"Can't we go on to Fort Winagog? I can wait there till my uncle appears, and I shall not be taking you further out of your way. I am afraid I am putting you to a good deal of trouble, and wasting your time." "Time is not of much account to me," laughed Stane shortly. "And what you suggest is impossible." "Why?" demanded Helen. "Because old Fort Winagog is a fort no longer.
This " she waved a hand towards the canoe and the river "is so different from my uncle's specially conducted tour." "Oh, I am not at all anxious to be rid of you," laughed Stane, "but I cannot help wondering whether we have not taken the wrong turn. You see, if we have, every yard takes us further from your uncle's camp." "But this is the way to Fort Winagog?" asked the girl.
It is impossible that we can have missed the camp; and we must have seen any boat coming down this empty water." "But we are going towards Fort Winagog?" "Yes.
And whilst he sat wondering, Gerald Ainley and his Indian companion, travelling late, toiled on, following the river trail to Fort Winagog on a vain quest. Slowly, and with the pungent taste of raw brandy in his mouth, Hubert Stane came to himself. The first thing he saw was Helen Yardely's white face bending over him, and the first sound he heard was a cry of sobbing gladness. "Thank God!
The surprise in Ainley's face was quite genuine, as Helen saw, and she realized that whatever was to come, this part of the man's story was quite true. "No, we met no one, and we never reached Fort Winagog, because our canoe was stolen whilst we slept." "Is that so?" Ainley's face grew dark as he asked the question; then a troubled look came upon it.
"I do not know," she said. "I certainly do not remember coming through that rough water." "Your uncle's party had of course travelled some way since I left Fort Malsun?" "Oh yes; we had made long journeys each day and we were well on our way to wait a moment. I shall remember the name to to old Fort Winagog." "Winagog?" said Stane. "Yes! That is the name.
"I cannot say, Sir James! I can only guess, and that is that Miss Yardely knew that we were making for the old Fort Winagog, and mentioned it to her rescuer who was probably journeying that way. Anyhow I went up to the Fort.
The half-breed visioned the sleeping camp once more, and with another glance at the stolen canoe, gave a calculated answer. "Yesterday. She go up zee oder river in a canoe with a white man." "Up the other river?" "Oui! I pass her and heem, both paddling. It seems likely dat dey go to Fort Winagog. Dey paddle quick." "Fort Winagog!" As he echoed the words, a look of thought came into Ainley's eyes.
"Anyway," he continued after a moment, "following his statement, I went up to Old Fort Winagog, but found no sign of you, then back by another and a quicker route that I might tell your uncle of the lack of news, and organize a regular search. After that, I started to beat the country round about steadily.
The only waterway to old Fort Winagog that he knew was from the main river and up the stream that formed the outlet for the lake. But there was another that was reached by a short portage through the woods from the subsidiary stream from which he turned aside, a waterway which fed the lake, and which cut off at least a hundred and twenty miles.