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Back to God's Country and Other Stories

The Yellow-Back
Above God's Lake, where the Bent Arrow runs red as pale blood under its crust of ice,
Reese Beaudin heard of the dog auction that was to take place at Post Lac Bain three days
later. It was in the cabin of Joe Delesse, a trapper, who lived at Lac Bain during the
summer, and trapped the fox and the lynx sixty miles farther north in this month of
February.
"Diantre, but I tell you it is to be the greatest sale of dogs that has ever happened at Lac
Bain!" said Delesse. "To this Wakao they are coming from all the four directions. There
will be a hundred dogs, huskies, and malamutes, and Mackenzie hounds, and mongrels
from the south, and I should not wonder if some of the little Eskimo devils were brought
from the north to be sold as breeders. Surely you will not miss it, my friend?"
"I am going by way of Post Lac Bain," replied Reese Beaudin equivocally.
But his mind was not on the sale of dogs. From his pipe he puffed out thick clouds of
smoke, and his eyes narrowed until they seemed like coals peering out of cracks; and he
said, in his quiet, soft voice:
"Do you know of a man named Jacques Dupont, m'sieu?"
Joe Delesse tried to peer through the cloud of smoke at Reese Beaudin's face.
"Yes, I know him. Does he happen to be a friend of yours?"
Reese laughed softly.
"I have heard of him. They say that he is a devil. To the west I was told that he can whip
any man between Hudson's Bay and the Great Bear, that he is a beast in man-shape, and
that he will surely be at the big sale at Lac Bain."
On his knees the huge hands of Joe Delesse clenched slowly, gripping in their imaginary
clutch a hated thing.
"Oui, I know him," he said. "I know also--Elise--his wife. See!"
He thrust suddenly his two huge knotted hands through the smoke that drifted between
him and the stranger who had sought the shelter of his cabin that night.
"See--I am a man full-grown, m'sieu--a man--and yet I am afraid of him! That is how
much of a devil and a beast in man-shape he is."
Again Reese Beaudin laughed in his low, soft voice.
 
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