Blood of the HunterPart of the Tales of the Wild TV series
The story is set in Hudson Bay in 1906 - Metis country and starts with the murder of the postman. The murderer places the body on the dog sled and puts a note in the Postman's dead hands, written in blood which says that his killer was Yan Thoreau.
Yan Thoreau is a half Cree/ half white Metis trapper who lives at Bear Lake with his beautiful wife, Marie.
Later, the killer comes across the camp of Corporal Charles Blake. He murders Blake and steals his identity, dyeing his hair darker and presenting himself to the commanding officer at the fort, Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald gives 'Blake' his first order, to track down Yan Thoreau and bring him in for questioning. He offers a local Metis to Blake to act as a guide - Pastamoo.
Yan Thoreau has received a letter requesting that he go to the lawyer in a town a day or two away. The letter concerns the will of Thoreau's recently deceased father, Jack Thornton, whom Thoreau has never met. He is reluctant to go at first, knowing it will leave his wife all alone.
On the way, Thoreau stops to buy a new dog, paying ten silver fox furs and a sack of flour. It is apparent that the people there know him and they beg him to play for them. Thoreau takes out hsi fiddle and begins to tune it, sending the dogs into a fenzy, barking and snarling. He is intrigued by this and then begins to play properly.
While Thoreau is away, the killer - still posing as Blake - arrives close enough to Thoreau's home to observe Marie, and decides to get closer to her. He buries his left leg deep into the ice/snow and then shoots it, knowing the packed ice will muffle the shot. The leg is bleeding badly by the time he reaches her door.
Marie takes him in and uses whiskey to sterilise the wound. He tells her his name is Jean Duvall, an old friend of Thoreau's. This confuses Marie as she has not heard of him before, though he does seem familiar, and she recalls someone with a similar name.
The story unfolds as she recalls seeing him at the Caribou festival , when she first arrived in the province with her late husband, John Cummins.
We learn that Blake/Duvall had gone to the festival with the intention of killing Yan Thoreau, but had fallen in love with the beautiful Marie instead. When Cummins died during the smallpox epidemic that swept through the province, he thought she would be his but, instead, she formed an attachment with Thoreau as they tended to the sick and dying, eventually marrying Thoreau.
Thoreau arrives at the lawyers office and learns that his father had a second son but had left all his considerable wealth to Yan. The lawyer hands Thoreau papers that prove that all the stories he had been told through his life were lies. His relatives had told him that his father had raped his mother and she had fled him. Instead, it is apparent that his father had loved her and had been broken hearted when she left him. She left him because, although he had married her in a Cree ceremony, he was already married to a white woman. She was not willing to share him.
The lawyer reveals that there is strong evidence to suspect that Thornton was murdered by his second son, Philip.
Upon leaving the lawyer's office, holding a sizeable fortune, Yan realises the lawyer has set up an ambush but he is saved by the arrival of a good friend, Jean de Gravois, and de Gravois' Cree wife. Gravois reveals all that has happened, and that Thoreau is being sought for murdering the postman. Thoreau realises that the killer is probably Philip Thornton and that his wife may be in grave danger; he races away.
In the meantime, Blake is gaining strength and shows his obsesion for Marie by going throuhgh her personal possessions, watching her bathe and, later, he attempts to sleep in her bed with her but backs off when she pushes him away like a cowered dog.
Thoreau arrives back at Bear Lake with de Garavois close behind. Blake reveals to Marie that he intended to kill Yan but would let him live if Marie left Yan and stayed with him instead. Fearing for her husband's life, she agrees.
As they leave the shack, they are confronted by Thoreau and Gravois. Pastamoo tries to get the upper hand on Philip by climbing onto the roof but he slips and falls to the ground, unhurt but unable to help any further. Fitzgerald and one of hsi men arrive too as soemone found the body of the real Blake.
We discover the true identity of Blake. He is Philip Thornton, Yan Thoreau's half brother, born eight years after Yan. Philip Thornton has spent his whole life being compared to Yan and found wanting, taking regular beatings and abuse from the father who loved his brother and resented the fact that Philip was not Yan. Thoreau's mother committed suicide when she learned of the birth of Philip, and it is now apparent that this is why Thornton hated his younger son and Philip blames Thoreau for the miserable, pain-filled life his had felt at their father's hands.
He taunts Thoreau, telling him that, finally, he will have something of his brother's and orders Marie into the dog sled. He is well bundled up in thick layers clothing and a hat and scarf. As they race away, Marie manages to escape and run to safety. Yan grabs his fiddle and starts to play the noises that drove the dogs mad. and they turn on Philip, attacking him.
All we 'see' of Philip after this is a single, bloodied boot and Fitzgerald declares that it is the Devil's Work.
Additional Information on the Metis:
The Cree tribe in this area may have been the Michif Cree.
The Metis were well known for their hospitality. It wasa custom for there always to be heated soup ready available for anyone who came to the door.
La Rubaboo - soup
Barley Soup recipe:
La Gallete - bannock bread made with flour, lard, baking soda, salt and water.