Pierre And His People, [tales of the Far North], volume 4.

Cover of book Pierre And His People, [tales of the Far North], volume 4.
Categories: Fiction » Fantasy

THE TALL MASTERThe story has been so much tossed about in the mouths of Indians, andhalf-breeds, and men of the Hudson's Bay Company, that you are prettysure to hear only an apocryphal version of the


thing as you now travel inthe North. But Pretty Pierre was at Fort Luke when the battle occurred,and, before and after, he sifted the business thoroughly. For he had aphilosophical turn, and this may be said of him, that he never liedexcept to save another from danger. In this matter he was cool andimpartial from first to last, and evil as his reputation was in many waysthere were those who believed and trusted him. Himself, as he travelledhere and there through the North, had heard of the Tall Master. Yet hehad never met anyone who had seen him; for the Master had dwelt, it wassaid, chiefly among the strange tribes of the Far-Off Metal River whosefaces were almost white, and who held themselves aloof from the southernraces. The tales lost nothing by being retold, even when the historianswere the men of the H. B. C.;---Pierre knew what accomplished liars maybe found among that Company of Adventurers trading in Hudson's Bay, andhow their art had been none too delicately engrafted by his own people.But he was, as became him, open to conviction, especially when,journeying to Fort Luke, he heard what John Hybar, the Chief Factor--a man of uncommon quality--had to say. Hybar had once lived long amongthose Indians of the Bright Stone, and had seen many rare things amongthem. He knew their legends of the White Valley and the Hills of theMighty Men, and how their distinctive character had imposed itself on thewhole Indian race of the North, so that there was none but believed, eventhough vaguely, in a pleasant land not south but Arcticwards; and Pierrehimself, with Shon McGann and Just Trafford, had once had a strangeexperience in the Kimash Hills. He did not share the opinion of Lazenby,the Company's clerk at Fort Luke, who said, when the matter was talked ofbefore him, that it was all hanky-panky,--which was evidence that he hadlived in London town, before his anxious relatives, sending him forthunder the delusive flag of adventure and wild life, imprisoned him in theArctic regions with the H. B. C.Lazenby admired Pierre; said he was good stuff, and voted him amusing,with an ingenious emphasis of heathen oaths; but advised him, as only aninsolent young scoundrel can, to forswear securing, by the seductive gameof poker or euchre, larger interest on his capital than the H. B. C.;whose record, he insisted, should never be rivalled by any single man inany single lifetime. Then he incidentally remarked that he would like toempty the Company's cash-box once--only once;--thus reconciling thepreacher and the sinner, as many another has done. Lazenby's morals werenot bad, however. He was simply fond of making them appear terrible;even when in London he was more idle than wicked. He gravely suggestedat last, as a kind of climax, that he and Pierre should go out on the padtogether.

Pierre And His People, [tales of the Far North], volume 4.
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