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Array BelPs Indian'W Eolofrial Library
THE
CHICAMON  STONE
CLIVE PH1LL1PPS-WOLLEX
THE J>EOK£_\   KRl
LONDON. "
GEORGE  BELL AND  SONS
AND  BOMBAY
1900 Foreign and Colonial Agents.
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Yokohama : Z. P. Maruva& Co.; Kelly & Walih. THE     UNIVERSITY     OF
BRITISH     COLUMBIA
A. M. POUND
COLLECTION
11 This edition is intended for circulation only in India
and the British Colonies. THE
CHICAMON   STONE
OLIVE  PHILLIPPS-WOLLEY
AUTHOR OF "SNAP," "GOLD, GOLD IN CARIBOO," "ONE OF
THE BROKEN BRIGADE," ETC.
LONDON
GEORGE    BELL   &   SONS
AND   BOMBAY
1900 PRINTED by
WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
LONDON AND BECCLES.
16 3. 33S
t g oo CONTENTS
The Witch-finders
The Kula. Kullahs
PART I.
PART II.
PART III.
PAGE
1
97
The Blind Man's Hunt
197
y\ m THE  CHIOAMON STONE.
PART L—THE WITCE-FINDERS.
CHAPTER I.
It was evening in Wrangel, and it was raining. If it
had been morning the same conditions would have
prevailed. Indeed, though I had been in the town
three days waiting for a steamer in which to go up the
Stickine river, I had never seen the skies do anything
but rain. Alaska remains to us to-day as a sample of
what the world was about the time of the Flood.
From the sunshine of Victoria or California you
come to it by winding channels dividing the mainland from a hundred rugged islands covered with dense
growth of pine; whales spout in the waters, and bald-
headed eagles soar overhead; in the background is the
threadbare scenery of mountain and winter-blasted
forest growth. Round Wrangel itself the tides come
and go, the black squalls race across the grey sea, and
the curtains of mist shift and shut across the sun.
B       ixM
^V
= 2 THE CHIOAMON  STONE.
At present the forsaken little town is owned by the
States, and when I was there, a very disconsolate
regiment of Uncle Sam's soldiers was spending its
time in wondering why it had been sent there. Even
Uncle Sam's soldiers cannot hold the place much longer
—the sea will have it.
To-day the sea knocks at the door of its houses,
which, being water-logged, lean heavily away from their
foundations, whilst a green moss creeps over everything,
and in the square where the soldiers drill, stands a
huge wooden saurian, put there, men say, as a totem
by the Indians, crawled there, I think, as the forerunner
of the beasts of the deep which are to come and
possess the place to-morrow.
I had spent my morning fishing off the piers for
halibut; I had tried to keep the balls out of the
pockets on the one old billiard-table, and could not do
it; I had read until neither Kipling nor Hope could
interest me any more, and the eternal 1 lap, lap," of
the sea and the ceaseless drone of the rain upon the
roof-tree had fairly " got upon my nerves."
Indoors there was nothing to do, but you could
keep dry; out-of-doors there was nothing to do but
get wet. Being young and foolish, I preferred to get
wet rather than do nothing, so I slipped into my long-
gum-boots, and went squelching across the road to
McFarlane's store.
" You call that rich, do you ? " said old McFarlane
\k THE CHICAMON STONE. 3
as I entered, to a couple of tough-looking prospectors
who were leaning over his counter. "Wait until I
show you something." And so saying, he stooped down
and fished out a small parcel, wrapped up in a bandana
handkerchief, containing about a couple of pounds of
rock—or so I should have thought at first sight. A
better acquaintance with the contents of that parcel
later on made me treble my estimate of its weight.
" What do you think of your stuff from the Liard
now ? " the old man asked.
For a moment the two prospectors looked at Mac's
specimen in silence, bending over it, and turning their
pocket-glasses on to it hungrily.
" Don't want them things to find the gold in that
rock, do you ? " asked Mac, contemptuously.
" Wal no, old man," retorted one of the two, " except
to see how you put the stuff in. I'll allow you've done
it pretty slick."
" Yes, you bet. Him as put that gold in, put it in
pretty slick," admitted Mac. " I guess He'd had some
experience in the business, but He hasn't put it in as
thick as that in most places."
And indeed He who made the rocks has not put gold
in them in many places as it was put in that lump of
dirty white quartz. On one side of the specimen,
which was as big as a brick, there was nearly as much
gold showing as there was quartz; the rock was honeycombed, and gold was the honey of it.
m 4 THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
" Got it from Coolgardie, I'm thinking," said one of
the prospectors, who had once been a Scotchman, a
squat, red-headed fellow, with a furtive blue eye.
"No, man, an'Ididna," replied Mac, with a touch of
his long-forgotten native speech. "I got that rock
where you got your swelled heid the night, right
here."
"There's more of what swelled my heid, mon; is
there more of this ? "
"Aiblins there is and aiblins there isna. I canna
tell."
" Won't tell, you mean," corrected the other prospector. "Well, it's easy guessing. If you knew
where that ledge was, you wouldn't be here."
" Waiting to serve you gentlemen," replied Mac,
picking up his specimen, and turning to the two with
an inquiring wave of his great fat hands. " What can
I do for you ? " The bacon is Armor's best; the
beans are Boston. Nothing like beans and bacon for
a prospecting trip. They tell me the boys have struck
it pretty rich on Glacier Creek."
"Rich. Five dollars a day, perhaps. Chinaman's
wages and mule's work. No, we ain't tenderfeet going
prospecting. Give us a couple of plugs of Climax
chewing, and tell us how you came by that rock, and
maybe we'll give you our order when we do go up the
river."
Mac looked at the speaker out of the corner of his
■■ - • ■'      — — ^ --—-^^Zsze^ THE CHICAMON STONE. 5
eye, but if he had an answer on the tip of his tongue
he swallowed it.
These two might, after all, raise a few dollars somewhere, and if they did give an order in Wrangel, he
might as well have the benefit of it."
"There's the Climax," he said. "It's meat and
drink to a hungry man, ain't it ? and as for the story
of the rock, there's nothing in it that any man mayn't
know. One of the si washes who trade with me brought
it in two summers ago with his furs, and sold it to me
for fifty dollars."
" Where had he been hunting ? "
"Somewhere down the Arctic Slope. The Lord
knows where."
"And didn't you ask him where he got it ? "
" Well, yes, and I offered him five hundred dollars
to show me the ledge."
" And what did he say ? "
" Said he'd come and see me about it in the morning,
if I would have the dollars ready."
" And didn't you have them ? "
" Yes, I had them, you bet, and burning a hole in
my jeans too, but when he came he wouldn't look at
them, though I made them rattle and crisp under his
very nose. He'd had a talk with his tillicums in the
night, and they would not let him give the secret away.
Said it was in their hunting grounds, and they didn't
want any white men mining in there." <L
6 THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
"Didn't you offer him more? Man! that ledge
would make a Vanderbilt of you, if you got on to it."
" Yes. I doubled my offer, which was a fool's trick
anyway. If a siwash won't take five Hundred dollars,
nothing will fetch him."
" So that's all you got ? " put in the dark man, who
had been listening intently to the conversation between
Mac and his partner. " And I suppose you go around
thinking as you're a United States citizen ? "
" I do," replied Mac, stoutly.
" Wal, I don't. Do you know the States motter—
(Git there' ? If it had been the Almighty Hisself
that owned that ledge, Td have got there; and you
let yourself be bluffed out of it by a measly siwash.
Sho! | |jj
" Steady, Luke—steady," put in the red-headed one.
"The gentleman don't set up for being a miner. He
makes his stofekeeping. Perhaps, sir, you wouldn't
mind telling us the name of that siwash, and; if we
could run across him, Luke and me might manage to
persuade him to be a bit more Christian-like. Then
you and me could divvy up, fair and square."
" How do you calculate to persuade him, if dollars
won't do it ? " -asked Mac, suspiciously.
" Well, there's no tellin'. One thing will persuade
one man, and another will persuade another. Per-
suadin' is a prospector's profession in a manner of
speaking.    What did you say his name was ? "
	
limMk THE CHICAMON STONE. 7
" Siyah Joe,'' answered Mac, reluctantly. He could
see no reason for withholding the information, but he
seemed to give it unwillingly. " Good night, gentlemen."
" Siyah Joe—a Stick Indian ? "
"Yes, a Stick.    Good night."
" And what does Siyah mean ? " asked Luke; but
he was too late, the old man had disappeared into the
back part of his shop, so, after waiting for a moment
with his hand upon the latch, Luke muttered something,
and slouched out into the darkness, and I heard him
and his partner splashing through the mud towards
the Indian quarter of the town. They were hot on
the scent of the Chicamon Stone already.
" What does Siyah mean, Mac ? " I asked, as the
old man came in again,
" Siyah," he said, dwelling on the syllables—" Si-yah
means far away, very far away ; and it's a deuced good
thing, to my way of thinking, that Joe is siyah just
now. I guess he would find their way of persuading
quite a bit unpleasant. They've left my rock, I see ; "
and the old man took up the parcel, and, bidding me
good night, left the store for his den at the back.
As I went out, I fancied that I saw a couple of figures
lurking in the alley way at the side of the store, but
I was uncertain, and in any case it was no business
of mine, and in Alaska it is as well to let other people's
business very strictly alone.    So I went across to my 8 THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
shack, and went to bed, but I could not go to sleep.
Even the rain on the roof would not make me forget;
even the incessant barking of the Indian dogs, as
they fought over refuse on the beach, could not divert
my thoughts from the one absorbing topic of Mac's
chicamon stone (gold rock). It was but the size of
an ordinary builder's brick, and yet he, shrewd dealer
as I knew him to be, had given fifty dollars for it.
He had sold, so he said, a hundred dollars' worth of
specimens off it since then, and the mere intrinsic
value of it was' still probably several times as much
as he gave for it. If a man, I thought—if I, for
instance—could only find the ledge from which that
specimen came, what would it mean to me ! And why
should a dirty siwash, to whom two hundred dollars a
year would be affluence—why should he keep such a
secret to himself? I began to think that there was a
good deal to be said for Luke's determination to " get
there," get there at any cost, and I wondered what
means he was taking to get there.
Just as I was at last dozing off, a couple of revolver
shots rang through the stillness of the night, and all
the dogs in the town gave tongue together. There was
a distant sound of shouting, a door or two opened and
shut; some one asked a question, and I heard the answer
given distinctly just under my window.
" Some one been selling whisky to the siwashes, I
guess.    It will be a job for the marshal to-morrow; "
l__ THE  CHICAMON  STONE. . |
and then all was silent again, except for the rain and
* the sea. Nature cared nothing for gold reefs, or
midnight shootings, and at last her grand impassive-
ness wrought even upon my fevered imagination, and
I slept.
In the morning there was a busy stir in the little
town. The fast and commodious steamship Alaskan
was ready to start up the river, and, like everything
else in Alaska, having kept every one waiting for days,
she would not wait now a single moment for any one.
There was a wild bustle everywhere. Men who had
been complaining of having had nothing to do for
a week, were now at their wits' end to finish their preparations in time. The stores which had been idle
all yesterday were thronged now with impatient
customers, and as the boat was casting off from her
moorings, two or three people were seen halfway
between the pier and the town, packed like, mules with
all sorts of parcels, staggering through the mud, and
crying to the captain to hold hard just one minute more.
In the rush of our departure, I had almost forgotten
my adventure of the night before, when the purser of
the boat, a quiet, good-natured young fellow, came up
to me with a half-apologetic air.
" I am afraid," he said," that you have got two rather
roughish chaps in your room, but the boat is so crowded
that I could not help myself. It is my business to
let the berths, and ask no questions." 10 THE CHICAMON STONE.
"That's all right," I replied; " they won't eat me, I
expect.    But who are they ? "
" Well, no, they won't eat you, but they might skin
you. If you like, I will put anything you want taken
care of in the ship's safe until we reach Glenora. They
are the two men, I think, who were mixed up in that
shooting affair last night. People say that they sold
whisky to the Indians. But there was no evidence on
which to hold them, and in this rush the police cannot
waste much time over a case. Besides, it was only an
Indian."
"Killed?"
" No, badly wounded, though. He was too drunk
to know who shot him. He was a Stick from Dease
Lake, and probably quarrelled with one of the Wrangel
si washes."
" And who are the men ? "
" There they are," he said; and he pointed to my
two acquaintances of the night before, Sandy Bill and
his mate Luke. " I wonder if they know where old
Mac's gold rock went to ? "
" You don't mean McFarlane's gold specimen ? " I
asked.    "Has anything happened to that? "
For a moment the purser looked at me half
suspiciously—
" You've seen it, have you ? " he asked. " Well, Mac
shows it to most men. Yes; the last thing I heard,
before  we cast   off was,  that some  one  forced  his "%
THE CHICAMON STONE. 11
store last night and got away with the Chicamon
Stone."
" Didn't any one remember that he was showing it
to those two men last night ? " I asked excitedly. " I
was in there and saw him do it."
"I wish I had known before," replied the purser—
"still it will keep until Glenora. Perhaps now you
would like me to take something, and put it in here?"
Outside No. 5 Sandy Bill and Luke were still
standing. They gave me good morning, as I went
past them into my room; but, in spite of their good
wishes, I carried with me a roll of notes and my
watch, and deposited them with my friend the purser
for safe keeping. Their only luggage, as far as I could
see, was a small bundlejlone up in a handkerchief; and
this they kept always with them. They did not even
leave it in No. 5 when they went in to dinner.
I dare say that it was a foolish thing to do, but for
the life of me I could not help it. We all think
that we are born detectives, and I am no better
than my fellows; so, as I fixed up my bunk more
comfortably, I looked Sandy Bill full in the face,
and said—
" Did you hear about that rock old McFarlane was
showing us yesterday ? "
If I had expected him to show any sign I was
disappointed.
" No," he said.   " What about the old fool's rock ? "
mmm
d 12 THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
" Some one broke into his store and took it, after we
were in there last night."
" More'n likely he has misplaced it," was the calm
answer.
"Well, it's lucky for us," I insisted, "that there was
no fuss made about it. As wre were the last in the store
last night they might have kept us to ask questions,
and made us miss our steamer."
" Lucky for you, you mean! " retorted Bill, angrily;
" you seem to forget as we left you alone in the store,
and, for all I know, you've got it. Thief-catching ain't
my business, but if you'll take my advice you'll keep
your head shut, young man—and shut tight too." And
with this insolent rebuff he left me and went out,
taking his parcel with him.
I should have liked to knock him down, but prudence prevailed. He most likely carried a gun; I
did not, and besides, every word he had said was
true.
I was a very young man who had—as our boys do—I
taught myself most of that which I knew, and, being
too independent to hang round my home any longer, had
put my little savings in my pocket and turned west.
As yet I had not fairly commenced my life, and the
making of it largely depended upon my own exertions.
One of the lessons I had learned was not to make
enemies unnecessarily, and I was not fool enough to
enter upon the stage brawling with the two roughest
^^,^J,;i.;^,._____: __ THE CHICAMON STONE. 13
saloon-loafers I could find. If I could lay my hand with
certainty upon those who had stolen McFarlane's rock,
that would be quite a different business, and might
secure me an opening in the police force. But to do
that I must wait and be thankful, meanwhile, that in
a new country, where I was known to no one, suspicion
had not fallen upon me at the outset.
And on deck a new country was indeed opening
before me; through grey and savage seas, along the
pathway of the seals, past rugged formless mountain-
masses, I had at last come to the mouth of the Stickine
—to the gateway of that mysterious north where there
were still untrodden places for the fur-hunter and the
gold-seeker—fortunes to be won and reputations to be
made if a man dare play for them with his own life as
the stake upon the table. That is what I had come to
do; and I looked at the mountains as a man looks who
measures his opponent and doubts of his own strength.
I knew that at last I had come to Jotunheim.
1
53225-3
J f
14 THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
CHAPTER II.
There is something very wonderful in the constantly
recurring migrations of men; and I am glad that I
have shared, however humbly, in one of them. On
the north-west coast of America we have had several
in the century. There was the Californian rush in
1849, the Fraser River and Cariboo rushes in 1858
and 1860, and now we have the Klondyke excitement.
Elsewhere, in Australia and in South Africa, the same
phenomena have occurred on a far larger scale; but
the main features have been the same in all cases, and
the results have been similar.
For centuries a great space on the earth's surface
lies void, and then Nature, who wants a population
for her waste places, and that population of the
strongest and youngest, holds out her lure and attracts
what she requires. Her methods are the same in all
cases, whether she shows a new goldfield to a mining
people, or reveals the bright colours of an opening
flower to the fertilizing bee; but I could not help 11
THE CHICAMON STONE. 15
wondering, as I entered upon my own pilgrimage,
whether the bait she offered to us was not somewhat
more vulgar and prosaic than that which she offered
eight hundred years ago, when at the great cry of
"Deus Vult! Deus Vult! " the Europe of lords, and
knights, and men-at-arms, of robbers, incendiaries, and
homicides, bent to the blessing of the priests, and, in
the full belief that God would pardon the sins of His
stout soldiers, belted on the crimson cross and marched
to reclaim the Holy Land where His Son was born.
We know now—I wish we did not—how full of evil
was the world of that day; we know, alas ! that private
vice tarnished some of the brightest shields amongst
the Crusaders; but if it be only to temper our own
self-complacency, it is worth while to remember that
eight hundred years ago religion moved men to face
greater dangers than those which greed of gold leads
men to face to-day.
In 1099 Europe, or part of it at any rate, was not
very much easier to travel across than Cassiar is today ; I doubt if it was as easy. We read in Gibbon,
that between the frontiers of Austria and the seat of
the Byzantine monarchy the Crusaders were compelled
to traverse an interval of six hundred miles, the wild
and desolate countries of Hungary and Bulgaria. The
soil is fruitful now, it is true; but then it was intersected by many and great rivers, and covered with
morasses and forests which no man had tried to reclaim, 16
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
And the men who faced these physical dangers had
no stern-wheel steamers to force a way for them upstream ; no ocean steamers to cross the channel in; no
collapsible boats; no organized transportation companies; no adequate tools even for building boat or
bothy, nor any knowledge of those applied sciences
which make all travel comparatively easy to-clay.
And yet they left all and dared all in such numbers
that we. read, that after wandering starved and naked
amongst the Carpathian mountains during the winter,
preyed upon all the time by a hostile population,
three hundred thousand members of the first Crusade
perished before a single city had been rescued from
the infidels.
And here was I playing at the same game half
consciously, which Attila and his millions, Gengis
and his myriads, and Godfrey of Bouillon and his
hundreds of thousands had played at before.
In the world's yesterday the pilgrims had come in
and told o' nights of lands flowing with milk and
honey; of groves of odorous cinnamon and frankincense, of palaces of marble and jasper.
Yesterday, it seemed to me, I had heard the same
story. Prospectors at Seattle were telling men of
river-beds where gold (which means palaces, and milk
and honey) was to be had for the taking, by the
bucketful.
In 1099 the lads of the first Crusade dreamed of
gg^mmmi 1
THE CHICAMON  STONE. 17
grasping in their hands the golden sceptres of Asia,
as well as of the glory of a free Jerusalem; and the
very meanest amongst them might aspire to win
royalty by the strength of his own right hand and
the cunning of his brain.
Then, too, rich men sold their castles, traders closed
their stores, 'prentices left their benches—and some
wise men stayed behind. Some of those who went
succeeded; most of those who were left behind did
well.
God forbid that I, of all men, should deprecate the
spirit of adventure which has made the race what it
is; but there is honour in honest, patient industry, and
profit, perhaps, more than in the boldest enterprise,
And if I dwell on these thoughts now I must be forgiven, for the crowded piers, and closed business houses,
and weeping women I had seen had made me think;
and besides, even the leaping silver-mailed salmon
pause and play awhile at the mouth of the Stickine
River before they rush north. None of them return;
many of those on the Alaskan would not return either.
And now we had fairly begun our obstacle race.
Between us and Wrangel lay a broad sheet of water,
calm as a millpond, where the human heads of the
seals rose on all sides of us: they were the guerillas
hanging on the flanks of the salmon army*
• There were no rocks to strike, no swift currents to
make our course difficult; but there were troubles ahead
0 18 THE CHICAMON  STONE.
for all that. In the midst of my dreaming there was
a sudden shock : the whole slight fabric of plank and
canvas, frail for all its imposing appearance, trembled
under us.
We had run on a sand-bar, and it took all the skill
and energy of the crew to get us off before the tide,
which was rapidly falling, left us high and dry on the
flats.
In spite of the fair-seeming breadth of the waters
there was but a narrow channel, where the tide ran
strong close inshore, through which our steamer could
creep at ordinary times. She drew but little more
than two feet: on this day she was overloaded, and
drew more. Freight was worth $40 per ton in those
early days, and the captain had not had the heart to
refuse any that he could stow away, though he risked
his boat in accepting it.
What with her overload, and some defect in the
untried steering-geer (for this was her first trip), the
vessel answered badly to her helm, and once more,
before we reached the mouth of the river, we saw her
veering straight on to a bluff of rock on the shore.
It seemed absurd, with a wide sea behind us, to run
ashore ; and it shook our faith in the skipper almost as
much as the second shock shook the ship, and if she
took in several tons of water in her Jbows, our courage
too received a considerable damper. Worse than that,
as we found out afterwards, it destroyed the captain's
■->-*■■*■'■ -^*^^^ -^
R
THE CHICAMON STONE. 19
confidence in his craft, and " rattled " him badly. He
was a little man with some foreign blood in his
veins, and none of that stolid calm which makes a
sailor.
But nothing short of shipwreck stops a boat on the
Stickine. We had started, and we meant to pull
through, so, though her bows were heavy with a load
which would pay no freight, the steamer turned into
the stream and faced the current which runs down
that roadway to the north.
Our decks were covered with passengers in spite of
the mist which was falling, through which you could
see the feet of the coast range protruding like the
paws of some monster which crouched up-stream waiting for us.
I was not the only man on board who had never
seen a glacier or a grizzly before, and we were keenly
looking out for both.
" It is a weird world we are passing through," said a
voice at my elbow, and turning, I saw a middle-aged
man extremely neat in his dress, and with a certain
quiet air of authority upon his clean-cut features,
leaning over the taffrail by my side.
" Yes," I said, " it is; but I suppose men become
used to it ? "
"They become assimilated, I think," he corrected.
" Nature makes her own men, and queer fish some of
them are."
J f
20 THE CHICAMON STONE.
" Yet surely most of them come here ready made ? "
I suggested. " Nature can't be held responsible for
these," and I glanced towards the crowd of rough
fellows in blue overalls by whom we were surrounded.
"Nature made them what they are," he replied;
" but she has had a turn at most of them in many
lands, so that they bear the clear impress of none of
those lands. But I was thinking of the natives, and
the mark which the north leaves upon them."
"Do you know much of the natives ? "
" I ought to. I am in charge up here as chief of
police."
" Are you indeed ? And are the natives such very
queer fish; different to those on the coast ? "
For a moment he was silent. As a rule, I expect he
was not a communicative man, but the loneliness of
the great river struck him perhaps, and made him
instinctively long for companionship, and he could
talk to me more freely than to most of those on board,
some of whom he knew too well already.
" Yes, these Sticks are very different to the British
Columbian Coast Indians," he said at last. " Doesn't
it strike you that the world looks a bit younger here,
more unformed and void than elsewhere ? Just as the
world is, so are its people. What do you think my
present mission is ? "
" To run some one in, I suppose ? " I said, laughing.
? No, to get some one out, in the first instance, at THE CHICAMON STONE. 21
any rate.    I am going to prevent a witch-killing  if
possible."
"A witch-killing?"
"Yes, a witch-killing. That is the time of day in
this chaotic country. Here, at the end of the nineteenth century, are men who believe in witchcraft,
and kill for it."
" Have they ever killed any one for it in your
time?"
" They killed a lad only last year; got him away
from the tribe, cast lots for his executioner, and then
cut away his chest, took out his bad heart, and shoved
the rest of him through a hole in the ice. And he
was their friend a month before."
" And do you tell me that another such murder is
contemplated ? "
" Not only is it contemplated, but I am terribly
afraid that it will have been committed by now.
Siyah Joe knows his danger, and knows the ways of
these woods as well as the moose knows them ; but
then, so do the two who are on his track, and God
knows whether the gloom of these grim places and
the fear of his fate won't make him crazy enough to
give himself up.    They do such things sometimes."
I started at the mention of Siyah Joe's name, and
so did another man in the crowd, and I saw Luke and
his partner edge their way nearer to us, so that they
could better hear our conversation.    I so mistrusted THE CHICAMON STONE.
these men even then that I would have turned the
conversation if I could have done, but I was too late.
The chief's next words put that out of my power.
"It's hard luck too on poor Joe—especially hard
luck," he said. " Joe is a very white kind of Indian,
and deserves better treatment from his fellows. They
say, you know, that he and two of the Tahl Tans have
the secret of a fabulously rich ledge somewhere up by
McDame's Creek, but though lots of white men have
offered Joe money to show them the ledge, he won't
do it for fear the miners should spoil the tribal hunting grounds."
" An' you say, chief, as they're goin' to kill this poor
boy?" chipped in Sandy Bill, craning his head past me.
" Yes I did, if they can catch him."
" An' can't no one stop them ? "
" We shall if we can," was the curt reply.
" Would it be asking too much to ask whereabouts
you think he is ? " persisted Bill. " You see, me and
my mate here are goin' in prospectin', and we might
be able to lend a hand. It's every man's clear Christian duty to do that if he can."
"It's a great thing to do one's duty," said the chief
drily, looking his man up, and down with no great
favour.    " There is no reward, mind."
I(Virtue's its own reward,' I've heerd tell," put in
Luke, with a sneer ; " but I think I heerd you say as
the siwash was near McDame's creek ? " THE CHICAMON STONE. 23
" I don't think I did," retorted the chief; " if
he's anywhere above ground, he should be this side of
Dease Lake."
" Wal, if so be as you want any specials, you'll know
where to look for them."
" I shall; but I would rather know where to look
for McFarlane's Chicamon Stone."
Now, whether he drew a bow at a venture, or whether
he was thinking only of the ledge which every one
spoke of as the summum lonum of miners' luck, I don't
know, but the effect was instantaneous. Bill seemed
to become suddenly conscious of a certain parcel he
was carrying, and Luke stood open mouthed glaring
at the speaker.
I don't know how it would have ended, but every
one rushed forward crying that the canyon was in sight.
The canyon is the real gateway from the coast to
Cassiar proper, from the wet land to the dry belt, a
gateway through the coast range, against which all
the rain-clouds, driven up, strike and explode.
In itself it is a narrow gorge not fifty yards wide,
with sheer rock sides, between which at high water
the confined volume of the great river rushes at a
terrific pace, so that a strong-engined steamer can
barely make headway against it.
It is the test of a river-boat. If she can go up the
canyon at high water, she is all right; if not, her
engines are not good enough for the Stickine. 24 THE  CHICAMON STONE.
For some time past we had been making our
preparations, and now we steered into the mouth of
the canyon, using every pound of steam which the
law allows—and perhaps more.
As the boat felt the force of the current she shivered
like a live thing, and then, gathering herself together,
forced her way up foot by foot until she was about
halfway between the entrance to it and the exit. Then
the furnaces became clinkered and the steam fell off.
We could not get the boat to do her best, and slowly
we had to back down-stream until we were asrain clear
of the strong water.
Twice we tried to make that passage, with the same
result; and then we got out our wire cable.
It would injure the boat's reputation; but if she
could not steam up she must be lined up. So, when
men had scrambled over the high cliffs and fastened
the cable to a rocky point, we set the steam-winch
going, and again, with steam and line, we fought our
way to the crux of the position.
Here we hung again; and I watched a point on shore
whilst the paddles churned the water into white foam
and the hot ashes streamed from the funnel, and the
great white creature we were driving snorted and
panted as if she would explode. And we did not
gain an inch ; we stood still.
Then the line, which had lain below the level of
the water, began to show, foot by foot, until at last
hMtfai| THE CHICAMON STONE.
25
every inch of it was visible, white and strained and
trembling; and then something gave—a part of the
line came back to us, and, before any of us had time
to think, we were broadside on to the current, being
swept down-stream.
If the captain had kept his head, even then things
might have gone well with us, but he did not. He
was rattled already when the accident happened, and
now the bells rang for the engine-room as if they were
crazy; and the next moment, with an appalling crash,
we went stem on on to a buttress in the middle of the
canyon. I don't know myself quite what happened.
I saw the jackstaff snap with the force of the shock,
and, falling, fell the mate upon the lower deck; I
heard men calling that she would blow up. I saw
the captain outside the pilot-house, and as we struck,
I saw two men jump, and cling in some juniper
scrub, which was the only live thing growing upon
the canyon's walls; but for myself I had time to do
nothing, before, as luck would have it, turning round
and round like a top, we came out still floating at the
canyon's foot.
After that we tied up to the bank for repairs, and
spent the whole afternoon and night in cutting cord-
wood, which was considered better for generating steam
than coal; and next morning, with a spliced line and
all the steam we could put on, we just managed to
crawl through with all our freight, and all hands on 26 THE  CHICAMON STONE.
board except two. Those two were Luke and Sandy
Bill, and, though we kept a sharp look-out for them
on the way up, we never caught sight of them again
that voyage.
" Did you know anything of those two who spoke
to us about Siyah Joe?" asked Luscombe, the chief
of police, just before we reached Glenora.
I told him what I knew, keeping nothing back.
" Ah," he said, " I thought they looked like some
of my wards. I wish I had known. But I will see
that a reception committee waits upon them when they
visit Glenora."
" You don't think, then, that they were drowned ? "
I asked.
" No; nor scared, except by that stupid speech of
mine about the Chicamon Stone. They saw their
chance and took it, and took old McFarlane's specimen
with them too. On second thoughts, I am not so
aure that I shall ever get a chance of receiving them
at Glenora according to their merits. They are pretty
daring rogues; and I hope, for Siyah Joe's sake, that
they may not find him before I do. If I am not
mistaken they are after the Chicamon Stone, and mean
to ' get there' at any cost."
His words struck me. He was putting Luke's
determination into Luke's own words. ^f*v
>l
THE  CHICAMON  STONE. 27
CHAPTER III.
A week later I " struck a job," i.e. I obtained employment.
A mining and transportation company was engaged
in packing supplies into the Dease Lake country, and
was in trouble with its men. Some of them were
drunk, most of them were incapable; and so, being at
my wits' end for work, I went down to the principal
office and asked to see "the Boss."
When I reached the station every one was in the
corrals: enclosures made of great pine-poles, one above
another, strong enough to hold a herd of wild cattle,
and big enough to hold three or four hundred head,
at a pinch.
The " boys " were breaking young mules, and, as
luck would have it, one of these wrenched the snubbing-
post clean out of the ground as I came up, and bucked
over the corral fence like a deer. Without stopping
to think, I clutched at the loose end of rope which the
'■■**— THE CHICAMON STONE.
beast trailed behind him, and the next moment I was
jerked off my feet and dragged over half an acre of
rough clearing, the sharp stumps in which found every
tender spot in my body.
But I had played Rugby Union in my time, and,
once having collared, old habit made me hold on like
a limpet, though my arms seemed to be coming out
of their sockets.
" Stay with him, stranger! Shake him, Applejack! "
I heard the men yelling, and, before I knew what they
meant, I saw a pair of long ears laid back, a gleam of
white teeth which looked as large as gravestones, and
Applejack came right at me open-mouthed.
I am quite willing, as a general rule, to take credit
for any clever thing I ever did, but common honesty
compels me to admit that I am utterly unable to say
why, instead of trying to get away from that mule (as
I undoubtedly wanted to), I shortened my hold on
the rope, and rolled in towards him instead of rolling
away.
However it was, I did so; and this possibly saved
my life, for the beast, blinded by fear or rage, missed
me with his teeth, stumbled over me with his fore
feet, and the sudden jerk of the shortened rope,^when
his head was down, made him turn a complete somersault over my prostrate body.
Before he could recover himself three or four pair
of strong hands were on the rope, the end man making THE CHICAMON STONE. 29
a snubbing-post of his own body; but even then Applejack kept his captors waltzing round him for a good
five minutes before they managed to take the rope
round a tree, and so put a period to his performances.
I was slowly pulling myself together, and absent-
mindedly dusting my trousers with my cowboy hat,
when a huge fellow by my side asked if I were much
hurt.
" Not much," I said, feeling my limbs to see if it
was true;  " but a little dazed, I think."
" Lucky it was only a little," he laughed ; " if you
had not kept your wits deuced well, you would have
lost the number of your mess. That was a very neat
throw of yours."
I did not contradict him. Indeed, I was not sure
whether he meant that he admired the neatness with
which the mule threw me, or that with which I threw the
mule. As the mule might be his, possibly his admiration was for his own property; but there was no time
for explanations, for just then a black cook came into
the yard and beat noisily upon the back of a frying-
pan, at which all the " boys " began to pick up their
coats and leave the corral.
" That means grub," said my new friend ; " if you
have not had lunch yet, will you come and have some
with us ?   The food is not 'high toned,' but it is filling."
" Thank you," I said, " but I was looking for Captain
Lanyon." 30 THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
" That's me," replied the big fellow, with a fine disregard for grammar.    " What do you want ? "
Now, this style of address has its merits, brevity, and
so on, but it is embarrassing sometimes, and besides, my
abrupt questioner did not look a bit like the man I
thought I was looking for.
I had been told that a young English gentleman,
with any amount of money, was " running " the mule
trains for the fun of the thing. This man was young,
but he was the roughest-looking fellow in the whole
crowd; two huge bare arms protruded from his shirtsleeves, the blue flannel breast of which was open enough
to show a hairy chest, of which a navvy might have been
proud, a fair beard was all over his bronzed face, and the
rest of him was just blue overalls, and moccasins a shade
more ragged than those of any other man.
" Not my idea of a dude, anyway," was my mental
comment; " and not half a bad fellow," I added an hour
later, as I went down to his corrals to lend a hand at
the breaking, as his hired man.
I told him honestly, as he sat eating a huge meal
with his packers, that I had been brought up as a civil
engineer, but having failed to find employment in my
own line, I should be glad to do anything to earn a few
dollars to keep me until something better turned up.
" I am afraid that I shall not be much good," I concluded ; u but I can try."
" Some of the others are not any good, and they THE CHICAMON STONE. 31
don't try," he growled ; "but, if you like, I'll take you
on at fifty dollars a month. The regular wages are
seventy-five. If you only help to catch the mules in
the morning, you ought to earn your money."
And so I was hired, and next morning began to learn
what a very large number of things there were connected with mules, ropes, and packages of which I had
not the faintest idea.
But the packing was over at last, and in spite of
every artifice known to the half-broken produce of little
Spanish mares and cayuse jacks, the whole train was
loaded and ready to start.
" Now, Mo, let them rip," sang out the boss, " and
look out for squalls. You'll have a merry time, but I
believe it is the only way to break those devils, and
there is nothing much to damage."
And then we had a picnic for two or three days.
After that, most of the mules sobered down; but at first
it was just as well that the loads were only made up of
well-packed sugar and flour.
At first the leaders would not move. Then one of
the youngest dashed back, and executed a pas seule in
front of the cook-house, bucking and kicking like a
Chinese cracker until the rigging gave way, and her
whole pack was scattered in all directions. In the
middle of this performance, the whole band took it
into its head to move, and charged in open order up
the steep hill which overlooks the corrals. 32 THE CHICAMON  STONE.
" Pick up the pieces, boss ! So long! " yelled Mo, the
carcadore; and the next moment all of us, the boss
included, were riding at best pace after the train.
Somebody else might pick up the pieces. He meant
to see the fun.
I have no time to tell you all about the first
trip, though it might be worth telling ; suffice it to say
that at the end of the first day we had lost one-third
of our mules, and though we knew that their loads
were still in the country, we knew very little more
about them, but by the fourth day out, thanks to untiring efforts on the part of Mo, we had twenty-four
reasonably quiet pack-animals instead of the thirty
fireworks we started with.
Later on, we recovered all the mules, and most of
their packs. What was lost went to the breaking
account, and was considered well spent.
At first, of course, I was as bad as the mules. I could
not do anything right, from lighting a fire, or pitching a tent, to throwing the diamond hitch.
Between you and me, I cannot do that right yet.
But, after a time, I learned to know a dry stick from a
green tree, and to detect a shirker when he tried to
slip off the trail, as the train went by, and, above all, I
was of some real service to my mates in retrieving the
lost and strayed. Bringing in the mules in the morning became my special duty, after the first week out.
The journey from Telegraph Creek to Dease Lake THE CHICAMON STONE. 33
took ten days, if all went well; fifteen, if things went
normally ill. Every day we were up in the dark, and
every day we camped before midday, so as to give the
beasts the benefit of the cool hours of the morning for
their work. As a rule, at first, whilst there was good
feed in every swamp, most of the animals stayed where
they were turned out, and, after a month's packing, would
come in as soon as we appeared in the morning, and
walk sedately up to the semicircle of the aparejos,
which had been placed in readiness for them. It was
a pretty sight to see them standing like soldiers at
attention, waiting for their masters to pack them.
But there were always a few who, out of pure meanness,
would sneak out of the richest feeding-grounds, and
refuse to present themselves at the morning roll-call.
Applejack was one of the worst of these, and many a
morning I had to run myself to a standstill upon the
track of this wandering beast. The whole country
between Telegraph Creek and Dease Lake is, with
very few exceptions, a succession of willow thickets,
running in great swells like a dull green sea up and
down for seventy miles, with here and there a patch of
black pines where the best camps are, and here and
there an open swamp where the best feed is. In these
swamps, at early morning, every step you take stirs up
a covey of mosquitoes, and it was lucky for me that
my business kept me moving pretty briskly or I
should have been eaten alive.   But I was quick-sighted,
D 34 THE CHICAMON STONE.
and a good tracker, so that I generally found my
beasts, and football and baseball had made me a good
" stayer," so that, as a rule, I caught the shirkers before
old Mo, our carcadore, had quite lost all patience, and
thus won for myself a fair reputation with the men
and the boss, who, though he never said much, paid
me my seventy-five dollars the second month without
being; asked to do so. I never saw a man take less
trouble to make himself popular with his employes,
and yet I never knew one of whom the men thought
more. He never praised a man, but he always paid
him ; he never rated a man, but if he was not satisfied
with him, he just " fired " him without a word, and if
there was a particularly hard thing to do, the boss
generally had the first try at it himself. Any evening,
wherever we were camped on that trail, we were likely
to see him come " loping " in on foot, with a single
blanket tied on his shoulders, and a tomato-tin (his
cooking outfit) in his hand, to see how we were getting
on. He would cover his thirty-five or forty miles in a
day, and, as likely as not, if all was well, turn round
at daylight next morning, and " lope " back.
I should have been working for him still, if it had
not been that one morning in the first week of October,
my old enemy, that slab-sided, fiddle-headed Applejack,
could not be found even in the half-hour which I
usually allowed for him.
Lately the feed, even in our favourite swamps, had
r^^ _=—— THE  CHICAMON  STONE. 35
been getting very short, and the nights unpleasantly
cold. Indeed, we had had one considerable fall of snow
already, and orders had been issued that this was to be
our last trip for the season. Want of feed and cold
combined made the animals restive, and they would
wander unheard-of distances to find a bite of grass out
of which the frost had not taken all the goodness.
Even if you turned them into feed which was over
their hocks, they would still move round to keep warm,
and my billet as " finder " was no sinecure.
On this particular morning I had spent so long
looking for Applejack, that I knew Mo must either
have given up all idea of moving for the day, or must
have gone on without me, leaving me to follow as best
I could*
I did not like the idea of camping by myself, even
though I knew that the boys would leave some food
for me; but I liked less the idea of losing old Applejack,
who was one of our best mules, right at the end of the
season.
I had managed to beat him so far, and I meant to
bring him in at the finish. It had become a personal
matter between Applejack and myself, so I took up the
contrary beast's faint tracks again for another hour.
Now, if my reader happens to be a hunter he will
know what the fascination is of following tracks. It is
hard enough to keep on a trail, but it is much harder
to leave fresh tracks till you lose them.   However far 36 THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
they may have led you, you still want to go on just
another half-hour. You know that the beast will be
just beyond the next ridge, or browsing in the next
swamp, though he was not on any of the twenty ridges,
nor in any of the ten swamps through which you have
already passed. Having spent already so much time in
hunting him, it would be folly to abandon the hunt now,
when another quarter of an hour would infallibly reward
you for all the trouble you have taken.
This was the way I argued, and this was why, when a
brown beast crashed out on the other side of the swamp,
I could not for the moment make out Applejack as
clearly as I ought to have done, for it was growing
distinctly dark.
Until then, I had been so engrossed in the pursuit,
that I had hardly noticed how the time was going. I
knew that it was past dinner-time. My inner consciousness had been telling me that at intervals all day.
I had wanted food badly for a long time, but then I
wanted that confounded mule worse.
And of course it was Applejack !
On second thoughts I was not absolutely certain even
of that, though to doubt it seemed rather ridiculous.
As I looked the beast moved out into a comparatively
open space, with a long, slouching stride, feeling his
way, as it seemed to me, with his nose, until he came
right out upon the skyline, his great clumsy head
outlined   clearly  against   the   sky   into  which   the THE CHICAMON STONE. 37
cold green tint of a northern evening had already
come.
Then I knew that it was not Applejack, and that, for
the first time, I was looking at one of those huge giants
of an earlier creation, to whom these wastes of deep
silence are home.
For a space of many minutes, so it seemed to me, the
moose stood immovable, gazing at me whilst the darkness seemed to increase perceptibly, and the silence
fell and deepened, until I felt a long way from camp and
humankind.
Then one great ear moved, the grotesque head turned
slowly round, and without a sound the whole apparition
disappeared. If he had gone off with a crash of breaking underbrush, I could have endured it: that would
have been natural.
His sudden appearance had not shaken my nerves in
the least; but when he went without a sound, he left me
shaking, and when at last I turned and looked for landmarks, the heart fairly went out of me.
I said that I was a good tracker, and, as mule-drivers
go, so I was, but I was no hunter. I had been looking
for a mule and not thinking of moose, and had, I
suppose, somewhere changed Applejack's tracks for
those of the great bull I had just " jumped "—not a very
difficult thing for a better man to have done, who was
only tracking by the bent grass and broken twigs, without troubling to look for the print of the beast's feet. 	
THE CHICAMON STONE.
I don't wish my worst enemy to endure what I
endured after I discovered my mistake.
Look where I would I could see nothing that I
recognized. Everywhere there was rolling swamp;
everywhere willows, and nowhere was there any vantage-
ground from which I could see into the beyond.
For a time I let the silence and the fear of the place
master me. Then one of those grey birds, which
northern men call whisky-jacks, lit on a bough close to
my head. He was a mere ball of grey feathers—the
very ghost of a bird,—and so light and dainty in his
movements that he hardly swayed the tiny sprig on
which he lit. But in the silence I heard him, and the
sound and the presence of another live thing roused me.
Without stopping to think of the direction in which
camp ought to lie, I turned and crashed back along
the way I had come. At any cost I felt that I must
get back to camp before the black dark caught me.
As I came I had moved easily through the brush.
Now in my hurry every bush seemed to rise in my path
and oppose me; every crooked stick caught me; the
very withies swung back and cut me viciously across
the eyeball.
In the night I saw these woods as they really were,
full of a personal hostility to man. I set my teeth and
charged through these personal enqmies, but the tough
boughs laughed at my puny strength; a dozen times
I stumbled, and fell to my knees more than once. THE CHICAMON STONE. 39
I began to pant and sweat until I was wet through.
My knees gave under me, and at the last a short stick
caught in the end of my moccasin, and, rising as I
pressed forward, threw me heavily upon my face.
For a moment I lay there almost crying, with rage
rather than fear. When I rose the rage left me, and
fear took its place. I knew then that I was lost; not
just " turned round " in the woods, but lost without
any idea of direction at all.
Then an utterly unreasoning terror took possession
of me. Things were looking at me, voices were whispering ; I was not sure that the trees were not moving,
closing in thicker and thicker all round me. Something
was coming.
If you have never been lost, laugh at me. If you
are a man who has been alone with Nature—I mean
really, alone—you won't laugh. She is a terrible person
to meet face to face, when there is no other fellow anywhere near to call to, and the night is coming on.
And with the night came the cold.
As long as I was moving, blindly forcing my way
through interminable labyrinths of willow, Heaven
knows I was hot enough. When I stopped, utterly
exhausted, the swamp-water pumped into my moccasins
and froze there, and the little wind which came creeping through the willows had in it all the sting of the
glaciers where it was born.
Luckily for me I smoke; and at last, as I plunged
w^ 40 THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
heavily through the swamps, my pipe fell out of my
pocket. That gave me an idea. I picked up my old
friend, filled and lit it; and then, having found a fairly
dry log, sat down to smoke and think. The tobacco
calmed me, and, I fancy, saved my life. If I had not
sat down then I think I should have blundered on,
circling through the woods, until fatigue and fear
made me light-headed, and I might have died mad a
few hundred yards, perhaps, from a Government trail.
Such things have happened before.
But the tobacco calmed me, and in a few minutes I
could almost have laughed at myself.
Here was I, a man who sought adventure, probably
not half a dozen miles from the camp of my own pack-
train, ready to chuck up the sponge because I had lost
my way, and I had not even tried shouting yet.
So I rose and shouted till I was hoarse, and listened
for an answer until I could hear bells in my ears.
But no answer came, and I knew enough to know
that the bells were only fancy, though I confess that I
walked for a good hour trying to reach them. I walked
indeed until the moon, a tiny crescent—very new to
its work and very incompetent, I thought—came up
and showed me nothing but millions of silvery leaves
trembling in the frost.
I tried to light a fire, and could not do it. Most of
my matches were damp, and there was not a thing in
the swamp dry enough to burn. THE CHICAMON STONE. 41
Then a hunting owl laughed somewhere in the
shadows, and, though I am not superstitious as a rule,
I cursed the bird in my angry fear.
I think I was just revolving some wild scheme of
making myself abed of brush, and piling the same
over me to keep me warm, when a thin column of mist
caught my eye. At first I looked at it without interest,
then an idea struck me. Was it mist ? was it not too
dense, too blue for mist ? above all, was there not a
shadow of a glow in it, which never came from
moonlight ?
Certainly there was. It was a camp-fire, beyond
doubt, and I was saved ; and in a moment the kingdom
of shadows vanished, and there were only ordinary
trees and bushes round me again, through which I
could push my way like the lord of creation instead of
blundering like a hunted slave.
But the fire was a long way off, and it was past
midnight before I reached it.
What I saw when I stood almost within the glow of
it will do for another chapter. _fi
42 THE CHICAMON STONE.
CHAPTER IV.
Here and there in the Cassiar country occur islands
of black pine amongst the endless waves of willow and
swamp.
These make the favourite camping-grounds for
hunters and packers, and other lonely folk whose lot
it is to wander homeless over the Arctic Slope. By
day these pines are but dark spots in the rolling green.
So dark are they, that they seem the natural harbour
where the gloom lurks, and whence the shadows steal
out at nightfall; but they have this advantage, they
stand on firm ground, and amongst them are sure to
be two or three dry sticks which will burn; and hence
it is that at night, if there is a spot of comfort anywhere, it will be in the pines where the dry wood
cracks and sputters and the red embers glow.
It was on such a spot that I looked as I peered from
the edge of the swamp, my knees shaking with exhaustion and fatigue, and my body rapidly passing
from the heat of incessant physical exertion to the
chills of damp and starvation.
*— THE CHICAMON STONE. 43
Under ordinary circumstances I should have blundered through the brush and rushed to the fire, making
sure of warmth and welcome, but a very short sojourn
in the woods changes a man's nature.
No one ever saw wild game come galloping up to
their feed; no one- ever saw a bear, even, swagger
boldly up to a carcase. No! The woods breed
caution.
The deer pushes noiselessly through the brush, stops,
listens, looks carefully all round, standing still as a
carven image for an unconscionable time at the edge
of the little meadow, and then dropping his head, steals
in daintily and noiselessly to eat his fill.
The grizzly, though he is the master of the woods,
plods in a long circuit round his kill, his ears pricked,
his nose testing every draft of air; and then, if neither
nose nor ear warns him of danger from any quarter,
he too walks quietly in and feeds in silence.
To some extent men, too, learn the lesson of th# -***
woods, and I had myself imbibed enough of their
caution to step lighter, half consciously, as I drew near
that fire, lift JJie boughs  gently asunder, and peer
through them before passing into the open. *
Light as my moccasined step had been, and though
I could hear no rustle of the moved boughs, I had
not altogether escaped observation.
Of the two figures by the dying embers, one sat up
at once and peered into the darkness where I stood.
I        HI!
J 44 THE CHICAMON STONE.
Listening like a stag at gaze, this upright bundle of
blankets remained rigid, intent, motionless, until I
almost gasped and let go of the upheld boughs, so
greatly did the strain tell upon me.
At last the listener seemed satisfied, and, letting the
blankets slide from his shoulders, a heavily-built
Indian rose to his knees, and reaching forward drew
the logs together on the fire.
Then for a moment he sat upon his heels thawing
himself, and a few minutes later rose, and fetching an
armful of logs from a pile close by, heaped them on
the fire and started a blaze.
The fresh logs crackled and snapped like pistol-
shots, but theirs were the first sounds which broke
the stillness. The Indian himself had moved like a
shadow, without a sound.
When the logs had been piled upon the fire the
Indian's mate sat up too, watching him; and as he
turned said something to him, but in that low, constrained voice which is natural to woodsmen, so that
I could not catch the meaning of his speech.
Perhaps you wonder why, even then, I did not go
forward into the genial glow I so longed to feel.
If you had seen the two who crouched beside it,
you would not have wondered. An Indian in store
clothes near a settlement looks a very ordinary, harmless person, but these two looked otherwise.
They were at home and natural; and their red-brown
y
-~ —— THE  CHICAMON STONE. 45
faces, their glittering eyes, and harsh black hair,
looked beast-like and terrible in the glow, and their
stealthy, silent movements were more suggestive of
beasts of prey than of men. For a time they talked
together in low growls over the fire, and then one of
them took something from his blankets, and, stepping
over the embers, sat down facing his comrade.
For a full minute he sat there, weaving his hands
backwards and forwards, under and over, with surpassing rapidity, the other watching him, as a lynx watches
a rabbit, until suddenly the watcher shot out a long
bare arm and touched one of the weaver's hands with
his finger.
The weaving stopped, the hand was opened and it
was empty. Again the weaving began, and again the
other player leaned forward and arrested one of the
rapid hands. This time there was something in it
which was passed across the fire. Then the winner took
up the play, and his mate watched him.
The two were playing a game, not unlike the merry
play which white boys call " Jenkins up ; " but there
was no cheery noise, no mirth in their game. They
were in deadly earnest.
Perhaps they played for five minutes—it seemed
more to me,—and at the end of that time the first
Indian, a huge fellow, as many of the Sticks are,
sprang to his feet with a short snarl, and, throwing
some little billets of wood across the fire, said— 46 THE CHICAMON  STONE.
" You are yourself more witch than witch-finder."
The other laughed. " Lone Goose has won," he said.
" Go you and do the killing, and take care. You have
lost little this time. It is better to be killer than
killed, and those who spied out Siyah Joe may $py
you next time."
" If Lone Goose comes to Tahl Tan from the hilltop to spy out Tatooch he had better fly high !"
retorted the other, angrily.
"Do your business now. Threats are for boys.
The day comes, and the white men will soon be here
now," was the cold answer; and the other sullenly
began to make himself ready, the victor in the game
helping him.
From a little cache of pinebark the Lone Goose
drew out two or three small sacks of deerskin. From
one of these he took a bladder of grease. With it he
anointed Tatooch from the crown of his head to
his broad shoulders. From another bag he took
two or three handsful of wrhite down, with which
Tatooch was thickly sprinkled, until his stiff black
hair was hidden in a quaking mass of white like snow-
flakes. Then he took from under his skin shirt a
long, evil-looking knife, and, before handing it to
Tatoosh, whetted its broad, recurved blade upon his
bare palm, and, laying a feather across the edge of it,
gave a dexterous upper cut, and the feather in two
pieces settled slowly down upon the clamp ground. CHE CHICAMON STONE.
47
"It is sharp," he said, "and Joe will not feel
much."
Last, he took a wooden mask from the cache: a
hideous thing, with the jaws of a wolf, and great
cavernous eyeholes in it, and long streamers of human
hair flying from it.
Tatoosh put this on and the other fixed it for him,
and then knife in hand he rose.
With mask and plumes he must have stood nearly
seven feet high, and in the faint light of coming dawn,
with the black pines behind him, their blackness
emphasized by thin wreaths of new-fallen snow, Tatooch
looked the incarnation of all evil—a very devil of the
woods.
" See that you bring the heart and liver, that we
may know you have slain him!" hissed Lone Goose;
"and remember that the spirits watch."
"And that dead men cannot find the Chicamon Stone,"
said a voice from behind the mask ; and then turning,
the wearer of the mask strode into the brush, passing
swift and silent within a few feet of where I cowered
amongst the willows.
Had Tatooch been free from his headgear, or had
his cunning brain been less full of other thoughts, he
would have seen me as clearly perhaps as I saw him.
I almost think he would have heard my heart thumping against my ribs, or the gasping for breath in my
dry throat.   As it was he saw nothing, but passed on, 48
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
the little morning breeze making the ghastly trimmings
of his mask flutter as he went.
Now what possessed me I cannot tell. I had no
mind to meddle with these wood-fiends. I only
wanted to get away and be at home amongst white
folk, and listen to their merry chatter round the camp-
fire, instead of having my ears ache with the silence
of northern forests; but I turned as Tatooch passed
and followed him. Like everything else, it seemed
to me that I was coming under the spell of the wilderness and becoming one with it.
Now the bushes no longer withstood me ; my
moccasins forgot to squelch in the wet places; the
very boughs passed over me without that noisy, rasping
scrape to which I had grown accustomed.
Perhaps all this was only fancy. More likely was it
that it was because, as I found out before long, we were
passing—Tatooch and his tracker—over a comparatively
well-worn trail.
Above us was rising ground-—a ridge bare of timber,
which might be the beginning of the foot-hills—and
towards this we were making, my leader passing in
front with such swift, silent strides that it would have
been more than I could have done at ordinary times to
keep him in sight.
But now I think that I was outside myself.
Want of sleep and want of food, and weariness and
fear, had worked upon me until now I needed neither THE CHICAMON  STONE. 49
food nor rest. Fever was coming on me, and for the
time lent me unnatural strength.
Presently we came to the mouth of a narrow canyon,
deep, and tortuous, and dark. Here the rock had
cropped out from the hillside, and made towers and
parapets which guarded the entrance to the gorge,
whilst farther up one crag hung over it like the keep
of some old castle.
Inside the gorge Tatooch stopped, and so suddenly
that I, following him, only just stopped in time. I
even think that he must have heard me then, and
perhaps fancied that the Lone Goose followed him. At
any rate he stood and listened, and when I saw him
take out the great knife and finger it delicately, I gave
up all for lost.
But he was thinking of other things. First he readjusted his mask, and fingered the plumes on his head
like a girl who tries whether her fringe is still in curl;
then he lifted his hand to his mouth and called—
hollow, far-reaching, deep-sounding—the call of the
hunting owl.
Twice he repeated the boding cry, and then close
to, as it seemed to me, came the hollow answer. It
was the Lone Goose answering him from the camp.
Who else heard the call, or what it meant to him, I
did not know then. I know now, and I can fancy the
terror of it to him.
As soon as the answer came Tatooch moved on, but
E
r 50
THE CHICAMON   STONE.
now no longer with the swift stride which it had tired
me so to follow. Stately and slow he strode, carrying
himself at his full height, his plumes nodding as he
went; and the next minute the trees parted, and the
grey cold light fell upon an acre of brown moss, crisp
and hoar with frost, in the midst of which was a solitary
pine, dead of age or lightning stroke, grey-white and
skeleton-like in the grey of the morning.
Tied to this and facing us, naked, or almost so, was
an Indian lad of twenty, his flesh almost as grey with
cold and terror as the tree he was tied to.
Have you ever seen a rabbit when the caretaker has
thrown him in to the snakes, and they rise slowly and
begin to rear up and sway their heads ? Do you know
the stony horror that seems to seize him, so that he
cannot flee from the death that comes to him so
leisurely ?
As the rabbit looks, so looked the boy. Slowly the
grim figure strode across the moss, which made no
sound beneath its feet, and with eyes starting from
their sockets the witch saw the witch-killer come.
This was no Indian to him; it was the Wood Devil
coming for his life. Perhaps, if he had been able to, he
would have cried out; perhaps, if they could have done
so, those straining arms would have burst their thongs,
and he would have fled shrieking into the thicket.
More likely he would have waited dumb and fascinated
for the stroke.    As it was, he had no choice.    The THE CHICAMON  STONE. 51
strength had been sapped from his muscles by three
days of cruel starvation and suspense ; the tight bindings on his thumbs and ankles, and the frost at night,
had checked the current of his blood, and his mouth
was gagged. Only his eyes spoke, and the wild appeal
in them reached even the deaf ears of selfishness and
fear. As the great mask towered over the shrinking
victim, and the blue steel went up to strike, I think
the old Berserk madness of which the Sagas tell took
hold of me. The scream of my own voice, and the
rage in it, startled me, and made the dumb woods wake
and move; and the next moment I struck as I never
struck before in my life. It was but a foolish blow
with bare knuckles, but, thank Gocl! I am six feet two
in my socks, and I know how to hit; and though my
knuckles split and bled, the hideous mask smashed,
and its wearer fell like a log at my feet. He was up
again, however, quick as a panther and as savage; but
I had lost fear now. I only wanted battle—hot, fast,
furious fighting—and, caring nothing for myself, I
closed, and struck again and again and again, as if
there was to be no end to my force or fury. The third
time he fell I saw his knife, the great blue-bladed
thing, sticking in the moss within reach of my hand,
and quick as thought I clutched it and threw myself
upon him.
Now I had him by the throat, and the blade was up
to strike, when his eyes for the first time caught mine. 52
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
I have not told you, so far, that I have one unfortunate
personal peculiarity—unfortunate, as a rule, though
perhaps not so on this occasion: as a boy brain fever
had left me white-headed. In spite of my red-brown
cheeks my hair is white as snow.
Perhaps this saved his life or mine. At least I
think so, for when his eyes caught mine .a look of
terror took all the malice out of his face, and with one
wild struggle he slipped from me. The grease with
which he had anointed himself spoiled my hold; fear
gave him strength which rage could not supply.
Without one look behind him Tatooch darted into
the brush.
He had no eyes for me, no woodsman's feet now with
which to pick his way. I could hear him crashing and
blundering through the brush for minutes after I lost
sight of him, like a beast which has not only seen
the hunter but heard the bullet whistle between his
horns.
The superstitious fear which had brought him here
to kill his tribesman, had driven him away more scared
possibly than his victim. He had played the devil,
and dressed himself up for the part. In the cold grey
of the morning he had met a real devil—white-faced,
snowy-haired, and savage,—and he had not time or
courage to realize that, though his enemy was as tall
as he, it was but a boy who felled him: a boy who
would have had no chance against his seasoned strength
«&*____.
^_g-^rjMffHmr THE CHICAMON  STONE. 53
had he but had courage to maintain the fight a little
longer.
Had he come back he would have seen his error, for
now I was spent. The madness had. gone out of me ;
the fever had left me; and I was almost too weak to
rise. Indeed, I must have lain for minutes where he
slid from my grasp, the knife in my hand and my
face buried in the cold moss.
When I pulled myself together and rose to my
knees, I rested there a moment as the sun came up from
behind the ridge. I did not believe in devils, but I
too believed in something which was not as we are,
and I had a word of thanks to say to the Unseen who
is so little remembered except in the crises of our lives.
When my thanks were said I rose, and turned to the
cause of the quarrel.
If I had expected to see joy and gratitude upon
the Indian witch's face, I was doomed to disappointment. If terror had sat upon those haggard features
before, terror intensified sat there now; and as I drew
near with the knife to cut the thongs which held him,
he seemed to shrink as if he would vanish bodily from
my sight.
When the thongs on his ankles and the deerskin
strings which bound his thumbs had been cut, Siyah
Joe fell heavily forward on his face, and, for a moment,
lay there like one dead; and when I went to him,
instead of trying to rise, he kept his face to the ground (n
54 THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
and clung about my feet, crying to me in that Indian
tongue, which has a wail in it at all times, and was now
the whimpering of a frightened child.
Of course it dawned upon me at once that to him, as
to Tatooch, I was not a white man but a white devil;
stronger perhaps—perhaps worse than the one I had
driven away, and in any case equally to be feared.
It was ridiculous, but it was also embarrassing ; and
this was no time for fooling, for, though I had scared
away Tatooch, I did not expect that the hard-withered
old witch-finder would give up his prey without a fight
for it. He knew too much of witchcraft and its little
tricks to believe in anything, and, if I was not mistaken,
what I had heard about the chicamon stone (gold
rock) meant that a very real and prosaic devil was at
the bottom of his devilry.
So I did my best with Siyah Joe : gave him the knife
to give him confidence, and, with all the little Indian
at my disposal, put him in possession of my version of
the story, and implored him to lead the way out of this
cursed jungle to some pack-trail or settlement where
we might find food and protection.
If the shadow of death had not been very near him,
and if he had not passed much of his life amongst white
men at the coast, I should probably have failed even
then ; but the feel of the knife in his hands reassured
him, and I dare say a closer scrutiny of my ragged,
starved  condition half convinced, him  of the  truth _
THE CHICAMON STONE.
55
of my story. It did not weaken his respect or fear
of me, but it induced him to obey me; and I was
astounded at the speed with which, in spite of what he
had endured, he managed to lead me up the canyon to
the foot of the castle-like rock, which I had noticed in
the earlier morning.
» 56 THE CHICAMON STONE.
CHAPTER V.
This castle rock, which was perhaps half a mile from
the meadow in which he had been tied, was Joe's bane
and his blessing.
For centuries it had been a devil's stone to the Tahl
Tan tribes, a place where all manner of weird and
uncanny things collected at nightfall. Here the flying
cariboo used to alight and sing as the moon rose, and
here, they said, the little hairy men who have no
speech, and stink so that the dogs, winding them,
howl, crowded together when nights were dark.
Joe, as a boy, had had no reverence for local superstitions. He had been too much with white men for that,
and, finding in the snows of one November the track of a
great grey bear, he had followed it up the canyon, and
not thinking, had tracked it to its den in a natural
tunnel in this rock, and killed it there.
The bear was in its prime, and the skin had been
worth many dollars to Joe, and, moreover, in the night
and morning which he had been obliged to spend near THE CHICAMON STONE. 57
the castle rock, he had found out for himself that, not
only did no flying cariboo sing to him, nor any hairy
men disturb him, but that superstition had made of
this place a sanctuary for certain fur-bearing beasts,
and a perfect mine of wealth for any hunter who was
unbelieving enough to help himself.
But Joe's haunting this place of devils had become
known to the tribe—more especially had it become
known to the witch-finder Lone Goose ; and this, and
Joe's knowledge of a certain other rock, of which
McFarlane had specimens—of which Lone Goose knew,
and which Luke and Bill would have given their souls
to find—had worked Siyah Joe's ruin.
The witch-finder had been absent from the tribe for
a week in the far mountains, conversing with the
spirits, he said; and, when he came back to Tahl Tan,
he had pointed out Joe as the witch to whose evil
influence the last chief's death was due.
Lone Goose had had the medical treatment of this
worthy, who was dying of old age, whisky, and rheumatism, and failing to cure him by the beating of
drums and chanting of songs, was compelled, either to
forfeit his reputation as a medicine-man, or find some
valid reason for this failure of the healing art. So he
had been away into the mountains, and the spirits had
revealed the witch to him in Siyah Joe.
It was useless for Joe to protest. In the first place,
Joe had no powerful relations in the tribe, and, indeed,
 mm* 58 THE CHICAMON STONE.
he was a waif and a lone man amongst them ; and in
the second place his ill-conditioned wanderings round
castle rock were known, and it was argued that the
man whom the devils won't hurt must be something
of a devil himself.
When he openly derided Lone Goose's claim to
supernatural powers he fared no better, though men
listened at first.
" Did you not see me four suns ago, about the time
of the half sun ? " asked the medicine-man. " Did you
not see me here in the village ? "
" No, you were not here," they answered.
" Did you not see one solitary goose fly over the
houses towards the Stickine ? "
Unfortunately some one had seen such a lone bird^
and said so.
" That was me," said the medicine-man; and his
case was proved to those simple minds, and no one
would listen to Siyah Joe's explanation, that if the
old man had been hiding in the high peak which over-
looks the village, he would have seen the goose fly
as they had seen it, and could have said anything he
liked about its supernatural consents.
Joe's fate was sealed, and from that day to this- he
had lived a hunted life, and even his white friends had
not been able to save him. In th3 woods, whose ways
they knew, the red men were still the stronger.
And so it came that the eeriness of his surroundings, THE CHICAMON STONE. 59
and the constant terror of his life, had preyed upon
the untaught mind, until Joe himself had fallen back
upon the superstitions of his forefathers, and had
almost come to believe that he was a witch, and that
wood devils and singing cariboo really had an existence.
One thing only he would not believe, and that was
lucky for him and for me: he would not believe
that the castle rock was haunted. He had slept there
safe many a night, and brought from it a grand store
of fur, and seen nothing there more evil than a grizzly
mother with her cubs, and for her he had but little
fear if he could only creep near enough with his
Winchester.
So he led me thither out of the canyon, and together
we clambered up the vast pile of boulders at its foot,
feeling no larger than mice as we stepped from one
huge stone to another, until at last we reached his
hiding-place.
What I had taken for the first of the foothills were
in reality but the precipitous rocks which overhang
one of the forks of the Stickine, and this castle rock,
which dominated the gorge running at right angles
to the river, stood almost in the elbow made by the
junction of the fork with the main stream.
At its foot was the gorge and the stone pile which
ran down ever to the raving torrent several hundred
feet below the level even of the gorge, and above, when
you had climbed the stone pile, one great shaft of 60 THE CHICAMON STONE.
solid rock went up towards heaven, bare even of the
scanty verdure of the north. At the foot of this
monolith was Joe's cave, into which we crawled, on
our hands and knees, climbing upwards almost like
sweeps going up a chimney, so steep was the ascent,
until at last we reached a level floor, perhaps twenty
feet square.
" Old-time bear den," said Joe at last; " now nika
house."
It was obvious that both parts of his statement were
true. There was in the place an unmistakable animal
smell even now, and along the ridge of rock at one
side there was a worn path, as of something which had
walked ceaselessly backwards and forwards for centuries.
In some of the smaller dens, which led off from this
main den, there was still enough hair (smoky black,
with a bright silver tip to it) to help a man guess who
had slept through the winter in those narrow quarters;
and, if any one had needed a further clue, there it lay
on the floor in the form of two huge half-cured hides,
to which the heads and claws still adhered.
Motioning me to take one of these, my friend the
witch dug out a bundle of matches from a cranny in
the walls of his house, and lit a candle which had been
left sticking against the rock.
" S'pose we make fire, no good,"- he said, " Tatooch
see smoke. Eat plenty muck a muck, white man keep
warm."
mtwm THE CHICAMON STONE. 61
I was all but frozen. But he was right, and after all
I was gradually deriving a little comfort from the deep
fur in which I had wrapped myself; so I nodded my
head, and held out my hand for the dried salmon which
he had taken from a cache in the cavern.
If you have never eaten salmon smoked and dried
by the Tahl Tan Indians you have misse/i one of the
good things of life. It is dry as a biscuit, as light
almost as a feather, and as tasty as anything I know.
I ate an enormous meal of it, washed it clown with a
handful of snow from outside and then rolled myself
in the bearskin and slept. When I was last conscious
Siyah Joe was still eating : an Indian can starve as
long as a wolf, but when he has a chance he can eat as
much as one.
When I woke with a start Joe was bending over me,
shaking me, and it was broad daylight of the day after
his escape.
" They are coming," he whispered.
" Coming ? " I said only half awake. " Who are
coming ? "
" Tatooch and the medicine-man. Look ! " and he
led me to a crevice higher up in our tunnel through
which I could see over the forest around. But there
was no one in sight. The woods stretched away and
away as if they went on for ever; wreaths of snow
lay on them ; no wind moved them; they looked as if
they were dead. 62
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
" Do you see !" he whispered at my elbow.
" No," I said; " there is no one there. Tatooch won't
come."
" Tatooch is coming," he persisted. " Don't you hear
the squirrels ?    Don't you see the whisky-jacks ? "
And then I noticed that all through the woods, along
the way we had come, the squirrels were " churring,"
and chattering angrily as they do when something
has disturbed them, and ever and anon one of the
little grey birds flew forwards to the confines of the
wood.
Quicker at noticing the signs of his own world than
I was, Joe had noted this stir in the forest life, and had
gathered its meaning at a glance.
Nor was he wrong. Even as I looked, I saw a man
move into sight among the outlying trees, and then
another. Later on I thought I saw two more, but they
. kept in the brush, and I was not very sure of them.
The first two came boldly into the open, their eyes
bent upon our tracks. No need to ask if they were
twhite men or Indians. An Indian would not want to
read the sign at his feet; he would have been looking
ahead. Yes ; they were white men, and white men I
knew : Sandy Bill and his mate Luke, and both armed
to the teeth.
How they happened to be with the two Indians, as I
afterwards found they were, I did not know then, and
I can only guess now, that they were the white men THE CHICAMON STONE.
whose coming Lone Goose had feared in the killer's
camp. Probably they had come upon that camp before
Tatooch reached it in his flight from me, and hearing
his story had put two and two together and persuaded
the Indians to think better of their fears, and join forces
in pursuit of the man who had the secret of the gold
rock. There is a natural tendency of like to like in
this world, and the four thieves with a common object
may have determined to hunt in company.
When the two had come near enough to our hiding-
place to be sure that the track led into the cave, which
they could see in front of them, they halted and held a
council of war. Bill wanted one thing, Luke evidently
recommended another plan.
But Bill had his way, I think, for he was always the
craftier villain of the two.
Ostentatiously laying aside his rifle, and a great
knife which he carried, he motioned Luke back; and
when Luke had retired to the nearest covert, Bill took
out a rag from his pocket, and tying it on a stick cried
to the rock—
" Say, Mr. Whitehead, are you there ? "
It was no good pretending that I was not, so I
answered him.
" Yes.    What do you want ? "
" Just five minutes' talk with you where no one else
can hear. You and me can fix this thing up in five
minutes, white man's fashion, if we only get a show." T
64
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
" What are you doing with those murdering
Indians ? " I asked.
" Don't holler so loud," he said, coming nearer. " Leave
your gun an' come and talk white man's fashion, an' I'll
explain that in a brace of shakes."
Joe, who heard the conversation, was against my
going, but I could see no reason for refusing. Man to
man, I felt myself more than a match for Bill; and
besides, how did I know that he was really acting in
league with Tatooch ?
" All right, wait there," I said; and the next moment
I was sliding down to the mouth of the tunnel, whilst
Bill, who forgot that Joe might be watching, was
loosening something in the top of his long gum-
boot.
When I came out Bill came to meet me, and
together we stood about halfway down the moraine
which led to the cave's mouth.
" Say now," said Bill, " that was a pretty smart trick
you played on Tatooch. I suppose you've got the boy
up there."
" That's my business."
" All right, partner; but the tracks say so. However
that's no matter. We are both on the same lay out, I
reckon."
" And what is your lay out ? " ;
"Why, to save the poor young fellow from these
murdering heathen, of course."
Si THE CHICAMON STONE.
65
" And to get on to his secret of the Chicamon Stone,"
I suggested.
" Well, an' if we did, we three could divvy up fair
and square; there's enough for three, ain't there ? "
" How do I know ? "
" Oh, I guess you know all you want to by now.    I
should if I'd been in your shoes."
"If you wanted to save Joe, why did you bring
Tatooch with you ? "
" Without him we couldn't have found you."
" And without you Tatooch dare not have come. Get
Tatooch out of this, and keep him away, and if Joe
gives me the secret, I'll pledge you my word to share
anything I get with you."
" What!   You haven't got the secret yet ? "
"No."
Bill looked at me suspiciously.    I was very young,
but he didn't think I was young enough for that.
" Well," he said at last, " if that's so, you want help.
Them Indians are cussedly mean brutes to handle : a
man wants experience in handling them.   Now you
just take us in to this Joe, or bring him out to us, and
we'll get his secret.    Yes; an' make him show us the
rock afore we let him go, and then we can divvy up."
" And suppose I do this and Joe won't tell ? "
" Joe'll tell if we talk to him," said Bill, savagely;
and by habit his hand went to his pistol, which he
had shoved into the head of his boot. 66
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
Instinctively I sprang back; I had believed him to
be unarmed.
" So that is the way you keep your treaties," I said
sneeringly, putting the best face I could on it.
He saw that he was discovered, but he made one
more effort to gain his ends in his natural way.
" Well, never mind my ways," he said. " We don't
mean you no harm—unless you're a bigger fool than
you look. Give up the boy, an' you can go where
you've a mind to."
" And suppose I don't give him up ? "
" You will," said Bill, quietly, looking me straight
in the eyes at last; and there was more threat in those
two words than in a volley of abuse.
" 111 be hanged if I will!"
| Not now; " and quick as thought the ugly muzzle
of his six-shooter was in my face.
" Look here," he went on quietly ; " turn round and
wralk back past me quietly to Luke there and the
Indians, and leave the boy to us. If you do .that your
hide will be safe; if you don't—well, there are three
other guns, besides mine, looking at you now."
I could see that he was right—in part at any rate,
—for over his shoulder I caught a glimpse of Luke, who
had risen when his partner covered me, and now had
his Winchester to his shoulder.
It was an awkward predicament, and my life did not
seem worth a moment's purchase.    I don't know what THE CHICAMON STONE.
67
I should have done—grappled with Bill, probably, and
been shot through the body before I could have fixed
my hold on him,—but at that moment there was the
ring of a rifle-shot, and Bill's pistol fell from his grasp.
As it fell I turned and bolted for the cave, and
stepping clumsily in my blind haste, missed my footing, and came down with a tremendous crash on my
knee-cap.
The pain of it nearly made me sick. If I had not
fallen I might not have suffered so much, but I should
not have been able to tell any more of this story, for
as I fell three bullets splashed on the rocks about me.
One went wide of its mark; but one, flying low, branded
me for life across my thigh—only skin-deep, luckily—
and the other must have passed where the small of my
back should have been : I have always attributed that'
well-meant attention to Luke. However, they had
missed, and their next volley only splashed on the
outside of the mouth of the cave whilst I was nursing
my knge in safe shelter.
" So that is white man's fashion," I muttered. " Well,
Mr. Bill, it's war now anyway. Why the devil doesn't
Joe go on shooting ? "
But when I had crawled up to him I found Joe
watching with an empty rifle.
"Look!" he said, "fool white men, and Indian no
more cartridges."
It certainly was annoying, from his point of view, for
1 68
THE CHICAMON STONE.
there were the two rascals, cunning enough in all
knavery, but so ignorant or careless in bush-fighting
that they were standing still in plain view—a long way
off, it is true—bandaging Bill's wrist.
" One more cartridge and I kill one sure—perhaps
two," muttered Joe; and he took up his empty rifle
and drew a bead on the white men.
But it was no good. His gun was empty, and the
chambers of theirs were full probably.
" Well, Joe, if the gun is empty we have got to
quit," I said.
" Yes," he said ; " we run away now, hyak."
" But how ? "
" You comtax how bear walk ? " he asked.
I thought he was crazy; but in a moment I began
to understand, for he had lifted one of the skins and
was arranging it over < his body. In less time than I
take to write it, he had so draped this skin that, as he
plodded round on all-fours in the half-lit cabin, he
looked even at that distance almost dangerous.
" You try," he said; and hurriedly he wrapped me
in the robe, and put me through my paces.
He was not satisfied; but there was no time to lose.
" Step slow," he said, " and keep your head down.
When we get out keep behind stones, so as pretty
nearly all hid. It's not far, and maybe they'll watch
me most.    Now come quick."
And he started climbing up and up the funnel-like THE CHICAMON STONE.
69
passage until I thought that we must be coming out
at the top of the peak.    But we were not.
When I peeped out I saw what the trouble was.
The second opening at the top of the cave was less
than one-third of the way up the peak, and opened
unluckily on the same side as the entrance, i.e. facing
our besiegers; but it opened on to a narrow ledge
which ran for fifty feet or so along the face of the cliff,
and then seemed to vanish over its edge towards the
river.
For a minute Joe was busy dressing me for my
part.
" It's a long way off," he said; " and if Tatooch isn't
watching we may fool them. Lone Goose is half blind,
and they won't know. If they tell Tatooch he'll think
the shots scared two bears lying up somewhere back of
the cave.   I'll go first.   Now come."
And he plodded slowly into full view of Bill and
Luke, who were still at the edge of the bush. Tatooch
and Lone Goose were not in sight. 70
THE CHICAMON STONE.
CHAPTER VI.
It almost looked as if Siyah Joe wantei our enemies to
see him. Perhaps he did—or, at any rate, as he felt
certain that he must be seen in a place which did not
afford cover for a squirrel, he wanted to be seen
unmistakably as a bear, rather than, by giving Sandy
Bill a glimpse of something going round the corner,
leave on that fellow's mind an impression that what
he saw might have been a man.
Therefore, I suppose, it was that, to my horror, he
only went a few paces from the upper mouth of the
cave, before he sat coolly up upon his haunches and
looked down over his shoulder at the white men, whilst
I crouched, an indefinite mass of fur, by his side.
There are no animal mimics in the world like
Indians. Down on the coast of Vancouver Island,
at the Feast of the Klooh-quah-nah, the two sects
known as Wolves and Crows have a dress-rehearsal
which lasts for days, members of either clan adopting
for the time being the outward semblance of the beasts THE  CHICAMON  STONE. 71
whose names they bear: the Wolves with their hair tied
out from their heads to represent ears and snout; and
the Crows furnished with large wooden bills, and
blankets so arranged that they look like wings. Seen
in the dusk hopping about in the shallows by the
beach, shaking their wings and dabbing with their
bills for shell-fish, a traveller might well mistake
them for a flock of gigantic ravens.
As a mimic my Stick Indian was not a whit behind
the Ahts upon the coast. Although he knew that his
enemies were armed and looking at him, he sat there
as cool as a cucumber, with his muzzle over his
shoulder—a very bear—nor did the sudden shout of
Sandy Bill disturb him in the least.
For a while he looked intently down below, and then,
rising slowly upon all-fours, he lurched complacently
along, until a shot was fired and the bullet struck
somewhere below us. Then he turned sharply and sat
at gaze again for a moment, before he rose and scrambled
hurriedly over the ridge and out of sight.
It was admirably done, and I verily believe that if
the bullet had struck him, he would have turned and
bitten at the place before seeking safety in flight.
For those few seconds Joe lived his part—he really
was a bear,—and I can only hope that his admirable
acting drew the attention of the audience from my
poor attempt to second him, until, thank Heaven! we
were over the ridge. 72
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
Not over our troubles, though ! Rather did it seem
to me that we had come into worse.
We had, it is true, a rock now between us and our
enemies, but we had also a precipice between us and
the river, and that river was simply a raving, roaring
torrent.
Confined here in narrow limits, with two or three
great rocky teeth standing up in the middle of it, the
Fork had churned its yellow waters into a creamy
foam which boiled and swirled like a witch's cauldron,
and from us to it there was a sheer rock-face of two
or three hundred feet.
But a difficulty is never as bad as it looks, if you
don't look too long; and after he had cached his two
bear-robes, Joe went about the descent as if it were ah
everyday experience. First he took his moccasins off,
and made me do the same. These he slung on his
back; and then the descent began. My head reeled
and swam so that I was near falling from sheer dizziness, at first; but this feeling went off after a while.
I had no time to think, no power left to do more
than grip with my hands and cling with my bare
toes.
Luckily the rock of the wall was what the geologists
call shale, I think—that is to say, it was like a coarse
slate which lay in flakes or layers, tod this, instead of
lying horizontally, had by some convulsion of nature
been turned up on edge; and the snow and the frost
„« ■ -Majte-y. l^^^SS-^ '-
m&sfc T.
THE CHICAMON STONE. 73
and the sun had broken into the wall, so that parts of
the outside layer had crumbed off, leaving us narrow,
upturned edges along which to crawl. Nowhere was
there room to walk face forwards; but by plastering
our backs against the wall and moving sideways, we
managed to shuffle along in some sort of safety, until
the break and the edge began to go downwards with
very considerable abruptness.
Then, if my hair had not been white already, it
would have grown white in a few seconds, and I
should have been almost glad, I think, to have
slipped, so that there would have been only one swift
rush through the air and the torture ended.
I suppose we had climbed in this fashion nearly halfway down to the river's level, when I heard an exclamation below me from Joe. I could not look down to
him safely for fear of seeing the river, which seemed
to draw me to it; but he was within reach of my
hand, and I could hear him plainly in spite of the
roar of the water.
" Trail very bad here ! " he said, " stone broken away
all smooth!"
Trail indeed! One would have thought we were on
a high-road to hear him talk; and how could anything be bad if this was not ? or how could anything
be worse?
But it was. And here seemed to me the end of our
journey unless we could climb up again—and  that 74 THE CHICAMON STONE.
looked impossible. I certainly could not lead, and he
certainly could not get past me. But Joe was not
beaten yet. The layer on the edge of which we had
been walking seemed to have broken off altogether
just below Joe's feet, and from where he stood to the
next ledge there was not a foothold for a fly for a
distance of perhaps eighteen feet.
That is not very far, you will say, and a man might
put his hands on his own ledge, and, lowering himself
down, drop to the next in safety.
Might he ? In the first place the ledge on which
we were standing was not a foot wide, and the wall
against which our backs were, seemed—as it was—to be
leaning over and pushing us face forwards into the
river.
If I had bent outwards a single foot I must have
lost my balance and departed into space; much less,
then, could I, by any gymnastic trick known to me,
reach the ledge on which my feet were with my hands.
Again, supposing I had succeeded to this extent, the
ledge on which I had to drop seemed no wider than
the ledge on which I stood, and do you suppose that I
could have dropped upon that with my back to the
wall and stuck there ?
" Not much," as my American friends used to say,
and I was not going to try.
But Joe had a way out of the difficulty, and even
whilst I was regretting that I had not left him to Bill's THE CHICAMON STONE. 75
tender mercies and saved my own life, he was busy
shaping a means for our deliverance.
From my position I could feel, rather than see, that
he had wriggled about on his narrow perch until he
had the moccasins in one of his hands and his knife
in the other, and, trusting entirely to his balance, was
tying the deerskin thongs of them together, until he
had a string nearly long enough to reach the next
ledge.
He tried it; and I could see the end of it dangling-
down the face of the rock, looking about as big as a
reasonably stout cobweb.
But it would not reach quite far enough, so the knife
came into play, and the moccasins themselves were
cut into shreds and spliced together, until he had a
rope (I am ashamed to call it a rope), about fifteen feet
long, made of two thicknesses of bootlace—for that is
about what a moccasin-string really is, only that our
bootlaces are made to break, and a moccasin-string is
as tough as—well, nothing that I know is as tough as
deerskin.
When the rope was ready he sought about for a
stay to which to attach it. There was not a tree, of
course, nor even a crawling juniper bush on that sheer
face of smooth rock, neither was there a knob or corner
round which to hitch our ladder; but the knife found
a way out of that difficulty too, and at last we were
ready with one end of a bootlace  hitched round the 76
THE CHICAMON STONE.
haft of a knife—the blade of which was driven deep
down into a crevice in the shale—and the other end of
the bootlace loose over certain death.
From the way in which Joe had driven the knife into
the crevice, there seemed very little danger that that
would pull out. It was a big knife, the one with
which Tatooch had intended to execute Siyah Joe, and
compared with what we had already risked, I did not
feel very nervous about that. But the ladder of bootlace !    That was the trouble.
It is all very well to talk about toughness, but size
counts for something.
If I had seen a good stout cable as thick as my
arm hanging over that gulf, and an infallible authority
had told me that the laces were stronger than the
cable, I should still have chosen to risk my life on
the cable. But I had no choice : it was bootlaces or
nothing—and, after all, Joe had to go first. I even
forgot my fear of the river and looked at him. I
believe that fellow could have gone down on a cobweb.
It was done in a moment, and he hardly seemed to
put any strain on his frail support. Until the very
last he clung to the ledge, and then, a touch halfway,
and he was standing upright on the ledge waiting
for me. $| i
I wished that he had taken longer,'and, for a moment,
I came to the conclusion that I could not make the
attempt, even to save my life. THE CHICAMON. STONE.
77
I am afraid that I put a strain on the deerskin
thongs, even before I was over the ledge. I know
that I forgot to clutch the ledge, as my feet left it,
and I swung (not widely, of course, but still I swung)
on that frail support before my feet touched the rock
again, and even then I came down with my face to the
rock instead of away from it. Luckily it was a far
wider ledge than it looked—far wider than the one we
had left—and it was possible even for me to turn round
without upsetting; but I could not get out of Joe's
way to let him reach the rope, and I could not jerk
out the knife myself, so that we had to leave it sticking
there for Tatooch to recover if he cared to.
Compared with what we had done, what we still had
to do was easy, and in another five minutes at most we
were clambering along a shelf just above the torrent:
a shelf so wet and slippery that, at ordinary times, I
would not have tried to cross it for a thousand dollars,
though Joe treated it as if it were a sidewalk.
After an hour's clambering along ledges and amongst
boulders we came out upon the river.
Now the Stickine is navigable for good swift watermen up to Glenora at all times; up to Telegraph Creek,
with assistance from wire cables, at sometimes; but
above Telegraph Creek it is not navigable at any time,
even for a siwash in his canoe.    And no wonder!
The big river has cut its way so far through the
rocks, and it knows, I suppose, that below Glenora it 78
THE CHICAMON STONE.
will find plenty of room, where it can break itself into
a dozen arms if it pleases, or sleep in twenty sloughs
and backwaters; but here, almost in sight of its broad
and comparatively easy bed, it is encountered by
narrow canyons and obstinate rocks, which will not be
worn away, and which crowd the impatient waters
upon one another, so that they become mad—a coil of
yellow snakes, twisting this way and that, turning for
an outlet here, a right-of-way there, until at last they
are heaped up in a furious tangle of conflicting streams
which would tear anything to pieces that fell amongst
them.
And this is what we had to cross without a boat.
" Once across there, all safe; the white men won't
follow," said Joe, cheerily.
I thought not. If I was any judge of unnavigable
waters, there would be no one for the white men to
follow on that other side.
But Joe was at work already, and whilst I rested
amongst the boulders where the flying spray moistened
my hot feet and hands, he was dragging two great drift-
logs together and making a raft of them.
To do this cost him his overalls. We had no rope;
we had used up our moccasins; now Joe's overalls
had to go* Overalls are honest goods, and, cut into
strips and twisted, his made reasonably good ropes,
but not for lashing a raft together.
However, they had to suffice, and before the sun was THE CHICAMON STONE.
79
well above our heads I was helping him launch his
craft. We shoved it out behind a great boulder, which
broke the force of the stream, and here it lay at- peace
whilst he made his final preparations, which consisted
merely in whittling a broken board he had found into
some semblance of a paddle.
When that was done he signed to me to get on the
boulder and step on to the raft and sit tight. As I
took my place the nose of the raft came level with the
outside edge of the boulder.
"Hold fast now!" he cried; "if you fall off you
dead sure !"
My nails went into those logs. I would have held on
with my teeth if there had been anything to hold on to.
" Now! " he cried; and with one strong stroke he
shot right out into the boil of waters.
For a moment the thing spun round, then he got
control of it again for a moment; I saw him stand up,
and once or twice he leaned over, and drove his paddle
in, making the crazy craft jump, as we just grazed a
rock round which the white water boiled. Meanwhile
the banks and trees raced by. We were standing still,
it seemed, whilst all nature was galloping up-stream
faster than an express train could go.
Suddenly there was a fearful shock; I was thrown
clear of the raft; some one caught me by my shirt, and,
for a moment, I felt my legs sailing away down-stream
without my body, and the next I was lying scared and IS
80
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
panting, half in half out of the water; but out of the
current anyway. Joe was lying beside me, as spent
as I was, and our raft in two pieces was just going out
of sight round the next bend.
The place from which we had started looked nearly a
mile up-stream—it must have been half that, at least—
and it seemed to me as if I had only just jumped on
board. Tatooch might come in the dress of the prince
of all Indian devils, and Sandy Bill, and Luke, and
every rascal in Cassiar, but I would not move. I had
done as much as human nature could stand in one day,
and I told the Indian so. But he only laughed, turning over on his back and looking up at the sun. I
believe he was almost enjoying himself.
"Good sun," he said; "get warm now and dry.
By-and-by Tatooch come; then we laugh plenty."
So here we loafed and rested for an hour, and tried
to find some scrap of food to satisfy our hunger ; but
there was nothing to find. The season of wild fruit
was over, and a few wilted and bitter berries of the
high-bush cranberry, whose leaves were like a flame of
fire, were all we could lay our hands on.
If I had been rested and full of meat, I should have
enjoyed that autumn afternoon ; I never saw anything
to compare with it in my life. I had been so long-
in the pine-woods that I had grown used to their
monotonous gloom and the dead grey-green of the
willow bushes.
j ! THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
81
But here, near the river, were kindlier things which
had drunk in the sun in the summer season, and were
giving it back in flame now that the summer was over.
Every bush had a tint of its own, and every tint
beautiful. The leaves of the cottonwood were a
clear gold; the fire weeds were purple as wine; the
cranberry leaves were jewels through which the light
shone; and the further hills were carpeted with a
royal carpet, in which every richest tint of autumn
was blended as only nature knows how to blend.
"Pretty soon winter come now," said Joe, at last;
and he pointed to where the young ice was forming at
the mouth of a little creek which ran into the main
river. " No one stay at Telegraph or Glenora now, I
think. All the white men go down-stream before the
ice catch them."
Here was a new trouble which I had not thought
of. I had hoped at Glenora, at any rate, to find the
boss and obtain a passage out with the mules on his
river-steamer, and I said so.
" Steamers gone long while," said Joe.
When he said this all the sunlight seemed to have
gone out of the sky. Indeed, a cloud did come drifting
up just then, and I noticed that the new, raw-looking
snows—not sparkling white, but thin and grey and
miserable—had already crept a long way down from the
peaks; and a little breeze getting up in the willows set
them sobbing.    I shivered involuntarily.    I had heard 82
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
the threat of winter, and the idea of it appalled me. If
I did not go, and go at once, I should be caught in this
desolate country and held fast here a prisoner for four
or five months. And then, what would happen with
Tatooch and the witch-finder, Sandy Bill and his friend
Luke, like wolves upon our trail ? You who sit at
home by your sea coal-fires, with the crimson curtains
drawn snugly round you, and half a dozen people to
wait upon you, know nothing of the world outside. The
wolf knows, as he stands in the blizzard looking down
at the cozy red lights of Christmas in the little prairie
settlement, and some of the "boys "know, who have pluck
enough to face it; I had not.   I wanted to get home.
" Come, Joe," I said, " let us go—and go quick. We
must get out before the river freezes."
" Perhaps," he said ; " who knows ? " but he rose, and,
taking an old game-trail on the top of the high bank,
set off at a swinging pace down-stream.
We walked far into the night and then camped for
a while, crouching over a fire whilst the stars came out
in wild brilliancy, and all the peaks looked crystal
clear against the bright dark sky. Now and again
waves of lemon-coloured light in arcs would spring up-
and spread all over the heavens, whilst at other times
they would rise in irregular columns and flicker up
and down.
" Dead siwashes dancing," he said when he noticed
me watching the phenomenon. a^
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
83
Dead siwashes! It seemed to me before morning
that I had found my way into a dead, or at least a
dying, world. I would not have stopped in it by my
own free-will for a mountain of Chicamon Stone.
Joe, who was always watching me in his quiet way,
seemed to read my thoughts.
" Whitehead no  miner ?"   he asked,  " not   want
Chicamon Stone ? "
" No, Joe," I said, " I am no miner; but I wish I
knew where your Chicamon Stone was."
" Indians swear they kill me s'pose I tell white man,"
he answered.
"They have tried to kill you now, Joe, and you
didn't tell," I suggested.
" Yes," he said after a pause. " S'pose I tell, they kill
me ; s'pose I not tell, they kill me too. Next spring,
s'pose we get out safe, I tell Whitehead. I take you,
show you Chicamon Stone; and then Joe go away
siyah, oh si-yah; " and he hung on the first syllable so
long that his " siyah " meant a very long way indeed,
almost beyond the confines of this world. 84
THE CHICAMON STONE.
CHAPTER VII.
Next morning at dawn we saw Glenora. We had
passed Telegraph Creek in the night. It was still too
early for any one to be stirring, and the little town
looked very dead indeed. The fires were all out; the
tents all closed ; and there was not a dog even moving
about. Only in the corral by the river at the back of
Master and Man's warehouses there were half a
dozen worn-out horses, standing freezing in the raw
morning air. They were to be pitied. The masters
had gone, but the poor slaves were left; no one would
buy them, and hay was $100 per ton. The time for
dogs was coming—dogs who could drag sleighs over
the snow—and horses were of no further value. So
these were only waiting to be shot, and would be lucky
if some merciful man took the trouble to shoot them
before they starved.
This was one of the most .cruel features of the
Klondyke rush in 1898.
Horses were taken in by the hundred, and mules,
	 THE CHICAMON STONE. 85
and little or no provision was made for their keep,
whilst the country itself did not supply any food on
which to winter stock. After slaving as pack-animals
all the summer, they were not found worth feeding
through the winter, or worth transportation to a kindlier
country, where they could forage for themselves until
spring. The hills were full of them; some lame, all
lean, resting, and trying to pick up a mouthful here
and there. It was not worth their while. When the
snow came, death for them was inevitable, and those
were luckiest which died soonest. I don't like thinking
of what I have seen, even now, and I cannot help
wondering if there will not some time be a day of
reckoning in which the misery of the beasts will cost
more than all the gold won by their masters.
There was only one thing encouraging in our first
view of Glenora. There was no steamer at the little
wharf; no canoes on the beach, but there was one
large flat-bottomed boat, made of inch planks, roughly
put together, drawn up by the side of the main street.
It looked as if some one was going down-stream. But
we were still on the wrong side of the river.
However, a mile below Glenora, is new Glenora, and
there is the new fort or trading store of the Hudson
Bay Co., the largest and best building to-day in
Cassiar, with the flag flying, and the bell which the
Company always insists on, and a helping hand for
white man or Indian at all times.
W 86
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
Here we found a small boat tied up under the fort,
and, in answer to our repeated yells, a man came down
to the beach, and at last launched the boat and brought
me over. Joe would not come. He was safe where he
was, and had no intention of risking himself where
Tatooch might be.
My mission was, if possible, to secure a canoe or
boat to take us out to Wrangel, but it was a vain
mission. The last steamer had gone long ago; the
Alaskan Company had left two days before in scows
forty-five feet long by fifteen wide with twenty mules
in each, and the men of Glenora were open to bet that
none of them would reach the mouth of the river ; and
the very last boat of the season was to leave Upper
Glenora in an hour's time. I might, they said, possibly
secure a passage, but the boat was too full for safety
already. I went up town, as they call it, to see what
could be done, and found that I might possibly bribe
the owner of the boat to endanger the lives of all his
passengers by taking just one more white man ; but the
idea of taking a siwash was scouted as absurd, and,
without Joe, I had made up my mind I would not leave
the country.
So I stood and watched the crazy-looking craft push
off, and listened to the cheers of those who were left
behind. The boat was so loaded ;that it looked as if
the water must come in over the gunwales, and the
four rowers were so cramped that they could hardly
ur*_, THE CHICAMON STONE.
87
handle the rough-hewn oars which they had made;
but winter was at this end of the trip, and a white
man's Christmas at the other, so they stuck in the
oars one after another, and went wobbling down-stream,
tacking from side to side, in spite of all their Indian
steersman could do for them.
" That's the last boat left in Cassiar, and there's no
time to make another, I think, before she freezes solid,"
said a man beside me, jerking his thumb at the river.
" There's the Hudson Bay boat," I answered.
" Yes, a fellow might steal that, but he'd have to
steal it. The Company wouldn't sell it for a thousand
dollars."
I did not possess half as much as that in the whole
world, but I thought I would, at any rate, make the
first bid for this boat, and turned to walk back to the
lower town.
As I started, I could have sworn that I saw Sandy
Bill's face at the window of the Nugget Hotel,
watching me. If it was his, he took it away very
quickly, but the fancy made me put my best leg
foremost, until I stood by the Company's counter.
As ill luck would have it, no one seemed left in the
place. The police were away after cache robbers, on
the Teslin trail; the Government agent had gone in to
Dease to make winter arrangements, and the manager
of the H.B. Co. had taken advantage of a last trip in to
Teslin to inspect his store there before the winter
ii 	
88
THE CHICAMON STONE.
opened. I could neither buy the boat nor make any
arrangement for the safe custody of Siyah Joe, if I
could induce him to stay. I was at my wits' end as
to what to do, and was seriously revolving in my mind
the morality of theft under certain circumstances.
Would it not be justifiable to steal the Hudson Bay
boat to save Siyah Joe's life ? I was rapidly coming
to the conclusion that such a course would not only
be justifiable, but meritorious, when the clerk put a
better idea into my head.
" There are some fellows," he said, " down at Glacier
Creek, six miles below here. They took down some
grub a week ago, and are going to winter there on
some placer ground they've staked off. They had a
boat, such as it was, and might let you have it. But
I wouldn't take it, if I were you; I didn't think it was
safe even for that distance. Below them there isn't a
boat or a man on the river till you get to Wrangel."
With this news I went over again to Joe, and by
midday we reached Glacier Creek, and found a good-
natured crowd of fellows ready to give any one half
of nothing, which was about all they possessed. A
capital chap who divided his time between painting
and prospecting, treating both as a highly coloured
joke, made us a present of the boat. He was glad to
get rid of it, he said; it might tempt'some one to desert,
and he could spare none of his Christmas party. If we
would only send him some canvases up from Wrangel, THE CHICAMON STONE.
89
we should more than pay our debt. Alas! I fear he
never got those canvases. The river was frozen before
we reached Victoria, and there is no parcels-post on
the Stickine in winter.
Like fools we were tempted to stay one night with
the artist and his partners; I salving my conscience
with the argument that the boat wanted caulking (as
it did), but really hankering after one more square
meal and a chat with my fellows.
Next morning we saw our mistake. Already there
were small cakes of ice drifting down-stream. Joe
would hardly give me time to snatch a mouthful of
food.
" Come now, or stop all winter," he kept saying;
and before the sun came up I had hold of the sculls,
Joe sitting in the stern with his paddle, and Glacier
Creek and its gold-seekers vanished from my sight.
Now and again we heard an ugly scraping sound as
the boat ground against a small cake of ice, but there
was nothing to seriously impede our progress ; so that
I was much more afraid of an upset than I was of
being caught in the ice, though that would probably
have meant death much more certainly than the
other.
One hundred and thirty miles by river is a long
way, and it looks longer in reality than it does on
paper; but we had a racing current with us, and we
made such good progress that I insisted upon stopping 90 THE CHICAMON  STONE.
for lunch and a cup of tea at noon. Joe wanted me
to eat what I needed in the boat, but I was chilled to
the bone, and would not forego my hot tea: neither
would I listen to him when he wanted to run all night,
risking the danger of snags in the darkness.
Perhaps there I was right, but when the dawn came
I doubted it. We had camped in a wood-pile on the
edge of the shore—a wood-pile which furnished us
with a roaring fire, and into the body of which we
crept for shelter from the bitter wind which was blowing. The wind was busy all that night. In the
morning we saw what it had been doing. All round
us the ice-cakes were floating, and round our boat the
little fleets of them had packed, so that for a time we
could not move her. I used all my strength, and gave
it up at last; but Joe, who knew the thing must be
done, worked like a fiend until at last we moved.
Then, for a time, catching the contagion from him, I
too poled and pushed until the great beads of perspiration fell with a splash upon my hands, and at last we
were free.
" All right now," said Joe, as we sat down to our
work, and the ice came floating after us. " S'pose the
Big Bend open we see Wrangel to-night. Ice not
catch us now."
No; the ice would not catch- us, but something
else might. Even as he spoke I saw the nose of a
white boat come into the upper end of the reach.    It
1L
SSSiBiiaSSdHi THE CHICAMON STONE. 91
was half a mile off, but the men in it saw us and
shouted. They were Sandy Bill, Luke, Tatooch, and
the medicine-man, and they had stolen the Hudson
Bay boat.
How I wished then that I had had no scruples; that I
had taken that boat myself; or, at least, that I had not
been such a fool as to risk my life and Joe's for the
sake of a cup of hot tea !
For now I knew well that my life, as well as the"
Indian's, was at stake. Once caught they would kill
us both; and for months, at any rate, the Stickine
would tell no tales. But it was no good wishing.
We were not caught yet; we had half a mile start,
and the river was helping us as much as it was helping
them, and neither Bill nor Luke were oarsmen. Really
it was only those two cursed Indians against Joe and
myself, and they had the heavier boat whilst we were
rowing for our lives.
For two or three hours we more than held our
own. Then my wrists began to feel dead ; the sculls
hung heavily in my hands, and I blundered as I rowed.
They began to gain on us, and I saw Bill working with
a spare paddle to help his Indian friends. He was no
waterman, but I think he helped them a little; his
whole heart was in his work, and he was, to do him
justice, a strong rascal.
They had reduced the distance to half when I saw
Luke take up a Winchester and aim at us.    Sitting
1 92
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
as I was I could see it all; but the bullets (for he fired
twice) skipped harmlessly past us, and for the moment
he desisted.
Just then a draft of air sprang up, and it was downstream. Joe watched it: for a moment, and then he
dropped his paddle and crawled into the middle of the
boat.    Instinctively I stopped too.
" Row, row ! " he screamed—" row for two men, or
they'll catch us! "
I could not row for one man, but I did my best;
and meanwhile he, in a wonderfully short time, fixed
up some sort of a sail with a blanket and two poling-
sticks. Then he snatched up his paddle again. But
that short pause had brought the other boat perilously
near, and this time Luke managed to knock one of
my sculls out of my hand with his bullet. But Joe
caught the scull as it floated by him, and the wind
increasing we drew away from them again.
That was Luke's chance. If he could only have
made a decent shot whilst we were still within range
they would have caught us; but he was too anxious,
and lost his opportunity. For now we were leaving
them far behind us ; and I had time even to take a
momentary easy, and trail my aching wrists in the
cold water of the river. We had long since passed
through the canyon—a very prosaic piece of water,
now that it was low, compared to that up which we had
fought our way inch by inch in the early summer— THE CHICAMON STONE. 93
and we were away down by the Barley Cache, when I
noticed for the first time a weird feature in the landscape which will haunt me, I think, all my life.
Up-stream, behind us, the clouds were gathering,
and in the front of them rose a mountain peak, three-
headed, I suppose; but so shaped that it looked like
a bird with trailing wings, which flew ever after us, and
was never out of sight.
I suppose my nerves were strained to the breaking-
point, but that strange shape scared me more than the
boat behind. I had to keep my head down, or turn
my eyes away, and even then I fancied I could catch
glimpses of its flapping wings as it pursued us.
At the end of one long reach I did undoubtedly
catch sight of a more real danger. The white boat
was in sight again, and was overhauling us fast.
Taking a lesson from Joe, the men in it had also rigged
up a sail, a bigger and better one than ours, broad and
low down at the bow of their boat, and it was full and
drawing to the uttermost. But even so we had still
some little chance, for now and again the wind would
drop, and then their great sail drooped and hindered
them more than our small one hindered us.
But the end seemed evident. Each reach the distance grew less, and the chase could not last much
longer. Every risk that men could take we took.
Here and there the now shrunken stream ran in fierce
channels which seemed to suck our boat on to some 94
THE CHICAMON STONE.
rocky bluff, to touch which would be to capsize or
break up; but we never lowered the sail.
For a few breathless seconds the boat would tear
through the water, head on for the bluff; then, at a
touch from Joe's paddle, she would sheer just enough,
and only just enough, to graze by it and into smooth
water again.
I was so exhausted that I wished she would strike
and have done with it, when, as we came round a worse
and sharper corner than usual, I saw Joe's keen face
light up.
" Steamer," he said.
For a minute I could see nothing ; but at last, a good
mile off, I made out a puff of smoke.
" Coming this way ? " I asked.
"No; getting steam up. Tied to the bank," he
answered.
Could we possibly hold out for another mile ? I
did not believe it. The white boat was in range again,
and its sail was drawing well. With an open course it
must overhaul us before we had covered half the distance. But we were not to have an open course. We
had come now to the Big Bend, and there was the ice
gathered in a solid bar right across it. Every little
drifting morsel seemed to have been caught in the
slack water of that sharp bend.
The river was gorged, and we were trapped in sight
of safety. THE CHICAMON STONE.
95
The others saw it and put on a spurt. They too had
seen the steamer, and, until they saw the ice, had probably been thinking of abandoning the chase. But now
they had us.    Had they ?
Joe did not seem to think so. His eyes were intent
on the barrier, and he altered our course a little, and
now, as we came up very near the ice, he struck his sail.
I looked back over my shoulder. Two-thirds across
the stream there was a narrow opening in the blockade,
not visible at first, for even in it there was floating ice
which would soon be solid. But the entrance was big
enough for our boat, and gliding into it, we used our
oars and paddles as poles, and pushing this way and
that, wound slowly through the channel.
Whilst we were still in it the other boat came in
with a crash. They had not struck their sail in time,
and had too much way on.
That almost ended the chase;  but the white boat
righted itself, and, utterly forgetting everything but the
Chicamon Stone, the four rascals in her poled madly
, after us.   They even forgot to fire again, though then
we were not fifty yards away from them.
Their excitement saved our lives. It ought to have
cost them theirs, for when we last saw them they had
stuck fast in the very centre of the floe.
Their boat being wider than ours was more difficult
to push through, and, sticking for a time, fresh ice
floated in and  gathered round it.   The longer they
i 96
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
I It
stayed the faster their boat stuck. At last it seemed
fairly held, and, as they realized the fact, we shot into
open water, and were round the corner in sight of the
dear old Alaskan.
Even Siyah Joe cheered then;. and the echo of his
cheer came in sullen curses from the floe where our
pursuers lay trapped.
Even if they could have freed themselves in time I
do not suppose that they would have dared to follow us
further, for the whole of the next bend was a sheet of
open water in full view of the stern-wheeler, from which
even then a flag was flying, one of two, beneath which
the hunted do not have to ask for sanctuary or the
wronged for justice.
The black wings of the Spirit of Winter might shadow
the Stickine, but in the light and warmth of this
wondering nest of white men, Joe and I were safe from
the men and devils of the north. PART II.—THE KULA KULLAES.
CHAPTER I.
It was good to be on board the Alaskan again; good
to see the bright, cozy interior lighted with the white
light of the acetyline gas, and, above all, good to hear
the merry chatter of the white men I knew.
Outside us was the gloom of the silent pine-woods,
behind us the camps in the snow, and the long windswept reaches of the fast-freezing river. To have
escaped from that to this, almost made amends for the
misery I had been through.
The Boss was on board in command, more bearded,
more bronzed, and if anything more silent than ever.
The men said that he was slowly recovering from a spree.
Don't misunderstand me. The Boss never drank.
That was not his idea of a spree; but in the course of
business he had just had an opportunity of pitting
himself against Nature, and had done successfully
what none of the old-timers of Cassiar had hitherto
attempted.
mr 98
THE CHICAMON STONE.
if
Owing to an unprecedented fall in the waters of the
Stickine, he and his mules had been trapped at Glenora,
and, when it was clearly seen that no more steamers
could possibly crawl up the river that season, his
company had allowed him to evolve some means for
conveying the animals out of the country, thereby
saving the cost of feed, which in those days was more
than the mules were worth.
Seeing that the river was dangerous for steamers,
and only safe for good boatmen in small boats, he had
conceived the idea of constructing several huge trays,
nearly fifty feet long, fifteen feet wide, and phenomenally shallow, in each of which he had tied some
twenty mules, and, steering the leading tray himself,
had, as he put it, let them rip down-stream.
There were four sweeps in each tray besides the
steersman's, and, when it was necessary to get way on
in the swift places, the men who pulled on them had
no time to think of such minor dangers as a mule's
heels; in the slack water the threat of a hind leg
drawn up for kicking kept the sleepiest awake.
For five solid days—from dawn, that is, to dark—
in sleet and snow, the Boss had stood erect-at the huge
steering-oar of the leading scow, listening for the roar
of swift water ahead, or using all his seasoned strength
to hold his frail craft off the- rocks when the swift
water caught her.
The scows were only flimsy things of inch plank THE CHICAMON  STONE. 99
rudely nailed together, and a touch upon one of the
rocks where the white water broke, or upon one of the
many snags which rose above it, would have dissolved
them into a hundred pieces, and left men and mules to
drown.
But all the time the Boss never spoke except to
give a short order, nor did his smile or his pipe leave
his mouth. Only his face grew redder and redder as
the bitter wind struck it, and his brown beard stiffened
with ice until, at last, he brought his whole fleet
through in safety.
Then he said " it was pretty lucky;" but the men
understood how much that meant, and knew now that
he was suffering from the reaction, after the pleasures
of peril, and from the ennui of being really comfortable.
" I thought you were dead, Whitehead," was his
greeting as he met me.
" Not quite, thank you; but I've been near enough
death once or twice to make this kind of thing very
pleasant." ppf
"Have you?" he asked, brightening, as if I had
spoken of a pleasant experience. "What have you
been doing ? and where have you been to ? We have
been scouring the country for you and old Applejack
for nearly a month."
" Did you find Applejack ? "
Without reply he led me to the lower deck, and
pointed with the stem of his pipe to the old villain
- - —— -—- ——, 100
THE CHICAMON STONE.
who had taken me into all my troubles. If mules
ever smile, that beast smiled then, laying back his ears
and drawing up one hind leg suggestively.
" Knows you, it seems," said the Boss. " He came
back to camp after Mo's train left it, and was nearly
bursting with swamp-grass when we found him. Where
did he leave you ? "
" Looking for him," I answered.; and then I told the
Boss the story of my hunt and of what I found, and all
the adventures which had befallen me, concluding with
a proposal that he and I should spend part of next
season in looking for Joe's Chicamon Stone.
" I believe that there is such a ledge, and there can
be none richer; and if you will come I'll go halves
with you at any share Joe will let me have in it."
" That's a fair offer, Whitehead, and I don't mind
taking a small interest in the ledge if we find it; but
if I go, I shall go for the fun of the thing, and to see the
country. I am not very keen about dollars, and don't
believe much in gold ledges. But what are you going
to do until spring ? "
" I suppose I must go down to Victoria, if you will
give me a passage as a deck-hand, though I don't
know how I am going to pull through the winter doing
nothing."
" I'll do better than that for you, if you are not sick
of mules; I know I am. How would it suit you to
look after the stock ? " DHE  CHICAMON  STONE.
101
Of course this suited me exactly. Victoria is a
charming place for a man with lots of money, but no
place for a loafer without any ; and, to tell the truth, I
am a poor hand at loafing any way. So next day I
left Wrangel with him for his island down south.
Before leaving we both went over to McFarlane's
store to buy a few necessary odds and ends for the
journey. The old man recognized me, of course, as
soon as I put my white head inside his door.
" Hullo, sonny!" he cried, " here you are again.
Where's my Chicamon Stone ? "
" I wish I knew. You don't think I took it, Mac,
do you ? "
" No, my lad, I don't; but I guess you were here not
long before it was taken. I know the rascal as took
it, I think, and I wish I could get my claws near his
ugly face again."
" Whitehead has got the siwash with him who found
it, though," said the Boss; and it was the only time
I heard him say a word too much.
The old man's face changed in a moment. All the
kindliness went out of it, and all the Scotch suspicion
and distrust that was in him, replaced it.
"And what might you be doing with Joe?" he
asked.
"We are going to take him along to tend mules,"
replied the Boss. "It's not much of a job, but it is
better than staying up there to be killed as a witch.
ttlitti 102
THE CHICAMON STONE.
Good day, Mac ! " and he handed me half the parcels
and stepped out of the store.
The answer was a reasonable one, and may have
disarmed the old trader's suspicions, but I was not
sure. When you have cherished a secret as long as
he had done his, you do not relish the idea that the key
to it is in another man's keeping. Besides, I had an
instinctive aversion to publishing either Joe's movements or mine at Wrangel. Bill and Luke might
visit Wrangel, and I had seen all I wanted to see of
Bill and Luke.
If we had not left Wrangel within ten minutes of
that conversation, Mac might have made some attempt
to shake Siyah Joe's resolution to go south with us,
but he had no chance.
In an hour Etoline Island lay between us and the
gateway to the north, and a long trail of black smoke
was all that was left of us in the seas round Wrangel.
Now the journey from the mouth of the Stickine to
Victoria is as perfectly safe for an ocean-going steamer
as any in the world. The course lies through what is,
for the most part, a sea-canal, with the mainland upon
one side and a chain of rough, pine-cladrfslands on the
other, which breaks the swell from the Pacific.
The way looks eerie enough, I admit, in the fogs
which often haunt these seas, and thfe islands loom up
like vast marine-monsters in the fog, or, when that
lifts, show indescribably desolate, set in grey seas, with
mm THE CHICAMON STONE. 103
long streamers of white mist curling up from the sodden
moss amongst the pines.
But the road looks worse than it is, except for stern-
wheelers. For them it is not too safe. Here and there
there are gaps in the chain of islands—gaps which take
several hours to cross, and through these the Pacific
comes with a thundering rush, which would soon shake
a fragile river-boat into her component parts. This
is why the agents will not insure, and that was why
we had to tie up every night, or whenever a " blow "
seemed imminent.
When we started from Wrangel we had made up our
minds that the trip down would take us from a fortnight to three weeks; and we were content, knowing that
we might spend November worse than in a cruise from
one wild-fowling station to another. For that was just
what it came to, and, had we been wise men, we might
have had a splendid trip, running only between flight-
ing-times, and shooting on new grounds every evening.
But man as soon as he comes West must hurry. A
real Westerner would look on Paradise as a pleasant
place to pass through, but he would not for all that
loiter willingly by the way.
Being Westerners we began to talk of " making
good time " to Victoria on the second day out, though
no one wanted particularly to arrive there; and on the
third day success, and immunity from bad weather, had
made us reckless.
-     ----^-^—^i—-—;——^_ 104
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
From our shelter behind Prince of Wales' Island,
Dixon's Entrance had no terrors for us. There were
dark clouds, it is true, hanging low down amongst the
pines, but there was no wind worth mentioning, and
when are there not dark clouds in Alaska? It was
true that it was the biggest gap in our breakwater, but
the day was young, and there was no good shooting-
place handy, so we hardened our hearts and went at it.
Before we had steamed a quarter of the distance we
saw our mistake. Without any apparent freshening in
the wind the grey sea became silver-tipped, and then
all at once a black line appeared to seaward, and came
racing towards us with incredible velocity. As the
squall struck us the Alaskan shook in every timber,
and a crash of falling pottery told us that the galley
was in trouble, whilst their trampling and screaming
on the main deck reminded us that there were conditions under which even mules cannot keep their feet.
Luckily for us a sea could not get up in a minute
even in those waters; but the whistling of the wind in
the rigging was a threat which put the fear of death
in us, and such roll as there was already, wras enough to
strain such a ship as ours to destruction. We saw
plainly that if we stayed long where we were the
Alaskan would come to pieces under our feet, and
the Boss saw it as plainly as any one.
" Is there any place of shelter we can run to ? " he
asked,
g^mmatodm* THE CHICAMON STONE.
No one knew of any haven nearer than Stephen's
Island, and that seemed far off for us with a beam sea,
until Joe roused himself from his dreams and came to
our rescue.
" Good little bay stop on Kula Kullah," he said,
pointing seaward in the teeth of the wind to where a
small island loomed through the mist.
" That thing ! Why, it is not big enough to shelter
a duck!"
" Plenty big enough to shelter this ship. Kula
Kullah two miles long."
Perhaps it was. Indeed, I learned later on, that it
was all that and more, but it did not look more than a
mere rock in the ocean then.
" Put her head for Kula Kullah, then," ordered the
Boss, after a moment's hesitation. " It's nearer than
any other place, and I guess she'll stand a head sea
better than this infernal roll. I suppose she will hold
together for that distance ? "
And she just managed to, though how much further
she could have gone bucking the big waves which were
now beginning to roll in from the Pacific, we did not
care to think.
I know we all heaved a sigh of relief when we
steamed under the lee of the island, and eventually
ran into the long, narrow inlet in which Joe promised
us safe anchorage.
Short as our trial had been we were leaking like a
i ■
hms?/ 106
THE CHICAMON STONE.
sieve, and most of our mules were in an indescribable
tangle on the deck : two of them hanged outright, and
two more had their legs broken.
" Pretty expensive for an hour's run," muttered the
Boss, as he stood contemplating the confusion on the
main deck.    " Is there any feed on this place, Joe ? "
" Plenty good grass all winter. No snow stop
here."
" And how are we to get the beasts on shore ? "
"Dump them over the side and make them swim,"
I suggested.
" And how about getting them on board again,
Whitehead?"
That puzzled me. Mules will do most things with
a bell-mare to lead them, but you can't expect even a
bell-mare to scramble on board after swimming along-
side.
For a time the Boss smoked in silence. The ship
was hardly seaworthy. With luck, and without any
troublesome cargo, he might by careful handling-
take her down to Victoria in safety; but he had no
mind to risk a total loss of train and steamer together.
" It is my own infernal folly," he muttered at last.
" Could we winter all the stock here, Joe, until
spring ? "
" Nawitka " (certainly).
" Would you stay with them, Whitehead ? I don't
like asking you to." THE  CHICAMON STONE. 107
" I don't mind a bit; but I can't manage sixty
of them single-handed. Will you stay with me,
Joe ? "
" Joe will stay where Whitehead stays," answered the
Indian.
" And I will get two or three of the boys to stay, and
you must manage to rig up some sort of a wharf by
next spring. Who wants to put in a winter on Kula
Kullah?"
For a moment no one in the group which had
gathered round us made any answer. Blue-grey rocks,
with the sea sobbing round them, and pines grey with
age, and beard moss, made no very cheerful picture in
the mist, and as the boys looked at the kelp-strewn,
desolate beaches, they no doubt yearned for the
delights of Victoria which now seemed very near.
" Indians stop round behind that rock," said Joe.
" What! are there people on the island ? "
" Nawitka; don't you see the canim ?" and he
pointed to where a great rock rose apparently out of
the beach.
From behind it glided a canoe, which, after
reaching the open, lay about a couple of hundred yards
away, its occupants watching us. I suppose it is only
my fancy, but a canoe always looks to me more like a
sea-beast, than a mere machine made by man. It is so
silent, its prow rises like a sea-snake's head, the body
of it lies almost flush with the wave, and the manner of
—--==- 108
THE CHICAMON STONE.
its propulsion is not so obvious as the oars of a white
man's boat.
This sea-snake was more than ordinarily timid, but
we got an answer from it at last, and it came gliding
alongside, the eyes in it watching us distrustfully, and
the fins of it ready for flight at a moment's notice. But
it was sufficiently human to accept a present of tobacco,
and after that all the rest was easy.
There was plenty of grass on the island, and only the
wild deer to eat it, so that we were welcome to land
with our mules and take all we could get. Only there
would be no one to help us. That was obvious from
the first; and I was thankful for small mercies, when
one of the boys, Windy Ike, volunteered to stay
with us.
The seductive game of poker had reduced his
available finances to a condition more suited to the
seclusion of an island than to the luxury of life at the
capital.
I should have been glad to have had any other in
his place, but it was not in my power to choose; so I set
to work as cheerily as^I could to swim the animals
ashore, and to collect all the provisions which the ship
could possibly spare, with blankets, ammunition, and a
few old novels, to keep us from physical and mental
starvation during the long months to come. We were
lucky in having on board not only a fair supply of flour
and canned goods, but also a considerable quantity of THE CHICAMON STONE 109
rough lumber, with which we had intended to build
stables for the mules when we had taken them " below."
Now the mules would have to share their lumber with
us. Part of it would make a shed for them, and part
of it a shack for us.
Guided by the natives, we took the steamer round
the big rock before mentioned, finding deep water all
the way, until we opened a second inlet—a miniature
of the first—not a hundred yards long, at the end of
which a dozen canoes were hauled up on the beach.
Beyond them stood a huge shed with a terrific totem-
pole in front of it, all bears, and frogs, and devils,
roughly carved and painted in red and blue toned down
by many years of rain.
This was the Kula Kullah rancherie, or common hall
of the tribe, and was perhaps from eighty to a hundred
feet in length, the sides of it supported by great posts
twenty feet apart, and the roof-tree one huge cedar-pole
which looked as if it could only have been put into its
present position by the aid of powerful machinery.
Outside this common hall were half a dozen little
lean-to's made of strips of cedar-bark and rough sticks,
less comfortable than dog-kennels, and in these the
natives were camping.
Kula Kullah was a winter encampment, and the main
body of the tribe had not arrived yet, as we might have
guessed from the fact that the sides of the rancherie
were not yet boarded in, neither was the roof on.    The
"■ 110
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
natives who received us were but forerunners sent on
ahead to make things comfortable for the more important members of the tribe who were to come.
That it was an old camp, in which many generations
had fished and hunted, was proved by the beach, which
was white with the ruin of clam-shells, and by the great
piles of shells of more recent date, as well as by a
number of deers' horns and bones, and the head-bones
of a whale, now green with age and weather.
There was no order in the place, nor any comfort,
and the only sign of art, beyond the totem-pole, was in
the pillars of the house, which were roughly hewn and
painted to represent gigantic human figures.
What with the bones on the beach, and the strong
sea-smell of the kelp, the driving rain, the steaming
pine-woods, and the roar of a waterfall which came
tumbling from a second story of the island, it seemed to
me as if I had come upon a lair of sea-wolves rather
than a home of men ; and the totem-pole representing
a gradual ascent from a vast toad—which was the base
of it, through several intermediate stages of animal
creation, until it ^reached the human—suggested a true
story of life, raw and newborn, from the great deep,
which ceaselessly heaved and throbbed about the
island.
I had to shake myself to bring fny mind back to the
commonplace facts of life, and reaHze that it was my
business to look after the miserable quadrupeds who THE CHICAMON  STONE.
still  stood sullenly "draining" in the sedge by the
water's edge.
They did not seem a bit more captivated by their
surroundings than I was; but at last one old stager
began to wander slowly up the beach, and, after that,
the whole band straggled disconsolately upwards to the
second bench, on which, finding a certain amount of
green food, they settled down in a business-like way to
make up for time wasted upon dry and flavourless
swamp hay.
Here we left them to take care of themselves, and,
for the next three days, we had our hands full, landing
our stores and our lumber, patching up the Alaskan and
building a makeshift hut for ourselves on the first
plateau above the beach, on which, between the gloom
of the pines and the grey of the sea, lived the Kula
Kullahs, and a vast population of water-fowl whose
cries and scutterings ceased not neither by day nor by
night.
At the end of three days, the weather clearing, the
Alaskan left us to crawl up to our shack and hibernate
by ourselves, for the mules got on well enough at
present without us, and there was nothing in the
appearance of the natives to tempt us to associate with
them.
Taller than most coast Indians and somewhat lighter
in colour, they were fine enough men but for their legs,
which looked as if they had been warped and bent by
P
-——i 112
THE CHICAMON STONE.
constantly squatting in their canoes, and Windy Ike's
name for them, " the Clams," was well earned by the
pertinacity with which they clung to their shells, and
the obstinacy with which they kept their mouths shut.
Before the last wisp of smoke had cleared from the
offing we had realized that, for three months, we should
hear no voices but the sea's voice and our own, and a
fit of the blues fell upon us like a sea-fog.
For a whole week it was an effort to crawl out of our
blankets in the morning, and take the first dive into the
wet world which waited for us outside, and, even after
that, there was a marked tendency to crawl back and
cower, smoking and thinking, over the fire; but at the
end of that time, in the words of Windy Ike, we too
began to put on scales, and grow web-footed, and went
about trying to earn our living by hunting and building
winter quarters for our stock. THE CHICAMON STONE. 113
CHAPTER II.
About a fortnight after the steamer had left us for
the south, there was a great stir in the Indian rancherie,
and we heard the sound of men's voices singing in the
mist beyond the point.
Even, rhythmical, and deep, these voices drew nearer
and nearer, until at length the singers came in sight,
labouring at the paddles of a string of some twenty
canoes, yoked two and two by platforms of cedar plank,
upon which were piled great stores of household stuff:
rush baskets, skin sacks, blankets, and kitchen gear.
When these came into the inlet the forerunners went
knee-deep into the water, and, taking the canoes by the
bows, ran them up upon the beach; and straightway
there ensued such a chattering as if a colony of daws
had alighted, but the voices came for the most part
from the bundles of blankets which now resolved themselves into squaws and tenasmen (children).
The warriors were brief in their greetings.
" Kula Kullahs coming to winter camp," said Joe
over my shoulder.
—
J 114
THE CHICAMON STONE.
" Where have they come from ? "
" Oh, siyah;; away over there," pointing eastward
across the great plain of the sea. " Away where the
salt tchuk (ocean) runs long ways up into the
mountains."
" What! from Hasting's Arm ? "
" Klunas; maybe white man call him Hastum Arm.
Siwash call him other name. Plenty white sheep stop
there. See!" and he pointed to the bales of coarse,
white goat-skins which were being piled up upon the
beach.
" Do you mean to say, Joe, that they have come all
that distance with their canoes like that ? "
" Nawitka ; very good summer camp. Winter camp
not too far. Suppose too much wind, canims stop;
suppose good wind, travel all night. Suppose Ki-i
pleased, Kula Kullahs hunt good all summer; in
winter come here, sleep a little, dance plenty, perhaps
fight a little."
" And if Ki-i is not pleased ? "
" Then skukum tchuk black all over ; Tokseilh, the
sou'-west wind, scream in their ears; Tse-a-kish, the sea-
snake, look up out of the wave; kanims kilipi (turn
over) and no more siwashes come long time to Kula
Kullah."
The bucks dropped their paddles as the shoremen
touched the bows of the canoes. They had paddled incessantly, uncomplainingly as machines for three whole THE CHICAMON STONE. 115
days, whilst the women lay at the bottom of the canoes
in their blankets. Now the bucks had done the last
stroke of work they meant to do for many a day. It
was the turn of the klootchman and the tenasman,
who, piled with odds and ends of baggage, were already
staggering up the beach to the rancherie.
It was easy to see, from their gestures, that the new
arrivals were being informed of the advent of strangers
in their hunting-grounds.
Groups of men squatted here and there on the
beach, smoking and talking, and from time to time
I saw them turn their heads and stare fixedly towards
the smoke of our fires upon the upper flat. It occurred
to me that, being now in force, they might possibly
take our presence less kindly than the first handful of
them had done. Although we had entered upon their
ground by their consent, it could hardly be said that
we had as yet established friendly relations with them.
It seemed wise to try to do this without any delay;
so, taking my Winchester under my arm, I clambered
down to the beach, and walked towards the principal
group of newcomers.
Before reaching them I stopped and laid down -my
rifle, taking care that they should see me do this.
Then I advanced boldly towards them with my best
smile of welcome, and what I imagined was a cheery
" Klahowyah."
But nobody rose or returned my greeting. 116
THE  CHICAMON STONE.
One or two of the savages laughed rudely; the
others sat still and stared at me from under bent
brows.
Luckily I had read somewhere of the ways of the
Ahts, and, conceiving that these men were not unlike
them in their customs, I retained my composure, and,
squatting down within fifty paces of them, waited for
them to make the next move.
Possibly this was the correct thing to do, for, after
waiting in dead silence for some time, the Kulla
Kullahs continued their conversation as if entirely
unconscious of my presence.
This state of things continued until I felt a perfect
worm, and wanted badly to brain some one in order to
recover my self-respect; but, just before my patience
failed me, one of the leaders arose, and, leading the
way, seemM to invite me to follow him to the
rancherie.
Here, in an incredibly short time, the interior had
been rendered in some degree habitable. As fast as
nails and hammers could do it, the platforms which
had joined the canoes were being applied as outside
walls, or internal partitions of the great lodge. Men
were busy up above fastening on the roof, the squaws
had festooned every beam with bags and baskets, dried
meat, dried fish, and bunches of fern roots; and in the
middle of the floor a cooking-fire was burning, round
which hung pots and the savour of food.
rr^r- THE CHICAMON  STONE, 117
The place, with its garnishing of provisions, and its
many partitions, looked like a cross between a larder
and a school dormitory.
Beside the fire, in the middle of the floor, the chief
spread a blanket and invited me by signs to sit upon
it; and then, at his order, the women set before me a
dish of steaming salmon and potatoes.
The portion was enormous; but I had not dined,
and did my best, no one speaking a word whilst we
ate. What I left was removed, and, as I found afterwards, was taken up to our shack and left there for me
to finish at my leisure.
The great business of dinner being over, pipes were
lighted, and then at last conversation commenced. It
took the form of a catechism, in which my ignorance
of the Kula Kullahs' language gave me some advantage, affording me an excuse for ignoring questions
which I did not choose to answer, whilst answering
those which it suited me to.
Most of all, they were anxious to know my position
amongst my men. Was I a chief or a slave ? and were
the mules my mules ? I had no scruples in representing myself as the very biggest kind of chief, and
the interest I claimed in the mules was certainly
greater than the company would have allowed.
But my answers were politic, and, when at last I rose
and left my hosts, I felt that my position with them
was considerably improved.    But my Winchester had US
THE CHICAMON STONE.
vanished, and to my inquiries about it the chief gave
no satisfactory reply.
Possibly, I understood him to say, one of the tenas-
men had hidden it in play; possibly an evil spirit had
taken it: they did such things in Kula Kullah. But
he would look into the matter, and when found the rifle
should be returned.
Under the circumstances I dared not press the matter.
Moods are variable in the north, and I could see storm-
signals already in the ugly faces around me. I could
ill spare the weapon—one of three only in our possession
—but I had sense enough to realize that I had lost it,
and should never see it again.
I never did, in my own hands ; but I have seen the
muzzle of it since, nearer than I cared to.
From this commencement of friendly (?) relations,
we advanced very slowly.    It is true that there were
generally
two  or three  Indians hanging  about  our
encampment and fingering all our possessions, but
they were not welcome guests. On the contrary, they
gave us more trouble than the mules, as, after my experience with the rifle, we considered it absolutely
necessary that some one should be always on guard
whenever Indians were about; and this additional
worry made our tempers grow shorter and shorter,
until one day Windy Ike, who was quicker at
entering upon a quarrel than braver men are wont
to be, took a particularly troublesome buck by the "*^%
THE  CHICAMON  STONE. 119
shoulders and kicked him unceremoniously out of the
shack.
Now, amongst themselves, these people rarely quarrel,
and never resort to fisticuffs; and this fellow had no
firearms, nor any knife about him that we could see.
The odds were against him, and the first law of
Indian warfare is, that the odds should be heavily in
your favour ; so, though he picked himself up, looking
as bitter as a November morning, he strode sullenly
back to his camp without a word.
But from that time out we had no more visits from
the Kula Kullahs, and Windy Ike, who was too much
of a fool to fear anything he could not see, spoke
sneeringly of the courage of Joe and myself, who had
endured the insolence of these Indians so long.
"Hang them!" he said, "they are just clogs, and
should be treated as such."
Dangerous dogs I thought, and any day I expected
to hear them growl.
But whatever my fears were we had to live, and in
order to do that Joe and I had to hunt, for, in spite of
his swagger, Windy Ike never brought back with him
as much as he took out. If he left in the morning- with
a dozen cartridges for his gun, he came back at night
with his gun and a fable of some dead beast which had
disappeared before his very eyes, but with no meat and
no cartridges.
So Joe used to take the rifle and bring in a deer 	
120
THE  CHICAMON  STONE..
now and again from the higher ground, whilst I used
to sit with the shot-gun at the head of the sloughs
and shoot duck, and sometimes a seal whose curiosity
had led him too near to the rocks behind which I was
hidden.
I confess that, in those lonely watches, the superstitions of the Indians used to take a strange hold on my
fancy. It seemed to me as if the sea was everything
and we nothing. Through the waning light I could
see the pines on the nearer points—shapes indistinct
and vague—and hear the weird, half-human laugh of the
loon ; and then suddenly a round head with man's eyes
in it would rise without a sound, within fifty feet, and
stare unwinkingly into my face.
At the first movement of my hand towards my gun
it would sink without leaving a ripple behind it, and,
a few minutes later, I would find it staring at me from
some other quarter.
Generally I let the seals alone, for they were difficult
to secure,' even if I killed them; but once or twice
when the number of heads staring at me from the
misty waters were too great a strain upon my nerves,
I fired ; and those I killed were greedily eaten by the
Kula Kullahs. As for ourselves, we could never
stomach seal-meat.
All day long, if I had wished it, J could have had
excellent sport with the brent which used to whirl
past my hiding-place, or gabble and croak as they THE CHICAMON STONE. 121
floated in strong fleets just out of shot of me; but I
could not afford to waste ammunition, and I had no
fancy for playing retriever in the icy water which
surrounded Kula Kullah; so that, as a rule, I waited
until the evening flight commenced.
Behind me lay mud-flats and shallow pools in which
the fowl fed, and, as soon as night began to approach,
the whole life of the ocean seemed to set towards these
in noisy streams.
First against the setting sun I would see the brent
get up and wheel in orderly ranks, something like
homing rooks, until their minds were made up; and
then suddenly they would pack and rush in solid
phalanx straight at me, rise as they reached the rocks
behind which I lay, and then drive down with great
clamour into the swamp behind.
As a rule I managed to bring two or three of them
thumping down upon the ooze before their flight was
over.
After them came singly, or in small parties, high
up, with wings that beat with the strong whirr of
machinery, long-necked grebes, and mergansers, and
such-like fish-eating fowl, whose caution was wasted,
since no man wanted their flesh for food; and after
them again in the dusk, when a man had to shoot
rather by ear than by eye, there came a vast scuttering
and splashing along the face of the inlet as myriads of
cultus, duck, and scaup hurried past me.    For an hour 122
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
'it I
before this I had seen great flocks of them working
slowly in towards the shore, but they never came near
enough, whilst swimming, to give me a pot-shot, nor
did they ever rise and dash past me until it was too
dark to see to shoot.
Last of all I would hear the full fat " quack, quack "
of the mallard; but, though I knew that somewhere in
the dusk above me a right good dinner was going by, I
could rarely catch more than a glimpse of these birds,
except when once or twice a rising- moon betrayed
them to me. When that happened there was a heavy
flop on the ooze, and I took home something really
.worth cooking.
It was one night, after a long spell of this kind of
work, that I was going home half frozen, and heavily
laden with my spoil, by the light of a young moon,
which I feared would hardly last long enough to see
me safely home over the sloughs and logs which always
made my return a risky business.
Especially there was one place which always gave
me trouble, a broad and deep inlet, across which had
been thrown a single log, just broad enough to walk
on, which was at full tide a foot under water, and at
the ebb a few feet above it, but so slippery and
treacherous that I had already had more than one
experience of the temperature of the stream below.
Before attempting the crossing I made sure that
my ducks  were  securely  tied  about my  waist, and THE CHICAMON STONE. 123
passed my gun-strap over my shoulders, and then with
a half prayer began to feel my way across.
About midway over, whilst my feet were slipping
on the greasy weed which clung to the pole, and the
shadows were playing all manner of tricks with me,
an owl called sharply and suddenly, right under my
feet.
Naturally my eyes left the pole, my foot slipped in
the desperate effort to recover my balance, gun and
ducks all shifted their position simultaneously, and the
next moment I was struggling in the water in the
dark.
Owing to the fact that the water was running out
very swiftly I was some distance from the pole, and
near the further bank, when I came to the surface,
with my eyes full of water and my wits considerably
scattered by the sudden plunge.
Between me and the bank was what looked at first
like a log lying in the shadow, and instinctively I put
out my hand to clutch it; but before I did so the outlines of it became clearer, and a fear, worse than the
fear of drowning, took possession of me.
It was a war-canoe, and, sitting in it in dead silence,
all their eyes intent upon my face, were a dozen Kula
Kullahs, their faces painted black, their white teeth
only showing distinctly in the gloom.
Before any one had time to move I floated past the
first canoe, only to find a dozen more moored in the UUJUH-'
 ■■
124
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
shadow of the bank in a long, silent line, all full of
men armed to the teeth.
One of these, as I came alongside, reached for a kind
of harpooning spear, and, half rising, made as if he
would plunge it into me; but one whom I recognized
as the chief gave some short order, and my would-be
murderer sat sullenly down again, whilst a suppressed
laugh, more like a growl than any sign of merriment,
ran up the silent ranks. In another minute I was clear
of the fleet, and, seeing a stranded snag handy, I seized
it and drew myself out upon the mud, shaking with
cold and fear.
I do not think that, under ordinary circumstances, I
could have taken my own clothes off, so numbed was I
after my long swim; but, with the knowledge of what
lay behind me, I managed to scramble up the bank
and flounder in the direction of our camp.
If any of those who read my adventures have ever
been belated on a strange mud-flat when the moon has
gone down, they will have some idea of the miseries of
that tramp. As long as my gum-boots only squelched
in the soft ooze it was all right; but now and again
one of them would leave me to go down, and down,
until I had to follow it into some unseen cut or gulch,
where two or three feet of water still ran, or, to vary
my misery, I would suddenly receive a stinging blow
across the face, and find that I had walked into the upturned roots of a great snag left stranded on the mud. THE CHICAMON STONE. 125
Meanwhile, all round me were strange voices of feeding
fowl—voices which they never seemed to use by daylight,—whistlings and croakings and strange half-
human cries, and the sudden whirr of unseen wings
rising under my very feet. Worse than all, a terrible
dread haunted me, so that I kept turning to see whose
step that was which I heard stealthily following mine,
expecting every moment to see a hideous, blackened
face, and an upraised harpoon, before I felt the sharp
steel plunge into my side.
But the longest night of pain has mercifully an
ending, and I suppose that it was still early, when,
with my face bleeding, and most of my ducks lost, I
reached the edge of the mud-flats where the pines grew
upon comparatively dry land. From this point to my
camp it was easy for me to find my way, and in half
an hour Joe was putting food before me and listening
to my tale.
To my surprise he expressed no astonishment at
what I had seen. If he wondered at anything, it was
that I had been allowed to return to tell the story.
" I see Kula Kullahs long time getting ready. You
see them scraping canoes, and making fresh paddles.
By-and-by they have a big feast; now they go to
fetch heads. In the dark the Tshimsians at Oorah
not see them come. Then they get heads and slaves.
You see in two days from now."
" Are they at war, then, with the men of Oorah ? " 126
THE CHICAMON STONE.
" Not now. Long time ago the Tshimsians stole a
whale that the Kula Kullahs harpooned. It floated
dead into the bay at Oorah, and the Tshimsians found
and eat it, but they gave no present to the Kula
Kullahs."
"Why should they?    The Kula Kullahs did not
bag the whale."
" No. Kula Kullahs not get that whale, but the
Oorahs knew. They saw the floats of the Kula Kullahs
fast to the harpoons in that whale, and they knew very
well who killed him. Oh, the Oorahs had a very bad
heart; and the Kula Kullahs have not forgotten."
" When was this ?   Last year ? "
" Oh no; not last year—not this many years. Some
very old men, I think, remember when it was; but that
is no matter. It happened long ago; but the Oorahs
stole that whale, and the Kula Kullahs want heads—
and remember. Besides, the Oorahs are a very small
tribe now. Not many men stop at all at Oorah. Maybe after to-morrow no more Oorahs ever at all. Kula
Kullahs kill 'em all if they catch them asleep."
" Tenasmen stop," I suggested.
" No; kill tenasmen too, and klootchmen. Kill 'em
all. Perhaps make one or two young klootches slaves.
Kill 'em all."
So, then, this was the devil's work on hand, and the
Kula Kullahs' idea of a happy Christmas.
Lost in lone seas, themselves the mere flotsam and THE CHICAMON STONE.
127
jetsam of ocean, holding to their lives by a very uncertain tenure, these fiends were starting in the night
to wipe out a whole neighbouring tribe in its sleep—a
tribe, moreover, so closely akin to themselves that no
one but a Tshimsian could tell a Kula Kullah from one
of his own clan; and all this, not for an insult real or
fancied to themselves, but on the thin pretext of a
cause of quarrel which the oldest men might remember.
I was beginning to understand what the word was
which Nature kept trying to articulate in these dreary
northern seas; the word which is muttered in the
surges to the tossing kelp, round the slaughtering-
grounds at Pribyloff; the word that hangs about the
rivers where the flashing salmon are slain in their
myriads; the word that the wind whispers in its ceaseless
roaming—surelv it is " Death." 128
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
CHAPTER III.
That night was one of the quietest I ever saw in
Alaskan waters. For once there was not a breath of
wind, and even the swell, which generally roared on
the exposed parts of the island, now only beat with a
soft, rhythmical insistence which lulled rather than disturbed. But there was not a vestige of light in the
sky, and a fog, like a black pall, clung over the waters.
Everything seemed hushed and waiting, and even
the rare cries of some waking sea-fowl, which may be
heard at times, even on the darkest nights, were
hushed on this one.
In the rancherie there was not a light showing.
There were few but women and children left there; and
they were, I presume, rolled in their blankets. What
becomes of the old men I do not know, and it is hardly
good to think; but there were no old men among the
Kula Kullahs. Half a dozen slaves), and a few sick
men, were all that remained on the island. The rest,
with their blackened faces, were somewhere out in
the fog. mmm
THE CHICAMON STONE.
129
There are no
" It would be easy to take heads now.
fighting-men left."
I turned with a start. It was Siyah Joe who had
spoken.
" Good God, Joe! you don't want to murder too, do
you ? "
" My cousins stop in Oorah; they will kill them."
" You can't tell that. You are not even sure that
they are going to Oorah ; and, if they do, they may not
surprise the Tshimsians."
" They catch them to-night sure. The skies all
blind, and the sea she says ' Sleep, sleep,' and the men
will sleep till the red spirit leaps on the rancherie, and
then it will be stab, stab, stab! " and, as he spoke,
he imitated the murderous motion with such savage
accuracy, that I felt the killing madness was upon him
too.
For a little longer we sat together looking out into
the night, and listening for sounds which we could not
possibly have heard, and then Joe rose.
" If Whitehead say no kill, Joe no kill them ; but
it is a foolish saying. By-and-by they kill us; " and
with these words he stalked into the hut, and, in ten
minutes, was sleeping as soundly upon the floor as I
should have done in my own cot at home.
I was going to say that the next morning broke dull
and threatening; it would be more accurate to say
that it never broke at all.    A  grey light filtered
_ IHHP
130
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
ill
!
11!
through the fog : a light by which we could just see
how miserable the world looked, and that was all. All
day a threat lay upon the face of the waters, and the
light of the sun was veiled; but towards noon an incident occurred which was somewhat unusual in Kula
Kullah.
A visitor arrived who called in at the rancherie.
Now, though Kula Kullah is by the way to the main
northern ports, it lies some three or four miles out of the
direct course to Wrangel. As a result of this, though
we often saw the smoke of great steamers going north,
several miles away, we seldom saw even a small sail
within hailing distance of the island.
But towards noon, as I said, a sail came creeping up
to the mouth of our inlet, and, to our surprise, the sail
was lowered and the boat rowed round the rock to the
rancherie. I had wild hopes at first that the men in
her might bring some message for us : orders, perhaps,
to make ready for a steamer which would take us and
our mules down south, but it was not to be. The
visitors were for the Kula Kullahs, and not for us.
Although with my eyes alone I could have seen
little from my post on the second storey, I was able to
watch the landing well with my field-glasses. As soon
as the boat, or canoe rather, came within a hundred
yards of the beach, she was turned stern first to it, and
the men in her ceased paddling.
" Humph!   Strangers ! " grunted Joe, at my elbow. THE CHICAMON STONE. 131
" Now they wait till some one come and talk;" and in
proof of the accuracy of his guess, the canoe and its
occupants lay there, gently rocking stern first to the
beach for at least ten minutes, neither hailing the shore
nor making any sign, until the inhabitants of the
rancherie came out and sat solemnly down to look at
them.
For a few minutes the two parties regarded one
another in silence, and it occurred to me that the custom
had its advantages, for, in case of an unfriendly reception, the visitors had a hundred yards' start and the
bow of their boat in the right direction.
Having stared one another out of countenance, one
of the shore-party arose to his legs and shouted something across the water to the visitors. What he said
we could not distinguish, neither could we catch the
answer; but it seemed as if he was catechizing the newcomers, and they answering him.
Apparently their answers were satisfactory, for, after
a time, the boat was pulled in to the shore, and the Kula
Kullahs bore a hand in running her up the beach. The
three who stepped out of her were apparently two tall
Indians and one old man, also an Indian, much bent
and swathed in blankets.
With my glasses I could see the men's faces
plainly; but, though I could recognize the Kula
Kullahs, I could not recognize their visitors. They
were strangers to me, as I might have expected.
— 132
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
" Who are they, Joe ? " I asked.
"Nika halo comtax, halo nanich (I don't know, I
can't see).    Won't the long-sight show you ? "
Even my "long-sight" would not tell me, and T
handed it to him, but he could make nothing of it.
Of course they become used to glasses after a time; but
at first Indians cannot see as far with a field-glass as
with their own strong eyes.
I No good; all same fog," Joe said peevishly,
handing me back the glasses. "You sure those all
three si washes ? "
" Sure, Joe ; two are dilate (thorough) siwashes, and
the old man is a siwash too; but I can't see much of him
for his blankets.    Why, what do you think they are ?."
" Perhaps Whitehead see good ; perhaps not. Three
Indians, perhaps ; perhaps two. One white man.
You see Tatooch ? "
"Tatooch?"
" Nawitka; Tatooch.    That man in front Tatooch."
I brought my glasses to bear again upon the group
now about to enter the rancherie. Joe was dreaming.
I did not think that the danger he had passed through
had so affected his wonderful self-possession; but, after
all, an Indian's face is only a clever mask, and he may
feel and remember more than his features betray.
The man in front was certainly not Tatooch. True,
now that he had suggested it, I could almost fancy
that I saw something in the  man's bearing which
arr-ar- THE CHICAMON STONE. 133
reminded me of the witch-killer; but this fellow was
as unlike Tatooch in face as a man could be. Indeed,
he would have been a marked man anywhere amongst
Indians, for he was all but red-headed, and, though they
do occur occasionally amongst the Hydahs, red-headed
Indians are nearly as rare as white crows.
What bothered me more than Joe's fancies about
Tatooch, was a queer jerky turning of the head on the
part of the old man in blankets. He reminded me of
a bird with its head sunk on its shoulders, but
watching all the while with its beady eyes for a
chance to peck; and reminded me too of something,
or some one else, but who or what I could not then
remember.
However, these fancies were of course ridiculous, so
I put my glass in its case.
"I'm going to see who they are, Joe. If it is
Tatooch, he will know me anyway: my hair has not
changed its colour."
" No, Whitehead always Whitehead. Tatooch perhaps sometimes black head, sometimes red. Take
your gun along with you. Joe won't be far off; " and
with that he slipped into the brush, whilst I took the
trail down to the beach.
But I was almost too late to achieve my purpose.
The guests were going when I reached the rancherie,
and, though I satisfied myself with my own eyes that
they were neither Tatooch nor any one else that I
i 134
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
If
in
had ever met, I had no chance of speaking to
them.
More surly rascals even for Indians I never met.
The red-headed man stared me sullenly in the face
when I greeted him, and, though he was every bit as
ugly as paint could make him, he was not anything
like the witch-killer. The other two did not even turn
to see who spoke to them, but stepped silently into
their canoe and paddled off towards the north.
Neither did the Kula Kullahs seem much more
pleased with their visitors than I was. A medicineman and two siwashes of the Tshimsians from the
south they called them, and they said that they had
come to bring a present of whale-blubber to the Kula
Kullah chief, and make inquiries about a canoe-full
of their tribesmen, lost, it was supposed, in this neighbourhood the week before in a squall; but, contrary to
all Indian etiquette, they had barely tasted of the
feast set before them.
They had come to see the chief, they said, and
they would deal with no one else; so they had left
a bad impression behind them with the men of the
rancherie, who, being most of them slaves, or men of
low degree, were peculiarly sensitive, and resented
other people's airs.
The only other information I could obtain about them,
was that they were going north to the Nasse River.
With this news I went back to Joe, whom I found THE CHICAMON  STONE. 135
at a point of vantage overlooking Dixon's Entrance
and the straits and inlets which lay around us.
" They say they go north ? " he said. " What for
Tatooch go north now ? "
" But I tell you it was not Tatooch."
Joe did not answer, but kept his eyes fixed on the
sail which crept along the coast of Kula Kullah to
the north.
For a very long time we watched it, for its progress
was very slow, and I could not help wondering why,
if the men in the canoe wanted to make the mouth of
the Nasse, they did not take a more direct course, and
obtain the full benefit of any little wind there was,
instead of hugging our island-shore. There seemed
no danger of a squall, and Indians are not timid
navigators.
At last the canoe disappeared round the corner of
Kula Kullah, and we watched to see it reappear, a
white fleck on the open sea which must be traversed
to reach the Nasse.
But it did not reappear.
" Camped, Joe, on the spit."
" Halo.   You see by-and-by."
And by-and-by I saw, for, apparently believing
themselves unwatched, the men in the canoe discarded
caution, and, having turned the point, tacked out
boldly into the open at the back of the island,
returning towards Hecate Straits, /ffff
136
THE CHICAMON STONE.
!
At that distance I could not, even by the aid of my-
glasses, identify the canoe going south as the same
which we had watched going north; but if not, craft
in these waters were sufficiently scarce to make the
coincidence remarkable.
" See; I tell you Tatooch not go north. Kloonas
(perhaps) plenty trouble by-and-by."
Joe's persistence was beginning to tell upon me ;
and the rest of that day was spent by me in a
struggle, which was only partially successful, to
convince myself that my own eyes had not deceived
me.
If that was Tatooch who was the man in the
blankets ? And then I remembered who it was with
the beak-like nose and the restless, shifty glances.
But Sandy Bill was nearly as tall as myself, and the
man in blankets was old and shrunk, and a boy's
size.
No; it could not be Tatooch. Joe was growing
crazy with fear and the loneliness of our life in Kula
Kullah; and, lest I should become as bad, I plunged
resolutely into one of Hope's novels, wishing that I was
a prisoner of Zenda instead of a prisoner in Alaska.
On the evening of the third day after my immersion
in the slough the Kula Kullahs returned.
For three days we had had the sullen threatening
weather I have described.
On the evening of this day there was a low moaning THE CHICAMON STONE. 137
amongst the trees, and a heave and sigh at the base
of the cliffs, whilst the widgeon and sea-fowl generally,
not waiting for the flighting-time, came whirling in
in a hurry, by twos and threes or in small flocks.
They came as if something was behind them, and
they did not make for the feeding-grounds, but, after
one or two circling flights, pitched under the lee of
those points where there was shelter from the worst
of storms. The gulls too came inland shrieking, and
there was an unusual clamour amongst the myriads of
crows who dwelt in the island.
At sea, in the south-west, the ragged clouds were
hurrying together, torn and trailing, and, through
them from the low sun, great pale rays shot down to
the gun-barrel grey of the sullen sea, making a
watery archway of dim light, behind which was the
coming storm.
Suddenly in the midst of this we, who were watching,
saw the black bows of a canoe, and then another, and
presently, to the moan of the rising tempest, was
added the slow, long-drawn rhythm of the Death-song.
Now the men who had been left in the rancherie,
and the women, crowded down on the beach, and added
their cries to the cries of the colony of crows overhead.
But the men in the canoes made no sign that they
saw them.
One after another, like the joints of a hideous sea-
serpent, the black canoes glided out of the gloom
mmm 138
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
through the archway of stormy light, until we could
see the rowers' shoulders gleam as the twelve men in
each boat drove her nearer and nearer with strong,
even strokes, their wild song keeping time to their
paddles.
The storm broke even as they reached shore, and
the grinding of their keels on the beach, and the song
of the rowers, was drowned in a scream of wind, which
swung the tallest pines as if they had been saplings,
and snapped the older ones with cracks like pistol-
shots.
But through the veil of rain which followed the first
wild gust of the tempest, we saw a miserable, procession
of captives driven like sheep to the shambles, and a
cargo of human heads slung out by the long hair upon
the beach.
As these hideous trophies rolled one after another
to the feet of the women, the savage song of the
victors rose ever louder and louder, until, what with
that and the scream of the tempest, and the sighing
of the trees, and the crash and roar of the ocean, there
was such a tumult of wild sound as if Hell had broken
loose.
" They have had a great killing," said Joe. " Now
their hearts are bad, and there will be a great feast
and more killing."
" My God! is it not enough ? "
" Not yet.    See—they begin." THE CHICAMON STONE. 139
As he spoke a heavy-shouldered savage walked
forward shouting, pushing before him a child of, it
may be, nine or ten years old. Suddenly he stopped
in the very midst of the onlookers, there was a swift
movement of his arm, a gleam of blue light, and I saw
the child's head roll from its shoulders, and the poor
body stand and sway, as it seemed to me, for many
seconds before it lurched and sank upon the sand.
As the blood spouted from the severed neck my
own blood leapt into my brain; there was a red mist
before my eyes so that I could hardly see the sights
of my rifle, but Joe struck up the rifle before I could
fire.
" Not yet, Whitehead," he whispered—and I could
feel that even he was shaking like an aspen—"not
yet; we have no chance now. By-and-by; when
they sleep. The men of Oorah were my tillicums
(friends)."
I dropped the rifle, and the cold beads of sweat
broke out upon my body. What devil's paradise had
I fallen into ? In my rage I would have killed, but
here was murder before my eyes which I could not
prevent, and murder—the murder of sleeping men—
whispered into my ear as justice.
Perhaps there was something which a good and
brave man should have done at that time. Perhaps
I should have sacrificed my life and my companions'
in a mad effort to save those miserable prisoners, or 	
^'
140
THE CHICAMON STONE.
t'ikl
III
III
have gone down to plead to the deaf ears of the sea-
brutes who had them at their mercy.
But I am not a good, and perhaps not a brave man.
At any rate I did none of these things ; but sat down
crouching in my shed, hiding my eyes, and covering
my ears, and praying that the bitterness of these days
might pass from me.
Even now I cannot look back upon that wild night
without a shudder. The storm in itself was enough to
terrify most men. I remember that it tore the roof
from our shed, and no man tried to replace it, though
the rain poured in upon us, preventing sleep, and
putting out our fires. I remember, too, the indistinct
figures of the mules, and their trampling and cries in
the dark. Like human beings they had come down
to us for the sake of such comfort as they could find
in the neighbourhood of their masters.
And through it all there was one glowing red spot,
like the eye of a demon on the beach, where the great
fires burned, and the Kula Kullahs feasted.
Thank God that the voice of the tempest drowned
all cries from that quarter! We could see the light
and imagine what was being done in the glow of it,
but we were spared certain knowledge until with morning came silence. THE CHICAMON STONE. 141
CHAPTER IV.
I think that it must have been near noon when Windy
Ike woke me—not from any care for my comfort, but
because Siyah Joe had been away all the morning, and
Ike was lonesome and frightened.
He wanted some one to talk to, and I do not wonder
at that. The roof was off our cabin, and pools of water
stood upon its floor: in some of which I had been lying
until I was sodden through and through, and cold to
the marrow. I don't know why men do not die of
cold and rheumatism in these places; but for some
reason they do not. The earth is a sponge under your
feet which makes a puddle of every footprint, and the
very trees almost spurt water from their trunks if you
lean against them ; but men do not take cold, nor do
they become rheumatic until past middle-life, when
really it would perhaps be better if all men died. It
is no good living when the joy of life has gone.
Soda-water with the fizz off is a very poor beverage.
Perhaps it was the weather which made me think of
] 	
142
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
these things, for Nature that morning was very flat
indeed. After her great carnival of storm, the world
looked ashamed of herself.
There was ruin everywhere. The sulky sea sobbed
and growled to itself, and mumbled over the wreckage
with which it still toyed. The beach was strewn with
monstrous tresses of kelp—some of them fifty feet long,
suggestive of the gigantic growths of the greatest of
earth's oceans—and with spars, and even some lumber,
which had been drifting about at sea so long, that the
marks of man's labour had almost worn off it. Trees,
to whose fantastic proportions I had grown accustomed,
had lost their limbs, whose fractured ends showed
white and ghastly in the gloom of the dripping
greenery; and one huge fellow, the home of the Kula
Kullah rookery, had blown over from its roots, and lay
there, the cause of much tribulation amongst its late
tenants.
Of course that fool Ike had not made a fire. Under
any, except the most favourable circumstances, I doubt
very much if he could have made one, and on that
morning fire-lighting was not easy.
The hearth was not only cold, it was a puddle;
and it was long before I could lay my hand on any
kindling wood. Ike had breakfasted on cold tea and
canned meats, with a pull at a bottle kept for
Christmas, or sickness—as I afterwards discovered—and
would probably have kept to this diet as long as it THE   CHICAMON STONE. 143
lasted rather than cook for himself; but I was glad
to have something to do, and set myself to repair the
ruins and make things comfortable.
When I had in some measure done this, Siyah Joe
came in, and stood draining slowly into the hot embers.
It was easy to see that he had not slept all night.
His rifle was still in his hands; his face was drawn and
grey with want of rest and cold, and the water ran off
from his coarse hair as it is shed from a straw thatch.
But he turned to, after a few moments, and set
about helping me in that quiet, practical way which
makes even a handy white man ashamed of his helplessness. Then we sat down and ate in silence, and,
when we had finished, rose and left Ike still busy with
what we had cooked. He hated cooking himself, but
no one appreciated decent food more than he did when
some one else had the preparing of it.
As I looked at the beach, an involuntary exclamation
escaped me.
" Five tens and three," said Joe, following my gaze,
" and most of them Tshimsian klootchmen from Oorah.
Kula Kullahs kill more women than men."
What we were looking at was a line of upright
stakes a few yards above high-water level. On the top
of each of them was a human head, its long hair
swaying slowly this way and that in a little breeze,
and the dead eyes of all of them looking back across
the grey waters towards Oorah. THE CHICAMON  STONE,
As Joe had said, there were fifty-three of them, and,
three nights ago, they were live men and women, free
to go where they would—men and women, for the most
part, who had never seen Kula Kullah, and who had
done the Kula Kullahs no wrong.
I turned away shuddering; but Joe laughed—a hard
laugh between his teeth.
" Those," he said, " hyas kloosh (very good) ; no more
cold freeze them, no more hunger pinch them; those
others down below very bad.   They fear all the time."
" The Kula Kullahs ? "
" Yes; the Kula Kullahs fear too. Last night the
Kula Kullah tree blow down. That very bad sign for
the Kula Kullahs. The crows are the fathers of the
siwash; the crows' house fall, by-and-by the Kula
Kullahs' house fall too. They heap quash (fear), but
the others quash more."
" Who do you mean ? "
" The men they catch and bring along from Oorah."
I had forgotten the captives.
" How many did they bring, Joe ? "
" Thirteen. Last night they kill one: you see
that."
I had seen and was not likely to forget.
"There she is," he said, pointing to one of the
stakes from which exceptionally long black hair was
waving; " she was my cousin."
His face looked unnaturally pinched and wan, even THE  CHICAMON   STONE. 145
for a man who had spent the night as he had spent it;
but he spoke very quietly.
Amongst the Indians the women will go off by
themselves to a place apart, and wail and cry for their
dead for days at a time, no one coming near to comfort
them, nor any taking heed of them; but the men do
not weep nor utter any sound.
" Did you see the others, Joe ? "
" Yes ; I saw them. When the Kula Kullahs had
feasted, and were talking big of the brave things they
had done and the heads they had taken, I crawled
round to the rancherie. The dogs were full and asleep,
and no man heard me; and through the boards I saw.
There are twelve of them."
"Will they kill them too? "
" Perhaps one or two for the god, but not all."
" Is there no way in which we could save them ? "
" Can we pay for them ? We have not enough
blankets to buy one."
" Won't they take money ? "
" What for ? Siwash not want any chicamon. Can
he eat it ?    Will it keep him warm ? "
" Is there nothing we can do ? "
"Does Whitehead care very much if the siwashes
die ? 1
"Enough to risk my life for them, Joe," I said
quietly.
" Nawitka.    Then Whitehead and Joe will try, but
L 146
THE CHICAMON STONE.
not to-night. To-night the Kula Kullahs will watch.
They will not feast again to-day. They are heap
scared, and they have many things to make. Besides,
they will not kill again soon."
Even as he spoke I noticed men out upon the
beach, dragging in the biggest logs of driftwood, and
others busy amongst the trees with their axes.
That evening the neighbourhood of the rancherie
was like a builder's yard, piles of logs and great stakes
lying in every direction; and I think that that night,
to judge by the way the fires were kept up, none of
the Kula Kullahs slept much. Vengeance follows
murder; and these men knew, by instinct as well as
by experience, that the slow feet had begun already to
travel their way.
All that day, and the next, and the day after that,
the Kula Kullahs worked like beavers; and by the end
of that time the rancherie was protected by a very
fair rough stockade.
" Now they feast again, and play games," said Joe.
" Soon they forget all about the Tshimsians coming ;
and the Tshimsians know that and wait. But by-and
by time to let the other people go."
" Will they let them go ? " I asked, misunderstanding him.
"No. Joe and Whitehead do that pretty soon.
They know we come to help them, so they keep a good
heart and wait." THE CHICAMON STONE. 147
I had fancied that Siyah Joe had forgotten, but I
wronged him; he was not one to forget. And now I
thought of it I remembered how little I had seen of him
for the last few days. I had thought he was hunting;
and, indeed, he had been for a part of the time, for I
had seen him skinning a great grey wolf which he
had brought in, with extraordinary care, as if he was
preparing a museum specimen rather than a hide. It
was drying at that moment behind our shed.
Two or three days passed, after this, without anything
occurring to break the monotony of our vigil. I had
nothing to do except to watch the slow swaying of the
heads upon the beach, and stare out to sea for some
sign of a coming steamer.
Our boat was to go up to Wrangel some time before
the season opened; but even so it was too early to
expect her yet.   But I could not help looking for her.
And then the games began. It was what the Indians
further south call the Feast of Klooh-quahn-nah, a
feast apparently of initiation to bloodshed, at which
various fierce plays are indulged in; the children,
terrified by all manner of hideous sights and sounds,
and taught, if not to kill, at least to handle the bodies
of victims without any show of terror or repugnance.
Ordinarily some old slave is killed as the sacrifice, or
used to be, for now white man's law and white man's
example have banished such barbarities from the
neighbourhood of Vancouver Island; and, indeed, the 148
THE CHICAMON STONE.
vin
strong arm of the Indian Office reaches far further
than that.
But in the old times, and perhaps still, in a few
remote corners which have escaped white man's notice,
if slaves were plenty, plenty of slaves were killed. The
more they killed the greater the feast, and knowing
this, I trembled for the unlucky Tshimsians.
The first great play was the wolves' attack—for so I
must call it, since I do not know the Indian name.
About noon one day we saw a great commotion
taking place inside the stockade. Men and women
rushed hither and thither, and the men were painted
and armed. All looked towards the edges of the pine-
timber where the front ranks of the trees encroached
upon the beach, and, following the direction of their
glances, I made out with my old field-glasses first one,
then two, and at last perhaps a dozen grey objects
crawling from the covert down to the beach.
I turned to call Joe's attention to this ; but though
he had been in the shed a moment before—or rather at
the back of it—softening his wolf's hide, he was gone
now, and, though I looked for him high and low, I
could not find him.
His wolf's hide had gone too, and, guessing that he
had taken it away to a better place to work upon it,
I returned to my look-out with Ike, who wanted to
shoot. As the wolves were well out of the longest rifle-
range, and as I thought the Kula Kullahs in no need wmmm
THE CHICAMON STONE. 149
of our assistance, I told him to put up his rifle, though
he would have done neither good nor harm with it had
I let him have his way.
Like most men in the north, I had hitherto seen but
little of wolves. As a rule you do not see them by
daylight, unless it be now and again a single one
watching you from some hill-top or promontory as your
canoe glides down-stream. Before you can get within
range the watcher's tail drops, and with a few long,
loping strides he disappears in the brush. At night you
may hear them often enough driving the deer in the
winter season; and so great is the terror they inspire,
that I have known a hind come and stand in the light
of my camp-fire, beside which I and another man
were sitting, whilst the long howls of her pursuers
echoed in the hill above us. Fear of them had made
her fearless of us.
But now I saw them hunting in broad daylight, or
rather, just at the setting of the sun. At first they
crept out, and lay in the shadows of the furthest pines,
watching, it seemed, until the whole of the band was
in place; and I was able to pick them out when I knew
where to look for them, until I could see at least fifty
of the still, grey shapes lying in a semicircle round
the Indian stockade.
After a time they began to move. It was almost
impossible to catch them actually moving, but their
positions changed little by little, until at last the line, r—«
150
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
|j|
I
II
which had lain in the shadow of the pines, had crept
some considerable distance down the shore. Then there
was a cry from the stockade, and, with one simultaneous
impulse, all the silent grey figures sprang to life, and
rushed forward with hideous howls, dashing at the
stockade, springing up it, and tearing at it with teeth
and claws, and in a few instances clambering over or
forcing a way through it.
Meanwhile those in the stockade were not idle.
The braves had had time, it seei|jgd, to paint themselves
and make them ready for battL Shot after shot rang
out from the enclosure, and litlRrafa spurts of flame
sprang out from between the palisades ; but the shooting seemed bad, for, though at such close quarters, only
one or two of the wolves fell, and these I noticed crawled
away lamely after a time.
But clubs and spears were used with terrific effect;
and having seen, once or twice, individual wolves rear
against the palisades, and climb in such fashion as
no four-footed wolves could climb, I wondered how
so much realism could be put into Indian acting
without some serious casualties occurring. Perhaps
many a shrewd blow was given to wipe off old
scores, but I never heard of any serious accidents'
occurring at these plays.
In half an hour the show was over ; the attack had
been repulsed, and one by one the wolves had slunk
back and vanished in the pines.     As the shadows fell
irwiritotiiftiriiri THE CHICAMON STONE. 151
Ic
;ould only see one of them still in the open, and I
question if he could have been seen except from such
a commanding point of view as that which I occupied.
When I first noticed him early in the fight he was
crawling away from the stockade badly hurt; and I
imagined, from the painful way in which he dragged
his hind-quarters along the sand, that his hurt was a
real one, but no one took any notice of him.
Slowly he dragged himself along amongst the
wreckage near high-water mark, and then, my attention
being taken up with other things, I lost sight of him.
When I saw him next he was still creeping about
at the laimng-place, where, in a long line, the Kula
Kullah canoes were moored in the deep water and
shelter afforded by the mouth of a small inlet.
Unlike most Indians the Kula Kullahs were
methodical in the matter of mooring their canoes.
As a rule these, though they are the Indians' most
valuable possessions, are beached here and there and
everywhere—handiness to the owner's dwelling-place
being the only condition considered. But at Kula
Kullah there was one point where all the fleet lay, and
it was here that the wounded wolf was crawling about.
In the rancherie, after the acting, all was animation.
A great feast was being prepared, and, the beach being
deserted, this one wolf had the world to himself. I
could not help wondering why, if he was really hurt,
he did  not crawl back to his comrades and obtain 152
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
assistance, or why, if he was not hurt, he did not cease
from his acting and walk back to his supper.
What was he doing there ?
And then an idea occurred to me. Surely some of
the canoes had moved slightly from their moorings.
Surely, too, there were not quite as many of them
as there generally were! The big canoe, which was
the end of the line and in full sight of the rancherie,
had not altered its position; but the rest were afloat,
and some I could swear were missing.
And now I saw the lame wolf crawl towards the
rancherie for a few yards and lie watching. For
a while he watched, and then, crawling quickly into
one of the floating canoes, he crouched in it, and was
lost to sight.
After a time he slipped over the side and crawled
into another, and so on, from one to another, until he
had visited them all in turn; and the first one which
he had entered was already almost flush with the
water of the inlet.
In another minute it had disappeared, and then, as
one by one the canoes vanished, the dusk fell, and I
could see no more. The wolf, whoever he was, was
scuttling the Kula Kullah fleet. As far as I could see
only one canoe, and that the one in full view of the
rancherie, still remained above water.
Quite what it all meant I did not clearly understand
then, but it did not seem good for the Kula Kullahs.
—"■"■■■I' THE CHICAMON STONE. 153
As they were no friends of mine it did not concern me,
and so I put up my glasses and went back to the
shed for supper, wondering if it would not be wise for
me to call Ike and Joe, and, crawling down in the
dark, take possession of the only boat left, and sail
away from this dangerous neighbourhood whilst the
owners were feasting.
We might possibly reach a place no better for us
than this one, but we could not well find a worse.
Unfortunately there were the mules to be thought
of; they did not belong to me, and I had taken the
boss's money, and pledged him my word to look after
them. Even at the risk of my life I must try to redeem
that promise, and, even if this consideration had not
had sufficient weight with me, there was another.
I had promised Joe to assist him in the liberation
of the Tshimsian captives, and they knew of my
promise, and were relying upon it as all that stood
between them and death.
Yes; escape looked very easy and very tempting
that night. There was only one serious obstacle in
the way, a white man's word; but that was a great
thing. It is the one thing, faith in which has tamed
the red men of British North America without much
assistance from firearms; and it was not for me to
weaken any man's faith in that, which is the pride
of the race. But I wished Joe would come, and began
to fear that some evil had befallen him. 154
THE CHICAMON STONE.
CHAPTER V.
As the thought went through my brain a grey wolf
came in sight upon the trail which leads from the
rancherie to our shed, and, the next moment, Joe threw
the skin on the floor at my feet.
" No more good now," he said. " But I think that
wolf-skin cost the Kula Kullahs plenty money."
So he was the lame wolf I had seen amongst the
canoes. In truth no wolf had ever cost the Indians
more.
" The word that Whitehead spoke about the Tshimsians—was it a true word ? "
"A white man's word, Joe," I answered, thinking
how strangely his question jumped with my own late
thoughts.
" Then it is time to keep it. The Kula Kullahs are
tired with play and very full of food. They wilt sleep
sound to-night; and the Tshimsians expect us."
" How can they know, Joe ? "
" The lame wolf that made the canoes sink, climbed
fcl THE CHICAMON STONE. 155
the stockade first; the braves could not keep all the
wolves out."
It was a great risk he had taken, but I could see
now how feasible it had all been during the masquerade,
and I could have laughed at the shrewd use he had
made of their fooling. He must have forced his way
into the rancherie itself, and communicated with the
captives under the very eyes of their captors.
" When you tell me, Joe, I shall be ready."
" We will wait until the night comes. It will be all
black soon."
He did not take the trouble to tell me his plans.
He wanted my help, and that was enough; and so we
sat there waiting, whilst the rancherie grew gradually
quiet, until the only sound which broke the stillness
was the heavy snoring of Ike, to whom of course we
confided nothing.
Then Joe rose and stripped himself to his skin. I
fancy that he would have liked it better if I had done
so too; but, having moccasins on already, I contented
myself with throwing my hat and coat into the cabin;
and then, one after the other, we crept down the winding pathway to the beach.
It was, as he had said it would be, a black night. I
could not see him in front of me when he was once
beyond my reach, and only indistinctly when he was
within arm's length of me. And yet he went along
that winding trail without touching a twig.    As for 156
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
me, I dare hardly put my feet down, and, had I been
alone, I should have come to a standstill in the thick
brush beside the trail, before I had gone a hundred
yards.
The cracking of a twig was anguish to me at first,
but he reassured me.
" No matter," he said, f Suppose Kula Kullahs hear,
they think mule come down the trail to eat seaweed;
only come quick."
I suppose that in reality we did go quickly, but the
time did not pass quickly to me. I went through an
eternity of anxiety before we lay inside the stockade,
against the wooden walls of the rancherie, waiting,
whilst Joe peered through a crevice between the
boards.
There were many such crevices, and, imitating his
example, I too looked inside. At first I could see
nothing but a smoky darkness. Then my eyes grew
more accustomed to the place, and one of the dying
embers on the hearth flickered faintly. By it I could
see at first only one of the colossal figures which supported the roof-tree, its deep-set, gigantic eyes and wide
mouth fixed in a rigid stare, as it seemed to me, upon
the spot at which danger threatened.
Little by little I made out more. I could see some
of the sleepers. At the feet of one was a cur, such as
these men keep for tracking the bears, and whilst I
looked it barked.    But it barked only in its dreams. THE CHICAMON STONE. 157
It, too, was too full fed to be on guard.    But the bark
startled me, and in moving I made a plank rattle.
Instantly a rat scuttled along the log by which Joe
lay, and I never knew, until afterwards, that his nimble
fingers made the rat to cover my mistake.
One or two of the sleepers moved heavily in their
blankets, and one klootchman reached out her hand for
something to throw, but her hand dropped again, and,
turning over, she lay still.
Then Joe began to work slowly at a board in front
of him. One by one, with teeth and fingers, he drew
out the nails, which had already been loosened, and
then gradually began to remove the board itself. Had I
had the work to do anxiety would have made me hurry.
I could not—no white man could—have endured the
protracted strain upon his nerves which this man
endured; and I could scarcely lie still, watching him,
as inch by inch he lowered the plank to the grass.
I don't believe he made as much noise as a fly would
have done crawling over it. Then he rose to his
knees, and I crept to his side and looked in over his
shoulder. The opening gave upon a space between
two of the partitions, along which a man might go to
the main hall by the big hearth. In this space only
one man slept. He lay right under the board which
Joe had removed, and those who would go out or in,
must pass over his body.    How was this to be done ?
The solution of the riddle was in Joe's hand, and I ^wmr
158
THE CHTOAMON STONE.
gripped his wrist only just in time. With a face of
fury he turned on me, and his strong teeth met like a
tiger's in my arm. There we lay for a moment, not
daring even to pant, my hand on his throat and his
eyes glaring- into mine.
" Not whilst he sleeps, Joe ? " I pleaded.
" Wake them all and die, then!" he hissed.
It was a terrible position. If we spared this man, we
must sacrifice twelve others. To save them we must
take the life of a man in his sleep.
I was young then and could not do it, or see it
done; but twelve lives were of more value than one, so
I let go my grip, and turning away hid my eyes. He
understood my action if he could not realize my
feelings; but I wish I had closed my ears as well as
my eyes, so that at night I might not hear again that
low, dull thud.
It might have been a rat dropping from the rafters,
or a log settling in the embers, but I knew better what
it was.
At any rate there was no cry, and the sleeper—a deep
sleeper now through all eternity—never stirred, except
perhaps that the legs straightened and the jaw dropped ;
and when I dared to look again, I saw, one after
another, eleven men crawl through the opening and
lie on the grass by Joe's side. There was still one to
come.
" Where is Skookum Jim ? " I heard Joe whisper. THE CHICAMON STONE. 159
" Tied and guarded," one answered. " He was chosen
for the sacrifice to-night at the feast."
For a few moments they conferred together, and Joe
peered into the interior. Then he withdrew and pointed
to where some paddles lay.   The others took them up.
" Are you not going to save him, Joe ? "
" No; he must die.   Come with us."
From where I was I could now see the bound
man, and I could see the two guards sleeping at his
feet. They had bound him round the knees of one
of the great idols which served as pillars for the
house. I knew by my own instinct, though I could
not see whether his eyes were opened, that this poor
wretch must be awake; that he must have seen his
countrymen from Oorah crawl like snakes along the
floor of the rancherie and glide safely through the
open panel, and pictured to myself the horror of his
despair, left alone to die whilst they escaped safe and
sound to Oorah.
And then I saw the shape inside: the limp, lifeless
thing in the blankets. I had consented to its death
as the price of the other's freedom. The bargain I had
made with my conscience was, " one for twelve." There
were to be but eleven. The white man's word had
been passed to twelve; why should it be broken to
one of the twelve ?
" Wait for me one minute at the boat, Joe," I
whispered; " I am going in for Skookum Jim." 160
THE  CHICAMON STONE.
" You cannot! it is madness ! "
" White man's word, Joe ; " and, hardly stopping to
think, I glided through the entrance.
How I went I don't know; my feet found their own
way. I remember the look in the eyes of the tied man;
I shall never forget that. And I remember the snick
with which the leather bands gave to my knife—too
loud a snick,—but it gave me a sort of pleasure then
to hear them give, and I slashed the other two fiercely,
so that the man nearly fell as his supports gave way.
He was numbed and paralyzed by the tightness with
which he had been bound, and his stumble was our
undoing.
I know it is only fancy, but I could swear that as
the noise of his stumble echoed through the sleeping
rancherie, I saw the idol to which he had been tied
grin all across its broad, flat face.
With a yell the cur was across the floor and at us,
and at the same moment one of the guards sprang to
his feet. He never saw me. As he reached his feet
my right hand reached his jaw, and he fell in a deeper
slumber than the one he had left, and with a rush
the captive and myself reached the opening.
A knife (thrown, I think) quivered in the boards
above my head as I went through; a harpoon/driven
home at half arm's length, plunged into Skookum Jim's
bowels, and killed him too soon for the sacrifice.
He would never see Oorah again; but he had had a
'rTBfti THE CHICAMON STONE, 161
run for his life, and had been spared many hours of
miserable waiting. That was at least something. And
I had kept my word !
But 1 had no time to think then. I was fleet of
foot at that time as a buck ; but -the last man was
clambering into the canoe when I reached it. That
man was Joe. A moment he waited and caught my
hand.
" Brave man, Whitehead ; now hide in the brush and
crawl back to camp. They will see us, and won't hunt
you."
He gave me no choice or chance of replying, but
with one strong shove sent the canoe from shore. I had
only just time—barely enough time—to drop behind a
log, and squirm thence into the brush, before the whole
pack from the rancherie was down upon us. But they
were still bemused with sleep, and excited beyond the
power of thinking collectedly of anything; besides
which, all eyes were now upon the canoe, which was
paddled boldly out into the open, and slowly too at that.
For a moment the dazed savages stared at their
escaping captives, and then, with a rush, they went for
their other canoes.
But there were no others.
Yesterday there were nigh upon twenty ; now, there
was nothing but a little one-man canoe, and no man
dared to take that against twelve desperate men. So
some ran this way and some that, as if they thought that
M /fffffif
16S
THE CHICAMON STONE.
the canoes were mislaid, and some even struck out
a few strokes into the water, whilst the canoe of the
Tshimsians lay there mocking them.
" Why don't you come to us ? Has not Kula Kullah
many war-canoes ? " cried the men of Oorah. " See, we
have but one, and there is not a rifle amongst us."
That was a foolish speech. In an incredibly short
space of time a rifle was brought from the rancherie ;
it must have been on its way thence already; and a
bullet chipped a great strip of wood from the bow of
Joe's boat.
Then the Tshimsians bent to their paddles, whilst the
man with the rifle pumped lead after them as fast as
he could fire; but he did less execution than he would
have done had he taken aim once, and I think that,
when the blackness which hung over the waters swallowed up the canoe, the men of Oorah had neither
scathe nor scar from that encounter.
And that was the last I saw of the Tshimsians, though,
long after they were out of sight, I could hear the
rhythmical beat of their paddles in the darkness. Like
a fish escaped from a net they vanished into their
native element, and their captors stood there as long as
they could hear the paddles, firing futile random shots
in the direction in which the canoe had gone.% But the
shots made only harmless sparks of light in the great
ocean of darkness which lay around Kula Kullah.
Until nearly morning the mob of Kula Kullahs THE CHICAMON  STONE. 163
remained round the scene of the rescue, chattering like
daws, and splashing about in the water in which their
canoes were sunk. Even the women came down and
joined them, after a time ; and each new arrival roused
a fresh storm of questions and answers and wild
invective.
All this time I dared not move. As they became
calmer the savages became more alert, and the snapping of a single twig would have brought the whole
pack upon my heels. For the present, no doubt,
they believed that every one connected with the
rescue had escaped in the canoe; if the idea ever
occurred to them that one man was left, it would be
certain death for that one man.
Through those long hours I never moved; but my
brain was never quiet, cursing my own folly and Joe
for not taking me into the canoe. Then I should have
been safe; now I could almost feel one of those
murderous harpoons crashing into my vitals.
Little by little the blackness in the sky lost its
intensity, a faint, cold breeze began to move the top
limbs of the pines, and I heard a bird crying over
the sea.
The dawn was coming, and, luckily for me, the Indians
were going. One by one they walked back slowly to
the rancherie; and at last, stiff with cold and weak
with excitement, I rose and began to crawl homewards.
There was no way that I knew, but my feet told me 164
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
that I had accidentally blundered upon a deer-trail,
which led upwards, and, knowing that the favourite
deer-pass from the peak was no great distance from
our cabin, I followed this. It was bound to lead into
the main trail.
As I was creeping wearily up it in the half-light, I
heard a rattling in the bush far below me. Every
sound, however faint, meant pursuit in my ears that
morning, and my heart wTent into my mouth. What
if, after all, some one of the savages had seen me, and
was even now stalking me as he would stalk a deer at
dawn ? For a few minutes I lay and listened, and then
I heard it again: a rustling in the bushes, now here,
now there, as if some one was quartering the ground for
game. Probably, I thought, that is it. A coyote or a
wolf hunting for a rabbit, and I hurried along the
narrow trail again, determined to stop no more until
I reached my home. How I longed then to see even
Ike's homely face!
But the rustling continued and came closer, and
then, sharp and clear in the stillness, I heard the yap
of a dog hunting, and next minute saw the same villainous cur which had betrayed me in the rancherie,
running on my tracks. He had come down with his
masters, and, having one sense more than they had,
had detected my presence, and would in another
minute betray it to them.
But he had not seen me yet, and I had a chance. ->
THE  CHICAMON  STONE. 165
I was still some distance above him, and the brush
was thick on either side of the trail. Into this I
jumped, and, snatching up a stout broken limb of
a pine tree, ran downhill parallel with and close to
the trail.
I was borrowing a hint from the moose of Cassiar.
Fifty yards down the trail I crouched and waited,
whilst the little beast worked uphill, running entirely
by nose, but running keenly now. He knew I was
not far off. Luckily for me he did not know how close
I was, and, true to his training, stuck close to the
scent. Yap! yap! he came, every moment growing
noisier and more jubilant, until he was abreast of me,
and then I brought my pine bough down across his
back with all the strength left in me. From that
moment he was a dead dog, and, shying his body into
the brush as far as I could sling it, I ran the rest of
the way home, never stopping until I had my blankets
in my hand.
After my night's adventure even that shack looked
comfortable. The red blankets looked absolutely
luxurious, and I hurried to get my wet moccasins off,
and roll myself up in the soft, warm things. But I
woke Windy Ike in doing so, and Ike was very conservative of his right to sleep at least half of the
twenty-four hours.
" Been out again ? " he grumbled. " Looking after
mules, I suppose you'll say ? " i
L66
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
" No; but it's about time for you to get up and
do that."
" Well, what in thunder have you been doing ? You
and Joe are just the two most pernicketty night-hawks
I ever did strike. There ain't no peace for a man night
nor day in this confounded hole!"
u Nor any work for you, either, it seems to me."
" Work!—it's work all day and most of the night,
what with doing chores and cooking."
" Much cooking you do ! I'll tell you what it is :
you just get up now and watch, if you don't want your
throat cut; I am going to sleep. I've done my spell of
watching, and mean to turn in."
" What is there to watch for ? The steamer ain't
likely to come, is she ? and, if she does, I guess she'll
wait for morning."
" I'm not thinking of steamers ! " I answered angrily.
" But you are under my orders, and, if you don't get
up and watch, I'll put a bullet through you. Do you
understand that ? "
" Your orders ? "
" Yes! my orders!" and I snatched up my Win*
Chester.   I was utterly worn-out and irritable.
The man saw that I was in earnest, and rose sullenly
to obey.
" And what's your orders, sir, if the steamer comes ? "
he asked sneeringly.
"My  orders are to   keep awake   and keep  your THE  CHICAMON STONE. 167
mouth shut, and, if you'see any siwashes coming, wake
me before they come too near. Or go to sleep and have
your throat cut, I don't care;" and, so saying, I turned
over on my side and slept. And from the fact that
a fire had been lighted when I woke, I fancy that
my mention of throat-cutting had had some  effect
upon Ike.
But the sun was high when I woke; and hunger,
not duty, may have prompted Ike to light that fire.
To my surprise, when I sat up in my blankets I saw
that Joe was rolled up in his on the floor by my side.
He must have come when I slept; but how the deuce
had he come back?    When I last saw him he was
steering  the   war-canoe of the Tshimsians into  the
night towards Oorah. 168
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
CHAPTER VI.
As I sat and watched Joe he began to move restlessly
in his sleep, muttering words of which I could not
catch the sense—if indeed there was any sense in them.
Then suddenly he rose up on his elbow and stared
fixedly towards the hearth, his features convulsed with
what looked like fear. But his eyes were fast shut;
he was still asleep.
" Joe!" I shouted, " wake up ! " and I tossed a billet
of wood at him, which, striking him in the ribs,
brought him back from the land of dreams, but not, I
thought, to his senses, for, after one wild, doubting
stare at the hearth, he began to tear up the blankets
in which he had been lying, and to pour them and all
his other possessions, with both arms, upon the live
coals, muttering all the while as he did so, "More,
more!"
I was so taken aback by his madness, that for a
minute I did not interfere. But when he plucked out
a knife, and began slashing at his forearm with it unti
THE CHICAMON STONE. 169
til the blood spouted to his finger-tips, I gathered
my wits together, and, springing upon him, pinned his
arms to his sides.
This was more easily accomplished than I might
have expected. Indeed, instead of having to struggle
against the paroxysms of madness, I found Joe so
tractable that I took my hands off him almost at once.
When I did so, the strange fellow walked across the
floor to that spot which had drawn his waking eyes,
and, shaking the blood from his finger-tips, so
besprinkled it.
" What foolery are you at, Joe ? " I asked.
"Whitehead did not see the koutsmah. It was
there."
" You were dreaming ; there was no koutsmah (spirit)
in this shack.    I have been awake for half an hour."
" Whitehead think he see ; think Joe sleep. Whitehead's koutsmah sleep; Siyah Joe's koutsmah wake.
Joe see the head there very plain, and he know the
the face ; only now Joe forgets; " and he pressed his
hand to his forehead.
" Yes, Joe forgets," he went on, talking half to
himself. " The head he stop there. Whose face Was
it ? Why was there only a head ? Why was the
ground all white ? What was it between Joe and the
head ? The head saw it, and could not come to it; Joe
could not see. Why could not Joe see any of these
things ? " iff?
Ill
170
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
" Because you were asleep, and had your eyes shut,"
I said, with the impatience one naturally feels for such
childish follies. " And now what are you going to do
for more blankets ? "
Joe looked at me, more hurt than angered.
" Whitehead not believe in koutsmahs. No ? By-
and-by Whitehead see."
"And about the blankets ? "
"Joe not want any more blankets now. Perhaps
Whitehead not want any more after to-day."
" What the deuce do you mean ? "
"No matter, come now and watch. The Kula
Kullahs come to ask questions."
How he knew it I cannot guess, but, as we reached
the door of the shed, two or three Kula Kullahs
came up the trail. Joe stood leaning on his rifle as
they drew near; and I think that they noticed the
rifle, and it may have altered their intentions.
After an exchange of greetings they asked us a few
unimportant questions, whilst one of their number
wandered aimlessly around the hut. He touched
nothing, but his eyes were very busy.
I told one of them that I had watched the wolves
with my glasses the day before, and asked him what
all the shooting had been about at night. But I could
only learn that the god Ki-i was very angry with his
children, and that the home of the Kula Kullah crows
had fallen, which I knew. r—
THE CHICAMON  STONE. 171
They did not say a word about the death of one of
their number, nor of the escape of the captives.
They asked where Ike was, and I told them truthfully enough that I did not know—looking after his
mules, I supposed. And they asked me when the big
smoke-ship would come again, and I replied, not quite
so truthfully, that I expected her to come in sight any
minute—that indeed she was already overdue.
Then they went away and left us, some going up
the hill and some back to the rancherie.
Three hours later I heard something fall in the hut,
at the back of which I was busy preparing our dinner.
As I went to see whether it was my kettle which had
upset, Joe came out with a knife in his hand. He
had picked it up on the floor of the hut, and I recognized
it as that with which he had stabbed the sleeping
Kula Kullah the night before. In his hurry he had
left it in the wound.
" Kula Kullahs know now. They knew when they
came here. But this is not siwash blood;" and he
held up the blade to show me that it was red and wet.
I could hardly frame the question that I wanted to
ask, but my eyes asked for me,
" Ike !" was all he said.
So we were only two now; and the poor, grumbling
packer had paid with his life for the life we had taken.
"They are quits now; and they will bury their man ;
and then it will be our turn." 172
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
Their man was, of course, he who had slept across
the doorway. And, during the long watch of that afternoon, we heard the women keening, and, early in the
grey of the next morning, they put him to rest, wedged
upright in a crevice in the rocks, on the coast of Kula
Kullah, with his face to the sea. So are buried most
of his kinsmen; and some day, if the graves give up
their dead, the islands between the north end of Vancouver Island and Wrangel will be grey with them.
At night, even now, the Kula Kullahs say that they
come out in the dark, and peer over the waste of waters,
looking for the war-canoes to come and bring them
fresh company.
And now we had to let the mules shift for themselves.
Day and night we watched in turn, our cartridges laid
out in handy places, and our hut barricaded as well as
we knew how to barricade it.
We would have tried to escape, but there was no
place to escape to on the island; and Joe had taught
them such a lesson of caution in regard to their canoes,
that it would have been hopeless to attempt to get
away in one of them.
We dared not leave the hut. Ike's fate was always
before us, and, knowing that he must have foreseen
this, I could not help wondering at the loyalty which
had made Joe leave the Tshimsians in the stolen war-
canoe to swim ashore and share my peril. My attempt
to rescue Skookum Jim had restored me to the place 1
THE  CHICAMON  STONE. 173
in his esteem which my soft-heartedness had jeopardized.
For one day after the burial of the Kula Kullah
everything was quiet. It was the longest day I ever
spent, and the night of it was longer than the day.
I felt the oppression which Nature seems to feel before
a thunderstorm, and, like Nature, my whole system
seemed charged with suppressed excitement, and my
senses were so keen that I was painfully conscious of
the fall of every twig in the brush which surrounded us.
And that reminds me that, during every moment of
his spare time, Joe was busy with axe and knife clearing #way every bush or tree on the little plateau in
front of the hut. At first I thought he was merely
cutting fuel, but the stuff he cut was green and useless
for that. The men who were watching us did not notice
what worthless wood Joe was cutting as soon as I did.
As yet they dared not come near enough to see
that; but before the evening of that day they saw; and
a bullet, which knocked his axe out of his hand, warned
Joe that he had carried that game as far as it was safe
to. He did not wait to give the marksman another
chance. But he had done us some good already : there
was very little cover left above the edge of the
plateau in which an enemy could hide.
On the morning of the third day a new sound came
to our ears. Have you ever heard bees swarming?
that was the sound in miniature.    All the morning it W7
M
174
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
went on, rising and falling; and with my glasses we
could see the Kula Kullahs gathered on the beach.
It was the incessant murmur of their angry voices
which had reminded me of the swarming bees. After
a time one man—whom I knew for the chief by his
huge shoulders—rose, and flinging back his blanket,
spoke to his tribesmen in a voice like the roaring of
a storm from the south-west.
I should think that he spoke for half an hour.
After he had spoken two or three others rose, and,
now and again, there was a hum of approval or dissent;
but, whenever the speaker's arm was raised towards
where we watched, there was no mistaking the menace
in the voice of the mob.
" To-night they come," said Joe, pumping the cartridges out of his rifle, and carefully refilling it. It
held seventeen of the little brass messengers in its
chambers, and we had each a case of twenty more
such messengers to fall back upon.
If they did not rush our position, that night's hunt
seemed likely to be a costly one for the Kula Kullahs.
The first attack was made in the dark of early night,
before the moon rose. Even Joe did not hear them
coming, and, thinking that they would wait for some
light to shoot by, he tand I were snatching a hasty
meal of canned meat by the light of a little wood fire
in the middle of the hut.
Suddenly there was a rattle of shots, the meat-can THE  CHICAMON  STONE. 175
flew out of my hands, and two or three splinters of
wood or bullets sent the red ashes all over the
floor. We had no time to gather them together. If
the shack burned down we could not help it.
In a moment we were at our posts, one guarding the
front, and one the rear of the one-roomed building,
and each entrenched behind a solid barricade of heavy
timber made ready for the purpose.
" Don't fire till you see them," whispered Joe, and,
in obedience to his advice, we received another volley
without returning a single shot.
"Soon they think we dead. Then they come
closer."
As he spoke I saw a stump, or what I had taken for
one, move a little towards me, Thinking that my
eyes were playing me tricks, I waited until I saw it
distinctly roll slowly over towards the hut. Then I
fired, and the stump sprang to its feet, only to come
down again, with a bullet through the middle of it;
whilst what I had taken for a faggot, left purposely
near the hut, took three bullets to keep it quiet.
Meanwhile Joe had been busy. I heard him fire
so quickly that I was afraid he was throwing away
ammunition; but two out of his five bullets told, and
that was good work in such an infamously bad light.
" Better watch," he said. " But I think that stop
them a little while."
And then the edge of the clouds was touched with 176
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
I III
tt\l
a silvery light, and the moon rose. We should die in
the light, and that was better than being shot dawn in
the dark. For the next half-hour there was dead silence.
As the moon rose higher and higher the calm of the
night was in strange contrast to the way in which we
were spending it.
" All over soon now," said Joe. " They make a ring
in the trees and rush us. Good-bye, Whitehead; I
go and look once." And he crawled to the roof, and
stood sufficiently exposed to give a fair chance to a
marksman.
But they did not choose to show their positions by
firing, or had not enough confidence in their shooting.
Seeing that no one fired I joined Joe, keeping as
much out of sight as possible.
Below us lay the beach, flooded with silvery light,
contrasting strongly with the dense darkness which lay
under the shadow of the pines.
In the full whiteness of the moonlight stood the
long row of stakes, and the wind was playing strange
tricks with their burden, waving the hair of the dead,
and turning their faces, so it seemed to me, towards
Oorah. How soon would our dead eyes be looking the
same way ?
The answer came in one short order from the brush;
and then, with an unearthly yell, the Kula Kullahs
rushed from the shadows on all sides of us. I had no
time to see what happened; I had enough to do in THE CHICAMON STONE. 177
working the pump of my Winchester. But though I
fired until my barrel burned my fingers, and though
Joe's rifle seemed to send out one uninterrupted stream
of flame and sound, we could not check the rush.
There were so many of our foes that the death of one
of them made no difference, and already they were
tearing down the frail walls of our shack with their
bare hands, whilst one had died across our hearth,
brained by Joe, in the very act of driving his spear
through my back.
We were like a fox now in the middle of the pack ;
one sharp worry.and it would have been all over. But,
even as we set our teeth to take our death in silence, as
men should, there arose such a storm of shrieks, such
a roar of war-cries from the beach below, that even
those hounds running for bipod heard it, and were
checked in mid-career.
For one breathing-space they stood in dumb amaze;
and then, above the war-cries and the shrieks, rose the
voice of fire, and a great spout of flame shot up from
where the Indian rancherie stood. The Tshimsians
had come for vengeance.
Joe saw it, and, divining what had happened, in a
moment sprang- recklessly upon the roof and dropped
three of the Kula Kullahs in their tracks before,
without another glance at us, they turned and plunged
downhill through the pines. I did not fire; my
heart was weary of slaying, and it made no matter.
_N
 -^ If]
178
THE  CHICAMON   STONE.
Whether I slew, or they slew down below, the men of
Kula Kullah were doomed.
The white light of the moon looked pallid now. In
place of its peaceful silver, a red, lurid glow was over
everything. From the great roof-tree of the rancherie
forked tongues of flame leaped and streamed; the
stockade was a river of fire through which, from time
to time, some hunted thing, its hair streaming in the
wind, dashed, only to die on the spears of the howling
demons outside, who hacked and stabbed at everything
that moved until it lay still.
A handful of our late assailants behaved like men.
With the flames of their home in their eyes, they
charged down the beach from the pines, and their
great chief led them on.
I saw a woman with her baby in her arms turn and
double as she met the line of Tshimsian spears. She
had brought her young one through the flames only
to die by steel. A laugh went up as she dodged one
brave after another; it was merry work, and they made
no haste to catch her. But at that moment the Kula
Kullah charge came home, and, as I saw her creep into
the brush unhurt, I thanked God for two lives spared.
Hitherto it had been a one-sided massacre, now it
almost seemed as if the tide of the battle had turned.
Using some sort of a spear, the great-shouldered chief
rushed in to close quarters. His gun-bearers, of whom
he had two, might use the rifles.     In his deadly strait
J THE  CHICAMON  STONE. 179
he clung to the weapon he loved and knew. He was
the harpooner of his tribe now, and he speared the
Tshimsians as he would have speared seals on the beach.
For ten minutes the braves of Oorah learned what
fighting meant. " Wah! Wah ! " you heard his hoarse
cry, half sob, half snort, as he drove his weapon
home, and never a man in all that mob either fended
his blow or needed a second.
If there had been ten men like him that night
amongst his tribe, no Tshimsians would have gone
back to Oorah.
But there was not one like him. In spite of his
gallant leading some fled and some fell; and, step by
step, he was driven down his own beach to his own
killing-yard, until he stood at bay in front of that
dead line of his own marshalling. -
Even there, and alone, he held the Tshimsians at
bay; and though I knew him for a savage and a
murderer, who would have added my own head to his
trophies that night but for the Tshimsians' attack, I
could not withhold a tribute of admiration for the man
fighting so gallantly in the glow of his own burning
homestead.
If he was a monster, he was at any rate one worthy of
the savage seas that bore him. If he had their cruelty,
he had also some of their magnificent might.
How long he would have held his own amongst the
shrinking Tshimsians I cannot tell, for as they ringed
— -    -   -•—  -\ f:'      ■
;
! MM
w
180
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
him round I heard a cry, so fierce, so shrill that it
rang above the crackling of the burning beams and
the measured sob of ocean, and I saw a lithe, naked
figure cross the beach in splendid bounds like a
cheetah loosed upon a deer.
With a rush that nothing could stay, Joe—for it was
he—went through the shrinking Tshimsians and in at
his man, diving under the lifted spear, and, winding
his long arms round the spearman's mighty thigh, so
that the spear-thrust struck empty air and the great
chief himself was lifted off his legs shoulder high and
rolled crashing in the sand.
But the sand was soft, and his brawny neck was like
the neck of a bull; so that, beyond a stunning shock, he
came to no great hurt, and moreover he clung to Joe
with his left arm, so that he dragged him with him in
his fall, and lay locked with him under the very eyes
of the dead of Oorah.
But the dead of Oorah were looking out to sea to
where their home lay, over the dark waters, so that
they saw neither their foe nor their champion, as the
two writhed and twisted on the sand, until for a
moment these were at deadlock, Joe still above, but
spent, and merely clinging to his foe. And that foe,
as I could see, only getting breath for a moment, and
drawing up his limbs for one mighty effort, after which
the slighter man would lie helpless as a child beneath
the giant's spear.
—— THE CHICAMON STONE.
And then the wind changed, and, swinging as a vane
swings, the ghastly heads of Oorah turned slowly
round, and their dead eyes looked down in the Kula
Eullah's face.
My friends say that of course the great brute burst
a blood-vessel in his struggles, or died, as such men
will, in a fit. So be it; but let me believe as the men
of Oorah believe—and that is not their belief.
However it was, I know that, whilst in the very
act of throwing Joe beneath him, the dead eyes fell
upon the Kula Kullah chief, and he dropped back, and
lay without a struggle and without a wound, dead, by
the side of a man who was too spent to rise to his feet. 182
THE CHICAMON STONE.
1
CHAPTER VII.
When I crept down to the beach, the warriors of the
Tshimsian tribe were busy preparing for their return
to Oorah. They had revenged the death of their tribesmen, they had gathered a plentiful harvest of the
hideous trophies which make the pride of such a clan
as theirs, and had lent a hand in the extinction of a
race which could not, in any event, endure long before
the advance of white man's civilization; but they were
afraid of the solitude they had created, and were
anxious to be gone.
The walls of the rancherie had fallen in; the great
roof-tree, or what was left of it, lay still smouldering
amongst the embers, but the glare of the fire had
subsided, and the shadows, having crept back into the
brush, the long line of war-canoes, in which they had
stolen upon Kula Kullah, now gleamed ghostly in the
moonlight.
One party of the Tshimsians was out along the shore;
but whether they were burying their newly slain, or THE  CHICAMON  STONE. 183
whether they were finding sepulture for the heads which
had watched their coming, I do not know. That they
did not bury the dead of Kula Kullah I know, for the
headless trunks lay in all directions, thickest round
the fallen home of the crows.
The warriors were sullen now, and savage: not
jubilant, as men who had won a great victory; and when
I showed my face amongst them, they crowded round
me, fingering their spears as if their thirst for blood
was not even yet slaked ; but Joe came to my rescue.
" Nika tillicum (my friend)," he said. " It was he
who tried to save Skookum Jim." And at once the
spears were dropped, and a blanket spread for me to
sit upon, until the preparations for sailing had been
completed.
I had made up my mind, of course, to go with the
Tshimsians. Ike was dead—that we knew, and, now
that the worst of the winter was passed, the mules could
look after themselves until I could send word to the
Boss and take them away in the steamer.
But, whatever might be the cost of my desertion, in
mules, I felt that I could not be expected to stay
Jonger on the island. Many of the Kula Kullahs had
been slain, but not all. Some had never faced the
fight. They had not stomach for such fighting as there
was that night upon the beach, but they would be
brave enough to take the head of one white man if he
were fool enough to remain behind at their mercy.    I dffiirnr
184
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
had to choose between going with the Tshimsians, or
staying to be slain by the Kula Kullahs; so that it was
easy to make up my mind.
But not as easy as it might appear, for, whilst I sat
watching the preparations for departure, my eyes fell
upon a small party which held itself aloof from the
rest of the savages, and which appeared to have had no
share in the battle.
It was composed of the three who had come as visitors
to Kula Kullah, and turned south instead of going
north to the Nasse. They were already watching me
before my eyes fell upon them, and, as our eyes met,
an unaccountable dread took possession of me. I
guessed that these were the men who had led the
Tshimsians to Kula Kullah, and that indirectly Joe
and I owed our lives to them. But they had not come
for that. Why then had they come, and who were
they ? Not men of Oorah, and therefore not interested
in the inter-tribal war; not seeking spoil, for there
was none to take—and that they must have known. I
remembered Joe's words, and, as if answering my
thoughts, he came to me at that moment and whispered,
following my eyes with his.
"Yes, that is Tatooch; and with him are Lone
Goose and the white man.    They came for us."
But if they had, they made no sign as yet, and, when
the rest embarked, they slipped into their own canoe
and followed in our wake. THE CHICAMON  STONE. 185
It was a strange and eerie journey in the dark, with
no sound to break the stillness of the night except the
even, mechanical dip of the paddles, and the occasional
scuttering of some waterfowl frightened by the passing
canoes. When the dawn came it was even worse, for
the fiendish faces all round me looked more hideous,
with their smearings of paint and drying blood in the
white light of dawn, than even in the lurid glow of
the burning rancherie ; and there were worse-looking
faces than those of the rowers, rolling loose in the
bottom of the canoe.
But at last weariness, and the even beat of the
paddles, and the freshness of the morning soothed me,
so that the whole of my surroundings vanished like a
nightmare, and for a time I slept. Whdh I woke the
sun was up, and there was even a suggestion of spring
in the air, which gladdened me and turned my thoughts
to happier times ahead.
" Thank Heaven, Joe! " I said to him, " it is all over
now, and we shall see white men again soon."
" Perhaps, Whitehead; who knows. The ice could
not save us ; will the fire ? "
" Why should you doubt it ? The Tshimsians are
our friends."
" We helped them; but so did those." And he pointed
over his shoulder to the canoe behind.
And then I noticed what I had not seen in the darkness of the night before, that the man whom Joe took for JI
186
THE CHICAMON STONE.
■
Tatooch was no longer red-headed, but was Tatooch indeed. He and Lone Goose had abandoned their disguises,
and looked their own accursed selves, but the sorcerer
in his blankets had made no change. He was the same
shrivelled and heavily blanketed old savage he had
always seemed; but after the revelation of the other
two, I began to watch him more closely, and was at
last almost convinced that Joe was right in this case
too, and that he was Bill mumming.    But why ?
This puzzled me. So did the extraordinary depression which had taken possession of Joe. It was in
vain that I tried to rally him. He had received no
hurt, and, as the hero of last night's fight, he ought to
have felt sure of good treatment at the hands of the
victors.
But he did not.
" It was a grand fight, Joe; and your struggle with
the chief the grandest part of it. They will make a
chief of you when we come to Oorah."
* Tshimsians do not make chiefs of Tahl Tans, and,
as for the fight, Ki-i gives one good fight to most men,
but I must pay for the death of the Kula Kullah. He
was a great chief."
" And he who slew him, greater."
" So will not men think ; and the gods will punish."
That was his vein of thought, and I could not rouse
him from it. After his exertions of the last few days
a great reaction had set in, and I felt that I must wait THE  CHICAMON STONE. 187
until rest had restored him to his natural strength,
before I could hope to see in him his old energy.
The sun was halfway up the heavens before we
drew near to a certain island on the road to Oorah, on
the shores of which stood one or two deserted booths
such as Indians build in the summer season ; and here
we landed. It was still far to Oorah, and the men had
not broken their fast since their landing at Kula
Kullah, and even Indians cannot do without food
altogether.
So here we beached our canoes, and the Indians set
about preparing some sort of a meal, and some of the
weariest of them stretched themselves on the beach or
washed their wounds in the mouth of the little stream
at which they filled their cans. After that, they
lounged round the fires they had kindled, until Tatooch
and his companions rose and stood before the Tshim-
sian chief.
Tatooch was the spokesman of the party, and he
spoke in the Tshimsian tongue, which I did not understand, but I gathered much from his dramatic action—
in which all Indians excel,—and the rest I learned later
from Siyah Joe, who listened to him now with a face
as set as any mask.
" Is it true, chief, that the Tshimsians have won a
great victory ? "
" Tatooch has seen that it is true."
"And there are many heads to take to Oorah ? "
J 188
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
The chief raised his hand and pointed to the canoes.
" Is it true, chief, that Tatooch and the wise man of
the Tlinkits"—pointing to the silent figure in the
blankets—" gave this victory to the Tshimsians ? "
" It is true that Tatooch and his friends spied out
the land, and led us thither whilst the Kula Kullahs
slept."
" Does the chief forget that the tree of Kula Kullah
fell, as the wise man foretold that it would fall ? "
Now, whether by some dark saying, which might be
interpreted to mean either the fall of the tree or the
clan, the impostor had made a lucky hit, or whether
one of .the three had made an opportunity to cut
through the roots of that tree whilst they were upon
the island, leaving the south-west wind to finish their
work, I do not know. The former is the more probable.
But at this saying I noticed that the Tshimsians, who
had now crowded round the speakers, looked at one
another, and looked, too, questioningly at their chief.
Public opinion was in favour of the miraculous, and
even a chief in the Straits of Hecate is not independent
of public opinion, so this chief had to bow to the
priests, and content himself with a portion only of his
victory.
" The saying of Tatooch is a true saying.    The tree
did fall."
" And the Tlinkit foretold its fall; and when the
tree falls, the clan falls.    Is it not so ? "
■dmi
 ■	
*Ju&&r&--*A    _      ^ THE CHICAMON STONE. 189
" It was so."
" Does the chief of Oorah give no presents to his
friends ? "
" There shall be blankets and rifles at Oorah."
"But the chief promised. Will he not keep his
promise ? The wise man of the Tlinkits asks for no
blankets. He has no need of rifles, and it is but one
slave that he asks—a slave of the Tahl Tans; " and
the scoundrel's finger pointed at Joe.
But Joe sprang to his feet, and his words came like
rushing water. Talk of oratory ! You should hear a
native speak when he is in earnest. His voice rings
with a passion to which our most fervid eloquence is
cold, with a strength like the strength of the elements,
whilst, if his tongue was dumb, his gestures alone
would make his meaning plain.
" Did the chief believe words or deeds ? Was he not
himself a warrior; or was he an old woman whose
tongue was stronger than his arm ? Had the thing in
blankets struck one stroke for Oorah ? Had he set the
captives of Oorah free, or had they been freed by the
white man there, and himself? If the sorcerer had
felled the tree of Kula Kullah, and not the south-west
wind, who had felled the chief who speared men as
the harpooner spears seals ? "
Up to this point Joe was making splendid headway.
The chief of the Tshimsians was a man, who loved a
stalwart blow better than a crafty speech ; but he did _ *? t •'■T f-r
—
1
190
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
B I
not care to be reminded, in the presence of his followers
red from the battle, that he had stood back whilst a
naked man of another tribe went in and slew the great
Kula Kullah.
" The Tahl Tan forgets," he said, "that, but for the
dead eyes of Oorah, he would be now where the Kula
Kullah lies."
Tatooch saw his opportunity, and burst into a harsh
laugh.
" The Tahl Tan jeers at the men of Oorah," he said.
"Would he have them believe that those arms slew
the Kula Kullah, whom the chief himself could not
reach ? He is a slave and a witch ; and but for that,
would have died before the Tshimsian dead turned to
his aid."
In truth, Joe was but a young man still, and his lithe,
spare figure, worn by hunger and fatigue, did not
compare favourably with those of the brawny oarsmen
round him.
" See," Tatooch went on, growing bolder, " we ask
but two: the slave for the wise man and the white
man for us. And you have taken five times ten
heads."
" We promised but one, and will give no more."
" Then let it be the slave."
"You say he is a witch," said the chief, who was
now sore put to it, between respect for his promise and,
I think, an honest liking for the man who had done THE  CHICAMON  STONE. 191
so much for his tribe. " Can your wise man of the
Tlinkits show the Tshimsians that this is so ? "
For a moment Tatooch stood silent; but there came
a murmur from the thing in blankets, and the quick-
eared savage heard it, and put on a bold front again.
" The Tlinkit can do this thing," he replied.
And then he had a hurried conference with his ally,
after which, returning to the circle round the chief, he
announced that in one hour from then, the wise man
of the Tlinkits would prove to the assembled Tshimsians
that the slave, Joe, was indeed a witch—and that, not
by words but by deeds. In the mean time the Tlinkit
asked leave to retire to his tent, apart from the people,
that he might confer with the spirits he served.
This speech pleasing the chief, whose eminently
practical mind was more prepared to trust his eyes
than his ears, the three were allowed to retire and
pitch their tent apart, and I watched him for some
time fetching bundles of different kinds from the
canoe to the tent, inside which a continual droning
and medley of strange sounds was kept up, the two
Indians sitting like statues outside on guard.
What devilish mummery was in hand I could not
tell, but my faith was strong in the scepticism of the
Tshimsian chief, and I had very little fear for Joe in
the approaching trial. But my faith did not affect
him.
" The man who is accursed cannot  be saved," he
* /fffff
1
192
THE  CHICAMON STONE.
replied to all my arguments. " You have seen, Whitehead, that the ice could not save us, nor the red fire
that leaped on the Kula Kullah roof-tree. The spirits
are stronger than men, and Joe has slept in the house
of the spirits."
His mind, long sceptical with regard to the legends
of his people, was breaking down, and he magnified
his sojourns at the Castle Rock into an unpardonable
sin which the haunting spirits must avenge.
Towards the close of the afternoon a sudden snow-
squall blew up from the sea and blinded the face of
Nature, patching the mossy rocks with miserable gray
patches of snow which melted as it fell.
" The light goes," said Joe, " and the end comes "—
and as he spoke the tent opened, and a hideous figure
bounded across the beach and stood in the circle of
the Tshimsians.
It was the Tlinkit, and in a moment I knew again
the mask of the witch-killer, and the nodding white
plumes, but the rest of the man was swathed in robes,
so that not a particle of him could be seen save his
long, bare arms.
Joe knew the mask, and perhaps it was the memory
of another day which made him shrink before it. His
action was noted, and it went against him.
I cannot stay now to describe, even if I could remember, all the mummery of the first part of that
witch-trial.    It was not well done, and I could see
■""   '-'"• ■   •■ THE CHICAMON STONE. 193
that it wearied the chief, although the others looked
on as children might at a pantomime.
" Tatooch promised us a sign of deeds," said the
chief at last. " Until now we have had but words.
The Tlinkit mutters words which we do not understand, and the Tahl Tan answers words which sound
true."
" Then the chief shall have his sign. Let him bid
the Tahl Tan stand here."
Now I so mistrusted the scoundrels that I feared
lest, failing to obtain possession of Joe's body alive,
they would drive a knife into him in the very midst of
us, and so seal the secret of the Chicamon Stone upon
his lips for ever. Therefore, when he stood up between
the Tshimsians and the Tlinkit, I went and took my
place beside him.
As I did so Tatooch, the spokesman, turned and
looked at the masked mummer for a sign. As he
made none I was allowed to remain where I was.
There was a little fire still smouldering near the
stream, by which we were all camped, and upon the
banks of this stream the trial was held. By the side
of this fire stood one of the small " billies " which
miners and prospectors use in the north. At a word
from the medicine-man Tatooch emptied the cold tea
from this billy, washed it out, and then, turning to the
chief, said—
" The medicine-man of the Tlinkits asks the chief if
o 194
THE  CHICAMON STONE.
the water of this creek is good water, and harmless to
true men ? " .
" The water is good water. The Tshimsians have
drunk it since the gods gave them the island."
" Then will the chief drink it now, before his people,
that they may see that it is good water? " asked Tatooch.
And stooping he let the pure stream gurgle into the
top of the billy, and then held it, brimming over and
dripping, to the Tshimsian.
For one moment only the chief demurred. It is
possible that, in that moment of hesitation, the same
suspicion crossed his brain and mine; but from his it
was soon dispelled.
Short as his hesitation was, a murmur rose from his
people, as Tatooch faced him with the brimming vessel.
Why should he fear? He-had seen the vessel filled
before his eyes, and who would dare to harm him
amongst his own warriors ?
He held out his hand, and Tatooch, pouring out a
cupful of the water, handed it to him, and he drank,
Tatooch passing the billy back to the medicine-man.
For a moment all eyes were on the chief. Then he
said simply—
" It is good water.    The Tshimsians know it*"
Then Tatooch turned to the medicine-man, who
crouched still in the wide folds of his blanket behind
the Indian, and held to him the cup to be refilled.
" Then if the chief says the water is good water, let
ginilijjjiiji THE CHICAMON STONE. 195
the Tahl Tan drink of it. If the water harms him not,
then he is no witch, and his friends the Tshimsians
shall take him back to Oorah."
The chief smiled a little grimly. He did not intend
to ask the leave of these three strangers to take his
man back with him. But I did not smile. I feared.
For a few seconds our eyes had left the medicineman. What had he done to the water in those few
seconds ?
" Don't drink, Joe, he has poisoned it! " I cried; and
I put back the cup which Tatooch held to my friend.
The water in the cup swilled backwards and forwards,
and all but spilled over the brim of it. If only it had
quite done so ! But the Indian's hand was steady, and
luck was against us.
" The white man knows, and the Tahl Tan fears the
trial of the gods!" sneered Tatooch. " Is the chief to
be obeyed ? "
The chief hesitated. He was quick-witted, and may
have had a suspicion of foul play as I had; but if
anything had been done, it had been so well done that
it had escaped our eyes, and a murmur rose once more
from his own people.
Tatooch heard it.
" The chief will not keep his word," he said insolently.
" But Ki-i is stronger than the chief. See !" and with
one dexterous jerk he flung the contents of the cup
full into Joe's face. 196
THE CHICAMON STONE.
With a scream of agony the Tahl Tan sprang
backwards, his hands to his eyes, and I can almost
think now that I indeed saw his skin smoke where the
water struck him. For a moment he rolled upon the
ground, tearing blindly at his face, and then rushed to
the sea, as a hurt child flies to its mother's bosom.
He was floundering in the waves when I caught him
in my arms, and it was almost more than I could do to
save him from drowning himself.
1 The spirits eat my eyes ! my eyes ! " he screamed,
struggling desperately.
And then I heard the cold, sneering voice of Tatooch
ask—
" Does water burn true men or witches ? "
The murmur which answered him told me the verdict
of the Tshimsians. They had had their sign of deeds,
and had heard the Tahl Tan's own lips condemn him.
" The spirits eat my eyes ! " he had cried ; and that
was enough. They were but untaught men of blood,
and knew nothing of the ways of the deceitful men,
neither could they tell a true man from a witch, nor
vitriol from honest water. PART III—THE BLIND MAN'S HUNT.
CHAPTER I.
It is one of the many mercies of Nature that, whereas
Hope offers us the right end of the telescope, Memory
reverses the glass; whence it comes that the things
of the future look so large, and those of the past so
infinitely small.
There is no room for details at the small end of the
telescope; and I am glad that it is so, for I at any rate
want no clear recollection of the days which I spent
nursing Siyah Joe, after the Tshimsians had left us
like wounded beasts upon the island, to die or recover
from our hurts as the gods might choose.
Even those who had wrought our ill left us without
further molestation, taking ship with the Tshimsians.
For if Joe was a witch, a blind witch who could not
find his way to a ledge he had once seen, was not one
worthy of further consideration from a practical witch-
finder like Sandy Bill, who had been so long away from
- -    • - fUFf1""
198
THE CHICAMON STONE.
1
Scotland, that he had probably forgotten the very name
of second sight, and even if he remembered the childish
superstitions of his youth, was far too level-headed a
man to pay any attention to them.
Vitriol would destroy any kind of sight worth taking
into the consideration of a practical prospector, and, in
Joe's case, it certainly had done so; for when the first
paroxysms of pain had passed, it became abundantly
evident that, as he put it, " the gods had eaten out his
eyes."
If I wanted to I could not take you back through
those long days when Joe suffered, and I, closing my
ears, waited for the pain to pass away from him. There
was scarcely anything that I could do for the blinded
' man; but that little I did, and found perhaps more
comfort in my ministrations than he did.
At the first he was a raving madman whom I had
to restrain from self-destruction by sheer physical force;
then the days of agonized writhings, and wild screams
passed, and he lay moaning, face down upon the sand,
neither eating nor speaking, and for hours together
showing no signs of life whatever.
Later on I found him sitting, where at high water the
sea almost wet his feet—a rock upon a rock—^as rigid,
as dumb, and as storm-scarred as the stones amongst
which he sate; and here he remained for the rest of our
stay upon the island. And whether he slept, or what he
ate, I know not, for, whenever I saw him, he had the same THE  CHICAMON STONE. 199
rigid, expressionless face turned towards the sea, and
except once, he never showed that he was conscious of
my presence, nor spoke word to me, from the time he
took his place there until we left the island.
On the one occasion upon which he spoke, it was
evening—an evening so beautifully still that you could
almost hear what the sea and the little breeze were
saying to one another; aye, and come very near to
understanding the language in which they spoke.
"The sea say that the Alaskan come to-morrow,
Whitehead.    Do you hear it ? "
" No, Joe. But she must come soon. Are you sure
that the sea says to-morrow ? "
" The Tahl Tan is sure. He see now the waves run
from the foot of the Alaskan; he hear the thump,
thump, of the smoke-ship coming; he see her black
breath in the pines. By-and-by Whitehead see too."
" Does Joe see anything else ? "
" Ah—ah," he answered, as if speaking to himself,
" the blind witch of Tahl Tan see many things; more
things, many more things than eyes see. But all dark
Joe—all dark. No sun, no wind, no water that runs,
no things that talk ; only snow, and night coming, and
the head that waits."
I thought that he was mad; but anything was better
than the dumb-madness I had endured for days, so I
humoured him.
" What head, Joe ? " I asked, 200
THE CHICAMON STONE.
| The head of the dream in Kula Kullah. The head
that waits by the Chicamon Stone. Whitehead will
see it, and Joe will be near it then. But the smoke-
ship comes to-morrow;" and with these mad words he
turned his face again to sea, and his wandering mind
went out into space, so that my voice seemed as little
able to pass through his ears as the light to pass
through his eyes.
Such a sojourn as mine upon that island is enough to
turn the brain of the sanest man, and it is not wonderful
that I dreamed that night that I was again on board
the Alaskan ; but it was strange that when I woke, my
dream had been so vivid that I could still hear, when
I woke, the stroke of a steamer's paddle coming near
to the island.
It was stranger still that when I sat up upon my bed
of hard-packed sand and looked out seaward, I fancied
that I could see the big white ship almost abreast of
our island, and hear a voice saying—
" The Alaskan has come, Whitehead. Make a signal
to call her to us."
I rubbed my eyes and shook myself, to make sure
that I was awake, and saw at last that the dream had
been suggested by the reality. It was the stroke of
a paddle-wheel which had reached my sleeping brain,
and there was the Alaskan coming rapidly towards us.
It did not take me long, you may be sure, to rig up
some sort of distress-signal; and in another quarter of THE CHICAMON STONE. 201
an hour a dingy had put off from the steamer and
taken us both on board, Joe showing no sign of joy, or
surprise, or any other emotion. He behaved all along
like a man who knew the future, and was waiting for
each new event. But I admit that the manner of the
Boss surprised me a great deal. I knew him for a quiet,
self-contained man, so easy-going that I had often
wondered if anything could make him hurry, or anything stir that stolid face to passion.
I had no idea of the volcano which slept under his
habitual quiet. Joe was an Indian, and the Boss did
not go out of his way to show any special liking for
Indians; and of this particular Indian he knew scarcely
anything; but when his kind eyes rested on that seared
face and its sightless orbs, when he listened to my story
in. the presence of the, uncomplaining victim of it, I
heard a great curse muttered in his brown beard, and
his hand clenched upon the rail until his knuckles
turned stone-white.
To Joe he said little or nothing. He seemed to me
to be ashamed, as if this thing which Bill had dene
was that for which he, as a white man, was in some
measure responsible; but he followed Siyah Joe with
his eyes as he felt his way about the decks, and woe
befell any man of his crew who left anything undone
which could contribute to the blind man's comfort.
To me the Boss talked incessantly; and all his conversation ran one way, the way of Bill's going and the 202
THE CHICAMON STONE.
way in which we might most quickly follow him; and
when it became obvious, even to him, that I had no
more to tell, he would have a soda-water bottle slung
up somewhere in the rigging, and devote himself
assiduously to revolver shooting. He was always, even
after many days' practice, as slow as a first-class funeral,
but he became fairly sure. Unless the Alaskan was
rolling badly the odds were against the bottle, until
soda-water bottles ran out.
But, like a typical Englishman, it was business first
with the Boss. Pleasure could come later (and I
should have been blind, if I had not seen what that
pleasure would be); but at first we had to go and fetch
the mules from Kula Kullah, and look for anything
which might remain of Ike.
The mules we found, and brought what was left of
them on board, for the remnant of the Kula Kullahs
had destroyed some ; but unless a pickled hand nailed
to the totem-post belonged to Ike, we found no traces
of him.
We had the deuce of a time with the mules. It was
hard enough to catch them; but when it came to getting
them on board, I began to think that, in the elegant
phraseology of the West, we had " bitten off more than
we could chew."
Man's patience will, however, beat even a mule's
obstinacy; and by dint of hauling at their heads, and
pushing on a bar laid across their hocks, we bundled THE CHICAMON STONE. 203
them one by one head over heels into a kind of loose
box, which we swung on board with a derrick.
Before the poor beasts had made up their minds
whether they were fish, flesh, or fowl, they were on
their way to Wrangel, where, as I had expected, we
found winter still reigning upon the river, in strange
contrast to the spring weather of Victoria which had
tempted the Boss to bring up the Alaskan a good six
weeks before there was a chance of carrying any
freight up to Glenora.
There was nothing for it but to tie up the steamer
and wait for open water, make the best provision for
the mules, and find some employment if possible for
ourselves.
" Better come and see Mac first," suggested the boss ;
" he will be able to tell us something, if any one can."
From the first it was evident that the boss had some
plan of action ready-made, and was taking measures to
carry it out.
We found Mac, as usual, amongst his dry goods and
curios.
" How do, Mac ? What is the news?" asked the Boss,
as he entered.
" Wal, that's a good 'un," replied the old man, " for a
chap as has just come from Victoria. You people make
the news down there. Can't you tell us of no new
crik since Sherry Crik ? We ain't even found out yet
where Sherry Crik is." 204
THE CHICAMON STONE.
" No. We aren't on the Pioneer's staff, and volunteer lying is prohibited."
"Same as aliens, who bring five dollars into the
country, for every one as they find in it. Well, it's
a'most a pity. We're getting tired of the same old fool
kind of lies, and the same fool kind of law-makin'."
" You don't like the Alien Bill then, Mac ? "
" Like it ? Who would like it as wants to make
money ? I don't like no laws, nor no law-makers. The
country would go ahead a whole heap faster if there
weren't any papers or politicians. It's just laws as got
Fred and Sing into trouble."
" What has happened to Fred ? "
"Run in for selling whiskey, which it's been his
business all the years I've knowed him, an' tried before
a judge as is one of his best customers. Fred had to
pay fifty greenbacks, and the judge had to keep sober—
pretty nigh sober—for twenty-four hours to try him; "
and the old man snorted with indignation.
" Pretty tough luck. And what is the matter with
Sing?" ;
"Oh, Sing! Why there's been the devil to pay
along of Sing. Whiskey too in his'n. He got run
in to the Skookum House for the winter, same a$ usual,
for selling forty rod to the siwashes; and then, what
with the mining rush, and one thing and another, they
kinder ran short on provisions and turned the old man
out." THE CHICAMON STONE. 205
" Well, I don't see what he has got to kick about."
" Not got nothing to kick about! Why, where's he
going to get his grub ? It's the first time, for fifteen
year, as Uncle Sam has played it as low down as that
on poor old Sing.   And he's a good citizen is Sing! "
We began to see that our point of view was not the
common one in Alaska, so we changed our ground.
" Have you heard anything of those two prospecting
fellows, Sandy Bill and his partner Luke ? "
" Those two sharks ? Yes. They came sneaking out
maybe two weeks after you left Wrangel. Got stuck
in the ice, they said. I didn't see 'em when they came
out."
" Are they here now ? "
" No. Bill cleared before I could get a hold of him,
havin' had some kind of a fallin'-out with Luke; no
shooting, but a whole heap of cuss-words; after which
he pulled out in a sail-boat down the coast with them
two Indians, and, just like my luck! blowed if Luke,
who had figured on putting in the winter here, didn't all
of a suddent make up his mind and skip for 'Frisco on
the steamer."
" And is that the last you heard of them ? "
"No, sir; Luke's back up the river. Seems that
whilst he was in 'Frisco he located a lot of suckers, and
now he's a-trailin' of 'em up the river to find my
Chicamon Stone. I seed his advertisement in a
Californy paper; and it says as the deep digging of the
-An
& M;
206
THE CHICAMON STONE.
Randt ain't in it with Captain Luke Haddows' Chicamon mother lode, and he's only chargin' of 'em two
thousand dollars apiece to show it to them."
" Does he know where it is ? "
" Sho, you make me sick! Know where it is! How
would he ? No, sir; Luke's brought the rock as he
means to mine along with him : yaller-legged experts,
an' Californy dudes, an' English suckers—an' pretty
good rock, too. Why, allowin' as they'll go two hundred
pounds apiece, his rock'll go twenty thousand dollars
a ton ; and that ain't bad for the Stickine, if it dont turn
refractory on him,"
" Is there any chance of that ? "
" Klunas," replied the old fellow, reverting to the
siwash, which he spoke as often as he spoke English,
"I don't know. He'd ought to have advertized for
suckers, and he'd have made his game stick all right;
but he picked these up in saloons, and such-like.
They're proper suckers at mining, but there ain't much
as you can teach 'em about poker and billiards, and
such; and that kind is mighty apt to turn refractory
when it sees its dollars goin'."
| And these fellows have gone up the river already ? "
" Two weeks back come Sunday."
So far the game seemed clear enough. Bill had
gone down the river to find us—with what result we
knew—meaning to return in the spring to hunt up the
ledge at his leisure, without any danger of finding rivals THE CHICAMON STONE. 207
in the field, whilst Luke, despairing of the ledge itself,
had gone down to San Francisco to discount it.
For two thousand dollars a head he would tell his
fairy story, and lead those who believed in it, and paid
the money, to some place where he could leave them,
with their dollars in his pocket.
The game is played every year, and it is a lucrative
and fairly safe one, if " the rock," as Mac put it, does
not" turn refractory.'' However Luke's game interested
comparatively little.
Without the two Indians he could not find the
Chicamon Stone, and even that had become a secondary
consideration with us. We wanted the ledge and
Sandy Bill—but Bill first for choice.
Whilst we were still undecided as to what should be
done the s.s. Amur came into port, and the skipper
being a cheery soul, and a great friend of ours, we
went on board to take our evening toddy with him.
" Aren't you going up the river, captain, before she
opens ? " he asked the Boss.
" No, I don't think it is much good doing that,"
he replied, " no one else seems to be going."
" Aren't they ? Well, you should know, but I half
fancied that there was a strike in there; I know we put
one party off at the Skeena. They were going in from
Hazelton."
" Do you know who they were ?    Americans ? "
"No, I don't think it.    One was a Scotchman, I 208
THE CHICAMON STONE.
fancy, and the other two were siwashes. I could not
find out much about them; they kept their mouths
pretty tightly shut; and I shouldn't have known as
much as I've told you if one of the siwashes had not
talked to one of my deck hands."
" Was the white man a stout-built fellow with sandy
hair and light-blue, shifty eyes ? " I asked, a sudden
idea coming into my head.
"That's the Scotchman to a dot, and one of the
Indians was called Tootoo."
" Tatooch," I said, looking at the Boss.
" May be Tatooch. I didn't take much notice. A
strapping great siwash, and as ugly as a bear. Do ycii
know them ? "
" A little—not as well as we want to," growled my
friend, and then added, " Good night, skipper! We
had better be going or your gang-plank won't be wide
enough for us."
" Nonsense ! One little glass of Scotch won't upset
your balance. It's no load at all for a craft your
size."
" Load enough, if the craft isn't built for carrying
such freight. Good night!" and, so saying, the Boss and
I clambered over the side and went^to consult Joe, who
we found wandering about the narrow and rickety sidewalks of the siwash end of the town, alone as usual, for
he held no communication with his fellows, and seemed
to need no guide. THE CHICAMON STONE. 209
Indeed, in the strange, brooding apathy into which
he had fallen since the loss of his sight, the only
interest he showed was in testing the powers that
remained to him, and in training himself to do without
his eyes. And it was marvellous to see how far he
succeeded.
His memory was not like ours, overburdened with
the details of a score of useless sciences—useless, that
is, for meeting our daily needs.
He could not tell you how far the sun was from the
earth; his whole power of articulate utterance was
limited to the knowledge of perhaps a thousand words;
but, to balance this, he remembered every road he had
ever trodden, so that his feet seemed to see their way
as plainly as our eyes saw it. The touch of the wind on
his cheek gave him the points of the compass and
knowledge of the weather which was to come, and
every voice of wood and water had a message for him
full of meaning. I could almost have brought myself
to believe that he might find the way to his ledge
without his eyes; and it was with this thought in my
head that I said to him when we met—
" Well, Joe, do you think you could find your way
to the Chicamon Stone ? "
"Klunas. Better if Whitehead come too. The
Chicamon Stone will pay him well, but Sandy Bill
goes fast."
" Which way does Bill go ? "
p TT
210
THE CHICAMON STONE.
" Siyah Joe cannot see the way; but all trails go to
the water, and the hunter who waits by the water kills
the buck."
" Is the water the Chicamon Stone ? "
" Nawitka."
" And you think Bill is going to the Chicamon
Stone ? "
" Bill, and Lone Goose, and Tatooch. Luke go too.
Only Bill get there. He say one time he get there,
and he get there sure.    When will Whitehead start ? "
" To-morrow," said the Boss by my side ; and though
I dared not have pressed it, I was glad to hear him
say so.
" There is no reason why I should stay by the boat,"
he went on, as if to himself. " Bob is due now any
day to take charge, and I don't mean to hang round
camp this season anyhow.    But are you sure, Joe, you
can find the ledge ? "
" How does white man find his way on the Skookum
Chuk (ocean) ? "
" By using the charts."
" All the same pictures ? Hyas kloosh. Picture stop
here ; " and he tapped his forehead. " Joe tell white
man what picture say, and white man find the Chicamon
Stone. But we must go quick, Bill is long ways in
front; " and the mask began to fall from the Indian's
face, which twitched with repressed excitement.
" Do you want the gold now, Joe ?   I thought you THE CHICAMON STONE. 21.1
didn't care for it. You could have had it long
ago."
" No, no; Indian want no gold. Indian want to see
the place of his dream. And then no more dreams.
Sleep, sleep; " and as he spoke a veil seemed to fall
again upon his face, the light went out of it, and only
the empty husk of a man stood beside us.
Two days later the Boss, Joe, and I crossed to the
Stickine, with dogs and enough food to last us as far
as Glenora, even if the wind continued to blow downstream, as it had been blowing, for another month. I
wanted to take some more men with us, but neither he
nor the Indian would hear of it.
"You and I, Whitehead, can manage Bill and his
friends," said the Boss; and Joe seemed to think that
neither of us would be needed.
We had to meet Bill; after that Fate would take
charge of the rest.
Before I started for that winter journey up the great
river, I thought that I knew what the world looked
like at its wildest. I had seen it in its moods of storm,
and I had peered into some of its most desolate waste-
chambers, but I had hitherto only seen a live world. I
had no notion what the moon must look like, dead with
cold, lonely and lost in space. As I set foot on the
winter roadway to Cassiar, I caught a glimpse of Nature
in her tomb, and the awe of it struck me dumb.
At home, back east in Canada, I had in my time seen 212
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
plenty of snow; and had found it a dust of diamonds in
the morning sunshine ; a silver setting for bare trees; a
deep, soft carpet for the sleigh to glide over to the tune
of merry bells, or, at the worst, when night fell, just
drear enough to heighten the sense of comfort round
the ruddy hearth.
There, snow suggested life and frolic (there was
always enough of both to make the snow but a pleasant
foil to them); but here was no life except our own, and
that seemed an outrage and an impertinence in the
face of the great white death in the midst of which we
stood.
At the mouth of the Stickine, statisticians tell us
that the snowfall is sometimes twelve feet deep, and
the thermometer registers fifty degrees below zero.
I don't know what this conveys to most minds. Probably as little as a statement of the myriads who people
Asia. There are some things of which a comprehension
cannot be conveyed by mere print. They must be seen
and felt to be understood, and of these is the real winter
of the north.
Men talk of " dying of cold " who have never been
within ten degrees of frost-bite. How much can they
know of that cold hand which thrusts right in to
heart and brain and holds them still ? or of such a winter
scene as that we saw ? Round us there were no delicate
traceries of frost, no plumes of snow. Those are for
English winters, or Christmas cards,
vliUil THE CHICAMON STONE. 213
The rocks we had passed on our way to the river's
mouth were hung with icicles as thick as trees, or so
sheeted with ice that they looked like glaciers rather
than frozen rocks.
The earth itself was not so much covered with snow
as that there was no earth, and no indication of it,
except here and there the top of a black pine from
which the wind had torn its shroud, so that it stood
out in sharp contrast to the smothering whiteness in
which its fellows stood waist-deep, and under the load of
which now and again a great tree snapped with the
sound of a cannon-shot.
But for these occasional reports this dead world was
dumb in its misery ; every pulse had ceased to throb,
the very heart of it was stilled.
We talk of the silence of the night and of the tomb !
In the tomb there must be the sound of those who
pass overhead; the pulses of the earth, and the stir of
growing things-in the ground ; and as for the night, it is
full of voices, though they may not be familiar to the
children of the day.
But on the frozen river there was no sound nor any
movement, not even cloud-shadows to chase one
another over the snow, or a wind to drive them and
moan amongst the trees.
The only trace of life was in a tiny, thread-like track,
which went away and away to the north, until, to the
eyes which followed it, the dazzling whiteness of the ——
214
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
distance turned to a weird electrical blue, not proper
to any world in which life exists.
Over this track Joe was busy. Both of us had stood
dazed on landing, our whole minds absorbed in sight;
but Joe could not see, and his fingers and feet told
him more than our eyes told us.
" Plenty men go up here," he said, fingering the
hard-beaten trail. " Some wear snow-shoes; some
tehee tchakos (newcomers) wear boots. By-and-by their
feet freeze ; we see them soon."
" Better camp now and start to-morrow morning," I
suggested, feeling loath to leave the neighbourhood of
men.
" What for ? Travelling good now, and we have far
to go."
Of course he was right. So we started, led by a blind
man, into a dead world. THE CHICAMON STONE. 215
CHAPTER II.
It was nearly two o'clock in the afternoon when that
hunt began, and the shadows were already falling
heavily; but the snow was so hard and firm under our
feet, that if the Boss and I had been as expert upon
snow-shoes as the average man of the country, we
should have covered many miles before nightfall.
But we were not experts—indeed, we were but
novices—and, in spite of our length of limb and good
training, we found it impossible to keep pace with the
Indian, although, when we had once started, we appreciated to the full that invigorating quality of the
northern air which makes many men love it more
than all the soft breezes of the south.
As for the Indian, he ran like a man in a nightmare.
The dogs of course led him and kept the trail; but it
seemed to me that, had there been no dogs, he would
have run just as surely. For a month it had seemed
as if every faculty in him lay dormant; but, now
that his feet were on the snow, and his lungs inhaled 216
THE CHICAMON STONE.
the icy atmosphere of his home, he woke to feverish
life.
He ran like a hound with the scent breast-high.
His sightless orbs strained painfully at the distance;
his coarse black hair, cropped short in Wrangel,
bristled like a dog's hackles ; and he ran mute. He
was running for blood.
In the burning desire to reach his enemy he seemed
to know nothing of physical conditions. Cold did
not bite him ; hunger could not reach him; he knew
nothing of weariness, and, I verily believe, that knowing not the day from the night, and absorbed as he
was in his one idea, that man would have run from the
mouth of the river to the head of navigation, without
camping; but we were white men, and not built upon
Siyah Joe's lines. ,
For a couple of hours or more, on that first day, I
endured torture. Of course I saw nothing of the
world I was passing through. I had no time to waste
in looking about me, nor had I the power to look if I
had had the time. The keen air whistled in my eyes,
and the lashes of them became clubbed with icicles ;
my thick, hot breath was caught and frozen solid in
my beard; and a blanket, swathed round my head and
shoulders and belted at my waist, shut all sound from
my ears, and restricted my view to the few yards of
trail immediately about my feet.
Swish! swish! went the shoes in front of me, and
_______-_.
 - THE CHICAMON STONE. 217
swish! swish! mine answered them; and with the
unfaltering regularity of clock-work the legs, which I
could only see from the knees downwards, swung left
right, left right, hour after hour just three yards
ahead of me.
As far as I was concerned nothing in the whole
world mattered that afternoon, except those automatically worked legs. My whole duty was to make mine
move in time to them, my one hope was to see them
stop. My own feet were in agony from the unaccustomed bandages of the snow-shoes; there was no
breath left in my body; I was too far gone to even
feel sorry for myself.
I had been so driven from pillar to post, in the last
twelve months, that I ceased to worry myself by
thinking, or rebelling against my lot. I was just a
fly on the wheel, and knew it; and knew that I could
not make the wheel go the other way. . But I was none
the less heartily thankful when the Boss cried, " Halt!"
It was the first word that had been spoken since we
started, and I think it was the most pleasant sounding
word I ever heard.
" Time to camp now, Joe," he said, and, without
looking to see what sort of a spot we had come to, I
sank in the snow where I was and gasped for breath.
As I did so the Boss collapsed beside me.
" Good Heavens, Whitehead ! if that is the pace the
fellow means to go, I can't last a day." 218
THE CHICAMON STONE.
" He hasn't stopped yet, either," I gasped; but as
the words left my lips the Indian became conscious
that no one was following him, and turned back
sullenly enough to join us.
For a moment he stood sulkily brooding, and then,
I suppose, he realized that if he wanted us to go through
with him, he would have to nurse our strength a little,
for he called the dogs to him, and began unharnessing
them while we rested. But we did not rest for long ;
it was a great deal too cold for that. As soon as we
ceased to sweat, our bodies began to freeze, and we
went at the axe-work as if it were a luxury.
Even at that the blind man was as handy as either
of us. We found and felled the dry sticks for him,
and he cut them into lengths, although you would
have expected to see him take his own foot off at
every stroke of the axe. In fixing the camp the
blind man was master of the proceedings.
If I had not to sleep in it, I should like to see what
kind of a camp a bond fide tenderfoot would make for
himself in a Stickine snow-bank.
Given the gloom of coming night, an indefinite
number of feet of snow everywhere, the thermometer
anywhere below zero, every tree robed in snow and
sheeted in ice—what, gentle reader, would you be
inclined to do about it with an axe, some matches, and
a blanket to help you ?
What we did, under Joe's directions, was to build a THE CHICAMON  STONE. 219
huge fire first against a bank, so that none of the heat
of it should be wasted in the wintry world beyond;
then we carpeted our camp with thickly-piled pine-
brush and set up our tents—not as tents, for those are
cold things which keep in the frost and keep out the
fire, but as flies: great reflectors which catch the
light and the heat, and throw them back upon you
lying between the flies and the blazing logs.
But even when we had done all that experience has
taught men to do to make the best of such conditions,
that first night of winter on the Stickine was a bitter
experience for me. The Indian, rolled in his blankets
and lying on the very edge of the fire, slept soundly
enough; but I dared not crawl as near the burning
logs as he had done, nor had I the knack of turning
my blankets into such a weatherproof chrysalis as he
had made of his.
At first I made a stern resolve to lie still. If I
only could do that, I thought that in time I must
sleep, and, to induce sleep, I recited to myself the
longest recitation I had ever learned in my schoolboy
days ; but though I did this, until the words had lost
their meaning, sleep would not come. I grew utterly
restless, and scratched myself furiously to get warm;
I rose and made the fire up ; I tried a new plan with
my blankets; I piled the snow over them; I lay and
counted the stars ; I tried to persuade myself that I
really was asleep, and the cold and misery only part 220
THE CHICAMON STONE.
of an evil dream. But it was all to no purpose. My
efforts at stoking helped the others, nothing I could
do was of any use to myself.
That night I made the moon my timepiece, and, I
fancy, from the distance she had swung across the
heavens, that it must have been somewhere midway
between dusk and dawn when the silence was broken
by a faint, grinding sound. At first this was far away
up-stream; but the night was deadly still, and the
sound grew clearer every moment. Whatever it was
that made the sound, it was coming our way.
At first I could only hear it at intervals ; but, after
a time, it became continuous : an even scratch, scratch ;
and, after a while, this sound was repeated, and repeated
again at a greater distance, as if echoes followed it
from up-stream.
I sat up and looked round, and saw that the blind
man was also sitting up, listening. He too had heard the
sound, but the Boss slept on unconcernedly. He was
away in dreams far enough, I expect, from the Stickine
River.
Very soon the noises came closer to us and to each
other. Those who made them could only have been
just out of sight, round the next bend in the river,
when the sound that led, and the echoes that followed
it, came as it were together, and were blended in a
rush and a scramble. Then there was a short, sharp
cry, so sudden and so unexpected and  so quickly THE CHICAMON STONE. 221
hushed that my ears had not time to decide whether
it was the cry of a man or of a beast, and then the
stars throbbed again through an unbroken silence.
"What was it, Joe?" I asked; but he sat silent,
still listening.
" Was it men ? " I persisted.
" Halo comtax."
"Was it wolves?"
" Perhaps wolves kill a deer," he answered. But it
did not seem to me as if he spoke like one who believed
in his own words ; and when I last saw him he was still
listening, every nerve strained to hear, and at another
time I might have wondered at so much interest in
such an everyday tragedy of the forest.
But my turn had come.
If Joe was sleepless now, my turn had come to
slumber, and, before he lay down again, the blessed
unconsciousness of sleep had stolen over me, and I
cared no more for cold, or wolves, or weariness.
But in the winter the story of the forest and stream
is written on a white sheet, plain for all folks to read;
and beyond the turn in the river I read next morning,
in large print, the record of last night's doing. The
raspings I had heard had been the raspings of snow-
shoes, and there had been many of them—four pairs at
the least.
Here, you could see, one pair had been racing by
themselves, and had made a false turn;  there, were 999
THE CHICAMON STONE.
the tracks of three other pairs, packed close together,
and following the first.
For the most part they had all kept to the beaten
track, but here and there they had missed it, either
because the shadows had hidden the track, or for some
other reason; and here it was that the story was written
most plainly.
It was three following one: a hunt, so it seemed; but
not of wolves, or deer; until at last the snow-writing
came to a full stop in a wild and illegible trampling,
as if a band of cariboo had been " milling " there.
We turned, and looked to the Indian for an explanation, and, though he was blind, he seemed to
understand, and answered with apparent reluctance.
" Halo wolves.    Men."
" What men ?    Luke and his party ? "
"How can Indian know? Halo nannich (he does
not see)."
" It must have been some of Luke's party," said
the Boss.
" Perhaps Luke; perhaps wood-cutters. White men
cutting cord-wood for steamers by-and-by."
" What would wood-cutters be doing here at night ? "
" All the same, Luke. What would Luke do here
at night ? I think wood-cutters cultus coolie (go for
a walk) perhaps."
Now that any one should go for a stroll (" cultus
coolie ") at the dead of night, in the depth of winter, I
THE  CHICAMON  STONE. 223
was so obviously ridiculous that we knew Joe was not
telling- us his real opinion, unless he had lost his
wits as well as his eyesight; but having no better
explanation to offer, we held our peace.
"See," he added, touching another line of tracks,
which for a space left the beaten trail, "they have
gone back up the river."
" Whereto?"
" How can Indian tell ? To camp, I suppose. If
Whitehead want .to know, better cladawa hyak. Talk
no good;" and so "saying he swung forward again,
guiding himself as surely by his stick and his feet as
we could with our frost-closed eyes.
The Boss, who said nothing, gave me a look, and
stopped to fasten his snow-shoes. I stopped beside
him.
" Joe doesn't want to see those fellows," he said.
"It seems not.   But why ? "
"Had you any fire when you heard them last
night?"
" A huge one.    I was too cold to let it die down."
" Do you think that they could have helped seeing
it?"
" No.    They must have seen it.
" Then why did they turn back ? "
" Because they saw it, perhaps."
" You think that they did not want to see us, any
more than Joe wants to see them ? " _
224
THE CHICAMON STONE
I Exactly.    But I don't understand Joe."
" I think I do. His blood is up, and he does not
want to change foxes. He is hunting Bill, and doesn't
mean to stop until he runs him to ground at the
Chicamon Stone. But it makes no matter. I have
an idea that this hunt is going to be managed for us,
somehow."
It was an odd speech to come from the Boss, but
the same idea had seized upon me. In the vastness of
our surroundings I had long since begun to yield up
my own individual will, and to submit to being driven
whither Fate listed.
I was just a machine, which moved forward mechanically, seeing little but the track under my feet, and
hearing only the hard-drawn breath of my companions,
or the occasional crash of some great tree which split
at last under a load too great for it to bear.
It was nearly night-time again, and I was beginning
to regard each snowbank we passed as a possible
camping-ground, when the master of the hunt called
another check.
The Indian was still running in the lead when the
trail divided: one branch of it going slightly to the
left, the other as slightly to the right. Joe stopped,
undecided which of the two branches he should take.
That to the left was the most worn and the widest,
that to the right, perhaps, more in accordance with his
idea of the right direction.   The difference in direction THE CHICAMON STONE. 225
was so small that even his memory was not enough to
decide the matter without the aid of his sight. He
turned to us for guidance for the first time.
" Which way ? " he said; " nika halo nannich."
Now at this point it was not easy even for us, who
saw, to decide with any certainty. Two roads opened
before us, and each looked like the main course of
the river; but we knew that one of them must be a
slough, or part of an old course of the river, from which
it had been diverted by the silting up of its bed, possibly
followed by a heavy growth of timber thereon, whilst the
other was the bed down which the Stickine still ran.
Through the whole course of the river there are
hundreds of such sloughs, and it is easy enough for a
man who can see to run his head into a cul de sae.
I was just going to give the Indian such help as I
could, when the Boss gripped my arm.
" Let him decide," he whispered; and though I
wondered, I obeyed him.
"Nika turn turn this one," he said doubtingly,
touching the right-hand trail with his stick.
We did not answer him.
" Can't Whitehead see ? " he asked peevishly.
" I can see, Joe, but I cannot tell. The wood is
thick in front on both trails. Perhaps it is a bend ;
perhaps it is blocked—I can't tell; both go nearly
the same way."
" Only one goes the right way," he answered; and I
226
THE CHICAMON STONE.
■t
Ml
:j |||-
kneeling down, began to feel first one trail and
then the other with his hands, cursing savagely to
himself, I suppose at the loss of sight, which made
him dependent upon two such fools as we must have
seemed to him.
The left-hand trail was the widest and the most
worn, and the dogs seemed inclined to take it. If I
was any judge it was the wrong trail for that very
reason, and if Joe had been master of his mind he
would have probably agreed with me. For it was
natural that the dogs should want to follow the
freshest trail of man, and if this trail led to a camp
which had been made for many days, it was not
unnatural that it should be more worn than the trail
of the monthly post.
But as I have suggested before, Joe was, I think,
only guiding whither he himself was led, and after a
few minutes of hesitation took the broad trail.
On this we ran for ten minutes, and the winding of
it, after the first bend was passed, made him hesitate
again. Then I saw ahead of us, in a thick bunch of
pines, a cloud of blue smoke, and I think that Joe's
nostrils smelled the fire as soon as I saw it.
" No good," he said, stopping; " wrong road."
But it was too late to turn back then.
" It's time to camp, Joe, anyway," said the Boss;
" and as there is a fire in front, we may as well go to
it and see who is there." THE CHICAMON STONE. 227
" Better not," urged the Indian; " we don't know
who is there."
" All the more reason that we should go and find
out; " and with no more ado he went to the front, and I
followed him, leaving the Indian and the dog-sleighs
standing where they were.
Sooner or later he would follow us, we supposed, but
indeed we did not then stop to think. I obeyed the
Boss, and, I suppose, he obeyed some impulse of his
own: a desire to camp and save himself the trouble of
cutting his own firewood, as likely as not.
But we had both of us been too long in the woods to
make an unnecessarily unceremonious entry where we
were not expected.
A sudden noise sends a frontiersman's hand to
his gun, and no one wants a stranger too close to him
iii the woods until he knows a little about him.
Remembering these things, and being cautious men,
we kept in the shadow of the pines by the edge of the
slough instead of running along the broad trail in full
view of the camp; and so trod that the snow gave no
warning of our approach.
Night, which comes suddenly in the north, had fallen
on the pines almost as we looked. The bushes, whose
limbs we had seen a few minutes before on the edge
of the ice, were now drowned in a gulf of inky darkness. Indeed, the whole forest was whelmed in it,
except the tops of the tallest pines, and these were
imutm
^J 228
moon.
	
THE CHICAMON STONE.
gradually being lit by the pale silver of the rising
Slowly and carefully we crept along under the
shadows until we could hear the voices of men talking
round the camp-fires; nor had we any notion that we
ourselves were being followed by one more silent-
footed than ourselves.
Though we waited and looked back for him more
than once, we saw nothing of the blind Indian; and
when at last we came well within earshot, and in full
sight of the stranger's camp, we crouched down to
make our reconnaissance, in the full belief that he was
still behind with the dogs.
It would be time enough to call him when we knew
what manner of men these were.
■ THE CHICAMON STONE. 229
CHAPTER  III.
" There's Atkinson dead, all of us fooled, tw7o frostbitten, let alone Spot Harris there, who's bound to lose
his feet, even if we ever get him out of this cursed
country—which don't seem certain."
" Nor any ways likely, if you ask me."
The words came to us in the darkness as clearly as
if we had been standing in the ring of firelight where
they were spoken.
" Wal, it ain't the sort of certainty as old Spot
there used to bet on—leastwise, not for him," the first
voice went on, coolly; " but what we're at now is, what
are we going to do about it ? Is this sharp going to
swing, or isn't he ? If a gent kills another gent, not
on the square, he swings. That's law. If he kills ten,
it seems to me that he has a ten times better right to
swing. Now this here Luke caught us for suckers in
'Frisco. He's pouched the swag. One on us has gone
under already, and last night he tried to skin out,
leavin' the rest of us to do ditto.    Ain't that murder ? " 230
THE CHICAMON STONE.
At this point I crept a little more forward, and
pushed back the brush so that I could see, as well as
hear, what was going on. All about us was a sea of
blackest gloom, from which rose the tops of the taller
bushes, touched here and there by the light of the two
great fires, which made a lurid spot in the heart of
the night.
Round these fires sat a score, more or less, of the
most desperate-looking characters I ever set eyes on:
ragged, bearded, and worn with hardship, which had
told heavily upon constitutions already sapped by
vicious living, and long unused to physical privations.
An ordinary " hard fist" looks a sufficiently " tough
citizen," but his rags sit upon him naturally. Born to
his manner of life, he knows how to make the best of it;
but these men were not of the hard fist's guild. Two
months ago nine out of ten of them had been sleek, fat
citizens, bull-throated, soft-handed, and showily clad.
Now their faces had fallen in, their plump bodies had
shrunk away, their beards had grown over their faces
in wisps and patches, whilst their town clothes had
melted away in the brush. Greed had made them
bold at first, and now misery and disappointed avarice
had made them mad.
Most of them were sitting in a semi-circle round the
larger of the two fires; by the other fire sat the rest
of them, a blanket spread between them and the snow,
on which a dirty pack of cards had been dealt.    Near
i	 THE CHICAMON STONE. 231
this group lay a roll of blankets and bedding, which
writhed now and again, punctuating the speeches with
groans and curses, whilst in the middle of the firelight
stood the principal speaker, a square-built fellow with
a dark, Jewish face, under a peaked cap such as
American yachtsmen wear.
For the moment the card-players had abandoned
their game, and all sat smoking or chewing, with their
faces turned to the Jew. From the look of things you
might have guessed that an auction of miner's effects
was taking place.
"I guess Soapy has about sized up the situation,"
said one.
"Pretty well. But what about the Chicamon
mother lode ? " asked another.
" There ain't no mother lode," retorted the Jew—
" any fool can guess that—except in the pockets of our
pants.   That's the lode as he meant to mine."
"You ain't proved that, Soapy," said a weak-faced
man, who had not spoken before; " we saw his rock."
" As come from Californy, same as you did!" sneered
the Jew. " Are you standing in with Luke on this
deal?"
The speaker's eyes glittered dangerously, and they
cowed the timid objector. It required more courage
than he possessed to appear for the defence in this
court of the woods.
"If the cursed fool hadn't have tried to skin out
p ■» -   / 232
THE  CHICAMON STONE.
last night, I'd have been agin stringing him up yet,"
drawled a grey-bearded man, spitting meditatively into
the embers. " There might have been an Indian, and
he might have gone back on him.    There's no telling."
" Your head's level, Peterson," said the spokesman,
in a more conciliatory tone than he had used to the
others; " but when he tried to skin out he showed his
hand. There ain't no Indian, and there ain't no Chicamon mother lode.   It's a fake from start to finish."
" Seems like it," the other assented.
" Then what's the use in foolin' any longer ? If he
gets another show, he may make it down to Wrangel,
with our wad of greenbacks in his pockets."
"To drink the 'ealth of the stiff 'uns on the
Stickine," laughed one of the card-players.
"Well, mates, you've got the fire, and can go on
gassin' if you've a mind to till midnight. I've stood
here as long as I want to. All I want to know is, is
it to be swing or shoot ? "
"Shoot?"
" Yep! I said shoot! " snapped the Jew, turning on
Luke's half-hearted advocate. " You can let this sharp
go, if you've a mind to; but if you don't hang, I shoot.
No man gets away with Soapy's dollars if he knows
it; and this here shoots more'n once;" and he drew a
revolver and tapped it significantly with his forefinger.
The counsel for the prosecution was in earnest, and
a laugh which greeted his last argument showed that THE CHICAMON STONE. 233
he understood his jury. The crowd round him had
endured so much misery, in the last month, that no
member of it had any pity left for his fellows, much
less for the common enemy. For the last few minutes,
one of the men who had been gambling, had been
fidgeting impatiently with the cards.    Now he spoke.
" Say, Soapy, ain't that sermon of yours pretty nigh
preached ? Me and my friends don't want to hurry
Mr. Luke none, but we're mighty anxious to go on
with our game."
"How'd it be to ask Lukehisself? He's a pretty
good sport, and wouldn't want to spoil fun," suggested
another.
" It would make the vote unanimous, perhaps,"
sneered one. " And when a gent's a candidate for such
an elevated position, it would be just as well if the
vote were all one way."
" Quit foolin'!" snapped the spokesman. " Is any
one agin hangin' him ? " and he handled his revolver
ominously.
There was silence for a moment, and then the old
man said, " Take a vote.    It would be more regular."
" That's so. Now, gents, them as is in favour of doin'
justice on the prisoner, signify the same, in the usual
way, by holdin' up their hands."
All hands went up at once, with the exception of
those of the man who had asked for proof of the nonexistence of the lode.    Even the bundle of blankets, /ffffff
I'
III j
III
234
THE CHICAMON STONE.
which swathed the misery of Spot Harris, rolled over
and showed a couple of mitts in favour of the hanging.
" There's one gent back of the fire there, as I don't
seem to see very well. His head's clear enough,"
drawled the Jew, indicating the head with the barrel
of his pistol. " But I'm in doubt whether I can see
his hands or not. Are you with the meetin', sir, or for
the prisoner ? "
The red light flickered on the pistol-barrel; that
remained steady enough; and the other man seeing it,
put up his hand. He had no wish to share Luke's
fate. The spokesman put his pistol back into his hip
pocket.
"I congratulate this meetin' as bein' regular, and
unanimous.    Boys, fetch up the prisoner."
At his word two of the party rose, and, leaving the
fireside, stepped into the gloom where the light from
it was quenched.
They had not apparently far to go. For a few
minutes we heard them without seeing them; and then
three figures stood up indistinctly on the edge of the
shadows under a great pine—one blasted limb of which
leaned out over the meeting, white in the moonlight,
which now bathed the tops of the highest of the trees.
I looked up at it involuntarily, and the unconsciousness of Nature smote me with a chill. The sky was as
hard and inscrutable as the face of the sphinx, and the
stars seemed to have a malicious twinkle in them.
— THE CHICAMON STONE. 235
From the limb itself hung something like a streamer
of beard moss, but in the breathless calm of the night
it looked strangely rigid for beard moss.
Later on I knew that it was not beard moss; but,
strange as it may seem to my readers, I had in my
mind at that moment no fear of immediate violence.
Neither, I think, had the Boss. The whole scene was
so unreal, the actors so unconcerned and commonplace,
that I could not bring myself to believe that a question
of life or death was actually being discussed before
our eyes.
" Will I take the gag off him ? " asked one of the
three in the shadows.
" What's your will, gents ? "
"It's according to rules to hear what he has to say."
" Then take it off, but hitch the line on. I don't
want another trip down the Stickine to-night, and I
guess there's only one here as does."
There was a pause whilst two of those in the shadows
fumbled with the man between them. Whatever they
were doing, he offered no resistance. When they were
ready the Jew spoke again.
"Luke Haddon, you've heerd what these gents
have to say agin you ? "
" Not a word," replied a voice I recognized. I had
heard it first in old Mac's store at Wrangel.
" How's that ? "
" I've heard you gassin', Soapy.   You haven't given
iriiiiifnTuffliti it II
236
THE  CHICAMON STONE.
any one else a chance. Seems to me you're running
this show alone."
The Jew flinched. He wanted the others to share in
the deed, even if he prompted it.
" Do you say as you aren't guilty ? "
"Of what?"
" Of leadin' twenty innocent men into this cursed
place to die of cold or starve."
The speaker in the shadows laughed.
" Innocent men is good," he said, " and starvin' ain't
bad, with all them canned goods around. But it is cold.
Couldn't you hurry up a bit ? or let me stand by the
fire till you're ready ? "
An evil look came into the Jew's face, and his thin
lips parted so that the firelight gleamed on his white
teeth ; but as he lifted his hand as a signal to the other
two, the old man Peterson sprang up.
"Hold hard!" he said. "Luke's right. You're
running this show a bit too much, Soapy; and I want
to ask the prisoner a question."
The other half-opened his lips to reply; but for some
reason or other the old man had the authority, and
Soapy yielded to it.
" You'll allow, Luke," he said, " as your game'§ about
played out ? "
The other made no answer.
" An' I guess it may as well come to a show down.
Is  there   such  a  thing   as   the   Chicamon mother
• ■
—■ 1
 ——
I r
THE CHICAMON STONE. 237
lode? It won't hurt you none to make a clean
breast of it."
" There is."
" Do you know where it is ? "
" I told you first and last as I didn't, ever since we
got to Wrangel."
" That isn't what you told us at 'Frisco."
" No ; but I told you plenty time enough. The Indian
knows where it is."
The man spoke as coolly as if he was discussing an
ordinary business transaction. There was not a tremor
in his voice, and, though I did not realize how near his
danger was, I could not help admiring his iron nerve.
Rascals you can find in plenty in the West (and
elsewhere), but cowards there, are peculiarly uncommon.
" Where is the Indian ? "
"I wish I knew ; like enough at Glenora with Sandy
Bill. Look here, Peterson, there's twenty of you, and
I'm alone and roped, and you know the game I've
played on you. I know I haven't a show, and I don't
care a whole heap. I always calculated to pay in my
chips when I lost; but, so help me God ! the Chicamon
Stone is no fake, and if we can find the Indian we can
find the ledge. If you do for me you get back what's
left of your dollars, but you can't find the Indian and
you can't find the ledge."
It was his last bid for life, and he made it boldly, /If?
,
%
III
238
THE CHICAMON STONE.
and, but for one man's vindictiveness, he might still
have prevailed.
For one moment, a wave of hesitation ran through
the meeting ; then a cold, sneering laugh jarred on the
silence.
" Goin' to let him fool you agin, gents ? Well, you
are suckers ! Why don't you tell 'em you've got your
Indian staked somewhere's handy, Luke? They'd
swaller it."
Luke made no answer.
" Give him a week to find the Indian," suggested the
weak-faced man, who had at first refused to put up his
hands.
It was his last effort for the prisoner, and, as the
Jew turned on him, he slunk away from the fire. It
was the last we saw of him.
" And let him peach on us at Glenora! Luscombe's
there; and there's one or two of us knows Luscombe as
well as we want to."
" That's a bit too thin, Luke," said Peterson, meditatively. " Can't you make it anywhere nearer than
Glenora ? Roped and watched, we might manage to
give you another week; but you can't expect us to
head a deputation with you to the gold commissioner.
Can't you find him nearer than that ? "
Another man might have grasped at this or any other
straw, and lied for the sake of another day or two of
misery, because it was life; but Luke was not of that THE CHICAMON STONE. 239
kidney. He had no taste for another week of cold and
bondage; he had played his last card and faced his
losses.
" How the devil do I know!" he said fiercely. " The
siwash may be within a hundred yards of you, but if
he is where he ought to be, he's at Glenora. And
what's the use in foolin'? If I showed him to you,
you wouldn't keep your word. That black-faced dog
has got it in for me."
He little knew how prophetic his words were. In
any case they sentenced him.
" Is there anything else any gent would like to
say ? " sneered Soapy; " there's no hurry."
No one spoke, so he turned to Luke. "Hev you
any more to say ? "
" Well, no; I guess the world owes every man a
livin', and I tried to make mine out of you. You are
fools, the whole lot of you; but it's luck, not play, as
wins. My bluff hasn't worked. You take the pot;
but I wish you'd hurry up. It's damned cold standin'
around here."
I have been blamed so often since for what we did
not do, that I am afraid that, although I have set
down, as nearly as my memory will serve me, the very
words of these desperate men, I have not conveyed to
my reader's minds the absolutely calm matter-of-fact
way in which Luke and his judges spoke.
If they had been arguing the merits of an execution 240
THE CHICAMON STONE.
reported in the Colonist, they would have done it more
heatedly than they did here in the black shadow of
the pines.
The end came with a suddenness as startling as the
trial had been commonplace.
" Is it a go, mates ? " asked the Jew ; and the men
round the fire bowed their heads, and most of them
took their pipes out of their mouths.
The roll of blankets raised itself, and looked up;
the red light of the fire fell on its white, wasted
features.
" Let him go! " cried the spokesman, kicking a log
in the fire as he spoke; and the log, happening to be
rich in resin where it fell on the red embers, blazed
out in a great stream of light, which drove back the
shadows, until I saw Luke's features clearly for a
moment.
He stood calm and nonchalant as if he were taking
a drink at the bar. But just as the rope tightened, I
saw a new look come into his face, his eyes strained at
something beyond the second fire—something which
the blazing log had but just revealed; he tried convulsively to raise one of his pinioned hands, and I
heard distinctly, " The Indian ! "
The rest was cut short by the strangling cord, and,
in another second, he was jerked out of the lurid glow
of the firelight, through the black shadows into the
hard, brilliant light of the arctic moon; and after one THE CHICAMON STONE. 241
short struggle, hung, his head sunken forward on his
chest, from the blasted limb of the great pine.
And the firelight danced and reddened over the
sightless face of Siyah Joe, standing on the edge of
the camp. Luke had shown them the Indian, and
they had not kept their word.
I had no time to wonder what brought him there,
no time to think of him, or anything else.
As Luke shot up to his high position, there was a
shout and a crash in the brush by my side, and the
Boss went by me like a flash, into the middle of them.
Bare-headed and furious, with a knife in his hand, he
charged through the camp, straight for the gallows;
and though the fear of God had no weight with them,
the fear of this one man scattered the murderers, for
one moment, as wind scatters dry leaves, so that he
almost won to the foot of the tree.
But only for a moment. In my haste, clumsy as I
was upon my snow-shoes, I tripped, and came down
headlong almost into one of the fires. When I
struggled to my feet I saw two of the men close with
the Boss, One was the Jew. He fell like a pole-axed
ox, and I wish that the Boss had struck with the knife
instead of with his clenched left hand; but he was
true to his training, and he had other work for the
knife to do.
Not even pausing to shake off his second assailant,
he carried him with him to the foot of the pine, and
K Ill
1
242
THE CHICAMON STONE.
with one swift stroke cut the rope so that the body
of Luke came down with a rush from amongst the
stars, and fell with a dull thud upon the snow, where
it rolled over and lay as it fell.
Too late! Man's mercy was slower than man's
justice. All that was worth saving—if it was worth
saving—in that lump of clay, had gone; and at the
moment it seemed as if we were likely to follow it, for
with a rush the whole pack of rascals was upon us.
Then it was that the Boss's readiness of resource
showed through his habitual phlegm.
Rushing at one of the leaders, he seized him by the
throat and yelled to me—
" In the name of the law, seize them, boys ! seize
them!    Ho, Luscombe !—Luscombe, quick! "
It was the name most dreaded on the Stickine River.
The name of that courtly, quiet, precise chief of police
I had met on my first journey up the river; and it
worked like a charm.
Every head turned to see who was coming; and a
crashing in the brush, and a shot which sang high
overhead, completed the panic. It was only our dogs
in the brush, only blind Joe who fired high at a
venture; but it did the trick. No one stopped to see
Luscombe and his stout constables come upon the
scene.
The man whom the Boss had gripped, wrenched
himself free (I doubt if he could have done so, had
■*«~*mJ* THE CHICAMON STONE. 243
the Boss wanted to hold him); and in a minute there
was only the roll of blankets left on the trampled
snow, and that was trying to crawl painfully away into
the brush.
" Shoot, Whitehead, shoot! " hissed the Boss, firing
himself recklessly in all directions, " and follow." And
I did as,;-T was bid; and I heard Joe's rifle ringing
down by the river.
His must have been dangerous shooting, if there
was any one in range of him, for his bullets were in
the hands of Fate—and Fate, like Joe, is blind.
But when we reached the river, the greater part of
those who had lately sat in judgment on one man
were far enough away, strung out like startled wildfowl: most of them going south down the river trail,
though one small bunch of fugitives, who had (so we
thought) lost their heads, could be seen struggling upstream towards Glenora. When we had fired a round
or two after them, just to keep them moving (as the
Boss said), the night swallowed them up; silence settled
on the river and in the pines; and we went back to
camp alone, but for the dead man and the footless
thing in the blankets.
In camp we found Siyah Joe sitting by the body of
Luke. He was cutting a notch on the butt of his
Winchester. IU
THE CHICAMON STONE.
Ill
III
CHAPTER  IV.
At first the Boss and I sat very silent round Luke's
camp-fire. Events had happened so rapidly that we
badly needed time to think, and there was more than
enough to think about. As for myself, I don't mind
confessing that I kept my head over my shoulder, and
my ears very wide open indeed. Every bush that
creaked in the wind suggested the stealthy approach
of a foe; every shadow made by a swinging bough
sent my hand to my Winchester.
It wras bad enough to know that we had nearly a
score of enemies at large somewhere in the forest—
enemies who would stick at nothing if they knew that
we were unsupported; with no friends nearer than
Wrangel; but it was even worse to think of that
indistinct figure prone upon the snow, round which
the shadows were gathering ever thicker and thicker;
or of that other which still moved in the blankets by
the fire.
Common humanity required that we should do
something for Spot Harris, but there was very little
1 —i ^\
THE CHICAMON STONE. 245
which men like ourselves could do. A very short
examination of his condition convinced us that no one
but a surgeon could be of much help to him. Both
his feet were severely frost-bitten, and the knife would
have to be applied with very little loss of time if it
was to prevent mortification spreading beyond his
knees. A cripple he must be all his life, even if his
life could be saved.
" That means a journey back to Wrangel the first
thing to-morrow morning," said the Boss, when our
examination was over. " If we are lucky enough not
to run into any of Luke's party, we may manage to
get him back the day after to-morrow."
" What for ? " asked the Indian, who had been
listening intently.    " He die pretty soon."
The poor wretch must have heard him, or so I
gathered, from the movement of the blankets.
" Rubbish ! If we can get him down to Wrangel a
surgeon will soon fix him up all right."
" Halo! Medicine-man halo give him new legs.
He halo walk any more; halo hunt any more; halo
travel. What for live any more ? Boss leave him
here—pretty soon die."
We tried to explain to Joe the duty we owed to our
fellow-man, the necessity of saving even a crippled
life; but it was in vain; the Indian could not see it.
This man was an enemy, therefore we ought to kill
him.   If he had been a friend, crippled as he was, it IP
IP
1 M
• iff
246
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
might have been our duty to pile our robes over him
and smother him, that he might die easily; as it was,
if we had not sufficiently strong hearts to kill him, we
could at least leave Nature to save us the trouble. It
was no business of ours any way, and certainly we could
not be mad enough to give up our hunt to enable a
useless cripple to live a little longer.
" Suppose Whitehead go back," he concluded,
" Siyah Joe go on alone."
" Siyah Joe can do what the devil he pleases! "
retorted the Boss, savagely; " but if the man's alive
to-morrow morning we take him back to Wrangel."
For a moment the Indian's lips moved,* but he said
nothing that I could hear; and we left him crouching
over the fire, brooding, I suppose, on white man's
folly.
That night, tired as I was, I slept but ill. I kept
hearing a voice which called to me in my sleep, and
when I woke with a start, the first thing my eyes
always lighted upon was the bone-white limb of the
dead pine which pointed down the river. It seemed to
me that it was warning me to desist from my mad
hunt, and turn back from this accursed land.
I don't remember very clearly ; but it seems to me
that, whenever I awoke, I saw the Indian still sitting
by the fire. He never seemed to sleep now; but I had
become so used to his vagaries that, if I thought of
this at all, it was only to be thankful that some one THE CHICAMON STONE. 247
was keeping vigil whilst we slept. Once, in a half-
waking state, I thought that I heard scuffling in the
snow; but if I did it ceased before I was well awake.
Probably I thought it was a lynx or a carcajou foraging
amongst our scraps, and that is not enough to tempt
a man out of his blankets on a winter night in the
arctic.
When I woke I supposed that it was about an hour
to dawn, and the others still slept. Even Siyah Joe
had curled up at last, and seemed to be sleeping
heavily. As we had work to do, and a man's life to
save, I roused the Boss and called to Joe.
" We'll boil the billy first, and then wake him," I
said, pointing to Spot Harris.
" All right. Whilst you do that I'll go and make a
cache of our grub. That will make room for him on
the sleigh."
As he spoke, Joe groped his way to the bundle of
blankets by the fire, and stirred it roughly with his
foot.
" Let him alone, Joe! Didn't you hear the Boss
say you were to let the poor devil sleep ? " I cried.
" He sleep all right; Joe no can wake him."
Something in the Indian's manner, more than in his
words, made me go over to his side and put my hand
upon the Blankets. I don't know what told me, but I
knew that Spot Harris was dead before I touched him.
Dead he was, and stiff already, and the snow just round 248
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
m
him, I noticed, was disturbed almost as if the poor
wretch had writhed in agony before his troubles were
over. Indeed it looked as if he had hastened his own
end by his struggles, for there was a distinct impress
in the snow, as if he had turned face downwards and
smothered in it.
But that can hardly have happened, for had he
suffered so acutely he would surely have cried out, in
which case I must have heard him; but he had made
no sound. If he had, Joe at any rate would have
heard him, and would have	
Ah! what would Joe have done? The question
suggested a terrible train of thoughts to my mind; so
that when I next looked at that inscrutable and blind
mask by my side it was with a shudder of fear and
abhorrence.
But my suspicions had nothing substantial to justify
them. Whatever had happened had happened in the
night whilst we slept, and nothing that had been done
could be proved now or mended.
With heavy hearts and in dead silence we set about
our morning's work. If we could not save the frostbitten man, we could do our best to bury him and
Luke; but even of this we made a desperately poor
job. The frozen earth would neither support man's
life nor take him into her bosom when dead; and the
best that we could do for the two bodies was to break
the ice at the river's edge and shove them under it.
IB&- THE CHICAMON  STONE. 249
There they would be safe at least from the wolves, and
the river would take them down to the sea for burial.
I don't know why we should have thought them better
placed there than in the snow by the river's edge; but
we wanted to do something for them, and this was all
that could be done.
After burying our dead, the wind being fair, we
decided to proceed up-stream. That, I suppose, is the
way in which the case would ordinarily be stated; but
if I so stated it, it would be at variance with the fact.
As we stood by the edge of the ice, neither of us could
have said whether we were going backwards or forwards. We had lost all heart in our quest; there were
enemies both before and behind us, and, though we
followed the Indian up-stream, our natural instinct
was, I think, rather to flee from than to follow him.
Neither the Boss nor I had much to say to him, but
that did not affect him—indeed, I don't suppose he
noticed it. He was living in a world of his own, and
talking to his own heart, so that he neither knew nor
cared what happened outside him so that it did not
interfere between him and his goal.
I don't pretend to explain all that happened in the
last part of our journey. I know—for I have asked him
since—that the Boss, like myself, had determined to
abandon the journey at Glenora; but we camped some
distance short of the little town, and, when in the
early morning we passed it, the Indian leading us 250
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
steadily on, neither the Boss nor I offered any resistance. We did not want to go, but we went; and I
don't think that we realized what we were doing,
until we were tramping some distance north, along the
winter trail, to Dease Lake.
" I suppose we may as well see it through, now that
we have come so far," said my friend that night, by
the camp fire.
"I don't feel as if we could help ourselves," I
admitted; " and that fellow would go on alone and die
by himself if we turn back."
" I don't know whether that is any worse than he
deserves."
" That's just it: you don't know, and I don't know,
and it's no good speculating. All I care to remember
is, that he was a good friend to me before those fiends
blinded him, and I'm not going to leave him in the
lurch now."
"That's wholesome doctrine, Whitehead, and we'll
make it the last word said on the subject. Mad or
sane, we will follow Siyah Joe till we reach the
Chicamon Stone, or the Great Divide: I don't know
that it matters much which, the hunt is out of our
hands, and has been since we started."
" So are all hunts, Boss," I said. And in th&t spirit
we let the Indian lead us on day by day, until we had
passed through a hundred miles of snow-smothered
willow-swamps, and come down to the little clearing THE CHICAMON   STONE. 251
at the head of the lake, where last summer the hard-
fists bound for Pelly Banks, had made them a boat-
builder's yard.
Now, though this story may seem to travel fast,
it must not be understood that we travelled quite
as fast as the story. There were many days of
stubborn collar-work, enlivened by no incident at all.
From dawn to dark we broke the trail, or plodded
after the dogs, straining our muscles and thinking our
own thoughts, longing, as many a pioneer does, for the
fight to be over, and the day to come when we could
turn back home.
How many of them ever do go home ? At first it
seems so easy. A year or two of saving, and privation,
and hard work, and then they think they will go back
just as young as ever, and crowned with success, to
receive the plaudits of those they left behind. But all
the time the good recedes. Only one more year—only
one year more, whispers Hope; but the years come,
and the years go, and the grey steals into the hair,
whilst news comes, even to those outlandish parts, that
first one, and then another, of those for whose applause
the wanderer has been working, will not be there to
welcome him at his home-coming, until at last, even
if in the long run he wins, his is but a barren victory,
with no smiles, no cheers to make it sweet. The
devil gold, or the empty baubles of ambition, have led
him on a fool's chase,  only to prove to him as he 	
252
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
If Il'
f   :
VJIl
clutches them what will-o'-the-wisps they are. The
real thing, the life which he has spent, has passed by
him unnoticed. Well for him if he has left nothing
worse than a blind trail behind him.
By the time we reached Dease Lake we were hard,
tired men, and the signs of spring were beginning to
appear. More than once a chinook wind had blown,
and beneath its warm breath the snow had disappeared
in places, as if it had been cut off with a knife. Overhead from time to time there was a whistle of wings,
going north, and nearly every day we came across
some tiny splash of open water, in which the earliest
of the ducks were making merry. But the lake itself
was still a solid sheet of ice except where, here and
there in the coves, a little ribbon of open water
bordered the shore. The main sheet of ice was still
several feet in thickness, though it was honey-combed
through and through like a log which the teredos
have eaten.
But it was not only the lake which had changed;
the camp at the head of it, too, was a very different
place to that which I remembered. In the early
summer from a hundred to four hundred men were
living there or thereabouts; at least twenty boats
were in course of construction—great boats to contain
from two to five tons of winter supply, and built out of
lumber, whip-sawed upon the spot.
It was a merry enough spot then, with stacks of THE CHICAMON  STONE. 253
provisions round each tent, duck and fish in the lake,
and generally at least one carcase of cariboo or moose
in camp, a ruddy stove in the one log building on cold
nights, and a game of whist (not bumble puppy) for
those who cared to play.
Then a pack-train arrived twice a week; and after
each arrival we used to go down to the shore, and see
at least one of the wooden scows just built start upon
its journey—a journey down the arctic slope, from
which the travellers might return in one year, two
years, or never.
Now the place was empty, the whip-saw silent, and
the Jew pedler, who used to catch fish for us, and the
bird-stuffer from Scotland, and the pretty young man
from California, who used to bore us about the girl he
left behind him, and the Herefordshire farmer (good
fellow), and the two ragged scholars who wanted to
know whether they could earn their living as working-
men, were all gone. I saw the last of the Herefordshire farmer at the first sharp bend in Dease River.
He had just successfully accomplished the salvage of
five tons of grub. Both he and it were on the bank
draining. The Jew pedler, and some other fellows,
were bringing back the boat. The ragged scholars
were beating the Hudson Bay Indians in open competition, as oarsmen, at two dollars and a half a day,
and the rest of the merry crowd had passed on to
Pelly Banks, I suppose, or beyond. /ffWWf
254
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
i  HI
1
fll: 11
Every trace of the old camp was buried under the
snows of winter, except the old log-house, which we
found closed and deserted; but human beings had
evidently been at the lake-head not long before our
arrival, for on the edge of the lake were two dead
camp-fires, and a hole in the ice from which the
campers had been drawing their water.
An investigation of these camp-fires showed that
they were barely cold, while the ice-hole had not
frozen over again.
" They can't have been gone long," said the Boss.
" I suppose they are some of those fellows we scared
on the Stickine."
"Maybe," I said; "but there are a good many of
them.    What do you think, Joe ? "
| How can Joe know ? Joe not see. Whitehead see
which way trail come."
The rebuke was deserved, and, acting upon the hint
contained in it, I followed the trail back for some
distance, and, finding that the two parties came in
from different directions, I told the Indian what I saw.
" Nawitka," he said. " Luke's men come along trail
from the Stickine; Bill and his tillicums come from
away over there by the Skeena."
" And both go away this morning early ? "
" Nawitka."
" Well; and if he's right, as I suppose he is, " said
the Boss—" what next ? " THE CHICAMON STONE. 255
As he spoke a low wind was rising, and the Indian
was busy prodding the ice; with a long pole. Strong as
it appeared, the ice was mushy and gave easily, like
wet brown sugar, beneath the pole.
" S'pose strong wind come to-night," said the Indian,
turning towards us, " ice all go, and no boat stop here.
Better start to-night—perhaps we pass them in the
dark."
As he spoke I noticed a little rift in the ice near the
shore. It was gradually widening. Though it did not
look as if the great lake could possibly clear itself of
ice as quickly as Joe suggested, it did look as if the
break-up was coming; and if that came, and left us
without a boat, it would give to any one in front of us
a dangerously long start to the reef for which we had
endured so much.
" I don't believe in the Chicamon Stone," grumbled
the Boss, " and I wish I had never heard of it; but,
having started, we can't very well let those fellows beat
us on the post.    Lead on, MacDuff! " ■    '* rPTf
lift i
256
THE CHICAMON STONE.
Ill
I   i
I 1
CHAPTER V.
For some time we sat cowering over the dying fire,
and peering out into the darkness in which the frozen
lake lay, listening to the rising wind and the strangely
ominous sounds of the great ice-field. For months
this had formed a solid highway, but now, just when
so much depended upon it, it was dissolving before
our eyes, whilst the deep snows which lay slowly
melting in the heavy timber along the lake's edges,
made it all but impossible for men to scramble that
way to the head of Dease River.
The lake itself is twenty-four miles long; and about
sixteen miles from the hither end of it is Laketon, the
natural centre of the Cassiar mining district, where
the recorder lives and a few miners pass the winter.
Once, in the seventies, this was a place of some
importance, and a street of tumbled-down shacks
remains as a memento of the seven or eight million
dollars skimmed by the hard-fists from the rich gravels
of Dease and Thibert Creek. But, as we sat blinking
at the fire, we had no thought of the handful of men THE CHICAMON STONE. 257
who might possibly be found halfway down the lake.
All our thoughts were bent upon eight desperate gold-
seekers, who, somewhere out in that frowning darkness,
were blundering on blindly towards that reef for which
we had risked so much. Would the devil, who cares
for such as they, take them safely through the dark,
and leave us helpless at this end of the lake ? That
was the question in our minds, and every time we
heard the ice move, our spirits fell another point.
At last the moon rose, and a faint and pallid light
showed us fresh and larger spaces of open water. It
looked madness to attempt a crossing, but it was not a
case for waiting.
" Come now !" said Joe, rising and feeling his way
through a foot of water to the ice. " S'pose wdnd not
too strong we make it by morning."
As we followed him it seemed as if the wind had
heard him, for it swept against us with fresh energy,
and the ice heaved and throbbed as if the water below
it, knew of the freedom from its icy bonds which was
so near at hand.
Mile after mile we travelled swiftly, as men travel
who know that their road is sinking beneath their feet;
and ever as we went the wind rose higher and higher,
until the great trees creaked and groaned with the
strain of it, and, where the moonlight struck them, we
could see them tossing and swaying like a crowd which
waved to us to go back. fnffg1
il I
tt
258
THE CHICAMON STONE.
Here and there we came upon water which we had
to skirt, and once or twice the leader crushed through;
but, by falling upon his belly, and spreading his weight
over a larger surface, he escaped total immersion, and
we hauled him back to safety, whilst ever and anon
we felt that that upon which we trod was loose and
floating.
But, with immunity from accident, confidence increased in us; so that at last we passed Laketon, and
kept on down the lake, though one star of light which
we saw upon the shore drew me strongly towards it.
Had I been alone I should have yielded to the temptation, and escaped from the din and darkness through
which we were struggling; for now the wind had risen
to a perfect hurricane, so that we were buffeted this
way and that, and could not hear one another's voices
for the roar of the wind and the grinding of the ice.
I saw the Boss stop and point to the light, and I
suppose that he spoke, but I could hear no sound.
For a moment we stood in doubt, and then both looked
at the bent figure in front, in which there was no sign
of pause or rest or deviation from the path ahead.
Already the outlines of the figure were gone, and in a
few more seconds it would be out of sight. Throwing
up his hand as if in despair the Boss turned again, and
both of us plodded on behind the silent siwash.
At last the dawn began to come—a faint grey light
which did more to frighten than to hearten us, for by
MTiltf '-** THE CHICAMON STONE. 259
it we saw the chaos through which we went, or some
portion of it. Along the shore now ran a black ribbon
of open water, and the ice, which the night before had
been solid as dry land, was now cut by long black
rivers, and those long floes which still remained, broke
every moment into smaller and still smaller sections,
until some of the smallest of them were mere islets
floating free upon the bosom of the lake. But ahead
of us the ice, though it heaved uneasily under us as
we hurried on, seemed still continuous. Either our
floe, or that upon our right, seemed still the main body
of the ice, and these two ran parallel to one another,
extending towards the head of Dease River, and
separated only from one another by a dark, heaving
gulf, too wide already to. leap, and growing every
moment wider.
But the greater part of the journey had been accomplished in safety, and I was beginning to strain my
eyes for a glimpse of the end of the lake, where I knew
that the shores must come curving in towards the
outlet of the Dease, when, to add to our discomfort, a
fine snow began to drift into our faces, rendering
everything dark again.
It was at this time, when the noise of the grinding
ice and the roar of the wind was deafening us, and the
shifting veil of the snowstorm partially blinding us,
that, as I turned my eyes to see how the chasm grew
upon my right, I became aware that we were not alone- 260
THE CHICAMON STONE.
At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks with
me, or that my nerves were giving way, for though
perfectly reasonable—when you had time to reason—
it seemed at first unnatural that we should be racing
neck and neck with those other eight men beyoncj the
chasm, without our ears giving us warning of their
presence. But it was natural enough. In that pandemonium of sound you could not have heard a park
of artillery going by, and if we had not heard them
they certainly had not heard us. Strung out like a
skein of wild-fowl, dim as a procession of ghosts, swift
and silent, they sped on, unconscious of the competitors
in the race so close alongside of them. I suppose that
we ran like this for half an hour, and I don't think
that they saw us, or that either of my companions
once caught sight of them, so intent were all upon
the road before them, and so often did the whirling
snow swallow the dim figures in its veil.
The end came suddenly. I, who was toiling along
painfully just in sight of my leaders, saw the Boss
break into a run, and, dashing up to Joe, clutch him
by the shoulder. In a minute I was up alongside
them. In front of the Indian, and only just in front,
was open water—fifty feet of it at least. Our bridge
had come to an end, and ahead of us I could see (or
was it only fancy ?) the faint outlines of the curving
shore.
Beyond the open water  there was ice again, but THE CHICAMON STONE. 261
whether continuous or not, no man could tell in that
dim light. The snow drifted more thickly near the
surface of the lake, so that, though you might now
and again make out the outlines of a tree-top at some
distance on the bank, you could see but a very little
way along the floe.
For a few moments Joe and the Boss stood screaming into each other's ears, but though I stood close by
them, I could not catch a word of their conversation.
It seemed madness to go on. It was equally madness
to try to go back. Our road had in parts sunk as we
passed over it. Even those two hesitated for a while,
and attracted, I presume, by the open water on their
left, the string of figures on the other floe turned our
way and saw us, for the first time. The situation
needed no explanation. They evidently grasped it in
a moment, as, bunching together, they stood a moment
looking at us. The goal was just ahead, but our
bridge had broken down, and theirs stretched on still,
sound, into the mist. I suppose the Boss told Siyah
Joe who stood alongside us, for I saw him turn his
blind face towards them, and shake his iron-shod staff
furiously in their faces; and then, it seemed to me,
though I could not hear, nor even see distinctly, that
those others laughed, and, before they went on into the
mist, one whom I knew came out from amongst them
and raised his hat mockingly to us before he disappeared. 262
THE  CHICAMON STONE.
The cards were certainly against us, and, no doubt,
as Bill saw his hand, he chuckled at our position, and
went on towards the ledge, leaving us to drown at our
leisure. But it is bad policy to mock a beaten foe.
Many men have found that, in the ring and elsewhere,
there is generally one last blow left in the beaten
man, and that blow may reverse the issue of the fight.
So it was now, for Joe, who seemed to realize what
had happened as clearly as if he had had eyes and ears
which could overcome the darkness and din of the
storm, held out his pole to the Boss, and, clinging to
one end of it whilst my friend held on to the other,
slid over the edge into the open water.
I expected to see him swim for it, and tried to harden
my heart to follow him, but it was unnecessary. He
was never waist-deep, or more than waist-deep, from
one edge of the water to the other. What looked like
a rent in the ice was but a depression, over which the
lake had risen, and, though I shall not easily forget
the horror of that sloping, pulsing submarine floor,
and though once I lost my feet and slid right under
the cold black water, they hauled me somehow safely
to the firm ice again.
Firm ! Well, I called it so in contrast to that thin,
waving floor which I had crossed; but the ice of the
lake was now moving like the coloured atoms in a
kaleidoscope. Another quarter of an hour would see
the whole surface black, I thought; and already, as the
S	 THE CHICAMON  STONE. 263
light increased, I could see small white caps driven
across the larger spaces of open water by the roaring
wind.
We were wet now to the neck, and weak in the
knees from the long night's journey in the teeth of
the wind and from the constant strain upon our nerves;
but we were hot with the spirit of the race, and reckless as desperate men are wont to be. Those others
had vanished in the mist in front of us, but under our
feet again was something which we could still walk
upon, and, with the glimpse which we had now and
again of a black pine in the mist, we were ready, if
need be, to plunge in and swim for it. And indeed at
this point we were almost as often in the water as out
of it. Towards the edges of the lake the ice was
breaking up more rapidly than elsewhere, so that we
had to go as men go upon stepping-stones, from one
small cake to another. Nor was it better with the
other floe, between which and our own there was now
a space of many hundred yards. Between the end
of it, on which we could see our rivals huddled together, and the shore, there was at least six hundred
yards of open water.
It was a weird sight in the early dawn, that group
scrambling like seals upon the edge of the ice from
which great cakes kept detaching themselves, until the
whole mass was churning and grinding together in the
black water, the cakes rearing up and boarding one
 : * — ill
264
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
another or sinking suddenly into the ever-growing'
blackness.
As we stood and looked a fissure ran across the floe
upon which we stood, yawned, grew wider and, in a
moment, we were rocking upon a detached island over
which the water lapped, and drifting—that was the
marvel of it—right in the teeth of the wind, to the
shore.
But it was not so with the other ice-field. As that
broke up into smaller and smaller sections the wind
played with them, and ground them together, and drove
them away from shore as long as they remained above
water.
It seemed inexplicable, or as if the hand of Providence had at last been extended for our rescue, and
was drawing us to land and safety, whilst those others
were driven back to perish in the stormy cauldron of
the lake.
The siwash must have felt what was happening, for
he knelt and trailed his hand in the water.
" Dry land close now ? " he asked.
" Coming closer, Joe, on our left; we are drifting to
it against the wind."
" Pole, pole! " he cried, " pole hard to the left, the
river draws us! " and, suiting the action to the wbrd, he
drove down his pole until his shoulder was wet with
the water of the lake.
But  he could not reach the bottom.     Again  and THE CHICAMON  STONE. 265
again he tried; and at last I just felt the ooze,
though I could get no hold upon it. But he did;
and the next moment the course of our ice-raft began
to alter a little, and the ooze came up nearer and
nearer until we got a firm grip of it with our poles.
Then a clumsy effort of mine putting too much weight
upon one side of the fragile thing, made it break again;
and for thirty or forty yards I was half swimming half
clinging to the ice upon which Joe and the Boss still
poled for dear life, whilst the detached fragment spun
round and round until it shot out of sight through
the outlet of the Dease.
They had no leisure to haul me up. The Boss saw
that I had hold, and was swimming with them; and in
the interests of all of us, he strained every muscle to
keep our raft out of the current and drive her inshore.
And indeed it was not long that I was alone, for, when
within a stone's throw of the shore, the ice dissolved
into a score of fragments, and we were all floundering
together in the water. But we were out of the suck of
the current, and the water was hardly as dangerous as
the mud, for, whereas there was not three feet of the
former, the latter seemed unfathomable. One man
alone would surely have been drowned. The deep
ooze would have held his feet, and the longer he stayed
and struggled the deeper would he have sunk, until
even three feet of water would have been enough to
drown   what   remained  of him.      But, helping  one - ff ' -''
tr W§ B"   ^
$1 i!'
IP
ill-
'ir:
. I
|
f VI
i 1 i
vJlill
266
THE  CHICAMON STONE.
another with our poles, we made a better fight of it than
a single man could have done, until at last, panting,
struggling, fighting for life itself, we staggered into
the swamp, and lay motionless and spent in the wet
grass, too exhausted to look for a better resting-place
than a shallow not deep enough to drown us.
As I lay, the immediate terror of death passed away
from me, and it seemed as if plates which had been
exposed when I was too busy to look at them were
presented to my mental vision. Just as the scream
" Pole, pole! " had come to my ears, my eyes must
have been looking back upon the lake, which was
heaving* and breaking like the surface of a cauldron
which is just at boiling-point; and in the middle of
the tumult, springing wildly from cake to cake, was
one lonely figure. If it had been the devil the little
floes could not have treated him worse : as he touched
them they dissolved beneath his feet. Again and
again I saw him sink in the black waters ; again and
again I saw him gripping the ice edges, and crawling out only to sink again. It seemed cruelty to let
him suffer so long; but he would not drown, and
when I last saw him, he was still setting his puny
strength against the raving wind and the grinding,
treacherous ice.
I half rose now and looked back to where I had last
seen him, but he was gone. Of the eight, he alone
had  been left when  our ice-raft   broke  loose;   and THE CHICAMON STONE.
267
now the daylight had come, and, far as the eye
could see, the ice was broken into little pieces, near
the shore, and beyond, the white caps ran unhindered
over the black water. There was no sign of living
thing upon the lake; and as I looked I knew that by-
and-by, somewhere against the sedges, there would be
eight white faces, flush with the water, rising and
falling, which never again would grow bright with
hope or keen with greed of gold.
* That is the last^of Bill," I muttered half to myself.
But the Indian answered me. " Not yet," he said.
" Bill wait for Joe at the Chicamon Stone."
infr m*
r—J
rnma
J 268
THE CHICAMON STONE.
CHAPTER VI.
" What do you think of it now, Whitehead ? "
It was the Boss who spoke, as we picked our way
slowly through the swamp towards a couple of cabins
and a ruined store, which stand near the junction of
the Dease and the Dease Lake.
We had heard that a party of prospectors was wintering there, and we had some hope of obtaining a boat
from them in which to continue our journey—or at
the least a solid meal, of which we stood in urgent
need, ^jfo?
"Ithink that we were born to be hanged."
" Because we can't drown ? But what do you think
of the hunt ?    Are you beginning to believe ? "
" In Joe's creed ?—that we shall meet Sandy Bill
at the Chicamon Stone ? No. If I had not come so
far, I would turn back now."
11 would not. I begin to believe," said my friend,
quietly. " Bill is not dead yet. I think I can feel
him in the woods now."
.1 turned a startled glance on  my comrade.    Surely THE CHICAMON STONE.
269
even his great strength and sound common sense was
not beginning to give way under the strain of the last
two weeks ?
But he met my look with a quiet, steady eye, and
even laughed a little as he answered me.
" You would never make a woodsman, boy. Things
don't talk to you. They used not to talk to me ; :but
I am beginning to hear and feel things now which
were always there, but never seemed quite to reach
me before. He hears them more plainly, that's all; "
and, by a gesture, he indicated Siyah Joe, who was now
following quietly in our rear.
Just then an axe-stroke rang out clearly in front
of us, and I suppose I raised my head at the sound
of it.
" Ah! you hear that! That is good, plain, human
language, isn't it ? and yet not always. Did you ever
hear of the Whoopers ? "
I had; but I had no time to say so, for at that
moment I caught sight of the axeman, and was glad
of it. My friend certainly wanted a square meal
badly. I had lived now for months with one lunatic,
but I did not feel equal to living with two of the
same kind.
" Hallo ! When were you drowned ? " asked the
man, dropping his axe and coming towards us.
" Last night," answered the Boss, laconically. " Got
any grub ? " itfiilf
270
THE CHICAMON STONE.
"Mighty little; but I guess there's some still.
Ain't you fellows full up with water ? "
" Pretty nearly; but that's poor stuff to travel on.
Are you alone ? "
" No; my partner is up at the shack. The ice has
all gone on the lake, hasn't it ? "
" Yes; we came in on the last of it."
" Looks as if you'd swum in. Well, I guess we'll
soon be able to get off prospectin' again now."
" Are you going down-stream ? "
" Yes."
" Have you any boats ? "
" We're building one; but it won't be ready for a
week yet."
" Aren't there any on the Dease ? "
"They say there's one cached just below Cottonwood Rapids, but I haven't been down to see.
Come in."
We bent our heads and entered the dim and comfortless abode in which these two men had passed the
long months of winter, sleeping, cooking, smoking—
and, I suppose, thinking; though how any man dare
think, or could think in such a den, with such a world
outside, and the memory of mankind behind him
without going mad, passes my understanding. But
scores of them do it, and, as very few make any
money out of their venture, I suppose that they
like it. THE CHICAMON STONE. 271
"There's nothing but beans and sow belly," said our
host; " but you look hungry enough for anything. I
guess they are pretty nearly as badly off, if not worse,
down at the lower posts."
" Why is that ? "
" A crowd came in last fall and had to winter there ;
and the old man had only enough for himself and the
Chinamen on the creek. They'll go hungry, poor
devils!"
But though food was so scarce that starvation might
be threatening other men within comparatively few
miles of him, our new friend never stopped to count the
cost, but cut into the poor remnant of his bacon as if
he had a well-filled store to fall back upon.
Our Western prospector has his faults, but meanness
is not one of them. As long as he has a bite or a sup, he
will share them with the first man who comes along;
and that morning we ate till we could e&t no more,
and then slept in his dry blankets while he hung up
our sodden clothes to drain first and then, if possible,
to dry.
It was evening when we woke, and ate again; and as
Joe, to my surprise, did not protest, we merely smoked
a pipe and turned over again and slept until the dawn
was creeping through the chinks in the cabin. It was
the first time I had felt rested since I left the mouth
of the Stickine, and so good was it to feel a man again,
that I was almost keen to take the trail.
J 272
THE CHICAMON  STONE.
" How long will it take us to reach McDame's ? " I
asked.
" If you make Cottonwood Creek in three days, you
will do pretty well; and if you get across that all right,
you might make McDame's in another three."
" Is Cotton Wood dangerous ? "
" You bet she is! and she'll be just humming now.
No man as ever drank whisky could ford that creek
for the next month. Two tenderfeet tried to last year.
They ain't been heard from since."
" That's so," struck in the other fellow; " but you
fellows are in big luck. Do you mind, Seth, that
Smith party felled a log across the creek last fall. I
guess the log is there yet,"
" Should be ; there's no tellin'. But if it isn't they
can fall another if they can find one handy."
As this was about the sum of their information, we
secured from them a certain amount of dried moose-
meat, tough as leather, and musty as old parchments,
and bade them farewell.
It was true that we seemed to have the hunt to ourselves; but now that the spring was opening, other
prospectors might soon appear in the country, and
blunder upon the prize for which we had sacrificed so
much, so that it behoved us not to linger upon the
road unnecessarily.
It seems hardly worth while to dwell upon our three
days' tramp to Cottonwood Creek.   In one of the old THE CHICAMON STONE.
273
Hudson Bay records of travel, it would occupy less
than three lines. In a modern book of travel it would
make three vivid chapters. The less you travel the
easier it is to write. After a time discomfort becomes
commonplace, and danger is only realized when it is
a little too late to write about it.
Imagine, if you will, a river-forest as dense as forests
grow, with here and there a little axe-slashing to make
a rough towing-path for the Indians, but for the most
part dense brush through which you can just push
your way along bear-trails, with the boughs in your
eyes all the time, the roar of waters in your ears, and
the pleasant, spicy smell of pine or cedar, crushed
currant-bush, or the young buds of the balsam, in your
nostrils. Water seemed the one commodity of which
there was no lack. It welled up under our feet, roared
down the winding river, streamed or dripped from the
bushes, and soaked up through the thickest brush-bed
which we could make at night.
There was plenty of it everywhere; but at Cottonwood Rapids it gathered to a head and indulged in an
orgy of evil-doing. We could hear the creek or the
rapids, or both, half an hour before we reached them,
and we were glad that we had not found a boat in
which to run those rapids.
With a first-rate steersman, and a good man in the
bow, a crew would no doubt have won through, if they
had had way enough upon their boat;  but it would
t rf"
274
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
have been a nice piece of steering, for, right across the
stream, in the worst and whitest of the water, great
teeth of rock protruded, to touch any one of which
would have meant instant destruction. Once upset
in that water he would have been a quick man who
had time to try to save himself; but if he had fallen
in the creek near its mouth, I think his brains would
have been dashed out almost before he had had time
to get wet.
" There is no wading that," said the Boss, as we came
to it. " If a man could touch bottom, his feet would
never stay there; and there is no bridge that I can see,
though, this must be the crossing."
" And here is the butt of the cotton wood tree," I
said, pointing to a great stump on the brink.
" Washed out, I suppose ; but there is no sign that
the water has been as high as that."
" Tree gone ? " asked Siyah Joe.
" Yes, it has gone, Joe."
The fellow laughed.
" Does Bill think a crik can stop a Tahl Tan ?"
he muttered. " Better look for another higher up,
Whitehead," he added.
" Bill on the brain," I said to the Boss. But he did
not laugh; he seemed to take the Indian seriously.
We had a long way to go up-stream, and it was
bitterly hard work forcing our way through the forest
tangle, but we found the right tree at last, and dropped THE  CHICAMON  STONE. 275
it neatly across the creek. It did not quite span it;
and no blind man but Joe would have crawled across
the swaying length of it, much less have dared to jump
into space from the end of it. But he would have jumped
at the Maelstrom if we had told him to, and we caught
him as he landed, and made the passage in safety, after
which we worked our way down to the crossing again
for the sake of any trail there might be.
Here there was a surprise for me, though the other
two took it as a matter of course.
On the bank where the end of the tree should have
rested was a pile of chips, and part of the tree itself
dragged into the brush close by. The rain had so
bespattered the chips with mud that they did not show
white from the other side, but when I handled them I
found places where the wood was white enough. They
had felt the bite of the axe within the last twenty-
four hours, and all round them, a little blurred by the
rain, were the square-toed prints of a prospector's
boots. Bill had escaped the ice, after all: was in front
of us, and had deliberately destroyed the bridge behind
him; and in spite of myself, I could not help admiring the dogged tenacity with which this lone man
ignored danger, saw his companions die round him,
and still struggled towards his point, determined,
as he put it, to " get there," in spite of the Almighty
Himself.
" No idea of giving in, has he ? " said the Boss.   " Do 1! Ill
276
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
you think that it is worth while going off the trail to
look for the boat ? "
" He may not have known about it," I answered.
" True.    Come along then; " and we went.
But the Indian stayed on the trail, and in twenty
minutes we were back at his side, having found the
rough skids which Bill had made, and the little furrow
where the boat had been shoved into the water.
" That will give him four days' start, even if we can
get a boat at McDame's."
"I would follow if he had a month's start. Any
other man would drown between this and the Hyland,
running the rapids single-handed; but he won't."
I You're as mad as the siwash, Boss."
I Or as sane.    He has not made many mistakes yet."
There was nothing to answer to this ; so we plodded
on in gloomy silence, until we reached the tiny settlement where a poorly paid Hudson Bay man and a few
little yellow Chinamen passed the winter.
Here there were two boats, but they would sell
neither. They did not want money, though they had
come so far to earn it; but they wanted food badly, and,
of course, we could not tell them why we were so
anxious to obtain a boat.
The merest hint of a " strike " will rouse the most
dormant prospector into feverish energy, and for the
present we wanted to be alone. So that night we
entered upon a course of crime, and, under cover of THE CHICAMON  STONE.
277
darkness, slipped off with the best of the boats, and had
our reward in being wrecked upon a snag two hours
later. But the damage done was easily remedied, and,
though the boat leaked like a sieve, we ran her down
in safety to the mouth of the Hyland River. And then
began the worst part of our journey—poling like galley-
slaves, and travelling always higher and higher, and
further and further away from the coming spring. In
five days from McDame's we had snow round us again
as thick as ever, and the nights had a snap in them
which we had already grown unaccustomed to.
But, as we ascended, the country changed rapidly.
Everywhere in the banks were veins of quartz: sometimes white and hungry-looking, at other times of a
rich, rusty yellow such as the miners love; and in
one place we came upon a stringer of galena, which,
at another time, would have kept us there for a month
prospecting for the main body into which it ought
to run.
No doubt the country was becoming richly mineralized. But so far there was no sign of Bill; not even a
column of smoke to tell us that he had camped, or a
scrap of wreckage to make us hope that he had drowned;
and if he reached the ledge before us, in time to put
in a dozen stakes, he might go out and record his
claim, and snap his fingers at us.
No doubt Tatooch had given him the bearings of
the ledge, and, though we might try to hold him for 278
THE CHICAMON STONE.
Ill HI
his share in the outrage upon Siyah Joe, it would be
long odds against our getting a conviction in that
country, and, even if we did, that would not affect the
ownership of the Chicamon Stone.
Under these circumstances it should not be hard to
imagine the intense excitement of the last few days
of that journey : straining every muscle upon the pole
as long as the daylight lasted, watching for any trace
of a landing, and at every bend straining our eyes for
a glimpse of that lone figure which we knew must still
be ahead of us.
But we never saw a sign of a landing, nor other
trace of Bill, until I, at least, had again begun to
regard him as a myth.
Every day we relied upon the map in Joe's brain
for our guidance. At starting he would make us
describe the spot minutely, and would calculate the
distance done the day before, and then give us some
landmark to look out for, from which to make a fresh
departure.
In this way we travelled three days, and had risen
so rapidly in that time, that in the main chain to
which we were approaching, it was deep winter still.
On the third day we stopped at the foot of a hogsback.
" Whitehead see no tracks there ? " asked Joe.
" None, Joe."
" Land and look well."
I did as I was bid, but could find nothing. THE CHICAMON STONE.
279
"All the same, we stop here. Bill not know the
short cut. He go up to the mouth of the crik. We
go over here, and come down on the head-waters.
Chicamon Stone pretty close now."
Near the landing we cached our canoe; we had no
spare food to cache; and then we climbed our last
divide. fxth
From the top of it we could see the Chicamon
Stone Creek—a narrow stream running- between snowbanks—the ice broken, but the snow still there ; and,
in the snows of the gulch, we came again upon those
square-toed tracks.
After this it was as easy as tracking a grizzly, and
as dangerous—or more so, for, if we saw his tracks,
there was no good reason why he should not see us;
and, if he did, one straight shot would reduce the
whole affair to a duel, for blind Joe could not have
done any effective shooting, and the odds would have
been distinctly in favour of the unencumbered man.
But Bill either did not see his opportunity, or was
so crazily set upon driving the first stake that he
forgot all else ; and, though the tracks told us plainly
that he was tramping up and down the long, deep
gulch whenever we were resting, neither he nor we
were yet much nearer the ledge than we had been a
month ago, for in this place of shadows, into which
the sun rarely penetrated, the snows still lay heavily,
and even the Indian's memory, unaided by his eyes,
--    ~:   _ rfT
580
THE CHICAMON STONE.
could not definitely locate the exact spot at which the
ledge lay.
I thought that it was the same old story of a ledge
of fabulous richness, which grows less and less real as
you approach it, until it finally disappears when you
reach the spot where it should be. There have been
many such; but if this was one of the number, two
men at any rate did not think so. All day the Indian
led us up and down the gulch, looking for places where
the snow had slid down and left bare patches of the
rock wall; and all night it seemed to us that another
who had been crouching in the brush all day, came
out and took up the quest by moonlight.
And, meanwhile, our food was all but spent. If
no chinook wind came, or rain to set those snows
moving within the next few days, we should be obliged
to choose between abandoning the ledge, and starving
at the foot of it. THE CHICAMON STONE. 281
CHAPTER VII.
I sometimes think that in those last few days we were
all of us nearly mad.
We had struggled until then as men who race for a
prize—one of us perhaps as a hound who races for blood
—and in the spirit of contest had been able to overcome
the obstacles which we had met.
Man we had struggled against successfully; we had
pitted our strength and skill against the currents of
the Arctic Slope ; we had staked our lives, fortunately,
upon the strength of a quivering sheet of ice ; in sweat
which seemed the very blood of our bodies, we had
plodded through clinging brush, deep swamps and
blind tangles of fallen timber. We had dispensed with
all things which most men need; dared all things,
done all things, but now we had our hardest task before
us. At our very goal Nature bade us do nothing.
" Wait!" she said; and though man may strive against
her, who can wait against her ?
The spring was at the door, but she might linger If j
1
i
282
THE CHICAMON STONE.
many days yet, and meanwhile the deep snows clung
to the sides of the gorge and hid our prize from our
eyes. Man's strength could not move that mantle,
nor greed's eyes see through it. Here and there was
a tiny track on the snow, and at the foot of it the
little gleaming ball of pure white detached snow
which had made it. That was the precursor of the
slides which were to follow, but as yet that which
had moved could be measured by handsfull and there
were thousands of tons to come.
On the first day we divided what little food we had
into daily rations, and then we sat down to wait. But
a fever took us before we had waited half a day and
drove us out into the canyon to plod backwards and
forwards, glaring at the sloping white walls until our
eyes ached. Was it in this slide, or in that slide, we
asked each other, as we paused at the foot of the great
pathways which the snows had ploughed in former
years, reaping the pines as man reaps the wheat.
But there was no answer, except Nature's inexorable
"Wait;" and meanwhile, though we never saw him,
another walked too. He must have lain hid in one
of the clumps of brush until we crept back weary to
camp, and then his beat began. I believe there was
never an hour when some human sentry did not pace
at the foot of those silent, mocking snows.
Once I sat hid half the night watching for him, with
my finger on the trigger; but I was spared that crime, THE  CHICAMON STONE. 283
and I crept away without having seen him, shamed
by the silence and majesty of night. When man
was away that still gorge was like a sanctuary of
God, and, strangely enough, only the wild man had
sense enough, blind as he was, to see it. He too,
wearied with waiting, but he waited as one who has a
sure hope. It might not be to-day or to-morrow, but
he knew that the Fates would bring him and his enemy
to the tryst before his night fell, and hour after hour
whilst we tried to sleep he would sit blindly staring into
space and talking to the man he was to meet.
Over and over again I caught the same words,
until it seemed to me as if he were rehearsing a part
in a play, and my flesh crept at the grimness of it.
Towards noon of the third day, which we passed at
the head of the gorge, the clouds gathered and a warm
wind began to blow. The Indian raised his face and
snuffed at it as a dog who finds game, and into my
brain without my will came thoughts of English
daffodils, and the scent of warm English earth.
It was one of those brooding days, when all created
things seem hushed, expectant of the recurrent
miracle of spring; and when the night came, though it
was dark and boisterous, it was so warm that we only
lit our fire from habit, or it may be for that sense of
homeliness which the ruddy embers stir even in the
heart of a wilderness.
The rain began with nightfall, and because of it we 284
THE CHICAMON STONE.
i_ ■ i
i
Ml
. i 1
had rigged up a fly with our blankets, and sat, all three
together, cowering under it, and as far as the Boss and
I were concerned, drowsing like dogs by the hearth.
But empty stomachs make poor sleepers, and besides
this, the feverishness of the last few days had reached a
climax. Joe now was worse than either of us. I could
feel him trembling as I sat beside him, and knew that
every sense in him was strained to listen.
I would have given 'much to have screamed or
rushed somewhere; but instead, I had to sit and hear
Joe's hard-drawn breath and the beat of his heart, and
almost I fancied throbbings, and movements, and voices
half articulate, but growing plainer every moment
somewhere just behind the veil which at other times
is drawn between man and the rest of creation.
" Has the new moon come yet ? "
The words made my heart leap, and something
seemed to stop to hear my answer.
No, it had not come, but by some wonderful instinct
or effort of memory, the Tahl Tan was right. It was
the night of the new moon.
For another hour, it may be, we all sat watching and
and then by a common impulse all three of us
sprang to our feet.
The wind had dropped and a dead, warm stillness
dwelt in the valley, when a sudden mighty rushing sound blanched our cheeks and set our knees
knocking together, and as we gazed out into the dusk r
THE CHICAMON  STONE. 285
the tip of the pale new crescent rose above the black
fringe of pines on the top of the far side of the canyon.
" The snows move and the new moon has come," said
the blind savage, as if he had seen it. " Joe goes now.
The white medicine-man waits for him;" and without
another word he picked up a great stake and went out
into the night.
" He goes to his death if he goes down the canyon
now," said the Boss, as we heard the Indian's staff strike
a rock from time to time. " I don't know that it matters
much. That is the last of our food, and it is long
odds that none of us will get out."
" I shall try to as soon as the light comes, ledge or
no ledge."
" Curse the ledge ! "
And after that we both sat again watching the night
go by, hearing from time to time the rushing sound
of the sliding snow, and the rending and crushing of
the pines it took on its path, and longing to be away
from the great things of Nature and safe among the
littlenesses of our fellow-men.
It was one of Nature's carnivals that night, and the
strange, warm calm of that lonely gorge, broken at
intervals by the roar ofi avalanches and the sound
of their reapings, told upon our nerves so that we were
tired, white-faced men when the moon went down and
the first grey light of dawn crept into the sky.
I think neither of us spoke; but the Boss rose and 286
THE  CHICAMON  STONE.
kicked the embers into the snow, -and for a few
minutes we both stood munching our ration of cold
and heavy damper. Then he folded the rest of the
bread in a handkerchief, and taking his rifle in his hand
turned down the canyon.
During the days of our waiting we had cut and
squared the stakes with which to locate the ledge when
we found it, and had even written out and attached our
miners' notice to one of them; and partly from habit,
and partly because I wanted a staff to walk with, I
picked up this stake as I left camp.
" It is safer to climb, and go by the top."
As the Boss spoke, another slide roared into the
canyon.
" Yes, it is longer; but safer, I suppose," I assented.
It had to be a very real danger which would persuade
me to go out of my way for it on my wTay home, but
some of the new-piled snow was visible from where we
stood, and we knew what it meant to be caught on its
path; so we climbed slowly up the north wall of the
canyon, and went down along the edge of it, from
which we could see, but indistinctly as yet, into the
shadowy land below.
But the light had come more generously by the time
that we were abreast of the first of the three great
slides, where the Boss suddenly stopped.
"Didn't you hear it? " he asked.
" No." HI
THE CHICAMON STONE. 287
" Listen, then.   There it is again."
Surely it was a voice speaking, but it was so faint,
and my nerves were so unstrung, that I was hardly sure
of it at first, although when once we were well round the
bluff, and directly above the slide, we could hear it
distinctly enough, and see too the vast sheet of snow
piled in the gorge below.
" There is no hurry, white man," it was saying, " and
it is no good to call. Joe hears you, but the rocks do
not hear, nor the snows, and there is nothing else.
The other white men have gone back. They were
afraid when the snows began to walk."
We crept to the edge and peered over, and there,
crouching on his knees, staring into space as we had so
often seen him, was Siyah Joe.
It was the old play he was playing. In front of him,
at his feet, was the debris of last night's slide, and
in it one dark boulder on the far side, a little boulder
showing very plainly above the piled whiteness; but
there was no one to hear him but ourselves, nor any to
answer him.
" Mad!" muttered the Boss, " and the next slide
will cover him.   Look at the far side."
I looked, and saw how that in places the rock was
bare, but great buttresses of snow still hung, as it were,
by a thread, from which every minute fresh blocks
detached themselves and slid without sound into the
valley below. 288
THE CHICAMON STONE.
" What are we to do ?" asked my comrade; but
before I could answer him the Tahl Tan spoke again.
" If the Indian were not blind he would come to you,
white man. It would be easy to come and draw you out.
" But he is blind, white man—blind ! blind! "
It seemed almost as if a groan came as an echo
from the far side of the canyon, but we saw nothing—
nothing moved.
1 Help ! help.    For God's sake, help! "
There was no mistake that time, at any rate. The
wild, agonized shriek rang through the gorge, and the
horror of it would not be drowned even in the silence
of the snows.
A low laugh came from the Indian. Men of his
race rarely laugh, and if that laugh had any mirth
in it, it was the mirth of fiends when lost spirits
read the inscription on hell's gates—" There is no
return."
" Why does the medicine-man not help himself ? He
is strong. He said he would get there in spite of the
Great Spirit. Let him push away the snow before
the ravens come; then it will not be lonely."
He paused for a moment.
" Does the white man remember the black birds of
Kula Kullah? By-and-by they will come to him.
Round and round they fly long time, then one come
and look in his eyes and see he live man, strong man. THE CHICAMON STONE.
289
Kula Kullah bird heap fear. By-and-by he come closer.
White man no move. Crow come closer, closer. Bill see
him look in his eyes again. Then peck, peck—one
eye gone! Peck, peck—two eyes gone ! and Bill see
no more—all same Siyah Joe."
" Give me life ! For God's sake give me my life!"
It almost seemed as if the cry came from the little
black boulder in the snows.
"Tkve, Tkve—Life, Life! It is the cry that the
A1 its make on the shore in the night. But life is not
good for the blind. Can the medicine-man give back
the sight he took away ? "
" I can; so help me God, I can."
It was the boulder that spoke.
"White man's word, Bill."
" White man's word, Joe."
The Indian laughed again; but he rose to his feet
and took his great staff in his hand.
" Then call, Bill, and Joe will come to you. But call
often, for the Indian cannot see;" and so saying he
began to feel his way slowly across the snow. But
even to us who watched him, knowing how wonderfully
he went without his eyes, it seemed that never man
moved as slowly as he did.
" Joe dig you out, and you give him back his sight,
and then we stake the Chicamon Stone. Bill, no come
behind with the axe. No, no. White man's word, eh,
Bill? Call again, Bill! "
u 290
THE CHICAMON STONE.
ill
"Here, here!"
And this time there was no mistake about it. The
voice came from the boulder, and as we strained our
eyes in the growing light, I thought I saw it move.
" My God!    It is a man's head, Boss ! "
The head of Joe's dream !
In his mad determination to stake the ledge at all
costs, the poor fool must have gone to the foot of the
slide when the new moon rose, and his own movement
possibly at the foot of it had set the snows sliding
which had caught him and buried him to the neck,
holding him down with the weight of a hundred tons,
but leaving him whole, though helpless, to look out
into the white world until the ravens or death came
to release him.
Even so he had pledged a white man's word and
called on the Creator to witness to his last lie, and it
seemed as if God had made the lie seem true to the
Tahl Tan.
" Here, Joe, here ! "
1 Coming, Bill, coming.    Joe is coming."
The Indian's staff almost touched the boulder. It
seemed as if it played round it, and dwelt about it.
Surely it must touch it.
" Joe is coming ; but he is blind, Bill, blind, and
cannot see his friend ;" and, slowly fumbling with his
staff, the Tahl Tan went by. Then a scream of despair
rent the stillness, and a torrent of mad blasphemy THE CHICAMON  STONE. 291
polluted the place. The mouse saw that the cat
played with him.    Bill's last lie had failed him.
But another saw it too, and, disregarding all risks,
the Boss went over the edge and began to scramble
clown the steep wall of the gorge, I following him, as
I was always ready to do. I doubt if I have much
pluck myself, but he was one of those men who inspire
pluck in others, and I should have followed him
anywhere.
The wall was fearfully steep, and our descent utterly
reckless, so that stones flew from under our feet, and a
regular slide of rock and gravel went rattling before
us into the canyon.
Both those below heard it, and one saw us coming.
To him it meant salvation from the very jaws of death,
and his wild cry smote us as w7e dashed to his rescue.
But the blind man heard if he did not see, and his
ears told him the story not less certainly than Bill's
eyes.
In a moment he drew himself up rigid, listening.
" Quick, quick! Save me! For God's sake save
me! " cried the head at his feet, its poor eyes straining
our way, and a voice behind, answered—
" Yes, Joe save you now; Joe find you now, quick,
quick!" and with swift, unerring feet, in startling
contrast to his former feigning, the Tahl Tan went to
his enemy and stood over him, the huge stake raised
in both hands.
J ~
292
THE CHICAMON STONE.
" Listen, white man! Listen, white devil!" he hissed.
" They are coming. The strong white fools are coming
to save you. They spoil blind Indian's play. Such
a fine play too: it was a pity it was so short. They
are close now—close, close; do you hear them ? Look
up, Bill. Blind Indian find you now. Look! Ach !
Ach ! " And the great stake came down twice with a
dull thud in the snow ; but twice it missed its mark by
a hair's-breadth.
Again it came down, and again it missed, and we
were all but there, and the poor wretch had the courage
to be mute with help all so close at hand, and murder
striking at his helpless head; when there was a puff of
white in the valley, and I, who was the fleeter of the
two and in front, was caught in the strong grip of the
Boss.
" Back, Whitehead! for your life—back ! " and, half
dragged by him, half by instinct, I turned almost as
I reached those two, and the next moment a cloud
of white particles filled the air; something struck me,
but I struggled on; something struck me again, and
I staggered ; and then a wave of white took me to the
knees, and a deafening roar filled the whole valley,
and it seemed as if a vast snow-shell had exploded in
the canyon, and all was sound and movement and
whiteness.
When it ceased I hardly knew whether I lived or
was dead.    I could see and feel, but I could not move. THE CHICAMON STONE. 293
I was dead from the knees down; but, as good luck
would have it, I had all but reached safe ground before
the slide caught me, and the Boss had reached it, and
before long had me beside him, unhurt, but stunned
by the din and the panic.
" Thank God, the dream is over! There's the end
of it!"
I followed his glance into the bottom of the gorge
where now there was neither white man nor redskin,
only one white chaos of tumbled snow, many feet deep,
and above, the bare rock-bed of the slide.
Higher and higher we climbed upon the side of safety,
and as we went the very hillside was dissolving under us;
but there was no more snow to come, and, after an hour's
rest, we went back to try to dig out our dead.
But without spades, or an accurate knowledge of
the spot at which they lay, we knew that our efforts
were hopeless from the first, and, after a day's work,
we abandoned it.
" Let us mark the spot, and leave them. It is our
only chance of saving ourselves."
I was too spent to answer, but I took up the post I
had carried and climbed up the bed of the snow-slide.
"Put a post in there and I will put one in above
it, and one on the other side of the gulch, to give us
a line if we ever get back," ordered the Boss, and,
routing amongst the debris, I found what looked like
a soft spot, and drove the post home.
iH .■     '
■111 I
Hi
II 11
!    1   I I 111 I
294
THE CHICAMON STONE.
It went in so easily that I stooped to see what I had
struck, and there, round the base of my post—my post
with the miner's notice upon it—was a riband of dull,
yellowish matter not very different from the soiled snow.
But it was gouge, the soft, decomposed stuff which
sometimes lies between a vein and the country rock
in which it is embedded ; and this gouge was full
of particles which gleamed with the same steady,
unchanging glare, no matter from what point you
regarded them.
I was standing upon the price of men's lives—almost
the only god that men worship nowadays—the ugly,
gleaming metal for which men will give up the spring
sunshine, and all that makes life worth living.
I looked up, and saw that the Boss had set up his
stake across the gully. It was in a true line with the
lead. We had but one more stake to set, a few words
as to date and bearings to add to our miner's notice,
and we had, without seeking it at the last, staked
Siyah Joe's reef, whilst he and his enemy lay buried
at the foot of it.
There is practically nothing more to tell. The race
or the battle is the thing worth doing, and possibly
worth recording;  the prize is only a lure to evoke THE CHICAMON STONE.
295
effort and develop what is in a man. The prize, as
far as I have seen, becomes smaller and more worthless
as you draw nearer to it. But I must not be ungrateful.
I crawled out, thanks to the Boss, or this would
never have been written; thanks, too, to his sober
sanity of mind, I sold out for a comparatively small
price to the first bidder, and now what money I have
is in the Consols. Any one who mentions mining or
business is shown to the door by my servant with
surprising alacrity, and I am able to dwell outside
the roar of London, and live the country life which
dear Mother Nature meant for her children, in sober
quiet.
the end.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND BECCLES. 11
u February, 1900.
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Lovett)
Lovett)
Lovett)
Lovett)
A Ward in Chancery.
A Choice of Evils.
A Fight with Fate.
Mrs. Crichton's Creditor.
Barbara.
The Stepmother.
A Splendid Sin.
An African Millionaire.   Illustrated.
The Incidental Bishop.
Under the Rose.    Illustrated.
The Co-Respondent.
Francois the Valet.
Pride and Prejudice.    Illustrated.
Perpetua.
In Old New York.
Helen's Ordeal.
The  Rubicon.
Limitations.
The Babe, B.A.
Her Wild Oats.
Behind the Magic Mirror.
Arne, and  the  Fisher   Lassie.
The Seafarers.
Shirley.
A Widower Indeed.
Father Anthony.
Tomalyn's Quest.
Settled Out of Court.
Hermits of Gray's Inn.
The Wing of Azrael.
Pathway of the Gods.
Verses and Fly-Leaves.
A Bad Lot.
A Soul Astray.
A Man's Undoing.
Devils' Apples.
A Difficult Matter.
The Ways of a Widow..
A Fair Fraud. BELVS  INDIAN  AND
Castle (Egerton)	
Coleban (J. M.)     	
Coleridge (Christabel)    ...
Coleridge (S. T.)	
Crockett (S. R.)i	
Daudet (Alphonse)    	
Dawe (W. C.)	
De la Pasture (Mrs. Henry)
De la Pasture (Mrs. Henry)
Dickens (Charles)      	
Dickens (Charles)      	
Dickens (Charles)      	
Dougall (L.)   	
Douglas (Theo.)   	
Douglas (Theo.)   	
Doyle (Conan)      	
Doyle (Conan)      	
Doyle (Conan)      	
Doyle (Conan)      	
Du Maurier (G.)	
Du Maurier (G.)	
Ebers (Georg)       	
Egerton (George)      ...   ...
Emerson (R. W.)   	
Emerson (R. W.)   	
Falkner (J. Meade)    	
Fenn (G. Manville)    	
Fenn (G. Manville)    	
Fenn (G. Manville)    	
Fenn (G. Manville)    ...   ...
Fenn (G. Manville)   	
Fenn (G. Manville)   	
Finnemore (John)	
Fitchett (Rev. W. H.)
Fitchett (Rev. W. H.)
Fletcher (J. S.)    	
Foster (John)    ....
Francis (M. E.)    	
Fraser (Mrs. Hugh)    	
Garland (Hamblin)    	
Gaskell (Mrs.)       	
Gerard (Dorothea)    	
Gerard (Dorothea)   	
Gift (Theo.)    	
Gift (Theo.)   	
Gissing (George) 	
Gissing (George) 	
Gissing (George)	
Gissing (George)  	
Gissing (George) 	
The Light of Scarthey.
Her Royal Highness's Love Affair
The Tender Mercies of the Good.
Table-Talk and Omniana.
The Men of the Moss-Hags,
The Hope of the Family.
The Emu's Head.
Deborah of Tod's.
Adam Grigson.
Pickwick Papers.    Illustrated.
A Tale of Two Cities.    Illustrated.
Bleak House.
A Dozen Ways of Love.
A Legacy of Hate.
Nemo.
The White Company.
Rodney Stone.    Illustrated.
Uncle Bernac.    Illustrated.
The Tragedy of the Korosko.
Trilby.    Illustrated.
The Martian.    Illustrated.
An Indian Princess.
The Wheel of God.
Essays and Lectures.
English Traits and Nature.
Moonfleet.
The  Star-Gazers.
The Case of Ailsa Gray.
Sappers and ^Miners.
Cursed by a Fortune.
High Play.
The Vibart Affair.
The Red Men of the Dusk.
Deeds that Won the Empire.   111 us.
Fights for the Flag.    Illustrated.
Mistress Spitfire.
The Evils of Popular Ignorance, &c.
A Daughter of the Soil.
The Looms of Time.
Jason Edwards.
Wives and Daughters.
Lot 13.
Miss Providence.
An Island Princess.
Dishonoured.
Denzil Quarrier.
The Emancipated.
In the Year of Jubilee.
Eve's Ransom.
Born in Exile. COLONrAL   LIBRARY.
H
Andrew)
:ce)
Gissing (George) 	
Gissing (George)  	
Gissing (George) 	
Gordon (Lord Granville)
Green (Mrs. A. K.)
Green (Mrs. A. K.)
Griffith (George)	
Griffith (George)	
Griffith'(George)	
Griffith (George)	
Griffith (George)	
Griffith (George).	
Griffith (George)	
Griffiths (Major Arthur)
Griffiths (Major Arthur)
Gunter (A. C.)...
Haggard (Lieut-Col
Hake (A. Egmont)
Hardy (Thomas)
Hardy (Thomas)
Harraden (Beatri
Harte (Bret) .
Harte (Bret) .
Hawthorne (Julian) .
Hawthorne (Nathaniel)
Henty (G. A.)	
Hill (Headon)
Holland (Clive)   .
Hooper (George) .,
Hope (Anthony)   ..
Hope (Anthony)   ..
Hume (Fergus)
Hume (Fergus)
Hume (Fergus)
Hu1*gerford (Mrs.)
Hungerford (Mrs.)
Hunt (Violet)
Hunt (Violet)
Hunt (Violet)
Hutcheson (J. C.)...
Hutcheson (J. C.)...
Hyne (C. J. Cutliffe)
Hyne (C. J. Cutliffe)
Jocelyn (Mrs. R.)
JOCELYN (Mrs. R.)
Jocelyn (Mrs. R.)
Jocelyn (Mrs. R.)
J6kai (Maurus)
Keary (C. F.) ...
Kennard (Mrs. E.)
The Unclassed.
The Whirlpool.
Human Odds and Ends.
The Race of To-dav.
That Affair Next Door.
Lost Man's Lane.
Valdar the Oft-Born.    Illustrated.
The Virgin of the Sun
The Destined Maid.    Illustrated.
Knaves of Diamonds.
The Great Pirate Syndicate.
Brothers of the Chain.
The Rose of Judah.
Ford's Folly, Ltd.
Fast and Loose.
A Florida Enchantment.
Tempest-Torn.
Gordon in China and the Soudan.
Tess of the D'Urbervilles.
Desperate Remedies.
Ships that Pass in the Night.
Stories in Light and Shadow.
Jack Hamlin's Mediation, and other
A Fool of Nature. [Stories.
Transformation. (The Marble Faun.
The Woman of the Commune.
The Spies of the Wight.
Marcelle of the Latin Quarter.
Waterloo.    With Maps and Plans.
Comedies of Courtship.
Half a Flero.
Lady Jezebel.
The Rainbow Feather.
The Red-Headed Man.
Peter's Wife.
A Tug of War.
The Maiden's Progress.
A Hard Woman.
The Way of Marriage.
Crown and Anchor.
The Pirate Junk.
Adventures of Captain Kettle.   Illus
Further Adventures of Capt. Kettle,
Only a Flirt.
Lady Mary's Experiences.
Miss Rayburn's Diamonds.
Henry Massinger.
Eyes Like the Sea.
The Two Lancrofts.
The Catch of the County.
y BELL'S   INDIAN  AND
Kennard (Mrs. E.)       	
Kennard (Mrs. E.)       	
Kennard (Mrs. E.)       	
Kir ling (Rudyard)      	
L (X.)	
Lee (Albert)	
Le Queux (W.)      	
Le Queux (W.)           ..
Le Queux (W.)      	
Le Queux (W.)      	
Le Queux (W.)      	
Le Queux (W.)      	
Le Queux (W.)      	
Le Queux (W.)      	
Le Queux (W.)      	
Le Queux (W.)      	
Le Queux (W.)      	
Le Queux (W.)      	
Mallock (W. H.)  	
Mallock (W. H.)	
Mallock (W. H.) _.
Marsh (R.)      	
Marshall (A. H.)	
Mathers (Helen)	
Meade (Mrs. L. T.)      	
Meade (Mrs. L. T.)      	
Meade (Mrs. L. T.)      	
Meade (Mrs. L. T.)      	
Meade (Mrs. L. T.)      	
Meade (Mrs. L. T.)       	
Meade (L. T.) and       )
Halifax (Clifford) j
Meredith (George)    	
Meredith (George)	
Meredith (George)    ...    .
Meredith (George)    	
Meredith (George)    	
Meredith (George)    	
Meredith (George)    	
Merriman (Henry Seton).
Merriman (Henry Seton).,
Middleton (Colin)
Mignet (F. A.)       	
Mitford (Bertram) ... .
Morrow (W. c.)
Muddock (J. E.)
Muddock (]. E J
Muddock (J. E.j
Muddock (J. E.)
Nisbet (Hume)
Fooled by a Woman.
A Riverside Romance.
At the Tail of the Hounds.
Departmental Ditties.    Illustrated.
The Limb.
The Gentleman Pensioner.
Devil's Dice.
Zoraida.    Illustrated.
The Great War of 1897.     Illus,
The Eye of I star.    Illustrated.
Whoso Findeth a Wife.
The Great White Queen.    Illus.
Stolen Souls.
Scribes and Pharisees.
If Sinners Entice Thee.
England's Peril.
The Bond of Black.
Wiles of the Wicked.
A Human Document.
The Heart of Life.
The Individualist.
In Full Cry.
Lord Stirling's Son.
Bam Wildfire.
A Life for a Love.
A Son of Ishmael.
The Way of a Woman.
The Cleverest Woman in England.
The Desire of Men.
The Wooing of Monica.
Stories from the Diary of a Doctor.
Richard Feverel.
Evan Harrington.
The Egoist.
Diana of the Crossways
Lord Ormont and his Aminta.
The Amazing Marriage.
The Tragic Comedians.
With Edged Tools.
The Grey Lady.    Illustrated.
Without Respect of Persons.
History of the French Revolution.
John Ames, Native Commissioner.
The Ape, the Idiot, and other People.
The Star of Fortune.
Stripped of the Tinsel.
The Lost Laird.
In the King's Favour.
Kings of the Sea.   Illustrated. COLONIAL   LIBRARY.
Nisbet (Hume)      	
Needell (Mrs. J. H.)   	
Newland (S.)	
New Note, A
Oliphant (Mrs.)     	
Ottolengui (R.)    	
Parker ( Gilbert)	
Parker (Gilbert) and others
Paterson (Arthur)    	
Payn (James)   	
Payn (James)	
Pemberton (Max)	
Pemberton (Max)	
Pemberton (Max)	
Pemberton (Max)	
Philips (F. C.)	
Phillipps-Wolley (C.)	
Phillipps-Wolley (C.)...    ...
Phillpotts (Eden)      	
Phillpotts (Eden)      	
Phillpotts (Eden)      	
Phillpotts (Eden)      	
poushkin (a.)	
Prescott (E. Livingston) ...
Prescott (E. Livingston) ...
Prescott (E. Livingston) ...
QUILLER-COUCH (M.)      	
Riddell (Mrs. J. H.)    	
RlDDELL (Mrs. J. H.)     	
'Rita'	
'Rita'	
Russell (Dora)    	
Russell (W. Clark)   	
Sergeant (Adeline) 	
Sergeant (Adeline) 	
Sergeant (Adeline) 	
Sergeant (Adeline) 	
Sergeant (Adeline) 	
Six Thousand Tons of Gold.
Smart (Hawley)   	
St. Aubyn (A.)	
St. Aubyn (A.)       	
St. Aubyn (A.)	
Stables (Dr. Gordon)	
Stead (W. T.)	
Steele (Mrs.)	
Stinde (Julius)     	
Stockton (Frank R.)	
Stockton (Frank R.)	
Thackeray (W. M.)    	
The Revenge of Valerie.   kjgM.
The Honour of Vivien Bruce.
Paving the Way.    Illustrated.
The Prodigals.
The Crime of the Century.
The Translation of a Savage.
March of the White Guard, &c.  Illus-
A Man of his Word. [trated.
In Market Overt.
Another's Burden.
A Gentleman's Gentleman.
Christine of the Hills.
The Phantom Army.
Signors of the Night.
Poor Little Bella.
One of the Broken Brigade.
The Chicamon Stone.
Some Every-Day Folks.
My Laughing Philosopher.
Lying Prophets.
Children of the Mist.
Prose Tales.    Trans, by T. Keane.
The Rip's Redemption.
The Measure of a Man.
Illusion.
The Spanish Maid.
Did He Deserve it ?
Fair Abbotsmead.
Joan and Mrs. Carr.
Vignettes :   Stories.
A Torn out Page.
A Voyage at Anchor.
A Rogue's Daughter.
Told in the Twilight.
The Love Story of Margaret Wynne.
Blake of Oriel.
A Rise in the World.
A Member of Tattersall's, &c.
A Proctor's Wooing.
A Fair Impostor.
Bonnie Maggie Lauder.
The Rose of Allandale.
Real Ghost Stories.
Lesbia.
The Buchholz Family
The Great Stone of Sardis.    Illus-
Associate Hermits. [trated.
The Newcomes. BELL'S INDIAN AND COLONIAL LIBRARY.
Thackeray (W. M.)    ...
Thomas (Annie)    	
Thomas (Annie)    	
Thomas (Annie)    	
Thomson (Basil)   	
Tirepuck (W. E.)	
Tirebuck (W. E.)	
Tracy (Louis)	
Tracy (Louis)	
Tracy (Louis)	
Trollope (Anthony) ...
Trollope (Anthony) ...
Trollope (Anthony) ...
Tynan (Katharine)
Underwood (Francis)...
V and am (Albert D.) ...
Vandam (Albert D.)   ...
Vynne (Nora)	
Walford (L. B.;    	
Warden (Florence) ...
Warden (Florence) ...
Warden (Florence) ...
Warden (Florence) ...
Warden (Florence) ...
Warden (Florence) ...
Warden (Florence) ...
Warden (Florence) ...
Warden (Florence) ...
Warden (Florence)   ...
Wells (H. G.)	
Wells (H. G.)	
Wells (H. G.)	
Westall (William)
Wicks (Frederick)
Wiggin (Kate Douglas)
Wiggin (Kate Douglas)
Wilkins (Mary E.)
Wilkins (Mary E.)
Wilkins (Mary E.)
Wilkins (Mary E.)
Winter (John Strange)
Winter (John Strange)
Winter (John Strange)
Winter (John Strange)
Winter (John Strange)
Winter (John Strange)
Winter (John Strange)
Vanity Fair.
Four Women in the Case.
Essentially Human.
Dick Rivers.
The Indiscretions of Lady Asenath.
Meg of the Scarlet Foot.
The White Woman.
The Final War.    Illustrated.
An American Emperor.
Lost Provinces.    Illustrated
Framley Parsonage.
Doctor Thorne.
Lily Dale.
The Way of a Maid.
Doctor Gray's Quest.
The Mystery of the Patrician Club.
French Men and French Manners.
The Priest's Marriage.
The Archdeacon.
A Perfect Fool.
Kitty's Engagement.
A Spoilt Girl.
A Lady in Black.
Our Widow.
The Mystery of Dudley Home.
The Girls at  the Grange.
Girls will be Girls.
Little Miss Prim.
A Lowly Lover.
When the Sleeper Wakes.
Tales of Time and Space.
Love and Mr. Lewisham.
For Honour and Life.
The Infant.    Illus. by A.  Morrow
Marm Liza.
Penelope's Experiences in Scotland.
Pembroke.
Madelon.
Jerome.
Silence, and other Stories.
A Born Soldier.
A Blameless Woman.
A Magnificent Young Man.
Booties' Children, and other Stories.
The Peacemakers.
Heart and Sword.
A Name to Conjure With.
"mm
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Jen (B).   Ships that Pass in the Night.
(GeorgX    An Egyptian Princess.
(Thomas).   Tess of the DTJrbervilles.
n(E. F.).   The Rubicon. V^v"
ion (B.).   Arne, and the Eisher Lassie.
G- Manville).    The Star-Gazers.
ill (William)    For Honour and Life.
ttttWrs.).   The Prodigal.
:r (George).    Waterloo.
home (N.k   Transformation.
- (J.).   Evils of Popular Ignorance, etc i
dge (S. T.).   Table-Talk and Omniana.
rley (C. S ).   Verses and Fly-Leaves.
man ' H. S.).   With Edged Tools,
as (Mary E.).   Pembroke,
ns (Charles).   Pickwick Papers.  Illus.
.t (F. A.).     History of the French Re-
ion, from 1789 to 1814
1A  Coi.an).   The White Company,
ck v.W   H.).   A Human Document.
i (Julius*     The Buchholz Family.
ion (R. W.)     Essavs and Lectures.
$on< R.W.). EnglishTraits and Nature.
ns(C).    A Tale of Two Cities.  Illus.
ig (George).    Denzil Quarrier.
ock f J. E ).   The Star of Fortune.
r(Gilbert, and Others.   The March of
yhite Guard, etc. lm[w''*~ -< '•'
g (George).    The Emancipated-
Igton (Mrs Russell).    Helen's Ordeal.
(Violet.)     The Maiden's Progress.
noer (Mrs.).   A Choice of Evils.
rd (Mrs.).   The Catch of the County.
|r (J  S).   A Born Soldier,
lith (.George).   One of our Conquerers.
nder (Mrs ).   A Ward in Chancery.
en ''Florence).   A Perfect Fool,
erford (Mrs...    Peter's Wife.
t (C. F.);   The Two Lancrofts. •
ron (Mrs Lovett).    A Bad Lot.
rheo.L   An island Princess.
rhton(Rhoda>and Bislaxio (Elizabeth),
idower Indeed.
iitn 1G.).   Harry Richmond.
ikin (A.):   Prose Tales.   Translated,
sr t J. S ).   A Blameless Woman.
»otts (Eden).     Some Every-Day Folks.
lith (G-). Lord Ormont and his Aimnta.
\w Note.
»g (George).   -Eve's Ransom.
e (Mrs. L T.).    A Life for a Love.
lly(A.). Some Men are Such Gentlemen,
auriertGeorge).   Trilby,   /llus.   ■
pith (G.).    Diana of the Cross ways.
aith (George).   Richard Feverel,
erford (Mrs ).   A Tug of War.
_>pe (Anthony).    Framley Parsonage.
)pe (Anthony).   Doctor Thorne.
>pe (Anthony).    Lily Dale.
Ml (Mrs.).   Wives -and Daughters,
e (Charlotte).    Shirley.
fMona)    The Wing of Azrael.
n« 'Charles).   Bleak House.
v (Thomas)    Desperate R e medies.
»rd 1 Mrs. E.).    Fooled by a Woman.
ron (Mrs. Lovett)    A Soul Astray.
5r (J• SA.   A Magnificent Young Man.
1 (Frederick).   The Infant.   Illus.
»g (George).   Born in Exile.
ett(S. R.).   Men of the Moss-Hags.
93. C3leridge(C) Tender Mercies of the Good.
93. Gerard (Dorothea).   Lot 13.
95. Castle (Egerton).    The Light of Scarthey.
96. Henty(G. A.). A Woman of the Commune.
07. Hunt (Violet).    A Hard Woman.
98. Warden (Florence).    A Spoilt Girl.
99. Gissing (George).    The Lnclassed.
100. Meredith (George). The A'ma^ingMarriage.
101. Mallock (W. H.).   The Heart of Life.
103. Tynan (Katharine).    The Way of a Maid.
106. Smart (Hawley).   A Memberof Tattersall's,
and other Tales.
107. Hope (Anthony).    Comedies of Courtship.
xo8. Gift (Theo.).   Dishonoured.
109. Warden (Florence).   A Lady in Black.
no. Winter(J. S ).   Booties'Children, etc.
in. Sergeant (Adeline).    A Rogue's Daughter.
its   Kennard (Mrs E.)    A Riverside Romance.
113. Muddrck J. E.).    Stripped of theTinsel.
114. Phillpotrs(Fden). MyLaughingPhilosopher.
115 Pemberton(Max).AGentleman'sGentleman.
116 Sergeant (Adeline).    To'd in the Twilight.
117 Alexander (Mrs.).   A Fight with Fate.
it8   «4 Rita."   Joan and Mrs. Carr.
ng. Dawe (W. Carlton).    The Emu's Head.
120. Wilkins (M. E ).    Madelon.
xai. Hawthorne (Julian).   A Fool of Nature.
123. Steele (Mrs. A. C).   Lesbia.
124. X. L.   The Limb.
125. Fenn (G. ManvHle). The Case of Ailsa Gray.
126. Birr* 11(0.).    Behind the Magic Mirror.
128. Ottolengui(R ).   The Crime of the Century.
131. Thoip as (Annie).    Four Women in the Case.
133. Hake (A. Egmont).   Gordon in China.
134. Meade (L. T.).    A Son of Ishmael.
135. Hutchesen (J. C).    Crcwn and Anchor.
137. Stables (Gordon).    The Rose of Allandale.
138. Allen (Grant).    A Splendid Sin.
I39« Hope (Anthony).    Half a Hero.
141. Benson (E. F.).    Limitations.
142. Burgin (G. B.).   Tomalyn's Quest.
143 Doyle (A. Conan). Rodney Stone. Illus.
144. Benson (E. F).   The Babe B.A.
147. Stuart(Esme).   Arrested !
148. Little (Mrs. A.).   A Marriage in China.
149. Wiggin (Kate Douglas).    Marm Liza.
150. Hunt (Violet).    The Way of Marriage.
151. Le Qu-ux (W.).    Devil's Dice.
152. Fenn (G. M.).   Cursed by a Fortune.
153. St. Aubyn (Alan).   A Proctor's Wooing.
154. Fletcher (J. S.).    Mistress Spitfire.
156. Hutcheson (J. C).   The Pirate lunk.
157. Warden (F.). The Mystery of Dudley Horue.
158. Mereditn (G.).   The Tragic Comedians.
159. Green (Mrs. A. K.).  That Affair Next Door.
166. Thomas (A.).   Essentially Human.
167. Le Queux (W.).   The Eye of Istar.
168. Doyle (A. C).    Uncle Bernac.    Illus.
169. Riddell (Mrs. J. H.). Did He Deserve It?
X70. Alexander (Mrs.) Mrs. Crichton'sCreditor.
171. Jocelyn (Mrs.).   Only a Flirt.
' 172. Dougall(L.).    A Dozen Ways of Love.
173. Allen (Grant). An African Millionaire. Illus.
174. Meade (Mrs. L. T.). The Way of a Woman.
175. Warden (Florence). The Girl> at the Grange.
176. Cameron (Mrs. Lovett). A Man's Undoing,
178. Wilkins (Miss M. E.).   Jerome.
179   Le Queux (W.).   The Great White Queen.
x8o. Du Maurier(G.).   The Martian.    Il/us.   &
i8x. Jocelyn (Mrs.).    Lady Marv's Kxperienf^fc
182. Payn (James).   Another's Burden.
[ Continued <j Bells Ir
'.'It
X83.
184.
180.
187.
1.8.
189
190.
191.
192.
193-
195.
190.
197.
198.
199
200.
201.
.J02.
'203.
204.
205.
207.
208.
209.
I 210,
211.
2X2.
11*1;
215.
216.
217.
2tg.
220.
mian
and Colonial I.Abr&y-^.cont?nuea.
225.
226,
Griffiths(Ceorge) Valdar t he Oft-Born. Illus.
Nisbet (Hume).    Kings of the Sea.    Illus.
Tracy (Louis).   The Final War.   Illus.
Alexander (Mrs.).    Barbara.
Le Queux (W.).    Whoso Findeth a Wife.
Baring Could (S.).    Perpetua.
Merriman (H. S,).   The Grey Lady.   Illus.
Cobban (J Maclaren). H.R.H.'s Love Affair.
1 racy (Louis).* The American Emperor.
Philitpps-Wolley <C).   One of the Broken
Brigade.
Quiiler-Couch (M.).    The Spanish Maid.
Gordon (LordG ran vi 11 e). T heRace of To-day.
Gerard (Dorothea)    Miss Providence.
Fitchett (W.H.). DeedsthatWon the Empire,
Stead (W. T.).    Real Ghost Stories.
Philips (F. C).    Poor Little Bella !
Kennard( M rs. E.). At the Tail of the Hounds.
Grissine (G.L    H uman Odds and Ends.
Fenn ^. Manville).    High Play.
Doyle (A Conan)*.   Tragedy of the Korosko.
Stockton  (Frank).     The   Great   Stone   of
Sardis.    Illus.
Warden {Inference).   Girls will be Girls
St. Aubyn (Alan).   A Fair Impostor.
Thomas (Annie)/  Dick Rivers.
Allen (Grant)    The Incidental Bishop.
Dela Pasture .(Mrs, H ).. Deborah of ' od's.
Cameron (Mrs:, l^'v*t,t)_; Devi is' Apples.
Winter (J. S,).,   The Peacemakers.
Le Queux (Wi).Scribei. and Pharisees.
Griffiths (George).    The Virgin of the Sun.
Cameron (Mrs; LoyeftV A Difficult Matter,
Warden (Florence).    Little Miss•ffci^yij|
Ruddock (J. E.).   The Lost Laird. f\
Hume (Fergus)     Lady Jezebel.
Wiggi ■ (K Dv),   Pea^W»^jff>enet^$st.fn
Scotland,
Jocelyn (Mrs. R.). Miss Ray burn's Diamonds.
Thomson   (Basil).     -l*I^^Jpdi^jfl«onsr, of
Lady Asenath.    Illus,   s| §
Fraser (Mrs. Hugh).    The Looms oi Time.
Green (Mrs,; A. K-).   Lo^ Man's Lane.
Egerton (George)*i ^CSie Wheel of GN||.''*\
Wilkin s(Mary E.). Silence and other Stories.
Morrow (W. C).   T^B^A-pe, _h£ idiot, and
other People.
D audet ( Alphonse). The H ope of the 'r%tw||p';
Tirebuck (W. E.).   Mes'oftHe Scarlet Foot,
Cameron (M- -:. L.).   The Ways of a Widow.
Le Queux ( .v.).    If Sinners Entice Thee.- .
Sergeant '.Adeline).      The  Love Story  of
Margaret Wynne.
Mathers (Helen).    Bam Wildfire.
Griffiths (George).    The Destined Maid.
Phillpotts < Eden).    Children of the Mist.
Winter (J. S.).    Heart and §w>rd.
Kipling (1L).    Departmental Ditties,   Illu*.
Pemberton (Max).    The Phantom A rmv
Hyne   (Cutfliflfe).     Adventures 'of. CapVaitY
Kettle,' Mlust
Tracy (Louis).     Lost Provinces.     Ill/ts.
Newland (S.>.    Paving the Way.    Illus.
.Buchanan (R.).    Father Anthony.    ,
Fitchett (W. H.). Fightsfm the Fiae.   Ntm\
Alexander (Mrs.).   The CqsMmaer~%iiJH&£&
250.
252.
253.
254
255.
256.
257.
258.
*J9«
260.
261.
202.
263.
264.
265.
266.
267.
268.
269.
270.
*fi.
272.
273.
274.
275.
276.
277.
278.
279.
280.
582.
2&?.
285.
236.
287.
288.
789.
294.
291,
292.
294.
295
296.
2Q7.
2c8
29c.
300-
301
302.
Garland (Hamblin).    Jason Edward*!
Harte (Bret).    Stories in Light and si
Bicktrdyke (John).   Her Wild Gats; I
Prescott (E. L.).   The Rip's Redemption
burgin (G. B.).    Settled Out of Court."^
Walford (Mrs ).   The Archdeacon^
Caird (Mona).    The Pathway of the Gol
Stockton (F. R.).    Associate Hermits. :\
Prescott (E.-L).    The Measure r^a-M
Falkner'(J. Meade). ' -Moon fleet.;
Hume (Fergus).    The Rainbow FeatheT
Meade (Mrs. L. T).   The Cleverest WvJ
in England.
Cameron (Mrs. Lo^eife^A Fair Fraud |
Burgin ((L B.).    Hermits of Grav-s \nn.J
Griffiths (G.).    Knaves of DiamoiuLs."    ,
Hill (Headon).    The Spies ofthe Wight:
Appleton (G. W.).    Francois the Valei.
FeniifG   M.">,    The Vibarf Affair.
Whishaw (F.).    Many Way.-of Love, "|
Le Queux (W ).    Enelann's; P-.ril. M
Gr ffiths (G.).     The Great Pirate Svn<tio|
Mallock«W. H.).    The 1 ndividualist.. . ;'
Weils (H. G.).    When the S^ener \Yak$
Muddock <L E'.)."   In the Kind's FavotVcl
Tirebi ck (\V. E:)..   The White W.WiK
St. A u by n (A Ian ).    Bon nie Maggie 1 .am
Gunter (A. C$8jfc.|1<m«ia Eu<.hanfni0f
Jocelyn (Mr.s.-R.).     Henry Massineef f|
Marsh (l^^ln Full C»y!.,  .
Austen i'Jane)    Pride and Prejudice.  .'i%
r:~*iifmfrr.tw&fytih Thomson.  '■■•-••
NeedelI(Mrs. J. H.).  The Honour.,«r^f
Le Queux (W )
Winter, (.j. Sj,
Grift"; th ((..,).|
Sergeant (A
Douglas (T.
-Alexander (
Hyne (Curd
Captain-Ke
jttwdtt(E.
De la Pattu
Grifnth (C,.)
Meade (L. 1
Pemberton
Harte »
Finnemor (
Mitf rd,-VB
The Bond of Black:ft
A Name  i.o  Couiurcl
l-?.e V.n^cf h;dah:   -
"Warden
Nisbet*
wmmg
Griffiths
Hurhe (
Meade (
Russell
30?. Qv
308   Re
The following -will be published at short tnfefHmSi
Harte (ri
Mathers
Meade (
Others to follow.
LONDON :   GK

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