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Lost in the Wilds

For the ball would have struck Vanner also


Diome saw them coming. He was still leading Vanner's horse. He wheeled it round and covered their retreat, setting it off prancing and curvetting between them and the house.

Through the open door of Forgill's hut the fire was glowing like a beacon across the snow. It was the darkest hour of all that brilliant night. The moon was sinking low, the stars were fading; the dawning was at hand.

The hut was gained at last. The door was shut behind the fugitives, and instantly barred. Every atom of furniture the hut contained was piled against it, and then they listened for the return of the sledge. Whether daylight would increase their danger or diminish it, Mr. De Brunier hardly knew. But with the dreaded daylight came the faint tinkle of a distant bell and the jingling of a chain bridle.

The Canadian police in the Dominion of the far North-West are an experienced troop of cavalry. Trooper and charger are alike fitted for the difficult task of maintaining law and order among the scattered, lawless population sprinkling its vast plains and forest wilds. No bronco can outride the splendid war-horse, and the mere sight of his scarlet-coated rider produces an effect which we in England little imagine. For he is the representative of the strong and even hand of British justice, which makes itself felt wherever it touches, ruling all alike with firmness and mercy, exerting a moral force to which even the Blackfoot in his moya yields.

Mr. De Brunier pulled down his barricade almost before it was finished, for the sledge came shooting down the clearing with the policeman behind it.

Wilfred clasped his hands together at the joyful sight. "They come! they come!" he cried.

Out ran Mr. De Brunier, waving his arms in the air to attract attention, and direct the policeman to the back of the farm-house, where he had left Dick Vanner writhing under Maxica's grasp on the frozen ground.

When the window was so suddenly closed from the outside, the hunters, supposing Vanner had shut it, let it alone for a few minutes, until wonder prompted Mathurin to open it just a crack for a peep-hole.

At the sight of Vanner held down by his Indian antagonist he threw it to its widest. Gun after gun was raised and pointed at Maxica's head; but none of them dared to fire, for the ball would have struck Vanner also. Mathurin was leaping out of the window to his assistance, when Yula relaxed his hold of Vanner's collar, and sprang at Mathurin, seizing him by the leg, and keeping him half in half out of the window, so that no one else could get out over him or release him from the inside.

There was a general rush to the porch; but the house-door had been locked and barred by Bowkett's orders, and the key was in his pocket.

He did it to prevent any of the Aclands' old servants going out of the house to interfere with Vanner. It was equally successful in keeping in the friends who would have gone to his help.


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