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The fur-seal's tooth Munroe, Kirk 1894

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A Story of AIaskan Adventure 

RAFTMATES.   A Story of the Great River.
CANOEM ATES.   A Story of the Florida Reef and Everglades.
CAMPMATES.   A Story of the Plains.
DORYMATES.   A Tale of the Fishing Banks.
Each one volume.   Illustrated.   Post 6vo, Cloth, $1 25.
The set in a box, $5 00.
WAKULLA.    A Story of Adventure in Florida.
DERRICK STERLING.   A Story of the Mines.
CHRYSTAL, JACK & CO., and DELTA BIXBY.  Two Stories.
Each one volume.   Illustrated.   Square \bmo, Cloth, %\ 00.
Published by HARPER & BROTHERS, New Yokk.
For sale by all booksellers, or will be sent by the publishers
to any part of the United States, Canada, or
Mexico, on receipt of price.
Copyright, 1894, by Harpkr & Brothers.
All rights reserved.
s^=S§Sj aau«".".-.";ijjj|»-
  """ ...wa.... flPSB ALASKA flHHHf
A land of rock} dipped in the brine
Like a brown finger pointing toward the west
The little craft flies fast to the fair bay
Whose waters kiss the feet of Sitka town
I. Phil and Serge     . 1
II. Winning the Prize .    .   .  8
III. An Undesirable Acquaintance     .... 15
IV. Across the Continent  22
V. Five Bull's-eyes in Six Shots  28
VI. Phil's Sad Predicament  36
VII. The Value of a True Friend  43
VIII. One Kesult op Good Shooting     .... 49
IX. Introducing "Old Kite Roberson".    .    . 56
X. Phil Discovers What He Is  62
XI. Seals and Seal-skins  68
XII. Captain Duff's Shrewdness  75
XIII. The First Seal-hunt  81
XIV. Overboard in the North Pacific    ... 88
XV. Phil Becomes '' High Line I  94
XVI. A Venture into Forbidden Waters    .    . 101
XVII. Cruel Killing of Mother-seals .    .-•■-.    . 107
XVIII. Chased by a Revenue-cutter 113
XIX. Castaways on Oonimak 119
XX. Brimstone and Feathers 125
XXI. Luxury on a Desolate Aleutian Island . 132
XXII. How Jalap Coombs Got His Name   .    .    .139
XXIII. Kooga the Aleut, and His Bidarkie    .    . 145
XXIV. A Double Watch for Schooners     .    .    .151
XXV. Hunting the Sea-otter 158
jg^&Sjggj (JW3*W=T3T?=
aitojfijj^^ ^Pffff^lgflWI
§§ XXIX.
M   xxx.
Serge Kills a Bear,  and Jalap Coombs
Disappears 165
Phil Sees Himself as Others See Him    . 171
Phil and Serge as Prisoners of War.    . 178
A Cruise on a Bering Sea Cutter .    .    . 185
The Third Lieutenant's Humiliating Position 192
Where   is   the   Centre   of   the   United
It   States? 199
Why the Cutter Departed without Her
Passengers 206
In Hot Pursuit 213
Mr. John Ryder's Story 220
Jalap Coombs's Philosophy   I 227
Lost and Drifting in Bering Sea    .    .    . 234
Saved by a Miracle 241
Japonski's    Temptation    and    the    Fur-
trader's Offer 248
Serge Recovers a Bit of Lost Property . 255
A Prospect of Snow-shoes and Sledges  . 262 ILLUSTRATIONS
" * THE FUR-SEAL'S TOOTH !'   HE CRIED " Frontispiece
FULL OF GOLD" Facing page    6
"IT  WAS  THE  IVORY  TOOTH  OF  A  FUR-SEAL "     ... " "          8
YOU  DOWN'"  I "26
" YES !  IT WAS—A  GENUINE  HAIDA DUGOUT "       ... i |       30
"'IS  IT  PHILIP  RYDER  OR HIS  GHOST !'"   ..... " "40
PHIL  SIGNED  THE  ARTICLE  WITHOUT  READING  IT       .      . " "       54
"'YOU  DON'T  DARE  DO  IT.     YOU  ARE  A  COWARD'"     . " I       58
"millions are caught for canneries each year" * I I   128
FINE  FISH" '   .      .  " "130
"THE LIGHT CRAFT SHOT AWAY UP THE strait"    .     . HI    ^8
"after long and painful stalking phil shot two
sea-lions"  " "   162 Vlll ILLUSTRATIONS
now'     . Facing page
BOYS  " "
bound!'"  " "
^^H  m
Although the sun was shining brightly over the
pleasant little British Columbian city of Victoria, and
the air was filled with the flower scents and bird notes
of late spring-time, at least one of the strollers along
its busy streets was so decidedly unhappy that he paid
no attention to sunshine, birds, or flowers. Life just
then seemed a very serious and perplexing affair to
Phil Ryder, and, to quote an expression that he himself
had often used in regard to others, he looked as though
he had lost his last friend. If any one in all that strange
foreign city had been intimate enough with him to suggest this to Phil, he would have replied, "And so I
have, for I have lost my last dollar, and in a strange
country I don't know of any better friend than the
good old Yankee dollar."
How it all happened was this way: Phil was a New
England lad, and hailed from the quaint old Connecticut town of New London. He was freckle-faced and
curly-headed, not very tall, but so broad-shouldered
that no one ever thought of asking him if he was travelling for his health. What with rowing, paddling,
and sailing, skating and coasting, playing football until THE  FUR-SEAL'S  TOOTH
he became centre rush and captain of his school team,
going on long, delightful outing trips, to the Maine
woods with his father, who had been the most painstaking of teachers in the useful arts of shooting, fishing, and camping out, this boy had early developed
into an all-round athlete of more than ordinary attainments. With additional strength had come an
increase of self-reliance, until at the age of seventeen
he was about as independent and manly a young fellow as one would be apt to discover in a long day's
But this very independence often led him into trouble.
Like most self-reliant boys, he was inclined to place an
undue value upon his own knowledge and acquirements,
and to make light of those of his elders. All except his
own father, whom Phil regarded as the very wisest and
best of men, and whose example in all things he was
most anxious to copy.
And yet from this very father the boy inherited his
worst fault, which was that of carelessness. Although
his aunt Ruth, who had brought him up from the babyhood in which he lost his mother, made a point of
providing him with a place for everything, and had
almost hourly, during his whole life, impressed upon
him the importance of keeping things in their places,
he never yet had learned the lesson she strove so earnestly to impart. He would say, " Yes, Aunt Rue, I'll
remember," give her a hearty kiss, and rush away with
an instant forgetfulness of all she had just said. He
lost and mislaid not only his own things, but those of
other people, until at length no one who knew him
would lend him anything of value. He forgot messages, and could not be trusted to go on errands. He
was forever in hot water on account of broken engagre-
ments, and though naturally a bright student, was always in trouble over his lessons on account of having
to spend most of his study hours in searching for mislaid books. Generally they were found flung into a
corner of the stone wall bounding the football field,
tucked carefully under the steps of the boat-house, or
hidden away in some other unlikely place that no one
but he would have thought of, and any one but he
would have remembered.
His son's heedlessness was Mr. Ryder's greatest
I Philip! Philip! why won't you overcome it for my
sake, if not for your own ?" he would cry; and the boy
would answer:
II do try, Pop ; indeed I do, but it's no use. I was
born that way, and I expect I shall be that way so
long as I live. After all, I am the one who suffers
most from it."
1 Hold hard, Phil! There's * where you are wrong.
No one can truly say that, for no one can ever know
how far-reaching may be the consequences of his own
actions. With every single act of carelessness you
cause more or less anxiety and inconvenience to those
about you. Sooner or later, just so sure as you fail to
conquer this wretched habit, it will lead you, and probably others with you, into some unhappy predicament,
from which I pray you may escape without the accompaniment of a life-long sorrow."
After a talk like this Phil would reform for a day or
two. He would present himself to his astonished schoolmates as a model of punctuality, and would show an
attention to trifles that was painful in its minuteness.
These efforts at reform were always accompanied by
such an unnatural restraint of manner, so severe an expression of countenance, and so stern a refusal to engage in any of the frivolities of life, such as football
or even the minor sports of the season, that there was
always a general rejoicing when in some sudden excite-
j a
ment the young penitent forgot his vows, and relapsed
into his old jolly, heedless self.
Even to Aunt Ruth these brief seasons of austere
reform were periods of trial and anxiety lest by some
unguarded act or word she should fail to set her nephew a proper example. So she, too, secretly breathed a
sigh of relief when the day of penance was ended, and
she could resume her accustomed way of quietly picking up and putting things to rights, after one of Phil's
sudden inroads through the house in search of some-
thing that must be found at once, because all the fel
lows were waiting.
He knew he left it right here !
and what could have become of it ?
Phil's father, Mr. John Ryder, was a mining expert,
whose business of examining into the condition of
mines, and reporting upon their value for the information of capitalists or stockholders, kept him travelling
pretty constantly to all sorts of out-of-the-way nooks
and corners of the world. Phil considered it the most
delightful business in which one could engage, and
longed for the time to come when he might follow
in his father's footsteps. He even thought it a little
hard that the latter would never allow him to go as
his companion upon any of his distant journeyings,
but insisted on his attending strictly to school and his
Mr. Ryder always so arranged his affairs as to spend
a part at least of every vacation with his boy, and then
they took those long trips into the woods that, up to
this time, had formed the most delightful episodes of
Phil's life. At other times, when he was at home, Mr.
Ryder devoted himself so entirely to his son, and entered so heartily into his pursuits and plans, that a
very strong bond of sympathy existed between them,
and the boy was never so happy as when in his father's
ri.i-.iii'.»:u:;:;:<; PHIL  AND  SERGE
Now it happened that the very year in which Phil
was to graduate from the New London High School
found his father engaged on an important and prolonged survey of mining property in the distant and
little-known land of Alaska. It was a great disappointment to both father and son that the former could not
be present at the latter's graduation. At the same
time there were compensations in a promise of glittering possibilities held out by Mr. Ryder.
"If you will only graduate within five of the head
of your class, Phil, you shall come out and spend the
summer with me in Alaska," he had said, and the boy
knew that he meant it.
What a prospect was thus held forth ! and what boy
in his senses would refuse to work hard for such a reward as that ? A whole summer in the distant wonderland of the far north, amid Eskimos and Indians, volcanoes and glaciers, wolves and bears, seals and salmon !
Every fellow in the school, and nearly every boy in
town, for that matter, knew of the splendid prize for
which Phil was striving, and they watched him either
with feelings of mean envy that secretly hoped he
might lose it, or with an honestly outspoken hope that
he might win it, according to their dispositions.
These New London lads knew, or thought they knew,
a great deal about Alaska; for had not Serge Belcof-
sky, a young Russo-American from Sitka, attended one
of their schools for a whole year? He had come on an
Arctic whaler that had touched at Sitka on her homeward voyage. With an uncommon perseverance, and
a longing for a better education than he could obtain
at home, the lad had worked his way to New London on this whaler, had with infinite patience and self-
denial worked his way through a whole year of schooling, and was now working his way back towards his
distant home on a fishing-schooner that had been pur-
II 6
chased in New London by parties in Victoria, British
Columbia, for use on the Pacific coast.
During his whole year of schooling Serge Belcofsky
had been terribly homesick, and his intense longing
for his far-away northern home had made it seem to
him a veritable paradise. Thus from the outpourings
of his full heart the other boys had learned that, while
in certain portions of Alaska there were such things
as cold weather, ice, snow, fogs, and in summer-time
incredible swarms of the most blood-thirsty mosquitoes,
and other unpleasant features, these were almost unknown in Sitka, which was by far the loveliest spot
on the face of the earth.
There, according to Serge, for some reason not made
quite clear, though probably on account of the heat
from surrounding but perfectly harmless volcanoes,
perpetual summer reigned, flowers bloomed incessantly, and the woods, always green, were filled with the
most beautiful birds. Sitka itself was a great and
wonderful city, containing a castle, a cathedral, a fort,
a parade-ground for the troops always stationed
there, a battery of heavy guns, a governor's residence,
stately men-of-war in its harbor, Indians in its suburbs,
and a thousand other attractive features. Besides all
this, there were gold mines of fabulous richness on
every side; in fact, the lofty mountains rising just
back of the city were full of gold.
This last was the statement that the boys most
doubted until it was confirmed by Phil Ryder, who
happened to overhear both it and their incredulous exclamations. He knew, of course; for was not his father acquainted with all the gold mines in the world ?
and had he not even now gone out to set the seal of
his approval on those of Alaska ?
Phil did not know Serge Belcofsky very well; for
though the latter was of about his own age, he was so
^tigttnar!a;i.';«<;i:iigasg.-st5555a5C5gg ►
far behind in his studies as to be in a lower class, and
so infinitely removed from a fellow of the former's
high attainments. At the same time, as the young
Russo-American did not understand any of the games
played by the Yankee boys in whose company he found
himself, and was far too busy earning his daily bread
to learn them, the leading athlete and ball-player of
the school regarded him with a sort of pitying indifference. He did not altogether ignore him, and even on
occasions listened with the smiling indulgence of a superior to the young Sitkan's marvellous tales of his
native place.
For this, Serge, who regarded Phil with an admiration that almost amounted to reverence, was deeply
grateful, and when the young hero of the ball - field
went so far as to back up his most doubtful assertions,
and so establish them as truth beyond further question, his gratitude knew no bounds. In a vague effort
to express it, he ventured to present Phil with his most
valued possession—it was the ivory tooth of a fur-seal
exquisitely carved, that had been given to his father
many years before, as a token of highest esteem, by a
chief of Chilkat Indians — one of the most powerful
and warlike of Alaskan tribes.
Phil deigned to accept this gift, and even went so
far as to wear it attached to his watch-chain, to the unfeigned gratification of his sincere admirer and would-
be friend. Although Phil's watch was but an inexpensive one in a nickel case, and its chain was of steel, this
new ornament attracted so much attention from all
who happened to note it, that the lad at length began
to value it rather highly himself, and to study with interest the curious devices with which it was so beautifully carved.
Serge Belcofsky had departed early in the year,
and Alaska was lost sight of by most of the New London boys amid the throng of more immediate, and to
them important, interests that crowded thick and fast
into their lives. These were Billy Bow's birthday
party, the opening of the gymnasium, the launch of
the new yacht, theatricals for the library fund, the
last skating-match of the season, and a score of other
things demanding their undivided attention. Phil Ryder managed to take some part in all of these, though
he was by no means so active nor so much of a leader as formerly. That Alaska trip was to him a living
reality, and he was striving for it with all his might.
Some of the other fellows were provoked that he
should neglect sports, in which he had so excelled, for
the mere purpose of studying, while there was still so
much time left in which to attend to that.
% There are two whole months yet before graduation," argued Al Snyder one day, when he was vainly
endeavoring to persuade Phil to undertake the coaching of the nine. " Two whole months ! And yet here
you are grinding away as though examinations were to
begin to-morrow.    Catch me working like that!"
"Oh yes, you would," laughed Phil, "if you had
the prize held out to you that I have."
"Pshaw!" ejaculated Al. "You know you can go
on that trip no matter where you stand. Your governor only put it that way to try and make you work 3
jgauaajg  WINNING  THE   PRIZE
a little harder. It's just one of his tricks. They're all
up to them."
" It is nothing of the kind !" retorted Phil, hotly.
"And you don't know what you are talking about
when you speak in that way of my father. He never
said anything in his life that he didn't mean. If I am
inside of number five I'll go to Alaska, and if I'm not,
I won't. That's all there is about it. But I mean to
be inside, and as I can't make sure of that and watch
the nine at the same time, you see it is impossible for
me to do what you want."
So Phil stuck to his books, and all of a sudden there
came a letter from Mr. Ryder stating that, as his work
was drawing to a close sooner than he had expected, and
as he was more desirous than ever of having his son
visit the wonderful country in which he was located,
Phil might come out to him at once, without waiting
to graduate, provided he stood better than number
five in all his classes.
Here was a startling proposition! Did he stand better than five everywhere ? The boy rapidly ran over
his position in his several classes. He was within the
magic number everywhere except in mathematics, and
there he stood at exactly five.
"I could have stood better than five there too, if I
had not given my chance to hump-backed Jimmy, the
other day," he reflected, though he was too honorable
a fellow to even have hinted at such a thing: aloud.
He knew it, and he thought Jimmy himself knew it,
for he had seen a quick flush rise to the cripple's pale
cheek when it happened ; but he didn't believe any
one else did, nor did he intend they should. Still,
what could he do under the circumstances ? He was
not inside of number five in all of his classes.,
The struggle was too hard a one for the boy to make
alone, and he carried his perplexities to Mr. Blake, the 10
head-master of his school. After the latter had read
Mr. Ryder's letter, and listened attentively to Phil's
presentation of the facts, he laid his hand on the lad's
shoulder, and said,
"Phil, do you remember the sentiment with which
you headed your final composition of last year ?"
"Yes, sir," answered the boy ; "of course I do. My
father gave it to me, and I shall never forget it."
" What was its exact wording ?"
"' Regard honor as more precious than life itself ;
for without the former the latter is valueless,' " repeated Phil, in a low tone.
"You would hardly care to sacrifice your life for
the sake of this trip ?"
"No, sir, nor my honor either !" cried the lad, with
a brave tremble in his voice. " So, as I cannot say with
perfect truth that I am inside of number five in all
my studies, I will write to father to-night, and tell him
the proposed trip must be given up."
" Spoken like the honest, true - hearted Yankee lad
that you are, Phil Ryder!" exclaimed Mr. Blake,
grasping the boy's hand, and holding* it tightly clasped.
" Stick to that principle through life, and you will
have .mastered the secret of all true success. But let
us look into this matter a little further. I happen
to have noticed a private transaction between you and
lame Jimmy the other day. If you had not, as I believe purposely, made the same mistake that he did
you would have gone above him, and would now stand
number four instead of number five in geometry.
Now, on account of that I have a proposition to make.
While I am sorry not to have you graduate with your
class, I know that your father has good reasons for
wishing you to visit Alaska this summer, while with
you the desire to join him there is very great."
" Indeed it is, sir!"
" Well, then, if you will give me your word of honor not to divulge a word of their contents, I will place
the forthcoming examination papers of your class in
your hands. If you can satisfactorily answer ninety
per cent, of their questions, you will stand safely within the number named by your father, and I will give
you a certificate to that effect."
I Oh, thank you, sir!" cried Phil, with such a revulsion of feeling from deepest disappointment to
brightest hope, that even the sunset seemed suddenly
to have taken on a new and more radiant splendor.
" Of course I promise ! and, of course, I shall be only
too glad to try the examinations !"
" Very well," said Mr. Blake. I Come to my study
to - morrow evening directly after tea, and we will
make a beginning with English literature and Latin.
In the mean time don't mention to any one, excepting your aunt, what you are doing."
How thankful Phil was that he had so used his time
as to be able to approach this trial with confidence,
and how hard he did work during the next three days
in revising his studies of the previous year ! What
anxious minutes he spent at the conclusion of the
third evening of examination, while Mr. Blake looked
over and marked the last paper, the one in mathematics, that he had just handed in. *
" It's all right, Philip !" the head-master finally announced, " and I do most heartily congratulate you on
your success. This last paper brings your average up
to ninety-three per cent., which, as compared with the
class standings of the past ten years, lands you well
within the limit named by your father. I therefore
feel no hesitation in giving you that rank, and you
may, with a clear conscience, start on your journey
just as soon as your preparations can be made. Goodbye !    God bless you !    I trust you will have the glo-
r- ■ ; ^—^~1 THE   FUR-SEAL S  TOOTH
rious time you expect, and which you have so honestly
earned. I also hope that in the autumn you will return to us with a richly increased knowledge of our
great country, and particularly of that vast Northern
territory concerning which there is still so little general information."
If the last three days had been busy ones for Phil,
they had been equally so for his aunt Ruth, for in that
short time she had been compelled to do all the making ready and packing, for which she had expected to
have as many weeks. In these few days, during the
infrequent intervals that her nephew spared from his
studies, she felt it her duty to stock his mind with
stores of good advice and oft-repeated warnings against
his besetting fault. He listened with what patience
he could command, but finally laughingly declared that
it would be necessary for him to live at least a hundred years to put all her precepts into practice.
I Oh, but Phil !" she exclaimed, pausing in the packing of his trunk to emphasize her remarks, " you are so
young and so careless, and the journey before you is
so filled with terrible possibilities ! I declare I don't
know but that I ought to go along to take care of
"Nonsense, Aunt Rue !" retorted the young athlete,
at the same time picking up the slight figure of his
anxious relative and swinging her, ruffled and indignant, into his father's great leathern arm - chair ; " if
I'm not old enough and big enough now to take care
of myself, I never shall be. Of course I know that I
have been careless at times, and heedless, and all that.
I can assure you, though, that my careless days are
things of the past, and that hereafter no graybeard of
your acquaintance will afford a more perfect model of
prudence than your humble nephew. As for you !
well, the mere idea of a dear little thing like you wan-
iiimiUi&UW-WSgSgg- WINNING  THE   PRIZE 13
dering away out there among the Siwashes to protect
a fellow of my size is prodigiously absurd. It surely is."
" Absurd or not, Master Impudence, you'll see the
day more than once, before this trip is ended, that
you'll wish your old aunty was at hand with a little of
her common - sense to help you out of some reckless
scrape or other.    Mark my words, you will."
I All right, Aunt Rue, I'll mark down your words
as you suggest; mark 'em down to half-price. I'll
also make a note in my log-book of every time I get
stranded for want of your counsel. Then when the
cruise is over I promise to make a full confession, and
humbly beg for those chunks of wisdom that shall enable me to steer clear of all such rocks in the future."
I Get away with your foolishness, you young scapegrace !" cried Aunt Ruth, jumping down from the
arm-chair and attempting a box on Phil's ear, which
the boy skilfully dodged, as a preliminary to resuming
her packing.
At length all was in readiness, the last lingering
good-byes were spoken, and the boy was fairly launched
on his travels. All his young friends, and apparently
half the town besides, were assembled at the station to
see him set forth. His trunk was checked, he carried
an overcoat on his arm, in his hands were a stout travelling-bag, and in a canvas case the beautiful Winchester that had been his father's last birthday gift.
There was a grand shout of farewell from the fellows as the train finally moved out from the station,
and Phil answered it with a wave of his hat from the
rear platform of the last car. Then, going inside, he
sat down to reflect upon his glorious prospects, that
seemed to stretch away in a limitless haze of exciting
adventure and daring exploit. If he could have had
but one real glimpse of the varied hardships and bitter 14
experiences held by the immediate future, I am afraid
he would have shrunk from them as did the poor little
bear who found himself alone in the world with all his
troubles before him. Fortunately for our hero's peace
of mind, his vision was just as limited as is that of
every one of us, who can have no possible inkling of
what each coming day may bring forth. CHAPTER III
According to the plan laid out by Mr. Ryder, Phil
was to make his long journey across the continent
by the Canadian Pacific Railway, which not only offers
the most direct route to Victoria and a connection with
the Alaska steamers, but passes through some of the
grandest and most interesting scenery in America. Mr.
Ryder's letter contained explicit instructions concerning each step of the journey, and Phil had read these
over so often that he knew them by heart. It had also
contained a bank check for $200, which formed an
ample allowance for the proposed trip. In regard to
this Mr. Ryder had written : "Above all, my boy,
take care of your money, and never display it before
strangers. You know we are not wealthy people, and
though the sum enclosed is not a large one, its loss and
replacement would cause me a real inconvenience."
1 Of course I will take care of it," said Phil, when
he and his aunt Ruth read this paragraph over together, and she added her caution to that of his father.
" I may lose some other and less-important things now
and then, but money is something I'm likely to keep
a pretty solid grip on, and I'd like to meet the man
who'd dare try and take it from me."
Here the sturdy young fellow glared about him as
fiercely as though the room were filled with robbers,
with whom he should take the greatest pleasure in
trying conclusions.
In New London, Phil's ticket could only be pro- THE  FUR-SEAL'S  TOOTH
cured as far as Montreal, at which place he was to
purchase another that would take him to Victoria, check
his trunk to the same destination, and engage his sleeping-car berth as far as Vancouver. This latter city is
the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific, is situated on the mainland bordering Puget Sound, and is
seventy miles by water from Victoria, which is on the
island of Vancouver.
Before leaving home, Phil's money, in the shape of
bank-bills, was placed in the new alligator-skin pocket-
book which was Aunt Ruth's parting gift, and thrust
carefully into the young traveller's inside vest pocket.
There, in spite of his remonstrances, his aunt fastened
it securely with two stout safety-pins.
Phil had taken the journey to Montreal so often with
his father that he felt entirely at home in the Canadian
metropolis, and knew just what to do when he reached
there early on the following morning after leaving
New London. With quite the air of an old traveller,
and a slight feeling of contempt for the fluttering anxiety of those who were about to undergo their first
experience with customs officers, he handed both his
check and the key of his trunk to the Windsor Hotel
porter, requested him to send the trunk to the Canadian Pacific station after it should have been examined, and stepped into the waiting hotel 'bus, with his
mind relieved of all further anxiety concerning that
portion of the business. As the overland train would
not leave until evening, he now had the whole day before him, and was consequently free from hurry or
worry of any kind.
After a capital breakfast, to which he devoted an
hour of his ample leisure, he strolled into the great
rotunda. Here he wrote a note to his aunt Ruth on
the hotel paper, and felt imposed upon by being obliged
to pay three cents for a Canadian stamp with which AN  UNDESIRABLE   ACQUAINTANCE
to send a letter out of the country, into which a two-
cent American stamp would bring it. This was so
clearly an extravagance that Phil decided to deny himself the luxury of letter-writing until he should come
once more within the lines of the United States mail-
service. Having settled upon this plan for saving
money, he purchased a silver souvenir spoon, the handle
of which was surmounted by the Canadian beaver, and
mailed it, together with his letter, to his aunt Ruth.
Phil argued that though this might appear extravagant, it really was not; for in return for all her kindness he owed something to his dear aunt, whose hobby
was the collecting of souvenir spoons. Besides, if he
neglected this opportunity for the securing of one of
those beaver spoons, he probably would not meet with
This transaction had hardly been finished when the
hotel porter, with a touch of the hat that drew a quarter from Phil's pocket, handed him the key of his trunk,
and announced that it awaited him in the Canadian
Pacific station. So Phil strolled down to the superb
building that rears its massive granite front like that
of a mediaeval castle a short distance below the Windsor, bought his ticket, and checked his trunk to Victoria. Then, for twenty dollars more, he engaged a
lower berth in a sleeping-car that would run to Vancouver without change.
These expenditures reduced his available cash to a
one-hundred-dollar bill and a twenty. As the latter
would be needed for meals, etc., en route, he tucked it
into a vest pocket, but the larger bill he restored to his
pocket-book, which now looked so flat it was hard to
realize it was not empty.
While he was struggling to recommit this to the
security of its safety-pins, and the sleeping-car clerk
was watching him with a slight smile that caused the 18
lad's face to flush, he became conscious that a young
fellow, apparently a few years older than himself, was
standing near, and regarding his precautions for securing his money with something very like a sneer.
Instantly Phil was seized with a hot indignation,
under the impulse of which he blurted out, 1 Well,
sir! I trust that I afford you sufficient amusement to
excuse your rudeness."
I Excuse me," said the young man. " Were you addressing me ? I am glad you spoke, for I see by your
ticket that we are to be travelling companions together
across the continent. My name is Goldollar—Simon
Goldollar—and I am from New York. I presume you
also are from the States ?"
Completely disarmed by this polite speech, and feeling heartily ashamed of his own, Phil accepted the
stranger's advances, and allowed himself to be drawn
into a conversation. At the same time he was not at
all prepossessed by the other's appearance or manner.
Still, he reflected that if they were to be shut up in the
same car together for the next live or six days, it would
be much plea'santer that they should be on friendly
terms than otherwise. So he told Mr. Simon Goldollar his own name, confided to him that he was on his
way to Alaska, and they walked out of the station together.
" Going to Alaska, are you ?" asked the stranger.
" Taking the regular tourist trip, I suppose ?"
II don't know what the regular trip is," answered
Phil.    11 am going as far as Sitka."
" Oh yes, just to the edge of Alaska, and then you'll
come away thinking that you know it all, like the rest
of the tourists. If you'd studied the country as I have,
you'd realize that Alaska is a mighty big place, and
that you must spend months and thousands of dollars
in travelling over it before you know much about it." AN  UNDESIRABLE  ACQUAINTANCE
" Have you done that ?" asked Phil, simply.
" Well, no, not exactly ; but I'm expecting to in the
near future—that is," he added, with a slight air of
confusion, "I have particular reasons for wishing to
take the trip, and if things work out all right I hope
to be able to do it. By-the-way, I suppose you've laid
in your supply of hardware ?"
1 Hardware ?" repeated Phil, in a puzzled tone.
I Yes ; wet goods, you know. Montreal's the very
best place for providing the stock."
II can't imagine what you mean."
Again a slight sneer flitted across Mr. Simon Goldol-
lar's face as he explained that "hardware" and "wet
goods" were but polite terms for liquor, with a flask
of which every " travelling gent" should provide himself before going aboard a train.
11 don't see why liquor should be more necessary on
board a train than anywhere else," said Phil.
"Nor I," replied Simon Goldollar; "for to me it's
just as necessary in one place as another."
1 And as I am not a i travelling gent,'" continued
Phil, I and have never touched liquor in my life, and
don't ever intend to, I can't see why I should provide
myself with a flask of it."
" How about being ready for your friends ?"
" I am always ready for my friends, and glad to see
them, and willing to treat them to the best of everything I may happen to have ; but none of my friends
have any more use for liquor than I have."
I You and your friends must be a precious spooney
lot," muttered Simon Goldollar to himself; but aloud
he said : " Oh, well, you are young yet, and not rid of
your Yankee notions. Wait till you've been out on
the coast a few months, and you'll sing a different
II guess not," replied Phil, stoutly.   I For I'm sing- 20
ing the same tune now that my father sings, and he
has been out on the \ coast,' as you call it, for a good
many years, off and on."
" Well, you must admit thavt it's a mighty good
medicine to have along, and a fine thing for sickness."
" Yes," replied the lad, dryly; " I have often heard
my father say that liquor was one of the best things
in the world for sickness ; but that he would rather
not be made sick in that way."
" I suppose your father doesn't smoke either ?"
1 Oh yes he does ; he smokes a cigar every evening
after dinner."
1 Then of course you follow his example, and do the
same thing ?"
I Then of course I do nothing of the kind. I don't
know what I may do when I become twenty-one years
of age ; but I gave him my promise long ago never to
smoke even a cigarette until that time. Besides, I'm
on a football team, and a fellow who smoked would be
fired out of that quick enough, I can tell you. Now, as
we are at my hotel, I think I will go in and write some
Phil said this with the hope of shaking off the companion whose presence was anything but agreeable to
him ; but the other remarked :
Oh ! you put up at the swell hotel, do you ?  Well,
I guess I'll go in and write a letter too."
"I didn't know you were stopping here. I didn't
see you at breakfast," said Phil.
"No, nor you won't see me at dinner, either, unless
some of my friends happen to give me an invite. All
the same, I write my letters to the firm from here, and
send in my expense bills from here. That's the only
way to make money on the road nowadays. Charge
up first-class hotel prices, live at restaurants, and pocket
the difference.    See?   That is the reason I'm going AN UNDESIRABLE  ACQUAINTANCE
West by this route, too," continued Simon Goldollar,
who seemed anxious to show off his smartness before
this new and evidently very verdant acquaintance.
" The scheme is to charge up the highest possible railroad fares, and travel on scalped tickets. Oh, it's a
great racket! and the sooner you get onto it the better
for your pocket-book."
P Thank you," answered Phil, in a tone that expressed as much of disgust as he could throw into it.
" Whenever I find it necessary to make my Irving' by
turning \ road -agent,' which is what I suppose you
mean by 'going on the road,' I will remember your
advice ; but now you really must excuse me if I leave
you for a while."
With this, and without giving the other a chance to
reply, the lad turned and left the hotel. He took a
long walk through the city, and when he returned for
dinner was thankful to find no trace of his late companion. "I've almost a mind to stop over and take tomorrow's train in order to avoid him," he said to himself ; but reflecting that this would be cowardly as well
as extravagant, he decided to adhere to his original
plan. |t2H;gagtHtifiri
In his journeyings thus far it may have been remarked that our careless hero had been a model of
prudence and forethought. About this time, however, his old habits began to assert themselves. Thus,
before the end of the first day out from Montreal his
belongings were so scattered from one end of the
sleeping-car to the other, that its good-natured black
porter was kept constantly on the alert gathering
them up and restoring them to their owner. At the
same time, by his cheerful disposition and obliging
manners the young fellow made himself a universal
favorite. Especially was this the case with the weary
mothers, whose restless children he was always ready
to amuse and entertain.
To these children the quaintly carved tooth that
dangled from his watch-chain was a source of never-
failing delight. It was also considered a great curiosity,
and examined with interest by the older passengers,
while Simon Goldollar, who managed to maintain an
appearance of intimacy with its owner, asked many
questions concerning it. "Was it not a witch charm ?
Did its engraved figures represent totems?" etc., to all
of which Phil had to plead ignorance.
One day he detached it from its chain to give it to
a fretful baby as a plaything. At the same time he
gave his watch to another child. Then, attracted by
a bit of scenery that was best visible from the smoking-
room at the rear end of the car, he went off and forgot
all about them.
A few hours later one mother returned his watch to
him; while the other said that, after her infant had
nearly choked himself in trying to swallow the fur-
seal's tooth, she had taken it from him and laid it on
the window-sill of Phil's seat. In the mean time the
berths had been made up for the night, and it was
nowhere to be seen. Its owner good-naturedly said,
"No matter, it will turn up again somewhere," and
thought no more about it until the next day. Then a
vigorous search was instituted for the missing trinket,
but with no avail. It was not to be found, nor was it
again seen during the remainder of the journey.
Phil felt badly over the loss of the fur-seal's tooth,
because the universal interest it had excited led him
to believe it more valuable than he had at first supposed. Also because of Serge Belcofsky, of whom it
had been a constant reminder, and whose good qualities grew more and more apparent to our hero with the
lapse of time and distance. He wondered if any one
could have stolen the bit of carved ivory ; but being
of a singularly honest and unsuspicious nature, he dismissed this thought almost before it was formed.
So the eventful journey wore on, with each day more
full of strange and wonderful interest than its predecessor. The scenery of the first day was an almost
unbroken forest with queer settlements at wide intervals. It was rather monotonous, and to beguile the
time Simon Goldollar induced Phil to join him and
two others in a game of cards. The lad did not care
much for the game, and only entered it rather than
appear ill-natured or disobliging. When at the end of
an hour he expressed a wish to withdraw, Simon Goldollar informed him that he could do so upon payment
of the two dollars he had lost, as they had been play- 24
ing for a shilling a point. At this Phil sprang from
his seat in a sudden fury.
| So you are a gambler, are you ! And I have been
led blindfolded into your trap !" he cried. " Very
well, sir ; there is your wretched money ; and now, if
you ever mention cards to me again, or in fact if you
dare speak to me on any subject, I will knock you
down." With this the lad flung two silver dollars
upon the table and left the room, almost choked with
the tumult of his feelings.
He heard Goldollar's sneering laugh and his remark
of " Pretty loud crowing for a bantam, eh ?" and he
heard one of the other men say something about its
being too bad; but he did not wait for anything more.
Afterwards both the strangers apologized to him for
their apparent share in the deception, saying that Goldollar had told them before the game began that it
was understood by all they were to play for money.
The author of this unpleasant scene did not, however,
see fit to offer any apology for his share in it, nor did
he and Phil exchange aught save black looks for several days.
Our lad was too manly a fellow to allow an incident
of this kind to affect him for long, and he was soon enjoying the trip as keenly as ever.
The second day was passed amid the rugged scenery of Thunder Bay and the northern shores of Lake
Superior, greatest of fresh-water seas. It was followed by their arrival in the early morning of the
third day at Winnipeg, the old Fort Garry of fur-
trading times. This fort had played so conspicuous a
part in the stories of Phil's boyhood that he gazed
about him on all sides with an eager interest, and was
disappointed to find the Hudson Bay Company's* post
of romance grown into a fair and wide-spread city.
Here, with the crossing of the Red River, the forest
TffitTHRH'aatftatcfcntti ACROSS  THE  CONTINENT
country ended, and the treeless plains of Manitoba,
once the range of countless buffalo, but now one of
the greatest wheat regions of the world, began. As
the train rushed across the vast breezy levels at an
accelerated speed the far-reaching view with its myriad
objects of interest was exhilarating in the extreme, and
Phil gazed upon it for the greater part of two days
without a trace of weariness. Here were old buffalo
trails and wallows; there a fleeing band of antelope
or a skulking coyote. Now a party of mounted Black-
feet in all the bravery of savage decoration would
dash up to some little station at which the train was
stopping. A few minutes later it would whirl past a
cluster of their tepees looking exactly like the pictures of Indian camps he had pored over so often in
his books. He saw cowboys, too, and great herds of
cattle. He saw a vast wheat ranch, containing one
hundred square miles of land, divided into fields of
such size that in them the ploughing of a single furrow
was a day's wTork for a man and team.
At length, during the morning of the fourth day,
soon after leaving the brisk little city of Calgary, Phil
caught a glimpse, far ahead, of something that caused
him to rub his eyes and look again. It was high up
and of dazzling whiteness. It could not be a cloud.
No, it must be snow. Yes, it actually was a snowcapped peak of the Rocky Mountains. As the discovery burst upon him in all its magnitude Phil
uttered a shout of delighted wonder that attracted
the attention of every one in the car, and all the passengers crowded to the windows to look.
From this on all was excitement, which, as the wondrous panorama of glistening peaks was unfolded and
uplifted, until finally the train plunged into their very
midst, increased with each moment. Now an open
observation-car was attached to the train, and as it OUT. t?ri "fHHH™ "*"
sped up the narrow valley of the crystal Bow, the
ever-changing and ever-fascinating view was unob-
structed. On they hurried, past Banff, with its sky-
piercing peaks, its boiling springs, and its stately hotel;
and past Laggan, the point of departure on horseback
for the marvellously beautiful lakes of the clouds.
Ten miles further on the Great Divide was crossed,
and with a thrill our young traveller realized that the
rivulet flowing beside the track was the head-waters
of the Kicking Horse, a tributary of the mighty Columbia, and the first Pacific waters he had ever seen.
From here, for a hundred miles down the western
slope of the Rockies, and over the majestic Selkirk
Range, the scenery was so indescribably grand, so
filled with lofty mountain peaks, fathomless gorges,
gleaming glaciers, and foaming cataracts, that no
words can tell of it, and even the enthusiasts of the
observation-car were awed into silence. As for Phil
Ryder, who had never even imagined anything so
marvellous, he sat and gazed alone, and with swelling
heart, at the wonders unfolded by each succeeding
moment. The majesty of that day's scenery was so
overpowering that he was actually glad when night
came and hid it from his wearied eyes.
On the following day, which was to be his last on
the train, the strange grandeur of the mighty Fraser
Canon was almost as bewildering as that of the mountains already left behind, and the lad drew a long sigh
of relief when the train finally emerged from it, and
entered the comparatively level country that stretched
away to the western ocean.
At one pretty little station where the train stopped
for dinner, Phil, having exhausted his change, was
obliged to take the one-hundred-dollar bill from his
securely hidden pocket-book. Simon Goldollar watched
him, and when, in the haste of departure, the iad thrust   ACROSS  THE  CONTINENT
both his wallet and the wad of bills he had just received in change into one of the pockets of his overcoat, instead of putting it into the place where his
treasure had been kept, the former noted this action
also. A minute later the overcoat was carelessly flung
into a seat of the sleeper, while its young owner joined
a group of passengers who had called to him from one
end of the car.
At the last stop before reaching Vancouver, Simon
Goldollar approached Phil, who was walking beyond
the end of the platform. "Let's make up and be
friends," he said, extending his hand. 11 don't bear
no hard feelings, and to prove it I'll put you onto a
big scheme by which you can double your money in
no time. Buy opium in Victoria, run it into Alaska,
I Mr. Simon Goldollar," interrupted Phil, regarding
the other with blazing eyes, "I once said that if you
ever spoke to me again I would knock you down, and
I never go back on my word."
With this the young athlete stepped forward with so
threatening and determined an aspect, that Mr. Simon
Goldollar, with one terrified glance, sought safety in
precipitate flight, nor did he pause until he had gained
the shelter of the train. :--a-Trilamnamgi;<iafc
"It doesn't seem exactly the thing to frighten a fellow
half to death just when he is making friendly advances
to you," reflected Phil, as he watched the flying figure
of Mr. Goldollar, "but what else could I do ? I had
to try and keep my promise. Besides, how dared he
to insult me with such a proposal ? The idea of suggesting that I should turn smuggler !" At this thought
the lad's blood boiled with such indignation that he
felt inclined to follow Mr. Goldollar, and still further
impress upon him the lesson he had just received. Before he could carry out this intention, however, the
train started, and he was obliged to let well enough
alone, at least for the present.
As for Mr. Simon Goldollar, his feelings had received
a much greater hurt than that with which his body
had been threatened, and as he slipped into a seat in the
smoking-car, as far as possible from the one occupied
by Phil, his dark features were distorted with rage.
I'll pay you for this outrage, very suddenly and
with compound interest, you canting young hypocrite
you II he muttered, at the same time shaking his fist
vaguely in the direction of the sturdy lad, against
whom in a fair fight he would have stood no better
chance than an infant. He did not re-enter the sleeper
until after the train reached Vancouver, so that Phil
did not see him again, and wondered without much
caring whether he had not been left behind.
During the last few miles of that eventful overland
journey Phil was so busy gathering up his belongings,
repacking his bag, and bidding farewell to those of his
fellow-passengers who were to stop in Vancouver, that
he forgot all about the scenery. Consequently when
the train stopped for the last time, and the porter
called out: j Vancouver! Change here for Victoria,
Japan, and China!" it seemed incredible that the
sparkling waters visible through the car window could
be those of the Pacific Ocean.
They were, though, or rather they were the waters
of Burrard Inlet, an arm of Puget Sound, on which
the new but rapidly growing city of Vancouver is
located. Just across the wharf, at one side of which
the train had stopped, lay a great white clipper-bowed
steamship, bearing the name in letters of gold Empress of India. She was one of the fleet of superb
ocean flyers that form the Canadian Pacific's connecting link between America and Asia. The mere sight
of this beautiful ship, and of the Japanese stewards
and cabin-boys clustered on her snowy decks, made
Phil feel as though he had indeed joined the great
army of "globe-trotters."
There was but scant timeJthough,Mor romantic
reveries concerning the Orient, for near the Empress
lay the Premier, another though much smaller white
steamer, waiting to convey to Victoria such passengers
and mail as the train had brought.
This boat had hardly left the wharf, with Phil comfortably seated on deck, his bag and gun beside him,
and his overcoat lying across his knees, before the excitable lad sprang to his feet and ran to the opposite
side. He had caught a glimpse as the steamer swung
of what he believed to be a canoe. Yes! it was—a
genuine Haida dugout with projecting beaklike prow,
and an Indian crew who were wielding queer-looking
sharp-pointed paddles.    It was precisely like the pict- •iftttf^sj^tji
^*t*rti**: ■"••**?*■■
ures in books of British- Columbian travel, and Phil recalled at once that it was fashioned out of one of the
huge straight-grained logs of yellow cedar that are
only found on that coast. He remembered, too, that
after it had been laboriously hollowed out, and shaped
with fire, adze, and hatchet, it was steamed by means
of hot stones and boiling water, until its sides could
be flared out so as to give it beam and stability. They
are held in this position by means of crossbars ; but
the process renders the wood so liable to split if exposed for any length of time to a hot sun, that when
hauled up on a beach the canoe must be entirely covered with mats or blankets, and while in use water
must every now and then be dashed over its sides to
keep them damp.
While Phil was watching this canoe, and wishing
he were in it instead of on board a prosaic every-day
steamer, a gentleman approached him holding something in his hand, and saying, " I believe this is yours ?"
It was a pocket-book.
"I don't think it can be mine, sir," began Phil,
politely, at the same time clapping a hand to the
side where he was accustomed to feel every now and
then for his precious money. An expression of comical dismay overspread his face. 1 Good gracious !
yes it is, too!" he cried, extending his hand for his
11 thought it must be," replied the gentleman, with
a smile, " for I saw it drop from your overcoat as you
left your seat to come to this side of the boat. It
seems to me, though, that an overcoat is hardly the
proper place for carrying a pocket-book. One is so apt
to leave it lying round."
"That is just what I think, sir," answered Phil, with
a laughably rueful expression of countenance. "I
didn't mean to leave it there, I can assure you, and
didn't know that I had. The sleeping-car porter picked
it up from the floor while I was doing up my things,
and as I had my overcoat on I just stuck it into one of
the pockets for a second, meaning to place it where it
belonged directly afterwards. Then we got in, and
with the confusion I forgot all about it. But I will
put it away safe enough now, and I am awfully obliged
to you, sir, for I couldn't well afford to lose what it
Thus saying, Phil restored the wallet that his carelessness had so nearly lost to his inner vest pocket, and
after a prolonged struggle succeeded in securing it
there with his aunt Ruth's trusty safety-pins.
The gentleman watched this proceeding with an
amused smile, but with words of commendation for 32
the safety-pin plan. "I am glad to see," he said,
" that you are, after all, an unusually prudent and careful lad, for I feared you might be one of the heedless
tribe, and might thereby get into trouble. May I inquire if you are going to stop in Victoria ?"
" Only until the Alaska steamer comes along," answered Phil. " I am on my way to Sitka, where I am
to join my father."
"Indeed!" exclaimed the stranger. "Then we shall
see a great deal of each other, for I, too, am on my
way to Sitka. In fact, that is my home. If you will
allow me, I will hand you my card."
On the card which Phil thus received and then
thrust into a pocket of his own card-case was engraved
simply " Mr. Arthur Ames," and of course the lad had
no means of knowing that his new acquaintance was
one of the most eminent and best-known men in the
whole Northwest. As he handed out his own card in
return, Mr. Ames said: "I wondered if I should not
know your father, and now I see that I do. That is,
if he is Mr. John Ryder, the mining expert."
" Yes, sir, that is his name," replied Phil, delighted
at this recognition.
"Then I am doubly glad to make your acquaintance,
Mr. Ryder, and am obliged to the fortunate incident
of the pocket-book that led to it."
Phil was greatly pleased with this new friend, who
was able to point out everything of interest, and was
possessed of such stores of information concerning
Alaska, that the lad looked forward with pleasing anticipations to travelling in his company.
It was long after dark before the electric lights of
Victoria were sighted, and Phil expressed disappointment that he could see nothing of the city.
"You will have plenty of time to-morrow," suggested Mr. Ames, "for our steamer is not due to ar- FIVE  BULL S-EYES  IN SIX  SHOTS
rive here from Port Town send until about this time
to-morrow evening, and she will remain here an hour
or so after getting in. So you will have an opportunity to visit Beacon Hill Park, Dunsmuir Castle, the
museum, and go out to 'Squimault as well. I wish I
might act as your guide to the city, but I cannot, and
shall not even see you at your hotel, as I must stay at
the house of a friend, with whom I have an amount of
important business to transact that will occupy every
moment until the steamer leaves. After that we shall
see a great deal of each other, I trust."
1 Indeed I hope we shall, sir," replied Phil, heartily*
as he mentally contrasted this new travelling acquaintance with the one made in Montreal.
" By-the-way," continued Mr. Ames, j if you have a
trunk, and care to intrust your check to me, I will have
it put aboard the Alaska steamer with mine, and will
guarantee its safe delivery in Sitka. By that means
you will be saved a tedious trip down to the outer
wharf to-morrow, and will gain at least two hours
of extra time for sight-seeing."
The stranger had already inspired our hero with
such perfect confidence that he handed him his trunk
check without the slightest hesitation, at the same time
expressing his gratitude for the kindness thus shown
A few minutes later the Premier was made fast to
her wharf at the inner end of a tiny but perfectly protected harbor, at the head of which stands the capital
of British Columbia. Here the newly made acquaintances parted, with promises of again meeting on the
following evening. Mr. Ames was driven away to the
house of his friend, while Phil took a carriage for the
Driard, the hotel at which his father had instructed
him to stop so long as he remained in Victoria. Here
he found a letter from Sitka, that had been brought 34
down by the last steamer. It was such a loving epistle, and was so filled with the joyful anticipations of a
speedy meeting, that Phil was moved to sit down and
answer it at once, regardless of the fact that his reply
could only reach its destination by the same steamer
on which he expected to travel.
Having thus got himself into the mood for writing,
Phil also indited a long letter, descriptive of his journey
thus far, to his aunt Ruth. In this he made the triumphant assertion that his pocket-book was still securely
fastened in its proper place by the safety-pins to whose
sturdy clasp she had intrusted it, and that up to date
he had not lost a single thing. In making this assertion the boastful lad entirely forgot the fur-seal's
tooth, though he was soon to have ample cause to remember it.
Both these letters being mailed in the hotel box before he went to bed, Phil slept the sleep of him who
has a clear conscience, and awoke the next morning as
light-hearted and happy a lad as could be found in all
British Columbia. After breakfast he took a stroll
down Government Street and into the Chinese quarter,
with the queer sights of which he was intensely amused
and interested.
On his way back he stopped for a few minutes in a
rifle gallery that presented an open front to the street.
Here he was tempted by the bad marksmanship displayed by a group of sailors to show them a bit of
Yankee shooting, and was lucky enough to make five
bull's-eyes in succession out of six shots. This performance was greeted by a round of hearty cheers
from the sailors, and these were repeated when Phil
distributed among them the prize of cigars by which
his skill was rewarded.
In the afternoon he rode by electric car out to Esqui-
mault, or 9jSquim&ult, as the splendidly fortified harbor   FIVE  BULL S-EYES IN  SIX  SHOTS
and British naval station of the Pacific coast is called.
Here he went on board the Poyal Arthur, one of the
finest cruisers in her Majesty's navy, and was shown
all over the ship by a marine especially detailed for
that purpose. Then he made the acquaintance of a
middy, who invited him to dine with the steerage
mess, and he had altogether such a fine time that the
sun set long before he thought it ought to, and it was
dark before he finally returned to his hotel.
Learning, by inquiry, that the Alaskan steamer was
in, and that he had barely time to catch her, he ordered a cab to be in readiness, rushed up-stairs for his
things, and then back again to the office, where it only
remained for him to pay his bill and be off. CHAPTER VI
As Phil stood in front of the hotel desk striving to
unclasp the bewildering safety-pins that held his pock
et-book so firmly a heavy hand was laid on his shoulder, and a stern voice asked if he was Philip Ryder.
"Yes, that is my name," replied Phil, looking around
" Very well," said the owner of the voice; " then I
shall have to ask you to come with me."
" I haven't time," replied the lad, " and, besides, I
wouldn't go anywhere in a strange city at this hour of
night with a person whom I do not know."
"I guess you'll come,"retorted the man,with a grim
smile, " when I inform you that I am an officer with a
warrant for your arrest, and that you are wanted at the
central police station."
" Nonsense !" cried Phil, stoutly; " you've made
some mistake and got hold of the wrong party. I
haven't done anything to be arrested for. I'm an
American citizen on my way to Alaska, and I've only
barely time to catch the steamer now. So I must request you not to detain me any longer with this foolishness, or you may have cause to regret having d^z^e,
" I'll risk it," was the self-contained reply, " and I
doubt very much if you will start for Alaska to-night,
or for some nights to come.  You know me," he added
turning to the hotel clerk, who was regarding this
scene as coolly as though it were nothing unusual to
him, and as though the heart of the lad who a minute
before had been so buoyant with hope and happiness
were not near to breaking with an undefined agony of
" Yes, I know you," answered the clerk, I and whatever you do is all right. You'd better go with him
quietly," he added, turning to Phil, " for it won't do
you any good to make a kick."
1 But what am I arrested for ?" cried Phil, with one
more despairing effort to solve this horrible mystery.
" Of what crime am I accused, and who is my accuser ?"
"It is not my business to say," replied the officer,
" but under the circumstances I don't mind telling
you that the charge is an attempt at felonious assault,
and that the complainant's name is Goldollar."
"Oh !" gasped Phil, as this light was thrown upon
the situation. And then, eagerly, I But I can explain
all that in a minute."
" Not here," said the officer ; 1 this is neither the
time nor the place. You must come with me, and at
once too," he added, sternly, as he glanced at the little
group of curious spectators gathering in the hotel office. "Now don't try to resist or make a scene, for it
won't do the slightest good, and will only get you into
further trouble."
So Phil Ryder went out into the night a friendless
prisoner in a strange city, leaving his travelling-bag,
rifle, and overcoat behind him, the clerk remarking
significantly that he would take good care of them
until they should be called for.
No word was spoken between the officer and his
prisoner as they passed through the brilliantly lighted
streets until they finally reached the police station, and
the latter stood before the sergeant's desk, behind
which that functionary was prepared, pen in hand, to i
ii i ■
enter a record of this case in his blotter. Then a torrent of words sprang to Phil's lips. He told his story
with such evident honesty and pleading anguish of soul
that even the grizzled sergeant, accustomed as he was
to scenes of this kind, was moved by it. "It does seem
hard," he said, when Phil paused, more for want of
breath than anything else," that a young gent like you
should be compelled to pass a night in the cooler. If
you had any one to go on your bail now, we might
get the justice to give you a private examination, late
as it is, and perhaps he'd accept a bond for the night."
" But I haven't. I don't know a soul in the city,"
answered Phil, despondently. " How much do you
think the bail would be ?" he asked, with a sudden inspiration.
I Oh, I don't know- Maybe not more than a hundred or so."
" I have that much right here with me !" cried Phil,
eagerly, " and I'd gladly give every cent of it rather
than pass a night in a cell. That would be too awful,
and it doesn't seem as though I could bear it."
If Let us see your money," said the sergeant, with a
caution bred of long experience.
With eager but trembling fingers Phil fumbled at
the hateful safety-pins that seemed determined never
to relax their hold of his pocket-book. At length he
drew it forth, and opened it with an air of anxious triumph. At least one of his assertions was about to be
proved true.
Suddenly his face turned to a deathly pallor. The
empty wallet, in which no bill remained, dropped from
his nerveless grasp, and he clutched wildly at the rail
of the sergeant's desk for support.
"I have been robbed!" he gasped. "Robbed of
every cent I had in the world. What shall I do?
What shall I do ?"
affraBggfflEBggagssa phil's sad predicament
The sergeant and officer exchanged significant
glances, and for a few minutes only the ticking of a
big clock and the boy's panting breathing that closely
resembled sobbing broke the painful stillness.
"You certainly seem to be playing to hard luck,
young fellow," remarked the sergeant at length, " and I
don't mind saying that I'm sorry for you. You appear
to be an honest, well-meaning sort of a chap, too. Now,
I'll tell you what I'll do. Though appearances are often
deceitful and I've been misled by them a many times,
I'm going to trust 'em once more. , So, if you'll give
me your word not to make any disturbance, nor the
slightest effort to escape, I'll let you occupy my room,
where you'll find a bed that is fairly comfortable. You
can spend the night there, and it will be better than
being locked up in a cell, anyway. Maybe in the
morning something will turn up that will straighten
matters out for you."
Phil's gratitude for this favor was expressed more
by looks than by words, though he did manage to give
the required promise.
Then he was shown into a small bare room, where,
flinging himself face downward on a little iron bedstead that stood in one corner, he lay for a long time
motionless and apparently unconscious. At length he
began once more to think, but his thoughts were of the
most gloomy and despairing nature. Was ever a fellow in such a scrape ? What should he do ? Was there
any way in which he could get out of it ? He could
not communicate with his father, for the steamer must
already have left. He had no friends in Victoria. He
had no money. No money! For the first time in his
life Phil realized the full horror of being absolutely
penniless. He had not even money to buy breakfast
with in case he should be set free on the following day.
Perhaps a prison would prove his only refuge after all. 40
Where could that money have gone to, though ?
Some one must have taken it; but who, and when ?
It wouldn't have been Mr. Ames, of course; nor the
porter of the sleeping-car. No; his very face was a
guarantee of honesty. Could it have been Simon Goldollar ? It must have been; he was just the mean, low-
down fellow who would do such a thing; still, what
chance had he had ? Phil couldn't remember that he
had had any. Still, the money must have been taken
by some one, and while the pocket-book was in some
other place than the one provided for it by his aunt
Ruth, too. Oh, why had he forgotten her warnings
and neglected her advice ! Dear Aunt Ruth ! How
much better she knew him than he knew himself.
Well, this was a lesson that should last him his life
time. Never again would he get into such a scrape
through carelessness.    Never!
At length the unhappy boy fell asleep, and when he
awoke it was daylight. An officer brought him a bowl
of strong black coffee and a plain but plentiful breakfast of porridge. Phil drank the coffee, but could not
eat. Then he waited, pale with anxiety, for the unknown fate in store for him. After a while he was
summoned outside and conducted to a court-room.
There he was placed in the prisoners' dock, together
with the previous night's occupants of the station-
house cells, men and women. He shrank as far as
possible from contact with them, and they jeered at
him. His case was one of the first called, but as no
one appeared against him he was ordered to step aside
and wait awhile longer.
Finally, last of all, Phil's turn came again.
" What is the charge against this prisoner ?" demanded the judge.
" It is a case of assault, your Honor," answered the
officer who had made the arrest.
" Let me look at the warrant. H'm, yes. Well, is
the complainant Goldollar here in person, or represented by counsel ?"
To this no one made reply, but another officer whispered something to the judge.
" H'm ! Left the city, has he, without making arrangements to press the charge ? Very well, then, the
case is dismissed. You may go, young man, but I warn
you that you have had a narrow escape, a very narrow
escape, and you had better never let me see you here
A minute later poor bewildered Phil found himself
out in the sunlight, once more free to go where he
pleased and do what he liked. For a few blocks he
walked mechanically, without taking note of where he
was going. Then, with a forlorn hope that the steamer might still be waiting, he directed his steps towards
the outer wharf. The walk was a long one, and at its end
his worst fears were confirmed. The Alaskan steamer
had indeed come in, and gone out again during the
night. There would not be another for at least ten days.
His trunk had gone, too, as he discovered by finding a
porter who distinctly remembered seeing one marked
" Philip Ryder, Sitka, Alaska," put aboard the ship.
Mr. Ames—Judge Ames, they called him—had also
departed for his northern home, as several persons
could testify.
Now not a shred of hope was left. What would Mr.
Ryder think, and what would he do when the steamer
arrived in Sitka without the son for whom he was so
anxiously watching? He was certain to meet Judge
Ames and to see the trunk. How terrible would be
his anxiety! Would he come to Victoria by return
steamer in search of his boy, or would he wait for
news of him by the next boat ? In the former case
he could not possibly get here in less than two weeks, 42
and perhaps not so soon. At any rate Phil was thrown
upon his own resources for many days to come, and
during that time how should he obtain food and lodging ?
While vaguely trying to form some plan, he walked
slowly back into the city, blind to the beauty of the
day, deaf to the singing of birds, and careless of the
scent of myriads of flowers which form so beautiful
and striking a feature of this far western city. Here
was the situation with which this story opens and to
which we have been so long in coming.
Hardly noticing the direction of his footsteps, Phil
reached Government Street, and walked slowly down
that busy thoroughfare. Suddenly there came a quick
footfall behind him, a hand was clapped on his shoulder, and a hearty friendly voice exclaimed," Is it Philip Ryder or his ghost ? Why, old fellow! what on
earth are you doing here ?"
The poor lad's heart gave a great throb of gratitude
as he turned and found himself face to face with Serge
Belcofsky. CHAPTER VII
The meeting of Phil Ryder and Serge Belcofsky,
who had parted months before in far-away New London, and who now so unexpectedly ran across each
other in the busiest street of the westernmost city of
the continent, was one of the happiest that ever took
place in Victoria. Phil was so overcome by it that for
a moment his voice failed him, and he could only hold
his friend's hand in both of his, and gaze at him as
though fearful that he might vanish as suddenly as he
had appeared.
1 Serge, old man," he said at length, " you have come
to me like an angel from heaven, for never in my life
have I needed a friend as at this very minute. I never
half appreciated you before, but you may be certain
that I do now. Oh, my dear fellow! if you could only
know one part of how glad I am to see you !"
" Why, what is the matter ?" inquired Serge, anxiously. " Are you in trouble ? Is there anything I
can do to help you ? How do you happen to be here
of all places ? The Seameio got in two days ago ; but
I didn't find a single letter from New London, and I
haven't heard a word of news from there since we
started for the coast."
" Am I in trouble !" exclaimed Phil. " Well, I should
say I am. I am in one of the very worst scrapes that
ever a fellow got into. Can you help me? I rather
think you can. I hope so, at any rate. You have
helped me already more than I can tell.    The mere THE   FUR-SEAL S  TOOTH
sight of your face, the sound of your voice, and the
clasp of your hand have banished half my troubles,
and given me new courage to face the rest. Why, old
man, a friend was what I needed more than anything
in the world, and now that I have found one, everything seems possible."
"You in trouble !" cried Serge, in amazement. It
was hard to realize that this young hero of his admiration, the one who above all others had seemed so strong
and self-reliant and free from care of any kind, could
be in a position in which his humble aid could be of
" Indeed I am," replied Phil; " and to begin with I
haven't a cent in the world, nor have I eaten a mouthful of food to-day. So if you have any money in your
pockets, you will at once invite me to breakfast. After that I will tell you the whole story."
"You poor old chap !" exclaimed Serge, to whom
hunger was of all things the most unpleasant. " Of
course I've got money "—he had just one dollar, which
represented his entire stock of wealth — "and the
\Poodle Dog'is just around the corner."
In another minute the lads were seated at a table in
the best restaurant of Victoria, and Phil was giving
the waiter a breakfast order that confirmed that individual in his previously formed opinion that Americans were not only the wealthiest people in the world,
but were possessed of the most extraordinary appetites.
Although Serge, whose own breakfast had been eaten
hours before, would willingly have shared another with
his friend, a prudent regard for his finances compelled
him to resist the temptation, and declare that he was
not the least bit hungry. So he merely sat and watched
with real pleasure Phil's demolition of the very heartiest and most thoroughly enjoyable meal of his life.
As he ate, his courage and natural buoyancy of spirits
returned to him so fully, that when at length he pushed
away his plate, declaring himself unable to eat another
mouthful, he was again the self - reliant, independent,
happy-go-lucky Phil Ryder whom Serge had known
and admired in New London.
The bill for that breakfast amounted to exactly one
dollar, and as Serge paid it, Phil wondered why he did
not also tip the waiter, who had been unusually attentive. He was too polite to mention the matter, and
concluded that his friend's oversight must be the result
of his early training.
Serge knew well enough what was expected of him,
however, and felt uncomfortable until the restaurant
was left behind and he was beyond reach of the waiter's reproachful glance. I Now," said he, as they gained
the street, " let's have your story. You haven't told
me one word of yourself and your troubles yet."
"Troubles?" repeated Phil, inquiringly, as though
such things and he were but the most distant of acquaintances. "Yes, of course, I have had some troubles ; but they don't bother me now half so much as
they did. I'll tell you all about them, though ; but
this is a poor place for talking. If you don't mind
we'll go up to my room. It is close at hand, and we
can be there in a minute. Then we can relate our
several adventures, and discuss plans without fear of
Why Phil had not returned to his hotel for breakfast the very first thing after being set at liberty he
could not have explained ; but hungry, friendless, and
penniless as he was that morning, he could no more
have entered the Driard dining-room than he could
have begged for a meal at a private house. Now, however, the situation seemed to him so entirely different
that he walked into the hotel office as coolly as a young
millionaire, and with quite the air of one demanded the 46
■ Mill
key of his room, ordered his bag sent up to it, and led
the way to the elevator.
The clerk on duty, who happened to be the same
who had witnessed his unpleasant encounter with an
officer the evening before, regarded the young fellow
with a mild surprise, but made no comment. He concluded that there must have been some mistake after
all, but was too well trained in the hotel business to
ask unpleasant questions of a guest. He did eye Serge
a little curiously, for though the lad had on his best
suit it was unmistakably the garb of a sailor.
As for the young Russo-American, he followed his
friend into this swell hotel, listened to the orders that
he issued, and which were so promptly obeyed, and
finally accompanied him to his room with so comical
an expression of bewilderment on his face that Phil
noticed, and laughed at it.
"You are evidently thinking that my plea of poverty and these surroundings do not exactly match
each other," he said.
I Well, yes, I must confess—"
"That I appear very much like an impostor. But
really I am not one, ol^ man. I was in such a desperate fix when you turned up, like a blessed angel to
help me out of it, that in an hour more, if left to my
own devices, I believe I should have jumped overboard."
" You would have done nothing of the kind," cried
Serge, indignantly. 1 You are no such coward as that,
and I know it."
" Well, perhaps not," replied Phil. " But it seems
to me that hunger with no prospect of its relief can
make cowards of the bravest fellows. And I was
hungry, awfully hungry."
"I can well believe that," laughed Serge, "after
seeing you eat. But tell me, why do you stay in this
hotel ?" THE   VALUE   OF   A   TRUE   FRIEND
"Because I have no other place to go to, and have
no money with which to settle my bill in case I wish
to leave."
" But isn't it awfully expensive ?"
" Oh, I don't know. I suppose they charge three or
four dollars a day; but if it were only fifty cents a
day I couldn't pay it, and so would have to stay on all
the same. I think it's very lucky that I am stranded
in so comfortable a place. But let me tell you the
whole story from the beginning, and then you will see
just what sort of a position I am in."
So Phil related his recent experiences, and when he
had finished Serge only asked,
"What has become of the fur-seal's tooth I gave
you, and which you used to wear on your watch-chain?"
"Lost it."       JIHI H
| Then that accounts for everything."
" What do you mean ?"
11 mean that, according to what the old chief who
gave that tooth to my father told him, it is a most
powerful charm for good or evil. He said that whoever gave it away gave good-luck with it. Whoever
received it as a gift received good-luck. Whoever lost
it lost his luck, and whoever stole it stole bad-luck that
would follow him so long as he retained it in his possession. According to this you who have lost it are
suffering the consequences."
" Nonsense!" cried Phil. " I hope you don't believe
in any such foolish superstition, or that a bit of carved
ivory can possess the powers you claim for the fur-
seal's tooth ?"
" I don't claim it," protested Serge. 11 only repeat
what the Indian said. At the same time, almost every
one in Alaska, or, at any rate, every one whom I know,
believes in such things, and can tell you lots of stories
about them." 48
"Yes. I've no doubt they can tell lots of stories,
but the thing is to prove them. Now, I don't believe
in superstitions of any kind, and am very sorry for
those who do. As for my present bad-luck, it is entirely owing to my own carelessness and hot-headed-
ness, but for which I should be comfortably on my
way to Sitka at this very minute. As it is, here I am
up such a very tall stump that, as far as I can see,
there isn't the slightest chance of getting down from
it inside of several weeks. My chance of visiting
Alaska is knocked higher than a kite, too, for the
money that would have taken me there will now have
to be devoted to paying my hotel bill here."
1 Why not go with me ?" suggested Serge, at the
end of his meditation on Phil's situation. | The Sea-
mew sails for Alaska this very evening."
| For what part of Alaska—for Sitka ?" demanded
Phil, eagerly.
" Not exactly," admitted Serge ; I but in that direction. She is bound on a fishing cruise to the cod and
halibut banks off the Shumagin Islands; but there are
always vessels running from there into Sitka, and Captain Duff has promised to set me on board the very
first one of these he runs across."
"My! but that is a scheme!" exclaimed Phil, who,
having no conception of Alaskan distances nor the
slightest idea of where the Shumagin Islands might
be, imagined that, once in those waters, it would be
an easy matter to reach Sitka. In fact,*to him Sitka
meant Alaska, and Alaska was the same as Sitka, for
he could not remember ever having heard the one
spoken of except in connection with the other.
|| That would suit me to a T," he continued, I for I
have hated the thought of giving up my Alaska trip,
and I have hated worse the idea of spending two or
three weeks in this place with nothing to do. Do you
suppose that your captain would make the same arrangement with me that he has with you ? My father
would be glad enough to pay him my passage - money
if he would only drop me at Sitka."
" I don't believe the Seamew is allowed to take pas-
4 uii^u^iiuwarewraTOWHimjgag
sengers," answered Serge, doubtfully. "I am one of
her crew, you know, only I am working without wages
for the sake of getting home."
"No wages!    Don't you get anything at all?"
" Oh yes! I get my passage and food, and I got an
outfit of clothing to start with."
" Well, I should be glad enough to get a passage to
Alaska on the same terms, and if your captain will
only take me, I'll ship with him in a minute. But look
here, old man, if you don't get any wages, how do you
happen to have money to spend on breakfasts at expensive restaurants for your pauper friends ?"
11 haven't," laughed Serge.
" Do you mean to tell me that you squandered your
last cent on me this morning ?"
" I don't mean to tell you anything about it."
"Well, if that doesn't make me feel meaner than
dirt! If I had known you were spending your only
dollar for my breakfast I wouldn't have eaten a mouth-
fuL" I      I
"And so you would have made me very unhappy,
instead of giving me one of the greatest pleasures of
my life," returned Serge, reproachfully.
■ All I can say, then, is that you are easily pleased.
And that was the reason why you wouldn't eat anything, was it? Why, you must be almost as starved
by this time as I was then, for even I am hungry
again. Now, you just come down-stairs and take lunch
with me in the hotel dining-room. After that we will
visit the Seamew, and offer my valuable services to
your Captain Duff."
Never in all his life had Serge Belcofsky eaten so
sumptuous a meal as that set before him by the young
pauper, who, with the air of a prince, placed the host
on this memorable occasion. Knowing the pecuniary
circumstances of his entertainer as he did, Serge could ONE   RESULT   OF   GOOD   SHOOTING
not but admire, while he marvelled at, the nonchalant
air with which course after course was ordered, while
he was urged to partake of this thing and that, until
the resources of the Driard's larder were well-nigh exhausted.
After thus fortifying themselves for their anticipated interview with Captain Duff, whom Serge had not
described as being a particularly affable man, nor one
whom it was a joy to meet, the lads strolled down to
the cove in which the saucy-looking schooner Seamew
lay at anchor. When they finally got on board, Serge
left Phil on deck, while he ventured alone into the
cabin to make an application on his behalf.
For the space of a minute Phil heard through the
open cabin skylight only the tones of an ordinary conversation, the words of which were undistinguishable.
Then, all at once, came a thunderous roar of: " No, I
tell ye ! No! I'll h^ve no more landlubbers aboard
this craft at any price. So clear out and let me hear
no more of it."
The next instant Serge, cap in hand, appeared abruptly at the opening of the companion-way almost as
though he had been fired from it. He was closely followed by a big red-faced man with a stubby beard,
who, the moment he set foot on deck, gave utterance
to a snarl like that of a wild beast. Suddenly, as his
eye lighted on Phil, he-stood for a moment like one
petrified. Then in a tone so soft and bland that Phil
instinctively glanced around to see who was speaking,
he addressed Serge and asked,
"Is this young sport the friend you was speaking of
what 'ud like to ship for a cruise to the nor'ard ?"
"Yes, sir," answered Serge; "this is my friend Phil
Ryder, who is so anxious to get to Sitka that he is
willing to ship for a voyage to the Shumagins without
wages if you will furnish him with an outfit, and agree 19.
to set him aboard the same vessel bound for Sitka that
you do me."
" Will he sign to them terms on a shipping-paper ?"
" I think so, sir.    Won't you, Phil ?"
" Certainly.   I will sign any paper that is required."
Looking this new candidate over from head to foot,
and still speaking in the blandest of tones, Captain
Duff propounded the following questions:
" Be you a sailor ?"
" I can handle a small boat."
"Humph! Do you know the dog-star from the cat-
star?" -*-';'
" No, sir."
" Nuther do I. Do you know a bull's-eye when you
see one ?"
"Yes, sir."
"Didn't ye plunk one yesterday five times out of six
shots ?" I
" I believe I did, sir," replied Phil, greatly surprised
at this turn in his examination.
" Could ye do it again ?"
" I generally make six bull's-eyes in six shots at that
distance with my own rifle," was the reply, not delivered at all boastingly, but as a simple statement of
" So you've got a rifle of your own, eh ?"
" Yes. sir."
"Ever get seasick ?"
"No, sir."
" Can ye be ready to start in an hour's time ?"
"I shall be ready as soon as I get an outfit," answered Phil.
"Very good; let's go ashore and get it at once.
Hold hard, though! There's the paper to be signed
first." pi
So Captain Duff re-entered the cabin, where with   ONE RESULT OF GOOD SHOOTING
labored penmanship he added an article to one of the
ship's papers, which Phil signed without reading it.
His signature was witnessed by Jalap Coombs, mate
of the JSeamew, and by Serge Belcofsky.
| You understand that this is a fishing v^ge ?" demanded Captain Duff, at the conclusion of this ceremony.
"I understand very little about it, sir," responded
Phil. " I only understand that for me it will end at
Sitka, and I am willing to undertake whatever may be
necessary in order to reach that place."
"Humph!" growled Captain Duff. Then in a voice
that sounded like the roar of a bull he bellowed out:
1 On deck there ! Lively, now, and have a boat alongside !"   fl If
So promptly was he obeyed that by the time the occupants of the cabin regained the deck a light whale-
boat, sharp-pointed at both ends, and containing three
oarsmen, of whom Serge was one, awaited them.
Motioning Phil to enter this craft, Captain Duff
ponderously followed, and standing in the stern, with
one brawny hand grasping a long steering oar, he
ordered the crew to give way.
A few sturdy strokes shot the boat across to the
landing, where the captain ordered two of the men to
await his return, and gave the lads to understand that
they were to follow him.
He led them to a sailors' slop-shop, where in a very
few minutes he had provided the latest addition to his
crew with a heavy suit of duffle cloth, a pea-jacket,
two flannel shirts, a pair of rubber hip-boots, another
pair of stout cow-hide, a woollen toque, or sailor's nightcap, a long oil-skin coat, and a hat of similar material.
" There!" growled Captain Duff, viewing these things
as they lay piled on the counter. " I call that an outfit such as mighty few shipmasters would pervide for 54
a landlubber. But when I undertakes to do a thing, I
does it.    D' ye hear ?"
Both lads agreed that they did hear. In fact, they
would have been very deaf indeed not to have heard.
Phil expressed himself as gratified for so complete a
supply of everything that seemed needful.
I So ye should be, ye young vil—I mean so ye should
be!" roared Captain Duff. "Now give us a bag, ye
swab, and make out your thundering bill, for I'm in a
hurry.    D' ye hear ?"
This last was addressed to the shopman, who thereupon produced a heavy canvas bag of the kind known
as a "sea-trunk," into which the two lads stowed all
the recent purchases.
When the bill for these was presented, Captain Duff
growled over each separate item, and after he had
paid it, he said to Phil: "There, young fellow, I've invested fifty dollars in you, and you're bound to work
it out afore your account is all squared. D' ye
hear ?" |§}f ; . i . §|g:
" You are very good, I am sure," murmured the lad,
not knowing what else to say.
I What! Me good! Who dares say I'm not good?"
roared the captain, glaring about him with a ferocious
As no one replied to this outburst, he ordered the
lads to carry the recent purchases down to the boat,
and get back to the schooner with all speed.
" I must go to my hotel first to transact some business," suggested Phil.
I Go to a hotel ? What business have you with a
hotel ? I thought you said you'd be ready as soon as
ye had an outfit ?"
II have some things there which I desire to see to,"
began Phil.
" Yes, I know.   Rifles and things.   Well, hurry up;   ONE   RESULT  OF  GOOD  SHOOTING
and mind ye, if you're not back inside of an hour, I'll
have ye arrested as a desarter."
11 shall evidently get pretty well used to being arrested if I stay in this town long," thought Phil, as he
hurried away.
In his room at the hotel he wrote three notes, two of
which were to his father. They were both the same,
and in them he stated that he was about to start for
Sitka in the fishing schooner Seamew, and hoped to
reach there before his father received this letter. In
case he should be unexpectedly delayed for a few days,
his father need feel no anxiety on his account, for he
would surely turn up sooner or later. One of these he
put in his pocket to mail for Sitka, while, with a forethought unusual in one generally so careless, the other
was to be left at the hotel in case his father should:
come to Victoria in search of him.
The third note was addressed to the proprietor of
the hotel. In it Phil regretted his inability to pay his,
bill for two days' board and lodging, but stated that it
would be settled as soon as he could rejoin his father,
whom he expected to see in a very short time. In the
mean time he left a rifle, an overcoat, and a bag worth
many times its amount as security. This note, together with one of those to his father, he left on the
table. Then taking a few small articles from his bag,
he left the hotel and hastened to the landing-place.
There he found a boat awaiting him. A few minutes
later he had bidden farewell to the city in which his short
stay had proved so fruitful in strange experiences, and
again stood on the deck of the craft in which the second portion of his eventful journey was to be undertaken. CHAPTER IX
Captain Duff was not visible when Phil reached the
Seamew / but the mate received him, and in answer to
his inquiry as to the whereabouts of his friend, pointed
to the forecastle. There our lad found Serge, from
whom he was desirous of obtaining some information
concerning the schooner's master, in whose power he
had so deliberately placed himself. Having had no
experience in shipping as one of the crew of a vessel,
Phil did not realize how fully he had done this; but
he had seen enough of Captain Duff's peculiar manner
to render him rather nervous now that the irrevocable
step was taken.
Serge could only say that while the subject of their
conversation was almost as much of a mystery to him
as to Phil, he had at least proved himself a capital seaman. Also that while his frequent outbursts of temper
were frightful to witness, no serious consequences had
thus far resulted from them. No one had, however,
ventured to thwart his will in the slightest, and all
hands regarded him with more or less of fear.
While the two lads were thus talking there came a
sudden call for all hands to up anchor and make sail,
whereupon they tumbled up on deck and turned to
with a will, Phil working with the rest to the best of
his limited knowledge concerning what was to be done.
Before a light off-shore breeze the trim schooner
slipped out of the cove, and, as the sun was sinking
behind the snow-capped Olympic mountains, gained INTRODUCING " OLD  KITE  ROBERSON "
the waters of the Strait of Fuca, through which she
would reach the open sea.
While Phil stood gazing at the fast-fading land,
feeling a little homesick and lonely, Jalap Coombs
informed him that the captain wished him to bring
his things aft into the cabin.
As the lad had not seen his recently acquired outfit
since coming aboard, he had nothing to carry, and so
entered the cabin with empty hands.
"Where is your rifle?" demanded the captain, as
soon as he appeared.
"I left it behind, sir."
I What!" roared the other, springing to his feet with
every appearance of violent rage. "Left it behind?
Cheated me out of a first-class rifle ? Never mind ; it
shall be charged to your account." Then, working
himself into an increase of passion, he bellowed : I You
young villain ! I've a mind to brain you for this," and
seizing a stool from the floor, he lifted it threateningly,
at the same time taking a step forward.
Phil's first impulse was to fly from the presence of
one whom he had every reason to believe a madman. On second thoughts he turned, and, with a very
pale face but a steady voice, said: "You don't dare
do it. You are a coward, and you know it as well as
I do." 1 i I I
For the first time in all his sea-going life big, red-
faced, bullying Captain Duff was bearded in his own
den, and that by a mere slip of a boy, as he regarded
the lad now so boldly confronting him. He was a coward at heart, and he knew it. His very air of bluster
and bravado, assumed so long ago that it had become
a second nature, was worn solely for the purpose of
misleading his associates, and hiding from them his
true character. This manner was so well borne out by
his size and his ferocious expression that until this time 58
if H
he had succeeded in inspiring awe merely by noise and
aspect. Now his true character was known, the fraud
he had perpetrated so successfully and so long was discovered, and like a great gorgeous soap - bubble his
inflated wind-bag of bravery had been pricked and
The collapse of this roaring pretence was so sudden
and complete as to be staggering. For a moment the
man stood motionless, with the stool still uplifted, but
with every vestige of color fled from his ordinarily
crimson face. Then the stool dropped to the floor
with a crash, and he tottered limply backward into
the huge arm-chair that he had occupied when Phil
entered the cabin. His eyes rolled, his breath came
in gasps, and a hoarse rattling issued from his throat.
During this extraordinary scene Phil stood his
ground, outwardly calm and resolute, but wondering
whether he was to be eaten or skinned alive for his
audacity. At length, realizing that the enemy was
powerless for the time being, he left the cabin, and
reported to the mate on deck that he believed Captain
Duff was having a fit, and needed attention.
Upon this Jalap Coombs cautiously approached the
sky-light, and peered down into the cabin. Then he
as cautiously tiptoed back to where Phil was standing.
"I ruther guess we'd best leave him alone to fight it
out," he said. "He's a born fighter, Cap'n Duff is,
an' he's had 'em afore. As my friend old Kite Rober-
son uster say consarning fits: 'When a ordinary seaman takes a notion to indulge in 'em, roll him on deck,
douse him with buckets of salt-water, and otherwise
wrastle 'em out of him, fer he 'ain't no business with
any such luxuries. . With a cap'n, though, it's diffrunt.
He's a priverleged character, and when he feels inclined
fer a fit, he wants to enjoy it, and have it out without
interference, same as ef it war a glass o' grog.    So 'you don't d^re do it.    you are a coward  INTRODUCING  " OLD  KITE   ROBERSON"
never interrupt a cap'n's fits ef you want to have peace
and quietness aboard ship.' That's what old Kite uster
say, and he must er knowed, 'cause he'd had more mill-
ions of experience than most."
" Who was this Mr. Robinson ?" asked Phil.
" Who ! Kitef-old Kite Roberson ? 'Tain't likely
now that ye never heerd of him? Why, he was one
of the best-known men. By his own 'count he'd been
'round the world more times than there is parallels of
latitood, and some of his charts looked like spider-webs,
they war kivered so thick with his tracks. Why, he
come from the same place as me, old Kite did, and
sometimes it makes me feel prouder 'n a mere mortal
man orter feel to think that him and me was fashioned
outer the same clay, as it war, and brung up on the
same air."
"It must be a great satisfaction," remarked Phil,
politely. Then, to show his interest in the subject, he
asked: "But where is your native place, Mr. Coombs ?
You are a down-Easter, are you not ?"
"Sartain I am," replied the mate. "A genuine
down-Easter is the one thing on this watery earth I can
surely claim to be. But whether I'm a Britisher or a
Yankee is the problem I'm wearing my life out trying
to solve."
" That seems queer," said Phil, reflectively.
" Queer ain't no name fer it. It's simply redickerlous.
Ye see, when they settled the boundary 'twixt Maine
and the Provinces, they run it plumb through my father's house, and as nigh as I can figger I was born
straddle of the line. After that I was brung up fust
on one side, and then on t'other; so that ef one man
says I'm a Britisher and another says I'm a Yank, they
ain't nuther of 'em lying, nor yet they ain't telling the
truth. Sometimes I feel as ef I war a British subjeck,
and again like a full-blown American citizen.    It de- 60
pends mostly on the weather. When it's damp and
foggy, like it is now, I ginerally feels like a subjeck.
Old Kite Roberson he uster say—"
Just then came the note of a siren fog-horn over the
waters from dead ahead. A dense mist had rolled in
from the sea, obscuring the light on Race Island, the
most southerly of the few light-stations maintained on
the coast of British Columbia. All the time that he
was talking with Phil, Jalap Coombs had also been
keeping a sharp lookout for this light. Now, at the
first note of its siren, he sprang up, transformed in an
instant from a shambling, garrulous " subjeck," as he
called himself, into an alert and thoroughly capable
Yankee sailor.
"Ready about!" he shouted, in clear, crisp tones.
" Hard a-lee!" And a minute later, as the lively craft
spun round to a deafening accompaniment of rattling
blocks and slatting canvas, " Draw away !" With this
the schooner settled comfortably down on her new
course, and bending gracefully over before a damp
sea-breeze, sped swiftly away from the threatened
dangers of Race Island rocks.
About tihis time Ebenezer, the black cook, announced
that supper was ready in the cabin, and the mate, after
a long careful look both to windward and leeward, suggested to Phil that they might as well go below and
"stow a cargo of chuck."
In the cabin, which was fairly roomy and well ventilated, stood a table on which supper was spread, a small
stove for heating purposes only, the captain's big armchair, several stools, and a short bench. On two sides
were single tiers of comfortable-looking bunks, five in
all. On the starboard side was a closed door that evidently opened into a small state-room, and on the port
side was a narrow passage leading to the galley, an
unusual luxury of appointment in schooners of the JSea-
mew's class, and one that assured the safe and speedy
transmission of food from the stove on which it was
Captain Duff was nowhere to be seen when Phil and
the mate entered the cabin, and in answer to Phil's
inquiring glance, the latter pointed significantly with
his thumb towards the closed state-room door. There
were, however, two other occupants of the cabin, both
young men. They were already seated at the table,
and eating with silence and despatch. They did not
speak to Phil nor he to them, and as the mate also ate
in silence the meal was uninterrupted save by the steady
clatter of knives, forks, and spoons against that peculiarly thick and indestructible forni of china known as
The two young men finished first,,pushed back from
the table, lighted their pipes, and left the cabin.
"Who are they?" asked Phil, after they had disappeared.
" Hunters," was Mr. Coombs's laconic answer.
Then he too pushed back from the table, and Phil
hastened to ask him before he could leave the cabin
where he should find his bag, as he wished to get a
pea-jacket from it.
The mate merely pointed to an end berth on the port
side, in which, sure enough, Phil spied a new canvas
bag that he now recognized as his own.
" Am I to bunk in here ?" he asked, in some surprise.
| Sartain," replied Mr. Coombs, and then he too vanished up the companion-way. Ill
" Well, this is a queer go!" thought Phil, as he extricated the heavy pea-jacket from his " sea-trunk," and
put it on. " I never heard of a green hand before the
mast being fed and lodged in the cabin. I must find
Serge, and ask him about it."
The night seemed intensely dark as he gained the
deck, and for a few minutes he stood still to accustom
his senses to it. He had found the slide drawn over
the companion-way, and, as on emerging he shoved it
back, he was gruffly requested by the helmsman to
" shut it, quick!" Phil was enough of a sailor to know
that this was so the glare of the cabin lamp might not
blind the man and render it impossible for him to steer.
So he immediately pulled the slide to, and then stood
leaning against it.
He could feel the chill dampness of the mist on his
cheek, and could see it driving by in the red and green
blurs from the side-lights in the forward rigging.
From the binnacle near at hand also came a faint
glow of reflected light that vaguely outlined the man
at the wheel. All else was a gray blackness, upon
which the lofty masts and flattened sails were traced
in deeper shadows, like Indian - ink against crayou.
Two or three glowing sparks from lighted pipes
showed where the watch on deck were gathered in
the lee of the weather bulwarks. Phil started towards these, but ere he had taken half a dozen steps he PHIL   DISCOVERS  WHAT HE  IS
ran plump into the mate, who was standing facing him
on the weather side of the deck.
" Hello, young feller!" cried that worthy, as soon
as he recovered the breath of which Phil's sudden onset
had deprived him; " ye seem to be blundering ahead
like a June-bug in an electric flare. Aren't ye afraid
ye'll walk overboard next, and step on the tail of a
merry maid ?"
1 No, sir," laughed the lad ; " and I'm awfully sorry
I ran into you. But I didn't see you, indeed I
didn't." I     I W
" No wonder," replied the mate, good - naturedly,
" for I'm too thin to make a respecterble shadder, much
less to cast one. Ef it had been the cap'n now, ye
couldn't have missed seeing him any more than ye
could the broadside of a ship. By-the-way, had the
old man turned out when ye left ?"
"No, sir.    I didn't see him."
" Waal, ye'd not only seen him, but heerd him fast
enough ef he had. He gets so cramped up in that
cubby-hole of his'n that when he comes out he has to
roar to get his lungs in working order again. It's a
marciful dispensation of Proverdence I'm not a cap'n,
for I never could abide to sleep in one of them chicken-
" He doesn't have to, does he ?" inquired Phil.
"Sartain he does, to maintain his nautical dignity.
All cap'ns has to occupy state - rooms, pervided their
vessels has 'em, no matter whether they fit or not.
Why, there was my friend old Kite Roberson, longer
than I be by half, so that when he was only a mate he
had to have two end-to-end bunks cut into one to give
him stretching - room. When he come to be cap'n
he had to take a state-room that had been built fer
a short man, and couldn't in no way be lengthened.
Poor old Kite naturally hated it, but for the sake of 64
his perfessional dig he uster crawl in there and double
himself up like a shut jackknife. Bimeby it got so
that in the morning they had to pull him out in sections, like a spy-glass, and rig preventer back-stays on
his legs to keep him from getting sprung in the knees.
As it was, he got so bent over that finally his head
got under his left arm, and he uster turn round backward to see f or'ard, but he never gave up his dig, which
he alius said it war his proudest boast."
After Phil had politely allowed such time to elapse
that the mate might think he was laughing over this
yarn, he said:
" By-the-way, Mr. Coombs, when do I go on watch ?"
"You?" replied the other. "You don't have to
stand no watch.    Hunters never does."
1 Am I a —" began Phil; but his question was
forced to remain unasked, for at that moment some
subtle sense informed the mate that it was again time
to change the schooner's course, and he bawled out,
"Ready about !" In the confusion that followed he
disappeared, and Phil stumbled forward, more anxious
than ever to meet with Serge, and beg him to throw
the light of his superior knowledge on the situation.
He discovered his friend snugly stowed away in a
forecastle berth. Here, as half a dozen men constituting the watch below occupied other berths in the extremely narrow quarters allotted to the crew, the lads
were obliged to converse in whispers to avoid being
overheard, as well as not to disturb those who slept.
" Why haven't you been to supper, old man ?" began
" I have, long ago," replied Serge ; " but where have
you been all this time? I was beginning to worry
about you."
" Been in the cabin eating supper, mostly; but I
didn't see you there." PHIL  DISCOVERS  WHAT  HE  IS
" Eating in the cabin!" exclaimed Serge, springing
up so carelessly in his excitement that he bumped his
head against the bottom of the berth above him.
"You don't mean it! Are you going to bunj: there,
too ?" ■
."I'm afraid so. You see, I don't exactly like to ask
a favor of Captain Duff, or I'd try for permission to
sleep in here with you."
" Oh, pshaw !" ejaculated Serge, j You don't mean
that. You know you don't. Why, man, the mere fact
that you are billeted in the cabin instead of in the
forecastle shows that you must be rated as a hunter."
" Why must I ?" inquired Phil, in a puzzled tone.
I And pray what is a hunter ?"
| One who hunts, of course. He lives aft, and don't
have to stand watch—"
I So Mr. Coombs said," interrupted Phil.
I Nor do any of the ship's work," continued Serge.
"Am I to be allowed to do anything at all except
suck my thumbs and maintain my j dig,' like old Kite
Robinson ?" asked the young hunter.
" Oh ! you've heard of him, have you ? Of course
you will be allowed to do something. You will be
allowed to shoot, and not only that, but you will be
expected to shoot all day, and every day from sunrise
to sunset; and mighty hard work you will find it, too,
before you get through with it."
I Shoot!" cried Phil, forgetting all about the necessity for whispering.    " Shoot what ?    Fish ?"
"Shoot up, and stow yer jaw tackle," growled the
sleepy voice of the forecastle wit from an upper
I Shoot fish ! of course not," whispered Serge. | You
will shoot seals and sea-otter, if we have the good-luck
to run across any. Oh! I am so glad you have got
that berth, for I've been wondering and fretting over THE   FUR-SEAL'S  TOOTH
how you'd get along as a foremast hand; but now it
will be all smooth sailing."
"But I don't understand yet," protested. Phil.
I This is the first mention I have heard of seals or sea-
otter.    I thought this was a fishing schooner."
" So she is," replied Serge, a little impatiently; " but
on this coast all fishermen are pelagic sealers as well
whenever they get a chance, and they generally try to
ship two or three good shots among the crew to act
as hunters. The regular sealers, who go over on the
Japan coast, fix for the business, and carry six or seven
hunters. On this side, though, and especially if there
is a chance of going into the sea, they generally clear
as fishermen. It makes it easier to explain, you understand, if they happen to get nabbed by the cutters.
We gathered in two or three hundred skins coming up
the coast, and I heard Captain Duff say that if he
could get hold of a first-class hunter he'd like to ship
him. Strange that I never thought of you for that
position, when I knew what a good shot you are, too.
That must be why he changed his mind so suddenly
about taking you along, for at first he declared he
couldn't think of such a thing. I do wonder, though,
how he happened to know that you could shoot."
Phil thought he knew, for he remembered the crowd
of sailormen who were gathered about the shooting-
gallery in Victoria the day before, and who had applauded his score ; but he was too full of questions
just now to waste time on explanations.
Where did people shoot seals and how ?. Out at sea
or on land? With rifles or shot-guns? What did
Serge mean by I pelagic sealers " ? What did he mean
by going into the sea ? What did he mean by getting
"nabbed"?|.     5;1 IB:
As our young traveller, to whom a new world of
strange men, strange animals, and strange scenes was
about to be opened, poured forth these questions concerning it, Serge, to whom the whole business of sealing was an old story, laughed.
" It would take several hours to tell you the whole
thing," he said, " and I've only two left in which to sleep
before going on watch at midnight. So if, like a good
fellow, you will turn in now, and restrain your curiosity till morning, I will then do my best to answer all
your questions."
Apologizing for his thoughtlessness, Phil accepted
his friend's suggestion ; and making his way back to
the cabin, took possession of the bunk Jalap Coombs
had said was to be his. As he lay there listening to
the gurgle of waters on the other side of the thin
plank separating him from them, he could not help
contrasting his present position with that of only
twenty-four hours before, and marvelling at the wonderful changes that may be made in one's surroundings, circumstances, and whole plan of life in the brief
space of a single day.
I1L *£* '>lll,iR *».
^ ^i.y**'*.
As it is as essential for those who wish to follow
this story understandingly to know something of the
fur-seal—its haunts, habits, and the methods of its
capture—as it was to Phil Ryder, let us anticipate by
a few hours the information that Serge is to give him,
and learn a few of these things for ourselves.
Most of us have seen seals either in salt-water harbors or coast inlets, or at least in the tanks of zoological gardens ; but the animals we have thus seen are
hair-seals, which are so common as to be found in all
the salt-waters of the world from poles to tropics.
They are, however, most plentiful on the coasts of the
north Atlantic, where they form an important food-
supply for the Eskimos of Greenland and the natives
of Labrador. Although the skin of the hair-seal is of
little value, the oil extracted from its blubber forms so
important an article of commerce that a large fleet of
steam and sailing vessels leaves St. Johns, Newfoundland every year, for the sole purpose of capturing hair-
seals, and the annual catch amounts to several hundreds of thousands of these animals.
The fur-seal is as different from its cousin the hair-
seal as a sheep is from a goat. The most important
point of difference between them is that while both
are furnished with outer coats of stiff grayish hair,
the former wears an under covering of soft velvetlike
down or fur which the hair-seal is obliged to go without.   It is this under-garment of the fur-seal that is so SEALS  AND  SEAL-SKINS
highly prized, and from which are made the seal-skin
jackets, cloaks, muffs, and other articles that are so expensive and valuable.
An immense amount of the most skilled and careful
labor is devoted to preparing these seal-skins, besides
that required in procuring them in distant seas and
shipping them to London, where it can be had most
cheaply. When removed from the animal the skin is
salted, bundled, and shipped. Arrived at its destination it must be repeatedly wet, dried, and heated,
scraped, shaved down to a uniform thickness, and
softened. Then its outer coating of coarse, unsightly
hairs must be plucked out by the roots, and the yellowish-gray inner coat of soft fur must be given eight to
twelve coatings of dye, applied by hand with a brush,
in order to produce the rich j seal-brown " color that
fashion demands. The amount of labor thus expended
on a single skin is enormous, and as several of them
are required for a garment, while a heavy duty must
be paid before they can re-enter this country, it is no
wonder that seal-skin jackets are expensive luxuries.
One hundred years or so ago vast rookeries of fur-
seals existed in the far southern waters of the Antarctic Ocean. During a period of eighty years these were
so ruthlessly destroyed by the sealing-fleets of all maritime nations that in those waters the fur-seal became
practically extinct.
About 1768 the Russian sea-otter hunters, who had
discovered the Aleutian Islands, that wonderful chain
of volcanic rocks that divides Bering Sea from the
North Pacific, first noticed the annual migration of
countless millions of fur-seals northward through the
passes between the islands in the early summer, and
southward in the autumn. For eighteen years they
sought in vain to discover where these seals went to,
and at length a Muscovite fur-trader named Gerassin
ill 70
Pribyloff solved the mystery. For three years he had
braved the terrors of Bering Sea, cruising over its
length and breadth in a little old sloop named JSt.
George, At length on a certain July day, when the
fog was so dense that it hid one end of his vessel from
the other, he heard the roar of a vast concourse of seals,
and at the same time there was wafted to him through
the sodden air the unmistakable odor of their rookeries.
With the lifting of the fog Pribyloff discovered the
group of rocky islets that bears his name to this day.
The nearest or most southerly of these he named St.
George, after his vessel, while a much larger one some
thirty miles to the north he called St. Paul. Two
other insignificant islets named Otter and Walrus
complete the group.
From these islands, which are enveloped in fog for
half the year, and lashed by winter storms during the
remainder, comes to-day the bulk of the world's supply
of seal-skin. While they were owned by the Russians?
the annual slaughter of seals upon them was something
incredible, amounting to many hundreds of thousands.
It sometimes happened that a hundred thousand skins
would be cast into the sea and destroyed, in order to
keep up the market price, and the utter extermination
of the fur-seal appeared inevitable. Since 1867, however, when the Pribyloffs, together with the rest of
Alaska, became the property of the United States,
wise laws have so restricted the killing that the preservation of the seal herds is assured just so long as
the laws can be enforced. Under these laws only one
company, which pays handsomely for the privilege, may
kill seals on these islands, and even it may only kill
a specified number of young males between one and
six years of age. Thus the old bulls, the females, and
the pups are never molested.
On this little group of fog-enshrouded islands does
the fur-seal breed, and to them the vast herds return
year after year with the regularity of the seasons
themselves. They arrive in June and depart in October, when they move southward into the Pacific,
spreading themselves over all its limitless area, between the coasts of North America and Japan, but
never landing or leaving the water until they again
return to their chosen home in Bering Sea.
In their annual northward journey the seals divide
into two great herds, one of which follows the North
American coast-line, and the other that of Japan, keeping as close to shore as do the schools of fish on which
they feed, which is anywhere from one to two hundred miles. During this journey they are harassed
and pursued by what is termed "pelagic" or open-
water sealers, both American, who outfit at San Francisco or Seattle, and British, who sail from Victoria.
Heretofore these pelagic sealers, who are said to kill
and lose from five to ten seals for every one that they
obtain, and who annually bring in severaf hundreds
of thousands of skins, have been unrestrained by law.
For some years they hunted in the waters" of Bering
Sea, as well as in the open ocean. Finally the Americans claimed the exclusive control of the sea,-and the
British denied that they possessed the right to do so.
While the question was in dispute, both parties agreed
that Bering Sea should be closed to all pelagic sealers,
and both nations maintained war vessels in those
waters to capture or drive away any sealers violating
this agreement. In 1893 the vexed question was settled by arbitration, that gave to the Americans exclusive control of Bering Sea waters within a radius
of sixty miles of the Pribyloff Islands, forbade the
killing of fur-seals in any waters between the first of
May and the last of July, and prohibited the use of
rifles in seal-hunting at any time. 72
As the year of our story was before that of this
settlement by arbitration, Bering Sea was closed by
law to all sealers, though certain of them still dared the
risk of entering it for the sake of the rich prizes they
might bring out if undetected by any of the patrolling war-ships. At the same time pelagic sealing was
briskly carried on outside of the protected waters, and
the north-bound herds were harassed on all sides by
swift sailing-vessels and even steamers fitted out for
their destruction. Some of these attempted to pass
themselves off as fishermen, and as such ventured inside the forbidden limits, trusting to their disguise to
protect them.
It was on board one of these pelagic sealers, owned
in Victoria and clearing as a fisherman from that port,
that Phil Ryder now found himself shipped as a
hunter. In this position he hoped and expected to
make a speedy voyage to Sitka, in Alaska, which was
at the same time one of the very last ports in which
Captain Duff would have cared to find himself under
the circumstances.
Most of the foregoing information concerning fur-
seals was imparted to Phil by Serge on the morning of
the first day out, and before the lesson was concluded
the former's eyes were opened to many things. He
had been awakened very early that morning by a startling crash, which for a moment caused him to imagine that the Seamew had struck a rock. At the same
time the cabin was filled with the roar of Captain
Duff's fierce voice. Reassured as to the safety of the
schooner, Phil smiled as he recalled Jalap Coombs's
theory of the necessary lung exercise indicated by the
latter sound. The burlv master of the Seamew seemed
to have been entirely restored to his wonted state of
mind by his night of seclusion, and to have decided to
continue his practice of loud-mouthed bullying in spite
BBg«jsrr>Tsm a
of the surprising setback it had received the evening
before. Consequently the moment he emerged from
his state-room he glanced about him to see whom
he might first devour. Just then the form of the
schooner's black cook, Ebenezer by name, who was
called "Ebb" for short, and sometimes "Slack Ebb"
or "Low Ebb," as the nautical fancy of the crew suggested, appeared at the entrance of the narrow passage
leading from the galley.
Snatching a plate from the table, and flinging it at
the cook's head to emphasize his remarks, the captain
roared out a query as to why breakfast was not ready.
Adroitly ducking like one well accustomed to such
greetings, and thereby allowing the flying missile to
crash against the side of Phil's bunk, Ebenezer grinned
to show his appreciation of the captain's playfulness,
and answered: 1 Yes, sah. Dreckly, in free minute,
j Three minutes, ye black swab ! See that it's on
the table inside of one minute, or I'll have ye cut into
fish-chum, and make halibut bait of your heart."
"Berry good, sah," responded Ebenezer, still grinning, though his eyes rolled wildly at this horrible
threat, as he hastily shuffled from the cabin backward
like a crab. Not until he gained the shelter of the
passage did he cease to watch the captain's every
movement. Then he turned and fled precipitately to
the galley. Here he felt as safe as though in a fortified castle, for the passage was too narrow to be successfully navigated by so beamy a craft as the Sea-
mew's master, and when that autocrat of the ship was
on deck the cook took good care to keep the galley
hatch closed and fastened on the inside.
At Ebb's flight, Captain Duff chuckled hoarsely,
and muttered to himself, I That's the way to fix 'em."
"Good-morning, sir," remarked Phil at this moment.
it i 74
| Eh ! What's that ?" demanded the captain, whirling around with surprising agility for a man of his
size. "Why aren't you on deck, ye landlubber? I
want you to understand that I don't allow no skulking
below at this time o' day."
" Very well, sir. I'll go just as quick as I get my
shoes on. I don't suppose you want me to do so barefooted."
" Barefooted, or web-footed, or club-footed, or without any feet at all ! What is it to me how ye go, so
long as ye do go !" roared the captain. "Am I master
of this ship, I'd like to know, or am I only a howling
figure-head ?"
" You certainly are, sir," replied Phil, as with shoes
in hand he moved towards the companion-way. 1 And
I am certain that no one who is acquainted with you
would doubt it for a moment."
With this parting shot the lad disappeared, leaving
the captain to splutter and fume and wonder if there
was any hidden meaning in his remark. " If it warn't
for his shooting," he muttered, "I'd set him ashore on
the first land we make, and I don't know but what
I'd better get rid of him anyway, afore he stirs up a
Then he went on deck, where he made things so
lively for the next five minutes, and sent the crew
scurrying hither and thither with such agility by his
fiercely worded and loudly bellowed orders, that when
he went below for breakfast he actually forgot to find
fault with the cook for having served the meal so long
before that its several dishes had grown cold. CHAPTER XII
Although Phil Ryder was generally a hearty eater,
he had a dainty taste, and was very particular about
his food. It must be what he liked, it must be cooked
just so, and, above all, it must be served with cleanliness, or he would rather experience a considerable degree of hunger than touch it. In this he had been
encouraged by his aunt Ruth, and, to a certain extent,
by his father. Now, therefore, he found the Seamew*s
table so far beneath his standard of perfection, and so
very different from those to which he had been accustomed, that he barely tasted the food prepared for that
breakfast. He refused the coffee—which, as Captain
Duff was a great coffee-drinker, was of a better quality
than that usually furnished aboard-ship—nibbled at a
bit of hardtack, and then pushed back his stool.
"What's up?" inquired the captain, noting this
movement with surprise. | Feeling squeamish ? I
thought you never got seasick."
" No, sir, I'm not feeling squeamish, and I'm not in
the habit of getting seasick."
Then why don't ye eat ?"
Because I'm not hungry."
" Humph ! ye'd better say at once that it's because
the victuals don't suit ye. Never mind, though; we'll
try and have them fixed to your liking the next time."
After breakfast, the mate, who had been up all night,
and had brought the schooner safely through the Strait
it itsm**
of Fuca into an open seaway, turned in for a long sleep,
and Captain Duff took the deck.
Phil went forward for his talk with Serge, and
learned, among other things, that the light-house tower
of Cape Flattery, which was just fading from view,
marked the most northerly light-station of the United
States on the Pacific coast. When the young hunter
wondered at this, and asked if there were no lighthouses in Alaska, Serge replied that so far as he knew
there was not one.
In this statement he was correct, for though many
Alaska harbors and channels are well buoyed and
marked by day beacons, yet on all of its thousands of
miles of storm-beaten, fog-enshrouded coast not a light
sends forth its cheery gleam, nor does a single foghorn give warning of hidden dangers.
Phil was intensely interested in everything that
Serge told him concerning seals, and now realized for
the first time the importance of his position on board
the Seamew, and the reason why his skill in shooting
had been so highly regarded by Captain Duff.
I What pay does a seal-hunter generally receive ?"
he asked, after a short period of thinking.
I One dollar each for the first one hundred skins, two
dollars for the first two hundred, and so on up to four
dollars each for the first four hundred, I believe," responded Serge.
" And how many does a good hunter usually secure ?
What is the average, I mean ?"
" The best I have heard of in a three months' cruise
is four hundred and sixteen skins," was the reply.
"Whew !" ejaculated Phil. "That would make his
pay for three months' work something over sixteen
hundred dollars. If I could only make half of that
sum, wouldn't it be fine ? How much do the green
skins fetch ?" CAPTAIN   DUFF S   SHREWDNESS
" Anywhere from ten to twenty dollars apiece, according to the demand."
11 had no idea they were so valuable, and I wish we
could begin getting some right away. I should like to
make enough money before reaching Sitka to replace
what I lost by carelessness," remarked Phil. "I forgot, though," he added, with an abrupt change of tone
and a comical expression of dismay. "I have agreed
to work without wages, and I suppose that means that
I am not to receive any commission, no matter how
many skins I get. I wonder if I am shipped as a
hunter or only as a sailor ?"
" I am sure I don't know," answered Serge. 1 Didn't
you read the paper before you signed it?"
1 No ; I was in too much of a hurry, and too glad to
be taken on any terms.    Did you read it ?"
1 No, for I thought, of course, that you had."
"Well," sighed Phil, j I have often heard my father
say that one should never sign his name to a paper of
any kind without knowing exactly what it contained.
Oh, dear! If a fellow could only remember and do
just what his father told him, how easy it would be to
keep out of scrapes. I wonder why it is that we
never think of these things until it is too late ?"
"How lucky those fellows are who have fathers to
tell them what to do. I haven't had one since I was a
little chap and too young to appreciate him," said
Serge, rather enviously.
At this point in the conversation Captain Duff called
Phil aft, and said that he wished him to join in a shooting-match with the other two hunters, Ike Croly and
Oro Dunn. A number of rifles and shot-guns lay on
top of the cabin - house, while towing astern of the
schooner, and bobbing in her wake at the end of a
hundred yards of line, was a round billet of wood
painted black, and about the size of a very small keg. 78
"Five shots apiece with rifles, six with shot-guns,
and I will keep the score," announced the captain, adding, " and the one who does the poorest cleans the
One after another the young men stepped to the
rail and fired without a rest, with either rifle or shotgun, as the case might be. Although the captain, who
watched the target through ,a glass, would announce
no results until the contest was ended, Phil saw so
many splashes in the water while others were shooting, that though he was unable to judge of his own
work, he was almost certain the gun cleaning of that
day would not fall to him.
To his dismay, when the contest was ended, the
captain, who had kept the score in a blank-book, declared that out of the eleven shots fired by each Ike
Croly had scored nine hits and two misses, Oro Dunn
eight hits and three misses, and Phil Ryder five hits
and six misses. "You therefore may take the guns
forward and clean 'em," he said to Phil. "And I
must say I expected better work from you, judging by
the way you bragged yesterday."
Phil could not understand it. He could not remember having shot so poorly as that in years. His defeat
was the harder to bear on account of Captain Duff's
scornful words and the triumphant looks of the other
hunters, who, as he had seen from the first, were intensely jealous of him. Still, there was nothing to be
said or done, and gathering up the guns he went forward to clean them. He was resolved, however, that
when the time came for real action he would show
those two who could bring in the most seal-skins,
which was exactly the result that shrewd Captain Duff
wished to obtain.
By the time the young hunter finished his task the
morning was well spent, and he was beginning to sniff   CAPTAIN   DUFF S   SHREWDNESS
with some interest the savory odors of cooking that
came from the galley. As he carried the cleaned
guns into the cabin and placed them in their racks, he
was glad to see that Ebenezer was setting the table
for dinner.
When he again went on deck the captain ordered
him to bail out the boat that was towing astern.
Looking over the rail, Phil noticed for the first time
that one of the three light whale-boats carried by the
schooner was indeed towing astern by a short painter.
He could discover no way of getting into her save by
sliding down the rope by which she was held, and he
wondered if the feat were possible. His hesitation
was but momentary, however, for he saw that his
hunter rivals and several of the crew were watching
him curiously.
So the lad swung himself over the rail, and tightly
clutching the rope with both hands and feet, slid
downward. As he reached the boat, his weight resting on the bow caused it to sheer so abruptly that he
was very nearly flung into the eddying water, but with
a violent effort he managed to fling himself at full
length into the bottom of the uneasy craft. As he
scrambled up he saw, to his dismay, that the forward
plug was missing, and through the half-inch hole thus
left in the boat's bottom a stream of water was spirting viciously. Acting more from instinct than from
knowledge he made his way hurriedly to the after end.
Thus his weight sank the stern and at the same time
lifted the bow, so that the volume of water entering
the boat was very considerably diminished. Here he
found a wooden bailer, with which he set vigorously
to work.
After a few minutes of this he bethought himself
that some one might toss him a plug from the schooner,
and he hailed the deck at the top of his voice.    Al- 80
though he shouted until he was hoarse, he received no
answer, nor could he catch a glimpse of a human being
on board the craft behind which he was towing. No
one came to look at him over the rail, and she might
have been sailing of her own accord at her own sweet
will for aught that he could see of life or guiding intelligence. One thing he did discover, however, which
was that the rope by which he was towing had been
so lengthened that his boat was now twice the distance
from the schooner it had been when he entered it. CHAPTER XIII
For an hour or more Phil Ryder sat in the stern of
the boat, alternately bailing, shouting, and casting
hopeful glances at the schooner's rail every few moments in the full expectation of seeing some one who
would relieve him from his unpleasant position. During this time he was painfully conscious of a most
vigorous appetite, that was whetted by occasional tantalizing whiffs that came floating back to him from
the galley. At length he began to believe that by
some strange oversight he must have been forgotten,
and that if anything was done to relieve the situation
he must do it himself. He thought that if he could
only haul his boat up close under the stern of the
schooner he might be able to climb up the rope, and
so gain her deck. As no other plan offered, he pro*
ceedecl to put this one into execution, and stepping
forward into the bow of the boat, without regard to
the increase of water that thjs movement caused to
flow in through the plug-Juole, he seized the rope and
began to pull with, all his might. The instant the
stern was raised ancl the bow lowered by this transfer
of weight the. boat sheered wildly to one side. Then
she was, brought back with a sudden jerk that very
nearly capsized her, and immediately made a furious
ru^h in the opposite direction, until her bow was so
nearly dragged under that to save himself and restore
the former state of affairs Phil was compelled once
more to spring aft.    His  sole plan for escape had
6 82
resulted in dismal failure, and so much water had
entered the boat during the experiment that to keep
her from swamping he had need to bail furiously for
another hour. At the end of that time he had once
more got the better of the exasperating leak, so that
he could rest for a few minutes. Then he must fall
to bailing again. .. So in resting and bailing by turns
the long afternoon hours were slowly worn away.
The poor lad was faint from hunger, cold, wet, and
furious at the supposed carelessness that had left him
in such an unpleasant, not to say dangerous, position.
It was not until nearly sunset that the welcome
sound of a voice came to his ears. Looking up, he
saw Ebenezer's black face peeping over the rail, and
heard him announce, " Suppah, sah !"
"Haul in on the painter, you grinning idiot !"
shouted Phil, whereupon the negro placed his hand
to his ear and called back : " Yes, sah.    Suppah !"
"Oh, what an old stupid!" groaned Phil, sinking
back despairingly in the stern of the boat. "I may
stay here until I starve or drown for all the help he'll
give me."
Just then came another shout, and a new hope
sprang into the breast of the despairing lad as he saw
the lank but powerful frame of Jalap Coombs rising
above the rail, and felt that his boat was being drawn
towards the schooner. When it was at length pulled
up as close as possible the mate shouted:
"Now, lad, make a climb for it hand over hand,
and I'll stand by to give ye a h'ist when ye get within
A minute later Phil stood safe and sound on the
Seamewrs deck, but so angry that he broke out at once
" That's as mean a piece of business as I ever heard
of, and if I can find out who is responsible for it, THE  FIRST SEAL-HUNT
I'll pay him back, see if I don't!    It's an outrage !
and—" |
" Steady, lad! Steady!" interrupted Jalap Coombs.
"Your trouble's all over now, and there ain't no use
kicking it into life again. As my friend old Kite
Roberson uster say—"
| Oh, hang Kite Robinson !" cried Phil.
" So, now ! So ! What did poor old Kite ever do
to you that ye should want to hang him? 'Tain't
right to speak so onrespectful agin them as is older
than you be, and 'twon't do no good nuther. As my old
friend uster off en say, j Ef ye kick a trouble, it '11 kick
back, but there ain't no trouble in the world kin stand
up agin a good broad grin.' So jest ye give a grin
'stead of a kick, and ye'll feel all right."
Phil could not help laughing at the very homeliness
of this advice, and with that laugh his recent experience did really begin to look as much like a joke—
though a rather serious one, to be sure—as an outrage.
In another moment he was following Jalap Coombs
into the cabin, where Captain Duff and the two other
hunters were already seated at supper.
How warm and bright and cosey the cabin did seem!
Phil wondered how he could have thought it dingy
and stuffy. How good it was to see a bountifully
provided table once more, and people ! He even felt
an almost friendly feeling towards the captain, whose,
broad red face loomed above one end of the table.
" Hello, Ryder !" roared that individual. I Too bad
ye was left out in that boat so long, but fact is I've
been turned in all the afternoon, and I neglected to
mention it to Mr. Coombs when he went on watch.
The wust of it to me would have been the missing of
my dinner ; but I don't suppose you minded that, seeing as ye ain't pertickerler 'bout eating noway."
" The worst of it was that as a plug was out of the ik&sSnigi
boat, I had to bail nearly all the time to keep her from
swamping," replied Phil.
" Sho, now! That so ? Waal, it give ye something
to do, and kep' ye from idleness, which some folks
finds mighty hard to stand. I don't mind it much myself, but then we ain't all made alike."
Phil was too busy eating to make any reply to this,
and at the same time he was wondering if a new cook
had been found to take Ebenezer's place. Certainly
nothing he had previously eaten on board the Seamew
had tasted half so good as that supper.
It was a noticeable fact that from that time on our
young hunter seemed to enjoy his meals as much as
any of those who sat at the cabin table. It was also
observed that Captain Duff every now and then broke
into a hoarse chuckle at meal-times without any apparent cause.
Early the next morning, several seals having been
seen from the schooner's deck, the three boats were
cleared away and sent forth in pursuit of the shy but
coveted game. In each boat were a hunter, a boat-
puller, and a steersman ; each was provided with a
sail, oars, and a boat compass, and in each were stowed
a breaker of fresh water and a bag of sea-biscuit. The
hunter sat or stood in the bows forward of the mast,
where he could have an unobstructed view ahead and
pn both sides. He was provided with both a rifle and
a shot-gun, one or the other of which was always in
his hands ready for instant use. He also carried a
plentiful supply of cartridges.
The boat-puller sat amidship, and rowed or trimmed
sail as occasion might demand ;' while the steersman,
occupying the stern, not only steered the boat, but
kept careful note of the courses taken by means of his
compass, and of weather indications. He of course is
always an experienced sailor.    All three were warmly
clad, and each had an oil-skin suit ready at hand. A
long-handled gaff or sharp hook of steel lay along the
thwarts, where it could be readily reached by any one
of the three.
When the boats left the schooner they separated
until about naif a mile apart, and then ran down the
wind, all steering exactly the same course. They were
followed by the Seamew, under shortened sail, and
steering the same course as they. Thus, though they
might lose sight of her through distance, darkness, or
fog, they were pretty certain to find her again, though
it often happens that seal-hunting boats are lost, sometimes to be picked up after days of anxious drifting,
and not infrequently never to be seen or heard of
Serge was ordered to go as boat-puller in the craft
of which Phil was the hunter, much to the satisfaction
of both lads. As they were the least experienced of
the three crews, they were given the schooner's best
sailor-man for boat-steerer, no other than Jalap Coombs
Phil felt rather nervous as he found himself actually
embarked on the career of a seal-hunter, and realized
how largely the success of the cruise depended on his
individual efforts. To be sure, he had, by his own
carelessness, cut himself off from sharing any of its
profits, but he felt that he had a reputation at stake.
So, like all young sportsmen, he was extremely anxious
to make as good a I bag " as either of the other hunters
who were on the same quest as himself. Thus he was
determined to do his very best, if only to show Ike
Croly and Oro Dunn that there were other people in
the world who could shoot as well as, if not a little
better than, they.
This first hunting day was a gray one, with occasional flurries of rain, but fortunately without fog—a 86
rare circumstance in those latitudes. For an hour or
more the occupants of the mate's boat held their course
without catching sight of the coveted game, though
the eyes of all three searched the dull surface of the
waters incessantly. They heard several faint shots
from the direction taken by the other boats, and these
only made them the more anxious to discover game
of their own. Suddenly a sharp whisper of " There's
one !" from the stern of the boat caused both lads to
look around.
1 Where ?" cried Phil, eagerly, not realizing in his
excitement that he was speaking aloud.
" Gone," answered the mate, dryly, but in a tone of
great vexation, "to see who ye was hollaring at."
With this he pointed to the right, where the boys saw,
already out of range, a dark object fleeing with .incredible swiftness and a series of curious boundings, by
which its body was thrown clear of the water by each
"Oh !" exclaimed Phil. "That's too bad ! What
an idiot I was !"
" Never mind, son," replied Jalap Coombs, consolingly. " Better luck next time; but mind and don't speak
out loud again till your seal's in the boat."
The next was discovered by Phil himself, and, holding up his hand warningly, he pointed to it. It lay on
the surface asleep, and ere its keen sense of smell,
which in a seal is active even in slumber, warned it of
the presence of its enemies, they were within range.
As it finally lifted its startled head a sharp report rang
out, and it was dead.
"Quick, Serge!" shouted the mate. "Row to it
afore it sinks, as it surely will unless it had just drawn
in a breath." The animal had sunk when they reached
the spot, but so short a distance that the body could
still be reached by the gaff and drawn into the boat.   THE  FIRST  SEAL-HUNT
Phil's eyes sparkled as he gloated over this his first seal,
and while Serge was skinning it he eagerly searched
for another.
The next one, discovered an hour later, took the
alarm before they got within shot-gun range, and
bounded away. "He's a lucky beggar !" said Jalap
Coombs, in a disgusted tone; but Phil, dropping the
useless shot-gun and snatching up his rifle, took a
quick aim and fired.
" The very prettiest wing shot that ever I see !" cried
the exulting mate, as three minutes later they hauled
the dead seal into the boat. "Plumb through the
head, too !"
So with varying fortunes the day wore on until it
was time to return to the schooner, unless they wished
to remain out all night. In the boat were five handsome skins and one seal, just killed, that still retained
its glossy coat. Now their sole anxiety was to know
whether either of the Other boats had beaten them or
not. The mate thought they were " high line " for
that day, but Phil was doubtful. CHAPTER  XIV
As the mate's boat approached the Seamew at the conclusion of that first day's hunt, its occupants saw that
the other two boats were already alongside, and that
their cargoes were being transferred to the schooner's
"They've beaten us," said Phil, despondently, as
he noted the number of skins being handed up over
the side. " I declare luck seems to be dead set against
me !"
"If you only hadn't lost the tooth," murmured
| I'm glad I have," replied the other, sharply, as he
caught these words. " I'm glad I haven't got it now,
too, because there is no such thing as luck, and I'll
prove it to you yet by getting more seals than both
those fellows put together, eyen without any wretched
tooth to help me."
"I'm sorry, then, that I ever gave it to you," retorted
Serge, angrily.
"So am I; and after this I hope you will keep your
witch charms to yourself."
I Hello, for'ard there!" cried Jalap Coombs, whose
quick ear detected the angry tones, though he could not
distinguish the words of their conversation. " What's
to pay ? You two aren't quarrelling, be ye ? I hope
not, for, as old Kite Roberson uster say, \ Any man as
will quarrel with a friend don't desarve to have no
friend.'   So kiss and make up, same as the little lambs
w&* "«.
does. I tell ye, lads," he added, earnestly, "in this
'ere onsartin v'y'ge of life the wise sailor-man takes
advantage of the fair breezes and smooth waters of
friendship, while the swabs is forever bucking agin the
cross-seas and head-winds of strife."
Although both lads heard these words and appreciated their good sense, their anger still so rankled
that they could not bring themselves to act upon the
mate's advice. So as their boat ranged alongside the
schooner they sat in a moody silence, and it rested
with Jalap Coombs to reply to the questioning hails
regarding the success of their first day's hunt.
I How many ye got ?" shouted Ike Croly, from the
How many ye got yourself ?" queried the mate.
I got eight, and Oro he got seven," was the reply.
"Ye done well! Mighty well! Them's the figgers
we 'lowed ye was making by counting your shots, and
as we didn't want to make ye feel.bad at fust start-off,
we only brung in six of ourn. We're going to fetch
along the rest to-morrow, though, so look out for yourselves."
So Ike Croly was I high line " for that day, and during the rest of the evening he showed both by looks
and conversation how proud he was of the honor, and
that he considered himself to be a very fine fellow indeed.
As for Phil, he was not only humiliated by his defeat, but heart-sore over his quarrel with Serge. How
bitterly he repented of his hasty words ! and how
gladly would he recall them even now if only his
wretched pride would permit! But it would not,
and so at the supper-table he sat moody and silent,
while the others eagerly discussed the events of the
II tell ye," cried Jalap Coombs, moved to do a little §2uj
boasting for his side as an offset to that of Croly and
Dunn, " that young feller "—here he nodded in Phil's
direction—"has made the best fust day's record of any
green hand at the business I ever run across."
"I might think so too," growled Captain Duff, "if
it hadn't been for his big talk about how he could
shoot at the start-off. As it is, I must say I am disappointed in the result."
"And I tell ye," continued Jalap Coombs, without
paying the slightest heed to this interruption, "he
made as pretty a wing shot to-day as ever I see. A
clean kill at more'n two hundred yards, nigher two
hundred and fifty, with the seal on end, jumping like
all possessed, and tearing along like a blue streak. A
man might live to be a thousand, like old Jerusalem—
Methusalem, I mean—and never see a neater shot in all
that time.    Why, I couldn't have done better myself."
As it was a notorious fact that while Jalap Coombs
was a capital judge of shooting, he was also one of the
very worst shots in the world, this last sally raised
such a laugh at his expense that even moody Phil was
unable to resist a faint smile. It was quickly overclouded, however, as his thoughts reverted to Serge,
and he was glad when, the meal being finished, he was
at liberty to go on deck.
Here a busy scene was being enacted, which was at
the same time so new and strange to Phil that he could
not but regard it with interest. By the light of the
setting sun the last three seals shot that day were
being stripped of the precious skins for the sake of
which they had been compelled to yield their lives.
The three most expert seal-skinners of the crew, one
of whom was Serge Belcofsky, were engaged in a
match race at this business. Phil, who, having had
some experience in skinning deer and other game,
could appreciate the difficulties of the task, watched OVERBOARD  IN  THE  NORTH  PACIFIC
with amazement the ease and rapidity with which his
friend worked.
Serge had placed the body of his seal squarely on
its back, and with a knife sharpened to the keenness
of a razor he made a single straight cut through the
skin from the lower jaw along the neck, chest, and
abdomen to the root of the tail. Next came four
swift circular cuts, one around the base of each fore
flipper, one around the extremity of the body at the
tail, and another around the head just back of the
The skin being now ready for removal, Serge
grasped an edge of it, and with his keen blade rapidly
I flensed" it or cut it free from the body, which he
rolled over as the operation proceeded, until he literally rolled the seal out of its skin. After this, one of
the crew carried the skin below, and laid it, hair side
down, in a "kench," or bin constructed for the purpose.
Here the fleshy sides of the skins are covered thickly
with salt, and they are left in that condition until the
end of the voyage. They are thus thoroughly pickled,
and will keep in this state for an indefinite length of
As Serge finished his task nearly half a minute ahead
of his most expert rival in this peculiar business, the
spectators greeted him with shouts of applause and a
vigorous hand-clapping. The young Alaskan acknowledged this with a smile and a bow, but at the same
time glanced inquiringly to where Phil stood, to see
if he were joining in these tokens of appreciation.
But the young seal-hunter was not given to outward
demonstrations of his feelings, and though his heart
was peculiarly warmed towards Serge at this moment,
and he longed for a reconciliation, he could not bring
himself to let this feeling manifest itself before others.
So he stood motionless and silent. 92
Serge, too, was longing for a renewal of friendship
with the one of all his companions whom he most admired and loved, and was bitterly disappointed that
Phil should give no sign of a similar desire. More to
hide the expression of this feeling than anything else
he picked up the body of the seal which he had just
finished, and bore it to the rail with the intention of
throwing it overboard. The deck was slippery with
blood and blubber oil, and Serge was not just then in
a mood to exercise caution. He was thinking of Phil
instead of what he was doing. As a consequence,
when he lifted the seal above his head and leaned far
over the rail to fling it from him, his feet slipped, and
in an instant he had plunged headforemost into the
cold waters.
Phil uttered a cry of horror as his friend thus disappeared from view, for it instantly flashed into his mind
that, like most natives of Alaska, where the water is
too cold to tempt them to linger in its icy embrace,
Serge did not know how to swim. The young hunter
was so prompt to act that even as he cried aloud in his
distress he was casting aside his coat and kicking off
his heavy boots. Then, darting aft, he sprang on the
rail, and with the same motion flung himself into the
sea. As he came to the surface he caught sight of
Serge struggling to keep his head above water but a
few feet from him, and a couple of strokes took him to
the side of the drowning lad.
"Rest your hands on my shoulders, old man," he
shouted, I and I can support you. Don't grab, me, or
you will drown us both."
Half choked, blinded, and breathless as he was,
Serge heard, understood, and obeyed.
By treading water, and at the same time paddling
with his hands as a dog uses his fore - paws in swimming, Phil managed to keep both his own head and OVERBOARD  IN  THE  NORTH  PACIFIC
that of his helpless comrade above water. It required
a tremendous effort, however, and he realized that
some unnatural weight was gradually dragging them
" Kick off your boots, Serge!" he cried.
"I can't," gasped the latter.
" You must! Unless you do I can't hold out a minute longer."
Somehow or other Serge managed to obey and get
rid of his heavy water-filled sea-boots, though how he
did it he never could tell. Fortunately they were
several sizes too large for him, a fact over which he
had previously lamented.
The relief from their weight was instant, and Phil
felt that he was now good for several minutes longer.
"Can you see the schooner?" he asked.
"No," answered .Serge, who was looking in the
wrong direction.
"Look again, and look all around."
" Yes, yes !" screamed the other. " Here she is,
right on top of us! Look out! or we shall be run
down." i
Just as Serge uttered his terrified scream at the
sight of what he believed to be the schooner about to
run them down, he gave a lurch to one side that sent
him clear of Phil and plunged him again beneath the
surface. The swimmer seized him by the collar, and
at the same moment was struck by something on the
opposite side that he instinctively grasped. It was an
oar belonging to the boat into which Jalap Coombs
had slid as it towed astern of the schooner, and cutting
the painter, had come to their rescue. As from his
position in rowing he was not able to look ahead, he
had not yet seen the lads, when a scream from under
his bows warned him that he was upon them. The
boat had appeared to Serge so suddenly and unexpectedly that to his bewildered eyes she looked as big as
the schooner, and he believed his own fate and Phil's
to be sealed.
It did not take the chilled and dripping lads long to
scramble into the boat, for though they were so numbed
as to be almost helpless, both they and Jalap Coombs
were such experienced boatmen that all three knew
exactly what to do. Relieved from the terrible strain
under which they had labored, they felt so weak that
they would gladly have lain down in the bottom of
the boat; but Jalap Coombs said : I No indeed, ye'll
do nothing of the kind. Set on that thwart, each take
an oar, and row for all you're wuth to keep up a cir-
kerlation and get warm.    Ef ye don't, I'll have to turn PHIL  BECOMES   "HIGH  LINE"
to and give ye both the sound thrashing ye desarve,
though I was brung up a Quaker, and are opposed to
fighting on gineral principles."
He spoke so sternly that neither of them dared disobey him, and so they wearily rowed for all they were
worth, which was very little indeed just then, until the
returning schooner picked them up, and willing hands
outstretched over her side drew them once more into
In the meantime the lads, whose friendship had been
sundered for a little, only to be welded more firmly
than ever by the death struggle they had just shared,
had exchanged a few broken but heartfelt sentences as
they sat side by side on that weary thwart, and now all
was again well with them.
Serge had said, " Oh, Phil! I shall never forgive
myself !" And the latter had answered : 1 You don't
have to, old man. If you will only forgive me, it will
be more than enough." After that the mere touching
of their wet shoulders had proved comforting, and
given assurance of a friendship that neither of them
believed could ever again be broken.
Youth and health can withstand almost anything,
and so in the morning, after a night between warm
blankets, the lads were as fit as ever for their day's
work. As they started out in their boat in pursuit of
seals, they felt none the worse for the experience of the
previous evening, which was already become a memory,
and one not altogether tinged with sadness. In fact,
they were not inclined to regard their adventure half so
seriously as did Jalap Coombs.    He said:
" Ef it hadn't er been for me and old Kite Roberson,
the Seamew would have lost two of her best hands."
" We know what would have happened if it had not
been for you," replied Phil, gratefully; 1 but what had
Mr. Robinson to do with it ?" 1
"More'n a little," answered the mate, shaking his
head and gazing into the remote distance, as he always
did when referring to his late but still venerated friend.
" Old Kite uster say: I When two friends has quarrelled,
and is trying to make up without knowing jest how
to do it, then watch 'em, for they ain't responserble for
their acts.' Remembering this as I did, I naturally felt
it my dooty to keep an eye on you two last evening,
though it war my watch below, and some would have
said I hadn't no call to be on deck. Says I to myself,
\There's no knowing what they'll do.' Sure enough
when I seed fust one plump overboard and then t'other,
I knowed why I had been called, and acted according.
S-s-t ! there's a holluschickie [young male seal] now !"
As the fur-seal when sleeping in the water lies on his
back with his fore-flippers folded on his breast, and as,
when in this position only his nose and the heels of his
hind-flippers are exposed to view, it would be hard to
say how even Jalap Coombs's practised eye could distinguish a holluschickie, or bachelor seal, from a female,
or even from a seecatch or old bull. His assertion was
proved true, however, when this one was hauled into
the boat, after a capital shot by Phil, and after Serge's
powerful strokes had taken them so quickly to the
spot that the sinking body could be gaffed.
Phil was glad of this, for he hated to kill female
seals, such a proceeding not being at all in accordance
with his sportsmanlike instincts or training. He was
often obliged to do this, however, for the pelagic sealer
must shoot quickly if he is to shoot successfully, and
without pausing to discover, even if such a thing were
possible, whether he is firing at a yearling pup, a bachelor, a female, or an I old wig," as the seecatchie or veteran bulls are called, on account of a patch of white
hair on their shoulders.
As Jalap Coombs philosophically remarked, " They PHIL  BECOMES
all count in the day's catch, and numbers, not quality,
is what we open-water fellows is after."
The crew of the mate's boat worked so well on this
day, Phil shot with such quickness and precision, Serge
rowed with such energy, and Jalap Coombs steered to
such a nicety within range of the shy animals after
they were once sighted, that before night a well-earned
success had rewarded their efforts, and their boat was
heavily laden with seal-skins.
Besides those they secured, many seals were shot at
and missed, some were wounded and escaped, and still
others sank beyond reach after being killed. Most of
Phil's shots were made at mere black points that appeared but for a moment on this side or that as the
seals came to the surface for a breath of air, only to
dive again almost immediately. The whole body was
rarely seen, save when the seals were at play, when
they would spring clear of the water with graceful
leaps, like so many salmon. At other times they swam
a few feet beneath the surface with marvellous swiftness, and if one were noted as he came up for breath,
he was too far away to be seen when forced to do so a
second time.
With all these difficulties to contend against, the
securing of twenty seals by a single boat was consid-
ered by Jalap Coombs a capital day's work, and as
they approached the Seameio at sunset the heart of the
young hunter beat high with the hope that he had at
length scored more points than either of his rivals.
Nor was he disappointed, though, when a dozen skins
had been sent aboard, and no more were seen in the
boat, a derisive laugh was heard from the schooner's
deck. When, however, Jalap Coombs began to hand
out the rest of the skins, which he had purposely hidden beneath the sail, this laugh was not only silenced,
but was changed into exclamations of astonishment. 98
Oro Dunn had brought in eighteen skins, and had.
boastfully declared that he was " high line " for the day,
as no young sport from the East was likely to beat that
score, or even come anywhere near it. When Phil's
twenty skins were counted out, Mr. Dunn retired to the
cabin as crestfallen a seal-hunter as sailed the Pacific at
that moment, and muttering unpleasant things about
some people's luck.
Serge said he ought to add " Brown " to his name.
Jalap Coombs was triumphant. At the supper-table
he boasted so tremendously of his protege's shooting,
that although Phil could not entirely repress his happy smiles, he was forced to remain as silent as on the
previous evening. Even Captain Duff congratulated
him in his own rough way, and said that if this thing
were kept up he would soon be obliged to allow his
youngest hunter the same commission as the others.
At the same time Serge was the hero of the forecastle, where the mate's crew, and Phil in particular,
were praised to the full content of the young boat-
For ten days longer this exciting business of seal-
hunting on the high seas was continued, with varying
success and in all kinds of weather. Occasionally a
day, or at least part of one, would be fair and bright,
but more often the sun was hidden by fog-banks or
low-hanging clouds, while snarling squalls of wind and
rain swept above the sullen waters. Once the sea was
lashed into fury for twenty-four hours by so fierce a
gale that the brave little schooner, hove to under a
tiny storm try-sail and the merest corner of her jib,
was taxed to her utmost to ride it out.
By the time that several hundred skins, of which a
full third were credited to Phil's gun, were safely salted
away in the kenches, the seals suddenly disappeared.
Jalap Coombs said that the schooner must be within PHIL  BECOMES   "HIGH  LINE"
one hundred miles or so of the Aleutian Islands, and
that the game they had followed so far had doubtless
passed through them into Bering Sea, where the reunited seal herds were by this time I hauling out" on
the Pribyloff Islands.
" How I should love to see them there !" exclaimed
Phii. I        I      HH   I
1 Well, you're not likely to have a chance on this
v'v'ge>" answered Jalap Coombs, I and if ye did, ye'd
be a long ways further from Sitka than ye be now."
This set the young hunter to thinking seriously of
his original purpose in taking this cruise. Of course
he had often thought of it before, though not very
seriously; but now he began to watch anxiously for
the promised vessel, to which he and Serge might be
transferred with a view to reaching their desired destination. Once he ventured to mention the subject to
Captain Duff, only to receive the gruff reply :
"Ye don't suppose I'm going hunting schooners just
to set you aboard of, do ye ? When we happen to
hail one, I'll see. Meantime you can keep right on
earning the money I've already laid out on ye, besides
what's due for your passage." .
As at the lowest estimate Phil had already earned
several hundred dollars, of which he was not to see
one cent, he considered that his account with Captain Duff was more than balanced, which belief was
equally shared by Serge.
One morning soon after this Phil was surprised to
find the Seamew at anchor. He looked eagerly about
for signs of land, but none were to be seen. I Where
are we ? and what are we anchored here for ?" he
asked of Jalap Coombs, who happened to be on deck
at the time.
"Outer edge of the Shumagin Banks, and I s'pose
we're here to fish," was the brief answer.
They evidently were there to fish, and all hands
were set at it as soon as breakfast was over. With
bits of seal blubber for bait, they hauled in cod as
fast as they pleased. Very soon a portion of the crew
were told off to split and salt these, while the rest continued to add to the catch. By nightfall a sufficient
number of fine large fish to suit Captain Duff's purpose had been caught, split, and salted away on top of
the seal - skins already packed in the kenches below-
deck. His desire for the valuable furs had only been
increased by the successful issue of his voyage up to
this time, and he had determined upon a bold move
that would secure him as many more seal-skins as he
already had if it could be successfully carried out.
He did not disclose his intentions even to his mate,
but merely ordered the anchor up at the conclusion of
that day of fishing, and laid a course to the westward. CHAPTER XVI
On the morning following that of the day of fishing
the Seamew was skirting a wild-looking coast, against
the bald headlands of which the huge blue billows of
the Pacific thundered with a ceaseless roar. The scene
was one of awful grandeur and desolation, though not
of utter solitude, for though no sign of human life was
visible, sea-lions disported in the tumultuous breakers,
huge whales rolled lazily on the long swells, and myriads of sea-fowl circled with harsh cries above the precipitous rocks. Above all towered the symmetrical
snow-capped peak of a lofty mountain, from the summit of which a thin banner of smoke trailed to leeward. It was Shishaldin, the most beautiful peak of
all the Aleutian Islands, and as it was the first volcano
Phil Ryder had ever seen, he gazed upon it with delight and wonder. The forbidding coast they were
skirting, and which was Phil's first bit of Alaska, was
the south side of the island of Oonimak, one of the
largest of the entire Aleutian chain, and also the only
one of any size absolutely without inhabitants.
After a while the schooner reached the western extremity of this inhospitable island, and turning into
the broad channel of the Oonimak Pass, was soon
breasting the green waters of Bering Sea. Here her
course was again altered, so that she now followed the
northern coast of the island, and was headed towards
its upper or eastern end. This shore was much less
abrupt than the other, and broad levels of mossy tun-
— 102
dra broken by foot-hills stretched away to the mountains that had risen so sheer from the Pacific side.
At length towards evening anchor was dropped in
a small, well-sheltered bay at the extreme eastern end
of the island, and Captain Duff caused himself to be
rowed ashore. In a short time he returned, and to
the surprise of all hands informed his crew that he
wished his cargo of seal-skins broken out at once and
transferred to a place on shore that he would point out.
So actively was this job of night-work carried forward, that before morning every seal-skin had been
taken from the schooner, carried ashore, and safely
"Halted away in a kench constructed within the ruins of
an old stone hut. This was but one of a number still
standing, which showed that at some previous time
Oonimak Island had supported at least one populous
This mysterious proceeding having been carried oat
to Captain Duff's satisfaction, and only a scanty cargo
of salted cod-fish left in his vessel's hold, her anchor
was again lifted, and she was headed northward into
the fog-hidden regions of Bering Sea. In these forbidden waters any vessel was liable at any time to be
overhauled by some American revenue-cutter or British man - of - war, and subjected to an examination. | If
seal-skins were found on board she was seized and sent
to some distant port, from which there was no chance
of escape, and where her crew were detained as prisoners until such time as their case might be tried before the proper authorities.
The strange proceeding of the Seamew*s master in
discharging his cargo on a desolate island, carefully
concealing it there, and then venturing into the forbidden waters, drew forth many eager.and curious comments from his crew, all of whom wondered what the
next act on the programme would be.    None, however, w
dared question the schooner's autocrat, for, as though
well aware of their desire to do so, he became more of
a bully than ever, and so roared and bellowed and
snarled at every one and everything as to make all
hands anxious to keep as far from him as possible.
None discussed the situation more earnestly than
did Phil and Serge whenever they could get together
beyond the captain's range of observation, for they
were well aware that every mile of progress in this
new direction found them just so much farther away
from Sitka, as well as from the track of vessels bound
for that port.
" I tell you what it is, old man," Phil remarked, on one
of these occasions, I while I don't know where we are
bound or when we will get there, it seems to me that
shipping on board this schooner was a mighty poor
move on my part. I might have known that I would
never get to Sitka this way, if I had only stopped to
think. But I didn't, and I don't suppose I ever shall
until it is too late for thinking to do any good."
I What worries me most," responded Serge, 1 is that
it was I who proposed the plan."
| Now don't you fret about that. You only did
what you thought was for the best, and, after all, I
don't know but it is just as well that I came on this
cruise. I should have been certain to get into some
other scrape equally bad, if not worse, if I hadn't.
Why, when I recall that one of the only two nights I
ever spent in Victoria was passed in a police-station, I
tremble to think what might have happened if I had
been left there for two whole weeks. I should really
be enjoying this trip, too, if it wasn't for thinking of
my poor father. He surely must be in a state of mind
by this time. At any rate, I am seeing something of
Alaska, or rather of its fogs and waters, and that is
what I came out West for, you know." 104
I Yes," said Serge, anxious to encourage this brighter
view of the situation, " and you are making a splendid
reputation for yourself as a seal-hunter. Why, after
this trip, if you want it, you can get a job any time at
the very highest rates going. I tell you what! If I
could only shoot as you can, I should feel fixed for
life." jjf     f        "I
"But I sha'n't ever want any such job again," replied Phil. I To tell the truth, I am getting awfully
sick of this killing business. It was exciting at first,
but the keeping it up day after day is horrid. One
might as well turn butcher at once, and be done
with it." HI pH
I Oh!" said Serge, with a puzzled air, as though this
sentiment were beyond his comprehension. "If you
look at it that way—"
"Well, I do!" interrupted Phil, " and I hope I shall
never be called upon to shoot another seal."
The reason why Serge was unable to regard the busi-
iness of killing animals, whose skins represented money,
in the same light that Phil did was because of the vastly different surroundings amid which he had been
brought up. The most important industries of the
great territory that claimed him as a son are hunting,
fur-trading, and fishing. In fact, these and a little
mining were the only business pursuits of which he
had known anything until he started on his long voyage to the Atlantic coast. Thus from his earliest childhood he had been brought up to believe that fur-bearing animals were to be killed wherever found, and to
regard a successful hunter with the same respect that
Phil would accord to a successful banker or lawyer.
Thus we find individuals, communities, and even nations, regarding the same things from entirely different points of view according as they have been educated.    Each honestly believes himself or itself to be A   VENTURE   INTO   FORBIDDEN   WATERS
in the right, and that all others must be wrong. In
this manner arise differences of opinion that sometimes
lead to strife. Wherefore let us try to look at all
things from our neighbor's point of view before concluding to differ with him concerning them.
The foregoing paragraph is a sermon, and though it
is a very tiny one, it ought to apologize for intruding
itself into a story. I am afraid, though, that, like many
other sermons we are all acquainted with, it is so
puffed up with its own conceit that it will do nothing
of the kind.
So while Phil Ryder had arrived at the conclusion
that the business of killing seals was one that no self-
respecting hunter who also claimed to be a sportsman
could follow, Serge Belcofsky regarded it as a most
eminently respectable occupation, in which opinions
both lads were right.
In the meantime, while these discussions were going
on in forecastle and on deck, the Seamew flew northward for a day and a night. It was generally believed
that she was in search of som,e new fishing-ground,
for, as all hands knew, Bering Sea is one of the best-
stocked fish-preserves in the world, and contains a supply of food fishes sufficient for the feeding of all the
people in the world.
It is one of the very foggiest places in the world
also, being even more foggy than the Bay of Fundy,
and for the same reason, which is warm water and cold
air. As the warm waters of the Gulf Stream enter
the Bay of Fundy, so the warm waters of the great
Japan current enter Bering Sea. In both places they
meet waves of cold arctic air, by which evaporation
is condensed into fog. If the air were as warm as
or warmer than the water there would be no fog, as is
the case in the tropics; but when warm water and cold
air meet fog is the result. 106
The steam that we see issuing from the spout of a
teakettle as it sits on top of a stove is nothing more
nor less than fog. It is the vapor rising from the hot
water in the kettle condensed by the much cooler air
outside. If the outer air were as hot as that inside the
kettle we would see no steam, though the invisible vapor would be passing from the spout just the same.
To prove this it is only necessary to set the teakettle
in the oven.
Thus Bering Sea is always foggy during the summer
months, when its waters are warmer than its air, and
that is one reason why the fur-seal, who dearly loves
cool wet weather and foggy days, finds in it a congenial home and makes it his summer resort. Another
reason is that these waters so abound in fish that form
the seal's chief food, and to procure which he thinks
nothing of swimming one hundred or more miles in a
day from his rookeries on the Pribyloff Islands.
Although seals can exist for a long time without
food, they must eat sooner or later. So the mother
seal, having stayed on one of the islands with her pup
until she is very hungry, will leave him gorged with
milk sufficient to nourish him during her absence, and
set forth on long fishing expeditions that may extend
over two or even three days. When she returns she
finds her own little one amid thousands of others that
look exactly like him, just as surely as a human mother
would select her own baby from a roomful. So anxious is the mother that her pup shall have enough food
to make him grow into a strong, beautiful holluschickie
that she will nurse none but him. Thus if she did not
return from her long journey in search of food he
would surely die of starvation, as all the other seal-
mothers would be too busy supplying the wants of
their own little ones to care for him.
It was because Captain Duff wanted more seal-skins,
and because the seals insisted in resorting to Bering
Sea, that he had taken the Seamew into those waters.
He knew that the Pribyloff seals, in vast numbers,
roamed far and wide in search of food; he knew that
here they were less shy and more easily secured than
elsewhere, and he believed that, hidden by the prevalent and friendly fogs, his swift little schooner could
escape the vigilance of meddlesome patrol boats. Of
course he ran the risk of losing his vessel by taking
her into the forbidden waters for this purpose, and of
course he was disobeying a law in so doing. Captain
Duff was willing to run the risk, however, and as for
laws—while he entertained a great respect for those
that protected his interests, he had little regard for
such as interfered with his schemes for money-getting.
So, having hidden the seal-skins already secured in a
place from which he, or those whom he might send,
could reclaim them at some future time, and having
provided himself with a supply of salted codfish, beneath which the skins that he now hoped to obtain
might be concealed, foxy Captain Duff headed the Sea-
mew into Bering Sea, and sailed her for a day and a
night towards the seal-haunted Pribyloff Islands.
Only he of all on board knew whither she was being
taken ; or if Jalap Coombs suspected, he shrewdly
kept his own counsel, as is always best for mates to
do unless their advice is asked.    He had become so 108
strangely taciturn during the last two clays, that even
his boys, as he called Phil and Serge, could extract no
information from him.
Early in the morning of the second day the Seamew
was hove to. With the first light the hunters were
ordered into their boats, and sent in pursuit of the
schools of seals that surrounded the schooner in every
direction, as far as the eye could reach through the
drifting fog. These were darting, diving, leaping
high in air, gambolling with all the playfulness of
kittens, and showing themselves by every movement
to be the swiftest of swimmers, and the most graceful
of marine animals.
Although Phil Ryder was not prepared for a flat
disobedience of orders, he still moved towards the
boat with such evident reluctance as to attract the
captain's notice.
"I shall pay you the same commission as the other
hunters for this day's work, Ryder," said Captain
Duff, a day or two later, when the Seamew was well
into Bering Sea, " and the hunter making the biggest
score to-day will get a ten-dollar bonus. The same
wiH-be given to the steersman of his boat, and half as
much to his boat-puller."
H " Hurrah for Captain Duff !" yelled Oro Dunn. "That
bonus has got to come to my boat, or I'm no shot."
" Don't ye be too sure of that!" shouted Ike Croly,
whose boat had pushed off. " I've already laid out to
spend that money myself."
" Oh, you have, have you ?" muttered Phil, with all
the old pride in his reputation as a crack shot fully
aroused. "Perhaps you'd better not spend it until
you get it, though."
"Come back to the schooner with each dozen that
ye get, and we'll take care of 'em here," was Captain
Duff's parting instruction as the boats put off. CRUEL KILLING   OF  MOTHER-SEALS
Never had Phil imagined that so many seals existed
as he saw that day, nor did it seem possible that these
could be the same shy creatures he had encountered in
the North Pacific. In the excitement of making a
score he forgot all that he had said about seal-killing
being butchery, and fired at every mark with the reckless ardor of an enthusiastic sportsman.
Five times during that day of slaughter did the
mate's boat return to the schooner, and each time she
bore a dozen seals. On the last return trip she was
laden to the gunwales with a dozen and two more.
"Never in all my experience did I see sich a day's
haul of seals !" exclaimed Jalap Coombs, i And I
only wish my friend, old Kite Roberson, war here to
see what a Yankee boy kin do with a pop-gun."
I I'm glad he isn't," replied Phil, who, weary and
aching all over, was beginning to feel ashamed of and
disgusted with his day of killing.
As he clambered up over the schooner's side he
caught sight of something that caused him to start
back as though he had been struck. On the deck,
mingled with blood and blubber, was a white fluid
that ran to the scuppers and trickled from them in
" What is it ?" demanded Phil, hoarsely, of one of
the crew, who was busily skinning a seal. As he asked
the question he pointed a trembling finger to a pool of
the white fluid.
" That!" answered the man, indifferently. 1 Why,
that's milk from the cows you fellows have been bring-
ing in to-day."
" Cows ! Do you mean seal-mothers ? Where are
their young ?"
" What! the pups I Back on the rookeries, of
"And what will become of them?" 110
Oh, 1^ don't know. I suppose they'll die after a
while. But what ails you ? Be you sick ?" With this
the man paused for a moment in his work and gazed
curiously at Phil's pale face.
"Sick! Yes, I am sick at heart!" cried the conscience - stricken lad, before whose mental vision was
flashing a vivid picture of the helpless and starving
pups whose mothers he had slaughtered that day.
He seemed to hear their pitiful little voices growing
weaker and weaker with each hour as they called in
vain for those who would never return to them. He
seemed to see them dying, after days of suffering, and
for a moment he felt all the horror that comes to him
who has committed a murder.
He was restored to his surroundings by Captain
Duff's loud voice calling out: " Hello, Ryder! Here's
your bonus; for you're high line to-day. If ye'll only
do as well to-morrow and the day after, I'll promise to
start ye for Sitka by steamer afore the week's out."
Thus saying, the speaker extended towards the lad the
reward he had promised for that day's butchery—a
ten-dollar gold piece.
With a cry of rage and a savage motion Phil
snatched the glittering coin, and with all his might
flung it from him into the sea. Then confronting the
amazed man with blazing eyes and a wrathful voice,
he almost screamed: "Did you think I would take
your blood-money? I've sunk as low as murder, I
know, but not so low as to take pay for it ! And
bad as I am, you are a thousand times worse, for I did
not know what I was doing, while you knew all the
time and urged me on. But never, so long as I live,
will I take the life of another of those harmless creatures.    Never! never!"
" What ever does the boy mean ? Has he lost his
senses and gone mad ?" cried the captain, in bewilder-   CRUEL  KILLING  OF  MOTHER-SEALS
ment, at the same time retreating a step, as though
fearful that Phil was about to spring at him.
At that moment came a startling interruption of this
tragic scene. It was the deep boom of a heavy gun, evidently fired from a considerable distance to windward.
Instantly all eyes were turned in that direction,
where through the twilight was still distinctly to be
seen a white steamer, with a cloud of black smoke
pouring from her yellow funnel, and headed in their
The exclamation of "A cutter!" was heard from a
dozen lips at once, and, sure enough, it was one of those
handy little government cruisers that are so dreaded
by evil-doers, and afford so great a protection to honest sailors. She had fired a blank shot from her single
gun as a command for the Seamew to lie to and await
her coming.
The schooner was under way, and running down the
wind to the eastward under easy sail. Captain Duff
could not afford to be caught thus, red-handed as it
were, with the bodies of recently-killed seals on his
deck, and the green hides of others still unstowed.
The steamer was yet a mile away. The Seamew was
remarkably fast in a moderate breeze and smooth
water, and night was coming on. He could at least
gain time enough to conceal his illegal freight and to
transform his vessel, to all outward appearance, into an
ordinary fisherman. He might possibly escape entirely,
and the chance was worth taking.
"Bring her on the wind !" he shouted to the man at
the wheel. I Trim in! trim in ! Up with your main-
topsail, flying-jib, and jib-topsail! Lively, lads! lively!
Drop everything else, and get sail on to her ! Mr.
Coombs, break out the main-stay sail and set it. Here,
you !    Help me get in these boats !"
Phil was so carried away by the excitement of the 112
moment that before he knew what he was about he
found himself working furiously with the captain and
two other men at getting the boats that were still towing alongside out of the water and on deck.
By the time this was done the schooner was hauled
on an easy bowline, which was her best point of sailing, and with every stitch of canvas that could be
packed on her, was tearing through the water so swiftly
that it seemed doubtful if even a steamer could catch
her. Certainly, if the wind held, she could not be
overhauled before night closed down. Still, while she
was getting into racing trim, and on account of the
alteration in her course, the cutter had made a decided
gain, and was now much nearer than at first.
I Blow, good wind, blow !" shouted Captain Duff,
as he stood on the after-deck, critically eying his sails.
Phil Ryder stood a short distance from him, watching
the cutter, and experiencing a return of the bitter feelings he had forgotten during the recent period of excitement and action.
1 Oh, I hope she will catch us!" he exclaimed, aloud,
though unconsciously.
^Just then a second gun was fired by the pursuer, and
with an angry scream a shot flew over the schooner,
and plunged into the water far ahead.
I Then go below, ye swab, and stay there !" roared
Captain Duff, furious at both the shot and Phil's
words. As he spoke he gave the lad a violent shove
that landed him at the foot of the cabin stairs, and at
the same time the slide was drawn to above his head. CHAPTER  XVIII
As Phil picked himself up from the cabin floor, his
whole frame ablaze with anger, he muttered through
his clinched teeth, "If that brute thinks I am going to
stay down here like a rat in a hole, he is mightily mistaken, that's all."
Then, with a boldness born of his bitter feelings, he
made his way through the narrow passage into the
galley, out through it to the deck, and walking deliberately aft, assumed his former position. Now, however,
he keenly watched Captain Duff's every movement,
feeling certain that the latter was too great a coward
to strike him while he was on guard.
The captain glared savagely at the only member of
his crew who dared to openly defy him, but seemed
uncertain how to act. Perhaps it was fortunate for
both of them that in this emergency their attention
was directed from each other by a third shot from the
cutter. This time the range was so perfect that the
hurtling missile passed through the schooner's main-
topsail, in which it tore a jagged hole.
Although this being made a target for cannon-balls
was a thrillingly novel sensation to our young hunter, his state of mind was such that it caused him
neither fear nor anxiety. After standing still a minute or so longer, he walked slowly forward to find
Serge, and ask him how he was enjoying the experience.
Ere the cutter could fire another shot darkness had
so set in that neither vessel was visible from the other,
and only a red glow at the top of her funnel marked
the pursuer's position.
Little by little Captain Duff altered his course by
hugging the wind a trifle more closely, until at length
CD CD        O v * ^3
even the glow above the cutter's funnel was no longer
to be seen, nor the beat of her screw heard. Then the
red-faced master of the Seamew», realizing that he had
escaped the clutches of the law, gave a hoarse chuckle
of satisfaction.
Phil found Serge quite as indifferent to the result of
the chase as himself, though somewhat more nervous
concerning the shots, and much relieved when he found
there were to be no more. When, an hour later, supper
was served aboard the schooner, the lads ate theirs together on deck. Then when Serge was relieved from
watch, Phil crept into the narrow forecastle bunk with
him, and they shared it together for the rest of the
While our lad was not willing to trust himself with-
in reach of Captain Duff's arm during the hours of
darkness, he was so ready to defy him by daylight that
in the morning he returned to the cabin for breakfast,
during which meal both he and his table companions,
including the captain, preserved an unbroken silence.
The schooner, having been kept under full sail all
night, was felt by all hands to have placed many
miles of safety between herself and her pursuer by
sunrise, or at least by the time the sun was supposed
to have risen beyond the dense fog-bank in which the
Seamew was again enveloped. So confident was Captain Duff that he was beyond his enemy's reach that,
his cupidity being aroused by the sight of a sleeping
seal, he determined to have one more day of slaughter
before leaving those waters. He therefore ordered
out the boats, and charged the hunters to do their best,
as this would be their last chance of that season to
make any money by seal-killing.
To the amazement and consternation of the entire
crew, the youngest of the hunters, boldly facing the
bully, of whom they stood so greatly in awe, refused
point-blank to fire a shot at a seal.
11 said last evening, when I discovered the crime of
which I had been guilty, that I would never shoot another seal, and I never will," said Phil, with all the
decision of which his voice was capable.
"Mr. Coombs," said the captain, in the blandest of
tones, stepping to the rail and addressing the mate,
who had already entered his boat, "will you oblige
me by passing up that water-breaker? Thank you.
And that bag of biscuit, if you please? Now, ye
mutinous young swab !" he roared, turning to Phil
with an abrupt change of voice and manner, " get into
that boat, quick! afore I throw ye in !"
" Certainly, sir, I will get into the boat, for I do not
intend to be mutinous, but I have promised myself not
to shoot any more seals, and I cannot break a promise."
"Humph !" growled Captain Duff, "we'll see what
your promises amount to. There is neither food nor
water in your boat, and I'll see that neither you nor
those with you get a mouthful of either till ye bring
back a load of seals or their skins. You may choose
to make your companions suffer for your fool notions,
but I rather guess they'll find a way to make you
change your mind.    Shove off!"
When the schooner was lost to sight in the fog,
Serge rested on his oars, and turning to his friend,
asked, "Do you mean to stick it out, Phil?"
"I certainly do not intend to shoot a seal this day,"
was the quiet reply.
"Well, then, though I can't exactly understand your
feelings in this matter, I'll see you through with it, 116
and stand by you to the end, and here's my hand
on it.
I Thank you, old fellow!" and with the warm handclasp that passed between the two lads the young
hunter felt that his cause was won.
" Is it a clear case of conscience with ye, lad ?" inquired the mate.
"Yes, sir, it is."
I Then ye can count me on your side too; for, as old
Kite Roberson uster say, I any man as '11 go back on
his conscience ain't no right to call hisself a man,' and
them's likewise my sentiments."
In the meantime seals were gambolling about the
boat on all sides, and gazing fearlessly at them from
the wave crests raised by a rapidly freshening breeze,
while the distant sounds of rapid firing told of the
work being performed by the other hunters. The occupants of the mate's boat talked in low tones of their
situation and its possible results, while their craft
drifted with the wind for nearly an hour.
Suddenly Jalap Coombs lifted his hand for silence,
ang listened intently for a moment. Then he said,
"There's a screw - steamer bearing down on us, and
she's not far away."
The commanding officer of the United States revenue-cutter Phoca was a far shrewder man than Captain Duff had given him credit for being. Although
he had been disappointed at not overhauling the Sea-
mew before darkness hid her from view, he by no means
gave up all hope of capturing the saucy schooner,
cleverly as she had escaped him for the time being.
Watching her through a powerful glass, long after she
was lost to the unaided vision, he noted that she was
gradually hauling on the wind, and shaped his own
course accordingly. Shortly before daylight he stopped
his engines, and set a dozen pair of the keenest ears
among his crew to listening for any sounds that might
come over the fog-obscured waters. He, too, heard
the splashing of frolicking seals, and wisely concluded
that a skipper who was so anxious to secure a few
skins as to be willing to run the risk of hunting them
in Bering Sea would, in his present state of fancied
security, try for a few more before leaving it for good.
Not long after this the correctness of his judgment
was proved by the sound of shots borne faintly down
the wind through the heavy air. Quickly was the
Phoca got under way, and stealthily, like the white
ghost of a ship, she sped through the mist in the direction of the shots.
"We'll pick up the hunting-boats and their crews
first," said the commander to his first - lieutenant.
" Then Mr. Skipper will find himself too short-handed
to make sail in a hurry, and I rather guess that, like
Davy Crockett's coon, he will conclude to come down."
The plan worked so well that in less than an hour
from that time Captain Duff, Ike Croly, Oro Dunn,
and the rest of the Seamew's company found themselves prisoners on board the revenue-cutter Phoca,
while their own craft was in charge of a prize-crew of
bluejackets detailed for that duty.
In the excitement attending this capture, and the
hurried transfer of crews, the fact that a boat containing the schooner's mate and two others was missing was entirely overlooked until the vessels were
again under way. Then, though guns were fired, and
several hours were spent in search for the lost boat, no
trace of it was found. In the meantime the wind
freshened so rapidly into a gale that finally, fearful for
the safety of the craft in his charge, with the rugged
rocks of the Aleutian Islands under their lee, the commander gave the reluctant order to run for a pass, and
the open waters of the Pacific. r
■   ft
Thus it happened that the boat in whose occupants
we are most interested was left tossing alone on the
storm-lashed waters of that desolate sea. Although
its crew were thus placed in a most unpleasant and
even dangerous position, it was one for which they had
only themselves to blame. So close had the Phoca
passed to them that they might easily have hailed her
and been picked up, had they chosen to do so. Instead
of this they kept perfectly quiet, or only conversed in
low tones, and congratulated each other that, owing to
Phil's firmness, no shots by which their presence would
have been betrayed had been fired from their boat
that morning. Their reason for this action was that
they were unanimous in desiring to escape capture—
Jalap Coombs, because he had no liking for an imprisonment, or at least a long residence on shore in
enforced idleness; Phil, because his heart was set on
reaching Sitka as soon as possible, and he fancied the
captured schooner would be taken to Seattle or San
Francisco ; and Serge on the general theory that it is
a bad thing to be captured under any circumstances.
Besides, when by the sounds that came over the sea
the mate felt assured that the Seamew had been taken,
he proposed a plan which seemed so feasible that both
lads readily agreed to it. CHAPTER XIX
| You see, boys," began Jalap Coombs, after it was
certain that the Seamew had been captured, "as my
friend old Kite Roberson uster say,\ I ain't no pig in
a poke.' Not that I've ever got onto the exact bearings of a 'poke'; but nigh as I can make out, it's some
tumble dark place like a ship's hold with the hatches
battened down, or maybe a tomb. Anyhow, I haven't
been in the dark all this time so much as Cap'n Duff
thought I was. He 'lowed he was the only navigator
'boardship, while I 'lowed there was two of us. So,
while he kep' his log, I likewise kep' mine. Now,
'cording to my reckoning, we are not, at this blessed
minute, more'n fifty mile" from the island of Oonimak,
with a breeze that's coming on a gale blowing dead
for it. If we choose, we can make it inside of six
hours, and I reckon we'll make it anyway, sooner or
later, whether we choose or no, ef this wind holds.
There is water there and maybe something to eat,
both of which is wanting with us at the present time."
"There are seal-skins there too," interrupted Serge.
" Sartain there is, lad, and I was meaning to have
fetched 'em on the next tack. Now the question is,
who owns them seal-skins, and what shall be did with
'em ? Ef they is left where they be too long, they'll
spile. Ef the natyves finds 'em they'll be stole. Ef
they stays there till Cap'n Duff can come for them,
they'll be spiled. Ef the gover'ment finds 'em, they'll
be confiskercated, though being took in the open sea 120
em, we'll
they ain't/ in no ways liable. Ef we find
save 'em and make good use of 'em. A part of 'em
belongs to us, anyway, and the rest would naturally
be ours by the right of salvage ef we saved 'err from
destruction. So now I leaves it to you two ef our best
plan ain't to clap sail onto this little packet, head her
for Oonimak Island, do the best we can with our sealskins, and afterwards shape our course 'cording to sar-
cumstances ?"
Both lads agreed that they could suggest no better
plan of action than this, whereupon the mate remarked
that I them was his sentiments and likewise old Kite
Roberson's, who uster say, 'When ye sight a good
thing, keep your eye on it; if not, what's the use of
eyes?'" 1 I K|
So the whale - boat's sail was hoisted, she was got
before the wind, and on the fierce breath of the rising
gale she was whirled away like an autumn leaf in the
direction of Oonimak Island.
So strongly did the gale blow by the time the day
was half spent, and with such prodigious leapings did
the light boat spring from crest to crest of the leaden
seas, that every ounce of Jalap Coombs's strength and
every atom of his skill were necessary to her safe steering and to keeping her from being swamped. While he
stood up in the stern in order to get a better purchase
on his long steering - oar, the lads, crouched in the
boat's bottom amidship in order to steady her as much
as possible, were obliged to devote most of their time
to bailing. In spite of their thick clothing and oilskins, the damp chill of the wind penetrated to the
bone, and they were drenched by incessant showers of
flying spray.
After six hours of this terribly exciting and arduous
sailing, all hands began to look anxiously for a break
in the fog, and strained their eyes for some glimpse CASTAWAYS  ON  OONIMAK
of the land they felt sure must be near at hand. At
length, in a momentary lift, they caught sight of Shi-
shaldin's snowy cone, and knew that Jalap Coombs had
indee_d brought them to Oonimak. Now they heard
the roar of breakers, though they could see nothing of
the coast against which these were so furiously thundering. To keep on seemed suicidal ; while to either
halt or retreat in the face of the furious gale now raging was impossible.
A warning cry from Phil, a mighty sweep of Jalap
Coombs's steering-oar, and their cockle-shell swerved
from a jagged rock against which the hissing waves
were churned to a yeasty froth. Their tremendous
speed was apparent as they swept by this mark so
swiftly that in a moment it was again swallowed by
the mist, and had vanished behind them.
"If we can only have the luck to strike a beach,"
said Serge, though his words were unheard save by
" Hold hard ! and stand by !" shouted Jalap Coombs,
as with set face and unflinching gaze he stared through
the gray thickness at a line of leaping white, behind
which was a dim background of land. "We're close
in now, and she'll strike in another minute ! When
she does, then jump and run for your lives. Look
out!" I J
Even as he spoke the whale-boat was lifted high in
the air, poised for a moment like a bird in mid-flight,
and then hurled forward amid a smother of foam and
a roar of rushing waters. An instant later she struck
with a crash that left her occupants bruised and breathless. There was no time, however, to consider bruises
or aches, and almost with the shock itself they had
gained their feet and leaped into water up to their
Phil had grasped both shot-gun and rifle with the 122
hope that he might save them from the wreck. Whether or hot he was overbalanced by their weight he never knew ; but with his first step into the water he
slipped on the kelp-covered rocks, fell face downward,
and would have been swept away by the outward rush
of the sea had not the mate seized his collar. With a
single movement of the sinewy arm Phil was lifted to
his feet, and in another minute had been dragged beyond reach of the breakers that chafed and roared in
impotent rage at this escape of the prey they had
deemed so surely their own.
The next sea sprang upon the boat, rolled it over
and over, bit at it with savage teeth, and finally tossed
it, hopelessly shattered, at the feet of its recent occupants.
Serge could have cried at this wanton destruction of
that upon which they had so much depended, while
Phil was equally disconsolate over the loss of his guns.
To Jalap Coombs, however, these successive disasters
seemed only to lend an access of cheerfulness and activity. Rushing into the ravenous waters, he snatched
from them the boat's mast and sail, the long-handled
gaff, a couple of oars, a coil of line, and some loose bits
of rope.
"Don't ye be cast down, lads !" he cried, cheerily,
after this had been accomplished, and the three stood
together on the beach. 1 We've more to be thankful
for than to grieve over. We've lost our boat, to be
sure; but it's a marcy it brung us safe to shore as it
did. There's no use in crying over it now ; for, as olfl
Kite uster say, | What can't be mended had best stay
broke.' I R
"But what are we going to do for a living now
that our guns are gone ?" asked Phil.
" Guns ?" cried Mr. Coombs, contemptuously. " Ef
we  hadn't  nothing but guns to depend on in this
world, I reckon there'd be a-many of us wouldn't make
no living.   I know I wouldn't, nor do I think Kite Rob-
erson would have ; for, good soul as he was, he never
could a-bear the sight of a gun. Said his daddy uster
lick hint with a ramrod from the time he was broiling
age till he run away to sea. What are we going to
do for a living ? Go fishing for one thing ; develop
the resources of this here island for another. When
we're tired of developing we can go into the fur business, and take to trading seal - skins. You've forgot
the wealth we've got stowed away up yonder, haven't
ye, and that we come here a-purpose to look after ?"
"Yes, I had," answered Phil, soberly, "and I had
forgotten our many other mercies as well. I had almost forgotten the miraculous preservation of our
lives ; but I shall remember, and be thankful for it
from this time on."
"We are fortunate to be cast away on this particular island," broke in Serge, "for, from what I have
heard, it has plenty of water, which some of them have
not, plenty of food, such as it is, plenty of material for
making a fire, plenty of old houses in which we can
find shelter, and, above all, it is located right in the
track of all vessels going into or out of Bering Sea,
as well as up and down the coast."
" If food, drink, fire, and shelter are awaiting us, let's
go to them, and not keep them waiting any longer,"
cried Phil, " for I am hungry, thirsty, wet, cold, and
tired, and if you two are not all of those things you
ought to be."
I Speaking of fire," remarked Jalap Coombs, as he
ruefully withdrew the shattered remains of what had
been a water-tight match-box from his pocket, "Ihope
you boys' have got some dry matches with ye, for mine
are all spiled."
As neither of them had any matches, the mate's face 124
grew very sober, but he brightened as Serge remarked, confidently, "If you will provide food, Mr.
Coombs, I will promise you the fire to cook it with, unless all the stories I have heard of this island are false."
" Good for you, lad! Fire's one of the most important things ; but I must say I don't see how you're
going to get it, unless ye mean to climb to the top of
yon smoking mountain."
"I don't believe I shall have to go quite as far as
that," replied Serge, " but I'll get it, and the question
is where will you have it put. Do you know what
part of the island we have landed on, or where the
seal-skin cache is ?"
" I do," answered Phil; " for I recognize that far
point with the ugly-looking water just beyond."
" Right you are, lad," said Jalap Coombs. " It was
just to the east'ard of this very place we landed the
skins, and the cache isn't more'n half a mile away from
where we stand. You're right in calling that ! ugly'
water too, for it's the beginning of Krenitzin Strait, as
nasty a bit of roaring tide-rip and eddy, rock and reef,
as ye'll find on the coast. It's God's marcy that we
warn't flung in there instead of on to this beach. Ef
we had been, we wouldn't have stood no more show
than a butterfly in a whirlwind.3
While they talked, the three drenched and shivering castaways walked briskly up the beach, through a
broad belt of golden-green moss, crossed a little stream
of fresh water, from which they drank eagerly, and
finally reached a wind-swept plateau overlooking both
the sea and the mad waters of Krenitzin Strait. Here
they found the ruins of many ancient dwellings huddled closely together, and marking the site of a once
populous Aleutian settlement. Although the mate
and the two lads knew that Oonimak Island had not
been inhabited for many years, they could not help expecting to see human forms emerge from some of the
ancient dwellings, and fancying that in the shriek of
the wind over the roofless structures they heard despairing human voices.
Phil and Serge had never been there before, but Jalap Coombs had, though only in the night-time, and
he pointed out the ruin that stood nearest the beach
as the one containing the cache of seal-skins.
They did not visit it, but searched among the others
for one suited to their purpose. At length they found
an old barrabkie, or primitive Aleut hut, three walls of
which were still standing, though the other wall and
the roof had fallen in, filling the interior with a confused mass of rubbish.
"My! what a dismal - looking place!" exclaimed
Phil, with a shiver.    "If it wasn't for this terrible 126
wind that seems to blow right through me, I'd rather
take my chances outside."
" Wait till we get through with it, lad, afore ye pass
jedgment," said Jalap Coombs. "I never see a place
yet so dismal but what a couple of live Yankees like
me and you, one of which is likewise a subjeck, couldn't
knock the dismalness out of. Now, Serge, my boy, ef
ye'll only go ahead with that fire scheme of your'n,
the rest of us '11 overhaul this shebang, and see ef we
can't make it a little more ship-shape."
So Serge departed on his self-imposed mission, while
the others began a vigorous cleaning out of the old
The floor of this ancient habitation, which was of
the same style as those built by many Aleuts of today, was of hard - packed earth, and was sunk about
four feet below the level of the surrounding surface.
A stout frame of whale ribs standing about six feet
high had been erected and enclosed in a wall two feet
thick of tough, peaty sods. This in turn had been
protected by an outer wall of loose rocks, while the
whole had at one time been roofed with whalebone
rafters and a thick thatch of the heavy sedge-grass
that grows on all those islands.
For an hour Phil and the mate worked like beavers
to clear this place of its ruinous litter. Then they
returned to the beach and brought up everything that
had been saved from the wrecked boat, including, of
course, its sail. This with great difficulty, on account
of the high wind, they fashioned into a sort of a tent
roof, supported by oars, over one end of the barrabkie.
This being finished to their satisfaction, the mate went
to the beach for drift - wood in anticipation of their
promised fire, while Phil gathered a quantity of sphagnum moss, which he spread thickly over the earthen
floor of their shelter.
While the latter was wondering what he should do
next, and what had become of Serge, and if any one
else had ever been so hungry as he without the slightest prospect of supper, Jalap Coombs appeared staggering beneath an immense load of drift - wood, and
greatly excited.
| Come, lad," he cried, as he seized the long - handled steel gaff, 1 let's go fishing. We may have to
eat 'em raw, for I don't see any sign of Serge or his
fire.    But even that '11 be better than starving."
"Fishing for what?" called out Phil, as he hurried
after his companion.
"Salmon !" shouted back the mate. "They're running in the strait."
Now Phil had seen salmon-fishing in Canada, where
after hours of wading and patient labor an occasional
fish had been lured with a fly, and finally hooked.
Then, after a protracted struggle, in which the angler
had displayed infinite skill and patience, the fish had
either escaped or been brought within reach of a gaff.
With this as his sole experience in salmon-fishing, he
could not help thinking that Jalap Coombs must be
crazy to fancy that without rod, line, reel, fly, or hook
he was going to capture one of the wariest and gamest
of fish with a gaff.
Nevertheless, that is just what our young hunter did
see done. He also saw another sight that filled him
with wonder. It was a stream of fresh-water flowing
into Krenitzin Strait, and filled from bank to bank
with salmon, thousands and tens of thousands of them
leaping, crowding each other almost to suffocation, and
eagerly working their way up against the swift current to their spawning-beds some miles inland. In
these beds they had been born, and to theni they returned as surely as came the seasons themselves. It
is so with every Alaskan river and stream, from the 128
v   IE I
mighty Yukon southward. Every summer sees them
swarm with uncounted myriads of this noble fish.
Millions are caught for canneries and salteries, whence
they are shipped to all parts of the world, and by the
natives, who thus obtain their chief food supply for
the ensuing year, while millions more are never even
seen by man.
Phil had known of canned salmon, but had an idea
that they came only from the Columbia River. He
had never imagined that in far-away Alaska these
splendid fish outnumbered those of the mighty Oregon
stream a thousand to one. And he had just now been
wondering if Jalap Coombs could catch one with a
gaff! Had even laughed at the idea ! Now he smiled
as he reflected on his own previous ignorance concerning salmon and their ways. Why, he could catch
them with his hands if he cared to go into the water ;
while to hook out any required number with a gaff
was as simple as catching oysters with a rake.
Within three minutes the mate had secured two fine
fish, weighing between ten and twenty pounds each.
Then he and Phil went a short distance down the
beach, and inside of fifteen minutes more had captured
half a dozen great paper-shelled crabs, each as large as
a soup-plate. Phil also filled his pockets with mussels,
and laden with this abundant supply of food they
again turned their steps towards the barrabkie.
As they approached it they were overjoyed to see
a thin column of smoke rising above its low walls.
" Hurrah !" shouted Phil. " Serge has got a fire
sure enough. But what a horrible, vile, dreadful
smell !    What can it be ?   Phew !"
" Smells like burning feathers," said Jalap Coombs.
" Wonder who's fainted ?"
Filled with curiosity, they hurried forward, and as
they entered the barrabkie they beheld Serge on his   BRIMSTONE  AND   FEATHERS
knees before a large flat stone in one corner. He was
bending over it, and blowing with furious energy at
a little bunch of something, from which a dense cloud
of smoke and the most nauseous fumes were issuing.
Hearing the voices of his companions, he shouted
joyfully, without looking up, and hardly pausing in his
bellowslike blowing, "I've got it."
1 What ?" asked Phil, holding his nose. " The cholera? If so, keep right on with your fumigating. If
not, do take pity on a suffering community, and feed
your flame with leather, or rubber, or bones, or something else that is sweeter and pleasanter to the smell
than the frightful stuff you are burning."
Just then the smouldering mass burst into a bright
blaze, and Serge sprang to his feet, jubilant over his
" Isn't it glorious !" he shouted, as he added a few
wood shavings to his blaze. Then lighting a sliver, he
thrust it into a previously prepared pile of small sticks
that he had placed directly before the open end of the
tent. These were kindled in a moment. Larger
sticks and billets of wood were carefully added, until
in a few minutes more a fine, leaping^ crackling, sparkling, and altogether lovely fire was banishing the last
trace of gloom from the interior of the old barrabkie,
and extending a cheery welcome of glowing warmth
to the three castaways, from whose soaked garments
little clouds of steamy fog began to ascend as they
gathered admiringly about it.
At length Serge stood up, and stepped back a pace
or two with an expression of triumphant satisfaction
that said as plainly as words, "Now I am ready for
congratulations." And the others did congratulate
him most heartily. Jalap Coombs said, "I wouldn't
have believed it could be did ef I hadn't seen it."
"It didn't take seeing to make me believe it," said 1
Phil. I Smelling was sufficient. What was the magic
compound from which you produced such a frightful
smell, and such satisfactory results ?"
Eider-down and sulphur," answered Serge, smiling.
Brimstone and feathers !" shouted Jalap Coombs.
"I knowed it. That's what old Mis' Roberson—she
that was Kite's wife, you understand — alius kep' on
hand for fainting fits. I've smelled 'em many a time,
and to this day their parfume carries me back to my
happy childhood."
"It was certainly strong enough to carry one 'most
anywhere," interrupted Phil. "But where did you
get 'em, old man, and how did you set em afire ?"
"I had a long tramp after the sulphur," replied
Serge, "and only found it in a canon about three miles
back of here, near the foot of the mountain. As I
couldn't find any dry moss to go with it, I hunted for
feathers as the next-best thing, and was lucky enough
to discover an eider-duck's nest on the cliffs. Then I
came back here and found my I fire-stick,' that flat bit
of flint-rock, in one of the old huts, also my | striker,'
that bit of quartz. After that the getting of fire was
simple enough. I spread a layer of eider-down on the
flat rock, sprinkled a little sulphur over it, and pounded
the mixture with my quartz rock until it was set on
fire by a spark struck from the flint."
I Well, if that isn't one way of getting a fire!" exclaimed Phil. "I say, Serge, what a wise sort of chap
you are, anyway ! I am onljr just beginning to find it
out. Why didn't you tell us how much you knew
back there in New London ?"
"Because the kind of things I know best are only
worth knowing in this country, where I learned them,"
replied Serge. | They would not be appreciated in
New London."
II suppose not," said Phil, thoughtfully ; " and the
kind of things I have been taught, such as Latin and
English literature, don't seem to count for much out
here. Neither does the thing that I know best of all
seem to be appreciated by the present company. It is
that I am as hungry as sixteen wolves, and want my
With this startling statement Phil pounced upon an
unoffending crab and thrust him without the slightest
compunction into a bed of glowing coals. : 1
Both Jalap Coombs and Serge quickly followed
Phil's example so far as the crabs were concerned,
and while these were baking, the lads amused themselves by roasting and eating the mussels with which
the young hunter had filled his pockets. "My, but
aren't these good !" cried Phil, smacking his lips over
one of the little yellow mussels that he had just withdrawn steaming hot from its shell and eaten. "I
wish we had a bushel of them."
"Ef ye had, ye'd be sorry ye ever seen a mussel
afore ye'd finished with 'em," remarked the mate, with
a knowing shake of his head. Disdaining to waste his
time over anything so trifling and unsatisfactory as
mussels, he was devoting himself to the spitting of a
salmon on a long stick, which, by the aid of several
bits of rock, he so arranged that the fish was held just
above a bed of coals.
I Why ?" asked Phil and Serge together.
I Because ye'd be made sicker 'n I be of my given
name, which seeing as mussels was the cause of it, I
never could abide the pesky things. I never have et
'em, and never will long 's I kin find anything else to
starve on."
"How could mussels possibly be the cause of your
having so qu—I mean so distinguished a name ?" asked
Phil, with undisguised curiosity.
I Waal, I tell ye what. It's quite a yarn how the
hull thing kim about; but ef you boys will run down
to the beach once more for another load of firewood
afore it gets plumb dark, and while I tend to the cooking of the fish, I'll spin it to ye after supper."
Agreeing to this, the lads, tired and hungry as they
were, set forth into the outside darkness and chill,
both of which were intensified by the brief period of
firelight  and  warmth  they  had   iust  enjoyed.    The
CD J v v      v
wind was howling with such an increase of fury that
it was all they could do to force their way against it,
while the fog had given place to dashes of sleety rain.
Glad enough were they when, their mission accomplished, they once more regained the barrabkie, bending beneath great loads  of wood, which they flung
CD CD ' t/ ?"^^«    *-^
down with sighs of relief.
How bright and cheery the once despised interior
now looked ! What a comfort it was to be sheltered
from the tempest, and, above all, what deliciously tantalizing odors of cooking pervaded the whole place !
The crabs, beautifully baked, had been drawn from
the ashes, and with uplifted claws seemed to beckon
the famished lads to come and eat them. The great
salmon was nearly done, and was being basted with
its own drippings caught in a mussel-shell that Jalap
Coombs had thrust into the cleft end of a stick.
No second invitation from the big crabs was needed,
for hardly had Phil and Serge caught sight of them
before they pounced upon them with such ferocity
that the mate was obliged to suspend culinary operations for the time being in order to obtain his share of
the first course.
" I always thought that crabs were only good when
deviled," remarked Phil at length, as he paused in his
eating to look for something on which to crack a big
claw. "That's the way my aunt Ruth cooks them.
It's an awful bother, though, and why people should
take all that trouble for nothing I can't imagine.    I'm 134
sure these jknock any deviled crabs I ever ate away
out of sight."
Then came the fish, which was rather smoky, to be
sure, and was served on a bit of board, without sauce
garnishings, condiments, or accessories, but which the
guests at this wilderness feast pronounced the very
finest and best-cooked salmon they had ever tasted.
Jalap Coombs congratulated his young companions on
their splendid appetites, before which the great fish
rapidly disappeared, until nothing was left but head,
tail, and cleanly picked bones, and they complimented
him upon his cooking.
"Wouldn't it make my aunt Ruth open her eyes,
though !" said Phil. I She's a good cook, and she
knows it too ; but she never cooked a salmon like this
—that is, not when I was around. Yes, indeed, Mr.
Coombs, you certainly could give her points."
If Miss Ruth Ryder could have seen her fastidious
nephew at that moment, seated on the earthen floor of
a ruinous Aleutian barrabkie, and tearing with knife
and fingers at a smoky half-cooked salmon, while in
the glow of_3l drift-wood fire his honest freckled face
shone with a complete satisfaction, she would have
marvelled at him. Could she also have heard his unstinted praise of this rudely served meal, and his extraordinary comparing of her own dainty cooking with
the rough-and-ready methods of the uncouth sailor-
man who sat beside him in favor of the latter, she
would have mourned over him as over one who had
lost his mind, and knew not whereof he spoke.
Could she, however, have known how very, very
hungry this .same nephew had been but a few minutes
before, and realized the wonderful properties of the
sauce named appetite, she would have rejoiced with
him both in his possession of it and his present opportunity for ridding himself of it.    She might have been LUXURY   ON
shocked at his apparent forgetfulness of all her teachings in the matter of table manners, but she would
have been comforted by his appearance of perfect
content with his situation and its surroundings.
" I say, isn't this jolly ?" he cried, as, having performed his share of clearing up by wiping his knife on
a wisp of grass, he lay back luxuriously on his yielding
couch of moss and basked in the fireglow. " I'm sure
I don't know what a fellow could want in the way of
camping out any better than this. We've a good shelter, comfortable beds, plenty to eat, an interesting
country to explore, no one to bother us, the best fishing I ever heard of, and good shooting. You said
there was plenty of game here, didn't you, Serge ?"
"I don't know that I did," answered the young Alaskan, "but there is. I found fresh caribou tracks today, and wherever there are caribou there are big
brown bears as well—in fact, I saw what I am sure
must be a bear road."
" What do you mean ?" asked Phil, showing his interest by rising into a sitting posture and gazing at
the speaker.
11 mean what I said. A regular bear and caribou
road. I never saw one before, but I have often heard
hunters describe the well-beaten trail that starts away
off on the mainland somewhere beyond the head of
Cook Inlet and follows the Kenai peninsula for two
or three hundred miles down to this very Strait of
Krenitzin, and so to this island. Every summer many
caribou follow it and come to Oonimak for the sake
of the moss and lichens that grow here more luxuriantly than anywhere else. Wherever caribou go the
bears follow, so I expect there are plenty of both on
the island now."
I Oh, if I only had a rifle !" sighed Phil. " Is there
anything else in the way of game ?" 136
I Not much ; only sea-lions, and hair-seals, and foxes,
and any quantity of sea-fowl, including ducks and
geese, and now and then a sea-otter."
II call that a pretty fair list. By-the-way, what is
a sea-otter?    I don't remember ever to have seen
" Probably not," laughed Serge. " Along the southern coast of these very islands is about the only place
in the whole world where they are now found, and even
here they are rarely seen. I tell you the hunter who
gets a sea-otter nowadays is in great luck ; and yet
the only money or trade goods that the four or five
thousand Aleuts of these islands ever see come to them
in exchange for sea-otter skins. It is the only paying
kind of hunting that is left entirely to the natives, and
in which white men do not engage."
m I Why don't they ?"       | .|      fil
I Because it is too hard work and too dangerous."
I Is it any harder or more dangerous than seal-hunt
i I should say it was ! The sea-otter is one of the
shyest and most keen-scented of animals. If the tiniest bit of a fire is lighted to windward of him, even
miles away, he will scent it and be off. If a man
walks on a beach, many tides must wash out the scent
of his footsteps before a sea-otter will approach that
place. So when the wind is off shore the hunters have
to go without fire, even for cooking, in winter as well
as in summer, sometimes for weeks at a time. Then,
too, the sea-otter never really comes ashore, but spends
most of his time in the water among the great kelp-
beds that you have seen floating in the North Pacific.
Even their young are born in those floating cradles.
The only place you can catch him ashore is on the
rocky reefs and half-submerged islands lying twenty
or thirty miles off the coast, and as he only lands on LUXURY   ON  A  DESOLATE  ALEUTIAN ISLAND     137
them when driven to do so by the severest gales, it is
then that he must be hunted."
" How do they hunt him ?" asked Phil, who seemed
to follow this investigation to its end.
"If the storm is off shore, like this one, the hunters
wait till it shows signs of breaking. Then they launch
their bidarkies, fasten their kamleikas tightly around
the hatch coamings so that not a drop of water can get
in, and run down the gale through seas that would
> O CD
swamp many a larger craft, until they reach the reef,
and make a landing under its lee. Then they creep
up to windward over the rocks, and generally catch
Mr. Otter asleep in the sea-weed, where they kill him
with short clubs. The story is told of two native
hunters who once got seventy-eight in a single hour
by this method."
" What is a bidarkie ? And what is a kamleika ?"
asked Phil, to whom these were strange terms.
" A bidarkie," laughed Serge, " is a kyack or skin
canoe, such as is used by all Aleuts. It is all covered
over, and is absolutely water-tight, except for the
round holes or hatches in which its occupants sit.
Some bidarkies have three of these holes, some two,
and many only one. As a general thing, sea-otter
hunters go in couples, and use two-holed bidarkies.
A kamleika is a loose water-proof over-garment made
of sea-lion intestines. When a hunter, wearing one of
these and sitting in a bidarkie, makes its skirts fast to
the coaming of his hatch no water can enter his boat,
no matter how many seas break over it."
"Do you mean to say that the only way of hunting
sea-otters is to go thirty miles from land, in a gale,
with a chance of finding an almost invisible reef of
rocks and landing on it, or of being blown out to sea
if you don't happen to hit it?"
" That's just about it," replied Serge, " though some ll IS
are shot in the surf, and some are caught by surrounds
in the open water, where they are driven by a whole
fleet of bidarkies until they are out of breath; for an
otter is obliged to come up every now and then to
breathe, like a seal."
1 And what does it all amount to, anyway ? I mean,
what are the pelts worth ?"
■ I have known of a single skin bringing as high as
eight hundred dollars," was the answer.
1 Phe-w-w !" whistled Phil. I No wonder they are
hunted.    Did you say there were any left ?"
I Not many. They used to be found along the entire American coast as far south as California, and on
the northeast coast of Asia as well; but now, as I said,
they are only to be found in the wilder parts of
I Who buys the skins ?"
"Traders who make that their sole business, and
engage the hunters by the year, paying them fifty,
sixty, and even as high as one hundred dollars a
skin."   il § ■ « '   |
II mean, where do they go finally ?"
I Oh, to Russia and China mostly, where they are
used to trim military uniforms and mandarin robes."
I Well," said Phil, who had been intensely interested in all this, 11 don't know of anything I'd rather
get a shot at, and if I only had a rifle I'd try for one,
though I suppose I'd have to have a bid—what do you
call it ?—too." I I I
I A bidarkie," laughed Serge. I No, not necessarily; sea-otters are often shot in the surf from the beach,
and then the hunter waits until the waves bring the
body ashore."
While the lads talked of sea-otters, their companion, who had cleaned up the dishes by the simple process of sweeping the remains of their meal into the fire,
had been deliberately shaving bits of tobacco from a
plug that had fortunately escaped a wetting, and filling his beloved pipe. This he had lighted with a live
coal deftly picked up in his callous fingers, and he now
sat, surrounded by a halo of fragrant smoke, blinking
in the firelight, a picture of placid content. Seizing the
opportunity of a pause in the conversation he broke in
" Sea-otters allers reminds me of old Kite Roberson
who once said, consarning 'em, fJal'—he allers called
me c Jal,' short for Jalap, ye understand—1
"By-the-way," interrupted Phil, "you promised to
tell us how you happened to have such an outlan—I
mean, such a peculiar name."
I So I did, and so I will. To begin with, I want to
say that I don't believe as a gineral thing in rebelling
again' the name your parents have give ye, when like
as not they didn't have nothing else to give. In some
cases, though, it's difficult to become resigned. I've
striv faithful to get reconciled to Jalap, without getting an inch nearer to it to-day than I was when I fust
realized what a heathenish hail  it  war.    Being the
youngest of thirteen boys, and my father allers hankering fur a gal baby, I was naturally a tumble disappointment to him, in addition to being a mortal ugly 1
young duffer jto look at. Seeing he was about run out
of Scripter names for boys, my father was hard put to
it to know what to call me, and as christening day
drew nigh he was in a wuss quandary than ever.
" 'Bout this time old Kite Roberson—he was young
Kite then—came back from his fust v'y'^ge, which he
had been four years arter whales in the South Pacific.
Now in my town and his'n mussels, such as you two
was eating just now, was plenty, and the boys uster
have mussel roasts as a reg'lar thing. Kite was mortal
fond of 'em, and seeing as he hadn't had none in four
years, made up his mind the fust thing when he got
back to have the biggest kind of a mussel roast.   And
so he did. From all accounts he must have et
nigh onto a bushel, and naturally they made him so
sick that he like to ha' died. Now old Mis' Roberson,
Kite's ma, was a master-hand at doctorin', and what
she doctored with mostly was jalap. Of course she
give this to Kite, and stood over him while he swallowed it, till he didn't know which was wust, it or
I Fust^time he got round he come over to our house,
we being neighbors, to see me, which he hadn't ever
sot eyes on me afore. My father fetched me out, and
says, referring to me, ye understand, * He ain't no
beauty, is he ?'
II No,' says Kite, who was allers plain-spoken, I he
ain't, for a fact; and to tell ye the truth, Mr. Coombs,
I can't think of anything he favors so much as he does
a dose of jalap.'
"' Jalap,' says my father, meditating and turning of
the word over in his mouth—'jalap. It's bitter but
wholesome, and as he's the dose I've got to take
whether or no, I'll call him Jalap, and done with it.'
■ He kep' his word, and that's how I come to be sot
agin mussels."
"I declare! I don't blame you, Mr. Coombs," said
Phil, laughing at this quaint bit of family history;
" and if I had been in your place I would have had it
changed as soon as I grew up."
1 No," said the mate, decidedly, 1 that wouldn't have
done, 'cause, you see, it were all owing to the name,
for which Kite naturally felt responserble, that he come
to be so friendly with me. Sorter trying to make
up for what he'd did, ye understand* and his friendship, he being a powerful smart man, made me what
I be." Ill I
Phil wanted to laugh again at the evident pride with
which the mate of the Seamew regarded his station in
life, but realizing that it would be very rude, hastily
changed the subject by inquiring: "By-the-way, Mr.
Coombs, how soon do you think we shall be obliged to
leave this island ? If it wasn't for my poor father's
anxiety I should like to stay here a month. You see,
after what Serge has told me, I find there are ever so
many things here that I want to see. In fact, I feel as
if I must see a sea-otter. That is," he added, mischievously, " it seems as if a sea-otter was the one thing I
otter see."
" Hey ?" ejaculated the mate, taking his pipe from
his mouth and gazing at Phil as though he feared something had gone wrong with the lad. Then, as a twinkle
in the other's eye betrayed him, he exclaimed: "Get
along, ye young villain! We'll stay here long enough
to let you see all you want of this island, and more too,
ef I'm not mightily mistaken in the weather. And now
yre'd best follow your chum's example and turn in, for
ef ye ain't sleepy, ye ought to be arter the day we've
had and the to-morrows that is a-coming."
So the three castaways on that desolate northern
island slept on their mossy couch as soundly and peacefully as though in their bunks on board the Seamew or 1
in the beds of their distant homes. All night long the
wind howled about the stout walls of their shelter, the
rain beat on the canvas roof above them, and a mighty
roar from the sea filled the air; but none of these things
disturbed them, and not until long after daylight did
one of them awake.
For a solid week did the tempest rage with unabated fury, and long before the end of that time they were
wearied almost beyond endurance with their enforced
inaction and monotonous diet. To Phil in particular
did the salmon and crabs, that he had thought so good
on that first night, grow so distasteful that it became
almost impossible for him to swallow the hated food.
During those seven long, weary days they only left
the hut when forced to do so to obtain food, wood, or
water. Serge went as far as the wreck of their boat,
where he obtained several oak ribs and half a dozen
nails. The latter were ground, or, rather, rubbed
down to sharp points by his companions, while he busied himself in cutting out two of the great clumsy-
looking wooden halibut - hooks, such as are used by
the Indians about Sitka, and specimens of which are
brought from there by every Alaskan tourist. At the
proper point in each of these he inserted one of the
sharpened nails, and Jalap Coombs lashed them solidly
into place with bits of twine.
Phil ridiculed these, and said that any fish stupid
enough to be hooked by them deserved to be caught;
but Serge only smiled the superior smile of one who
knows, and answered: "All right, we'll see !"
When the gale finally blew itself out Phil did see,
and marvelled at the facility with which codfish and
flounders were caught by these same despised wooden
hooks, which he was forced to admit were as deadly as
the finest sproats or Limerick bends he had ever used.
One morning, at the beginning of their second week m
of captivity, the castaways were awakened by a burst
of sunshine, and sprang from their couch of moss to
be greeted by as glorious a July day as any of them
had ever seen. It was made up of sunshine, blue sky,
a dimpled sea, a landscape of plain, foot-hill, and snowcapped mountains all glowing with the yellows, reds,
purples, and greens of mosses, lichens, and volcanic
cliffs. Above all, Shishaldin reared his lofty crest that
his filmy smoke-plumes might stream out bravely in
the crisp morning breeze.
During the week just past our friends had discussed
over and over again their plans for the future, and had
decided that the first thing was to attract the attention of some passing vessel that might be induced to
take them and their seal - skins to Oonalaska. This
place, although lying many miles to the westward, was
the nearest settlement and trading-post, and also the
point of departure for the monthly steamer to Sitka.
At Oonalaska they would dispose of their furs. Phil
and Serge would engage passage for the destination
they so longed to reach, and Jalap Coombs's future
would be laid out according to circumstances. But
first they must catch their schooner.
As vessels were more likely to be seen on the Pacific than on the Bering Sea side of the island, they decided first of all to climb a very considerable elevation that rose almost directly from Krenitzin Strait,
and a couple of miles south of their camp. From this
they hoped to see both waters. During their walk
they caught glimpses of several small bands of caribou, and of one or two distant moving objects that
Phil was certain must be bear. Never had he wished
for a rifle so much as now. Venison and bear meat!
How good either or both of them would taste ! How
he hated fish and longed for meat! But there was
probably no gun of any kind within a hundred miles of 144
him save those that he knew of at the bottom of the sea;
so what was the good of wishing for one ?
They were disappointed to find that the Pacific was
hidden from the elevation they ascended by another
rising beyond it. As they descended into the valley
between the two, with the intention of climbing the
second hill, they were startled by the ringing report of
a rifle-shot. A moment later three caribou came fly-
ing up the valley with the speed of the wind, rushed
past them so close that they involuntarily stepped
back for fear of being trampled underfoot, and disappeared. A fourth who was lagging behind, evidently
wounded, stumbled, and halted but a short distance
from them. Ere he could resume his flight, a second
shot, still from some unseen source, stretched him dead
at their feet. CHAPTER  XXIII
To say that our friends were startled by the sound
of these rifle - shots in that wilderness, which but a
minute before they would have sworn did. not contain a human being other than themselves, but feebly
expresses their astonishment and joy. To them, or at
least to Phil Ryder, a rifle-shot indicated the presence
of white men. These must belong to a vessel that
would take him and his companions to some point
from which passage might be engaged for Sitka.
Thus, ere the breeze had dissipated the little cloud of
blue smoke from that second shot, all the perplexities
of the situation had vanished, and Phil felt as though
the object of his long journey were at length attained.
To his amazement and dismay, the figure that bounded
into view from behind a jutting point of rock as the
caribou fell was not that of a white man, but of a
native. Although he was clad in hat, shirt, trousers,
and boots of the quality adopted by all who lead
rough out-of-door lives, his short figure, dark skin,
and broad face proved him to be a full-blooded
If the castaways were surprised to see him, he was
equally so at their appearance, and at sight of them
stopped short in his tracks. Then with a glance at
his caribou to assure himself that it was dead, he
slowly advanced towards where they stood.
Serge, with extended hand, stepped forth to meet
him, and, in the Russian trade patois common to that
10 146
coast, told him how glad they were to see him, and
asked how he happened to be in that place.
He replied that his name was Kooga, that he had
come alone in his bidarkie from Oonga Island to act
as hunter for, and keep supplied with food during the
next three months, a party of sea-otter-catchers who
were daily expected to reach that neighborhood from
Having in turn learned who the strangers were, and
expressed his gratification at meeting them, Kooga
turned his .attention to his game, which he proceeded
to skin and cut up with the utmost dexterity.
As the others watched him with hungry anticipations, Serge continued to ply him with questions, and
thus learned that he, like themselves, had been weatherbound on the island by the tempest of the past week,
but for which his friends would long since have ar-
rived. Now he thought they would leave Oonalaska
in the traders' schooner that very day, and that the
next one would witness their arrival off that point of
Oonimak nearest the little outlying island of Saanak,
where are the best sea-otter grounds of the coast.
I He also says," continued Serge, interpreting this
communication for the benefit of the others, " that
after leaving her hunters the schooner will run on to
Saanak, where she will cache a store of provisions for
their use, and will then return to Oonalaska, not to
come back for three months."
1 What a splendid chance for us !" cried Phil. " It
is exactly such a one as we have been wanting. Talk
about bad-luck now !" he added, with a sly glance at
Serge. "It seems to me ours couldn't be much better
than it is if we had arranged it to suit ourselves."
Serge paid no attention to this remark, for he was
listening attentively to J£ooga, who was again talking,
and saying that in four ojajrs froni that time another KOOGA  THE   ALEUT, AND   HIS  BIDARKIE
trading-schooner bound for Oonalaska from the eastward was due to pass close to the north side of Oonimak Island.
I Better and better !" exclaimed Phil, when this was
translated. "We surely can't miss them both, and
must be taken off by one or the other. I hope it will
be by the sea-otter fellow, though, as I should dearly
love to see something of that hunting."
" And I," said Jalap Coombs, " hope it will be by
the other one, seeing as it will be so much handier to
load our seal-skins into her."
" Oh, I had forgotten them !" replied Phil, in a tone
of disappointment, i Yes, I suppose we must take the
north-side schooner."
" You speak as if you were certain of catching either
one you wanted," laughed Serge ; I but, for my part, I
think there is a big chance of missing both of them.
They may pass in the night, or in a fog, or too far out
to notice our signals. Now I propose that we divide
into two parties, and watch at both ends.of the island
at once. If Mr. Coombs is willing to remain in camp
at the north end, you and I can go with Kooga to the
south end, where we may have a chance to see something of sea-otter hunting. If at the same time we
can catch that schooner, and persuade her to come
round to this side of the island, we sha'n't need the
other. If we miss her, or she refuses to take us, we
shall still have plenty of time to get back here before
the other is due."
" Good for you, Serge !" shouted Phil. " That's an
immense scheme, and I don't see why I didn't think of
it myself, only I never do think of things until afterwards."
" It shows the result of a sea-training," said Jalap
Coombs. "I was jest a-considering of that same plan,
and would have laid it afore all hands arter dinner, 148
which, it seems to me, is the thing to be thought of
fust. So now, if our oakum-colored friend will give
us a hunk of his meat, we'll lay a course for our own
galley fire over yonder. Arter stowing a cargo of
grub we'll consider what's the next thing to be did."
" That suits me exactly," agreed Phil, who had been
casting longing eyes at the tempting-looking venison,
"and the sooner that plan is carried out the better.
So open negotiations at once—won't you, Serge, like
a good fellow? I don't believe I ever was more nearly
Serge laughed, and after a few minutes' conversation with Kooga, informed his companions that the
native was perfectly willing to go with them to the
barrabkie, and that they were welcome to all the meat
they wanted, as his bidarkie would not hold half of it.
The fact is that the young Aleut was fully as hungry
as they, and possessed of an equal longing for fresh
meat, the gale having so interfered with his hunting
as to compel him to live on shell-fish ever since he
reached the island.
This being settled, all four loaded themselves with
venison and followed Kooga's lead to^fche place where
he had made his lonely and cheerless camp, and where
his bidarkie was carefully hauled up on the beach beyond high-water mark. His shelter was a tiny A
tent, supported by paddles and spears, and pitched in
the lee of a huge bowlder. A quantity of moss heaped
within it had formed for him a bed similar to that of
our castaways. He had not, however, been able to
make a fire, his supply of tinder being wet, and he not
having had the good-fortune to discover an eider-
duck's nest.
The bidarkie excited Phil's curiosity to such an extent that it seemed as though he would never weary of
examining it.    It was- one of the two-holed craft, and w
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^m  KOOGA  THE  ALEUT, AND  HIS  BIDARKIE
after it had been carefully launched and laden the
Yankee lad asked Serge if he thought Kooga would
allow him to occupy its vacant hatch for the short
When Serge made the request the young native
looked dubious, and shook his head. He had seen too
many self-confident white men spilled into the icy
waters of that coast from those ticklish craft; but as
Phil insisted, he finally yielded a reluctant consent.
He, of course, did not know that the white lad had
been considered the most expert canoeman in New
London, or that his own canoe was a tiny-decked affair
of cedar every whit as crank as this bidarkie. His
eyes therefore opened wide with surprise as his new
companion stepped lightly into the canoe and settled
himself in its forward hatch, with all the confidence of
one who had always been accustomed to such things.
When, in addition to this, Phil seized a double-bladed
paddle and began to wield it with the practised skill
of an old canoeman, the young Aleut actually laughed
aloud with gratified amazement.
As under the influence of its two well-handled paddles the light craft shot away up the strait, Jalap
Coombs and Serge watched it with a feeling of pride
that their companion should thus prove himself the
equal of a native in one of his own especial lines of
business. The mate was especially outspoken in his
admiration of this feat, which would have been as impossible to him as the navigating of a balloon. " I
don't believe even old Kite Roberson hisself could
have done it any handier," he said, as he resumed his
burden of venison, and started with it along-shore in
the direction of the barrabkie.
The canoe reached a point opposite the hut some
time before the others, and when they got there it was
already unloaded.    Most of its cargo had been trans- 150
ferred to the hut, and its occupants were just returning for the few things that were left. Among these
was Kooga's rifle, which Phil picked up and examined
with interest. He marvelled to find it so good a one,
for it was a Winchester of the latest pattern. As he
lifted it to his shoulder and sighted it his eye was
caught by a slight movement on a small rock nearly
half a mile out in the strait. A hair-seal which had
been sleeping there had just lifted its head. At that
distance it did not look larger than a man's fist.
Phil drew Kooga's attention to it and offered him
the rifle, signifying by motions that he should shoot;
but the native shook his head decisively, and gave the
former to understand that the mark was too small for
such a distance. Upon this the Yankee lad, carefully
adjusting the sights of the rifle, and assuring himself
that there was a cartridge in its chamber, took a deliberate aim and fired.
The seal dropped its head as though it had again
gone to sleep, and the native smiled.
"Tell him to go and get it," said Phil to Serge, who
came up at that moment. When the latter repeated
this request Kooga's pitying smile-changed to an expression of incredulity. Nevertheless, he again placed
his canoe in the water and paddled away. When he
returned with the dead seal, shot directly through the
brain, his expression was one of amazement.
" He must be the white man who makes guns," he
said to Serge, 1 and command them to do his will.
Take him away from here soon, for if he once gets
among the kahlan [sea-otter] he will leave none for
A sea-otter hunt was, however, the one thing upon
which Phil Ryder's heart was most set just then. Not
only that, but he had determined to go on one in Kooga's company. CHAPTER XXIV
Kooga the Aleut spent the rest of that day and the
following night with his new-found friends. The dinner, to which all of them had looked forward with such
interest, proved a great success. From his bidarkie the
young native produced a small brass kettle, in which
they made a venison stew that they ate with mussel-
shell spoons. He also brought forth a basket so exquisitely woven of native grasses as to be perfectly watertight. In this was his choicest treasure, a brick of
tea, such as the Western Aleuts procure from Russian traders, and which they guard with most jealous
care. From this, after the stew had disappeared and
the kettle was thoroughly cleansed, he treated himself
and his friends to a brewing of the fragrant leaf.
In the meantime bits of venison and seal meat were
cooking and being eaten on all sides, while Kooga every now and then allowed himself an extra relish in the
shape of a strip of raw seal blubber. He also showed
the others how to roast the larger caribou bones, and
extract from them the marrow, which Phil, tasting for
the first time, pronounced 1 immense."
After the feast came to an end, owing to the inability of its guests to eat another mouthful, Kooga taught
them to build a low scaffold of drift-wood, on which to
smoke and dry by fire-heat strips of venison and split
salmon. In procuring wood for this purpose, he and
Phil visited the wrecked whale-boat. The tide was
low, and while wandering about in the vicinity of the 152
wreck, the ^een eye of the Aleut detected something
buried in kelp at the edge of the breakers. Drawing
this forth, he laid it at Phil's feet. To the lad's astonishment, it proved to be his bag of water-proof rifle-
cartridges, lost when the wreck occurred. For an hour
or more they searched among the slippery rocks with
the hope of finding one or both of the lost guns, but
without success. Then, as the recovered cartridges
were of no use to him, Phil presented them to Kooga,
whose rifle they exactly fitted, to the immense gratification of that young Aleut.
It having been decided that the plan proposed by
Serge should be carried out, and a quantity of food
having been prepared both for taking and for leaving
behind, the two white lads and their native guide made
an early start for the south side of the island the next
morning. Jalap Coombs remained at the barrabkie,
to which they promised to return in a day or two, or
at least before the four days, at the expiration of which
a schooner might be expected on that side, should have
Phil and Kooga, who had struck up a wonderful intimacy, went in the bidarkie, which also carried their
very simple camp outfit, while Serge followed down
the shore of the strait.
As the little party set forth, Jalap Coombs called
after them, " Mind, boys, and get back as quick as ever
ye can, either with or without the schooner, for we'll
be tumble lonely while ye're gone—me and old Kite
Roberson will."
Owing to the intricate and dangerous navigation of
Krenitzin Strait, which necessitated long detours and
occasioned many delays, the bidarkie did not reach the
south side of the island much before Serge, who had
put in twenty miles or so of the toughest kind of
tramping without a halt. A DOUBLE  WATCH  FOR  SCHOONERS
It did not take them long to pitch the little tent and
collect materials for a fire, which Kooga lighted without difficulty by means of an old-fashioned flint and
steel, his tinder being now perfectly dry. Drift-wood
was so scarce on that side of the island that they were
obliged to content themselves with a very small blaze.
It was sufficient, however, to boil water for a kettle of
tea, and this, with a few strips of dried venison toasted
on the coals, constituted a meal that even Phil declared
was better than some he had eaten.
After dinner, as there were still some hours of daylight left and no schooner was in sight, Serge, wishing
to try for a halibut with one of his home-made hooks,
proposed to Kooga to take him a short distance from
shore in the bidarkie—a proposal to which the latter
readily acceded.
So they went fishing, and Phil, still incredulous as
to their success with such rude tackle, sat on the edge
of a precipitous cliff and watched them. As he sat
there he could not help feeling very lonely and rather
homesick. His thoughts turned towards the father
whom he loved so dearly. He wondered if he were
very anxious about him, and whether he had gone to
Victoria to search for him, or were still awaiting his
coming in Sitka.
I Oh dear," sighed the lad, " how wretchedly I have
mixed things up, anyway! Just as Aunt Ruth said I
would, too. No matter. I'm on the right track at last,
and I must reach Sitka very soon now. If I don't, it
won't be my fault, anyhow. I wonder if Aunt Ruth
has heard that I am lost, and what she would say if
she could see me at this minute."
With this he glanced about him, and the vastness of
his own surroundings filled him with a sense of his own
insignificance and weakness. Before him was out-spread
the limitless Pacific, whose mighty billows surged and
IS 154
thundered against the black rocks hundreds of feet
below. In the immeasurable distance the sun was
sinking beneath the heaving waters. Behind him
towered a range of frowning mountains, their gaunt
frames seared and riven by the Plutonic forces whose
ominous banner still floated from Shishaldin's lofty
crest. A few sea-fowl circled and screamed about his
head. How terrible it was to be there alone ! Phil
laughed for human companionship, and wished the
other fellows would come back.
Suddenly he started up in affright. The bidarkie
was not where he had last seen it. What had happened? Was he indeed alone in that awful place?
No ; there it was, and Phil heaved a great sigh of
relief. But how far away it was! How could they
have gained such a distance so quickly? Now it
seemed to be coming towards him again, and at a
tremendous speed. What could it all mean ? He
rubbed his eyes to be sure they were not playing
him false. That they were not was proved by a
sight of the frail craft right abreast of him, but madly dashing past, and above the surge of breakers
the shouts of his companions ~§ame faintly to his
For nearly an hour were the erratic movements of
,the bidarkie continued, and then slowly and heavily it
approached the shore. Phil ran back and down the
roundabout way leading to the beach to meet it.
When he reached the water's edge he found the oth-
ers already on shore, and just landing a halibut so
huge that both the white lads estimated it to weigh
fully two hundred pounds.
" You see," explained Serge, I we couldn't get it into
the canoe, or kill it, or do anything except let it tow us
round till it was tired out. Finally we got close enough
for Kooga to spear it, and then we took our turn at tow- A  DOUBLE  WATCH  FOR  SCHOONERS
ing. The hook held, though, and I don't believe it
would if it hadn't been a good one."
" It certainly is a good one !" exclaimed Phil, " and
I will never say another word against that style of
tackle. But, oh, Serge, it was horrid here while you
were gone, and I hope you won't ever leave me alone
in such a place again."
"All right, old fellow, I won't," replied Serge,
After securing the precious bidarkie in a place
of safety, and cutting a few steaks from the great
halibut, the three lads returned to camp, where they
passed their evening in cooking and eating another
" I don't know how it is," remarked Phil, meditatively, as he washed the dishes by thrusting his sheath-
knife into a tuft of moss, "but there seems to be
something in the air of this country that makes a fellow want to eat about a dozen meals a day."
There seemed to be something in the air that com-
pelled sleep, too. As there was a moon, the others
agreed to Phil's proposition, born of his recent resolves, to take turns in watching all night for the
schooner. Kooga, to whom the plan was explained by
Serge, was to take the first, Serge the midnight, and
Phil the morning watch. This scheme was carried
out as arranged, except that the rising sun found the
last watcher sound asleep. Awakened by its warm
beams, he cast a glance at the sea, sprang to his feet,
rubbed his eyes, and looked again. Then he gave a
shout that brought the others to his side.
The sight that met their gaze was that of a placid
sea, with a dozen bidarkies, fully two miles away,
stretched out in a long line on its heaving bosom.
Beyond them were the white sails of a schooner head-
ed to the eastward. i   -1
"How could she have got past without you seeing
her ?" asked Serge.
"I'm sure I don't know," answered Phil, "unless it
was that I had closed my eyes for a minute. You see,
I was so awfully sleepy that I had the hardest kind of
work to keep them open. Now I'll tell you what,
though: Kooga and I will go out and overtake those
bidarkies and find out when the schooner is coming
back. We can catch them easy enough, for they seem
to be waiting for something. I shouldn't wonder if
they were going to make a surround, which is what I
want to see more than anything."
1 Well," agreed Serge, hesitatingly; " but don't you
think I'd better go, as I can understand what they
say ?"
I Oh, that'll be all. right," replied Phil, confidently.
I There are sure to be some among them who can speak
enough English to tell me what I want to find out."
I And you will be back before night ?"
I Of course.    Probably inside of a couple of hours."
Serge hurriedly explained Phil's proposal to Kooga,
and that shrewd native, glad to have the company of so
mighty a hunter as the Yankee lad, willingly agreed to
take him along and show him how sea-otters are captured.
Then he hastily collected his weapons, and taking
with him a few strips of dried meat to be eaten as
they went, the young Aleut led the way to the cove,
where his bidarkie was hauled up.
Phil, also snatching up some strips of meat, quickly
followed, and Serge went down to see them off.
"Don't forget, Phil, that you're to be back before
dark !" he shouted, as the light craft shot out from
the cove.
"Never you fear, old man !" came back in laughing
He who was left climbed up to the place Phil had VL
■*«* -**vm&m
occupied the evening before, and watched the fleet of
bidarkies until all of them had vanished in the dim distance. Then, with many misgivings as to the wisdom
of the plan just pursued, Serge turned slowly away to
prepare his solitary breakfast. CHAPTER XXV
Although the long line of bidarkies of which Phil
Ryder and his Aleut companion had started in pursuit were apparently moving very slowly, as seen from
a distance of two miles, they were in reality skimming the water with swiftness and in perfect silence.
Their occupants, while wielding their double - bladed
paddles without a splash, and keeping the canoes well
abreast of each other at intervals of a few hundred
feet, maintained a keen watch for the slightest token
of a sea-otter's presence.
Suddenly one man makes a silent signal that is
flashed in an instant along the entire line. He has
caught a glimpse of one of the coveted animals apparently asleep. Although no word is spoken, and no
sound comes fro»m end to end of the little fleet, the
sharp-witted animal takes the alarm almost at the moment of discovery, and dives like a shot to the very
bottom of the sea, leaving only a bubbling wake to
mark his descent.
A few powerful strokes bring the bidarkie of the
discoverer to the spot. There it is abruptly halted,
and the hunter holds his paddle aloft while the others
skim over the water like a flight of birds, until they have
ranged themselves in a great circle half a mile in diameter about him. The otter must come up to breathe
within fifteen or twenty minutes, and when he does
so some one of the thirty pairs of keen-sighted eyes so
eagerly watching for him is sure to detect the act, HUNTING THE  SEA-OTTER
even though he should show only the tip of his nose.
A wild yell announces the discovery ; the hunted animal again dives; another bidarkie, with uplifted paddle,
marks the spot, and again the circle is formed. Thus
the unfortunate otter, coming to the surface at shorter and shorter intervals, is made to dive and dive
again, never being allowed to draw a full breath, until at the end of two or three hours he floats on the
surface completely exhausted, and falls an easy victim
to the nearest spear.
To an uninterested observer it is a pitiful sight to
see a defenceless and harmless creature thus hunted
to its death. At the same time the pursuit is possessed
of the fascination that always attends the matching
of human skill against animal cunning and powers
of endurance. Then, too, there is the excitement of
ever-present danger in thus venturing into the open
sea, almost beyond sight of land, in such cockle-shells
as Aleutian bidarkies. In that region of sudden squalls
and fierce gales, dense fogs that settle over the water
like vast smothering blankets almost without warning
—huge whales and other sea-monsters that are always
rising to the surface, and whose slightest touch would
overturn a bidarkie as though it were a feather—the
uncertainties of an otter-hunter's life are many and
Two surrounds and captures had been made by the
hunting-fleet in which we are interested ere, some time
in the afternoon, it was finally overtaken by the bidarkie containing Phil Ryder and his Aleut companion. They were just in time to participate in a third
surround, every movement of which the white lad
watched with lively interest.
This was the longest chase of the day, and the sun
was disappearing behind an ominous - looking cloud-
bank before it was concluded.    During its continuance THE  FUR-SEAL7S TOOTH
there was no opportunity to communicate with the
hunters. The moment the capture was effected the
entire fleet was headed towards a distant island, barely
discernible to the eastward, and was urged with all
speed in that direction.
Under the circumstances there was nothing for our
. friends to do but to follow them, and it is doubtful if
Phil could have induced Kooga to do otherwise even
had he been so inclined. He was not, however, for he
realized that it would now be impossible to regain their
starting-point of the morning before dark. Besides,
he had not yet gained the information concerning the
schooner's movements for which he had set out. So
he must spend a night with the otter - hunters, and
with the first streak of daylight he would set forth on
his return journey to Oonimak and Serge.
I Poor Serge ! what a lonely night this will be for
him," reflected Phil, remembering his own brief experience of the evening before. "It can't be helped
now, though, and I'm awfully glad it isn't my fault."
In spite of this the lad's conscience insisted on whispering, "You know you came out to see the otter-
hunt rather thin to gain information, for Serge could
have done that much better than you."
I Pshaw !" muttered Phil, " that's not true, to begin
with; and even if it were, what difference will a single
night make, anyway ? I guess Serge can stand it, for
he is more used to such things than I am. Then, too, I
am certain the schooner has not gone back yet, for she
couldn't have passed without me seeing her."
When the little fleet finally made a landing by the
last of the twilight, and after a wearisome paddle of
many miles, it was on the small outlying and terribly
rugged island of Saanak, the favorite haunt of the sea-
otter and the point at which the bulk of the world's
supply of this immensely valuable fur is obtained. HUNTING THE   SEA-OTTER
Here the swarthy hunters glanced askance at the
white lad, and not until Kooga had given a long explanation of how he happened to be there, and a glowing
account of Phil's wonderful skill with the rifle, did
they consent to admit him to a share of their scanty
food supplies and still scantier shelter.
Although Phil did not, of course, understand a word
of all this, he guessed what was being said, and was
provoked that he should have placed himself in such a
position. To his further chagrin, he could not discover
one among all the hunters who could speak a word of
English. So Serge had been right, and he had acted
the part of a headstrong fool, after all.
While his hunger forced him to eat a share of the
hunters' supper, which consisted of nearly raw meat,
sea-biscuit so hard that they made his teeth ache, and
a cup of tea as strong as lye, he did not relish it, and
his thoughts turned with longing to the once despised
cabin mess of the Seamew. As for the dainty home-
table presided over by his dear Aunt Ruth, he dared
not think of it.
If his supper was bad, how much worse were the
sleeping accommodations that the bitter chill of the
night forced him to share ! As the cold wind swept
in from the sea with ever-increasing force and charged
with stinging sleet, it compelled all hands to crawl into
the few wretched little tents, open at both ends, that
afforded their only shelter from the inclement weather.
They had no blankets, nor bedding of any description,
and were forced to huddle together for warmth.
As poor Phil thus lay on the bare rocks between
Kooga and another not over-cleanly Aleut, his mind
once more reverted to his far-distant home, with its
innumerable comforts, that he had once accepted as a
matter of course, without a thought of how they were
provided or any feeling of gratitude for them.
i 162
" Oh dear ! what wouldn't I give for a few of those
things at this minute !" reflected poor Phil. " A warm
house, for instance, and a clean soft bed, and clean
clothes and-soap and towels, and a brush and comb,
and, above all, for one of Aunt Ruth's delicious suppers. But what is the use ! I can't have them, and I
am having just what I set out for—a trip to Alaska
and a sea-otter hunt. This misery will be over in a
few hours at any rate, for I shall make Kooga take
me out of this in the morning, and in a week or so
from now I shall be looking back on it from Sitka,
and telling of it as a most interesting experience."
Alas for Phil's hopes! When the morning light
came it revealed such a mighty sea rolling in under
the lashings of a southwesterly gale, and furiously
hurling itself against the rock-bound coast, as would
have prohibited the launching of a life-boat, much
more a bidarkie. For three days did the gale continue, and for three days did it hold Phil Ryder and
the native hunters close prisoners on the island of Saanak.    At first the former raged at his detention almost
as furiously as did the gale itself, though after a while
he wisely determined to make the best of the situation,
and discover whatever good points it possessed.
As the wind came off the sea, they could build as
many fires as they chose without fear of alarming the
wily game of which they had come in pursuit. Thus
they could cook food and make tea, which, under the
circumstances, was of inestimable comfort. In these
occupations, together with smoking and sleeping, most
of the hunters spent their time. On the second day,
Kooga, taking his rifle and inviting Phil by signs to
accompany him, set forth in search of sea-lions, which
are highly esteemed as food by all natives of those
northern regions. They also use its skin in making
their boats, its intestines for their water-proof gar- H
ments, its back-sinews in place of thread, while the oil
extracted from its blubber affords them both light and
As the sea-lion is extremely shy and difficult to approach in the daytime, he is generally hunted on moonlit nights. He is more than twice as large as the fur-
seal, but, like the latter, is a fearless swimmer, and
delights to sport in the heaviest seas at the very point
where they break and hurl themselves against a rock-
bound coast. Like the seal, too, the sea-lion loves to
haul itself from the water, and, climbing the most rugged rocks, lie and bask for hours.
Realizing the difficulty as well as the importance of
obtaining a sea-lion, as food was becoming scarce in
camp, Kooga took Phil with him on this hunt, in the
hope that the lad might be induced to make some of
his marvellous shots. Nor was he mistaken, for, after
a long and painful stalking of a small herd of these
animals, Phil shot and killed two at a distance of over
five hundred yards. On their way back to camp, where
the entire body of hunters was turned out to go for
their game, Phil had the further good-fortune to shoot
an otter that was sporting far out in the surf. He
waited to secure its body, while Kooga ran on with
the joyful news.
As the natives came trooping up the beach they regarded the young white hunter with respect and admiration, while they greeted with extravagant delight the
courtesy that led Phil to turn his first sea-otter into
the common stock of the party. On the following day,
after hours of weary and motionless watching, he succeeded in killing two more otters, one of which he gave
to Kooga, while keeping the skin of the other for himself.
The gale blew itself out during the third night, and
very early in the morning of the  fourth day Phil 164
awoke his Aleut companion, to whom he indicated by
signs that it was time for them to be gone. Upon this
Kooga woke another native, and talked earnestly to
him for a few moments.' Then, to Phil's amazement,
this fellow turned to him and said, in tolerable English:
" Why you go ? Schooner gone three day, bime-by.
You no catch him. Better you stay, hunt, catch plenty
money.    No go."
"You miserable rascal!" shouted Phil, seizing the
speaker by the collar and shaking him violently.
" You have been able to talk United States all this time,
have you, and wouldn't ? Now you want me to stay
and hunt for you! Well, I'll see you hanged first!
So you tell Kooga that if he isn't ready inside of five
minutes to carry me back to where he brought me
from, I'll ^x his miserable rifle so that it will never
shoot again."
This awful threat, together with the white lad's
furious aspect and loud voice, so alarmed the natives
that they were only too glad to get rid of so dangerous a character by letting him go in peace. So in less
than five minutes later he and Kooga had launched the
bidarkie and were off. It was noticeable, however,
that the latterleft his cherished rifle behind, probably
being afraid that he who could shoot so magically
would bewitch it.
It cost Phil and Kooga the greater part of a day of
unremitting labor to return to that point of Oonimak
Island where they had left Serge. During that time
the former had ample opportunity for reflection. He
realized how reckless he had been in setting forth on
such a wild chase at so critical a juncture, just to
gratify a selfish whim, and now he bitterly regretted
that he had not been more thoughtful, both for his comrades and himself. " The worst of it is," he muttered,
" that not only have I missed the schooner on this side
of the island, but I am afraid the other has gone by as
well. It would serve me just right, too, if Serge had
got tired of waiting, and had rejoined Mr. Coombs, and
they had both been taken off by the other schooner.
What shall I do, though, in that case ? Return to
Saanak, I suppose, and turn Aleut, and follow sea-otter
hunting as a business for the rest of my life. But he
hasn't gone ; I know he hasn't! Old Serge is too true
a comrade to do a thing like that. In spite of loneliness and uncertainty and everything else, I shall find
him waiting for me; I know I shall."
And so it proved. As the paddlers wearily drew
near to their journey's end late in the afternoon, Kooga
first discovered a human figure on the beach of the
well-remembered cove, and pointed it out. Phil knew
it must be his faithful friend, and uttered a wild yell,
a faint answer to which came back from the solitary
figure.    Then, inspired with a new energy, the tired 166
crew of the bidarkie so redoubled their efforts that
their little craft fairly flew over the smooth waters,
leaving a long shining wake of dancing bubbles behind her. Up to the very beach she dashed with unabated swiftness, and there was brought to a sudden
halt by a powerful back-stroke from the flashing
" Hurrah, Serge, old man! Here we are again!"
shouted Phil.
" Oh, Phil! I am so thankful that you have come,
and are safe.    I had almost given you up for lost."
A second later the friends had grasped each other's
hands, and were both talking at once, they had so
much to tell and so many questions to ask.
"It is so good to see you again, Phil!" and, "Old
man, I never was more glad to get back to a place in
my life !" were exclamations repeated over and over
I Do you know," said Serge, " I was certain it must
be you when I first sighted the bidarkie, so far away
that she was the merest speck. Then, as she drew
near, you looked so much like a native that I was filled
with a horrid fear.    You see, not having any hat on—"
I Oh yes!" interrupted Phil, j I lost that the day we
were out after sea-lions. I tell you what, Serge, that's
the grandest kind of hunting, right in the edge of
great breakers that are dashing their spray all over
you, and they look as big as elephants—the sea-lions,
I mean — and they've got the wickedest teeth, and
great shaggy manes, and they roar as if they meant to
eat you up.    Oh, it was fine !"
"And wearing that kamleika," continued Serge.
"That's so ! I forgot I had it on. One of the hunters gave it to me the day I got my first otter and presented it to them. You'd better believe that takes
careful shooting !    It was the finest work I ever did. SERGE KILLS  A BEAR
and you ought to have seen those fellows' eyes stick
out. I've brought a skin with me, too. By-the-way,
did you know the schooner had gone back?"
"I should rather say I did," replied Serge. "She
came past the day after you left. I managed to attract their attention, and in spite of the sea they got a
boat ashore. Of course, I was awfully disappointed
to find that you were not on board, and felt worse
when they said they hadn't seen anything of you.
They offered to take me to Oonalaska, but of course I
wouldn't go. They couldn't stop to go around the
island after the seal - skins either, because they were
under charter to leave Oonalaska almost immediately
for Sitka.    So—"   i ^^^^^^^^^S'
" For Sitka !" groaned Phil.
"Yes. Isn't it too bad! So I traded a bear-skin
with them for some groceries, and they went on."
"A bear-skin!" exclaimed the other. "Where on
earth did you get a bear-skin ?"
" Killed the bear," answered Serge, coolly.
" But you hadn't any gun."
" Didn't need one. I killed him with my knife.
You see he got at my halibut the very first night.
Hearing the noise, I went down and tried to drive him
away by throwing rocks. One of them must have hit
him and made him mad, for he took after me, and I
ran back to the tent. He followed altogether too
close for comfort, and when I went through it and out
the back way he tried to do the same. Somehow he
managed to knock out the poles, bring the tent down
about his ears, and get all tangled up in it. You better believe he was furious, and the way he growled
and snarled and tore round was a caution. I saw that
it was my only chance, so I went for him with my
knife, and finally killed him, though he tore my clothing some while I was doing it." 168.
" Tore your clothing!" cried Phil, regarding his
friend from head to foot; " I should say he did. Why,
man, you are in rags ! If that doesn't beat all the bear-
hunting I ever heard of, though! Seems to me you
have had about as exciting adventures as I have.    But,
CD 7
by-the-way, did you say you had some groceries ? Do
let's go and sample them, for I know I'm hungrier than
that bear was. I am curious to see if I shall recognize
a grocery, too, it's so long since I've met with one.
What are they ? Coffee, sugar, milk, butter, flour, jams,
biscuit, syrup, mince-meat, pickles, canned peaches,
and—" 1 § fH
" Hold on !" laughed Serge. " How much do you
think an undressed bear-skin, out of season and full of
knife-holes, is worth in this country? They only valued
it at two dollars; but they gave me some flour, tea, and
sugar, a little lard, a few biscuit, quarter of a pound of
baking-powder, a small iron kettle, half a dozen empty
tin cans, a sail-needle, and some twine, which seemed to
me a pretty good price under the circumstances."
"So it was," retorted Phil; "and if you haven't
eaten all the tin cans let's go and tackle them."
Kooga, who had hauled up his bidarkie, and waited
patiently for the lads to finish their conversation, followed them up to Serge's camp, at sight of which he
uttered an exclamation of amazement. Kooga's tent,
neatly repaired, had been re-erected, and a stone wall,
about four feet high, had been built along two sides to
serve as a wind-break.    A small fire burned brightly,
CD «/  *
and above this a kettle of water boiled merrily. The
interior of the tent was filled with a bed of softest
moss, and it all looked so cosey that Phil declared he
felt as though he had got home again.
In a short time Serge had ready such a supper as
made the returned wanderer repeat this sentiment
more emphatically than before.    The ingenious lad mmm
had converted several of his tin cans into cooking
utensils. On one of these he had baked a sort of thin
biscuit, made of flour, salt water, lard, and baking-
powder. Another was his fry-pan, in which he cooked
a quantity of small fish, like herring. A third was his
teapot. A dozen fat little birds that he had trapped
were nicely cleaned and spitted ready for cooking,
while the bill of fare was completed by smoked halibut
and thin strips of bear meat.
1 Well!" cried Phil, as he sat down to this bountiful
meal. " If there is anything finer than this in Alaska,
then I don't want to see it, that's all. To think of
having biscuit—actually hot biscuit—baked on a piece
of tin, too! Serge, you are a genius ! A genuine out-
and-out genius ! And if my aunt Ruth could see this
lay-out I really think she would turn green with envy.
And tea with sugar in it—real, truly sugar! Say,
Serge, if you don't promise to take me in as a regular
boarder, I'll—I'll—well, I'll go and get married, that's
what I'll do !" Ill H I      I
."It is pleasant now that you are back," said the
young Alaskan, modestly. "It has been terribly lonely,
though, and I had to work at something all the time
to keep from thinking. I wanted awfully to go to the
north side of the island and see how Mr. Coombs was
getting along, but as it would have taken the best part
of two days to get there and back, and you might have
come in the meantime, I didn't dare to. Now, if he
were only here!"
" Yes, and old Kite Robinson, our family party would
be complete, and we'd be almost as well off as if we
were in Sitka. I declare I could kick myself when I
remember that if I'd only taken your advice we might
have been on our way to Sitka in your schooner by
this time !"
" I don't know about that," responded Serge.    " We
warn 170
couldn't have gone off and left Mr. Coombs alone on
the island."
| That's so ! I never thought of that. Poor old
Jalap ! I wonder how he is getting on all alone, and
what he thinks has become of us. We must go over
to-morrow and relieve his anxiety, and take him a cup
of tea. Perhaps his schooner hasn't come along yet,
and we shall be all right, after all."
Bright and early the following morning the little
camp was dismantled and abandoned. Kooga took
his tent, and bidding farewell to the lads into whose
lives he had entered so strangely, shoved off his bidarkie, and started on his lonely return trip to far
Saanak. After watching him out of sight, the others
loaded themselves with their newly-acquired camp
outfit, and started on their long, toilsome march to the
north side of the island.
When, after many hours of tramping, they came in
sight of the now familiar ruins and their own barrabkie they were struck with the latter's appearance of
loneliness. There was no smoke nor sign of human
presence. Filled with undefined anxiety, they hurried
forward, only to find the hut abandoned, and a little
heap of^cold ashes in the place where its cheerful fire
had blazed. The companion whom they had left there
^ve days before had disappeared, nor could they find
a clew to the time or manner of his departure.
"The schooner must have come, and he must have
taken the seal-skins to Oonalaska in her," suggested
Phil.    .§ I
"I should think so, too," replied Serge, who had just
returned from an inspection of the cache, " if it wasn't
for the fact that the seal-skins are still here, and apparently untouched."
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It is needless to say that our lads were wofully disconcerted by the unexplained absence of Jalap Coombs
from the place where they had left him. Their homecoming, as they had termed their return to the barrabkie during that day's toilsome march, was not only
robbed of all the pleasure they had anticipated, but
was confronted by a mystery that filled them with
anxious thoughts and gloomy forebodings. It did not
seem possible that their comrade could have departed
from the island without leaving some message for
them. Neither could they understand why he should
have gone without taking the seal-skins which he had
prized so highly. Had he wandered to some remote
part of the island, and become lost ? or fallen down
one of its tremendous precipices ? or— But what was
the use in such conjectures ? An experienced sailor-
man like the mate of the Seamew was not likely to
have done any of these things. He was even so averse
to walking, save on the deck of a vessel, that they could
not imagine him as having gone any farther from the
hut than was absolutely necessary to procure food,
fuel, and water.
Remembering his friend's recent experience with a
bear, Phil suggested that Jalap Coombs might have
been attacked and carried off by one of those animals;
but Serge at once pointed out the absurdity of such a
theory. The bears of that country, he said, would not
attack a man unless first wounded or provoked, and 172
the mate, as they both knew, was not one who would
needlessly or recklessly affront a bear. Besides, such a
struggle, as was suggested, could not have taken place
without leaving unmistakable traces, and of these there
were none. To be sure the interior of the old barrabkie was in great disorder. The lads particularly noted
that the split caribou bones from which they had extracted the marrow on the last evening they had spent
there, and which they had flung into one corner, were
now scattered in every direction, some of them lying
at quite a distance beyond the hut. For a while they
could not account for this ; but at length Serge discovered a fox track clearly imprinted in some damp
ashes, and so one bit of mystery was removed.
They had so confidently expected to find a fire at the
hut that they had neglected to provide themselves with
the means for procuring one. Now they were too tired
and disheartened to go off on a long search for sulphur
and tinder. So they ate what remained of the slender
stock of provisions brought from their last camp, and
then, huddling close together for warmth beneath the
tent-roof of the hut, they discussed their unfortunate
situation and gloomy prospects for the future, until at
length they fell into the dreamless sleep of utter weariness. Phil's last words before dozing into unconsciousness were, " I can't see that we've anything to hope
for, not even a breakfast to-morrow morning, unless
we—care—to—eat raw—fish; which I won't."
Then, save for the melancholy whistle of the wind,
the ceaseless boom of breakers, and the occasional yelp
of a prowling fox, the old barrabkie and its inmates
were buried in a profound silence.
The summer nights are so short in that latitude that
it was broad daylight when Serge found himself as
wide awake as ever in his life, sitting up and listening nervously to certain mysterious and inexplicable PHIL SEES HIMSELF AS OTHERS SEE HIM
sounds. He heard shouts and laughter, the crashing
of rocks, and another sound, which for the moment he
could not define.
" Phil! Phil! Wake up!" he cried, in a low tone,
at the same time shaking his drowsy comrade. " There
are men outside ! A lot of them ! And I hear something that sounds like escaping steam."
"Oh, you must be dreaming!" replied the other, incredulously. I No, I declare you are right, for I hear
them myself !"
With this both lads sprang to their feet and rushed
outside. The sight that met their astonished gaze was
that of a number of men busily engaged in tearing
down the stone walls of the old hut in which the sealskins were stored. Others were bearing the skins away
and depositing them in a ship's boat that a couple of
sailors were fending off from the rocks.
" Hello there !" shouted Phil, running down and
plunging into the midst of this busy scene. | Who
are you, and what do you mean by stealing our sealskins ?"
The men paused in their labor to gaze at this sudden apparition. 1 His seal-skins ! Will ye listen to
the cheek of that ?" exclaimed one of them, mockingly. "The young beggar will be saying this is his
island next."
"Yes, my seal-skins!" cried Phil, hot with indignation. "Even if they were not, they aren't yours.
You are a lot of thieves and highway robbers, and if
there is any law in this forsaken country you shall suffer for this outrage—see if you don't!"
A roar of laughter greeted this speech, and a number of insolent retorts would have been made to it had
not a young man in uniform, who seemed to be the
leader of the party, appeared at this moment from the
interior of the hut. 174
" What's going on here ?" he demanded, in a tone of
authority. ^"Hustle those skins along lively, men !"
Then, turning to Phil and Serge, he demanded, roughly, " Well, who are you, and what do you want here ?"
"Supposing you answer my question first," replied
Phil, hotly. "Who are you, and by what authority
are you stealing our seal-skins ?"
" Oh, they are yours, are they ?" retorted the other,
surveying the irate lad from head to foot with an
amused smile. "Very well, if you claim them, the
best thing you can do is to go off to the ship and present your claim to the captain. He is only too glad of
a chance to settle all such matters. Coxswain, take
these chaps aboard ship, present them to the captain
with my compliments, and tell him that they are desirous of a settlement in connection with these sealskins, which they claim as their property."
11 don't know that we care to go aboard your ship,"
said Phil. "Supposing your captain comes ashore
and settles with us right hereC We didn't invite him
to this island, or ask him to take our seal-skins."
I Oh, I guess you'd better go," responded the other,
with a peculiar smile. "You'll be apt to get better
terms if you do. Besides, our captain makes a point
of never going ashore before breakfast."
Phil was about to make some angry reply to this,
when Serge nudged him, and said, in a low tone, "Be
careful, old man, or you'll get us into trouble. Don't
you see she's a cutter ?"
A startled glance at the anchored vessel, to which,
in his excitement, he had not paid particular attention
before, satisfied Phil that she was, indeed, what Serge
claimed. Another look at the young man in authority
showed his uniform, though faded and bearing evidences of long service, to be that of the United States
Revenue Marine. m
" I don't care if she is," he answered, stoutly. " We'll
go and see her captain, though, and find out by what
authority he seizes the property of honest citizens.
Come on, Serge."
A few minutes later the boat was run alongside the
cutter's port gangway, and its cockswain was reporting
to the first lieutenant : I Here are two men, sir, that
Mr. Ramey ordered me to bring off. They say as
them seal-skins are theirs and want to see the captain
about 'em."
" Very well," answered the officer. 1 Follow me, you
two, and I guess the captain will dispose of your case
in short order."
Thus saying he led the way aft to the captain's
cabin, which was at the same time the office in which
he transacted his business. Knocking at the door, the
officer was bidden to enter, and, ordering the lads to
remain where they were, he did so. A minute later he
reappeared, told them they might step inside, as the
captain was ready to hear their story, and then returned to his post of duty on the upper deck.
As Phil and Serge stepped inside the roomy, well-
appointed cabin, the former thought he had never
seen a more comfortable, home-like appearing place.
It contained a centre-table on which stood a pot of
ferns, a number of easy-chairs, a writing-desk, and a
cabinet organ. At one end was a small library of
carefully selected books, and on a low sofa seat, at
one side, were scattered a number of magazines and illustrated papers.
The most startling object in the room to Phil, however, was a large mirror that confronted him as he
entered the door, and in which, for the first time in
weeks, he saw his own reflection. He had forgotten
that he still wore the kamleika of a sea-otter hunter,
that he was hatless, that his feet and lower limbs were THE   FUR-SEAL S   TOOTH
incased in great cowhide boots, or that his hair was
long and uncombed. Now to his dismay he realized
that in general appearance he more nearly resembled a
native Aleut than he did a civilized white lad, not to
say a young gentleman. In his confusion he hardly
realized that the captain of the cutter was speaking
to them, and that Serge, who, for the moment was the
more self-possessed of the two, was answering him.
Suddenly he was recalled to his senses by hearing an
exclamation of:
"Bless my soul! not Serge Belcofsky of Sitka ! Of
course it is, though. Why, Serge, you young scamp,
how are you ? and how, in the name of all that is
mysterious, do I find you here masquerading as a seal-
poacher ? I saw your mother only a few days ago, and
she is terribly anxious about you.    Why aren't you in
Sitka?" ^SSSt-
To Phil's amazement, as Captain Matthews, who was
a tall, fine-looking man with gray side whiskers, uttered
these words he stepped forward, and, grasping the hand
of his companion, shook it heartily.
11 am trying to get to Sitka, sir, the best I know
how," answered Serge, laughing, as he shook hands
with this old acquaintance, " and so is my friend here,
Mr. Ryder, whose father is waiting for him there; but
somehow luck seems to be against us."
j Ryder ! Ryder !" repeated Captain Matthews,
turning to Phil with a puzzled expression. " It can't be
that you are the son of Mr. John Ryder, the famous
mining expert whom I heard of in Sitka, and who is
hunting all over the country for a lost boy ?"
e I believe I am, sir," replied Phil, " for my name is
Philip Ryder, and I seem to be very much lost, and
my father is Mr. John Ryder, a mining expert."
J Well, bless my soul!" cried the captain. "If this
isn't a most extraordinary state of affairs !  And so you   PHIL  SEES   HIMSELF   AS   OTHERS   SEE   HIM
two young scamps are the very Ryder and Belcofsky
whose names appear on the SeamewB shipping-papers,
and whom I wasted so much time hunting for. But
where is Coombs — Quinine Coombs, or whatever his
medicinal name is ?"
" I am afraid we have lost him somewhere," replied
" Like as not," retorted the captain. 1 You seem
to be capable of losing anything or anybody, including
"Was it you who captured the Seamew, sir*?" inquired Phil, curiously.
I Of course it was, and I took her into Sitka harbor,
where she lies now, and where her case is to be tried
before Judge Ames. As you formed part of her piratical crew, I want to know if there is any reason why
I should not clap you two in irons as prisoners of war
and deserters, and take you there too ?"
" I only wish you would, sir," replied Phil, earnestly.
Just then a clear, laughing voice from behind them
said, "I think, papa, it is about time that I were allowed to greet my old friend Serge."
Turning quickly, poor Phil beheld one of the very
prettiest girls he had ever seen.    As a thought of his
own ridiculous appearance flashed into his mind, he
blushed furiously,  and wished that he were  in the
ship's hold, or a dungeon, or any other place that was
Captain Israel Matthews, commanding the United
States revenue-cutter Phoca, and one of the most highly esteemed officers in the service, had cruised in those
far northern waters for two years, and during most of
that time he had been accompanied by his motherless
daughter May, who loved the sea as a sailor's daughter
should. During these years May Matthews had made
several long visits in Sitka, where there is always a
CD 7 %/
charming colony of naval families and those of other
government officials. Here she had also become well
acquainted in the few old Russian households still remaining in that quaint Alaskan town. Of these the
Belcofskys were the most prominent; so by this time
she and Serge seemed quite like old friends.
On the present occasion, while she was greeting him,
and laughing familiarly at his ragged and generally
disreputable appearance, Phil edged towards the door
in a vain effort to escape an immediate introduction.
In this, however, he was frustrated by the captain,
who, noting the movement, called out sternly:
" Hello there, prisoner! No dodging ! Comeback
here and be introduced to your jailer, who will be held
responsible if you escape. Daughter, allow me to present my friend Mr. Philip Ryder, dressed for his famous impersonation of an Aleut swell, in the Alaskan
comedy of \Bering Breakers.' "
" Don't mind him, Mr. Ryder," laughed Miss May,
extending her hand with engaging cordiality to poor  : i PHIL   AND   SERGE   AS   PRISONERS   OF   WAR
embarrassed Phil. " He chaffs every one just that
way, and says the most horrid things. You ought to
see him in his winter uniform. He looks so exactly
like an Eskimo that even the dogs howl and run away
at sight of him."
" Yes, my winter coat really does make them howl
with envy," retorted Captain Matthews. 1 But come,
lads, let us go into the wardroom and see if we can't
provide you with some civilized toggery. After that,
as a penalty for your recent acts of piracy, etc., I sentence you both to appear in this cabin and breakfast
with Miss May and myself."
In the wardroom, or officers' quarters, the captain
introduced Phil and Serge to several of the younger
officers, who readily undertook to furnish them with
an outfit of clothing suitable to an appearance at the
cabin breakfast-table.
When, an hour later, after a welcome bath, after that
member of the crew who acted as ship's barber had
trimmed their hair, and clad in exceedingly becoming
suits of uniform, our lads again presented themselves
in the cabin, Captain Matthews insisted that they should
introduce each other to him. Otherwise, he declared,
he should never believe they were the castaways whom
out of pity for their starving condition he had invited
to breakfast.
J Just wait, sir, until you see us eat," remarked Phil,
Then the captain called them reformed pirates, and
imitation lieutenants, and would doubtless have invented many other equally absurd names had. not Miss May
clapped her hands over his mouth, and declared she
would not allow any further abuse of her prisoners.
It is doubtful if ever a merrier party sat down to a
breakfast in all Alaska, and certainly no meal was ever
more thoroughly appreciated than w^as that one by Phil 180
and Serge. The former pretended to have forgotten
the use of forks and spoons, Avhile the captain ordered
the table-boy to serve the sharks' fins and whalebone as
quickly as possible. Phil told how Serge tried to drive
away a bear that was breaking into his halibut larder,
and Serge in turn told how the master of the Seamew
had taught Phil to appreciate Ebenezer's cooking.
This mention of the Seamew led the lads to inquire
for further particulars concerning that vessel, and regarding affairs in Sitka. Therefore Captain Matthews
said that, having learned from one of the schooner's
crew of the cache of seal-skins on Oonimak Island, he
had only remained in Sitka long enough to turn his
prize over to the authorities, and had then hastened
back to make a further capture of her hidden cargo.
11 wondered—" murmured Serge.
I Now," continued the captain, 11 propose taking it,
and you, too, and Mr. Ipecac Coombs, if I can find him,
to Sitka for trial, though I must first run up to the
Pribyloff Islands, and then stop in at Oonalaska on
my way back."
I That will be fine !" exclaimed Phil. " Having got
so near the seal islands, I hated the thought of leaving
Bering Sea without seeing them, for it seems to me
that those millions of seals must be one of the sights
of the world."
"So it is, my boy," responded Captain Matthews,
"and I am glad you are to have the opportunity of
witnessing it. If it were on anything but an island,
though, from which it would be impossible for you to
escape, I don't think I should allow you on shore, except under guard, for I am bound you shall fetch Sitka
this time, if it can be managed."
" I hope you will succeed, sir," laughed Phil, " though
I don't know exactly what I shall do when I get there,
so long as my father has left." PHIL   AND  SERGE  AS  PRISONERS   OF  WAR
"I fancy he will be back again by that time. He
is certain to find out in Victoria where you have gone,
and will probably return to Sitka to await your arrival."
"So he will," said Phil, brightening, "for I left a
note for him in Victoria, telling him just what I intended to do."
I Did you inform him that you proposed to become
a seal-hunter, and then turn into a pirate, and then get
cast away on Oonimak Island, and get lost among the
sea-otters, and captured by a revenue-cutter, and be
delivered to him in irons ?" asked the captain, gravely.
"No, sir, not just that in detail," laughed Phil. "I
left most of it to be understood."
"Well, I only hope he'll understand it. By-the-
way, Serge, I've a bit of news that will interest you to
the extent of nearly a thousand dollars. Do you remember showing me once a very curiously carved fur-
seal's tooth that had been presented to your father by
a Chilkat chief ?" I
"Yes, sir, I remember it well."
"Well, those Indians have been having very bad
luck lately with their fishing, trading, and one thing
or another, and have decided that it is all owing to
the fact that they allowed that magic talisman, as they
regard it, to pass out of their possession. So they sent
a delegation down to Sitka to try and recover it from
your mother. I saw them there last week, and they
were terribly in earnest about getting it. They even
offered your mother as high as ten of their finest old-
time dance-blankets for it, and you know those are
now worth anywhere from seventy to one hundred
dollars apiece. Your mother told them that you had
it, and had taken it with you on a long voyage. She
said, though, that she had no doubt you would sell it
to them on your return, and that you were expected
1 182
back every day. So they are waiting for you, and you
may look forward to a very savage demonstration of
welcome the moment you set foot on Sitka wharf.
Have you the tooth with you ? I should like to see
it again."
"No," answered Serge, slowly ; "I gave it away."
"You don't say so ! How could you be so foolish?
To whom did you give it ?"
"To one who proved my best friend in a strange
country," replied Serge, nodding significantly in Phil's
| Oh !" exclaimed the captain, in a relieved tone.
"So you are the lucky possessor of the magic tooth,
are you, Master Phil? Then our Chilkat friends must
drive their bargain with you. Would you mind allowing me to have it a moment ? I want my daughter
to see it; for, on account of its history and associations, I regard it as one of the most interesting of
Alaskan curios."
11 am awfully sorry, sir, but I—"
"Don't tell me that you have given it away too."
I No, sir, but I have lost it. You see, I had no idea
of  its value, and  failed  to  take the care I should
"I might have known it!" cried the captain, in a
tone of vexation. "A chap that can manage to lose
himself as often as you have would lose anything.
But there, lad, forgive me," he added, quickly, as he
caught the look of mortification that swept over Phil's
face. "I didn't mean to say rude things, and if you
think the trinket has gone beyond hope of recovery
we'll say no more about it."
Just then a knock came at the cabin door, and Mr.
Ramey, the third lieutenant, who had been sent ashore
to bring off the seal-skins, reported that he had completed this duty, and that they were all on board. PHIL AND  SERGE  AS  PRISONERS  OF  WAR
"Very good," said Captain Matthews. "You may
ask  Mr. Nelson  to  get  under  way   for  the   Priby-
loffs."      I; § I
" There is one more thing, sir," continued the young
lieutenant, hesitatingly. I Although not instructed to
do so, I took the liberty of examining several other of
those ruins on shore, and in one of them I found this,
which I trust you will have no objection to my keep-
"Certainly not, if"—began the captain, casting a
careless glance at the object the lieutenant held out
for inspection. It was the skin of some animal turned
inside out, so that its real nature could not be determined.
Both Phil and Serge recognized it at once, and before the captain could complete his sentence the former
exclaimed, "Why, it is my sea-otter skin that I had
forgotten all about. I am ever so much obliged to
you, sir, for bringing it off."
" You may leave it, Mr. Ramey," said Captain Matthews. "I was about to say that I had no objection
to your keeping it provided no owner could be found;
but as one has appeared, that of course settles the
As the disappointed lieutenant walked away, he muttered to himself, "I do believe that this is the very
chap who claimed the seal-skins. Now it seems that
he owns everything else on the island, and I shouldn't
be surprised if he owned this ship before we got rid
of him."
In the meantime Phil was asking the captain's permission to present the sea-otter skin to his daughter
before he should have a chance to lose it. Though the
latter demurred at first, on account of its value, Phil
so insisted that he finally consented. Thus, to her
great delight, Miss May became possessed of one of m If'!
the finest pieces of fur in all Alaska, while Phil was
happily relieved of a responsibility.
A few minutes later the swift cutter was speeding
away over the green waters towards the Pribyloffs.
Oonimak Island, with its many memories, was fading
from view, and a new field of possible adventure was
opening before our young seal-hunters. CHAPTER   XXIX
Nearly two hundred and fifty miles north from
Oonimak lie the Pribyloffs, towards the larger and
more northerly of which, the island of St. Paul, the
swift revenue cutter Phoca was speeding her way.
That day of steaming over the restless waters of Bering Sea was one of unalloyed pleasure to both Phil
and Serge. Their troubles were over ; they were really bound for Sitka at last, and, en route, were going to
stop at the wonderful seal islands, of which both had
heard so much as to fill them with curiosity. Above all,
they were making this delightful trip in company with
congenial companions, some of whom were friends.
It wras a real pleasure now to watch the seals, that
began to appear when the cutter was fifty miles north
of Oonimak, and which increased in numbers as the
day wore on. They exhibited very little fear even of
the steamer, but would gaze curiously at her until they
deemed her too near for their own safety, when they
would suddenly sink out of sight and dart away like a
"I never tire of watching the dear things," said
May Matthews, as she and Phil stood together in the
narrow space just in front of the pilot-house. "What
with their quick movements and lovely great brown
eyes, I think they are simply fascinating; don't you?"
" Indeed I do," answered her companion ; 1 and
though this is the first opportunity I have had for
studying them from this point of view, I shall always !
think of them after this as the most graceful and interesting of marine animals."
"Do you know," continued the girl, "they seem to
me so nearly human that I don't see how any one can
have the heart to kill them; do you?"
" No," replied Phil, boldly, 11 do not; as I see them
now, I would almost as soon think of shooting my dear
old Irish setter Tab."
In making this reply the lad was but expressing the
honest sentiments with which he now regarded the
business that had once seemed to him so harmless.
He was thankful to discover, as he thought he had
from her conversation, that Miss May had no idea of
what his position on board the Seamew had been, and
determined that if he could prevent it she should never
learn that he had been a seal-hunter. He was intensely chagrined, therefore, when, as he finished speaking,
a voice from the pilot-house window directly above
their heads said:
I Is not that rather a curious opinion for you to express, Mr. Ryder, seeing that you have so recently and
successfully been engaged in that very business ? For
my own part, I can't see any more harm in killing one
of those seals than in killing a sheep ; but then I'm
very practical and haven't a bit of sentiment."
Looking quickly up and with crimsoned face, Phil
recognized his first acquaintance of that morning ; but
before he could utter the retort that sprang to his lips,
his companion said, quietly :
"Then I, for one, am sorry for you, Mr. Ramey ;
for it does not seem to me that people who are merely
practical get the fullest enjoyment out of life." Then,
before the young lieutenant could make reply, she exclaimed: "Oh, there is a school of whales ! Are you
well acquainted with whales, Mr. Ryder? Let us go
aft where we can see them better." When they were beyond ear-shot of the pilot-house
the girl said: " I hope you won't mind Mr. Ramey.
He is horrid, anyway, and is always saying disagreeable things. He hates this ship and this station, and
is awfully provoked because papa would not recommend him for a vacancy at San Francisco. I expect
he bears you a grudge on account of the sea-otter skin,
but you mustn't care."
:£ I only feel badly," replied Phil, " to have you know
that I was a seal-hunter. Now you will let me explain—
won't you?—that I only shipped on the Seamew because
I'd lost all my money, and couldn't think of any other
way of getting to Sitka. I didn't know until we were
out at sea that I was to be a hunter. Even then I
didn't realize for some time what the business really
meant. When I did, I refused to have anything more
to do with it; and that is the reason we were left behind when you captured the schooner and took her to
"Yes, indeed. I know all about it," replied Miss
May, enthusiastically. 1 Serge has already told me how
nobly you behaved when that horrid captain ordered
you out to shoot the poor mother-seals. It was a perfectly splendid thing to do, and it was to show that
I feel just as you do on the subject that I said what I
did a few minutes ago."
Phil's face was again crimsoned, though this time
the flush was not one of anger. It was very pleasant
to be thus appreciated, but he was too honest a fellow
to take all the credit to himself.
Did he also tell you how finely he and Jalap Coombs
backed me up on that occasion; and that if they hadn't
I should have been forced to give in at last ?"
"No ! Tell me," exclaimed the girl, eagerly. " I love
to hear of such things—I mean, of friends standing by
each other through thick and thin, and being willing
■m i I
to undergo all sorts of suffering and hardship for the
sake of what they believe to be right."
So Phil told her of the stanch friends with whom he
had been cast away on Oonimak, and they laughed
together over " old Kite Roberson's" wisdom until
dinner-time. Then they separated, for Phil and Serge
had accepted an invitation to dine with the officers in
the ward-room.
To the great relief of the former, Mr. Ramey did not
appear at this dinner, being compelled to remain on
duty until some officer who had finished his meal would
relieve him. The other hosts of the occasion formed just
such a genial, jolly party of bright fellows as is to be
met with in Yankee wardrooms all over the world,
and the dinner proved a great success. Although
our lads were slyly chaffed on all sides concerning
their recent experiences, and the first-lieutenant's account of how he had conducted them to the cabin as
prisoners of war was received with shouts of laughter,
the story of their adventures was listened to with
closest attention, and both of them were complimented on their pluck in times of danger.
Early on the following morning the Phoca, steaming
through the dense fog that nearly always envelops
the Pribyloffs in summer-time, was suddenly surrounded by incredible numbers of screaming sea-fowl. Although the noise made by these was deafening, it was
a welcome sound, for it was a certain sign of the vicinity of the island of St. George, whose precipitous cliffs
are vast bird rookeries.
Two hours later the still, fog-laden air was pervaded
by the far-reaching odor of the seal rookeries and killing-grounds of St. Paul. At the same time the dull
roar of its restless seal millions filled miles of surrounding space, like that of a distant Niagara. The darting
forms of fur-seals playing fearlessly about the ship A   CRUISE   ON  A  BERING  SEA  CUTTER
were to be seen on all sides, while at safer distances
bands of hair - seals and big sea-lions could easily be
distinguished from their more graceful cousins. From
fog-hidden Walrus Rock came the deep bass roaring of
hundreds of the unwieldy long-tusked monsters from
which that islet derives its name, though it is chiefly
noted as being the site of one of the most famous
bird rookeries in the world. Here, too, as had happened off the bluff coast of St. George a few hours before, sea-fowl swarmed about the ship with deafening
cries, both in the water and in the air.
Feeling his way carefully with a lead, Captain Matthews, who had been here many times, took his ship
around Reef Point and anchored her in three fathoms
of water, well to windward of St. Paul, nearly a mile
off shore, and so beyond the influence of its horrible
" Now," said he to Phil and Serge, after the vessel
had been made snug, 11 expect to remain here three
days, unless driven from my anchorage by a sou'wester.
During that time, while you would be heartily welcome on board ship, I should advise you to take up
your quarters on shore, as,there is so much for you to
do and see that you would find it inconvenient to be
constantly interrupted by coming off for your meals.
The government and company people are always delighted to entertain visitors, and I will see that you
have the proper introductions. Another bit of my
advice is to put on your old Oonimak clothes, which
will be in keeping with those universally worn on the
island, and will prove more suitable to your explorations than anything else."
The lads accepted both these pieces of advice, and,
after bidding good-bye to the officers and to Miss
May, who positively declined to visit people whose
sole business was the killing of her dear seals, they l\
a i
set forth from the ship filled with eager anticipations
of what they were to see.
I Remember," called out Miss May from the deck,
"that you are to be on board in time to start for
Sitka."      | jjr -'^HH|^tt?"
"Indeed we will!" answered both lads at once.
I We won't miss it this time even if we have to accept
your father's invitation to go in irons!" cried Phil.
" Good-bye I I      1 9|
Mr. Ramey, who had obtained permission to go
ashore with his beloved camera, for which he hoped to
find sunlight enough after a while, went in the boat
with Captain Matthews and the lads.
As it approached the shore and the fog began to
lift, both Phil and Serge uttered exclamations of
amazement. To the left, as far as the eye could reach,
literally covering the land, apparently ranged in
platoons, companies, regiments, and armies, were the
seals in countless myriads, an incredible mass of animal
life. They were in ceaseless motion ; and all, from old
bulls to new-born pups, were roaring, barking, spitting,
yelping, or plaintively calling, until the whole formed
a mighty volume of sound that is never stilled, night
or day, from the time the seals arrive in June until
they depart in October.
From this scene, which they looked forward to visiting later, the lads turned their attention to the village
of St. Paul, which occupied a rising ground on the
right, directly above the beach. Here they were amazed
to see a collection of nearly one hundred comfortable-
looking frame-houses, a number of warehouses and
other company buildings, a Greek church, a store,
and a school-house, all painted white and neatly
ranged along regularly laid-out, terraced streets. With
its general air of prosperity, neatness, and comfort
this sealing-station in far-away Bering Sea compared A   CRUISE   ON  A  BERING  SEA   CUTTER
favorably with thousands of other American villages
scattered over more favored portions of the country.
There were no shade trees, to be sure, nor is there a
tree of any kind on the island; but then none is needed,
for the almost perpetual fog does away with the necessity. High above the village, from the top of a tall
pole, floated an American flag. As Phil Ryder stepped
ashore and looked up at this well-loved emblem of his
country, he realized as never before what a vast and
far-reaching empire it is, and his heart thrilled with
pride at the thought that it was his country and that
was his flag. CHAPTER XXX
A throng of villagers were assembled on the beach
to witness the landing of the boat, for in that distant
community the arrival of a ship bringing news from
the great world is an event of general interest. Every
one knew Captain Matthews, and all wanted to shake
hands with him; but he found time to present our lads
to the principal men of the place, such as the government inspector, the company's agent, the priest, and
the doctor who has charge of the hospital in which all
sick or wounded villagers are cared for free of expense
to themselves. All of these extended a cordial hospitality, and promised that the lads should be well
taken care of during their short stay, and shown all
the sights.
A good-looking young Aleut, who was the possessor
of such a tremendously long and mysterious name that
neither Phil nor Serge dared try to pronounce it, was
introduced to them as the school-teacher, and as there
was no school at that season he at once offered to act
as their guide.
" There is a drive going on now," he said, in such
perfect English as to surprise them; "and if you care
to see it we must go at once."
Agreeing to this, the visitors started off with their
guide in the direction indicated.
" The one thing that gets me !" exclaimed Phil, holding his nose and making a wry face, " is, how you peo- THE THIRD  LIEUTENANT'S HUMILIATING POSITION    193
pie can stand this awful smell. It is enough to breed
sickness and cause death."
"Smell?" repeated the guide. "Is there a smell?
I suppose there must be, for I have heard other strangers complain of it; but I don't notice it."
I And yet /ou have a nose."
"Certainly I have ; but then I was born here, you
know. You would get so used to it in two or three
weeks that you would not be troubled by it any more
than I am."
" Would I ?" asked Phil, incredulously.
"Yes. When I first returned from the East I must
confess that I noticed it a little for a day or two, but
I quickly forgot it."
"What part of the East did you visit?" inquired
Serge, thinking that he meant eastern Alaska, and
perhaps Sitka.
" Rutland, Vermont, where I was educated," replied
the teacher, simply.
" You don't say so !" cried Phil; 1 why, I am from
New England myself. New London, Connecticut, is
my home, and that is where I met Serge, too."
"Then I am doubly glad to make your acquaintance," said the teacher, "for I love New England almost
as much as I do this island. The people there were
very kind to me.    But here is the drive."
A thousand seals, all young males, were being slowly driven by half a dozen shouting Aleuts up from a
beach, or " hauling-ground " as it is called, two miles
away. They were strung out in a long panting line,
for a seal finds it extremely difficult to drag himself
along on dry land, and must be allowed to rest every
few minutes. To Phil's surprise they were as docile
as sheep, and much more easy to drive, because they
could not run.
They had nearly reached the killing-ground when
is 194
our lads met them, and there they were allowed to
rest for an hour, in order that they might cool off. If
this were not done, and if they were killed when overheated, the hair and fur would drop out from the skin
almost as soon as the latter was removed, rendering it
While the seals were thus cooling, the killing-gang
of about twenty stalwart young natives, all armed
with six - foot clubs and with keen - edged knives, arrived upon the scene.
"Where do they get those tremendous base-ball
bats ?" inquired Phil. " Do they come from the mainland ?" §
" Yes," laughed the guide, " and from the other side
of it, too. They are killing - clubs, and are made on
purpose for this work in your own town."
" Not New London, Connecticut!"
"That's the very place."
I But why do you call them killing-clubs ? Surely
they don't beat the poor brutes to death with those
"Not exactly. But they kill them with a single
blow on the head, and then cut their throats."
What a barbarous way !". cried Phil, indignantly.
Oh no," replied the teacher. "It may seem so
to you, but it really is not. The seal's skull is so
thin that a heavy blow crushes it and kills him instantly."
" Why not shoot them ?"
" Because that would be a less certain and more expensive method, and then the noise would alarm all
the other seals. . They are easily panic-stricken, tame
and fearless as they seem. For that reason not a gun
or a dog is allowed on these islands."
While they were thus talking the killing - gang," by
command of their native foreman, was separating a
tt  II
H         | |  ■ ;. !
j   I
li i
i £i|,
"pod" of about two hundred seals from the rest of
the drove. These were urged to a short distance
from the others, where they were closely huddled together until they were directly beneath the uplifted
clubs. At another word of command the cruel clubs
descended with terrific force, and the work of killing
was begun.
"Oh!" cried Phil, "I can't stand this! It is too
horrible!   Come on, Serge.   Let's get away from here."
So, to the surprise of the teacher, who had imagined
that his new friends would be particularly interested
in this scene, to which he had become hardened by a
a life-long familiarity, they turned from it and hurried
If they had remained they would have seen the dead
seals skinned with marvellous dexterity, and the skins
loaded into mule-carts to be driven to a salt-house,
where they would lie in pickle for several weeks before
being rolled into bundles of two each, and stored in the
company warehouse. At the end of the season, which
closes in August, during which month the seals shed their
coats, the seventy or one hundred thousand skins representing the year's take would be shipped on the company's own steamer to San Francisco, and from there
to London, to be prepared for use, as described in a
previous chapter.
But Phil was too sick at heart and disgusted with
the scene he had just witnessed to care for any further
details of the business. So, followed by Serge and the
teacher, he set rapidly off in the direction of the rookeries or breeding-grounds, in search of more agreeable
In the rookeries the lords of all they survey are the
old bulls, huge shaggy fellows, from six to eighteen or
twenty years of age. These arrive at the islands early
in May, and each immediately takes possession of. a 196
bit of the bowlder - strewn coast about twenty feet
" He files a homestead claim on it," as Serge laughingly remarked.
"Yes," said the guide, "and he is ready to defend it
with his life, if necessary, against all rivals."
Here he remains, unless some bull more powerful
than he drives him away, for the succeeding three
months. During that time he neither eats nor drinks,
never visits the sea, and only takes the merest snatches
of sleep. His entire time is spent in roaring out fierce
challenges to his neighbors, fighting savage battles
with them, stealing their wives whenever he gets a
chance, and in protecting his own against other seal
wife-stealers like himself. He will attack a man who
ventures on his domain as quickly as he will a brother-
seal, and is altogether a most pugnacious and disagreeable old fellow. He is three or four times as large
as the gentle little female seals who gather around
him, and, always holding himself erect with defiantly
uplifted head, towers above them to a height of several
In the midst of all this fighting and incessant commotion the fat roly-poly " pups" are born, and here
they spend a month or so, under the protecting care of
their mothers. Then, as they are sociable little chaps,
they begin to herd together in great "pods," and
roam about the rookery until they finally reach the
water, which they at first regard with great amazement and dislike. Gradually they paddle into its
shallow pools, and begin to learn to swim. This is
such a hard lesson that they do not master even its
ABC for several weeks, and they study it for at least
a month before graduating into the deep-water class.
These rookeries are never disturbed by the sealers,
their drives being always made from among the count-  i
t< **E
less thousands of "holluschickie," or young male seals,
whom the old bulls will not permit to occupy the same
ground with themselves, and who, when they wish to
come ashore, are forced to I haul up " on the adjacent
Our lads were immensely interested in the fights of
the fierce old bulls and fascinated by the comical antics of the pups, which at this time had just learned
how to swim.
While they were wandering here and there amid the
files of this vast seal army, whose members were too
busy with their own concerns to pay the slightest attention to them—unless, indeed, they happened to intrude upon the domain of some old bull, who speedily
warned them off—they suddenly came upon so comical
a sight that it caused them to roar with laughter. It
was nothing more nor less than the arrogant young
third lieutenant of the Phoca, his uniform torn and
covered with mud, seal hairs, and filth, trying to creep
away on all-fours from the territory of two of the most
savage old bulls on the rookery. As was afterwards
learned, he had made a dash for a rocky ridge, from
which he hoped to secure a fine photograph, when,
half - way up, his foot had slipped, and, dropping his
camera, he had pitched headlong directly under the
noses of two rival bulls who happened to be contesting
a bit of ground at the foot of the ridge. Instantly they
devoted their entire attention to him, and every time
he attempted to rise they promptly knocked him down.
Then he tried to crawl away; but with each movement
he made they would rush at him with open mouths and
gleaming teeth, only to retreat a few feet and glare at
him when he again lay still.
It was fortunate that our friends appeared on the
scene when they did; for the victim of this awkward
predicament might have been kept there until utterly
m 1
exhausted if they had not. As it was, they succeeded
in so distracting the attention of the savage monsters
that he effected an escape. His camera was ruined,
and he was filled with wrath, not only against the seals,
but against those who had witnessed his ignominious
position. In particular was he wroth against poor Phil,
probably because he of the three rescuers was least
able to restrain his laughter. With each new mental
picture of the situation he roared afresh until the tears
streamed from his eyes. " Hang that fellow!" muttered Mr. Ramey to himself.    "He's altogether too
v CD
fresh ! But I'll find some way to cause him to laugh
from the other side of his mouth—see if I don't!"
************ WsSrfwI
The more Mr. Ramey reflected upon his recent ridiculous adventure, the more determined he became
to keep its history from reaching the ears of his shipmates on board the Phoca, if such a thing were possible. He knew that if it once got into the wardroom
he would never hear the last of it, for nothing more
pleases a wardroom mess than a good joke at the expense of one of its members. The story is told and retold with such humorous additions as may suggest
themselves from time to time. It is treasured up to
be related through coming years in many different
wardrooms until, unless its victim is sensible and good-
natured, it weighs upon him like a chronic nightmare, and causes him much unhappiness. Fortunately,
most wardroom men have had both these qualities
thoroughly rubbed into them by a four-years' course
of vigorous polishing at Annapolis, and so are in a
condition to laugh as heartily over a good story at
their own expense as at any other. Unfortunately, in
the present case, Mr. Ramey was not an Annapolis
man, and had not yet learned to take such things good-
naturedly. Then, too, as he was very fond of jokes at
the expense of others, he realized how bitter and nauseous the dose would be made for him. Therefore, he
mentally vowed that, if he could compass it, neither
Philip Ryder nor Serge Belcofsky should again set
foot on the deck of the good ship Phoca. To this end
he began to scheme, even while they were brushing
ra 200
the dirt of the rookery from his uniform, and from the
very first fortune seemed to favor him.
"I wouldn't mention this if I were you," he said in
a low tone to the lads, " until we are once more aboard
ship and away from the island, because there is such
a strong feeling here against any one who disturbs a
rookery that it might get me into trouble. Of course
it is too good a yarn to withhold from the wardroom,
but it will be all the better for being kept a few days."
" All right," replied Phil, striving politely to smother his laughter; " we won't speak of it on the island."
At the same time the lad smiled to think how he
should enjoy telling it to Miss May, and how heartily
that appreciative daughter of the sea would laugh
over it.
Captain Matthews dined ashore with the company's
agent that day, while Mr. Ramey and our lads had
accepted an invitation from the government inspector,
under whose hospitable roof the latter were also to
spend the night.
During the meal, at which, in honor of the guests,
were served all the delicacies of the islands, Phil paid
particular attention to a large omelette, a dish of
which he was very fond. As he had seen no fowls
about the village, he inquired of his host where he
kept his hens.
I Oh, just around the corner !" laughed the inspector, "where we have a chicken ranch containing several millions of egg-laying fowls. By-the-way," he continued, more soberly, I that is one of the sights of this
region, and you ought certainly to visit it before leaving here. It—Walrus Island, I mean—supports the
most accessible as well as one of the most populous
and densely-packed bird rookeries in the world outside of the Antarctic Ocean. That is where we keep
our million or so of hens, only we call them gulls, murres, WHERE  IS THE  CENTRE   OF THE   UNITED STATES?   201
arries, auks, chookies, sea-parrots, and cormorants.
On the five or six acres of level surface offered by
Walrus they are packed as tightly as sardines in a
box ; they are everlastingly quarrelling among themselves, and yet they are so perfectly fearless of man
that they will scarcely move out of the way to avoid
being stepped on. Yes, indeed, it is a sight you ought
not to miss. A boat is sent over from here every few
days after eggs, of which six men will collect several
tons in as many hours. If I find that one is going
over in time for you to make the trip, I will let you
know, and I should advise you to take it."
"Thank you, sir," said Phil. "I should like it
above all things."
"There is another thing on hand just now," continued the inspector, I that I think would interest you immensely.    Have you ever seen a sea-lion ?"
"Yes," replied Phil, "I shot two only the other
"Then you know what great ferocious-appearing
monsters they are. Would you believe that a herd of
them could be driven out on land, and kept for days
at a time within a corral, or fence, of nothing but
sticks, strings, and bits of fluttering cotton rags, such
as a child could easily tear down ?"
"No," answered Phil.    "It doesn't seem possible."
" Well, it is," said the inspector, I and you can see
that very thing to-morrow, if you care to visit Northeast Point. You see, as we kill all our seals for the
year inside of a month, we made our last drive of this
season to-day. A lot of our young men, being thus set at
liberty, have gone over to Northeast to begin a sea-
lion drive on their own account. The skins are valuable for making boats, you know, while the flesh is esteemed much more highly than that of a seal."
"But how can they drive sea-lions?" asked Phil.
™m — IP
" I thought they were so shy that a man couldn't get
near them."
"So they are, and for that reason they can only be
approached at night, when they are asleep on the
beach, and then only by exercise of the utmost caution.
The hunters creep along the beach, among its many
bowlders, on all-fours, until they are between the herd
and the water. Then they jump up with waving arms
and a wild yelling that frightens the sea-lions almost
out of their senses. Those that have been asleep, with
their noses pointed towards the sea, rush into the
water with such force that nothing could stop them,
and so escape. At the same time, those who are so
unfortunate as to be headed inland when thus rudely
awakened, rush with equal precipitation in that direction. The natives close in behind them, dancing, brandishing weapons, screaming, making all sorts of frantic noises, and so drive them at a sort of a lumbering
gallop for several hundred feet, when the frenzied animals, breathless and exhausted, fall panting to the
ground. Instead of killing them where they are, the
natives allow them to rest a few minutes. Then they
rouse and urge them forward by all manner of devices, the most successful of which is the sudden opening of gingham umbrellas in their faces. When they
have got the herd out of sight of the water, behind
some sand-dune, they crowd them together and run a
fence of strings around them in no time. The strings
are supported by slender sticks thrust into the sand,
each of which bears a bit of fluttering cotton cloth.
Here the forty or fifty big brutes are as securely fenced
as though behind stone walls, and here they remain
for several weeks, or until three or four hundred of
their kind have been secured and herded with them.
During this time, instead of remaining stupidly quiet,
as you might imagine, they are constantly on the alert, WHERE  IS  THE CENTRE   OF THE   UNITED   STATES?    203
writhing, fighting, and climbing over each other with
incessant motion."
"Seems to me I never heard of anything so stupid !"
exclaimed Phil.
"Did you ever hear of any one being afraid of
ghosts ?" asked the inspector.
"Yes, sir, I believe I have."
"Well, it seems to me that such people are just as
silly and stupid as the sea-lions, who are afraid of bits
of fluttering cotton cloth.    Doesn't it to you ?"
"Of course it does,sir!" answered the lad, heartily,
for John Ryder had taught his son to regard all forms
of superstition as the result of combined cowardice and
ignorance.    " But while I should hate to meet or know
any person who is such a coward as to believe in and
be afraid of ghosts, I should dearly love to see a herd
of sea-lions in a corral of strings. So I think I will go
over there to-morrow. I shall have plenty of time,
sha'n't I, Mr. Ramey ?"
"Certainly," replied the lieutenant, "you have still
two days and two nights to spend ashore; or, rather,
you have two whole days, for the nights here are so
short now that they are hardly worth counting."
"By-the-way, Ramey," remarked the inspector,
" speaking of nights, do you remember the questions
you promised to look up for me when you were last
here ? One was whether sunlight was ever absent
from all parts of the United States at once, and the
other was, where is the centre of this country between
the east and the west ?"
| Yes, sir," replied the lieutenant, 11 do and I have
looked them up. In summer the sun may always be
seen from one part or another of United States territory; for it rises over Eastport, Maine, before it sets
on Attu Island. As to the east-and-west centre of
the country, it is-
77 204
" Where do you say ?" interrupted the inspector,
and putting the question to Phil.
" Omaha," was the prompt reply.
" Do you think so, too ?" asked the inspector of Serge.
"No, sir. I should think it might be somewhere
west of the Rocky Mountains."
Phil laughed at this, but the inspector said: "Don't
laugh too soon, my lad. I expect he is more nearly
right than you.    How is it, Ramey ?"
" They are both pretty far out in their guesses," replied the young officer, delighted at this opportunity
of exposing the ignorance of "these youngsters," as
he mentally termed them. "Omaha is away off the
mark, and the I somewhere west of the Rocky Mountains' is very indefinite. The truth is that Attu, the
westernmost Aleutian island, being very nearly three
thousand miles to the westward of San Francisco,
makes that city practically the midway point. In
reality, though, the point is still some sixty miles to
the westward of the Golden Gate, while the exact
geographical centre of the United States is at a point
in the Pacific forty miles off the mouth of the Columbia
River." 1
"Well!" cried Phil, laughing.  " So that is the case—"
"I can assure you that it is," interrupted Mr. Ramey,
stiffly, I for I made the calculations myself."
11 had no intention of doubting the correctness of
your figures," responded Phil, in a tone that was painfully polite. 11 was only about to say, if that is the
case, when the seals leave here they seek winter-quarters in the very centre of the country."
This Mr. Ramey considered a very flippant manner
of treating a problem upon the solution of which he
had exhausted his entire stock of mathematics, and it
confirmed him in his opinion that this young Ryder
was decidedly " fresh." WHERE  IS THE   CENTRE   OF THE UNITED  STATES?   205
Soon after this Captain Matthews and his third
lieutenant returned to the cutter, while our lads visited
the library, the hospital, the quaint Greek church, and
the interiors of several native houses, which they found
to be surprisingly neat and comfortable. Having thus
seen all there was of interest in the immediate vicinity,
they turned in to get a good night's rest, preparatory
to their long trip of the morrow. CHAPTER XXXII
Phil and Serge, in planning their expedition to
Northeast Point to visit the sea-lion hunters, expected
to walk the entire distance, which is about ten miles.
At breakfast-time, however, they were told by the inspector that he had arranged to have them taken in a
bidarrah, or large open boat, the wooden frame of
which is covered with sea-lion skins. He also had a
supply of provisions put up for them, had ordered out
a crew of six men to row the bidarrah, and had taken
every precaution to make their trip comfortable and
enjoyable. The boat was to return that same day,
and would bring the lads back in plenty of time for
supper, which they had been invited to take with the
priest of the little Greek church.
Although the morning was damp and chilly, both
lads thoroughly enjoyed the unique trip up the coast.
Phil had brought along his kamleika, which kept him
perfectly dry, and Serge did not seem to mind the
dampness any more than the natives themselves,
who fairly revel in wet, foggy weather, and are never
more uncomfortable than when the sun shines out
warm, as it occasionally does, even over the Pribyloff^. Ill
On the present trip there was just fog enough to
keep the crew of the bidarrah in good spirits, without
hanging so low as to conceal the shore line. Consequently, the wonderful seal-life in the water and on
land, through and past which the  boat moved, was WHY  THE  CUTTER DEPARTED
plainly visible. From end to end of the island the
coast was crowded with it, and by the time the bidarrah reached its destination Phil declared that he believed all the "sea-bears" of the world must be collected in that one place.
They found the camp of the hunting-party in and
about an old native hut that reminded the visitors of
the one they had occupied on Oonimak Island. It was
behind a range of low sand-dunes, and just beyond it
they caught sight of the chief attraction of the place,
a small herd of sea-lions, great shaggy fellows, very
much larger than seals, ramping and floundering about
behind an enclosure of strings. The situation struck
our lads as so comical that they laughed at it until
they were actually tired with laughing. For an hour
they watched the frantic efforts of the uncouth beasts
to discover some point of escape that was not guarded
by a fluttering white rag. At the end of that time
they were called to dinner, which was served in the
old hut, and which proved so much better than they
expected that they ate it with real enjoyment.
One of the hunters who could speak a little English
told them that if the wind proved favorable that night
he and his companions would make another drive, and
Phil declared that he meant to stay, in the hope of
seeing it.
"It must be one of the most curious hunting scenes
in the world," he said, "and I shall probably never
have another chance to see it. I don't live in Alaska,
you know; besides, I'd a thousand times rather spend
a night out here than in the village, where I must
breathe the awful-smelling air of the killing-grounds.
So if you will make my excuses to the priest, like a
good fellow, I think I'll stay. We have plenty of
time, you know."
"All right," replied Serge; "but as I want to see
I 208
those queer old Russian books the priest promised to
show us, I think I'll go back in the bidarrah."
As this boat was ready to leave directly after dinner, the lads bade each other good-bye, Phil promising
to make his way to the village on foot early the following morning, so as to reach it in plenty of time to
rejoin the Phoca.
After his friend's departure he again visited the
captive lions, and wondered, as he watched them, if
they were the same as those he had read of on the so-
called I seal rocks 1 of San Francisco. If his friend
the inspector had been there, he would have told him
they were not; that the seal-rock sea-lions were of a
variety found only on the Californian coast, and that
they do not attain more than half the size of their
great Alaskan cousins.
When tired of this amusement Phil wandered to a
point commanding a fine view of the great seal herfls,
and became so absorbed in watching them that the afternoon passed before he knew it, and he was surprised
when the hunter who could speak English called him
to an early supper. After it, Phil and this hunter
went together to the beach, where, to the lad's great
disappointment, the latter said he feared there would
be no sea-lion drive that night, as the wind showed
signs of changing.
While they talked of this a boat appeared, coming
from the direction of the village. One of its occupants, all of whom were natives, stepped ashore, and
talked for a minute with the hunter.
" He says," remarked the latter, turning to Phil,
"that they are bound for Walrus Island after eggs,
and that if you want to go they will take you. They
will stay all night, but will start back for the village
early in the morning."
| That suits me !" exclaimed Phil; " so long as there WHY  THE   CUTTER  DEPARTED
isn't to be any lion-hunt, a hunt for birds' eggs in an
Arctic rookery is the next best thing. Besides, if
these fellows will carry me back to town in their boat,
.1 shall be saved the long, lonely tramp, for which I
didn't care very much anyhow."
With this Phil bade his hunter friend good-bye and
stepped into the big boat, which was immediately
shored off and headed for Walrus Islet, six miles away.
About an hour later the inmates of the hunting-
camp were startled by the sudden appearance among
them of Serge Belcofsky, hot and breathless, as though
he had run all the way from the village.
1 Where is my friend ?" he shouted, darting searching glances about the dim interior.
1 Gone to Morzovia for eggs," replied the English-
speaking hunter.
"Oh !" groaned Serge. "How could he do such a
thing? Now we shall be too late, and the cutter will
go without us."
His distress was so real that, while not wholly understanding its cause, the good-natured Aleut took pity
on him and said: " My bidarkie is here. It has two
holes. If you like, we will go to Morzovia. You may
then fetch your friend back. I will come in the bidarrah."
Anything was better than a whole night of inaction.
It was possible that the cutter would wait for them,
and they might yet get back to the village in time.
Thus thinking, Serge eagerly accepted this generous
offer, and a few minutes later the light bidarkie was
skimming the darkening waters of the open sea in the
direction of Walrus Islet.
To understand the existing condition of affairs we
must have been at the village about the time Phil and
Serge were eating dinner with the sea-lion hunters.
A newly-arrived steamer had just dropped anchor near
1 f:
the Phoca, and her master, a stoutly - built German
named Kuhn, was on his way to visit and report
to Captain Matthews. His ship was the Norsk, a
tramp steamer from San Francisco, bound for the
mouth of the great Yukon River, with men and supplies for a new Alaskan fur-trading company. He had
touched at St. Paul for information and, if possible, to
obtain a pilot.
More important than all the rest of his news, in Captain Matthews' estimation, was that of a certain mys-
terious schooner which the master of the Norsk had
seen in Oonalaska harbor. He could learn nothing
definite as to her movements, but it was commonly
reported that she had been chartered at a big price to
go into Bering Sea after seal-skins.
"Confound these poachers!" exclaimed Captain
Matthews. "I no sooner get rid of one than another appears. Mr. Ramey, you will please go ashore
with the gig, intercept Mr. Ryder and Mr. Belcofsky
the moment they return from Northeast Point, and
bring them back with you. Tell them we shall leave
for the southward the moment they get on board, and
that at any rate we must be out of here before sunset."
As the third lieutenant was rowed towards the village
his mind was filled with unpleasant reflections. Those
chaps were to come on board again, after all, and
through them he would be made a butt of ridicule for
the wardroom mess. It was tough luck, and he wished
they were in Halifax, or some other distant port, at that
moment, instead of on the seal island of St. Paul.
When he reached the landing he found that they
had not returned.    He also found the egg-bidarrah
just about to start for an all-night's trip to Walrus
Islet. Now Mr. Ramey had picked up a fair knowledge of the Aleut language, armed with which, and a
silver dollar, he approached the native skipper of the 1 Jrl I
^ K^V
egg - boat. " The young white gentlemen," he said,
"wish very much to visit Morzoria. They are now
coming in a bidarrah from Northeast Point. Here is
a dollar, which is yours if you will kindly stop when
you meet that bidarrah and invite them to go with
The native willingly agreed to do this, and a moment later he had the satisfaction of seeing the e^-
© ©©
boat shove off. "The scheme may work, or it may
not," he said to himself. " At any rate, it is worth
trying. It gives me one more chance, and it won't
hurt those young beggars to wait here a week or so
longer, until some other ship comes along to take them
oiL"    1-      I I 1     B
Half-way up the coast the egg - boat met the other
bidarrah, and Serge received an invitation to go to
Walrus Islet, which he declined. When he reached
the village he found Mr. Ramey patiently waiting.
"Where is Ryder?" asked the young officer.
"He decided to stay behind and spend the night
with the hunters," was the reply.
I Then he'll be apt to get left, for the cutter is to
sail as soon as you and I can get aboard."
Serge was thunderstruck. For a moment he knew
not what to do or say. Then a sudden plan flashed
into his mind.
"Mr. Ramey," he said, "I am going overland to
fetch my friend : it is the quickest way. Will you
kindly beg Captain Matthews to wait for us just as
long as he can ? I know we can be back before mid-
"Very well, Mr. Belcofsky; do as you please," replied the officer. Then without another word Serge
set off on a run for the distant point where he expected to find Phil.
Mr. Ramey returned to the ship and reported that
.iiiiiiiiiwiiiiii""'".    » 212
he believed the young gentlemen had gone to Walrus
Islet egg-hunting, and it was doubtful if they returned
before the afternoon of the following day.
"The young scamps!" exclaimed Captain Matthews.
"So they have given me the slip, after all! Well, I
can't wait for them now, but will come back and pick
them up after we run down this new poacher."
On hearing this Mr. Ramey was greatly troubled,
and became filled with a fear that haunted him for
some days.
So the Phoca sailed away, and her recent passengers
were left behind. CHAPTER XXXIII
Captain Matthews had obtained the name of the
suspicious schooner from the master of the Norsk. It
was Philomel, and he at once recognized it as that of
a well-known craft belonging to a sea-otter trader,
which he had frequently seen plying her honest vocation among the islands of the Aleutian chain. I That
is a new dodge and a good one," he muttered. " The
rascals knew the risk of bringing a strange vessel into
the sea, and so have chartered a well - known craft,
thinking that she can go where she pleases without exciting suspicion. I am on to their game, though, and
they must be a good deal smarter than I think they
are if we don't have them alongside before many days
are past."
The Phoca first ran down to Oonalaska and dropped
anchor in Captain's Harbor on the second day after
leaving St. Paul. Here her commander learned, without going ashore, that the Philomel had been chartered
by one Jalap Coombs, and had cleared five days before for a general trading voyage to Oonimak Island
and other Bering Sea points lying to the eastward.
"Ho ! ho! my veteran poacher with the medicinal
name! It is you, is it? and up to your old tricks!"
said Captain Matthews to himself, as he ordered his
vessel to be got under way for the eastward.
Late that same afternoon the schooner Philomel was
reported at anchor off the northeast point of Oonimak,
and close in shore.
" Very good, sir," said the captain to his first lieutenant, who made this report; " we will anchor for the
night a cable's length outside of her, and you will at
once send an officer on board to make a careful examination of her cargo. If he finds anything suspicious about her—any guns, extra boats, or other evidences of a sealing outfit—let him bring her skipper
back with him."
To the surprise of those on board the cutter, she
had barely dropped anchor before a small boat containing two men was seen to put off from the schooner
and come towards her. Captain Matthews, who was
curious to see what sort of a man he had to deal with,
stepped on deck in time to receive a genuine surprise.
Instead of the old sea-dog whom he expected, he beheld a fine-looking man of middle age, wearing an iron-
gray mustache, and clad in the soft hat, corduroy suit,
knee-breeches, worsted stockings, and heavy walking
shoes of a gentleman tourist or sportsman. Lifting his
hat as he stepped on deck and approached the captain,
the stranger asked:
"Are you the commander of this vessel, sir ?"
" I am," replied Captain Matthews. Then, thinking
to display at once the extent of his information, he
added: "And you, I presume, are the person who has
chartered yonder schooner ?"
" I am, sir," answered the stranger; "and my name is—9
" Coombs, is it not ?"
Oh mo! Mr. Coombs is still in the boat, and we
have come off to beg your assistance.    As I was about
to say, my-
cExcuse me," interrupted the captain, "but I fear
you are applying to the wrong person for assistance in
the business in which you are engaged."
" Do you know what it is, then ?" asked the stranger,
with an air of surprise. IN hot pursuit
" I have reason to believe that you are after sealskins," was the reply, given with an air that seemed to
say: "Deny it if you can."
" I am willing to acknowledge that part of our business here was to secure certain seal-skins that had been
left on yonder island. That, however, devolved entirely upon Mr. Coombs, and was something with
which I had nothing to do. My errand here, and the
one in which I hoped for your assistance, is the searching for a lost boy—my own son, in fact. He was known
to be on Oonimak Island two weeks ago; but now, though
we have scoured the island from end to end, we can
discover no traces of him."
"Bless my soul!" cried Captain Matthews. "And
your name is—"
" John Ryder; while that of my lost boy, on whose
account I am suffering the greatest anxiety, is Philip
—Philip Ryder."    1 1 ,BE
" Yes, yes ! my dear sir! I know him well, the young
scamp ! And you may instantly set your mind at rest
concerning him. He is safe, sound, and hearty, not
far from here—in a place from which he cannot possibly
escape. Why! he was on board this Very ship only a
few days ago."
" But where is he now ?" asked Mr. Ryder, eagerly.
"Just over here on one of the Pribyloff Islands,
where you will find him as snug as a bug in a rug ;
only I defy you to distinguish him from a dozen of the
other young Aleuts there."
"Then," sighed the happily relieved but still anxious father, "he is still three hundred miles away from
" Oh no! not so far as that. Barely two hundred
and seventy. A mere step to one who, like yourself,
has already covered such great distances in searching
for him.   You see, I know all about your fruitless trip
iaattmm 216
to Victoria. But how on earth do you happen to be
here, and in company with Rhubarb—Hartshorn—
Plague take the man's pharmaceutical name !"
"Perhaps you mean Jalap," suggested Mr. Ryder,
laughing for the first time in many days.
" Jalap! That is it—Jalap Coombs. But never mind
now. Come down into the cabin and meet my daughter, and take dinner with us. You can't imagine what
a pleasure as well as a surprise this is to me. And we'll
have Jalap down too. Then all our yarns can be
spliced together, and served, until there's no sign of a
break left. Mr. Nelson, will you kindly invite Mr.
Coombs aboard, and in my name request the pleasure
of his company at the cabin dinner-table. Let one of
the men look after his boat. Now, Mr. Ryder, if you
are ready."
Thus it happened that, a few minutes later, the very
cabin which had so recently received Phil and Serge
into its cheery presence was occupied by a group of
those friends who were most deeply interested in or
had shared their adventures and experiences. Captain
Matthews and Mr. John Ryder were equally pleased with
each other, while Miss May found the unique personality of Jalap Coombs so fascinating that she devoted
herself to drawing him out and making him feel at home.
The honest sailor was at first shv and embarrassed
amid his  unaccustomed surroundings, but under the
CD     '
charming influence of his fair hostess his self-possession was soon entirely restored. Thus, when she finally
said : "And now, Mr. Coombs, do begin at the very
beginning, and tell us how you happened to desert
those poor young lads and leave them without any one
to take care of them on this desolate island," he readily replied as follows :
" Wal, marm-—that is to say, miss—as old Kite Roberson uster say-
5> *WAL, MARM—AS   OLD   KITE   ROBERSON   USTER   SAY'" I; "I knew he would come in !" cried Miss May, laughing and clapping her hands.
Who, marm ?" asked the mate, turning a bewildered gaze towards the cabin-door.
"Your friend Mr. Robinson, of course."
" Yes, to be sure. You see, me and him's been
friends so long—it's going on forty year off and on,
boy and man—that now wherever you find one you're
likely to run agin t'other on the next tack. Wal, he
uster say, Kite did, that while a word's a word, it has
as many sounds as there be people that uses it. So,
while the word desartion has a pleasant sound coming
from your lips, it's mighty ugly from some ; and I'm
proud of the chance to clear myself of the charge, seeing as I didn't do it intentional, but with the best of
So, to begin with, the day on which I were left, or, as
some might ignorantly call it, desarted, by my young
shipmates, on that very day along comes a schooner,
the same Philomeel that is now swinging under our
©   ©
starn. Although she were in charge of a crew of na-
tyves, with a natyve cap'n, and in a powerful hurry,
she stopped at my signal and sent a boat ashore to see
what was up.
"Do all I could I couldn't strike no bargain with
'em, nor get 'em to wait till I could go for the boys.
The best they would do was to offer me passage to
Oonalaska, where her owner lived, who, so they said,
would give me a charter in no time. So, seeing as I
couldn't do no better, and thinking I'd be back again
inside of three days, I left a note for the boys and
went aboard. We made a quick run to Oonalaska,
but when I tried to get a charter out of the owner, he
wouldn't hear of nothing but cash down, and as I
hadn't dollars enough to charter a dingy, let alone a
CD CD «/  J
schooner, there I was.    For the best part of a week 218
I stayed in that melancholy seaport, wishing as I'd
never heered of it, and laboring day by day with the
shark what owns the Philomeel. I offered him a
quarter of the seal-skins, then a half, and finally the
whole of 'em, only to let his schooner go and fetch off
the boys."
" What a horrid, avaricious old thing he must be !"
cried Miss May, indignantly.
" It ain't no name for it, marm—that is to say, miss.
He is a e hunks' if ever there was one, and so I up and
told him. He said he didn't believe I had any sealskins, but just wanted to get his schooner for a poaching cruise in the sea. While I was thus jibing and
filling without making an inch of headway, a Dutch
steamer come in, and I offered the skins to him to go
and fetch the boys back to Oonalaska ; but the Dutchman was suspicious, like the rest of 'em, and said he
was in a hurry to get to St. Michael's, which, of course,
I knowed the boys wouldn't want to go there, anyway,
seeing as it would make 'em wuss off than ever.
" Finally, when I was wellnigh desperate and at the
end of my cable, the Sitka steamer came in, and I went
aboard to see what I could do with her cap'n. There I
run across the very Mr. Ryder what sits facing of me
at this minute, who, when he heard me say as my
name were Coombs, speaks up quick and sez,\ Jalap ?'
and I sez, c Jalap it is.' Then he sez, fierce - like,
* Where's my boy ?' With that I knowed for the fust
time who he was, and I sez, ' Don't ask me, Mr. Ryder,
but count on me to help ye find him, for,' sez I,' I'm as
bound as you be to do it, ef it takes every seal-skin I'm
"That same day we had the Philomeel chartered
for cash, with me in as cap'n, and was cracking sail
on to her for this blessed island of Oonimak. We
made port in fine style, with our flag a-flying, and
S3H3 IN hot pursuit
would have fired off our kerosene stove, only we didn't
have any. But it warn't no use. There wasn't nary
soul in sight, nor hasn't been from that day to this.
The seal-skins was gone, too, and it's my opinion that
blooming Dutchman come along and shanghaied 'em."
"No, he didn't," laughed Captain Matthews. "I
seized them in the name of the United States, and they
are in the hold of this very ship at this very minute."
"Wal," said Jalap Coombs, with a comical air of
resignation, "ef government 's got 'em 'tain't no use,
and I might as well do like old Kite Roberson said.
He uster say, c Jalap, my son, let by-goners be by-
goners, and never waste time in fretting over lost
fish.'" ■ Hi hi
When the mate had thus finished his yarn, Captain
Matthews turned to Mr. Ryder and said: "Now, sir,
that Mr. Coombs has so satisfactorily explained his own
movements since he was last heard from, perhaps you
will have the kindness to relate your own experiences
while in pursuit of your elusive son."
" I will do so with pleasure," replied Mr. Ryder, " provided that you will afterwards tell us how you discovered the lads, and how it happens that they are now at
the Pribyloffs." I
I Certainly," replied the former, whereupon Phil's father proceeded with his narrative as follows:
"When I learned definitely that my boy was to
join me at Sitka by a certain steamer, I was filled with
pleasant anticipations, and counted the days until he
should arrive, for I think there is a stronger bond of
sympathy between us than between most fathers and
sons of Phil's age. I so arranged my business that we
could spend the greater part of the summer in those
hunting and exploring trips of which we are both so
fond—in fact, all my plans were laid with reference
to him ; and when the steamer came in without him, I
doubt if there was a more disappointed father than I
in the United States. It brought a letter from him,
written in Victoria, stating that he was ready and
waiting to take that very ship, and it brought his
trunk. I also discovered among the passengers an acquaintance named Ames—Judge Ames, you know— mr. john ryder's story
who had met Phil in Victoria, planned with him what
they should do together while coming up the coast,
and was greatly exercised over the boy's nonappearance.
| Of course the chances were that he had simply
got left, and would be along on the next, boat; but,
as I could not bear the thought of ten days of suspense, I determined to go back on the steamer that
had just arrived—at least, until we should meet the up
boat. Then, if Phil were on board, I could return with
him ; while, if he were not, I should be well on my
way towards Victoria, in which place I should then
know he must have met with some serious trouble.
You know as well as I that I did not nieet him on the
second steamer, and did not find him in Victoria. I
did, however, discover plenty of traces of him. First,
there was a note for me at the Driard, stating that he
had taken passage with a friend named Serge Belcofsky—whose mother I had met—on the fishing-schooner
Seamew, for Sitka. Upon making inquiries I learned
that the Seamew was more of a sealer than a fisherman, and that while she might possibly touch at Sitka,
the chances were against her doing so.
"I also found at the hotel my boy's rifle—which, by-
the-way, I have with me now—his travelling-bag, and
overcoat, all of which he had left to satisfy a bill for
board amounting to less than ten dollars. As I had
provided him with plenty of money, I could not at
first understand this. When, however, I discovered a
wad of bills, most of them Canadian, amounting to
very nearly one hundred dollars, inside the lining of
his overcoat, and found the upper edge of an inner
pocket partially torn from its fastenings, it was all
made plain. I knew in a moment that poor Phil's
careless habits had again got the better of him, and
had this time brought him to quite serious grief.
SB3 222
" What worried me most of all was to learn that, on
the second of the two nights he seems to have spent in
Victoria, Phil was arrested. Of course I followed this
up at once. I found and rewarded the police-sergeant,
who had taken such pity on the lad as to allow him to
occupy his own bed, instead of locking him up. Then
I saw the judge before whom the case had come for
examination. We discovered that we had known each
other by reputation for some time, and he relieved my
mind at once. He said he remembered the case very
well. Phil had been arrested on a charge of threatened
assault and battery, evidently trumped up to gratify
some private spite, as the complainant never appeared
to press the charge. The judge said that when Phil
gave him his name it had a familiar sound, but that he
did not identify it with mine until after the boy was
dismissed and had disappeared. He also said that if
the young scamp had only made himself and his trouble
known he would gladly have assisted him to the extent
of his power.
"I was still puzzled to know how the boy had obtained a position as a sailor, and what he was wearing,
as his trunk, bag, and overcoat were now in my possession, and apparently nothing had been taken from the
two former."
"He wasn't just a common sailor—he was a hunter,"
here broke in Miss May, proud of her acquaintance
with the facts in this interesting case.
"So I afterwards discovered," replied Mr. Ryder,
" and I must say that is his one act of which I feel
ashamed.    I never thought that a son of mine would
become a pot-hunter, and pursue butchery as a busi
" Oh! but you don't understand !" cried Phil's fair
champion, eagerly. "He didn't know at first that he
was to be a hunter, and then he didn't realize what it MR.  JOHN  RYDER S  STORY
meant, and just as soon as he found out he refused to
obey the captain's orders to hunt any longer."
"As clear a case of mutiny as I ever heard of,"
laughed Captain Matthews.
"Yes, and the wust of it were that he carried the
best part of the crew with him, meaning me and young
Belcofsky," added Jalap Coombs, " which if he hadn't
ye'd have found him safe in Sitka when ye come back,
as it now turns out."
"That is one of the best bits of news I have heard
yet!" exclaimed Mr. Ryder, I and it lifts a load off
my mind. As for being a mutineer, I hope my boy
will be one all his life against cruelty, no matter what
consequences may be threatened, or what results may
follow. Now I am reconciled to my long delay in
finding him, though when I returned to Sitka and discovered the schooner Seamew at anchor in the harbor,
but without my boy aboard, I was wellnigh heartbroken. Of course I interviewed her skipper, and got
all possible information from him, but he was a surly
fellow and gave me but slight comfort. My only consolation was that he spoke so highly of Mr. Coombs,
and claimed that he would get my boy out of his
scrape if any one could."
" Which I thanks him hearty!" exclaimed the mate,
" and could say the same for him ef I had to; bearing
in mind old Kite Roberson's advice, allers to speak the
truth when ye're compelled."
" After learning all I could from Captain Duff," continued Mr. Ryder, "I made some inquiries about the
Oonalaska steamer, which happened to be in port, and
then went to see what mail had been laid on my desk,
which stands in one corner of Gilford's store.   Among
my letters was one for Phil, which, under the circumstances, I thought I might take the liberty of opening.
It was very badly written, but I managed to make out THE   FUR-SEAL7S  TOOTH
that the writer, who evidently was some sleeping-car
porter, enclosed and forwarded a trinket that Phil had
lost and he had found in his car. The article in question was in the shape of an animal's tooth, and bore
some sort of carving. Not thinking it of any particular value, I left it lying on my open desk while I went
to call on Mrs. Belcofsky, from whom I wished to learn
what she had heard from Serge."
"It wasn't a fur-seal's tooth, was it?" interrupted
Captain Matthews, with eager interest.
" I am sorry to say that it was, and, moreover, that
it was the fur-seal's tooth, as I discovered a very few
minutes later. I found Mrs. Belcofsky full of trouble
on account of the importunities of some Indians who
were demanding something from her. After I had
driven them away she explained that they were bound
to obtain a certain charmed talisman in shape of a fur-
seal's tooth, that had once been the property of their
tribe, but which had afterwards fallen into her husband's hands. He had left it to her, and she had given
it to Serge.
I at once identified it with the one that had just
come so queerly into my possession, and, promising to
fetch it in a few minutes, hastened back to my desk—
but I was too late. The tooth had disappeared; nor
could I discover a trace of where it had gone.
When I reported this to Mrs. Belcofsky she said it
was only what she had expected, because, while it would
bring good-fortune to me, to whom it was a gift, and
evil to him who stole it, it possessed such a fascination
for certain persons that they could no more resist the
temptation to take it than they could help breathing.
j The Indians say that it was stolen in the first place,'
continued Mrs. Belcofsky, I all carved as it is from the
oldest and wisest seecatch that ever lived in Alaska,
and that it will continue to be stolen to the end of   MR. JOHN  RYDER S   STORY
time, save when it is guarded by a shaman (medicine
man) from whom none may steal it.'
" The next day I left Sitka on the Oonalaska steamer,
determined to continue the search for my boy along
the entire Aleutian chain, through Bering Sea, and to
the north-pole itself, if I failed to find him short of
I Our trip was without incident, except that our purser, a young fellow from Sitka, met with a series of
strange accidents, one on top of another, that finally
culminated the dav we reached Oonalaska in his fall-
ing and breaking a rib. When we undid his shirt we
found the fur-seal's tooth suspended by a string from
his neck, and he acknowledged to having stolen it from
my desk in Sitka. Said he intended to sell it to the
Indians when he got back."
" Good enough!" exclaimed Captain Matthews at
this point. "I am relieved to learn that you finally
recovered that pesky thing. Now will you be kind
enough to let me look at it ? I want to show it to my
" I am very sorry," began Mr. Ryder, " but—"
"Don't say that you have gone and lost it again!"
cried the commander of the Phoca, with a comical aspect of despair.
"No; but I am inclined to think that it was again
stolen. You see, just then Mr. Coombs appeared; and,
in the confusion of the moment, I thrust the tooth
into an inside overcoat - pocket, and for some time
thought no more about it. I lunched that day on
board the Norsk, a German steamer that happened to
be in port. While at the table I happened to relate
the history of the fur-seal's tooth up to date, and, as
the captain expressed a desire to see it, I directed the
Japanese table-boy to fetch my overcoat, which was
hanging in a state-room.    He did so, but, to my great
15 226
mortification, I found that I had again allowed the
tooth to slip through my hands. It had disappeared,
nor have I since heard from it. The Norsk left Oonalaska that evening, and the next dav we came here,
only to meet with the disappointment of which you have
already learned. The only thing we have discovered
is a fragment of the note left by Mr. Coombs for the
boys. As it was at a distance from the hut, and badly
chewed, we concluded that the foxes got it instead of
those for whom it was intended."
" Well," exclaimed Captain Matthews, " it is a
mighty interesting yarn, and I wish you every good-
fortune in your search for those boys. If you'll take
my advice, though, you'll start for the Pribyloffs just
as, quick as the wind will allow, for they are as slippery
as cats, and there's no knowing what they'll be up to
next. In the meantime I'll jog back to Sitka, and
leave you to bring them along as soon as wind, tide, and
accidents will allow." CHAPTER  XXXV
The little Philomel had a hard time getting to the
Pribyloff Islands. She was buffeted by head-winds
and forced to sail nearly one hundred miles out of her
course by a gale. Then she became involved in such
mazes of fog and perplexity that ten full days elapsed
before she finally entered the region of screaming sea-
fowl, and her people knew that the seal islands were
at hand. Soon afterwards a lifting fog disclosed the
low dark coast-line of St. Paul, which, forbidding as it
appeared, gladdened Mr. John Ryder's eyes as though
it had been the fairest scene on earth. Was not his
boy there ? And would not a few more hours see them
reunited? He fondly hoped so, and in spite of his
many disappointments could not believe that another
was in store for him. No ; Phil must be here,, of
course. It was not likely that he had been offered a
chance of getting away, and even if he had he was
pretty certain to have waited for the Phocats promised return. So it was with a heart full of joyful
anticipations that Mr. John Ryder finally landed at the
village of St. Paul.
The usual crowd was collected on the beach to
witness the arrival, and stepping up to the nearest
white man, who happened to be the government inspector, M#. Ryder handed h;m a note of introduction
from Captain Matthews, saying, at the same time:
"These are my credentials, sir; and my excuse for
landing here, where I am well aware strangers are not 228
:  •
permitted save by authority, is, that I am in search of
a lost boy, my son, Philip Ryder by name. I must
confess that I am disappointed at not seeing him here,
but you can doubtless tell me where to find him."
A strange silence fell over the little group at these
words, which most of them understood; while the inspector turned pale, and the hand, that he held out to
Mr. Ryder, trembled.
" This is terrible, sir!" he said, " and I know not
how to tell you—"
" What ? Has anything happened to my boy ? Is
he ill ? or—or—dead ?"
The unhappy father almost choked as he pronounced
the last words.
"I hope not, sir J We hope not!" repeated the inspector, in a voice husky with emotion. " All we know
is that he is lost, and has been for two weeks past—in
fact, both he and his companion disappeared just as
the revenue-cutter Phoca, on which they came to the
island, left it, and we have been unable to discover a
trace of them since, though parties have been out in
every direction searching for some clew to the mystery.
But come up to my house, gentlemen, and you shall be
given all the particulars so far as they are known to
At the word " lost," Mr. Ryder, strong, self - contained man that he was, had staggered as though struck
a heavy blow, and Jalap Coombs, who stood immediately behind him, grasped his arm.
" Don't ye give up, sir !" he cried, though even his
usually hearty tone was a little shaky. "Your boy
Phil ain't the lad to get lost so as he can't find hisself,
nor into a scrape that he won't work his way out of
somehow, not ef I know him, and I think I do. He's
been lost before and found, same as he will be this
time.    Why, sir, it wouldn't surprise me one mite to  MIL JALAP  COOMBS S   PHILOSOPHY
see him turn up to-morrow bright and smiling As my
old friend Kite Roberson uster say, 'Them that's lost
the oftenest larns best how to take care of theirselves.'"
During the utterance of these homely words of comfort the little party had been walking up the ascent
towards the inspector's house, and now within its
friendly walls, that had so recently sheltered his boy,
Mr. Ryder learned all that was known concerning Phil
and Serge. The former had gone with a party of egg-
*hunters to Walrus Islet, and so was away when the
captain of the Phoca was obliged to depart in search
of a poaching sealer of whose operations he had just
"By-the-way, her name was the same as that of the
schooner in which you have just come! Could she
have been the same ?" asked the inspector.
At this the stricken father groaned aloud, while Jalap Coombs answered, "I expect she is, sir, though it
was all along of a mistake."
" Of course it doesn't matter," said their host, " only
it does seem rather hard. But, to return to my story,
your son being away, his friend set out to fetch him,
and went over to Walrus with a native, whose place
Phil was to take for the return trip. They overtook
the egg-hunters just as they were landing, the native
was left with them, and the two lads started to return,
in spite of the fact that, as night, accompanied by a
thick fog, was shutting down, the hunters tried to dissuade them from the attempt.
"Your son shouted back: 'It'll be all right—we
can't miss it; and we must take the chances anyway,
for we're bound to get to Sitka!' That was the last
seen or heard of them.
"We did not feel any anxiety here until the egg-
hunters returned the following day, for we had not expected that the lads would get back that night; but THE  FUR-SEAL S  TOOTH
when the bidarrah came in without them we knew at
once that something serious must have happened. By
questioning the hunters, I learned that the wind had
changed and blown fresh from the southward soon
after the boys left them; also that the tide was flooding, with a strong current running north between Wal-
rus and St. Paul. It seemed most likely, therefore, that
the lads had been carried so far to the northward as to
miss the island entirely, especially as the night was of
unusual darkness.
"As soon as I obtained these facts I prepared for
sea the little schooner that we use to maintain communication between here and St. George, manned her
with a crew of picked men, and sent her out with orders to cruise back and forth to the northward of the
islands for a week, in the hope of picking them up.
Upon his return the captain of this vessel reported that
he had been as far as one hundred miles to the northward, keeping the sharpest kind of a lookout all the*
time, but without avail."
" So you do not think there is the slightest chance
that we shall ever see them again?" asked Mr. Ryder,
CD J 7
in a voice that betrayed his own hopelessness.
" I will not say so," replied the inspector; " for, of
course, there are always chances, and while doubt exists there is also room for hope."
I Of course there is, sir! a plenty of it and rightly,
too!" broke in Jalap Coombs, who had followed the
inspector's narrative with the closest attention. "My
friend, old Kite Roberson, uster say that Hope was the
thing of all in this world he had the greatest respec'
and admiration for, 'cause ye couldn't kill it, and every
time it got a knock-down it would pop up agin bright
and smiling in some onexpected place. So I say, let's
tie to Hope, and not give up those boys yet awhile.
This gentleman has kindly give us the dark view of JALAP  COOMBS'S  PHILOSOPHY
this case, now 'spose we takes a squint at the bright
"Is there a bright side ?" asked Mr. Ryder.
| Wal, I should ruther say so! Not sunlight, maybe, but bright enough to steer by. To begin with, a
bidarkie is one of the best sea-boats there is long's ye
keep her head to the sea or scudding, and especially if
ye have kamleikas aboard. Did the lads have kamlei-
kas, do ye know, sir ?"
"Yes," replied the inspector; "Phil had his own,
and Serge borrowed one from the native who owned
the bidarkie."
I And how was they off for grub ?"
II don't believe they had any, except a few eggs
that Phil insisted on taking as specimens for Miss Matthews."
"Then they couldn't have been better fixed!" cried
the mate. " Eggs is meat and drink, both in one shell.
Why, old Kite Roberson, who was one of the likeliest
navigators as ever trod a deck, uster consider eggs the
main part of a ship's stores. He knowed every egg
island in three oceans, and uster visit 'em regular. Besides that, he carried along sich a stock of fowls that,
no matter what ship he sailed in, she was allers called
the I Hen-coop.'
" So what's to hender two able young seamen, like
Phil and Serge, with a good sea-boat under their feet
and a locker full of the best of grub, from making a
cruise to some one of the islands lying up here to the
nor'ard ? Nothing at all, I say. It would be right in
the line of sich lads as they be, and I wouldn't be one
mite surprised ef they was setting on some handy pint
of rock this very minute, straining their eyes watching
for us, and wondering why we didn't come along."
"Are there islands to the north of this?" asked Mr.
Ryder, with a show of interest.
"To be sure. There's St. Matthew, and St. Lawrence, and Nunivack, and then up in the very middle
of the strait, where the United States and Russia is
less'n forty mile apart, is the Stepping Stones, two
little islands with the line running between 'em, and
so close together that an able-bodied biscuit - tosser,
standing on the American island, could toss a biscuit
over into Asia. To be sure, they're nigh on to a thousand miles from here, and there ain't no show for the
boys to have fetched up there, nor yet on St. Lawrenqe,
but it's jest possible they've brung up agin St. Matthew."
"We'll go there and see," exclaimed Mr. Ryder,
roused into a new activity by the ray of hope thus
skilfully brought to bear on the situation by Jalap
"Besides," continued the mate, "the lads has a
chance of being picked up by every one of the vessels
cruising in these waters, of which there is a plenty—
men-o'-war, whalers, revenoo-cutters, company ships,
and the like, to say nothing of seal-poachers and walrus-hunters."
Thus it was decided that the Philomel should continue her search to the northward, and Mr. Ryder was
in a feverish state of anxiety until they were again off.
Before starting, he promised the inspector that, however their search might result, they would return to
the Pribyloffs and report.
Two weeks later they did so. They had been to St.
Matthew, where countless numbers of polar bears may
be seen at all seasons, and where an outlying cone of
basalt rises sheer a thousand feet from the sea, and
like a huge chimney pours forth an unbroken column
of black smoke. They had visited the savage walrus-
hunters of Nunivack, and they had returned to the
place from which they started without having dis- JALAP  COOMBS'S  PHILOSOPHY
covered a trace of or heard a word from the missing
Now, with hope wellnigh extinguished in his bosom,
though still lingering as a faint spark, John Ryder
came ashore to make his last inquiry. If he heard
nothing here, hope would indeed be dead. He wondered slightly at the unusual throng gathered on the
beach to welcome them. Suddenly his despair, wonder, and all other feelings were merged in an overwhelming joy; for, while they were still some distance
off, a clear, ringing voice shouted out:
" We have heard from them, and they are safe!"
"Didn't I tell ye it would turn out same as old Kite
Roberson allers said ?" remarked Jalap Coombs, in a
tone of quiet exultation. CHAPTER XXXVI
When Phil Ryder stepped from the bidarrah, or
big open boat, in which he had made the six-mile trip
from St. Paul to Walrus Island, and clambered up
over the slippery rocks of the latter, he was nearly
stunned by the volume of sound that ceaselessly rises
from it. The shrieks of myriads of startled sea-fowl,
the rapid beating of their pinions resembling a low roll
of thunder, the gruntings, croakings, and hissings of
sitting birds that refused to leave their splotched and
dirt-smeared eggs, the roar of walrus, and the boom of
surf, combined to form a pandemonium of sound at
once deafening and distracting.
"How can I spend a night here?" thought Phil;
I and what a fool I was to come."
He was standing, bewildered by the awful racket,
with arms bent above his head, to defend it from the
whizzing flight of clumsy birds that shot through the
air in every direction ; two enraged burgomaster gulls,
whose nests his feet were invading, were pecking savagely at his legs, and he was just meditating a retreat,
when some one pulled his sleeve. Turning, he was
amazed to see the sea-lion hunter, who could speak
English, and whom he had left pearly two hours before on Northeast Point.
As the latter could not make himself heard above
the horrible din, he was pointing to the tiny cove in
which lay the bidarrah. There, to Phil's greater surprise, he saw his friend Serge Belcofsky fending off LOST  AND   DRIFTING  IN  BERING  SEA
from the rocks a two-holed bidarkie that tossed, light
as an egg-shell, on the heaving waters.
" What on earth brought you here ?" he shouted,
as soon as he had scrambled to his comrade's side.
"You did," answered Serge. "The Phoca is about
to sail, and I've come for you. So step in quick, and
let's be off. The hunter who came with me is going
to stay in your place, and come back in the bidarrah."
"All right," replied Phil; "I'm more than willing to
leave this beastly rookery, and more than anxious to
start for Sitka. I must have a few of those eggs,
though, for I promised Miss Matthews some for her
Within two minutes as many dozen eggs of all sizes
and varieties had been collected and stowed in the
after-part of the bidarkie. Phil slipped into the forward hatch and fastened his kamleika about its coaming, while Serge assumed his position aft, and made
the second hatch equally water-tight with the hunter's
over-garment which he had borrowed.
It was nearly dark, and they could see a fog-bank
rolling sullenly in from the southward. Even the native who held their canoe began to grow apprehensive.
I Me fraid you no get," he said; "mebbe you stay here
better till morning."
" Oh, we'll get!" shouted Phil, confidently. " Anyhow, I'd rather run the risk than to miss our one chance
of a passage to Sitka.   So shove off, Serge.   Good-bye !"
Serge himself felt somewhat uneasy, but he had
come too far and worked too hard on this errand to
incline towards giving up now. Besides, he also was
very anxious to reach Sitka. So he shoved off, and
both the lads began to paddle with long sweeping
strokes. In another minute the arrowy craft had shot
away from the roaring islet, and was lost to view in
the gathering gloom.
'+M1    I
m 236
They had not covered more than a mile befofe the
advancing fog enveloped them in its soft, moist folds.
I Whe-e-w!" gasped Phil, breathing rapidly from
his vigorous paddling.    "Isn't this smothering?"
"Yes," replied his companion, "and I'm getting
somewhat dubious about finding St. Paul."
1 Oh, I guess we'll find it all right. We've only got
to keep the wind at our back. It is blowing from the
eastward, you know."
"But this fog came in from the southward."
"Do you think so? It seemed to me to come from
the east with the breeze."
| All right," agreed Serge. 1 Perhaps it did. I'm not
quite sure of my compass up here. We've got to keep
on now, at any rate, for we could never find Walrus
again, while we can hardly miss hitting so big a mark
as St. Paul. If we strike either coast we can cruise
along it until we come to the village. I'm afraid
though, we won't get there in time to catch the Phoca.
I Oh yes, we will. Captain Matthews isn't the man
to go off and leave us when he knows we are going to
be back some time to-night. You said you sent word
by Ramey, didn't you ?"
"Yes."        I     9H
"Then he's sure to wait. What's his hurry, anyhow ?"   1   i   .w m ■ |    I '
II believe he has word of some sealer poaching in
the sea, and is going to hunt her."
"My! won't it be fun to be on the other side of such
an affair? I tell you, we struck big luck when we
met the Phoca—in fact, I think this whole cruise, as
I look back on it, has been made up of a series of
lucky events, even though we haven't had the fur-seal's
tooth to help us."
So they talked, in disjointed sentences, as well as
their rapid breathing and relative positions would al-
low, and all the while wielded their dripping paddles
with the energy of young athletes striving for a
Finally, Phil stopped paddling, and, half turning,
said : " Let us listen a minute, old man. It seems to
me we ought to hear the roar of seals on St. Paul by
this time. I'm sure we've been an hour on the way."
So the lads listened intently, but all they heard was
the ceaseless roar and dash of the wind-swept waves.
Under circumstances such as those in which the
occupants of the little bidarkie found themselves,
there is no sound more depressing and awe-inspiring
than this, nor one that conveys more clearly an idea
of the immensity and terror of oceans. When it is
accompanied by darkness and fog, the effect is so
heightened as to be wellnigh unbearable.
© ©
As our lads listened to it and felt the chill breath
of the wind-driven mist on their cheeks, they shivered,
and a great fear began to creep into their hearts,
"This won't do !" cried Phil. "We must keep at
work or we'll never get there. It is strange, though,
that we don't hear anything. We ought to be almost
on the beach by this time. Do you notice how big
the waves are? It's lucky that our course is with them,
for they'd be tough fellows to work against, and make
an ugly sea to cross."
For an hour longer they paddled steadily and in
dogged silence. Then both paused in their labor as
though moved by a single impulse.
"We've gone wrong somehow," said Serge, without
an attempt to conceal his anxiety.
" Do you mean, old man, that you think we have
missed the island altogether?"
" I am afraid we have."
" Then may God help us, for we can no longer help
ourselves." 238
If Amen," responded Serge, solemnly.
i I suppose we had better continue paddling, if only
to keep her headed with the sea."
"And to keep from freezing," said Serge. "I'm
chilled to the bone now."
So they resumed their labor, but they worked listlessly and without heart.
At length the short night came to an end, and daylight, dim and shadowy, began to steal over the tossing waters. Occasionally the round head of a ^eal
rose above the surface close at hand, and the animal
stared at them for a moment with great wondering
eyes before again sinking silently from their sjght.
"We could get one of those fellows if we wanted
him," said Serge, his glance resting on the slender
shaft of the native spear that was lashed on deck.
I What good would it do us ? I thought we lost our
interest in seal-skins some time ago," said Phil, bitterly,
" Seal-meat would save us from starving."
| How could we cook it ?"
I We couldn't," replied Serge, significantly.
I Well, I must confess that I'm hungry, but I don't
think I care to eat raw seal-meat just yet. I say, old
man, do you suppose two fellows ever had such an
unlucky trip as ours ? We seem to have jumped from
one trouble into another ever since we started."
"And this is the worst of all," answered Serge,
I Yes, I suppose it is ; and starving to death does
seem a very dreadful way of dying. I don't know
but what I'd rather drown and done with it."
"Suppose we try an egg,11 suggested Serge, with
a sudden inspiration. *
" That's so ! we have got eggs. I'd forgotten them
entirely.    Raw eggs aren't half so bad as raw meat. LOST  AND  DRIFTING   IN BERING  SEA
I've eaten them before, and when I didn't have to,
I So have I," replied Serge, as, unfastening his
kamleika, he reached behind him and drew forth a
couple of the eggs Phil had brought along as specimens.
" H'm !" ejaculated the latter, as, after carefully
removing a portion of the shell to see that the contents were fresh, he swallowed them at a gulp. "A
little fishy, but not so bad as I expected. Let's have
After eating half a dozen eggs apiece, the lads felt
decidedly better, and even a little more cheerful.
1 It warn't much of a breakfust, but even a poor
breakfust tastes good to a hungry man, as old Kite
Robinson uster say," remarked Phil, and at the picture thus called up both lads actually smiled. Then,
too, they caught a glimpse of the sun, which was a
slight comfort, though not so great as it might have
been, had it not shown them that they were headed
due north, instead of west, as they had supposed.
" We are headed for the north - pole," said Phil.
"Do you know of any place on which we might fetch
up, short of it?"
"Yes," replied his companion, "there are islands
somewhere to the north of here, though I don't know
exactly where. I don't believe they are more than a
hundred miles or so away, though."
I Let's make a try for them," cried Phil, with sudden
energy. "Anything is better than lying still, and we
are not done for yet, by a long shot."
So all that long, weary day the plucky lads tried to
cheer each other as they alternately paddled, rested,
and made melancholy pretence of enjoying their raw,
fishy eggs. At length, however, their supply of these
was exhausted, they were too utterly wearied to pad- 240
die any longer, and night was again coming on. The
fog had thinned during the day, but only so as to dis-
CD CD v   J J
close a wider expanse of chill waters, and with the
coming of night it closed in again as dense as ever.
The only comfort was that the wind had gone down
with the sun, leaving a smooth sea.
" I'm beat out, old man!" said Phil, at length, as he
laid his paddle on deck.
"So am I," answered Serge, "and, what is worse—
Here the lad suddenly checked himself. He would
not add to his comrade's misery by disclosing, any
sooner than he could help, the new source of dread
that had just been revealed to him by a peculiar motion
of their frail craft.
-.- ■■iiivii)
Serge had noticed for some time that the movements of the tiny craft in which he and Phil Ryder
were navigating the mighty waters of Bering Sea were
heavy and lagging. It seemed to have lost life and
buoyancy. Instead of gliding smoothly through the
water, it seemed to drag, as though its bottom were foul
with grasses or barnacles. Serge of course knew that
this could not be the case, and, after puzzling over the
matter for some time, concluded that the fault did not
lie so much with the boat as in its exhausted crew, who
no longer possessed the strength necessary to force it
ahead with the same speed as formerly.
All at once he felt a movement of the bidarkie's
skin between its wide-spread ribs, and heard a peculiar
sobbing or sucking sound that instantly explained the
situation. It also filled him with a dread before which
even the fact that they were drifting helplessly over
the vast expanse of the great northern sea seemed insignificant.
A bidarkie, or " bidarka," as it is often spelled, made
of green sea-lion skins stretched as tightly as possible
over a wooden or bone frame, allowed to dry in the
wind until they become taut and smooth as a drumhead, and then liberally coated with seal-oil, is, for
twenty-four hours or so, one of the swiftest, safest,
smoothest, and most graceful of craft. A few years
ago two wrecked sailors made a two-thousand mile
voyage from one of the Aleutian Islands to San Fran-
16 242
cisco in a nineteen-foot bidarkie, but they hugged the
coast, took inside passages wherever it was possible,
and camped on shore every night. By so doing they
were enabled to lift their frail craft from the water,
and allow it to dry six, eight, or ten hours out of every
twenty-four. Thus it retained its shape and remained
serviceable during the whole of that tremendous voyage. If they had not been able to do this, their bidarkie would have been worthless by the end of forty-
eight hours, the one great fault of this craft being that
after a while its skin covering becomes water - soaked
and will stretch.    In this condition it sags in and out
between the ribs with strange sounds, until the boat
becomes wellnigh unmanageable. By-and-by, if the
soaking and stretching process continues, the skins are
so softened that the sinew threads with which they are
sewn together pull out and the seams open. Then in
a moment the bidarkie fills and sinks like a lump of
In the present case the softening process had begun,
and Serge was aware of it. Before another day was
done their frail craft would have ceased to float, and
they—well, they would be beyond the reach of human
aid or knowledge. Their bodies would be hidden deep
beneath the cold green surface of Bering Sea, while
their unknown fate would serve as a matter for sad
conjecture for many a day to the dear ones whom
they should never again see.
All this flashed through the lad's mind in an instant,
with the bidarkie's first sobbing intimation that its
strength was nearly gone, and he was on the point of
sharing his unhappy knowledge with his companion.
But why should he ? Poor Phil was wretched enough
already. No ; he would keep the discovery to himself,
and his well-loved comrade should be spared its added
terror as long as possible.    So, when the latter laid
,'■1 I* in
II  ■ 8fi8fiB-'!aJHtgt%!g*ft?*!g&g
down his paddle, declaring himself utterly exhausted,
Serge answered, " So am I, and, what is worse, I don't
believe we will be able to stand watch during the
night. Certainly both of us can't keep awake all the
time, and so, old fellow, I would advise you to get a
nap if you can. Before sleep overpowers me I will
wake you, and so we will keep watch by turn as best
we may."
I What shall we watch for ?" asked Phil, in a hopeless tone.
" For the vessel that is to pick us up, to be sure,"
replied Serge.
The former uttered a bitter little laugh, as he said:
"Then we might as well watch with our eyes shut.
There is no wind to move a sailing-vessel, even if there
were one in all this great awful sea, which I doubt.
As for a steamer, she would have to pass within fifty
feet before any one aboard could either see or hear us.
So I am going to try and forget our troubles in sleep,
and would advise you to do the same. Good-night,
old man."
With this the disheartened lad slipped wearily down
into the bottom of the canoe until his head rested on
the hatch-coaming, in which position he was speedily
oblivious of his melancholy surroundings. He dreamed
of his adored father and dear Aunt Ruth, and was once
more in his far-away, well-loved Eastern home. So he
smiled as he slept.
As Serge sat there alone amid the immensity of that
silent sea, he too thought of his home in green Sitka,
of the mother and sisters who were watching for him
and he groaned aloud as he realized how little chance
he had of ever seeing them again. Then the brave
father, whose memory had been with him all these
years, seemed to appear to him with loving words. By
these he was so soothed and comforted that, after
m 244
1  Iff
a while, he too slipped down, and, with his white face
upturned to the dim sky, dropped into a slumber so
profound that it seemed as though nothing could ever
waken him from it.
So for an hour, or perhaps more, the bidarkie, still
upbearing its precious human freight, drifted through
limitless watery space unguided and unwatched, save
by Him who watches over all and takes note of all in
this His world.
As she drifted, the tiny craft became aware of ax
sister-ship towering dim and formless through the mist,
but drifting like herself. There is a bond of sympathy
between drifting ships, called by some people the attraction of floating bodies, that impels the smaller to
seek the company of the larger. So the little ship
drew gradually nearer and nearer to its big sister, and
was disappointed when the latter began to move away.
In another minute she would have disappeared, and the
sleeping lads would never have known of her presence
any more than she knew of theirs, had not something
so incredible and wellnigh impossible happened that
it might never happen again in all the years of the
Just as the steamer began to move away, for the ship
that had come so silently drifting through the fog was
no other than the steamer Norsk, which had left St.
Paul that very afternoon, something small and sharp
struck Serge Belcofsky's face with stinging force. He
started up with a piercing scream of pain and fright,
but instantly wide awake.
His scream was answered by a loud "Hello! Who's
there ?" uttered in a clear, manly voice from the stern
of the vanishing ship.
Help! Help! Don't leave us! Help! Help!"
yelled Phil and Serge, wild with excitement, hope,
and fear.    At the same time they tried with desperate SAVED  BY  A   MIRACLE
energy to paddle after the vision of safety that had so
suddenly come to them, and now seemed about to disappear as mysteriously as it had come. It did indeed
glide out of sight in the all-enshrouding fog; but ere
they lost hearing of the many sounds now arising from
it, a ship's boat, manned by lusty oarsmen who uttered
cheery shouts of encouragement, shot out of the mist
and, guided by the voices of the lads, came towards
them. In the bow stood the sturdy, well-balanced figure of a man of thirty, holding a flaring torch above
his head. The closely-bearded face thus revealed was
to Phil and Serge as the face of an angel, and one they
would never forget.
This man was Gerald Hamer, a Western Yankee, and
leader of the Yukon Trading Company, that the Norsk
was taking to Fort St. Michaels. It was he who, leaning over the after-rail of the ship, just as her engines
were started, after being stopped for an hour for some
slight repairs, heard and answered the despairing call
for help, that apparently came from the very waters
beneath him. The captain lay ill in his cabin, and the
first officer, a thick-headed fellow, who understood English very imperfectly, was in charge of the ship.
When Gerald Hamer ran forward, told him of what
he had heard, and begged bim, in the name of humanity, to stop his ship and send a boat to the relief of those
who were crying for help, the fellow refused to do so.
"Ids some of dem nadives," he said; "ve cannod
vaste dime on dem."
I Natives nothing ! you thundering blockhead !"
roared Gerald Hamer. "If they were, you'd stop
and see what trouble they were in, or I'd know why.
But I tell you they are white men, and Americans. I
know the Yankee tongue when I hear it, if you don't;
so stop your ship, and stop her quick, too, or, by Hookey,
I and my men will stop her for you !"
m 246
Thick-headed as he was, the mate realized in a moment ihaV he could not safely refuse to obey this command, backed as it was by a score of sturdy Americans
who, at the sound of their leader's voice, were gathering about him like a swarm of angry hornets. So he
gave the requisite order in a surly tone, and the recently-started engines were again stopped.
"Bud I shall nod risg my mans for dot dirdy nadives," he said. "If a boad goes, den musd you dake
it yourselluf."
"Take it myself ! Certainly I will!" cried Gerald
Hamer. " Do you suppose I'd let you or your lubberly
crew have the honor of rescuing one of my countrymen ?
Not much ! Here, men, I want half a dozen volunteers
for dangerous boat - duty.    Now don't all speak at
But they did, and, as though with the voice of one
man, raised a mighty shout of "Aye, aye, sir!"
Their leader smiled as he detailed six men to lower
a boat and go with him in it. To the others he said:
" You fellows stay here, and see that this ship doesn't
move an inch till I come back. Not an inch, if I'm
gone a year.    Do you hear ?"
" Aye, aye, sir!"
" And keep the ship's bell ringing eight bells till I
get back, too, so that I can locate her if we get out
of sight."
"Aye, aye, sir!" and for the next fifteen minutes it
seemed as though the clangor of that brazen-throated
bell might have been heard from  Bering Strait  to
© ©
" White men, as I said; and Americans, I'll be
bound!" cried Gerald Hamer, as the light of his torch
fell on the object of his search. " Great Scott! they're
only boys, and their craft is a water-logged bladder !
How in the name of the good and the great—    But
there, lads ! no matter—you are safe now. Your troubles are all over."
As he spoke these last words the strong man's voice
grew husky, and his eyes moistened, for poor Phil's
overstrained nerves had given way, and he was sobbing hysterically, while Serge also seemed on the very
point of breaking down.
Very tenderly were the rescued lads lifted from the
frail little craft, that had upheld them so bravely, into
the ship's boat. They were too stiff and numbed to
stand. They could not even sit up, but sank limply
into the bottom of the boat, their heads pillowed on
coats gladly offered by members of the crew.
Then, with the bidarkie in tow, the boat was headed
back through the fog towards the clanging bell. Ten
minutes later, Phil and Serge, each surrounded by a
group of rough but willing nurses, were between warm
blankets, their bidarkie had been hoisted on deck, and
the good ship Norsk was cleaving the waters of Bering
Sea, on her way to the distant port of St. Michaels. CHAPTER XXXVIII
When the steamer Norsk left the harbor of Oona-(
laska, on the very day that Mr. John Ryder took lunch
with her captain, she carried with her the fur-seal's
tooth. Japonski, the table-boy, had listened with
avaricious ears to the story of its value. He hoped
soon to go to Sitka himself, for he had a brother there,
employed as wardroom boy on an American man-of-
war. How well it would be to have one thousand of
those big American dollars to show to him and to
spend ! Japonski's brother had laughed when he'sailed
on the Norsk, and told him that not many yen could
be picked up in the merchant - service. So it had
proved ; but here was a chance. A tooth would be a
very little thing, and so easy to hide. The white man
said, "He wTho stole it would have no good-fortune";
but he must have said that to make him, Japonski,
afraid; but a Hakodate man was not afraid. He
would prove it.
So Japonski slipped the fur-seal's tooth up his
sleeve, even while, with innocent face, he handed the
overcoat to Mr. Ryder. That night, in the privacy of
his own cubby-hole, just off the pantry, he examined
his prize, and gloated over it. The white man had
gone without suspecting him, and the ship was already
far on her way. Whatever this thing was worth, it
was his, and no one would ever know how he obtained
it.    He smiled scornfully at the thought of its bring- ing him any misfortune ; but, as he looked at it closely,
the smile faded from his face.
That bit of ivory had never been carved by Indian
hands, nor by Aleuts, nor Eskimo. Nowhere in the
world could such dainty work be done, save in his own
country, and who would thus depict the frowning face
of Buddha, terror of evil-doers, except a devout native
of Japan. That was one emblem borne by the ivory
tooth. On the opposite side was a fish. What could
it be but the lucky fish of Queen Jung-gu, the conqueror of Corea ?
Alas, that he had dared steal a curio of such omen
as this ; but he could not give it back. He dared not
give it to any except him from whom he had stolen it.
So he hid it away; but he thought of it all the time,
and from that day all things seemed to go wrong with
him. Never had he broken so many dishes, never
spoiled so much food, never so incurred the captain's
wrath.* Still he clung to the tooth, and would not part
with it. The white man had said it was worth one
thousand silver dollars ; that would be fifteen hundred
silver yen, and on that sum he could live like a prince
for many years in his own country.
At the Pribyloffs the Norsk took on board one Nik-
rik, an Aleut, who had been for some years employed
at St. Michaels, to act as a pilot through the shoals of
Norton's Sound.    Although there was a strong gen-
O   - ©     ©
eral resemblance between this man and the cabin-boy,
each of them regarded the other as belonging to an
inferior race. As, however, they were both looked
down on by the whites, they were almost forced into
each other's society, and thus it came about that, very
early in their acquaintance, Japonski displayed his
treasure to Nikrik, and asked him what he thought
of it.
Now the Aleut was too great a traveller not to 250
have heard of the fur-seal's tooth, for it was known—
at least, by fame—to all Northern Alaska, and the moment he saw it he was determined to possess it. So
he told Japonski tales of its strange power for evil over
all but those native to Alaska, and tried to frighten
him into giving it up. But Japonski only smiled
blandly and said, " Alle same I keep him."
Still, he was made uneasy by these tales, and from
that moment misfortunes seemed to crowd upon him
more thickly than ever. At length he so enraged Captain Kuhn by his carelessness that that individual
turned purple in the face, became speechless, and was
threatened with an apoplectic fit. Japonski had seen
him thus before, and knew just what to do. There was
a certain medicine that must be given quickly. He prepared it, and forced a spoonful down the captain's
throat. To his horror the captain turned white and
rigid, and, to all appearances, died, then and there.
The terrified cabin-boy rushed out for aid, and the
very first person he came across was the chief engineer, who was regulating a delicate bit of machinery.
The engineer was so startled by Japonski's sudden appearance that he dropped a tool into the machinery,
something snapped, and, a moment later, the engines
were stopped for repairs. Then Japonski ran and hid
himself in his cubby-hole, where Nikrik, finding him
some time later, said that if the captain died and the
ship was lost it would all be owing to the fur-seal's
tooth, which he must give up at once in order to avoid
further disaster.
Upon this, Japonski conceived such a horror of the
bit of ivory, that he rushed frantically on deck and
flung it with all his might into the sea. Almost at the
same instant the engines were again started, and, when
he went below, the first news he heard was that the
captain was getting better.    So he was glad of what o
he had done, though it had cost him a fortune in silver
Early the next morning, when Nikrik went on deck
before any one else except the watch, he spied the bidarkie in which our lads had come, and examined it
closely to see where it had been made, and by whom.
As he turned it over, something rattled inside of its
parchment skin. The Aleut reached in to feel for the
cause of this sound, and, when he withdrew his hand,
clutching the fur-seal's tooth that he had supposed was
lost forever, his oily face was overspread with a broad
grin of gratified surprise. He knew, of course, that Japonski had flung it overboard, and now he also knew
that, by some miracle which he attributed to the magic
power of the tooth itself, it had fallen into the drifting
bidarkie. Nikrik had recognized the lads when they
were brought on board the night before ; but, with the
usual reticence of his race, he had not yet mentioned
this fact. Now he was glad of it, because it was possible that one of them might claim the treasure he had
just stolen; for*to an Aleut it is as much of a theft to
take a thing from a bidarkie as from its owner. So
Nikrik's guilty conscience caused him to avoid Phil
and Serge as much as possible during the short time
that they remained on the same ship.
The pilot's thoughts dwelt so constantly on his
newly-acquired treasure that, in his absent-mindedness,
he ran the Norsk ashore, when close to Fort St. Michaels, in one of the channels with which he was most
familiar. This so enraged the mate that he ordered
him from the bridge, and declared he should have no
pay. That very evening, on shore, Nikrik engaged in
a gambling game with some Yukon Indians, who had
come to the fort to trade. In this, luck ran so strongly
against him, that, before morning, he had staked and
lost everything of value he possessed, including the
3* ISli
fur-seal's tooth. This fell to the lot of a young Indian,
who, ignorant of its true value, traded it to a recently-
arrived clerk of the post for a pound of tobacco. With
an air of great satisfaction the clerk added this new
charm to some others that dangled from his massive
(plated) watch-chain. There it attracted curiosity,
envy, and whispered remarks from all the natives
whose eyes happened to light upon it.
Phil and Serge did not leave the bunks in which
their friendly rescuers had placed them for a day and
a night after going on board the Norsk, during which
time they slept almost continuously. When they did
appear on deck, they were so thoroughly refreshed
that no trace remained of their recent terrible adventure, that now seemed to them only like some dreadful
nightmare. Until now they had not known nor cared
whither they were being carried; but the moment they
stepped on deck, and while they were being warmly
greeted by Gerald Hamer, their eyes turned wonder-
ingly to a low coast visible on the right. As soon as
they found a chance they inquired eagerly what land it
was, and on being told that it was the southern coast of
Norton Sound, while the Alaska Company's trading-
post of Fort St. Michaels was directly ahead, they gazed
at each other in speechless dismay.
" Is that where you were bound for when you got
lost ?" asked Mr. Hamer, politely; for he had not yet
learned the story of their wanderings.
' No," answered Phil, with a melancholy smile; " we
were bound for Sitka."
" Sitka!" exclaimed Gerald Hamer. " Then you
have come from the north, I suppose ?"
" No, we have come from Victoria, which, I believe,
is somewhat south of this."
" Well, I should say it was ! About three thousand
miles !  And, as Sitka is all of twenty-one hundred miles
from here, I wish you would tell me how you have
managed to miss it so completely, and drift up into
this latitude ?"
As Nikrik ran the ship aground on a mud-flat just
then, there was plenty of time, while waiting for the
tide to float her off, for the lads to relate the story of
their wanderings and adventures.   The fur-trader lis-
tened to it with profound interest, and, when it was
concluded, he said:
" If that doesn't beat all the roundabout travelling
and hard luck that ever I heard of ! I should think
you would be sick of the sea, and willing to try dry
land for a while by this time."
"So we are,"answered Serge; "but, as the railroad
isn't even laid out yet, I suppose we shall have to go
back on this ship—at least, as far as Oonalaska."
I But she isn't going there," said Mr. Hamer. " She
is chartered to carry a cargo of furs from here to
" Whew!" whistled Phil. 1 And is that where you
are going ?"
1 Oh no, I am bound for Sitka," laughed the trader.
I What ?" cried both lads, in amazement.
1 Yes, I mean it; though, to be sure, I expect to reach
there in rather a curious way. You see, I have in this
ship a steamboat in sections, a saw-mill, some mining
machinery, and a couple of hundred tons of merchandise. I am going to put my steamboat together as
soon as we get on shore, load my freight aboard, and
take her a thousand miles up the Yukon River to the
mining camp at Forty-mile Creek. There I shall leave
her for the winter and go out on snow-shoes, with dog-
sledges, seven hundred miles across country to Pyramid Harbor, where I can get a steamer most any time
for Sitka, or Juneau, either of which is only about one
hundred miles farther.    From one of those places I
His ■H i
shall go down to San Francisco for a new stock of
goods, and have them up here in time to meet my
steamboat again in the early summer.
" Most of the men I have with me now are ship-
carpenters, who will go back on this steamer to San
Francisco, by way of China; so only about half a dozen
will remain with me, and I should be very glad of a
couple more hands. Now, if you care to take this trip
with me and are willing to work your passage, I will
pay all your expenses, and guarantee to land you in
Sitka, sooner or later. What do you say ? Will you
On hearing the surprising and unexpected proposition made by the leader of the fur-traders at the close
of the last chapter, Phil and Serge looked inquiringly
at each other. Both of them were greatly pleased
with Gerald Hamer, who displayed the strength of
character, combined with an engaging frankness, that
always appeals to manly lads, especially when exhibited by one a little older than themselves.
" What do you1 say, Serge ?"
| I'd love to do it.'" W^HB      "'     ♦    -^
| So would I." I I HH| Mllili
"I don't know what else we can do, anyway. I'm
sure we don't want to go to China under the circumstances, and we haven't any money to live on here
while waiting for some schooner to come along and
take us away."
1 No," said Phil; " and, as it is now well on into
August, we might have to wait all winter, which would
be horrid."
" It would be a splendid chance to see the country."
" So it would, and that is just what I came North
for; while, thus far, I haven't seen much except the
waters surrounding it, and a few islands. If it wasn't
for my father, I'd say 'yes' quick enough. But what
will he think ?—in fact,what must he be thinking now?
If I could only get word to him, somehow, that I was
all right, and that there wasn't the slightest cause for
I 256
"And if I could only send some comforting message
•> © ©
to my poor dear mother," reflected Serge.
"There is a chance to do that," said Gerald Hamer, "which I suppose I ought to have mentioned in
the first place. This steamer is obliged to stop somewhere near the Pribyloff" Islands on her return voyage,
to drop the native pilot who belongs there, and whom
they are under contract to return. You might send
letters by him as far as that, and run the chance of
their being forwarded. I suppose you might make
some arrangement to go that far yourselves as well,
though I am afraid Captain Kuhn would charge a tidy
sum for your passage. Still, if you want to ask him,
and he is well enough to see you, I will—"
" We don't," interrupted Phil, resolutely. " We
haven't any money with which to pay for a passage to
the Pribyloffs, and I, for one, wouldn't go near them
again, even if I owned the steamer—in fact, I am tired
and sick of this miserable, cold, foggy Bering Sea,
and long to get away from it. It seems to me that a
trip on dry land is the thing I should most enjoy just
at present.    So, if—"
"Don't conceive a false impression of what I am
proposing," laughed Gerald Hamer. "Most of my
coming journey is to be made on the waters of the
Yukon, and will be filled with hardships and trials.
There will be fine hunting of moose, deer, bear, and
other such game, if you care for that; but not much
else in the way of recreation. Then, the last part of
the trip will be made in arctic weather, over snowy
plains and frozen lakes, up ice - bound rivers, and
through mountain passes where the drifts will be hundreds of feet deep."
"That's so!" exclaimed Phil. "You did mention
c snow-shoes and sledges.' That settles it. I have
always wanted to be an arctic explorer, and I'd rather SERGE RECOVERS A BIT OF LOST PROPERTY  257
take a dog-sledge and snow-shoe journey than anything
else in the world. Besides, as it really seems to be the
only way for us to get to Sitka, it would be worse than
foolish for us to throw away such a good chance. I've
done so many foolish things already on this journey
that I don't mean to be guilty of another between here
and Sitka. So, Mr. Hamer, we not only accept your
offer, but thank you heartily for making it, and are
ready to go with you this very minute. Aren't we,
Serge ?"
"It's just as you say," laughed Serge. "So long
as I got you into this scrape, I'm bound to see you
through it, and stick by you till we get to Sitka, if it
takes the rest of my natural life."
"You're a trump, old man!" cried Phil, heartily,
clapping his friend on the shoulder as he spoke. "And
our motto, like that of the fellow who was bound
across the plains to Pike's Peak, shall be 1 Sitka, or
bust !' I'm awfully glad, though, that you feel as you
do about having got me into a scrape, for I had a sort
of uneasy notion that it was I who had brought you
into one."
While Phil and Serge were writing the letters to
be sent back by Nikrik, the Norsk floated off the mud-
bank, and proceeded to an anchorage nearly three
miles off St. Michaels, a nearer approach being barred
by shoal water.
St. Michaels is the most northerly of the Alaska Fur
Company's trading-posts, and is also the most northerly settlement of white men in Alaska. To be sure,
there are two or three lonely whites in charge of the
Government Reindeer Station at Port Clarence, one
hundred miles farther north, while away up on the
bleak shore of the Arctic Ocean, at the extreme northern point of the American mainland, the Stars and
Stripes wave proudly above another brave little band,
17 258
who maintain the Government Relief Station of Point
St. Michaels  consists of the company's store and
warehouse, an old loop-holed block-house, some twenty
residences, a Greek church painted red, a school-house,
and the few scattered huts or tents of visiting natives.
It is located on the bluff, seaward point of a small
barren island situated eighty miles north of the great
Yukon delta, and affording the first bit of coast available for white occupation in all that distance of limitless swamps and mud-flats. As it is the only point at
which sea-going vessels can approach anywhere near the
coast, it is the great transfer station for the entire Yukon
River trade, which, beyond here, is carried on by means
of small stern-wheeled steamboats of less than three feet
draught. It was on the island of St. Michaels, there-
fore, that Gerald Hamer proposed to land his cargo,
set up his steamboat, and prepare for his long trip into
the distant and almost unexplored interior.
As soon as the steamer Norsk came to anchor, he
borrowed our lads' bidarkie, and, taking only Nikrik
with him, went ashore to select a landing-place and
camp site. It was late in the afternoon when he returned alone, wearied by his hard trip and angry at
the reception with which he had met, but more determined than ever to proceed with his undertaking, in
spite of all obstacles. The Alaska Company had for
so long monopolized the fur trade of the vast region
drained by the mighty Yukon and its tributaries that
they were furious at the prospect of a rival, and determined to prevent it from establishing itself, if possible.
Their annual supply-ship from San Francisco, bringing a large stock of merchandise, several new clerks,
and the news of the world, including that of the formation of a rival company, had arrived and departed
shortly before the coming of the Norsk.   Consequently,
when Gerald Hamer went ashore and introduced himself to the agent in charge, he was very coldly received,
and was forbidden to land his cargo within the limits
of the post.
Upon his return, which he was obliged to make
alone, Nikrik having disappeared among the huts of
the visiting natives, the young fur-trader called his
men together and addressed them as follows:
"Lads, we've got a fight on our hands. The people
on shore say that we sha'n't land. The whole settlement is a trading-post belonging to the old company,
who have fenced it in, as well as a long strip of the
best beach. The only other place where we could
make a landing is on a bit of beach just beyond their
line, and I think they mean to fence and claim that
to-morrow. Now, I don't intend to interfere with any
one's established rights, nor am I inclined to yield my
own. That strip of unfenced beach is government
land, to which our right is as good as theirs. I propose, therefore, to steal a march on them by making a
landing to-night with a raft of lumber, staking out a
claim, and having our shanties up before morning.
What do you say ?    Are you with me ?"
I Aye, aye, sir!" came the hearty shout of the entire party, and then, in individual voices: "That we
are !" "Only you lead the way, and we'll follow close
enough !" " We'll euchre them yet!" " I'd like to
see them try to drive us off from Uncle Sam's land !"
and so on, until the smiling leader raised his hand for
"Thank you, men," he said, simply. "I knew I
could depend on you, and now let us get to work."
All night long, under the skilful direction of the
leader, the labor progressed steadily and cheerfully.
Boats plied incessantly between ship and shore, a huge
raft of lumber was floated to the beach, and when, THE   FUR-SEAL'S TOOTH
some hours after sunrise, the sleepy inmates of Fort
St. Michaels issued from their houses, they stared with
amazement at what, but the evening before, had been
a stretch of vacant land just beyond their boundary.
Now, a large portion of it, including the beach, was
staked out, a landing of log crib-work filled with rocks
projected into the water, two rough board shanties and
a dozen tents had been erected, camp-fires were blazing cheerily, and the sturdy colonists of this new settlement were busily eating their well-earned breakfasts.
In all this work Phil and Serge had displayed such
willingness and activity as to draw forth the hearty
approval of Gerald Hamer. Through the night he
seemed to be everywhere, and in all places at once,
always ready to lend a helping hand or speak a cheering word, and at breakfast-time Phil confided to Serge
that, under such leadership, Sitka really seemed nearer
at hand than it had since they started from Victoria.
As it had been begun, so the work progressed with
perfect method and the utmost expedition. In ten
days after the Norsk1 s arrival, her entire cargo was on
shore and under cover, the steamboat was ready to be
launched and receive her machinery, and it seemed
certain that, early in September, the Yukon party
would be off. All this had been accomplished in the
face of heavy odds, and every impediment had been
thrown in the way of the new company by the old
settlers. If Gerald Hamer hired native laborers,
threats and bribes were used to induce these to desert
him. Those who did work for him were paid in silver coin, which was pronounced worthless at the company's store, and refused when offered in exchange for
Native spies in the employ of the old company
lurked about the camp at all hours; tools were stolen,
or rendered worthless, at every opportunity, and boats SERGE  RECOVERS  A  BIT  OF  LOST  PROPERTY     261
were set adrift, or had holes bored in their bottoms
during the night.
At length Gerald Hamer asked Phil and Serge if
they would get what sleep they could in the daytime,
and act as camp-guards at night. "I feel that I can
trust you two implicitly," he said.
They willingly agreed to do this, and on that very
night, while they were patrolling opposite sides of the
camp, Serge sprang upon a skulking figure who, by a
violent effort, wrenched himself free and escaped, leaving only a broken watch-chain in the lad's hand. To
his unbounded amazement, when he and Phil examined
this trophy by lantern-light, he found attached to it,
as a charm, the identical bit of carved ivory that he had
given to his comrade in New London, and which the
latter had lost so long ago.
"The fur-seal's tooth!" he cried, almost doubting
the evidence of his eyes.
" It certainly is!" exclaimed Phil, as he examined
it curiously.
" There must be magic in it, or how could it possibly have come here ?" added Serge.
" Let me have that bit of chain and the rest of those
charms, and I'll find out what magic there is about it,"
said Phil, mysteriously.
Serge gave them to him, and on the following day
Phil went, for the first time, to the company's store in
the trading-post.
I Do you know to whom these belong ?" he asked
of the first man he met, at the same time displaying
the trophy captured the night before.
" Why, yes," answered the man, examining them
closely.    I They belong to that fellow over there."
Turning in the direction indicated, Phil beheld the
man who, he believed, had injured him more than any
one else in the world—Simon Goldollar. CHAPTER XL
"You scoundrel!" shouted Phil, springing to where
Goldollar was seated at a desk, and standing squarely
in front of him. "How dare you show your thief's
face among honest men ?"
" Oh, it is you, is it ?" retorted the other, coolly, staring at Phil from head to foot. " What are you doing
here, where you have no business and are not wanted,
and what do you mean by calling me a thief ?"
"I mean what I say. Didn't you steal this from
me?"    Here Phil-produced the fur-seal's tooth.
I "No, I did not.    I bought it from a Yukon Indian
a few days ago."
"That's false, and you know it. But never mind.
Didn't you steal nearly one hundred dollars from me
on the Canadian Pacific train ?"
"No, I did not. I saw you stick a wad of bills in
your pocket, and thought at the time you were the
most careless fellow with money I ever knew ; but I
never touched it or thought of doing such a thing."
"Perhaps you will also deny having me arrested on
a false charge in Victoria?" said Phil, his voice trembling with anger.
"Yes, I do deny having you arrested on a false
charge, but not on a true one. The charge was threatened assault and battery, and I think I let you off
pretty easy by not staying to press it. Now, if you
don't keep a civil tongue in your head, and get out of
here pretty quick, you'll find yourself in a worse n'x A  PROSPECT   OF   SNOW-SHOES   AND   SLEDGES      263
mighty sudden. Say, Jacob, where did I get that fur-
seal's tooth I have been wearing as a watch-charm ?"
he asked of one of the group of clerks who had with
angry looks been loitering about Phil during this scene.
" Bought it of an Indian, for I saw you do it," was
the prompt reply. I So did I;" " and I," spoke up two
more. " Hustle him out! What does he mean by
coming here and insulting one of us !". cried others.
For once, prudence got the better of Phil's anger,
and, though he believed at that moment he could thrash
all the clerks in the store, he wisely concluded not to
try. I I'll settle with you at some other time," he said
to Simon Goldollar; " and, in the meantime, if you don't
want to be pitched overboard, you'd better not come
skulking about our camp in the night again."
Then, throwing down the fragment of watch-chain
with all its charms, except the fur-seal's tooth, attached, he cast a contemptuous glance at the clerks,
and strode by them and out of the store, before thfcy
could make up their minds whether to hustle him or not.
When Phil related this incident to Serge, the latter
chided him for venturing into the "lion's den," as he
called it, without taking him along.
"But it was my quarrel and not yours," answered
the Yankee lad.
I Phil, you know better than to say that. In a
friendship that has been cemented as ours has, by the
sharing of dangers and pleasures, joys and sorrows,
starvation and plenty, one cannot have a quarrel nor a
trouble that does not belong equally to the other.
That is what I take to be the very meaning of the
word friendship."
"Right you are, old man ! and I won't do so again.
As it was, I came out of it unharmed; and now that we
have recovered the fur-seal's tooth, luck, according to
your belief, must be on our side." 264
Soon after this, depredations on the camp having almost entirely ceased, Gerald Hamer relieved our lads
from guard duty, and set them to collecting drift-wood
on the beach, to be cut up and used as fuel under the
boiler of the new steamboat, the Chimo, as she had
been christened at her launching.
As all the drift in the vicinity of St. Michaels had
been gathered up for use in that fort, Phil and Serge
were compelled to go long distances up the beach,
gather what logs they could find into rafts, and pole
them to the camp. After three of such rafts had been
successfully landed, they went one day several miles
from camp for the one more that would be necessary
to complete their stock of fuel.
They worked hard all day at the collecting of this,
and, at length, shortly before sunset, had made ready a
larger raft than usual. They were in great haste, for
they feared darkness might overtake them before they
reached camp. Finally, Serge, who stood on the forward or outer end of the raft, push-pole in hand, called
out to Phil, who had on long wading-boots, to shove
off. |
Into that shove Phil threw all his strength, so that
the mass of logs had gathered good headway by the
time the deepening water compelled him to scramble
on board. He sat still for a minute, or until the raft
was nearly one hundred yards from shore, to recover
his breath. Then he suddenly sprang to his feet, crying "Stop her, Serge ! stop her ! I have left my pole
on shore."
As Serge hurriedly tried to comply with this request,
his pole, catching under the moving mass, was snapped
short off. A strong wind was blowing off the land,
and instantly both lads realized the danger of their
"How could I have been so careless!" exclaimed A  PROSPECT  OF  SNOW-SHOES  AND  SLEDGES
poor Serge, his face pale with dismay. " It wasn't your
carelessness, old man; it was mine," replied Phil. "If
I hadn't left that wretched pole on shore, we could have
managed her easy enough. Now I am going to do
my best to repair my fault."
As he spoke, the impetuous lad began pulling off his
" No, Phil, you mustn't try that," said Serge, at the
same time laying a detaining hand on the other's
shoulder. " The water is too cold for you to swim to
the shore and back again. Besides, I doubt if you
could catch the raft, at the rate the wind is now moving her."
"But I can wade more than half-way," objected
Phil. fj| jp
"Not on this sticky mud bottom. I don't believe
you could wade ten steps."
I What can we do, then ? We can't sit tamely here
and drift out to sea. Oh, Serge, the horror of it ! the
terror! the awf ulness! We can't endure it again.
Let us both take to the water, and make a try for the
shore together. Yes, old man, that is what we must
do !    There is no other way."
With this, Phil, who had already got rid of his boots,
began to throw off his coat.
"Hold on, Phil! I see something that looks like a
boat! Yes, it is a native boat coming from up the
beach, and towards us."
Serge was right. In a few minutes more a large
bidarrah, filled with native employes of the trading-
post, drew near, and its occupants stopped rowing a
short distance from the raft, to see what the lads were
| Come and take us off!" shouted Phil. | Don't you
see that we are helpless ?"
" How much you give ?" asked a leathern-faced old
• 1'
Eskimo, who sat in the stern, and seemed to command
the craft.   1 You give ten dollar ?"
"Yes," whispered Phil; "we will give you anything
you want, when we get back to camp."
"No; give him now."
"But we haven't any money with us."
I Then me go. Good-bye." The bidarrah actually
began to move ahead, while the face of the old image
in the stern was rendered still more hideous by a malicious grin.
"Hold on !" screamed Phil, in desperation. "I will
give you this, and it is worth many times ten dollars."
The bidarrah came a little closer, that the old man
might see what was offered.
"All light," he said, holding out his hand for the
coveted prize.
In another moment the lads had crossed the narrow
divide between a deadly danger and certain safety,
and the fur-seal's tooth had found a new owner.
Soon after this narrow escape from imminent peril,
our lads bade farewell to the Norsk, which steamed away
to the southward, bearing all of Gerald Hamer's party
save those who were to follow his lead into the far interior. She also bore Nikrik, who carried with him a
large package of letters wrapped in oil-skin, which he
was instructed to deliver unopened aboard the first
south-bound vessel that should touch at the Pribyloff
Islands. Thus, although Mr. Ryder did not receive
his son's letter, he learned of his whereabouts, and, filled
with a new hope, ordered the schooner Philomel to be
headed towards distant St. Michaels.
At length, one morning in late September, after many
vexatious delays, the steamboat, with whose fortunes
our lads had cast their own, was laden and ready to
start for the Yukon.    With fluttering flags and de- o
fiant whistle she steamed away from inhospitable St.
Michaels, towing a dozen native boats behind her.
" Hurrah !" shouted Phil Ryder, as he and Serge
stood on her upper deck. 1 We are off, at last. Hurrah for snow-shoes and sledges ! I say, old man, I'm
glad we got away before that craft came in.    She may
be bound to Oonalaska, or somewhere down among
the islands, and, if so, I suppose we should have felt it
our duty to go with her. But you can't stop us now,
old ship!    You're too late!"
The craft to which he thus referred was a small
schooner beating up the sound. From her deck Mr.
John Ryder was scanning the oncoming steamboat
through a powerful telescope. Suddenly it fell from
his hands, as he cried out, in wild excitement:
1 Thank God, Jalap Coombs, our long search is ended ! There is my boy—there, on that steamer! We
can hail him, and have him alongside in five minutes
" Right you are, sir," replied the mate, peering
through the glass the other had dropped. "It looks
like the young scamp, and I believe it is him, but don't
ye be dead sartain ye've got him till ye lays hands
on him. As my friend old Kite Roberson-uster say,
I Eels is never so slippery as when they's caught.' "
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