The Rivers End

James Oliver Curwood
The River's End

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Title: The River's End
Author: James Oliver Curwood
Release Date: December, 2003 [EBook #4747] [Yes, we are more than
one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on March 12,

Edition: 10
Language: English
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This etext was prepared by Dianne Bean, Prescott Valley, Arizona.

THE RIVER'S END James Oliver Curwood
Between Conniston, of His Majesty's Royal Northwest Mounted Police,
and Keith, the outlaw, there was a striking physical and facial
resemblance. Both had observed it, of course. It gave them a sort of
confidence in each other. Between them it hovered in a subtle and
unanalyzed presence that was constantly suggesting to Conniston a line
of action that would have made him a traitor to his oath of duty. For
nearly a month he had crushed down the whispered temptings of this
thing between them. He represented the law. He was the law. For
twenty-seven months he had followed Keith, and always there had been
in his mind that parting injunction of the splendid service of which he
was a part--"Don't come back until you get your man, dead or alive."
A racking cough split in upon his thoughts. He sat up on the edge of the
cot, and at the gasping cry of pain that came with the red stain of blood
on his lips Keith went to him and with a strong arm supported his
shoulders. He said nothing, and after a moment Conniston wiped the

stain away and laughed softly, even before the shadow of pain had
faded from his eyes. One of his hands rested on a wrist that still bore
the ring-mark of a handcuff. The sight of it brought him back to grim
reality. After all, fate was playing whimsically as well as tragically
with their destinies.
"Thanks, old top," he said. "Thanks."
His fingers closed over the manacle-marked wrist.
Over their heads the arctic storm was crashing in a mighty fury, as if
striving to beat down the little cabin that had dared to rear itself in the
dun-gray emptiness at the top of the world, eight hundred miles from
civilization. There were curious waitings, strange screeching sounds,
and heart-breaking meanings in its strife, and when at last its passion
died away and there followed a strange quiet, the two men could feel
the frozen earth under their feet shiver with the rumbling reverberations
of the crashing and breaking fields of ice out in Hudson's Bay. With it
came a dull and steady roar, like the incessant rumble of a far battle,
broken now and then--when an ice mountain split asunder--with a
report like that of a sixteen-inch gun. Down through the Roes Welcome
into Hudson's Bay countless billions of tons of ice were rending their
way like Hunnish armies in the break-up.
"You'd better lie down," suggested Keith.
Conniston, instead, rose slowly to his feet and went to a table on which
a seal-oil lamp was burning. He swayed a little as he walked. He sat
down, and Keith seated himself opposite him. Between them lay a
worn deck of cards. As Conniston fumbled them in his fingers, he
looked straight across at Keith and grinned.
"It's queer, devilish queer," he said.
"Don't you think so, Keith?" He was an Englishman, and his blue eyes
shone with a grim, cold humor. "And funny," he added.
"Queer, but not funny," partly agreed Keith.

"Yes, it is funny," maintained Conniston. "Just twenty-seven months
ago, lacking three days, I was sent out to get you, Keith. I was told to
bring you in dead or alive--and at the end of the twenty-sixth month I
got you, alive. And as a sporting proposition you deserve a hundred
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