A ROMANY OF
A ROMANY OF THE SNOWS
WORKS BY GILBERT PARKER
PlKRRE AND HlS PEOPLE
THE TRANSLATION OF A SAVAGE
THE TRAIL OF THE SWORD
A LOVER'S DIARY
WHEN VALMOND CAME TO PONTIAC
A ROMANY OF THE SNOWS
PUBLISHED IN ENGLAND AS
"AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH"
BEING A CONTINUATION OF THE PERSONAL HISTORIES OF " PIERRE
AND HIS PEOPLE," AND THE LAST EXISTING RECORDS
OF PRETTY PIERRE.
THE COPP, CLARK COMPANY, LIMITED
Entered according to Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the
year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight, by
GILBERT PARKER, London, England, in the Office of the
Minister of Agriculture.
SIR WILLIAM C. VAN HORNE.
MY DEAR SIR WILLIAM,
To the public it "will seem, fitting tha
these new tales of "Pierre and His People"
should be inscribed to one whose notable career is
inseparably associated -with the life and develop-
ment of the Far North.
But there is a deeper and more personal signifi-
cance in this dedication, for some of the stories
were begotten in late gossip by your fireside ; and
furthermore, my little book is given a kind of
distinction, in having on its fore-page the name
of one -well known as a connoisseur of art and
a lover of literature.
DEAR SIR WILLIAM,
7 PARK PLACE,
ACROSS THE JUMPING SANDHILLS 7
A LOVELY BULLY 2O
THE FILIBUSTER 4!
THE GIFT OF THE SIMPLE KING . . . . . 62
THE LAKE OF THE GREAT SLAVE 97
THE RED PATROL Il6
THE GOING OF THE WHITE SWAN* 130
AT BAMBER'S BOOM 154
THE BRIDGE HOUSE , 165
THE EPAULETTES 185
THE FINDING OF FINGALL 195
THREE COMMANDMENTS IN THE VULGAR TONGUE . . 2O6
LITTLE BABICHE . . 233
AT POINT O' BUGLES 246
THE SPOIL OF THE PUMA 260
THE TRAIL OF THE SUN DOGS 288
THE PILOT OF BELLE AMOUR 299
THE CRUISE OF THE "NINETY-NINE" .... 323
A ROMANY OF THE SNOWS 359
THE PLUNDERER ........ 382
AN ADVENTURER OF
Across the Jumping Sandhills
" T T ERE now, Trader ; aisy, aisy ! Quicksands
JL J. I've seen along the sayshore, and up to
me half-ways I've been in wan, wid a double-
and-twist in the rope to pull me out ; but a
suckin' sand in the open plain aw, Trader, aw !
the like o' that niver a bit saw I."
So said Macavoy the giant, when the thing was
talked of in his presence.
" Well, I tell you it's true, and they're not three
miles from Fort O'Glory. The Company's 1 men
don't talk about it what's the use? Travellers
are few that way, and you can't get the Indians
within miles of them. Pretty Pierre knows all
about them, better than anyone else almost He'll
stand by me in it eh, Pierre ? "
1 Hudson's Bay Company.
8 AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
Pierre, the half-breed gambler and adventurer,
took no notice, and was silent for a time, intent on
his cigarette; and in the pause Mowley the trapper
said : " Pierre's gone back on you, Trader. P'r'aps
ye haven't paid him for the last lie. I go one better,
you stand by me my treat that's the game!"
"Aw, the like o' that," added Macavoy reproach-
fully. "Aw, yer tongue to the roof o' yer mouth,
Mowley. Liars all men may be, but that's wid
wimmin or landlords. But, Pierre, aff another man's
bat like that aw, Mowley, fill your mouth wid the
bowl o' yer pipe ! "
Pierre now looked up at the three men, rolling
another cigarette as he did so; but he seemed to
be thinking of a distant matter. Meeting the three
pairs of eyes fixed on him, his own held them for
a moment musingly ; then he lit his cigarette, and,
half reclining on the bench where he sat, he began
to speak, talking into the fire as it were.
"I was at Guidon Hill, at the Company's post
there. It was the fall of the year, when you feel
that there is nothing sogood as life, and the air
drinks like wine. You think that sounds like a
woman or a priest? Mais, no. The seasons are
strange. In the spring I am lazy and sad ; in the
fall I am gay, I am for the big things to do. This
matter was in the fall. I felt that I must move.
Yet, what to do? There was the thing. Cards,
of course. But that's only for times not for all
ACROSS THE JUMPING SANDHILLS 9
seasons. So I was like a wild dog on a chain.
I had a good horse Tophet, black as a coal, all
raw bones and joint, and a reach like a moose.
His legs worked like piston-rods. But, as I said, I
did not know where to go or what to do. So we
used to sit at the Post loafing: in the daytime
watching the empty plains all panting for travellers,
like a young bride waiting her husband for the first
Macavoy regarded Pierre with delight He had
an unctuous spirit, and his heart was soft for
women so soft that he never had had one on his
conscience, though he had brushed gay smiles
off the lips of many. But that was an amiable
weakness in a strong man. " Aw, Pierre," he said
coaxingly, " kape it down ; aisy, aisy ! Me heart's
goin' like a trip-hammer at thought av it ; aw yis,
aw yis, Pierre ! "
" Well, it was like that to me all sun and a
sweet sting in the air. At night to sit and tell tales
and such things ; and perhaps a little brown brandy,
a look at the stars, a half-hour with the cattle the
same old game. Of course, there was the wife of
Hilton the factor fine, always fine to see, but deaf
and dumb. We were good friends, Ida and me.
I had a hand in her wedding. Holy, I knew her
when she was a little girl. We could talk together
by signs. She was a good woman ; she had never
guessed at evil. ' She was quick, too, like a flash,
io AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
to read and understand without words. A face
was a book to her.
"Eh bien. One afternoon we were all standing
outside the Post, when we saw someone ride over
the Long Divide. It was good for the eyes. I
cannot tell quite how, but horse and rider were so
sharp and clear-cut against the sky, that they looked
very large and peculiar there was something in
the air to magnify. They stopped for a minute on
the top of the Divide, and it seemed like a messenger
out of the strange country at the farthest north
the place of legends. But, of course, it was only a
traveller like ourselves, for in a half-hour she was
" Yes, it was a girl dressed as a man. She did
not try to hide it ; she dressed so for ease. She
would make a man's heart leap in his mouth
if he was like Macavoy, or the pious Mowley
Pierre's last three words had a touch of irony,
for he knew that the Trapper had a precious tongue
for Scripture when a missionary passed that way,
and a bad name with women to give it point.
Mowley smiled sourly ; but Macavoy laughed
outright, and smacked his lips on his pipe-stem
" Aw now, Pierre all me little failin's aw ! " he
Pierre swung round on the bench, leaning upon
ACROSS THE JUMPING SANDHILLS n
the other elbow, and, cherishing his cigarette,
" She had come far and was tired to death, so
stiff that she could hardly get from her horse; and
the horse too was ready to drop. Handsome
enough she looked, for all that, in man's clothes and
a peaked cap, with a pistol in her belt. She wasn't
big built just a feathery kind of sapling but she
was set fair on her legs like a man, and a hand
that was as good as I have seen, so strong, and like
silk and iron with a horse. Well, what was the
trouble ? for I saw there was trouble. Her eyes
had a hunted look, and her nose breathed like
a deer's in the chase. All at once, when she saw
Hilton's wife, a cry came from her and she reached
out her hands. What would women of that sort
do? They were both of a kind. They got into
each other's arms. After that there was nothing
for us men but to wait All women are the same,
and Hilton's wife was like the rest. She must get
the secret first ; then the men should know. We
had to wait an hour. Then Hilton's wife beckoned
to us. We went inside. The girl was asleep.
There was something in the touch of Hilton's wife
like sleep itself like music. It was her voice
that touch. She could not speak with her tongue,
but her hands and face were words and music.
Bien, there was the girl asleep, all clear of dust and
stain ; and that fine hand it lay loose on her breast,
12 AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
so quiet, so quiet. Enfin, the real story for how
she slept there does not matter but it was good to
see when we knew the story."
The Trapper was laughing silently to himself to
hear Pierre in this romantic mood. A woman's
hand it was the game for a boy, not an adven-
turer ; for the Trapper's only creed was that women,
like deer, were spoils for the hunter. Pierre's keen
eye noted this, but he was above petty anger. He
merely said : " If a man have an eye to see behind
the face, he understands the foolish laugh of a
man, or the hand of a good woman, and that is
much. Hilton's wife told us all. She had rode two
hundred miles from the south-west, and was making
for Fort Micah, sixty miles farther north. For
what? She had loved a man against the will of
her people. There had been a feud, and Garrison
that was the lover's name was the last on hi?
own side. There was trouble at a Company's
post, and Garrison shot a half-breed. Men
say he was right to shoot him, for a woman's
name must be safe up here. Besides, the half-breed
drew first ! Well, Garrison was tried, and must go
to jail for a year. At the end of that time he
would be free. The girl Janie knew the day.
Word had come to her. She made everything
ready. She knew her brothers were watching
her three brothers and two other men who had
tried to get her love. She knew also that they
ACROSS THE JUMPING SANDHILLS 13
five would carry on the feud against the one man.
So one night she took the best horse on the ranch
and started away towards Fort Micah. Alors, you
know how she got to Guidon Hill after two days'
hard riding enough to kill a man, and over fifty yet
to do. She was sure her brothers were on her track.
But if she could get to Fort Micah, and be married
to Garrison before they came, she wanted no more.
" There were only two horses of use at Hilton's
post then ; all the rest were away, or not fit for
hard travel. There was my Tophet, and a lean
chestnut, with a long propelling gait, and not an
ounce of loose skin on him. There was but one
way : the girl must get there. Allons, what is the
good? What is life without these things? The
girl loves the man : she must have him in spite of
all. There was only Hilton and his wife and me
at the Post, and Hilton was lame from a fall, and
one arm in a sling. If the brothers followed, well,
Hilton could not interfere he was a Company's
man ; but for myself, as I said, I was hungry for
adventure, I had an ache in my blood for some-
thing. I was tingling to the toes, my heart was
thumping in my throat. All the cords of my
legs were straightening as if I was in the saddle.
" She slept for three hours. I got the two
horses saddled. Who could tell but she might
need help? I had nothing to do; I knew the
shortest way to Fort Micah, every foot and then
i 4 AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
it is good to be ready for all things. I told
Hilton's wife what I had done. She was glad.
She made a gesture at me as to a brother, and
then began to put things in a bag for us to carry.
She had settled all how it was to be. She had
told the girl. You see, a man may be what is it
they call me ? a plunderer, and yet a woman will
trust him, comme $a ! "
" Aw yis, aw yis, Pierre ; but she knew yer hand
and yer tongue niver wint agin a woman, Pierre.
Naw, niver a wan. Aw swate, swate, she was, wid
a heart a heart, Hilton's wife, aw yis ! "
Pierre waved Macavoy into silence. " The girl
waked after three hours with a start. Her hand
caught at her heart. ' Oh,' she said, still staring
at us, ' I thought that they had come ! ' A little
after she and Hilton's wife went to another room.
All at once there was a sound of horses outside,
and then a knock at the door, and four men
come in. They were the girl's hunters.
" It was hard to tell what to do all in a minute ;
but I saw at once the best thing was to act for all,
and to get all the men inside the house. So I
whispered to Hilton, and then pretended that I
was a great man in the Company. I ordered
Hilton to have the horses cared for, and, not
giving the men time to speak, I fetched out the
old brown brandy, wondering all the time what
could be done. There was no sound from the
ACROSS THE JUMPING SANDHILLS 15
other room, though I thought I heard a door
open once. Hilton played the game well, and
showed nothing when I ordered him about, and
agreed word for word with me when I said no girl
had come, laughing when they told why they
were after her. More than one of them did not
believe at first ; but, pshaw, what have I been
doing all my life to let such fellows doubt me ?
So the end of it was that I got them all inside the
house. There was one bad thing their horses
were all fresh, as Hilton whispered to me. They
had only rode then a few miles they had stole
or bought them at the first ranch to the west of
the Post I could not make up my mind what
to do. But it was clear I must keep them quiet
till something shaped.
" They were all drinking brandy when Hilton's
wife come into the room. Her face was, mon Dieu !
so innocent, so childlike. She stared at the men ;
and then I told them she was deaf and dumb, and
I told her why they had come. Voild, it was
beautiful like nothing you ever saw. She shook
her head so innocent, and then told them like a
child that they were wicked to chase a girl. I
could have kissed her feet Thunder, how she
fooled them ! She said, would they not search
the house? She said all through me, on her
fingers and by signs. And I told them at once.
But she told me something else that the girl had
16 AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
slipped out as the last man came in, had mounted
the chestnut, and would wait for me by the iron
spring, a quarter of a mile away. There was the
danger that some one of the men knew the finger-
talk, so she told me this in signs mixed up with
" Good ! There was now but one thing for me
to get away. So I said, laughing, to one of the
men, ' Come, and we will look after the horses,
and the others can search the place with Hilton.'
So we went out to where the horses were tied to
the railing, and led them away to the corral.
" Of course you will understand how I did it.
I clapped a hand on his mouth, put a pistol at his
head, and gagged and tied him. Then I got my
Tophet, and away I went to the spring. The girl
was waiting. There were few words. I gripped
her hand, gave her another pistol, and then we got
away on a fine moonlit trail. We had not gone a
mile when I heard a faint yell far behind. My
game had been found out. There was nothing to
do but to ride for it now, and maybe to fight. But
fighting was not good ; for I might be killed, and
then the girl would be caught just the same. We
rode on such a ride, the horses neck and neck,
their hoofs pounding the prairie like drills, raw-
bone to rawbone, a hell-to-split gait I knew
they were after us, though I saw them but once on
the crest of a Divide about three miles behind.
ACROSS THE JUMPING SANDHILLS 17
Hour after hour like that, with ten minutes' rest
now and then at a spring or to stretch our legs.
We hardly spoke to each other; but, God of love !
my heart was warm to this girl who had rode a
hundred and fifty miles in twenty-four hours. Just
before dawn, when I was beginning to think that
we should easy win the race if the girl could but
hold out, if it did not kill her, the chestnut struck
a leg into the crack of the prairie, and horse and
girl spilt on the ground together. She could
hardly move, she was so weak, and her face was
like death. I put a pistol to the chestnut's head,
and ended it The girl stooped and kissed the
poor beast's neck, but spoke nothing. As I helped
her on my Tophet I put my lips to the sleeve of
her dress. Mother of Heaven ! what could a man
do ? she was so dam' brave !
"Dawn was just breaking oozy and grey at the
swell of the prairie over the Jumping Sandhills.
They lay quiet and shining in the green-brown
plain ; but I knew that there was a churn beneath
which could set those swells of sand in motion, and
make glory-to-God of an army. Who can tell
what it is? A flood under the surface, a tidal
river what ? No man knows. But they are sea
monsters on the land. Every morning at sunrise
they begin to eddy and roll and who ever saw a
stranger sight ? Bien y I looked back. There were
those four pirates coming on, about three miles
i8 AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
away. What was there to do? The girl and
myself on my blown horse were too much. Then
a great idea come to me. I must reach and cross
the Jumping Sandhills before sunrise. It was one
" When we got to the edge of the sand they were
almost a mile behind. I was all sick to my teeth
as my poor Tophet stepped into the silt. God !
how I watched the dawn ! Slow, slow, we dragged
over that velvet powder. As we reached the
farther side I could feel it was beginning to move.
The sun was showing like the lid of an eye along
the plain. I looked back. All four horsemen
were in the sand, plunging on towards us. By the
time we touched the brown-green prairie on the
farther side the sand was rolling behind us. The
girl had not looked back. She seemed too dazed.
I jumped from the horse, and told her that she
must push on alone to the Fort, that Tophet could
not carry both, that I should be in no danger.
She looked at me so deep ah, I cannot tell how !
then stooped and kissed me between the eyes I
have never forgot. I struck Tophet, and she was
gone to her happiness ; for before ' lights out ! ' she
reached the Fort and her lover's arms.
" But I stood looking back on the Jumping
Sandhills. So, was there ever a sight like that
those hills gone like a smelting-floor, the sunrise
spotting it with rose and yellow, and three horses
ACROSS THE JUMPING SANDHILLS 19
and their riders fighting what cannot be fought ?
What could I do ? They would have got the girl
and spoiled her life, if I had not led them across,
and they would have killed me if they could.
Only one cried out, and then but once, in a long
shriek. But after, all three were quiet as they
fought, until they were gone where no man could
see, where none cries out so we can hear. The last
thing I saw was a hand stretching up out of the
There was a long pause, painful to bear. The
Trader sat with eyes fixed humbly as a dog's on
Pierre. At last Macavoy said : " She kissed ye,
Pierre, aw yis ; she did that ! Jist betune the eyes.
Do yees iver see her now, Pierre ? "
But Pierre, looking at him, made no answer.
A Lovely Bully
HE was seven feet and fat. He came to Fort
O'Angel at Hudson's Bay, an immense
slip of a lad, very much in the way, fond of horses,
a wonderful hand at wrestling, pretending a horrible
temper, threatening tragedies for all who differed
from him, making the Fort quake with his rich
roar, and playing the game of bully with a fine
simplicity. In winter he fattened, in summer he
sweated, at all times he ate eloquently.
It was a picture to see him with the undercut of
a haunch of deer or buffalo, or with a whole prairie-
fowl on his plate, his eyes measuring it shrewdly,
his coat and waistcoat open, and a clear space
about him, for he needed room to stretch his
mighty limbs, and his necessity was recognised
Occasionally he pretended to great ferocity, but
scowl he ever so much, a laugh kept idling in his
irregular bushy beard, which lifted about his face
in the wind like a mane, or made a kind of under-
brush through which his blunt fingers ran at hide-
A LOVELY BULLY 21
He was Irish, and his name was Macavoy. In
later days, when Fort O'Angel was invaded by
settlers, he had his time of greatest importance.
He had been useful to the Chief Trader at the
Fort in the early days, and having the run of the
Fort and the reach of his knife, was little likely to
discontinue his adherence. But he ate and drank
with all the dwellers at the Post, and abused all
"Malcolm," said he to the Trader, "Malcolm,
me glutton o' the H.B.C., that wants the Far
North for your footstool Malcolm, you villain, it's
me grief that I know you, and me thumb to me
nose in token ! "
Wiley and Hatchett, the principal settlers, he
abused right and left, and said, " Wasn't there land
in the East and West, that you steal the country
God made for honest men? you robbers o' the
wide world ! Me tooth on the Book, and I tell
you what, it's only me charity that kapes me from
spoilin' ye. For a wink of me eye, an' away you'd
go, leaving your tails behind you and pass that
shoulder of bear, you pirates, till I come to it side-
ways, like a hog to war ! "
He was even less sympathetic with Bareback
the chief and his braves. " Sons o' Anak y'are ;
here to-day and away to-morrow, like the clods ol
the valley and that's your portion, Bareback. It's
the word o' the Pentytook in pieces you go, like
22 AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
a potter's vessel. Don't shrug your shoulders at
me, Bareback, you pig, or you'll think that Ballze-
boob's loose on the mat ! But take a sup o' this
whisky, while you swear wid your hand on your
chist, ' Amin ' to the words o' Tim Macavoy ! "
Beside Macavoy, Pierre, the notorious, was a
child in height. Up to the time of the half-breed's
coming the Irishman had been the most outstand-
ing man at Fort O'Angel, and was sure of a good-
natured homage, acknowledged by him with a
Pierre put a flea in his ear. He was pensively
indifferent to him even in his most royal moments.
He guessed the way to bring down the gusto
and pride of this Goliath, but, for a purpose,
he took his own time, nodding indolently to
Macavoy when he met him, but avoiding talk with
Among the Indian maidens Macavoy was like a
king or khan ; for they count much on bulk and
beauty, and he answered to their standards
especially to Wonta's. It was a sight to see him
of a summer day, sitting in the shade of a pine, his
shirt open, showing his firm brawny chest, his
arms bare, his face shining with perspiration, his
big voice gurgling in his beard, his eyes rolling
amiably upon the maidens as they passed or
gathered near demurely, while he declaimed of
mighty deeds in patois or Chinook to the braves.
A LOVELY BULLY
Pierre's humour was of the quietest, most sub-
terranean kind. He knew that Macavoy had not
an evil hair in his head ; that vanity was his
greatest weakness, and that through him there
never would have been more half-breed population.
There was a tradition that he had a wife some-
where based upon wild words he had once said
when under the influence of bad liquor; but he
had roared his accuser the lie when the thing was
imputed to him.
At Fort Ste. Anne Pierre had known an old
woman, by name of Kitty Whelan, whose character
was all tatters. She had told him that many years
agone she had had a broth of a lad for a husband ;
but because of a sharp word or two across the fire,
and the toss of a handful of furniture, he had left
her, and she had seen no more of him. " Tall, like
a chimney he was," said she, " and a chest like a
wall, so broad, and a voice like a huntsman's horn,
though only a b'y, an' no hair an his face ; an' she
didn't know whether he was dead or alive ; but
dead belike, for he's sure to come rap agin' some-
thin' that 'd kill him ; for he, the darlin', was that
aisy and gentle, he wouldn't pull his fightin' iron
till he had death in his ribs."
Pierre had drawn from her that the name of
this man whom she had cajoled into a marriage
(being herself twenty years older), and driven
to deserting her afterwards, was Tim Macavoy.
24 AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
She had married Mr. Whelan on the assumption
that Macavoy was dead. But Mr. Whelan had
not the nerve to desert her, and so he departed
this life, very loudly lamented by Mrs. Whelan,
who had changed her name with no right to do
so. With his going her mind dwelt greatly upon
the virtues of her mighty vanished Tim : and ill
would it be for Tim if she found him.
Pierre had journeyed to Fort O' Angel almost
wholly because he had Tim Macavoy in his mind :
in it Mrs. Whelan had only an incidental part;
his plans journeyed beyond her and her lost