BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

In the wilds of the west coast Oxley, J. Macdonald (James Macdonald), 1855-1907 1895

Item Metadata

Download

Media
bcbooks-1.0225982.pdf
Metadata
JSON: bcbooks-1.0225982.json
JSON-LD: bcbooks-1.0225982-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): bcbooks-1.0225982-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: bcbooks-1.0225982-rdf.json
Turtle: bcbooks-1.0225982-turtle.txt
N-Triples: bcbooks-1.0225982-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: bcbooks-1.0225982-source.json
Full Text
bcbooks-1.0225982-fulltext.txt
Citation
bcbooks-1.0225982.ris

Full Text

         In   the   Wilds
OF
THE   WEST   COAST
BY
J.  MACDONALD   OXLEY
Author of "Diamond Rock" " Up Among the Ice-Floes
"The Wreckers of Sable Island"
<3~C Qr'C
THOMAS     NELSON     AND     SONS
London, Edinburgh, and New York
1895 5^§sss§gs^§^ CONTENTS
-♦♦-
I.   THE  FOUNDING  OP  FORT   VICTORIA,
II.   IN  PERILS  OP WATERS,
III. ON  LAND  AND  SEA,
IV. IN  DOUBTFUL  COMPANY,
V.   BACK  TO   FORT   CAMOSUN,
VI.   THE   ATTACK   ON  THE  FORT,
VII.   DIFFICULT   PLAYMATES,
VIII.   AFLOAT  AGAIN,
IX.   A  WHALE  AND  A  WHIRLPOOL,
X.   RASPBERRIES  AND   OULACHAN,
XI.   TO   THE   QUEEN  CHARLOTTE   ISLANDS,
XII.   IN  THE   HANDS   OF   THE   HAIDAS,
XIII. SAVAGE  LIFE,
XIV. WITH  THE  WAR-PARTY,
XV.   TAKEN  BY  THE   MASSETS,
XVI.   RESCUED   BY  THE   RUSSIANS,
XVII.   THE ATTACK  ON  THE   KAKES,
XVIII.   EXCITING  TIMES  AT  FORT  WRANGEL,
XIX.   THE  HOME  OF  THE  FUR  SEAL,    ....
XX.   THE  WAYS   AND   MANNERS   OF  THE  SEAL,
XXI.   THE "SEA-OTTER   HUNT,
XXII.   REUNION  AND  REJOICINGS,
9
24
42
58
75
90
106
122
139
156
176
196
217
238
258
279
298
319
335
353
372
386 SSKBSff IN   THE
WILDS   OF   THE   WEST   COAST.
-+♦-
CHAPTER I.
;;     THE   FOUNDING   OF   FORT   VICTORIA.
JUST fifty years ago a small steamer, by name the Beaver,
set forth from the inland port of Nisqually on the west
coast of North America. She was an ugly-looking black
craft, hardly to be compared with a modern harbour tug;
but she was bent upon a mission, of whose importance she
seemed to have some knowledge—she puffed her way so
noisily northward, through Puget Sound and Admiralty
Inlet, until Port Townsend was reached about dusk of the
evening.
Here a stay was made for the night, of which the seamen
took advantage to catch a plentiful supply of cod and
halibut. The following morning, after a brief call at New
Dungeness, the Beaver steered boldly across the Juan de
Fuca Strait, heading for the southern extremity of the great
island of Vancouver, and, having  carefully crept  around IO
THE FOUNDING  OF FORT  VICTORIA.
Shoal Point, came to anchor before sundown in a beautiful
harbour then bearing the name of Camosun Bav.
On the vessel's deck stood a group of men, who gazed
eagerly at the scene before them, and pointed this way and
that as the different features of the landscape attracted their
attention, exchanging quick comments thereon with an
earnestness that evinced no ordinary interest. They were
not mere chance visitors—that was clear. Their coming had
a definite purpose beyond a doubt, and they were eager to
see all they could before darkness shut the shores from their
vision.
The central figure of the group was a man in the prime of
life, whose appearance would have commanded attention the
world over. Six feet and more in height, as erect in his
carriage and measured in his movements as an army veteran,
yet natural and graceful withal, his stalwart frame and
bronzed countenance told of a life of activity and exposure.
From his massive shoulders rose a splendid head, with high
broad brow, deep gray eyes, and strong yet kindly mouth.
Every tone of his voice and turn of his body bespoke energy
and resolution. He was a manifest leader of men, and now,
as he replied to the questions of those around him, or made
some remark himself, his words were listened to with a
deference that showed him to be a person of no mean
importance.
11 like it well," said he, with a sweep of his right arm
that took in the whole landscape before him. " There will
be little trouble in finding a grand position for our fort. If
it were not so near nightfall I would land at once.    But it
Vfcfi THE FOUNDING  OF FORT  VICTORIA,
ii
will be wiser to wait until morning, and then we can proceed
at our leisure/'
Some of the others would evidently have liked to venture
ashore late as it was, but they knew there was no reversing
their leader's decision, so the group broke up, and presently
the steward's summons to the evening meal gave another
turn to their thoughts.
All but one disappeared below. The remaining member
of the group, instead of following the others, sprang upon
the top of the cabin skylight in order to get a better view
of an object which had attracted his attention. His quick
eye had caught sight of a canoe half hidden in the shadow
cast by the trees on the farther shore, and he was curious to
see whether it would approach the steamer. It was certain
to contain Indians, for no white man stood on the island at
that time, and he wanted to be the first to get a glimpse of
the natives.
But the canoe kept timidly in the shadow, and presently
a strong voice called up from the cabin,—
" What's keeping you, Eae ? Why don't you come to
your supper ?"
" All right. I'm coming," was the cheery response, and
with one last look at the lingering canoe he too vanished
down the companion-way.
As he slipped into his seat at the closely-set table in the
narrow cabin, the man at the head said in a tone of kindly
banter,—
"Your hunger can't be so keen as usual this evening, Rae;
or was it that your curiosity for the time got the better of it?" 12
THE FOUNDING  OF FORT  VICTORIA.
11 was watching a canoe I saw close inshore, sir," an-
swered Rae.    " I thought it might come out to us."
I Did any one else notice that canoe ?" asked the first
speaker, glancing around the table.
No one claiming to have done so, he turned again to
Rae, and with a smile of warm approval, such as rarely
lighted up his rugged features, said,—
"You've got sharp eyes, my boy, and you know right
well how to use them. Here now you have seen something
that all of us old folks missed, and it was something of
importance too."
Rae blushed to the roots of the hair with pleasure at
these words of praise, as well he might, for the speaker was
no other than James Douglas, chief factor of the Hudson
Bay Company, and by far the most important and influential
personage on the north-west coast of the continent.
For a mere boy to engage the interest of such a man was
no common privilege, and brought up as he had been in the
atmosphere of the great company's life, Rae was fully alive
to his good fortune. In his eyes Mr. Douglas was a veritable
demigod, and to win his commendation was to achieve the
highest honour the world afforded.
Rae, however, was no ordinary boy. If he had been,
this story perchance would not have been worth the telling.
Into his life already there had come more of strange experience and exciting adventure than is likely to fall to the
lot of many of those who may read these pages.
He was the son of an officer in the Hudson Bay Company
who had taken advantage of a trip to San Francisco to
^^W^^^IfflW^w™
^^^^^^^^^ THE FOUNDING  OF FORT VICTORIA.
x3
bring back with him a bride, whose love for her husband
steeled her heart against the vicissitudes and deprivations
of life in one of the company's forts. When but six years
of age Rae had lost his mother, and thenceforth his father
had made him his constant companion, finding in his bright
presence the only assuaging of the grief that had else been
inconsolable.
The result of this bringing up was to make little Rae
wise and manly beyond his years. Being continually in the
society of his seniors, he soon got to see things from their
point of view. Not that he had by any means become that
pitiful parody of boyhood called a | prig." Far from it. He
was as hearty and natural a youngster as could be desired,
thoroughly fond of play, and no less prone to indulge in
merry pranks than any other boy of his age. Where the
difference between him and his playmates showed itself was
in his fondness in imitating the men, and the astonishing
address with which he carried it out. To paddle a canoe, to
manage a rifle, to order about the Indians, were the controlling ambitions of his young heart, and he would not
know a contented mind until he had become proficient in
all of them.
When the Beaver appeared in Camosun Bay, Rae Finlay-
son had just passed his fifteenth birthday, although his
appearance would have given the impression that he was
full two years older. He stood over five feet in his stockings, yet was not thin or lanky, his frame being admirably
proportioned, and his muscles already well developed by a
life of almost  continual  out-door activity.     His features 14
THE FOUNDING  OF FORT VICTORIA.
were regular, his skin clear, his eyes large and full of fire,
and altogether one would have been inclined to call him a
handsome boy, particularly when the smile that came so
readily to his bright face disclosed a set of flashing white
teeth that were competent to crack nuts with any squirrel
in the forest.
After Mr. Douglas had spoken so warmly, Rae's father
questioned him about the canoe, and whether he could make
out how many occupants it had. But this Rae could not
tell him, the shadow in which it hid being so deep; so the
talk went off to other things, and when they rose from the
table it was too dark to see beyond a step's length from the
vessel.
The following morning the first one to set foot upon the
deck was Rae, and to his vast delight he found the steamer
fairly surrounded by canoes filled with the natives of the
island, who had come out to gaze in wonder at the monster
of the deep whose strange black form had broken in upon
the solitude of their beautiful bay.
The eager, curious looks of these people Rae returned
with a gravity equal to their own. Having passed his whole
life in the midst of Indians, and in the company of men who
knew perfectly how to deal with these children of the forest,
there was nothing startling to him in their appearance in
sufficient numbers to overwhelm those on board the Beaver
had they in mind the capture of the steamer.
Instead of being in any wise alarmed, indeed, he forthwith began to ask questions of the nearest ones; but, master
as he was of more than one dialect, he entirely failed to THE FOUNDING  OF FORT  VICTORIA.
i5
make himself understood, and, provoked at his non-success,
he was about to go in quest of his father, who had some
knowledge of nearly all the Indian languages on the coast,
when Mr. Douglas appeared on deck.
" Hollo, Rae, my boy! J he exclaimed, " you've got the
start of us all this morning. Hey! what have we here ?'
he continued, as his eye fell on the encircling canoes, i The
natives have come out to make a morning call. Well, I
hope they are in an amiable frame of mind, for we want to
get on the right side of them at the start and keep there.
I must try if I can make them understand me."
Going to the side of the steamer, he hailed the Indians in
his strong commanding voice and inquired who was their
spokesman. At first they did not appear to understand his
question, so he repeated it with an accompaniment of gesture
that showed what an adept he was at the sign language.
This time they caught his meaning, and after consulting together for a moment one canoe pushed out from the others,
having in its bow a splendid-looking Indian whose dress
and deportment indicated that he was one of their chiefs.
With him Mr. Douglas managed to hold quite a dialogue
by dint of an unsparing use of signs, as the outcome of
which the chief somewhat hesitatingly advanced to the
steamer's side, and then, although in considerable trepidation,
was persuaded to come on board.
By this time the rest of the party had assembled on deck,
and they gazed with great interest upon their visitor, who,
reassured by the manifest kindliness of their countenances,
became more at his ease, and looked about him as though he
■■ i6
THE FOUNDING  OF FORT  VICTORIA.
would like to ask a good many questions if he only knew
how to make himself understood.
Rae regarded him with feelings of mingled curiosity and
admiration. This no doubt was the chief of the Songhies,
the tribe that occupied this part of the island, and whose
good graces it was eminently desirable to cultivate, for he
and his people had it in their power to render the Beaver's
mission a success or a failure according to the way they
took it.
Now Rae was exceedingly anxious that it should be a
success. There was a novelty about it that delighted his
adventurous young spirit, as the purpose of the steamer's
coming was nothing less than the establishment of a new
station of the Hudson Bay Company. It had been decided
that the great island of Vancouver should be no longer left
unoccupied (for, of course, its aboriginal inhabitants did not
count), and Camosun Bay had been selected as the most
advantageous site for the new fort.
No sooner had Rae's father heard of the design than he
volunteered to be one of the garrison of the fort. He wanted
to get away from Fort Vancouver, and here was an opportunity after his own heart. Mr. Douglas not only granted
his request at once, but put him in command of the party
of occupation. He had therefore come to Camosun Bay in
better spirits than he had known for many a day.
"We shall have a fine time of it over on the island, shan't
we, Rae ? " he had said to his son on the way up. " There
must be better hunting there than anywhere near Fort
Vancouver, and they say the Indians aren't a bit dangerous."
(478) THE FOUNDING  OF FORT VICTORIA.
17
Certainly they looked innocent enough this morning as
they hung about the steamer, pushing their canoes closer
and closer as the presence of their chief on board increased
their courage.
" They seem to be quite glad to see us, father, don't they ?"
exclaimed Rae, having succeeded in tempting the occupants
of a near canoe into a broad grin by smiling at them in his
heartiest fashion. "I'm going to make friends with them
as fast as I can."
" Do so by all means, my boy," said Mr. Douglas, overhearing the remark. " We want them to be as well disposed
toward us as possible, not only for the safety of the fort,
but so that they will bring us plenty of furs."
When the honours of the ship had been done to the
Indian chief, and his heart made glad by the presentation of
a big silver medal for himself and some trinkets for his
family, Mr. Douglas announced that he would go on shore
for the purpose of choosing the site of the new fort.
The gig was accordingly brought alongside, and, the
Indian having returned to his canoe, the whole party got in
with the exception of Rae, who stood at the gangway watching them wistfully as they took their seats. He had not
been told to join them, and he did not know if he was wanted.
But just as the boat was shoving off Mr. Douglas looked up,
and saw his eager face already beginning to take on a disappointed expression.
" 0 laddie!' he cried, " we were near forgetting you.
Jump on the bow there, quick !   You shall come with us, of
course.
(478)
2 i8
THE FOUNDING  OF FORT VICTORIA,
With radiant countenance Rae sprang into the boat, and,
the sailors bending to their oars, the well-filled gig moved
off shoreward, convoyed by a cloud of canoes that found it
easy work keeping pace with the heavier craft.
Seated in the bow of the gig Rae felt as though he were
taking part in some sort of a procession, and he enjoyed it
immensely. In fact he was strongly tempted to indulge in
a whoop or two, but the presence of Mr. Douglas restrained
him; so he contented himself with springing ashore with a
shout the moment the boat touched the beach, thus gaining
the honour of being the first to land.
A more attractive and advantageous site for a station
could hardly have been conceived. The country around the
bay was so like a beautiful park that one might well
hesitate to believe it was all the work of unaided nature.
Through the fertile vales, shady groves, and grassy slopes
of the rolling plateau ran serpentine streams of glistening
water, which found their way over a rim of smooth rocks
that seemed as if placed by human hands in the bosom of
the bay whose crystal-clear waves gently lapped the boulder-
strown beach.
The eastern side of the harbour was entirely unoccupied,
the Songhies having built their fortified camp at the western
side on a point about a mile from the entrance. Mr. Douglas
therefore looked to the east for the site of his fort, and there
were so many tempting spots available that he had some
difficulty in coming to a decision. Finally a location by the
shore at a place where the rocks made a natural wharf
against which vessels could lie to land goods was decided
■wWwSeSwwW^^^WSSSSS THE FOUNDING  OF FORT VICTORIA.
19
upon, and with characteristic energy the expedition's leader
set about the building of the fort.
His own men were put to work squaring timber and
digging a well, while the Indians, who had gathered about
in large numbers, having heard with much approval that
their white brothers had come to bring them arms and
implements, clothing and trinkets, in exchange for skins,
were given employment in getting out big pickets for the
stockade, their wages being at the rate of one blanket for
forty pickets. As these pickets were each twenty-two feet
long, and a yard in circumference, the wages were none too
high. But the unsophisticated natives were quite content,
and toiled away cheerfully with the aid of axes lent by Mr.
Douglas.
His father's attention being engrossed with the building
of the fort, Rae was thrown upon his own resources, and for
lack of other companions he tried to get into the good
graces of the Indian boys who hung bashfully about watching the progress of the work.
But they would have nothing to do with him. He was
the first white boy they had ever seen, and it seemed as if
they did not know what to make of him. As Rae could
not speak a word of their dialect, and had not yet learned
to make himself understood by signs, the chances of scraping
acquaintance appeared small, so, feeling rather irritated at
the little redskins' unsociability, he strolled off along the
beach, saying to himself that when he came to a nice bit of
sandy bottom he would go in for a swim.
It was a perfect morning, the sun shining bright and 20
THE FOUNDING  OF FORT VICTORIA.
warm from a cloudless sky, not a breath of wind stirring,
and Camosun Bay gleaming like a mirror from shore to
shore. Rae soon forgot the bad manners of the Indian boys
in his enjoyment of the scene.
I I'm so glad we've come here," he soliloquized. " It's
a far finer place than old Fort Vancouver, and once I'm
good, friends with the boys here we'll have fine times
canoeing and swimming in the harbour, and there must be
lots of things to shoot in these woods too. I'll have plenty
of chances to try the dear little rifle father got for me before
we came away. I wish I had it here now. I'd like to try
a shot at that gull flying about out there."
But the new rifle was on board the Beaver, so Rae was
fain to content himself with shying a stone at the white
sea-bird when one of its graceful circles brought it near.
But the stone did no more harm than to send a series of
concentric ripples over the glassy surface of the harbour;
and the thrower of it presently reaching a bewitching little
cove fit for the bower of a mermaid, once more bethought
himself of a bathe.
He could swim like a young seal, his father having
begun to give him lessons when he was six years old; and
the water being at just the right temperature, he was tempted
to go out a hundred yards or more from shore, sporting and
splashing about as though the water was his natural element.
While thus enjoying himself he chanced to glance on
shore at the cove where he had left his clothes, and was
horrified to see that a number of the native children had
taken possession not only of his dressing-room, but of his THE FOUNDING  OF FORT VICTORIA.
21
garments also, and were inspecting the latter with lively
interest, passing them from hand to hand, and exchanging
expressions of wonder at their construction.
Now, had these unexpected intruders upon the privacy
of his bath been only boys, Rae's immediate action would
have been to swim ashore at the top of his speed and order
them out of the cove.
But to his profound dismay he made out that there were
several girls in the party, and his sense of propriety was
altogether too strong for him to entertain the notion of
leaving the water while they were present. So, swimming
in until his feet touched bottom, he called out in a polite yet
commanding tone of voice,—
" Will you please leave my clothes alone and go away ?
I'm coming in to dress now."
The impertinent young Indians heard him right enough,
although of course they could not understand what he said.
But they showed not the slightest intention of heeding him.
On the contrary, having completed the examination of his
clothing to their own satisfaction, they now began to try it
on; one boy taking the coat and another the trousers, while
two of the girls endeavoured between them to solve the
mystery of the shirt.
This was altogether too much for Rae's patience, and
quite losing his temper, he started to shout at them ferociously,—
"Let my clothes alone, will you, you miserable little
scoundrels! If you don't drop them at once, and clear out
of that, I'll—" ■v-wn^**\»lv
22
THE FOUNDING  OF FORT  VICTORIA.
Just what dire penalty he would have threatened to
inflict they never heard, for at that moment his feet slipped
off the seaweed-covered stone upon which he stood the better
to express his feelings, and in his effort to steady himself he
took an involuntary header that put a stop for the moment
to his angry speech.
He had just recovered his balance and was clearing his
eyes of water when he caught sight of his father hurrying
along the beach at a rate that betokened some anxiety.
" Father, father! Oh, quick 1" cried Rae at the top of
his voice. " Drive those rascals away ! They won't let me
dress."
Mr. Finlayson came up on the full run, and the instant
the little Indians heard his heavy step they dropped the
clothes, and scuttled off like squirrels, vanishing among the
rocks as completely as if they had been phantoms.
" Why, Rae," panted Mr. Finlayson, " what have you been
doing ? I missed you a little while ago, and not seeing you
anywhere began to feel anxious. Then somebody said they
had seen you going off in this direction, and so I came after
you.    What's the matter ?    What's happened ?"
The timely appearance of his father having banished
Rae's alarm, he now felt rather ashamed of having got so
excited.
" Oh, nothing's happened, father," he replied as he picked
up his clothes, and started to put them on; " but if you
hadn't come along just when you did there might have
been some trouble. You see I thought I'd have a swim,
and while I was in the water a lot of young Indians came
^l^llipii THE FOUNDING  OF FORT  VICTORIA.        23
along, and began to make free with my clothes. I wouldn't
have minded if they'd just been boys, but"—and here a
rosy blush reddened his cheeks—" there were some girls
too, and I couldn't come out of the water before them."
Mr. Finlayson laid back his head and laughed long and
loud. He had been apprehensive of some mishap, instead
of which he had lighted upon a ludicrous situation that
would make a capital story for his companions.
I You were in a funny fix, certainly, my boy," said he
when his laughter had ceased. " But," he added with a
graver countenance, " you must be more careful, Rae. We
don't know these Indians well yet, and you must keep
closer until we do. Let us go back to the steamer now.
It's nearly time for dinner/* KtftSSSSeWSSKWWBS
CHAPTER II.
IN   PERILS   OF   WATERS.!
THE construction of the fort proceeded rapidly under
Mr. Douglas's vigorous superintendence, and ere long
was sufficiently advanced for him to feel free to leave a
number of men to complete it, while he steamed off northward to the other forts, two of which were to be abandoned,
and their men and stores transferred to the new station.
As Rae had never been on board a steamer before, and
had keenly enjoyed the trip up from Nisqually, his father
proposed that he should remain on board if Mr. Douglas
would have him. He would then enjoy a good long voyage,
besides being out of the way while the building was
going on.
Rae jumped at the suggestion, and Mr. Douglas promptly
acquiescing, the way was clear for him to go. He had not
taken thought of the miseries of sea-sickness, for which the
smooth voyage up from Nisqually was no preparation, and
the idea of being out on the big ocean filled him with
delight.
It was a fine morning in June when the clumsy little
Beaver got up steam again, and puffing like a fire-engine,
uppim IN PERILS OF  WA TERS.
25
moved out through the narrows into Juan de Fuca Strait,
and thence into the Pacific Ocean. Standing at the stern,
Rae waved his hat in farewell to his father as long as he
could make him out upon the shore. It was the first time
he had ever gone away from his father, although of course
his father had often been obliged to leave him for months
at a time while he went far inland on the business of the
company. Naturally, therefore, Rae felt the separation, and
he had to wink very hard indeed to keep the tears from
showing themselves on his cheeks.
The turn of the channel had just caused the half-finished
fort to disappear from sight when Mr. Douglas came up,
and laying his hand kindly on the boy's shoulder, said,—
" Well, Rae, what sort of a sailor are you ? Were you
ever out in a storm ?"
" No, sir," answered Rae, his air of dejection vanishing in
an instant, for he entertained feelings of profound admiration for the chief factor, and was always glad at being
noticed by him. " I've never been on the water in a storm.
You know, sir, this is the first time I've ever been on board
a steamer."
" Indeed," responded Mr. Douglas. " So it's a new experience for you. Well, for your sake, I hope we'll have
fine weather all the trip. But there's no telling; a storm
may spring up any day, and if it does the little Beaver is a
wonder to roll, so you may expect to have a taste of seasickness."
" Is it very dreadful, sir ? *'' asked Rae, anxiously.
Mr. Douglas smiled.     A good many years had passed sss
26
IN PERILS OF WATERS.
since he had first suffered sea-sickness while, as a mere boy,
making the voyage from Jamaica, the place of his birth, to
Scotland, where he was educated ; still he had a sufficiently
distinct recollection of that experience to cause him to
answer,—
" You'll probably feel as if the greatest favour one could
do you would be to pitch you overboard, and so put an end
to your wretchedness. But you mustn't mind that. You'll
soon get your sea-legs, and then you'll enjoy yourself all
the more."
Rae shook his head ruefully. Like all healthy boys, he
hated the very notion of being sick on land or sea, and he
was determined to make a brave fight of it, and see if he
could not hold out even if a storm did spring up.
It was not long before his resolution was put to the test.
As soon as the Beaver passed out of Juan de Fuca Strait
she began to rise and dip in the long waves of the Pacific
Ocean, that rolled in unbroken phalanxes from the far east.
As Mr. Douglas had said, she was a wonder to roll, and had
not got beyond Barclay Sound before the novel motion
proved too much for poor little Rae, and he dragged himself
into his berth, where for the next twenty-four hours he felt so
miserably ill that he thought surely he must be going to die.
He missed his father sorely. Not even Mr. Douglas's
hearty sympathy availed to comfort him. Oh, how intensely
he wished himself back on land! The combination of homesickness and sea-sickness was really almost overwhelming,
and he seemed in so wretched a plight that Mr. Douglas for
a time regretted having brought him. IN PERILS OF  WATERS,
27
But it's a long lane that has no turning, and soon matters
began to mend. Rae's internal economy showed signs of
returning reason, and, in proportion as his discomfort mitigated, his wonted high spirits reasserted themselves, until
by the end of the third day out he was as firm on his feet
as Mr. Douglas himself, and ready to enjoy the voyage.
For such a keen-eyed, quick-witted lad there was a great
deal to be observed and understood. The steamer did not
venture far from the land, and her passengers had a steady
succession of views—some grand and inspiring, and others
lovely and enchanting—as she made her way northward
along the coast of the great island of Vancouver.
But it was not the still life of the land that attracted Rae
so much as the active life of the water. The region through
which they were passing was simply a paradise for fishermen. The sea fairly swarmed with unnumbered varieties
of fish that sprang to the hook as if they had been waiting
for it all their lives, and were delighted that their opportunity had come at last.
Not only so, but different kinds of seals dotted the waves
with their sleek black heads, and gazed at the puffing
monster which had intruded upon their domain with their
big brown eyes full of gentle wonder.
Rae thought them so pretty, that when Mr. Douglas suggested he should try his skill as a marksman on them, he
shrank from the idea, saying apologetically,—
I Oh no, sir; I wouldn't like to do that. They don't do
any harm to anybody, do they ?"
Mr. Douglas laughed. 28
IN PERILS OF WATERS.
1 Harm anybody!" he exclaimed; § bless me, no. They're
the most harmless creatures in the world. But people like
to shoot them all the same. I confess, however, I think the
more of you, my boy, for not wanting to do it. After all,
what's the sense of killing a thing just for the sake of
killing it ?"
It was the following day that Rae, who had already got
to feel so much at home that he had chosen the cross-trees
of the stubby foremast as his favourite eyrie whence to look
out upon the waste of waters, came tumbling down in a
state of great excitement, and running up to Mr. Douglas as
he was enjoying a pipe at the stern, dragged him to the side
of the steamer.
| Look, sir, look ! \ he cried, pointing a quivering finger
to the westward. " What's that ? Is it another steamer, or
what is it ?"
Following the direction of Rae's finger, Mr. Douglas made
out a black mass moving in a course that would take it
across the Beaver's bows, and sending up at frequent intervals a spout of foam not unlike a column of smoke, such as
might come from a steamer's furnace.
" A steamer ?" he exclaimed. " No, but a whale; and a
monster too ! I wonder if I could secure him. It's worth
trying, at all events."
Whereupon orders were sent to the engineer to give the
Beaver all the steam the boilers could stand, and presently
the sturdy vessel was ploughing through the water at her
topmost speed. The wind was blowing away from the
whale and towards the steamer, so that there was no fear of
SSSw^NJv^r^WSSNiSSSSc IN PERILS  OF  WATERS.
29
the latter's noise reaching the great creature; and it was
Mr. Douglas's design to run up as near as possible, and then
try a shot from the small six-pounder which was carried in
the bow. A lucky shot might reach a vital part, and then
the steamer could rush up and make fast the body before it
sank.
Intense was the excitement on board the Beaver during
the next few minutes. When first sighted by Rae the
whale was about a mile and a half away, going at half-speed
in the direction of the mainland, probably chasing a school
of the tiny fish which formed its food. It evidently did not
notice the approach of the steamer, for it kept right on, sending up spout after spout as though for the fun of the thing.
To get a good view of the chase Rae had hastened back
to the fore-top, and there, trembling with excitement,
watched every movement of the monster as though his very
life were at stake. It was his first sight of a whale, and he
thought it a very wonderful object. Furthermore, having
been the first on board the vessel to observe it, he felt all
the more eager for the capture.
On went the steamer, drawing nearer and nearer to its
prey, and still the latter did not take warning. Presently
it came to a stop, perhaps to enjoy a good mouthful of food,
and at once the Beaver's engines stopped also, letting her
glide through the water with the impetus already received.
" Now's our chance," said Mr. Douglas in an undertone.
" We must fire before she starts again.    Is the gun ready ? I
" Yes, sir," replied the mate in whose charge it was.
" Shall I fire ?" 3°
IN PERILS  OF  WATERS.
I Take good aim, and let her have it," was the response.
All on board held their breath as the mate sighted along
the breech of the little cannon, and Rae nearly fell off his
lofty perch in his anxiety to see him do it. Unconscious of
the danger so imminent, the whale lay like a log amid the
waves that lapped its black sides. There was a moment of
thrilling suspense, and then came a report that stunned the
ears of all, while the gun kicked clear off its carriage, and
rolled down into the lee-scuppers, the mate just managing to
dodge out of the way.
At the same instant the whale, throwing its huge body
almost clear out of the water in a spasm of mortal agony,
dived into the depths, leaving upon the surface a trail of
blood that showed the ball had found its way to a vital
part. A cheer went up from those on board the steamer,
and Mr. Douglas, forgetting his wonted reserve in the excitement of the moment, clapped the mate warmly upon the
back, exclaiming,—
"Well aimed, Ross; a capital shot! She's badly hit
without a doubt."
Rae gave a lusty cheer at the success of the shot, and
would have liked to wave his cap also, but he needed both
hands to hold on. Every eye now eagerly scanned the
surface of the water, watching for the first sign of the
wounded monster's reappearance. They had not long to
wait. Scarce three minutes had passed when, with a rush
like that of a locomotive, it shot out of the water only a few
lengths away from the steamer. For some moments it
thrashed around, beating the waves into foam with thunder- ; Ceasing; its struggles, it bore down on the steamer at full speed."
Page 33.  IN PERILS OF  WATERS.
33
ing strokes of its tremendous tail. Then its eye, inflamed
with fury, fell upon the black hull of the Beaver roc*king
gently in the waves awaiting the end. At once the suffering
creature connected the presence of this intruder with the
injury inflicted, and determined on revenge. Ceasing its
struggles it headed towards the steamer, and bore down
upon her at full speed.
"Back her! back her!" shouted Mr. Douglas to the
engineer.
The order was promptly obeyed; but how could so
clumsy a craft as the Beaver hope to evade such a pursuer
as a maddened whale ? Hardly had she got way on when
the collision came with appalling force, hurling to the deck
all those who had not something to hold on by, and so
nearly knocking Rae off his lofty perch that he instantly
scrambled down for fear of further danger.
" Shoot her! Harpoon her! Lance her!" cried different
members of the crew, in dread of a repetition of the charge;
while Mr. Douglas, with the aid of the mate, strove to
replace the gun on its carriage, that another shot might be
fired from it.
But it was not necessary: the whale was incapable of
further harm. With its huge head wofully battered, it now
lay almost motionless, its life-blood spreading out over the
water in great crimson patches. One more flurry, and that
a pitifully weak one, and it was all over.
" Stand by to secure her!" shouted Mr. Douglas, snatching up a coil of rope as though he himself would do the
work.    There was on board, however, a seaman who had 34
IN PERILS OF  WATERS.
been on more than one whaling cruise, and he knew exactly
what had to be done.
The steamer moved up alongside the inert body, and by
a dexterous twist the ex-whaler got a purchase around the
flukes of its tail. The rope was then hauled tight, and
another having been got round the head, the whale was
safely fastened fore and aft to await further attention.
Great was the rejoicing on board at this successful
ending of the hunt, for the prize was certainly one of the
largest of its kind, and could not fail to yield a big supply
of whalebone.
But just when the congratulations were at their height
the engineer appeared with a grave countenance, and beckoned Mr. Douglas to one side.
" The steamer's leaking badly," said he in a low tone.
I There's two feet of water in the well already, and it's
gaining rapidly. We must man the pumps, and make for
shore as fast as we can."
Mr. Douglas's face clouded over at this startling communication.
| Are you quite sure ?" he asked. " I'll go and see for
myself."
He hurried below; while Rae, who had been standing
near, and overheard all the engineer said, looked after him
anxiously.
Presently he came up on deck again, and one glance at
his face was sufficient to show that the engineer's report was
only too correct. Not a moment did the chief factor hesitate.    It was very trying to lose the prize so cleverly won, IN PERILS OF  WATERS.
35
but human life was far more precious, and it was now in
serious peril.
" Cut loose the whale immediately," he commanded.
The mate, who already had been reckoning up his share
of the proceeds of the whalebone, turned round with an
expression of mingled amazement and protest upon his
honest features.
" Cut loose the whale, sir ?" he exclaimed in a tone of
incredulous inquiry.    " Do you mean it, sir ?"
" I do mean it, Ross," replied Mr. Douglas; " and there's
not a moment to lose. We've got to make a safe harbour
inside of an hour or go to the bottom."
Realizing that the chief factor was indeed in earnest, the
mate, without stopping to ask further questions, seized a
hatchet, and in as little time as it takes to tell it severed the
ropes that bound the whale to the steamer. As the huge
helpless mass rolled away from the Beaver the latter began
to move through the water, and soon was making her way
at full speed towards the mainland.
Nootka Sound was the nearest haven, and for this Mr.
Douglas steered, while the men toiled at the pumps with a
vigour that sent the water gushing in great streams through
the scuppers. Rae, filled with fears that prevented his
keeping still, oscillated between the engine-room, where
there was apprehension lest the water should rise sufficiently
to put out the furnaces, and the deck, where those who
were not at the pumps hung over the bulwarks anxiously
noting the steamer's progress shoreward.
Although the Beaver was really doing her best, it seemed
(478) 3 36
IN PERILS OF  WATERS.
to the anxious men as though she were only crawling through
the water, and more than once Mr. Douglas called down to
the engineer,—
" Can't you give her more steam, Mackenzie ? she seems
to be going very slow."
Only to be answered,—
"I  daren't  give her another pound, sir.     The  boiler
wouldn't stand it."
Thoroughly alive to their danger, Rae kept close by Mr.
Douglas. In the absence of his father he looked to him for
protection. Nor did he do so in vain. As he returned to
the wheel after one of his visits to the engine-room, the chief
factor laid his hand kindly on the boy's shoulder, and looking
into his face said in a cheering tone,—
" Don't be too much frightened, Rae. If the worst comes,
I'll look after you, and get you safe ashore somehow. But
I think we'll make it all right."
In spite of the incessant toil at the pumps, which, to tell
the truth, were far from being as efficient as they ought to
have been, the water gained steadily in the hold until a rise
of only eighteen inches more would bring it up to the
furnace fires, and once these were quenched there would be
no hope of saving the steamer from foundering.
In the meantime Nootka Sound was opening out, and
the increasing nearness of its entrance sustained the courage
of the Beaver's passengers. Mr. Douglas had never explored
it before, although he had gone past it several times, nor
was any one else on board competent to act as pilot. But
he had entire faith in himself, and trusted to his acquaintance IN PERILS OF WATERS.
37
with other parts of the coast to guide him now. His hope
was to find within the sound some sheltered cove with a
sandy beach upon which the steamer could be safely run
until the leak could be repaired.
On pressed the little steamer, panting as though the
peril of the situation was fully realized. Steadily the water
gained in the hold, in spite of the most strenuous efforts of
the men at the pumps, and the vessel sank lower in the
waves. Mr. Douglas stood at the wheel, his face set and
anxious, not a word passing his lips save an occasional word
for the engineer which Rae hastened to carry to the engine-
room. The other men were busy getting ready the boats
for launching, ana putting in provisions to last for a week.
For the rest they would, if necessary, have to depend upon
their guns.
Three-quarters of the hour had passed when the steamer
reached the entrance to the sound. In fifteen minutes at
the most the steamer must be beached, or she would inevitably founder. Yet, keenly as he glanced to right and left,
Mr. Douglas could discover no place suited to his purpose.
There was no alternative but to keep on, hoping that when
the point on the right was rounded a sandy cove would
reveal itself.
Now Rae, finding the strain of anxiety hard to bear, had
betaken himself to his favourite post high up the mast, and
thence, not less intently than Mr. Douglas was doing below
him, scanned the shore for the safe harbour so urgently
needed.
In this way he had the good fortune to be the first to 38
IN PERILS OF  WATERS.
espy what was sought, and when the Beaver turned the
point at the entrance to the Tinpananing Canal, as the long
narrow inlets of the sea are called on Vancouver Island, his
voice was heard shouting eagerly,—
" There's the place!    See, there ! there !"
Every eye was turned in the direction indicated, and,
sure enough, just around the corner as it were, a beautiful
little bay came into view that fulfilled every object sought.
It was perfectly sheltered from the prevailing winds, its
waters were consequently smooth and clear, and at its
farthest curve was a white sandy beach shining in the sun.
I Thank God!" exclaimed Mr. Douglas devoutly, while a
cheer went up from the steamer's crew. Keeping her head
straight for the beach, he gave orders for the engines to be
slowed, and in a few minutes more, with so gentle a shock
as to be hardly perceptible, the Beaver slid up on her soft
bed, and all danger of foundering was over.
" Stand by to lower the boat! J called the chief factor,
looking immensely relieved as he let go the wheel, and
hastened forward just as Rae dropped upon the deck from
the rigging.
" Good for you, my boy ! § he exclaimed, catching Rae by
the shoulders, and lifting him clear off his feet; " your eyes
will make your fortune yet. This is just the sort of place I
wanted. Come along with me in the boat, and we'll see if
we can find out what's the matter."
A careful examination both outside and inside the
steamer's bow revealed the fact that the blow of the maddened
whale had been sufficient, not to actually stave in any of IN PERILS OF  WATERS.
39
the timbers, but to strain them apart in such a way as to
cause the leak which had been so threatening. The damage
done was happily not beyond the skill of the carpenter to
repair, and a couple of days' work at the most would suffice
for the job.
Immense was the relief of all on this being made known,
and as sundown was not far off, the crew at once set about
making the vessel secure in her position. Anchors were
accordingly set out astern, and the cables hauled taut, so
that in event of the wind changing there would be no chance
of the stern swinging round; and then, there being nothing
further to do for the present, the evening meal next claimed
attention.
The following morning, after a further inspection of the
leak, and the giving of full directions to the carpenter, Mr.
Douglas announced that he would make a visit ashore and
see what the country was like. A party of six was quickly
made up, comprising, besides himself, the engineer, the mate,
a couple of the seamen, and Rae.
There was at first some doubt about Rae being taken;
but although he said nothing, he looked so imploringly that
the chief factor had not the heart to refuse him.
" Very well then, come along," he said good-humouredly,
in answer to the boy's unspoken petition. " But be sure and
keep close to me, and don't attempt to do any exploring on
vour own account."
"I'll promise, sir, with all my heart," shouted Rae,
rushing off to get his rifle and ammunition.
The woods clothed the country right down to the shore, 4Q
IN PERILS OF  WATERS.
so, instead of landing beside the steamer, Mr. Douglas had
the boat take them some distance up the inlet to a spot
where the forest was not so dense, and then he sent it back
to the steamer with directions to return an hour before
sunset.
Before entering the woods the chief factor reviewed
his little company to make sure that every gun was loaded,
that every one had his hatchet and hunting-knife at belt,
and that both he and the engineer had their pocket compasses to guide them in case of getting astray in the forest.
" Come now," said he, having satisfied himself on these
points, "let us be off. I'll take the lead, and you, Ross,"
pointing to the mate, "bring up the rear. Rae, you follow me."
Thus they set off in Indian file through an opening in
the forest that promised an easy way into the interior.
Imposing as the trees had appeared when seen en masse
from the deck of the Beaver, they proved on close acquaintance to be for the most part mere crooked stunted scrubs
full of knotty excrescences. They were principally firs, with
here and there a cedar or a cypress, although wherever there
was any open prairie land oaks showed themselves in fair
proportion, while in the low lands the white maple grew
abundantly.
Near the shore the country was rough and rocky, and
the walking difficult, so that, not only for Rae's sake, but
for his own, Mr. Douglas made frequent halts. Signs of
bird life abounded. Coveys of grouse and partridge, startled
at the approach of the white intruders, went whirring away
5BSS      ^ss^^^^n^rosKssffSsv^ IN PERILS OF  WATERS.
41
before them, while woodpeckers and bullfinches seemed
plentiful.
No attempt was made to bag any of them, however, as
they were not yet worth the ammunition; and, moreover, Mr.
Douglas wanted to make as little noise as possible in order
that the attention of the natives might not be attracted, for
the Nootka Indians had borne an evil reputation ever since
the days of the early Spanish explorers.
" With our six rifles we are more than a match for any
party of Indians we are at all likely to encounter," said he;
" nevertheless I'd prefer that we saw nothing of them, and
they nothing of us. It's their country, not themselves, that
I'm anxious to become acquainted with. The company
might want to put up a fort here some day."
In this desire, however, he was fated to disappointment,
for the party had not advanced more than a mile inland
before it became evident that their movements were being
watched by a band of Indians, the size of which it was
impossible to judge since their presence was made known
only by an occasional glimpse of them as they slipped silently
through the trees to right and left.
" They're all around us," said Mr. Douglas in a low tone.
" Look to your rifles, my men." CHAPTER III.
ON   LAND   AND   SEA.
THE action of their leader more than his words caused
the little party to quickly close up ranks until all its
members were in touch of each other. Then, with their
forefingers upon the triggers of their guns, they moved
steadily forward, keeping as sharp a look-out as possible.
An ambuscade so far from reinforcements might prove
a serious matter; and, anyway, it was Mr. Douglas's desire
to establish a friendly footing with the natives, and he was
determined to avoid to the last anything approaching a
collision.
The thick of the forest was not just the place in which
to open negotiations with the people whose ancestral domain
was being invaded; and the chief factor, therefore, pushed
on in the hope of coming to an open glade or bit of meadow
land, where he might hold audience with them if they could
be persuaded to show themselves.
For some time the Nootkas made no further demonstration than an occasional hoot, which was evidently a signal
from those on one side of the white men to those on the
other.    But presently, as if taking courage from the latter's ON LAND AND SEA.
43
silence, they began to let fly arrows, some of which whistled
threateningly near.
" Keep cool now, men," commanded Mr. Douglas. " Don't
fire until I give the order."
" Very good, sir," was the prompt response.
Now Rae had not the slightest idea of disobeying the
chief factor, but, as luck would have it, a minute or two
later his foot caught in a hidden tree-root, and in the attempt
to save himself from pitching forward he dropped his rifle,
which was set off by the fall.
Seeing the tension of nerves they were under it was no
wonder that the unexpected report made them all, including
Rae, jump as if they had been shot; and Mr. Douglas,
wheeling about, demanded sharply,—
" Who fired that shot ?    What's the meaning of it ?"
Rae, having just picked up both himself and his rifle,
turned an appealing face up to the irate leader.
" It was my gun, sir," he murmured; " but indeed I
couldn't help it. I tripped over a root, and it fell out of
my hand."
On seeing how matters stood Mr. Douglas's indignation
moderated.
" You must be more careful, my boy," said he. " That
shot may have done us a good deaL of harm."
Immediately following the report there had been a lively
rustling among the trees, which sounded like men rushing
frantically through them in a state of panic. The engineer
noticed it, and so did the mate.
" I think it did us more good than harm, sir," said the 44
ON LAND AND SEA.
latter," for it scared the Indians out of their wits, if I'm not
much mistaken."
Mr. Douglas looked keenly about him, while something
closely approaching a smile played over his firm mouth.
"The Nootkas have not had much experience of firearms," said he, " and they no doubt thought Rae was aiming
at them. I hope, however, they're not frightened away
altogether, for I want to have a talk with them if they'll
give me the chance. Let us push on; I think I see an
opening ahead."
Continuing their march a hundred yards further, they
came to the break in the forest of which Mr. Douglas's well-
trained eye had caught a glimpse, and then a halt was
called, and they gathered in a group in the centre of a lovely
glade that seemed just meant for a meeting-place.
They all knew perfectly well that the woods around
them hid scores of dusky forms, and that every movement
was watched by flashing eyes full of hostile intent; but they
maintained as calm a front as though they were merely out
hunting, and had stopped for a brief rest.
Rae, already beginning to feel weary from the tramp,
threw himself down in the deep grass, and watched with
intense interest Mr. Douglas's efforts to get the Indians to
show themselves.
Leaving aside his rifle and hunting-knife, and picking up
a wisp of grass in lieu of a flag of truce, the chief factor
advanced about half-way between his party and the edge
of the forest, calling out in a dialect that he hoped would be
at least partly intelligible: "We are friends; we mean no
s^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ON LAND AND SEA.
45
harm; we want to give our red brothers presents—see!"
and he held up some gaudy brass trinkets that glittered in
the sunshine.
Whether his words were intelligible or not, his actions
were clear enough, and presently, as he stood there, his
whole attitude and expression bespeaking good-will, first
one, then a second, and a third Indian emerged cautiously
from the protection of the trees, holding tightly on to their
bows and arrows and clubs, as if afraid to be without them.
Noting their manifest trepidation, Mr. Douglas called
for Rae, and when he came up placed him in front of him,
ip".
saying,
I We've not come to fight, but to be friends. See, this
is my son.    He is no warrior.    He will speak peace to you."
Then handing Rae the trinkets, he bade him go forwards
and offer them to the Indians.
At the sight of the unarmed boy approaching them with
the glittering presents the Indians got more bold, and,
dropping their weapons, began to advance towards him,
moving at first in a hesitating way, but quickening their
pace as the desire for the proffered presents overcame their
apprehensions, until at length anxiety to be the first to
reach them banished all other feelings, and, each one determining not to be outstripped by the others, all three broke
into a run.
On they came with eager, outstretched hands, so close
together that had it been a foot-race the judges would
certainly have been obliged to declare a dead heat. Rae
valiantly stood his ground, and as not one of the runners 46
ON LAND AND SEA,
slackened his pace in the slightest, the result was a collision
that sent the boy rolling over on his back and scattered the
trinkets in all directions.
Paying no heed to the prostrate lad, the three Indians
bumped heads in a frantic scramble for the prizes they
sought, and Mr. Douglas, who had run up in some alarm
lest Rae had been injured, felt strongly tempted to administer a good kick apiece by way of teaching them better
manners.
He contented himself, however, with calling them clumsy
swine; and as Rae the next moment jumped up with a
broad smile on his face, evidently none the worse for his
upsetting, his anger vanished at once, and he burst out
laughing instead.
"Bless my heart, Rae," he exclaimed, "if that wasn't
one of the funniest things I ever saw. Why on earth didn't
you dodge those fellows when you saw them bearing down
on you like that ? |
11 thought they'd go to one side of me, sir," replied Rae.
11 never dreamed of their knocking me over." |
| You went down like a nine-pin, my lad.    Are you sure
you're not hurt ? |
I Not a bit, sir.    I just tumbled over on the grass as easy
as possible."
By this time the Indians had found all the trinkets
among them, and were absorbed in rapt admiration of the
trumpery things, which meant more to them than a new
diamond necklace to a duchess.
"Just look at them, Rae," said Mr. Douglas; "they're
§^^s§§^§^ ON LAND AND SEA.
47
nothing but children, are they ? But I must make the most
of this chance to have a talk with them."
By dint of a vigorous use of the sign code he was able
to eke out his scanty knowledge of the Nootka dialect, and
make himself tolerably well understood, with the result that
the Indians, seeming to be perfectly satisfied as to the good
intention of the visitors, promised to meet him at the seashore the following morning, and to bring with them a lot
of furs for barter.
They then disappeared in the depths of the forest, and,
feeling -very well pleased with what he had accomplished,
Mr. Douglas suggested that search should be made for water,
and after they had despatched their lunch they should
return to the place of meeting with the boat.
A spring of delicious water was found after but little
search, and in high good humour the party sat down to
discuss the contents of their knapsacks. The steamer's cook
had done his duty nobly, and there was enough and to spare
for all, hearty though their appetites were.
While the men were having a pipe after their meal, Rae,
feeling thoroughly rested and refreshed, strolled off on his
own account, for his was a very active and enterprising
spirit, and in spite of oft-repeated parental injunctions he
would take ventures that were certainly beyond his years.
He had his rifle in hand, and in his heart was the hope
of getting a shot at a fox or a squirrel just for the fun of the
thing. He was quite an accurate marksman already, and
felt fully equal to disposing of a bear should he happen to
meet one.    He was not anxious to do so, however, having 48
ON LAND AND SEA.
I
sufficient common-sense to realize that for the present he
might be content with the conviction that he was a match
for any ordinary Bruin without running the risk of having
the conviction readily disturbed.
The spring which had supplied water for lunch grew
into a little brook farther on, and Rae followed its course,
thus having a sure guide back to his friends. In one place
the brook ran close to the edge of the forest, and as Rae
sauntered along his quick ear caught the sound of a rustling
in the underbrush on the other side.
At once he dropped to the ground, and, with forefinger
on trigger, peered eagerly in the direction from which the
noise proceeded. For a moment there was perfect silence.
Then the rustling recommenced, and in greater volume.
Evidently some large animal was making its way to the
water, and would soon become visible.
Rae's heart almost stopped beating in the intensity of
his excitement. Here was a chance for him to distinguish
himself by bagging some big game while the men were
taking it easy. Not a hint for help would he give until he
had done his best alone. Another moment's suspense, and
then just across the narrow brook, and right in front of
him, the head of a great elk broke through the thicket.
As if scenting some danger, and yet not feeling sufficiently sure of its presence to dash away with his thirst
unquenched, the superb animal stood like a statue, only its
palpitating nostrils moving as it snuffed the air. This was
the time for Rae to fire, and he had just got his rifle to the
shoulder, and in another instant would have planted a bullet
ScKSSKSKttSSSSSwSsHw ON LAND AND SEA.
49
in the elk's broad breast, when its splendid brown eyes were
turned full upon him, and he thought he read in them so
moving an appeal for mercy that, yielding to an impulse of
tenderness, he dropped his rifle and sprang to his feet, exclaiming as if in reply to a spoken question,—
I No; I won't shoot you. It would be a cruel shame to
kill such a beauty as you are. So clear out before the men
see you."
The elk did not need to be told twice. With a snort of
sudden affright it wheeled about, and galloped off at a
frantic pace that soon carried it out of hearing.
Just at that moment Mr. Douglas came up with a look of
inquiry on his face.
"Well, Rae, what have you been doing? Whom were
you speaking to ?"
Looking the picture of confusion, Rae hung his head,
and hesitated to answer. He had a very sensitive spirit,
and shrank from ridicule, however good-natured. He felt
sure Mr. Douglas would laugh at him when he told what
had occurred.
"Come, my boy, speak out," urged the chief factor.
| There's nothing to be ashamed of, I trust."
"Oh no, sir," responded Rae; "but"—and the blush
deepened on his brown cheek—" I'm afraid you'll laugh at
me when I tell you." And then without more ado he proceeded to tell about his letting the elk go unharmed.
Instead of laughing at him, Mr. Douglas, when he had
finished, gave him a hearty clap on the back in token of
warm approval. 5°
ON LAND AND SEA.
I Indeed I won't laugh at you, Rae," said he, in his most
cordial tone. " You did the right thing, and I'm proud of
you for it. The elk wouldn't have been fit to eat if you
had killed it, and so its death would have done us no good.
We kill too many creatures just for the sake of killing
them."
Feeling immensely relieved at this unexpected commendation, Rae picked up his rifle again, and went back with
Mr. Douglas to the others, for it was now time to retrace
their steps in order to meet the boat at the appointed rendezvous.
They found the boat awaiting them, and made good
speed back to the steamer, where they were met with the
cheering news that the carpenter had ascertained the full
extent of the damage, and would have it all repaired by the
end of the following day.
The next morning Rae was up with the dawn, and out
on deck to see if there were any signs of the Indians. Sure
enough there they were, a whole tribe of them apparently,
squatted at the edge of the forest, waiting patiently for the
white men to give them their attention.
He waved his cap, and shouted a hearty good morning
to them ; upon which their chief stood up, and made signals
in reply that Rae construed to mean something like "The
top of the morning to you, my'boy." Whereupon Rae felt
strongly tempted to jump into the boat and paddle ashore,
so as to be the first to see what the Indians had brought
with them for barter.
But on second thoughts it seemed better for him to wait
^^^^^^ ON LAND AND SEA.
5i
until Mr. Douglas landed, which, of course, would not be
until after breakfast; so he called out, " I can't go in-shore
just now, but will in a little while," and then ran below to
see if the others were up yet.
He met Mr. Douglas just coming out of his cabin, and
told him the Indians had come.
" Good!': said the chief factor; " I'm very glad of it.
We'll go ashore as soon as we have had breakfast, and see
what we can do with them."
Rae was greatly pleased at Mr. Douglas saying " we " in
the way he did. It seemed to put him on the same plane
as himself, and, although it was little more than a chance
expression on the latter's part, it seemed to feed the boy's
sense of self-importance to an extent that Mr. Douglas
never contemplated. The liability to over-estimate himself
was the weak side of Rae's character, and it would take
some sharp experiences to teach him the wisdom he needed.
That these did not fail to come will duly appear.
Immediately after breakfast Mr. Douglas went ashore,
attended by as many men as could be spared from the work,
for he wanted to make a deep impression upon the Nootkas.
The Indians received him with considerable dignity, and
seemed to feel entirely at their ease, although their visitors
carried their rifles as a precaution against any attempt at a
surprise.
They were a tall and well-formed people, with countenances betokening a fair degree of intelligence in spite of the
extraordinary effect produced by the flattening of the head,
which is done in infancy while the skull is soft.   Their
(478) 4 52
ON LAND AND SEA.
hair, which was either black or dark brown, being never
cut, hung in long thick locks over the shoulders, and for
many of them was their sole head-gear in all weathers.
Their eyes were dark hazel, and their skin the tint of a dirty
copper kettle. Their features were for the most part those
which generally mark the North American Indians—namely,
long nose, high cheek-bones, and large, ugly mouth; but
owing to the flattening of the head already mentioned, their
foreheads were villanously low. Upon the whole, they
could scarcely be called prepossessing, although they were
not absolutely repulsive.
Rae, looking at them in a critical spirit not entirely free
from contempt, found himself feeling thankful that he had
not been created after that fashion; for, even though the
men were somewhat fine-looking, the women had very ugly
flat noses, and were extremely dirty, while the children ran
about as naked as the day they were born. Now in Rae
the love of beauty and the sense of decency were naturally
very keen, as they had been in his mother, and if a little
dulled by constant contact with what was shocking to both,
still they never became torpid as they were in many of those
around him ; consequently to the end of his days the natives
remained objects of repugnance to the extent that they were
either dirty or indecent.
Mr. Douglas, however, did not bother himself on these
points. His chief concern was whether they had furs in
plenty, and if this were satisfied, he was well content. In
the present case he had not much cause for satisfaction.
The Nootkas were better fishermen than trappers, and spent ON LAND AND SEA.
53
far more time in their canoes than in the forest. They had
some good skins nevertheless, and at the end of the day's
bartering he had acquired, at the cost of a lot of trumpery
trinkets, and a couple of dozen hatchets and hunting-knives,
with a few kettles thrown in, an assortment of furs worth
many scores of pounds in London.
There were some superb otter skins from both the land
and sea animal; several bear skins, both the black and
brown; a lot of wolf skins, black and white; and a large
number of minx and squirrel skins, the latter being hardly
of any value.
"It wouldn't pay to establish a post here," said Mr.
Douglas, reviewing the day's work. " These skins probably
form the pick of the tribe's stock, and there wouldn't be
another such lot for a year. I think I'll have the Beaver
call here every spring, though. I'll promise these fellows
some guns and powder the next time I come if they'll have
a good lot of skins ready. That'll make them take more
interest in trapping."
The natives showed great delight on hearing this. They
had seen muskets in the hands of some of the tribes to the
south with whom they were at war, which gave the others
a great advantage, and the prospect of being put on even
terms filled them with joy, so that they readily promised to
have plenty of skins ready against the Beaver's return.
Rae had among his possessions a pretty little mirror set
in brass that he valued a good deal; but seeing the barter
going on, the spirit of business took hold of him, and he got
out his treasure to see what he could do with it.    The 54
ON LAND AND SEA.
moment it was shown an eagerness to have it was manifested
by several of the Indians who had furs to give in exchange.
But Rae was in no hurry to strike a bargain. Holding the
mirror up so that it flashed in the sun, he walked slowly
around inviting bidders.
Some very good bear skins and a pile of minx skins
were offered him, but he shook his head until finally a
stalwart young brave, taking him to one side, carefully
unrolled a sea-otter skin the like of which Rae had never
seen before. It was a beauty indeed, full five feet long, and
in perfect condition, the fur being as smooth and even as
velvet.
Rae did not hesitate a minute. Handing over the mirror
he took up the skin, and made haste on board the Beaver
for fear the Indian might change his mind. When Mr.
Douglas saw his acquisition, and learned the cost of it, he
exclaimed,—
I Well, laddie, you've outdone us all. This skin is worth
three of any of the others we've got. It's fit for a prince.
You must take good care of it, and it will buy you something
fine in London when we send the furs over in the autumn."
"I know just what I want too, sir," said Rae, looking up
archly.
"And what may that be, my son?' asked the chief
factor.
" Why, a Manton rifle with silver all over the stock, like
the one that gentleman had who was at Fort Vancouver
last summer," answered Rae.
Mr. Douglas laid back his head and laughed heartily.
^^^ ON LAND AND SEA.
55
" Upon my word," he cried, 1 you are ambitious beyond
a doubt. Nothing else will satisfy you but as fine a rifle as
Governor Simpson's. Well, well, what are we coming to?
The younger generation must needs go far ahead of their
fathers. Look here now, Rae; wouldn't something more
modest suit you equally as well ?"
Quite taken aback by this outburst, which was entirely
unexpected, for, having cherished the notion in his heart
for a whole year, Rae had come to look upon it as something
quite natural and proper on his part, he had nothing to say
in his own defence, and the tears began to gather in his
eyes, he being very sensitive to ridicule.
Noticing this, Mr. Douglas checked a bantering remark
that was just upon his lips, and instead said in a soothing
tone,—
"Never mind, Rae; there's no harm in flying high, is
there ? If you can't get just what you want in this world,
it's at least some compensation that you tried for it; and you
certainly aren't likely to fail for lack of trying."
This turn to the subject materially relieved Rae's feelings,
and it was not long before he was whistling merrily as he
watched the crew getting ready to float the steamer off her
sandy bed into deep water again; for the leak had been
successfully mended, and the little Beaver was ready to
resume her voyage northward.
The getting off proved a matter of some difficulty. Both
anchors were carried out as far astern as possible, and while
all on board except the engineer and his assistant heaved
on the cables lustily, the engines were working full speed 56
ON LAND AND SEA.
astern. For some minutes their joint efforts were of no
avail. The steamer remained fast, and concern lest she
should prove a fixture began to be felt.
But Mr. Douglas did not share it. Ordering a rest to be
taken, he spoke words of encouragement; and then calling
upon the men to put forth their mightiest efforts, he himself
lending his own enormous strength, there was a long pull,
and a pull all together, with the result that, amid a burst of
cheers, the Beaver slid slowly but steadily from off the sandbank into deep water, while Rae clapped his hands and
danced a jig of joy on the poop.
They did not attempt to leave Nootka Sound until the
following morning; and then, with every prospect pleasing,
and all the signs promising, the steamer headed northward
for Fort Simpson. The voyage thither was marked by no
special incident, yet was full of enjoyment to Rae. The
weather being favourable all the way, he spent his time on
deck or in the cross-trees, keeping a keen look-out for anything noteworthy.
He was always hoping to sight another whale; but although he saw plenty of seals and porpoises, no whales came
into view. Even if they had, it was not likely that Mr.
Douglas would have sanctioned another hunt, if for no other
reason than that too much time had been already lost, and
no further delay could be risked.
The Beaver made only a short stay at Fort Simpson, and
Rae had no time for a run ashore, which he rather regretted,
as he had by that time been at sea long enough to hanker
for a touch of the solid earth.   But for this he had to wait ON LAND AND SEA.
57
until, having turned south once more, the steamer dropped
down to Fort M'Laughlin on Milbank Sound.
As this fort was to be abandoned in favour of the new
establishment at Camosun Bay, a stay of some days was
necessary while the garrison with their belongings, and the
stoves and stock of furs, were being got on board. Rae not
being required to help was free to do what he pleased, and
having in the course of the first day struck up an acquaintance with a bright young half-breed several years his senior
who could speak English fluently, he was persuaded by him
to venture on an expedition for which he omitted to ask Mr.
Douglas's permission, and which came very near having
serious consequences for himself. CHAPTER IV.
IN DOUBTFUL COMPANY.
1 r
AE'S new companion bore the unusual name of
| Saucy Alec," for which he was indebted to his pert
way of speaking. This habit had brought him into deep
disfavour with his seniors and superiors. Indeed, but for
his being the son of one of the most useful men at the fort,
and having himself a more than ordinary share of skill as
a hunter and fisherman, he would not have been allowed
about Fort M'Laughlin at all. As it was, his presence was
simply tolerated by the factor; and he lived a kind of outcast life that caused him to hail with delight the advent of
a visitor who, knowing nothing of his dubious reputation,
might be won over to companionship for a time at least.
Mr. Douglas being very much engrossed in the task of
transferring on board the Beaver all that was worth taking
away, had no time for Rae, and, having cautioned him to
keep out of mischief, and not go far from the fort, left him
to his own resources. For the first few hours the boy
wandered about wondering what he should do with himself, and feeling much like a butterfly among a lot of busy
bees.    To him came Saucy Alec, smiling his sweetest, and
a*j IN DOUBTFUL   COMPANY.
59
holding out a branch of the Indian pear-tree well laden
with the reddish-black luscious fruit which the natives
prize so highly.
" Are these for me ?" asked Rae, his mouth watering at
the sight of the berries, for they were the first he had seen
that year.
I Yes, if you like them," responded the half-breed.
| Oh, I do like them! t cried Rae. " I think they're the
best berries on the coast; don't you ?': and taking the
branch, he picked half-a-dozen of the tiny pears, and
crammed them into his mouth.
Well pleased at the favour with which his offering was
received, Alec stood smiling, while Rae gave himself up to
the enjoyment of this unexpected treat too fully to resume
the conversation until the branch was stripped bare. Then
holding it in his hand, and regretting it did not have twice
as many berries upon it, he smacked his lips and said,—
" I'm very much obliged to you; and—what's your name?"
The half-breed's face clouded over a little as he answered,—
" They all call me Saucy Alec; but it isn't fair. I'm no
worse than the others, though they do say I am. They
treat me very badly, they do."
Now there is no chord in a boy's heart so readily touched
as that of sympathy with those who complain of not getting
fair play. The instinct of championship is at once aroused,
and a side is taken without the faintest thought of looking
into the real facts to ascertain just who is in the wrong.
Rae had never before seen the boy who now sought his
friendship;  but he impulsively assumed that he was a 6o
IN DOUBTFUL  COMPANY.
much-injured individual, and was ready not only to take
the truth of his story for granted, but to listen to anything
he might suggest.
o oo
" Well, I won't call you Saucy Alec, any way," said he,
his countenance beaming with good-fellowship. " I like you
too much already to call you such a name; I'll just call you
Alec—that will be all right, won't it ?' And as the other
nodded assent, he added, " My name is Rae—Rae Finlayson.
My father is to be factor of the new fort at Camosun
Bay; and I'm here with Mr. Douglas, who is the chief factor
of the company, you know."
The half-breed's eye opened at this. He had not imagined
the new-comer was a person of such importance, and this
increased his anxiety to establish a good footing with him.
He was silent for a few moments as he racked his brain
trying to think of something that would prove of special
interest to Rae. Then his face lit up, and he asked
eagerly,—
" Wouldn't you like to see my otter ? "
Rae's eyes danced at the question.
" Oh, yes!" he exclaimed. " Where is it ? Can you show
it to me right away ? "
Alec nodded expressively, and then, drawing near to Rae,
said in a meaning whisper,—
" But you mustn't let anybody know; it's my secret."
The fact of its existence being a secret of course served
to intensify Rae's curiosity, and he asked,—
" Is it near here ?   When will you take me to see it ?"
" This afternoon," responded Alec.   " You see that point IN DOUBTFUL  COMPANY.
61
over there ?" indicating with his finger a rocky projection
on the shore about two hundred yards from where they
stood. " You meet me there as soon as you get your dinner.
My canoe is hidden there. And say," he added, " have you
got a gun of your own ?"
" Of course," answered Rae; " a fine little rifle."
" Good!" said Alec; " bring it with you. You may get
a shot at something."
Arrangements being thus perfected, the boys parted to
meet an hour later at the appointed rendezvous, Rae promising to keep the matter a secret.
On his way back to the Beaver, the first flush of excitement at meeting with Saucy Alec having passed off, Rae
began to feel some twinges of conscience because of this
promise. In the bottom of his heart he knew that he
ought to ask permission of Mr. Douglas, whose charge he
was, but—and here came the rub—he knew equally well
that this permission would not be granted, and that he
would be bidden to stay by the steamer.
Accordingly he had quite an argument with himself,
which was not decided either way when the call came to
dinner. As it chanced, Mr. Douglas was not in the cabin,
nor did he appear until Rae had about finished, and then he
seemed in such a hurry and so much preoccupied that the
boy had no opportunity to address him, which made it
easier for him to decide in favour of keeping silence, even
although he was not altogether happy at the decision.
When dinner was over the men all returned to their
work; and the coast thus being clear, no one questioned 62
IN DOUBTFUL  COMPANY.
Rae when, taking his rifle, he set off for the place where he
would meet the half-breed.
Alec was there awaiting him, and his tawny face lit up
at his approach.
" You've kept your word," said he, smiling until he
showed a double row of teeth white and gleaming. " I
was afraid perhaps you couldn't come; and you've brought
your gun.    Let me see it, won't you ?"
. Rae proudly handed him the rifle, and as his hand closed
upon it there came into his countenance a look of wild
desire that would have led a more observant person than
Rae to be somewhat concerned as to its safety. But Rae
had no suspicions. In the company of the half-breed he
had also forgotten all his compunctions, and was resolved
to enjoy himself to the best of his ability.
" Where is your canoe ?': he asked by way of a hint, for
Alec seemed disposed to spend a good deal of time over the
rifle, fondling it much as a young girl might a new doll.
" Oh, just near here!" was the reply, uttered in a tone
of indifference. Then, recollecting himself, Alec added more
politely, " I hide it in a sort of cave, so that the other boys
won't meddle with it."
" Come along, then, and let us get it," said Rae, who was
impatient to be on the way to the otter.
With an expressive sigh, Alec handed back the rifle, and
started off around the point, leaving Rae to follow as he
might.
A cleft in the rock that Rae would have passed without
noticing proved, on closer inspection, to be the opening into IN DOUBTFUL  COMPANY,
63
the cave in which Alec kept his canoe. This was a small
but very stanch craft, cleverly fashioned out of a single
log of white cedar, the gunwales inclining outwards so as to
throw off the waves, and the bow and stern richly decorated
with grotesque figures of men and animals.
How such a boy as Saucy Alec came into possession of so
fine a canoe was a question that he might have found it
troublesome to answer, but Rae never thought of asking it.
His mind was wholly occupied with the novelty of the
situation and the prospect of having some kind of an
adventure before the day ended.
" Where are we going ? | he inquired when they had
taken their places in the canoe and begun paddling.
I Over to that island," answered Alec, pointing in a
north-westerly direction to an island that rose above the
waters of Milbank Sound, about two miles distant.
£ What, so far as that ? | exclaimed Rae in a tone of
dismay.    1 Why, that's such a long way off."
An ugly look showed itself on the half-breed's face.
I You're not afraid to go, are you ? J he said sneeringly.
" No, I'm not afraid," he returned; " and I don't want
you to hint that I am. But it's a long way to go in this
little canoe, all the same."
The fact of the matter w&s, Rae did not at all fear going
out in the canoe, but he did fear being so late getting back
that Mr. Douglas would want to know where. he had been,
and then the whole story would have to come out.
Realizing from the tone of Rae's reply that he had gone
too far, the half-breed sought to make answer by saying,— 64
IN DOUBTFUL  COMPANY.
1 Oh, the canoe can stand anything, and you paddle so
well we'll get along very fast."
This ingenious bit of flattery was well aimed; and his
good-humour being thereby thoroughly restored, Rae plied
his paddle vigorously without further question.
The canoe rode the waves like a sea-gull, and propelled
by the two paddles, glided onward at a rate of speed that
brought it to its destination within an hour from the time
of setting out.
The island was a wild, desolate-looking place, with a rocky
shore and a scrubby twisted crown of trees. No human
being, red or white, ever made his home there. Indeed, few
others than the half-breed had visited it at any time, and this
was the very reason he had chosen it for the purpose of keeping in secrecy one of the strangest pets that ever a boy had.
The moment he set foot on shore, Rae asked,—
1 Where's your otter ? Let me see him right off, won't
you ?"
Again a frown came over Alec's face. His companion's
impatience irritated him. This was the first time he had
revealed the existence of his pet, and he naturally wanted
to make the most of it, whereas Rae sought to rush the
business through in a way that would deprive it of much of
its importance.
"Don't be in such a hurry," he replied rather gruffly.
| I'll show him to you in a minute."
Feeling the rebuff, Rae said nothing more, but turned to
look back towards the fort, and as he did there came over
him a feeling of uneasiness that was due to his suddenly IN DOUBTFUL  COMPANY.
65
realizing what a distance separated him from his friends,
and how completely he was in the hands of a young half-
breed, of whom he knew nothing save what the lad had
himself told him.
Immediately he wished himself back at the fort, and
regretted that he had ever come away. Saucy Alec was a
strange sort of a chap, and not at all a comfortable companion. He would certainly do his best to get back as
quickly as possible.
Wliile these thoughts were passing through his mind the
half-breed had drawn the canoe up on the beach, and then,
picking up Rae's rifle quite as if it had been his own, said
pleasantly enough,—
I Come along, now; I'll show you my otter."
His curiosity reasserting itself, Rae dismissed his apprehensions and followed Alec up the rocky beach, and into the
mass of trees which covered the upper part of the island.
He wondered as he walked up if Alec kept his pet among the
trees, for that would be an odd place for a sea-otter; but he
did not like to say so after the manner in which his first
questions had been received. Plunging into the thick
growth, Alec pursued a tortuous course, turning this way
and that way for no apparent reason; the real truth, however, being that his purpose was to so confuse his companion
that he could not possibly again find the way unassisted.
In this he was so completely successful, that when, at the
end of ten minutes, he came out on the beach not two hundred yards from where they had landed, Rae felt quite sure
they were not less than a mile distant. n
W*
66
IN DOUBTFUL  COMPANY.
I Where on earth are we now ? | he asked, looking
blankly about him.
I Still on the island," answered Alec with a sardonic
grin.
"You needn't tell me that," responded Rae petulantly.
11 mean, how far from where we left the canoe."
I Oh, never mind about that," said Alec. " Come, I'll
show you the otter." So saying he pulled aside some bushes
which masked the mouth of a cave, and pointing to the
narrow entrance, said,—
I Creep in there.    I'll come right after you."
Rae did as directed, and found himself in a good-sized
cave, well lit through a fissure in its roof, and having at the
bottom a shining pool of sea-water, into which there had
evidently just sprung an animal of some kind. It was a
very romantic place, fit for the secret bower of a mermaid,
and there came to Rae a feeling of exultation at being
admitted to its recesses.
While he stood just inside the entrance watching the
pool, the half-breed, who certainly had not followed as
promptly as he promised, pulled himself in, and at once
asked,—
I What do you think of my cave ?"
II think it's just splendid," replied Rae; " but," looking
all around, " where's the otter ?    I don't see it about."
I Then you don't know how to use your eyes," said Alec,
whose manners certainly had much need of mending.
As he spoke he climbed down to the edge of the pool,
and gave a curious kind of cry resembling that of a sea-bird. IN DOUBTFUL  COMPANY.
67
At once the still surface of the water was broken into
ripples, in the midst of which appeared the head of the
otter as the creature made its way to him from the other
side of the pool.
" Don't move a step," called out Alec, noticing that Rae
was about to approach him. " Kahlan can't bear strangers.
You'll frighten him."
Rae, who felt for the time completely in subjection to
his companion, at once became motionless, and then had the
pleasure of seeing what no white boy had ever seen before
—a full-grown sea-otter in captivity, and at least partially
tamed.
The animal swam up close to where the half-breed stood,
and, the latter retreating a few steps and holding out a
big sea-urchin, in its eagerness to get the echinoderm it left
the water altogether, thus giving Rae the opportunity of
getting a perfect view of it.
It was a splendid specimen of its kind, the fur being in
fine condition, and of a most lustrous softness, and ebony shimmering, and from the blunt, bewhiskered nose to the root of
the short, stumpy tail the creature measured full four feet.
Now, young as he was, Rae had heard enough about the
sea-otter, the most precious prize in the whole field of fur-
hunting, to fully appreciate what he now said; and as the
creature pounced eagerly upon the sea-urchin, and crunched
it between his strong, flat molars, he exclaimed, with a sigh
of admiration,—
" My, what a beauty! I wish he was mine. How did
you catch him ?"
(478) 5 68
IN DOUBTFUL  COMPANY.
Evidently well satisfied at the enthusiasm of his companion, Alec explained that one day he had chanced to espy
this otter darting into the cave through an opening on the
beach. At once he had set to work to block up the opening
with boulders, and had then succeeded in making the animal
a prisoner. This was in the early spring, and ever since he
had been visiting it regularly, and keeping it supplied with
clams, crabs, mussels, and sea-urchins, so that it had grown
sleek in confinement. His idea was to keep it until the
autumn, and then kill it, and sell its skin to the Hudson
Bay Company.
" Oh, but must you kill it ?" Rae exclaimed ; and then
remembering the otter-skin he had on board the steamer,
he added, " But, of course, you must; that's the only way
you can get anything for it."
Alec nodded by way of reply. He had been in a kind
of brown study for a moment or two, from which he suddenly awoke with the question,—
" Look here, Rae, will you give me your rifle for the
otter ?"
Rae started, and the colour came into his face. The
half-breed looked so eager, and had already acted so
strangely, that he shrank from saying "no." Yet he had
no idea of assenting He already possessed one otter skin,
and if he let his rifle go it might be months before it could
be replaced. There certainly was not another like it to be
had north of San Francisco.
" That wouldn't be a fair exchange," he began diplomatically.   " Your otter is worth half-a-dozen rifles like mine." IN DOUBTFUL  COMPANY.
69
" Never you mind that," returned Alec, a hard look
coming into his face that increased Rae's uneasiness. " I
want the rifle: and if I'm willing to give more than its
worth, that's my business and not yours."
" Well, I'm sorry I can't oblige you," said Rae, hesitatingly ; " but, really, I mustn't swop my rifle for anything.
My father gave it to me as a present on my last birthday,
and he would be very cross with me if I were to part
with it.".
While he was speaking the half-breed's face had been
growing darker and more determined. Rae's opposition
only increased instead of diminishing his resolution to have
his own way, and he took on so forbidding an expression
that Rae moved towards the cave's mouth, wishing to the
bottom of his heart that he was on the other side of the
narrow opening.
Alec's keen eyes observed the movement, and with a
bound he sprang up between Rae and the exit.
" No, you don't," he snapped through his clenched teeth.
" You're not going to get away from here until you do what
I want."
Thoroughly alarmed, he threw up his right arm as
though to ward off a blow.
" Oh, you needn't be so frightened," sneered Alec. " I'm
not going to strike you, but I am going to have your gun."
" But I don't want your otter," pleaded Rae, his voice
sinking into a sob as he saw how completely he was at the
half-breed's mercy.
" I don't care anything about that.    You needn't take 7o
IN DOUBTFUL  COMPANY.
him if you don't want him," broke in Alec roughly—" and
now that I come to think of it, I won't let you have it
anyway; but I'll take your rifle, all the same."
Rae leaned back against the wall of the cave, while a
sense of helplessness came over him so strongly that only
by the utmost effort could he restrain the tears that filled
his eyes. He could not bring himself to surrender his beloved rifle. I If Alec took it he would have to do it by force,
not with his consent.
The half-breed evidently realized this, for, as if weary of
the argument, and determined to put an end to it, he gave
Rae a look that was little short of murderous in its menace.
1 Stay here now until I give you the word to come out.
If you dare to move I'll stick this into you," he declared,
drawing from his belt a long, keen hunting-knife. Then,
with a sudden spring, he dived through the mouth of the
cave, leaving Rae white, and trembling with apprehension.
I Stay where you are!" he shouted again as, snatching
up the rifle, he plunged into thick undergrowth, and vanished.
For some minutes after he had disappeared Rae remained inside the cave. Then, taking courage from the
silence without, he cautiously climbed into the open air, and
looked anxiously around him. There was no trace of the
half-breed, and, owing to the ingeniously twisted and doubled
way in which he had led Rae to the cave, the latter was
entirely at a loss as to his present position.
He could see nothing of the fort. He must therefore be
on the other side of the island from that where they had " With a sudden spring lie dived through the mouth of the cave."
Page 70. NWWKWW IN DOUBTFUL   COMPANY.
73
landed, and the first thing for him to do was undoubtedly
to make his way with as little loss of time as possible to
the canoe. Unhappily, in his bewilderment, when setting
out to do this he turned to the right instead of to the left
as he should have done, and the consequence was that he
had to make the circuit of the greater part of the island.
He dared not trust himself to find a path through the trees
without Alec's aid, so he stuck close to the shore, and this
being made up of slippery boulders, prevented his moving
anything like speedily.
" Oh dear!'; he groaned as he toiled over his difficult
and in places dangerous road. " I do wish I hadn't come
here with that wild fellow. There's no knowing what he'll
do for the sake of getting my rifle. He may go off in the
canoe and leave me here alone."
This last thought was so appalling that Rae stopped to
gather strength to bear up against it. What would he do
if he were really deserted by the half-breed on the lonely
island ? What indeed could he do ? His rifle having been
taken, his only weapon was the hunting-knife which hung
in his belt. He had seen no wild animals, yet there might
be a panther lurking in the depths of the wood, or a pack
of wolves only waiting for the darkness to spring upon him.
Terrified as never before in his life, Rae resumed his
toilsome march, more than once getting a nasty fall as he
sprang from boulder to boulder, and narrowly escaping a
sprained ankle. At last, weary and breathless, he reached
the end of the island nearest the fort. One glance in that
direction was sufficient to tell the story.    Already a full 74
IN DOUBTFUL  COMPANY.
half mile from shore, and dancing swiftly over the waves at
the bidding of Alec's vigorous paddle, was the canoe, every
moment increasing the distance that separated it from him.
The half-breed had fulfilled his sinister threat in the
way Rae most dreaded, and the poor boy was alone on the
island, with the evening shadows already beginning to
darken about him. CHAPTER V.
BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN.
T would be very unjust to Rae to deem him unmanly
because, when he fully realized his situation, he sat
down upon a boulder and burst into tears. Looked at in
any possible light, his position was an extremely trying one.
Even though he and the otter were the only living creatures
on the island, so that he had nothing to fear in the way of
attack, he was utterly without food and shelter for the
night, while there was no certainty of relief on the morrow.
Search would, of course, be made for him by Mr. Douglas
as soon as he was missed; but who would put the searchers
on the right track ? His setting forth with the half-breed
had perhaps been observed by no one, and I Saucy Alec §
would assuredly take good care not to let it be known, if
indeed he showed himself in the vicinity of the fort again
until the steamer had gone.
While these thoughts were chasing one another through
the boy's distracted brain, the darkness was coming on
apace, and presently its soft folds silently enveloped him as,
having dried his unavailing tears, he peered eagerly in the 76
BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN
direction of the fort in the faint hope that even yet succour
might come to him.
The top of the hard boulder made a poor couch upon
which to spend the night, so he cautiously crept up into the
fringe of the trees then throwing himself down with his
back against a smooth trunk, and his face toward the fort,
prepared to pass the long hours of darkness as best he might.
Meanwhile what were they doing on board the Beaver I
When supper time came without bringing Rae, who was
usually so prompt at meals, his appetite having an unfailing
vigour, Mr. Douglas naturally began to ask as to his whereabouts. Getting no satisfaction from those around him, he
promptly despatched a couple of the men to the fort to
make inquiry there.
They fulfilled their commission faithfully enough, but
they returned without any definite information; whereupon
Mr. Douglas, becoming quite concerned, set off himself, determined to sift the matter to the bottom. His persistent
inquiries at first, however, met with no better result, and he
was about to return to the steamer in considerable anxiety
of mind, when an old woman came up to him and said, in a
hesitating way,—
" May you be looking for the white boy, sir ?"
" That's just what I'm doing," responded Mr. Douglas.
" Do you know anything about him ?"
" I'm thinking I saw him go off in a canoe with Saucy
Alec," said the old woman with a look that implied more
than Mr. Douglas understood, and caused him to ask in his
most imperious way,— BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN.
77
" And who is Saucy Alec, pray ? I never heard of the
gentleman before."
There were many answers vouchsafed to this question
by those standing around, from which Mr. Douglas gathered
that Rae's choice of a companion had not shown much discretion, and that it would be well for him to inquire very
closely into what had become of the two lads.
It was too late to accomplish anything beyond inquiry
that night, but by dint of persistent questioning Mr.
Douglas did elicit the facts that Rae and the half-breed
had been seen in a canoe paddling up the sound, and had
not been known to return.
Mr. Douglas accordingly went back to the steamer, determined to institute a thorough search for the missing boy
the first thing in the morning, and, when he found him, as
he felt perfectly confident he would do, to give him such a
lecture as would teach him to take better care of himself
for the future.
And now to return to Rae, compelled to pass a lonely
vigil on the desolate island, which, for aught he knew,
might number among its denizens a hungry panther, or
perchance a fierce catamount.
"Oh, if I were only back on board the Beaver!" he
cried as he gazed longingly seawards, j What a fool I was
to trust that rascal of a half-breed ! It just serves me right,
it does. I had no business to go off without asking Mr.
Douglas's leave." At this he paused for a moment, and then
went on, " If I had asked him he wouldn't have let me go 78
BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN.
—that's certain! and so I wouldn't have got into this trouble.
Oh dear! If I ever get safe back I'll never, never do it again."
Poor Rae! he was receiving a sharp lesson on the truth
that good resolutions are of little use in mending matters
after the harm has been done. The time they are of service
is before the temptation has carried the day.
In his desperate loneliness the boy's thoughts now
turned heavenwards. He was wont to say his prayers with
tolerable regularity, the good habit having been begun before his mother's death, and continued in obedience to his
father's wishes. But it was in a very mechanical way,
being little more than the repetition of a number of phrases
learned by rote, and murmured over without much attention
to meaning.
Never before had Rae really felt the need of prayer; but
it came upon him now, and falling on his knees at the foot
of the tree he prayed for protection and deliverance with all
his heart.
He was easier in his mind after this, and in a little while
managed to fall asleep, the night air being free from chill.
He had been asleep some hours when suddenly an ear-
piercing cry rang through the shadowy stillness, and caused
him to spring to his feet trembling with terror. Were his
worst fears well founded? Did panthers have their lair
upon the island ? and had they discovered his presence ?
In his first fright he made a frantic effort to climb the
tree at whose base he had been sleeping; but there were
no limbs within reach of his hands, and the trunk was far
too big for him to clasp his arms around it. BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN
79
He could not run away, for it was too dark to see a
yard ahead. He had no other alternative than to stay
where he was, and hope for the best.
Presently the cry rang out again, this time nearer at hand,
but instead of being still more terrified, Rae broke into a laugh.
" Well, if I'm not a goose," he said aloud; " it's nothing
but an old screech-owl after all. If I hadn't been asleep, it
wouldn't have frightened me like that, I'm sure."
He was now too thoroughly awake to get to sleep
again, so he made shift as best he could to while away the
long hours, until at last, just as in very weariness his eyes
were once more beginning to grow heavy, the first streaks
of dawn showed themselves along the eastern horizon, and
all thought of further sleep was banished.
Faint with hunger, but full of hope, he set himself to
watch for the boat which he confidently counted upon
coming to his relief, although how Mr. Douglas would dis-
cover his whereabouts was a question he had not attempted
to answer to himself.
The sun had risen high in the heavens before there
appeared any indication of his faith being justified; and
his heart was growing sick with deferred hope when his
eye caught the flash of oars in the sunlight, and to his joy
he descried a boat making its wav along the southern shore
of the sound.
" There it is !': he cried, dancing about and waving his
hat, although there was no possibility of his being seen
from the boat. " That's Mr. Douglas. I knew he'd come
after me.    0h3 I wish I could make him see me !" 8o
BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN
Going out to the end of the point he shouted and swung
his hat, and tried in every way possible to attract the attention of those on board the boat. But all in vain. They
were over a mile distant; and, moreover, by Mr. Douglas's
directions, they were closely scanning the southern shore of
the sound, as his purpose was to go along that side for
some distance, and then cross to the northern shore, and
examine it for traces of the missing boy.
Rae's heart sank as the boat went on past him.
" Oh dear, oh dear!': he groaned. " They didn't see me,
and they couldn't see me, and they'U go back to the steamer
without finding me."
Yet he kept his eyes fixed upon the boat, until it had
almost vanished in the distance, and then a ray of hope
came from seeing it change its course to the northern shore
of the sound.
" Perhaps it'll come nearer on its way back," he said,
taking comfort from the idea; and hastening to the other
side of the island, he chose a projecting point, upon which
he stationed himself, with his coat in his hands ready for
use as a flag of distress when the right moment came.
After what seemed a painfully long wait, the boat reappeared creeping down the north shore, and the instant it
was within range Rae resumed his efforts to attract the
attention of its occupants—shouting with all the strength
of his lungs, and waving the coat to and fro in a frantic
fashion.
This time, happily, his efforts were crowned with success,
Mr. Douglas, happening to turn his keen glance from the BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN.
Si
shore out over the sound, caught sight of the little figure
dancing about on the top of a big boulder.
? Hey!—what's that ?'' he exclaimed, shading his eyes
with his right hand so as to get a better look. " There's
Rae, for sure, signalling to us with all his might. Give
way, men! He's out on the island yonder. Who'd ever
have thought of finding him there ?"
Rae's dance of anxiety changed to one of joy as he saw
the boat turn and come straight toward him.
" Hurrah !" he shouted. " They've seen me at last. It's
all right.    Hurrah ! hurrah!"
In a few minutes the boat was at the beach, and Mr.
Douglas, springing ashore, took hold of Rae with both
hands, not to embrace him, although that was really what
he felt in his heart like doing, but to give him a good
shaking in well-assumed anger,
" You young scapegrace !" he exclaimed, " is this where
I find you ? How came you here, and what have you got
to say for yourself going off without my leave, and having
to be hunted up like this ? "
Rae was too glad and grateful for being hunted up to
attempt to make any excuse for himself.
" I've nothing to say for myself, sir," he replied. " I did
wrong in going off with Saucy Alec. But please forgive
me, won't you, Mr. Douglas ? I won't do such a thing
again: indeed I won't."
There could be no doubt as to the spirit of sincere
penitence in which he spoke, and Mr. Douglas's tone was
much less severe as he said,— 82
BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN
I Oh! of course you're sorry enough now, and wish you
hadn't done it. But you know the best time to get sorry is
before you get into mischief, and the most of times you won't
get into it at all."
" I'm sure I wish I hadn't got into it this time/' said Rae,
with a rueful countenance, " for it's cost me my beautiful
gun.
" Cost you your beautiful gun!" echoed Mr. Douglas in
a tone of surprise.   "What do you mean ?   Tell me about it."
As  Rae  told  his story the  chief  factor's  indignation
blazed high.
" The scmmdrel!" he cried hotly. " The dirty thieving
half-breed rascal! I'll make him sweat for this if it takes
me a week to catch him. Jump into the boat, and we'll get
back to the fort as quickly as possible."
Rae was just about to obey when he thought of the
otter in the cave.
" Oh! but the otter," he exclaimed. " We won't leave
the otter, will we ?    It's mine now, you know."
Mr. Douglas hesitated for a moment. "Is it worth
waiting to get ?" he asked.
" Indeed it is, sir," responded Rae.    " Just come and see
him."
With some reluctance, for he was impatient to be off,
Mr. Douglas called a couple of the men, and they followed
Rae to the curious cave, where they found the creature disporting itself in the central pool.
It was with considerable difficulty that they were
enabled to catch it unhurt and get it to the boat, but they BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN.
83
finally succeeded; and once this was accomplished, the
chief factor gave orders to return to the fort with all
speed.
On reaching there he at once summoned the veteran
hunters and trappers, Indians and half-breeds, and offered a
reward that made their eyes gleam fiercely for the capture
of Saucy Alec and the recovery of Rae's gun. He was not
to be injured in any way, but to be brought to him for
punishment. The hunters and trappers at once set out with
a vigour that boded ill for the half-breed in spite of his
head-start. They knew he would not go far inland, but
would remain somewhere in hiding until the departure of
the steamer, and then come forth to flaunt his ill-gotten
booty with impunity, as the Beaver might never revisit
Milbank Sound.
Two days passed before anything was heard of the
fugitive, and then the most expert of the hunters returned
bearing Rae's rifle uninjured, but without the half-breed.
He explained that he had got upon Saucy Alec's trail, and
run him down the previous evening just as he was preparing
his supper. He came upon him so suddenly as to get possession of the gun, which had been placed against a tree,
before the half-breed discovered his presence, and then, realizing his powerlessness, he had dashed off into the depths
of the forest without attempting to show fight. The hunter
had followed him until it was too dark to proceed, and then
made his way back to the fort, content with having accomplished at least one-half his mission.
Mr. Douglas was so pleased at the recovery of the rifle 84
BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN
that he gave the successful hunter the full reward, much to
©
the  delight of the veteran, who had not expected such
©
liberal compensation.
" There now, Rae," said the chief factor, handing the rifle
back to its owner, who fondled it as a girl would her
favourite doll, " you have your beautiful rifle again, and I
hope you'll take better care of it henceforth. You've come
out of this scrape pretty well, I think, for now you've got
the otter too, whose pelt will be worth a good deal if you
can manage to keep him alive until next winter. It's worth
your trying, at all events."
" I'll do my best, sir," answered Rae, " to take care of
both my rifle and the otter, and I hope I'll never give you
so much trouble again."
The Beaver having by this time completed taking on
board all that was to be removed from Fort M'Laughlin,
Mr. Douglas yielded to the request of some of the younger
members of his party that a bonfire might be made of the
dismantled buildings. As soon as night came the torch was
applied in different places, and soon stockade, storehouse,
and dwelling were in flames, presenting a fine picture to
those on board the steamer.
Rae watched the conflagration with intense interest.
Every boy dearly loves a blaze, and this was the finest he
had ever seen in his life; and yet all the time he was enjoying it he felt certain qualms of regret that such strong, solid
buildings should go up in smoke.
"Oh dear!" he sighed, speaking to himself, "it does
seem a pity for those houses to be burned up like that. BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN.
85
They might have been given to the Indians who are going
to stay here all the time."
Mr. Douglas, who was standing near by, overheard this
speech, and said in reply to it,—
" And what do you think the Indians would do with the
buildings if we did let them have them ?"
©
" Live in them, I suppose, sir," responded Rae, feeling a
little abashed at being overheard.
" Not a bit of it, Rae," returned the chief factor. " They
very much prefer their own tents. What they'd do would
be to use the buildings as wood-piles in winter, and they'd
not be bothered cutting a tree down for firewood until the
buildings were burned down to the last stick."
His mind made easier by this explanation, Rae gave his
whole attention to the brilliant spectacle before him; and
presently he saw in silhouette against the glowing background a form that he at once felt sure could be none other
than that of the rascally half-breed.
He immediately called Mr. Douglas's attention to it.
" That's Saucy Alec," he said.    " I'm sure of it; and see
he's dancing about and shaking his fist at us.    He's mad
© ©
because we've got his otter and he hasn't got my gun."
" He'll be madder still if I can lay my hands upon him,"
said Mr. Douglas, beckoning to some of his men to come to
him. "I'll give him a taste of the cat-o'-nine-tails that he
won't forget in a hurry."
A few moments later a boat shot quietly out from
behind the Beaver, and rowed rapidly shoreward. At first
the half-breed did not seem to notice it, and he continued his
(478) 6 86
BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN.
insolent gestures of defiance; but just as the boat touched
the beach, his eye fell upon it. Instantly he stopped his
dance, and drew himself together in readiness for a spring.
Then as the men sent after him made a dash to seize him
he darted away like a startled hare, and went bounding off
into the darkness with a defiant laugh that could be heard
above the roar and crackle of the flames, and that was the
last Rae saw of Saucy Alec.
The following morning the Beaver steamed out of Mil-
o o
bank Sound, and turned southward on the way back to
Camosun Bay. The business for which he had made the
trip having been completed, Mr. Douglas's thoughts now
began to be exercised concerning the new fort in process of
erection.
"I wonder how fast they've got on since we left," he
said to Rae. " Your father'll do his best to hurry them up,
I know; but he hasn't many men to help him, and those
Indians didn't seem to take kindly to work."
" Indeed they didn't, sir," answered Rae; " and they
seemed kind of sulky, some of them, as if they weren't any
too well pleased at the fort being built."
" Did they ?' inquired Mr. Douglas in a tone of keen
interest. "I didn't notice anything of the kind myself.
Tell me what makes you think that."
Rae in response told of some things he had seen, which
caused Mr. Douglas to look grave, and to shake his head,
saying, " I don't quite like the look of that." After a moment's silence, he gave Rae one of his quick penetrating
glances, and added, " You've a sharp pair of eyes, my boy. BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN.
87
and you use them to good purpose. What you've told me
is very important; and I want you when we get back to just
be on the look-out for anything of the same kind, and to
let me know of it at once. We may have some trouble
with the Indians before we get our fort thoroughly established. I'd much prefer not to have a quarrel with them;
but if we do, I'm bound to give them a lesson they'll be
in no hurry to forget."
No special incident marked the return voyage, the
weather being prosperous, and the sturdy little Beaver
panting and puffing steadily through the glistening waves
until she rounded the cape into Juan de Fuca Strait, and
pressed on for Camosun Bay, where she arrived in the
afternoon just in time to fire off her gun as a salute to the
setting sun.
©
Almost before the anchor dropped, Mr. Finlayson was
alongside in a canoe, and springing on board caught Rae in
his arms to give him a parental hug that fairly squeezed the
breath out of the boy.
" Safe and sound!" he cried exultantly. " Mr. Douglas
has taken good care of my laddie. Oh, but I'm glad to
have you back again!"
Rae was no less glad than his father at their reunion,
and wanted to begin at once to tell him of his adventures;
but Mr. Douglas now claimed the attention of his chief
©
subordinate, and Rae had to content himself with the
promise of his father's society so soon as the chief factor
could spare him.
Considerable progress in the construction of the fort had 88
BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN
been made during the Beavers absence; but a great deal yet
remained to be done, and Mr. Douglas ordered all hands to
help to the utmost of their ability, that no time might be
lost in rendering the place thoroughly defensible.
There was a good reason for this, as from the country
round about, and the contiguous mainland, the natives were
flocking in to see what was going on, and were encamping
on every side as though they meant to stay. They all
seemed well-armed, but had not brought their wives or
children with them, which circumstance the fort-builders
regarded with suspicion.
The latter now numbered fifty men in all, armed to the
teeth, and constantly on guard against surprise, so that the
Indians, even if thus disposed, would not be in a hurry to
venture an attack.
They did, however, seize every opportunity for pilfering
any article that came within their reach, and it was not safe
for one of the workers to lay aside a tool for an instant.
Axes, hatchets, saws, and hammers acquired a most provoking habit of disappearing, and at times Mr. Douglas got
so irritated by this petty thieving that it required all his
powers of self-control to keep him from calling the Indians
to summary account.
This, however, would have been the worst possible policy
to pursue, as not only for the sake of the safety of the fort,
but in the interests of trade, it was most necessary to main-
tain as friendly relations as possible with the natives; and
so the stalwart chief factor bottled up his wrath towards
them, relieving himself by giving vent to it when with BACK TO FORT CAMOSUN
89
Mr. Finlayson he smoked his evening pipe on the deck of
the Beaver.
Yet, in spite of these difficulties, under his vigorous
direction the work went steadily on, until at last, three
months after the return of the Beaver from her northern
trip, the stockade, with bastions at the angles and dwellings
and store-houses inside, was compjeted; and in the month
of October, Mr. Douglas pronounced the new establishment
capable of taking care of itself.
A few days later, amid long and lusty cheers from those
left behind, the Beaver with the chief factor on board took
her noisy departure, Rae standing on the top of the highest
bastion of the fort, and sending off blank charges in quick
succession from his rifle in token of farewell. He was sorry
to say good-bye to the steamer. He felt somehow as if they
would be safer at the fort with her in the harbour. But
he was not one to borrow trouble, and he much preferred
staying at the new establishment to returning to Fort
Vancouver. wkamm
CHAPTER VI.
THE   ATTACK   ON   THE   FORT.
FORT CAMOSUN when completed was a decidedly-
imposing structure. It stood on the east side of the
inlet, directly opposite the chief village of the Songhies,
which was distant some four hundred yards. It was in the
form of a square, each side measuring one hundred and fifty
yards, and being composed of cedar pickets twenty feet in
height; while at the north-east and south-west angles rose
octagonal bastions to a height of thirty feet, from whose
parapets half-a-dozen cannon pointed menacingly. Inside
the square were the stores, ~G.ve in number, the blacksmith's
shop, the dining-hall, and chapel. Then there were the
powder-magazine, the men's barracks, and the residence of
Mr. Finlayson, which had a corner all to itself.
A remarkable thing about the construction of the fort
was that, extensive and impregnable, at least to Indians, as
it appeared, not a single iron nail had been used. Houses,
bastions, and palisades alike were put together simply with
wooden pegs, and the many years that they stood intact
bear testimony to the thoroughness of the work at the
beginning. THE ATTACK ON THE  FORT.
9i
When, on the completion of the fort, the Beaver steamed
away to Fort Nisqually, it was for the purpose of making
one more trip, and this time her cargo consisted mainly of
cattle, so that the new settlers might not lack for milk and
butter. These cattle were of Mexican origin, and so wild
and unmanageable that the saying, "As wild as a steer,"
might have arisen from the way they behaved.
As soon as they got their hoofs on shore they broke away
from their guardians, and with heads and tails erect darted
hither and thither, scaring the Indians, who had never seen
any creatures of the kind before, and knocking down half-a-
dozen women and children before plunging into the thicket,
where they vanished from sight.
This happened late in the afternoon, so no effort was
made to go after them then, but the following morning Mr.
© ' © ©
Finlayson gave orders for a "round-up" of the runaways.
Great was Rae's glee at the announcement.    Here would be
fine fun indeed.    There were no deer in the neighbourhood
©
of the fort to hunt, but the cattle would for the time provide a tolerable substitute; and although they could not be
shot, yet they had to be caught and driven back to the fort,
and there would be lots of excitement doing that.
In this expectation he was not disappointed. Bright and
early the recovering party set out. When Mr. Finlayson
saw Rae making preparations to join it he was at first inclined to demur; not that he had any fear of harm from the
cattle, but rather from the Indians, in whom he had not yet
come to place much confidence.
" Are you going too, Rae ?" he asked, as he saw his son 92
THE ATTACK ON THE FORT.
buckling on his belt, in which hung his hunting-knife, and
throwing his powder-flask over his shoulder.
" To be sure I am, father," responded Rae, " if you've no
objections. Ogden says he'll be glad to have my help, and
I think it will be great fun."
The father cogitated for a moment.   His intense affection
for Rae made him reluctant to have the boy out of his sight
any more than he could help.    Yet he realized that to yield
to this feeling would be very unfair to his son, who would
ere long have to fight his own battles unaided, and who
© © '
could learn to take proper care of himself only by being
given proper freedom of action.
" Did Ogden say he wanted you, Rae ?" he asked, more
for the sake of delaying his consent than for any other
reason.
" Yes, indeed he did," replied Rae eagerly. " He said I'd
be as good as a man to help to corral the cattle."
" Well, then," said Mr. Finlayson, " will you stick close
by Ogden, so that if anything happens he can look after
you ?
" Certainly, father, if you want me to," was the prompt
answer.
" Very well then, my boy, you can go," said the father;
"but remember keep Ogden in sight, and don't let one of
these crazy creatures get its horns into you, and keep a keen
eye for the Indians.    They might try some mischief."
Ogden was the next in authority to Mr. Finlayson—a
great stalwart Englishman, devoted to the interests of the
Hudson Bay Company, and on the sure road to a factorship THE ATTACK ON THE FORT
93
at no distant day. He took a great interest in Rae, and Mr.
Finlayson knew that the boy was as safe under his care as
in his own. Nevertheless had he had only himself to consider in the matter he would have kept Rae back, for he
was his only son, and upon him he concentrated the love
he had borne for the wife and mother whose grave lay in
the little burying-ground at Fort Vancouver.
The rounding-up" party comprised ten of the smartest
men in the garrison, and Mr. Ogden and Rae made up the
dozen. They set forth on foot for two good reasons. In
the first place, the forest was so dense and the ground so
uneven that horses would have been useless; and, in the
second place, the only horses they possessed had stampeded
with the rest of the cattle, and were roaming wild with them.
They all carried their guns and hunting-knives, and, lest
they might have to remain out over night, sufficient provisions to last over the next day. A merrier party never
started. They had been toiling hard for months constructing
the fort, and this was their first holiday. That it would
prove mere pastime they never doubted.
The errant animals would not have gone very far, and
the task of driving them back could hardly be a difficult one.
Rae strode along at the head of the party beside Mr.
Ogden, whistling gaily, and skipping about in the fulness
of his joy.
" Just wait till I sight that red steer with the white face
and the big horns," he said; " I'll make him jump, I promise
you. Did you see the way he knocked that little girl over
yesterday ?    He wants to be taught good manners." 94
THE ATTACK ON 2HE FORT.
" Perhaps you won't find the critters so easy to manage
as you think, Rae," said Mr. Ogden with a smile. " They
may turn Tartar on us, and give us lots of trouble."
" Oh! I guess we'll be a match for them if they do,"
responded Rae, who had no lack of self-confidence.
Chatting together and bantering one another, the men
©     © © '
pushed further and further into the forest, which was pretty
dense, although the trees did not rise to a great height.
They found traces of the objects of their search, but for a
long time got no glimpse of the cattle themselves.    In fact,
it was close on mid-day before the foremost of the party, a
bright young trapper who had the sharpest eyes in the band,
stopped suddenly, and pointing to  the right, said in an
undertone,—
" There they are; but let us go easy, or we'll scare them."
Mr. Ogden at once divided his men into two sections, one
to go to the right and the other to the left, so as to surround
the herd from the rear; and creeping forward as silently as
possible, they thus drew near the unsuspecting cattle.
The arrangement seemed to succeed admirably, and Mr.
Ogden was just about to give the signal to close in upon the
animals, and get them herded together, when the very steer
of which Rae had spoken, lifting its head in a startled way,
gave a loud bellow and bounded off, steering straight for
where Rae stood.
Now had it not been for his boast about teaching this
©
creature better manners, Rae would have been disposed to
let him have a wide berth; but in view of his speech he felt
bound to oppose his passing as best he could, so standing his THE ATTACK ON THE FORT
95
ground bravely, he swung his rifle and shouted at the top
of his voice.
But the red steer, who really seemed possessed of a devil
of some kind, neither stopped nor swerved in its course.
With horns lowered and tail uplifted on it came, in spite of
Rae's frantic efforts. The rest of the party were too busy
looking after the other cattle to observe the boy's danger,
and before any of them had a chance to interfere the steer
had caught him on his horns.
" Oh! he'll be killed," cried Mr. Ogden, fully expecting
to see him tossed in the air.
But such was not the case. Instead of being flung into
space, Rae was seen to be holding on tight to the creature's
head, and to be thus borne along as it continued its mad
career.
"Head him off!  stop  him!  stop him!"  shouted Mr.
Ogden, thoroughly alarmed at the boy's perilous plight, and
dashing after him himself at a rate that was most creditable
©
for a man of his age, while the other men who were within
sight followed his example.
Of course, the more they shouted and the faster they ran
the more terrified the steer became, and considering the
handicap Rae's weight upon his head must have been, it was
certainly surprising what speed he developed. In this exciting fashion the chase continued for full a hundred yards,
and as Rae held on like grim death, and the steer's strength
showed no signs of slackening, there was no telling how much
longer it would; have been kept up had not the intervention
of a deep narrow gully brought it to a sudden termination. 96
THE ATTACK ON THE FORT
Hanging on in the way he was, Rae's body blinded the
eyes of his strange steed, so that the creature could have no
notion of what was ahead. Consequently, when he came to
the gully, instead of swerving aside, he plunged plump in
with such terrible force as to nearly break his neck, and
to completely break one of his fore-legs, while his unwilling
jockey was sent flying against the opposite bank so violently
as to deprive him of both breath and senses.
When Mr. Ogden rushed up panting, and trembling with
apprehension, he found the steer struggling in helpless agony
in the bottom of the gully; and a. few yards above, on a
kind of ledge, lay Rae, to all appearance dead.
" God help us!" he exclaimed, " the boy's done for, I
believe."
Leaping recklessly into the gully, he scrambled up be-,
side Rae, and lifted his head with his left hand, placing
the right  over his  heart.    Immediately  his  countenance
brightened.
" He's not dead," he cried in a tone of vast relief, " he's
only winded, maybe. Oh! I hope there are no bones
broken."
By this time a couple of the other men had come up, and
with their aid Rae was tenderly lifted out of the gully, and
placed at the foot of a tree on a bank of moss while one
hurried off to a spring near by for water.
When this was dashed in his face Rae revived, and
opening his eyes looked around in a dazed way.
" What's happened ?" he asked faintly, and then with a
groan of pain, " Oh, my head!':   As he made to put his hand THE ATTACK ON THE FORT.
97
up to it he gave another groan, " My arm ! what's the matter
with my arm ?    It hurts dreadfully."
Then he lost consciousness again, and looked as if it
really was all over with him.
" Poor little chap !" said Mr. Ogden feelingly, " he's had
a bad shaking up. But I guess it's not much worse. Well,
we'll have to leave those cattle alone for to-day, and get the
boy back to the fort as quickly as possible. His father
knows a good deal about doctoring, and he'll fix him up."
So with their hunting-knives they cut down a lot of
boughs, and lashing them together made quite a comfortable stretcher, on which Rae was placed, and borne off carefully. They had not gone far before his senses came back
to him; but his head ached so fiercely and his whole body
was so full of pain that he felt no disposition to talk,
but lay quietly on the stretcher doing his best to stifle
the groans that would well up to his lips, for his sufferings
were really severe.
Mr. Finlayson, who had been standing on the top of one
of the bastions, looking out for the return of the cattle,
caught sight of the little procession as soon as it emerged
from the forest, and at once hastened down to meet it, his
face full of concern.
" What's happened, Ogden ?' he demanded on getting
within earshot. " Where's Rae ? Whom have you got
there ?"
" It's Rae, sir," replied Mr. Ogden; but don't be
alarmed. He's only been shaken up by a fall. He'll be all
right presently." asi
98
THE ATTACK ON THE FORT.
When Rae heard his father's voice, he raised himself
with great  difficulty,  and   turning   a  pale   face   in   that**
direction, managed  to murmur, § You  mustn't  be frightened, father;  I'm hurt a good deal, but I'll get over it
soon."
Going up to the stretcher, Mr. Finlayson took Rae's face
between his hands, and pressed a fervent kiss upon his forehead, saying soothingly,—
I You'll tell me all about it after a while, Rae; come along
now, and we'll try to find out how badly you're damaged."
He did not want the others to see how much he was
disturbed by the manner of his son's return, and taking
comfort from the cheering tone of his voice, put a brave
face on the matter for the present.
On Rae being carefully examined, it was found that his
right arm had been badly strained, and there were a number
of painful contusions on different parts of his body, but
otherwise he had escaped injury save from the effects of the
shock, which might linger for a while.
Mr. Finlayson was immensely relieved on there being
no more serious consequences.
I You've come off remarkably well, my boy," he said,
" considering the circumstances. I must have that brute of
a steer looked after at once, or the Indians will dp it for me.
You'll have the satisfaction of dining off him, Rae, in revenge
for the scurvy way he treated you. But look here, Rae, what
am I to do with you ? So sure as you get out of my sight
you have an adventure of some kind; and although your
good luck has carried you through thus far, who knows THE ATTACK ON THE FORT.
99
when it will fail you, and then—well, I don't like to think
of what that would mean."
"But, father," replied Rae with a quizzical sort of smile,
" you wouldn't have me to stay round all the time, and do
nothing, would you ? I've got to learn to look after myself,
you know, and the sooner I do it the better, I suppose."
" That's so, my boy, that's so," assented Mr. Rae. " I
can't be with you always." Then throwing up his head
as though to dismiss the subject, he added, " Oh! well, let
it go. It's no use borrowing trouble. You'll just have to
take your chances as I did at your age."
" Of course I will, father," returned Rae, " and that's just
what I want to do. At the same time, I promise you I'm not
going to run any more risks than I can help. I want to
live to be an old man, and perhaps I'll be the factor of a
fort some day, as you are now, father," and he gave Mr.
Finlayson a look of fond pride that went straight to the
factor's heart.
" God grant you may, my boy," exclaimed Mr. Finlayson
fervently. " There are many lots in life far worse than a
Hudson Bay factor, and I would like to think of you
filling that post in due time."
Bruised and battered as he had been, Rae's superb constitution quickly threw off the effects, and at the end of a
week he was out again as lively as ever, and ready for the
next adventure.
In the meantime, the stray cattle had all been hunted
up, and securely corralled until they should learn to behave
better, and prove more worthy of being trusted.     Then IOO
THE ATTACK ON THE FORT.
began the task of breaking in the oxen for use as draught
© © ©
animals, a process the Indians watched with profound
surprise and interest, not altogether free from contempt.
" What new species of game was this that the white men
had brought to the island," they asked one another, " and
which, instead of being killed and eaten, was being carefully
tamed to do the women's work ?"
Here, certainly, was a wonder in its way, and rather a
disturbing one too, for not only was the game being diverted
from its proper purpose, but it was depreciating the worth
of wives, since, if the work that rightfully ought to be done
by the women was done by these big animals, why then, of
course, the former would so fall in value that the possessor
of six or ten would find himself a poorer man than he
imagined.
Arguing from these premises, the Indians were not long
in coming to the conclusion that the white intruders needed
to be taught that their innovation was not welcomed by the
original inhabitants. Now, among those encamped in the
vicinity of the fort was a band of Cowichans, whose chief
was Tsoughilam, and who had come down from the north
on a plundering expedition. The cattle of the fort-builders
offered a magnificent prey for these brigands, particularly
the work animals, which were finer, fatter, and more easily
approached than the others, it being the practice to turn all
the cattle out to graze in the daytime and to corral them
at night.
As it chanced, one afternoon that Rae was strolling about
on the edge of the forest looking for a shot at some bird, he THE ATTACK ON THE FORT.
IOI
caught sight of a party of Cowichans cautiously separating
a couple of fat oxen from the herd, and driving them toward their own camp.
Suspecting some mischief, he followed them at a safe
distance until he felt quite sure what their purpose was;
then he hurried back to the fort at the top of his speed.
He had some difficulty in finding his father, Mr. Finlayson
having gone off along shore to a considerable distance; but
when he heard his son's report he made all haste to return,
and as soon as he arrived called a score of the men to take
their rifles and accompany him to the Cowichan camp.
It was altogether against his policy to have any open
rupture with the Indians, as that would defeat the main object
for which Fort Camosun was built—to wit, the establishing
of a profitable trade in peltry; yet they must be taught to
respect the rights of property, and to leave the cattle alone.
By the time the camp was reached, the cattle had been
slaughtered, and the Indians were having a glorious feast.
Calling for the chief, Mr. Finlayson demanded payment for
the slain animals. Instead of complying, Tsoughilam attempted to argue the matter.
"What!" he exclaimed, with well-feigned surprise, "these
animals yours! Did you make them ? Are these fields
yours that fatten them ? I thought them the property of
nature; and whatever nature sends me, that I slay and eat,
asking no question and paying no damages."
"Now, Tsoughilam, you know better than that," answered Mr. Finlayson, keeping himself well under control.
"These  cattle were brought from  beyond the great sea.
(478) . 7 102
THE ATTACK ON THE FORT.
They belonged to those who brought them; and unless you
make proper restitution, the gates of the fort will be closed
against you." ?f%
I Close your gates if you like," cried the chieftain, his
tone changing to one of anger, "and I will batter them
down. Close your gates, indeed! Think you we did not
live before the white men came ? and think you we would
die were they swept from our shores ?"
Seeing that argument was useless, and that threats would
be wasted in the then temper of the savage, Mr. Finlayson,
having once more sternly demanded reparation, withdrew
to the fort to consider what was the best course to pursue.
As soon as he had gone Tsoughilam despatched messengers
to the chiefs of the other camps to summon them to a
council meeting. They promptly came, and having regaled
them with fresh beef, the wily Cowichan addressed them in
fiery language.
" Reptiles have crept hither!" he exclaimed; " reptiles
with strange stings, whom it were well to crush upon the
spot, lest they should soon overspread the whole island.
The reward for such an undertaking may be found behind
the palisades of the fort.    Let us go and possess it."
Then arose Tsilalthach, chief of the Songhies, and said,
"We and our forefathers have lived in happiness upon this
island for many years before the existence of these strangers
was known. We have eaten the fruits of the earth, have
bathed in the waters and in the sunshine, have hunted our
forests unquestioned of any, and have fought our enemies
manfully.    Is all now to be taken from us ? " 'As one man the assembled savages rose up."
Page ios  THE ATTACK ON THE FORT.
105
The instinct of bloodshed was aroused. As one man the
assembled savages rose up and Cried for the wiping out of
the unwelcome intruders and the looting of the fort.    In
©
the clear evening air their shouts were easily heard at the
fort.
" They mean mischief," said Mr. Finlayson, shaking his
head regretfully. " It's too bad. I didn't want to fight with
them, and yet they must be taught to respect the company's
property.    I wonder how soon they will attack us ? §
" Right away, father, to judge by their actions," responded
Rae, who was standing beside Mr. Finlayson on the bastion,
and looking over toward the encampment.
" No, no, Rae; you don't know them as well as I do.
They won't attack for a while yet. They've got to work
themselves up to it first."
And so it proved. At the fort unremitting watch was
kept night and day, but the Indians spent the time in singing and shouting and feasting until two full days had elapsed.
Then, having assembled all their forces, they summoned
courage to commence operations.
Midst savage yells and terrifying antics, calculated in
their opinion to put to flight the bravest, they advanced as
near to the palisade as they dared, and then, taking advantage of every natural means of concealment, sent in showers
of musket-balls that riddled the stockade and came pattering
upon the roofs of the houses. The siege of the fort had
begun in earnest, and with many hundred savages as assailants it was no joking matter, despite the strength of the
fortifications and the thorough equipment of the garrison. J;
CHAPTER VII.
DIFFICULT   PLAYMATES.
THE hail of bullets against the stout stockade and substantial roofs of the fort was kept up for some time
with great vigour, but without inflicting any loss whatever
upon the garrison.
Nor did it elicit any response. Much as the men would
have liked to give the Indians some proofs of their marksmanship that they would not be in a hurry to forget, Mr.
Finlayson would not permit a single rifle to be discharged.
" No, my good fellows, no," he replied to his subordinates,
eager for the fray. "I don't want a drop of blood to be
shed if it can possibly be helped. If we have to fight,
why, fight we will, and I've no fears as to the result;
but I still have hopes of settling this thing without one
life being lost."
After a while the savages grew weary of wasting their
precious ammunition to no purpose, and their fire slackened,
until finally it ceased. Then Mr. Finlayson seized the opportunity of carrying out a scheme that had been evolved in
his busy brain.
Appearing upon one of the bastions, he called to Tsoughi- DIFFICULT PLAYMATES.
107
lam to come within parleying distance, assuring him that
no harm would be done him.
In a very hesitating fashion Tsoughilam drew near,
taking care to have at hand a good big tree-stump behind
which he might dodge if there should be any sign of
treachery on the part of the white men. When he was
near enough, Mr. Finlayson addressed him thus:—
"What would you do? What evil would you bring
upon yourselves ? What folly to think of breaking down
our strong walls with your poor guns ! Know you not that
with one motion of my finger I could blow you all into
pieces ? And I will do it too," he cried, raising his voice, as
if in growing anger.    " Look at your camp now!"
As he brought out the last word at the top of his voice
there was a tremendous report from the bastion beside him,
and a nine-pounder belched forth a double charge of grape-
shot, which, striking into the midst of the frail cedar lodges,
smashed them into splinters.
With a terror-stricken howl, Tsoughilam dived behind
his stump so recklessly that he tripped and turned a complete somersault, landing on the broad of his back, in which
position he lay for a minute, hardly knowing whether some
of the cannon's contents had found a mark in him or not;
while from the throats of his tribesmen went up woful wails,
because they felt sure many of their women and children
must have fallen victims to the terrible thunder-machine.
And so, indeed, they might have done, but for the
humane precaution of Mr. Finlayson, who, before he began
the parley, had sent his interpreter secretly out of the back ft
!-.
ii
108
DIFFICULT PLAYMATES.
gate of the fort to warn the inmates of the lodges selected
as a target of their approaching danger, which warning
being duly heeded, no further harm was done by the grape-
shot than the converting into kindling-wood of some cheaply-
made lodges.
When the badly-scared savages had recovered their
senses, and ascertained that there had been no fatal injury
done to their dear ones, they consulted together, with the
result that a deputation of chiefs came slowly towards the
fort and asked for a parley.
Mr. Finlayson invited them within the stockade, offering
two of his men as hostages for their safety. The offer was
accepted, and the deputation entered the fort.
I Now, my friends," said the factor, assuming his gravest
and most dignified demeanour, while Rae watched him with
profound admiration, he seemed so superior in every way to
the squalid savages, " I want to show you, that although I
did not make any return to your fire, how easy it would
be for me to utterly destroy you and all the rest of the men,
and all your women and children, if I wanted to do so."
Then he showed them all his men drawn up in line
ready to fight, and armed with rifles, pistols, and hunting-
knives. He also took them upon the bastion, and let them
see the cannon with the cartridges and balls at their side.
Having done this, he led them back into the centre of
the enclosure, and ordering the garrison to form a circle
round them, he said quietly but firmly,—
"You see, my brothers, that I speak only the truth.
But I do not want to destroy.    I want that we should be DIFFICULT PLAYMATES.
109
friends. Therefore, I say let those who killed the cattle be
given up for punishment, or let the cattle be paid for in furs
at their full value."
The Indians listened attentively, promised to report all
that they had seen and heard to their tribes, and withdrew
in manifest perturbation of spirit. The factor's words and
silent arguments had evidently produced a deep effect.
"Unless I'm much mistaken, my boy, they'll do one
thing or the other before the sun goes down," said Mr. Finlayson in a sanguine tone, his countenance showing how
relieved he felt at the prospect of an honourable and satisfactory solution of the situation.
Sunset saw the fulfilment of his prediction. Another
and a larger deputation came from the encampment, this
time bearing bundles of furs, which they deposited in front
of the main gate. Mr. Finlayson ordered the gate to be
thrown open, the bearers of the indemnity filed solemnly in,
and were received with all due ceremony. The skins were
counted and appraised. Their value was pronounced sufficient, and then the pipe of peace was produced, and.vows of
friendship formally made.
Before they departed the Indians begged Mr. Finlayson
to let them have another exhibition of the powers of the
wonderful gun, and he willingly assented. So next morning
an old canoe was moored out in the harbour about midway
between the fort and the encampment. Then taking careful
aim he sent a ball clear through the canoe, and ricochetting
across the smooth water to the opposite shore.
The Indians were entirely satisfied.    If the white in- no
DIFFICULT PLAYMATES.
truders had such fearful weapons as that, there was but one
thing to do—namely, to be as friendly as possible with them,
which henceforth they took good care to be, and Fort
Camosun never was again attacked by any of these bands,
although they did not by any means give over their thieving
propensities, but seized every chance of picking up any
" unconsidered trifles I  belonging  to  their white brothers
©     o
which fell in their way.
The atmosphere of peace which now brooded over the
fort was very favourable to the carrying on of the out-door
operations, which were the factor's next concern.
The garrison could not always be dependent upon Fort
Vancouver for food supplies. They must create them for
themselves as soon as possible. Accordingly all hands were
set to work to clear the land surrounding the fort, and prepare it for the reception of seed, while a large lot was fenced
in for pasture, so that a visitor to Camosun Bay might have
taken the establishment to be chiefly of an agricultural
character instead of being a fur-trading depot.
Rae soon found these proceedings decidedly lacking in
interest. He had not sufficient strength or skill to guide a
plough. He soon got tired of splitting rails for the fences.
There never was a boy born who took kindly to the hoe or
spade, and as his father did not insist upon his lending a
hand, leaving him to follow his own sweet will in the matter,
he presently came to feel very much like a butterfly among
a lot of bees. Everybody but himself was busy, and so busy
that they had no time to give to him. Naturally enough
therefore he looked about him for companions who would DIFFICULT PLAYMATES.
in
not be so engrossed, and quite as naturally his eyes strayed
across the bay to where the Indian camps were clustered on
the farther shore.
His father had never forbidden his making friends with
the Indians, although he had warned him against trusting
' © © ©
them to any extent, because he believed them to be treacherous at heart, however friendly they might seem on the
surface. But as the days went by in peace and quietness
this feeling of insecurity disappeared, and so when one day
Rae asked his father if he might go over to the Indian
encampment, Mr. Finlayson made no objection, contenting
himself with a warning not to get into any kind of a dispute
with the lads there.
Rae owned a light swift canoe which his father had procured for him, and in the management of which he had
become quite skilful. In this he paddled across the bay,
and jumping ashore made his way to the encampment with
as easy an air as if he were a long-established visitor.
None of the men were visible, they being all away fishing
or hunting, but a number of children could be seen peeping
out of the doorways of the lodges or from behind them in a
timid way, as though afraid to meet the white boy.
Anxious to establish himself on a friendly footing, Rae
called to them, and made signs intended to indicate his
desire for a closer acquaintance, in response to which they
presently began to emerge one by one, and to gather about
him with eyes full of curiosity.
They were quite a lot of good-looking youngsters, and
Rae thought they promised well as playfellows, so he put 112
DIFFICULT PLAYMATES.
forth his most gracious manner, and made vigorous efforts
to explain to them that he had come over to be their friend,
and wanted them to feel at their ease with him.
He was such a handsome boy, and had such a winning
way, that although he could use only a few phrases of their
language, he quickly won the confidence of the young
savages, and ere long they crowded round him to examine
his clothing, and admire the hunting-knife and pistol he
wore in his belt.
They had bright, intelligent faces, and seemed quite well-
behaved and kindly disposed, so that Rae soon felt at home
amongst them, and spent the whole morning in their
company.
On his return to the fort at dinner time, he reported to
his father how well he had got on, and then gave Mr. Finlayson an idea that had not occurred to him before. It was
of the first importance that as friendly relations as possible
should exist between the fort and the encampment. Now
what was there to prevent Rae being the connecting link to
unite the two together ? He could go freely to the encampment, and from time to time invite the Indian boys to come
over to the fort for a little feast or something of that kind.
In this way the hearts of their parents would be won, and
a neighbourly feeling established that could not fail to be
mutually beneficial.
" I'm very glad you've been over there," said he, when he
had thought this all out. "I was a little doubtful about
your going, I confess, although I didn't say so, but now I
believe you couldn't have done a better thing.    I appoint DIFFICULT PLAYMATES.
"3
you my ambassador to the Songhies, and you must make as
many friends among them as you can. It will be a good
thing all round."
Rae did not understand precisely what it meant to be an
ambassador, but he grasped clearly enough the idea that he
was to act as his father's representative, and this tickled
him immensely. A little while afterwards he came to his
father with a request that made the factor burst out
laughing.
" Father," said he, with a blush that betrayed his consciousness of what he was about to ask being likely to
expose him to some ridicule, " if I'm going to be what you
call your ambassador to the Indians, oughtn't I to wear a
uniform ?"
When Mr. Finlayson had done laughing, he told Rae to
stand up straight in front of him, and looking him over with
a critical eye, as though he were taking his measure, he said,
still smiling,—
" A uniform, Rae; what kind of a uniform would you
like ? Red coat, blue trousers, gold lace, and cocked hat
with feathers ?"
Rae looked down to the ground, and the blush deepened
on his cheek as he replied in a tone that had a hint of
petulance in it,—
"No, father, you know well enough I didn't mean all
that; but I do think I might have some kind of a uniform.
The Indian boys would think all the more of me."
Seeing how much in earnest his son was, Mr. Finlayson
stopped his bantering, and said quite seriously,— ii4
DIFFICULT PLAYMATES.
" You're not far wrong, my boy, and I'll see if we can't
fix up something for you."
At this Rae's face became radiant. " 0 father, will you?"
he exclaimed eagerly. " What a dear good father you are!
and will you see about it right away ?"
" Why, yes," responded the factor; " I'll have a talk with
Tailor Jim about it."
" Tailor Jim" was a member of the garrison who had
learned the trade of tailoring before his adventurous, roving
spirit caused him to throw aside the goose and shears for
the gun and hunting-knife, and after drifting about the
west coast he had finally found his way into the employ
of the Hudson Bay Company, where his knowledge of the
needle rendered him a most useful acquisition to any of the
establishments.
Without loss of time Tailor Jim was consulted. He
entered heartily into the spirit of the thing, and after the
matter had been discussed at some length, it was settled
that out of the cloth in the stores he should make Rae a red
tunic, and blue trousers with a red stripe, which, with a blue
cap and a white belt, certainly could not fail to give him a
thoroughly martial appearance.
In fact, when the uniform was completed, and Rae, feeling as proud as a peacock with a perfect tail, strutted up
and down the centre of the enclosure in order that all the
garrison might admire his fine feathers, the military idea at
once entered his mind and took complete possession of it.
" 0 father," said he, his face glowing with excitement,
"I'm going to be a soldier, and I'll get up a regiment DIFFICULT PLAYMATES.
ii5
among the Indian boys, and I'll drill them. Won't that
be fine ?"
Mr. Finlayson smiled indulgently.
" A fine notion no doubt, my boy, but you'll have a hard
job to carry it out. Those harum-scarum brats will never
do what you tell them. You're welcome to try, of course—
it'll do no harm; but you mustn't be disappointed if you
can't make anything of it."
" Oh, never fear," replied Rae confidently; " I'll manage
them all right.    I know how to do it."
The factor shook his head doubtingly. " You're young,
my son, you're young, and things seem easier now than they
will when you're twice your age. But never mind; the best
way to learn is by trying, and you'll have the experience
though you gain nothing else."
Full of energy for his new scheme, Rae had the carpenter
make him half-a-dozen wooden swords and a score of wooden
muskets. For himself, as commander of the force, he secured
a small cutlass that happened to be in the armoury of the
fort, and with this hung at his belt he felt quite equal to
anything. His knowledge of drilling was very slight, but
he had some idea of marching in step and so forth. This,
however, did not trouble him. What he lacked in knowledge
he made up in enthusiasm, and he was determined to have a
good time anyway.
But when he came to put his brilliant idea into execution, he found the going far from being as smooth as he had
fondly hoped.
In the first place, the young Indians seemed to think it n6
DIFFICULT PLAYMATES
was some kind of hidden design to entrap them into the
bondage of the company, and it took a lot of coaxing and a
good many presents of sugar lumps and brass buttons, for
which an Indian boy will venture almost anything, to overcome this objection.
Then, in the second place, the Indians' keen sense of
humour made them fully alive to the ridiculous side of the
matter. They certainly did look about as much unlike what
they purported to be as it is possible to imagine, and the
ludicrousness of their appearance was not lost upon them.
Now above all things an Indian cannot endure being laughed
at, so that Rae had no easy task to convince them that it
wasn't all a big joke, but was really a very interesting play.
And finally, when at last he did succeed after infinite trouble
in getting some twenty of the boys into line, they differed
so astonishingly in their conception of what he wanted them
to do that it would certainly have sorely tried the staidest
of Quakers' control over both his temper and his laughter to
see them perform.
They twisted and turned, and tripped over one another's
toes, and jammed their wooden muskets into each other's
backs, and threatened one another's eyes with the points of
their wooden swords. In fact, moved in part by bewilderment and in part by mischief, they made confusion worse
confounded, until at last in sheer despair Rae threw himself
on the ground, hardly knowing whether to laugh or to cry.
" Oh dear," he groaned, " they'll never learn to be soldiers,
and we might have such good times if they only would."
Seeing his evident concern, the Indian boys crowded DIFFICULT PLAYMATES.
117
round him, looking as contrite as they knew how, and after
some expostulation with them, Rae felt encouraged to make
another essay. This time they certainly did better, although
their attempt to " form fours " would have sent an ordinary
drill-sergeant into convulsions of either wrath or laughter,
according to the way he took it.
" Ah! now that's a good deal better," said Rae, with a
pleased smile. " You'll learn it all right in a little while, if
you'll only stick at it."
But it was just there the chief difficulty lay. They did
not want to stick at it. Their volatile natures soon wearied
of the new amusement, and Rae found his regiment fast
falling to pieces for lack of interest.
In the emergency a new idea came to him. Instead of
trying to drill the boys into a regular regiment, as had been
his first plan, he divided them into two bands, and giving
the lead of one division to the son of Tsilalthach, the Songhies'
chief, he took the command of the other himself.
His scheme was to have some of that mimic warfare
which is so dear to the heart of every boy; and now he found
his savage playmates as full of interest as he could wish.
To play at fighting was quite according to their taste, and a
plan of campaign was speedily settled upon.
Not far from the rear of the camp rose a little hill, whose
steep sides were almost bare of trees and shrubbery, while
the top was levelled off as though by hand. It suited Rae's
purpose admirably.   They would play defending the citadel,
taking turns in being garrison and assailants.
© © ©
Wishing to be magnanimous at the start, Rae gave Tasga, mm
118
DIFFICULT PLAYMATES.
the chieftain's son, the first defence of the hill, while he
undertook the attack. As it was easier to defend than to
attack, Rae thought it only fair that he should have the
majority of the boys on his side, so it was agreed that there
should be eleven in his party to only nine of their opponents.
The preliminaries being thus satisfactorily arranged, the
proceedings opened by Tasga and his band taking up their
position on the summit of the hill, where they awaited the
onset of Rae and his supporters.
Creeping cautiously up the slope, the latter had almost
reached the summit before the others made any sign of
resistance. Then suddenly they sprang upon their opponents, and having been well instructed by Tasga, who had
the makings of a famous war-chief in him, seized them by
the elbows, turned them round, and sent them tumbling
down the hill before they had time to recover from the
unexpected ingenuity of the onset.
Rae went with the rest. He had not been looking for
this kind of a reception, and was as much caught off guard
as they were; but when he had picked himself up after his
undignified descent, he vowed he would make a better
showing the next attempt.
Accordingly, although according to the understanding at
the start he and Tasga should have changed places, he
shouted to him to stay where he was, as he would try again
to dislodge him. This suited the budding chieftain all right,
and Rae proceeded to harangue his little band in vigorous
style after the manner of commanders upon the eve of battle.
" We must get them down out of that this time," he said, DIFFICULT PLAYMATES.
119
"no matter what it costs. They got the start of us last
time, but they won't do it again. I know a trick that is
worth two of theirs." And then he hastened to explain to
them what he meant.
His boys heartily approved of his plan, testifying their
enthusiasm by wild whoops prophetic of victory; and when
he felt that he had worked them up to the right pitch, he
led them forth to a second essay.
This time Tasga and his force came part of the way down
to meet them, the ease with which the first overthrow was
accomplished having made them over-confident. Rae rejoiced at this, for it rendered more certain the success of his
plan of campaign.
With every faculty attent, and every nerve and muscle
ready for instant action, the two bands of boys drew near to
each other. When they were almost within touching distance there was a pause* Tasga's boys knew well enough
they could not repeat the manoeuvre which had proved so
brilliant a success before, while Rae's boys were waiting the
signal to do what had been enjoined upon them.
This came in the single word " Now," which Rae suddenly shouted, at the same moment throwing himself forward as though to bow at Tasga's feet.    But instead of
© ©
making obeisance to him, he grasped him by the ankles,
and putting all his strength into one mighty effort, threw
him over his back in such a way that he landed head first
behind him.
The same stratagem being successfully carried out by
his supporters, the result was that almost in the twinkling
(478)
8 120
DIFFICULT PLAYMATES.
of an eye the positions of the two parties were completely
reversed, Rae's occupying the crest of the hill, while Tasga's
were on the slope below them.
Now when Rae had been routed he took his discomfiture
quite good-humouredly, and the same spirit was shown by
his companions; but on Tasga the clever overthrow had an
entirely different effect. For a moment he lay still as if
stunned, and Rae, who had begun to cheer triumphantly,
checked himself through fear that Tasga had been hurt.
The next instant, however, he was cruelly undeceived,
for the wily Indian, whose savage temper had been aroused,
leaped to his feet and hurled himself at Rae with the
lightning-like spring of a wild cat.
Nor was his rapidity of action the only point of resemblance. Not content with gripping Rae around the waist,
as though he would fain break his back, he sank his white
teeth deep into his left shoulder, causing him to shriek with
pain and alarm.
The extreme suddenness and startling ferocity of Tasga's
attack almost paralyzed the white boy for an instant. But
it was only for an instant. He had a temper as well as
Tasga, and it at once rose to blood heat.
" You young brute!" he cried, " will you dare to bite
me that way ?'! And taking a fresh grip of the Indian he
bore upon him with all his strength, forcing him steadily
backward, until by a clever clip of the heel he knocked his
left foot from under him, and so threw him violently backward, falling with him to the ground.
In the fall Tasga's teeth were shaken from their vicious
© DIFFICULT PLAYMATES.
hold, and before he could close them again in the same way
Rae, whose wrath was now fully aroused, had both hands at
his throat.
Up to this time Tasga's supporters had looked on in
amazement at the turn affairs had taken, but when they
saw the plight of their leader they were moved to action.
Giving vent to fierce cries, they gathered round the struggling pair with looks that boded ill for Rae. They knew
little of and cared less for the principle of British fair play,
and good-humoured as their sport had been up to the
moment of their leader losing his temper, they were quite
ready to turn it into a savage fight without any regard to
the immense disparity of odds, for Rae could hardly count
upon much assistance from the Indian boys who had made
up his party. CHAPTER VIII.
AFLOAT     AGAIN.
AE was decidedly getting the better of the struggle
with Tasga, and would soon have had him at his
mercy, when several of the latter's companions flung themselves into the struggle, and tore the two combatants apart,
not indeed with the idea of putting an end to the contest
of strength, but rather of giving Tasga an unfair advantage
by lending him their aid.
It was at this juncture, and just when Rae's position
was positively critical—for the Indians were in the mood for
any kind of mischief—that most timely and welcome relief
came from an unexpected quarter.
It seemed that Tasga's mother, the chief's favourite wife,
and some of the other women of the camp had been unobserved spectators of the game of defending the citadel which
Rae had introduced, and they had thought it very good
sport indeed up to this point. But now their quick instinct
told them that the fun was changed to earnest, arid that they
had better interfere, so, shouting shrill commands addressed
to their respective sons, they hurried up the hill to where
the ring of excited boys had closed ominously around Rae. AFLOAT AGAIN.
They did not stop to inquire into the merits of the
matter. They simply laid hands upon the boys, and pulled
them away, until at last Rae was left standing alone, a trifle
dazed and out of breath, but as full of spirit as ever, while
Tasga, struggling vainly to escape from his mother's sinewy
grasp, glared at him with the eyes of an enraged panther.
Now Rae's perceptions were as keen as could be at all
expected in a boy of his age, and he did not need to look
around twice to take in the fact that the more quickly he
made himself scarce in that particular locality the greater
practical wisdom he would show.
It might seem more dignified to stand his ground, and
demand an explanation of Tasga's inexcusable outbreak, but
it certainly was not expedient; so relieving his mind by
calling out jauntily, " Well, good-bye till you learn how to
behave better," he dived through the circle of boys and
women, and making no pretence to stand upon the order
of his going, set off at full speed for the beach, and, launching his canoe, had got a hundred yards out into the bay
before the Indian boys could break away from the women's
hands to follow him.
Mr. Finlayson enjoyed a hearty laugh at Rae's vivacious
recital of his exciting experience, even though he regretted
the turn affairs had taken.
"It's too bad, Rae, these young rascals didn't behave
better. I was hoping you'd be able to make friends with
them. But they're all a bad lot, I'm afraid, and we'll just
have to give up the idea of trying to be sociable. They're
not to be trusted, any of them, old or young, and I'm glad 124
AFLOAT AGAIN.
we've found it out before they had the chance to do us any
harm. You'll have to stick pretty close by the fort after
this, and not go out of sight unless you are with the men."
Rae could not dispute the propriety of this injunction, and
yet it certainly was hard for an active, enterprising boy like
-himself to be confined to the enclosure of the fort, unless
some of the men happened to be going into the woods or
out upon the bay. Of course they did this nearly every
day, and were always glad of his company.
But even then Rae often found the time hang heavy
upon his hands, and accordingly when one of the company's
schooners came up from Fort Vancouver with some supplies
for Fort Camosun, and he learned that she was to continue
her voyage as far as Fort Simpson, the thought at once
came into his mind of going with her.
At first Mr. Finlayson strongly objected. He was not
only very loath to part with Rae—for the boy was the very
apple of his eye—but he did not altogether think it a safe
expedition. The schooner, to be sure, could follow the
inner course, and not go out into the ocean. Still there were
dangers even in these land-locked straits and inlets; and,
moreover, Rae was undoubtedly inclined to be rash, however seriously he might purpose to be cautious.
Yet Rae pressed his petition so warmly, supporting it
with such promises of being careful, and the captain of the
Plover seemed so willing to take the boy, that in the end
Mr. Finlayson's resolution weakened, and he gave a manifestly reluctant consent.
*'* It's foolish, of course, for me to pay attention to it," he AFLOAT AGAIN
I25
said, "but somehow or other I've the feeling that you'd
better not go, Rae."
" Well, father," responded Rae, making a heroic effort to
compose himself, " if you really don't want me to go, I won't
ask you any more. But"—and here there came into his
countenance a pathetic look that somehow brought out with
special emphasis his resemblance to his dead mother—"you
know there's not much fun for me here, and I do so love to
be at sea."
It was now the father's turn to be heroic. Laying a
firm hand upon his own feelings, he let a pleasant smile take
the place of the grave look his face had worn, and giving
Rae a little push from him, said in a jocular tone,—
" Oh! all right then, have your own way.    You don't
want to  be- tied to  your father's coat-tails, that's  plain
enough, and I suppose it's no more than natural.     You
didn't get  your  fondness for  the water from me, that's
certain.    I'm quite content with dry land, and you make
me  feel  a good deal   like  the  old  hen  that  hatched a
©
duckling."
In high glee at having gained his father's consent, Rae,
after thanking him warmly, rushed off to tell Captain
Hanson, and to make arrangements for the trip.
The Plover had a neat little cabin in which there was a
spare berth that Rae could have, and the boy found huge
delight in getting his various belongings aboard, and stowing them away in the lockers beneath his berth.
He had only one day in which to do this, so that the
hours  were full   of  bustle;   but,   thanks  to his father's 126
AFLOAT AGAIN.
affectionate care, nothing was omitted that he could possibly
need. Indeed, no lad ever went upon a similar expedition
more completely equipped. Beside a chest full of clothing,
he had another containing ammunition, medicines, trinkets
for barter with the savages, knives, hatchets, pistols, and
some carefully-packed dainties to vary the monotony of the
fare on shipboard. Thus with his fine rifle and handsome
hunting-knife he lacked positively nothing, and it was
with no small degree of pride that he exhibited his outfit
to Captain Hanson, who showed himself duly impressed
thereby.
The Plover sailed on a beautiful morning in late spring,
and the last that Rae saw of the fort as the vessel rounded
the point, was his father standing upon the southern bastion
waving his hat in farewell. Little did the boy imagine how
many days would pass, and what strange adventures he
would have, ere his eyes once more fell upon that familiar
figure. Happily for him the future seemed as bright as the
day itself, and he took no anxious thought for the morrow.
Gliding out into the broad Strait of Juan de Fuca, the
Plover caught in her white sails the full strength of the
breeze blowing in from the Pacific, and thrashed merrily
through the white caps that flecked the blue brine. Rae
romped about the deck in great spirits. He had nothing to
fear from sickness this time, and the more the trim little
vessel heeled over at the bidding of the breeze the better it
suited him, even though he had to hold on tight by the
main shrouds to save himself from rolling ignominiously
into the lee-scuppers. AFLOAT AGAIN. 127
If he had known that famous old song,—
" A wet sheet and a flowing sea,
A wind that follows fast,
And fills the white and rustling sail,
And bends the gallant mast,"
he certainly would have been singing it with the full force
of his lungs; but, lacking this knowledge, he had to content
himself with successive exclamations of delight as the
schooner ploughed her way swiftly northward, steering for
the western shore of San Juan Island.
Her course lay close to that island and through Haro
Strait, and the strong fresh westerly breeze being all that
could be desired, making but little tacking necessary, Captain
Hanson at the tiller did not require to give his whole
attention to it, and was ready to answer the questions Rae
showered upon him, and to tell what he knew of the different places coming into view.
" Do we stop anywhere on the way to Fort Simpson ?"
he asked, wondering if the country on either side of the
strait had other inhabitants than wild animals, and perhaps
a few Indians.
"Why, yes," replied the captain; "we'll put in at
Nanaimo for a couple of days, and we must call at Port
Rupert. Why do you ask, Rae? Do you think you'll be
getting tired of the schooner ?"
o o
" Oh, no," responded Rae, " not that at all; but you see
I've a lot of trinkets and things to buy furs with if I get
a chance, and I'm glad you do stop somewhere, for I suppose
there'll be some Indians around, and I can do a little trade
on my own account." 128
AFLOAT AGAIN.
"Just listen to the lad!" laughed the captain. "Why,
you don't look old enough to be done playing, and yet here
you are planning how to make your fortune at trading.
You evidently believe in beginning young, Rae."
"I do that," returned Rae promptly. "I want to make
my way in the world, and the sooner I begin the better.
I don't want my father to be doing everything for me,
although "—and here he gave a laugh that was half a sigh at
the thought of his father left lonely at the fort—11 am sure
he'd rather do it than have me go away from him; but a
fellow must strike out for himself some time, mustn't he,
captain ?" and he turned an appealing look upon the master
of the schooner, being anxious that he should justify his
course of action in coming away.
" To be sure, to be sure," asserted the mariner as cordially
as Rae could desire. " Not that I blame your father at all,
you know," he hastened to add. " If I had a boy like you,"
and he gave Rae a glance of frank approval, " I'd see it his
way, no doubt. Now there's poor little Freckles there, if his
father had lived to give him a fair start he'd perhaps have
come to something; but you see he died when Freckles was
nothing but a baby, and the mother soon followed him, and
the little fellow was knocked about there at Vancouver, the
Indians seeming to be kinder to him than the white folks
most of the time, until he came to be not much better than
a half-breed cub, although there's not a drop of Indian blood
in his veins."
" Poor Freckles!" said Rae in a tone of deep sympathy;
" is that what makes him so queer ?    I didn't like him a bit AFLOAT AGAIN
129
until now, but I feel so sorry for him I'm just going to be
friends with him."
" Go ahead by all means, my boy," said the captain.
" The poor lad seems frightened of me, although I haven't
meant to be hard on him, and I just took him on board to
get him away from the fort, they were all so down on him
there."
Freckles was a boy about Rae's own age that filled the
same position on board the schooner that the little servant
girl does in a London boarding-house. He was cabin boy,
cook's help, and sailor's drudge combined.
However pathetic his history, his personal appearance
was anything but attractive; indeed it would not be easy
to picture a boy more lacking in elements of interest. He
was lanky and loose-strung of figure. His features seemed
moulded each after a different pattern, his nose being as long
and as thick as his lips were contracted and thin, while his
eyes were out of harmony with both. His otherwise colourless complexion was thickly dotted over with freckles of
phenomenal size and depth of tint, hence the nickname
which had practically supplanted his proper designation.
As for his expression, he always seemed to be suggesting, if
not actually saying, " You may kick me if you want to, but
please don't!"
Yet Freckles, whose right name by the way was Rory
M'Callum, had honest Scotch blood in his veins, and it was
only the hardships of his lot working upon a naturally shy,
sensitive nature which had made him what he was. But
little kindness had he ever known, though more than his 13°
AFLOAT AGAIN.
share of cuffs had fallen to him, and he presented a startling
contrast to Rae, who had always lived in an atmosphere of
love and prosperity.
The idea of cultivating Freckles's acquaintance in order
to be kind to him having entered Rae's mind, it was not his
way to tarry long about putting it into execution, and so, as
soon as he saw the boy alone, leaning over the bulwark in
a disconsolate fashion watching the waves dashing against
the schooner's side, he went up to him, saying cheerily,—
" She's going fine, isn't she, Freckles ?   Don't you love
sailing along like this ?"
©        ©
There was such unmistakable good-fellowship in the tone
no less than in the words themselves that Freckles fairly
gasped with astonishment. He had not been addressed in
that fashion for many a day, and there were tears in his
pale blue eyes as he turned them upon Rae.
" Yes, sir," he murmured almost inaudibly, " the Plover
is a good sailer, and Captain Hanson knows how to make
her go her best."
Rae laughed merrily at the first part of Freckles's
response.
"Look here," he said good-humouredly, "you mustn't
say c sir' to me, Freckles. I'm no older than you are, and
I'm not your master anyway. Keep your c sirs' for the
captain, and just call me Rae.   Do you understand ?':
" Yes, sir—Rae, I mean," stammered Freckles, who still,
it was clear, felt ill at ease, despite Rae's anxiety for him to
come upon an even footing with himself.
" There you go again, Freckles," laughed Rae.    " You're AFLOAT AGAIN
J3i
perfectly ridiculous, and you must get over it right away if
you want to be friends."
There was something so sincere and frank in Rae's advances that even timid, doubting Freckles began to feel his
heart expand in response to them, and there came a new
light into his eye and an unaccustomed flush to his cheek
as he said shyly,—
" I'd like to be friends with you if you'll let me. I've
never had a friend. Everybody's been hard on me except
Captain Hanson."
" Of course I'll let you, Freckles," responded Rae heartily;
"that's just what I've been trying to get into your head.
You see I'm going to be on board the Plover for the next
couple of months, and we can have good times together,
can't we ?"
Freckles's reply was a nod of unusual vigour for him,
and he was just about to say something, when a sharp call
of " Freckles, Freckles! where are you, you lubber ? I from
the galley made him start as if he had been struck, and
he scuttled off to obey the cook's behests, whatever they
might be.
" Poor Freckles!" soliloquized Rae, following the shambling figure with a look of sympathy. " He's had a hard
time of it, that's certain; but I'll do what I can to make
things easier for him."
All that day the Plover kept steadily on through the
beautiful straits that divided the islands which made a
regular archipelago of the sea intervening between Vancouver Island and the mainland.    A more enchanting sail 132
AFLOAT AGAIN.
vi
1
could hardly be imagined. The breeze was steady and
strong; the sun shone with unclouded brilliancy; the shores
on either hand were clothed to the very water's edge with
the richest verdure; the white and gray gulls floated high
in the air in great circles, or swam gracefully upon the
wave-tops; but no sign of human habitation could be discerned. The speedy schooner seemed to be voyaging into
an earthly paradise whose utter loneliness required some
explanation; for what fairer spot could men wish to
inhabit ?
This was the inquiry which rose in Rae's mind after he
had been a long time scanning the landscape in the hope of
detecting some sign of the presence of man, and he went to
Captain Hanson with it.
" Do any people live on the land there ? | answered the
captain; " well, not many, I should say—leastwise, I've never
seen them. But then I've only been through here a couple
of times before, and I've never landed except at Nanaimo."
I I'm sure it must be a fine country for Indians," said
Rae, "and I wonder you haven't landed to see if there
weren't some of them about."
The captain turned round so as to look straight into
Rae's face.
I You sly fellow I don't I know what you're driving at!
You want me to put in at some likely place on the chance
of finding Indians for you to work off some of your trinkets.
Isn't that it ?"
Rae blushed as he nodded assent, adding,—
"Well, that's all right, captain, isn't it?    I want very AFLOAT AGAIN.
I33
much to bring home some good skins to make a present to
father for being so good as to let me go with you."
" Right enough, my boy," responded the captain; " and
I'd be glad enough to oblige you if I could only spare the
time, but I've got to push on as fast as I can, for they'll be
waiting for me at Fort Simpson."
That Captain Hanson was sincere in his reason for not
delaying was evident from the way he seized every opportunity to get all the speed he could out of the Plover, and
the sturdy little schooner fairly tore through the water
under the pressure of a full cloud of canvas.
Skirting the eastern shore of Galliano and Gabriola
islands, there lay on their right the glorious Gulf of Georgia,
whose waters in the day-time were the playground of schools
of black whales that afforded Rae constant amusement by
their antics, and at night glowed with brilliant phosphorescence beyond the power of words to describe.
Nanaimo was reached in good time, and Rae had leave
from Captain Hanson to spend the whole day ashore, as the
schooner would not start again until the following morning.
He at once asked that Freckles be allowed to accompany
him; and his request being granted, he proceeded to fit out
the delighted boy for hunting, as he intended to get somebody from the fort to act as guide and take him into the
forest.
Finding that Freckles knew nothing about the use of a
rifle, he gave him a pistol with instructions not to fire it
unless he was very near what he wanted to shoot, and also
a hatchet and hunting-knife to hang in his belt. 134
AFLOAT AGAIN.
I
Thus equipped, and with a whole day's respite from
work before him, Freckles became almost radiant. He had
never before in his life felt so elated. Rae's championship
and society were already beginning to work a change in him
for the better.
At the fort Rae had no difficulty in securing the services
of a half-breed as guide, and then set forth into the forest
sanguine of returning with a good bag.
The half-breed knew the country round about thoroughly well, and Rae having promised him a silver half-
dollar if they had a good day's shooting, he was determined
to earn the reward.
It was not long before they came upon grouse in plenty,
and Rae used his rifle with such good effect that presently
as many birds were secured as they cared to carry. Freckles,
stimulated by his companion's example, tried his luck with
the pistol, and, as much to his surprise as delight, actually
succeeded in winging a young bird, that, after an exciting
chase, he was able to finish with a blow from a stick.
Thus they journeyed on, enjoying themselves thoroughly,
and getting deeper into the forest, until by noon Rae thought
they had gone far enough. So they halted for lunch beside
a small stream of cool, clear water, it being decided to retrace their steps as soon as they had eaten and rested.
The half-breed bore a capacious knapsack well filled with
biscuits and cold meat, and the three were having a good
time disposing of them in the shade of a big tree, when a
strange, wild scream rang through the forest that sent a
thrill through their hearts, and caused the half-breed dogs, AFLOAT AGAIN.
J35
two ugly curs of the kind always seen about an Indian
village, to set up a furious barking.
" A panther!" exclaimed the half-breed under his breath,
as though afraid of the animal hearing him. " He's seen us,
and he's angry."
At the mention of the word " panther," Rae's first feeling
was one of alarm, and .the impulse to fly came strongly over
him. But for very shame's sake he resisted it, and striving
to seem quite unconcerned, asked the half-breed in a voice
whose steadiness surprised himself,—
" Do you see him ?    Is he near us ?"
The half-breed, gazing intently in the direction whence
the cry had come, was silent for a few minutes; and then,
pointing to where the shade was deepest, he whispered,—
" There he is! see his eyes!"
Rae bent his eyes thither, and after a moment caught
the gleam of the creature's fiery orbs, as, crouching upon the
lower limb of a huge birch, it seemed ready to spring to the
attack on the slightest provocation.
Freckles at the first alarm had taken up his position
behind Rae, his right hand holding the pistol tremblingly,
while his left fumbled with the hatchet that hung in his
belt. He was thoroughly frightened, but preferred staying
with the others to running away alone.
When the first spasm of fright had passed with Rae
another feeling took its place—to wit, the ambition to kill
the fierce brute that had introduced itself so rudely, and to
bring its skin and head back to his father as a trophy of his
prowess.
(478) 9 136
AFLOAT AGAIN.
" I'd like to kill that panther," said he in a low tone to
the half-breed.    " Will you help me ?"
Now the half-breed would have very much preferred
beating a retreat, and leaving the panther in possession of
the field; but when Rae had the daring to propose that they
should stay and fight it out, he felt ashamed to refuse, so in
a very reluctant way he said,—
" All right ;• but we've got to look mighty sharp."
Conscious of tremors that he could not control, yet despising himself for having them, Rae looked carefully to his rifle
to^make sure that it was properly capped, then felt for his
hunting-knife, and gathered himself together for the struggle.
"Aren't you going to run for it?" came in a hoarse
whisper from behind, where Freckles stood, wondering why
flight was delayed an instant.
" No, I'm not," answered Rae without turning his head;
" but you may if you want to."
Freckles half turned as though to make a start, then
jerked himself back, looking very shamefaced.
" I won't run," he muttered, " since he won't."
Truly the latent forces of the poor boy's nature were
being brought out with astonishing rapidity in the new
atmosphere he was now breathing.
The panther, seeing that they intended to stand their
ground, seemed to lose some of the eagerness for the prey it
had first shown, and Rae, noting this, began to fear lest it
should turn tail and vanish into the depths of the forest.
" I'm going to try a shot at him; you fire too," said he to
the half-breed, who stood on his left. AFLOAT AGAIN
J37
The latter grunted assent, and, levelling the old flint-lock
that he carried, pulled the trigger at the same instant with
Rae. But only a single report rang out. The flint-lock had
missed fire, as it was apt to do only too often, earning many
a malediction from its disgusted owner.
Rae had taken careful aim for the space between those
flaming eyes, and that his bullet had sped straight and true
was evident from the panther tumbling in a yellow heap at
the foot of the tree, to be pounced upon by the snarling
dogs.
With a shout of exultation Rae rushed forward, in spite
of the warning of the half-breed, who knew well how mar-
vellously tenacious of life such creatures are. Nor was
the warning without good reason.
The panther had been " only scotched, not killed," by the
bullet, and a minute sufficed for it to recover itself sufficiently
to meet Rae with a roar, and a display of gleaming fangs
that brought his charge to a sudden stop.
" Take care!" cried the half-breed, who had kept some
distance in the rear, although Freckles had followed close
upon his friend's heels.
But there was neither time nor space to take care.
Switching its tail violently from side to side the panther for
an instant glared at Rae with eyes appalling in their baleful
intensity, and then launched its tawny form full at him!
Whence came the inspiration Rae assuredly could not
tell, but in that awful moment when the infuriated creature
was manifestly gathering itself for the spring the thought
flashed into the boy's mind: " If I stand still, I cannot escape I
138 AFLOAT AGAIN.
it.    If I try to run, it will be upon my back.    But if I dart
towards it at the same moment that it springs, won't it leap
clear over me ?"
Arguing thus, he threw himself forward as though he
©     © > ©
were diving, falling headlong full ten feet from the spot
upon which he had been standing when the panther sprang
at him.
The scheme succeeded admirably. Instead of being
struck down by those dreadful claws he escaped untouched,
the brute landing a yard beyond him.
But was it only a temporary respite ? Before he could
do anything in self-defence the panther would be on him
again unless instantly checked, and who was to do this ?
The half-breed's gun was empty, and he himself stood twenty
feet away, seeming afraid to render assistance.
Could any aid be hoped from Freckles ? CHAPTER IX.
A  WHALE   AND  A  WHIRLPOOL.
7^0 the end of his days Freckles was never able to
explain how he came to do it, although he was fond
of telling the story, because he always considered his action
then the greatest achievement of his life.
This was what occurred. The spring of the panther,
which had carried it beyond Rae, brought it almost at
Freckles's feet, and instead of quailing before the furious
brute, the boy, inspired by a passionate anxiety for Rae
rather than by any concern for his own safety, thrust his
pistol right into the animal's gaping mouth, and pulled the
tr
digger.
It could not have been better done. The bullet crashed
into the creature's brain, and with a frightful contortion it
rolled over between the two boys, this time dead beyond a
doubt.
Springing to his feet Rae rushed at Freckles, and throwing his arms about his neck hugged him affectionately, at
the same time waltzing him round on the sward, while he
shouted joyously,—
:t Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah! we're the boys for the pan- 140
A   WHALE AND A   WHIRLPOOL
triers! Aren't we, Freckles ? I hit him first, and you
finished him off. That's the way to do it." And round and
round he went, until, getting completely out of breath, he let
go of Freckles, and threw himself down on the grass to rest.
To have a demonstration like this made over him was
such a novelty to Freckles that he had no idea how to re-
spond to it, so he just quietly submitted, but his happy face
showed how he enjoyed it all. As for the half-breed, when
he had recovered from his astonishment at both the boys
escaping unhurt, he cautiously approached the panther, and
after touching it with his foot to try if it was unquestionably dead, cut the creature's throat so as to make assurance
doubly sure.
" Hadn't you better skin him while you're about it ?"
suggested Rae.    " I want his fur, and his head too, to take
©© ? *
home to my father."
Nothing loath, the half-breed went to work in a way
that showed him to be an experienced hunter, and it was
not long before he had the panther stripped of his yellow
coat and neatly decapitated.
This accomplished, the next business was to get back to
Nanaimo with all speed, for the afternoon shadows were
already lengthening.
Thanks to the half-breed's intimate acquaintance with
the country, they were able to take a shorter route than
that by which they had come, and it was not yet dark when
they reached the fort, where Captain Hanson was awaiting
them with rising impatience.
* What's kept you so long ?" he demanded.    " I was just ' Freckles thrust his pistol right into the animal's gaping mouth.
Page 139.  A   WHALE AND A   WHIRLPOOL
h;
about thinking of sending out a couple of the Indians to
hunt you up."
" That's what kept us, captain," replied Rae, pointing to
the tawny bundle that the half-breed bore. " Open it out
and show him what it is," he added in a tone of triumph to
the dusky porter.
The half-breed threw the bundle down, and spread out
the skin so that it seemed to belong to a larger animal than
was really the case.
" There now !" Rae cried proudly. " What do you think
of that?"
Captain Hanson's eyes opened wide with wonder.
" Hollo !" he exclaimed, " that was a nasty brute. How did
you kill him ?" and he looked at the half-breed as though
he took it for granted the credit would belong to him.
" No, no," said Rae energetically, rightly interpreting the
captain's glance. " He had nothing to do with it. We did
it all ourselves, didn't we, Freckles ?"
" You did ?" queried the captain; " and how did Freckles
help?"
Thereupon Rae related the whole story, Freckles listening with as much interest as though it were all new to him.
o ©
When he had finished, Captain Hanson gave them each
a hearty clap on the back, saying,—
"Good for you, boys ! You're regular heroes. Won't your
father be proud of you, Rae ? And as for you, Freckles, I've
got quite a different notion of you. I'd no idea there was
such good stuff in you."
Freckles blushed violently and looked as if he'd like to fill
144
A   WHALE AND A   WHIRLPOOL.
run away from such unaccustomed praise. As for making
any reply, that was quite beyond his powers.
The men at the fort pronounced the panther's skin a
very good specimen indeed, and an old Indian who had skill
in that business undertook to prepare it carefully, and have
it all ready for Rae when the schooner called on her way
back from Fort Simpson.
At daylight the following morning the Plover bade goodbye to Nanaimo, and resumed the voyage northward. The
prosperous weather continued, and the sail up the broad
Gulf of Georgia was altogether delightful. At Rae's intercession, Captain Hanson relieved Freckles of his duties as
cook's assistant and sailor's fag, directing him simply to act
as cabin boy, keeping the cabin in order, and being ready to
do anything for him that might be required.
This change of work gave him a good deal more leisure,
and this was just what Rae wanted, as the boys were then
able to be a good deal together, and Rae found Freckles to
be by no means the poor company he seemed at first. The
boy had a good deal of ingenuity, and was quite clever with
his fingers, while his brain could work actively enough
under favourable circumstances.
The small black whales that romped about in the blue
water interested the boys greatly, and one morning, when
the schooner was lying becalmed, Rae asked Captain Hanson
to allow him to go off in the boat with a couple of the
sailors, and see if they could not harpoon a whale just for
the fun of the thing.
As there seemed no prospect of a breeze for a couple of A   WHALE AND A   WHIRLPOOL.
145
hours at least, the captain consented, on condition that the
boat should not go more than half-a-mile from the schooner;
so off they started, Rae, Freckles, and the two youngest
sailors—an enterprising quartette indeed.
As their object was amusement, not business, Rae undertook the harpooning, while the sailors had the oars, and
Freckles held the tiller.
The surface of the bay was glassy smooth, except where
broken into ripples by the gambols of the whales. It was
not easy to get near enough to any of the big fish, although
they did not seem to be keeping any sort of a look-out, but
just having a good time among themselves. Again and
again the boat was sent after one of them in vain, and the
sailors were beginning to get.tired of the work and to suggest returning to the schooner, when, in the nick of time,
they got within striking distance of a fine big fellow, and,
with a tremendous effort, Rae hurled the heavy harpoon so
that it sank deep into the black shiny body just below the
fore-fin.
The instant it felt the iron the whale rushed forward
a little way, and then dived, taking out the line at a
tremendous rate, until the whole length of it (which was
only a couple of hundred yards, for it was not a regular
whaling line) had been exhausted.
In his eagerness to follow its course, Rae had continued
standing in the bow of the boat, and Freckles for the same
reason had jumped up on the stern thwarts, where he stood
craning his long thin neck as he watched the outrunning
line. 146
A   WHALE AND A   WHIRLPOOL.
I
Now Rae had fastened the boat end of the line to the
bow seat, and when the last foot had run out the whale,
of course, did not stop to consider the consequence of the
sudden strain that must come, but kept right on, the effect
being to give a tremendous jerk that sent Rae sideways
overboard, threw Freckles backward into the water, and
tumbled both the sailors in the bottom of the boat as
though they had simultaneously " caught a crab."
Captain Hanson, who saw the whole thing from the
schooner, where he was lounging upon the poop, burst into
a roar of laughter that caused the cook to thrust his head
out of the galley with a look of inquiry on his countenance.
" Look there!" cried the captain, hardly able to speak
for laughing, pointing to the boat which lay motionless on
the water, for the sudden jerk had torn the harpoon from
its hold, and the whale's task of towing was over. " Oh!
if you only could have seen them turn somersaults, and
tumble into the water. I never saw anything funnier in
my life."
" But, captain, won't they be drownded ?" asked the cook
anxiously, as he caught sight of the two boys' heads bobbing
about in the water some yards astern of the boat.
" Not a bit of it, cookie," laughed the captain. " They
can both swim like seals, I know. See, they are making for
the boat now.    They're all right."
Sure enough the boys were already swimming towards
the boat, where the sailors awaited them with outstretched
arms, and in another minute they were both on board, save
for the wetting no worse for the mishap. A   WHALE AND A   WHIRLPOOL.
i47
They at once made their way back to the schooner, for
there was no more whale hunting to be done that day.
Rae seemed a good deal chagrined at the ludicrous termination of his enterprise. He hated being laughed at, and
Captain Hanson thought the affair altogether too good a
joke to be passed by in silence, so he indulged himself in
a good deal of banter, until, seeing that Rae's self-control
had about reached an end, he wound up with, " Oh, well,
better fortune next time, Rae. You made a fine throw of
the harpoon any way, and that whale won't forget you in a
hurry."
" No, nor I won't forget him," responded Rae ruefully.
" I never had such a toss before, and I'm not anxious ever
to have another, I can tell you."
Freckles said nothing at all. He had feared a scolding
from the captain, although he was in no wise to blame; but
there being no sign of this he held his peace, in spite of the
efforts of the men on board to draw him out.
By noon the much-desired breeze appeared in full force,
and Captain Hanson, eager to make up for lost time, clapped
on all sail, and steered a straight course for Discovery
Passage. His hope had been to reach there early in the
afternoon, so as to have plenty of time to pass through
before dark, for it was a difficult piece of navigation. But
the long morning's calm had upset his calculations, and it
was not far from sundown when the Plover made the
entrance to the passage.
Having been that way only once before, and then when
the tide was at the full, and the getting through an easy 148
A   WHALE AND A   WHIRLPOOL.
matter, he had no knowledge save from the stories of the
Indians, which he but half believed, of the dangers of the
Yaculta Rapids in the middle of the passage. According to
the Indians, these rapids were the home of an evil spirit
that abode in these depths, and delighted to lay violent
hands upon canoes, and to drag their occupants down to
death. As a matter of fact, they were the centre of action
of a maelstrom far more to be feared than the famous one of
Norway. When the tide from the Gulf of Georgia ebbed
out in full rush, the whole gorge would be white with
foam and filled with waves rising and breaking madly,
while deep, black, funnel-shaped holes boring down into the
water, and fountains boiling up like geysers, boded ill for
the fate of any vessel, great or small, that might be so
unfortunate as to be caught in this mighty whirlpool.
Borne on by the breeze, the little Plover, all unwitting
of the perils ahead, kept her course steadily, and Captain
Hanson was just about congratulating himself upon the
progress made, and beginning to look around for a convenient cove wherein to anchor for the night, when the
schooner rounding a bend in the passage came right upon
the maelstrom, already working with menacing vigour.
At once the command was given to " about ship," and
every effort was put forth to save the vessel from the grasp
of the dread whirlpool. But it was too late. Already
Yaculta, as the Indians called the supposed evil spirit, had
hold of her keel, and, instead of moving away from the
danger, the schooner drew swiftly nearer to it.
Realizing the futility of escape, Captain Hanson ordered A   WHALE AND A   WHIRLPOOL.
149
down all the sails, and bidding every one lay hold of something that might serve to float them if the schooner sank,
he added,—
" We're in a bad ^x, and God knows how we'll get out
of it. You must be ready for the worst. The Plover's a
stanch little craft, but she's got a hard fight before her.
We can only hope for the best. If she does go down, perhaps we'll be able to scramble ashore somehow."
The prospect of accomplishing this seemed very frail
indeed; and as Rae gazed in growing terror at the leaping
waves and boiling swirls, into the midst of which they were
helplessly speeding, he felt a pang of regret that he had
ever left Fort Camosun at all.
But it was too late to do anything else than regret it
now. They were all within the power of Yaculta, and
could do nothing save pray for deliverance.
The schooner presently began to take on a circular
motion, and the wisdom of the captain in ordering down
the sails now manifested itself, for the violent swaying to
and fro of the vessel threatened to tear the masts from their
sockets; and if the sails had still been set, they assuredly
would have gone by the board.
The Plover and her crew were in a perilous plight
indeed. The violence of the whirl evidently increased
instead of lessened. On'every side great funnel-like pits
opened in the water, any one of which seemed large enough
to engulf the schooner; and, to crown all, darkness was
rapidly drawing near.
Possessed by a common fear, all the members of the i5°
A   WHALE AND A   WHIRLPOOL
vessel's company gathered about Captain Hanson at the
stern, all distinction of rank being forgotten in the face of
the awful danger they shared.
Rae grasped the captain's arm with one hand, and with
the other took hold of Freckles. No one spoke. There was
a strange fascination in the whirling, seething waters that
paralyzed speech, if not thought itself.
Round and round the schooner spun, the circle of her
orbit growing ever smaller, until it seemed as though there
could be only one more turn and then she must plunge bow
first into the glossy chasm yawning to receive her. But
before this happened the whirlpool suddenly filled up, and
she came to rest for a moment in a space of comparatively
smooth water.
" Thank God!" ejaculated the captain; " I thought we
must go down."
Yet the danger was not over. Another whirl formed
almost immediately, that in its turn caught the unresisting
schooner in its perilous embrace, and once more the terrifying motion was begun.
o ©
Never could Rae forget that experience. On either side
of the passage the tree-clad shores were silently darkening
as night came on; beyond the sphere of the whirlpool the
water lay still and smooth as glass; in the soft warm air the
night hawks were already swooping this way and that,
uttering their jarring notes; all was quiet and peaceful save
where the sturdy little schooner struggled bravely with the
fell might of the maelstrom, which strove with seeming
diabolic zeal to drag her down into its fatal depths. A   WHALE AND A   WHIRLPOOL.
151
In its erratic course, as she was flung from one whirl to
another, the Plover worked over towards the eastern side
of the passage, until she approached so near that Captain
Hanson thought he saw a chance of escape. Against either
bulwark were lashed two great long sweeps, for use in event
of it being necessary to move a short distance during a
calm. In them now lay his hope of salvation for himself
and his companions.
I Stand by to pull out the sweeps !" he cried. | Quick
now, every one of you."
The three sailors and the cook each sprang for a sweep,
cut the lashings with their knives, and in a trice had the
heavy things in the water and ready for use, with the fore
and main stays doing duty as thole-pins.
" Give way now, my men, with all your might! Give
way, I tell you!" was the next order. And keeping their
balance as best they could on the rocking, deck, the men
bent to the oars, while the captain jammed the tiller hard-a-
port, and the two boys held their breath in anxiety for the
result.
For some minutes the whirlpool seemed to laugh at
their efforts, but presently the schooner showed some signs
of responding to the double appeal of oars and rudder,
noting which Captain Hanson cried with the ring of growing confidence in his tone, "She feels you; she's moving
right!    Pull away, pull away!    Give it to her!"
They did pull away, putting every ounce of muscle in
their bodies into each stroke; and Rae and Freckles joined
their boyish strength to that of the two men nearest the stern. T52
A   WHALE AND A   WHIRLPOOL.
" Keep it up !" roared the captain, pressing hard on the
tiller that seemed to be fighting with him for its freedom;
" we're gaining headway."
Sure enough so they were. The sweeps had been put
in at a fortunate moment, and their influence slowly but
steadily made itself felt. Little by little the schooner
moved towards the outer ring of the whirl, until presently,
she was held by that circle alone.
Then shouting, " Back water, port! Pull hard, starboard !" he swung the tiller round to the other side, and,
responding to the pressure, the gallant little Plover edged
herself clear out of the cruel whirlpool into the kindly
placid water of a welcoming cove just before the last ray of
light faded from the western sky and darkness fell upon all.
Exhausted by their tremendous efforts, the sailors barely
had strength to let go the anchor before they flung themselves down on the deck, panting like hounds after a long
chase.
Rae rushed up to the captain, and taking his big brown
hairy right hand between both of his, fairly hugged it in
the energy of his joy.
"Oh, sir!" he exclaimed, "but that was a close shave,
wasn't it? I was sure that awful whirlpool was going
to get us."
"And I don't mind allowing that I was somewhat of
the same opinion myself, Rae," responded Captain Hanson.
" But a miss is as good as a mile; and now we've got out of
© / ©
it, we'll take good care to stay out, I can tell you."
Remaining in the cove all night, the Plover awaited the A   WHALE AND A   WHIRLPOOL.
153
hour next day when the tide had reached its full height,
obliterating all the treacherous whirls, and then taking advantage of a strong breeze blowing straight up the passage,
she spread her white wings and sped swiftly out of the
Yaculta's realm, bearing away a remembrance of one awful
hour there that would endure as long as memory lasted.
Working her way through Johnstone Strait into Queen
Charlotte Sound, she safely threaded the intricacies of the
Broughton Archipelago, and so came out into the open
stretch at the head of Vancouver Island, where the good
luck which had hitherto attended her course deserted her
for a while, and she had to struggle against baffling head
winds and through bewildering mists and fog that demanded all the seamanship and watchfulness of captain and
crew to reckon with.
Rae found this part of the trip desperately dull. The
drenching mists made staying on deck most uncomfortable,
even though there had been anything to see or do there, and
the small cabin felt very close and stuffy. His chief resource lay in his books, of which he had brought a box
containing " Robinson Crusoe," " Arabian Nights," " Captain
Cook's Voyages," and also the works of Shakespeare, Scott,
and Milton; for his father, like most Scotsmen, possessed a
fine literary taste, and had taken pains to cultivate Rae's
interest in the great masters of literature, so that the boy
had already learned to appreciate, in no small degree, the
beauty and sublimity of their work.
Whenever Freckles had an hour to spare, Rae would read
to him; and it was wonderful, in view of the small chance the
(478) 10 i54
A   WHALE AND A   WHIRLPOOL.
boy had hitherto had of developing his intellect, how much
he understood and enjoyed of the treasures in prose and
poetry thus revealed to him for the first time.
He would listen to Rae with open mouth, eyes alight
with intelligence, and heart throbbing with vivid interest:
and whenever the reader paused—for his innate courtesy
kept him from interrupting—he would have questions to
ask that Rae was often sore put to to answer aright. Indeed, sometimes he couldn't answer them to his own satisfaction, and would have recourse to Captain Hanson, who
had a pretty well-stored mind; and in this way the man
and the two boys were brought closer to one another, and
their friendship made rapid progress.
Rae found no small pleasure in acting as Freckles's
teacher. Under his father's directions, and with his constant encouragement and aid, he had himself been educated
in a way that, if it was not altogether in accordance with
the usual scholastic methods, at least gave him the command
of an amount of practical knowledge that many boys
brought up in cities might well have envied.
The three R's he had long ago mastered, while in
history, geography, and English literature he had made
good progress. The best feature of his training was this—
he had not merely learned enough to take rank with the
ordinary schoolboy of his age, but he had imbibed the
spirit of learning.     He was always eager to know more
about things.    He had a strong ambition for intellectual as
© ©
well as physical prowess.
In Freckles he found as earnest a scholar as teacher A   WHALE AND A   WHIRLPOOL.
155
could desire, albeit the poor boy's utter lack of opportunity in the past made him surprisingly ignorant of many
things that Rae thought he ought to know. Of course Rae
could not always bear this in mind, and sometimes his
patience would be overtried by Freckles's foolish answers or
stupid questions.
But when he would say something sharp and stinging,
instead'of attempting to retort, Freckles would put both his
hands to his face, after a fashion he had, as though he were
trying to hide behind them, and murmur piteously,—
" Forgive Freckles; Freckles did not know better."
Whereupon Rae's warm heart would swell with sympathy, and he'd pull the boy's hands down, saying soothingly,—
" Oh, don't mind me, I'm such a spitfire.     Try again,
now."
So Freckles would make another attempt; and thus the
teaching proceeded, with considerable benefit to Freckles
at least. CHAPTER X.
11
RASPBERRIES  AND  OULACHAN.
AS the Plover kept on her way to Milbank Sound, and
the mists continued to hang about her, Captain
Hanson often had recourse to a method of piloting that
could hardly have been relied upon elsewhere.
The shores rose steep and rocky from the sea, and gave
back a quick, clear echo to the voice, taking advantage of
which the mariner, trusting to his acute senses, felt his course
along by the way the sound of his hail was flung back to
him. It was, to be sure, a rather dangerous method, to be
attempted only by expert pilots; but Captain Hanson had
faith in himself, and only once did his skill seem to fail him.
The fog had been particularly thick, and the breeze
light and baffling, so that his patience had been tried to the
utmost, and he had come as near to feeling reckless as
was possible in one of his cautious nature. He was very
anxious to reach Milbank Sound before nightfall, and so
kept on one tack rather longer than was just wise.
Rae, in default of other amusement, had gone up to the
bow to watch the waves curling away from the schooner's
cutwater; then tiring of this, he had crawled out on the
■53P RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
i57
bowsprit as far as he could, and strove to pierce the obscurity of the enfolding fog.
His position gave him the first glimpse of the danger
ahead; and he had just time to turn and shout with all his
might,  " Captain Hanson,  look  out!   we're running  into
something!" when right in front of the schooner there sud-
© ©
denly loomed out of the mist a great dark body that might
have been the side of a mountain.
Instantly the captain put the helm hard-a-port, at the
same moment roaring to the sailors to let go the main-
sheet. The obedient schooner swung round as though on
a pivot, until her sails flapped idly in the wind; and it was
not a moment too soon, for there, so close that its shiny
face might be touched from the deck with a long boat-hook,
was a pinnacle of rock rising sharp and stern from the sea,
one touch of which would have smashed the schooner's prow
into kindling-wood.
Captain Hanson drew a deep breath as the full sense of
the deadly peril in which he and his companions had been
came upon him.
I God bless your sharp eyes, my boy !" he exclaimed,
turning to Rae. §1 ought to have kept on hailing; but I
thought we were clear in the middle of the entrance to the
sound, and that I'd be only wasting my breath. That was
a close shave !—I know you, you scoundrel," he cried.
" You're one of those villanous needles that some old witch
must have stuck here to wreck good ships on. But
you've not got us this time, and we'll give you a wide
berth next time, I can tell you." i5»
RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
He had hardly spoken before, as if in obedience to the
touch of a fairy's wand, the fog vanished to right and left,
and Milbank Sound opened up bright and smiling on the
port-bow, inviting immediate entrance, and offering immunity from the dangers and difficulties which had been
besetting the schooner.
During the passage up the sound and through Graham
Reach, which divided Princess Royal Island from the mainland, Captain Hanson told Rae many stories of the Bella
Bella Indians, who inhabited that part of the coast, and
bore the reputation of being a most treacherous, bloodthirsty, and turbulent tribe.
" There's nothing too mean or too cruel for these vermin,"
said the captain, who hated anything underhand, and had
no respect for one who didn't fight fair. " They'll lie the
hide off their tongues. They'd cheat a blind baby out of
its rattle; and whenever they're in a big majority, they're
ready to kill us white men on sight for nothing more than
the tobacco in our pockets."
All this, of course, made Rae very curious to see some
specimens of the Bella Bellas, provided no risk be run in
doing so, and he was therefore well pleased when, as the
schooner was lying becalmed one morning about half-a-mile
off shore, a canoe was seen to emerge from a shadowy fiord,
and make towards the vessel in a cautious, tentative way,
as though its occupants were not at all sure of the reception
they might have.
When the canoe drew near, Rae could not help admiring
its fine lines and the curious carvings with which its bow
■^p RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
159
was enriched.     It had evidently been cut out of a single
white cedar trunk, and was about twenty feet in length by
two in breadth, with the gunwales spread outwards so as to
cast off the surge in rough water.    Six men kneeled along
© © ©
the bottom two by two, and with strong strokes of their
paddles sent the buoyant craft skimming through the water,
while a seventh Indian sat in the stern steering skilfully.
"It's perfectly amazing what the fellows will do in one
of these canoes," said the captain. " No storm scares them
if they want to be afloat, and they'll face a sea that I
wouldn't in the best ship's boat I've ever seen. I wonder
what they're after this time. If they've any good furs I'll
not object to trying a little trade with them, so long as no
more than three come aboard at once."
The canoe having come within hailing distance, Captain
Hanson mounted the poop, taking care to let his rifle, which
he held in his hand, be plainly in sight, and shouted out a
salutation he had learned on a previous voyage. The steersman of the canoe seemed surprised at the familiar words,
but answered promptly, at the same time holding up a big
beaver skin in token of his desire to trade.
The captain's eyes glistened at this, and he beckoned
the canoe alongside, saying to the steersman,—
"You come aboard alone. Let the others stay in the
canoe."
But the steersman did not like this idea. He apparently
feared treachery, and kept his seat, though still exhibiting the
beaver skin and pointing to a pile of others in front of him.
" The rascal's a good deal more afraid of us than we are i6o
RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
of him," laughed the captain. " Suppose you go on board
the canoe, Rae, and act as go-between. I don't want any
of them up on deck if I can help it."
Nothing loath, Rae clambered over the bulwark and
dropped into the canoe, rather to the astonishment of all its
occupants, none of whom had expected this move. But
their natural imperturbability was soon regained, and with
expectant eyes, but silent lips, they awaited the next proceeding.
Captain Hanson now handed Rae down a couple of
knives, and some of the trinkets which delight savage souls,
and asked the Indian to lay beside them on the thwart the
skins he was willing to give for them. At once the Bella
Bella showed himself a good bargainer, for his offer was manifestly below the market rates along the coast; and Captain
Hanson, not wanting to spend much time over the business,
as the wind might spring up at any minute, said impatiently,—
| Come now, none of your nonsense 1 just double that
quick, or there'll be no trading to-day."
The Indian looked up for a moment with a fierce, resentful gleam in his eyes, then quietly put as many more
skins on the pile.
I That's more like it," said the captain, j " Now keep it
up on that basis."
So the trading went on until the stock of skins had
passed from the hands of the Indians to the white men; and
Rae was about to climb back on the schooner, when a sharp
cry came from Freckles,—
" Look out for your knife, Rae !55
r1.
-"53P RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
161
In imitation of the sailors, Rae wore at his side a sheath-
knife of which he was very proud, and which he always
kept as keen as a razor. All the time he was in the canoe
one of the paddlers had been eying this knife with longing;
and when Rae turned his back to climb up the schooner's
side, he thought his chance had come.
But Freckles, whose fears had been excited by what
Captain Hanson had said concerning the evil character of
the Bella Bellas, and who in consequence had watched Rae
with some concern while the trading was going on, divined
the savage's predatory purpose ere he had time to execute
it, and uttered the cry of warning.
Rae did not wait to look around. He knew at once
what Freckles meant, and lashing out vigorously with his
right foot, caught the would-be thief so cleverly under the
chin as to tumble him over backwards across the canoe,
which he infallibly would have upset had not the steersman
instinctively thrown his weight to the other side, and thus
maintained the balance.
Not pausing to take in the effect of his kick, Rae threw
himself over the bulwark; and it was well he acted so
promptly, for the Indian he had thus capsized, while still
lying on his back, hurled his hatchet at him with murderous
fury, and it stuck quivering in the very spot where an
instant before he had been balancing himself.
" Ah, you would, would you ?' cried the captain fiercely
at this wicked though futile effort, and pointing his rifle
straight at the steersman, he roared, " Now get off with you
as quick as you can!   Do you hear me ?" 162
RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
He was both heard and understood. With faces full of
sullen fury the Indians plied their paddles, and the swift
canoe shot away from the schooner's side.
" A good riddance of bad rubbish," said the captain; and
then pointing at the nice little pile of prime beaver skins on
the poop, "But we've lost nothing by their acquaintance,
that's sure; and you, Rae, shall have the best skin in the
pack to remember the Bella Bellas by, seeing you've come
off with a whole skin yourself."
Keeping steadily on, the Plover passed through Grenville
Channel into Chatham Sound, and at last, one beautiful
afternoon, reached the end of her trip at Fort Simpson,
which occupied a commanding position on the north shore
of the Tsimshian Peninsula.
The schooner arrived just as the great spring fishery of
the oulachan, that remarkable little fish which is so highly
esteemed by the Indians of this district, was drawing to a
close, and Rae was astonished at the multitude of canoes
which blackened the beach and the number of lodges that
surrounded the stockade. He had never seen so many
Indians together in his life before, and their numbers somewhat appalled him.
" What a tremendous lot of them there is!" he said to
Captain Hanson, when the Plover, having safely avoided
the many rocks and ledges which complicated the passage,
had got to the wharf, and the Indians flocked down full of
curiosity. " Do they always keep quiet, and never give any
trouble ?"
" Indeed that they don't," laughed the captain.    " Why,
"S^ RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN
163
they've attacked the fort half-a-dozen times, and tried to
burn it down more than once; but they've always got the
worst of it, and they're learning more sense.   All the same,
I wouldn't trust any of them any further than I could see
them.   They're a poor lot at best."
When Rae heard this he made up in his mind that he
would never go ashore without his pistol and knife in his
belt, and that he'd take good care not to get out of sight of
* © © ©
the fort unless he was with a party.    His previous experience had taught him caution in this respect.
The scene around Fort Simpson was certainly a remarkable one. Fully ten thousand Indians were camped together
within a mile radius, the principal tribe being the Tsim-
shians, to whom the whole peninsula belonged, although a
score of other tribes were represented. What had brought
them was the oulachan fishery, now nearly at an end; and
the catch having been somewhat better than usual, they
were all in high good-humour, and unstinted feasting and
©    © > ©
revelry was the order of the day.
As soon as the schooner had been properly berthed, Captain Hanson went up to the fort, taking Rae with him.
They found the gate tightly closed, and sentinels with loaded
rifles looking down upon them from the top of the tall
stockade; for so long as the Indians were about, the garrison acted as if a state of siege prevailed, and nobody
was allowed to enter the gate until he had passed their
inspection.
Of course Captain Hanson was admitted at once, and he
and Rae received a warm welcome from the factor and his 164
RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
staff, who were exceedingly glad to have visitors from the
south with the latest news.
While his elders talked business, Rae amused himself
roaming about the enclosure, and comparing Fort Simpson
with Fort Camosun, his conclusion being that although the
former was certainly a very strong and well-built establishment, still his father's charge was upon the whole the best,
and he would a great deal rather have his home there than
amongst the Tsimshians.
Thus meditating, he came to a fence enclosing a primitive
kind of garden whose principal product seemed to be raspberry bushes, of which there was quite a thicket under the
lee of the lofty stockade.
The garden gate being open Rae ventured to enter, and
on approaching the bushes was delighted to find them laden
with berries the like of which he had never seen before.
He was both hungry and thirsty, and his mouth watered
for the tempting fruit. " I must have some of those berries,"
he said to himself. " I wonder whose they are." He glanced
around to see if there was anybody to ask, but besides the
sentinels away over at the gate no one was in sight.
1 There's such a lot of them," he went on, " they'll never
grudge me a few mouthfuls, so here goes;'' and without
more ado he began to pick.
Oh how delicious they were! Inch-long globes of crimson sweetness that had never known withering heat or
nipping cold, for the climate of the place is moist and warm
like that of a greenhouse.
Rae's first idea had been to eat only a few—just enough
■ssp RASPBERRLES AND  OULACHAN.
^5
to cool his mouth and satisfy his sense of taste—but the
very first berry that melted in his mouth banished  that
notion, and he attacked the bushes with  a vigour that
©
betokened a determination to make the utmost use of his
opportunity.
He had about got well started, and, with both right and
left hand going busily, was managing to keep his mouth
luxuriously full, when suddenly there fell upon his ear in a
harsh voice, with a decided Scotch accent, the demand,—
" Hi there, ma young callant! wha telt ye ye micht be
takin' ma berries the noo ?"
Rae gave a jump as though a bullet had hit him in the
back, and turning round faced his questioner with a countenance whose burning blushes betrayed his confusion. It
would have been utterly futile to feign innocence of berry-
picking, even had he been disposed to do so, which, however,
he was not; for whatever other faults Rae had, there never
could be any ground for doubting his veracity. With
fingers and lips stained so deeply that they outvied his fiery
cheeks, he stood silent. He had been caught red-handed,
and he was not going to aggravate the offence by proffering
trumpery excuses.
The old Scotchman seemed somewhat taken aback at
finding the despoiler of his garden to be an entire stranger;
but immediately recovering himself, he approached Rae with
so threatening a mien that the boy instinctively shrank
back, and looked around anxiously for some way of escape.
Only one avenue was open. He must dart across the
garden diagonally and leap the fence at the point farthest i66
RASPBERRIES AND OULACHAN.
away from the old man, who was now within a few yards
of him. To see his chance was to seize it. With the bound
of a startled deer he sprang away, and before the gardener
could turn to pursue him he had reached the fence. It was
not a high one, and touching his hands upon its upper bar
he vaulted over it easily, and was about to continue his
flight in the direction of the building where he had left
© ©
Captain Hanson, when another man came round the corner
of a storehouse near by, and the irate gardener shouted to
him,—
" Haud that fellow, wull ye, Jock, till I come up wi' ye ?"
Whereupon the man with a quick rush caught Rae by
the tail of his coat, and held him fast until the old Scotchman made his way around by the garden gate and hurried
up to them, looking the very picture of wrath.
But what he would have said or done to Rae must
remain only matter for conjecture, as just at this moment
the factor of the fort, accompanied by Captain Hanson,
appeared upon the scene, and at once inquired what all the
fuss was about. On being told by the gardener, who confidently counted upon the despoiling of his raspberry bushes
being adequately avenged, instead of looking grave, he burst
out laughing, and, laying his hand kindly on Rae's shoulder,
said in a conciliatory tone to the indignant informer,—
" Why, Tammas, if you knew who this is you wouldn't
be so wrathy. This is the son of your good friend, Mr.
Finlayson, now factor at Fort Camosun. Surely you
wouldn't deny him a helping of your fine berries."
The change that came over the old man's grizzled coun-
o ©
^m RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
167
tenance at this information was like the sun breaking
through a dark bank of clouds on a chill autumn day.
" And sae ye're Rod Finlayson's bairn!': he exclaimed,
taking hold of Rae's hands, and looking into his face as if to
try and trace a paternal likeness there. " Weel, weel, had I
but kenned it, you should have been fu' welcome to ilka
berry in the bit garden. Yer faither was a guid frien' to me
lang syne, and I'm verra sorry I spak sae uncouthly tae
ye. But ye'll no be mindin' an auld man, and ye'll hae yer
fill o' berries forbye."
And so saying, Tammas drew Rae back towards the
garden; and the boy, only too glad to finish his feast, went
willingly along, without troubling himself to inquire why
the old man held so high an opinion of his father.
It was not till he was returning to the schooner with
Captain Hanson that he learned the particulars. It seemed
that Tammas Saunders, who was one of the oldest employees
in the Hudson Bay Company's service on the coast, was also
one of the most difficult to manage, being given to occasional
over-indulgence in drink, and not at all amenable to discipline at any time.
Of the different officials under whom he had served from
time to time none had shown so much patience and forbearance as Mr. Finlayson, and finally, when dismissal by
chief factor Douglas seemed inevitable, he had secured for
him a commutation of the sentence to banishment to Fort
Simpson, where employment as gardener was given him, and
he behaved tolerably well.
For this reason he looked upon Mr. Finlayson as the i68
RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
best friend he had in the world, and in token of his regret
for the rough treatment he had shown his son before being
made aware of his identity, he appeared on the Plover early
the next morning with a large pannikin heaped full of
luscious berries.
I For the laddie's breakfast," he explained to Freckles;
and when Rae came on deck, and accepted the offering with
hearty thanks, the old man grew radiant, and said in an
appealing way, "Ye'll be tellin' yer faither that Tammas
Saunders wishes him weel, and was unco glad to see his
bonnie bairn."   Which, of course, Rae readily promised to do.
As soon as breakfast, including old Tammas's timely and
most acceptable contribution, had been despatched, preparations were made for taking part in the oulachan fishery,
which had strongly enlisted Rae's interest.
Captain Hanson and his men were all too busy unloading
the schooner to attend to anything else, but Freckles was at
liberty; so the two boys went off together in the dingey,
which they were perfectly competent to manage.
Rae had often seen oulachan oil, but not the fish itself,
and he was very glad of the opportunity to make its acquaintance. It is a curious little fish about the same size
as the Atlantic capelan, and having the same silvery appearance ; but it has a distinctive delicate flavour when freshly
caught, and it contains more oil than any other known fish.
It melts like a lump of butter in the frying-pan; and often>
when dried, threaded with a spruce wick, and stuck in a
bottle, makes an excellent substitute for a candle. Hence
its name of "candle-fish."     Their numbers are enormous RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
169
beyond all computation, and shoals of them coming in from
the sea will fill the mouth of the Nasse River from bank to
bank. The .natives rake, shovel, dip, and sieve them by
canoe loads, and either dry and string them, or press out
their oil and store it away for winter use. This was the
fish that Rae was anxious to catch, and as the harbour fairly
swarmed with them he ran no risk of disappointment.
As a fishing implement Rae had secured a strong scoop-
net which Captain Hanson happened to have, while Freckles,
in default of anything better, had brought a long-handled
dipper which he had slyly abstracted from the galley without the knowledge of the cook.    Between the seats of the
©
dingey was a large tub, that the boys felt sanguine of filling
before they returned. So off they started in high spirits,
each taking an oar.
All over the harbour were the Indian canoes, their occupants busy gathering in the harvest of animated silver. It
was a scene of intense activity and interest. The canoesj
propelled by sinewy paddlers, darted hither and thither
in keen pursuit of the shoals of fish that in different
directions gave the blue water the appearance of molten
silver.
Nor was everything going as smoothly as might be
desired. With their wonted greed and childish impatience
the Indians were constantly coming into collision, and the
still morning air resounded with shouts of anger and defiance
o ©
as they squabbled over their quarry, although in good sooth
there was enough and to spare for all.
" We'd better not get into the thick of it, Freckles, had
(478)
11 170
RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
we ?'' said Rae, eying the turmoil with some concern.
* We'll just keep outside the crowd, and pick up what fish
we can."
They accordingly rowed quietly along at some distance
from the canoes, and contented themselves with picking up
some of the fish that had broken away from the main body,
and were darting about on their own account. They were
having fairly good luck, but the tub was filling slowly, and
as Rae could not regard with equanimity the prospect of
returning to the schooner with it less than full, he kept
moving the dingey nearer to the centre of activity, until
presently they were right into the main body of the fish,
and able to scoop them up freely.
This occupation was so absorbing that neither he nor
Freckles took note of what was going on around them, so
that they never could tell whether it was done accidentally
or with malice prepense. At all events, just when they were
both stooping, Rae to empty his scoop-net into the tub, and
Freckles to get another dipperful of fish, a big canoe struck
their boat heavily amidships, with the effect of causing both
boys to take a sudden header, the one into the tub, the other
into the water.
To a disinterested spectator the sight must have been
extremely comical; for Rae got his shoulders wedged in in
such a way that for a minute or two he could not extricate
himself, in spite of his frantic struggles, but stuck there with
his legs waving in the air like danger signals; while Freckles
© o © © '
was so surprised at being precipitated right into the slippery
shiny multitude of fish that, forgetting he could swim well RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
171
enough, he thrashed round wildly and shouted for help at
the top of his voice.
Even the unusually staid savages, and particularly those
on board the canoe which had been guilty of the collision,
were moved to laughter, and suspended their fishing operations for a time to watch the fun.
Happily there was no fear of any serious consequences;
for Rae, beyond a couple of slight bruises on his shoulders,
and a liberal coat of fish scales and slime on his face, was
none the worse for his wallowing in the tub, while Freckles
quickly regained his self-control and scrambled back into
the boat again.
But oh! how furious Rae felt. To submit to such an
affront in silence was something of which his fiery nature
was not capable, and the moment he regained his balance in
the stern-sheets he proceeded to scold the Indians in right
good fashion.
" You great stupid loons!" he cried, " what did you
mean by doing that ? We weren't interfering with you in
any way. You think you're very clever, no doubt, to play
such a trick upon a couple of boys. You wouldn't dare do
it if we were men," and so forth, until his wrath had somewhat spent itself; and then seeing that he might as well
have been addressing the winds, so little effect did his tirade
produce, he brought it to a rather lame conclusion by
stopping in the midst of a sentence and bidding Freckles
pull away, as they would go back to the schooner and leave
the oulachan and the Indians to themselves.
Rae returned to the Plover in a regular fit of the sulks. 172
RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
for he felt that his dignity had received an unmerited
downfall, and that too in the sight of Freckles, which
greatly aggravated the matter.
It was no mitigation of the affair that Freckles had
shared in the unpleasant experience. He had no dignity
to lose; but with Rae, who liked to be looked up to by
the other as a sort of hero, it was altogether different; for a
hero with his head in a tub of fish, and his legs frantically
kicking in mid-air, could hardly command the respect appropriate to the character.
It was therefore some little time before Rae got back
his wonted serenity, and meanwhile he wandered off alone
along the shore with a heart full of longing to invent some
way of getting even with the Indians.
But that evening, when, after dinner with the factor, he
learned from his lips some of the thrilling experiences the
garrison had been through since the establishment of the
fort in its present position, he came to the very wise conclusion that it was a case of discretion being the better part
of valour.
Among all the stations established by the Hudson Bay
Company on that far western coast, none had had so large a
share of danger as Fort Simpson. Again and again during
the season of the oulachan fishing, when they were gathered
in almost overwhelming numbers, the Indians had attacked
it fiercely, more than once being nearly successful in burning it down.
Fortunately, however, owing to their utter lack of concerted action, and their wretched equipment of weapons of RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
173
war, every attempt had been frustrated; and now they
seemed to have learned wisdom, and to be willing to let the
fort alone.
During the remainder of the stay of the Plover, Rae
amused himself as best he could; and although the time
hung rather heavily upon his hands, yet he made no further
attempt at catching oulachan. The one experience he had
had of that was sufficient to satisfy him for some time to
come.
By the end of the week all the stores the schooner
carried for the fort had been transferred to the warehouses,
and their place taken by bales of furs to be brought down
to Fort Vancouver. Then there was a farewell dinner at
which the culinary' resources of the establishment were
taxed to their uttermost, and the following morning the
Plover shook out her white wings, and with a favouring
breeze began her homeward voyage.
Not until now did Captain Hanson mention to Rae a
project that he had been nursing for some time past.
"I've been thinking, Rae," he said, as the two sat together in the stern, while the schooner, with every inch of
canvas drawing to the full, cut her way through the white
caps, " that it might be a fine thing to run over to the Queen
Charlotte Islands and do a bit of trading with the Haidas.
You see there's no particular hurry about our getting back,
and the weather's sure to be fine yet for a month anyway,
and we've got a lot of things still on hand yet that the
Indians would like very much to have; and so taking it
altogether, it's pretty clear to my mind that it would be a 174
RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
good notion to see if those Haidas haven't got some pelts
that would pay for the trouble of going after them. If
there have been no Russian vessels down to them lately,
they'll be pretty sure to have some. Now what do you
say, my boy ? Are you beginning to feel homesick, or would
you like to see something of the Haidas ?"
Rae did not keep the captain waiting long for his
answer. Eager as he was to see his father again, the
prospect of seeing the Haidas, those famous freebooters of
the coast, of whose warlike exploits he had heard many
stirring tales from his father and others, was altogether too
© * o
attractive to his adventurous spirit not to reconcile him to a
slight postponement of his return to Fort Camosun.
" Why, captain," he said promptly, " I say go to the
Queen Charlotte Islands by all means. I've heard lots of
stories about the Haidas, and I'm longing to see some of
them. Oh, I hope you'll go over there. It won't take very
long, will it ?"
" Oh, no, it won't take us more than a week out of our
course at the most," answered the captain; " and if the
luck's with us, and we get a good otter skin or two, we'll
think well of ourselves for making the trial."
©
So the diversion to the Queen Charlotte Islands was
quickly decided, and the Plover's course changed to a more
westerly one accordingly.
As was always the case when full of some new idea, Rae
could talk of nothing else but the Haidas, and he fairly
showered questions upon Captain Hanson, who, to tell the
truth, had not much information to give, having never RASPBERRIES AND  OULACHAN.
i75
visited the islands before, although the thought of doing so
had entered his mind on previous voyages. Little did Rae
imagine as they drew near the home of the Haidas how
eventful this visit would turn out to be, and how it would
postpone his return to Fort Camosun for more months than
the days of the captain's calculation. CHAPTER XL
TO   THE   QUEEN   CHARLOTTE   ISLANDS.
r~T~~^
I~^0 reach the Queen Charlotte Islands from Fort Simpson
the Plover had to make her way out of Chatham
Sound, passing between Dundas and Stephen Islands into
the broad expanse of Hecate Strait, and then strike almost
directly across for Skidegate Inlet, which affords the best
entrance to both Graham Island on the north and Moresby
Island on the south.
Such fine weather had fallen to the schooner's lot hitherto,
that those on board her took it for granted the same good
fortune would attend them in their detour; but in this
expectation they were to be grievously disappointed. They
had not long left the protection of the archipelago through
which they had been pursuing their course for so many
weeks before the north wind, as though it had been only
waiting for its opportunity, fell upon them fiercely.
The sea rose to a height it could never attain in the
sheltered straits, and the sturdy little vessel, with only a
triple-reefed jib and foresail set, leaped gallantly from billow
to billow, again and again burying her nose in the foaming
*   © © j    © ©
mass, and being saved  from a smothering only by the
■53P TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.     177
splendid seamanship of Captain Hanson, who tended the
wheel himself, and never took his eyes off the bow.
A wilder storm Rae had never experienced, and his
heart sank as the schooner staggered on through the
seething waters, the little canvas she carried threatening
every minute to tear the groaning mast from its socket,
or to be blown away from its own grommets like a puff
of smoke.
Freckles, who was not by any means born for a sailor,
tried to keep on deck for a while, as all the others were
there; but soon his courage failed him, and he crawled
below, where he could not see the tumult of the waters,
however much he might feel it.
Creeping carefully up beside the captain, Rae ventured
to suggest,—
"Hadn't we better turn back, captain, and not try to
get over to the islands ?"
Without moving his eyes from the bow, Captain Hanson
answered in a voice of unusual gruffness,—
" Turn back is it ? and how do you think we're to
manage that when it takes all I know of sailing to keep the
schooner on her keel as it is ?"
Rae didn't understand why the Plover couldn't keep on
her keel just as well if she were beating back to Chatham
Sound as if she continued on to the Queen Charlotte Islands;
but, as the tone of the captain's answer implied that he
ought to be able to see for himself why the former course
was impracticable, he deemed it better to say nothing more
in the matter, and laying hold with both hands of a friendly 178    TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.
belaying-pin, he strove to keep his footing on the deck
despite the pitching and rolling of the schooner.
Running straight before the wind, as she was doing, the
Plover was threatened with a double danger. The wind,
whose violence showed no signs of abating, threatened to
carry away one or both of her masts ; and the huge billows,
with which she seemed to be running a mad race, were eager
to spring upon her from astern.
Captain Hanson thoroughly understood the situation,
and certainly no man could have shown more skill and
promptness of action in avoiding both dangers. Indeed,
after a while, when he had again and again by a quick turn
of the wheel evaded an on-rushing sea or saved the hard-
pressed mast, he began to grow more confident of his powers,
and to find a kind of fierce pleasure in this struggle with
the elements that seemed so bent upon overwhelming him
and his companions.
" The Plover will weather it right enough," he said to
Rae, an exultant expression relaxing the hitherto stern
fixedness of his face. "She's a saucy craft, and in my
hands a match for any gale."
That moment Rae happened to glance astern, and what
he saw caused his eyes to start from his head with fright.
" Look, captain, look! quick!" he cried in the shrill
accents of terror.
The captain turned his head, and beheld a huge billow
that seemed to tower half-way to the top of the mainmast
rearing its snowy, seething crest right behind, and ready to
topple over upon them.
■<55P TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.    179
I Heaven help us!" he exclaimed, throwing himself upon
the wheel with all his strength, and spinning it round in his
hands.
But he was just a moment too late. With an awful roar
the great wave broke upon them, flooding the schooner's
deck from stern to stem, and sweeping away everything
that was not lashed fast.
Both he and Rae were smitten to the deck by the irresistible onset of the billow. Happily, however, they kept
their places, the one holding on to the wheel and the other
to a coil of rope that hung to the belaying-pin, and the
instant the deluge had passed over them Captain Hanson
was on his feet again issuing orders to the half-drowned
sailors that they hastened to obey as best they could.
The saucy little Plover had been " pooped "—that worst
of all disasters that can befall a vessel—and whether the
relentless billows would prove her deathblow or not would
soon be manifest. The cabin had been filled with water, as
was inevitable, driving poor Freckles out on deck again,
where he lay almost flat on his breast, lifting a pitiful face
up to the captain, as though to say,—
" 0 captain, is it all over with us ? Will we never see
land again ?"
If the hold was as full as the cabin, the schooner must
founder, for she could never hold her own against the gale
in that condition. The sailors were ordered to try the
pumps. They did so vigorously, and to their vast relief
ascertained that there was hardly any water in the hold at
all; upon which cheering information being communicated 180    TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.
to Captain Hanson, he gave a hoarse chuckle, and a new
light came into his face.
" Hurrah ! the Plover's days are not over yet. Let out a
reef in that foresail. There'll be no more pooping if I can
help it."
The reef being let out, the schooner at once responded
to the pressure of the additional canvas; and although the
mast seemed as if it would break off short, it held notwithstanding, while the vessel, in spite of her added burden of
water, bounded over the waves triumphantly.
That tremendous billow seemed to have been the storm's
supreme effort, for, soon after, its violence began to abate,
and ere evening fell the worst had passed, and there was
nothing more to be feared from that quarter.
Captain Hanson thought it wise to lie-to during the
night, as he did not know how far out of his course the gale
might have blown him; and when he took his reckoning
next morning he found his wisdom proved by the discovery
that he was a long way south of Skidegate Inlet, and would
have to beat back against a head wind.
This would have been sufficient to cause a less determined man to change his plans, and keep on his way home
instead of proceeding to the islands. But the captain had
a good spice of obstinacy in him, and was not to be turned
aside from his purpose by an ordinary gale, even though it
had included a very narrow escape from being " pooped."
So the schooner was put about, and all that day thrashed
through the waves, making somewhat slow but steady progress towards Skidegate.   As they stood off and on from
m^m TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.    181
the coast, which they made about mid-day, Rae was busy
with his glass sweeping the shore in hopes of discovering
some signs of human life.    But nothing of the kind was
o o
visible, and at last, feeling much disappointed, he asked
Captain Hanson if the islands were really inhabited.
" I can't for the life of me make out anything that looks
like people being on the land. Surely there'd be camps or
something, wouldn't there ?" he said, in an impatient tone.
" Ah, Rae," said the captain laughing, " you're too eager
altogether. Do you expect the Haidas to be waiting for us
in their canoes when they've no idea we're coming. Faith,
you'll not have to look long for camps or canoes either once
we get into Skidegate Inlet."
And, sure enough, no sooner had they made the entrance
and passed a little way up than on either side groups of
Indian habitations came into view, and a number of canoes
were paddled rapidly towards them.
"There now, Rae," said the captain, "will that satisfy
you?"
" Indeed it will," said Rae. " Why, what a lot of them
there are!"
By the time the schooner had come to anchor she was
surrounded by a cloud of canoes containing men, women,
and children full of curiosity with regard to the newcomers, and Rae, from the vantage-point of the bulwarks,
had a fine opportunity to study them in return.
He was at once struck by their marked superiority in
general appearance to any Indians that he had ever met
before.   Their skin, instead of being dark and dirty, was of i82    TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.
a clear olive tint, and their features were finer in their lines,
while their bodies were tall and well formed. Their hair
was black and coarse, and it was noticeable that the faces
of the men were as-smooth as those of the women, owing to
the practice of pulling out the moustache and beard as soon
as they began to show themselves.
The canoes, too, in which they had come out were finer
than ordinary, being fashioned out of single logs of red
cedar, with pointed bows and flaring gunwales, and richly
carved and coloured. Some were capable of carrying forty
persons, while others were light and small, for the use of
only two paddlers. Nearly every canoe had a full load, and
the chattering of their occupants as they commented upon
their visitors was like that of a multitude of parrots.
That the savages had not entire confidence in their white
brothers was manifest from the fact that they evidenced no
desire to beallowed on board. On the contrary, they kept
off at a slight distance, as though perchance they feared the
crew of the Plover might attempt to jump into their canoes.
At the outset Captain Hanson found himself faced by
the problem of holding communication with the Haidas.
The dialect they spoke had little in common with any of
those on the mainland with which he was familiar, and none
of his men had ever seen a Haida before.
He must needs fall back upon the sign language therefore, and this he at once put into vigorous use. At first the
Indians seemed puzzled, but after a while they showed more
intelligence, and ventured to reply in their own fashion, with
the result that some sort of an understanding was reached.
w^&m TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.    183
The captain made clear his desire to trade, whereupon
a Haida whose dress and appearance betokened superior
rank invited him to go on shore, and he accepted the invitation, taking Rae with him and also two of the sailors;
the other two, with the cook and Freckles, being left in
charge of the schooner, with instructions to allow no Indians
to come on board on any account.
All four of those going on shore were armed to the teeth,
not so much because Captain Hanson anticipated having
recourse to the weapons, but rather that their appearance
might induce respect and let the natives see that their
visitors were not to be trifled with or imposed upon.
As Rae looked about him upon landing, his attention
was at once claimed by what is the most characteristic
feature of all Haida villages—namely, the wonderful and
mysterious carved posts which stood in front of every
dwelling. No other aboriginal people have anything like
these posts. In Skidegate village each house—for the Indians live in regular houses, not in tents—had at least two
such erections in front, and they were all different as to size,
height, and carvings.
"Why, captain," exclaimed Rae, as his eye wandered
from one to the other of these posts down the long line that
ran from end to end of the village, " what are those things,
and what do they mean ? I never saw anything, like them
before."
"No more did I," responded the captain, "and to tell
what they're for is beyond me. Perhaps the people worship
them when they've got nothing else to do." 184    TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.
Rae's curiosity was so stirred that this indefinite reply
did not content him; so he turned to a young Haida, and,
pointing to a particularly fierce-looking post which bore on
its head two gigantic grotesque heads adorned with huge
horns, shouted in his ear as if he were deaf,—
I What is that for ?    Can you tell me ?"
The Indian started at the question, and an ugly look
came into his face, as though he suspected Rae of making
fun of either him or the post. He shook his head very
decidedly, and moved away in evident ill-humour.
II guess you'd better not press that question, Rae," said
Captain Hanson, whose quick eyes seemed to miss nothing
that transpired. "Perhaps he doesn't understand you.
Anyway, they are a suspicious lot, and ready enough to
take offence, so don't ask many questions."
Rae fully concurred in the wisdom of the captain's
counsel, yet as they passed one after another of these strange
posts with their carved faces and elaborate decorations he
did long to ask some one what they all meant.
Next to the posts, what impressed him most was the
size and solidity of the Haida houses. They all stood in a
long row with their gable ends to the beach, which indeed
served as the street of the village, and were constructed of
great slabs of cedar laid upon stout posts driven deep into
the earth. Some of them were more than fifty feet in
breadth at the front, and ran back as far, while the roof
ridge rose nearly twenty feet above the floor.
But, as Rae soon learned, so large a house was the abode
of more than one family.    In fact, four or five families
"^m TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.    185
would share its accommodation, being all related, and having
as the head of the household the oldest male member of the
group.
Following their guide, the four white visitors were
brought to a house that occupied a commanding site in the
centre of the village.    Before it stood the two largest carved
o o
posts of all, quite startling affairs, being huge human faces
crowned with gigantic hats of a kind that no London hatter
ever put upon the market.
This was evidently the palace of the chieftain, and they
were now to have audience with him, their guide striving
to impress upon them as best he could by means of signs
that the chief was a most important personage, and that
they must not fail to do him appropriate honour.
Rae did not take this in, and Captain Hanson had not
time to explain what was meant before they all found themselves in the great man's presence. The room being imperfectly lighted by a hole in the roof, it took the visitors some
few minutes to get their bearings.
When their eyes had become accustomed to the gloom,
they saw before them, squatting upon a raised platform at
the farther end of the spacious chamber, an old man, who
presently rose to his feet and extended his arms with the
palms turned up, evidently in token of greeting.
Captain Hanson at once imitated him, at the same time
bowing low, and the sailors followed suit; but Rae was so
taken up with gazing at the chief and his surroundings that
he never moved.
It must be said that there was good excuse for the boy's
(478) 12 186    TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.
failure to make a proper obeisance, for certainly the old
chief was no ordinary being in point of appearance. His
stature was above the common, his body thin and spare, yet
his limbs were strong and muscular. His eyes were large
and goggling, seeming ready to start out of their sockets.
His forehead was deeply wrinkled, not merely by age, but
from a continual frown; all of which characteristics, joined
to a long visage, hollow cheeks, high cheek-bones, and a
decidedly ferocious expression, made him look to Rae most
uncomfortably like some sort of a bogey man.
He was clothed in a kind of cloak greatly prized among
the Haidas, which they obtained in trade from the Tsim-
shians. It was shaped somewhat like a shawl, with a blunt
point behind, and surrounded by a thick fringe of twisted
wool. Finely shred cedar bark had been used as a warp for
this cloth, on which the wool of the mountain goat had been
worked in with a very excellent effect. Like Joseph's coat
that got him into so much trouble, it was made of many
colours, black, brown, yellow, and white predominating, and
each colour being a separate piece artfully sewn to the others,
so that no seam was visible. On his head was a turban of
shred cedar bark twisted together, stained a dull red, and
decorated with the orange-coloured bills of puffins and some
brilliant feathers. Altogether he was quite an imposing-
looking figure, and his attendants could hardly be blamed for
feeling incensed at Rae's neglect to do him reverence.
o ©
As neither the chief nor the captain knew a word of
each other's language, and there was no one to interpret,
conversation could not be otherwise than extremely limited;
s>m* TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.    187
yet by dint of vigorous gesticulations, and much dramatic
action, they did succeed in making mutually plain the fact
that they were both eager for trade, and that the chief had
a lot of fine furs to barter for the captain's goods.
This being settled, the chief, assuming as genial an expression as his ferocious countenance was capable of manifesting, gave some orders to the women, who had all the
time been grouped about his primitive throne eying the
visitors with glances of shy curiosity, and they disappeared
at the back, returning soon with wooden platters heaped
high with food, which was placed before their guests.
Rae glanced questioningly at Captain Hanson as though
to say, " It's queer-looking stuff; must we eat it ?':
And the captain answered his look by saying in an
undertone, " You must eat some of it, or they'll be mortally
offended."
The viand in question proved to be halibut, which was
,the main article of food among the Haidas. It had been
roasted in strips before an open fire, and albeit somewhat
smoked and lacking in basting, still it did not taste so very
ill, and Rae, by a great effort, managed to gulp down a few
mouthfuls, although not nearly enough to content the hospitable desires of the hosts.
Little did he imagine as he then made his acquaintance
with Haida halibut, and to the bottom of his heart hoped
he might never see anything more of it, that in the days to
come he would have to make many a meal off the same
thing, and indeed, at times, be very glad to get enough of it
to satisfy his appetite. TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.
After the halibut came some kind of berries soaked in
oulachan grease that the Indians evidently regarded as
a great dainty, but with which the white men could do
nothing; and then the feast being ended, Captain Hanson
signified his desire to withdraw.
The chief apparently wished to prolong the interview,
but the whole party were anxious to get out into the fresh
air again, and so they took their departure, Rae this time
remembering to make his bow with as much formality as
the captain himself.
On their way back to the boat they were attended by a
crowd of curious natives, who watched their faces keenly, as
though they would read therein.the impression their village
and themselves made upon the visitors; and it thus fell to
Rae's luck to once more give offence by being moved to
laughter at the sight of some women who were standing
beside two of the carved posts.
Not content with tattooing their cheeks and decorating
their dress with shells and bits of bright metal, these tawny
belles had sought to increase their beauty by inserting their
very largest labrets in their lips, and hanging curious-looking
ornaments to their noses. The labrets, which caused the
lower lips to protrude far out over the chin, were hideous
enough in themselves, but the nose appendages were altogether too much, and Rae, forgetting that although their
new acquaintances could not understand his speech they
could interpret his actions with an accuracy that went far
to make up therefor, nudged Captain Hanson with his elbow,
and indicating the Haida ladies by a glance in their direc-
"t&m TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.    189
tion, said, with a smile of mingled amusement and pitying
contempt,—
" Just look there, captain. Did you ever see such guys ?
And to think that they imagine that makes them beautiful!
Ugh! it makes them look more like pigs than human
beings."
Without thinking, Captain Hanson looked as directed,
and at once the appropriateness of Rae's simile appeared to
him so strongly that he could not resist smiling at the pitiful
frights into which the poor women had been converted by
their savage adornments.
But the next moment the sudden darkening of the faces
of the men around showed him that both he and Rae had
been wanting in discretion, and grasping his companion's
arm with a vigour that caused him to look up in surprise,
he said in a tone that showed some agitation,—
" See here, my lad, you mustn't make remarks on these
people. They guess pretty sharply at what you mean, and
it riles them; so just be careful, and whatever you think,
keep it to yourself until you're back on board the Plover'.'
Rae rather resented being thus sat upon, so to speak,
and it made him sulky for a time, so that he had no disposition to indulge in further remarks; but by the time
they had got back to the schooner this little cloud had
vanished, and when Freckles met him at the bulwarks with
welcoming grin, he made up for his temporary silence by
shouting out,—
" 0 Freckles, but they're a queer lot! you never saw
such odd-looking folks in your life.    The women wear rings iqo    TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.
in their noses just like pigs, and stick saucers in their lips
to make them pretty."
Freckles was, of course, eager to learn all about it, and
Rae regaled him with a picturesque account of what he had
seen, which the boy appreciated highly, and which made
him full of eagerness to get ashore and see some of those
curious sights for himself.
He expressed this desire to Rae, who at once approved,
and promised to arrange the matter with Captain Hanson.
I If the captain isn't going off himself to-morrow, I'll ask
him for the dingey, and we'll go on our own account. We
might have some fun, you know."
I Oh, that will be fine!" exclaimed Freckles, clapping
his hands.    " Do you think the captain will let us go ?''
| Of course he will, if I ask him," said Rae, looking most
consequential; " and we'll take some trinkets with us, and
try to do some trading."
When Captain Hanson came on deck the following
morning he found his schooner fairly besieged by a multitude of canoes, many of whose occupants held up bundles of
furs the moment he appeared, and by their gesticulations
made it plain that they were anxious to barter them off for
what he might have to give in exchange.
Not wishing to seem too eager to purchase, he told them
to wait, that he was not ready to attend to them just then,
and proceeded to take his breakfast in a leisurely fashion,
while the impatient savages clustered closer to the vessel,
and kept up a continuous chattering in their own tongue.
Having finished his breakfast and smoked his pipe the
■^* TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.    191
captain was ready for work, and gave orders that the goods
he had to barter should be brought up on deck and spread
out on the poop. He still had a good assortment of hatchets,
kettles, tin pans, brass chains, glass beads, and other articles
dear to the savage heart; and these being duly set forth on
the poop, he invited two of the occupants of the nearest
canoe to come on board with their pelts, and begin business.
They showed some hesitation at first, evidently preferring to remain in their canoes; but after a little persuasion
they climbed over the bulwarks, bearing bundles that made
Captain Hanson's eyes glisten when they were opened
before him, for their contents were nearly all sea-otter skins
of large size and fine quality, worth a goodly sum apiece,
and if he had to give his entire stock of goods for simply
the two bundles he would make a profitable trade.
But if the furs pleased the captain, much more did his
goods delight the savages. The sight of so many articles
that they coveted heaped together in such profusion filled
their souls with the desire for possession, and they were
ready to barter away everything they owned, including
their wives if need be, to secure the treasure before them.
But of course Captain Hanson was not going to allow
the first pair of purchasers to corner the market; so, having
carefully examined the skins they brought, and put his own
valuation upon them, he laid beside them a lot of things—
a couple of hatchets, two tin pans, an iron kettle, and so
forth—and signified that that was what he would give for
the furs.
At first the savages protested vigorously, and sought 192    TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.
with their own hands to add more articles to the pile. But
the captain promptly stopped that, and made it clear that
he would not increase his offer; whereupon they grew sulky,
and pretended that they had lost all desire for trade, rolling
up their skins again to take them away.
But Captain Hanson was not the man to be fooled by
any such shallow artifice as that, and, lighting his pipe, he
sat himself placidly down until his customers should come
around to his way of thinking.
They hesitated and hung about, exchanging counsel in
a low tone, and even made as though they would return to
their canoes; but the captain continuing impassive, they
finally gave up the attempt to have their own way, and
throwing down the furs again, proceeded to pick up the
different articles offered in exchange, and to hand them
over to the other occupants of their canoe. Then they took
themselves off with frowns of disappointment still beclouding their tawny faces.
As soon as they were gone two others were allowed on
board, and these went through pretty much the same process of bargaining, without gaining any more by it than
their predecessors had done. It was while they were in the
midst of this that Rae took the opportunity to ask Captain
Hanson if he and Freckles might go ashore in the dingey;
and the captain's attention being absorbed in the business,
he replied without clearly understanding the purport of the
question, " All right; but don't go far, and be back soon."
Whereupon Rae ran off joyfully to make preparation for the
shore-going. TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.    19
o
Being anxious to effect as profound an impression as
possible, Rae accoutred himself as though he were going on
some warlike expedition. His powder-flask and bullet-pouch
were hung across his shoulders, in his belt were his pistols
and hunting-knife, and in his hand his rifle, while Freckles
he provided with another rifle and the necessary ammunition.
Off went the two in high spirits, Rae answering one of
the sailors who asked him what he was going to do,—
" Oh, I'll tell you when I get back. We're going to have
some fun, anyway."
" Well, take good care of yourselves, my boys," was the
response, " and don't let the Indians keep you."
"Oh, not much fear of that," laughed Rae carelessly;
" we'll be back in good time for dinner."    Then turning to
© ©
Freckles he added, " Give way now; let's lose no time," and
off they rowed toward the shore, little dreaming what
strange and varied experiences were in store for them, and
how many days would pass before they would again have
dinner with people of their own kind.
While the boys were rowing ashore the bartering went
on busily aboard the schooner, Captain Hanson feeling
tempted to hug himself after each batch of his customers
went away at having made one more excellent bargain.
Had he taken time to be more observant he could hardly
have failed to notice a rather strange thing—to wit, that
the Indians, as soon as they disposed of their furs, went
straight back to the village, not to remain there, but to
return almost immediately fully armed with spears and
bows and clubs. 194    TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.
They did not approach the Plover, but kept together in
a group about a hundred yards away, as if biding their time
for some purpose they all clearly understood.
The trading took up the whole morning, and in the
meantime Rae and Freckles had landed on the beach before
the chief's dwelling, drawn up the dingey, and started out on
their adventures. Rae greatly enjoyed filling the post of
guide, and took care that Freckles should miss nothing of
interest as they strolled along. The wonderful carved posts,
the large and substantial dwellings, so different from and
superior to the ordinary Indian lodges, the curiously tattooed
faces of the men, and the hideously ornamented features of
the women—these and other things were observed and commented upon with lively interest.
Nobody addressed them, or made any overture in that
direction, although they in their turn were the objects of
many keen glances; and had they been on the look-out
for anything of the kind they could hardly have failed to
notice that here and there the men were gathered in little
knots, talking in low tones, and casting meaning looks at
the boys.
They continued their walk to the very end of the line
of dwellings, and then were about to retrace their steps,
when a gaily-dressed Indian boy about their own age
appeared at the doorway of the last house, and made signs
for them to enter.
Freckles took no notice and kept on, but Rae halted.
" Shall we go in ?' he asked, more as a matter of form
than otherwise, for his own mind was already made up.
■^p TO  THE  QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.    195
" Do you think we had better ?'' inquired Freckles, who
had begun to feel rather ill at ease where everything was
so strange, and to wish himself back on board the schooner.
" Just for a minute. I want you to see the inside of one
of their houses; come along," was Rae's response; and
grasping Freckles's arm he moved towards the lad, whose
sallow face lighted up as he saw his invitation being accepted.
Following him, the boys presently found themselves in
the midst of a number of men and women, who looked at
one another with significant smiles. They were escorted to
the platform at the other end, which was the place of
honour, and Were no sooner seated than several young girls
appeared bearing platters of baked halibut, boiled salmon,
and berries dipped in oulachan grease.
It was too soon after breakfast for the boys to eat
anything, even for manners' sake, so they firmly refused;
and then, there being nothing else to do, sat in silence,
feeling very awkward, and regretting that they had come in.
Rae had just made up his mind to get away when the
report of a rifle fell on his ears.
" Hollo!" he cried; " what's up ? Let's get out and see,"
and he started for the door.
But the instant he moved, and Freckles with him, half-
a-dozen of the Indians sprang before them to bar their exit.
They were captives in the hands of the Haidas! CHAPTER XII
IN   THE   HANDS   OF   THE   HAIDAS.
'~ "^HE first shock of surprise at finding his way out of
A the dwelling opposed by savages, whose grim faces
showed only too plainly that what they were doing was not
by way of a joke, or of over-zealous hospitality, but in dead
earnest and with threatening intent, brought Rae to a sudden
halt, and for a moment he looked at the men before him in
silence. Then the full sense of his danger coming upon him,
he made a sudden plunge between the two just in front,
bending low and almost going upon his hands.
It was a clever trick, learned in the game of chase that
he used to play with the half-breed boys at Fort Vancouver,
and had he had only those two men to reckon with it would
have succeeded, and he would have reached the door of the
dwelling.
But behind them was an old hag, having a heavy piece of
wood in her hand, and when she saw Rae's stratagem, and
while he was still bent forward, she lifted her club and
brought it down with brutal force upon the back of his
head.
Over on his face he went, as lifeless apparently as the
-^w IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
197
bit of wood which had felled him; while poor Freckles, who
was already held tight in the grip of a stalwart Haida, and
was making no effort to free himself, set up a piteous cry of
fright.
©
" Oh, you've killed him, you've killed him! " he shrieked.
% Oh, you wicked, wicked men, you've killed him, and he
never did you any harm!"
Now it was by no means the policy of the Indians to
kill their prisoners. They had other purposes in view, and
when the man who evidently exercised chief authority in
the dwelling saw what the old woman had done, he went up
to her and administered a tremendous box on the ear that
nearly tumbled her over in her turn. Then bending over
Rae he picked him up quite tenderly, and bore him to his
own bed, upon which he placed him gently, issuing some
orders to the women as he did so.
They at once hurried to bring water, with which the
Indian splashed Rae's face liberally, and in a few minutes
the boy's eyes opened, and he gave a look around of bewilderment and alarm, in the course of which he caught sight
of Freckles.
" What's the matter, Freckles ?' he asked anxiously,
raising himself on the bed; " what are they doing to us ?''
Poor Freckles, with eyes brimming over and lip trembling, managed to stammer out,—
" They've taken us prisoners, and I don't know what
they're going to do with us."
With a groan Rae fell back upon the bed, for his head
gave him agonizing pain. I
•1
198
IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
" Oh, where's Captain Hanson ?" he murmured. " Why
didn't he come after us ?   Why did we come ashore alone ?"
Had he been able to look out upon the inlet he would
have seen something calculated to make him feel even worse
than he did; for with all sail set the Plover was speeding
away towards the open sea, chased by a swarm of canoes,
whose occupants vainly strove to stay her progress, or to
pick off her crew with their arrows.
This is what had happened while Rae and Freckles were
in the house which now held them as captives. As has been
already stated, each canoe when it had completed its trading
went ashore, and its occupants, having carried their acquisitions to their homes, immediately returned fully armed, and
took up their station not very far from the schooner, where
they waited silently with an evident purpose.
When all the trading was over, much whispered consultation might have been observed among the Indians; and
© © *
presently the canoes spread out, as if to encircle the schooner.
It was this movement which first attracted Captain Hanson's attention. At the first glance he perceived that mischief was brewing, and diving down into the cabin promptly
reappeared with his rifle, bidding each of the men to get his
own immediately. They obeyed with alacrity, and in a
trice the four men with loaded rifles were standing together
at the stern ready for battle, if that was what the savages
meant.
When the latter saw that their evil design had been sus-
©
pected they were thrown into confusion, and seemed afraid
to advance, seeing which, Captain Hanson, who realized that
~*am IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
199
there was not a moment to be lost, having discharged his
rifle into the air, gave orders for the anchor to be slipped
and the sails hoisted.
Both commands were executed while the Indians still
hung off irresolutely. They were all eager enough to take
possession of the vessel and plunder her of the many things
they had not been able to purchase with their furs, but not
one of them was anxious to lose his precious life in the
transaction; and they knew well enough that if they attempted to board, those dreadful rifles would be sure to
make short work of at least one apiece.
So making the welkin ring with fierce cries and angry
imprecations, that would have had no effect upon the white
men even if they could have understood them, which, however, they did not in the least, they moved this way and
that way, as though trying to evade Captain Hanson's
keen eyes.
Meantime the sails rose into place, and there being a
strong breeze from the east blowing through the inlet, the
Plover began to move before it at a rate that would soon
©
distance the canoes.
Not until now did Captain Hanson bethink himself of
Rae. He had been so engrossed with the trading, and then
startled with the sinister stratagem of the Haidas, that he
had not thought of anything else until the danger from
attack was practically over.
" Where's Rae ?" he demanded toiddenly of the cook, who
was standing nearest to him of the men; " I haven't seen
him for some time.   Is he down in the cabin ?" 200
IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
"No, sir, he's on shore," answered the cook; "he and
Freckles went off in the dingey about an hour ago."
" God help them!" exclaimed the captain. " I remember
now his asking my leave when I was so busy. I hardly
took in what he was saying; and he's a prisoner now, sure's
I'm born. What is to be done ?" and he looked back at the
fast receding village as though he thought of turning about
© o o o o
and going to Rae's rescue.    But the next moment he shook
©     ©
his head despairingly.
"No," he muttered to himself; "it's no use. We're no
match for them as we are. They'd only make prisoners of
the whole of us, if they didn't kill us. I must get down to
Fort Camosun as quick as I can, and come back here with
enough men and guns to scare those rascals out of their wits.
God grant they do the boys no harm in the meantime."
And so with heavy heart the captain kept on his way,
feeling like a coward for thus apparently leaving the boys
to the mercy of the cruel Haidas, yet realizing clearly
enough that it would be utter folly with his little handful
of men to attempt a rescue.
When Rae's senses fully returned, and he understood the
situation into which his undue enterprise had brought himself and Freckles, he was the most miserable of boys; and
when the chief took him to the door and showed him the
white sails of the Plover just vanishing at the mouth of
Skidegate Inlet his feelings could be no longer controlled.
Throwing himself down upon the ground, he buried his face
in his hands, while his whole frame shook with violent sobs.
"They've deserted us," he moaned;   "we're left here IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
20I
alone.    Oh, what will father do when the Plover gets back
without me ?"
Freckles did his best to act as comforter, but his efforts
were all in vain until the passion of Rae's grief had somewhat spent itself. Then the latter became more composed,
and the two had a talk together, which they felt free to do,
as none of the Indians could understand a word of their
language.
©       o
I We're in a bad fix, Freckles," said Rae mournfully;
" and there's no knowing when we'll get out of it. And it's
all my fault too. I'm always getting into some kind of a
scrape. But I tell you what it is, Freckles, if we ever get
safe back to Fort Camosun, I'll take better care of myself
for the future."
" Oh, we'll get back some time," responded Freckles
cheerfully, and to the boy's credit be it observed that he
showed a remarkable degree of fortitude in face of the
danger that threatened. " Why," he added, his homely
countenance lighting up with sudden intelligence until it
became almost handsome, " they'll be sure to come back for
us, won't they ?"
In the depth of his contrition for what he now regarded
as his folly, and despair at being deserted by Captain Hanson, this thought had not come to Rae; but the moment
Freckles voiced it, its reasonableness appealed to him at
once, and he grasped at it eagerly.
I To be sure they will," he cried, I and that's what Captain Hanson's gone away for. He'll hurry down to Fort
Camosun and get a lot of men, and then hurry back here,
(478) 23 202
IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
1
1
I'i I
and make these villains give us up. We've only to be
patient and it'll be all right."
Rae's heart lightened wonderfully at this view of their
situation. Gifted as he was with the fortunate faculty of
looking at the bright side of things, and forgetting as far
as possible the dark side, he began to plan out how long it
would take the Plover to reach Fort Camosun and get back
to Skidegate Inlet, and, after much thinking, came to the
conclusion that three weeks would be an ample allowance
of time.
For three weeks, then, he and Freckles would be in the
hands of the Haidas, and manifestly their best policy was
to give as little trouble as possible, in order that their captors might treat them kindly, and not be moved to any
further violence.
I We must try to be very good boys, Freckles," said Rae,
with as close an appearance to a smile as he was equal to in
his heavy-hearted state. " They won't be hard on us if we
don't give them any trouble. I suppose they'll take everything we have," he went on ruefully, " and that means I'll
lose my rifle and pistols, and other things. Oh dear! oh
dear! oh dear! but we have made a mess of it and no
mistake."
While the boys thus talked they were watched by a
group of Haidas, of both sexes and all ages, who stared at
them as though they were some strange kind of animals,
and exchanged comments in their guttural speech. Some
of the men would evidently have liked very well to make
out what Rae and Freckles were saying to each other, they IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
looked at them so intently; but the boys did not allow that
to disconcert them at all, and no interference was attempted.
Indeed, now that the Plover had disappeared, and the
dingey been broken into fire-wood—for this was done
shortly after the boys' capture—the savages showed no
desire to restrict the movements of their captives. They
of course always kept a sharp eye on them, but when the
two, more for the sake of something to do than for any
other reason, set out for a stroll along the beach, no one
hindered, and they were allowed to wander about as they
pleased.
By-and-by they began to feel very hungry, and to wonder where they would get their next meal, and what it
would be like. But nobody seemed to think of their wants,
or to have anything in the way of food to offer them.
They were getting into a very disconsolate mood when
a happy thought flashed into Rae's mind.
"Look here, Freckles," said he with brightening face,
" let's go back to the house where they made us prisoners
and tell them they've got to give us something to eat. It's
their business to look after us since they've kept us against
our will.
:To be sure," assented Freckles; "they must give us
enough to eat anyway."
So the pair of them trudged back, and entering the
house as if they belonged there, by dint of very expressive
pantomime soon made the women understand what they
wanted.
But before the women dared do anything they had to 204
IN THE HANDS  OF THE HAIDAS.
get instructions from the chief, who was not then in the
dwelling, and the hungry boys had to wait until he could
be hunted up and his approval secured. At last, however,
this was accomplished, and then they were served with the
same fare as that which they had refused earlier in the day
—namely, baked halibut and boiled salmon, with berries
soaked in oulachan grease as a relish. No salt, no bread,
no knives, no forks—nothing but bare fingers and keen
appetites.
But they were very, very hungry, and the fish had a
tempting savour, even if it was untemptingly served; so
they fell to with great vigour, and paused not until all sense
of emptiness amidships had disappeared, and they felt in
much better humour.
The greasy berries they could do nothing with yet,
though they looked so good that Rae determined to find
out where they could be picked, so that he might eat them
fresh, when he felt sure they must be delicious.
Their hunger satisfied, and nobody seeming to exercise
any control over their movements, they went out again, after
courteously thanking the women who had served them, and
who evidently appreciated their smiles though they could
not understand their words.
| And now that they've got us," said Rae, " I'd like very
much to know what they want to do with us. They're not
going to kill us, of course."
" Oh no, they wouldn't do that surely," broke in Freckles,
giving a shudder at the very mention of the word kill.
" Certainly not," continued Rae, somewhat curtly, for he
-^em9 IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
didn't like to have Freckles showing so much feeling when
© o
he found it no easy task to control his own. " That would
do them no good, and they want to make something out of
us. I guess they are just going to hold us for a ransom,
that's what it is; and when father comes back in the
Plover, as .he's sure to do, they'll make him give ever so
many things before they give us up, do you see ?"
"That's just it; you're right," responded Freckles, emphasizing each sentence with a confirmatory nod.
" Well, then, we've just got to wait, that's all," said Rae,
" for we certainly can't run away." Then after a pause he
added in a doleful tone, " Oh my ! but won't we get sick of
that everlasting fish and those horrid berries! They seem
to have nothing else to eat here."
Freckles made no reply to this. He had been used to
pretty poor fare all his life, and so long as a sound skin was
left him he had no disposition to be at odds with fate, provided sufficient food of some kind or other came his way
each day.
From thoughts of fare the transition to thoughts of ac-
o o
commodation was very natural, and so Rae's next remark,
after an interval of thoughtful reflection, was,—
" Where do you think they'll let us sleep, Freckles ?
There doesn't seem to be any room in those houses. They're
just swarming like ant-heaps already; and I couldn't bear
the idea of sleeping there anyway, for you see the women
and the girls sleep there as well as the men, more like
animals than human beings.    Ugh!" and he gave a most
o o
expressive grunt of disgust. 206
IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
Freckles shook his head doubtfully. He liked a comfortable bed as well as any other boy, and he saw little
prospect of having it in one of the dark and close-smelling
Haida dwellings.
" Do you think they'd let us sleep outside, Rae ? .-• he
asked. " We might ^x up a kind of lodge, just for ourselves,
you know."
Rae sprang to his feet, for they had been reclining on a
bit of grass near the beach, with a beaming face, and giving
his companion a hearty slap on the back, exclaimed,—
" Good for you, Freckles!  that's a great notion.    We
must go and see about it at once, and if they make no
objection we will have the thing put up to sleep in tonight."
©
So off they went, this time straight to the chief's house
where Captain Hanson had been received; for Rae shrewdly
argued that in a matter of this kind his word would be law,
and if they got his consent they would have no further
difficulty.
They found the strange-looking old man at home, and
Rae began at once the task of getting him to understand
© — - ©       ©
what they wanted.
The scene which ensued was amusing enough to have
© o
entertained a larger and more critical gathering of spectators
than had the privilege of being present. The old chief,
whose name by the way was Hi-ling-a, signifying " thunder,"
seemed in a very gracious mood, and anxious to understand
the desires of his white captives; but in spite of his goodwill and Rae's  most ingenious pantomime, he could not
-"am* IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
207
apprehend the latter's meaning, so that the chance of the
boys gaining their point seemed very faint, and they
were about to give up in despair, Rae fearing lest they
might irritate the chief by persisting, when there came
forward a young woman, who but for the labret which
disfigured her mouth would have been quite pretty, and
who by the richness of her dress evidently belonged to the
chief's family. She was, in fact, his favourite daughter, and
bore the pleasing name of Kaitza (star). She had been a
silent observer of the interview, and did not venture to take
any part in the proceedings until her quick intelligence told
her that the boys were not making themselves understood
by the chief at all, whereas she thought she fully caught
their meaning.
Gliding up to her father, she touched him on the arm
and whispered something in his ear.
He looked up in a surprised questioning way, and seemed
to doubt the accuracy of her suggestion; but she repeated
it at more length, and Rae's face brightened as he saw signs
of comprehension in the old man's countenance.
But if he understood, he was not at first disposed to
assent. He shook his head in a way that was not promising; and after a little more talk with his daughter, who
was manifestly pleading the boys' case, a messenger was
despatched to bring somebody in to him.
With growing uneasiness Rae waited further developments, although Kaitza made efforts to encourage him by
bestowing furtive smiles upon him whenever she caught his
eye.    The truth of the matter was, the tawny belle had 208
IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
already conceived a warm liking for the handsome white
boy, and was resolved to do whatever lay in her power to
mitigate the inevitable miseries of his captivity.
In the course of half-an-hour the messenger returned,
bringing with him the chief man of the house in which the
©    o
boys had been captured, who came next in rank to Hi-ling-a,
and counted upon succeeding him as chief of the village.
He was called Sli-goo (the otter), and from the very first
Rae had taken a strong dislike to him because of his cruel,
cunning face.
He manifested some surprise at finding Rae in the chief's
abode, and asked a question or two about it which old
Hi-ling-a answered very curtly, as though to suggest that
it was no particular business of his.
The chief explained Rae's request as it had been interpreted to him by Kaitza, in order that Sli-goo might give
his opinion about it.
Sli-goo listened gravely, regarded the boys in silence for
a few minutes, assumed his very sagest look, and then
growled out something which Rae, from the disappointed
expression in Kaitza's face, rightly judged to be an unconditional negative.
But it's an ill wind that blows nobody good. Although
Hi-ling-a had sent for Sli-goo to consult with him in
the matter partly because of his rank, and partly because
he had been chiefly instrumental in the boys' capture, yet
he had no love for the fellow; and taking it into his
head that Sli-goo's judgment was influenced by the desire to have the boys entirely in his own hands, the old
~*mm IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
209
chief determined to disappoint him as to that, while agreeing with him not to allow them to put up a lodge for their
own occupation.
He therefore told Sli-goo that he would keep the boys
in his own dwelling, and take good care of them for the
present; whereat Sli-goo waxed very cross, and went away
looking as sulky as ever his animal namesake could look,
while Hi-ling-a smiled grimly at him, as though to say,—
"You'd like to have everything your own way, no
doubt; but you won't, so long as I'm chief of the village."
He then called his daughter to him, and they talked
together for a while; after which she came to Rae, and
with true feminine tact and cleverness managed to make
him understand that he and Freckles might have a corner
of the house all to themselves, with which arrangement
they had no other alternative but to be content.
Having done this, her next proceeding was to bring
them each a pair of large new blankets, such as the Haidas
obtained in barter from the Tsimshians, which Rae greatly
rejoiced to see, for they meant solid comfort at night, and
he did not intend to be any more miserable than he could
help during the period of his captivity.
One pair of the blankets he at once fixed up in such a
way as to effectually screen their corner, seeing which the
kind-hearted Kaitza, who seemed to be able to do pretty
much as she pleased, brought him another pair for use as
covering, smiling and nodding all the time with great
vivacity, so that Rae's heart began to warm towards her,
even though she were a savage, and he determined in his 2IO
IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
mind that when he got his freedom he would make her
some handsome presents before going away.
Before nightfall he and Freckles gathered a large
quantity of small cedar boughs that made a soft, springy,
and most fragrant mattress, and with one pair of blankets to
sleep on and another pair to cover them, they had as comfortable a couch as two hearty, healthy boys could wish.
But, in spite of it all, a terrible sense of loneliness fell
upon Rae when, after they had turned in for the night and
Freckles had fallen asleep, he was left to the company of
his own thoughts. Kindly as their treatment had been
since the first roughness attending their capture, he could
not forget that they were in the midst of a savage people,
capable of any cruelty they might feel moved to, and a
people whose habits and modes of life were in many ways
intolerantly repulsive.
To describe the poor boy's state of mind as merely homesickness would be doing it faint justice. He was both
home-sick and heart-sick, and as he pictured Captain
Hanson bringing the news to his father, and the poignant
distress it would cause the factor, his burden of grief seemed
more than he could bear.
"Oh, why did I ever come away in the Plover?" he
sobbed. " Dear father didn't want me to. He said he'd a
feeling that something was going to happen to me. But I
just was bound to have my own way, and now this is what's
come of it. If I was the only one that had to suffer it
wouldn't matter so much, for I'm sure I deserve it; but
poor father doesn't, and he'll feel just as bad."
-s^ IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
211
In the course of the irregular, exciting kind of life Rae
had been living of late, his good habit of praying at night
and morning had been very much broken into; but now he
turned to it with the conviction that he had no other resource, and lifted up his heart in silent yet earnest petition
to God to help him to be brave and patient amid all the
difficulties and dangers that surrounded him, and to deliver
him from the hands of the Haidas as soon as possible.
Soon after he fell sound asleep, and dreamed that the
Plover had come back with his father and Mr. Ogden and
a number of other men, all heavily armed, and that they
had marched right up to Hi-ling-a's house and taken him
and Freckles off without anybody daring to interfere.
This dream made him so happy that it was a keen
reverse to be awakened in the morning by the shrill cries
of the children at the back of the house, and to find himself,
instead of safely back on board the schooner, still surrounded
by the squalor and strangeness of savage life.
Rousing Freckles, who slept as peacefully as a baby, he
went out in search of a secluded spot for a bathe in the
invigorating brine. The day was bright and warm, and the
joy of the sunshine and the sea soon entered into his spirit,
dispelling the gloom and helping him to see things in a
more hopeful light.
As he looked out across the glassy surface of the inlet in
the direction from which the schooner would come, he said
to his companion,—
"Ah, Freckles, wouldn't it make your heart glad to see
the Plover's white sails coming round that point ?" 212
IN THE HANDS  OF THE HAIDAS.
I That it would," responded Freckles. " But there's no
such chance for a month at any rate. Do you think these
people will be good to us right along ?" he added, with some
degree of trepidation in his tone.
Rae laughed carelessly. This thought did not give him
much concern. He had quite made up his mind as to the object of the Haidas in making them captive. They were after
a ransom, that was all, and they'd treat them well enough so
long as they did not attempt to escape, which he had not the
slightest intention of doing, preferring to wait quietly until
the rescue upon which he so confidently counted should come.
Had he fully understood the savages' purpose concerning
himself and Freckles his mind might not have been quite
so easy. He was correct as regards the ransom idea, it is
true, but that was not all they had in view. There was a
further reason for their conduct which he did not suspect,
but which ere long would be made plain, and which had he
known would have caused him much concern. But this
revelation would come soon enough, and in the meantime
he had quite enough to worry him.
As soon as they had finished their bathe the boys went
back to the chief's house, feeling more refreshed and with
appetites as keen as razors. Here Kaitza met them, smiling
expansively, and hastened to put before them platters filled
with smoking fish, to which they lost no time in paying
due attention.
" And now," said Rae, when they had finished breakfast,
11 wonder what they intend to do with us ? It would be
some satisfaction to know."
-*** IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
213
Freckles nodded affirmatively.
"They must have some plan in their heads," he said,
looking very wise; " but what I can't make out is, how
they're going to explain it to us, seeing that we don't know
a word of one another's language."
o        ©
" Oh, I guess that girl will make us understand," responded Rae. " See how she fixed everything for us last
night. She's a real bright girl, I tell you, and wouldn't be
bad looking if it weren't for those things on her nose and
© o
lip. It's a pity that she doesn't know better than to make
such a fright of herself. I'd like to tell her to take them
out."
While they were talking the old chief appeared, attended
by a couple of lads bearing the boys' rifles, which had been
brought up from the other house. They were delighted to
see them again, as they feared they were lost to them for
ever.
Handing each one his own rifle, Hi-ling-a signified by a
gesture that they should follow him, and set off toward the
other end of the village, striding along at a pace that the
boys found it difficult to keep up with, and seemed curiously at variance with the chief's apparent age.
But if he was old and ugly, he was also tough and wiry;
and as Rae followed in his wake, he began to feel considerably more respect for him than previously. He had taken
him to be little better than a mummy, and was now being
effectually undeceived.
When they had passed all the houses, Hi-ling-a bade the
boys stand still, while he went ahead about a hundred yards 214
IN THE HANDS  OF THE HAIDAS.
and hung his decorated head-dress upon the side of a blasted
tree that stood out prominently.
Returning, he motioned to Rae to take aim at the mark
he had thus set. The boy naturally shrank from doing so,
and tried to make the old man understand that some other
mark would serve equally well; but he could not change
his mind, and noting that he was beginning to be provoked, he said,—
" Oh, very well, have it your own way; but if I spoil
your fine hat, it's your own look-out."
Loading his gun carefully, he aimed with great deliberation; for by this time half the inhabitants of the village
had gathered, and he realized that his skill as a marksman
was on that trial, and that success was all important.
When the report rang out the children screamed, the
women started and looked very much scared, and the men's
faces filled with wonder. The Haidas were not yet generally familiar with fire-arms, and had none in their own
possession.
As the smoke blew away, old Hi-ling-a hastened over to
the tree and removed his head-dress, examining it eagerly.
At once his grizzled countenance lit up with exultation in
a way that seemed a little puzzling, in view of the fact that
a big hole was bored through and through the head-gear
© o o o
and some of its ornaments shattered and spoiled.
Hurrying back to Rae, he pointed this out, smiling and
nodding his head, and giving vent to some guttural sounds
which the successful marksman rightly interpreted to
mean,— IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS.
2I5
" Good, good ! well done! capital shot!"
Being quite satisfied as to Rae's skill, and not wishing
to expose his head-gear to further damage, Hi-ling-a pointed
to a tree-trunk that made a good target about fifty yards
away, and bid Freckles try his aim at that.
Freckles obeyed dutifully, and by great good luck, for
he had had little opportunity to become expert in shooting,
and was a poor shot, he managed to plant a bullet fairly in
the centre, making the rotten wood send out a shower, of
dust that showed everybody he had not missed.
Again the old chief smiled and nodded and grunted.
© ©
Evidently he derived a peculiar satisfaction from the boys
being able to use their rifles so well, and had some purpose
in view concerning them which was of no small importance.
After the shooting was over he summoned to him the
leading men of the village, with whom he engaged in earnest
consultation, the boys once more being left to do as they
pleased.
In one way or another they managed to while away the
time, and when at mid-day they returned to the chief's
house, Rae could not fail to notice that they were the objects
of more consideration than they had hitherto been. Kaitza
was very pronounced in her attention, and Rae thought he
detected in her look a certain impression of sadness which
puzzled him considerably. She had evidently something on
her mind which gave her keen concern. Rae would have
liked very much to know what it was, but he could not ask,
and she could not perhaps have made it clear to him if he
had asked. 2l6
IN THE HANDS OF THE HAIDAS
Their dinner was much improved by the substitution of
broiled trout for the halibut, and the addition of a few
potatoes baked in the ashes. The Haidas raised a small
quantity of these, having been given the seed by the traders
some years before. They called them "skow-skit," and
although, owing to poor cultivation, they were not much
bigger than crab-apples, the white boys hailed their appearance with lively satisfaction, and ate of them heartily.
Another welcome addition to their fare was the sal-lal
berry, which they found much to their taste, so that they
got on very well indeed at thislneal, and it made them more
hopeful for the future.
That afternoon there was a gathering of the chief men
in Hi-ling-a's house, and what was evidently a most important consultation held, as the result of which two runners
were despatched northward on a momentous mission.
'^WV CHAPTER XIII
SAVAGE    LIFE.
AS time hung heavy upon their hands, Rae determined
to employ it by entering, as far as possible, into the
life and occupations of the people around him; and so the
next morning, when the canoes were starting off to the
halibut grounds, without saying " by your leave," he and
Freckles jumped into the largest canoe, and sat down in a
way that said plainly,—
"We're going with you, if you've got no objections."
The Indians seemed surprised at the action, and did
not push off until one of them had run up to Hi-ling-a's
house and asked his approval, which was promptly granted,
however, and their minds being thus set at rest they accepted the unasked addition to their crew with their usual
stolidity.
A dozen expert paddlers kneeled in the bottom, and sent
their swift craft skimming through the smooth water with
o ©
sinewy strokes. Sitting comfortably in the stern, the boys
felt like princes, and Rae took upon himself to encourage
the paddlers by calling out,—
" That's the way!    Give it to her!    Now you're doing
(478) 14 2l8
SAVAGE LIFE,
it!'' and so forth, just as if they were training for a race,
and he was their coach.
Freckles, although a little appalled at his companion's
presumption, found it very amusing  nevertheless, and it
kept him on the broad grin, to all of which the savages took
no offence, but seemed to consider it right enough.
' © ©
The fishing grounds were not far from the Skidegate
o     © ©
Inlet, and the Indians knew well the localities where the
halibut most abounded. Having reached the spot, they
moored the canoe by means of a big stone secured to
a cedar-bark rope, and proceeded to get out their fishing
tackle.
When Rae saw their hooks he could with difficulty
restrain his laughter. They had two kinds in use, both-
seeming absurdly large and clumsy to the boy, who was
accustomed to the best English manufacture.    One kind was
©
of wood with a bone barb, being made from a forked branch,
or with two pieces of tough wood lashed together so as to
make an acute angle, the bone barb being fastened to the
lower piece so as to project backward and insure a good
hold. The other kind of hook was fashioned out of a thin
iron rod, bent round and sharpened to a point. For lines
they had strong cord, obtained in barter from the Tsimshians.
The bait used consisted of small fish caught inshore for the
purpose.
Having never before taken part in halibut fishing, Rae
watched all the preliminaries with lively interest, and wished
very much that he had a hook and line of his own, that he
might try his luck.    But none of the natives offered to lend
<QP SAVAGE LIFE.
219
him theirs, so he was forced to be an idle spectator while
they hauled in one fine big fellow after another, and he
found this too stupid to be endured for long.
Feeling about in his pockets he found a copper coin, and
this gave him an idea.    The Haida nearest him was a rather
©
pleasant-looking young fellow, whose luck was outdone by
no one in the canoe.    After he had caught several big fish
© o
Rae thought it a good time to try him, and holding the coin
in one hand he took up the line with the other, signifying
that he wished to exchange.
©
The Indian looked doubtful for a moment; but the
attraction of the coin prevailed, and he handed over his
line, saying something which was no doubt a direction for
its proper use, but which went for nothing so far as Rae
was concerned.
With the fisherman's instinct at its height, Rae let out
his line; and waited eagerly for a bite, He was not kept
long in suspense. A strong tug at the hook told him that
the bait was taken, and with a quick jerk he made sure that
the barb went duly home. But when he tried to pull up
his prize he found he had a very difficult task on his hands
from the others. With them the landing of their fish had
been an easy job, and he was greatly surprised at the
resistance his manifested.
" Come here, Freckles," said he, getting red in the face
from his exertion, "and lend me a hand. I've hooked a
huge one, I believe."
Freckles took hold of the line, which was a very stout
one, and the two boys pulled upon it lustily, their united 220
SAVAGE LIFE.
strength being not without result as the fish slowly yielded
to it, and presently became visible from the canoe.
By this time the Indians had become interested in Rae's
capture, and were all watching for its appearance. When it
did come into view, a broad grin went from face to face
while a look of intense disgust came over the young fisher-
man's countenance> for his prize was not a monster halibut5
as he had fondly hoped, but another of the flounder species
—to wit, a huge wolf-fish, as useless as it was hideous,
Rae felt so incensed at being thus imposed upon, that,
grasping one of the paddles, he hit the ugly creature a
savage blow on the nose to stun it, and then drawing its
head alongside tore out the hook, and with another whack
of the paddle sent it flying back to deep water, no doubt
a sadder and a wiser fistu He made no further attempt at
fishing that morning, but vowed that some day soon he and
Freckles would go off by themselves, and see if they could
not do better.
When the canoe returned to the village, they found the
inhabitants full of bustle and excitement. Some important
preparations were evidently in progress, but what they were
or with what object Rae could not make out, curious as he
was to ascertain. No one took any notice of Freckles or
himself; even Kaitza seemed to be engrossed with other
things. So the boys had nothing to do save to look on, and
speculate as to what all the fuss was about.
" I believe there's fighting in the wind," said Rae, after
watching the Haidas for a while. "They're getting their
bows and arrows ready, and seeing after their spears.    I SAVAGE LLFE.
221
wonder if they're going to make a raid on some other
village. Those savages are always up to some mischief of
that kind. It seems as if they couldn't be content to let
one another alone."
That night the whole population of the village assembled
in the open space before the chief's house, and the boys,
realizing that an event of no ordinary importance was to
take place, began to feel apprehensive as to how it would
concern them. They had been well enough treated so far,
and had certainly taken care not to give anybody any
offence; but none the less they were captives among a
savage people, who might have very strange and bloodthirsty rites in connection with their religion, and as a
religious ceremony of some sort was evidently about to be
engaged in, who knew but what they might be offered up in
sacrifice to the Haidas' gods ?
All this passed through Rae's mind, but he strove to
keep a firm hand upon himself, and said encouragingly to
Freckles,—
" There's no telling what they'll be up to, Freckles, once
they get going. Father told me some dreadful stories of
what the Indians do in their dances; but we mustn't let on
we're afraid of anything, so don't let them see you looking
scared whatever happens."
Freckles promised to do his best, and, keeping close
together, the boys waited in much anxiety for what might
come to pass. Once or twice Rae caught Kaitza looking at
him in the sorrowful way he had noticed before, and he
longed intensely to be able to ask her if she thought any 222
SAVAGE LIFE.
harm was coming to them.    But of course there was no
doing that, so he had to content himself with hoping that
© i
all would go well.
When the people had gathered in a great circle, leaving
an open space in the middle lighted by two blazing fires of
pine knots, a strange silence fell upon them, as though they
were engaged in silent prayer. They were awaiting the
appearance of Hi-ling-a and of the medicine-man, who
should be leaders of the exercises. |
Presently there emerged from the chief's house the tall
form of the old man, looking most imposing in his extraordinary costume. Upon his head was a sort of crown made
of the stout bristles from the whiskers of the sea-lion, set
upright in a circle, while between them feather-down was
heaped, which at each step he took was scattered on all
sides, falling softly like snow among the awe-struck spectators. Around his shoulders he wore a very large Tsim-
shian blanket, made of fine cedar bark and the wool of the
mountain goat.
His legs were covered with leggings, from which stuck
©
out innumerable puffin beaks, and his face was painted in
brilliant streaks of red and yellow that made him almost
unrecognizable,
Moving with great deliberation and dignity, he made his
way to the point in the circle midway between the two
fires, and seated himself upon a broad tree-stump, while a
murmur, that probably meant applause, went round the
congregation.
Glancing about till his eyes fell upon Rae and Freckles,   SAVAGE LIFE.
225
he solemnly beckoned them to him, and placed them beside
him on either hand.    They were sorry to be thus separated,
yet they both had a feeling of relief at thus being taken
under the old chief's wing.    He had been their best friend
©
so far, and would no doubt take care of them now.
A low murmuring noise now began to be heard, which
gradually grew in strength until it filled the air, at which
point there suddenly dashed into the circle a figure even
more startling in appearance than the chieftain.
It was that of a man above the usual height, the body
being naked except for a breech-clout, but painted with
brilliant colours; while instead of a human head was that
of a horrible monster resembling a fabled dragon, with great
gleaming eyes and cavernous mouth filled with cruel teeth,
the top of the head bristling with thick coarse hair, and the
whole effect in the flashing firelight being little short of
appalling.
On the entrance of this monster into the circle the
drumming grew fast and furious, and there was added to it
an almost ear-splitting chorus of rattles, which were suddenly produced by the men and frantically shaken, the
women contributing their share to the noise by breaking
into a wild wailing chant that had something strangely
pathetic in its long-drawn modulations.
Involuntarily Freckles stretched out his hand behind the
chief's back to, Rae for comfort, and then hand in hand the
boys watched with eyes full of wonder and apprehension
the savage ceremony.
Having looked about him in a quick fierce way for a 226
SAVAGE LIFE.
few moments, the central figure now began to dance, at first
in the  usual  slouching  fashion  common  among Indians,
bending his knees, but not lifting his feet far from the
© * ©
ground. This he kept up without change for full half-an-
hour, the weird chorus of drums,-rattles, and voices going on
steadily. Then he began to stamp violently on the ground,
and to give vent to deep grunts, in response to which the
music grew faster, and the voices became more piercing, and
thus the dancing and noise gathered speed and volume until
the man in the centre of the circle worked himself up into a
kind of frenzy that was repulsive to witness.
Throwing aside his mask, he allowed his face to be seen.
It was covered with paint and perspiration. His eyes rolled
like a madman's, and foam gathered at the corners of his
mouth. Ranging up and down between the two fires that
were now blazing their brightest, he glanced this way and
that as though seeking for some object upon which to vent
his fury.
Rae shuddered and shrank behind the chief. He did not
know at what moment the frenzied dancer might single him
out for some horrible part in the ceremony.
Presently the dancer paused, glared wildly about him,
and then began to creep down towards where the boys were,
in the manner of one stalking a deer.    There was something
o o
so unearthly and appalling in his whole appearance that
Rae was rooted to the spot with terror.
Nearer and nearer with sly stealthy steps drew the
dancer, until he halted as though for a spring just in front
of Rae.   The poor boy, chilled and faint with fright, cowered SAVAGE LIFE.
227
at the feet of Hi-ling-a, who sat as motionless as though
carved in stone. Freckles had sunk out of sight behind the
chief. There was a moment of thrilling silence, for the
drummers and rattlers and singers had all suddenly ceased
their noise. Then came a hideous cry, more like the howl
of a wolf than any sound from a human throat, and with a
tremendous bound the dancer threw himself—not upon Rae,
who had involuntarily shut his eyes in sheer horror, but
upon a dog that, all unmindful of the uproar, had been curled
up quietly at the feet of Hi-ling-a.
Seizing the struggling creature with both hands, so that
O DO O '
it was powerless to bite, the dancer buried his teeth in its
haunch, and tore out a gory mouthful, which he hastened
to munch with great apparent relish. Then hurling the
animal, howling with pain, beyond the circle of enthralled
spectators, he followed it himself, disappearing in the darkness amid a curious but significant murmur of relief from
the circle, whose feelings had been much wrought upon
during the ceremony.
As for Rae, it seemed as if he were waking from some
awful nightmare. He had been simply paralyzed with
terror, and the whole performance seemed so abominable
that he fain would have run away into the darkness, only
that he did not dare to leave the chief, whom he had come
to look upon as his guardian.
Although the dancer had vanished, the circle remained
unbroken, and evidently awaited further proceedings.
" Oh, I hope there's not going to be any more of it,"
whispered Rae behind the chief's back to Freckles, who was 228
SAVAGE LIFE.
looking so pale that the tan spots on his face stood out like
blotches of colour. " That was awful, wasn't it ? and the
next thing may be worse."
Happily, however, his fears were not fulfilled. The next
thing was not worse, nor half so bad. After an interval of
silent expectation, during which performers had a chance to
give their lungs and muscles a needed rest,'the music began
again, slow and. subdued, and soon another figure entered
the ring.
This was the ska-ga or medicine-man of the tribe, and
the deity having been duly propitiated by the preceding
rite, he was now to give the people the prophetic message
which they were eagerly awaiting.
The ska-ga was a tall man, wofully emaciated from protracted fasting, with hair hanging over his shoulders in
tangled locks, and a garb that was tattered and frayed until
it seemed hardly able to hold together. In one hand he
held a large rattle richly carved, in the other a hollow bone,
also carved and inlaid with pieces of haliotis shell.
Shaking the rattle gently, he walked with slow, hesitating
steps three times around the circle, keeping his eyes bent
upon the ground, as though he were in profound thought.
At the third time he halted before the chief, and after regarding him so intently for a few minutes that the old man
was fain to drop his eyes in some confusion, the ska-ga
began to chant in a strange monotonous fashion, running the
words one into the other, so that even the chief could hardly
make them out, while the others, eagerly though they
listened, evidently could not understand him at all. SAVAGE LIFE.
229
The chant continued several minutes, Hi-!ing-a's wrinkled
countenance at times breaking into a smile as the medicineman spoke something that was much to his mind.
When the ska-ga ceased he too vanished into the dark-
ness, as the dancer had done, and then the chief, for the first
time rising from his seat of honour, began an address to his
people. He spoke in a low yet distinct voice at the start,
and they all crowded close so as to hear every word; but
as he proceeded his expression and tone became more impassioned. The words poured like a torrent from his lips,
his eyes flashed fire, and his gestures were fierce and
warlike. The Indians responded with vigorous grunts
of approval, and with faces whose wild looks reflected his
own.
Finally, when he reached the climax of his oration, he
took hold of Rae and Freckles with either hand, placed
them in front of him, and shouted something, upon which
the whole gathering broke into a furious chorus of whoops
and yells that made the boys' blood run cold. " God help
us V' murmured Rae; " they're going to do for us now."
And it certainly seemed as if he were right this time,
for the excited savages surrounded them, looking as though
they wanted to tear them in pieces.
Yet through all this commotion Hi-ling-a, the passion
attending his speech having spent itself, continued calm and
silent, while the pleased expression of his face showed that
he cordially approved of the tumult his people were creating.
If Rae could only have understood the true nature of
the whole proceeding, instead of being terrified he might SAVAGE LIF1
have felt highly flattered, for this was what had actually
taken place.
The Haidas of Skidegate Inlet were in a chronic state
©
of war with the tribe whose settlement was at Masset Inlet
to the north, and just before the arrival of the Plover they
had been planning and preparing for an attack upon their
enemies.
Seeing how few of the white men there were, the bril-
liant idea had entered old Hi-ling-a's active brain of capturing the schooner and crew, and compelling the latter to
join their war-party, and give them the aid of their firearms, which would insure complete victory.
The attempt on the schooner having failed, he had to be
content with the two boys, who had innocently placed themselves in his hands, and the whole object of the ceremony
which had been so trying to them was to secure the approval
of the deities of the projected expedition.
The ska-ga had signified this in a manner more than
usually distinct for so oracular and distinguished a personage,
and all the fierce yelling and whooping was nothing more or
less than the delight of the Indians at having two such
© ©
champions added to their army.
As for Kaitza and her sorrowful, sympathetic looks
which had intensified Rae's concern for himself and Freckles,
they were simply due to her fear of the dangers to which
the white boys must be exposed in thus going to war for
her tribe. She had fallen violently in love with Rae, and
the thought of his going away up to Masset, and fighting
with the fierce and warlike Indians, gave her keen concern. SAVAGE LIFE.
231
It was not until some time afterwards that Rae understood all this, but in the meantime, when the excitement had
subsided, and the people set themselves to feasting without
manifesting any desire to eat him or do him any other
harm, his mind grew easier, and not having any stomach
for the feast he slipped away with Freckles to the chief's
house, where all was quiet, and they were able to get to
sleep, being thoroughly wearied by the events of the day.
The village slept late the next morning, and the boys
had been up and taken their daily swim before any of the
Indians made their appearance.
As Rae looked at the long line of canoes drawn up on
the beach, and carefully covered with thick mats to prevent
the sun from warping and splitting their cedar sides, he
said to Freckles,—
I Oh, if we could only just take one of those canoes and
paddle down to Fort Camosun. But we couldn't, of course,
and it's no use thinking about it.    We've got to wait here
© o
until the Plover comes back for us."
I But suppose, Rae, the Plover doesn't come back," asked
Freckles, " what will we do then ? "
" The Plover not come back !" exclaimed Rae indignantly.
1 What makes you say that ? Do you think Captain Hanson
would be so mean as to desert us altogether ?"
"Oh, no," protested Freckles earnestly. "That isn't
what I mean. But I was thinking if the Plover should be
wrecked on her way down. You know we had some narrow
escapes coming up ; and if anything like that should happen
to her, and she never got to Fort Camosun, wouldn't we 232
SAVAGE LIFE.
have to stay here for the rest of our lives ?" and the mere
thought of so lamentable a contingency made the boy's eyes
grow moist and his lips quiver.
Now it was one of the sources of strength as well as
of weakness in Rae's nature that he was prone to take the
brightest side and most hopeful view of the future. He
was, in fact, a consistent optimist; and while this had, at
times, the disadvantage of rendering him over-sanguine of
success, and therefore inclined to be rash in attempting
things, as we have already seen, still it also helped him to
keep up a brave heart in the face of adversity.
The idea of the Plover failing to return had never entered
his mind, and when Freckles suggested it he was angered.
' ©© ©
"Look here, Freckles," he cried, with his face flushed,
and his fists clenched as though he would strike him for
his ill-timed croaking, " I just wish you wouldn't talk that
way. We've got enough to worry us without imagining
things that may never happen. I feel sure the Plover's
coming back for us; and even if she doesn't, we'll find some
way of getting back to the fort. We're not going to stay
here always, you may depend upon that."
Freckles hung his head and looked very penitent.
" All right, Rae; I won't say anything more about it,"
he said humbly.  " But it just came into my mind, you know."
All that day the village was filled with bustle and preparation.
The expedition was to go in canoes, and these were being
painted and fixed up in the most elaborate manner of which
their owners were capable.     The women were busy pre- SAVAGE LIFE.
233
paring a supply of food, so that the warriors would not
have to depend upon what they could secure en route; and
even the children had caught the infection of war, and were
having mimic combats, in which some of them, however, got
such hard knocks that their wails pierced the air.
Hi-ling-a sent for the boys, and gave them to understand
that he wanted to know how many times their rifles could
be fired. Rae carefully examined the contents of their
powder-flasks and bullet-pouches, and found that they had
each sufficient for about twenty-five charges, while their
cap-boxes were practically full.
On the old chief being informed of this he looked highly
pleased. Evidently he counted that in his white captives
he held the trump-card in the game of war he prepared to
play with the Masset Indians. They had no fire-arms, he
knew, and were not accustomed to them, so that their effect
might well be to produce a panic that would place victory
in the hands of the Skidegate tribe.
There were more dancing and feasting that night, but
Rae and Freckles kept aloof. Hi-ling-a did not require
their presence; and although by this time all fear of personal
harm had vanished, the whole ceremony was so distasteful
that they wanted no more of it.
Another who remained away from the gathering around
the fires was Kaitza, and she hung about Rae in a way that
was really pathetic, and that he could not fail to notice.
It bothered him not a little, for it seemed as if she must be
wanting something; but as she could not put her wish into
words, he did not know how to meet it. 234
SAVAGE LIFE.
I What can that girl be after, Freckles ?" Rae asked
somewhat fretfully of his companion. " She seems to have
something on her mind, and to be wanting to tell us; but
how can she when we don't know a word of each other's
language ?"
"Perhaps she doesn't want us to go with the others
wherever they're going," suggested Freckles, | She'd like
us to stay here and keep her company maybe."
" Tut," snorted Rae contemptuously; " if that's her notion
she's upon the wrong tack. Catch me staying with her and
the women and children.  I'm going with the men, that's sure."
Poor Kaitza, who seemed to have some suspicion that
she was the subject of their talk, looked as if she would
give her very eyes to understand its drift; and then slipping
away softly, she reappeared with a basketful of delicious
berries she had herself picked that day, and offered them
to the boys, her tawny face lighting up with pleasure as
she saw how heartily her gift was appreciated.
Rae thanked her warmly, and if she could not interpret
his words she had no difficulty in reading the expression of
his face; and this evidently satisfied her, for a very contented,
happy look came into hers, and she went back to her part
of the house with a light step, leaving the boys to settle
down for the night.
The following morning the warlike expedition set forth.
It was a most propitious day, bright, cool, and free from
wind. One hundred and fifty braves formed the party,
Hi-ling-a being in command, and having Rae and Freckles
© © f o
as his personal attendants. SAVAGE LIFE.
235
It required ten of the largest canoes to carry them, as they
took with them a bountiful supply of dried fish, berries,
potatoes, and oulachan grease, lest they might not be able
to obtain sufficient provision on the way.
These canoes were admirable in their way, being made
from single trees of the red cedar, which is light, durable,
and easily worked. Their lines were very fine, the requisite
amount of beam being obtained by steaming the hollow log
with water and hot stones, and inserting thwarts, while the
bow and stern were provided with strong spurs sloping upward, and scarfed to the main body of the canoe.
They were very seaworthy craft, but had one serious weakness which needed to be guarded against—the wood was apt to
split parallel with the grain; and when heavily laden in rough
weather the strain would sometimes prove too much, causing
a bad leak, and placing the occupants in imminent danger.
The chief's canoe was full forty feet long, and contained
twenty men besides Hi-ling-a and the boys, and a large
quantity of stuff. All paddled save the chief and Rae and
Freckles, and the two latter found it very pleasant to stretch
out comfortably in the stern upon a pile of blankets and be
paddled along at the rate of six miles an hour by the powerful Indians, from whose vocabulary the word weariness
seemed to have been banished, as hour after hour passed
and their mighty strokes never slackened for a moment.
The route lay along the western side of the island, which
was one continuous line of surf-beaten rock, so that the
canoes had to keep well out from land; but the Indians
did not mind that, being accustomed to make trips across
(«*) 15 236
SAVAGE LIFE.
Hecate Strait to the mainland in order to trade with the
Tsimshians and other tribes.
Beyond the birds in the air or the fish in the sea, there
was absolutely no sign of living creature.
"What a dreary, desolate country!" said Rae to Freckles,
pointing to the coast by which they were passing. " Just
imagine having to live in such a place as that. Why, I believe I'd go crazy in a month."
" So would I," assented Freckles. " I don't like living
in the woods anyway. I'm sick of them. I wish I could
live in a place where there was a whole lot of people, and
no Indians or wild animals.    That's what I'd like."
" I would too," replied Rae—" for a while anyway. I
want to see something of the rest of the world. I'm getting
tired of this part of it. I wonder if I ever will get to
Europe, or Asia, or any of those places."
" You will, of course, Rae," said Freckles very positively,
" but I'm not likely to, unless," and he glanced shyly at his
companion as though to see how he would like the suggestion,
" you take me, for nobody else is going to do it."
Rae brought down his hand with a hearty slap on
Freckles's knee, and his face lit up with resolution.
" I will do it, Freckles," he exclaimed. " Just as sure as
I go myself, I'll take you along.    There now, I promise you."
It seemed a vain pledge to give, situated as they then
were, captives in a Haida canoe bound upon a tribal foray,
and certain to encounter many dangers on both sea and land
while in the service of their captors, with no certain prospect of deliverance from them at any time. SAVAGE LIFE.
«37
But Freckles seemed to have perfect confidence in both
Rae himself and in his future, and to believe that no matter
how unpromising the present might be, there was a good
time coming.
©
About mid-day the canoes made a stop at an inlet a little
south of Cape Ball, where a river ran down to the sea, and
there was a safe landing-place.
Here fires were lighted and dinner cooked, after which
a rest of a couple of hours was announced by the chief; and
seeing the Indians stretch themselves out for a sleep, Rae
with his wonted enterprise determined upon a stroll, knowing
well that the party would not set off again without him.
Accompanied by Freckles, he went inland along the
river-side, wondering if there was anything worth shooting
in this part of the island. He had no desire to try conclusions again with a panther, but if something smaller and less
pugnacious turned up he was in the humour for a venture.
The stream turned and twisted so that the boys were
soon out of sight of the sea, but they knew they could not
lose themselves so long as they kept in sight of the river.
Chatting carelessly, they pushed on until they were about a
quarter of a mile from the landing-place, and then Rae,
feeling the sun very hot, threw himself down in the shade
to cool off.   Freckles followed his example.
They had not been there many minutes before there was
a rustling in the bushes just beyond them, and as they gazed
intently at the spot from whence the sound came, there
emerged into the open a large black bear, tossing his head
and sniffing the air in an inquiring way. CHAPTER XIV.
WITH    THE    WAR-PARTY.
BEARS were not plentiful in the Queen Charlotte Islands
at that time, but they were to be found in certain
districts; and as it happened, the Haidas had landed at one
of the places, and there was nothing therefore extraordinary
about the boys lighting upon one.
Of course the wisest thing under the circumstances
would have been for them to keep perfectly still until
Bruin had drunk his fill of water and taken himself off
again. So long as they left him alone he certainly would
not molest them. Bears are too fond of peace to make an
unprovoked attack on anybody.
But the sight of the bear stirred Rae's spirit. What a
splendid opportunity now presented itself to distinguish
himself before the Indians! To make a conquest of the
bear would insure the respect of his captors, and perhaps in some way help towards the regaining of his
freedom.
Freckles had no such ambitious thoughts aroused. With
him on all occasions of the kind discretion was the better
■ — WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
239
part of valour,
teaches that
He was a firm believer in the couplet which
" He who fights, and runs away,
Lives to fight another day,"
o
with the modification that he greatly preferred running
away without fighting at all.
Now he plucked Rae's sleeve vigorously, and whispered
in a pleading anxious tone,—
" Let's run, Rae; he hasn't seen us yet; come."
But instead of preparing to run, Rae carefully drew up his
rifle so that the movement made no noise, and levelled it at
the bear, who now presented his full front to them.
" Oh, don't, Rae, please don't," implored Freckles, and he
put out his hand as though he would take hold of the rifle.
But Rae, without speaking, gave him a look that caused
him to shrink back abashed. Mortally afraid of the bear
as he felt, he was still more afraid of offending Rae, whose
favour was the sunshine of his life.
Taking aim with the utmost deliberation, for he wanted
to make sure work with the first shot, Rae pulled the
trigger. The report rang out sharp and clear, and at the
same instant the bear rolled over at the edge of the stream,
writhing in mortal agony.
" Hurrah !" shouted Rae, springing to his feet and waving
'    XT ©      © ^J
his hat triumphantly, " I've done for him. He'll be dead in
a minute."
In this case, however, he counted upon too quick and
easy a victory. Just as he showed himself the bear recovered from the first shock of the wound, and, catching sight 24-0
WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
of the two boys, at once attributed to them his sudden
suffering.
With a dull roar he rushed across the stream and charged
straight upon them before Rae had a chance to reload.
1 Now then, Freckles, run for it!" cried Rae, setting his
companion a good example, and away they went down the
bank of the stream, the bear in close pursuit, although the
great drops of blood which marked his path showed how
sorely he had been wounded.
Rae ran like a deer; but Freckles made poor speed,
slipping and stumbling awkwardly, so that he was soon in
the rear, and had to gasp out an appeal to Rae not to leave
him behind. He had hardly spoken, and Rae had just
turned to wait for him, when his foot caught in a tree-root,
and down he went, pitching his rifle ahead of him in his fall.
The bear was only a few yards from him as Rae
shouted,—
I Pretend you're dead, Freckles.    Don't move a muscle."
Freckles heard and obeyed. When Bruin reached him
he lay as still as a corpse, and the animal halted for a
moment to smell him over.
This gave Rae an opportunity to which he gallantly
responded. Freckles's rifle, still undischarged, lay upon the
ground a couple of yards from where the bear stood over
the prostrate boy. Darting forward he picked it up, and
as the bear, noting his action, lifted his head with a fierce
growl, he placed the muzzle at his head, almost touching
his ear, and fired before Bruin could move.
The bullet went clear through the creature s brain, and WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
241
without a sound he collapsed upon Freckles, his great
weight fairly flattening the poor fellow against the hard
ground, and squeezing every atom of breath out of him.
But Rae promptly relieved him of the oppressive burden
and stood him on his feet, laughing joyously as he gazed
about him in a dazed, bewildered fashion as though he did
not know just what had happened to him.
Now in falling upon him the bear had rather liberally
bespattered him with his own blood, and this at once caught
Freckles's attention.
" 0 Rae, I'm wounded, I'm wounded! § he cried in a
piteous tone; I see how I'm bleeding," and he put his hands
up to his face, which certainly fjad a horrifying appearance,
all gory as it was.
" Nonsense !" laughed Rae, instantly surmising the true
source of the blood; "you're not hurt a bit. That's the
bear's blood on you."
" Are you sure ?' asked Freckles eagerly. " Am I all
right ?"
" Of course you're all right," replied Rae. " Run down
to the water and wash the blood off yourself. There's
nothing else the matter with you."
With lightened heart Freckles did as he was bid, and
came back looking quite himself again.
" Isn't he a monster, Freckles ?" said Rae, putting his
foot proudly on the bear's head. " Those Haidas will think
a good deal more of us when they see what we've done, and
I guess father would be proud if he knew it too. See, there
are some of the Indians coming along now." 242
WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
It was old Hi-ling-a and half-a-dozen of his followers.
The chief had heard the report of the rifle, and had at once
set out to learn what it meant. When he saw the bear
lying prostrate and lifeless he made no attempt to conceal
his astonishment. The killing of such a creature was
worthy the combined efforts of a dozen of his most daring
"braves," but here it had been performed by a couple of
boys, and with little apparent difficulty.
His followers evidently shared his feelings, and even
though they could not voice them to him, Rae realized
clearly enough that he had gone up greatly in their estimation, and would command their respect for the future.
At the command of the chief they set to work to skin
and cut up the bear, a goodly portion of the body being
brought back to the landing place, where a feast was at once
instituted, bear steak being regarded as a dainty of the first
order by the Indians.
Rae felt in duty bound to eat some of it himself, but did
not like it particularly, very much preferring a good steak
of salmon or of halibut.
Freckles was fervently grateful for Rae's timely deliverance of him from the bear's maw. He had quite given himself up as beyond hope when he fell right in the infuriated
animal's way, and his escape seemed to him something in
the shape of a miracle. As a result of his escape his devotion to Rae intensified, if that were possible; and although
he had not the faculty of expressing himself in words, it
might be read easily enough in his looks, so that even the
savages were impressed by it. WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
Another consequence of the slaying of the bear was that,
instead of continuing their voyage that afternoon, the war-
party remained overnight, beiDg unwilling to proceed so
long as a morsel of the bear remained unconsumed.
The next day broke dark and lowering. The sky was
ashen gray, and the sea looked like molten lead. Rae was
weather-wise enough already to see that a storm of no
ordinary severity threatened, and he hoped that the Haidas
would recognize it too, and decide upon a still further
delay.
But although they scanned the clouds and the horizon
with serious countenances, and consulted earnestly for a
time, the decision was to press forward, so, after a hastily
prepared breakfast, they all embarked in the canoes again.
and pushed on to the north.
Feeling sure that before long the spray would be dashing
over the sides, for the sea was rising fast, Rae rolled up the
rifles and ammunition very carefully in a thick blanket, and
put them where they would be least exposed.
As the canoes pressed forward the wind steadily increased
in strength. It was blowing from the north-east, and
although they would not feel its full force until they
rounded Rose Point, at the upper end of the island, still it
soon severely taxed the utmost efforts of the sinewy paddlers
to keep the canoes straight in their course, and to make any
progress worthy of the name.
Rae's apprehensions of danger grew keener with the
waxing of the wind. Admirably adapted for their purpose
as the canoes were, still they were only canoes after all, and
' mm mi * 244
WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
if the gale continued to increase at its present rate, they
must ere long prove unable to weather it.
But there was no sign of turning towards shore.   Indeed,
© © '
as Rae looked anxiously in that direction, and saw everywhere
as far as the eye could reach an interminable line of furious
foaming breakers hurling their white crowns against an
unbroken wall of mighty boulders, he realized clearly enough
that to attempt a landing there would mean certain destruction, and that the only alternative was to keep on in hope
of finding some inlet which might prove a harbour of refuge.
" We're in great danger, Freckles," said Rae, taking hold
of his companion's hand for comfort, " and unless the storm
stops soon, there's not much chance for us. Why couldn't
the Indians," he added in a tone of petulant protest, " have
had the sense to see that it was going to be like this, and
have stayed on shore until it got fine again? I'm sure I
could have told them just what was coming."
" Perhaps they were afraid to stay there in case of the
other Indians finding them out," suggested Freckles. " They
seem to be talking very hard about something, and that may
be the reason."
" Humph," growled Rae. " They weren't sure of being
found out, but they were sure of the storm coming on, and
it would have been a good deal better to have taken their
©
chances and stayed ashore, than to come out here and all be
drowned."
Certainly, as the morning drew on, Rae's view of the
situation seemed fully justified. In spite of the strenuous
efforts of the paddlers, the headway made was hardly per- WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
245
ceptible, and the point for which they were aiming, and on
the other side of which they hoped to find a safe landing-
place, seemed to get no nearer.
Presently the waves began to break over the sides of the
canoes, drenching all on board, and adding discomfort to
danger; and not only so, but another peril, and a still more
serious peril, manifested itself. The amount of water that
came over the gunwale was inconsiderable, and could easily
be got rid of by the bailers with which each canoe was
supplied. But the leaking due to the straining of the wood
whereby it opened along the grain as the canoes pitched
and tossed in the heavy sea was another matter.
There was not one of the canoes that did not begin to
show the effects of the strain upon it, the chief's canoe being
the best in this particular, yet by no means free from weakness, and Rae noted with lively alarm that the water was
coming in faster than it Went out, so seizing a bailer he cried
to Freckles as he thrust another into his hand, " Here, let
us bail for dear life. The canoe's filling as fast as it can."
And then they two applied themselves to the work of
getting rid of the water with their utmost energy.
Little by little the canoes crept nearer the point, the
Indians keeping to their paddling with an unflagging
endurance that was really marvellous. Bred to the canoe
as the Indians of the plains to the saddle, they were capable
of maintaining the struggle against the storm for hours yet,
provided the canoes did not become waterlogged and unmanageable. Even in the midst of his anxiety Rae could
not help admiring the unbroken regularity of their stroke, 246
WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
and the wonderful skill with which Hi-ling-a in the stern
evaded the onset of the waves, and kept many a foam-
crested billow from breaking right on board and swamping
them beyond recovery.
At length, by dint of unremitting toil and unfailing skill
in seamanship, Rose Point was reached, and the fleet of
canoes turned due east in order to circumnavigate it.    But
©
just at this moment the storm burst upon them with a sudden
access of fury that there was no possibility of withstanding.
To face it was utterly impracticable; to fly before it meant
to be driven far out into Hecate Strait, and lost beyond a
peradventure.
Only one alternative remained, and that was to make
for the shore under the lee of the point, and attempt a
landing no matter how fierce the breakers might be or
inhospitable the rocky beach. Hi-ling-a promptly turned
his canoe shoreward, the others as promptly followed his
example, and, summoning all their remaining strength for
one supreme effort, the paddlers bent to their work, while
the spray hissed savagely over them, and the billows sprang
at their frail craft like wild beasts furious for their prey.
It was a tremendous struggle, the result of which hung
in the balance for many thrilling minutes. Confined to the
position of mere spectators, yet with their own lives at
stake, the boys cowered down in the stern of their canoe
seeking protection from the blows of the waves continually
breaking over the gunwale. They fully realized their
danger, but bore up bravely against it, Rae feeling it to be
incumbent upon him to maintain a manly front in the WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
247
presence of the Haidas, and Freckles nobly imitating the
example thus set him.
Little by little the shore was neared, but strive as they
might to peer through the spume and spray, no gap in the
line of breakers offered a chance of a safe landing.
"We'll be dashed to pieces, Freckles, sure," said Rae,
referring more particularly, however, to the canoes than to
themselves. " There's no good place to land. We'll just
have to go it blind, and trust to luck."
He was right enough. Expert in every art of canoeing
as the Haidas were, they had reached a crisis when all skill
went for nothing. They could only commit themselves to
the boiling surf in the hope of somehow surviving the
ordeal.
On they urged their canoes, rapidly becoming waterlogged and unmanageable. The breakers began to roar and
©o © ©
hiss about them like avenging furies; a few yards more, and
they would be in their midst.
As soon as the landing was decided upon, Rae had rolled
up the rifles and ammunition, each in a separate blanket,
and now he handed Freckles his, saying in a steady though
sad tone,—
1 We'll want them if we get through, so hold on tight to
yours."
A moment later and the crisis came. The paddlers
threw aside their paddles and seized their spears and bows.
Old Hi-ling-a rose to his feet, and stood looking shoreward
with steadfast countenance, while he called out encourag-
ingly to his men.    Rae and Freckles, grasping their pre- 248
WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
cious bundles tightly, prepared to leap as soon as the canoe
struck.
It was as sudden as a flash of lightning. Caught up on
the back of a huge breaker, the canoe poised for one thrilling
instant upon its foaming crest, and then was flung forward
as though it were a mere shaving. With a stunning crash
it smote the pitiless rocks, and fell into irreparable wreck.
The shock hurled all its occupants forward, but instantly
they recovered themselves, and sprang into the frothing
waves that strove hard to draw them back to destruction.
Freckles happily leaped clear of the undertow, and, albeit a
little bruised, scrambled out of the breakers' reach, still
retaining his hold upon the rifle. But Rae was not so
fortunate. As he jumped, his foot slipped, and he fell right
into the thick of the undertow, which promptly laid hold
upon him, and would have drawn him back to death had
not the old chief, whose keen eyes seemed to miss nothing,
no matter what the turmoil might be, observed his perilous
plight, and, stretching out his long right arm, caught him
by the collar and dragged him to land by an almost superhuman effort.
By great good luck every one of those in Hi-ling-a's
canoe made good their landing; but not so fortunate were
© .© *
some of the others, for when all had gathered together it
was found that six were missing, including two boys about
his own age that Rae had noticed in one of the other canoes,
© *
and whose lifeless bodies were presently cast up by the sea,
which had worked its cruel will upon them.
There was no time for lamentation then, however.    That WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
249
must be left until the return to the village. The one thing
now was to consider what should be done in the difficult
circumstances which surrounded the once imposing but now
most miserable war-party.
Nothing had been saved from the wreck save their
implements of war. Rae and Freckles had each their rifle
and ammunition intact, and all the Indians had either bow
or spear, and many of them both.
The boys had also saved their hatchets and hunting-
knives; but the provisions were all lost, and most of the
blankets.
The outlook was certainly a dreary one as the survivors, drenched and dishevelled, and most of them more
or less bruised, gathered around the chief for comfort and
consolation.
The old man bore himself with a stoical dignity that
was admirable to behold. He had no thought of being
prostrated even by a disaster apparently so overwhelming,
but at once set himself to put heart into his men, and to
advise as to what should be done.
By this time the storm began to show signs of blowing
over. Fortunately it had not been accompanied with rain,
and everything being dry on shore, the Indians were
presently able to produce a fire, before which the whole
party could in a short time dry their dripping clothing, and
become more comfortable on that score.
The next thought naturally enough was food, and for
this they must needs turn to the forest which stretched
dense and pathless as far as the eye could reach.    Taking 250
WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
their bows and spears, a number of the Indians went off in
quest of game. Rae would have liked to accompany them,
but Hi-ling-a detained him. The shrewd old man knew
little of the country round about, having been accustomed
to make all his expeditions by water, and he did not think
it wise to run any unnecessary risks. They were no doubt
still a long way from the Masset villages, yet they might
chance upon a war-party of that tribe, and in that case
it would be better for Rae and Freckles to be with him
rather than wandering through the woods after game.
Rae understood something of this, and it helped to
reconcile him to remain by the fire, although, having assured
himself that his rifle and ammunition were not the worse for
the shipwreck, he was anxious to give the savages further
proof of his skill as a shot. " It just puzzles me," said he to
Freckles, 1 what's going to become of us now. We must be
a long, long way from Skidegate, and perhaps the Indians
don't know how to get back by land. You see they do all
their travelling by canoe, and I don't suppose they'll feel like
going ahead with their war-party after being wrecked.
What do you think ? "
Freckles scratched his head and tried to look very wise,
but could contribute no enlightening suggestion. He had
been buffeted by fate so long and so severely that he was
becoming a sort of fatalist, accepting each new complication
in his affairs as simply another item in a programme that
had to be gone through to the bitter end whether he
liked it or not.
In this respect he presented a striking contrast to Rae, WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
251
who would fain be the master of his own fate so far as
might be possible, and who sought to reconsider everything
that happened, and desired a say in all that was coming to
pass concerning himself.
"I just wish I could talk their language," continued Rae,
taking Freckles's silence for granted.    "I know what I'd
© 0
advise them to do, and that is to make for the village as far
as they know how, and get a lot of new canoes if they want
to try again."
"That's the best thing," assented Freckles. "You tell
the chief, Rae, and perhaps he'll do it."
" I'm going to try," said Rae, and forthwith he went over
to Hi-ling-a's side, and proceeded to try to make himself
understood by him. But all his vigorous pantomime and
eloquent speech went for nothing.
The utmost the old man could make out was that Rae
wanted to go back to the village, and at this he shook his
head most decidedly. He had other plans than this for him,
and an immediate return to Skidegate was not one of them.
In fact what the chief had decided to do was worthy of
his daring and determined character. Seriously as his expedition had been disorganized by the disaster, after carefully
reviewing the whole situation, he had come to the conclusion
that the best horn to seize of the dilemma in which he found
himself was to continue on against the Massets.
He argued this way.    They were  twice as far from
their own village as they were from their enemies.    Only
six out of the whole number had been lost, all their weapons
had been saved, and, most important of all, Rae and Freckles,
(*rc) 16 252
WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
upon whom he relied chiefly for victory, had come off unscathed, and with the fire-arms uninjured.
By a sudden descent upon the Massets from the forest,
whence they would never be expecting attack, an easy conquest might be won; and then once in possession of the
village they could supply themselves with canoes, and load
them with plunder and food, returning in triumph by sea.
It was a brilliant plan of campaign, worthy in every
respect of its brave and sagacious projector, and he was
determined on its execution. In due time the hunting-
party returned, laden with grouse, ducks, and squirrels,
which their arrows had brought down, and which were
soon roasting before the fire, and sending out a most
appetizing odour that the hungry people sniffed eagerly.
There was abundance for all, and after they had dined
heartily, and were feeling in good spirits again, Hi-ling-a
thought the time propitious for making known his plan.
It was not at first received with unanimous approval,
and several of the party expressed their dissent very
decidedly, which roused the old man to unusual energy of
speech, so that the discussion waxed warm.
"My goodness, I wish I knew what they're talking
about," exclaimed Rae. " It's too bad we can't make out a
word of it, and I feel sure they're arguing about what they'll
do. If I could only talk to them I'd say to hurry back, and
I guess a good many of them think the same thing too."
He had read the faces of the opposition aright—they
were for an immediate return; but the old chief was not to
be moved from his purpose.    He argued, and pleaded, and WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
253
promised, and threatened, until at length he carried his
point. One by one the objectors were overcome, until
finally the great shout which followed an especially earnest
appeal showed that he had won the day, and that all had
been brought round to his side.
" It's no use," said Rae gloomily; " they're going ahead.
See how fierce they look. I suppose they think that since
they've got our rifles they're bound to beat anything; but
they're much mistaken if they think I'm going to shoot
anybody just to please them. If I have to do it to save my
life, I will of course; but I'm certainly not going to kill
people who never did me any harm—are you, Freckles ?''
"No, sir, not a bit of it," responded Freckles, with a
degree of decision most unusual for him, but which was
none the less entirely sincere, for there was nothing in the
world so repugnant to him as the thought of being the
means of anybody's death. Short of being killed himself,
he would endure anything rather than take another's life.
" Look here, Freckles," Rae went on, lowering his voice
to a whisper, although no one else but the one addressed
would have been any the wiser had he spoken in a shout,
" I'll tell vou what we'll do. If we do attack those Indians
up there, and Hi-ling-a expects us to fire at them, we'll just
aim away over their heads so as not to hit any of them,
and then whoever's killed on their side we won't be to
blame, any way."
" That's it, Rae, that's the way to do," assented Freckles,
rubbing his hands gleefully, for the idea of being made
to take part in a battle had been bothering him sorely; 254
WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
"and then, of course, if the other Indians see that we're
not doing them any harm, why, they won't hurt us, will
they ?"
" They oughtn't to at all events," said Rae; " but," and
here his face clouded with serious thought, " you know,
Freckles, if any of them do try to kill us, why, we'll just
have to fire at them, though I devoutly hope they won't,
for I don't want to be killed, nor do I want to kill anybody
else."
While they were thus talking together the old chief was
giving final directions to his followers, and soon the start
was made in Indian file, a veteran hunter, expert in woodcraft, taking the lead, and the others following close behind,
Hi-ling-a and the two boys bringing up the rear.
The going was difficult and toilsome in the extreme, the
forest being dense, and filled with underbrush that stub-
bornly opposed the war-party's advance. Although the
way was to a certain extent broken by those who were
ahead, Rae and Freckles found it very fatiguing, and ere
long began to falter and fall behind, so that the chief,
thinking that they were getting lazy, spoke sharply to
them, evidently bidding them mend their pace.
" It's all very well for him to tell us to hurry up—for I
suppose that's what he's driving at," said Rae in a tone that
was almost sulky, " but I'm doing the best I can; and what's
more, I'll be giving out altogether pretty soon, and they'll
just have to carry me if they want to hurry along as they
are doing."
" And I'm tired out too," replied Freckles despondently. WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
255
I Do you think they'll carry me if I can't walk any
further ?"
I We'll just try," said Rae, his face brightening with a
look of mischief. "We'll sit down and refuse to walk
another step, and see what they'll do," and suiting his action
to the word he dropped wearily on the ground, Freckles at
once imitating his example.
The instant they did so old Hi-ling-a swung round, and,
looking very irate, began to scold them in great style. Rae
tried to explain as best he could, but to no purpose; and
finally the old man, his indignation reaching fever-heat,
laid hands upon the boys, and dragged them to their feet,
giving them a push forward after the others.
Rae, however, was not to be intimidated in this manner.
He really was worn out; for the exposure in the storm, the
misery of the shipwreck, and the lack of opportunity to
rest  and  recruit  had   exhausted   his   strength.     He  felt
©
perfectly confident that the Indians would not go on without
him, nor would they venture to show any real harshness
towards him, seeing that they counted so much upon his
rifle to aid them in their undertaking.
Accordingly, having taken a few more steps, he threw
himself down again, exclaiming in his most despairing
accents,—
"It's no use; I'm done out, and I can't take another
step."
The chief bent over him, and gave him a long and
searching look which he bore without blenching. Then
seeming satisfied with his scrutiny, he shouted out after the 256
WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
rest of the party, half-a-dozen of whom responded to the
summons. To these he said something in a half-persuasive,
half-commanding tone that at first evidently did not meet
their approval, but to which they presently assented, manifestly to the old man's relief.
What it was the boys quickly learned, for two of the
strongest members of the band came to them, and made
signs for them to get upon their backs. Hardly able to
contain his laughter, Rae mounted his human steed, Freckles
doing the same after his usual awkward fashion, and then
off they started again, Rae managing to tip Freckles a wink
that sent a broad smile over his homely countenance.
The progress of the burden-bearers was necessarily
much slower than before they were thus handicapped, yet it
was surprising how rapidly they did get along; and frequent
changes being resorted to, the march was kept up steadily
all that day, save for a couple of hours' stoppage at noon for
dinner, if the mid-day meal of roasted grouse with no accompaniment might be so designated.
Of course the boys did not need to be carried continuously. They walked as much as they could, and Hi-
ling-a evidently grew better pleased with them as they did
their best.
A good night's rest made the toils of the following day
easier to be borne, and towards afternoon the signs of
growing excitement and anxiety in the party told Rae that
they must be nearing the enemy's territory. The forest
had become more open, enabling the Indians to keep closer
together, and they ail seemed to be sharply on the look-out WITH THE   WAR-PARTY.
257
for anything that might indicate the presence of their foe.
Depending mainly upon taking them by surprise—for their
approach to be detected would mean, most probably, the
ruin of their enterprise—the utmost caution was therefore
exercised as they pushed forward, Hi-ling-a himself now
being the leader.
©
*>& CHAPTER XV.
TAKEN   BY   THE   MASSETS.
^; ""^HE excitement, though necessarily subdued, was all
J- the more intense as the war-party crept silently
forward, Hi-ling-a leading the way with the noiseless step
of a panther, and the others keeping close up so as to be
ready to act the instant the command came.
Yet nothing was to be seen of the Massets, and they
must be entirely ignorant of their danger.
Happily for them the Haidas were overtaken by darkness before they reached striking distance of their village,
and astute Hi-ling-a, instead of advancing further, retreated
a little; for it was a characteristic of the Indian nature
not to make a night attack, however favourable the
opportunity.
That night the Haidas went to bed supperless, for no fire
could be lighted, nor, indeed, had they any game to cook
had they had one.
Rae grumbled greatly over this, but there was no help
for it, and in very ill-humour he wrapped himself up in his
blanket, feeling that he was a much-abused individual.
The Indians settled themselves down to sleep with a TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
259
placidity that would have been strange enough in view of
their situation, but for the fact that during the hours of
darkness they were in no more danger of attack from the
Massets than the Massets were of an attack from them,
and so they could curl up in their blankets with easy minds
until the return of the sun would send them forth to victory
or defeat.
With the break of day the whole party was astir, and,
there being no breakfast to prepare, was soon on the march
again. The boys by this time were feeling decidedly faint
for lack of food, and had the march been kept up at the rate
of the preceding day, they would have needed to be carried
as before.
But the advance now was made with exceeding caution
and slowness, so that they had no difficulty in keeping
their places. Hunger, exposure, excitement, and exertion
had told heavily upon their young frames, and they were
both in a very dejected state of mind.
Rae, indeed, was growing desperate. The whole proceeding was against his inclination, and his feeling now was
that the sooner it ended in some way the better.
" Oh I do wish it was all over," he groaned; " I'm sick
of the business."
" So am I," chorused Freckles. " It's no fun for us, that's
certain."
Whether or not it would prove fun for the war-party
was now shortly to be seen. They were getting very close
to the village, which, like their own, was built along the
beach a little above high-water mark, with the forest coming 260
TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
down to the rear of the houses, and thus affording a good
covering for the attack.
Hi-ling-a now began to dispose his men so as to make
them most effective. He divided them into three bands,
in order that an onset might be made at the middle and at
each end of the village simultaneously, thereby giving the
idea of a larger force being engaged than was actually the
case, and trusting to the confusion of the moment to prevent
the mistake being discovered before victory had been gained.
The old chief took charge of the middle detachment, having
Rae and Freckles at his side.
" We're in for it now," said Rae, trying to look cheerful;
" and I'd like to know how we're coming out of it."
As silently as panthers they all crept forward, until the
roofs of the houses and the tall carved posts before their
doors could be discerned through the trees.    Then, signing
© '   ©     ©
to the boys to have their rifles ready, Hi-ling-a prepared
himself and his men for the furious rush which was, he
hoped, to decide the matter offhand.
With bows and spears grasped tightly, and faces and
forms quivering with suppressed excitement, the Haidas
stood like statues, awaiting their leader's command. It
came with a suddenness that was fairly startling. At the
chief's gesture both rifles rang out sharply on the clear
morning air, a hoarse wild shout from the Indians followed,
and then all three bands plunged down upon the village.
But Rae, and Freckles with him, hung behind. The
fight was not of his choosing, and he had no special interest
in the result.    He could not see, therefore, that it was in TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
261
any wise incumbent upon him to risk his life needlessly.
He would let the savages fight it out amongst themselves,
and take the best care of himself and Freckles that was
possible under the circumstances.
From their post in the rear of the village the boys could
see something and hear more of the conflict that was raging.
Evidently the surprise had not been so complete as Hi-
ling-a hoped, and he was finding an unexpectedly sturdy
resistance.
Determined to lie low until it should be all over, the
boys made their way to a dense clump of underbrush,
whence they could look out upon a part of the village street,
and thus watch the progress of the struggle.
At first the advantage ^undoubtedly lay with the Haidas,
and they bid fair to have matters all their own way. But
after the first shock of surprise, the Massets, who were in
strong force, all the men happening to be at home, rallied
bravely, and seeing that the attacking party was not a very
large one, set upon their assailants with such vigour that
they in their turn began to waver.
Seeing this, Hi-ling-a waxed desperate, and performed
prodigies of valour, dealing deadly thrusts with his long
spear, and doing the work of two warriors, until, unfortunately, a well-aimed arrow found its way to his breast, and,
stricken to the heart, the brave old chieftain threw up his
arms with an awful groan, and fell prostrate, never to fight
another battle.
His downfall sent terror into the hearts of his followers.
They had already lost many of their number, and the sur- 262
TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
vivors determined to seek safety in flight. Without more
ado they turned their backs upon their opponents and took
to their heels, vanishing into the forest, with the Massets in
hot pursuit.
As the latter passed the spot where the boys were hiding, several of them caught sight of the strangers, and at once
O' © © -    © '
surrounded them with threatening looks and ready weapons.
But Rae, laying down his rifle, held out his empty hands,
at the same time summoning up his most pleasant expression ; and Freckles doing the same, the savages saw at once
there was nothing to be feared from them, and that they
would prove an easy capture.
Still keeping their spears pointed, as though they would
prevent all possibility of treachery, they motioned for the
boys to move towards the village. They promptly obeyed,
and soon were on the beach before the houses, where a crowd
of men, women, and children surrounded them, with staring
eyes of curiosity and suspicion.
Not that the Massets were unaccustomed to the sight of
white men, but they did not understand the presence of
these two boys with a war-party of their worst enemies; and
flushed as they were with victory, and full of the lust of
blood, there was serious danger lest it might go hard with
the helpless captives, who were not able to explain how
they came thither.
The chief of the village was among the pursuers of the
fleeing Haidas, and until his return nothing could be done
with the white boys; so they were permitted to seat themselves upon a log in front of one of the houses, while the TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
263
crowd continued to gaze at them with a persistent directness
that was not at all easy to bear.
"What are we in.for now, Freckles ?' asked Rae, with
a sardonic smile, his crowding misfortunes having engendered
a reckless mood. " Do you think they'll eat us ? They look
ugly enough to do it."
" 0 Rae!" murmured -Freckles with a shudder, drawing
nearer his companion; " you don't mean it, do you ? Would
they really eat us ?"
He looked so appalled at the notion that Rae, in the
very midst of his misery of mind, could not forbear breaking
into a laugh.
"You poor chap," said he, laying his hand soothingly
upon Freckles's shoulder, " please don't look quite so scared.
I don't mean it, for I don't believe these Indians eat people;
anyway, if they do, they've got enough of the Haidas to
last them a good while."
True enough, nearly one-half of the unfortunate Haidas
had met their death at the hands of those they had hoped
to conquer so easily, and were now lying stretched upon
the shore with their life-blood dyeing the sand.
Presently a series of triumphant shouts announced the
return of the pursuing party. They did not come back with
empty hands either, but had so many prisoners that it
seemed as if the entire remainder of the Haidas must have
been captured. These prisoners of war appeared utterly
cast down. They had little doubt as to what their fate
would be, for in these inter-tribal conflicts there was no
mercy shown to the vanquished. 264
TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
" Poor fellows!" said Rae, forgetting for the moment his
own critical position as he looked upon these dejected prisoners of war. " They thought they were going to do great
things; but they made a big mistake this time, and I'm
afraid, from the look of things, they will never have another
chance."
Just then the chief came up and inspected the boys with
undisguised interest. He was a stalwart man, with a frank,
open countenance and a rather pleasing expression; and as
Rae returned his scrutiny fearlessly, he began to feel more
hopeful of his fate. There was nothing cruel or unkind in
the savage's mien, and he might treat them as well as poor
old Hi-ling-a had done.
After a moment of rather trying silence, the chief signed
for the boys to get up and follow him, which they gladly
did, for they were very weary of the attentions of the crowd.
They were led into a house much similar to the one which
had been their home at Skidegate, and some women having
made their appearance, were presently served with a platter
of smoking fish, which, after the long fast they had endured,
was inexpressibly welcome.
They at once fell to with great vigour, to the manifest
satisfaction of the chief, who watched them emptying the
platter with an approving smile that certainly boded nothing but good, and whose significance was not lost upon Rae.
" He's going to be kind to us," he said in a relieved tone
to Freckles; " you see if he isn't. Whatever they do with
the other prisoners, they won't harm us."
" Oh,  I'm so glad!"   exclaimed Freckles.    " But,"  ho TAKEN B Y THE MASSETS.
265
added, " I'm so sorry for the others. I wish they'd let them
off too."
Rae shook his head with sorrowful decision.
"There's not much chance of that," he said. '"Father
often told me what they do when they take prisoners this
way. I devoutly hope that we won't have to see it. We
must stay inside here, if the chief will let us."
The Masset village was.a scene of wild rejoicing and
revelry that day. The corpses of the dead Haidas were
gathered together in a pile, and the prisoners, bound hand
and foot, ranged in a circle round it. Then the whole population, except the old women, who were hard at work preparing the materials for a feast, amused themselves by
heaping every conceivable indignity upon the dead and
injury upon the living, whom they thus tortured before
they added their bodies to the awful pile.
This continued with little intermission throughout the
day and on into the night, when the ruddy glare of blazing
fires lent an additional horror to the proceedings. At last,
the Massets growing weary of their cruel sport, the
wretched prisoners, many of whom were already half-dead,
were despatched with brutal blows, and their bodies flung
upon the heap, while the worn-out revellers went to their
houses to recruit their energies with sleep.
To their unspeakable relief the boys were not required
to be witnesses of these barbarities, and before they went
out next morning the bodies had all vanished, they knew
not whither, and there was nothing to show what had taken
place save some dark stains upon the sand. 266
TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
So far as they could tell, they were themselves in no
more danger of personal violence than they had been among
the Haidas of Skidegate. Whether it was because of their
youth, or because the Indians thought it would pay them
better to keep them safe in order to obtain a ransom for
them, now that- the passion of the fight and the subsequent rejoicing were over they met with nothing but
good-natured if curious looks from their new captors, and
no restraint being placed upon their movements, they soon
felt themselves as much at their ease as they had done at
Skidegate.
The young chieftain impressed Rae very favourably.
He was evidently of a bright, amiable temper, and had a
sunny smile that was very attractive. He seemed quite
anxious to make the boys understand that he was kindly
disposed towards them, and they on their part responded
heartily to his advances, so that, although they could not
speak a word of each other's language, they nevertheless
came soon to have an excellent mutual understanding.
The chief showed great interest in their rifles, and Rae
fired a couple of shots out across the water for his benefit,
the sight of the bullet skipping across the smooth surface of
the water being hailed with lively satisfaction.
After Rae had fired twice the Indian's interest grew so
keen that nothing would do but that he must try his own
hand at shooting, so taking up the rifle, he made signs for
Rae to load it.
Rae felt afraid to trust him with it, but did not like to
refuse lest it should make him angry.    Having carefully Close following the report came a howl of pai  TAKEN B Y THE MASSETS.
269
loaded it, therefore, he attempted to show the chief how he
should hold it for firing.
This, however, the chief resented.   He had been watching
Rae closely when he was firing, and felt quite confident he
knew exactly what to do.    Accordingly he raised the rifle,
and after looking proudly around, as though to say to the
spectators, of whom a number had gathered, " See me make
the white man's magic.    I can use his thunder and light-
© ©
ning stick too," he shut both his eyes tight and pulled
the trigger. Close following the report came a howl of
pain, and, dropping the rifle as though it were red-hot,
the chief clapped both his hands to his right jaw, and
danced around, yelling out something which no doubt
meant,—
" Oh my! I'm hurt! I'm hurt! The thunder and lightning stick has broken my mouth!"
Rae at first was quite alarmed, not so much indeed on
account of the chief as of himself and Freckles, for if the
Indian were made angry by the mishap, he might visit his
anger upon them, innocent though they were.
But his apprehensions were happily altogether unfounded.
Instead of being incensed by his experience, the Indian chief
was filled with profound respect for Rae, because he could
manage so dangerous an affair without any trouble. He had
not noted that while Rae placed the butt of the rifle against
his shoulder, and held it firmly there, he had rested it
against his cheek, and he therefore concluded that since the
white boy suffered no discomfort from the firing, he must be
made of much sterner stuff than himself.
(478) 17 270
TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
Life in the Masset village soon settled down to very
much the same thing that it was at Skidegate.   There was
© ©
so little difference between the tribes, both being branches
of the Haida nation, that Rae wondered why they should
be at war at all. Their manners and customs were very
similar, and even their dialect had much the same sound.
In every respect the boys were just as well off now as they
had been with the other Indians; but what gave Rae
great concern was the thought of his father coming to
Skidegate in quest of him, and not finding him there. So
far as he knew not one of the war-party had survived.
There would therefore be entire ignorance of its fate at
Skidegate, and his father's anxious inquiries would meet
with no response. That on being disappointed there he
would come on up to Masset was hardly possible, unless he
had some hint of what had happened, and who was there
to give him this ?
Pondering the situation, however, Rae could find small
ground for hope in that direction; but instead of yielding to
despair, he began to think at once of some other way of
escape. A permanent residence among the Indians was of
course not to be considered for a moment. Escape he must
somehow, whether secretly or with the savages' consent, as
by ransom; the only question was how it might be accomplished, After much thinking a way suggested itself, and
with a brightened countenance he explained it to Freckles.
" There's only one chance for us now that I can see,"
said he, "and dear only knows when that will come. It's
this.    You know these people go over to the mainland every TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
271
year to get their oulachan grease from the Tsimshians, and
to buy blankets. Now we must manage somehow to make
them understand that if they will take us over with them,
and let the folks at Fort Simpson know they have us, they
can get a good ransom for us, do you see ?"
"To be sure," responded Freckles, his face brightening
up as he grasped the idea; "they don't want to keep us
here always.    We're no good to them, are we ?"
" No good that I can see, except as curiosities," returned
Rae, smiling grimly; " but they might have a fancy for
keeping us all the same. They might want to adopt us,
you know. They do that sort of thing quite often. Now,
how would you like," he continued, pointing to a bent and
shrivelled hag of a woman, who was slowly creeping past,
looking more like a witch than a human being, " to be
adopted by her, and to be her son ?"
Freckles lifted up his hands in horror at the suggestion.
"No, indeed," he exclaimed energetically; "not a bit
of it."
Rae laughed at his perturbation.
" Don't be scared," said he; " there's not much likelihood
in it, but I've heard of such things being done. Hollo!
here comes the chief, and he looks as if he had something to
say to us."
The chief, whose name was Sing-ai, signifying " sunrise,"
had already taken a warm liking to the boys, and felt most
kindly disposed towards them, and he was now approaching
them in order to explain a scheme that was in his mind to
give them some amusement. 272
TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
With great animation he sought to make his meaning
clear, but all that Rae could make out was, that he proposed
to take them out hunting, though whether the game was to
be human beings or wild animals he could not clearly
determine. He felt pretty sure, however, that it was the
latter, and signified his willingness to take a hand at it,
whereat the chief seemed much gratified.
The next day quite a large party set out, Sing-ai acting
as leader, and having the boys by his side. They directed
their course towards the forest to the north-west of the
village, and it was not long before they were swallowed up
in its leafy depths.
Being thoroughly recruited by the rest of the past two
days, Rae and Freckles found no difficulty in keeping their
places in the procession. The country was more open than
it had been farther south, and the travelling was consequently much easier. Rae had many temptations to try
his skill on different kinds of game they met with in their
progress; but Sing-ai checked him the first time he raised
his rifle, and made him understand that he wanted him to
reserve his fire for the present.
A little before mid-day the chief's reason for the action
was revealed. Making their way with great caution to the
summit of a ridge, they looked down into the valley beyond
it, and there, feeding in blissful ignorance of their proximity,
was a small herd of wapiti, consisting of a fine stag, several
does, and a couple of fawns.
Sing-ai's eye glistened at the sight, and pointing first at
the deer and then at Rae's rifle, he nodded his head, and TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
273
smiled, as though to say, " Now you can fire. That's the
reason I did not want you to do so before."
Making sure that he had a good cap on, Rae, resting the
rifle upon the root of a tree, and striving to control the
nervousness which would assert itself—for both the importance of the game and the presence of so many spectators
had their effect upon him—took long and careful aim at
the stag just behind the fore-shoulder, and fired.
At the instant of the report, the wapiti sprang high into
the air, made a frantic rush forward, and then fell over on
its side, kicking its legs convulsively.
With a shout of delight the chief leaped down the slope,
followed by all his men, the most of whom set off in pursuit
of the does and fawns, in the hope of securing some of them
also.
Sing-ai ran right up to the struggling stag, and catching
him by the antlers tried to cut his throat with a seaman's
sheath-knife of which he was very proud, and which he had
got in barter over on the mainland some time before. But
it was a poor affair, rusty of blade and dull of edge, and the
pain it inflicted only served to arouse the dying animal into
a final spasm of energy.
Regaining its feet by a frantic effort, it lunged forward
furiously at Sing-ai and threw him to the ground, once
more falling itself, and this time in such a way as to pin
the Indian down; one tine of the antlers indeed piercing
his arm, and compelling him to shout for assistance with
undisguised terror in his tone.
Rae had paused after firing to reload his rifle, but seeing 274
TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
the chief's perilous position he did not wait to complete the
operation.
Dropping his rifle, he snatched up Freckles's, which was
still loaded, and sprang down the slope to where the deer
and the chief were engaged in so close a struggle that he
did not dare fire for fear of the bullet doing more harm than
he desired.
But he had his hunting-knife in his belt, and drawing
this he threw himself into the conflict, thrusting the keen
blade deep into the wapiti's throat.
What the Indian's knife had failed to do, his accomplished
at the first stroke. A great gush of blood followed the steel
as it was withdrawn, and once more the stag fell, this time
never to rise again.
With some difficulty Sing-ai released himself and rose
to his feet. His face bore an expression of mingled surprise-
and chagrin, as though to say,—
| You got me out of a nasty scrape that time, didn't you,
but what was I thinking of any way that I got into it ?'
The wound in his arm evidently hurt him sorely, and it
was bleeding a good deal, so he made signs to Rae to bind it
up tightly with a thong in such a way as to compress the
artery and stop the flow of blood.
This done, he was ready to give attention to the wapiti,
and they looked him over together. He was a very fine
large specimen of his kind, being in prime condition, and
having a splendid spread of antlers. With the assistance of
a couple of his men, the chief proceeded to cut the creature
up; and not being interested in that process, Rae strolled up TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
275
the other side of the valley to see how those who had gone
in pursuit of the rest of the herd might be faring.
He met them as they were returning, their sole prize
being a poor little fawn that they had managed to run down,
and he could not help feeling somewhat proud of the difference between his trophy of the chase and theirs.
On their return to the village there was great rejoicing
over the slaying of the stag, and that night a feast was held
at which there were dances and songs that seemed to Rae
remarkably like those he had seen and heard at Skidegate.
Sing-ai, in spite of his so"re arm, took a very active part,
one time coming before the assembly in his finest array, and
having the wapiti's antlers upon his head, while he moved
around the circle with a slow dignified step amid a chorus
of grunts and cries that meant applause.
He was very anxious for Rae and Freckles to show what
they could do in the dancing line, but they refused, until at
length, after repeated invitations, Rae, not wishing to seem
discourteous, seeing how handsomely the chief was treating
them, said to his companion,—
" Look here, Freckles, you whistle for me, and I'll see if
I can't give them a bit of a Highland fling."
© O D •
Now Freckles had a rare gift in whistling, and he had
no objection to displaying it if Rae wanted to give an
exhibition of his ability on the light fantastic toe, so he at
once set up his piping shrill and brisk, and Rae, stepping
out into the clear space before the fire, began to dance.
At first he felt awkward and constrained, but soon the
spirit of the thing seized upon him, and as Freckles's music PI^^Hfi
276
TAKEN B Y THE MASSETS.
grew merrier he threw more and more energy into the exercise, snapping his fingers above his head, and giving vent
to exultant cries as he sprang higher and higher from the
ground, until at last, reaching the climax with a wild whoop
worthy of a native, he flung himself down completely out of
breath, but feeling very well satisfied with his performance.
The savage spectators enjoyed it immensely. There was
so much more animation in it than in their own dances that
they would have liked to encore Rae; but once was enough
for him, and he slipped away soon after to the chief's house,
where he and Freckles had been made to feel entirely at
home.
As usual the Indians kept up their revelry until far into
the night, not betaking themselves to their beds until they
were entirely worn out, and in a condition to sleep for the
next twenty-four hours.
The boys had been asleep for a couple of hours before
Sing-ai and the other members of the household returned,
© 7
and Rae was awakened by the noise of their talk and their
movements.
After they had all settled down and were sleeping
heavily, he found himself very wide awake, and the night
being warm, and the air of the house close and oppressive,
he thought he would go outside for a breath of fresh air.
Moving gently so as to disturb no one, not even Freckles,
he made his way out of the house. It was clear bright
moonlight, and the whole village was wrapped in absolute
silence, not even the dogs being astir; and with a delicious
sense of being his own master for a brief while at least, Rae TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
277
moved quietly down towards the shore, where the waves
were softly lapping the pebbles. His thoughts went out to
his father, and he wondered where he might be at that
moment, and whether he had yet started from Fort Camosun
in the jaunty little Plover. Then his eyes grew moist and a
lump rose in his throat as he pictured to' himself his father's
bitter disappointment when he would reach Skidegate and
find no trace of his son. Would he think him dead, or
would he surmise what had happened, and come on to Masset
determined to find him at any cost ?
While pondering over these questions, to which he himself
could only hazard unsatisfactory guesses, Rae glanced out
towards the open sea just at the moment that the moon's
beams, making a broad bright path across the shimmering
waves, threw into prominence something, the sight of which
caused him to spring to his feet with an exclamation of
surprise, and with a wild thrill of hope at his heart.
Clearly outlined in the midst of the silver light was a
schooner gliding smoothly along before the gentle night
breeze, and evidently making for Masset Inlet.
I Can that be the Plover ? I cried Rae breathlessly.
I Thank God if it is ! j Then after a pause, during which
he strove to make out more distinctly the slowly approaching
vessel, " It's white men anyway, and we must get out to her
somehow before the Indians know she is here."
Making his way back to the chief's house as silently as
he could, he waked up Freckles, and, putting his hand over
his mouth to signify that he should ask no questions,
whispered to him to take his rifle and follow him.
1 278
TAKEN BY THE MASSETS.
They got outside and down to the shore without anything stirring, and then Rae pointed out the schooner, now
in plainer sight than before.
Freckles threw up his hands in delight, but discreetly
refrained from any other expression of his feelings.
I We must get a canoe," whispered Rae, " and put off in
it at once."
They had not long to seek among the many canoes drawn
up on the beach, and soon found a small one that they
could launch without difficulty. Placing their rifles in it,
they carried it carefully out into the water, reckless of wet
feet, and clambered in, every sound their movements made
sending a thrill of fear through their hearts.
Once safely aboard, they grasped the paddles and set to
work with all their might, Freckles splashing badly, and
causing the canoe to rock ominously with his unskilful
strokes.
They had got but a hundred yards from the shore when
they heard a shout, and looking back saw Sing-ai rushing
down to the beach with furious strides. CHAPTER XVI.
RESCUED   BY   THE   RUSSIANS.
AT the sight of Sing-ai, Freckles cried out in terror, and,
missing a stroke with his paddle, came within an
ace of upsetting the canoe. But for the skill in the management of this ticklish craft that Rae had acquired on
Camosun Bay, they certainly would have been tumbled into
the water, and their attempt at flight summarily brought to
an end.
Happily, by a deft movement, Rae restored equilibrium,
and shouted to his companion,—
" Take care there, Freckles, will you! Don't lose your
head, or they will catch us sure. Keep cool now, and paddle
away for dear life."
After the first fright, Freckles, however, regained his
balance, and the two boys managed to make their light bark
fairly fly through the water, Rae casting frequent anxious
glances behind him to see how the chief was getting on.
Fortunately for them his progress was slow, for the
reason that he found difficulty in arousing some of his men,
they were so heavy with sleep after their feast and dance.
The boys had consequently more than doubled their lead 280
RESCUED BY THE RUSSIANS.
before a canoe containing four Indians was launched in their
pursuit.
But once this canoe was well under way it began to
overhaul them at a rate that caused Rae's heart to sink,
though it did not diminish the energy with which he plied
his paddle. The pursuers seemed to be going as fast again
as the pursued, and the issue of the race could hardly be
long in doubt.
But all this time the schooner was steadily though
slowly drawing nearer, and those on board, if keeping a
"sharp look-out, must soon get an inkling of what was
taking place. This thought came to Rae as he dashed his
paddle in deeply, and, bidding Freckles stop for a moment,
he stood up in the canoe and shouted with all his might,—
1 Schooner ahoy! Help us! We're chased by the
Indians."
Then without waiting for an answer, he resumed his
strenuous strokes.
That his hail reached the schooner was evident from an
answer coming to him through the warm still air; but either
© © *
because of the distance or of his own excessive agitation, he
could not make out its meaning, so he paused again and sent
another appeal for help across the water.
To it also there was a response no more intelligible than
the first, and Rae began to wonder if it really could be the
Plover, as certainly there was nothing familiar about the
voice of the person answering him. Not daring to lose any
more time in this way, for Sing-ai's canoe was gaining upon
him hand-over-hand, Rae gave his whole attention to his RESCUED BY THE RUSSIANS.
281
paddling until the Indians were within fifty yards of him,
and he was about the same distance from the schooner.
Then he felt that he must make one more effort to enlist
the aid of those on board, and cried out passionately,—
" For Heaven's sake, help us! Stop that other canoe.
Those Indians are after us."
Just as he finished a man appeared in the bow of the
schooner, and the next moment the report of a rifle rang out
with startling effect, while a bullet struck the water close to
the bow of the Indian canoe.
" Hurrah! f gasped Rae, who had about reached the
limit of his strength; " they're helping us.    We're all right."
Looking back, he saw, to his intense joy, that the report
of the rifle, and the splash of the bullet so dangerously near,
had made the Indians halt. They were evidently conferring
among themselves as to what they should do.
As if to help them to a conclusion, another report came
from the schooner, and another bullet tore up the water,
this time so close to the canoe that some drops were splashed
into Sing-ai's face.
This second warning settled the matter.    Uttering harsh
© o
cries of disappointment and rage, the Indians turned about
and paddled furiously shoreward, abandoning further pursuit.
" Thank God!" exclaimed Rae, with a fervent sigh of
relief and gratitude, "they've given up. Paddle away for
the schooner, Freckles."
As they approached her, Rae saw that it was not the
Plover at all, but a larger vessel, and that it was a number 252
RESCUED BY THE  RUSSIANS.
of entirely unfamiliar faces the bright moonlight showed
him looking over the bulwarks at the canoe with inquiring
interest.
" Oh, thank you, thank you," he panted. " You fired
that rifle just in time.    They nearly caught us."
Running up alongside the schooner, he bid Freckles
climb on board by means of the rope one of the crew offered,
and then followed himself.
When he gained the deck and looked about him, he was
surprised to find a number of strange faces gazing at him
with eager curiosity, and to be addressed in a language
entirely foreign to him.
Turning to the speaker, who was evidently one of the
officers, he said,—
" I can't understand you ; I am English."
At the sound of, the last word the officer pricked up his
ears, and nodded his head to show that he understood. He
then disappeared into the after-cabin, and after a minute
returned, having with him a young man a couple of years
older than Rae, who at once went up to him and held up his
hand with a smile of courteous greeting.
" You are English, eh ? I speak English a little. You
tell me and I tell him," pointing to the officer, who was, as
Rae rightly judged, the captain of the schooner.
Rae at once entered into explanations, speaking with
great earnestness, being anxious to produce the deepest impression possible upon his new-found protectors, so that
they might make his cause their own, and not give him
back to the Massets under any circumstances. RESCUED BY THE RUSSIANS.
28
The young man interpreted for him very well indeed,
although now and then he had to ask him to repeat some of
his sentences, he was speaking so rapidly under the stress of
mixed emotions he was experiencing as he told his story.
The captain and the others on board listened with lively
interest, making remarks to one another from time to time
in sympathetic tones that boded well for the result of Rae's
appeal.
When he had finished his relation, the captain and the
young man conferred together a little while, during which
Rae scanned their faces with feverish anxiety, and then the
young man, extending his hand, said with great cordiality,—
" You are welcome here. We will take care of you, and
we are glad to have had the good fortune to come to your
assistance in such good time."
Rae wrung the proffered hand warmly, and drawing
Freckles forward, so that it might be clear he was speaking
for both, said,—
I We thank you with all our hearts, and my father will
reward you well for all your goodness."
The young man laughed lightly.
" Oh, you need say nothing about rewards. We will
help you all we can, and when you do get back to your
father you can tell him that the Russians are not bad people.
And now, won't you come down into the cabin and eat some
food?"
With great willingness the boys accepted the invitation,
and soon a bountiful supper of salt meat, hard biscuits, and
hot coffee was spread before them, that seemed after their 284
RESCUED BY THE RUSSIANS.
Ill
many days' experience of savage fare the most delicious meal
they had ever tasted in their lives.
How heartily they did fall to, and how pleased their
hosts seemed to be at the keenness of their appetites!
" Ah, ha! you like that," said the young man, smiling;
" you did get tired of what the Indians gave you—was it
not so ?"
" Indeed we did," responded Rae, " tired to death of it.
And then you know we haven't had a plate or a knife and
fork since we left the Plover, and it is so nice to have them
again.
3}
Hardly less delightful than the comfortable meal was
the going to bed in civilized fashion once more. There
happened to be a spare bunk in the after-cabin and another
in the fore-cabin, and these were placed at the boys' service.
They were both very weary, the reaction from the
excitement of the escape telling upon them no less than the
exertion of the paddling, and it was with great sighs of content that they lay down in their bunks for a good long
sleep.
The next morning, when they came on deck, they were
almost out of sight of land, and in answer to Rae's question,
the young man who spoke English informed him that they
were on their way to Alaska.
In the course of a long conversation with him, Rae
learned much about the schooner and those who manned
her. The vessel belonged to the Russian American Company, which then held a monopoly of fur-hunting all over
Alaska, and those on board were in the employ of the com- RESCUED BY THE RUSSIANS.
285
pany. They had made a trip south in the hope of picking
up some good pelts among the Indians of the Queen Charlotte Islands, and when they made so timely an appearance
at Masset were intending to see if there were any skins
to be found in that village. But as Rae, in the course of
conversation that night, told them he had seen nothing of
the kind, and as they presumed the Indians would not be
in very good-humour for trade any way, they had decided
to put out to sea again, and return to Sitka, the time
allowed for their trip having nearly expired at any rate.
" You will now come back with us," said the young man,
whose name, as Rae had by this time learned, was Alexander
Baranov, " and we will be good to you; and some day you
will go back to your fort where your father is. That will
make you glad, will it not ?' and he smiled at the idea as
if it gave him no small pleasure to suggest it.
" We will, indeed, be glad to stay with you until we can
go home," said Rae cordially. " I am quite sure you will
be good to us, and we'll try to be good boys, and not give
you any trouble—won't we, Freckles ?"
Freckles promptly ducked his touzled head in token of
assent, and the covenant was complete.
During the next few days, while the schooner was beating her way northward against opposing winds, Rae had a
happy time. The comforts of civilized life—not merely
having good food well served, but also the being able to
wash and dress oneself properly, and to sleep in a cozy
bunk—rejoiced his heart: and then, best of all, there was the
assurance that now it would be only a question of time
(478) 18
I 286
RESCUED BY THE RUSSIANS.
when he should get back to Fort Camosun. He might have
to be patient for weeks, or even perhaps for months, until
an opportunity should offer, but ultimately he would get
back all right, and in the meantime he was among people
who would treat him and Freckles kindly, and who were
entirely civilized, even if they spoke a foreign tongue.
*****
It is now necessary that the boys should be left on board
the Russian schooner, with all their discomfort and dangers
at an end for the present, in order that the course of affairs
at Fort Camosun may be taken up.
When the Plover returned to the fort without the boys,
Mr. Finlayson's grief was so profound that for the space of
a day he would have speech with nobody. The gloomy
premonitions which had oppressed him before Rae left, but
which he had dismissed as being based more upon his own
selfishness than anything else, and as affording no sufficient
reason in themselves for denying his son what he so eagerly
desired, now came back to haunt him.
11 should never have let him go," he murmured to himself. " I dreaded lest ill should come of it, and now it has
fallen out as I feared. Well," he added, bracing himself up
to bear the new burden of anxiety that had come upon him,
" there's no time to be lost in repining. I must go after
him at once. God grant that he may be gently dealt with
by the Indians. They shall have anything they ask as
ransom, if only they harm not one hair of my boy's head."
With the utmost speed preparations were made for a
rescue expedition.   The Plover was provisioned for many RESCUED BY THE RUSSIANS.
287
weeks, and instead of her usual cargo, was ballasted so
as to sail her best, the only goods taken being a large
assortment of things likely to prove most attractive to
the Haidas, and to be readily accepted as ransom for their
captives.
In addition to the regular crew of the schooner, Mr.
Finlayson took on board with him twelve of his best men,
all fully armed; and as a special means of coercion, to be
resorted to only at the last necessity, he had one of the
small cannon removed from the bastion and mounted in
the bows. Having seen the sensational effect of this instrument of war when tried upon the Songhies, he felt sure
it would stand him in equally good stead if it required to be
used against the Haidas.
The men comprising his party were hardly less eager
than himself for the recovery of the boys. They all loved
Rae, and for his sake felt an interest in Freckles, and they
were to a man ready to do or dare anything that might
stand in the way of their success. There was not one left
in the garrison who would not gladly have exchanged places
with any of those who were accompanying Mr. Finlayson;
and as the schooner moved away from the wharf, they sent'
hearty cheers after her, to show their deep interest in her
mission, and their fervent desire that it might be successfully accomplished.
Tears filled the factor's eyes as he witnessed these proofs
of his men's loyalty and love.
" They're grand good fellows," he said to himself. " They
think far more of me than I deserve; but if we only find 288
RESCUED BY THE RUSSIANS.
Rae safe and sound, they shall all have good reason to rejoice with me."
There was not much talked about on the voyage up
but the chances of regaining the boys, and many were the
suggestions made by the men as to what should be done
in the event of this or that difficulty presenting itself. In
their hearts they were all hoping that they would have an
opportunity of giving the Indians a sound trouncing, provided of course their young captives did not suffer thereby.
They deemed it a most aggravating piece of presumption
for them to attack the schooner and lay hands upon the
boys, and considered that the cannonading of their village
and the knocking of a score or so of them on the head
would be only a well-merited penalty.
But Mr. Finlayson held different views. He was not a
man of blood under any circumstances; and although, if it
should turn out that Rae's life had been taken, he would
assuredly inflict condign punishment upon his murderers,
still, short of so lamentable a contingency, he would be
guilty of no violence. And, moreover, it was his intention
to exhaust every means of diplomacy before making any
show of force. If he could regain his boy without shedding
a drop of blood, he would be perfectly content.
The Plover had a prosperous voyage to Skidegate, reaching the inlet about noon of a fine bright day, when all nature
at least seemed to be in a hopeful mood. Making in as
close to the shore as the soundings permitted, the schooner
came to anchor right in front of the village, whose inhabitants soon turned out in force to receive her. RESCUED BY THE RUSSIANS.
289
"Now," said the factor, "let us all be ready to fight
if needs be, but let us go as quietly as we can at the
start."
The cannon having been charged and pointed towards
the village, and every rifle and every musket care