When they had rested, there were to be three new cabins squeezed somehow into the already overcrowded stockade, and five more men and six women would belong to Fort de Seviere. As he walked toward the factory the young man was thinking of all this.
Something there was between these two, some enmity that followed even into the land of shadows and yet held them gentlemen through it all, offering and rejecting some chance of escape. A weary, weary tangle. Again he would fancy himself back in De Seviere and always there was De Courtenay with his smiling face and tantalizing beauty. "Welcome, M'sieu, to our post!
Thus the sun went down on De Seviere, with the eager maids and women passing and repassing near the gate to peep out at the rustling throng, at the tepees with their fine skin coverings painted with all the wonders of battle and the chase, at the comely squaws and maidens, the chubby brown children, the dogs snarling and savage, for they had full complement of the grey northern huskies.
What fate was meted out to him was swift and therefore merciful. Peace be to him! "No more I know, my friend, save that, when I returned to De Seviere, I found you ill with some fever of the brain." "But, Ridgar, for love of Heaven, what of Maren?"
Forty-eight hours later there stood at the portal of Fort de Seviere, ready for the trail, that small band of wanderers who had come into it in the early spring. They were fuller of hope, more eager to face the wilderness than on that day, for joy after sorrow sat blithely on their faces, turned to the tall young woman at their head. And they were fully equipped for travel.
As in a dream she saw the leaping forms close in upon the two men who fought for her, knew that those of De Seviere were pouring past her to safety, heard the boom of the great gate as it swung into place, and for her life she could move neither hand nor foot. Her body stood frozen as in those horrid dreams of night when one is conscious, yet held, in a clutch of steel.
Presently Edmonton Ridgar, chief trader of Fort de Seviere, came down the main way between the cabins, passing alone between the rows of the populace, and went forward to the lading to receive the guests.
How is it, then, that at midday of this day we met on the river one who told us of this post of De Seviere, and that it served the Montreal merchants? That we should here find hospitality and friends?" "Eh?" shot out McElroy sharply. "Of what like was such a person?" "A big man, swarthy and dark, with sullen eyes, clad in garments of tanned hides and wearing a red cap and a knife in his belt.
As the young man sprang lightly to land he held out his hand, and it was gripped with a force that showed the spirit behind the beauty of this new guest. "Welcome, M'sieu," said the factor, "to Fort de Seviere and all it contains."
To him alone was due the failure of De Courtenay, McElroy felt at once, and determined in his mind on that present which he had promised for this zeal. With the coming of the strangers Fort de Seviere was put under military rule.