The penultimate volume of Curwood’s famous Mountie stories
In Curwood, the famous ‘Mounties’ had possibly their first and most enthusiastic champion and author of their adventures of fiction and legend. The image of the lone policeman out in the Canadian wilderness enduring every force nature could hurl against him and yet still resolutely and infallibly ‘getting his man’ was never more powerful than in the pages of Curwood’s stories. His inspiration came from a time before ‘The Royal Canadian Mounted Police’, when the force was titled, ‘The North West Mounted Police’ and of course this meant the adventures are set in an earlier era—the Canada of the 19th century—where the untamed land was sparsely populated with untamed men and the tribes of indigenous Indians that might yet be hostile. These men were policemen, trappers, trackers, rangers, part lawman, part soldier—often imagined in their distinctive scarlet uniform—in fact the very stuff which has evoked true adventure in the minds of those aged from 8 to 80!
This book, the third volume of Curwood’s epic tales of the early days of the iconic ‘Mounties,’ includes ‘Isobel: A Romance of the Northern Trail’ and ‘The Golden Snare.’ Available in soft back and hard back with dust cover for collectors.
It was all she said, and yet the voice, the significance of the choking words, hurt him more than if she had struck him. In them there was none of the passion and condemnation he had expected. Quietly, almost whisperingly uttered, they stung him to the soul. He had meant to say to her what he had said to Deane—even more. But the crudeness of the wilderness had made him slow of tongue, and while his heart cried out for words Isobel turned and went to her husband. And then there came the thing he had been expecting. Down the ridge there raced a flurry of snow and a yelping of dogs. He loosened the revolver in his holster, and stood in readiness when Bucky Smith ran a few paces ahead of his men into the camp. At sight of his enemy’s face, torn between rage and disappointment, all of Billy’s old coolness returned to him.<br>
With a bound Bucky was at Scottie Deane’s side. He looked down at his manacled hands and at the woman who was clasping them in her own, and then he whirled on Billy with the quickness of a cat.<br>
“You’re a liar and a sneak!” he panted. “You’ll answer for this at headquarters. I understand now why you let ’em go back there. It was her! She paid you—paid you in her own way—to free him! But she won’t pay you again—”<br>
At his words Deane had started as if stung by a wasp. Billy saw Isobel’s whitened face. The meaning of Buck’s words had gone home to her as swiftly as a lightning flash, and for an instant her eyes had turned to him! Bucky got no further than those last words. Before he could add another syllable Billy was upon him. His fist shot out?once, twice—and the blows that fell sent Bucky crashing through the fire. Billy did not wait for him to regain his feet. A red light blazed before his eyes. He forgot the presence of Deane and Walker and Conway. His one thought was that the scoundrel he had struck down had flung at Isobel the deadliest insult that a man could offer a woman, and before either Conway or Walker could make a move he was upon Bucky.<br>
He did not know how long or how many times he struck, but when at last Conway and Walker succeeded in dragging him away Bucky lay upon his back in the snow, blood gushing from his mouth and nose. Walker ran to him. Panting for breath, Billy turned toward Isobel and Deane. He was almost sobbing. He made no effort to speak. But he saw that the thing he had dreaded was gone. Isobel was looking at him again—and there was the old faith in her eyes. At last—she understood! Dean’s handcuffed hands were clenched. The light of brotherhood shone in his eyes, and where a moment before there had been grief and despair in Billy’s heart there came now a warm glow of joy. Once more they had faith in him!<br>
Walker had raised Bucky to a sitting posture, and was wiping the blood from his face when Billy went to them. The corporal’s hand made a limp move toward his revolver. Billy struck it away and secured the weapon. Then he spoke to Walker.<br>
“There is no doubt in your mind that I hold a sergeancy in the service, is there, Walker?” he asked.<br>
His tone was no longer one of comradeship. In it there was the ring of authority. Walker was quick to understand.<br>
“And you are familiar with our laws governing insubordination and conduct unbecoming an officer of the service?”<br>
“Then, as a superior officer and in the name of his Majesty the King, I place Corporal Bucky Smith under arrest, and commission you, under oath of the service, to take him under your guard to Churchill, along with the letter which I shall give you for the officer in charge there. I shall appear against him a little later with the evidence that will outlaw him from the service. Put the handcuffs on him!”<br>
Stunned by the sudden change in the situation, Walker obeyed without a word. Billy turned to Conway, the driver.<br>
“Deane is too badly injured to travel,” he explained, “ Put up your tent for him and his wife close to the fire. You can take mine in exchange for it as you go back.”<br>
He went to his kit and found a pencil and paper. Fifteen minutes later he gave Walker the letter in which he described to the commanding officer at Churchill certain things which he knew would hold Bucky a prisoner until he could personally appear against him. Meanwhile Conway had put up the tent and had assisted Deane into it. Isobel had accompanied him. Billy then had a five-minute confidential talk with Walker, and when the constable gave instructions for Conway to prepare the dogs for the return trip there was a determined hardness in his eyes as he looked at Bucky. In those five minutes he had heard the story of Rousseau, the young Frenchman down at Norway House, and of the wife whose faithlessness had killed him. Besides, he hated Bucky Smith, as all men hated him. Billy was confident that he could rely upon him.<br>
Not until dogs and sledge were ready did Bucky utter a word. The terrific beating he had received had stunned him for a few minutes; but now he jumped to his feet, not waiting for the command from Walker, and strode up close to Billy. There was a vengeful leer on his bloody face and his eyes blazed almost white, but his voice was so low that Conway and Walker could only hear the murmur of it. His words were meant for Billy alone.<br>
“For this I’m going to kill you, MacVeigh,” he said; and in spite of Billy’s contempt for the man there was a quality in the low voice that sent a curious shiver through him. “You can send me from the service, but you’re going to die for doing it!”<br>
Billy made no reply, and Bucky did not wait for one. He set off at the head of the sledge, with Conway a step behind them. Billy followed with Walker until they reached the foot of the ridge. There they shook hands, and Billy stood watching them until they passed over the cap of the ridge.