Near Camrose, Alberta, February, 1937.
It took Frenchy Lamoreux a day and a half to snowshoe down from the mountains and into town. Normally he gave the Mounties a wide berth, as did most of the trappers. It wasn’t that he had anything to hide, he was as honest as any man, but where the redcoats were, it wasn’t long before the surveyors and the mining men and the road crews appeared, taking his way of life away bit by bit.
He shrugged when he reached the simple cabin of the RCMP detachment. “Tant pis. On fait ce qu’il faut.”
“Sergeant Craig’urst”, he nodded to the man in red serge behind the desk, as a friendly, hawk-nosed face looked up. Craighurst was well known to the trappers as a fair and decent policeman, someone who knew the woods and mountains as well as any one.
“Frenchy!” Bill Craighurst’s bantam figure rose easily as he offered his hand. “What brings you down to town?”
“Not any t'ing good, Sergeant. Maybe you ‘ave coffee on dat dere stove?”
“Of course. Sit down.” Craighurst poured thick strong coffee into an enamel mug and handed it to the trapper. “Tell me your news.” He could see something haunting the other man’s face as Lamoureux sipped the coffee and gathered himself.
“You know old Grainger, ‘ee ‘as dat claim up on Indian River, nearby of me?”
“Scotty Grainger, yes. Keeps to himself, but never troubles anyone. By all accounts a good neighbour. What of him?”
Lamoureux stared out the window behind the mountie’s desk for a moment. "I t’ink ee’s dead, Sergeant.” He told the story about finding the blood-soaked snow.
“The last time Grainger was in town, he spoke ill of another trapper, the Serb, Gligic. Accused him of stealing his furs. Even threatened him. Do you think there was bad blood between the two?”
The trapper shrugged. “Peut être. Is true dey not les amis. But I do not t’ink it was any man what killed ‘eem. It was … some t’ing h'else.”
Sergeant Caighurst’s big husky growled faintly and looked apprehensively at his master. “Easy, Laurier. Easy, boy. Well, Frenchy, I think I’d best go have a look.”
One look at the trapper’s face told Craighurst not to ask for his company. The man was clearly spent. “Eh, you go if you want, Sergeant. But as dey say, attache ta tuque."