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Returning to the hut, Cheenbuk continued his culinary preparations with great diligence, gazing often and earnestly, as he did so, at the thin and careworn countenance of the sleeper.

Although Nazinred was considerably altered by fatigue and suffering, the Eskimo entertained not the smallest doubt that he was the same Indian with whom he had once struggled on the banks of the Whale, or Greygoose, River.  Equally sure was he that the Indian, owing to his worn-out condition when discovered, had not recognised himself, and the fancy occurred to him that he would at first try to avoid recognition.  To this end he pulled his hood a little more over his eyes, deepened the colour of his face by rubbing it with a little lamp-black and oil, and resolved to lower his voice a note or two when the time for speaking should arrive.  That time was not long of coming; probably the increasing warmth of the hut, or the smell of the seal-steak in the nostrils of the half-starved man, may have had something to do with it, but the meal was hardly ready when the Indian yawned, stretched himself, sat up and gazed solemnly around.

“You are feeling better?” said Cheenbuk in his deepened tone, and in broken Dogrib tongue.

The Indian fixed a steady gaze on him for nearly a minute before replying.

“Yes,” he said, in a dreamy tone, “I’m better.  If the Eskimo had not been sent to me I had now been with my ancestors.”

“No one sent me to you,” returned Cheenbuk; “I found you lying on the snow.”

“The Great Manitou sent you,” said the Indian gravely.

It was this touch of seriousness which had originally drawn those two men together, but the Eskimo remembered that he was acting a part at the moment, and that any expression of sympathy might betray him.  He therefore made no rejoinder, but, placing the seal-steak on a flat stone, bade the hungry man eat.

Nazinred required no pressing; he began at once, and was ready for more almost before more was ready for him.  By persevering industry, however, Cheenbuk kept his guest supplied, and when appetite began to fail he found time to attend to his own wants and keep the other company.

Silence reigned at first.  When the Indian had finished eating he accepted a draught of warm water, and then had recourse to his fire-bag and pipe.  Cheenbuk expected this, and smiled inwardly, though his outward visage would have done credit to an owl.

At last he looked up and asked the Indian how he came to be travelling thus alone and so far from his native land.

Nazinred puffed a voluminous cloud from his lips and two streaming cloudlets from his nose ere he replied.

“When my son,” he said, “was on the banks of the Greygoose River his voice was not so deep!”

Cheenbuk burst into a laugh and threw back his hood.

“You know me, then, you man-of-the-woods,” said he, holding out his hand in the white trader fashion which the other had taught him.

“When the men-of-the-woods see a face once, they never forget it,” returned the Indian, grasping the proffered hand heartily, but without a sign of risibility on his countenance, for in this, as we know, he differed considerably from his companion; yet there was a something about the corners of his eyes which seemed to indicate that he was not quite devoid of humour.

“But how did you discover me?” resumed Cheenbuk.  “I not only spoke with a deeper voice, but I put black and oil on my face, and pulled my hood well forward.”

“When the Eskimo wants to blind the man-of-the-woods,” answered Nazinred, sententiously, “he must remember that he is a man, not a child.  The cry of the grey geese is always the same, though some of them have deeper voices than others.  A face does not change its shape because it is dirtied with oil and black.  Men draw hoods over their faces when going out of a lodge, not when coming in.  When smoking tobacco is seen for the first time, surprise is always created.- Waugh!”

“What you say is true, man-of-the-woods,” returned Cheenbuk, smiling.  “I am not equal to you at deceiving.”

Whether the Indian took this for a compliment or otherwise there was no expression on his mahogany face to tell, as he sat there calmly smoking and staring at the lamp.  Suddenly he removed the pipe from his lips and looked intently at the Eskimo, who in turn regarded him with evident expectation.

“My son,” said Nazinred, “I have one or two questions to put to you.  You and I agree about many things.  Tell me, what would you think of the fawn that would forsake its dam?”

Cheenbuk was puzzled, but replied that he thought there must be something the matter with it-something wrong.

“I will tell you a story,” continued the Indian, “and it is true.  It did not come into my head.  I did not dream it.  There was a man-of-the-woods, and he had a squaw and one child, a girl.  The parents were very fond of this girl.  She was graceful like the swan.  Her eyes were large, brown, and beautiful like the eyes of a young deer.  She was active and playful like the young rabbit.  When she was at home the wigwam was full of light.  When she was absent it was dark.  The girl loved her father and mother, and never disobeyed them or caused them to suffer for a moment.  One day, when the father was far away from home, a number of bad Eskimos came and fought with the men-of-the-woods, who went out and drove their enemies away.  They took one prisoner, a strong fine-looking man.  One night the prisoner escaped.  It was discovered that the girl helped him and then went away with him.”

He paused and frowned at this point, and the startled Cheenbuk at once recognised himself and Adolay as the hero and heroine of the story.

“Did the girl,” he asked, “go away with the escaped prisoner of her own will, or did he force her to go?”

“She went of her own will,” returned the Indian.

“One of the women of the tribe followed her and heard her speak.  But the father loved his child.  He could not hate her, although she forsook her home.  At first he thought of taking all his young men and going on the war-path to follow the Eskimos, slay the whole tribe, and bring back his child.  But Manitou had put it in the father’s mind to think that it is wrong to kill the innocent because of the guilty.  He therefore made up his mind to set off alone to search for his child.”

Again Nazinred paused, and Cheenbuk felt very uncomfortable, for although he knew that it was impossible for the Indian to guess that the Eskimo with whom he had once had a personal conflict was the same man as he who had been taken prisoner and had escaped with his daughter, still he was not sure that the astute Red man might not have put the two things together and so have come to suspect the truth.

“So, then, man-of-the-woods,” said Cheenbuk at last, “you are the father who has lost his daughter?”

“I am,” returned the Indian, “and I know not to what tribe the young man belongs with whom she has gone away, but I am glad that I have met with you, because you perhaps may have heard if any strange girl has come to stay with any of the tribes around you, and can tell me how and where to find her.  We named her Adolay, because she reminds us of that bright season when the sun is hot and high.”

Cheenbuk was silent for some time, as well he might be, for the sudden revelation that the Indian who had once been his antagonist, and for whom he had taken such a liking, was the father of the very girl who had run away with him against her inclination, quite took his breath away.  It was not easy to determine how or when the true facts should be broken to the father, and yet it was evident that something must be said, for Cheenbuk could not make up his mind to lie or to act the part of a hypocrite.

“I have heard of the girl-of-the-woods you speak of,” he said at last; “I have seen her.”

For the first time since they met, the characteristic reserve of the Indian broke down, and he became obviously excited, yet even then he curbed his tongue for a few moments, and when he again spoke it was with his habitual calmness.

“Does my son know the tribe to which she has been taken?  And is it well with the girl?”

“He does.  And it is well with Adolay.”

“Do they dwell far from here?” asked Nazinred, anxiously in spite of himself.

“Not far.  I can soon take you to their igloes.  But tell me, man-of-the-woods, do you think your child had no reason for leaving home in this way except fondness for the young man?”

“I know not,” returned the Indian, with a doubtful, almost a hopeful look.  “What other reason could she have?  Her mother and I loved her more than ourselves.  All the young men loved her.  One of them-a bad one-had sworn to his comrades that he would have her for a wife in spite of her father,”-he smiled very slightly at this point, with a look of ineffable contempt-“but Magadar did not venture to say that in her father’s ears!”

“May it not have been fear of this man, this Magadar, which drove her away?” suggested Cheenbuk.  “You were not there to defend her.  She may have been afraid of him, although you fear him not.”

“That is true,” returned the Indian, with a brighter look, “though I thought that Adolay feared nothing-but she is not her father.”

This wise and obvious truism, or the words of the Eskimo, seemed to afford some comfort to the poor man, for he became more communicative and confidential after that.

“Do you think,” asked Cheenbuk, “that your daughter has married this young man?”

“I know not.”

“Don’t you think it is likely?”

“I fear it is not unlikely.”

“Why should you fear it?  Are not the Eskimos as strong and brave as the men-of-the-woods?”

For a moment the Indian looked at his companion with high disdain, for the boastful question had aroused within him the boastful spirit; but the look quickly disappeared, and was replaced by the habitual air of calm gravity.

“It may be, as you say, that your nation is as brave and strong as ours-”

“I did not say that,” remarked the free-and-easy Eskimo, interrupting his companion in a way that would have been deemed very bad manners in an Indian, “I asked you the question.”

With a look of deeper gravity than usual the Indian replied: 

“To your question no true answer can be given till all the men of both nations have tried their courage and their strength.  But such matters should only be discussed by foolish boys, not by men.  Yet I cannot help confessing that it is a very common thing among our young braves to boast.  Is it so among the Eskimos?”

The Eskimo laughed outright at this.

“Yes,” said he, “our young men sometimes do that-some of them; but not all.  We have a few young men among us who know how to hold their tongues and when to speak.”

“That is useful knowledge.  Will my son speak now, and tell me what he knows about Adolay?”

“He knows that she is well spoken of, and much loved by the tribe with which she lives.”

“That is natural,” said the Indian, with a pleased look.  “No one who sees Adolay can help loving her.  Does the young man who took her away treat her kindly?”

“No one can tell that but herself.  What if he treated her ill?”

“I would hope never to meet with him face to face,” replied Nazinred, with a frown and a nervous clenching of the fist that spoke volumes.

“I have heard,” continued Cheenbuk in a quiet way, “that the girl is very sad.  She thinks much of her old home, and blames herself for having left it.”

“Good,” said the Indian emphatically.  “That is like the child, to be sorry when she has done wrong.”

“And I have heard that the young man who took her away is very fond of her-so fond that he will do whatever she likes to please her.  His name is Cheenbuk.  She asked him to take her home again, and he has promised to do so when the hot sun and the open water come back.”

“Good.  The young man must be a good man.  Will he keep his promise?”

“Yes.  I know him well.  He loves truth, and he will do what he says.”

“It is a long time till the open water comes.  Will the young Eskimo’s mind not change?”

“Cheenbuk’s mind will not change.  He loves Adolay better than himself.”

Nazinred pondered this statement for some time in silence, caressing the sleek head of Attim as he did so.

“Will this young man, this Cheenbuk, be willing, do you think, to leave her in the lodges of her people and give her up altogether?” he asked, with a somewhat doubtful look.

“If Adolay wishes to be given up, he will,” replied the Eskimo confidently.

“And you know him well?”

“Very well.  No one knows him better.”

Again the Indian was silent for some time.  Then he spoke in a low tone: 

“My son has made glad the heart of the man-of-the-woods.  When we met by the river and strove together, we were drawn by a cord that anger could not snap.  It is strange that you should now be chosen by Manitou to bring me such good news.”

“Manitou can do stranger things than this, my father.”

No more was said at that time, for, as both were thoughtful men, a considerable space of time was allowed to elapse between each question and answer.  Before it could be resumed the crack of a whip and loud yelping were heard in the distance, and in a few minutes Anteek and two men drove up to the igloe with the sledge and a fresh team of dogs.

“I sent for them,” explained Cheenbuk.  “My father is tired, he will lie down on the sledge with a bearskin round him, while I take him to the igloes of my people.  After that I will take him to Adolay.”

“Nazinred will not lie down.  He is no longer tired, for his heart is glad.”