Justice by Henry
It was the black patch over his left eye that made all the trouble.
In reality he was of a disposition most peaceful and propitiating, a
friend of justice and fair dealing, strongly inclined to a domestic
life, and capable of extreme devotion. He had a vivid sense of
righteousness, it is true, and any violation of it was apt to heat
his indignation to the boiling-point. When this occurred he was
strong in the back, stiff in the neck, and fearless of consequences.
But he was always open to friendly overtures and ready to make peace
Singularly responsive to every touch of kindness, desirous of
affection, secretly hungry for caresses, he had a heart framed for
love and tranquillity. But nature saw fit to put a black patch over
his left eye; wherefore his days were passed in the midst of conflict
and he lived the strenuous life.
How this sinister mark came to him, he never knew. Indeed it is
not likely that he had any idea of the part that it played in his
career. The attitude that the world took toward him from the
beginning, an attitude of aggressive mistrust,the role that he was
expected and practically forced to assume in the drama of existence,
the role of a hero of interminable strife,must have seemed to him
altogether mysterious and somewhat absurd. But his part was fixed by
the black patch. It gave him an aspect so truculent and forbidding
that all the elements of warfare gathered around him as hornets around
a sugar barrel, and his appearance in public was like the raising of a
flag for battle.
"You see that Pichou," said MacIntosh, the Hudson's Bay agent at
Mingan, "you see yon big black-eye deevil? The savages call him
Pichou because he's ugly as a lynx'LAID COMME UN PICHOU.' Best
sledge-dog and the gurliest tyke on the North Shore. Only two years
old and he can lead a team already. But, man, he's just daft for the
fighting. Fought his mother when he was a pup and lamed her for life.
Fought two of his brothers and nigh killed 'em both. Every dog in
the place has a grudge at him, and hell's loose as oft as he takes a
walk. I'm loath to part with him, but I'll be selling him gladly for
fifty dollars to any man that wants a good sledge-dog, eh?and a bit
collie-shangie every week."
Pichou had heard his name, and came trotting up to the corner of
the store where MacIntosh was talking with old Grant the chief factor,
who was on a tour of inspection along the North Shore, and Dan Scott,
the agent from Seven Islands, who had brought the chief down in his
chaloupe. Pichou did not understand what his master had been saying
about him: but he thought he was called, and he had a sense of duty;
and besides, he was wishful to show proper courtesy to well-dressed
and respectable strangers. He was a great dog, thirty inches high at
the shoulder; broad-chested, with straight, sinewy legs; and covered
with thick, wavy, cream-coloured hair from the tips of his short ears
to the end of his bushy tailall except the left side of his face.
That was black from ear to nosecoal-black; and in the centre of
this storm-cloud his eye gleamed like fire.
What did Pichou know about that ominous sign? No one had ever told
him. He had no looking-glass. He ran up to the porch where the men
were sitting, as innocent as a Sunday-school scholar coming to the
superintendent's desk to receive a prize. But when old Grant, who
had grown pursy and nervous from long living on the fat of the land
at Ottawa, saw the black patch and the gleaming eye, he anticipated
evil; so he hitched one foot up on the porch, crying "Get out!" and
with the other foot he planted a kick on the side of the dog's head.
Pichou's nerve-centres had not been shaken by high living. They
acted with absolute precision and without a tremor. His sense of
justice was automatic, and his teeth were fixed through the leg of
the chief factor's boot, just below the calf.
For two minutes there was a small chaos in the post of the
Honourable Hudson's Bay Company at Mingan. Grant howled bloody
murder; MacIntosh swore in three languages and yelled for his dog-
whip; three Indians and two French-Canadians wielded sticks and
fence-pickets. But order did not arrive until Dan Scott knocked the
burning embers from his big pipe on the end of the dog's nose. Pichou
gasped, let go his grip, shook his head, and loped back to his
quarters behind the barn, bruised, blistered, and intolerably
perplexed by the mystery of life.
As he lay on the sand, licking his wounds, he remembered many
strange things. First of all, there was the trouble with his mother
She was a Labrador Husky, dirty yellowish gray, with bristling
neck, sharp fangs, and green eyes, like a wolf. Her name was Babette.
She had a fiendish temper, but no courage. His father was supposed
to be a huge black and white Newfoundland that came over in a
schooner from Miquelon. Perhaps it was from him that the black patch
was inherited. And perhaps there were other things in the
inheritance, too, which came from this nobler strain of blood
Pichon's unwillingness to howl with the other dogs when they made
night hideous; his silent, dignified ways; his sense of fair play;
his love of the water; his longing for human society and friendship.
But all this was beyond Pichou's horizon, though it was within his
nature. He remembered only that Babette had taken a hate for him,
almost from the first, and had always treated him worse than his
all-yellow brothers. She would have starved him if she could. Once
when he was half grown, she fell upon him for some small offence and
tried to throttle him. The rest of the pack looked on snarling and
slavering. He caught Babette by the fore-leg and broke the bone. She
hobbled away, shrieking. What else could he do? Must a dog let
himself be killed by his mother?
As for his brotherswas it fair that two of them should fall foul
of him about the rabbit which he had tracked and caught and killed?
He would have shared it with them, if they had asked him, for they
ran behind him on the trail. But when they both set their teeth in
his neck, there was nothing to do but to lay them both out: which he
did. Afterward he was willing enough to make friends, but they
bristled and cursed whenever he came near them.
It was the same with everybody. If he went out for a walk on the
beach, Vigneau's dogs or Simard's dogs regarded it as an insult, and
there was a fight. Men picked up sticks, or showed him the butt-end
of their dog-whips, when he made friendly approaches. With the
children it was different; they seemed to like him a little; but
never did he follow one of them that a mother did not call from the
house-door: "Pierre! Marie! come away quick! That bad dog will bite
you!" Once when he ran down to the shore to watch the boat coming in
from the mail-steamer, the purser had refused to let the boat go to
land, and called out, "M'sieu' MacIntosh, you git no malle dis trip,
eef you not call avay dat dam' dog."
True, the Minganites seemed to take a certain kind of pride in his
reputation. They had brought Chouart's big brown dog, Gripette, down
from the Sheldrake to meet him; and after the meeting was over and
Gripette had been revived with a bucket of water, everybody, except
Chouart, appeared to be in good humour. The purser of the steamer had
gone to the trouble of introducing a famous BOULE-DOGGE from Quebec,
on the trip after that on which he had given such a hostile opinion of
Pichon. The bulldog's intentions were unmistakable; he expressed them
the moment he touched the beach; and when they carried him back to the
boat on a fish-barrow many flattering words were spoken about Pichou.
He was not insensible to them. But these tributes to his prowess
were not what he really wanted. His secret desire was for tokens of
affection. His position was honourable, but it was intolerably lonely
and full of trouble. He sought peace and he found fights.
While he meditated dimly on these things, patiently trying to get
the ashes of Dan Scott's pipe out of his nose, his heart was cast
down and his spirit was disquieted within him. Was ever a decent dog
so mishandled before? Kicked for nothing by a fat stranger, and then
beaten by his own master!
In the dining-room of the Post, Grant was slowly and reluctantly
allowing himself to be convinced that his injuries were not fatal.
During this process considerable Scotch whiskey was consumed and
there was much conversation about the viciousness of dogs. Grant
insisted that Pichou was mad and had a devil. MacIntosh admitted the
devil, but firmly denied the madness. The question was, whether the
dog should be killed or not; and over this point there was like to be
more bloodshed, until Dan Scott made his contribution to the argument:
"If you shoot him, how can you tell whether he is mad or not? I'll
give thirty dollars for him and take him home."
"If you do," said Grant, "you'll sail alone, and I'll wait for the
steamer. Never a step will I go in the boat with the crazy brute
that bit me."
"Suit yourself," said Dan Scott. "You kicked before he bit."
At daybreak he whistled the dog down to the chaloupe, hoisted sail,
and bore away for Seven Islands. There was a secret bond of sympathy
between the two companions on that hundred-mile voyage in an open
boat. Neither of them realized what it was, but still it was there.
Dan Scott knew what it meant to stand alone, to face a small
hostile world, to have a surfeit of fighting. The station of Seven
Islands was the hardest in all the district of the ancient POSTES DU
ROI. The Indians were surly and crafty. They knew all the tricks of
the fur-trade. They killed out of season, and understood how to make
a rusty pelt look black. The former agent had accommodated himself to
his customers. He had no objection to shutting one of his eyes, so
long as the other could see a chance of doing a stroke of business
for himself. He also had a convenient weakness in the sense of
smell, when there was an old stock of pork to work off on the
savages. But all of Dan Scott's senses were strong, especially his
sense of justice, and he came into the Post resolved to play a
straight game with both hands, toward the Indians and toward the
Honourable H. B. Company. The immediate results were reproofs from
Ottawa and revilings from Seven Islands. Furthermore the free
traders were against him because he objected to their selling rum to
It must be confessed that Dan Scott had a way with him that looked
pugnacious. He was quick in his motions and carried his shoulders
well thrown back. His voice was heavy. He used short words and few
of them. His eyebrow's were thick and they met over his nose. Then
there was a broad white scar at one corner of his mouth. His
appearance was not prepossessing, but at heart he was a
philanthropist and a sentimentalist. He thirsted for gratitude and
affection on a just basis. He had studied for eighteen months in the
medical school at Montreal, and his chief delight was to practise
gratuitously among the sick and wounded of the neighbourhood. His
ambition for Seven Islands was to make it a northern suburb of
Paradise, and for himself to become a full- fledged physician. Up to
this time it seemed as if he would have to break more bones than he
could set; and the closest connection of Seven Islands appeared to be
First, there had been a question of suzerainty between Dan Scott
and the local representative of the Astor family, a big half-breed
descendant of a fur-trader, who was the virtual chief of the Indians
hunting on the Ste. Marguerite: settled by knock-down arguments. Then
there was a controversy with Napoleon Bouchard about the right to put
a fish-house on a certain part of the beach: settled with a stick,
after Napoleon had drawn a knife. Then there was a running warfare
with Virgile and Ovide Boulianne, the free traders, who were his
rivals in dealing with the Indians for their peltry: still unsettled.
After this fashion the record of his relations with his
fellow-citizens at Seven Islands was made up. He had their respect,
but not their affection. He was the only Protestant, the only
English-speaker, the most intelligent man, as well as the hardest
hitter in the place, and he was very lonely. Perhaps it was this
that made him take a fancy to Pichou. Their positions in the world
were not unlike. He was not the first man who has wanted sympathy
and found it in a dog.
Alone together, in the same boat, they made friends with each other
easily. At first the remembrance of the hot pipe left a little
suspicion in Pichou's mind; but this was removed by a handsome
apology in the shape of a chunk of bread and a slice of meat from Dan
Scott's lunch. After this they got on together finely. It was the
first time in his life that Pichou had ever spent twenty-four hours
away from other dogs; it was also the first time he had ever been
treated like a gentleman. All that was best in him responded to the
treatment. He could not have been more quiet and steady in the boat
if he had been brought up to a seafaring life. When Dan Scott called
him and patted him on the head, the dog looked up in the man's face as
if he had found his God. And the man, looking down into the eye that
was not disfigured by the black patch, saw something that he had been
seeking for a long time.
All day the wind was fair and strong from the southeast. The
chaloupe ran swiftly along the coast past the broad mouth of the
River Saint-Jean, with its cluster of white cottages past the hill-
encircled bay of the River Magpie, with its big fish-houses past the
fire-swept cliffs of Riviere-au-Tonnerre, and the turbulent, rocky
shores of the Sheldrake: past the silver cascade of the Riviere-aux-
Graines, and the mist of the hidden fall of the Riviere Manitou: past
the long, desolate ridges of Cap Cormorant, where, at sunset, the wind
began to droop away, and the tide was contrary So the chaloupe felt
its way cautiously toward the corner of the coast where the little
Riviere-a-la-Truite comes tumbling in among the brown rocks, and found
a haven for the night in the mouth of the river.
There was only one human dwelling-place in sight As far as the eye
could sweep, range after range of uninhabitable hills covered with
the skeletons of dead forests; ledge after ledge of ice-worn granite
thrust out like fangs into the foaming waves of the gulf. Nature,
with her teeth bare and her lips scarred: this was the landscape. And
in the midst of it, on a low hill above the murmuring river,
surrounded by the blanched trunks of fallen trees, and the blackened
debris of wood and moss, a small, square, weather-beaten palisade of
rough-hewn spruce, and a patch of the bright green leaves and white
flowers of the dwarf cornel lavishing their beauty on a lonely grave.
This was the only habitation in sightthe last home of the
Englishman, Jack Chisholm, whose story has yet to be told.
In the shelter of this hill Dan Scott cooked his supper and shared
it with Pichou. When night was dark he rolled himself in his
blanket, and slept in the stern of the boat, with the dog at his
side. Their friendship was sealed.
The next morning the weather was squally and full of sudden anger.
They crept out with difficulty through the long rollers that barred
the tiny harbour, and beat their way along the coast. At Moisie they
must run far out into the gulf to avoid the treacherous shoals, and to
pass beyond the furious race of white-capped billows that poured from
the great river for miles into the sea. Then they turned and made for
the group of half-submerged mountains and scattered rocks that Nature,
in some freak of fury, had thrown into the throat of Seven Islands
Bay. That was a difficult passage. The black shores were swept by
headlong tides. Tusks of granite tore the waves. Baffled and
perplexed, the wind flapped and whirled among the cliffs. Through all
this the little boat buffeted bravely on till she reached the point of
the Gran Boule. Then a strange thing happened.
The water was lumpy; the evening was growing thick; a swirl of the
tide and a shift of the wind caught the chaloupe and swung her
suddenly around. The mainsail jibed, and before he knew how it
happened Dan Scott was overboard. He could swim but clumsily. The
water blinded him, choked him, dragged him down. Then he felt Pichou
gripping him by the shoulder, buoying him up, swimming mightily toward
the chaloupe which hung trembling in the wind a few yards away. At
last they reached it and the man climbed over the stern and pulled the
dog after him. Dan Scott lay in the bottom of the boat, shivering,
dazed, until he felt the dog's cold nose and warm breath against his
cheek. He flung his arm around Pichon's neck.
"They said you were mad! God, if more men were mad like you!"
Pichou's work at Seven Islands was cut out for him on a generous
scale. It is true that at first he had no regular canine labour to
perform, for it was summer. Seven months of the year, on the North
Shore, a sledge-dog's occupation is gone. He is the idlest creature
in the universe.
But Pichou, being a new-comer, had to win his footing in the
community; and that was no light task. With the humans it was
comparatively easy. At the outset they mistrusted him on account of
his looks. Virgile Boulianne asked: "Why did you buy such an ugly
dog?" Ovide, who was the wit of the family, said: "I suppose M'sieu'
Scott got a present for taking him."
"It's a good dog," said Dan Scott. "Treat him well and he'll treat
you well. Kick him and I kick you."
Then he told what had happened off the point of Gran' Boule. The
village decided to accept Pichou at his master's valuation. Moderate
friendliness, with precautions, was shown toward him by everybody,
except Napoleon Bouchard, whose distrust was permanent and took the
form of a stick. He was a fat, fussy man; fat people seemed to have
no affinity for Pichou.
But while the relations with the humans of Seven Islands were soon
established on a fair footing, with the canines Pichou had a very
different affair. They were not willing to accept any
recommendations as to character. They judged for themselves; and
they judged by appearances; and their judgment was utterly hostile to
They decided that he was a proud dog, a fierce dog, a bad dog, a
fighter. He must do one of two things: stay at home in the yard of
the Honourable H. B. Company, which is a thing that no self-
respecting dog would do in the summer-time, when cod-fish heads are
strewn along the beach; or fight his way from one end of the village
to the other, which Pichou promptly did, leaving enemies behind every
fence. Huskies never forget a grudge. They are malignant to the
core. Hatred is the wine of cowardly hearts. This is as true of dogs
as it is of men.
Then Pichou, having settled his foreign relations, turned his
attention to matters at home. There were four other dogs in Dan
Scott's team. They did not want Pichou for a leader, and he knew it.
They were bitter with jealousy. The black patch was loathsome to
them. They treated him disrespectfully, insultingly, grossly. Affairs
came to a head when Pecan, a rusty gray dog who had great ambitions
and little sense, disputed Pichou's tenure of a certain ham-bone. Dan
Scott looked on placidly while the dispute was terminated. Then he
washed the blood and sand from the gashes on Pecan's shoulder, and
patted Pichou on the head.
"Good dog," he said. "You're the boss."
There was no further question about Pichou's leadership of the
team. But the obedience of his followers was unwilling and sullen.
There was no love in it. Imagine an English captain, with a Boer
company, campaigning in the Ashantee country, and you will have a fair
idea of Pichou's position at Seven Islands.
He did not shrink from its responsibilities. There were certain
reforms in the community which seemed to him of vital importance, and
he put them through.
First of all, he made up his mind that there ought to be peace and
order on the village street. In the yards of the houses that were
strung along it there should be home rule, and every dog should deal
with trespassers as he saw fit. Also on the beach, and around the
fish-shanties, and under the racks where the cod were drying, the
right of the strong jaw should prevail, and differences of opinion
should be adjusted in the old-fashioned way. But on the sandy road,
bordered with a broken board-walk, which ran between the houses and
the beach, courtesy and propriety must be observed. Visitors walked
there. Children played there. It was the general promenade. It
must be kept peaceful and decent. This was the First Law of the Dogs
of Seven Islands. If two dogs quarrel on the street they must go
elsewhere to settle it. It was highly unpopular, but Pichou enforced
it with his teeth.
The Second Law was equally unpopular: No stealing from the
Honourable H. B. Company. If a man bought bacon or corned-beef or
any other delicacy, and stored it an insecure place, or if he left
fish on the beach over night, his dogs might act according to their
inclination. Though Pichou did not understand how honest dogs could
steal from their own master, he was willing to admit that this was
their affair. His affair was that nobody should steal anything from
the Post. It cost him many night watches, and some large battles to
carry it out, but he did it. In the course of time it came to pass
that the other dogs kept away from the Post altogether, to avoid
temptations; and his own team spent most of their free time wandering
about to escape discipline.
The Third Law was this. Strange dogs must be decently treated as
long as they behave decently. This was contrary to all tradition,
but Pichou insisted upon it. If a strange dog wanted to fight he
should be accommodated with an antagonist of his own size. If he did
not want to fight he should be politely smelled and allowed to pass
This Law originated on a day when a miserable, long-legged, black
cur, a cross between a greyhound and a water-spaniel, strayed into
Seven Islands from heaven knows whereweary, desolate, and
bedraggled. All the dogs in the place attacked the homeless beggar.
There was a howling fracas on the beach; and when Pichou arrived, the
trembling cur was standing up to the neck in the water, facing a
semicircle of snarling, snapping bullies who dared not venture out
any farther. Pichou had no fear of the water. He swam out to the
stranger, paid the smelling salute as well as possible under the
circumstances, encouraged the poor creature to come ashore, warned
off the other dogs, and trotted by the wanderer's side for miles down
the beach until they disappeared around the point. What reward Pichou
got for this polite escort, I do not know. But I saw him do the
gallant deed; and I suppose this was the origin of the well- known and
much-resisted Law of Strangers' Rights in Seven Islands.
The most recalcitrant subjects with whom Pichou had to deal in all
these matters were the team of Ovide Boulianne. There were five of
them, and up to this time they had been the best team in the village.
They had one virtue: under the whip they could whirl a sledge over
the snow farther and faster than a horse could trot in a day. But
they had innumerable vices. Their leader, Carcajou, had a fleece like
a merino ram. But under this coat of innocence he carried a heart so
black that he would bite while he was wagging his tail. This smooth
devil, and his four followers like unto himself, had sworn relentless
hatred to Pichou, and they made his life difficult.
But his great and sufficient consolation for all toils and troubles
was the friendship with his master. In the long summer evenings,
when Dan Scott was making up his accounts in the store, or studying
his pocket cyclopaedia of medicine in the living-room of the Post,
with its low beams and mysterious green-painted cupboards, Pichou
would lie contentedly at his feet. In the frosty autumnal mornings,
when the brant were flocking in the marshes at the head of the bay,
they would go out hunting together in a skiff. And who could lie so
still as Pichou when the game was approaching? Or who could spring
so quickly and joyously to retrieve a wounded bird? But best of all
were the long walks on Sunday afternoons, on the yellow beach that
stretched away toward the Moisie, or through the fir-forest behind
the Pointe des Chasseurs. Then master and dog had fellowship
together in silence. To the dumb companion it was like walking with
his God in the garden in the cool of the day.
When winter came, and snow fell, and waters froze, Pichou's serious
duties began. The long, slim COMETIQUE, with its curving prow, and
its runners of whalebone, was put in order. The harness of caribou-
hide was repaired and strengthened. The dogs, even the most vicious
of them, rejoiced at the prospect of doing the one thing that they
could do best. Each one strained at his trace as if he would drag
the sledge alone. Then the long tandem was straightened out, Dan
Scott took his place on the low seat, cracked his whip, shouted
"POUITTE! POUITTE!" and the equipage darted along the snowy track
like a fifty-foot arrow.
Pichou was in the lead, and he showed his metal from the start. No
need of the terrible FOUET to lash him forward or to guide his
course. A word was enough. "Hoc! Hoc! Hoc!" and he swung to the
right, avoiding an air-hole. "Re-re! Re-re!" and he veered to the
left, dodging a heap of broken ice. Past the mouth of the Ste.
Marguerite, twelve miles; past Les Jambons, twelve miles more; past
the River of Rocks and La Pentecote, fifteen miles more; into the
little hamlet of Dead Men's Point, behind the Isle of the Wise
Virgin, whither the amateur doctor had been summoned by telegraph to
attend a patient with a broken armforty-three miles for the first
day's run! Not bad. Then the dogs got their food for the day, one
dried fish apiece; and at noon the next day, reckless of bleeding
feet, they flew back over the same track, and broke their fast at
Seven Islands before eight o'clock. The ration was the same, a
single fish; always the same, except when it was varied by a cube of
ancient, evil-smelling, potent whale's flesh, which a dog can swallow
at a single gulp. Yet the dogs of the North Shore are never so full
of vigour, courage, and joy of life as when the sledges are running.
It is in summer, when food is plenty and work slack, that they sicken
Pichou's leadership of his team became famous. Under his
discipline the other dogs developed speed and steadiness. One day
they made the distance to the Godbout in a single journey, a wonderful
run of over eighty miles. But they loved their leader no better,
though they followed him faster. And as for the other teams,
especially Carcajou's, they were still firm in their deadly hatred for
the dog with the black patch.
It was in the second winter after Pichou's coming to Seven Islands
that the great trial of his courage arrived. Late in February an
Indian runner on snowshoes staggered into the village. He brought
news from the hunting-parties that were wintering far up on the Ste.
Margueritegood news and bad. First, they had already made a good
hunting: for the pelletrie, that is to say. They had killed many
otter, some fisher and beaver, and four silver foxesa marvel of
fortune. But then, for the food, the chase was bad, very badno
caribou, no hare, no ptarmigan, nothing for many days. Provisions
were very low. There were six families together. Then la grippe had
taken hold of them. They were sick, starving. They would probably
die, at least most of the women and children. It was a bad job.
Dan Scott had peculiar ideas of his duty toward the savages. He
was not romantic, but he liked to do the square thing. Besides, he
had been reading up on la grippe, and he had some new medicine for it,
capsules from Montreal, very powerfulquinine, phenacetine, and
morphine. He was as eager to try this new medicine as a boy is to
fire off a new gun. He loaded the Cometique with provisions and the
medicine-chest with capsules, harnessed his team, and started up the
river. Thermometer thirty degrees below zero; air like crystal; snow
six feet deep on the level.
The first day's journey was slow, for the going was soft, and the
track, at places, had to be broken out with snow-shoes. Camp was
made at the foot of the big falla hole in snow, a bed of boughs, a
hot fire and a blanket stretched on a couple of sticks to reflect the
heat, the dogs on the other side of the fire, and Pichou close to his
In the morning there was the steep hill beside the fall to climb,
alternately soft and slippery, now a slope of glass and now a
treacherous drift of yielding feathers; it was a road set on end. But
Pichou flattened his back and strained his loins and dug his toes into
the snow and would not give back an inch. When the rest of the team
balked the long whip slashed across their backs and recalled them to
their duty. At last their leader topped the ridge, and the others
struggled after him. Before them stretched the great dead-water of
the river, a straight white path to No-man's-land. The snow was smooth
and level, and the crust was hard enough to bear. Pichou settled down
to his work at a glorious pace. He seemed to know that he must do his
best, and that something important depended on the quickness of his
legs. On through the glittering solitude, on through the death-like
silence, sped the COMETIQUE, between the interminable walls of the
forest, past the mouths of nameless rivers, under the shadow of grim
mountains. At noon Dan Scott boiled the kettle, and ate his bread and
bacon. But there was nothing for the dogs, not even for Pichou; for
discipline is discipline, and the best of sledge-dogs will not run
well after he has been fed.
Then forward again, along the lifeless road, slowly over rapids,
where the ice was rough and broken, swiftly over still waters, where
the way was level, until they came to the foot of the last lake, and
camped for the night. The Indians were but a few miles away, at the
head of the lake, and it would be easy to reach them in the morning.
But there was another camp on the Ste. Marguerite that night, and
it was nearer to Dan Scott than the Indians were. Ovide Boulianne had
followed him up the river, close on his track, which made the going
"Does that sacre bourgeois suppose that I allow him all that
pelletrie to himself and the Compagnie? Four silver fox, besides
otter and beaver? NON, MERCI! I take some provision, and some
whiskey. I go to make trade also." Thus spoke the shrewd Ovide,
proving that commerce is no less daring, no less resolute, than
philanthropy. The only difference is in the motive, and that is not
always visible. Ovide camped the second night at a bend of the
river, a mile below the foot of the lake. Between him and Dan Scott
there was a hill covered with a dense thicket of spruce.
By what magic did Carcajou know that Pichou, his old enemy, was so
near him in that vast wilderness of white death? By what mysterious
language did he communicate his knowledge to his companions and stir
the sleeping hatred in their hearts and mature the conspiracy of
Pichou, sleeping by the fire, was awakened by the fall of a lump of
snow from the branch of a shaken evergreen. That was nothing. But
there were other sounds in the forest, faint, stealthy, inaudible to
an ear less keen than his. He crept out of the shelter and looked
into the wood. He could see shadowy forms, stealing among the trees,
gliding down the hill. Five of them. Wolves, doubtless! He must
guard the provisions. By this time the rest of his team were awake.
Their eyes glittered. They stirred uneasily. But they did not move
from the dying fire. It was no concern of theirs what their leader
chose to do out of hours. In the traces they would follow him, but
there was no loyalty in their hearts. Pichou stood alone by the
sledge, waiting for the wolves.
But these were no wolves. They were assassins. Like a company of
soldiers, they lined up together and rushed silently down the slope.
Like lightning they leaped upon the solitary dog and struck him down.
In an instant, before Dan Scott could throw off his blanket and seize
the loaded butt of his whip, Pichou's throat and breast were torn to
rags, his life-blood poured upon the snow, and his murderers were
slinking away, slavering and muttering through the forest.
Dan Scott knelt beside his best friend. At a glance he saw that
the injury was fatal. "Well done, Pichou!" he murmured, "you fought a
And the dog, by a brave effort, lifted the head with the black
patch on it, for the last time, licked his master', hand, and then
dropped back upon the snowcontented, happy, dead.
There is but one drawback to a dog's friendship. It does not last
End of the story? Well, if you care for the other people in it,
you shall hear what became of them. Dan Scott went on to the head of
the lake and found the Indians, and fed them and gave them his
medicine, and all of them got well except two, and they continued to
hunt along the Ste. Marguerite every winter and trade with the
Honourable H. B. Company. Not with Dan Scott, however, for before
that year was ended he resigned his post, and went to Montreal to
finish his course in medicine; and now he is a respected physician in
Ontario. Married; three children; useful; prosperous. But before he
left Seven Islands he went up the Ste. Marguerite in the summer, by
canoe, and made a grave for Pichou's bones, under a blossoming ash
tree, among the ferns and wild flowers. He put a cross over it.
"Being French," said he, "I suppose he was a Catholic. But I'll
swear he was a Christian."