The Johnsons, once they started, did not stop at any particular
point. There was probably only one Johnson in the beginning of
that hundred year story which was to have its finality in Bram.
But there were more in time. The Johnson blood mixed itself first
with the Chippewa, and then with the Cree–and the Cree-Chippewa
Johnson blood, when at last it reached the Eskimo, had in it also
a strain of Chippewyan. It is curious how the name itself lived.
Johnson! One entered a tepee or a cabin expecting to find there a
white man, and was startled when he discovered the truth.
Bram, after nearly a century of this intermixing of bloods, was a
throwback–a white man, so far as his skin and his hair and his
eyes went. In other physical ways he held to the type of his half-
strain Eskimo mother, except in size. He was six feet, and a giant
in strength. His face was broad, his cheek-bones high, his lips
thick, his nose flat. And he was WHITE. That was the shocking
thing about it all. Even his hair was a reddish blonde, wild and
coarse and ragged like a lion’s mane, and his eyes were sometimes
of a curious blue, and at others–when he was angered–green like
a cat’s at night-time.
No man knew Bram for a friend. He was a mystery. He never remained
at a post longer than was necessary to exchange his furs for
supplies, and it might be months or even years before he returned
to that particular post again. He was ceaselessly wandering. More
or less the Royal Northwest Mounted Police kept track of him, and
in many reports of faraway patrols filed at Headquarters there are
the laconic words, “We saw Bram and his wolves traveling
northward” or “Bram and his wolves passed us”–always Bram AND HIS
WOLVES. For two years the Police lost track of him. That was when
Bram was buried in the heart of the Sulphur Country east of the
Great Bear. After that the Police kept an even closer watch on
him, waiting, and expecting something to happen. And then–the
something came. Bram killed a man. He did it so neatly and so
easily, breaking him as he might have broken a stick, that he was
well off in flight before it was discovered that his victim was
dead. The next tragedy followed quickly–a fortnight later, when
Corporal Lee and a private from the Fort Flupenthixol barracks closed
in on him out on the edge of the Barren. Bram didn’t fire a shot.
They could hear his great, strange laugh when they were still a
quarter of a mile away from him. Bram merely set loose his wolves.
By a miracle Corporal Lee lived to drag himself to a half-breed’s
cabin, where he died a little later, and the half-breed brought
the story to Fort Churchill.