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are spotted, no doubt baffled by the unusually heavy guard. The boat arrives at the Metis town. O’Neill and his men are thankful that the weather will allow the boat to make the return trip back to Fort Emmet. Finbar finds Bishop Desjarlais is there to meet him. The letter to Jean-Paul had arrived from St Louis six weeks ago but Jean-Paul was already committed to joining the autumn buffalo hunt but is expected back anytime. The Bishop invites Finbar to stay as his guest at St Boniface Cathedral, and is relieved to discover that the black woman with him is not his slave.

60:Lower Fort Garry. December 1861

The tranquillity of their accommodation has a beneficial effect on Belle. She is opening up and, with time on his hands, Finbar is enjoying her company. Belle is keen to hear about Ireland, New York and especially the buildings in London she has read about. Finbar wants to know what life is really like as a slave in the south. She tells him about conditions in general but he has learnt not to try and press about her past. Both are enjoying the warm Metis hospitality. Concerns are being raised by there being no sign of the buffalo hunt returning. The weather is becoming severe, even by mid-west prairie standards. Eventually the blizzards clear and the hunters return. They had been forced to make an extended camp. Jean-Paul is delighted to meet the man he has read so much about and is surprised by how much Finbar knew about him. In his letter Finbar had said that he had a proposal to make to Jean-Paul and the Metis people. Jean-Paul jokes that he will have plenty of time to make it as the weather now appears to have closed in for the winter. He asks Finbar and Belle to be his guests for Christmas.

61:Lower Fort Garry. January 1862

Both men agreed to put off their formal talks until after the Christmas festivities are over. In any event, Jean-Paul wants Bishop Desjarlais and Dolphus Nault to be present. Again with time on their hands, Finbar and Belle immerse themselves in the lavish Metis hospitality. The culture is rich in music and dance, combining its French

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