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From November Joe: the detective of the backwoods (1913)
To the November Joe menu
NOVEMBER JOE had come to Quebec to lay in his stores against the winters trapping. He had told me that the best grounds in Maine were becoming poorer and poorer and that he had decided to go in on the south side of the St. Lawrence, somewhere beyond Rimouski.
I knew that November was coming since two hours before his arrival a cable had been brought in for him, for when in Quebec, although he stayed at a downtown boarding-house, he was in the habit of using my office as a permanent address. I was therefore not at all surprised to hear his soft voice rallying my old clerk in the outer office. A more crabbed person than Hugh Witherspoon it would be impossible to meet, but it cannot be denied that like so many others he had a kindliness for November. Presently there was a knock at the door and Joe, his hat held between his two hands, sidled into the room. He was never quite at ease except in the open, and as he came towards me with his shy smile, his moccasins fell noiselessly on the polished boards.
I handed him his telegram, which he opened at once. It ran:
Offer you fifty dollars a day to come at once to Tamarind Duck Club.--EILEEN M. EAST.
Joe whistled and characteristically said nothing.
"Who is Eileen M. East?" I asked.
Joe made no reply for a moment, then he indicated the telegram and said:--
"This has been redirected from Lavette. Postmaster Tom knew I'd be in to see you. Miss East was one of an American party I was with, 'way up on Thompson's salmon river this spring."
At this moment a clerk knocked and entered, bringing with him a second telegram. Joe read it:
You must come. Murder done. A matter of life and death. Please reply.--EILEEN M. EAST.
"Will you write out an answer for me?" asked Joe.
I nodded. Joe is slow with the pen.
"'Miss Eileen M. East.' Please put that, sir, and then 'arriving on 3.38,' and sign."
"How shall I sign it?" said I.
"Just write 'November.'"
I did so, and ringing again for the clerk I directed him to give the telegram to the boy who was waiting. There was a moment's silence, then--
"Can you come along, Mr. Quaritch?"
I looked at the business which had accumulated on my desk, for, as I have had occasion to observe more than once, I am a very busy man indeed, or, at least, I ought to be, for my interests, as were those of my father and grandfather, are bound up with the development of the Dominion of Canada and range through the vegetable and mineral kingdoms to water-power and the lighting of many of our greatest cities.
"Yes, but I must have ten minutes in which to give Witherspoon his instructions."
Joe went to the door. "The boss wants you right away, old man," I heard him say.
Witherspoon shuffled into my room.
"I'll go and get a rig," continued November, "and have it waiting outside. We haven't overmuch time if we're going to call at your country place for your outfit."
A quarter of an hour later Joe and I were bowling along in the rig drawn by a particularly good horse. I live with my sister some distance out on the St Louis road, and thither we drove at all speed.
My sister had gone out to tea with some friends, but she is well accustomed to my always erratic movements, so that I felt quite at ease when I left a note explaining that I was leaving Quebec for a day or two with November Joe.
We reached the station just in time and were soon steaming along through the farmlands that surround Quebec City.
You who read this may or may not have heard of the Tamarind Duck Club. It is a small association composed chiefly of Montreal and New York business men, to which I had leased the sporting rights of a chain of lakes lying on one of my properties not very far from the waters of the St Lawrence. To these lakes the ducks fly in from the tide each evening, and in the fall very fine sport is to be obtained there, the guns often averaging ten and twenty brace of birds, the latter number being the limit permitted to each shooter by the rules. During the season there are generally two or three members at the clubhouse, which, though but a log hut, is warm and comfortable. In fact, the Tamarind Club has a waiting list of those who desire to belong to it quite out of all proportion to its capacity.
All these facts marshalled themselves and passed through my mind as the train rolled on, and at length I said to Joe: "Murder done at the Tamarind Club! It seems incredible. It must be that some poacher has shot one of the guides."
"Maybe," said Joe, "but Miss East said 'a matter of life and death'; what can that mean? That's what I'm asking myself. But here we are! It won't be long before we know a bit more."
The cars drew up at the little siding which is situated within a walk of the Tamarind Club. We jumped down just as a girl, possessing dark and vivid good looks of a quite arresting kind, stepped from the agent's office and caught November impulsively by the hand.
"Oh, Joe, I am so glad to see you!"
November Joe always had a distinct appeal to women; high or low, whatever their station in life, they like him. Of course, his looks were in his favour. Women generally do find a kind glance for six foot of strength and sinew, especially when surmounted by a perfectly poised head and features such as Joe's. He had a curious deprecating manner, too, that carried its own charm, and he appeared unable to speak two sentences to any woman without giving her the impression that he was entirely at her service--which, indeed, he was.
"When I got your message from Lavette, I come right along," said the woodsman simply; "Mr. Quaritch come, too. It's from him the Club holds its lease."
Miss East sent me a flash of her dark eyes, and I saw they were full of trouble.
"I hope you will be on my side, Mr. Quaritch," she said. "Just now I need friends badly."
"What is it, Miss Eileen?" asked Joe, as she paused.
"Uncle has been shot, Joe."
"I'm terrible sorry to hear that. He was a fine, just man."
"But that is not all. There is something even worse!... They say it was Mr. Galt who shot him."
"Mr Galt!" exclaimed November in surprise. "It ain't possible!"
"I know! I know! Yet everyone believes that he did it. I sent for you to prove to them that he is innocent. You will, won't you, Joe?"
"I'll sure do my best."
I saw her struggle for self-control; the way she got herself in hand was splendid.
"I must tell you how it happened," she said, "and we can be walking on at the same time, for I want you, Joe, to see the place before dark.... Yesterday afternoon there were five of us at the club. I was the only woman and the men settled to go out after the ducks in the evening, for though it had been wet all day, the wind went round and it began to blow clear about three o'clock. Four shooters went out; there was uncle and Mr. Hinx, and Egbert Simonson, and--and Ted Galt."
"Is that the same Mr. Hinx who was salmon-fishing with us early this year?"
"Yes.... Most evenings I go with uncle, but yesterday the bush was so wet that I decided not to go, so the four men went, and at the usual time the others all came back. At half-past seven, I began to get anxious, so I sent Tim Carter, the head guide, to see if anything was wrong. He found my uncle dead in his screen."
"And what brought Mr Galt's name into it?"
She hesitated for a second.
"He and uncle had a good way to go to their places, which were next to each other. They walked together, and their voices were heard, very loud, as if they were quarrelling. Egbert Simonson complained about it when he came in--said they made enough noise to disturb the lake, and after that, of course, Ted was suspected."
"Did Mr Galt own they'd had any words?" inquired Joe.
"Yes. Uncle was angry with him," she admitted, and a colour showed for a moment in her cheeks. "Ted is not a rich man, Joe; you know that."
"Huh!" said Joe with complete comprehension. Then, after a pause, he asked: "Who is it suspects Mr. Galt?"
"It was Tim Carter who got the evidence together against him."
"Uncle and Ted were placed next each other at the shoot."
"And had Mr. Harrison or Mr. Galt the outside place?"
"Well, who was on the other side of your uncle? I suppose there must have been someone."
"It was Mr Hinx."
"Then what makes Carter so sure it was Mr Galt done it."
"Ah! That is the awful thing. My uncle was killed with number six shot."
"And Ted is the only one who uses number six size. The others all had number four."
Joe whistled, and was silent for some moments. Then he said: "I think, Miss Eileen, I'd as soon you didn't tell me any more. I'd like best to have Mr Galt's and Carter's stories at first-hand from theirselves."
The girl stopped short. "But, November, you don't believe it was Ted!"
"I sure don't," he said. "Mr. Galt ain't that kind of a man. Where is he?"
"Didn't I tell you? Some police came out on the last train. They have him under arrest. It is dreadful!"
Half an hour later November Joe was face to face with Carter, who gave him no very warm welcome, and added nothing to the following statement, which he had dictated to the police inspector and signed in affidavit form:
"Last evening roundabout five o'clock, four members of the club, Harrison, Hinx, Simonson, and Galt, started out for Reedy Neck. Reedy Neck is near half a mile long by a hundred yards wide. It is a kind of a promontory of low ground that sticks out into Goose Lake. The members walked to their places. I did not accompany them, because I had been ordered to take a canoe round to the north side of the lake, so as I could move any ducks that might pitch on that part of the lake over the guns. There are six screens on Reedy Neck. Before starting, the members drew lots for places as per Rule 16. Galt drew number one, that is the screen nearest the end of the Neck and farthest from the clubhouse. Harrison got number two. Number three was unoccupied. Hinx was in number four, and Simonson in number five.
"Reedy Neck is covered along its whole length with bush and rushes, and the gunners cannot see one another. The screens consist of sunk pits with facings of rushes and alders.
"The shooting began before I was round to the north side, and continued till it was dark. Several hundred ducks flew in from the estuary. I waited about ten minutes after the last shot was fired and then went back to the clubhouse. When I got there, I found Harrison had not returned. I heard this from Simonson, who was angry because, he said, Harrison and Galt had talked in loud, excited tones as they went to their places.
"He was annoyed because he was of opinion that their voices had frightened some bunches of duck at which he might have got a shot.
"At half-past seven Miss East, niece to Harrison, came into the clubhouse kitchen, where I was at the time arranging to have the dead ducks picked up. You cannot pick them up while the flight is on because of scaring the others. When the wind is from the north like it was last evening, it drifts the dead birds on to the south shore of Goose Lake. I told Noel Charles and Vinez, two of the club under-guides, to see about the pick-up. Miss East told me that her Uncle Harrison had not come in, and I had better go and see what was keeping him. She was afraid that he might have got bogged down in the swamp, as it was dark. She was worried-like, and Sitawanga Sally, the Indian squaw cook, tried to cheer her. She said the path from Reedy Neck was easy to follow.
"I left Miss East with Sally and went out. There was a bit of moonlight. I went down to Reedy Neck and found Harrison in number two screen. He was dead, and already stiff. I concluded he must have shot himself by accident. I lifted the body to carry it back. When I was about fifty yards from the club I shouted. Galt came running out. I told him Harrison had shot himself. He said, 'Good God! How awful for Eilie.' Miss East had heard me, and was with us the next minute. She was greatly put about.
"We carried the body in and laid it on a bed. It was then I looked at the wound for the first time. Sally, the cook, was with me to lay out the body.
"I said: 'He couldn't have shot himself this way.'
"I said this because I saw the shot had spread so much that I knew it could not have been fired at very close quarters. Sally agreed with me. I do not know whether her opinion is worth anything. It may be. Most Indian women of sixty years old have seen dead men. I put my finger in the wound and drew out a shot. We then covered up the body with a point-four blanket and left it.
"I locked the door and took away the key. I did this because the wound was a dreadful one, and I thought it better that Miss East should not see the body. I then went to the gun-room and compared the shot I had taken from the wound with other sizes. It was a number six shot. The only club member who uses number six shot is Mr. Galt. Harrison, Simonson, and Hinx all use number four. I said nothing to anyone about the number six shot.
"At dawn I went back to Reedy Neck and worked out all the details. It was easy, for they were plain in the soft mud. There was no sign of any one except Galt having passed number two screen. His returning footsteps were along the edge of the water until he came to number two screen where Harrison was. Then his tracks led up to the silt towards it. He must have been within twelve paces of Harrison. There he paused, as I could tell by the tracks. I suggest it was then that he fired the shot. Next he went back to the edge of the lake and continued towards the clubhouse.
"After making this examination I spoke to Simonson, the senior member. I understand that he cabled for the police.
"Signed, T. CARTER.
I read out this statement while November listened with the curiously minute attention that he always accorded to the written or printed word. When I had finished he forbore to ask any questions, but expressed a desire to speak with Galt. We found him in the custody of a tall young trooper, who, at the command of the inspector, considerately left us to ourselves.
Joe shook hands gravely and warmly.
"Now, Mr. Galt, I'm right sorry about all this, and glad that Miss Eileen sent for me."
"She sent for you?" cried Galt.
"That's the best news I've had since I was arrested. It shows that she believes I am innocent."
"'Course she does!" said Joe. "And now will you tell me everything you can remember of what happened yesterday, before Mr. Harrison was found dead"
Galt was silent for a moment.
"Here goes!" he said at length. "I'll begin at the beginning. In the early afternoon I went for a walk in the woods with Ei--Miss East. I asked her to marry me. She said, yes. I'm not a rich man, though I'm not exactly a poor one."
"No," agreed Joe, to whom a tenth of Galt's income would have been riches beyond his farthest dream.
"Anyway," continued Galt, "we guessed we might have trouble with her uncle, Mr. Harrison, and, on the principle of not shirking a bad talk, we arranged that I was to take the first opportunity of putting Mr. Harrison wise as to the position of affairs. By the time we returned to the clubhouse, we found Hinx, Simonson, Harrison, and Guide Carter just starting for the evening flight. I joined them, and, as luck would have it, I drew the next screen to Mr. Harrison. Simonson and Hinx went off together, and I was left with Harrison, so I started in and told him how Eileen and I had fixed to get married."
Joe gave the sideways jerk of the head which signified his comprehension.
"He was furious," went on Galt, "even more angry than I expected a judge--he was a judge in the States--would ever be. He accused me of being after her dollars rather than herself."
"He couldn't 'a' really thought that," said Joe judicially; "that is, unless he was blind."
"Thanks, November, Eilie always told me you were a courtier of the woods. As to Harrison, I dare say he would not have been so hard on me, only unfortunately I had crossed him once or twice in matters about the club. I blackballed a fellow he proposed this spring."
"Blackballed? What does that amount to?" inquired Joe.
"Opposed his becoming a member."
"That so? Go on."
"As I was telling you, he gave me the rough side of his tongue. I begged him not to decide in a hurry, as we meant to get married anyway, but we'd sooner do it with his good will. That, of course, made him madder than ever. So, seeing I was not likely to do any good just then, I left him and went to my own screen, which was next to his at the very end of the Neck."
"Where did you leave him?"
"About fifty yards on this side of his screen."
"And after that?"
"I had not been ten minutes in my screen when the ducks began to come in. They kept on coming. I must have fired between seventy and eighty cartridges. Harrison, too, was banging away."
"Could you see him?"
"No, the reeds are too high, but more than once I saw the ducks he shot fall. I could see them because they were twenty or thirty yards high in the air."
"At a quarter past six the flight was pretty well over and the firing along the line grew less and less frequent. At the half-past it had stopped altogether, and I decided to go back to the clubhouse."
"One minute," put in Joe. "What time was it when Harrison fired the last shot that you remember?"
"It must have been about ten minutes past six."
"Did any birds pass over him after that?"
"I thought so."
"And he did not fire at them?"
"Were you not surprised at that?"
"Not very. It was pretty dark, and Harrison was not a quick shot."
"Now tell me all the details you can call to mind of your walk back to the club."
"I picked up my gun and my cartridge bags, which were nearly empty, and walked along the edge of the water until I was opposite Harrison's screen. There I paused. I thought I'd have another try to persuade him. I called out his name. There was no answer. So I walked up the mudbank and shouted again."
"From the top of the bank? Could you see into the screen?"
"Partially, but it was dark, and as I did not catch sight of Harrison I concluded he had already returned to the club, so I retraced my steps to the edge of the water and came back to the club myself."
"You met no one on the way?"
"I fancied I saw a figure on the south shore."
"About opposite number three screen on Reedy Neck."
"Have you nothing more to tell me?"
"No, I can't remember anything more. But I want to ask you this question. Why have I been arrested? There can be but little evidence against me."
November looked Galt in the face. "I wish that was so," he said, "but it ain't. You see, Mr. Harrison was killed with number six shot."
"What of that?"
"You are the only club member who uses that size."
"See here, Mr. Galt," went on Joe, "there's that fact of the shot, and there's the fact that your tracks are the only ones that pass Mr. Harrison's screen; besides which the quarrel between you was overheard."
"It is a chain of coincidences--a complete chain," cried Galt in dismay.
Joe nodded and left the room without more words.
As soon as we were clear of the building I asked him what he thought of it all.
He turned the question on me. "And what do you think?"
"The evidence against Galt is about as strong as it need be," I said sorrowfully. "Here we have a man shot in a screen. The only person who passed anywhere near was the prisoner. The deed was done with number six shot; the only man using number six is again the prisoner. When you add to that the quarrel, which was a pretty hot one by all accounts, why, you have as complete a case as any prosecution need wish to handle."
"That's so," agreed Joe. "And the worst of it is that Galt's own story don't help us any."
"Do you believe he is telling the truth?"
"That's the one thing that I do believe."
"Well, you know, if he had been telling lies," said Joe, "he'd have made a better story of it, wouldn't he? Let's get along to Reedy Neck."
So to Reedy Neck we went. For the benefit of my readers I must describe it. Reedy Neck is a promontory of mud and rush which extends, as I have said, some eight hundred yards into the lake. At no point does it rise twelve feet above the level of the water.
From the moment that he set foot upon it, November Joe examined every yard of ground with infinite care, and as he walked kept up a running commentary upon the tracks and their, to him, obvious story. At first there were many footprints, but presently these thinned to two.
"Look here," said Joe. "The tapped boots is Harrison and the moccasins is Galt. Here must have been the spot where Galt told Harrison he is going to marry Miss Eileen. See, Harrison stopped, stamped back on his heels, and drove down the butt of his gun into the mud."
"Yes, I see."
"And here," continued Joe, "they separated. Harrison's tracks go up the bank, Galt's passes on. We'll follow Galt's first."
Which we did. They led us straight to the duck screen he had occupied. Crouching in it as he would have done, we found that a sea of reeds shut in the view on every side. The mud floor of the screen was covered with empty shells.
"That's where he knelt waiting for the ducks," said Joe, pointing to a circular cavity; "his knee made that. There's little to be learnt here."
And we began to follow Galt's trail back. The returning tracks ran along a lower line by the edge of the water, until nearly opposite the scene of the tragedy they swerved at right angles, and went up the bank to within a few yards of the screen where Harrison's body had been found.
"He stopped here," said Joe, "stopped for quite a while. Now Mr. Quaritch, I'll see what I can find out."
"You'll not find much," said a voice behind us. "At least, not much that has not been found out before. If I was you, November, I'd give it up as a bad job. Galt done it. The tracks is plain as print."
"There's some says that print don't always tell the truth, Tim Carter," answered Joe sturdily.
Carter, a powerful stubborn-faced woodsman, with wild brown hair and small side-whiskers, began to walk forward, but Joe held up his hand.
"Stand you back, Tim," said he, "I don't want you rooting around and tearing up the ground with your feet."
Carter sat down beside me on a driftwood log that lay among the reeds, and together we watched November; I with sympathy, for Miss East's eager hopes lived in my consciousness. Carter's face, however, wore an expression of supercilious amusement.
Such a methodical examination I had rarely seen Joe make, and that very fact damped my expectations. First of all he followed out every line of tracks. Then he made a series of measurements, and last of all began to pick up and look over the gun wads which lay about in great numbers. Suddenly he darted forward, and picked up one that lay close beside my foot.
"You are both witnesses where I found this," he cried.
Carter rose. "I'll mark the place if you like," he said with a laugh.
"That's good! Do it."
Carter thrust a stick into the ground. "Now," asked he, "what next?"
But Joe was paying no attention. He was engaged in examining the piece of driftwood from which we had risen, and the shore near the water in its vicinity. At length, evidently satisfied, he came to me.
"I want you to take charge of this," he said, handing me the gun wad; "it'll likely be needed in evidence."
Carter listened and grinned. "Finished, Joe?"
"To the south shore."
"Want me along?"
It was a long walk, undertaken in silence. The two woodsmen were obviously antagonistic. Carter, being pleased to believe Galt guilty, was consequently full of suspicion towards any attitude of mind that seemed to question his conclusions. November's point of view I had not fathomed. It is possible that he could see light where to me all was utter darkness. On the other hand, I could not, as I have said, conceive a more convincing chain of evidence than that which had led Carter straight from the crime to Galt--the quarrel, the number six shot, the fact that Galt had been within ten yards of the murdered man's hiding-place about the time the murder must have been committed.
I went all over it again. There seemed no break, and when I thought of Eileen East, I groaned in spirit. She believed in Galt, and, even more for her sake than for his, I longed for November to confound the sullen Carter, though how this much-to-be-desired end might be brought about I failed to see.
At length we reached the south shore.
"Any one been round this side to-day?" asked Joe.
"Can't say. If they have, you're such a plumb-sure trailreader, you'll know, won't you?" Carter retorted grimly.
Without answering, Joe signed to us to remain where we were, while he crossed and cut diagonally from the lake shore to the mountain. After that he went down to the boathouse where the canoes were kept. A moment later his voice rose in a call. We found him looking into one of the canoes.
"When was this one last out?" he asked.
"Not since Friday."
"That's funny," said Joe.
We followed his pointing finger. In the bottom of the boat was a little pool of blood.
"Can you account for that, Tim Carter?"
"Vinez and Noel Charles must have taken the canoe when they picked up the shot ducks this morning," said Carter.
"They didn't go near the boathouse," returned Joe. "I found their tracks. They lead down by the hill over there."
"I suppose you think this blood's got something to do with the murder?" sneered Carter.
"I'm sure inclined that way," said Joe.
As we walked back to the clubhouse my mind was in a whirl. I have already said that I could see little daylight through the tangle of signs and clues, and now I was aware that the prospect looked more complicated than ever. As we approached the clubhouse, Miss East, who had evidently been watching for us, ran out.
"Well," she cried breathlessly, "what have you done? Have you found out everything?"
"I'll want to look over the members' guns before answer that," said Joe.
"They are all in the gun-room."
We entered a little annex to the club where the guns were kept.
Carter picked out one. "Here's Galt's."
Joe lifted it carelessly. "Twelve calibre," said he, examining it.
"Sure," said Carter. "All the others uses twelves, except Simonson. His is number ten."
"Which of them has two guns? "
"Where are they?"
"Here's the one he used last night."
"And the fellow to it... his second gun?"
"In the case there."
Joe picked out the weapon, fitted it together, and looked it over attentively. Then with equal care he took it apart and replaced it in the case.
"Joe, have you nothing to tell me? Joe!" cried Miss East, her face vivid with fear and hope.
"I'd like to ask Sitawanga Sally a question," said November, "and maybe Mr. Galt might as well hear it."
At a sign from Eileen, Carter, with a look of deep disgust on his face, went to fetch the woman and the suspected man. Galt came in first, accompanied by the police inspector. Meanwhile Joe had taken up Galt's gun and glanced through the barrels. As Sitawanga Sally entered, he snapped it to.
She was a full-blooded Indian and, like many of her race, now that the first bloom of youth was past, she might have been any age. Her high cheekbones and wispy hair surrounded sullen eyes. She stood and fixed them on Joe with an expressionless stare. November returned it.
"Say, Sally," said he, at last. "What for you kill old man Harrison?"
"No, no! Me not kill 'um! Galt kill 'um!" she replied, showing her yellow fangs under a bulging upper lip.
Joe shook his head. "It don't go any, Sally," said he. "I know you shot him with Mr. Simonson's second gun in the case over there."
"Me no kill 'um! Me no kill 'um!" she cried.
Her arms, raised high for a moment in excitement, dropped suddenly, and she fell again into the stoicism which was her normal condition.
"You'd better put in your facts, Joe," said the inspector briskly.
"I'm free to own," began November in his soft, easy manner, "that it was quite a while before I could see anything to shake Carter's evidence. My mind was made up it wasn't Galt done it, so it must 'a' been somebody else. But I could find no tracks_only Galt's and Carter's, and Carter's bore out his story right enough. Consequently I set out to look for a third person, and it was plain that the only way a third person could have come was in a canoe.
"Yet there wasn't no signs of a canoe being beached, though I searched careful for them. Still I knew the shot was never fired from the water, which was too far off from where Mr. Harrison's body was found for that to be possible. So you see it only left me one way out. Some one come in a canoe, stepped out on the big driftwood log lying near the screen, walked up along it to the end, and shot Mr. Harrison from there.
"Now the distance from the log to Mr. Harrison's body is above eleven yards, and yet the shot had not spread much--we saw that--so I guessed, whoever he was, the murderer must 'a' used a chokebore gun that threw the shot very close and strong, and I began to think the thing must have been done with a bigger bore gun than a twelve. So I started to search afresh, and in time I found a wad (Mr. Quaritch there has it) a ten-bore wad recently fired.
"Now, Mr. Harrison had a twelve-bore and so'd Mr. Galt. The only man who owned a ten was Mr. Simonson, and he was the farthest away of all in the screen near the clubhouse. Besides, he was wearing boots with nails in the soles, and he could never 'a' walked down that bit of driftwood without leaving pretty clear traces. So it weren't him, but I got pretty certain it were some one using a full-choke tenbore and wearing either moccasins or rubbers. Another point, the murder weren't done on impulse, but whoever was guilty had thought it all out beforehand."
"Why do you say that?" chipped in the officer.
"The number six shot. There weren't no ten-bore shells loaded with number six. The one who done it must have loaded them cartridges o' purpose to bring suspicion on Mr. Galt."
"Well," went on Joe. "That's as far as the examining of Reedy Neck took me, and there was nothing better left to do but to go round and have a look at the canoes. Besides, Mr. Galt told me and Mr. Quaritch he'd seen some one moving about there on the south shore just after the time the murder was committed. So round we went, and there, sure enough, I come on the tracks of a pair of small moccasins leading down to the canoe house and coming up again.
"'Sitawanga Sally,' says I to myself, 'those footmarks looks mighty like yours.'"
"But the blood, the blood in the canoe--it couldn't have been Harrison's?"
"No, it weren't," said Joe. "It were Sally's own. She's weak and them ten-bore guns kicks amazing. I guessed it bled her nose. Look at her swelled cheek and lip."
All the time, as Joe's words proved how he had drawn the net round her, I watched the stoic face of the Indian squaw. When he pointed to her swollen mouth, her features took life, and an expression of the wildest and most vindictive passion that I have ever seen flashed out upon them. Recognizing the hopelessness of her position she threw aside all subterfuge.
"Yes, me kill 'um Harrison!" she cried. "Me kill 'um good!"
"Oh, Sally," cried Eileen. "He was always so kind to you!"
"Harrison devil!" answered the Indian woman passionately. "Me swear kill 'um Moon-of-Leaves time. Harrison kill 'um Prairie Chicken--my son."
"What does she mean?" Eileen looked round wildly at us.
"I think I can tell you that," said the inspector. "Moon-of-Leaves means June, and wasn't Mr. Harrison a judge back in the States?"
"And he had sometimes to deal with the Indians from the Reserve. I remember hearing this woman's son got into trouble for stealing horses."
"Bad man say Prairie Chicken steal 'um," broke in Sally. "Black clothes--black clothes--men talk-talk. Then old man Harrison talk. Take away Prairie Chicken- -far, far. Me follows."
"That's so," said the inspector. "I remember some judge tried Prairie Chicken, and gave him ten years. It may have been Judge Harrison. The Chicken died in gaol. If that is so, it explains everything. Indians never forget."
"Prairie Chicken, he dead. Me swear kill 'um Harrison. Now Prairie Chicken happy. Me ready join 'um," said the old squaw, and relapsed once more into her stolid silence.
"She thought Mr. Harrison was directly responsible for the death of her son," added the inspector.
"Poor woman!" said Eileen.
There is not much to add. Subsequent inquiries confirmed the inspector's facts and made it clear that Sitawanga Sally, learning that Harrison belonged to the Tamarind Club, had taken service there for the direct purpose of avenging her son. No doubt she noticed the affection which was growing between Eileen and Galt, and attempted to incriminate the latter so as to obtain a fuller measure of revenge as well as to draw suspicion away from herself.
Blood for blood is still the Indian creed. It is simple and it is direct.
I think the whole case was best summed up by November himself:
"I guess our civilized justice does seem wonderful topsyturvy to them Indians sometimes," said he.
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