Even now will I give her to him." Reaching down, he took El-Soo by the hand and led her across the space to where Akoon lay on his back. "She has a bad habit, Akoon," he said, seating her at Akoon's feet. "As she has run away from me in the past, in the days to come she may run away from you. But there is no need to fear that she will ever run away, Akoon. I shall see to that.

"No price did I pay for her," he answered. "She was above price. I did not measure her in gold-dust, nor in dogs, and tents, and furs." The old men debated among themselves and mumbled in undertones. "These old men are ice," Akoon said in English. "I will not listen to their judgment, Porportuk. If you take El-Soo, I will surely kill you." The old men ceased and regarded him suspiciously.

But Akoon countered his strength on the wheel and looked him in the eyes. The captain slowly released the spokes. "Queer beggar," he sniffed to himself. Akoon held the Seattle on the edge of the shoal water and waited till he saw the squaw's fingers clutch the forward rail. Then he signalled for full speed ahead and ground the wheel over.

In the meantime Akoon ate and slept, and lingered much at the steamboat landing, deaf to the rising resentment of Tana-naw Station in that he did nothing. Twenty-four hours later Porportuk returned. He was tired and savage. He spoke to no one but Akoon, and with him tried to pick a quarrel. But Akoon shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Porportuk did not waste time.

Stooping, Porportuk crossed El-Soo's feet, so that the instep of one lay over that of the other; and then, before his purpose could be divined, he discharged his rifle through the two ankles. As Akoon struggled to rise against the weight of the young men, there was heard the crunch of the broken bone rebroken. "It is just," said the old men, one to another. El-Soo made no sound.

Now let the woman be brought to me." Akoon gritted his teeth. The young men took El-Soo by the arms. She did not resist, and was led, her face a sullen flame, to Porportuk. "Sit there at my feet till I have made my talk," he commanded. He paused a moment. "It is true," he said, "I am an old man. Yet can I understand the ways of youth. The fire has not all gone out of me.

Also, at Porportuk's back, walked another man with a rifle, who had eyes only for Akoon. "Here are the notes and mortgages," said Porportuk, "for fifteen thousand nine hundred and sixty-seven dollars and seventy-five cents." El-Soo received them into her hands and said to Tommy, "Let them be reckoned as sixteen thousand." "There remains ten thousand dollars to be paid in gold," Tommy said.

He sat at feast, with death in his throat, that he could not drown with wine. And laughter and joke and song went around, and Akoon told a story that made the rafters echo. There were no tears or sighs at that table. It was no more than fit that Klakee-Nah should die as he had lived, and none knew this better than El-Soo, with her artist sympathy.

El-Soo was silent. "It is true?" And his one eye burned and bored into her like a fiery gimlet. "It is true," she said. "But I will run away again," she broke out passionately, a moment later. "Always will I run away." "That is for Porportuk to consider," said another of the old men. "It is for us to consider the judgment." "What price did you pay for her?" was demanded of Akoon.

The large canoe was very near, but the gap between it and the steamer was widening. The squaw laughed and leaned over the rail. "Then catch me, Porportuk!" she cried. Akoon left the steamer at Fort Yukon. He outfitted a small poling-boat and went up the Porcupine River. And with him went El-Soo.