THREE-ACE ARTIE, sprawled comfortably cally at the book he held in his hand, a copy of Hugo's Claude Gueux in French, tossed it to the foot of the bunk, and sat up, dangling his legs over the edge.

A mood that had long been a stranger to him, a mellow mood, as he had defined it to himself, had kept him away from MacDonald's that night. It was the glow of self-benediction, as it were, ever since he had left the boy's room that afternoon, though it had puzzled him to some extent to explain its effect upon himself—that, for instance, the corollary should take the form of a quiet evening, a pipe, and Hugo.

He shrugged his shoulders. It had been so nevertheless. His shoulders lifted again—it was decidedly an incongruous proceeding for one known as Three-Ace Artie!

His thoughts reverted to the Kid. No one had come to the shack since he had returned from the hotel, but he knew the Kid had left the camp, for he had watched from the shack window as Bixley and the boy had passed down the street together. The Kid would not play the fool again for a while, that was certain—whatever he did eventually.

Three-Ace Artie stared introspectively at the lamp, out at full length upon his bunk, yawned, and looked at his watch. It was already after midnight. He glanced a little quizzically.

Kid, of course! He had been conscious of an inward flame for a moment—then for the third time shrugged his shoulders.

“I guess I'll turn in,” he muttered.

He bent down to untie a shoe lace—and straightened up quickly again. A footstep sounded from without, there was a knock upon the door, the door opened—and with the inrush of air the lamp flared up. Three-Ace Artie reached out swiftly to the top of the chimney, protecting the flame with the flat of his hand, and, as the door closed again, stared with cool surprise at his visitor. The last time he had seen Sergeant Marden, of the Royal North-West Mounted Police, had been the year before at Two-Strike-Mountain, where each had followed a gold rush—for quite different reasons!

“Hello, sergeant!” he drawled. “I didn't know you were in camp.”

“Just got in around supper-time,” replied the other. “I've been up on the Creek for the last few weeks.”

Three-Ace Artie smiled facetiously.

“Any luck?” he inquired.

“I got my man,” said the sergeant quietly.

“Of course!” murmured Three-Ace Artie softly. “You've got a reputation for doing that, sergeant.” He laughed pleasantly. “But you haven't dropped in on me officially, have you?”

Sergeant Marden, big, thick-set, with a strong, kindly face, with gray eyes that lighted now in a gravely humorous way shook his head.

“No,” he answered. “I'm playing the 'old friend' rôle to-night.”

“Good!” exclaimed Three-Ace Artie heartily. “Peel off your duds then, and—will you have the bunk, or the chair? Take your choice—only make yourself at home.” He stepped over to the cupboard, and, while the sergeant pulled off his cap and mitts, and unbuttoned and threw back his overcoat, Three-Ace Artie procured a bottle of whisky and two glasses, which he set upon the table. “Help yourself, sergeant,” he invited cordially.

The sergeant shook his head again, as he drew the chair toward him and sat down.

“I don't think I'll take anything to-night,” he said.

“No?”—Three-Ace Artie's voice expressed the polite regret of a perfect host. “Well, fill your pipe then,” he suggested hospitably, as he seated himself on the edge of the bunk. He began to fill his own pipe deliberately, apparently wholly preoccupied for the moment with that homely operation—but his mind was leaping in lightning flashes back over the range of the four years that he had spent in the Yukon. What exactly did Sergeant Marden of the Royal North-West Mounted want with him to-night? He had known the other for a good while, it was true—but not in a fashion to warrant the sergeant in making a haphazard social call at midnight after what must have been a long, hard day on the trail.

A match, drawn with a long sweep under the table, crackled; Sergeant Marden lighted his pipe, and flipped the match-stub stovewards.

“It looks as though Canuck John wouldn't pull through the night,” he said gravely.

“Canuck John!” Three-Ace Artie sat up with a jerk, and glanced sharply at the other. “What's that you say?”

Sergeant Marden removed his pipe slowly from his lips.

“Why, you know, don't you?” he asked in surprise.

“No, I don't know!” returned Three-Ace Artie quickly. “I haven't been out of this shack since late this afternoon; but I saw him this morning, and he was all right then. What's happened?”

“He shot himself just after supper—accident, of course—old story, cleaning a gun,” said the sergeant tersely.

“Good God!” cried Three-Ace Artie, in a low, shocked way—and then he was on his feet, and reaching for his cap and coat. “I'll go up there and see him. You don't mind, sergeant, if I leave you here? I guess I knew Canuck John better than any one else in camp did, and—” His coat half on, he paused suddenly, his brows gathering in a frown. “After supper, you said!” he muttered slowly. “Why, that's hours ago!” Then, his voice rasping: “It's damned queer no one came to tell me about this! There's something wrong here!” He struggled into his coat.

“He's been unconscious ever since they found him,” said Sergeant Marden, his eyes fixed on the bowl of his pipe as he prodded the dottle down with his forefinger. “The doctor's just come. You couldn't do any good by going up there, and”—his eyes lifted and met Three-Ace Artie's meaningly—“take it all around, I guess it would be just as well if you didn't go. Murdock Shaw and some of the boys are there, and—well, they seem to feel they don't want you.”

For a moment Three-Ace Artie stood motionless, regarding the other in a half angry, half puzzled way; then, his weight on both hands, he leaned forward over the table toward Sergeant Marden.

“In plain English, and in as few words as you can put it, what in hell do you mean by that?” he demanded levelly.

“All right, if you want it that way, I'll tell you,” said Sergeant Marden quietly. “I guess perhaps the short cut's best. They've given you until to-morrow morning to get out of Ton-Nugget Camp.”

“I beg your pardon?” inquired Three-Ace Artie with ominous politeness.

Sergeant Marden produced a poke partially filled with gold dust and laid it on the table.

“What's that?”—Three-Ace Artie's eyes were hard.

“It's the price you paid Sam MacBride for this shack and contents when he went away. The boys say they want to play fair.”

And then Three-Ace Artie laughed—not pleasantly. Methodically he removed his overcoat, hung it on its peg, and sat down again on the edge of the bunk.

“Let's see the rest of your hand, sergeant”—his voice was deadly quiet. “I don't quite get the idea.”

“I wasn't here myself this afternoon,” said Sergeant Marden; “but they seem to feel that the sort of thing that happened kind of gives the community a bad name, and that separating a youngster, when he's drunk, from his last dollar is a bit too raw even for Ton-Nugget Camp. That's about the size of the way it was put up to me.”

It seemed to Three-Act Artie that in some way he had not quite heard aright; or that, if he had, he was being made the object of some, unknown to its authors, stupendously ironical joke—and then, as he glanced at the officer's grim, though not altogether unfriendly countenance, and from Sergeant Marden to the bag of gold upon the table, a bitter, furious anger surged upon him. His clenched fist reached out and fell smashing upon the table.

“So that's it, is it!” he said between his teeth. “This is some of Murdock Shaw's work—the snivelling, psalm-singing hypocrite! Well, he can't get away with it! I've a few friends in camp myself.”

“Fairweather friends, I should say,” qualified the sergeant, busy again with his pipe bowl. “You said yourself that no one had been near the shack here. The camp appears to be pretty well of one mind on the subject.”

“Including the half dozen or more who started after the Kid to begin with!”—Three-Ace Artie's laugh was savage, full of menace. “Are they helping to run me out of camp, too!”

“You seem to have got a little of everybody's money,” suggested Sergeant Marden pointedly. “Anyway, I haven't seen any sign of them putting up a fight for you.”

“Quite so!” There was a sudden cold self-possession in Three-Ace Artie's tones. “Well, I can put up quite a fight for myself, thank you. I'm not going! It's too bad Shaw didn't have the nerve to come here and tell me this. I——”

“I wouldn't let him,” interposed the sergeant, with a curious smile. “That's why I came myself.”

Three-Ace Artie studied the other's face for an instant.

“Well, go on!” he jerked out. “What's the answer to that?”

“That I am going on to Dawson in the morning, and that I thought perhaps you might be willing to come along.”

Three-Ace Artie's under jaw crept out the fraction of an inch, and his eyes narrowed.

“I thought you said you weren't here officially!”

“I'm not—at least, not yet.”

“Well, it sounds mighty like an arrest to me!” snarled Three-Ace Artie. He stood up abruptly, and once more leaned over the table. His dark eyes flashed. “But that doesn't go either—not in the Yukon! You can't hold me for anything I've done, and you ought to know better than to think you can do any bluffing with me and get away with it! Murdock Shaw is. evidently running this little game. I gave him a chance to call my hand this afternoon—and he lay down like a whipped pup! That chance is still open to him—but he can't do it by proxy! That's exactly where you and I stand, Marden—don't try the arrest game!”

“I'm not going to—at least, not yet,” said the sergeant again. “It's not a question of law. The day may come when the lid goes on out here, but so far the local millennium hasn't dawned. There's no dispute there. I told you I came in here on the 'old friend' basis, and I meant it. I've known you off and on a bit for quite a while; and I always liked you for the reputation you had of playing square. There's no talk of crookedness now, though I must confess you've pulled something a little thinner than I thought it was in you to do. However, let that go. I don't want to butt in on this unless I have to—and that's why I'm trying to get you to come away with me in the morning. If you don't, there'll be trouble, and then I'll have to take a hand whether I want to or not.”

“By God!”—the oath came fiercely, involuntarily from Three-Ace Artie's lips. The irony of it all was upon him again. The injustice of it galled and maddened him. And yet—tell them the truth of the matter? He would have seen every last one of them consigned to the bottomless pit first! The turbulent soul of the man was aflame. “Run out of camp, eh!”—-it was a devil's laugh that echoed around the shack. “That means being run out of the Yukon! I'd have to get out, wouldn't I—out of the Yukon—ha, ha!—my name would smell everywhere to high heaven!”

“I'm not sure but that's exactly what I would do if I were you,” said Sergeant Marden simply. “The fact you've got to face is that you're black-balled—and the easiest way to swallow a nasty dose is to swallow it in a gulp, isn't it?” He got up from his chair and laid his hand on Three-Ace Artie's shoulder. “Look here, Leroy,” he said earnestly, “you've got a cool enough head on you not to play the fool, and you're a big enough sport to stand for the cards whatever way they turn. I want you to say that you'll come along with me in the morning—I'll get out of here early before any one is about, or I'll go now if you like, if that will help any. It's the sensible thing to do. Well?”

“I don't know, Marden—I don't know!” Three-Ace Artie flung out shortly.

“Yes, you do,” insisted the sergeant quietly. “You know a fight wouldn't get you anywhere—if you got one or two of them, Murdock Shaw for instance, you'd simply be hung for your pains. They mean business, and I don't want any trouble—why make any for me when it can't do you any good? I'm putting it to you in a friendly way; and, besides that, it's common sense, isn't it?” His grip tightened in a kindly pressure on Three-Ace Artie's shoulder. “I'm right, ain't I? What do you say?”

“Oh, you're right enough!”—a hard smile twisted Three-Ace Artie's lips. “There's no argument about that. I'd have to go anyway, I know that—but I'm not keen on going without giving them a run for their money that they'd remember for the rest of their lives!”

“And at the same time put a crimp into your own,” said Sergeant Marden soberly. He held out his hand. “You'll come, won't you?”

Twice Three-Ace Artie paced the length of the shack. Logically, as he had admitted, Marden was right; but battling against logic was a sullen fury that prompted him to throw consequences to the winds, and, with his back to the wall, invite Ton-Nugget Camp to a showdown. And then, abruptly, the gambler's instinct to throw down a beaten hand, when bluff would be of no avail and holding it would only increase his loss, turned the scales, and he halted before Sergeant Marden.

“I'll go,” he said tersely.

There was genuine relief in the officer's face.

“And I'll stick to my end of the bargain!” the sergeant exclaimed heartily. “When do you want to start?”

“It makes damned little odds to me!” Three-Ace Artie answered gruffly. “Suit yourself.”

“All right,” said the sergeant. “In that case I'll put in a few hours' sleep, and we'll get away before the camp is stirring.” He buttoned up his overcoat, put on his cap, and moved toward the door. “I've got a team of huskies, and there's room on the sled for anything you want to bring along. You can get it ready, and I'll call for you here.”

Three-Ace Artie nodded curtly.

Sergeant Marden reached out to open the door, and, with his hand on the latch, hesitated.

“Don't go up there, Leroy,” he said earnestly, jerking his head in the direction of the upper end of the camp. “Canuck John is unconscious, as I told you—there's nothing you could do.”

But Three-Ace Artie had turned his back. To Canuck John and Sergeant Marden he was equally oblivious for the moment. He heard the door close, heard the sergeant's footsteps outside recede and die away. He was staring now at the bag of gold upon the table. It seemed to mock and jeer at him, and suddenly his hands at his sides curled into clenched and knotted fists—and after a moment he spoke aloud in French.

“It was the first decent thing I ever did in my life”—he was smiling in a sort of horrible mirth. “Do you appreciate that, my very dear friend Raymond? It is exquisite! Sacré nom de Dieu, it is magnificent! It was the first decent thing you ever did in your life—think of that, mon brave! And see how well you are paid for it! They are running you out of camp!”

He turned and flung himself down on the bunk, his hands still fiercely clenched. Black-balled, Sergeant Marden had called it! Well, it was not the first time he had been black-balled! Here, in the Yukon, the name of Three-Ace Artie was to be a stench to the nostrils; elsewhere, in the city of his birth, he, last of his race, had already dragged an honoured and patrician name in the mire.

A red flame of anger swept his cheeks. What devil's juggling with the cards had brought that young fool across his path, and brought the memories of the days gone by, and brought him an indulgence in weak, mawkish sentimentality! A debt, he had told the boy!

The red flamed into his face again—and yet again. Curse the memories! Once aroused they would not down. Even the old schooldays crowded themselves upon him—and at that he jeered out at himself in bitter raillery. Brilliant, clever in those days, outstripping many beyond his years, as glib with his Latin as with his own French tongue, his father had designed him for the Roman Catholic priesthood, and he, Raymond Chapelle, the son of the rich seigneur, of one of the oldest families in French Canada, instead of becoming a priest of God had become—Three-Ace Artie, the pariah of Ton-Nugget Camp!

Would it not make all hell scream with glee! It brought unholy humour to himself. He—a priest of God! But he had not journeyed very far along that road—even before he had finished school he had had a fling or two! It had been easy enough. There was no mother, and he did not know his father very well. There had been great style and ceremony in that huge, old, lumbering, gray-stone mansion in Montreal—but never a home! His father had seemed concerned about him in one respect only—a sort of austere pride in his accomplishments at school. Produce proof of that, and money was unstinted. It had come very easily, that money—and gone riotously even as a boy. Then he had entered college, and half way through his course his father had died. He had travelled fast after that—so fast that only a blur of wreckage loomed up out of those few years. A passion for gambling, excess without restraint, a roué life—and his patrimony, large as it was, was gone. Family after family turned their backs upon him, and his clubs shut their doors in his face! And then the Yukon—another identity—and as much excitement as he could snatch out of his new life!

There was a snarl now on his lips. It had been a furious pace back there in Montreal, but whose business was it save his own! He was not whimpering about it. He could swallow his own medicine without asking anybody else to make a wry face over it for him! Regrets? What should he regret—save that he had lost the money that would enable him to maintain the old pace! Regrets! He would not even be thinking of it now if that young fool had not crossed his path, and he, the bigger fool of the two, had not tried to play the game of the blind leading the blind!

Repay a debt! Fie had not even displayed originality—only a sort of absurd mimicry of the boy's father! He was taunting himself now, mocking at himself mercilessly. What good had it done! How much different would it be with young Rogers than it had been with himself when Rogers' father, an old and intimate friend of his own father's, had taken him home one night just before the final crash, and had talked till dawn in kindly earnestness, pleading with him to change his ways before it was too late! True, it had had its effect. The effect had lasted two days! But somehow, for all that, he had never been able to forget the old gentleman's face, and the gray hairs, and the soft, gentle voice, and the dull glow of the fire in the grate that constantly found a reflection in the moist eyes fixed so anxiously upon him.

What imp of perversity had inspired him to consider that a debt, and prompt him to repay it to the son! Why had he not left well enough alone! What infernal trick of memory had caused him to recognise the boy at the moment of their first meeting! He had known the other in the old days only in the casual way that one of twenty-two would know a boy of fifteen still in short trousers!

He started up from the bunk impulsively, walked to the stove, wrenched the door open, flung in another stick of wood savagely, and began to pace the shack with the sullen fury of a caged beast. The passion within the man was rising to white heat. Run out of Ton-Nugget Camp! The story would spread. A nasty story! It meant that he was run out of the Yukon—his four years here, and not unprofitable years, at an end! It was a life he had grown to like because it was untrammelled; a life in which, at least in intervals, when the surplus cash was in hand, he could live in Dawson for a brief space at a dizzier pace than ever!

He was Three-Ace Artie here—or Arthur Leroy—it did not matter which—one took one's choice! And now—what was he to be next—and where!

Tell them what he had done, crawl to them, beg them to let him stay—never! If he answered them at all, it would be in quite a different way, and—his eyes fixed again upon the bag of gold that Sergeant Marden had left on the table. A bone flung to a cur as he was kicked from the door! The finger nails bit into the palms of Three-Ace Artie's hands.

“Damn you!” he gritted, white-lipped. “Damn every one of you!”

And this was his reward for the only decent thing that he could remember ever having done in his life—the thought with all its jibing mockery was back once more. It added fuel to his fury. It was he, not the Kid, who had had his lesson! And it was a lesson he would profit by! If it was the only decent thing he had ever done—it would be the last! They had intended him for a priest of God in the old days! He threw back his head and laughed until the room reverberated with his hollow mirth. He had come too damnably near to acting the part that afternoon, it seemed! A priest of God! Blasphemy, unbridled, unlicensed, filled his soul. He snatched up the bottle of whisky, and poured a glass full to the brim.

“A toast!” he cried. “On your feet, Raymond! Up, Monsieur Leroy! Artie, Three-Ace Artie—a toast! Drink deep, mes braves!” He lifted the glass above his head. “To our liege lord henceforth, praying pardon for our lapse from grace! To his Satanic Majesty—and hell!” He drained the glass to its dregs, and bowed satirically. “I can not do honour to the toast, sire, by snapping the goblet stem.” He held up the glass again. “It is only a jelly tumbler, and so—” It struck with a crash against the wall of the shack, as he hurled it from him, and smashed to splinters.

For a moment, clawing at his throat as the raw spirit burned him, staring at the broken glass upon the floor, he stood there; then, with a short laugh, he pushed both table and chair closer to the stove and sat down—and it was as though it were some strange vigil that he had set himself to keep. Occasionally he laughed, occasionally he filled the other glass and drank in gulps, occasionally he thought of Canuck John, who spoke English very poorly and whose eager snatching at the opportunity to speak French had brought about a certain intimacy between them, and, thinking of Canuck John, there came a sort of wondering frown as at the intrusion of some utterly extraneous thing, occasionally as his eyes encountered the bag of gold there came a glitter into their depths and his lips parted, hard drawn, over set teeth; but for the most part he sat with a fixed, grim smile, his hands opening and shutting on his knees, staring straight before him.

Once he got up, and, making the circuit of the shack, collected his personal belongings and packed them into his kit bag—and from under a loose plank in the corner of the room took out a half dozen large and well-filled pokes, tucked them carefully away beneath the clothing in the bag, strapped up the bag, replaced the loosened plank, and returned to his chair.

Sullen, bitter, desperate, soul reckless with the knowledge that all men's hands were against him, as his were against them, he sat there. The hours passed unreckoned and unnoticed. There was no dawn to come, for there was no sun to rise; but it grew a little lighter. A stillness as of the dead hung over Ton-Nugget Camp; and then out of the stillness a dog barked—and became a yapping chorus as others joined in.

He reached out mechanically for the bottle—it was empty. He stared at it for a moment in bewildered surprise. It had been full, untouched when he had placed it on the table. He stood up—steadily, firmly. He stretched out his hand in front of him, and studied it critically—there was not a tremor. His hand dropped to his side. One could absorb a good deal of liquor under mental stress without resultant physical effect! He was not drunk. Only his nerves were raw and on edge. That bag of gold on the table! His eyes narrowed again upon it for the hundredth time. It flaunted itself in his face. It had become symbolic of the unanimous contempt with which Ton-Nugget Camp bade him be gone! Damn their cursed insolence! It was an entirely inadequate reply to go away and simply leave it lying there on the table—and yet what else was there to do? The dogs were barking again. That would be Marden harnessing up his huskies. The sergeant would be along now in another minute or two.

He turned from the table, picked up his overcoat, put it on, and buttoned it to the throat. He put on his cap, jerked his kit bag up from the floor, slung one strap over his shoulder, moved toward the door—and paused to gaze back around the room. The lamp burned on the table, the empty whisky bottle, the glass, the bag of gold beside it; in the stove a knot crackled with a report like a pistol shot. Slowly his eyes travelled around over the familiar surroundings, his home of four months; and slowly the colour mounted in his cheeks—and suddenly, his eyes aflame, a low, tigerish cry on his lips, he flung the kit bag from his shoulder to the ground.

They would tell the story through the Yukon of how he had fleeced and robbed a drunken boy of his last cent on earth—but they would never tell the story of how he had slunk away in the darkness like a whipped and mangy cur! He feared neither God nor devil, norman, nor beast! That had been his lifelong boast, his creed. He feared them now no more than he had ever feared them! He listened. There was a footstep without, but that was Marden's. Not one of all the camp afoot to risk contamination by bidding him goodbye! Well, it was not good-bye yet! Ton-Nugget Camp would remember, his adieu! Passion was rocking the man to the soul, the sense of bitter injury, smarting like a gaping wound, was maddening him beyond all self-control. He tore loose the top button of his coat—and turned sharply to face the door. Here was Marden now. He wanted no quarrel with Mar-den, but——

The door opened. He felt himself mechanically push his cap back on his forehead, felt a sort of unholy joy sweep in a wild, ungovernable surge upon him, felt every muscle of his body stiffen and grow rigid in a fierce and savage elation, and he heard a sound that he meant for a laugh chortle from his lips. It was not Marden standing there—it was Murdock Shaw.

And then he spoke.

“Come in, and shut the door, Murdock,” he said in a velvet voice. “I thought my luck was out tonight.”

“It's not worth while,” the miner answered. “Mar-den's getting ready to go now, and I only came to bring you a message from Canuck John.”

“I've got one for you that you'll remember longer!”—Three-Ace Artie's smile was ghastly, as he moved back toward the table in a kind of inimical guarantee that the floor space should be equally divided between them. “Come in, Murdock, if you are a man—and shut that door.”

The miner did not move.

“Canuck John is dead,” he said tersely.

“What's that to do with me—or you and me!”—there was a rasp in Three-Ace Artie's voice now. “It's you who have started me on the little journey that I'm going to take, you know, and it's only decent to use the time that's left in bidding me good-bye.”

“I didn't come here to quarrel with you,” Shaw said shortly. “Canuck John regained consciousness for a moment before he died. He couldn't talk much—just a few words. We don't any of us know his real name, or where his home is. From what he said, it seems you do. He said: 'Tell Three-Ace Artie—give goodbye message—my mother and—' And then he died.”

Three-Ace Artie's fingers were twisting themselves around the bag of gold that he had picked up from the table.

“I thought so!” he snarled. “You were yellow this afternoon. I thought you hadn't the nerve to come here, unless you figured you were safe some way or another. And so you think you are going to hide behind a dead man and the sanctimonious pathos of a dying message! Well, I'll see you both damned first! Do you hear!” White to the lips with the fury that, gathering all through the night, was breaking now, he started toward the other, his hand clutching the bag of gold.

Involuntarily the miner stepped back still closer to the door.

“That's not the way out for you!” whispered Three-Ace Artie hoarsely. “If you take it, I'll drop you in the snow before you're ten yards up the street! Damn you, we'll play this hand out now for keeps! You've started something, and we'll finish it. You've rid the camp and rid Alaska of a tainted smell, have you? You sneaked around behind my back with your cursed righteousness to give me a push further on the road to hell! I know your kind—and, by God, I know your breed! Four years ago on the White Pass you took a man's last dollar for a hunk of bread. He could pay or starve! You sleek skunk—do you remember? Your conscience has been troubling you perhaps, and so you went around the camp and collected this, did you—this!” He held up the bag of gold above his head. “No? You didn't recognise me again? Well, no matter—take it back! Tell Ton-Nugget Camp I gave it back to you—to keep!” In a flash his arm swept forward, and, with all his strength behind it, he hurled the bag at the other's head.

It struck full on the miner's forehead—and dropped with a soft thud on the floor. The man reeled backward, swayed, and clawed at the wall of the shack for support—and while he swayed a red spot dyed his forehead, and a crimson stream ran zigzag down over eye and cheek.

And Three-Ace Artie laughed, and stooped, and picked up his kit bag, and swung one strap over one shoulder as before—Sergeant Marden, stern-faced, was standing on the threshold of the open door.

“I guess my luck is out after all. You win, Murdock!” smiled Three-Ace Artie grimly—and brushed past the sergeant out of the shack.

The dog-team was standing before the door. He dropped his kit bag on the sled, and strode on down the street. Here and there lights were beginning to show from the shack windows. Once a face was pressed against a pane to watch him go by, but no voice spoke to him. It was silent, and it was dark.

Only the snow was white. And it was cold—cold as death.

Presently Sergeant Marden and the dog-team caught up with him.

“He'll need a stitch or two in his head,” said the sergeant gruffly.

Raymond Chapelle, alias Arthur Leroy, alias Three-Ace Artie, made no reply. In his soul was anarchy; in his heart a bitter mockery that picked a quarrel with Almighty God.

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