Pierre had determined to establish a kingdom, not for gain, but for conquest’s sake. But because he knew that the thing would pall, he took with him Macavoy the giant, to make him king instead. But first he made Macavoy from a lovely bully, a bulk of good-natured brag, into a Hercules of fight; for, having made him insult–and be insulted by–near a score of men at Fort O’Angel, he also made him fight them by twos, threes, and fours, all on a summer’s evening, and send them away broken. Macavoy would have hesitated to go with Pierre, were it not that he feared a woman. Not that he had wronged her; she had wronged him: she had married him. And the fear of one’s own wife is the worst fear in the world.
But though his heart went out to women, and his tongue was of the race that beguiles, he stood to his “lines” like a man, and people wondered. Even Wonta, the daughter of Foot-in-the-Sun, only bent him, she could not break him to her will. Pierre turned her shy coaxing into irony–that was on the day when all Fort O’Angel conspired to prove Macavoy a child and not a warrior. But when she saw what she had done, and that the giant was greater than his years of brag, she repented, and hung a dead coyote at Pierre’s door as a sign of her contempt.
Pierre watched Macavoy, sitting with a sponge of vinegar to his head, for he had had nasty joltings in his great fight. A little laugh came crinkling up to the half-breed’s lips, but dissolved into silence.
“We’ll start in the morning,” he said.
Macavoy looked up. “Whin you plaze; but a word in your ear; are you sure she’ll not follow us?”
“She doesn’t know. Fort Ste. Anne is in the south, and Fort Comfort, where we go, is far north.”
“But if she kem!” the big man persisted.
“You will be a king; you can do as other kings have done,” Pierre chuckled.
The other shook his head. “Says Father Nolan to me,” says he, “tis till death us do part, an’ no man put asunder’; an’ I’ll stand by that, though I’d slice out the bist tin years av me life, if I niver saw her face again.”
“But the girl, Wonta–what a queen she’d make!”
“Marry her yourself, and be king yourself, and be damned to you! For she, like the rest, laughed in me face, whin I told thim of the day whin I–”
“That’s nothing. She hung a dead coyote at my door. You don’t know women. There’ll be your breed and hers abroad in the land one day.”
Macavoy stretched to his feet–he was so tall that he could not stand upright in the room. He towered over Pierre, who blandly eyed him. “I’ve another word for your ear,” he said darkly. “Keep clear av the likes o’ that wid me. For I’ve swallowed a tribe av divils. It’s fightin’ you want. Well, I’ll do it–I’ve an itch for the throats av men, but a fool I’ll be no more wid wimin, white or red–that hell-cat that spoilt me life an’ killed me child, or–”
A sob clutched him in the throat.
“You had a child, then?” asked Pierre gently.
“An angel she was, wid hair like the sun, an’ ‘d melt the heart av an iron god: none like her above or below. But the mother, ah, the mother of her! One day whin she’d said a sharp word, wid another from me, an’ the child clinging to her dress, she turned quick and struck it, meanin’ to anger me. Not so hard the blow was, but it sent the darlin’s head agin’ the chimney-stone, and that was the end av it. For she took to her bed, an’ agin’ the crowin’ o’ the cock wan midnight, she gives a little cry an’ snatched at me beard. ‘Daddy,’ says she, ‘daddy, it hurts!’ An’ thin she floats away, wid a stitch av pain at her lips.”