The Chung Collection

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The Chung Collection

Woodsmen of the West Grainger, Martin Allerdale, 1874-1941 1908

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"there's worse places than a logging-camp " .
mike Kendall's boom ......
" then carter bought the ima hogg"
in the evening	
A DONKEY     	
To face page 30
As you walk down Cordova Street in the city of Vancouver
you notice a gradual change in the appearance of the shop
windows. The shoe stores, drug stores, clothing stores,
phonograph stores cease to bother you with their blinding
light. You see fewer goods fit for a bank clerk or man
in business; you leave " high tone | behind you.
You come to shops that show faller's axes, swamper's
axes—single-bitted, double-bitted; screw jacks and pump
jacks, wedges, sledge-hammers, and great seven-foot saws
with enormous shark teeth, and huge augers for boring
booms ticks, looking like properties from a pantomime workshop.
Leckie calls attention to his logging boot, whose bristling
spikes are guaranteed to stay in. Clarke exhibits his Wet
Proof Peccary Hogskin gloves, that will save your hands
when you work with wire ropes. Dungaree trousers are
shown to be copper-riveted at the places where a man
strains them in working. Then there are oilskins and
blankets and rough suits of frieze for winter wear, and
woollen mitts.
Outside the shop windows, on the pavement in the
street, there is a change in the people too. You see few
women. Men look into the windows; men drift up and
down the street; men lounge in groups upon the curb. WOODSMEN  OF  THE WEST
Your eye is struck at once by the unusual proportion of
big men in the crowd, men that look powerful even in
their town clothes.
Many of these fellows are faultlessly dressed: very new
boots, new black clothes of quality, superfine black shirt,
black felt hat.    A few wear collars.
Others are in rumpled clothes that have been slept in;
others, again, in old suits and sweaters; here and there
one in dungarees and working boots. You are among
They are passing time, passing the hours of the days
of their trip to town. They chew tobacco, and chew and
chew and expectorate, and look across the street and watch
any moving thing. At intervals they will exchange remarks
impassively; or stand grouped, hands in pockets, two or
three men together in gentle, long-drawn-out conversations.
They seem to feel the day is passing slowly; they have
the air of ocean passengers who watch the lagging clock
from meal-time to meal-time with weary effort. For comfort it seems they have divided the long day into reasonable
short periods; at the end of each 'tis " time to comeanava-
drink."   You overhear the invitations as you pass.
Now, as you walk down street, you see how shops are
giving place to saloons and restaurants, and the price
of beer decorates each building's front. And you pass
the blackboards of employment offices and read chalked
" 50 axemen wanted at Alberni
5 rigging slingers
buckers $3J, swampers
And you look into the public rooms of hotels that are
flush with the street as they were shop windows; and
men sit there watching the passing crowd, chairs tipped
back, feet on window-frame, spittoons handy.
You hear a shout or two and noisy laughter, and walk IN  VANCOUVER
awhile outside the kerb, giving wide berth to a group of
men scuffling with one another in alcohol-inspired play.
They show activity.
Then your eye catches the name-board of a saloon, and
you remember a paragraph in the morning's paper—
"In a row last night at the Terminus Saloon several men . . ."
and it occurs to you that the chucker-out of a loggers'
saloon must be a man | highly qualified."
The Cassiar sails from the wharf across the railway yard
Mondays and Thursdays 8 p.m. It's only a short step
from the Gold House and the Terminus and the other
hotels, and a big bunch of the boys generally comes down
to see the boat off.
You attend a sort of social function. You make a
pleasing break in the monotony of drifting up the street to
the Terminus and down the street to the Eureka, and having
a drink with the crowd in the Columbia bar, and standing
drinks to the girls at number so-and-so Dupont Street—
the monotony that makes up your holiday in Vancouver.
Besides, if you are a woodsman you will see fellow aristocrats
who are going north to jobs: you maintain your elaborate
knowledge of what is going on in the woods and where
every one is; and, further, you know that in many a hotel
and logging-camp up the coast new arrivals from town will
shortly be mentioning, casual-like: "Jimmy Jones was
down to the wharf night before last. Been blowing-her-in
in great shape has Jimmy, round them saloons. Guess
he'll be broke and hunting a job in about another week,
the pace he's goin' now."
You have informed the Morning Post!
If logging is but the chief among your twenty trades
and professions—if you are just the ordinary western logger
—still the north-going Cassiar has great interest for you. 4
Even your friend Tennessee, who would hesitate whether
to say telegraph operator or carpenter if you asked him
his business suddenly—even he may want to keep watch
over the way things are going in the logging world.
So you all hang around on the wharf and see who goes
on board, and where they're going to, and what wages they
hired on at. And perhaps you'll help a perfect stranger
to get himself and two bottles of whisky (by way of baggage)
up the gang-plank; and help throw Mike M'Curdy into the
cargo-room, and his blankets after him.
Then the Cassiar pulls out amid cheers and shouted
messages, and you return up town to make a round of the
bars, and you laugh once in a while to find some paralysed
passenger whom friends had forgotten to put aboard. . . .
And so to bed.
The first thing a fellow needs when he hits Vancouver
is a clean-up: hair cut, shave, and perhaps a bath. Then
he'll want a new hat for sure. The suit of town clothes
that, stuffed into the bottom of a canvas bag, has travelled
around with him for weeks or months—sometimes wetted
in rowboats, sometimes crumpled in a seat or pillow—
the suit may be too shabby. So a fellow will feel the
wad of bills in his pocket and decide whether it's worth
getting a new suit or not.
The next thing is to fix on a stopping-place. Some
men take a fifty-cent room in a rooming house and feed
in the restaurants. The great objection to that is the
uncertainty of getting home at night. In boom times
I have known men of a romantic disposition who took
lodgings in those houses where champagne is kept on the
premises and where there is a certain society. But that
means frenzied finance, and this time you and I are not
going to play the fool and blow in our little stake same
as we did last visit to Vancouver.
So a fellow can't do better than go to a good, respectable hotel where he knows the proprietor and the bartenders, and where there are some decent men stopping.
Then he knows he will be looked after when he is
drunk; and getting drunk, he will not be distressed by
spasms of anxiety lest some one should go through his
pockets and leave him broke. There are some shady
characters in a town like Vancouver, and persons of the
Of course, the first two days in town a man will get
good-and-drunk. That is all right, as any doctor will tell
you; that is good for a fellow after hard days and weeks
of work in the woods.
But you and I are no drinking men, and we stop there
and sober up. We sit round the stove in the hotel and
read the newspapers, and discuss Roosevelt, and the Trusts,
and Socialism, and Japanese immigration; and we tell
yarns and talk logs. We sit at the window and watch
the street. The hotel bar is in the next room, and we
rise once in a while and take a party in to I haveadrink."
The bar-tender is a good fellow, one of the boys: he puts
up the drinks himself, and we feel the hospitality of it.
We make a genial group. Conversation will be about
loggers and logs, of course, but in light anecdotal vein,
with loud bursts of laughter. . . .
Now one or two of the friends you meet are on the
bust; ceaselessly setting-up the drinks, insisting that
everybody drink with them. I am not " drinking " myself:
I take a cigar and fade away. But you stay; politeness
and good fellowship demand that you should join each
wave that goes up to the bar, and when good men are
spending money you would be mean not to spend
yours too. . . .
Pretty soon you feel the sweet reasonableness of it all.
A hard-working man should indemnify himself for past
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hardships. He owes it to himself to have a hobby of
some kind.    You indulge a hobby for whisky.
About this time it is as well to hand over your roll
of bills to Jimmy Boss, the proprietor. Then you don't
have to bother with money any more: you just wave
your hand each time to the bar-tender. He will keep
track of what you spend. . . .
Now you are fairly on the bust: friends all round
you, good boys all. Some are hard up, and you tell
Jimmy to give them five or ten dollars; and " Gimme ten
or twenty," you'll say, "I want to take a look round the
saloons "—which you do with a retinue.
The great point now is never to let yourself get sober.
You'll feel awful sick if you do. By keeping good-and-
drunk you keep joyous. "Look bad but feel good" is
sound sentiment. Even suppose you were so drunk last
night that Bob Doherty knocked the stuffing out of you
in the Eureka bar, and you have a rankling feeling that
your reputation as a fighting man has suffered somewhat
—still, never mind, line up, boys; whisky for mine: let
her whoop, and to hell with care! Yah-hurrup and smash
the glass!!
If you are "acquainted" with Jimmy Ross—that is to
say, if you have blown in one or two cheques before at
his place, and if he knows you as a competent woodsman—Jimmy will just reach down in his pocket and lend
you fives and tens after your own money is all gone. In
this way you can keep on the bust a little longer, and
ease off gradually—keeping pace with Jimmy's growing
disinclination to lend. But sooner or later you've got to
face the fact that the time has come to hunt another job.
There will be some boss loggers in town; you may have
been drinking with them. Some of them perhaps will be
sobering up and beginning to remember the business that IN VANCOUVER
brought them to Vancouver, and to think of their neglected
camps up-coast.
Boss loggers generally want men; here are chances for
you. Again, Jimmy Ross may be acting as a sort of agent
for some of the northern logging-camps: if you're any
good Jimmy may send you up to a camp. Employment
offices, of course, are below contempt—they are for men
strange to the country, incompetents, labourers, farm hands,
and the like.
You make inquiries round the saloons. In the Eureka
some one introduces you to Wallace Campbell. He wants
a riggin' slinger: you are a riggin' slinger. Wallace eyes
the bleary wreck you look. Long practice tells him what
sort of a man you probably are when you're in health.
He stands the drinks, hires you at four and a half, and
that night you find yourself, singing drunk, in the Cassiar's
saloon—on your way north to work.
I was not singing drunk myself, nor was I on my way to
securely promised work, as I stood upon the deck of the
steamer Cassiar one evening and watched the lights of
Vancouver disappear. In fact, I was depressingly sober,
as it is my habit to be; and I began to think with some
anxiety of my immediate affairs and to make a series of
hurried calculations.
My steamer fare had cost five dollars and a half. But
there was a pound of cheese and two packets of grape-nuts
in my bag, and so I knew I could avoid the fifty-cent meals
aboard the boat. Thus Friday night would see me landed
at Hanson Island Hotel with sixteen dollars and a half in
Now on what system did they run that hotel? What
would they charge? Meals would be fifty cents; that I
knew. But would they throw in sleeping accommodation
—bed or floor—free gratis as at Port Browning? If so,
I could allow myself to eat two meals a day, and so last
out for eleven days, and still have five and a half dollars
for the return trip to Vancouver should that be necessary.
" Why all these considerations ?" you will, ask. " Why
think of the return journey ?"
Well, you see, my prospects were uncertain. Two months
had gone since Carter had asked me to work for him.
Carter might have changed his mind. Carter might be
ill. Carter might have decided to shut down camp this
winter.   And so  at Hanson Island I might find myself II
among strangers, with no one to give me work. Indeed,
all sorts of unpleasant things might happen. I had left my
last job and been laid up for several weeks on account of
a damaged foot; and the foot was still troublesome. And
so I could not venture to undertake any work that should
require real activity. There were thus few jobs possible for
me in that logging country.
Then, again, suppose Carter's steamboat should not come
down from the camp to Hanson Island for one week, two
weeks, three weeks. I couldn't sit on the hotel veranda
for three solid weeks. Besides, I would not have the money
to do it. And I felt I would be too shy to explain the
situation to the hotel proprietor. It was not as if I had
the certainty of work when Carter's steamer should arrive.
Had I that, it would be easy to tell the hotel man to
charge up my expenses to my boss. But as an utter
stranger, with no certain job in view, how could I ask for
credit? Jawbone is the western word for credit. I lack
the art of using mine persuasively.
So it looked much as if I should have to turn tail and
leave the logging country unless Carter or his boat should
turn up at Hanson Island within ten days, or unless, of
course, I could strike another job that would suit a man
with a damaged foot. After all, Hanson Island might be
in some ways an eligible centre for business purposes. . . .
So I meditated; and then fell into conversation with an
old fellow who, like me, preferred the open deck to the
noise and stuffiness of the crowded saloon. We listened
to the slap of the ripples against the steamer's bow as she
thumped her way up the Gulf, and we looked into the
darkness. The old fellow told me a great yarn of the
early days on San Juan Island; and of how the shooting
of Fluit's pigs by Cutler nearly led to war between British
Columbia and the State of Washington somewhere in the
'sixties  or early 'seventies; and of how, when garrisons
m Wnw
were placed by either party on the island, he and his
brother had found an opening for an ingenious system of
smuggling and had made money. . . .
The wind began to feel cold and we went inside the
saloon. The boat was really very quiet now. In the
smoking-room there sat a coterie engaged at whisky, but
at the stern their bursts of laughter and loud talk were
made remote by the steady throbbing from the engine-
room and by the snores of sleeping men. There was no
temptation to waste money on a berth, for all the little
cabins were taken and several men were sleeping on the
passage floors. By good luck I found a bench unoccupied,
and lying down, drew some oilskins over me and set
myself to sleep. Some time in the night I remember a
gentleman lifting off my covering and looking at my face.
He was speechlessly drunk, I think, and he patted my
head. I think I fell asleep while he was doing it. . . .
Next morning I awoke to eat my cheese and grape-nuts
and to look upon a glorious dawn. The sea, in the narrow
channels that we threaded, was glassy calm; except where
our churning wake lay white behind us, and where the
steamer's bows sent a small swell to swash against the
near-by rocks. There is deep water close to shore almost
everywhere along the coast.
If you take a large scale map of British Columbia you
will notice how the three-hundred-mile stretch of Vancouver Island, like a great breakwater, shuts off from
ocean a fine strip of sea, and how that sea is all littered
with islands. You will see the outline of the mainland
coast, from Vancouver north, a jagged outline all dented
with inlets and sounds and arms—fiords they call them
elsewhere. Try to realise that the shores of these fiords
are mostly mountain slopes, that slopes and narrow valleys
and hilly islands—all the land everywhere—are covered
with big forest to the very edge of tide-water, and you
will have some idea of the scenery I looked upon that
morning from the after-deck of the Cassiar.
There was green forest—and it looked like a moss
upon the higher slopes; and the bristling dead poles of
burnt forest showing against the bare mottled rock:
standing timber, fallen timber, floating logs and tree tops;
and drift logs piled white upon the beach. There were
long stretches of coast along which, every few yards, little
lanes seemed to have been cut in the water-side forest.
And now we were well into the northern logging country;
for these little lanes marked the work of hand-loggers,
and were the paths down which big logs had crashed
their way into the sea.
I let the scenery be and wandered round the ship,
watching, under cover of a bored demeanour, my fellow-
passengers. All of us had become quiet and respectable.
The bar-room did no business. Some men slept on benches,
slept solid; sleeping off the after-effects of Vancouver and
"life." Most of us mooned about the deck, in silence; or
listened, in groups, to the conversation of those who spoke.
Some of us were obviously not loggers. One man, I
think, was a lawyer going up to a camp on some business.
There were one or two timber buyers—one I recognised
as a man who acts as agent for a Lumber Company on
Broughton Island.
Last summer the timber speculators and pulp-concession
men persuaded the authorities to send a police launch
cruising round the islands and inlets of the coast: the
story was that the hand-loggers were getting logs from
timber lands that had been staked—that is to say, that
had become private property. The police on the launch
collared a number of men and took them down for trial
to Vancouver on the charge of stealing. Some of these
men were now on board, returning north on bail. One
man told us that day how he had been at work with his r
mate sawing a tree when the policeman came and demanded
his licence; and how the policeman wouldn't let him go
to his cabin (a few miles away) to fetch it, but had dragged
him off then and there. The man talked of suing for
damages. There was a boss logger on board who had
been obliged to stop work by the police—they said he
had been taking logs from a pulp-concession. The quaint
thing about this is that a pulp-concession is only granted
on lands where there is no timber fit for logging purposes.
Some one, one supposes, has had to swear that these lands
can yield no logs—and then, a year or so after, hand Joggers
are prosecuted for stealing the logs whose existence has
been denied!
I know nothing of the other side of the case; but on
board that morning men talked freely of "graft" and
"political pull." It was held to be shameful that great
tracts of country should be closed against the bona fide
logger and lie idle for the future profit of speculators. . . .
Every now and again we would see the distant roof of
a logging-camp shining yellow through the trees, and
hear the whistle of a donkey-engine from where white
puffs of steam would show against the forest green. Then
the Cassiar would toot and slow down, and the camp row-
boat would put out to intercept us. A whole fleet of hand-
loggers' boats would come out too, and tie up to the
steamer's side for a few hurried minutes while meat and
supplies and mail were being thrown into them. We
passengers would all lean over the deck-rail above and
laugh at little breakages that would occur to freight, and
recognise acquaintances in the boats alongside and shout
the latest news from Vancouver to them. . . .
Down on the Cassiar's lower deck were rows and rows
of huge quarters of beef for the camps, and piles of heavy
boom chains and coils of wire cable and groceries galore,
in boxes and in sacks.   There were new  rowboats fresh GOING NORTH
from the builders in Vancouver, and old rowboats belonging
to passengers who were going timber-cruising farther north.
The lower deck, in fact, was just a cargo-room, with a space
partitioned off to hold the liquor and the bar-tender. Aft
of the cargo-room were the oily-smelling engines, and the
little rooms where Chinamen and Japanese cooked and
washed dishes and peeled potatoes. There too was the
skookum box—that is, the strong room or lock-up. To it
the first mate of the Cassiar is wont to shoot too noisy
drunks, pushing them before him, at arm's length, with
that fine collar-and-trouserseat grip of his that is so much
admired. . . .
Just beyond Church House we lay at anchor for an
hour or two, waiting for slack water in the Euclataws.
The northern and the southern tides meet here, and in
the narrow channel whirlpools form. There's something
in the sinister, all-powerful thrust and sweep of such water
that puts the fear of God into a man in a rowboat—if he
is a little bit late for slack water. But of course the
Cassiar doesn't mind going through, as long as the tide
hasn't turned very long. . . .
The White Frenchman came out in his boat for supplies.
In the last month, I notice, he has collected quite a few
logs—all lonely himself in that dismal place. For his
shack is on the mountain slope just below the rapids:
the situation chosen for beach-combing purposes. When
a tug towing a raft gets into trouble at the Euclataws
and loses logs Auguste is sure to pick up some. . . .
Perhaps it was the monotony of the cheese and grape-
nuts (eaten within smell of tempting odours from the
dining-saloon) that made the day seem dull to me; perhaps
it was the vague gnawing unhappiness that a nervous person
always feels when facing the uncertainty of getting work;
or perhaps it was the poorness of my luck in attempting
acquaintance with other men on board.     I cut a feeble
1 14
figure in such casual talk; the men I spoke to seemed
to be duller still. . . .
The westerner—especially the American westerner—
has usually a composed and competent air. It is surprising
sometimes when you have nerved yourself (after some
shyness) to commence a conversation with a grim-looking
stranger, to find that he is really feeling rather lonely and
I out of it I in strange surroundings. There is so often
a wonderful contrast between the ease of the man's appearance and the uneasiness that shows in his talk. . . .
I noticed that I broke the ice with about ten men on
board, but not a soul took the first step and addressed
me. And yet some of the men I tackled proved to be
desperately anxious to talk once they had been spoken
to. One reason I imagined was that the great demand
for men had brought an unusual number of strangers about.
Another reason was that one's " twang" and " broadness of
speech" and queer way of expressing oneself—the result
of an education in England—made one strange and difficult
for them to size up. CHAPTER III
At eleven o'clock, in the pitch darkness of that Friday night,
the Cassiar drew near to Hanson Island and made the hilly
shores of the narrow channel re-echo with her siren. We
passed a dark headland and saw the lights of the hotel.
Several lanterns were flickering about along the beach,
and we could judge that men were launching rowboats and
hurrying to meet us at the raft. For at Hanson Island
there is no wharf. A large raft anchored in the sea serves
for the landing-stage; a shed built thereon serves as warehouse for the freight. . . .
The Cassiar''s searchlight glared upon the raft where
men stood waiting to catch the mooring ropes. The steamer
edged her way gingerly alongside and was made fast; the
doors of the cargo-room were opened, freight was poured out
upon the raft, hurriedly; and we passengers let ourselves
down upon the boxes and bales that lay piled in rank confusion. All was black shadow, and dim forms and feeble
lantern gleams.
I was surprised, for a moment, to find that a man had
seized my blanket roll and pitched it into the far darkness;
but then I found a boat.was waiting there. Some one flashed
a lantern; I jumped into the boat. I saw a solemn, fat old
Dutchman tumble in behind me; other men came pushing
in. Soon in that boat we were a solid mass of men and
bundles. Then we began to move, and I heard a weak,
drunken voice appealing for more room to work his oars.
Heavens!   I   recognised those wheedling tones   at   once.
15 rr
The oarsman was my old acquaintance Jim; Jim the
"engineer"; Jim, ex-coal-trimmer from the White Star
My old acquaintance Jim was dreadful drunk, but not
too drunk to know his duty. He held to a design to row the
boat ashore, aiming for where the hotel lights shone bright
above the beach. We moved through utter darkness, Jim's
oars waggling feebly in the water. . . .
Then we went bump and bump again, and reaching out
our hands, we felt a floating log that barred our path. We
seemed to get entangled with logs; logs everywhere. Jim,
with sudden fury, tried to row over them. Then he gave
up the attempt and told us to walk ashore upon the logs.
But a tearful-drunk old voice wailed against the idea in
foreign-sounding cockney accents, and other voices made an
angry chorus, saying that their boots were not spiked and
that they would walk no slippery logs in darkness, and they
swore. So the engineer became absorbed again in trying
to row over logs, bump, bump, bump . . . until he felt it
futile and reached the querulous verge of tears. ... I
jumped, thigh-deep, into the water then and took my
stuff ashore, leaving the fools in drunken argument. . . .
I opened the front door of the hotel and walked, half
blinded by the dazzle of acetylene, into the public room.
Noise was my first impression—noise of shuflling feet, stamp
of dancing men, loud talk and shouted cuss-words. Then I
saw that the room was crowded.
A red-hot stove stood in one corner, and round it men
sat in chairs or stood warming themselves or drying their
wet clothes. A card game was going on at a small table,
and men stood around, three deep, to watch the play.
Large sums were in the pool. There was an incessant
coming and going of men between the bar-room and the
public room, and men loafed about the rooms and passages
and talked, or argued, or scuffled playfully.   Some danced
to the tunes of a fiddle played by an old man who swayed
with shut eyes, rapt in his discordant scraping.
In fact, the hotel was doing good business that night.
The whirlpool, as a temperance tract might say, was a-booming
and a-boiling, sucking down -men's wages and perhaps their
health; the boys were " on the tear," and the hotel resounded
with their revelry. Those who had fallen lay splayed out
upon the floor in drunken sleep; those who were sick lay
outside in the night. The scene reminded me a little of
boating suppers and undergraduates; but the action, of
course, was much more vigorous, as befitted grown-up
Now I had no idea of the arrangements usual in such
places, in a loggers' hotel, and there was no one around to
tell me. I quailed before the publicity of confronting the
majestic bar-tender at his bar, and drawing the attention
of a roomful to my ignorance.
I felt conspicuous, for by some accident I still wore a
dirty collar. Men eyed me askance . . . and it was some
time before I took my courage in both hands and walked
nervously into the kitchen. I asked timidly for a bed (a
more tactful word I thought than room), and a bar-tender
off duty took me up to the second storey—a great loft of a
place under the sloping roof—and told me to hunt among
the beds until I found what I wanted. | The beds up here
are good and clean" he said, with friendly assurance [no lice,
he meant]. That was all I wanted to know. I realised the
situation at once, found a fine clean space of floor beneath an
open window, spread my blankets, and turned in.
Gentlemen were breathing stertorously from adjacent
beds . . . and the roar from beneath, and scraping of chairs
and shuffling, and the busy hum from the bar, were as the
noise of the sea—lulling me to sleep.
3 a.m.—I must have been in a heavy sleep. Bump!
bang! bump, bump! wallop! smack!!   A hubbub of talk on
B 18
the floor beneath. "Albert! Albert!" cried a woman's
voice; "come inside! come! come!" and more talk; and
then a loud, angry voice—"That'll teach you to behave
more decent for the future." Upstairs, some of us sat up
in bed listening and wondering . . . and soon in the light
that shone up the staircase we saw the fat and solemn
Dutchman mount slowly up the stairs and get into his
bed—with ineffable dignity. He was insufficiently clad in
a very short vest, that reached just below his armpits.
Next morning I heard the rest of the story: which I
am afraid I must leave rather vague. The Dutchman, as
it were, had been vague himself about the geography of
the hotel... and had walked into the proprietor's bedroom.
The proprietor got up, and it was the noise the Dutchman's body made as it hit each stair that had awakened
us. We laughed ourselves sick over it; but the Dutchman never turned a hair. What a curse self-consciousness
would have been for him !
Hunger, next morning, drove me down to pay my fifty
cents for breakfast and pass the wary sentry who held the
eating-room door. Hunger appeased, I went into the public
room. There I found a few pale, silent men who still continued at the card game of the night before. Some had won
and some had lost, but the bar, I gathered, had taken all the
money. A bar-tender was tidying up the room, putting in
place the upturned chairs, and sweeping the rough surface of
the floor that was all torn and splintered by the spikes of
loggers' boots. Several men slept where they had fallen.
The hotel was very quiet.  .  . .
Outside the morning sun shone on a pretty scene: on the
little bay, the warehouse raft, the boats upon the beach,
the boats at anchor; on the ruffled blue waters of Western
Channel, and on the forest slopes beyond. Round the hotel
were desolate black stumps of trees and great litter and
disorder of splintered planks and tree limbs, empty casks AT HANSON  ISLAND  HOTEL
and straw and tin cans. Beyond this the half-burnt logs
of the hotel clearing lay thick, criss-cross, where they had
been felled; and then the untouched forest began.
I had a damaged foot, as I have said before, and there
was no place where I could, walk. For a man cannot get
along the steep rocky shores in that country without going
up, for long stretches, into the woods; - and the woods, for
walking in, are "something fierce," as persons say—underbrush and fallen logs, rocks and crevices, to hinder one;
and needles of the devil-clubs to fray one's temper. There
is no comfortable covering of soil to walk upon; moss and
huge trees alike grow on the very rock, sustained by the
heavy winter rainfall upon a scanty pretence of soil. So
I did not dream of walking exercise, but sat myself down
upon the hotel veranda and sat bored—my mind churning
uselessly at plans of action that would not form.
About half-way through the long morning a bald-headed
elderly man came out upon the veranda and stood near
me, gazing listlessly at the sea and at the sunny hills
beyond. He had been fighting, I supposed, for his eye
was painfully discoloured, and a blood-stained handkerchief,
that had been a bandage, hung loosely round his neck.
"You bin hurt?" I asked by way of making talk. "You-
betcher," he replied, | bin hit by the flying end of a
broken wire rope." He seemed, now that he came to
notice it, to take a mild interest in his injury. There
was a horrible deep gash. I had a small box of medicines,
and I cleaned the wound with an antiseptic and put a
proper bandage on.   The man's name was Al.
Now the getting of hot water from the kitchen for
the cleaning of Al's eye made me acquainted with the
hotel proprietor's wife, and my next move was obvious.
There is always work around the house that a woman
wants to have done for her. So after the midday meal
I  laid  in  wait.     When   my   chance   came,  "Say!   Mrs. 20
Jones," I said, "you've got to find me a job. I'm just
crazy-tired of setting around doing nuthin'." I had to
overcome her astonishment that I should want to work
for exercise and not for pay.
They gave me a saw and an axe, sledge-hammer and
wedges, and I spent a happy afternoon upon the hillside
behind the hotel, sawing up a big log for stove wood.
It felt good to be at work again, using one's muscles and
sweating and feeling young. Sunday I worked also, early
and late, and Monday and Tuesday morning—and I split
an amazing big pile of wood. I began to get known. I
was noticed at my morning swim—the first man, except
the white Frenchman, ever known to enter willingly those
chilly waters. Then logging gentlemen, between drinks,
would wander up the hill to see the extraordinary person
who liked work and who worked for nothing. I used to
throw my coat over a saw-cut that was not straight
enough for the professional eye, and possibly seat myself,
blushing, over unfinished axe-work that I wished to keep
private. For my vanity gets on the grill whenever I
realise that I shall never become a decent axe-man. I
remain, in spite of bitter effort, a mere butcher of wood.
My patient, of the damaged eye, used to bring me up
oranges and sit and watch me work. In confidence, he
showed an oppressive regard for dramatic convention. "I
made up that about the wire hitting me," he said; "it
don't look decent for the folks to know how it was really
done. It was a fist, or a corner of a table, or maybe
some one's boot that hit my eye, sah. To tell the truth,
I am ashamed to say I don't know which. We was all
drunk, sah; and we were all ashamed of ourselves next
I had to give him a dose or two of bromide, as he
was getting shaky, from much whisky, and I feared the
horrors might  come.    He quite agreed with me that he AT  HANSON ISLAND HOTEL
ought to go back to work, but . . . Al must have come
from the South, to judge by his courtly manners. "Yes,
sah," he told me, "I'm quite the old-timer in these parts.
I tend hook in these camps about here, sah. ... I lived
three years with Fanny Brook, sah" (he mentioned it as
you would a diploma), "down at Cape Mudge. . . . I'm
very sorry" (suddenly noticing the little nine-year-old
niece of the hotel proprietor's); "I oughtn't to have said
that. ... As for whisky, I'm afraid I'm a hopeless case,
sah." ||| |
" Why did you quit Jenkins' camp ?" I asked him.
" Well, you see, sah, it was a professional matter. I was
tending hook there. Perhaps you know something about
steam ? . . . Well, I'll explain that for getting out logs a
man must have 160 lbs. pressure. The engineer said he
had, but I knew he was scared of the donkey-boiler and
he only got 130 at most out of her. With that pressure I
couldn't get out the logs, sah, in a satisfactory manner. . . .
Jenkins and I parted very friendly, sah. . . . Yes, I was
getting six dollars a day and board. . . . Oh, well! what
does it matter what wages a man like me gets, sah ? I
only drink them up." You may sniff and cry common-
sense; but it warms me to meet a man who has been
capable of single-minded action for a simple sentiment.
Here was Al, who had been asked to tolerate some mediocre
doings — and his soul had rebelled, and he had left a
comfortable job. I like this better than the trained sense
for instantaneous compromise that many decent, educated
men develop. I like the artist's pride, the boyish craving
for efficient performance, the feeling for sound, clean work,
and the very moderate care for consequences. . . .
It is not easy for a stranger to make his way about this
northern country, or find out what is going on. He has
to "get acquainted" and learn the art of listening. This
was brought home to me on the Tuesday afternoon when
-V 22
I learned, by purest accident, in overhearing talk, that
Carter's steamboat had been lying all this time at anchor
in Port Browning, and that Carter's partner was expected
back from town by the Cassiar that very night. Port
Browning was but a few miles away. A man was going
there to fetch the mail, and so I rolled my blankets and
took them to the man's boat and held myself in readiness
to start.
I had not done so badly at Hanson Island. True, I
had been extravagant, eating three meals a day, and I had
lost half a dollar and spent one modest dollar at the bar,
six men and the bar-keep sharing my invitation. But in
the dining-room they had protested against my paying for
my meals; and for the last two days had refused, blankly,
to take my money; and so I had twelve dollars left.
Now that he heard I was about to leave, the hotel
proprietor took me to the bar and, roll of bills in hand,
asked how much he owed me for the wood that I had cut.
He became very pressing, but I refused stoutly to take
payment; an altruistic-looking act born of cold calculation
on my part. So, over a friendly drink, he gave me advice
and talk about the ways of the logging country; about
employers and camps and the various troubles a man
might have in getting his wages. " For," said he, " these
boss loggers have their business affairs in a hopeless mess
as a rule. Young man," he said impressively, "always
keep your money drawn up to date!" I was to come to
him again, he said, should I be out of work, for there were
jobs for me in camps near by. And so I left the hotel
with a comfortable feeling about the future and a zestful
consciousness of my success as an advertiser.
Al escorted me to the boat. "Say," he said, "how are
you fixed for dollars ? Have you plenty of dollars ? I
insist that you should tell me if you're wanting any. . . ."
I had to assure him fervently that I was well fixed.   But AT HANSON ISLAND HOTEL
any time I want help I understand I am to apply to Al
Hoskins. He is my friend and "don't know what to do
for me." So you see what a little antiseptic dressing will
do, at no expense of effort. . . . The other man and I
launched the boat, rowed, down the channel and round
into the lagoon, and reached the end of the land trail
that goes to Port Browning. CHAPTER IV
There is a big dead cedar that overhangs the sea just
where the land trail starts from the lagoon shore. Near
this tree the other man and I made fast our boat. A
number of other boats were already anchored there; their
owners gone to get mail or small supplies at the Port
Browning Store, or to get themselves drunk at the Port
Browning Hotel. The other man hid the oars and rowlocks of our boat some way off in the woods, carefully.
Then he took my bag, friendly-like, and carried it. I
shouldered my pack and followed.
There was good walking on the trail; good footing and
little climbing over fallen timber. The way wound up and
down on small hillsides; past pools of water, past small
bubbling creeks, past clearings where the slideways and
the high stumps of big trees and the small shattered
timber showed that the logger had been at work. But
we took scant notice of such forest sights. My companion,
who came originally from Tennessee, was deep in questions
about Australia, a country which he thought he would
much like to visit, by way of changing his present life. I
was wholly disconcerted by the speed at which he walked
and by the awkward stepping of my damaged foot. And
this went on until we met two men, and stopped awhile
to talk to them and take a drink of whisky, neat, out of
their bottles.
"There's quite a dose of them down at the hotel," they
said, and grinned, "just a-coming in from all parts. . . .
No, not drunk yet . . . about ten o'clock to-night—at
least, that's the time we got drunk last night. Where do
they all come from ? It's a wonder! . . . Well, boys, we'll
push on; we've got to get across the Inlet to-night if the
west wind don't come up. ..."
Two miles of trail brought us to Browning Harbour,
and then the woods ceased and we came out upon a small
clearing by the beach. We passed tree stumps and rubbish
piles, outhouses and a log-pen, a meat-house and the shack
where the proprietors and bar-keeps live, and came round
the back of Port Browning Hotel to the veranda and the
bar-room door.
It was "steamer night"—men had come in to meet
the Cassiar—and so the bar-room was crowded full. Men
sat all round the walls on chairs and benches; men lined
up across the strong breast-high barricade of the bar, two
ranks deep (some one was spending money!). A fiddler
worked, and another man gave an accompaniment of tomtom by tapping on the fiddle-strings with chop-sticks.
Within five minutes of my entry there arose a dispute
that burst into a sharp, sudden fight (and one man down),
and a long, slow-subsiding growl of argument afterwards.
This was a mere incident in one corner of the room. Altogether there was a pleasing, lively clack and movement
in the bar-room scene; and every one seemed happy. Outside the door there was a gentleman "coughing his toenails up" in pangs of whisky sickness. But the drinking
on the whole was very moderate, and there was little to
The noisiest man in the bar-room was a hideous, great
hulk of a hobo1 from the States, an overgrown kid like
the comic countryman of the stage. "Look bad but feel
good" was his motto, and certainly his face did look
horrid.   I thought it was due to drink, and possibly kidney
1 I Hobo " is rude for " tramp."
wt * I
trouble, but they tell me the man got into trouble one
day with one of the hotel proprietors. The hotel man
took a chair and laid him out, and while he lay upon the
ground Andr6 the Frenchman came and jumped upon
his face with spiked boots . . . and the man lay there
stunned and drunk and bleeding for hours. " Interfere ?
Well, I guess we was all drunk. Besides, we didn't know
but what Andre might have had something against him."
A queer example of the apathy that sometimes falls upon
a crowd of spectators.
Later in the day the hobo did a clog-dance, the floor
being for the moment clear. "I'm a bob-cat with tousels
in me ears," he howled and bawled. He was a nuisance.
Little Jem, the bar-tender, lifted the flap of the bar, came
quietly out, caught the hobo by the seat of his pants, and
slung him out through the door.   It was a great relief.
There were men in the bar-room who had been at
Hanson Island and had seen me there. Some of them
nodded to me and called out questions, and I began to
feel more at home and less under critical observation.
Of course one or two had probably sized me up as being
strange; " splendidly educated," perhaps. Who knows ?
I may even have been held capable of keeping books—
that crowning achievement of educated men. For although
one's gait and dress and manners may pass muster,
although one may even catch the intonation of voice and
the cadence of swear-words and swear-phrases, yet one
uses like a foreigner wrong words and expressions. " Yes,
certainly !" is a queer way of saying " sure thing!"—to
give a small example.
Accent and foreign speech make one conspicuous. I
find it convenient to be as unobtrusive as I can be with
comfort, whether I live in London or in Port Browning.
An English air is new and queer to Western men who
meet it for the first time.   It is offensive to those who
. i rMK
have met it before, and who have rankling suspicions of
what it may (and too often does) imply—the conscious
mental superiority the partly educated person carries with
him. You have got to be straight if you want to make
friends with men of less intellectual training than your
own. Patronise the humbleness of a man's attainments
in your heart, and he (if he is worth anything) will feel
the falsity you conceal. Heavens! we see the second-rate
in our own souls, and see it without emotion; tolerating
such old habitual defect. And yet to see the same second-
rate, the same limitation, in men of less active brains gives
us excuse for conscious superiority. The moment we think
we look downwards upon, and understand, the workings
of another's mind we feel a mild contempt for him. . . .
The logger cannot stand a missionary. It must be
rather a dreadful thing to be a convinced missionary and
to have to mix with your fellow-men, not frankly (you
and the others, just human beings together), but as a
man exploiting the forms and even £he spirit of friendliness
for a more or less secret purpose of your own. . . .
I enjoyed my evening in that bar-room thoroughly.
I liked "the boys." It was pleasant to see men of all
ages active and light-hearted, unconscious of their years
and of the future, free of the West. Many of them might
be commonplace in nature; but the average of character
seemed high, as averages go ; and there were some fine,
virile-looking men, decided personalities, amid the crowd.
All the men were firm of flesh and weather-stained. And
if whisky was their bane, better this, to my mind, than
that dreary scheming to indulge in Comfort that meets one
everywhere in city life.
M »
The scene now shifts to Carter's camp, where accident had
played havoc. A log, hooked to the wire cable used for
hauling, had broken loose upon the steep hillside, and
charging down, had smashed into the donkey-engine and
broken some of the machinery. Carter at once •< shut down "
—that is to say, he discharged all his men. I reached the
camp the very day the men were paid off, and the steamboat Sonora, that had brought me up, turned round at once
and took the whole crew down to Port Browning. The
smashed machinery was sent to Vancouver for repairs.
Carter and I were left alone at his camp at the head of
Coola Inlet—seventy miles from anywhere. Carter had
hired me, and I went to work.
Now there were about three hundred logs floating about
inside the line of boomsticks that was stretched across the
mouth of the little bay in which Carter had his camp.
Carter decided to occupy himself, and me, in " rafting up"
these logs—that is to say, in massing the logs together in a
firm raft fit for a tug-boat to tow away to the sawmills down
south. So we set to work to bore holes in the ends of long
logs called boomsticks; and these boomsticks we chained
together. This chain of logs we then anchored out to form
a floating enclosure on the surface of the bay. The enclosure
could open at one end.
The work, for a practised boom-man, was now to take a
long, light pole, and jumping upon a floating log, to stand
upon the log and pole it into the boomstick enclosure.    This
he would have to do with log after log until all had been
poled inside and all lay tight together, parallel, in ranks,
the width of the enclosure. Then he and his mates would
have to chain this mass of logs across, solid, and so obtain
a raft that would keep its. oblong shape under the strains<
of movement and of towing.
The practised boom-man, alas, would do all this. Carter,
for example, did. He went hopping from log to log, poling
one here, one there; poling half-a-dozen at a time. He had
worked upon the rivers "back East" in his youth, where
logging men learn early to " ride a log." He had the perfect
balance of a mountain goat, and the logs obeyed his wilL
Now there are many men who never learn to ride a log,
and at the best of times I should not for a moment pretend
to be able to do so myself. So with a damaged foot I found
myself, on Carter's boom, a figure of hopeless incompetence.
I would jump upon a log, a good big steady log chosen on
purpose. The log would begin to roll under my feet, as logs
will. I would keep walking up and up; the log would roll
faster and faster; soon I would be running up. Then my
balance would begin to go and I would take a flying leap
for any log that floated near—or else, splash! go headlong
into icy water. The water was ice water from a glacier-
fed stream.
Carter fished me out three times in one day, and there
were times when I fell in and kept the fact to myself. For
it was most mortifying that I should be making so futile a
first appearance. Here I was working under the very eye
of a new boss! I dreaded to think what disrepute might
come upon my powers of work. I shuddered at the risk
of that blighting verdict "He don't know nuthin'; he can't
do nuthin'." Suppose that should be said behind my back
as I have heard it said of other men. Vanity suffocated at
the thought!
Other troubles I had too.     My muscles had recently 30
become soft from enforced disuse; my hands were soft; my
power of muscular endurance had suffered woefully. And
now I had to become acquainted again with that instrument
of torture, the four-inch auger, that bores a hole a man can
push his fist into. Oh, the back-breaking job of boring boomsticks when your auger keeps biting into stubborn knots!
Oh, sore and puffy hands!
Carter had always work for me to do even when the tide
was out and " rafting up " was interrupted. I could take the
big cross-cut saw and saw off the shattered ends of logs that
had shot violently upon the rocks of the sea-bottom when
diving from their downhill run. I could split long billets of
"cord-wood" for fuel for future voyages of Carter's steamboat Sonora.
Besides all this I cooked our meals. About my cooking,
of course, I was not shy; for like most other men I knew,
in my heart, that I was the " finest kind " of cook—that I
could "slap-up a meal" with any man; and Carter would
stand anything rather than cook himself.
So I was hard-worked enough, and happy too. For it is
good to be at healthy work with clean Nature around you.
There are worse occupations than working for wages in a
camp. . . .
I find that " working for wages " suits me well enough—
suits me, that is (like any other work), for some period of my
life on earth. If I have dry underclothes to start out in,
and if my boots are not too much worn out, and if my hands
and feet are warm, I can turn out at the standard hour of
seven o'clock on any morning with a happy day ahead.
There will be plenty of work to do, plenty of occupation for
mind and body, plenty of soul-satisfaction. There is no
need to bother oneself as to whether this thing or that
thing is worth the doing, or whether it is going to be of real
use or lead to anything or satisfy ultimate standards. The
boss settles all that.   He is a fellow-being who really wants <
certain things done, things essential to his happiness. He
has private reasons for this, reasons beyond my interest or
concern. The simple fact that here is a man who is really
keen to have some rather interesting things done and wants
me to join him at once in doing them—this makes a great
appeal to me. It gives me a motive—an immediate simple
object in life—for the time being. There is definite work to
be done I Nature and natural obstacles to be struggled
against (and not one's fellow-men); and there is, besides, the
vanity of not being seen to be incompetent. There is the
great charm of life in uncivilised parts—what Higgs calls
the | perpetual pleasure of small achievements "; the backing yourself to beat all sorts of difficulties by the ingenious
use of the few simple means you possess. Conditions and
surroundings are so varied and changeful that you are always
dealing with something new: you are the delighted amateur
experimenting. Even if you get stuck at a monotonous
job—long spells of rowing, sawing and,, splitting cord-wood,
using pick and shovel, or breaking rocks with a hammer—
there is still the great pleasure of working up the intensity
of effort, trying (vulgarly) to beat time, or to beat some
other man's performance, or simply to see how long one's
own endurance will hold out; playing games with one's
work and with one's own body and character, as small
children play with their food. Then, too, there is the
athletic and artistic pleasure in trying to develop effortless accuracy in the swinging of an axe, or in the delicate,
light-handed movement of the big saw. There is plenty of
call upon one's physical endurance and upon one's moral
qualities. The needs and sudden emergencies of the work,
and the presence of other men's standards of achievement
right before one's eyes, give one stimulus, and check self-
indulgence and the fatal sliding-down of feeble man to ease
and comfort. There is call upon one's reasoning powers,
too, and upon one's goodwill to help one's fellow's work. 11
One is made to think over the commonplaces about education, and to realise that a man can get well trained in his
more generous character without troubling the books very
much. In days of depression, in days when one does not
like the job one has—still, by supper-time one will be so
many dollars to the good, dollars that are nett profit. How
much nett profit is there in many a genteel job in England ?
Take away the necessary " expenses of the position," the cost
of clothes, holidays, and small amusements and sports (that
avert decay and death!). How much is left, nett money
And if my balance-sheet for the year is no great affair, in
your sophisticated eyes; if I spend, in idleness in bad winter
weather or in wandering to fresh fields of effort, much of
my yearly profit; if, in fact, my year's work has inevitable
interruptions—still, is not the best, most satisfying work
work that is intermittent, that gives one rest after toil, time
for recuperation? Work such as that is a more buoyant
affair than the deadly treadmill work that goes on, soogey-
moogey, day in day out, for forty-nine perfunctory weeks of
the year.
The " expenses of one's position" in a camp are working
gloves and working boots, dungaree trousers that cost a
dollar, underwear and shirts that one can patch or darn;
and soap. One does not have to bother how one looks, nor
whether one lives at a reputable address. As long as one
does one's work, nobody makes it his business to care a cent
about the correctness of one's demeanour or of one's morals,
or to dictate to one, impertinently, about one's private affairs.
One does not have to submit to anything—not even from
public opinion. There is a toleration that surpasseth all the
understanding of the old-country English.
If one's work, or one's boss, or one's food, or one's
surroundings displease one, one can move at once elsewhere, provided times are reasonably good—as they usually AT CARTERS  CAMP
are. And one has no dreary effort in the moving, nor
mass of stuff to move. Just blankets rolled in one's
canvas, and a canvas bag stuffed with spare underclothes
and socks and the other few things one does not throw
away on the bunk-house floor.
Then one is not conscious, like the city man, of playing a small and most unimportant part in a gigantic
scheme. One does not feel the egoism-depressing thought
that if one does not do one's little piece of work there
are hundreds of better qualified men of one's profession
waiting just behind one's shoulder for the chance of
grabbing it. Out in the woods there is more work than
there are men to do it. If one does not do the piece of
work one is asked to do, plainly there may be some hitch
in getting it done. It may not get done at all. One's
work makes a difference. Oneself and one's decisions have
some obvious importance. Life plays sweet tunes to soothe
and make robust one's egoism. One is vain of being
oneself, and in this happy state money can clearly be
regarded as a by-product.
Altogether there is much to make a man feel good—
and he mostly does—at such healthy work. Then the
dinner-gong booms from the cook-house as a pleasant
surprise; he goes down and eats heartily; sits awhile
and yarns; shakes off the slight distaste that comes from
muscular stiffness and cold, sweat-soaked clothes, and goes
back and works with visible result till supper-time draws
near and he begins to feel he has done about enough.
After supper, lying on his bunk with his mind in a pleasant
state of rest, he can feel secure that all the worries of
the day are buried and done with for ever. The day's
work is over; it has been, as it were, a complete life.
The new life of to-morrow is like the life beyond death—
it and its problems can, remarkably well, wait their turn.
In British Columbia, you should know, a man could go
anywhere on unoccupied Crown lands, put in a corner
post, compose a rough description of one square mile of
forest measured from that post, and thus secure from the
Government exclusive right to the timber on that square
mile, subject to the payment of a rent of one hundred
and forty dollars a year ("No Chinese or Japanese to be
employed in working the timber"). Such a square mile
of forest is known as a "timber claim."
Years ago the mill companies and the pulp-concession
speculators secured great stretches for their future use—
on nominal terms that rankle now in every logger's
breast. But the woods, to ordinary men, seemed limitless. A logger might stake a claim or two over specially
tempting timber if he intended, some time, to cut logs
in that place; but why should he take up leases as a
speculation? He felt that he might just as well lock up
a coal mine, speculating on the future exhaustion of the
world's coal supplies.
But during the last year or two, logs that in the
northern country had been worth but three or three and
a half dollars the thousand feet (board measure) had
jumped to eight and nine and ten. The camps made
"all kinds of money"; new camps sprung up like mushrooms. Donkey-engines could be got on credit, from
the sawmill companies; supplies could be got on credit,
from hopeful storekeepers.   Hand-loggers were strung out
along every fiord, along every island shore—putting in
logs against Time. They could make six and seven dollars
a day per man, even on slopes that had been hand-logged
and re-hand-logged in days before the boom. Now a ten-
dollar price for logs had stimulated the demand for good
logging claims, and then suddenly it had dawned on
everybody that such claims were limited in number and
were being taken up rapidly. There had arisen a fierce
rush to stake timber. Hundreds and hundreds of men—
experienced loggers, inexperienced youths from town—
blossomed as "timber-cruisers." The woods were furrowed
with their trails. Men in rowboats and sail-boats, and
small, decrepit steamboats, and gasoline motor-boats had
pervaded the waters of every channel and fiord. They
had staked the good timber, and then the poor timber,
and then places that looked as if they had timber on
them, and then places that lacked that appearance. What
happened, in the end, to all these claims I do not know.
They were sold successfully, I believe, to vague "American
interests," and to readers of advertisements in Chicago
and Philadelphia and the East generally. The catching
of the English investor-seems to be becoming less of a
topical pleasantry in current talk; and so I suppose that
" fishing for suckers " has, nowadays, to be done nearer home.
• ••••••»
I was meditating upon the glories of the recent boom
(boom that was then fading away but that had not yet
disappeared) while working one day alongside Carter on the
raft. We two were taking a small winch, that stood upon
a floating platform, from point to point along the raft's
edge and hauling swifter sticks across from the far side,
over the mass of logs, and chaining these sticks, solid—to
brace the raft for towing. The raft was about four hundred
feet long.
Suddenly Carter's keen eye saw smoke far down the
Inlet, and soon a small steamboat came into sight and made
her slow way to the usual anchorage where the tide flats
begin, a mile below the camp. Then there came a man
rowing. He reached our raft, tied up his boat, and came
hopping over the logs towards us.   It was Dave Felton.
I liked the look of Dave Felton; it gave my eyes pleasure
to see him. He was a fine, tall, strapping young fellow,
active in every movement as a cat; with an open, healthy
face, and an outward bearing that made one imagine sound
qualities within. In talk with him a breeze seemed to
blow pleasantly upon one, a sort of bracing air full of Dave's
firm belief in himself. People feel it. "There's a man
who'll make money," they say, and nod to one another. . . .
Dave was a great worker, one of the best of woodsmen;
and he used to be a logger and run a small camp. But
the boom in timber leases had fired his explosive brain, and
for a year before we saw him then he had been "timber-
cruiser." He had flown about in rowboat trips, had gone
tearing through stretch after stretch of desperately encumbered forest, and had staked and staked, lease after
lease, in a sort of frenzy of optimism that had proved
irresistible even to purchasers in Vancouver. I expect
Dave's leases were no worse than thousands of others that
were staked about this time. I dare say it may pay to
take the logs off them some day when timber gets scarce
and wonderfully high in value. I know, anyway, that they
were good enough for the dealers in Vancouver. Dave
was a straightforward, give-you-a-square-deal sort of fellow.
He assumed that these people must have good reasons of
their own for wanting to buy timber leases. It was not
his business to question or to doubt. He only knew that he
had lived hard, laborious days and explored some frantically
bad country to supply this mysterious want felt by " monied
men" in Vancouver and " back East"—and that his work
had paid.   He reckoned that he had made some fifteen DAVE AND  SPECULATION
thousand dollars in the year.   There "was a boom on"—
that was all.
And now Dave had come up to talk business with my
boss—my boss who had himself leases for sale, and could
not sell them. We knocked off work at once and honoured
the bottle that Dave had thoughtfully brought with him.
Then we had supper, and after that we set the stove going
in the bunk-house and drew up documents. Mine was
the pen. Then we finished the bottle and let ourselves go
—in talk.   We had a glorious evening.
It was not my gamble, and I was at liberty to feel older
and wiser than Dave. The feeling was depressing, because
Dave reminded me of my youthful enthusiasms. As I
sat warming myself at that bunk-house stove I watched
him—and envied him. In comparison I felt myself worn-
out ; a poor relic of burnt-out energy. But as the evening
passed my mood brightened. Dave just radiated heartiness. He paced restlessly up and down the creaking floor,
his head among the clouds, where scheme after scheme
coiled and revolved. He talked in an absorbed way, he
looked at us with unseeing eyes; he was "just a-boiling"
inwardly with energy and schemes. He grew breathless.
We arrived at the stage of enthusiasm when all talk at
the same time, our eyes opening to the marvellous opportunities that lay around us, resources of Nature that lay
waiting for us to secure a monopoly upon them. We went
late to bed. . . .
Next morning I found myself alone at work. The little
steamboat's smoke had vanished soon after dawn, taking
away Dave Felton. And as for Carter, he had had an
inspiration overnight, and piling his blankets and a week's
food into a boat, had gone upon a trip up-river to explore
a place where he thought millions and millions of feet of
timber might be awaiting the happy purchaser of timber
II if
So for several days I worked all by myself. I sawed
blocks off the damaged ends of logs and split billets of wood
—three feet, four feet, six feet long—for the steamboat's
next trip. Now and then during the days I would hear
the noise when the two hand-loggers across the Inlet would
send a tree shooting down the mountain-side—a rumbling
noise of thunder even at three miles or so. From down
the coast would come at times the noise of chopping from
where Mike Kendell, solitary man, worked by himself. But
all these men were at bitter feud with Carter and never
would approach his camp. So, except for an Indian gentleman who called in his canoe to try to trade his wife for
whisky, I saw none. Winter was coming on and the market
for logs was somewhat glutted. Coola Inlet for fifty miles
or so was bare of men. Only deserted shacks of hand-
loggers remained. . . .
Then Carter came back, and we two went to work upon
the hillside near the camp. We sawed and split up cord-
wood, future fuel for the donkey-engine. And for several
days our brains were seething with the prospectus of the
Coola Inlet Pastoral Colony Syndicate, that was to embank
and reclaim the wide stretches of grass-lands on the river
delta. Carter could not keep away from me. He had
to talk or burst. He had returned from his trip dazed
with possibilities. Every ten minutes he would come
across to where I worked and discuss a fresh extension of
our schemes; much to the hindering of my work. But in
the evenings, more soberly, he put me to work upon "the
books." You know the little thin pocket account-books
dear to landladies and laundries. Imagine three or four
of these chock-full with the store bills, the wage accounts,
the gambling debts (one to another) of the dozens of men
who had stopped at that camp, as it were a hotel, during
the months of that year. Imagine all these accounts jotted
down in smudgy pencil, by inapt fingers, at odd moments, DAVE AND SPECULATION
from memory, in the desperate hurry of a work-weary,
sleepy man. Imagine, entangled with these, the long
sequence of accounts with hand-loggers who, from time
to time, had drawn outfits and supplies from the camp
on credit. . . . Imagine me wrestling in this illegible jungle
of words and figures with the awful complications of the
accounts with P. Francois and Co.; P. Francois personal;
Francois and Fisher; Fisher and Simpson (a change of
partnership due to a quarrel); Fisher personal; Fisher
guarantor for Simpson !!!...
In the late evening when, weary of accounts, I would
lie blissfully upon my bunk, Carter would sit and smoke,
warming himself at the bunk-house stove and watching
his clothes hung aloft to dry in the rising heat. Under
these genial influences his stern mood would thaw and he
would discourse about various things "a man might do
to make money"—schemes that would bring to mind
experiences of his past and suggest reveries and chains
of thought. He would tell me of his life and give his
views. I made a good listener. I used to wish to goodness
that I could remember it all afterwards. r II
The plank houses of Carter's camp were built upon separate rafts—platforms of huge great logs that floated high
upon the water, and that could be towed conveniently
from one place to another. There was the bunk-house—
the house in which men slept; the cook-house—that was
kitchen and store-room and eating-room combined (with
a compartment for the cook to sleep in); and the office
house where Carter slept when many men were in the
bunk-house, and where his business papers lay scattered
on the floor. On the same raft as the office was the
blacksmith's shop. The three rafts were moored together
at a convenient place within the protection of the boom,
making a little hamlet on the sea—primitive lake-dwellings,
as it were. . . .
One evening I came into the bunk-house feeling very
sleepy, and I took my boots off and put on dry clothing
for the morrow (oh, luxury!), and rolled into my blankets
in my bunk without delay. But Carter, it seemed, was
feeling talkative; and talk he would, and haye me listen.
So I would doze awhile, and then his voice would rouse
me into wakefulness; to feel the gentle heaving of the
bunk-house on the swell; to see the lamplight flickering
on clothes hung up to dry, on rows of empty bunks,
on Carter's pensive figure by the glowing stove, on socks
and old boots and torn playing-cards that lay littered
upon the floor. I would listen awhile to what the man
said, and then I would doze again.   Sorry I was afterwards
that I did not keep awake. For Carter was telling me the
history of his life.
I can remember, half-way through the yarn, the droning
voice saying: ". . . and when I got to Seattle it was early
morning. I walked round, the streets looking for a bank,
and pretty soon I found one—jj Miner's Exchange' it had
written up over it, and a card hung in the window with
' highest prices paid for gold dust' on it. Not that I had
any dust. My eighteen hundred dollars was all in bills
in my pocket-book. Them bills made a nice little wad,
I can tell you. I kept them in my hip-pocket. There
was a feller standing on the edge of the pavement, and
while I was waiting for the Bank to open I got into
conversation with him. There was a saloon a few doors
down the street, and pretty soon I asked the fellow to
come and have a drink. We had one, and I pulled out
my pocket-book and got a bill out to pay for the drinks.
Most of the change I put back in the pocket-book.
"Then two other fellers came in, and we got talking,
and pretty soon we lined up to the bar for a drink or
two. Them other fellers paid. By this time I saw that
the Bank would be opening, so I went out of the saloon
and down the street and into the Bank. I sez to the
cashier,' Make me out the forms, I want to deposit seventeen hundred dollars with you.' He sez, 'AH right, hand
her over;" and I put my hand to my hip-pocket to get the
money. Holy Mackinaw! but you oughter have seen me
jump: the pocket-book and the wad of bills was clean
plumb gone!"
I must have dozed off: the slam of the stove door
woke me. Carter had been putting in some wood. He was
still talking.
"... and soon I got into a ranching country. Sometimes I was refused, for there was too many hobos begging
their way round them parts:   sometimes I got a  meal. 42
Once I remember I'd had a meal, and as I went away,
feeling cheerful, I picked up a stone and threw it—and
hit an old duck and killed it. I picked up the duck and
walked away. The old lady was watching me from the
door, but she never said nothing. That duck tasted pretty
good to me next time I made camp, too. You bet I kept
a good look out for chickens after that.
I I'd been having a run of bad luck when I struck a
little town where there was a branch railway line forking
off in the direction I wanted to go. I started out from
the depot, meaning to walk along the track as long as that
railway kept going my way: but when I'd gone a hundred
yards or so a new idea came into my head. There was a
big Swede foreman working by the side of the track, and
just beyond him was his gang—all Swedes.
I j When's the next train going this way ?' sez I.
" That foreman never showed he heard.
I' Say, mister!' sez I, I when does the next train start ?
I He went on working.
" 1 D'you hear me ?' sez I, soft-like.
I He went on working.
"I'd had no food for two days, and I tell you I was a
desperate man. I noticed the Swede had the side of his
head towards me, and I pulled back and let him have one
—just back o' the ear.. I thought for sure that gang of
Swedes would have piled in on me with their picks and
shovels: but they only stood and stared. The big fellow
got up off the ground after a while and stared at me.
II When's that train go ?' sez I.    He told me.
"'Gimme something t'eat,' sez I.    He pointed  to the
depot, where his dinner pail was laying on a pile of ties.
"'Not much,' sez I; 'they'll say I'm stealing it. You
come along and watch me eat.' He done that. There
was cold beef and potatoes and pickles and good bread in
that dinner pail.   I ate hearty. . . .
"... and I got footsore and threw away my blankets.
Then I came to a town in the mountains where the houses
was built on a side hill. The doors of the houses was on
a level with the street; on the downhill side there were
cellars built under the houses. The women useter keep
their pies and kitchen truck in the cellars.
" I useter walk right into a cellar, collar a pie, and
take it out, and any one seeing me would think I was living
in that house. A man wants to look right and have confidence and no one will bother him. . . . And then I struck
a job. You bet I froze on to that job. My nerve was
all shaken, and I reckoned I would stick to that job for
the rest of my life, never take no more chances of being
broke in that blank-blank Chinaman's country. I held
that rotten job for five or six weeks. Then I went out on
the mountain making square timber by contract. . . ."
I wish I had the materials for a life of Carter from
the time when, as a boy of sixteen, he revolted against
the grinding monotony of the little farm in Nova Scotia,
to the present day, when, as Carter of Carter & Allen,
loggers, Coola Inlet, his wanderings have (for the moment)
I've heard him tell of the long hours of work in eastern
logging-camps. " Men was plentiful and wages was terrible
poor in them days. The bosses knew they had power over
us; and they was hard, bitter hard. Being but a boy, I
had trouble to stand up to the work. I useter fall into my
bunk after supper, and the men would let me sleep there
to the very last minute in the morning. . . ."
He knocked around the camps in the Ottawa, and drifted
over the border and worked on rivers in Michigan. Later
in life he appeared as a trapper up in the Cariboo. It was
on his return from there that his savings were stolen from
him in Seattle. Hard times were on just then, and Carter,
penniless, tramped for hundreds of miles before he found 44
a job. I should judge that those were the hard times
of 1893.
A year or two after this episode he was assistant
timberman in a mine somewhere in Montana. This was
his account: " It was a good camp; there was a number
of mines and quite a little town. Saloons and stores done
a good business .there, and many of the men had wives and
families. I was getting good wages, and I useter blow 'em
in regular in the saloons and dance-houses along with the
boys, having a hot time. I never had a cent to my name,
and most times I was in debt to the saloon-keepers.
I One day I met a friend of mine on the street, and he
was needing twenty dollars the worst way: he asked me
for it. ' Boy,' sez I, ' I ain't got no money, but my credit's
as good as money. Just wait a minute while I go and get
the twenty from Jim O'Halloran.'
| Jim O'Halloran was a saloon man: many's the cheque
I had blown in at his bar. I opened the swing door of
the saloon, and there was O'Halloran talking with one or
two men. 'Jim,' sez I, 'just lemme have a twenty, will
" You'll hardly believe it, but that son of a began
to excuse himself, pretending he was short of money
himself. I was considerable put out, him doing that in
front of them other fellers too; but I pulled meself
together, seeing how it was, and I passed it off as if I
hadn't noticed nuthin'. That was a lesson to me. I saved
my next month's wages, and I had a hair-cut and shave,
and bought a fine new suit of clothes and good boots and
a new hat. Then I went and walked in the street, and
hung around casual-like near O'Halloran's saloon. I useter
do this every evening, and everybody would see me there
and mention it in talk, and O'Halloran would worry, knowing he'd lost a good few dollars a month from me. He spoke
to me once or twice, asking me to come and drink with CARTER'S EARLIER CAREER
him, and I was soft and friendly with him and called him
by his given name. But I made that blank-blank whisky
shark feel sick and kick himself for what he'd done. . . .
That gave me a start, and I quit drinking and went to live
at a respectable boarding-house kept by a widow lady.
"The women have a weakness for dark men—at least
that's my experience—and me being a younger man in
them days, with me black beard and black eyes, and me
good clothes, and spruced up, I tell you I got on all right.
Now that I'd quit the drink I had nothing to do after
working hours, and I had lots of spare time. There was
three women. One was a waitress at the restaurant where
I useter eat. Another was a woman who ran a laundry—
a fat lady she was. Then there was the widow who
kept the boarding-house. She didn't want me to pay for
my board, but I wouldn't stand for that—I'm not the man
to be beholden to a woman. It's a fine woman she was,
that widow. I don't know but what I pughter have married
that woman if I'd had any sense. It's kind of cheerful
for a man to come home from work and find the shack all
tidied up, and a fire burning, and supper all ready cooked,
and some one to wash his clothes and look after him. Here
I am, working day in and day out, wearing my heart out
getting out logs, and what am I doing it for? I tell you,
boy, work sometimes seems a terrible old thing to me. . . .
"Well, the feller that was boss timberman over me got
hurt, and the superintendent made me boss in his place.
I began to quit spending my money on the women, and
put me wages in the bank, saving them. Most of the men
I knew was always short of money. I had money and I
useter lend it, getting ten per cent, a month. The men
was drawing regular wages, and I tell you I made money,
and there was dam few ever made a bad debt with me or
got ahead of me any way. ...
"I kind of got tired of that town and the people, and
K*- /  fjPI
when I had 2500 dollars saved up I left the place and
came down to the coast. I'd heard an old fellow talk of
the Cassiar country, and of how there was a big country
that had never been prospected away up above the canyons
on the Stickeen River. There's fine gold on all the bars
on the lower Stickeen. ..."
That was a queer coincidence. I used to live up in
Cassiar myself, and I remember talk of some man who
came up to Telegraph Creek (where river navigation from
the coast ceases) and hired Frank Calbraith and a mule
train to pack his outfit away over the mountains to hell
and gone up the Stickeen. The man stayed in there by
himself, trapping and prospecting, and came out to Telegraph about nine months later with a few skins rolled up
in his blankets and a great desire to talk to people. He
had no gold, and the samples of rock he brought out
proved to be valueless, on assay.    The man was Carter !
" Say, boy, but I was glad to see that blank-blank collection of saloons. For a day or two Telegraph seemed to me
the finest place on earth. Then I got a Siwash to take me
down the river to Fort Wrangell in Alaska. Wrangell is not
much of a place; mostly storekeepers competing for the
Indian trade; they fair deafen a man with the row their
phonographs make. I had to wait some days for the steamer,
meaning to go down to Seattle and stay on the American
side awhile. That's how I got acquainted with a fellow that
was thinking of buying a sloop and going prospecting among
the coast islands, down the mainland southwards: only he
had no money. I had some money, and the sloop looked
pretty good to me; she had been built for a real-estate man
in Vancouver, a monied man who wanted to go out cruising
on his holidays. That was a long time ago, and she was
pretty old. We got her for 350 dollars; that was a big
price. That's how me and the other fellow, Campbell his
name was, came to go slooping.   We was nigh a year on that
sloop. There's not a channel nor an inlet nor an island on
that coast that I ain't visited. We prospected some, and
fished some (for a cannery near the Skeena), and we kept
ourselves in meat, hunting, and got a little fur, trapping.
Yes. I'll tell you this talk about a man thinking himself
above selling whisky to the Siwashes is just hot air. Give
a man a chance and see what he'll do if he thinks it safe.
Of course I know it's a pretty dam risky proposition most
places when there's a policeman within a hundred miles
of you: but there's places on this coast that are pretty far
away from the police.
" Well, at last we anchored in Vancouver harbour. Holy,
suffering Moses, but I was sick and tired of that blank-blank
11 packed up my stuff and threw it out on the wharf,
and went up town to Billy Jones's hotel. Campbell went
to a dealer and sold the fur that we had; he met me in
the street and give me half the money. ' What you going
to do about the sloop ?' sez he. ' The sloop !' sez I; ' to
h—11 with the sloop!! You can take that blank-blank birdcage and stuff it up a drain-pipe for what I care. No
more sloop for me this life.' I never seed Campbell again;
I heard he sold the sloop to some Japanese. . . ."
1 """"" "  —
The sloop trip and the subsequent drunk he went on in
Vancouver left Carter bare to the world. I think it was then
that he got a job as foreman of a pick-and-shovel gang on
railroad construction. Carter in his time has held various
jobs as foreman. But as a railroad foreman, a very despot,
his ruthless energy and callous disregard of others must have
made him immense.
I have never done labouring work on a railroad myself,
but they tell me these railroad foremen treat their men like
dogs, as the saying is; the men being, for the most part,
Galicians and Polacks and Dagoes and such-like that cannot
stand up for themselves. I do not suppose there is much
physical violence; but I should imagine a railroad labourer
is liable to treatment like that a private of the line may
sometimes get from an evil-minded sergeant who finds vent
for bad temper amid the opportunities of oppression that
active service gives.
I remember Bob Doherty telling me of an experience of
his. He had become "broke" in San Francisco. "The
railroads was advertising for men at the time," said Bob,
" so me and two other fellows went to the employment office
and hired on. They gave us the usual free passes to the
camp out on the line where we was to work. At least these
here passes are not quite free. You have to hand over your
bundle, and you don't see it again till you reach the camp
you're booked for. The railroad people take your bundle as
a sort of security to prevent you from running a bluff on
them for a free ride to some other place you may be wanting to get to. If that's what you're after you can buy an
imitation bundle specially made for the purpose at some of
them little stores that's always to be found near a railway
depot.   The usual price is about a dollar.
" Well, I was telling you about our trip from 'Frisco. Me
and the other two fellows reached a railroad camp; in good
faith, for we wanted work of any kind. We went and spoke
to a big foreman there, and he fetched out some shovels for
us, and handed us each one. Holy Mackinaw! you just
ought to have seen the way he gave us them shovels. He
shoved them at ms, rough-like, giving us a look same as if he
was kicking us. Then he poked his face forward. 'Now
then, you men,' he said, threatening, ' I'll have you understand that you're here to work, and work good; and I'm
going to see you do. Get a move on right now, and move
lively or there'll be trouble.' Gee! it fairly took our breath
away. We looked at that foreman, stupid-like; and then we
looked at each other. Then we took a tumble to the way
things was in that camp, and we dropped our shovels where
we stood and walked away. The foreman stood and stared
at us and watched us go. He must have done some quick
thinking, for he never opened his head to say a single word.
I guess he didn't like the look of us; maybe he hadn't come
across no loggers not before."
From his work as railroad foreman, most probably, Carter
got that manner and tone of voice of his—the manner and
voice that have caused him so much trouble in this logging
country and helped to make him so hated. I do not think
he means it to happen, but once in a while, when he forgets
himself in extra bad temper, he will show a trace of the old
manner, and a tone will creep into his voice that will cause
the man he speaks to to drop his tools and quit right there,
and burn with a blind hatred for days after.
It is the tone that does it; the words he uses are alto-
gether void of offence—there is nothing much to take hold
of in what he says: nothing to provoke a fight. For Carter
does not take the least interest in fighting; he has not the
physical instinct—or else perhaps it is his morbid vanity
that makes him shy of violence. I think he feels (what is
the truth) that in this country it is an awful chancy business
to expose his god—his quivering-sensitive picture of himself—to any risk by battle. You never know, if you are rash
in quarrel, among loggers, but that your ordinary-looking
adversary may not prove a sudden nasty thing in fighting-
men, and be your better. It would nigh break Carter's
heart should any one lick him—and the fact be known.
Of course, out West, as elsewhere in the world, men do
not readily come to blows. You will not see a fight from
one year's end to another—among sober men; except those
conjured up in mind by the short-story writer and the West-
describing novelist. Why, for example, should sober loggers
fight? Most loggers are easy-going; easy to get on with;
men who have knocked about the Western world and have
been taught, by experience, to be tolerant and passively
considerate for others. They are not irritable and querulous;
they put up with disagreeable things, that seem difficult to
avoid, with philosophic common-sense.
So in Western camps there are a most peaceable class of
men. You may have many a dispute, "chewing the rag"
about something, or even have a personal quarrel (though
such are rare), without the affair going beyond words and
Carter can go farther than most men in rough and
insult-conveying quarrel talk which yet avoids the point
where blows become inevitable. Outpointing a man in talk,
however, is no great matter. Carter longs to wreak spite
on a man with unseen hands. He would be soft and catlike, and let the hated man realise of himself, when too late,
that Carter had contrived to " serve him dirt." CARTER AS  RAILROAD FOREMAN   51
The spice of revenge is to make men feel your power.
Carter is not very clever in carrying out these ideas: but
he does his best. . . .
Well, Carter was a railroad foreman and he made money.
About that time there was a mining boom breaking out
somewhere in the Kootenay country. Things looked pretty
good there, and the newspapers were full of it. Carter
figured that a boom is generally worth following; so he quit
railroading, collected his savings, and started a hotel in
one of the mushroom " towns " with which the very rumour
of a boom will spot a country.
The saloon-keeper of the West, in places where more than
one saloon exists, must work at an art that is no easy one.
He must advertise, compete against the other whisky men;
and yet there are no simple business means for doing this.
To begin with, there is practically nothing that he can
do with the liquor supply except, of course, by varying the
adulterants. All saloons have the same stock—the same
whiskies and rums and port-wines and beers. There is
absolutely no demand or support for anything new in the
liquor line.
Again, it would be utterly useless to try cutting prices;
for the standard price of drinks is two for the quarter-dollar
—except in far-away districts like Cassiar or the Yukon.
In the careless West, where, outside the towns and settled
districts, the change for a quarter is a thing few men are
conscious of, no one would care were the saloon man to charge
a little less for drinks—playing games with such dust of
currency as five or ten cent pieces. So it comes to this, that
the pushful saloon man must try to increase his profits by
making himself, his own person, popular. He must " make
up " a little in the generous emotions, and pose just a little
in the public sight; and yet show his transfigured personality
in such wise that you would swear there was no limelight
turned on it. I hate to mention these stage directions,
because the saloon man when you meet him is usually so
calmly and transparently himself—easy and yet professional.
There are two problems always before the perfect saloon CARTER AS  SALOON  MAN
man—in the logging country, anyway. One is to convince
men that he is a good fellow and a good friend to each of
them; the other, to make them feel that he is a hard-headed
business man whose shrewdness cannot be imposed upon.
To be a good fellow you must be seen to have fine stock of
generous feelings (that is your stock-in-trade); you must
be open and free, with a touch of the magnificent. Such
qualities show up wonderfully fine under the bar lamps,
against a gleaming background of plate-glass and bottles.
They inspire men on the other side of the bar to be
chivalrous and free with their money.
Your reputation with the boys will cost you money to
keep up. You must at times be prodigal, ladle out free
liquor suddenly, and make episodes in men's memories.
Your bar-tender, of course, attends to the ordinary free
drink that is part hospitality, part ground-bait. But the
serious expense lies in the credit that you must give and in
the many bad debts that you must incur. You will have
to lend some of the boys money when they are broke, and
help some of them out of awkward situations—and this sort
of thing demands a lot of judgment and a great knowledge
of your men. The finance of it, too, is difficult, especially
as you have to carry so much in your memory. Keeping
accounts on paper is a dreadful strain upon your capacity.
Life of worry! To know when to be generous and when
to refuse! And you must not show too generous, you must
not show too shrewd. You must walk a narrow, difficult
path. . . .
To educated persons glancing into the saloon world, the
quiet-eyed, blue-jowled, genial-shrewd brotherhood of bar-
keeps and proprietors may have a sinister air; sinister as a
solicitor at his desk—at your service, or as a surgeon just
about to name his operation fee. I make the comparisons
deliberately, flicking at your respect for the financial positions
of prosperous lawyers and surgeons; for it annoys me to
IJnrj -rT*II_i» 54
feel your easy, educated contempt for saloon-keeping men
who have but slight control over the system under which
they earn their living. Lawyers and surgeons must sometimes steel their hearts and take money from people in
necessity and, like the saloon man, strip a fellow-being bare;
fortifying themselves with common-sense and coming down
to reality from sentimental heights. I can remember the
utter logic with which a surgeon once took my last borrowed
dollar. There were, he pointed out, the running expenses
of his position, the pressure of competition, the need to
achieve a certain standard of comfort that he had set
himself. And then, of course, there was the necessity of
regaining the capital that he had sunk in his education, in
gaining experience. The hotel man has the same need to
use steel tentacles.
On the whole, the good-fellowship atmosphere of a
loggers' saloon seems to supply some of the same sentimental food as the music, books, and stage-plays and other
emotional influences with which the educated man nourishes
(and too often satisfies) his sentimental nature. Here and
there a bar-keep, as here and there (let us say) an Oxford
man, will prove capable of active kindliness.
What a fine flavour of the Tammany ward-politician
there must have been about Carter in his saloon! Suave
and easy, blarneying and intimate, lounging in white shirtsleeves, decently clothed in black! This I imagine would
be his style when in good temper from success. But I
do not think Carter would have proved himself, in the
long run, a successful saloon man. He is always so earnest,
so thorough, in his work, that he would never have been
satisfied to make moderate efforts. He would have been
too impatient to get men's money. The fell purpose of
the whisky seller would have shown through too plainly;
the boys would have become too conscious of it.   And any CARTER AS  SALOON  MAN
little check to his plans, or disagreement with any one>
would have brought to light that desperate, drive-her-under
pig-headedness and that bitter philosophy of life that Carter
hugs to his soul. And no popularity could have survived
that exposure.
Carter's career as a hotel man was, however, put an
end to by other things. The bottom fell out of the mining
boom, the towns decayed as fast as they had grown, and
the day came when Carter rolled his blankets and walked
out of his hotel, leaving all standing—for the weather and
Time to dispose of. He was broke again, but Fate could
not take away the past; and Carter had for ever the
memory of "the time when I was running a hotel."
The next glimpse into Carter's history I owe to Dan
"The first time I ever seed Carter," Dan said to me
one day, "was in a camp on Puget Sound where I was
blacksmith. Carter corned and worked in the camp—just
the same Carter that he is now—a desperate man to work,
surly, and wanting to do everything according to his own
ideas; thinking he could handle any job whatever in the
woods, and show men who had worked all their lives at
that job the right way to do it, whereas he can't do no
more than butt his way through after a fashion. He used
to be a nuisance to work with unless a feller let him have
all his own way. I know the boss at that camp had to
hold himself in all-the-time, to keep from losing his temper
and firing Carter. But he felt there was no sense in losing
a good worker like him. That was why Carter was able
to stay so long with us.
"Before he came to our camp Carter had put in a few
weeks lying round Seattle; drunk most of the time, but
still hearing a good deal of talk. He had come across
some men that had been up among the islands and inlets
on the B. C. coast. They told him there was a growing
demand for logs on the Canadian side, and that men were
able to go up north 'most anywhere and make good money
hand-logging. Carter got bitten with the idea of going up
there himself.
" He was always brooding over the proposition, and
whenever he'd get the chance he'd talk to us boys about
it: what a fine show there was for a couple of men to go
to Alert Bay and hand-log somewhere round them parts;
and what big money they could make; and how they
would be their own boss. You bet it was just poison for
Carter to be doing work for another man.
"Then Carter would pick on some man or other and
try hard to get him to go north, in partnership. He was
after me one time. Now I was sort of willing to make a
trip up and give the hand-logging a trial; not that I knew
the first thing about it, but from what I could hear a
man would soon get used to the work. But you wouldn't
have caught me going as Carter's partner. Being partners
with him means obeying him and being his slave; a man
of any independence couldn't stay with him five minutes.
Carter's as pig-headed as they make them; and wicked.
Everything's got to be done his way; your way is wrong,
and he won't even listen to what you are going to propose; and he'll go against your interests, and against his
own, and wreck his whole business rather than admit himself in the wrong. You can't begin to argue with him;
he flies off the handle soon as you open your mouth.
I've no use for a man that goes on like that. Well, he
couldn't persuade me to go with him, but he got hold
of another feller, and soon after that Bill Allen made up
his mind to join them. The three men saved up their
wages for some time, and then they all quit the camp and
went down to Seattle to take one of the Alaskan steamers
that was used to stop at Alert Bay, going north. Carter
had two hundred dollars saved up, and Bill had about
five hundred. The other feller got drunk and missed the
steamer, and they never saw him again. ..."
And so, through Dan Macdonnell's eyes, you see Carter
and Allen reaching the little settlement of Alert Bay and
' ^*r
making their entry into the northern logging world—about
five years ago.
One gets quaintly differing views of the past at times,
out West. I can remember, for example, how our steamer
going north at the time of the Klondike excitement put
into that self-same Alert Bay; and how we, impatient
passengers, spent an hour or so ashore, walking the new
wharf, looking at the half-dozen new board-houses and the
store. That commonplace modern scene remains fresh in
memory; it was only ten years ago that one saw it—only
the other day, as it were.
Yet, a year ago, I came to Port Browning and found a
district of islands and inlets firmly occupied, in appearance, by man: camps scattered through it; steamers running directly to it; machinery at work; hotels and stores
at business—everything old-established. And an old-timer
told me, by an effort of memory, of a dim past before
all this was; and in the remoteness of that period he
mentioned Alert Bay — Alert Bay, forgotten of loggers,
away over across the Straits; from where the first men
came to hand-log round Broughton Island and the Inlets.
And that dim past, if you please, was only seven years
ago. ... It seems that the Siwashes showed resentment
at the coming of the first few hand-loggers; in those faraway days. I remember Johnny Hill telling us a yarn
about his first camp on Coola Inlet. He was building
a cabin, working all alone: his partner a week's journey
away, getting supplies. The Indians came to the cabin
and actually tried to scare Johnny; a rather venturesome
thing for modern Siwashes to give their thoughts to, yet
one that hardly pleased a solitary man. Johnny went to
the trouble of proving his title to the timber where he
wished to work; a title acquired by impressive purchase,
he told them, from the policeman at Alert Bay; a Government document that Johnny had steamed off a tobacco
caddy,, carefully; what you and I might call a revenue
stamp. A trivial affair; but one that shows how fresh and
free from white men the district must have been then.
At the time when Carter and Allen came north, Alert
Bay was still the nearest jumping-off place for the Broughton
Island district. There was a big store there full of all necessaries, for Indians and white fishermen and prospectors and
trappers and such-like men. Twenty or thirty hand-loggers,
I believe, also drew supplies from that store; and hand-
logging tools could be bought there, at exorbitant prices.
So you can imagine Carter and Allen engaged in buying an outfit, and paying high for it. First they would
get an eighteen-foot rowboat, with a good sail. Then
tools: two heavy jack-screws, a light ratchet screw, big
seven-foot saws, axes, heavy chains for chaining logs together, and many other things. Then flour and beans
and bacon and the like in neat fifty-pound sacks, sewn up
with oil-cloth; and tobacco in box^es; and a good-sized
sheet-iron stove (with an oven up the chimney); and lots
of matches (in that wet country) in tins; and maybe ammunition and a rifle. I bet Carter bought no fancy canned
stuff, nor canned meats, nor any such rubbish; but he
would have done himself well in cream and milk and
syrup and little things a man really needs. And before
the outfit was all stacked on the wharf Carter would have
spent some five or six hundred dollars, cash down.
The talk at Alert Bay decided Carter and Allen to go
search for a hand-logging proposition in the channels round
Broughton Island. You can, if you like, picture the boat
trips : the over - laden boat; sailing winds; head winds;
rough water; wetted cargoes; long, weary hours of rowing;
runs for shelter behind islands; camps made in the dark by
exhausted men. No men would spare themselves less than
these two; no weather except the really dangerous would
stop them.   There was some queer anecdote about their
i 60
power of endurance that I wish I could remember. But
all I know is that they brought their stuff to the north
end of Gilford Island, and "cached" it there, and started
out with unencumbered boat to seek and choose a place
where they should set to work.
In those days good timber was plentiful—good timber,
on sea-coast slopes, that could be felled and shot right
down to water—hand-loggers' timber. The country bristled
with opportunities, for loggers; opportunities that were the
making of men who had the spirit to venture out and
seize them—men like Carter; opportunities that were then
new-born of changed conditions in the lumber trade. Bitter
to the Westerner, are the mistakes of caution.
Many a man I have heard lament those days. " Boys,
oh boys!" one would say, " why was we all so slow in coming
to this country? We'd heard talk of it, and yet we held
back: pess simmists, that's what we were. Men like Carter
got ahead of us: had us all beaten. Why, anywhere round
here all up the Inlets and round the islands there were
the finest kinds of hand-logging shows. Why! the country
hadn't been touched ! There's men working to-day on places
that have been hand-logged, and re-hand-logged and re-re-
hand-logged since them days. . . ."
So Carter and Allen had no need to cruise far around
the shores of Broughton Island. They saw a boom or two
hung out in little bays that opened from the channels; they
received welcome at the cabins of the few hand-loggers
already working there; but soon they rowed their boat past
untouched forest slopes and knew that they had pushed
ahead of the advance of man and human work. Everywhere their eyes were gladdened with the sight of timber
handy to the beach; fine big cedars for the most part. Many
trees they noticed, pointing sudden fingers, would drop
right into water from the stumps when felled; a thought
that made their hearts feel light.    For "stumpers"  are CARTER THE  HAND-LOGGER       61
the most profitable trees that hand-loggers can hope to
get; they need so little time and work.
So the two men looked eagerly for a small bay where
wind and waves could not blow in with any violence; and
this they had to choose most carefully, by observation of
the signs of weather on the beach and on the trees: and
by argument. What would the west wind do in summer ?
How would the north winds strike? Which way would
the sou'-easter blow from off the mountains ?
They found a bay that seemed to them secure from wind
and sea, that lay close to a fine stretch of cedar forest.
The hillside, too, rose from the sea at the right sort of
angle; neither too steep for men to climb, carrying their
tools, nor too flat for logs to slide down easily. A little
creek fell with pleasant noise over the steep rocky beach
of their little bay, and the two men found just by its bank
a small flat place on which to build their cabin. So they
pitched a tent, near to the shore, and by that act secured
(by logger's courtesy) their title to the bay and to the
neighbouring slopes. Then they made laborious rowboat
trips, bringing their outfit up from where they had it hidden.
That done, they set to work to make their camp. They
did not build the ordinary log-house, cedar was so plentiful.
Instead, they cut a cedar log into eight and twelve foot
lengths, and split the straight-grained wood into planks
with their axes; and made a house-frame out of poles, and
sheathed the frame with their cedar planks. Then they
put in a floor of rough-hewn slabs; and fixed up bunks,
and made a table, and set their cook-stove and its stovepipe in position. Outside the house they cleared a little
flat; and underneath a shed they set their grindstone; and
made a stand where they could sharpen their big falling
saws. Their camp was soon completed. Morning and
evening blue smoke ascended from it, and marked its site
against the mountain slope; and the sun shining sent a
3~ 62
home-like gleam from yellow roofs seawards through the
Now the two men took their tools along the hillside to
where tall, slender fir-trees stood. These they felled into the
sea, and cut a long sixty-foot log from each. They bored holes
through each end of every log and chained the logs one to the
other. So they had a long chain of logs to stretch across the
mouth of their little bay. Anchored firmly to the shore on
either side, that floating line of logs would give them harbour
for the logs they meant to cut: once placed inside, no log
could wander off to sea. Their | boom " (in loggers' speech)
was | hung."   They were now ready to start hand-logging.
"We worked right straight along when we were hand-
logging; none of this here laying-off for rain or blank-
blank laziness. We made big money," was all I ever got
from Carter concerning this period of his career. And yet
romance lurks there. For the things men do in company
are, after all, the easy things. What is so easy, as to play
one's part in charges on a battle-field; to join a crowd in
doing certain work; to add one's little mite to the pile
one's fellow-workers make in sight of one ? I find it impressive, I feel how much it is above the reach of average
men, when men go out alone, or two or three together,
against Nature in its wilderness; and there achieve noteworthy things by strain and stress of sweaty labour, hard
endurance, laborious ingenuity. They work there, their
own conscience driving them, with no crowd of fellow-men
to notice what they do. They have no helpful standards
of conduct held before them; they are free to stand or fall
by their own characters, that lack the supporting stays in
which the morals of the citizen of towns live laced. And
yet such men as Carter will "work right straight along"
in dismal wet discomfort, in far solitary work, handling
with imperfect tools enormous weights and masses—at
mercy of callous, disaster-dealing Nature—undismayed. CHAPTER XI
Carter made good money hand-logging. I have heard
men tell of the desperate intensity with which he and
Allen used to work; day in, day out; in wet and snow
and shine. The first morning light would see them already
at their place of work, perhaps a mile's rowboat journey
from their home. There they would slave all day; carrying
their sharp, awkward tools up through the hillside underbrush; chopping and sawing, felling big timber; cutting
up logs, barking them; using their heavy jack-screws to
coax logs downhill to the sea. At evening, tide serving,
they would tow such logs as they had floated round to
where their boom was hung, and put the logs inside, in
safety. Then they could go home and dry their clothes,
and cook supper, and sleep like dead men. Now this
waiting on the tides, this robbery of precious hours of the
work-sacred day, this towing (with a rowboat) of sluggard,
slow-moving logs, racked Carter's soul and set him scheming.
When he and Allen sold their first boom to a Vancouver
sawmill he felt his chance had come. He bought the
steamer Sea Otter for eight hundred dollars down. That
ran him short of cash, and the short-sighted storekeeper
at Alert Bay at once refused him credit. Even to this
day that bitter, unexpected stab has left a scar on Carter's
mind; and I know, the case arising, Carter would gloat
to see that storekeeper drowning before his eyes — and
taunt him as he sank. Carter never forgets, or forgives.
Bill Allen had to go to town and use his popularity
*&■ 64
to get an introduction to a storekeeper; a thing that
Carter knew he could not do himself. So the crisis was
tided over. They got supplies on credit, and settled down
again to work, in the enjoyment of the Sea Otter. Of
that steamer I can tell you little; for though she still
pants her aged way among the inlets of the coast, my
eyes have never chanced to see her. I could never get
much more from Bill concerning her than that she was
" a good little boat." But Jimmy Collins once told me
a little more. "She was about thirty feet long," he said,
"and her hull was fairly strong. The engines and boiler
were middling good too; they were a bit too strong for
the hull. Leastways Bill never dared give her a full head
of steam, for fear of shaking her to pieces. It used to be
a great sight to watch him in the engine-room. At the
start he didn't know the first blamed thing about steam,
and when the engines used to buck on him, him and
Carter would spend hours crawling round with spanners.
and arguing about what was the matter. But after a while
they got the combination all figured out, and they made
the Sea Otter work good for them, towing logs to their
boom and fetching freight from Alert Bay."
So Carter and Allen prospered in their hand-logging,
and soon had money in the Bank. The next thing I
knew of them was told me also by Jimmy Collins, and
I think it is worth giving in his own words. " Just about
then," said Jimmy, " old Cap Cohoon lost the Midge. Cap
was a dandy. He'd had the Midge running two years
after she had a piece blown out of her boiler. Cap just
put a pad over the hole, and pressed a sheet of metal
over that, and kept the lot braced tight against the side
of the boat with a jack-screw. When the Midge got lost,
Carter sold him the Sea Otter for five hundred dollars,
and bought the Ima Hogg. That was just before Carter
started business as a boss logger."    Carter, in fact, had Mike Kendall's Boom.
"Then Carter bought the Ima Hogg"
made enough money, by this time, to enable him to make
a deal with one of the big sawmill companies. For so
much cash down, and so much in half-yearly instalments, he bought a donkey-engine and its "rigging."
Then he staked some timber leases, and set to work to
put up buildings for a logging-camp.
Now the country round about where Carter worked
was becoming well known to logging men. A population
of hand-loggers was stringing itself out along the shores;
donkey-engine camps were starting up here and there;
and the coasting steamers from Vancouver had extended
their former course to take in the new business centre,
Port Browning, where a store and a hotel had been
established. So Carter went down to Port Browning and
hired half-a-dozen men to work for him. Oh, the proud
Now let me tell you that a logging-camp is not an
easy thing to run, successfully. A man may understand
the practical side of logging—the ins and outs of the
actual process by which the logs may be removed from
a forest area and sent to market; or he may understand
the business side of logging—the keeping of accounts, the
knowledge of profit or loss, expenses, debts, assets, balance
at the Bank, and all that sort of thing. It very rarely
happens that logging bosses understand both these sides,
and the one they usually know nothing about is the business side. That is why so many of them come to grief,
financially; for they engage in a business that is somewhat of a gamble, where money comes in quick and goes
out quick in large sums, where a firm grip on business
principles is very necessary, and often they are men with
less power of grasping matters of simple finance and arithmetic than the reckless undergraduate, absorbed in "going
the pace, blue." Carter's ideas of "figuring" were those
of a child; he took wild risks in  starting business as a
\g%0mm 66
boss; he knew he did. Yet a fine consciousness of his
great power of blind, persistent effort made him careless
of his own defects; and already, by some luck of judgment, he had schemed the policy that brought him to
His capital was small, his means of doing work were
limited. He had the sense not to attempt formal logging.
He did not build logging roads and try to take, on any
system, all the good timber that stood upon his leases,
after the fashion of a high-class logging company. He
worked, instead, close to the beach, cutting timber along
the frontage of his leases, taking those logs only that he
could haul out easily. One thousand feet, the length of
his wire cable, was the farthest inland he ever went; and
that not often. Much he cared that he was spoiling leases
for future working, like a mine manager who should
hurriedly exhaust the rich patches of his mine. Leases,
he said, were going up in value. Some one would find it
worth while, some day, to buy from him the stretches of
forest whose sea-fronts he had shattered and left in tangled
wreckage. As for him, he was going to butcher his woods
as he pleased.   It paid! . . .
Now your logger likes to see artistic work done in the
woods, and Carter's methods are distasteful to him. " Carter !
gar-r-r! don't talk to me of Carter! He's no logger. He
don't know how to log!" is a sentiment one often hears
expressed. Carter hears of this, too. " I'm a Siwash logger,1
am I ? Well, I am a Siwash logger. Well, and what then ?
Answer me now!" I've heard him say, meeting the contempt behind the word unflinchingly, hiding his galled
vanity. . . .
So Carter from the very start set out to sack the woods,
as mediaeval towns were sacked, by Vandal methods.   He
1 Siwash logger=beach-comber of no account. FROM WORKING-MAN  TO BOSS
staked or bought some thirteen leases, I believe, to provide
himself with timber sufficient for such policy. He constructed his camp buildings upon rafts of huge great logs,
purposely; he built another raft to take the donkey-engine ;
he held himself prepared to move at any time. For he
meant to move from lease to lease, exhausting each of its
sea-front timber; making quick money. And this moving
forced him to great adventures. CHAPTER XII
There is no single thing in his career that convinces me
So much of the essential greatness of some parts of Carter's
character as the fact that he has forced success to come
to him as an employer of other men. For his task has
been one of appalling difficulty.
The Western logger of the better sort is pretty free with
his dislike, to an employer. A boss who hustles on the
work, as Carter does, incurs a special danger of ill-will that
can be averted, only, by special qualities of character—for
hustling the work comes perilously near to hustling the
men who do it, a thing you must not dare attempt with
loggers.   And yet a certain amount of hustle is essential.
To be efficient as a logging boss a man must not be too
soft and easy-going, or else the work done for him will
also bear that character and the logs he gets will cost him
ruinously. Yet it is desirable that men should judge him
as a "decent sort of fellow"; he must not be too hard,
too grasping. He must not commit impertinence, advising
or helping or criticising a man at work. Yet he must
understand most thoroughly how everything should be
done; and see that it be done the proper way; and give
men the stimulus of knowing that they are working for a
boss who can tell good work from bad. . . .
Please allow me to escape from cataloguing all the
stronger qualities of man; for I recall a scene on Thibert
Creek that illustrates the fine, sensitive vanity of the best
sort of Western working-men.    The mine boss, I remember,
had come up the trail to where Bill Frazer was working.
"Enough work here to last you all summer, Frazer," he
said genially, and passed on, pleased at the good work
Frazer was doing. Frazer pondered over the remark. At
last he came to the conclusion that what the boss had
meant to hint was, " You are working so slow, Frazer, that
it will take you all summer to do this trifling work." He
dropped his tools and left the camp. ...
Imagine how unfitted Carter was to deal successfully
with men so sensitive. The dissatisfied look he wears upon
his face would ruffle their feelings, anger them, make
them careless how they did his work. Again, Carter has
a fatal air of the confirmed schoolmaster. He has been
chastened by experience, and yet he has it badly even now,
for it is of the very essence of his character. He can never
see a man struggling with the difficulties of some job or
other, he can never see hurrying men checked by some
necessary delay, without throbbing with the desire to do
the thing himself and "show them ruddy loafers how to
work." He has gained, through bitter episodes, enough
sense to restrain himself, often; but at all times he makes
men conscious of his contempt for their degree of skill,
and of his dissatisfaction at the amount of work they get
through. He makes them feel that they are just dead
matter he uses for his own purposes, and throws away
disgustedly when used. Men of any value will not tolerate
that sort of thing; especially as Carter's skill at any given
job does not inspire their respect. They work a week or
so for him, their dander rises, and they go.
So Carter in busy times can only keep his camp equipped
for work by aid of a continual stream of newly-hired men;
and those (because his reputation spreads abroad) are rarely
of the better sort. Think how difficult it must be, in a
district far from places where men can be hired, to secure
this stream of men; think how difficult to keep the stream JWSSo*T.
steady, through steamboat accidents and foul weather;
think of the useless riff-raff that may be brought along with
it; and think of the enormous expense and the heart-breaking interruptions to the logging work. Good men, too, are
more or less essential for good, profitable working in the
woods. Carter cannot keep them! Never was man more
handicapped by defects in his own character, less capable of
moderating them.   And he has had some sharp lessons!
Joe Collins told me that in the early days of his career
as a boss-logger Carter once quarrelled with a certain man
in his employ. The man " quit," and was about to use one
of the camp rowboats to take his blankets and himself across
to Port Browning. This was the usual practice in the camp.
But Carter on this occasion hid away the metal rowlocks
of the boats. He hoped to spite the man, to make him
lose a week, perhaps, idly waiting for a boat to pass that
way. He hoped to make the man pay heavily for his meals
while waiting. And so he would have done had not his
men all mutinied at the outrage. There were about twelve
of them working in the camp at that time. Their simmering dislike of Carter's character boiled over. They " quit"
suddenly, to a man. They threatened to tie Carter out in
the sea until he should consent to find the rowlocks: they
made him find them, made him pay all wages due. Then,
taking all his rowboats, they rowed their cheerful way to
Port Browning, and left the mortified Carter half crazed
with futile hate. Nothing could have hurt him more
cruelly. For to exert power over men is whisky to Carter's
soul: it is the craving for crude power that drives him at
his life's work. And here he had tried to satisfy his desire
and had failed, and had been mocked bitterly.
Carter, however, is often successful in small tyrannies,
especially in money matters. In these he is helped by the
carelessness of those with whom he deals. For in the
logging  country nearly all business is done by word   of THE  EMPLOYER OF MEN
mouth; contracts are made verbally, and registered only
in the memories of those who make them; and when a
dispute arises in the course of any settlement, it is no
uncommon thing for each side to find itself unable to
produce the least evidence in support of its own word.
Now I make no aspersion on Carter's honesty. I have
heard many enemies of his declare that Carter intends, at
any rate, to "give a man a square deal," and I myself have
seen him do the fair thing with perfect naturalness when
he might have done the other; and puzzled my brains in
vain to find the reason why. But it is obvious that the
absence of business methods and written agreements and
formal understandings is to the advantage of a man who
has, like Carter, a blind confidence in his own memory,
distrust of the memories of other men, and a secret contempt for those with whom he deals. In fact, were it not
that his main energies are devoted to toil and battle with
the forest, Carter might find occasion 4o make much profit
from his dealings with lesser men: happy-go-lucky loggers
hired by Bill on some vague understanding about wages;
who have bought supplies from Carter without troubling to
ask about the prices; who have no guarantee of fair treatment than that which their physical appearance and their
power of injuring Carter's reputation by talk in the saloons
may happen to inspire in Carter's mind. Such profit,
however, won by such harsh confidence in his own integrity,
does not make an employer well spoken of. Because of
this Carter must secure the men he needs by temptation
of big wages, and even then he gets them ill-disposed.
Without the use he makes of Bill's popularity he could not
hope to overcome this desperate handicap to profitable work.
Bill it is who is sent out to hire men, and persuade storekeepers, and humour creditors, and settle inconvenient
lawsuits out of court. Only once was Carter forced to
leave his dear work and go to Vancouver to fight a law-
m 72
suit. On that occasion you might say that Carter was
victorious; for when the case was called the plaintiff was
unable to appear. He was found drunk, and the case went
in Carter's favour by default. But Carter paid most dearly
for the victory: the visit to Vancouver upset his fragile
virtue, and the drunk he had to go upon cost him two weeks
of precious time and several hundred dollars cash. So,
should you ever wish to sue the firm of Carter & Allen for
wages due, take my advice and enter suit against Carter
personally. You will win your case; for he will be afraid
to come to town. Carter, then, bides close in his far camp,
and sends Bill upon his errands. And the two men are
truly mated, as partners.
Carter, of course, can only tolerate a man who seems
subservient to his every whim; a man who will slave for
him; who will submit, in moments of Carter's anger, to
be talked to like a dog. All this Bill will do, and never
turn a hair. I have heard men say they have felt sick
to hear Carter talking roughly to him. In his absence
Carter will often work himself into a fury over Bill's
shortcomings, and threaten to throw him out of the partnership, and say the most mortifying things about him—
things that men repeat to Bill, sooner or later. Hearing
Carter's loud talk, you would think Bill would often meet
a stinging reception upon his return. But no! A nasty
gleaming look, a sullen remark or two . . . and Carter's
appearance will soften; and Bill will hear no more of the
threatened row. In fact, if Bill has taken care to bring
up whisky with him to the camp, Carter will soon be
heard confiding to some one (in the queerest voice!) that
"Never had man such a partner. Bill's a real fine boy;
he's the straight goods! Don't let nobody never say
nothing to me about Bill. D'ye heak !!" It sounds like
repentance prompted by affection.   Carter and affection!
Bill on his side takes not the least notice of Carter's THE  EMPLOYER OF MEN
moods. He does as he is told, biddable as a child. He
shuts his ears to abuse; he ignores contumely; he never
makes the least complaint. And when men ask him how
he can remain associate, in partnership, with such a man
as Carter—and when they- call Carter, as they often do,
by unpardonable names—Bill will flare up in loyal defence
of the man who uses him so badly. It is absurd to see
so mild a man become so quarrelsome.
I They name Carter a son-of-a-dog," he has often said
to me afterwards, bitterly, "and yet there's none of them
men enough to do what he has done, in work. And when
he's drinking there are lots of them mean enough to
borrow his money, right and left, saying bad things of
him behind his back." Certainly Carter does give away
money when he is drunk. And I know Bill has had
some painful times when Carter has been drunk, pig-
drunk, for seven or ten days together, senseless and bestial upon Port Browning beach, the butt and mock of
hostile men.
Bill's admiration for his great partner glows visibly
within him. He would have played Boswell to Carter's
Johnson. He yields to hero-worship. And in this I
feel Bill's sight is very clear. For among the clinkers
and the base alloys that make up much of Carter's soul
there is a piece of purest metal, of true human greatness,
an inspiration and a happiness to see. CHAPTER XIII
One of the great moments in Carter's life was that in which
he paid the last instalment owing to the sawmill and looked
with proud eyes upon a donkey-engine that was his very
own. There, close by the beach, lay the great machine,
worth, with all its gear, five thousand dollars. There,
Carter could tell himself, was the fine object he had won
by courage and by sheer hard work. There was the thing
his earnings had created. Past earnings were no idle profit.
There they were, in that donkey, in material form, working
for him—helping him to get out logs and rise higher to
I make myself a picture, too, of an earlier moment in
Carter's life—on the first morning when his donkey began
its work. He sees smoke whirling up among the forest
trees; he sees the donkey's smoke-stack above the rough
shelter roof; the boiler, furnace, pistons underneath. And
then the two great drums worked by the pistons, drums
upon which are reeled the wire cables. And then the
platform he himself has made, twenty feet by six in size,
upon which boiler, engine, drums are firmly bolted: a platform that is a great sleigh resting upon huge wooden
runners; hewn and framed together sound and solid.
Watch Carter when the "donk" (his donkey!) has got
up steam—its first steam; and when the rigging men (his
rigging men!) drag out the wire rope to make a great circle
through the woods. And when the circle is complete from
one drum, round by where the cut logs are lying, back to
74  Hi
the other drum; and when the active rigging slinger (his
rigging slinger!) has hooked a log on to a point of the wire
cable; and when the signaller (his signaller!) has pulled
the wire telegraph and made the donkey toot . . . just
think of Carter's feelings as the engineer jams over levers,
opens up the throttle, sets the thudding, whirring donkey
winding up the cable, and drags the first log into sight; out
from the forest down to the beach; bump, bump! Think
what this mastery over huge, heavy logs means to a man
who has been used to coax them to tiny movements by
patience and a puny jack-screw . . . and judge if Happiness and Carter met on that great day. . . .
Carter, you understand, does not belong to the class of
ingenious-minded men. He is not skilful; he does not
improvise ingenious makeshifts; he does not readily pick
up new knowledge. When he bought his donkey, for
example, he knew nothing about the care of machinery or
the handling of engines, and he was ..a poor blacksmith and
no mechanic. And he was slow to learn. So, for a time,
he was obliged to depend upon hired engineers; to risk
his precious donkey in the hands of men of whose skill he
had no means of estimating. But when he had gained a
poor smattering of mechanical knowledge his rough self-
confidence made him feel that smattering sufficient. Then
Carter began to handle his donkey according to his own
Skilled artists—hook-tenders, rigging slingers, engineers
—hated to work for a man who had never learned the ABC
of classical methods. Carter did without such men. He
went at every problem by the light of nature—| bald-headed,"
as the saying is—in furious attack. He would anchor out
his wire cable around some tree, and make the donkey wind
itself up mountain slopes, over rocks and stumps and windfall logs and all the obstacles of new-felled hillside forest.
He would "jump the donk" aboard a raft from off the 76
beach and tow it here and there along: the coast. He did
the things that skilled donkeymen can do. He handled
his donkey in a stupid, clumsy fashion; muddling with it
for want of skill, experience, and training; refusing assistance or advice from men who could have helped him.
And yet he made that donkey go, in the end, where he
willed it should go. He made it do his botching work, and
made that botching work most profitable. He had no awe of
his donkey, that great, awkward mechanism, nor of its ailments. He used it as in earlier days he may have used a
wheelbarrow, as a thing that could be trundled anywhere,
with freedom. But he had some heart-griping accidents.
Once, I have heard, some stupidity of his allowed the donk
to slide downhill and drop into the sea. Bill was despatched
with the steamer to seek assistance, to ask some other logger
to bring a donkey and, with it, drag the sunken machine
to land. But no owner would expose his donkey to risk
from wind and sea for Carter's sake. At last old Cap
Cohoon came with all his men, bringing blocks and tackle
and wire cables. His crowd and Carter's men between
them drew the donkey upright in the water. There it
stayed until the time of the " big-run-outs," when the tides
go very low. Carter lit a fire in the furnace one night, got
up steam, tied the cable to a tree-stump near the shore,
and made the donkey wind itself up to the beach—just
ahead of the rising tide. And so he regained his donkey,
his fortune. But the machinery was no better for the
Another time when Carter was moving camp from
Broughton Island down to Gilchrist Bay disaster hovered over
him for two whole days. His steamboat, the Ima Hogg, was
towing the whole outfit down the channel; towing the raft on
which the donkey stood, the bunk-house raft, the cook-house
raft, the office raft—a floating village. Heavy blocks, tackle
of all description, huge hooks, wire cables, logging tools, HAZARDING THE DONK
boom chains, stores—every single thing that Carter owned
(except his timber leases) was on those rafts. Suddenly, in
mid-channel, the Ima Hogg lost her propeller!
There were Carter and his hard-earned wealth left drifting at random, at the mercy of the tides. Wind might be
expected at any moment in that neighbourhood. Wind and
sea would shatter his rafts and buildings, would send his
donkey and his steamboat to the bottom, after pounding
them against the steep, jagged, rocky shores. ... I have heard
that Carter worked for forty-eight hours fixing things aboard
the rafts; and that having done his best, he went to bed and
slept. He and his men were found asleep by Bill, who had
gone with other men in a rowboat to search the channels
for a tug; who had after two days found one; and who had
returned with it in time to save the rafts and steamboat
from their fates upon the rocks. The weather had kept
fine; the tides had merely swept the rafts up and down in
mid-channel; and Carter had had one of the most marvellous escapes from ruin that I have ever heard of in the
logging country.
You might think that such an incident would have
shaken Carter's nerve and made him shy of risking his
donkey upon sea-journeys. But barely six months later he
hazarded his whole wealth upon a venture bristling with
risks, the great venture of his life that brought him to the
pinnacle of his success. It came about through the agency
of a man named Billy Hewlitt.
About this time, it should be said, logs were going up in
price rapidly, and speculators had begun to realise that the
forests suitable for logging (by existing methods) were
limited in area and might soon be passing into private
ownership. There arose, therefore, a great scramble to stake
good timber leases. Parties of men explored the coasts
everywhere for timber that was worth the staking; and
other men in stores and bar-rooms and offices in Vancouver 78
City gambled in leases of the timber that was staked.   It was
boom-time.   Now Billy Hewlitt was a "timber-cruiser"—a
man who sought for forest timber, to stake it; and Billy was
hard up.    For he was a man too hopeful, too enterprising.
He had taken up timber leases in the most distant, unheard-
of places.   Dealers would not buy them—would not even
send an expert to inspect them, so far away were they.   The
rent Billy had to pay the Government per square mile of
lease was sucking his pockets dry.   Things were thus going
badly with him when, one day, he rowed his boat in to
Gilchrist Bay and stayed  at Carter's camp, storm-bound.
Now Carter, working in his camp, had sniffed the smell of
boom-time from afar.    He had been cruelly torn in soul.
He was making such good money, he was hurrying logs into
the sea with such intense desire to profit by high prices, that
he dared   not leave his camp.    Yet his gambling nature
longed passionately to take a hand in the fascinating game
of staking timber of which he heard such glowing accounts
from recent winners.   So when Billy Hewlitt spent an evening at the camp, and talked big about the wonderful good
timber he had for sale, and backed his words with the logic
of two bottles of whisky that he brought up from his boat,
Carter's heart took fire.    He ordered Bill to load the steamboat up with fir-bark and get her ready for a cruise next
morning.   Then he and Billy Hewlitt steamed away among
the  channels, on a tour of inspection of Billy Hewlitt's
xeases. ...
Carter bought all these leases; dirt cheap, of course,
for Billy was no match for him in cold business duels. And
thus ik was that Carter came to own, among other claims,
the two square miles of timber at the head of Coola Inlet.
When the cruise was over and he was back at logging work
his thoughts would often dwell upon those two square miles.
For the sea-front timber there was very good.
There is talk enough of Coola Inlet elsewhere in this HAZARDING THE  DONK
book, and after reading it you may have some respect for
Carter's courage in the great enterprise he now undertook,
after deep thought upon the recent purchase of Billy
Hewlitt's leases. Remember that Carter, after all, was a
I small man "—a man in a small way of business. His little
capital was new-made; he might have given way to reasonable fears of losing it; he might have made a cautious choice
of safe investment for it; he might have kept on working as
he was doing, under moderate risks. He might have known
that he was forty-six years old, and getting older after a hard
life. Instead of that, by one Napoleonic stroke, Carter
decided to take a risk that would have daunted a young
man with five times his capital, that would have made a
rich speculative company think twice. He decided to shift
his camp and donkey and to log the timber at the head of
Coola Inlet, up among the feet of mountains, sixty miles of
storm-swept water away from anywhere.
With Carter established in his camp at the head of Coola
Inlet, Bill comes into prominence in the story. Bill himself liked working in the woods; he was a good axeman and
loved chopping. But Carter made him stay aboard the
steamboat, the Ima Hogg; keeping communication open
between the camp and Port Browning. And Bill did
that work with quiet faithfulness, journeying up and down
the Inlet without much interruption for months at a time,
and doing distasteful things in jeopardy of storm, discomfort,
and indeed of wreck. A man I know told me about this
steamboat work of Bill's, and I will repeat as much as I
remember in the man's own word.
"The Ima Hogg was a god-forsaken-looking tub. Her
hull some way or other looked to be sort of lop-sided. It
used to give a fellow a sort of uneasy feeling just to look
at it. On top she had a rickety old box of a pilot-house
with two bunks in it, and the engine-room was all boarded
in like an old busted chicken-house, and patched with
driftwood and strips off grocery boxes. Carter never cared
how things looked so long as they did the work.
" Logging at the head of Coola Inlet kept Bill busy all
the time bringing men and supplies up to the camp. Men
wouldn't stay more than a week or two with Carter at the
best of times; but when he'd shifted his camp up there, to
hell-and-gone among them ruddy mountains, he simply
couldn't get fellows to stay at all. I tell you I hand-logged
one winter myself up round Kwalate Point, and I had all
the Inlet I wanted before spring came. What with that
gloomy scenery to look at all day, in winter, and what
with lying awake at night listening to the roar of them
rock slides and snow slides echoing back and forward from
one mountain to another, it fair made me bughouse.1 Then
the snow lies heavy in the woods up there, and men in
Carter's camp could only work about fifteen days in the
month in winter-time, and after paying for their board
they made no money worth having, even if Carter did
pay big wages. Of course in summer-time it ain't so bad
up the Inlet. But work is plentiful everywhere then and
men are scarce. So Carter was short-handed summer and
winter. Holy suffering Mackinaw! don't you talk to me !
Carter had the finest kind of nerve to start that camp of
his up there!
"That Coola Inlet is a son-of-a-dog for wind. There's
the west wind in summer, and the north wind and the
sou'-easter in winter. They're all mean, and there's next
to no anchorage. You get forty fathom right off the rocks
most places. Then it's about sixty-five miles from Hanson
Island, where you get into the Inlet up to the head, and
next to no shelter. I tell you Bill had some fancy times
with that steamboat of his. He used to run at night and
get wood and water by day. He used to sleep when the
weather would let him. Sometimes he'd get anchored
and go to bed, and find himself ashore when he woke up.
Other times the anchor would drag and he'd wake up in
the middle of the Inlet. When he was running he would
look at the fire and throw in bark, and get things straight
in the engine-room. Then he'd run forward to the pilothouse and see where he was going, and take the wheel
until he had to go and put in some more fire. It was
a mean job for a man all by himself.
" I tell you the sea gets up terrible quick on that blank-
1 Bughouse = crazy.
i m tt
\ |y
.i££A 82
blank Inlet. It is bad enough in a rowboat, but it was a
damn sight worse on the Ima Hogg. You see, she had a
fine upright boiler, but it was put in much too high. The
least sea would make that old tub roll so's it would put
the fear of God into you. Bill put in some fierce times
jiggling her up and down all night behind some sheltering
point of land when he'd been surprised by the wind and
couldn't get to any anchorage. Sometimes it was lucky
for him that he had passengers on board. One trip a
gust of wind caught him unawares before he could skip
to shelter, and it laid the Ima Hogg over on her side and
the water came in through the rotten decks. There was
a gang of fellows on board, going up to the camp. They
jumped out of the pilot-house (pretty slick, you bet!) and
sat as far over as they could on the other side, and Bill
got the steamboat turned so that the wind blew her
upright again.
" Early this present summer Carter wanted Bill to run
the donkey for him at the camp. So they, put a young
fellow named Cully on the Ima Hogg, and he ran her for
a while. I don't pay no attention to talk myself. I know
they used to fill the Ima Hogg's tank with river water at the
head of the Inlet, and my idea is that the water was
brackish and that was what eat up the flues. Some says
it was from being careless and firing up too quick that the
flues got burnt out. There was a yarn, too, about some
one putting blue vitriol into the boiler to spite Carter. All
/ know is that the last time Cully started up the Inlet
one of the boiler flues was leaking. After a mile or two
something blew out. Cully got it plugged and went on.
As he was passing round Protection Point two or three
more pieces blew out, and put the fire out. Cully just
had enough way on to turn the Ima Hogg in to the bay
beyond the Point and drift with the flood tide to where he
could get anchorage.    Before next morning he had every- CARTER IN APOTHEOSIS
thing plugged solid, and he put in a fire and got up
steam. Then, pop I the whole works blew out. . . . Cully
stopped in that place for two weeks, good and hungry, before
Carter came down in a rowboat to see what the blank
had happened. Carter saw that the Ima Hogg was out of
business for a while, and he knew he couldn't afford to wait
while she was being mended. He'd just got to have a steamboat taking men and grub up to the camp all-the-time.
That's why he went on down to Hanson Island and bought
the Sonora from Andy Home for seventeen hundred
dollars. . . ."
As you may imagine from this account, the quiet, unassuming Bill has useful qualities. You would be vividly
convinced of that were you to see the steamboat that he ran
and then see Coola Inlet. And should you wish to get new
thrills from life, go you and buy the Ima Hogg yourself.
She lies to-day mouldering at anchor at Port Browning,
awaiting her next brave purchaser. | Carter will ask six
hundred dollars, but you might beat him down to three.
Now my story comes to the time last summer when
Higgs and I went timber-cruising up Coola Inlet. We had
a fine west wind one day, and we ran our sloop before it up
to the Inlet's head. There we coasted round the tide-flats
that spread seawards from the river Kleen-a-Kleen, and
suddenly we saw puffs of white steam upon a mountainside, and heard a donkey-engine toot. We anchored soon
off Carter's camp, and went ashore to seek the usual
It was a fine sunny day, and a man's eyes were pleased by
the forest-green of the great mountains and the snowy whiteness of glaciers showing against the blue sky. The sea was
sparkling in ripples against the gleaming line of Carter's
boom, that lay across a little bay. In the still waters of
that haven floated the rafts upon which the camp buildings
stood—lake dwellings, as it were; and round them drifted
<m lifj'li
logs; hundreds of logs, a carpet on the water; huge logs of
fir and cedar. As we looked shoreward the air became
filled with a rumbling, booming noise, and bumping down
a hillside chute there shot into sight another log. It
was fine to see the water shoot up in lofty jets and sunlit
spray, as the log dived to join its fellows in the sea. Ten
dollars more in Carter's pocket!
We tied our rowboat to the boom, and made our way
over floating logs to a building from where stove-pipe smoke
was rising. Within we found the China cook, a spotless
white-clad figure, engaged upon the work of dinner. John
told us that " him bossy man " was working on the hill, and
we went ashore to present ourselves to Carter.
After fires, or when some big building has collapsed, or
when tornadoes have battered tropic forests into piles of
fallen timber, men may have to work, walking and crawling,
high in air among tangled beams and wreckage. In just
such fashion men were working upon the mountain-side near
Carter's camp. As we slowly worked our way uphill we saw
a sight that could not have been beaten in any logging-camp
along the coast. The " fallers " had worked along the slope,
slope that was almost cliff; and all the trees of value had
been felled criss-cross, upon each other and upon the mass
of smaller trees their fall had shattered. The " buckers " had
then wormed their way among that giant heap of trunks and-
limbs and matted boughs, and sawn the good timber into
lengths. It was a fine piece of work, on ground so steep and
We came to where the " swampers " were at work chopping
limbs and brush, preparing the cut logs for hauling. Beyond
them we could hear the shouting and the clank of metal
blocks and the tap of a sledge-hammer where the rigging-
men were making fast a log to the wire rope with which a
donkey-engine hauls.   And then I became aware of Carter.
His coal-black hair stuck through the crown of a ragged
old felt hat. His eyes, his beard, were black. Sweat dripped
and glistened on his cheeks. A flannel shirt, all rents and
tears, hung on his body. His dirty overalls had lost one leg
below the knee; torn underwear was fluttering there. His
spiked boots were good, as loggers' boots must be; so also
were the stout leather gloves upon his hands.
Carter did not see me, and I watched him as he worked
furiously. He stood upon a log some ten feet in the air.
His active body showed in fine balance as he swung his
double-bitted axe. His muscles sprang at each swift movement. He whipped his axe into the log he was cutting—
chop, chop, chop—the hurried working against Time, not
the leisurely chop that you may hear from a man felling
timber. His breath was making the noise that hammermen
affect—hiss, hiss, hiss—loud and sharp between each dig of
the axe. I was wondering how many hours a man might
hope to work at the pace Carter was going, when the booming of the dinner-gong sounded from the cook-house down
below. Carter, looking up, saw me for the first time, and we
became acquainted. . . .
Higgs and I stayed several days that summer at his
It was boom-time then all up the coast, and speculation
was ballooning higher than men had ever known before, and
still no sign of bursting showed. Logs were up to ten dollars
per thousand feet, board measure. Loggers and hand-loggers
were doing desperate work, fighting against Time, to put in
logs and sell completed booms while prices were so high.
And so we saw great Carter, in apotheosis.
I One million feet I put in for me last boom," he said,
with pomp, one evening as we sat talking in his office; " ten'
thousand dollars for the work I done in forty days!" And
then he sneered angrily at the softness of hired men, and the
monstrous wages he was paying to keep a crew at work upon
his side-hill.   " Now's the time I want good work done," he 86
said, " while logs are high; and none of the men I get are
worth a dam. 'Tis poor creatures they are; scared of a steep
place; afraid of hard work and accidents."
But Carter had other business besides the logging done
at his own camp. Men all down the Inlet were selling logs
to him that he resold, in bulk, to sawmills at Vancouver.
And the seashore found the head of Coola Inlet was dotted
with the tents of hand-loggers; men outfitted, grub-staked,
as one says, by him.
Carter, you understand, was living strenuous days; his
mind scheming, his body toiling, to get logs quickly down
his hillside to the sea. He had no time to give to other
matters, and yet he gambled right and left in speculative
ventures, on which he could not keep his eye. A sort of
child's carnival of business reigned in his disordered office.
Men in rowboats were always coming to the camp to get
supplies. " I'm too busy to attend to it now," Carter would
say to them; "go and get what you want from the cookhouse, and ask the Chinaman to keep track of what you
take." Piles of clothing and boots and tools and tobacco
and other stores were lying littered on the office floor.
" Take what you want," Carter would tell a purchaser, " and
tell me some other time what you've taken. I've got to get
back to my work now."
Bill was supposed, by Carter, to keep accounts; but he
was rarely at the camp. He would come into the office
before going to Port Browning on the steamer and tear a
handful of blank cheques out of the book. As he needed
them he would fill these up in pencil. Neither he nor
Carter would know what cheques the other issued, nor
take the least note of cheques drawn by himself. It was
an anarchy. No Rake's Progress could have shown a worse
confusion in money matters; and it was evident that, as in
other logging-camps, there was a definite limit of prosperity
beyond which   Carter   &  Allen's   business could not go. CARTER IN  APOTHEOSIS
Carter knew this too. "Me business is getting too big for
me to attend to all by meself," he lamented to me. His
success had been due, under luck, to his great blind force
of perseverance, of strenuous personal activity. Simple
work, done in his presence and by his aid, succeeded well.
But now his business was calling for more complicated
thought, for more organising power, and" Carter, having not
these to give, felt a loss of grip.
It was queer, then, to find Carter vain of his capacity as
a business man. Under rum he bared his soul to me one
11 can* make a deal with any man," he said. 1 Buying
and selling is what I was built for. This here logging
doesn't give me a chance; it ain't suited to me like what
business is. Buy from them that has got to sell, and sell to
them that is obliged to buy; and cinch 'em all good and
hard—that's all the secret these is to business!" Carter,
you might almost say uncharitably, ©ozed with desire to
trade beneath three golden balls.
There was a certain narrow shrewdness, however, in
Carter's careless methods. For these methods had the
effect of encouraging carelessness in the men he dealt with.
Hand-loggers around the Inlet, for example, would never
know how much Carter was charging them for food and
tools, nor how much he would, in the end, pay them for
their logs. Sometimes they felt it would be rude to ask too
many suspicious questions about small sums, small prices of
their groceries; sometimes they did not give such matters
thought* The future and its days of payment do not weigh
heavily upon the logger's mind; he lives much in the present. He expects to meet hard treatment from "business
men"—men of more active acquisitiveness than himself;
men with whom he runs his bills. He does not, however,
expect them to sack his pocket (as Carter sacked the woods)
upon the first onset, upon the first account.     So these
mM I
loggers trusted all to luck, to Carter, and to vague verbal
understandings, the exact shape of which, in Carter's mind,
they did not clearly ascertain. They did not realise that
Carter took short views in making money; that he did not
care a rap for their future custom, or for a friendly name.
Carter in the end was bitter hard to all these men. For
he made bad debts occasionally, in such long-drawn-out
transactions, and burning to revenge himself upon the
human race, he would fall savagely upon his debtors and
their debts. Revenge it was. Carter in these money dealings had motives other than the itch for money.
Lust of power over men it was that hag-rode Carter in
such matters, to his own hurt. He liked to feel his hands
upon other men's affairs, diverting them, compelling them
to suit his own will. Debtors were playthings for his
egoism—egoism that had a fell malicious side.
The last evening that Higgs and I spent at his camp
Carter was drunk upon some whisky that Bill had brought
up on the steamer. Carter had been filling the office with
his loud talk, and as we left to go aboard our sloop he came
outside the door with us. He stood upon the raft, swaying
unsteadily, and looked up at the moonlit mountain and
waved his hand around.
"All MINE," he croaked—"my donkey, my camps, my
timber, my steamboat there! Fifteen square miles of timber
leases belong to me! Money in the Bank, and money in
every boom for sixty miles, and hand-loggers working for
me, and ME the boss of that there bunkhouse-full of
men! Tell them swine at Port Browning I done it all!
I and the donk!   I//" CHAPTER XV
My idealistic schemes and plans of life, like these of other
people, are apt to be upset by the small motives—of
pique, ill-temper, nervous distaste—with which my everyday decisions are often swayed. But as long as I can
stand the disagreeable other qualities that he may possess,
I like to be in contact with a great man. I like to
work for a man who has real thoroughness.
Of course, the main reasons why I worked for Carter
were my desire for some money and my pleasure in that
mode of life. But, like other men,*I should soon have
left his camp in anger had I not had a feeling for
Carter's superb quality. I liked to work for Carter.
I liked his romantic battling with work, with nature,
with the hostility of his fellow-men. I liked his ascetic
lack of compromise, and he and I worked many days
together in that camp of his and did not quarrel.
One Sunday morning, as we came out from eating
breakfast, we saw, with joyful eyes, a steamboat making
for the usual anchorage—about a mile down-coast. It
was the Sonora, Carter's steamboat, returning from Port
Browning with the repaired machinery and a new gang of
men. We watched a rowboat filled with men that left
the steamboat and came unsteadily towards our camp.
The boat reached the seaward side of our raft, and men
began to disembark.
I saw how things were, and went across the logs to
give  some   help.   " Pleased 'make   y'   'quaince, ol'   boy,"
89 90
said the first man I hoisted by the arm; " avadrink!"
and poked an uncorked bottle full at my face. Whisky
spilled down my shirt. His hand was shaky. They
were all drunk in that boat—all faint from drink—their
movements sluggish and uncertain. But none were paralysed, and all contrived to walk, leaning upon my arm,
into the haven of the bunk-house. Pong Sam, the new
Chinese cook, was sober. He fell to work at once and
lit the cook-house stove.
Carter was impatient to get the heavy pieces of
machinery ashore and take them up the hill to where
the donkey-engine stood, and get the mechanism into
working order. But he saw at once that the new crew
could do no work that day. He left me to saw the
broken ends of logs, and took his rifle and went up on
the hill to hunt for meat. So I sawed all day, and men,
revived by little sleep, came staggering, from hour to
hour, from the bunk-house to offer me a drink and " get
acquainted." The bottles were all. empty by the afternoon. In the evening, as the whisky left them, men
began to "feel bad." Then I returned their hospitality
by serving out some bromide. That bunk-house was a
depressing sight.
On the morrow several men turned out from their
uneasy beds when Pong Sam banged the gong for breakfast. But they were sick, their heads were sore, and
when Carter led the way up the hill to work none of
the new arrivals followed. All that morning Carter
worked in a fury; but he realised how foolish it would
be to try to make men go to work. New men are
not expected to reach a camp sober. ... At dinner-time
Carter and I and the old engineer that Bill Allen had
hired to work as donkey-man were alone at table. The
boys had already gone back to their beds after a sick
pretence of eating.
"Guess I'll have to lay off this afternoon," quavered
the old man; "my nerves don't feel good enough for
work yet."   It was an apology.
Carter was doing business on his plate, bolting his
grub in savage haste. He looked up as the donkey-
man spoke; suave and good-humoured, with a gleam
in his black Irish eye that made me remember a purring panther at the Zoo that once, in boyhood, I had
tried to stroke through the bar. His voice was sweetly
" All right, boy—all right," he said affectionately. The
old man was soothed.
Carter's hand came down swift upon the table and
made the dishes jump.   His voice crashed.
"But Johnny-on-the-spot in the mornin'," he rasped,
"or, mind, you take the steamboat down the Inlet. I'll
have no blank-blank fooling in my camp. Work or get
to blazes outer here !"    He bawled.
I wondered at the unnecessary brutality. The poor
old cockney engine-oiler quivered like a frightened rabbit.
But after dinner I went into the bunk-house and found
the old fellow relating his interview to the listening crowd.
" You don't want to worry, dad," said I, to comfort him;
" that's only Carter's way of talking. He don't mean no
harm."   But the story had made its impression on the boys.
" Gee whiz !" said one, " this is Swift Camp. Hired and
fired in five minutes ! . . ." And then understanding of
Carter's guile dawned on me. He had simply made use
of the donkey-man's meekness of spirit. He had dropped
upon him hard, knowing that the old man would repeat
the interview, and so contrived to tell the other boys that
they were really required to work next morning. Carter
knew that if he had spoken sternly direct to the hook-
tender, that chieftain would have flared up, rolled his
blankets—and quit! 92
That afternoon, as I worked near the camp, I had
another taste of Carter's diplomacy. I heard him go to the
bunk-house and ask for the donkey-man.
" Come out," said he in pleasant voice; " I want to speak
to you.    You'll find me in the blacksmith shop."
A few minutes later I heard a peremptory voice saying:
"Here! take a drink of this. Hi!! that's enough. Take
that sledge-hammer. Are you ready ? Now strike! Hard!
Harder !! . . . Get your breath now. Whad'yer mean by
coming to a man's camp drunk ? . . . Strike! strike I Let
her have it. Go on! strike! . . . Take another drink.
That's the, last you'll get. Now strike! Go to it !! . . .
You oughter be ashamed of yourself coming here in that
filthy state. Strike! . . . Sweat that blank-blank whisky
out of you. . . ." There was a sound of uncertain blows as
the poor old fellow Sweated himself back to health and
work, helping Carter to forge some logging hooks. I should
have liked to have seen some one try to bulldoze my friend
Fitzsimmons, who slept in the next bunk to me, in that
manner.    But it is a fact that  the boys all went to work
next morning.
Fitz was talking to me that evening as we lay, heads
near together, in adjoining bunks. His voice was a quiet
"There's worse places than a logging-camp," he said.
" After a fellow's got over the first two days and can begin
to eat life looks good enough to him. Of course, them first
two days is bad.
"I don't hold with all this taking of dopes. Some
fellows are holy terrors the way they will mop up pain-killer
when they're trying to brace up as the booze leaves them.
Ginger, too, and scent, and cayenne pepper, and all them
things.   I've seen Siwashes get drunk on essence of ginger.
"Did you hear about that fellow last week at Charlie
Hunt's camp? Charlie hired him at Hanson along with
some other fellows, and brought them all to camp Sunday
morning. The same night the fellow began to feel terrible
bad. There wasn't no whisky in camp, nor no pain-killer,
nor nothing. The fellow went and hunted in the cookhouse to see if he could steal some essence of vanilla from
the Chinaman, and he found a strange-looking bottle. Smelt
all right to him anyhow, and he drank her off, not knowing
that the Chink had a sore arm and this was his carbolic
liniment. Stiffened him out in good shape. Yes! sir!
corpsed him good.
"No, sirree, when I have quit boozing I just take
Nature's remedy. I go and lie on the beach and take
I good drink of sea-water, and make myself good and sick,
and stand it. It's healthier for a man that way, and he
will be fit for work before fellows what uses dopes has got
their nerves to stop shaking.
"I've no use for a camp where there's whisky brought
in. 'Course a bottle once in a while don't do no harm.
But lots of fellows are stopping in camp to keep away from
the booze. Besides, when a man's working he wants to
work.    Work and booze don't mix.
I Ellerson's is the best built camp I know of: spring
beds in the bunk-house, and good buildings, and a white
cook that knows his business. Fine pies he makes, and the
finest kinds of cakes, and there's always good syrup, and
none of your cheap dried fruit, but good canned pie-fruit.
"In some of these small camps the grub's not much
account. When a fellow's paying five dollars a week he
expects to get white man's food. I know the bosses say
that it costs them more than five a week to feed a man,
taking into account the wages of the cook and flunky.
But that's no reason for poor grub. I've been in camps
where there was no eggs 'cept once in a while, and sometimes no  fresh beef, and no syrup.    I don't work for no
m 94
blank-blank cheap outfits. I said that once to Billy Sayers
when I quit him.    Gee! but he was mad!
" Camp is all right if you get a good set of boys.
I Summer-time, of course, when there's work everywhere,
a fellow can keep shifting every week or two until he
finds a camp where the company suits him. But when
winter is coming on, and so many camps is shut down, a
fellow wants to get into any sort of camp he can and stay
there; unless he likes to lie around the hotels dead-broke.
Not that he'll make any money, not to amount to anything,
in winter anyway. Laying off so much for the rain will
only leave fifteen or sixteen days' work in the month—I've
known it as low as twelve. Wages will be low too, and
after paying for board a man will only be a few dollars a
month ahead. It's kind of tiresome sometimes in winter;
lying on your bunk reading magazines or them dime novels
by the Duchess and Mary Corelli; or playing black-jack or
seven-up; with the bunk-house all steaming with clothes
hung up to dry, and a steady drizzle-and-drip outside.
Young fellows think they can work out in all weathers
and never hurt themselves or get the rheumatiz. But I
know better, and / won't work out in the rain, not for
any blank-blank logging boss that walks."
Fitz's recent history showed me once more how little
real chance the logger has to forget, and escape from,
whisky. Fitz is a good fellow and not at all a "drinking
man." But it happened that at the last camp where he
had been working a hook, a sharp, heavy logging "dog,"
had lost grip of a moving log under the strain of hauling,
and flicking round, had ripped a great wound down Fitz's
leg. He had been carried down to camp, put in a row-
boat, and taken to Port Browning, to the hotel. There he
lay sleepless day after day in an upstairs bedroom, listening to the ceaseless din from the bar-room underneath. ARRIVAL  OF THE NEW GANG      95
Sympathetic men, more or less drunk, would pay him
visits, and bring up glasses and bottles, and press him to
drink with them in kindly fashion. So Fitz began to
drink, and got drunk, and stayed drunk—his wound undressed and festering. Then Bill came round to hire men,
and hired Fitz, knowing nothing of the wounded leg.
Fitz told me, as I washed and dressed his leg with
antiseptic at the camp, j Things are looking awful queer
down the coast, feller. I tell you I was glad to get this
job from Bill, even to work with Carter. You mark my
words—bad times are coming."
I ill
■ Tirr
*££i <■»
I was just dropping off to sleep, for I had turned in early,
when Bill Allen pushed open the bunk-house door. He
woke me up.
" Say, Mart!" he said, " there's a sackful of fittings
for the donkey-engine been left down at Port Browning
by mistake the last trip. Carter wants you to come along
with me and fetch that up right away. I'll go aboard
and get steam up. See if you can get a few loads of
wood aboard."
I put on my boots, and lit a lantern, and went out on
the raft to where, upon the seaward side, the steamer
wood was piled. The night was very dark; rain soon
soaked me to the skin. For the autumn rains had begun,
and up in that northern logging country it rains steadily
through the hours, night and day, day in day out, week
after week. At least, that is the impression that a man
gets when working in the open, though doubtless there
are rainless mornings. But Vancouver in the south has
a rainfall of seventy inches; and Point Grey, somewhere
up north, has a fall two hundred inches greater; so the
fall on Coola Inlet must reach a high figure, half-way,
perhaps, between these numbers. In such a country one
became so used to rain that one became almost forgetful
of it. Dry clothes became a rare luxury. One's feet, of
course, were always wet. To take one's boots off and
empty out the water became an unconscious habit. . . .
You know  the sort of thing one meets with on the
prairies, on big farms where every one is occupied with
wheat or cattle, with large labours. There is no time,
people say, to grow vegetables or to milk cows, or to do a
thousand other minor things. Condensed milk is good
In logging-camps like Carter's you will find the same
spirit. There is no time to mend this or paint that,
or to put things away or keep them ship-shape. Some
persons may think it poor policy to set men to work with
damaged tools; but Carter had his own stubborn view of
the matter. 11 know the boats want caulking, and the
houses want new roofs, and half the tools in the blacksmith
shop are broke," he said. " I could put the whole gang on
to fixing things for a solid month and still have a lot
left undone. But I ain't going to. I find if things are
just left alone men will do the work with them one way
or another. They only spoil good tools and good things,
and I don't believe they lose so much time, either, from
not having things fixed good." That was why Carter's
rowboats leaked like sieves, and why the bunk-house was
left in its half-collapsed condition, and why the Sonora
looked dingy as a London slum, and why our clothes
hung on us ragged. Every minor thing in Carter's
neighbourhood had to give way to the essential—getting
work done that would lead directly to "getting out logs."
So that night as I began to load wood for the Sonora
I had to use a damaged rowboat, a boat that oozed water
at every seam, and that leaked in little jets at every badly
mended hole. In that sinking boat my journeys to the
Sonora, a mile down-coast, were slow and laborious. I
would row a few strokes with the work-eaten, defaced oars,
gently—because the half-rotten rowlock cleats had drawn
their nails and threatened to come loose; then I would
bale furiously with a large bucket, standing boot-deep in
the  water; and so, rowing  and baling, contrive to make
m 98
my dark passage to the light that showed on board the
Sonora. Then Bill would leave his engine-room repairs
and help me throw my load of wood on to the steamer's
The falling of the tide stopped these dismal journeys
through the black deluge of the midnight rain. Bill and
I went down into the engine-room and there dozed, before
the furnace doors, warm and steaming in our rain-soaked
clothes. . . . Dawn woke us. We got up steam and
waited awhile for the thick rain-f6g to lift from off the
water's surface. When the shore and Carter's camp had
come dimly into sight Bill and I heaved up the heavy
anchor (after some panting), and Bill gave me a short
lecture on the winding course that I must take among the
shallows of the tide-flats. For he had decided to run the
steamer up to camp, and to throw the remaining wood
direct from the raft on to the Sonora. So he went back
to his engines, and I entered the little bow-windowed
room, the pilot-house, in which stood the shaky steering
wheel—and was a steamboat captain for the first time
in my life.
I suppose I was a trifle worried—full of anxiety about
my course; for I have but a confused memory of that
next half-hour. The current of the ebb, I remember, kept
sweeping me from the path I meant to take; and then
the steamer's stern (that I could watch through a small
window behind my head) kept swinging irresponsibly and
forced me, nilly-willy, to go in mortifying curves. The
turning of the wheel, the winding up of slack yards of
steering chain, would seem to produce no effect upon the
boat's direction. Then of a sudden she would yaw and
point elsewhere; and I would spin a frantic wheel the
other way—and so repeat my blunder. Behind all this
immediate occupation of my faculties and strain of my
attention there were nightmare thoughts busy at argument
o>— .S. THE  CAPTAIN  OF  THE  "SONORA"    99
in some back region of my brain. I saw that I should
have to come away from the camp stern foremost. How
in the name of common-sense did you steer a steamer
backwards—how turn your wheel ? It seemed obvious
enough afterwards, and you may think that, with a mathematical degree, I should have understood the trifling
matter at a glance. But I had never given the matter
a thought until that sudden moment of confusion, and as I
tried to convince myself of the obvious truth—the Sonora
went bump upon the sands !   The tide had failed us.
Now it appeared that the way the Sonora steamed
backwards depended in a very slight degree upon the
use I made of the steering gear; the rudder was too
small, too little rigid, I supposed. So we bumped our way
about those shallows, made desperate efforts to escape,
pushed and strained our hardest with long poles—and by
bare luck found our happy way again into deep water.
I ceased to jangle signals on the' engine-room bell. I
wiped my face. My first attempt at steering a steamer
had finished without actual disaster. Carter will some
day notice, and wonder at, a fresh-looking dent in the
Sonora's bows.    I did that on a corner of the raft.
So we fell again to loading wood with our old row-
boat tender, and got our full supply. Wood was stacked
beside the boiler, from floor to roof, in the engine-room;
wood was piled on deck all round the house—forward
around the pilot-house, aft around the towing posts. The
Sonora, as one might say, bristled with cord-wood. I
jangled the bell and took the wheel, and off we Went
down the Inlet into the fog. . . .
I had a chart of the Inlet 'beside me in the pilot-house,
and there was a compass swinging in a small box by the
wheel. But the chart was in several pieces, frayed and
effaced and coffee-stained; and the compass needle, as I
soon found, had ceased to point towards the north.   Also
4$ 100
my ideas about the conduct of a steamer in a fog were
So Bill left his noisy engines and came up to me
after awhile.
"You don't need to go so slow," he said; "keep a
hundred feet off the beach when you see it, and let her
go full-tilt. Make your miserable soul happy. What
does the fog matter?   There ain't no rocks."
It was a new point of view for me—as far as steamboat steering went. But this same fresh lack of self-
distrust, this simple-minded willingness to face every
problem in life, every emergency, and to deal with it
directly by the light of Nature, is a thing that one is
always meeting in the West. Men trust their own judgment ; their minds are not honeycombed with doubts of it..
We must have made wondrous zigzags from side to
side of Coola Inlet. Dark mountain masses would loom
up from time to time, at times to port, at times to starboard. Occasionally I would find myself steering end-on
against some cliff. Or gaps would come now and then in
the upper fog and give me direction—a glacier or one of
the old discoverer's "high stupendous mountains" showing.
But the hours passed and our progress down the Inlet
was tedious and slow. So Bill asked me to steer round
Kwalate Point and to run in to Adams' place. There-
was no anchorage in that little bay, should either of the
winter winds come up, but in the quiet weather we could
tie the Sonora to a log that Adams had anchored out,
and wait for the fog to thin.
This we did. We found the log and lay anchored to
it, near the mouth of the creek that meets the sea just
below Adams' house. Then we went ashore to get some
steamer wood that Bill had once stacked there on the
beach. As we made the last laborious trip in the leaky,
half-swamped rowboat   the  fog began  to darken  at the THE  CAPTAIN  OF THE  "SONORA"  101
approach of night. It was too foggy yet, we thought, for
us to venture forth. We looked out on the incessant
rain. Adams' camp showed cheerless, near-by in the mist.
Adams and his partners, in two years' work, had taken
all the easy-got good timber near the shores. The men
had gone away for good; their boom was gone, their
house had been dismantled. And now without the friendly
smoke and evening lamplight of their tenancy, the house
gave a last touch of desolation to the bare, ugly scene—
to the litter of chips and rotten logs, broken benches-
and clothes, and rusty cans, to the stumps and fallen
timbers of the clearing. . . .
Bill called me to consider more serious things. There
was no oil aboard for the lanterns, it appeared—for the
lanterns in the engine-room. As hunger took us we
found there was no food aboard—nothing for us to eat
except the small remnant of a dried-fruit pie and the
shakings of a sack of flour. The pie we ate; the flour
we made into a bannock and baked beneath the furnace
bars. Bill boiled some tea—leaves and cold'water set to
boil together, to his taste. Then he turned in to sleep,
and left me to keep a sort of watch. He thought the
fog might lighten after midnight and let us journey on.
So by the poor light of a piece of candle I sat writing
letters in that warm engine-room. My clothes, of course,
were soaked with rain and sea-water. The very paper on
which I wrote was all crinkled with smudged drippings
from my hair; the pencil marks ran smudges across each
line of writing. The engine-room roof leaked strings of
water to the floor; drops hissed into steam upon the
boiler's surface. Outside with equal hiss the rain fell
down into the sea. And every twenty minutes, in the
pitch darkness, I clambered over tangled piles of wood
on deck, and made a circuit of the ship. For the tide
was   ebbing   strong;   and   you  understand — the   natural
■ i
uneasiness of a steamboat captain on that the first day
of his first appearance upon any stage.
I remember that I was wishing that I had had some
oilskins; though they are uncomfortable and hamper a
man at any work. Just about that moment the accident
From the bar-room of Port Browning Hotel Bill and I
floated wearily into the restaurant—and began to eat. Two
days—and we had had almost no food; two nights—and
we had had almost no sleep; long-drawn hours of vanity-
racking anxiety, working nearly all the time and soaked
with rain—I tell you we wanted food that night. We
ate good.
Then, if you must know, we had some whisky; and
sat awhile in the comfortable warmth and unearthly brilliancy of the bar-room; and then somehow a magic boat
wafted us, like the body of King Arthur, over the black
water, through the dark night. Goodness knows when or
how or why the Sonora crossed our path. I can only tell
you that Bill and I woke up on board, next morning,
lying in our bunks—boots on and clothes sopping wet. We
were hungry still, and we went ashore and had a good
breakfast at the hotel.
After that we found the sack of castings that Carter
had sent us to fetch. We loaded also on to the Sonora
stores for the camp—cases of eggs, canned milk, canned
cream, canned peas; fresh meat and sacks of cabbage and
potatoes; butter and kerosene; smoking and chewing
tobacco ; working gloves, socks, and rifle ammunition. These
we piled upon the deck forward, against the pilot-house.
Aft we had a weighty load of boom-chains and supplies
for the blacksmith's shop. . . . Time was our ceaseless
enemy, on the Sonora.    Yet Bill must needs go ashore to
A^gr^L^ v,__.^-     --„ - _. 104
the store, to the hotel, lounging about in conversations.
You in your ignorance might have thought him loafing
or engaged in social pleasure; but the fact was that he
was attending, most severely, to his business. He was
doing what the manufacturer does when he pores over
the " City Column " and " Market Movements " in the trade
journals. He was gleaning ideas. The casual talk of
logging men was his newspaper.
A man in this country does not walk right into a
store or a hotel and ask point-blank questions about what
he wants to know. / do that sort of thing sometimes, and
very disconcerted I become. That is because I am impatient and want to find out things at once; forgetting that
very little can be torn out of a man by a direct question.
There is no means of gauging the value of isolated state-"
ments made in hasty answer after the mental shock your
question gives. You must let conversation grow, not tear
it up to see the roots. You see, the logger is not an introspective person. He does not take the faintest interest in
his own psychology. Unless he has some very definite
reason, he does not at any given moment take the remotest
interest in yours. He has not the habit of making rapid
wrong pictures of your state of mind and of putting himself in your place; a habit that makes civilised intercourse
so much quicker and easier. Besides, if you are a logger
yourself, a man occupied in struggles with Nature and
natural objects, you do not cultivate the power of cross-
Therefore, to get the latest news about the demand for
logs, the trend of prices, or the rate of wages, or the supply
of men, Bill just drifts into the hotel or the store, and
sits on a box within spitting range of the stove, and
chews. Talk will be going on; all sorts of news that has
an important bearing on his business will come out, in
casual, desultory fashion, from   time to  time.     Bill may
guide the conversation a little; he hears what is said; he
can watch the men who argue. Afterwards you find that
he has gained impressions and drawn conclusions, and you
wonder at the shrewdness that can divine so much from
so few spoken words.
• •••••• •
During these labours at Port Browning, and afterwards
on our return trip to the camp, both Bill and I had a
crushed feeling in our self-esteem. We had talked to one
another about that accident, and proved to each other
that we could not be held to blame for what had occurred,
and yet we felt exactly as if we had blundered from incompetence.
I had been writing a letter, as you remember, by candlelight in the dripping engine-room of the Sonora as the
boat lay moored off the mouth of the creek at Adams'
deserted camp. At intervals I made tours of inspection
round the boat, inspired by a nervous fear that something
might go wrong. And yet there was nothing to see in
the darkness, and nothing to hear but the sizzling of the
rain upon the sea and the rustling of the tide. The ebb
was running, but for some reason our stern pointed to the
To be anchored in that unknown place in a big ebb tide
—a "long run out"—made me uneasy. I took a long pole
from off the deck-house roof and prodded into the dark
water at the bows. I could not touch the bottom. So then
I fumbled my way aft, over the stacked wood, and tried the
water with my pole. Heavens! it came as a shock to find
there were but seven feet of water under our stern. We
had taken ground that morning at the camp, but I had no
clear idea of how many feet of water the steamboat drew.
" How many feet ? Were we aground ?" I asked myself in
J   I
I put my head in at the cabin door and spoke to Bill.
I spoke in a tone of cautious anxiety, concealing alarm. I
did not shout or show excitement, because I was afraid of
making a fool of myself about nothing.
Bill said, " Oh, give her a prod out with a pole," and,
bored with the incident, turned over in his bunk and slept
again. I clambered, rather feverishly, amidships, where I
could get good purchase for my poling; and finding bottom
for my pole, began to push and squirm and push. The push
soon told; the Sonora began to move, and my heart beat
again. Then the fog lifted slightly for a moment, and, oh
horror! I saw that the Sonora was only swinging round.
Her stern was stuck!
My yelp brought Bill out of the cabin in one jump. He
tumbled about in the darkness and found a pole. Both of
us rushed aft and got a purchase on the ground and gritted
our teeth and pushed desperately. Sweat broke out (as the
saying is) on our foreheads when we felt it was no use.
Realise if you can Bill's feelings. There was his steamboat
—fond and proud of her he was in his secret heart. She
represented hard-earned savings; she represented Success.
Her money value was part of the little "stake" he had
created and preserved amid the disasters of logging life—
the little stake that one day, he hoped, would enable him
to stop gambling with Nature on these Inlets and buy him
peace and safety on a little farm. There was Carter, too,
to think of; and Carter bereft of his steamboat was an
ominous figure to think of. Carter dearly loved to gall
a man who disliked him by taunting them with his own
success. His ownership of the Sonora made a favourite
And now the Sonora was in great jeopardy. The Inlet
everywhere is very deep. It is but a giant canal, dug like a
canyon among the mountains, and filled with sea-water to
depths that the Admiralty chart ignores.   " So many fathoms GROUNDING OF THE  "SONORA"   107
and no bottom " is the usual sounding given, even near the
But where creeks and rivers meet the sea small flats
have been built out, continuing, under water, the flat lands
of the little wooded deltas at the river-mouths. The seaward edges of these flats break off in steep sudden slopes
that drop precipitous to the Inlet's bottom at the angle that
you see in high embankments on the railways. " The dropoff" men call these slopes. In such places a boat coming
in to anchor will at one moment get no bottom for her
sounding line; at the next moment get a moderate depth;
at the next will float, in somewhat shallow water, over the
river flat. In our case, you understand, the Sonora had
stuck by the stern upon the sand. Forward there was deep
water. Thus the steamboat lay across the drop-offs very
edge—half of her keel upon the flat, half projecting out
over deep water. . . .
The tide was falling. Would the boat lurch over,
forward and sideways, and fill and sink ? The furnace was
glowing hot beneath the boiler. What would happen in
the engine-room if the cold sea should pour in? Would
there be explosions ? . . .
Realise if you please my own feelings. Here on my first
command, on the first day of my captaincy, I had got my
boat aground. She might tip over and be gone at any
moment. Bill's boat: remorseful thought. Carter's boat.
I should lose my job. My opinion of myself hurt me. Then
there was the mortifying picture of the future; my dear
self as a conversational figure, " the man what lost Carter's
boat"; and the brand of incompetency. We had no tide
tables—when would the tide cease falling ? Gee-sus-gee-sus-
gee-sus moaned Bill suddenly. He had voiced his despair
first: it was (naturally enough) greater than mine.
Immediately my opinion of myself rose like a lark. I
had not given myself away.   I felt so superior to the man
*L m-
1    -3P*
who had entertained despair; I felt I could show him how
to keep cool and competent. The patronising "Don't get
excited" came to my lips; it was with difficulty that I
spared him that. I liked myself immensely in my new
rdle. ... It certainly was a beastly job. We had to be
swift, swifter, swift. There were things that had to be done
at all costs, right away.
Bill dived into the engine-room, and burning faggots of
wood came circling out and fell hissing into the sea. He
was drawing the fires, that furnace and boiler might have a
chance to cool before the catastrophe. By the expiring
lights of these floating faggots I could see to draw the
rowboat alongside and to bale her with a bucket; with
swift spasms of movement we piled into her, with an axe
and the butt-end of candle, rowed furiously through the
darkness to the shore below Adams' house. The rain
sizzled steadily on the sea.
There are always odds and ends of wood lying in the
slashed timber that lies around a house; we wanted post
lengths eight or nine feet long and about the thickness
you note in light scaffolding. Imagine if it was an easy
job to find them! We tripped and flopped and clambered
over logs, and ran into things, and felt with our hands in
the darkness. Somehow we found poles that would do,
and one man held them while the other chopped them to
right lengths with the axe—in darkness.
Then there was the rush back to the Sonora, now tilted
over somewhat to starboard. That tilt served our purpose;
we could jam posts under her that side and she would rest
upon them solid. We could make her safe sideways. As
for the danger of her tipping forward, there was no use
worrying about that—nothing could be done to avert it.
Perhaps you think it sounds easy to jam posts under a
steamer. It is not. Imagine yourself alongside in a row-
boat.    You poke a post straight down into the water.    The GROUNDING  OF  THE  "SONORA"    109
post does not want to go; it wants to float horizontally.
There is a struggle before you get the foot of the post solid
against the bottom. Then you press the post against the
sloping side of the steamer and try to hammer it tight
with the flat of an axe. The^ foot of the post gets clear
of the bottom and up it floats; or your boat moves away
with the recoil of your blows—and you lose grip of the
post and lose your own balance, and the post is lost in
the darkness. Later on you get in several posts, good and
solid, and the next one you hammer in too tight, and the
others, relieved of the strain, fall out and float away. . . .
Oh, it is pleasant work. . . . And we were doing this sort of
thing while a drumming in our ears said, "Quick, quick,
quick," and the tide kept dropping, and the Sonora leaned
more and more solidly over to starboard, and the world was
all rain and water and darkness.
The posting was finished at last; we had done our best.
We sat in the warmth of the engine-room waiting for
events. When would the tide stop falling ? Would the
Sonora keep from tipping down the "drop-off" till then?
We sat in the darkness waiting, with a tummy-ache feeling
inside us, deadly depressed. There was nothing to eat and
we were tired. . . .
The tide did not fall as low as we had feared; the steamer
remained settled upon her posts, and in the early hours of
the morning we too, like men reprieved, rebuilt the fire
in the furnace and felt the Sonora begin to float again.
We got up steam and put out again into the foggy Inlet,
continuing our voyage to Port Browning. Dawn saw us
passing Boulder Point; engines labouring at full pressure;
Bill trying to make up for precious hours lost.
zm in
That Carter and Allen outfit pleased my soul. All my
days I have been looking for the strenuous, hoping to find
and to work for men who should be really intense in
their efforts to do things. Giblin used to say in his argument-annihilating way that the people I dreamed of did
not exist. But they do. I found several of them in the
northern logging country. There was Carter, now; Carter
working his uttermost, plugging sternly at his work, day
in day out; developing the energy of two active men. Yet
his heroic soul would burst with impatience that he could
do no more. I amused myself one day composing Carter's
prayer, or rather exhortation to the powers. I will suppress
the text. But it was all about the distressing shortness
of daylight, the interruption caused to work (even to
Carter's work) by darkness, the waste of time at meals
and sleep, and the appalling listlessness of hired men. The
exhortation ended with Carter's war-cry: " Go to it, then /
Do something /1"
I know now that my judgment of a certain Pharaoh
was too hasty. The man who wanted bricks made without
straw was a great man—a great hustler. He was of kin
to Carter. He wanted efficiency; he wanted men not to
depend on others, helplessly. He wanted to instil his own
great spirit into them, so that they would say of their
own accord: " We possess no means of doing this job; never
mind, we can do it all the same." And he would make
the money. . . .
no ■
There was Bill Allen, too, with his—" I tell you a man
has got to hustle to make money logging." His motto
for the steamboat was, " Get wood and water by day; run
by night; keep-agoing-all-the-time"; a sort of sing-song.
You would have failed to give him credit for such spirit
had you judged him by appearances, for he was not rude
and volcanic, and obviously a man of action, as Carter was.
Bill's manner was subdued and absent-minded, his movements quiet. Nothing about him kindled your imagination.
He seemed effaced in character. His face was pretty, framed
in fair curly hair. When clean it had a weather-beaten
air that had been girlish once; when smudged and engine-
dirty it made you think, in ignorance, of a work-weary
Willie. In those rare hours when nothing needed his
attention you might see Bill poring over book or magazine,
lost to the world, his every sense absorbed. The humour
of a Sunday paper, Ouida, "The Duchess," "The Master
Christian," Science Jottings, the Nineteenth Century would
carry Bill, all equally, into some weird fairyland. "The
Wrecker " held him spell-bound too. Never, you would feel
inclined to say, watching him, lived a man less practical,
less of a worker. And Carter used to burn his books on
the quiet. But Bill would "keep-agoing-all-the-time." In
a gentle, persistent way he would work straight on, day and
night, when needful; steadily on until sleep would drop him.
He had a dreamy sort of way of dealing with difficulties
and hindrances and pushing them aside without thinking.
His sub-conscious mind was always wrapped in the idea of
"getting the job done." . . .
I liked the spirit of the thing; the quiet feeling that
it is natural and right that a man should never admit
that he cannot do a thing; the feeling that things must
be done, done " right now," kept on at until they are done;
that one has "got to get a move on" and work quickly.
Not if the weather suits, or if circumstances are favourable,
i 88*' \»   fgl   ':.W^M
or if one's calculations were correct, or unless one should
be too tired. . . . There was very little if or unless about
Carter and Allen. Bill had had a man working on the
Sonora the previous summer. Sometimes when dark was
coming on the steamboat would be short of wood and near
one anchorage and far from the next. The man would
say, " Hi, Bill! what do you say if we anchor here ? After
a proper night's sleep and in daylight we'll be half the
time getting wood, and we'll be just as far ahead at the
end of twenty-four hours. We'll have to sleep some time."
I can imagine how Allen would poke his head out of the
engine-room door and look at the shore and sky, and pretend, politely, to consider the man's proposal, and then
say in his mild voice, " I don't think it, Bud. Guess we'd
better keep agoing. It might come on a head wind or
something might happen. We'll go ashore with the lantern
and chop wood, and then hit right through and sleep afterwards." That is Bill's style. He does not put off work.
So I liked working for Carter, and working hard. As for
Carter, he sized up the part of my work that he saw for
what it was worth to him, disbelieved in the rest; apparently
found that he was not losing on my wages (or he would
have fired me), and did not give a cent how I felt about it.
• •••• •••
I was steering through the long night, one trip, and
old Andy sat with me in the pilot-house. We were taking
him up to Carter's camp, near which, the previous summer,
he had found and staked a vein of mineral. Two " monied
men" from Vancouver slept in our cabin aft. Andy was
hoping that they would buy his claim. He was an old
We whiled away the hours in that pilot-house by conversation.    I talked of | the West," and of its spirit.
"Young man," said old Andy, "don't you never say
you don't know how to do a thing.   Let the boss find that THE  SPIRIT  OF THE THING      113
out and do the worrying. You go ahead every time and
tackle the job by your own sense. Nobody's going to
have confidence in you unless you show them you have
confidence in yourself. That, sir, is the Western Spirit—
the spirit that has made the West what it is."
"It's queer to me," he went on, "the poor-spirited way
Easterners and city folks and Englishmen go about their
work. Seems as if the effect of education was to take all
the enterprise and natural savvy out of a man. They
come across some job they haven't done before, and they'll
think of course they can't do it, and they'll sort of wait
for some one to show them how to do it; or else they'll
expect some one to send for a first-class man who's been
at that job all his life. They're always distrusting their
own judgment, and willing to believe that every one else
knows better and can give them advice worth following.
They've got no natural get-up to them.
"I remember when I was a young fellow—just a boy
you might say—I was working down in Oregon, ' swamping'
in a camp there. I was a stranger in those parts, and I'd
only been a day or two in the camp; and it was my first
job in the woods. The foreman came to me. ' To-morrow,'
he sez, 'I'll take you off swamping and give you a job
barking up at the head of the new skid-road.' I guess he
thought I'd be pleased. Well, I had sense enough not to
say nothing. But I went up that road after breakfast
next morning expecting I'd be sent down to get my money
soon as any one seen me at work. I'd never barked a tree
in my life. However, the boss didn't come round where
I was working that day. There was another fellow barking where I was. I watched him out of the corner of my
eye to see how he worked, and I just piled in and made
the chips fly. I seen the other fellow take a queer look
at me once in a while when he thought I wouldn't notice,
but he kept on working and never said nothing.
jjfjj 114
" Same next day. I was working like blank (being but
a boy with no opinion of myself) to make a good showing
before the boss should come round.
" The third day the other fellow got talking to me. ' Say,
kid,' he sez,' you seem a pretty hard-working sort-of-a-feller.
I guess you ain't never done no barking before—eh ?'
"'That's so,' sez I.
"'Well,' he sez, 'I'll tell you. You're taking the bark
off the wrong side.'
" Then he showed me how to take off the bark just along
the side where the log would drag along the ground when
being hauled. He useter mark the logs for me on the ' ride '
and then I'd bark them. After a while I got to have some
judgment as to which way up a log would ride, and then
of course I was all right."
Old Andy, once started in this vein, went yarning on.
" It's always the same way," he continued. " I don't say
but what a fellow wTants to exercise judgment. But when in
the course of my life I have undertaken a new job that I
knew but very little about, my experience always told me
that I was going to handle that job as well as the next
man—good enough; unless the boss should fire me, or
unless there should be some accident before I had had a
chance to discover what were the difficulties I was up against.
"No, sir! There's nothing to it but having a hopeful
mind and judgment and observation. How d'you think
any work would ever get done up in these uncivilised parts
unless there were men here that had hopeful ideas ?
" Look at the mining business; old fellows working away
in tunnels all their lives (the storekeepers getting what
they make), and hating to die at the finish because they
know there is rich pay a few feet beyond the face. Did
you ever meet an old placer miner but what knew of one
or two little places where a man might put down a shaft
or run a tunnel and strike a big thing ? THE  SPIRIT  OF  THE  THING       115
I How are these here prospectors for hopeful ideas ?
Getting out into the woods every time they've got a few
dollars or got some mug to grub-stake them; cracking
rocks on river bars; crawling round on mountains all by
their lonesome; nosing about in the desolate, howling, ruddy
wilderness by the month and by the year; and having a
fit every time they see a ledge that looks like it might
contain mineral. Of course, most of them take life pretty
easy and aren't in no hurry at their work, and you might
think they was loafers. But they're a hopeful class of
men. Just you see the rubbish they pack into the assay
offices. . . ."
I used to be glad to get a stray passenger on board
who, like old Andy, would help me to keep awake by
talking. For often in that pilot-house the night would
pass with painful slowness. Perhaps Bill and I had been
up two nights running, and I would be feeling again the
tortures of sentry duty, the struggle against sleep. Sometimes I would not dare to put my hands upon the spokes
of the wheel, for fear of standing asleep. I would steer
with my finger-tips; and then as sleep would make me
lose my balance my head would hit the window frame
and wake me up. Then I would hear the strokes of the
engine becoming slower, feebler, and know that steam was
going down—that Bill had been struck into sudden sleep
while at his work in the warm engine-room. . . .
After such nights as this the cold light of dawn would
perhaps be showing through the drizzle as we would creep
up to the usual anchorage, our trip completed. Weary
and sluggard the two of us would dump the anchor overboard, draw the fire in the engine-room, load our freight
into the rowboat, and start up coast to Carter's camp.
Breakfast in the camp cook-house, we would feel, would
be better than the trouble of cooking on the Sonora and
eating the  meal of syrup and  corn-meal porridge which
•I ll
s£ak \ 11
was our usual compromise with Time. The warm bunk-
house would be a fine place to sleep in afterwards—for we
would be feeling chilly and wet and washed-out for want
of sleep.
We would reach the camp and open the cook-house
door, and feel how good it was to take our seats alongside
the boys at breakfast. The lamps would be lighted, for it
would be still dark indoors at half-past six; the cook-house
would look bright and cosy;—stove-wood stacked all round
the walls, breast-high; slabs of bacon hanging from the
roof above; canned stuff— peas, beans, tomatoes, fruit,
syrup, beef, mutton—bright and shining, neatly piled on
shelves; sacks of onions, potatoes, rice, beans, flour, at
the far end where Pong Sam in spotless white would be
busy at his stove — flapping hot-cakes with swift, sure
movements, bringing plates piled with them to table,
answering calls for tea and coffee. Some one probably
would have been out a few days before and shot a buck.
The fried meat would smell good and look good upon
the long table among the plates of fried ham, beans and
bacon, potatoes, butter, syrup, cream and milk, and good
yeast bread. . . .
Carter would be sitting among the crowd at breakfast.
He would scowl at us as we would enter.
" I thought you was never coming back," he would say
in rat-trap tones ; " whad'yer bin doin' all this time ?"
Men to Carter are distastefully imperfect means that
have to be used, unfortunately, in getting work done.
They are just tools.
Whenever Carter thinks of them as human beings his
manner becomes sour, hostile, ungrateful. CHAPTER XIX
The Sonora had once steamed from camp to Port Browning
in twelve hours—seventy-five miles. So we always thought
of the journey to that port as a twelve-hour journey. It
became a habit to do so, especially with Carter. And
every trip Bill and I would howl to the men working on
shore as we would row past on our way to the anchored
Sonora, "Bet you we make the round trip in forty-eight
hours this time !"
It came to me as a shock the other day to realise that
our trips took five or six or seven days. There was one
record trip, done under four.
The queer thing was that we never lost the hope of
making a quick trip—next time. This time our record
was plainly spoiled: there had been errors of judgment;
we had lost hours and even days by want of forethought,
by carelessness that seemed gross when looked back upon,
by accidents out of the common. Carter would have reason
for sarcasm this trip. We used to pant to get it over,
that we might make another trip in the really competent
manner that we knew to be natural to us. We felt like
the hundred-yards sprinter who has stumbled in his start.
Perhaps our chief cause of delay, on the Sonora, was
the battered old rowboat we towed astern. Whenever
the wind would raise the short, choppy sea of the Inlet
that boat would become a nightmare worry; captain and
engineer would fret uneasily at their work; every few
minutes one of them would grope his way over the wood
rJL 118
piled on deck and peer out into the darkness astern, and
try the feel of the tow-rope, and judge by the sound of
thuds and splashes how much water was in the boat
behind. Every now and then one man would call for the
other's help, and the two men would haul the boat close
enough for one to jump in and bale with a bucket. A
cold, wet job, standing shin-deep in water, clothes soaked
with the spray, hands chilled by the wind; man and
bucket going splashing asprawl at every random jerk of
the tow-line.
There were times, too, when we would forget the rowboat,
times when our thoughts were busy over some infirmity of
the engines. Then the leaking rowboat would get low in
the water, a wave would swamp her, another wave would
throw her water-laden mass with sudden jerk on the tow-
line ; and the next time one of us would come to see, there
would be no boat astern, but only an end of torn rope. So we
would turn the Sonora and roll and toss, circling and zigzagging over the dark water, searching for a darker patch that
should prove to be the lost boat. No matter now if we
should waste an hour or two and use up good fuel. As long
as any hope should remain we must wander and seek; for
without a tender we should soon be crippled—without it no
fuel could be got aboard.
It seems strange, now, that so forlorn a quest should have
been so often successful. We lost, as a matter of fact, but
three boats all winter; we must have searched, in hard
squalls, in darkness, perhaps some twenty times.
Why not have hoisted the rowboat to its proper place, on
the deck-house roof, you may ask ? Well, that brilliant idea
occurred to Bill and me one stormy night, and we fixed an
ingenious system of blocks and tackle to the windlass and
gained an enormous power over the soggy weight of the row-
boat. The windlass turned, the rope kept coming nicely;
only when one of us went to look did we find that the boat
had not hoisted. The high arches of the iron davits had
bent down instead, and the Sonora, on the starboard side,
had gained (for ever, I suppose) a more wreckish air.
Carter used to boast that his steamboat need never stop
on account of wind and sea: a truthful boast. I have
known her speed drop to one mile an hour, or even less,
against north winds in the Inlet; but she could be depended
on, absolutely, for that unless something unusual was the
matter with the machinery. If we could have carried
enough fuel to maintain these lesser speeds over sufficient
distance, and if we had had no rowboat dragging behind and
liable to sudden loss, bad weather would never have stopped
us. For it did stop us—often. Perhaps you realise how
these stops were forced upon us. It was true enough that
wood and bark for sixteen hours' steaming could be carried
on board—we would often start from camp with that full
load. But once on our way we depended upon small
replenishments of our fuel supply. vFor instance, down at
Boulder Point, where the three Frenchmen had been hand-
logging, there was a good deal of bark in the woods very
close to the beach—the slope was very slight there, and the
Frenchmen had had to bark their logs in coaxing them to
water. These great, sturdy slabs of fir bark were excellent
slow-burning fuel. We would heave them from one man to
the other, and then down on to the beach and into the row-
boat, and one baling, one rowing, would ferry the disorderly
load aboard the Sonora, and start off again upon our interrupted journey. There were few such beaches in the Inlet.
In most places the mountain slopes plunge straight into the
sea. But here and there we knew of little spots where driftwood might be found, and where two hours' axework would
give us a boat-load or two of chunks and limbs and bits of
bark. We would take anything that could be made to burn.
Bill, besides, knew of a few places where hand-loggers had
barked big fir logs up on the side-hill near the water; and mi    ss mis
~w&  HiM
sometimes, by careful watching of the passing forest, we
would divine new places. Then one of us would go ashore
and climb up the rocks, and pitch slabs of thick bark down
into the sea, and so obtain the best of fuel.
But storms and head-winds spring up on short notice in
the Inlet, and how could one man get fuel and load it from
the beach into a leaking boat half-aground, and yet save the
boat from bumping its bottom out amid the breakers, while
the other man was obliged to remain busy as captain and
engineer on the Sonora, cruising offshore ? And how, without more wood, with perchance but five or six hours' fuel on
board, could a miserable old derelict like the Sonora be
expected to bash her way through a head sea to an anchorage that might be thirty miles away ? Such problems were
not always easy for us to solve in that cold, wet, windy
weather—nor pleasant.
There were times, however, when we had passengers on
board, and passengers were welcome. For Bill and I were
always sleepy on our trips, as we would try to run both day
and night. Passengers could stoke and steer and let us get
some hasty sleep.    Our only trouble was their carelessness.
We left Port Browning, for example, one evening about
dark, towing a rowboat for two hand-loggers who were
returning to their camp. The men were on board. One
volunteered to work in the engine-room; the other, Jimmy
Hill, went to the pilot-house and steered. Bill and I escaped
to the cook-house to cook an evening meal. We were
hungry, and we knew that we should be up all night.
The night outside was pitch black. The faintest kind of
sheen showed on the water just around the boat; by staring
hard, straining one's eyes and twisting them and looking
sideways, one could just see the change of hue, the variation
in the blackness, where shore came down to water. That
was what the steersman could see from the dark pilot-house.
Looking from the door of the lighted cook-house we could
see black nothing. You understand, of course, that on the
Sonora we never carried lights except in the cook-house and
the engine-room.
Jimmy Hill knew those waters well, so Bill and I cooked
at our ease. The engine, we could hear, was working in quick
time, and a swift tide was running with us. We were going
fast. We expected to hear Jimmy slow down soon and turn
into that winding, narrow piece of water between Low Island
and the southern shore of Western Channel. Steering down
that piece of water used to make me sweat gently even in
the daytime. In the dark it was far worse—a perfect nightmare of a place. I was glad so good a man as Jimmy was at
the wheel. . . . There came a sudden shock that threw me up
against the cook-house wall and sent our pans and dishes
flying. Then bump, and scrunch, and bump again. The
Sonora shuddered from end to end and became still.
Bill dashed from the cook-house and ran forward. I
followed with the lantern, to find Bill and Jimmy leaning
from the bows. Below, framed in the flat blackness, jetty
shining surfaces reflected the lantern light. They were the
boulders of Low Island beach. We had struck the beach
full-tilt, end-on. The tide was falling. Tides always do in
accidents. We let ourselves down upon the beach and took
our axes with us, and then, by lantern light, went on a
search for posts, and found small trees, and cut them of
the lengths we needed. We posted the Sonora up. The
tide left her high and dry.    She rested well upon her posts.
And now we saw how wonderful was our escape. All
sorts of ugly rocks and boulders lay piled and scattered
on that beach. Our steamer's planks were old and rotted.
A moderate blow upon them would have smashed a
hole. Yet the Sonora by luck had driven up the beach
squarely, had struck with her solid steel-shod keel, had
nosed between two rounded boulders that had lost their
balance easily and fallen   apart.     There was no damage
J -f"V.
11 m
done. We floated when the tide came up, and went upon
our way. . . .
The Sonora had, long ago, lost most of the metal " shoe "
upon her keel. Her rudder worked upon a post that came
down from the deck above and had no bar of metal, continuing the line of the keel, to keep it rigid (in the water) at
the lower end. The missing piece of metal shoe had served
this purpose.
Now it happened one night that in passing we had to
put in to the raft at Hanson Island for some freight. There
was a sou'-easter blowing across Western Channel full upon
the raft—full blast—gust following gust incessantly. So
we had some difficulty, after we had loaded freight, in
getting clear from the raft in the teeth of the wind, and in
the end we went off in a curve. We passed near to the point
of rocks that makes one head of the little bay, and began
to turn into our proper course in the free water at the
mouth of the narrow Twofold Passage that opens there into
Western Channel.
The wind was tearing down the Passage, gusts slatting
down from off the mountain, jostling one another, shaking
the poor old Sonora. Just then there came a sudden queer
easiness, a quiet absence of resistance, in the steering gear.
The turning of the wheel, too, seemed to govern the boat's
movements even less than usual. I thought at first it was
the Sonora's habitual submissiveness to wind. Then I
realised that the rudder had dropped off. . . .
The night was villainously dark, the hour about midnight.
The Sonora blew down the Passage, plaything of wind and
swift-running tide. She blew sideways, broadside to the
gusts; lying across the narrow channel. At first we thought
to make our escape back into the wider waters of Western
Channel. We had three men on board, and two rowboats
towing astern. We took one line from the bow up-wind to a
rowboat, another line to another boat down-wind from the Iffiffil
stern, and by hard rowing in the boats tried to twist the
Sonora to point up-channel. But the gusts mocked our
Then we realised that safety lay in keeping the Sonora
crosswise to the channel. When in the darkness we could
hear the wave-noise on the rocks close by our bows we could
back out into the channel. When noises were made close
to our stern we could give the engines a few revolutions
forward. We took the old chart down into the engine-room.
The chart was half effaced; the light was dim. Was that
mark upon the waters of Twofold Passage put there to show
a rock ? or was it a mere fly-blow ? We strained our eyes to
see ; we had never been there in a steamboat before, and we
had not heard of any rocks. We decided that there was no
rock. Next day we learned that we were wrong. The ugly
rock lay in mid-channel.
The Sonora, however, did not hit this rock. We blew
sideways down the Passage, zigzagging from the shores, in the
black midnight; beaten upon by rain and the sou'-easter. We
blew at length into wider waters, steamed behind an island
out of the wind, and dropped anchor hurriedly in a patch of
fathomable water that the chart told us of. Next day we
rigged a huge rough-hewn sweep over the stern by way of
rudder, and a sloop motor-boat from the hotel towed us
triumphantly to Port Browning.
"Quite an escape we had last night," said Bill, and
thought of other things. Accidents were all in the day's
work with the Sonora.
<• m
■fc 's>. ;,•
" Never you get behind the donk when she's working " said
the youthful engineer to me; "that cylinder head when it
blows away like that might take a man's legs clean off."
But I did not need the warning.
Carter's old donkey-engine was a mechanical chimera,
and yet perhaps no worse than many others in the Western
woods. The work it had to do was, of course, severe. The
hauling of a blundering, lumbering log of huge size and
enormous weight through all the obstacles and pitfalls of
the woods; the sudden shivering shocks to the machine
when the log jams behind a solid stump or rock and the
hauling cable tautens with a vicious jolt; the jarring, whirring throb when the engineer hauls in the cable with a run
to try to jerk the sullen log over some hindrance—all this
puts a great strain upon the soundest engine. The strain of
such work upon Carter's enfeebled rattle-trap was appalling.
The whole mechanism would rock and quiver upon its heavy
sleigh; its different parts would seem to sway and slew, each
after their own manner; steam would squirt from every
joint. The struggling monster within seemed always upon
the very point of bursting from his fragile metal covering.
In moments of momentary rest between the signals from the
woods, the engineer would sprawl over his machine with
swift intensity. Spanner in hand, he would keep tightening
nuts that would keep loosening; it was a never-ending task.
Hauling would often be interrupted, too, for more serious
repairs.   But still it was   wonderful what the machinery
_>^ STEAM AND  THE  "SONORA"      125
would stand. One way or another the donkey did its work,
and that was all that Carter cared. . . .
Shovelling coal in the bunkers of a liner had been the
job nearest to Steam and machinery that I had ever held
before I stepped on board -the Sonora. I had read newspapers, however—accounts of explosions and boiler-room
fatalities—and I had in consequence all sorts of queer,
limited ideas. I soon learned, aboard the Sonora, to take
a wider view.
I learned that Steam was a most mild and harmless
thing. So the men, for instance, who became scared on
board the Wanderer and left her in a storm in mid-channel
on Coola Inlet (and never set eyes on her again) must
have been as children, afraid of their own shadow. Then
I saw how silly was the story that they told of the Dovecote's engineer—the story that he dived overboard sometimes when the engine had made queer noises. And I
kept an open mind about a vague yarn concerning a
Dutchman near Alert Bay. It was said that he had been
found scalded and the engine-room in some disorder. I
learned that as long as a man did not let the water get
"too low" in the boiler, and as long as he had "any savvy
to him " and did not lose his head " if anything happened,"
that there was "no trick at all" in handling the engines
of a decrepit steamboat.
Suppose, for example, on the Sonora, that the condensers suddenly " bucked on you," and the cylinder head
was then liable to blow off. I knew that you reached up
to the second set screw on a medium-sized pipe on the
left-hand side of the engines and turned it. Then the
steam would go into the exhaust or some other convenient
place. Anyhow the cylinder head would cease, I understand, to yearn to be a rocket, and you could fall to pondering as to what on earth might be the matter with the
disobliging condensers.
I hate to tell you all about the Sonora, because she
was so humorous, and you will think I am piling it on,
drawing the long-bow. Sometimes when I used to look
out of the pilot-house at the gaunt, gloomy cliffs and
mountain slopes of the Inlet and think how it would be if
anything really serious did happen to the Sonora—sometimes I used to wish she had been less of a jest, less like
the curate's egg.
Higgs and I had met her the previous summer when
we were on a sloop, cruising for timber leases. She came
into sight round the head of Tooya Cove (where we were
anchored) one misty morning, a blistered, dingy, disorderly
junk slowly sighing her way through the water. Listening intently, one could just hear the faint throb of her
engine, that was like the heart-beat of a dying man. You
kept expecting it to die away and stop.
Two months afterwards I boarded her with my blankets
and bag at Port Browning, on my way up to Carter's
camp. Bill was getting up steam. The young fellow that
owns the Gipsy was in the engine-room discussing with
Bill ways of straightening out the rod of the pump. Some
one had hit it a blow when heaving cord-wood into the
fire.   They fixed it somehow. . . .
I was a passenger that trip, and I sat on the stern
writing a sentimental letter. We oozed out of the harbour,
the engines going jink-jonk, jink-jonk in a wavering manner.
They sounded quite loud when one was on board.
Suddenly steam swirled in clouds out of the engine-
room doors. Burning billets of wood hurtled out, into the
water overboard. Then Bill shot out and ran forward.
The Sonora began an immediate ominous circle back to
Port Browning. I realised that something had happened.
It was a mere nothing, however. After a few attempts, Bill
managed to get near enough to turn some valve or other
and  stop the  escape of steam.     It then  appeared that STEAM AND THE  "SONORA
about a foot of the injector piping had blown away.   We
continued our voyage. ...
The Sonora was the second tug built on the B. C.
coast, the pride, thirty or forty years ago, of the Westminster Steamship Company. One day, in tidying up,
among the pile of cartridge-boxes and empty bottles, and
Bill's town clothes and receipts, and duns from Vancouver
tradesmen, and undelivered letters that rests upon the
shelf over Bill's bunk in the pilot-house—I discovered a
picture frame, under the glass of which was a faded certificate, which read as follows:—
Sept. 2, 1901
s.s. Sonora
Length 54 feet
Gross tonnage ....
Register tonnage    .
Nominal horse-power    .     %
Boiler: Maximum pressure of steam
(Signed)    J. K. Jones
33 tons
18 tons
80 lbs.
I did not know myself what these figures about tonnage
and horse-power meant; nor did Bill. He said that some
one told him the Sonora was of 36 horse-power; two
engines of 18 horse-power each. Anyhow we had the
satisfaction of knowing that six years ago a boiler inspector
had been confident that an 80 lb. pressure of steam was
quite safe.    We always used 80 lbs.
Since 1901 the Sonora had lived a secluded life up
various inlets. No inspectors had vented their prejudice
upon her, nor meddled with the safety-valve. That class
of person, I understood, was too much trodden down "by
< iilll
appearances." A man ought to be free to exercise his
own judgment, and if he knew that machinery and boat
would do the work he required them to do, what on earth
did it matter how they looked? . . . Bill spoke quite
warmly on the subject. . . .
When Bill would achieve his full head of steam, his
80 lbs. of pressure, the Sonora would go full-tilt, perhaps
six miles an hour. The whole boat would quake in a
sort of palsy. The engines would palpitate—jiggety-
jiggety—klink—konk—very quick. We would ourselves
catch the cheerful infection and become livelv. But this
mood would never last. A new sound would begin to
enter into the full chords of the engine harmony. Something would begin to hammer and bang, and soon Bill
would stop the engines, and we would drift at random
while he and I worked with spanners, tightening this,
loosening that, shoving little bits of tin into joints, nursing
the engines back to sanity.
That engine-room was a fine warm place in cold weather,
when a man's wet feet were numb with standing in the
icy pilot-house. The sliding doors opened on a level with
the outside deck. One of them was usually kept open,
to let out the smoke that escaped through the cracks in
the plaster, plugged upon holes in the furnace. You
would put your leg through this door and go down a
little ladder to the engine-room floor, about five feet
below. There you would stand in warmth, warming hands
and cold feet before the cracked doors of the furnace.
Behind you were the jiggling engines; cylinders covered
with disreputable jackets of asbestos plaster (that looked
like the dusty peeling plaster of a disused cellar); mouldy-
looking brass machinery; rust-eaten, discoloured pipes,
tied up here and there (at joints or at holes) with rags
held by clamps. Steam would be squirting out of one or
two places, that Bill would be intending to fix next time T^f
STEAM  AND  THE  "SONORA"      129
he should have the chance. Chips of wood and the
ground-up powder of dry fir bark would be littering the
engine-room floor, but these, now and again, would be
swept up with the remains of a broom and thrown into
the fire with something that had been a shovel. There
was nothing new to jar upon you in the Sonora. Everything was in keeping—harmonious, antique. Bill even
used an axe with a split handle to break up the great
slabs of bark; and he wore, with unconscious good taste,
a torn shirt, engine-greasy, and trousers rent in the seat.
He had a large assortment of more or less broken tools
to tinker the Sonora with; and in every cranny and on
every shelf of the engine-room were odds and ends of
supplies, spare parts, metal things that "might be useful,"
bits of pipe, old tins, and every broken fragment that
had been taken out of the Sonora's machinery for ten
years past. Behind the engine-room, but on a level with
the deck, there was the tiny cook-house, that held a
stove (that by stifled smouldering would cook a tepid
meal), a shelf to eat at, and boxes for men's seats. Neither
Bill nor I would bother much about the cooking. Syrup
and ship's biscuits and corn-meal porridge were good
enough. The cook-house stove discouraged us. . . . Behind
the cook-house was the bunk-house—the cabin, as you
would say. Inside there were two bunks, two berths;
and narrow lockers on which, also, men might sleep. . . .
Pilot-house, engine-room, cook-house, and bunk-house
made, as it were, one building. Besides this building there
ran, upon each side, a narrow deck, some three feet wide,
fenced in by tiny bulwarks. This deck was usually piled
high with firewood—with long billets, with big slabs of
fir bark, each many inches thick. The deck around the
stern held other piles of wood. . . .
A little iron ladder took one up to the house's roof,
alongside the   tall, slim funnel.   There lay our axes, and
a big falling saw, and sledge-hammers, and steel wedges,
and metal-shod spring-boards, for our use in getting fuel.
And a huge frayed tow-line was coiled up there; and there
was a rack of lanterns, of glasses red and green and white.
The lanterns may possibly have been usable. We did not
know : we travelled without fights.
The Sonora lay anchored in Port Browning, awaiting Bill's
return. Rumour of depression had sent him hasting to
Vancouver, to sell logs at whatever price he could. For
Carter was short of money, and in a logging-camp some
ready money you must have. Men working for you may
choose to leave at any moment. You tell them airily to
"get their time" at once from Bill; you pay them cash;
they go. Woe to your vanity, woe to your credit at the
stores, should you lack the necessary means. For men will
talk; storekeepers and saloon men^ creditors, will learn
about your state; the tangle of your affairs will soon be
made insolvency.
The Cassiar came to Port Browning from Vancouver
trip after trip, and Bill did not return.   At last he wrote:—
The Bodega Hotel
American Plan
Vancouver B.C.
Me. Grainger dear sir,—I have tried all over to sell
the logs and no sawmill will look at them i never saw
times as hard as they are now they lend money at 25 per
cent, some are paying sixty and glad to get it at that the
mills cannot get money from the banks to buy logs one
mill has shut down no money to pay their men. On the
American side the banks have no money at all business
men here cannot tell whether times are going to get
better or worse it is a panic,   you may expect me soon
131 n^nn ■■■I
as i can get some money I hardly know what to do i know
they are short of grub up at the camp but they will get
along some how. There are lots of broke men in town
now all the camps are shutting down and the sawmills
may do so to i could hire good men as low as 2J dollars
per day.   It is hard times and no mistake
yrs truly
W. Allen
Between the lines I could read of the tottering fortunes
of Carter and Allen, tottering through no fault of theirs,
shaken by some tremor of the New York money-quake;
and of Bill doing his disheartened best to shore those
fortunes up. Bill, all these days, would be drifting round
Vancouver offices and hotels, trying and failing to get
his business done, with borrowable money every day becoming scarcer. Like other master loggers, he had no
accounts to show, no evidence of his solvency; Carter never
minded books. Bill must try to borrow money where he
had so often loaned it in more prosperous times; by aid
of the mild, quiet esteem in which men held him. For
every one liked Bill—open-handed, squandering Bill, who
could never refuse a friend a loan. Carter counted on
this popularity, having none himself to use. . . .
Waiting in Port Browning, I heard other news of bad
times approaching. Men arriving from Vancouver talked
of a strange difficulty in finding work after a happy holiday
in town. They brought newspapers with them that told
of a poor crop in Manitoba, of a shortage of money there,
and of the currency crisis in the States that was rolling
dense vapour clouds of depression over Canada. British
Columbia lumber, it was said, had ceased to sell in the
North-West; the sawmills could not even get their pay
for lumber sold. The outlook became most gloomy to
men in Port Browning; loggers and hand-loggers with half- HARD TIMES  COMING
completed booms in the water. They brooded as they
worked. . . .
Over at the hotel the talk of lounging men was gloomy.
Camps all around the district were shutting down. Going
to Vancouver, the Cassiar was packed with men. And yet
what use to go to town ?
Of the shortage of money queer yarns were told. For
instance, a man spending a few days on the American side
had put his wad of money safe in a Seattle bank. His
visit ended, he went to draw his money out. "No cash
paid out from here," the bank had said. " Here, however, is
our acknowledgment; payment, we hope, will not be many
months delayed." In Seattle things were so bad, we heard,
that men paying for their drinks in dollar bills would get
the change in writing—bar-tender's script! . . .
Money, as yet, was plentiful enough at Port Browning
Hotel; men were still spending their recent wages. Of an
evening, when darkness had driven "me from my work of
cutting steamer fuel, I used to row across to the hotel, or
to the store, watching and talking to the boys. I never
had a cent myself to spend; yet visiting the hotel meant
accepting drinks every few minutes. I would figure in
introductions, " Captain of the Sonora "; and my new friend
would say, " Pleased to make your acquaintance, boy; come-
andavadrink!" I would watch the card game; Bob
Doherty perhaps on the win. Bob would be setting up
the drinks, paying for meals for any one around who
was short of money, supplying one or two special friends
with counters for the game. "Had your dinner in the
restaurant ?" he would ask hospitably.
I saw some thrilling fights. French Pete and Noble had
a great set-to one evening, both being sober, in settlement of
some deep grudge. Fifteen minutes it lasted in the bar-room •
none of your " scraps "—hit, grapple, go-to-the-floor-and-bite
affairs—but a proper stand-up fist fight, an unusual thing. 134       WOODSMEN  OF THE  WEST
There were games too. Players would arm themselves
with slats of boxwood, half a dollar would be placed upon
the bar-room floor, and the game begin.
A man, confidently swift, would rush to pick the money
up. To reach the floor he must bend; bending, he would
present a curved behind; terrific smacks of boxwood slats
would be delivered there. The man would spring upright,
reeling, with a yelp. The rest of us would roar. So the
game would go on, in bustling style, with wonderful good
temper—until boxwood would run short.
It was strange to take a last look at the lively, rowdy
scene—the fiddler, the groups of men, the red-hot stove,
the coloured Whisky-dealers' pictures, the brilliant lamplight shining through strong wire masks, the dazzling altar
of the bar—and then to step outside and seek one's boat.
Gee-wiz! but the weather would be cold and fierce sometimes. I would get my boat baled, wait a moment for a
bad gust of wind to pass, and then row, at full strength
perhaps, towards the lantern light aboard the Sonora.
Squalls, lashing, tearing; rain, sleeting, dashing in one's
face; snow maybe; utter darkness; utter winter weather.. . .
But empty pockets and distaste for drink made me
prefer the quiet store to that disorderly hotel for an evening
visit. There we were sedate, sitting on the counter or
on boxes round the stove, engaged for the most part as
listeners to conversations. The latest news from Vancouver
would be heard and debated. Some man fresh from cruising timber on Queen Charlotte Islands might tell about
his trip. Are there two metals, alummium and aluminum ?
—a high debate.
Dave Felton might tell the boys of his approaching
trip back home to Wisconsin, on money made by selling
timber claims last summer; dandy Dave Felton, passing
round a tailor's receipted bill for a hundred-dollar suit of
clothes!   Or the stormy weather and disasters caused might HARD TIMES  COMING
bring us back to our staple subject—logs. Two million
feet of logs had broken loose at the mouth of the Nimpkish
river. " Now I'll just show you the mistake that company
made," says some one, and draws with a piece of chalk
upon the floor. "They had their boom hung across from
here to here. What they oughter have done was to . . ."
Amey, a master logger working some miles up-coast in
Johnstone's Straits (that rough water), came in one evening
fresh from a catastrophe. We heard the simply told story:
Amey's anxiety at the weather; the tug that came to his
aid, too late; the breaking of his boom; the four hundred
logs that floated away to sea ; near two thousand dollars lost
—a sore blow to a small contractor.
A few days after, Dutchie the hand-logger came to seek
a helper. Hundreds of logs had been floating past the
little bay where Dutchie had his boom. He had gone out,
towed in log after log, filled his boom. He had worked
right on for fifty hours, he said, \ until he had dropped
exhausted. He had caught two hundred logs. Then the
weather had got worse, and Dutchie had sat upon a headland watching a wealth of logs that jostled in the sea and
passed to and fro before his bay with the ebb and flow of
the tide.
Then talk would turn, perhaps, upon some recent
accident. I remember M'Carty telling us how the log
had slipped and caught Pete's boot and rolled upon him,
and pushed his body before it down to water; and how
Pete's arm alone stuck up above the surface. "Squashed
he was, flat, like a squashed fruit, from his ribs down,"
said M'Carty sadly. Similar accidents would be recalled,
and then we would talk of the hospital and the mission
ship and its good work; and what was wrong with missionaries; and how set women, and some men, were on
religion—and what a rum thing that was. Then it would
be time for me to light my lantern and go out into the
f 136
rain and row to the Sonora and to bed. Down the harbour
anxious search-lights would be flickering where half-a-dozen
tugs had lain, this week and more, anchored in shelter from
the raging weather in the Straits; tugs moored to huge,
long rafts of logs, watching to steal their way south to
Vancouver sawmills.
On Tuesday and on Friday nights, however, my sleep
would not last long. Perhaps at midnight, perhaps at
two or three o'clock, the siren of the Cassiar would sound
from down the harbour and wake me with its echoes. Then
I would jump from out my blankets, put on my boots, and
light a lantern, and row hurriedly through the darkness
to the warehouse raft to see if Bill was coming" back from
town. Then the glare of the search-light from the Cassiar
would light up all the water, and show the raft and the
hotel and Mitchell's store in turn. Boat-loads of men
would come out from the shore. Soon the Cassiar would
tie up at the raft, opening a big doorway in her side for
the discharge of freight and mail-bags. Passengers would
jump off. Then blankets and bundles would be passed
up, and men would climb aboard, and after a few minutes
the Cassiar would give a toot and loosen her rope and
go off down the bay, Vancouver-wards, while we would
row our boats away, and tie them up, and go to bed again.
Sometimes the Cassiar would take another kind of
passenger. There would be helped aboard, perhaps, a man
limping with a foot all bundled up—chopped by his axe,
most probably. Or a mattress would be lifted in by careful
hands, and on the mattress one would see a man lying
helpless, his broken leg rough-bandaged. Some of these
injured men would have been brought long distances, in
open boats, delayed maybe by stormy weather.
"You bet it ain't no dressmaker's dream, getting hurt
so far away from any doctor," said a man to me once; and
I have known men to avoid the northern camps for that
K *4i£*~-
VSSnIi*     *
very reason. Unpleasant, to get badly hurt, without
antiseptics, bandages, skill or knowledge of the proper
care of wounds, four or five or six days' journey (weather
permitting) from a hospital!
I stood upon the raft one night talking to the purser
of the Cassiar, asking him for news of Bill. The light
streamed on me from the open doorway of the cargo-room,
and I was in the way of people entering. Suddenly some
one behind me called out " Gangway!" meaning that I
should move aside.    A queer thing happened. . . .
There must be tones still in the dulled human voice—
primeval tones, tones used of old by human animals before
the words of speech had come. For example, shouts of
1 Help!" may merely excite your quick attention, or they
may spring you to the rescue, spasm-struck, according
to the tone. There was a tone in that word "Gangway!"
Hearing it, I did not need to look behind me. I knew,
without seeing, what was there! . . .  |
I stepped aside, and watched five men advance to put
some piece of freight aboard the steamer. " Gently!" said
some one ... it was a great big box ... it was the hand-
logger killed the day before in Western Channel, hit by
a falling tree. I remembered, then, that some one had
told me of the accident. A quiet-looking man, cleaned
up for town in rough black woollen clothes, followed the
box on board—the dead man's partner. I fell to wondering
what part of earth that hand-logger had come from, and
whether his relations would ever know that he was dead.
The quiet suddenness, the simpleness of the death of
healthy men!   I had a choke in my throat, rowing home.
\  1 j
HffflP"1*    8HH1
The Sonora lay at Port Browning, Bill still delayed in
town. I had found, in the lagoon behind the islands, an
abandoned log that hand-loggers had cut back in the woods
and worked down to the beach and then had found streaked
with rot—a log worth cutting up for steamer fuel. Forty
feet long it was, and four feet through at the smaller end;
over four thousand feet of board within it; worth, had it
been sound, from five to eight pounds sterling according
to the market price.
On this log I worked daily, in the rain, sawing it into
four-foot lengths. These lengths I had to split into billets;
billets that, stacked upon the beach, were fuel for future
voyages of the Sonora.
Daily, about dark, the rain would come heavier, in
deluge, and gusts of wind would come tearing through the
trees, making a belated worker feel lonesome, making him
think of warmth and dinner. So I would launch the skiff
and row toward the distant lights of the hotel, near which
the Sonora was anchored; the skiff, unwieldy, turning
circles in the wind, blowing across the harbour. Patient
work it was, reaching the Sonora. Then I would persuade
the damaged cook-house stove to burn, to cook a meal,
and go below and bale the steamboat with a bucket
(one hundred bucketfuls), and then find drier clothes and
sit at ease eating and warming myself over the smoking
stove, avoiding as I could the drippings from the leaky
roof.   Sometimes I would have visitors.
I found a strange boat astern one evening when I returned
aboard. In the cabin, wrapped in Bill's blankets, lay a
man, a stranger whose face I half remembered seeing at
the hotel. He was awake, eyeing me, coolly unconcerned
to see me enter; he made my anger rise. But it proved to
be an ordinary matter. The man had felt the horrors
coming on and had fled the hotel, taking refuge on the
Sonora, as far as he could get from whisky. He was, one
might say, oozing with a hysteria that he could just manage
to control; the horrors can seldom get a grip upon these
healthy men. Bromide and a meal or two and quiet were
all he needed: a day or two later he left Port Browning on
his way to work. A case like this, of a kind so often met
with, shows one how decent boarding-houses would abolish
half the harm of drink. Hotels are now the only stopping
places for travelling or idle men; bar-rooms the only places
where they may sit and wait; whisky a distraction that is
simply forced upon them.   A man Has no fair chance.
Another evening, Ed Anderson put his head in at the
cabin door and " chewed the rag" with me awhile, on his
way aboard the ancient, mouldy steamboat Burt, that he
and Smith and Dan Macdonnell had raised from where she
last had sunk (in shallow water). " I don't see that a woman
would be anyways uncomfortable living up in these parts,"
said I, thinking of the problems of my own affairs. | Here's
a feller been writing to me that no decent woman could
live near a logging-camp. He ought to know, because he
lives in a big town called London—not London, Ontario,
but London in the Old Country. There is only decent
women living in them English towns, you know." Ed
grinned; his notion of a town was different. He chewed,
and considered.
" Naw," he said—" naw ! I'll tell you, feller. There's a
rough class of people in this country here—a rough class
of people.   And there's not a one of 'em 'ud fail in respect
\j*i 140
to a lady" (lady=woman; Ed had never heard of class
distinctions). "Not a Blank-Blank One" (emphatically).
I You can't say the same of many classes of men," he reflected.
• •••*•••
One afternoon I saw the little steamer Gipsy come
tearing up the harbour and make a dashing landing at
the warehouse raft, under the critical eyes of the crowd
on the hotel veranda. " Ma" was steering: ma steers and
cooks for pa and Herbert, who hand-log somewhere up Call
Creek and use the Gipsy for towing logs. A jolly little
bandbox of a boat, the Gipsy; 35 feet long, with newish
boiler, steam-pipes the thickness of your little finger, cylinder
that would go inside a large silk hat; bought, a bargain, for
800 dollars. I went aboard that evening, and sat in the
clean living-room of the pilot-house and held discussion with
old M'Kay. One finds it hard to believe that so effective
a worker should be over eighty years of age: wonderful old
man! He was a Canadian volunteer in the American Civil
War; he served in the United States Navy; he came to
the Pacific Coast in '68 and joined some rush for gold in
Cariboo. He gave me anecdotes of a friend of his, a man
named Rhodes, who made four fortunes, and once paid the
public debt of Something County in Oregon (a matter of
160,000 dollars), and died in a poorhouse somewhere in
Washington; the Governor of Oregon coming in person to
fetch away the corpse for honourable burial. Then he talked
of hard times he had seen, and hard times coming now.
This winter would be the worst time the Coast had ever
seen, he said. Most of us at Port Browning were of old
M'Kay's opinion; the news from Vancouver kept getting
worse and worse. I felt the situation must be very serious,
for Bill was still in town, trying to get money. He did not
even write to me.
What on earth would Carter be thinking, up at the camp ?
Three weeks ago the cook-house had been short of grub, and LIVING ON  THE  "SONORA"      141
Carter had expected us to return within a week, bringing
a new supply. Unless the boys had had good luck in
shooting deer and goat, the camp would be starved out by
now. So every time I saw a rowboat rounding the far
point of shore outside Port Browning I would stop work
and watch—to see if it was Carter coming, in fury at the
Sonora's delay. . . .
One day a boat came into sight—several men in her,
one man baling. It was our rowboat, come from Carter's
camp; it made a bee-line, hurrying to the hotel. That
evening Ben Morris came aboard the Sonora, finding me at
my supper. He gave me the news from camp. " We came
down the Inlet just a-whizzing," he said (his breath a form
of whisky), "howling north wind behind us; showed it a
foot of our sail; had to take shelter once or twice. Say!
Mart! Carter is talking pretty free about you fellows.
What'yer been doing, staying here so long? Carter's near
starved out. Fitz and me and most of the other boys kind
of got weary of that ruddy country up there. Wish we'd
known times was getting so bad on the Coast; wish we'd
stayed at Carter's camp, now! Well, guess I must be getting
back to the ho-tel. Fitz is good and drunk and gone to bed;
most of the other boys are pretty full. There's a card game
on and lots of boose.   Come along!   Well, good-night!"
When Fitz and Ben Morris had sobered up I invited
them to live on board the Sonora, Fitz being a great friend
of mine. One night Ben came home late, after we had gone
to bed. We heard him tie his boat astern. Then he opened
the cabin door noisily and began to stumble down the steps.
He was 1 good and drunk." Fitz felt that my hospitality was
being abused; an old grudge, besides, began to rankle.
Without inquiry, without remonstrance, without asking or
provoking the least word from Ben, Fitz, from his bunk
in the black darkness of the cabin, of a sudden began to
talk.   At the first word Ben stiffened and ceased to move, SHI   ■HfiSBBBHBi
listening; there was something worth listening to. It was
not rhetoric, nor violence of swear-words, nor abuse. It was
just the miracle of a plain man inspired (by some happy
chance) to tell in simple words his very thoughts. Fitz
spoke slowly, reflectively, in an easy, subdued voice. He
sketched Ben's character; he weighed Ben's moral worth,
and found it a poor thing, wanting. As for the actions of
a hobo like Ben, they were naturally those proper to inferior
men. . . . Fitz had been saddened by the knowledge that
a man like Ben lived in his logging country. I lay awake;
I would have given anything to have had that speech in
writing. It was of the very essence of true oratory: simple,
elegant, unanswerable.
He ceased to talk and there was silence—a long silence.
Then the staggered Ben pulled himself together and jumped
outside the dark cabin. He had been stunned by what had
been said, by what had been implied. The reaction was
furious; he shrieked:
" You ! you ! you ! come outside here and
fight." §      S |||
He used the unpardonable expression that is in itself a
command to " scrap."   I thought it time to awake.
"Hullo, Ben," said I, yawning loud and stretching,
"what's up?" My friendly tone stopped him a little.
"G'wan," said Fitz, "g'home and go to bed." Ben howled
again, " come and fight" the song. " G'wan and be ashamed,"
said Fitz, and rolled over to his sleep.
Ben rowed ashore, and then returned to shriek insults
from his rowboat, and rowed ashore again and shouted from
the beach, hysterical.   We laughed till we were weary.
"This comes from being good to that sort of dirt,"
moralised my friend; " he's been treated good both by you
and me, and he comes here and acts like that." So good-
tempered is Fitz where many another man would have
given way, weakly, to silly violence. CHAPTER XXIII
I awoke one morning to a sound of swearing, and looking
out, I saw the Prospector. A shanty, you might call it,
built upon a sail-boat hull; a steamboat, now, some
twenty-five feet long. Engines and bark fuel and drunken
Swedish captain were stacked inside the shanty; but my
old acquaintance Jim leaned from the door and gripped
the bulwark of the Sonora.
"Give us some packing for the engines, Mart," he
whined tenderly; "we're getting this'yer steamer ready for
sea. Sold her to an Australian feller this morning for a
hundred dollars.   You might oblige us, Mart!"
Jim, I know not why, was sober. . . .
The big sloop motor-boat from Hanson Island Hotel
was lying by the warehouse raft. I watched her as I
cooked my breakfast; she seemed in difficulties. There
was water in her cylinders, I heard, after breakfast, when
her engineer rowed over to ask my aid. Fifty dollars he
offered if I would tow his boat home with the Sonora, an
easy day's work, he said.
"Fourteen miles' towing, the labour of getting fuel,
fourteen miles' return trip in the dark," I said; "and I
suppose you know my knowledge of steam is about four
weeks old ?"
" Why, that's all right," he said, smiling at my amiable
So I took on the job, and got up steam. A young man
from the sloop came aboard to steer for me.   We hoisted
143 W i!
anchor and steamed up the harbour to where our tow
awaited us. We took the sloop right square amidships,
and dented in a plank—luckily above the water-line. My
young steersman observed the scene with so great a calmness that I thought good to take the wheel myself, for
the journey; and I rowed ashore and hired the still sober
Jim to run the engines in my place. Jim had once
worked aboard the Sonora, and knew the weak places in
her machinery. Besides, he was the only engineer that I
could find. . . .
We made our tow successfully; we tied the Sonora to
the Hanson Island landing-stage. Jim went ashore to get
a meal. It was about three of the afternoon. I was desperately anxious to get through the narrow place in
Western Channel before dark, on our return journey to
Port Browning. So I fell feverishly to searching along
the rocky shore; chopping tree limbs, splitting driftwood,
chipping bark off logs—anything for fuel! At last, weary
and furious, I went to see what Jim was doing. I found
him in a crowded room, talking and waiting for his meal.
He excused his idleness in a wheedling voice: " I'm faint
with hunger, boy! I'll help you by-and-by. Just you
wait till I've had something to eat, Mart! There ain't no
hurry anyway." He showed his Cockney origin. As I left
the room, the Dohertys and Ed Anderson made true
apologies. They were coming with me to Port Browning
on the Sonora, they said, and they knew they ought to
be helping to get wood, but until they had had their
supper they felt too weak to work. They had rowed,
down the Inlet, thirty miles since breakfast.
Now working in mines and logging-camps out West, a
man will slowly learn a sort of tacit etiquette that Western
working-men observe, often, one to the other. In the
logger, for example, you may discover some punctilio—
punctilio that one never hears defined in words.   Listen to
a logger yarning, telling about some episode in some man's
life. At any moment you may be puzzled by some touch
of the quaint, the unexpected, in the way the man is said
to have acted; something you fail to see sufficient reason
for in the story. Question the man who tells the yarn,
and you learn, from his surprise, that actions that strike
you as strangely unnecessary have been related by him
with unconscious gusto.
Take, for a poor example, something I heard about a
man named Groves. Groves hired on as "second faller"
to work at Jenkins' camp, and Jenkins put him to fell
timber with Finnerty. Next day Finnerty walked into the
office, asked for "his time," was paid off, left. Jenkins
took no interest in this matter of routine. He put Groves
with Oregon. Next day Oregon sloped into the office,
asked for his time, was paid off. Curiosity overcame the
good manners of the boss. "Why on earth are you
quitting, Oregon ?" he asked. You *may imagine Oregon
looking at him with lack-lustre eyes, listless and bored by
Jenkins and his question. He drawled, "Oh, well, guess
I'm going to town." Then Jenkins put Groves with
Simmons and hid near where the pair were working. He
watched them pulling the great long falling-saw to and
fro, to and fro, as they stood, high in air, on narrow springboards projecting from the tree. And then he saw that
Simmons was mad with the man Groves, whose heavy
hands were making the saw pull hard, who was turning
work to drudgery, who was spoiling the record, hurting
the jaunty vanity, of a swift and clever "faller." Then
Jenkins understood why the other men had gone away,
and in a dim way I understand it, too, myself; but I
have hinted at the reasons with a crude lack of subtlety.
That afternoon at Hanson Island I burned with fury
as I observed similar punctilios of rigid self-respect. Jim
should have been helping me, getting wood.    He sat idle
in the hotel instead. I could resort to violence, you say.
Who, then, would help me engineer the Sonora ? Short of
violence I should figure undignified, weakly querulous,
should I upbraid a fellow-worker with not doing his "fair
share of work." Decency prescribed my only course of
action. I must do Jim's share of work for him, let him
find it done, heap coals of fire silently upon his vanity;
act the perfect logger—with utter foolishness. For beery
Jim had long since lost his vanity.
So it happened that my fuel was put aboard and
stacked in the Sonora's engine-room, that steam was up
to 80 lbs. and squirting from every usual joint, and that
the Sonora was cast loose and ready to put out before Jim
and the Dohertys and Ed Anderson, and a following of
other men, came aboard. Then I pushed off with a pole,
jangled the engine-room bell, and away we went, jinketty-
jonk, into the blackness of the night. . . .
I opened all the pilot-house windows and leaned out
as I steered, straining to glimpse the line where the black
shore slopes and their black shadows met. Steering down
Western Channel in the dark used to make me sweat all
down my back with apprehension. For I have no proper
Western confidence to make me oblivious of my lack of
skill; and, if you wish to know, a long old tug-boat may
be by no means easy to steer, in pitch darkness, in a
swirling tide in a channel that narrows appallingly near
Low Island, where Jimmy Hill once rammed us on the
rocks. Suppose, after a dozen indecisions, you gain a
hope that your course is keeping midway down the
channel. You pay attention to where the steamer's bow
is going. Then with a start you find the stern is swinging
near that shallow place on the starboard bank that shows
up slightly whitish against the forest background. Next
you think yourself at the proper safe distance from the
starboard bank, and   suddenly  the   tide   swings   you, in VOYAGING BETWEEN  HOTELS     147
appearance, nearly aground upon the port. Oh, horrible
channel! wherein you can see nothing safe but the shine
of the water near around the bows; wherein all else is
blackness: blackness that looks like shadow but proves
solid—hills and shore; blackness that looks solid but that
of a sudden flits away over the water and joins the blackness, and then comes solid back again elsewhere—shadows
on the sea surface. Which is which, and Where are you,
and what room have you to swing ? You wish you had a
lantern hung from the bow near water, to shine up the
passing shores and give you certainty.
Some such thoughts were in my head as we went
down Western Channel, nearing the narrow place. And
then I realised our passengers.
Any man could travel on the Sonora going to wherever
we were going to ourselves; Bill and I would never mind.
But we used to avoid making trips from one hotel to
the other, lest many drunks should come aboard. Drunks
are a nuisance on a boat.
Now, as I steered, bottles were poked at me in the
darkness and friendly voices insisted that I should drink.
Five men were sitting in the pilot-house; all had bottles,
all were fairly drunk. One man stood beside me and
was sober. He discussed the channel, the darkness, the
difficulties of my task of steering. He breathed of the
desire to take the wheel himself. His name was Charlie
Ross. Through the partition I could listen to the noises
of my engineer at work; he seemed still on the hither
side of drunkenness. Aft I could hear shouting and
happy babel. Men, I imagined, filled the cook-house and
the cabin.    I trembled for my blankets.
Soon we were in the narrow place, and I craned and
used the corners of my eyes, and spun the wheel, watching
the swing of the stern, watching the bows, watching the •sUsl H •mi',VBWM*jBfe I
unseen line of shore. At my elbow Charlie Boss was
agitated; he craned and watched, and startled me with
what he saw. He gave me advice; he became importunate
that I should do the right thing that he said; at last he
snapped, "For God's sake poet!" and placed his hand
upon my sleeve — the gesture of a clergyman reproving
erring youth.
Now I was ruffled, because I had had enough of that
sort of thing on my first two trips, and because I lack
the gift of discouraging impertinence by a right manner.
So, there being room, I spun the wheel for starboard,
hard, to sicken Charlie Ross. I let my elbow catch him
in the ribs—by way of accident and hint, lest I should
have to fall upon him. There was a queer noise; the wheel
turned slack.   The starboard steering gear had broken. . . .
Luckily the briskness of the wind had gone, there was
but little breeze; luckily, too, we could run out into the
widening channel, steering with the unbroken gear to port.
Out there I stopped the engines, and we drifted, amid black
shadow—to a noise of singing from the cabin aft. . . .
We were so used to accidents on the Sonora that no
one seemed to take much interest in our plight. The most
of us, drunk or semi-sober, had a restful feeling that something would be done by somebody to get the steamer safely
to Port Browning; and even should she bump her rotten
self on rocks and sink, that every one would scramble ashore
somehow and somewhere.   Why worry—take a drink!
Passing aft with Charlie Ross, I saw into the engine-
room, where, amid the scattered fragments of our fuel supply,
two men lay warming themselves by the furnace, their hats
jammed low upon their noses, their hands waving before
each other's faces, in drowsy, guttural debate. Passing the
cook-house, I saw the soles of boots upright upon the door-
sill. Lying upon the thrown-down plates and pans and
kitchen outfit, the man who wore them snored convulsively,
his head turned to one side. I reached in and took his
broken lantern and threw it overboard, then walked aft to
the cabin. It was filled with men, some sleeping (one
rolled, the swine! in my blankets), some sitting on the
berths, legs dangling, watching Ed and Billy Doherty, who
were holding a lantern through a trap-door in the floor to
light the cursing Jim below. Jim was the only man aboard
who knew, off-hand, where to find the break; by luck, he
felt alarm, drink notwithstanding, and showed us what was
wrong. We tied up the break with some one's blanket rope.
So, soon after midnight, we rather lamely made our
way to anchorage at Port Browning; Jim, in the engine-
room, cursing noisily because I took away the tins of lantern
oil with which he had begun to feed the furnace. You
may imagine, if you like, my feelings as I steered those
last few miles, racing against Time. Our fuel was burnt
to the last stick; our engineer was at the last gasp of
consciousness before our voyage was over. The anchor
dropped, I helped to throw dead-drunks into a rowboat;
I said .good-night to other men; and then I was alone,
looking with rueful eyes into my smashed-up kitchen.
Never again should drunks be let travel on the Sonora,
I said, and fell to nursing my uneasy vanity, dissatisfied
with the figure I myself had cut among that drunken
crowd. You note, perhaps, the limitations of my character
displayed so artlessly before your reading eyes. You smile
at what you see. And what would you have done yourself ?
Used the hard fist ? Tipped some one overboard ? Brought
violence among that happy, rowdy crowd of drunks ? CHAPTER XXIV
Dan Macdonnell was a quiet, steady man; big-chested,
active, cheerful, like the better sort of bluejacket. He was
a master of the Western art of makeshift—the art of
rough-and-ready and never-at-a-loss—that does not worry
if the proper tools are lacking; that will at need make,
without fuss, bricks without straw; improvising the "good-
enough " that proves to be good enough. When bad times
made Ellerson shut down his camp, Dan (who had been
blacksmith there) <Jrew a fat cheque and moved over to
Port Browning and lived in the hotel. He did not booze;
he did not waste his money. Once in a while he would
join the boys for a few drinks; but no one ever saw Dan
drunk. Not that he was anyways a mean man, you understand.   All that was just Dan's way.
Now, the previous summer a decrepit old steamboat
named the Burt had ventured up the Inlet. The men
who owned her meant to hand-log up round Tooya Cove,
using the Burt each night to tow their new-cut logs to
shelter. But the Burt went aground the first night at
high tide, and tipped over at low, and filled and sank when
the next tide came. They had a great job raising her,
and all their grub was spoiled by the sea-water, and so
they gave up hand-logging and left the district, losing
about one thousand dollars. The Burt was left anchored
in Port Browning in charge of Bullfrog Todd. Todd got
drunk one day. The Burt tipped and sank again, just
opposite the hotel,
Ed Anderson was loafing at Port Browning then. He
did not seek work; he had no money; but there was a
boom of logs up in Wah-shi-las Bay in which he had an
interest. It was not saleable in these hard times; but it
gave him standing, and he could trade upon the fact of
its existence—for meals and liquor. Wise-looking, ease-
loving, experienced Ed Anderson!
Bullfrog Todd when sober made furious lamentation,
finding the Burt had sunk. He preached one of his great
sermons, standing on a chair in the bar-room, amid an
uproar of applause. "I blame myself, I blame the drink,
I blame this blank-blank whisky-hell," he chose as text,
and made one feel that politics had lost in losing Todd.
Sprawling, fat, noisy, drunken Bullfrog Todd! They say
he is a splendid engineer.
I do not know what queer intentions brought the three
men together—Dan and Ed and Bullfrog Todd. I know
they joined, a company, in raising the sunken Burt. They
floated her successfully; they cleaned out her machinery.
Soon I was annoyed to see them cutting up a log I had
meant to use myself; they were getting fuel for a voyage
on board the Burt. Dan Macdonnell had bought the
necessary grub and engine-room supplies. The Burt was
to be taken cruising round the Islands and in the Straits,
picking up and towing floating logs—beach-combing.
One day I got up steam on board the Sonora and (a
friend steering) took her down the harbour to a little creek
where steamboats often go to fill their tanks. Late in the
afternoon there came a sudden mist, filling Port Browning.
We crept back cautiously to the usual anchorage, shadows
guiding us. Just before I meant to stop the engines something in them clicked and broke. We anchored then.
Early next morning I went to where the Burt was anchored
to seek the help of Bullfrog Todd. He, it seems, had
been on a furious " bust"; he was all drink-bleary and tsa
a .. h
haggard, his hands shaking. But he came and saw my
engines. " Get a blacksmith," he advised. " Who'll I get ?"
said I. "Dan Macdonnell's your man," said Todd; and I
rowed him back aboard the Burt.
Now it is not difficult to find a man you want to See
in such a place as Port Browning. You try the bar-room
first, then take a look around the rocks near the hotel,
then look at faces in the beds upstairs. That failing, you
row over to the store and make inquiry. Your man not
being there, you row across to Felton's shack, and stop
at Ben the Englishman's, and then row up to Pete's.
I did all this. I did not find my man. Dan Macdonnell
was not at Port Browning! Then where the deuce was
he? . . .
Later that morning my friend Mitchell, the owner of the
store, came rowing up to where I worked. " Come and row
down the harbour with me," he shouted. " Charlie Leigh's
gasoline1 came in just now, and Charlie says he could see
a boat ashore below the bluffs. He thinks it's some boat
that's drifted there."
Mitchell was a man who felt responsibility, as our leading
citizen and postmaster. Moreover, in this case it was clear
that some one would have to go and rescue the stranded
boat and keep it till the owner should appear. So I and
Mitchell rowed down the harbour to the place that Charlie
Leigh had spoken of. There we found, at high-tide mark,
just underneath the boughs of trees, resting comfortably
among the rocks, undamaged—the rowboat of the Burt!
And Dan Macdonnell no one ever saw again. He had
dropped, that sturdy man, into infinity; he had vanished
from our world. You see his name before you on this page.
That is now all I know of that Dan has left behind.
Just for the moment, when Mitchell and I returned to
1 Motor-boat. DAN MACDONNELL
the hotel, Dan's disappearance roused a general interest.
Jem the bar-tender, good-hearted little man, at once took
out a search party, and cross-examined Ed and Todd.
Mitchell went over to his store and wrote a letter to
Vancouver to the police; he hoped they would send some
one, some time, to Port Browning to report. Then we had
our dinner, long after it was due. .  .  .
We had to hurry over eating; darkness was not far
off, and we had certain work to do. For there was a
pig upon the warehouse raft, in a big cage. The steamer
Cassiar had left it there for Revellor, who had a ranche
on Galiano Island. The wretched pig was getting
sick for want of exercise, and Mitchell, after dinner,
asked some men from the hotel to help him raft the
huge fat animal ashore. So there was great shouting—
and fun. Side-splitting laughter shook us when a man,
old Spot, fell in the sea and stood waist-deep, too drunk
to get ashore. The pig was landed and all the dogs
collected, and there was a pig-hunt and several dogfights.. Mitchell of course put up the drinks for every one,
by way of thanks for their assistance. Then we watched
the boys rollicking along the beach and round the house—
a lively scene. Mitchell stood silent; then suddenly he
said to me, " He was a damned decent fellow." It was, I
guessed, Dan's epitaph. ill
The wind seemed very fickle as we wound our way among
the islets of the narrow channel; it came in flaws and
gusts, from here, from there; cutting the tops of wavelets
into small driving showers of spray, rattling the broken
windows of the pilot-house. We knew a strong sou-'easter
must be blowing down the open Inlet.
Bill came up to discuss plans. The engines were working good, he said; there was lots of wood aboard; we had
the big skiff towing astern, and not the rotten rowboat. The
skiff was buoyant and did not leak. Besides, our new way
of towing her, with the Sonora's hawser (as thick as a man's
arm) looped right round under her keel and lashed with
good strong rope, would guarantee her safety. Therefore,
Bill thought, we should pay no attention to the weather.
It was dark before we turned into the Inlet, from the
end of Western Channel. We caught the first shock of
wave. We began to pitch. Fortunately our course was
head-on to the sea.
Coming further from behind the land, we met the wind—
real sou-'easter and no mistake. The Sonora bumped and
bashed into the waves, rude horseplay for a poor old tug.
Spray smashed at the pilot-house and drenched me, as I
steered, through the shattered windows. There was a high,
whining noise of wind in the ropes that stayed the tall funnel •
we might, for the sound of it, have been an ocean liner.
Through the thin partition behind me I could hear the
babel-racket from the engine-room, where Bill was tinkering
- —-
•^tm, ^A LAST VOYAGE  OF THE  "SONORA"   155
with fevered hands, his dear machines all a-rattle and
a-bump.   Slam, jingle, clank!
There would be a moment's breathless pause. Then the
screw would race—the whole, ship shivering, to set your
teeth on edge. Then there would be a noise of fire-rake,
and Bill could be heard hurling wood into the furnace. The
hurried way he would slam the furnace doors told me everything. I could picture him, sweating with a very proper
impatience, flying back to nurse his engines with a spanner;
listening to mutterings and hammerings with discriminating
ear; tightening nuts that were coming loose; keeping a
wary eye on this and that; persuading the time-eaten
machinery to miracles of cohesion.
The skiff, towing behind in the darkness, could take its
chance! I could not leave the wheel; Bill could not leave
the engine-room. We could do no good to the skiff, anyway, in such a sea. The hawser would hold, even were the
skiff to swamp; and after passing the mouth of Sergeant's
Passage, where the tide rip danced with high-pointed waves,
the sea had come steadily from ahead, and a following
boat was in some shelter.
About two in the morning Bill came into the pilot-house.
| Nice weather for a rowboat trip!" We grinned to one
another in the darkness.
"Nice weather for us," said Bill resentfully; "here we
aren't up to Boulder Point yet—not ten miles in eight
hours! I've got to be firing all the time to keep up any
steam; we've used up a terrible lot of wood. We ain't got
enough wood to go on bucking this wind up to Sallie Point;
that's sure."
Now, in this sou-'east wind Boulder Point anchorage was
no earthly use to us. We hated to turn back and run for
Protection Point. Bill said Andy Home had told him once
that there was anchorage in a little pocket of a bay that you
would hardly notice, passing, just beyond Boulder Point. 156       WOODSMEN  OF  THE  WEST
We decided to go and see—a hateful job to me, for I
loathed strange harbours and narrow waters. The Sonora
was such a brute to steer, and, backing, would not answer
her helm.   Besides, her captain was not skilful.
We reached the place; we had luck; we sidled into
the very centre of the tiny dark bay. The anchor held;
there was no wind.
It was five o'clock on Wednesday morning. We had
been a-work since Sunday morning, sleeping four hours
on Monday night, while sleepy passengers had steered and
stoked. Now we stumbled into the Sonora's bunk-house,
by a last effort removed our boots, and fell into our
blankets.    Sleep extinguished us. . . .
We awoke some time in the afternoon. The Sonora
was riding close to shore—so close that we might have
thrown our axes into the mossy rocks. Splintered wood,
in tangles, lay among the big drift-logs on the narrow
beach; and we marked a fallen tree with bark that looked
easy to loosen; and there was a pile of rejected stove wood
beside a roofless cabin. Hand-loggers or trappers must
have lived there once. After eating we made two journeys
with the skiff, filling her each time with a great load of
wood and bark. We looked out on the Inlet, and the
wind seemed no longer so furious. About nightfall we
hoisted anchor, backed our way zigzag to the open sea,
and continued our voyage.
The wind was blowing steady, no trouble to us. But
alas! something very definite was wrong with the engines.
Something pounded—pounded hard—something that was
not used to pound before. We knew so many rhythms,
so many notes of the music of our engine-room. This
sound, oh hark! was new.
Bill slowed the engines down: we crawled along hour
after hour, with frequent stops to test the usefulness of
some new idea, some way of dealing with the damaged
: &
E§ n<
engine. So it happened that daylight had come, long
since, before we saw the head of the Inlet and ran to
our usual anchorage, a mile below the camp. We took
our usual soundings; held the Sonora on and off, until we
had found the exact edge of the I drop-off"—where the river
flats of the Kleen-a-Kleen go steep to the Inlet's bottom.
We dropped our anchor and tested its hold. Anchoring at the head of the Inlet was quite an affair! . . .
Bill, by now, had guessed the cause of the pounding
in our engines. A key, a sort of little metal wedge that
should have been jammed tight into an iron casting, had
got worn and loose. We spent a day in taking the engines
to pieces, in carrying the casting and its companion piece
up to the blacksmith shop at the camp, and in forging
and fitting a new and excellent key. Bill it was who
gave the finishing stroke to the job. He drove the key
home with such enthusiasm that the priceless casting
broke. The Sonora, for all purposes of movement upon
the Inlet, was now a useless log upon the water! There
we were at our camp with a broken-down steamboat, the
boat with which we kept open communication with the
world. Port Browning was over seventy miles away; a
new casting could only be bought in Vancouver. As for
the old one, it was doubtful if our tools could mend it.
Like two guilty schoolboys, we wondered what Carter
would say.
By supper-time, however, the weather occupied all men's
thoughts. It was snowing in very clouds when the wind
began to blow from down the Inlet, gusty and fierce;
blowing, an unusual thing, into our little bay. Carter
was uneasy, for his logs. Indeed, there was risk of loss;
waves were breaking in spray all along the edge of the
boom, thrusting the line of logs about, straining the boom-
chains. Within, the carpet of floating logs heaved up
and down upon the swell.    The camp buildings, on these
ass Tff
rafts, swung to the movement. They cracked; we thought
they might slew over and collapse. Our rowboat, tied
outside the boom, could be seen in the breaking waves
that banged it against the chain of outer logs. I watched
to see it smash. But Bill did not. He went walking
over the heaving, grinding logs with elegant balance,
sprang into the boat, and rowed it away to shelter; an
action that, to look at, seemed of some merit. Soon after
Bill's return the squalls ceased suddenly and the night
fell calm. . . .
Next morning all hands were working ashore, on the
rigging. Carter was desperate, as usual. " Them logs must
be got out before more snow comes," he trumpeted.
So he took Bill up the hillside to work signals for
him; and me he put to split wood and act as fireman to
the donkey-engine on the beach. Thus it happened that
I worked all day in sight of the Sonora. She lay much
nearer to the shore than she ought to have done, closer
than we had anchored her. Evidently the storm of the
previous evening had made her drag anchor. But Bill
and Carter reckoned she was all right, good enough. "No
time to bother with her to-day," said Carter; "we got
to get them logs out right now." So the Sonora lay at
her new anchorage all day; and at dark I saw her still
there. . . .
After supper Bill went down to see if the Sonora
wanted baling. Carter and I sat in the office. He was at
peace. He planned new buildings. I did the "figuring,"
calculating quantities of planking needed, and the expense,
and calling my results.   It was, by-the-bye, Christmas Eve.
Bill came in, shut the door, and sat himself wearily
by the stove. Carter and I went on with Carter's amusement.   There came a pause.
"Well, there's another two thousand dollars gone to
hell," remarked Bill. LAST VOYAGE  OF  THE  "SONORA"   159
Carter started. "What's that?" he said, his eyes swift,
glaring at Bill.
"She's gone," said Bill, and chewed his quid.
There was silence—silence for minutes and minutes.
Poor fellow! Crass and "wicked" as Carter might be,
here he was, sore-stricken by bitter Fate.    Bill too!
Figure the case of these two men who, by years of
exhausting effort, by denial of pleasure, disregard of comfort, had won their way out of the ranks of thriftless
wage-men. They had become men of substance; possessors
of a small sufficient fortune; winners of success; employers
of others. All had been gathered by them in fields that
disaster hedged. They had laboured and succeeded and
had thought themselves secure. Soon they would have
had each his joy: Carter, some business in which men
buy and sell; Bill, a little, well-stocked ranche, safety, and
But the cold wind of hard times—the hardest ever
known upon the Coast—had blown upon them. Their
fortune, of a sudden, had shrivelled in the cold. And then
came, oh malicious Fate! the loss of the Sonora, interfering
with their work, spoiling their plans. They had no ready
money: no fault of theirs. Money seemed to have vanished
from all the Coast. Here had been the Sonora, a ready,
useful asset; an easy thing to borrow money on—and
there might be desperate need of borrowed money, to
avert the loss of all. Besides, the Sonora meant two
thousand dollars of hard-earned money.     Hard earned!
Carter, who had " beaten his brains out" getting logs
off that disheartening side-hill! Carter, cursed of every
man who had felt his oppressions—for this 3 . . . We sat
in the office, silent. There was no noise in the world
outside. Only the quiet murmur of men talking in the
bunk-house came to us.
Then Carter spoke.
ISi 160
'   HI
"I knowed we oughter have taken her up the slough,"
he said.
Allen chewed.
Carter said: " She can't He in very deep water."
Then Carter got his idea.
"We might take the donkey-engine down the beach,"
he said reflectively, "and take the main-line and tangle
it round the boat . . . then haul her to shore . . . under
water. . . ."
He fell to considering the details of plans.
It was admirably met, I thought—that vicious stroke
of fortune.   I said so to Bill.
He looked up with sudden surprise.
" Why ?" he said—" why ? What's the use of worrying
when a thing has happened ?"
I guess he was right. I lost two pairs of boots and
an axe in that damned steamer myself.
L>-   ^i V     - CHAPTER  XXVI
After the first surprise and burst of talk the evening in
the bunk-house became like any other evening. We men
kept a big fire in the stove, and hung up our boots
and turned our drying clothes; and lay, between whiles,
in our bunks smoking and spitting and thinking. The
only difference was that Carter and Allen came and sat
with us in the bunk-house, and in their presence our
manner was subdued to show sympathy; for we were sorry
for them in a tepid sort of way, and we had not lost
many things ourselves in the sunken steamer. And so
the evening passed—Christmas Eve, if you please, beloved
of magazine story-writers for the dramatic things that
happen upon it.
When the Chinaman's gong went for breakfast next
morning Carter went out and took a look at the weather.
It was snowing fairly hard; we wondered whether Carter
would want us to work or not. But the loss of the steamer
must have taken starch out of his spirit, for he ate breakfast slowly and then returned to the warmth of bunk-house,
and made no sign of work. Allen and others of us took
the rowboat and went down the coast to the Sonora's usual
anchorage, and prodded for her in the water with a pole;
a vain, dispiriting occupation in falling snow, on Christmas
Day, with its faint suggestion of holiday. Even Allen lost
interest after a while and turned the boat towards camp.
We passed the rest of the day loafing in the bunk-house,
contented to be warm and in shelter from the snow.
It was after supper before Carter's mind began to work.
He fell to figuring how much grub he needed to finish
the logging of the claim, and how he could get it up the
Inlet now that the steamboat was not running. Flour
and bacon and other things would add up to one thousand
pounds in weight, he concluded, and he lay back upon
his bunk silent awhile—and I saw his decision was made.
Then he began talking to himself, to be overheard; a long,
rambling talk that would bring up now at this point—the
need for grub—and now at that—the grub lying ready at
Port Browning, eighty miles away. Then he would deal
with other matters, fluting variations on the tune. He would
stop now and then and hold debate with himself, shrewdly,
carefully. But always he would come back to the two
subjects—the grub for the camp that must be got, the
grub at Port Browning that could be got. Then he fell
to praising the Inlet: how fools exaggerate; how the Inlet
was far from being a son of a dog of a place; how suited
it was, after all, to voyages in a rowboat. He himself had
once made the trip to Port Browning in twenty-four hours;
and it made no difference even supposing the trip had been
made in summer and with a fair summer wind. A trip
in winter weather might take a longer time, but what of
that? The Inlet was all right; he was only sorry that
being obliged to look after the work at the camp prevented
him from going down to fetch that grub himself—in a
rowboat. He would do that. He would think nothing
of a little trip like that. Yah! who but a frightened fool
would think anything of it ?
All this, of course, was aimed either at Bill or at me.
Bill was plainly the more useful man at the camp. My
heart went into my boots as I realised that I was the person
who was to make that rowboat trip to Port Browning by
himself. I hate isolation. To set out alone on a long trip
makes me feel like the small child who, lingering behind, CHRISTMAS DAY
screams from fear of being abandoned; or like the squadron
horse, on scouting work, that frets to get back to the other
horses. Nearly always, in rough journeys, one has a companion, a partner; and a partner means safety and cheerfulness and the surety of proper camps and fires and meals.
A lonely man, panting to get to his journey's end, pushes
on too hard, tires himself, travels too late into the falling
dusk, and is exhausted as he makes camp. Making camp
by oneself in bad weather, in a bad country, is a dismal
thing to look forward to. As Carter talked my mind pictured,
in nightmare hues, the upper reaches of the Inlet: the
gloomy lowering roof of clouds, hanging across the water;
the steep-to shores, black walls of cliff streaked and splashed
with dreary whiteness of snow; the dark, quiet sea; and
the ever-present threat of storm, a threat almost visible to
the eyes in that scene of misery. That was the Inlet at
peace—unstable peace—the peace of a few short hours.
Then there was the Inlet disturbed j the cloud mass dragging
past the mountain slopes, tailing wisps of mist; the sea
all ridged with the white tops of waves in the path of a
wind slanting from cliff to cliff across the bends of the
Inlet. How depressing the thought of pulling a heavy
boat with tired muscles; vainly seeking shelter from the
swell of the sea in curve after curve of the rocky shore.
And darkness coming on, perhaps, and no sign of an anchorage for the boat, and no sign of dry wood or camping
11 suppose you'll want me to go ?" I asked Carter at last,
meeting the inevitable with what grace I could. Carter
gave, as it were, a start of surprise.
1 Well, now," he said, " that's quite an idea! I hadn't
thought of sending anybody. I wouldn't have liked to
have asked you, boy; it's kind of a tough trip to ask a man
to take in winter." And he began hurriedly to make my
arrangements, keeping me on the run, so to speak, showing
<il 164
how easily every difficulty that occurred to me could be
overcome or ignored.
"Keep moving night and day; never stop while the
weather holds good," said Carter. I thought of that sodden
log of an eighteen-foot boat, so heavy to pull. Oh, the
weary hours of rowing! Keep a-moving indeed! " What
bothers me is how I'm going to keep that boat safe at nights
if I have to stop," said I; " she's too heavy to haul up, and
there's dam few places anyway where a boat can be hauled
up." The rise and fall of the tide is fifteen feet on the
"Wait till high tide and haul her what you can, and
then sleep till the tide comes up to her again," said Carter.
" If there ain't no beach, anchor and sleep in her." Delightful thought! Sleeping in wet clothes across the thwarts of
a leaking boat; rising to bale her every hour or so; creeping
into wet blankets beneath a dripping sailcloth; kicking
aching cold feet against the kitchen box to warm them;
eating meals of sodden bread, cold to the stomach. Ugh!
The wait-for-the-tide scheme for me, in spite of the delays
it would mean!
" That boat leaks like a sieve; she wants fixing," I said.
"Fixing! Why, I put some new planks in her last
month," said Carter; " she's no business to leak. What do
I fix a boat for if you men are going to knock her all to
pieces? That boat is all right." Carter had never been
in her; he spoke with conviction.
" When that thousand pounds of freight is in her she'll
be down in the water, to her top board," said I; " how about
bad weather ? how about a small breeze ?"
" You'll just have to lay up when there's any wind, that's
all," said Carter; " you'll have to wait for calm weather.
Never get it ? Don't you believe that. I don't care if it
is only calm once in every few days, for a few hours. Take
your time, boy.   Take two weeks, three weeks.   I don't care
t3».      ^S» n
if it takes you a month. Just work your way up little by
little." '*;:
" That freight will get all spoiled, lying in an open boat
for weeks; what with water leaking in, and waves splashing
in, and rain and snow," said I.
"Well, it's your business to see it isn't spoiled," said
Carter; " that's what I'm sending you for. You'll have to
take all that freight ashore every time you stop, and pile it
good and keep it well covered. And you'll have to keep the
boat well baled."
I must confess I felt like telling Carter that he could go
and fetch his own damned freight, and that I would see him
in hell before I would do it.    But I said nothing.
Shall I tell you that I was a little sorry for Carter and
Allen struggling in the wreck of their hard-earned fortunes;
or shall I say that I did not like to disoblige Carter ? Or
shall I be franker and tell of more serious motives: that I
did not like to appear scared of that beastly trip, and that,
not knowing the thoughts of other men, I was dead afraid
that, should I protest or ask for a companion, Carter might
get some other man to go and triumph over my mortified
vanity ? The journey down the Inlet in an empty boat was
no great matter. How could I tell but that the return
journey, heavy laden, might not appear an affair of easy
achievement to some other man in the camp. Such a
journey in summer would give one small anxiety. Was
not my courage depressed by the mere wintry appearance
of things? That is the worst of a small-boat trip; there
is nothing definite to go by. One's fears may be a matter
of moonshine, or they may be caused by sound common-
sense. One may boggle at some adventure that the men
of the country have found to be of prosaic safety; one may
think of possible accidents that are known never to happen;
and all this consciousness of the dark, unlikely side of
things, of trivial chances of danger, may be mere indulgence H
in shameful nervousness, like that of a railway passenger
who should hesitate to take an express.
So for moments during that Christmas evening I persuaded my unwilling fear to leave me. But it would spring
upon me again at some turning in my thoughts; and I
would see that unwieldy boat damaged in a dozen possible
ways, and myself ashore on the rocks of a mountain-side,
wet and cold, with no matches and no fuel—rescue of my
remains the affair of a search party a month or six weeks
thence. Would they trouble to search ? I wondered; and I
fell asleep wishing that / knew less about the rottenness of
that old boat, and that other people knew more. And in
my sleep I had a numb, stomach-achy feeling like a man
under shell-fire; and I was dreadfully unhappy. CHAPTER XXVII
The noise of Carter stamping his feet into wet boots woke
Bill and me next morning. It was still dark outside, as
we noticed when Carter opened the door. We heard him
jumping his way ashore, the spikes of his logging boots
making little, crunching noises on the floating logs. He
was off, the first of men at work, to light the fire in the
donkey-engine. I felt dismal: I felt like Execution Morning in Newgate. " A rotten ruddy trip for a man to make
by himself," I said to Bill. "Why, we're both going,"
said he. "We'll take the big skiff; two men can handle her'
and she don't leak. There's no sense in one man going;
he'll take all winter getting that freight up here." Happiness burst on me. Bill was coming; the trip would be
splendid; no horror of loneliness to be feared! But—Carter
had spoken, and who was Bill to alter Carter's word ? Bill
was Carter's partner, Carter's slave. I saw how it would
be, and went sadly in to breakfast.
Carter and I stood by the bunk-house door. " Shall
we get that boat fixed up this morning ?" said I. " Then I
can have a sleep and start down this evening, and get
through them windy canyons beyond Axe Point by daylight to-morrow before the wind comes up."
Carter looked across me. " I'll fix her for you," he
said; and stalked away over the boom to where the boat
was tied. The boat was full of snow. Carter shovelled
some of it out, and trod down the rest. She had taken
considerable water.   Carter baled it out.    "She's ready for
167 If
you," he called; " tumble in your traps and get started right
away. The weather's good." It was not; the slight swell
told of a wind blowing away down by Anwati.
But Carter was magnificent! The dramatic vigour of
his actions, the very wave of his hand, contrived to put
me in the most ridiculous light should I try to protest.
Protest would sound so pitifully feeble in face of such convinced, competent ignorance. Carter had forced my hand,
had rushed me, in a superbly efficient way. My only
chance was to get angry and violent; and I never felt
less like violence in my life. I was fascinated by his
charming brutality, by the way he ignored my convenience,
by the utterly unnoticed sacrifice of my interests to his
necessities . . . and I could only grin. The brute! he
played that scene so well that I chuckle still in recalling
it. And yet the boat leaked at all times; and when
weight was put in her and some of her upper boards
became submerged she used to leak like a sieve! It was
one man's work then to keep her afloat by force of baling.
" Don't you never drive no nails into any boat of mine,"
said Carter as he saw me go to a nail-keg. So I took a
hammer and plenty of nails; and took one of Carter's blankets
(for a sail); and a tarpaulin for the freight; and a heavy
piece of metal for a stern anchor; and Carter's best ropes,
long ones; and all my dry clothes rolled in my blankets.
Then from the cook-house I took deer meat and bacon
and tea, and all the bread that was made (to save camp-
fire bakery), and plenty sugar and oatmeal and matches
and baking powder. Twenty-five pounds of flour in the
boat gave me a feeling of security; and I took a sharp
axe, and a big bucket and a small tin for baling, and
two cooking-pots and a plate and a spoon. Finally I
found a precious piece of pitch wood that the cook had
hidden, and took some kindling wood for fires (in that
sodden wet country), and soon was rowing down the Inlet
with my eyes on the distant camp.    Then I turned the
first point and was alone—upon my journey. . . .
There was no wind. I dreaded wind—at least the sou'easter, the probable wind, the head wind. But a gentle
swell was coming up the Inlet, and beyond Axe Point I
could see disturbance in the clouds, and trouble seemed
to be awaiting me ahead. I baled the boat, and then
settled myself on my seat and rowed steadily, with the
restraint of a man who knows he has to support the exertion
for hours and hours ahead, and who knows he must keep
reserve power, in case of surprise by bad weather, for a
struggle to shelter. I listened to the noise of the rowlocks, and looked at the swirls my oars made in the water,
and guessed how far I had come, and wondered at the
desperate slowness of my progress. The boat was water-
soaked and heavy as lead in the pulling; and besides, as
a steamboat man, I had become used to rather greater
speeds. A hard-earned three miles an hour fretted me;
and then—oh, where should I be when darkness should come,
and where, oh where, should I camp ? To the devil with
Carter's day-and-night journey. I should like to see him,
a man alone, go on for twenty-four hours lugging at homemade oars in a boat that dragged like a barge! I began
to glow with anger against Carter. . . . But just then sadness fell upon me; a breeze began to ruffle the water.
And soon the breeze was wind, and soon ripples became
waves, and waves began to whiten and break; and the
short, surfy seas hurried one after the other, row after row,
and storm was beginning to sweep the whole width of the
Inlet. I was well out from the near shore, and there was
no shelter anywhere along it that I could see. But some one
had told me once that Old Village was out of the wind,
and there was Old Village—straight across, on the far
shore of the Inlet. And now from which wind was Old
Village a shelter?    The north, the west, the sou'-easter? WOODSMEN OF THE WEST
A sou'-easter was blowing. Old Village looked good enough;
I turned the boat, angling across, deferent to the seas. A
miserable business it was, to my mind, tossing and wallowing across two miles of channel; the heavy boat responding
to one's hardest work by slow forward lurches that stopped
dead at the bash of every alternate wave; and wind and
sea increasing in uncomfortable power. But the time came
when a headland shut off the wind direct, and I rowed
on gently heaving water to the mouth of a little river,
and saw good anchorage and camping ground.
It was still early in the afternoon, but there was no
hope of the wind dropping that day. I found a flat place
just above the shore rocks, and cleared away the snow.
" Firewood!" Carter had said in derision. " Fancy a man
worrying about firewood in this country!" And you might
have sniggered at the thought, looking at the forest slopes
and the driftwood jammed in the rocks, and the fallen
timber everywhere. But the Inlet is cleft deep among
mountains, and little sunshine can come to dry the slopes,
and rain falls for all the winter months, or snow. So all
wood is wet, and dead timber soon becomes moss-covered
and soggy; and there are few parts of the world where a
camp-fire is harder to light, in winter-time.
I cursed Carter as I dug my axe into log after log and
found them all rotten; and every pole and even every
twig seemed rotten too. And at that twinge of despair
the horror of loneliness came upon me, and I looked up
the mountain, and over the misty, white-capped sea, and
round upon the scattered tangle of fallen timber on the
mossy rocks—and the sight was dreary, the abomination
of desolation. " Curse Carter!" I thought; " I'll never come
up the Inlet again. Never! never! never! To hell with him
and his freight! . . ."
But then there were my unpaid wages of the last three
months; I couldn't afford to lose them; I should have to
^^Uc fli
Where handloggers once worked. II
come back. And at the commonplace thought I fell again
to work, seeking wood; and was soon healed of the bitterness of lonely sadness.    But I was unhappy still. . . .
I found, in the end, dead clumps of alder thicket; and
chopped them and dragged the sticks to my camp, a pile
sufficient for the night. Then I got my stuff ashore, at
the foot of a big rock, and threw it all up on to the little
flat above. The boat I moored out in deep water, with a
stern anchor. Now dusk was coming; but my camp was
nearly made.
I rolled a rotten log to the rock's edge—a back log
for my fire; and soon the long alder sticks were burning
good, and my fire had a heart. There were hemlock boughs
for a fine bed in front of the long line of fire; and a tarpaulin (for wind screen, roof, and heat reflector) stretched
on sloping poles behind me. And by dark I had had hot
supper, and my clothes had dried upon me; and by the light
of the fire I could see to mend torn garments. So I sat
stitching, and the evening passed slow.
What is it, I wonder, that starts one listening, of a
sudden, during night-time in the woods? I was sitting
at my camp-fire, toasting warm, weary of worrying, comforted by such good shelter from the falling rain, and
drowsy at my sewing. Then, with a shock, I was painfully
awake, alert; my eyes on a search, my ears listening, my
whole body taut and ready for swift movement. Some
sound or some gleam of firelight reflected from rock or
tree must have startled into activity the primeval instinct,
the sense of watchfulness that lies asleep in civilised life.
A new nervous system seemed to flash into brilliant action
in my body.
I was amused to find myself thinking of the glowing
eyes of beasts—panthers they proved to be on further
thought. I have seen a panther in the Zoo, and I rather
fancy I have seen the footprints of panthers on river-bars,
attasassaM V
and beasts' eyes are said to glow. So it was quite easy to
watch the phantom of a panther that eyed me from behind
the trees and moved in little glides, creepy crawly, among
the underbrush.
But I got tired of watching the panther, and he lost
form and vanished. Then the noises of the world burst
upon me with sudden loudness. I held my breath, straining
to hear above the noise of throbbing in my ears. How
absurd, I remarked, that one's own effort to hear should
spoil one's hearing! At my self-conscious snigger the
throbbing stopped. Then I could hear the rushing sough
of the waves out in the open Inlet, and the gentle roaring
of the creek in its narrow valley, and the occasional crash
of the sea-swell against the rocks down behind my fire.
There was a queer note that rose above the other noises,
a sort of whir-o-o-o-o-ing and whistling in the tall trees. It
seemed interesting to try to coin a word to describe the
noise—noise of the dead Siwashes, I said. For the forgotten generations lay boxed in every cavity among the
rocks around me; and Old Village has been avoided by the
living this hundred years and more. I wondered why.
I wondered would that ghostly shrieking scare a Siwash ?
And then I brooded over discredited feelings that are
the jest of educated men in civilised countries—feelings
that exist, nevertheless, rudimentary and latent, in most
reasoning people—superstitions of the aboriginal. I recalled
my childish fears in the dark; and the lesser uneasiness I
had often felt in the woods as a younger man; and
touches of superstitious fear that had, on occasion, given
edge to my vigilance as a sentry. Had I still some relic
of that ghost-fear ? It would be most interesting to know
the truth; to see what instincts one had; to get a glimpse
at one of those hidden little parts of Self that, like the
bridge of one's nose, no effort of one's own will can make
visible.   I remembered how my nurse . . . A  GHOST  STORY
Something flashed behind my ear!!! My head jerked
round to look. Yet, quicker than sight could work, my head
was jerking back again. Through the corner of my eye
on into my brain had flashed knowledge of Something
Wrong, there beyond the fire.   I stared hard.
Then from the very flickers of the burning logs began
to rise a face. It rose a foot, perhaps; hovered; then
flew aloft and hung in air amid the swirling smoke. My
thoughts were still working undisturbed: 1 How queer, a
face! A Mongolian face, too—see the high cheek-bones and
the slitting eyes. Did they not say that the ancient Siwashes
were of Mongolian extr . . ." My thoughts stopped dead;
Instinct had taken charge
I had been sitting, lounging, on the strewn hemlock
boughs. Crash boughs! I was standing by the fire—nerves
tingling, body light as a feather—about to fling myself at
the face. . . .
Superstitious fear ? Other emotions ? Alas! I was conscious of no feeling at all. But please notice that I had
sprung towards the face—not from it. Let me wear that
fact like a medal!
But certainly I heard a raucous voice bark, "What's
that ?" And if you press me I will admit the voice was
mine. Let us talk of other things, lest you take smiling
notice of the word I used. " Who's that ?" I hasten to
agree, would have sounded better. For the face was the
face of a living man.
! |
'    1
At the head of the Inlet there was Carter's camp—on the
western shore. Half a mile down was the place where
Kendall felled timber and had his tent. He was at enmity
with Carter, and never came near Carter's camp. Across
the Inlet were two men, Fisher and his partner, hand-
loggers. On calm days we could hear the rumbling noise
of the timber they shot into the sea. But they never
visited our camp; they also were at enmity with Carter.
Now on Christmas Day Fisher and his partner were
tempted to a decision. Their grub supply was getting low;
they would be obliged, sooner or later, to make a trip to
Hanson Island Hotel to get more grub for the winter
months and the early spring. Why not go and fetch that
grub at Christmas time, and join the festive throng at the
hotel? Fisher reckoned he was about due for a drunk;
he had no need to make inquiry of his partner. Business,
pleasure, and the reward of virtuous months called to these
men from Hanson Island. Besides, they really needed a
new rowboat.
So on the afternoon of Christmas Day Fisher was
busy tinkering up his ancient damaged boat. He put
new pieces of plank in her, and drove in caulking where
he could, and mixed up stiff dough and plastered leaks
with that, and flattened out some tins and tacked them
over the dough. He made her, as one might say, seaworthy. His partner roasted a goose and cooked goat
meat for the journey.
It was not, however, till late the next day that they
were ready to start. And of course they had no idea
that the steamboat had sunk, or that I was travelling
down the Inlet in a rowboat.that afternoon. I had coasted
down the western shore, too far away for them to see—
even supposing they had looked. And when the storm
had forced me to cross the Inlet to Old Village I was
eight or nine miles away from them.
Towards evening they left their camp. They coasted
along the eastern shore, Siwash fashion; for fear of accidents, neither man feeling much trust in the dough
plasters of the boat. The curve of the eastern shore kept
them well out of the way of the storm that was whitening
the centre of the open Inlet; and it fell pitch-dark before
they reached Old Village, so that they did not see the
weather awaiting them ahead. But when they tried to
round the point beyond Old Village -the blast of the wind
struck them full, and the waves made them fear for the
boat, and they turned back into shelter and wondered
what to do. That was how one of them saw a gleam from
my camp-fire. They rowed into the bay, hauled their
fight boat up beyond tide-marks, and came to seek refuge
from the pelting rain at the strange fire. That was how,
through a cranny of the rocks, a shaft of light from Fisher's
lantern had gleamed upon my canvas shelter; and that
was why Fisher's partner, climbing up the cleft of rock
just behind my fire, had seemed to show a face rising
from the flames. Fisher's partner was dressed in dark
blue; only his face was visible in that flickering light,
and his jaw was covered with stubble of beard, that left
a Mongolian outline to the hairless parts. The.awful look
upon his face proved to be merely the expression of eyes
screwed up to support the glare and the smarting pain of
wood smoke from my fire. I had never seen this man
before.   His name was John Simpson.    Think of my joy
iii 176       WOODSMEN   OF THE  WEST
at the presence of these men, my ecstasy of joy at hearing
of the journey they were upon.    We would travel together!
So I welcomed Fisher and John to my camp, and we
cooked another supper and sat talking, enjoying the warmth
of the fire. Late in the evening they fetched their blankets
from the boat, and we all slept cosily together in front of
the glowing coals. . . .
By morning the wind had abated. For as far as we
could see the Inlet was free of whitecaps and merely
ruffled by a breeze. It was so pleasant and comfortable
in camp that we hated the thought of turning out into
the drizzle and wind, for long hours of rowing. But there
was no help for it; we got our boats loaded; we took to
the oars—Fisher finishing his after-breakfast pipe as he
rowed. I myself was filled with a new anxiety. I watched
the way Fisher handled his oars, to judge of his efficiency;
I watched his boat, to get some idea of the pace he would
go at. For I felt instinctively that Fisher and his partner
would not delay their journey by waiting for me should
my pace be slower than theirs; and they were two, to
spell one another on the oars; and I was one, to row aU
the time; and their boat was light, while mine was big
and heavy. I kept level with them, further from the
shore, and watched. Then Fisher put his pipe away, and
we came out from the shelter of the point into the wind,
striking out to cross the Inlet.   Fisher's boat drew ahead.
Now hand-loggers, as a rule, are like any other working-
men out West—like sailor-men, too, as far as that goes.
They can often row with some effect standing up—facing
forward and pushing on the oars. But they do not
understand the surpassing value of a long, steady stroke,
sitting down. They row with their arms, and not with
their body, in the jerky, lug-at-the-finish style of the
Cockney clerk on a holiday up the river.
But Fisher, some time in his life, had done some rowing RACE DOWN THE  INLET
for pleasure—perhaps before he deserted from the 11th U.S.
Infantry; and now he was rowing to show off. I would
have done that myself if I had had a better boat; but I
was rowing desperately as it was—not to get left behind.
My only hope was to convince Fisher by the apparent ease
of my movement that the pace was a trifle slower than
my usual pace, and so weary his interest in his own
And while we were crossing the Inlet the little waves
were in my favour; for the heavier boat held way the
better. Then we came to Axe Point, and suddenly Fisher's
partner was whistling and pointing. Up among the cliffs
were a herd of mountain goat, staring patches of white
against the dark rock. Fisher must needs stop and shoot
from the boat, and declare he hit one. I baled my boat
and took a thankful rest.
By now the rain had ceased, but Xhe wind blew cold.
Oh, the misery of cold, aching feet! That was the worst
of rowing; it did not warm my feet. Besides, the water
of many j leaks splashed around my boots. Fisher had a
clock with him, and as we rowed on, side by side, he
would call the hours. And every hour he and John would
change places. The man who had been resting would
start off with a spurt, partly to warm himself, partly from
high spirits, partly from a touch of annoyed vanity that
I should be rowing alongside. ,1 dreaded those spurts;
they meant gruelling work for me, for I had to keep level
with their boat at all costs. Once I should drop behind
and lose sight of my pacemaker, I knew my own speed
would slacken; and John and Fisher, looking back, would
row hard to distance me, and they would pass out of
sight. Then perhaps wind would come up, and they would
have reached some shelter, while I, with my clumsy boat,
must turn back elsewhere; and then we should be separated
for good.   I knew the brutes!   They would dig right on
to Hanson Island Hotel, and air their great selves in the
bar-room. " Met Mart coming down the Inlet," they would
remark. " Say, boys, but we just passed him a-flying! Him
keep up with us ?   Well, I should smile!"
That was how the day passed: I rowing hard, but trying
to look as if I was rowing easy, trying to keep the idea
of competition out of their heads, trying to bluff them;
they rowing I do not know how hard—hard enough at
least to make me long passionately for camp. We stopped
once, to light a fire and restore feeling to our icy feet;
eating a lunch the while. And at last, in darkness, with
sails set to catch a following air, we made out the dim
whiteness of the cliffs by Sallie Point. We rowed in to
where the deserted cabin stands by the mouth of the creek,
and, with utter weariness, carried our stuff ashore. Then
we helped one another to haul the boats up on the welcome
beach. Oh, hot supper, and warm feet, and numb, insensible
Inhabitants of houses in some London square—ordering
their lives among fellow-men, occupied in very thought
with mankind and its milder activities—may gain the habit
of regarding death and agony and natural catastrophes
as mere topics of conversation. So also the traveller, to
whom companions are given, may clean forget his nervous
fear of the tragic face of Nature. Witness, in my own
case, how a wilderness that had daunted me became the
barely noticed frame to a human picture. I passed a day
of tiring work, in the company of two other men, occupied
by the interplay of a few childish vanities. That was all!
So prosaic and so simple! . . .
Yawnings and the creaking of the cabin floor under
Frank's waking movements woke me in the dark to take
my share in the breakfast work. We were short of wood,
so, rather guiltily, we tore up planks of the flooring and RACE DOWN THE  INLET
made a good fire, for there was starlight outside and the
air was bitter cold.   Breakfast, besides, was that morning
an important meal.   We knew, inevitably, that we should
push right on to Hanson Island that night, at any cost
of effort.   Need to fill our stomachs well; we might have
to row   the  whole  cruel distance.     We  hoped   not;   we
hoped heartily for wind, now; for the Inlet turns west at
Sallie Point   and all winter winds are fair, going down.
But when, soon after starting, our boats turned the corner
point and we could see in the early dawn the long western
stretch of water before us, no sign of wind was there for
our encouragement.     We   had   to   row   and,  rowing, be
victimised by vanity.    So  the hours passed as they had
passed the day before.   We rowed abreast, oar almost to
oar; we quickened our  pace   when  John  changed   with
Fisher, or Fisher changed with John.   We stopped at the
same moments to bale our boats.    The ache of cold feet
was a daylong misery.
It was dark when we passed Protection Point, and I
was in a cold sweat from weakness; my hands were sore,
my wrists were numb. The other men were leaving me
behind; from somewhere ahead I could hear the splash
of furious baling. Suddenly arose a great shouting, that
I answered, and out of the darkness Fisher's sinking boat
ran alongside mine. One of the dough plasters had come
That was why, oh blessed relief! the great race was never
finished. We reached Hanson Island Hotel in my boat,
late that night; two of us rowing, one baling. And before
my bed was made on the attic floor of the hotel, Fisher
and John were reasonably drunk in the bar-room. Glorious
first drunk of the season !
■i al h
1 W\
The morning was fine and calm when I pushed off from
the landing-stage and began to row slowly down Port
Browning Harbour upon my homeward way. Eight days
had passed since I had come down the Inlet, but during
all that time rain and sleet and snow had fallen turn
about, and furious sou'-east wind had blown. I had lain
idle at the Store, waiting for calm weather.
My boat, as I pushed heavily upon the oars that
morning, moved slowly like a barge. Like a barge, too,
she floated low upon the water, and like a barge she was
piled high with freight. One pile filled the stern, another
the forward part; between the two there was a space
where I could row and bale.
The Finnish boat-builders at the Port had plugged me
many of the larger leaks; the boat with all that freight
in her leaked hardly more than formerly when empty.
But she had lain so many years upon rough beaches, been
dragged over, bumped upon, so many rocks, had so many
loads of steamer fuel hurled roughly into her, that little
strength was left in her worn, cracked planks. The
unpainted wood, besides, was all splintery and sodden with
sea-water. Sudden shock or strain, I knew, would open
up the puttied seams afresh. I pictured in my mind
dark landings among rocks in fear of storm, and the laden
boat bumping in the swell, while wading alongside I hurried
to throw the freight ashore.    She would never stand that
sort of thing. Such single-handed work with rotten boats
was foolishness.
As I rowed — stroke upon stroke upon stroke—and
watched the swirls from my oars spin slowly astern, and
glided sluggishly through the still water past point after
point of the forest shore, I became haunted by unhappy
thoughts. To be frank—I felt fear. Fear of the boat
swamping; fear of wind and waves and chill water; fear
of the poignant ache of cold feet and cold hands, and cold,
wet clothes; fear of rocky shores and enforced landings
at the feet of cliffs; fear of freezing clothes and night
of wet snow and physical exhaustion; of the upper Inlet,
where in that dismal wintry weather no tired man could
ever hope to light a fire and warm himself and cook his
Fear ached inside me as does a rotten tooth. Mile
after mile I rowed, and there was nothing to distract my
mind in that monotony of movement. The shores past
which I rowed were pleasing to the eye even in that
winter season, but they were all familiar and monotonous;
they did not hold my thoughts. There was no help anywhere; nothing to save me from picturing the shores that
I should come to by-and-by Up There, up Coola Inlet—
up among the cliffs and snow and desolation. Days and
weeks perhaps of misery ahead!    And loneliness!
I have a great power of frightening myself with terrors
vividly imagined. When, lost among such thoughts, I
woke up suddenly that day to find myself among the
dancing waves of a small tide-rip, and when the boat took
water over both low-sunk sides at once, I felt a spasm
of a much more tolerable fear that almost gave me
pleasure. I rowed hard out of the rip, half thinking that
I might need to throw freight overboard. But the trifling
scare eased me wonderfully in mind and stilled my worrying
imagination. 182       WOODSMEN  OF  THE  WEST
So when towards evening I rowed wearily into the
small bay where Hanson Island Hotel moors its many
boats, I thought of nothing but my supper. I piled my
freight upon the landing-stage and covered it from fear of
rain, and walked up to the house.
There were a group of men upon the hotel veranda, and
one of them asked as I came near:
" What the blank is the matter with your boat, feller ?"
"There ain't enough time before supper to tell you all
that," said I, by way of being humorous.
" She looked wonderful low in the water when you
was rowing in," said some one.
"She had a wonderful amount of freight and water in
her," said I.
"You don't mean to tell me you're going up the Inlet
like that, Mart," said another.
" I don't like the idea," said I, with a grin that was not
jaunty, upon the wrong side of my mouth.
" It's just straight suicide," said he.
Then I went in to supper feeling miserable. For I am
very much affected by other people's judgment.
Talk after supper stirred my indignation. " I'll be
blanked if I'll take that freight up in that boat," I said to
myself; "I'll hire a gasoline, and if Carter kicks at the
expense I'll pay for it myself. . . .
To clinch my resolution, it happened that I heard, soon
after, the throbbing of a motor-boat that came into the
bay and anchored near the landing-stage. I waited, patient,
at the bar-room door until the owners of that boat had
come ashore and had their first four drinks. Then I went
up to them and asked if they would take me and my
freight to Carter's camp. My heart beat fast at this my
The men consulted among themselves. They felt that
times were  hard and dollars  scarce.     They knew  their BACK TO CARTER
boat was good, their engines sound and reliable. They
had no fear of breaking down among the upper reaches
of the Inlet. Therefore they agreed to take my freight
and tow my boat for thirty dollars, provided that they
could choose their opportunity and make the trip in quiet
I could have sung with joy to hear them talk ; to think
that the misery of that dismal trip had passed forever from
me. I clinched the deal; I stood the drinks; I went upstairs
and spread my blankets on the floor and went to happy
sleep. And the whole hotel shook with the furious battering of gusts of wind; rain rattled loud upon the roof. A
stiff sou'-easter wind was blowing.
In the small hours of the morning one of the owners
of the motor-boat came and woke me up. There was a
dead calm, he said; a lull between son'-easters. There was
a fine chance to get to Carter's carnp before wind should
arise. We took lanterns and loaded the freight into the
launch cabin, and soon we put out and sped up the Inlet,
towing my boat astern.
The night was very dark; dark masses of cloud hung
low upon the water. But the water surface had the dark
sheen of perfect calm, and there was nothing to check our
utmost speed. The launch quivered as it speeded along;
outside in the night the water made a rushing noise,
plashing from our bows. I, who had no work to do, a
passenger, lay upon the piled-up freight listening through
the long hours to the whirring of the petrol engines, noise
like some great sewing-machine. And I thought so
happily:—This is my last impression of the Inlet; this
my last trip among the gloomy canyons and the snow-
slopes and the icy winds. When the launch should arrive
at Carter's camp I would collect my boots and clothes,
those ragged properties, and get my pay from Carter, and
1   HEf
jump aboard the launch again, and shout to see the last of
Coola Inlet. . . .
It was about noon when the launch ran alongside
Carter's boom. I went across to where Carter stood staring
at us from the cook-house door.
I And what the blank is this ?" said he.
I This," said I, " is my racket.    It don't cost you a cent."
Now I had not meant to take upon myself so easily
the cost of hiring that launch. Perhaps in doing so I had
been stung with desire to try to make Carter feel mean.
But at all times I will do much to avoid haggling over
money. I like to be obliging; and here, with Carter, there
was distinct temptation to be quixotic. Any action which
was not plainly due to sordid motives would worry Carter
into puzzled thought. I used at times to do small kindnesses to him, work in his interest to the neglect of my
own, perform actions that would ring true, ring of unselfish
fondness. And these experiments of curiosity would pay
me well in fun. They rankled in Carter's mind; they
would not square with the mean theory of humanity he
had formed. He felt I was manoeuvring to get the better
of him; he felt baffled at such clever hiding of acquisitive
Carter called to Bill, and the two men walked away
over the logs and went ashore and sat long in talk. They
seemed to come to some decision. Carter took an axe
and went to work where the donkey-engine stood upon
the beach.   Bill called me to the office.
"We're going to send away the men," he said; "times
are too bad and there ain't no sale for logs, and we're
up against the money trouble hard. We've got to keep
expenses down and get along as best we can. We'll keep
that feller Francois until he's worked off what he borrowed
from me in Vancouver and then we'll fire him out.   Carter BACK TO  CARTER
wants to break you in to run the donkey, and then him
and me and you can go on hauling logs quietly until
times get better. You just see to paying off the men, and
they can go down the Inlet on the launch. I'm going
down myself on business to Vancouver."
I was completely disconcerted. I had been upon the
point of telling Bill that I was going down myself. Now it
seemed unhandsome to interfere with thought-out plans. . . .
The men had been paid off, had gone aboard the launch,
before I nerved myself to speak.
I How about myself, Bill ?" said I. 1 There won't be no
boats coming here, nor mail brought up. I'm just in the
middle of planning to get married in the spring, and me
stopping here will make a long break in letter-writing and
put off getting settled. My woman won't like it either,
not hearing from me. I've got to go in a couple of months
anyway." *
Bill went across again to talk to Carter. When he
came back—-
" Carter says of course you'll suit yourself," he said
" What will you fellows do ?" said I.
"Don't mind about us," said he; "we'll get along all
right. I guess we're going to have a good try to raise
that Sonora."
I felt somehow as if I was leaving Bill in the lurch.
| D'you want me to stop ?" said I.
" It would be appreciated," said he.
I thought (such is my power of imagination) that a
faint note of appeal was in his voice. Then (motives are
generally double) a pretty picture of Carter and Bill and
I going through all the details of the manoeuvres of
woodsmanship, from falling timber to hauling logs, from
hauling logs to booming up, glowed for a moment in my
mind and vanished.   What a fine experience that would
k 186
be—what a training for any one who, like myself, had a
vague idea of starting a logging business of my own some
day.   (Some day when I should have earned some money.)
" I'll stay," said I. |||| £.<
" Please yourself," said Bill, and went aboard the launch.
My chance to " quit" had come and gone.
That evening Carter and I sat by the cook-house stove.
Francois, well snubbed, had gone back to the bunk-house,
and Carter's soul was on the grill; producing an offensive
odour, as I thought. Bad times, bad luck, Bill's squanderings, the sinking of the Sonora—all these combined to
light a vicious temper in the man.
He talked of the Sonora—in savage, murmuring voice.
" I paid for that boat. I tell you I paid; there weren't
no mortgages on her. That's nothing to me. Fm not
worrying; there's no need for any one to worry. Them
swine at Port Browning hate me. They'll be pleased to
hear she has sunk. I don't care if she has. I can get
her up whenever I want to. I can buy a new boat if I
want to. I can. Understand ? I can. Answer me now ?
D'you hear me? . . .
" That donkey-engine of mine is no more use to me.
D'you understand? She's wore out. I want to sell that
donkey. I can. I can sell that donkey. I'm telling you.
D'you hear? . . .
"There's no man in this country can show me how to
log. I'm a logger and I understand all about logging.
But I tell you I'm sick and tired of beating my brains out
against these ruddy side-hills. These here leases wants
a company with lots of capital to work them. The ground's
too steep for me and the old donkey. Besides, men won't
work on such side-hills."
Carter shouted, rolling his black eyes.
fl 1
" I want to sell these leases. I want to sell the leases,
and the camps and the donkey and the steamer, and the
whole blank-blank blank works. I can go and get more.
I'm a logger. But what I was meant for was buying and
selling. . . ."
He dropped his voice and murmured. Then he began
to eye me shiftily, and I thought rancorously.
"I tell you this here sentiment and obliging people is
all slop. I know. A man is working for you for just what
he can get out of it for himself. If he sees he can get a
dollar out of you he'll do a dollar's worth of work if he can't
get it no other way.   He won't do a fraction of a cent more.
"I've had experience; I know what men are. They're
all the same, every mother's son of them. I've never met
with gratitude or men obliging me for nothing; there ain't
no such things except in talk. Men that wanted to oblige
me I always found was after something for themselves on
the quiet, though some was blank-blank clever in hiding
it." This was a dig at me apparently. It seemed to relieve
Carter's feelings and his tone became more amiable.
"I pay for all I get. I never ask for no obliging. I
don't oblige nobody. I'd be the same with me own brother.
That's right! Running a logging-camp teaches you what
men are. Remember Jim Hunt ? He was hook-tendinsr
for me, and a first-class man he was. He came to me one
morning when we was stuck—trying to get logs out of
a fierce-looking gulch up on that there side-hill. I was
depending on him, and he knew it.
"' Carter,' says he,' guess I'm going to town.'
" i Right you are, boy,' says I; ' suits you and suits me.
Get your time from Bill right away.'
" That's the way. Never show you care. I give as good
as I get. Once a man quits I never coax him to stop, and
I'll see that he does quit too. No 'changed his mind' for
me, even if he's a man I'm really needing and can't replace. NERVES  AND REMORSE
That dirt can get to blank out of my camp, no matter who
he is, or how long he's worked for me, or what's the matter
with him."
Carter's thoughts savaged him. Talk ceased to give
him ease. His eye caught sight of account-books lying
on the table. He seized one and read inside, moving a
thick guiding finger from word to word.
I Hi! whad'yer charge that Frenchman a dollar for
them gloves for ? You paid that for them. You're working for me; them gloves was brought up on my steamboat.
D'you understand? Am I going to run a boat for a
convenience to people, and them pay nothing towards the
expense ? How much would them gloves have cost that
feller if he'd been obliged to go down himself and fetch
them? D'you think he's going to thank you or me for
saving him money ? Eh ? Answer me now ? You've got
no business get-up to you when you gd doing foolish things
like that. Take your book and mark him down two dollars
for them gloves. . . .
I This here's his store bill. He's had more tobacco than
that; it's never been charged up to him. Put another two
pounds in his bill. Don't you worry now. Let him kick
if there's any mistake. . . ."
Carter's talk had usually a charm for me. I could
sit and listen to it by the hour; grunting in answer to his
questions to show I was awake; pleased to be getting a
sort of lazy knowledge of the man. But that evening
Carter got upon my nerves; his talk disgusted me. I
feigned sleepiness and escaped to bed.
But in my sleep a horrid shape, like Carter, pursued
me with its talk and made me join it, entangled me, in
never-ending work that led me even farther from my
woman.    Nightmare fright woke me at last.
Then, lying in the darkness, I saw myself to be a fool.
I belonged again to the weakly-obliging class of men, the
*fc 190
facile type that lends its bar-room friends small sums of
dollars when wife and family are going hungry. For I
had imposed a two months' silence upon my woman, shut
myself away from marriage plans, dropped out of sight
into an uncertain world that letters could not reach—done
all this injury to serve the mere convenience of Bill and
Carter. For I was only a convenience to them; my work
a trifling help towards the gaining or the saving of a few
miserable dollars. I saw how childish I had been. Staying with Carter for a sentiment! I could have kicked
myself.    Remorse gnawed me. . . .
And now began days that I would not willingly live
through again—days that seemed lengthened into weeks.
There were just the three of us, you understand—Carter
and Francois and I. At the best of times we had not
liked each other. Now we had to work together, and eat
together, and bear each other company, and there was no
escape from such association. And our nerves, besides,
were all on edge.
Carter was working, overworking, from mere nervous
craving for work. Work was, for him, a vicious habit,
and he seethed with anger all through each day to think
how purposeless work had become. Times were too bad!
Logs were unsaleable! To work and haul logs into water
was to let the sea-worms spoil the good wood! Not to
work was to go through nervous torture! . . .
Francois was toiling (since he must) to pay his debt to
Carter and to earn enough money to take him "back to
God's country"—anywhere away from Coola Inlet. He
was a scared man, scared by the news of hard times, scared
to move from Carter's camp without money in his pocket.
There was still fresh upon his mind the memory of some
mysterious " trouble" he had had with the police at Vancouver. And so he stayed with Carter, and staying, hated
Carter—hated him venomously.    Crawling over the tangled, mm  "•»■ S; Hi -3H
matted wreckage of the woods, falling breast-high into piles
of brush and tree-limbs, handling heavy blocks and hooks
and wire tackle in the treacherous wet snow that covered
every pitfall, slipping and stumbling at his irritating work,
Francois would almost foam with hate of the man driving
him. He would come to where I worked, at every chance,
his eyes gleaming, after some new offence from Carter.
" The blank-blank son of a dog," he would gasp; " d'you
know what that blank sez to me just now ? He ..."
The man would splutter.
Perhaps my own condition is revealed in this—that
once when Francois shook his fist at heaven and jumped
upon his hat I did not even smile. It seemed a very
proper thing for him to do.   I felt like that myself. . . .
The tide was far out, after supper, on the second evening.
Across the sands a light showed from Kendall's tent. And
the idea came to me suddenly to go and visit Kendall—
that solitary hand-logger who never came near Carter's
camp. So, for the first time in all these months, I made
my way round by the beach to the little rock-strewn point
of land beside which Kendall had made his camp. A stolid
sort of man I thought that he must be. For avalanches
may repeat themselves; and Cran and Blackmore had been
killed by one the previous spring within a few feet of
Kendall's door, and broken timbers of their buried cabin
still cocked themselves skywards from among the clay
and boulders. I should have thought Kendall would have
felt uneasy when wakened in the night by the hollow roar
and echoes of the rock-slides that we used to hear. . . .
Into the dizzy tropic heat of his air-tight tent Mike
Kendall welcomed me with a flood of words; the sudden
outpouring of a man who had not used his tongue for
many days. He poked more wood into his red-hot stove
and put a billy on to boil some tea, and turned his lamp
wick higher, in hospitality.     I sat me  down  upon  his 3,i vi
springy bunk, springy with fine hemlock boughs, and let
my head reel as I breathed the fierce warmth of the
oft-used air. It is a marvel to me that logging men,
who live so much in open air, can like these hot-house
atmospheres at home. . . .
Mike's photograph, I saw, would have made the fortune
of a hair-restorer. Long hair stood out all round his head
and fell upon his neck as you may see in giants' portraits
in children's story-books. Mike's beard was long and
sweeping, his whiskers and moustache immense. He asked
me, at some future visit, to bring my scissors and to cut
his hair.
We had tea, and Mike gave me at great length his
views upon the methods used in Wall Street and upon
the currency crisis that had brought hard times upon us
all. Harriman had said this, Roosevelt proved that, James
K. Hill had been interviewed—to fill pages upon pages
of ten-cent magazines; the consolation of Mike Kendall,
a lonely reader living in a hot tent among the snows and
gloominess of Coola Inlet in the winter. . . .
Talking was a rare enjoyment to Mike Kendall. He
needed no encouragement from me. So he talked, talked
well and argued (at second hand) with force; and I gave
him a formal attention. But my eye wandered round the
tent's interior, noting the well-kept rifle, the piled goatskins, the ragged clothes hung up upon a line, the pan
of yeast dough set to raise, the gap in the rough-hewn
floor where Mike was used to split his stove wood, the
clumsy table, the tins of groceries, and then the sacks of
stores.    Mike seemed to have very little flour left.
I almost started as an idea struck me.
"Pretty near out of grub, Mike, ain't you?" I asked,
breaking in upon his talk with sudden intensity.
He said he was.
" What d'you reckon to do about it ?" said I, breathless. NERVES AND REMORSE
"I'm expecting the Doherty boys up most any day
now," he drawled; "I arranged with them months ago to
bring up my winter's grub."
" Mike," said I, my heart thumping with relief, " when
the boys come, for Heaven's sake—for Heaven's sake! !—
don't let them go away again without telling me. I'm
just crazy for a chance to get down this blanky Inlet."
i!: i
The Dohertys were coming! Their rowboat might come
into sight, a distant speck, at any moment! So the morning after my visit to Mike Kendall I began a feverish
watch-down-the-Inlet, haunted by the fear that the men
would reach Kendall's tent and leave their freight and
go away again (forgetting me) without my seeing them
from Carter's camp.
It was part of my work to cook our hasty meals. Now
as I cooked my eye was ever glancing through the window
to see if any object were moving in the distant water. Once
in a while I would take a hurried look through Carter's
Between meals I worked near to the beach with Francois, handling the rigging on the snow; Carter working
the donkey-engine and running to and fro to help us.
We would haul two or three logs in the day, after great
efforts: a futile sort of work. And I worked listlessly,
for I could watch the sea.
Carter must have been annoyed at my poor activity,
for he set himself next day to gall my vanity.
"You look sick, boy," he said sweetly. "I want you
to do nuthin' but cook for me and Francois from now
on. Don't you come out to work no more. Just cook
and clean up the bunk-house, and saw wood for the stoves,
and flunkey around to fill in time."
I felt sick enough. The constant strain of watching,
the sudden hopes when moving specks would appear upon
the Inlet's distant water, the ache of disappointment when
these specks would reveal themselves as mere floating logs,
the remorse that never ceased to worry me—all these had
sickened me till I felt physically weak.
And my sense of humour had played out under such
drain of nervous energy, and because of that Carter contrived to get the better of me. My vanity was absurdly
hurt. To be cook and flunkey to Carter and Francois!
The blood of all the Celts boiled in my veins. In a
childish rage I went across again to see Mike Kendall.
He counselled patience. "He's got you in a tight place,
boy," said he; " don't give the man the satisfaction of seeing
that you mind. Besides, it's only for a day or two. The
Dohertys are bound to come soon."    I felt desperate.
" Mike," said I, " I'm pretty near the end of what I can
stand from Carter. If the Dohertys don't come on the
third day from now, will you get out your sloop and take
me down to Port Browning for thirty dollars ?"
Mike looked at me in silence, doubtfully.
Then I argued with him; pointed out how we could
set up his old cook-stove on the sloop, and take lots of
firewood; proved to him the course that he could take in
each contingency of nasty weather. The sloop was a good
sea-boat; Mike could await a favourable occasion for his
journey home. He could bring up his winter's grub himself and save expense.
But all my talk did not convince him. And as I
walked back to Carter's camp that evening I had a guilty
feeling that I had been tempting Mike—tempting him to
break good resolutions; to run the risk of going to Port
Browning, the risk of going near to whisky, the risk of
going " on the bust." . . .
In cooking I did, without conscious thought, what men
are used to do when living upon a few simple foods. From
meal to meal I varied the manner of cooking, varied the 196
ingredients of cakes and puddings.    So Carter saw another
opening for delightful subtlety.
"That last cook was a dandy, Francois," he said, at
table (that I might hear); " all-ways the same, Francois, all-
ways the same! You all-ways knew what you were going to
get to eat, and just how it would taste. That cook was all
right. Youbetcher !" Carter was discovering the gulf that
lay between himself and me, a gulf whose width my sense of
humour no longer bridged. Francois was now his confidant,
taking my former place. . . .
But all these small manceuvrings and all the notice
that I took of them were matters on the surface. Beneath
them and beneath the everyday employment of our faculties,
our inner selves, all three, were under heavy stress. We
lived confined together under such mutual repulsion; our
work was so purposeless, so unsuccessful; the days were
spent in such gloom of fog and falling snow, or else in
such sight of bleak mountain slopes and gaunt, snow-
blotched cliffs—the whole process of our life was so dismal,
so devoid of livening motive—that all three of us were
suffering from nerves.
Carter showed a distinct hysteria in his treatment of
his dog. That wretched animal had long fled away from
Carter's touch. It lived a frightened life around the
outskirts of our camp, and (as I have seen dogs do when
wolves were prowling round a camp-fire) it was used to
bristle every hair on end, and snarl and show its teeth, and
slink away whenever it had come near Carter unawares.
But it now happened that Carter caught the dog in the
blacksmith shop, and there he first soothed it with a piece
of meat, and then tied it to the anvil, and then took a stick
and beat the animal till it was nearly dead. At any other
time I should have felt like interfering; I could not have
endured the howls of pain. But I was too much taken
up by my own tortures to care the least for Carter's dog. . . . I QUIT
So five days passed at Carter's camp and I came near
the breaking point. The morning of the sixth day I got
out of bed in a nervous fury. But when I had busied
myself over the cooking of the breakfast, and thumped
the gong to waken the other men and summon them to
eat, I felt somewhat composed. I took my place beside
the cooking-stove to pour and flap the hot cakes that
go swiftly from pan to table during the course of every
breakfast at a logging-camp.
Carter came in and sat him down, and then Francois.
Carter, I saw, was in a villainous bad temper. He began
to eat.
" Cook me two eggs," he barked suddenly.
I went to cook them without realising his tone.
" Take the lid off the stove," shouted Carter.
I felt there was something wrong.
" Turn them eggs."
It burst upon me with a rush. This was Carter's
railroad foreman's manner—a manner that I had seen him
use to other men! This was the first time he had tried
that manner upon me.
"Put salt and pepper on them." It was an order—
The tone cut me like a whip.
I heard his words with difficulty; the word " salt" was
indistinct. There was a throbbing in my ears. I had
some idea of going closer to him to hear the better. . . .
I found myself floating towards him in a sort of
atmosphere that shook in little waves like the shimmering
of air upon a plain, under a blazing sun. I did not hear
my own steps or feel my own movements. The air buoyed
me up. Objects surrounding Carter, in that cook-house
scene, were of foggy outline, blurred; and only objects
near to him were visible at all. Fog cut off the rest. It
was like looking down a tunnel.    But in the middle of 198       WOODSMEN OF THE WEST
the tunnel, clear cut and distinct, was Carter's face, framed
in black hair and beard.
My eye caught Carter's—Carter's black beady eye.
" What sauce ?" I yelled in Carter's face. . . .
It was touch and go. My fists were quivering for the
blows; nerves along the inside of my wrists and up my
arms were itching. I could feel a sort of succulent
anticipation of the collapse of the cranky table, the smash
of the shattering crockery, the wrestle and fall and bump
as Carter's body and mine should reach the floor. There
I would bash him in the face and put an arm lock on
him. A gloating thrill ran through me to think how I
would listen for the crack of Carter's dislocated arm as
the lock bent it back beyond the natural outstretch. There
would not be much moving of that arm for Carter for the
next three months or so. . . .
Then Carter's eye dropped from mine, and I had a
vivid picture of a sparkling Carter looking at a sparkling
plate upon the breakfast table. Notes of mildness came
to me across the vibrating air. The noise seemed to soothe
me, seemed somehow to put a sudden check upon the
spring I was about to make. I felt my whole frame relax
from a great tension—every nerve untauten, almost noisily.
But what words Carter spoke I do not know, nor even what
happened then. . . .
I came to my prosaic self kneeling upon the bunk-house
floor. I was engaged in rolling up my blankets, with
movements swift and intent. My bag had long been
packed, ready for departure at any time.
I took my bag and blanket-roll and pushed open the
bunk-house door—and met Carter coming, face to face. . . .
The logger "quitting" is a man of great punctilio. I
played the perfect logger.
"Well," said   I, faultlessly correct,  "guess   ['m
down the Inlet."
1  B r*-**- I  QUIT
Carter gave me a quick look, that was an error of
deportment. It showed unfeigned surprise, for Carter
based his influence over men upon the sixty miles of
Inlet that cut them off completely from the world except
when boats were plying.
" All right," he said; and then, " How are you going ?"
" In Kendall's sloop," I said, not truthfully; for Kendall
had not given his consent.
That was an unpleasant stab for Carter—the suggestion
of Kendall interfering with his policy; Kendall whom
he had hated bitterly ever since that mortifying game
of cards.
Carter took my remark without the least sign of interest. "You'll meet Bill below," he said listlessly, looking over to where the donkey-engine awaited the day's
work.   His meaning was that Bill would pay my wages.
"All right," said I, and jumped down upon the beach
and clambered round the coast to Kendall's tent, with
never .a glance behind. Then I remembered that my
new working gloves were on the cook-house table. Dignity
forbade a return to fetch them. The value of two dollars
lost! . . .
I came to Kendall's tent, and found the man engaged
in cooking a late breakfast. "It's no use trying to work
while the snow's this deep," said he in explanation; " I
just get up when I feel like it these winter days."
1 Mike," said I, " I want to stop with you. I can't stay in
the same camp with that Carter, not one moment longer.
It's beyond me; I feel sure there would be some bad trouble
<Jome of it." And then I told him what had happened,
and offered to pay for my board until the Doherty boys
should arrive; and offered to pay for my passage to Port
Browning if the boys should fail to come."
But Kendall made me welcome and put aside my offers
of payment.    Of course I could stay with him.   And be-
ssrisSy u r j
sides, as he told me smiling, "I'm right pleased to do
anything to annoy that blanky Carter."
So I laid down upon the hemlock mattress inside the
stuffy tent. And all day long I stayed inert; shaking and
weak in the reaction from the extravagant emotion of
the previous days; sick at the stomach, too, after the
excitement of the morning. But when evening came and
I had eaten some of Kendall's doughy bread and feasted
off a wild-goat kid that he had shot, I began to feel better.
Then Kendall and I pictured to one another the state of
Carter and Francois up there at the camp. Neither of
those men could cook to satisfy even his own palate.
Each loathed the other's cookery. Kendall and I laughed
and giggled till we ached to think of those two enemies
now forced to live and work together—to cook for one
Then we went to bed, and Kendall could not understand why I should want to sleep with my head against
the doorstep in that air-tight tent of his. CHAPTER XXXII
The cliffs of Axe Point rose like a wall beside us out
from the gently swelling sea. They merged their blackness, at no great height above our heads, into the fog of
swirling flakes. And the thick falling snow blurred all
but the near expanse of ruffled water from our sight—
blurred it (among those steep-to mountains) into murk.
There was a log jammed endways into a crevice of the
rock, and we had moored the sloop to it. Then we had
lit a fire in an empty oil-can, and Warmed up some beans
and sow-belly, and boiled some tea, and eaten a grateful
meal. But our chief longing had been to warm our aching
feet, that had ached with the cold since we had left the
bay at Kendall's place, early that morning, before dawn.
We had warmed them blissfully.
We had just cast off from the log. We were pushing
on the sweeps, intending to creep forward under the shelter
of Axe Point (since the wind blew from ahead) before
putting out upon our next tack across the Inlet, when
round the corner of the cliff there shot into sight men
standing, rowing, in a small boat. The Dohertys at last!
The two Doherty boys and Mike M'Curdy !
Their boat was soon alongside ours. M'Curdy fumbled
under a tarpaulin and pulled a whisky-bottle out. " Drink
hearty, Kendall," he giggled cheerfully; "it's your own
whisky. We just had to open a few bottles to keep ourselves from freezing in this blank-blank rowboat." "You
blank-blank blanks," said Kendall, but he did not mind. . . .
The Dohertys had come, and therefore Kendall had
201 202       WOODSMEN  OF  THE  WEST
no further need to journey down the Inlet in the sloop.
So we took the other men aboard, and tied their boat
astern, and ran before the breeze straight back to Kendall's
camp. Many drinks we had upon the way. The sloop
once anchored and the freight all safe ashore inside the
tent, it came to some one that a howl could easily be heard
at Carter's camp. So the jest was to raise a drunken
hullaballoo, to torture Carter with the knowledge that
there was whisky near him that he could not drink; to
"rub it in" to him that Kendall, hateful Mike Kendall,
was undergoing all the joys of drunkenness. You may
bet that Carter and Francois heard and understood the
noise, and that two tragic figures lay wakeful in their
bunks that night.
Supper and whisky and the return to warmth after
the cold endurance of the day filled us all with glee. Kendall became full of hints of a mystery; the hints soon
became so broad that we divined the truth. We had a
poet in our midst!!
The poet needed but a touch to burst him into song.
But whether Carter (as the poet hoped) could hear the
song was very doubtful. The tent door, anyway, was
opened, and Kendall sang his loudest through it, and some
of us thought that Carter might come lurking in the underbrush to hear. So, for the best effect, the song was sung
again at intervals throughout the evening, until the singer
had either become too drunk to sing or we too drunk to hear.
By Mike Kendall
(To the tune of the " White Cockade ")
As I was agoing for to bale my sloop,
I passed the camp and I saw the group,
So I came back and composed this rhyme,
For they was busy splicing line. TO OBLIVION—WITH CARTER
Grainger was a-firing, and the donkey throwing fog,
Cully at the throttle, and he had a big log;
Bill blew the whistle when the line it broke,
For Joe was slingin' riggin', and Carter tending hook.
So they all went to supper when it got dark;
Them oolicans was done, but they had that shark,
And Carter sez, " Boys, we're out of luck,
For that there cook puts up poor truck."
in m
His steamboat was anchored right out in the bay ;
A storm came up and she sank in the spray,
But Carter sez, " Don't you worrj; at all,
For I paid seventeen for her just last fall."
Pretty soon they had got all the logs off the claim,
And they went down the Inlet as poor as they came,
But Carter sez, " Boys, you'll now see a sight;
I'll put on the mitts and the bears I'll fight."
Perhaps the song means little to you.
That evening we four men of an audience applauded
wildly; slapping Kendall on the back, trying to get him
to remember more verses. For the song was full of the
most deadly innuendo. It would be impossible to give
you a just idea of the subtlety of the allusions, but I may
try to explain one or two points.
" A group busy splicing line " : Carter would ruffle at this,
for such emphasis on the fact that the line had broken
was a covert sneer at the man whose business it was to 1    I
haul out logs without breaking the line—the hook tender.
And Carter, in the song, was tending hook.
" The donkey throwing fSg" calls up to any logger the
picture of an old rattle-trap of a donkey-engine from every
decayed point of which clouds of steam are squirting.
"Them oolicans was done." Oolicans are, like smelts,
very good eating, in my opinion. But the fact that Carter
had laid in a large stock of them, barrelled in brine, bought
for a small sum from the Indians, gave the singer a chance
to insinuate that Carter's cook-house was run upon the
cheap. A boss logger is very touchy about the reputation
of his cook-house.
As for the mud shark, it had trapped itself under some
boom logs when the tide ran out. We had taken its liver
to make oil.
Throwing the blame of poor meals upon the cook is an
old wheeze of the mean boss. You will perceive, therefore,
in the second verse, another dig at Carter.
- In the last verse there is a slur that would hurt Carter.
It is in the assumption that he had not been logger enough
to make money up the Inlet.
The sting of the whole song, however, is in the last
two lines, that are calculated, with deadly accuracy, to hurt
Carter in his tenderest vanity. At a certain early stage
of drink Carter will often tell a yarn about a fight he
once had with a bear when out hunting on the mountains
in Cariboo. It is a good, interesting yarn, and it shows
signs of embellishment from time to time, for Carter enjoys
telling it hugely. But in a hostile world it affords material
for bitter jibes behind Carter's back—and is held an unblushing He.
It was on the afternoon of the next day that I saw
Carter for the last time. Mike Kendall and Bob Doherty
had gone out hunting in the snow, and when we heard S5
their signal shots from the mountain-side beyond Carter's
camp we launched a boat to fetch them and their meat
home by water.
So it happened that first the three of us, and soon
after (upon the return journey) the five of us, glided slowly
in our rowboat past the whole line of Carter's camp and
rafts and place of working. The afternoon was calm and
still. ?>§|
Upon a great raft, left high upon the beach, stood the
old donkey-engine squirting its many puffs of steam. Just
within the fringe of the seashore woods we saw a figure
toiling in the snow. It was Francois. And, now running
to and fro between Francois and the engine; now bending
over the machinery to tighten nuts with hasty spanner;
now jerking over levers to start the throbbing pistons,
hauling upon a log that would not move—was a black
figure of activity.    Carter.
He saw us, of course; saw Kendall and me and the
Dohertys and the well-known humorist M'Curdy. He
saw the two deer that Kendall had so carefully exposed
to view.1 He saw our silent passing by "upon the other
side." But Carter, so close to us that we could see the
very grease marks on his clothes, seemed rapt in work
unconscious that we existed. And Francois (who knew
us all) did not dare to cast a look at us from where he
worked nigh to the beach.
And that ends my story.
Farewell, then, to wrenching and tearing and intensity
of effort; to great fatigues and physical discomforts; to
sweaty work with simple tools; to trails in far-away
mountain places; to rest and warmth beside log-fires in
the woods!
1 Not to share deer meat with a neighbour is a marked discourtesy. Bttrft
Farewell to loggers and my youth !
Farewell to it all: marriage is better.
And now I must go and scrub the kitchen floor of
The cottage next to Mrs. Potts',
in (what will be) Lyall Avenue,
(outside the city limits of)
B. C.
July 1908.
Printed by Baliantyne, Hanson <!r* Co,
Edinburgh &> London  tip
V 1
ii tp
HJOMWNY .•ft? v.yn;r.i»tTT


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