Cummings." He began digging into the snow. "Been long in this country?" he asked.

"Three winters. It's a good red fox country, with now and then a silver and a black."

Breault grunted.

"You must have met Cassidy, then," he said casually, without looking at McKay. "Corporal Terence Cassidy. This is his country."

Jolly Roger did not look up from his work of digging.

"Yes, I know him. Met him last winter. Red headed. A nice chap. I like him. You know him?"

"Entered the service together," said Breault. "But he's unlucky. For two or three years he has been on the trail of a man named McKay. Jolly Roger, they call him—Jolly Roger McKay. Ever hear of him?"

Jolly Roger nodded.

"Cassidy told me about him when he was at my cabin. From what I've heard I—rather like him."

"Who—Cassidy, or Jolly Roger?"


For the first time the Ferret leveled his eyes at his companion. They were mystifying eyes, never appearing to open fully, but remaining half closed as if to conceal whatever thought might lie behind them. McKay felt their penetration. It was like a cold chill entering into him, warning him of a menace deadlier than the storm.

"Haven't any idea where one might come upon this Jolly Roger, have you?"


"You see, he thinks he killed a man down south. Well, he didn't. The man lived. If you happen to see him at any time give him that information, will you?"

Jolly Roger thrust his head and shoulders into the growing tunnel.

"Yes, I will."

He knew Breault was lying. And also knew that back of the narrow slits of Breault's eyes was the cunning of a fox.

"You might also tell him the law has a mind to forgive him for sticking up that free trader's post a few years ago."

Jolly Roger turned with his snowshoe piled high with a load of snow.

"I'll tell him that, too," he said, chuckling at the obviousness of the other's trap. "What do you think my cabin is, Breault—a Rest for Homeless Outlaws?"

Breault grinned. It was an odd sort of grin, and Jolly Roger caught it over his shoulder. When he returned from dumping his load, Breault said:

"You see, we know this Jolly Roger fellow is spending the winter somewhere up here. And Cassidy says there is a girl down south—"

Jolly Roger's face was hidden in the tunnel.

"—who would like to see him," finished Breault.

When McKay turned toward him the Ferret was carelessly lighting his pipe.

"I remember—Cassidy told me about this girl," said Jolly Roger. "He said—some day—he would trap this—this man—through the girl. So if I happen to meet Jolly Roger McKay, and send him back to the girl, it will help out the law. Is that it, Breault? And is there any reward tacked to it? Anything in it for me?"

Breault was looking at him in the pale light of the alcohol lamp, puffing out tobacco smoke, and with that odd twist of a smile about his thin lips.

"Listen to the storm," he said. "I think it's getting worse—Cummings!"

Suddenly he held out a hand to Peter, who sat near the lamp, his bright eyes fixed watchfully on the stranger.

"Nice dog you have, Cummings. Come here, Peter! Peter—Peter—"

Tight ringers seemed to grip at McKay's throat. He had not spoken Peter's name since the rescue of Breault.


The Ferret was smiling affably. But Peter did not move. He made no response to the outstretched hand. His eyes were steady and challenging. In that moment McKay wanted to hug him up in his arms.

The Ferret laughed.

"He's a good dog, a very good dog, Cummings. I like a one-man dog, and I also like a one-dog man. That's what Jolly Roger McKay is, if you ever happen to meet him. Travels with one dog. An Airedale, with whiskers on him like a Mormon. And his name is Peter. Funny name for a dog, isn't it?"

He faced the outer room, stretching his long arms above his head.

"I'm going to try sleep again, Cummings. Goodnight! And—Mother of Heaven!—listen to the wind."

"Yes, it's a bad night," said McKay.

He looked at Peter when Breault was gone, and his heart was beating fast. He could hear the wind, too. It was sweeping over the Barren more fiercely than before, and the sound of it brought a steely glitter into his eyes. This time he could not run away from the law. Flight meant death. And Breault knew it. He was in a trap—a trap built by himself. That is, if Breault had guessed the truth, and he believed he had. There was only one way out—and that meant fight.

He went into the outer room for his pack and a blanket. He did not look at Breault, but he knew the man's narrow eyes were following him. He left the alcohol lamp burning, but in his own room, after he had spread out his bed, he extinguished the light. Then, very quietly, he dug a hole through the snow partition between the two rooms. He waited for ten minutes before he thrust a finger-tip through the last thin crust of snow. With his eye close to the aperture he could see Breault. The Ferret was sitting up, and leaning toward Porter, who was sleeping an arm's length away. He reached over, and touched him on the shoulder.

Jolly Roger widened the snow-slit another inch, straining his ears to hear. He could see Tavish and the girl asleep. In another moment Porter was sitting up, with the Ferret's hand gripping his arm warningly. Breault motioned toward the inner room, and Porter was silent. Then Breault bent over and began to whisper. Jolly Roger could hear only the indistinct monotone of his voice. But he could see very clearly the change that came into Porter's face. His eyes widened, and he stared toward the inner room, making a movement as if to rouse Tavish and the girl.

The Ferret stopped him.

"Don't get excited. Let them sleep."

McKay heard that much—and no more. For some time after that the two men sat close together, conversing in whispers. There was an exultant satisfaction in Porter's clean-cut face, as well as in Breault's. Jolly Roger watched them until Breault extinguished the second lamp. Then he lightly plugged the hole in the partition with snow, and reached out in the darkness until his hand found Peter.

"They think they've got us, boy," he whispered, "They think they've got us!"

Very quietly they lay for an hour. McKay did not sleep, and Peter was wide awake. At the end of that hour Jolly Roger crept on his hands and knees to the doorway and listened. One after another he picked out the steady breathing of the sleepers. Then he began feeling his way around the wall of his room until he came to a place where the snow was very soft.

"An air-drift," he whispered to Peter, close at his shoulder. "We'll fool 'em, boy. And we'll fight—if we have to."

He began worming his head and shoulders and body into the air-drift like a gimlet. A foot at a time he burrowed himself through, heaving his body up and down and sideways to pack the light snow, leaving a round tunnel two feet in diameter behind him. Within an hour he had come to the outer crust on the windward side of the big snow-dune. He did not break through this crust, which was as tough as crystal-glass, but lay quietly for a time and listened to the sweep of the wind outside. It was warm, and very comfortable, and he had half-dozed off before he caught himself back into wakefulness and returned to his room. The mouth of his tunnel he packed with snow. After that he wound the blanket about him and gave himself up calmly to sleep.

Only Peter lay awake after that. And it was Peter who roused Jolly Roger in what would have been the early dawn outside the snow-dune. McKay felt his restless movement, and opened his eyes. A faint light was illumining his room, and he sat up. In the outer room the alcohol lamp was burning again. He could hear movement, and voices that were very low and indistinct. Carefully he dug out once more the little hole in the snow wall, and widened the slit.

Breault and Tavish were asleep, but Porter was sitting up, and close beside him sat the girl. Her coiled hair was loosened, and fallen over her shoulders. There was no sign of drowsiness in her wide-open eyes as they stared at the door between the two rooms. McKay could see her hand clasping Porter's arm. Porter was talking, with his face so close to her bent head that his lips touched her hair, and though Jolly Roger could understand no word that was spoken he knew Porter was whispering the exciting secret of his identity to Josephine Tavish. He could see, for a moment, a shadow of protest in her face, he could hear the quick, sibilant whisper of her voice, and Porter cautioned her with a finger at her lips, and made a gesture toward the sleeping Tavish. Then his fingers closed about her uncoiled hair as he drew her to him. McKay watched the long kiss between them. The girl drew away quickly then, and Porter tucked the blanket about her when she lay down beside her father. After that he stretched out again beside Breault.

Jolly Roger guessed what had happened. The girl had awakened, a bit nervous, and had roused Porter and asked him to relight the alcohol lamp. And Porter had taken advantage of the opportunity to tell her of the interesting discovery which Breault had made—and to kiss her. McKay stroked Peter's scrawny neck, and listened. He could no longer hear the storm, and he wondered if the fury of it was spent.

Every few minutes he looked through the slit in the snow wall. The last time, half an hour after Porter had returned to his blanket, Josephine Tavish was sitting up. She was very wide awake. McKay watched her as she rose slowly to her knees, and then to her feet. She bent over Porter and Breault to make sure they were asleep, and then came straight toward the door of his room.

He lay back on his blanket, with the fingers of one hand gripped closely about Peter.

"Be quiet, boy," he whispered. "Be quiet."

He could see the shutting out of light at his door as the girl stood there, listening for his breathing. He breathed heavily, and before he closed his eyes he saw Josephine Tavish coming toward him. In a moment she was bending over him. He could feel the soft caress of her loose hair on his face and hands. Then she knelt quietly down beside him, stroking Peter with her hand, and shook him lightly by the shoulder.

"Jolly Roger!" she whispered. "Jolly Roger McKay!"

He opened his eyes, looking up at the white face in the gloom.

"Yes," he replied softly. "What is it, Miss Tavish?"

He could hear the choking breath in her throat as her fingers tightened at his shoulder. She bent her face still nearer to him, until her hair cluttered his throat and breast.

"You are—awake?"


"Then—listen to me. If you are Jolly Roger McKay you must get away—somewhere. You must go before Breault awakens in the morning. I think the storm is over—there is no wind—and if you are here when day comes—"

Her fingers loosened. Jolly Roger reached out and somewhere in the darkness he found her hand. It clasped his own—firm, warm, thrilling.

"I thank you for what you have done," she whispered. "But the law—and Breault—they have no mercy!"

She was gone, swiftly and silently, and McKay looked through the slit in the wall until she was with her father again.

In the gloom he drew Peter close to him.

"We're up against it again, Pied-Bot," he confided under his breath. "We've got to take another chance."

He worked without sound, and in a quarter of an hour his pack was ready, and the entrance to his tunnel dug out. He went into the outer room then, where Josephine Tavish was awake. Jolly Roger pantomimed his desire as she sat up. He wanted something from one of the packs. She nodded. On his knees he fumbled in the dunnage, and when he rose to his feet, facing the girl, her eyes opened wide at what he held in his hand—a small packet of old newspapers her father was taking to the factor at Fort Churchill. She saw the hungry, apologetic look in his eyes, and her woman's heart understood. She smiled gently at him, and her lips formed an unvoiced whisper of gratitude as he turned to go. At the door he looked back. He thought she was beautiful then, with her shining hair and eyes, and her lips parted, and her hands half reaching out to him, as if in that moment of parting she was giving him courage and faith. Suddenly she pressed the palms of her fingers to her mouth and sent the kiss of benediction to him through the twilight glow of the snow-room.

A moment later, crawling through his tunnel with Peter close behind him, there was an exultant singing in Jolly Roger's heart. Again he was fleeing from the law, but always, as Yellow Bird had predicted in her sorcery, there were happiness and hope in his going. And always there was someone to urge him on, and to take a pride in him, like Josephine Tavish.

He broke through the dune-crust at the end of his tunnel and crawled out into the thick, gray dawn of a barren-land day. The sky was heavy overhead, and the wind had died out. It was the beginning of the brief lull which came in the second day of the Great Storm.

McKay laughed softly as he sensed the odds against them.

"We'll be having the storm at our heels again before long, Pied-Bot," he said. "We'd better make for the timber a dozen miles south."

He struck out, circling the dune, so that he was traveling straight away from the first hole he had cut through the shell of the drift. From that door, made by the outlaw who had saved them, Josephine Tavish watched the shadowy forms of man and dog until they were lost in the gray-white chaos of a frozen world.

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