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SYNOPSIS: Ellen Mackay, on
her way from school at Winnipeg,
to J»in her rather at Port Edson,
misses the boat by which she was
to travel. Hearing that another
boat is to start north in the
morning, Ellen goes to the owner,
John Benham, and begs him to
give her a passage. To her sur
prise he flatly refuses.
Angry and puzzled, Ellen tells
Pat McClatchney, a kindly old
storekeeper of her difficulty, and
Pat with the help of one of Ben
ham's crew, succeeds in getting
Ellen on board as a stowaway.
When the vessel is well under
way Ellen emerges from her hid
ing place and faces John Benham,
who now cannot help taking her,
Twice had her father called
him a "Squaw's whelp*'—a "half
breed," and somehow this thought
was like a dagger thrust in El
len's heart. It seemed beyond all
reason that such a thing could be
so, for John Benham's eyes were
blue and clear and his hair was
richly brown. Yet . . .
She thought of her father, brok
en and discouraged, and by his
own words brought to 'such a
state by the evil machinations of
this—this "half-breed." And now
Ellen had taken her stand by her
father's side. His battle was to be
her battle; his hate was her hate.
It. was long before she finally
slept and when she did so there
was the moistness of tears upon
In the week that followed, El
len Mackay learned the reason
for her father's despair and brok
. en pride.
Long hours she spent over the
books of the post. A hundred
lengthy tallies she drew up, stud
ied and destroyed. Her thoughts
were driven to an inevitable con
clusion. The fiy trade at Fort
Edson was no longer paying.
Where the trade had once been
thousands of lynx, bear, beaver,
otter, marten and other skins, the
present return was but few scanty
The shelves of the storehouse
were piled high with trade goods
that had 1 not been moved for over
three years. It was simple to see
the season when the decline had
started. Three years ago it was.
Ellen probed further. Three
years before had been the peak
of the seven-year cycle of the rab
bits, and all old records showed
that when the rabbit tide was at
its height, that was the rich year
in returns on lynx. Yet the lynx
tally three years ago was far be
Ellen went to the fur store
room. Ruthlessly she ripped open
several bales, and from old exper
ience graded the furs disclosed.
They were all far below par, not
a prime skin in the whole lot.
Her lips trembled and tears
came again to her eyes. How deep
the shame of it must cut her fath
er, for in the past Fort Edson had
been the boast of the company.
From there had come the richest
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returns, the finest furs. Rich in
the pride of achievement, Angus
Mackay had gloried in the repu
tation of his post. And now he
must drink the bitterest dregs.
Ellen went to the door of the
trade room and looked out upon
the open ground which surround
ed the post buildings. A few In
dian were there, a very few. And
she could remember when, at this
time of the year, there would be
hundreds. And what were camped
there were of the poorest. Dog
ribs and Yellow-knives and Hay
river Indians, notoriously poor
and unthrifty. Their tepees were
ragged and filthy; their families
plainly undernourished; their dogs
mere perambulating skeletons.
And the scanty furs they brought
in for trade would, in the older,
better years, hardly have been
-An overpowering discourage
ment flooded Ellen, particularly
harsh because she was at' a loss
to understand this terrible decline.
John Benham was the cause,
her father claimed; John Ben
ham who, by nefarious free trad
ing methods, had enticed the (In
dians from him, who had gletpied
the richest and best furs and* left
to him only the ragged remnants.
Ellen wondered if such a tiling
were reasonable, that one .lone
man could move into a territory
and in three short years overthrow
the reputation and prestige of
such a post as Fort Edsonj She
voiced this wonder to her mther
just once, and his answering
spasm of rage left her trembling
Angus Mackay hated all free
traders violently and unswerving
ly. All his life had been spent in
the employ of* the Hudson Bay
Company. He was of the old
school who, though he knew full
well that the CBi»\
pany hafl parted" with its old
Traficrtlse in 1870 thought in his
blind fervour and faithfulness,
that any free trader was still a
trespasser, a despoiler, and a
schemer against the interests of
the mother company.
There were many others like
him, scattered about in the num
erous posts of the north—stern,
uncompromising men who had
grown old in the service, and to
whom the Hudson Bay Company
was both life and religion. There
wan something appealing in this
blind faith and support, yet there
was something tragic also. These
men, men like AUgus Mackay,
were hurling their frail old bodies
against the ponderous, inexorable,
titanic advance of progress. It was
hopeless, it was tragic, but splen
did in its blind fervour.
Ellen turned back into the
dusky trading room and read, for
the hundredth time it seemed, a
brusque, authoritative letter, writ
ten on the dignified parchment
used in official communications.
The message did not mince words.
It contained less than a dozen
lines. Yet the words of it seemed
to toll like a funeral bell. In ef
fect it stated that unless Augus
Mackay could, by the following
spring, bring back the production
of Fort Edson to something ap
proximating Its old-time volume,
he would have to be replaced.
Sudden, hot anger gripped El
len. A year—they gave him—one
short year to fight back and re
cuperate. One year! To this man
who had given them a lifetime of
faithful, treasureful service. True,
the letter hinted also of a pen
sion, a pitiful dole that was more
insulting than It was comforting.
A pension! The mark of the old
and useless. Charity! Pure vitriol
on the open wounds of her father.
Ellen lifted her head defiantly.
A year! Very well, she would show
them what a Mackay could do in
a year. She would fight back,
fight to the last ounce of strength
and will she possessed. And if
anyone. John Benham in parti
cular, opposed her, she would
bring back the methods of open
battle the very earliest days of
the fur trade had known. She
was in a corner, her back to the
wall. Her father's reputation; his
life! his welfare were at stake. To
win there would be nothing she
would not dare.
At that moment Ellen Mackay 1
turned savage. Her face settled
into hard, cold lines. The youth
fulness of her fled, somehow.
She put away the books and
records, locked the storerooms
and strode off to the home cabin.
As she went she became aware of
shouts down upon the beach.
From the doorway of the cabin
she surveyed the scene below. Sev
eral scows and a York boat or two
were grounded on the shingle.
A crowd of Indians and rivermen
were grouped on the shore. Ellen
saw her father talking to one of
them, a big burly figure who
towered above the rest like a giant
Presently these two advanced
up the slSJJe,towards the post. An
gus Mackay V h a toiling effort
that brought a"\»a£ch to Ellen's
throat and momentary (illness to
her eyes; the stranger with a-HtilC
ease which belied the impression
of clumsiness his huge bulk gave.
Once, when the old factor stumb
led, his companion steadied him
with one powerful hand and after
that helped the old man over the
steepest part of the trail. This
gesture, slight as it was, brought
a warm glow to Ellen, and when
the two finally reached the cabin
Ellen's eyes were bright and she
While they were still some
yards away. Ellen felt the impact
of the newcomer's gaze. She re
turned the scrutiny curiously. She
saw one of the biggest men she
had ever looked upon. His should
ers were tremendously broad, his
chest arched like a barrel. His
flanks were lean, his legs long
and slightly bowed as though pro
testing under the weight of his
huge torso. His arms, bared half
way to the shoulders, were bulged
and knotted with muscle. His fea
tures were heroic, yet leaned and
cleanly cut, and dark with the
combined effect of exposure and
heritage. His eyes were deep and
black and, to Ellen's slight dis
comfiture, curiously hard and in
scrutable. There seemed no depth
to them. They were all surface.
Unconsciously Ellen recoiled at
their cold, almost arrogant sur
vey. Yet the man was smiling,
disclosing two rows of even, white
"This is Bernard Deteroux,
lass," panted the factor. "Ber
nard —my daughter Ellen."
Deteroux bowed slightly. "I am
Ellen murmured a reply and led
the way into the living room.
When they had seated themselves
old Angus went on with further
explanations. "Bernard is one of
our men, lass. He is our roving
source of supply. His duties are to
keep an even balance in the trade
goods at our various posts. Tell
me, lass—is there anything we are
in need of?"
"We have enough of everything,
father," said Ellen slowly. "Ex
cept perhaps of blankets."
"I will be pleased to oblige
mam'selle," broke in Deteroux
quickly. "A hundred pairs, per
haps. would be enough?" •
"That would be enough, Mr. De
teroux," nodded Ellen.
"Good. You shall have them
immediately." He stepped to the
open door and in a deep resonant
voice shouted an order down thp
slope. Then he turned back. "The
blankets will be at your store
room in five minutes, mam'selle."
A moment later Ellen left the
room to assist Qitchie in prepara
tion of the midday meal. She
found the old Chippewyan squaw
working in the kitchen in a
strangely silent mood, and despite
Ellen's curious questioning, Qitch
ie would utter no word. And later
when the meal was over with she
went out to the storeroom with
her father and Deteroux, Ellen
saw old Moosas bend a look upon
Deteroux of frank, savage hostil
ity. This, reasoned Ellen, was
very strange, for her father was
plainly overjoyed at the presence
of Deteroux. and she knew that
both Moosac and Qitchie were
very faithful to her father.
For herself, Ellen found it hard
to define just how Deteroux af
fected her. There was an undeni
able magnetism about the man.
His very size, his rippling strength,
and the lithe, easy swiftness of
his movements and the gleam of
his white teeth were attractive.
Ard he was not unhandsome. Yet
his eyes were repelling, and when-
which was disconcertingly often,
she was hard put to it to keep
from shivering openly. The man
was at once attractive and repul
When the blankets had been
properly checked in and receipted
for Deteroux and Augus Mackay
left again but Ellen stayed at the
trading room, once more immers
ed in the study of her father's
predicament, and trying to plan a
course of action that might avert
the threatened calamity of the
Here, an hour later, Bernard
Deteroux came to her alone.
"You will pardon me, mam'-
selle," he began swiftly. "But I
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father' Jsut woiSTte well
haps, If you and I should talk
of a certain Injustice which the
Ellen knew immediately what
Deteroux meant. Someway, doubt
less through the channels of gos
sip, or because Angus Mackay had
confided in him, this gigantic
riverman knew oi the threat
which hung over the old factor.
Though she would not acknowl
edge it, Ellen realized that the
task of rehabilitation she had set
herself loomed as well nigh im
possible. Therefore she seized up
on Deteroux's suggestion with
(Continued Next Issue)
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