The Chung Collection

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The Chung Collection

The prey of the strongest Roberts, Morley, 1857-1942 1906

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mmmmm*-^- -   1   ~       - -  - ■ BOOKS   BY
The Same Author.
etc.,   etc.,   etc. The Prey of the
LONDON:      Jet      j»      j*      J*      j*
J82, High Holborn, W.C.     J*      J*   1906
To Archer Baker,
European Manager of the Canadian
Pacific Railroad.
My dear Baker,
Of all the men I worked with on the Canadian
Pacific Railroad in the Kicking Horse Pass and on the
Shushwap, when you and men like you were hustling to
put it through, I am not, nowadays, in touch with one.
They are, doubtless, distinguished or have gone under.
Some of them, perhaps, lie in obscure graves beside the
track of other roads, which, in their parlance, " broke out"
when the C. P. R. was finished : when End of Track
joined End of Track: when the very bottom of their
world fell out because two Worlds, East and West, were
united by our labour, yours and theirs and even mine.
Others of them are perhaps famous. They may have
some mighty mountains and a way station named after
them, as you may have, for all I know: they may even
be Managers! And what so great as a Manager of a
Through Continental Road, after all? There are Ministers and Monarchs and other men of note, but to my
mind the Managers top them all. That is by the way,
and you shall not take it as flattery: the humble worker
Mflili-fliH VI
with the pick and shovel and hammer and drill and bar,
like myself, cannot but think with awe of the cold clear
heights in which they dwell.
Years ago, when I was toiling on another grade, in
another sort of rock-cut, hewing out a trail for myself
in the thick impenetrable forests of which the centre
may be Fleet Street or where Publishers dwell, I came
across you. And it is to my credit that I never let you
go. Most men represent other men or shadows, but you
represented yourself and a great part of my old life : you
stood for the Grade, for the Mountains, and the Passes,
for the steel rails, for the Contractors with whom I
worked, for the Road, for all Railroads, for Canada and
British Columbia, linked and made one at last. You
know what Colonial fever is: that disease of desire which
at intervals afflicts those of us who have come back out
of the Wilderness. You were often the cause of it and
the cure of it. Perhaps I owe you one : perhaps but for
your giving me a chance of vicarious consolation in
our talk, I might have laid my bones by some other
railroad in the West on the illimitable fat prairies of
our Canada. Therefore I offer you this book. I offer
you only a sketch, a rough and incomplete sketch, of
certain obscurer aspects of hfe in one of the finest
countries in the world, a country for which I have as
much hope as I have affection. I have not tried to put
the Pacific Slope into a pannikin. To cram British
Columbia into a volume is as easy as trying to empty
Superior with a spoon.    For  it was a full country when PREFACE.
I knew it: when your Big Bosses came along with drills
and dynamite and knocked the Rockies and the Selkirks
into shape to let your Railroad through. In those days
the World emptied many thousand of its workers into
your big bucket, and in that bucket I was one drop. I
had as partners, as tilikums, men from the Land of
Everywhere: not a quarter, hardly a country, of the
round world but was represented in the great Parliament
of the Pick and Shovel and Axe that decreed the Road,
the Great Road, the one Great Road of all!
I have seen many countries, as you know, but none
can ever be to me what B. C. was when I worked there.
It fizzed and fumed and boiled and surged. It was in
a roar: it hummed: it was like the Canon when the
grey Fraser from the North comes down to Lytton and
smothers the blue Thompson in its flood. We lived in
those days : we worked in those days : we didn't merely
exist or think or moon or fool around. We were no
■ cultus' crowd. We lit into things and dispersed the
earth. Some day, it may be, I shall do another book to
try and recall the odours of the majestic slain forests
and the outraged hills when your live Locomotives
hooted in the Passes and wailed to see the Great Pacific.
In the meantime I offer you this, which deals only incidentally with your work, and takes for its subjects a
Sawmill and the life we lived who worked in one on the
lower Fraser, when we and the River retired from the
scene that to-day ends in busy Vancouver and yet spreads
across the Seas.
mmm mBTIffllTnrajSggrmniii.Hi nr ' ■ ^ r FWpflgjffrag
It is possible that you will say that there is too much
violence in this story, seeing that it is laid in British
Columbia and not South of the Forty Ninth Parallel.
Well, I do not hold you responsible for the violence.
Even in law-abiding B. C. man will at times break out
and paint the Town red without a metaphor. There is
a great deal of human nature in man, even when suppressed by Judge Begbie: and Siwashes will be Siwashes,
especially when "pahtlum," or drunk, as they say in
the elegant Chinook with which I have adorned a
veracious but otherwise plain story. Take it from me
that there is not an incident, or man, or woman in it
who is not more or less painted from real life. That
amiable contractor for whom we all had quite an affection,
whom I have thinly veiled under the name of Vander-
dunk, is no exception. He will, I feel sure, forgive me,
but some of the others might not and they are veiled
rather more deeply. This I owe to myself, for I may
revisit B. C. again and I cannot but remember that, for
some things I said of folks out there many years ago, I
was threatened with the death, so dear to the Western
Romancer, which comes from being hung by the neck
from a Cottonwood. If ever I do see that country again,
I hope it will be with you As my friend Chihuahua
would have said, " Quien sabe ? " My best regards to you,
tillikum !    Here's how !
Your sincere friend,
| KLAHYA, tilicum."
As Pitt River Pete spoke he entered the humming
Fraser Mill by the big side door chute down which
all the heavier sawed lumber slid on its way to the
yard. He had climbed up the slope of tlje chute and
for some moments had stayed outside, though he
looked in, for 'the sun was burning bright on white
sawed lumber and the shining river, so that the
comparative gloom of the Mill made him pause. But
now he entered, and seeing Skookum Charlie helping
the Wedger-off, he spoke, and Skookum, who could
not hear in the uproar, knew that he said " Klahya."
The Mill stretched either way, and each end was
open to the East and the West. It was old and grimed
and covered with the fine meal of sawdust. Great
webs hung up aloft in the dim roof. In front of
Pete was the Pony Saw which took the lumber from
the great Saws and made it into boards and scantling,
beams and squared lumber. To Pete's right were
the Great Saws, the father and mother of the Mill,
double, edge to edge, mighty in their curved inset
teeth, wide in gauge and strong whatever came to
them. As they sang and screamed in chorus, singing always together, the other Saws chimed in: the
Pony Saw sang and the Great Trimmer squealed
and the Chinee Trimmer whined. Every Saw had
its note, its natural song, just as naturally as a bird
has: each could be told by the skilled hearer. Pete
listened as he stepped inside and put his back against
the studs of the wall-plates, out of the way of the
hive of man, he only being a drone that hour. And
the Big Hoes, Father and Mother of the Mill, droned
in the cut of logs and said (or sang) that what they
cut was Douglas Fir, and that it was tough. But
the Pony Saw said that the last big log had been
Spruce. The smell of spruce said "spruce" just as
the Saw sang it. And the Trimmers screamed
opposing notes, for they cut across the grain.
Beneath the floor where the chorus of the Saws
worked was the clatter of the lath-mill and the
insistent squeal of the Shingle Saw, with its recurrent
shriek of pride, " I cut a shingle, phit, I cut a shingle,
The whole Mill was a tuned instrument, a huge
sounding board. There was no discord, for any
discord played its part: it was one organic harmony,
pleasing, fatiguing, satisfying; any dropped note was
missed: if the Lath Mill stayed in silence, something
was wanting, when the Shingler said nothing, the
last fine addition to the music fell away. And yet
the one harmony of the Mill was a background for
the soloes of the Saws, for the great diapason of the
Hoes, for the swifter speech of the Pony, for the
sharp cross note of the Trimmers. The saws sang
according to the log, to its nature, to its growth:
either for the butt or the cleaner wood. In a long
log the saws intoned a recitative: a solemn service.
And beneath them all was the mingled song of the
belts, which drove the saws, hidden in darkness, and
between floors. Against the song of the Mill the
voice of man prevailed nothing.
When any man desired to speak to another he
went close to him and shouted. They had a silent
speech for measurements in feet; the hand, the
fingers, the rubbed thumb and finger, the clenched
hand with thumb up, with thumb down, called numbers for the length of boards, of scantling, what not.
" Eleven feet! " said the rubbing thumb and forefinger. 4       THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
If any spoke it was about the business of the Mill.
I Fine cedar this," said Mac to Jack, " fine cedar—
special order—for " a lost word.
But for the most part no one spoke but the saws.
Men whistled with pursed lips and whistled dumbly:
they sang too, but the songs were swallowed in the
song of the Saws. They began at six and ran till
noon unless a breakdown happened and some belt
gave way. But none had given this day and it was
ten o'clock. The men were warm and willing with
work, their muscles worked warm and easy. It was
grand to handle the lever and to beat in the iron
dogs: to use the maul upon the wedges as the Saws
squealed. They worked easy in their minds. They
looked up and smiled unenvious of idle Pitt River
Pete. They knew work was good, their breath felt
clean: their hearts beat to the rhythm of the Mill.
As mills go it was a small one. It could not compete with the giants of the Inlet and the Sound who
served Australia, which grows no good working wood,
or South America. It sent no lumber to Brisbane,
no boards to Callao or Valparaiso. It served the
town of New Westminster and the neighbouring
.ranches: the little growth of townships on the River
up to Hope and Yale. Sometimes it sent a cargo to
Victoria or 'Squimault.      A schooner even now lay THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
alongside the wharf, piled high with new sawed
stuff, that the saws had eaten as logs and spewed as
As logs! Aye, in the pool below, in the Boom,
which is a chained log corral for swimming logs, a
hundred great logs swam. Paul (from nowhere, but
a tall thin man) was the keeper and their herder. He
chose them for the slaughter, and went out upon
them as they wallowed, and with a long pike stood
upon the one to be sacrificed and drove it to the
spot whence it should climb to the altar: a long slope
with an endless cable working above and below it.
He made it fast with heavy dogs, with chains may
be, and then spoke to one above who clapped the
Friction on the Bull-Wheel and hove the log out of
the water, as if it were a whale for flensing. It went
up into the Mill and was rolled upon the skids, and
waited.    It trembled and the Mill trembled.
"Now, now, that log, boys. Hook in, drive her,
roll her, heave and she's on! Drive in the dogs and
she goes!"
Oh, but it was a good sight and the roar was
filling. Pete's eyes sparkled: he loved it: loved the
sound and the song and itched to be again on the
log with the maul. Those who speak of sport—
why, let them fell a giant, drive it, boom it, drag it 6       THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
and cut it up! To brittle a monarch of the forest and
disembowel it of its boards: its scantlings: its squared
lumber: posts, fences, shingles, laths, pickets, Oho!
Pete knew how great it was.
" Oh, klahya, tilikum, my friend the log."
He spoke not now to Skookum, but strong Charlie,
and lazy Charlie, understood him. At one hour of
the day even the lazy surrendered to the charm of
the song of the work and did their damnedest. So
Skookum understood that his old friend (both being
Sitcum Siwashes, or half breeds) loved the Mill and
the work at that hour.
White, the chief Sawyer, the Red Beard, was at
his lever and set the carriage for a ten inch Cant
when the slabs were off and hurtling to the lath mill.
Ginger White no one loved, least of all his Wedger-
Off, Simmons (a man, like silent Paul of the Boom,
from nowhere), for he too was gingery, with a gleam
of the sun in his beard and a spice of the devil in
his temper. He was the fierce red type, while White
was red but lymphatic, and also a Httle fat under the
jowl and a liar by nature, furtive, not very brave but
skilled in Saws. Simmons took a wedge and his
maul and waited for the log to come to him. The
carriage moved: the saws bit: the sawdust squirted
and spurted in a curve with strips of wood which THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.        7
were not sawdust, for they use big gauges in the soft
wood of the West and would stare at a sixteenth
gauge, to say nothing of less. Now Simmons leapt
upon the log and drove in the wedge to keep the
closing cut open for the saws. The lengthening cut
gave opening for another and another. Simmons
and Skookum played swiftly, interchanging the
loosened wedge and setting it to loosen the last
driven in. The Wedgers-Off on the six-foot log
were like birds of prey upon a beast.
"Oh, give it her," yelled Skookum. It was a way
of his to yell. But Ginger drove her fast, hoping to
hear the saws nip a littfe and alter their note so that
he could complain. Simmons knew it, Skookum
knew it. But they played quickly and sure. They
leapt before the end of the cut and helped to guide
the falling cant upon the skids. Chinamen helped
them. The Cant thundered on the skids and was
thrust sideways over to the Pony Saw.
" Kloshe kahkwa," said Pete. | That's good! "
And as he sent the carriage backward for another
cut, Ginger White looked up and saw Pete standing
with his back to the wall. Ginger's dull eye
brightened, and he regarded Simmons with increased
disfavour. Pete he knew was a good Wedger-Off, a
quick keen man, very good for a Siwash, as good as **f UT
any man in the Mill at such work. He had seen
Pete work at the Inlet. Oh, he was good, "hyas
kloshe," said White, but as for Simmons, damn!
He was red-headed, and Ginger hated a red man for
some deep reason.
It was a busy world, but even in the rhythm of the
work hatred gleamed and strange passions worked as
darkly as the belts, deep in the floor, that drove the
saws. Quin, the manager (and part owner), came
in at the door by the big Saws, and he saw Pete
standing by the open chute. He smiled to himself.
I Back again, and asking for work. Where's his
wife, pretty Jenny ? "
She was pretty, toketie klootchman, a pretty
woman: not a half breed: perhaps, if one knew,
less than a quarter breed, tenas Sitcum Siwash, and
the blood showed in the soft cheeks. She was bright
and had real colour, tender contours, everything but
beautiful hands and feet, and they not so bad. As
for her face, and her smile (which was something to
see), why, said Quin, as he licked his lips, there wasn't
a white woman around that was a patch on her.
Jenny had smiled on him. But Pete kept his eye on
her and so far as it seemed she was true to him. But
In the busy world as it was Quin's mind ran on
"' Yes, Sir," he used to say, " we're small but all
there. We run for all we're worth, every cent of it,
every pound of beef. If you want to see bigger, try
the Inlet or Port Blakeley. But we cut here to the
last inch." Thirty thousand feet a day ain't a hell of
a pile, but it's all we can chew.   And, Sir, we chew it!"
He was a broad heavy man, dark and strong and
much lighter on his feet than he looked. If there
hadn't been Skookum Charlie it might have been
Skookum Quin.    He was as hard as a cant-log.
"We're alive," said Quin the manager. They
worked where he was, and, hard as they had worked
before, White set a livelier pace and made his men
sweat. Quin smiled and understood that Ginger
White was that kind of a man. Now Mac at the
Pony Saw always took a breather when Quin came
in. Just now he walked from his saw, dropped down
through a trapdoor into a weltering chaos of sudden
death and threw the tightener off his saw's belt.
The Pony Saw ceased to hum and whined a little
and ran slow and died. The blurred rim of steel
became separate teeth. Long Mac stood over the
saw and tightened a tooth with his tools and took
out one and replaced it with a better washleather to io      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
keep it firm. He moved slow but again descended
and let the tightener fall upon the belt. The Pony
Saw sprang to valiant life and screamed for work.
Quin smiled at Mac, for he knew he was a worker
from " Way Back," and the further back you go the
worse they get!    By the Lord, you bet!
So much for Quin for the time.    The Stick Moola,
as the Chinook has it, is the theme.
It was a beast by the water, that lived on logs.
It crawled into the River for logs, and reached out
its arms for logs. It desired logs with its sharp
teeth. It hungered for Cedar (there's good red cedar
of sorts in the ranges, and fine white cedar in the
Selkirks), and for Spruce (the fine tree it is!) and
Douglas Fir and Hemlock or anything to cut that
wasn't true hardwood. It could eat some of the soppy
Slope Maple but disdained it. It was greedy and
loved lumber. Men cut its dinner afar off and towed
it around to the Mill, to the arms, the open arms of
the Boom with Paul helping as a kind of great kitchen
At early dawn its whistle blew, for in the dark (or
near it) the underlings of the Engineer stirred up the
furnaces and threw in sawdust and woke the steam. .
At  'half   after   five'  the  men  turned   out,    came
tumbling in for breakfast in the boarded shack by THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      u
the Store and fed before they fed the Mill. The first
whistle sounded hungry, the second found the men
hungry no more, but ready to feed the Beast.
In winter it was no joke turning out to begin the
day early, but when frost had the Fraser in its arms
the Mill shut down and went to sleep. One can't
get one's logs out of eighteen inches of ice and then
a frozen log cuts hard: it shines when cut. But at
this season, it was bright at five and sunny at six.
The men came with a summer willingness (that is,
with less unwillingness than in frost time, for,
remember, it takes work to make work easy and your
beginner each day hates the beginning) and they
were drawn from all ends of the earth.
There were British Canadians:
And Americans: from Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas,
Iowa and the Lord knows where.
And Spaniards: one a man of Castile, and one from
There were two Kanucks of the old sort from the
East or there was one at any rate.
There were Englishmen. Well, there was one Jack
Mottram and he a seaman.
There was one Swede, Hans Anderssen, in the Mill.
There were two Finns outside it.
And one Lett (from Lithuania, you understand). t2      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
There was a Scotchman of course, and, equally of
course, he was the Engineer.
There was a French Canadian, not by any means
of the habitant type but very much there, and he
knew English well, but usually cursed in French as
was proper.
There were two Germans. One was as meek as
one German usually is unless he is drunk. But one
was not meek.    More of him anon.
It was an odd crowd, a mixed crowd at meal times
in the Mill hash house. To add to everything Chinamen waited: Chinamen cooked.
I Now then, Sing, chuck the chow on! "
I Sing-Sing (that's where you ought to be), where's
the muckamuck ?"
" Sacre chien "
| Der Teuf el "
I By the great Horn Spoon "
"Holy Mackinaw!"
" Caramba—Carajo "
" By Crimes "
"Oh! Phit!"
I Oh, where's the grub, the hash—the muckamuck,
you Canton rats!    Kihi, kiti, mukhahoilo! "
And the hash was slung and the slingers thereof
hurried. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      13
The hash-eaters talked English (of sorts), American
(North and South), Swinsk, Norsk, Dansk, true
Spanish (with the lisp), Mexican Spanish (without it and soft as silk). They interlarded the talk
(which was of mills, lumber, and politics, and Indian
klootchmen, and the weather, and of horses and dogs
and the devil and all) with scraps of Chinook. And
that is English and French and different sorts of
Indian fried and boiled and pounded and fricasseed
and served up in one jargon. It's a complete and
God-forsaken tongue but Easy, and Easiness goes.
It is as it were brother to Pidgin English.
The grub was ' muckamuck' and luckily was
j kloshe.' But as it happened (it usually did happen)
there was salmon.
I Cultus slush, I call it," said one. " Cultus muckamuck."
"That's Ned Quin's nickname up to Kamloops,"
said Jack Mottram.
I Our man's brother ? "
" Him," said Jack. He picked his teeth with a fork
and Long Mac eyed him with disgust.
"I know Ned, he's tough."
But Jack was tough himself: he had been salted
in all the seas and sun-dried on all the beaches of
the rough round world.    He made short stays every- THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST
where; passages not voyages: skippers were glad to
give him his discharge, for after sixty days at sea he
sickened for the land and became hot cargo.
"Oh, I'm tough enough," he would prelude some
yarn with.
Now Shorty Gibbs spoke, he of the Shingle Mill.
Lately the Shingle Mill had annexed half a thumb
of his as it screamed out to him. " He's a son
of a "
He completed the sentence in the approved round
They all admitted that Quin the Manager was
Tough, but that Ned Quin of Kamloops was tougher
admitted not a doubt.
They swept the food from the table. Just as the
logs were divided by the Saws and fell into various
Chutes and disappeared, so the food went here.
Most of the men ate like hogs (the better Americans
least like): they yaffled, they gurgled, they sweated
over the chewing and got over it.
I'm piled up," said Tenas Billy of the Lath MilL
He too was minus a thumb and the tops of some
fingers, tribute to the saw. Especially do the Shingle
Saw and Lath Saws take such petty toll. When the
Hoes ask tribute or the Pony Saw it's a different
matter. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      15
I I'm piled up."
As to being piled up, that was a Sawmill metaphor.
I You've put the tightener on your belt! "
To be sure they all had.
But as to piling up, when things were booming and
men were warm and feeling the work good, and when
nothing went wrong with the belts or with the Engines
and the logs came easy and sweet, it was the ambition
of the Chief Sawyer to pile up the Skids of Long
Mac who had the Pony Saw. Then it was Long
Mac's desire to pile up the skids for the Chinee
trimmer (not run by a Chinee) and it was that
Trimmer's desire to pile up the man opposing. To
be piled up is to have bested one's own teeth, when
it comes to chewing.
I My skids are full," said the metaphorical.
At six the whistle blew again, with a bigger power
of steam in its larynx.    The Mill said	
" Give me the logs, the boom is full and I'm in want
of chewin'! Nika tiki hyas stick! Give me logs:
I've new teeth this morning! I'm keen and sharp.
Hoot—too—oot—too—oot! Give me Fir and Pine
and Spruce—spru—ooce! "
The Hash-Room emptied till noontime, when next
Hash-Pile was proclaimed, and the men streamed
across the sawdust road and the piled yard to the 16     THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
open Mill. Some went in by the door, some by the
Engine-Room, some climbed the Chutes. The sun
was aloft now and shining over the Pitt River
Mountains (where Pete came from) and over Sumach.
The river danced and sparkled: scows floated on its
tide: the Gem steamer got up steam. The Canneries
across the big River gleamed white. The air was
lovely with a touch of the breath of the mountains
in it.    The smell of the lumber was good.
The men groaned and went to work.
They forgot to groan in twenty minutes.
It was good work in an hour and good men loved
it for a while.
But it was work that Pitt River Pete saw as he
leant against the wall. It wasn't an English pretence,
or a Spanish lie, or an Irish humbug: it was Pacific
Slope work, where men fly.    They work out West!
"Oh, Klahya!"
"I wonder if I can get a jhob," said Pete. And
the job worked up for him under his very eyes> for
Quin had a quick mind to give him work and get
pretty Jenny near, and Ginger White was sore against
Yes, Pitt River Pete, you can get " a jhob! " Devil
doubt it, for you've a pretty wife, and Quin	
White drove the carriage fast and faster still, drove 1
it indeed faster than the saw could take it, meaning
to hustle Simmons and have present leave to burst
out into blasphemy. Things happen quick in the
Mill, in any mill, and of a sudden White stopped the
carriage dead and yelled to Simmons on the log:
I Can't you keep her open, damn you ? Are you
goin' to sleep there ?    Oh, go home and die!"
Simmons, on the log on his knees, looked up
savagely. Though the big Hoes were silent there
was row enough with the Pony Saw and the Big
Trimmer and Chinee Trimmer and the Lath Mill
and the Shingle Saw and the Bull Wheel and the
groaning and complaining of the planing machines
outside. So Simmons heard nothing. He saw
Ginger's face and saw the end had come to work.
He knew it. It had been coming this long time and
now had come. But Simmons said nothing: he
grinned like a catamount instead, and then looked
round and saw Quin.   He also saw Pete.
I To hell," said Simmons.
As he spoke he hurled his maul at White, and
Ginger dodged. The head missed him but the handle
came backhanded and smote Ginger on the nose so
that the blood ran.
I Oh, oh," said Ginger as sick as any dog. Simmons
leapt off into the very arms of Quin. 18      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
" I'll take my money, Mr. Quin," said Simmons.
"Take your hook," said Quin. "Look out, here's
White for you with a spanner! "
White came running and expected Simmons to
run. But Simmons' face was red where White's was
white. He snatched a pickareen from the nearest
Chinaman, and a pickareen is a useful weapon, a sharp
half pick, and six inches of a pick.
"You " grinned Simmons, "you "
And White stayed.
" Yah!" said Simmons, with lips set back. And
Ginger White retreated.
" Here, sonny, take your pick," said the Wedger-Off
that had been to the Chinaman; "fat chops don't
care to face it."
He turned to Quin.
" Shall I go to the office, Mr. Quin? "
" Aye," said Quin carelessly enough.
He beckoned to Pete, whose eyes brightened. He
came lightly.
" You'll take the job, Pete ? "
Would he take it ?
" Nawitka," said Pete, " yes, indeed, Sir."
Nawitka! He took the job and grinned ■ with
Skookum, who fetched the maul and gave him the
wedges   with all   the  pleasure   in   the   world,   for :THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      19
Skookum had no ambition to be Chief Wedger-Off.
White came forward, dabbing at a monstrous tender
nose with a rag.
" I've seen you at the Inlet ? " he asked.
"Yes," said Pete, "at Granville."
I You'll do," said White.    He dabbed at his huge
proboscis and went back to the lever.    Pete leapt
upon the log and drove in the first wedge.
" Hyas, hyas!    Oh, she goes! "
She went and the day went, and Pete worked like
fire on a dry Spruce yet unfelled.    He leapt on and
off and handled things with skill.      But when he
looked at White's growing nose he grinned.    Simmons
had done that.
" If he ever talk to me that away," said Pete, " I'll
give him chikamin, give him steel! "
He didn't love White, at the first glance he knew
that. But it was good to be at work again, very good.
At twelve o'clock the whistle called " Hash," and
the engine was shut down. The Saws slackened their
steady scream, they grew feeble, they whined, they
whirred, they nearly stopped, they stayed in silence.
Men leapt across the skids: they slid down the
Chutes: they clattered down the stairs: they opened
their mouths and could hear their voices. They
talked of White (he grubbed at home, being married), "99
and of Simmons and of Pete (he being a Siwash, even
if not married, would not have grubbed in the Hash
House) and heard the story. On the whole they
were sorry that Simmons had not driven the pickareen
through White.    However, his nose was a satisfaction.
"Like a beet—"
IA pumpkin— "
IA water melon— "
A prodigious nose after contact with the Maul
"I knew Mr. White," said Jenny to Pete, "Mr.
White bad man, hyu mesahchie."
" Sling out the muckamuck," said Pete calmly.
He fell to with infinite satisfaction, and Jenny came
and sat on his knee as he smoked his pipe.
" She is really devilish pretty," said Quin, who had
no one to sit on his knee.
The whistle suddenly said that it was half after
twelve and that it would be infinitely obliged if all
the working gentlemen from everywhere would kindly
step up in a goldarned hurry and turn to.
"Turn to, turn too—toot," said the whistle as
brutally as any Western Ocean bo'sun.
The full fed reluctant gentlemen of the Mill went
back into the battle, waddling and sighing sorely.
"Wish  to   God  it  was six  o'clock,"  they  said. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      21
There's no satisfying everybody, and going to work
full of food is horrid, it really is.
What happened in the morning happened in the
afternoon, and all the saws yelled and the planers
complained and the men jumped till six, when the
Engines let steam into the Whistle high up against
the Smoke Stack and made it yell wildly that work
was over for the day. Mr. Engine-man played a
fantasia on that pipe and hooted and tooted and did
a dying cadenza that wailed like a lost soul in the pit
and then rose up in a triumphant scream that echoed
in the hills and died away across the waters of the
Fraser shining in the peaceful evening sun.
And night came down, the blessed night, when no
man works (unless he be in a night shift, or is a night
watchman or a policeman or, or—). How blessed it
is to knock off! But there, what do you know about
it, if you never played with lumber in a Stick Moola ?
Nothing, I assure you.    Go home and die, man. 22
THERE were times when the Mill ate wood all night
long, but such times were rare, for now the City of
the Fraser was not booming. She sat sombrely by
her bright waters and moaned the bitter fact that
the railway was not coming her way, but was to
thrust out its beak into the waters of the Inlet.
The City was a little sad, a little bitter, her wharves
were deserted, dank, lonely. She saw no great
future before her: houses in her precincts were
empty: men spoke scornfully of her beauty and
exalted Granville and the forests whence Vancouver
should spring.
But for such as worked in the Mill the City was
enough. They lived their little lives, strove manfully or poorly, thinking of little things, of few
dollars, of a few days, and of Saturdays, and of
Sundays when no man worked. And each night
in   Sawmill   Town,   in   Sawdust   Territory,   was   a THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      23
holiday, for then toil ceased and the shacks lighted
up and there was opportunity for talk. Work was
over. 'Halo Mamook,' no work now, but it
might be rye, or other poison and gambling and
debauchery. The respectable workers (note that
they were mostly American) went off up town, to
the Farmers' Home or some such place, or to the
City library, or to each other's homes, while the
main body of the toilers of the Mill ' played hell' in
their own way under the very shadow of the Mill
itself. For them the end of the week was a Big
Jamboree, but every night was a little one.
Pete was back among his old tilikums, his old
partners and friends, and it was an occasion for a
jamboree, a high old jamboree of its order, that is;
for real Red Paint, howling, shrieking, screaming
Jamborees were out of order and the highly
respectable rulers of the City saw to it that the
place was not painted red by any citizen out on
the loose with a gun. British Columbia, mark you,
is an orderly spot: amazingly good and virtuous
and law-abiding, and killing is murder there. This
excites scorn and derision and even amazement in
American citizens come in from Spokane Falls, say,
or elsewhere, from such spots as Seattle, or even
Snohomish. 24      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
But even without Red Paint, or guns, or galloping
cayuses up and down a scandalised British City,
cannot a man, and men and their klootchmen, get
drink and get drunk and raise Cain in Sawdust
Town? You bet they can, tilikums! Nawitka,
certainly!    Oh, shucks—to be sure!
Pete and Jenny (being hard up as yet) lived in a
room of Indian Annie's shack, and had dirt and
liberty. In Sawdust Town, just across the road
and on the land side of the Mill, were squads of
disreputable shacks in streets laid down with stinking rotten sawdust and marked out with piles of
ancient lumber. All this had one time been a swamp,
but in the course of generations sawdust filled it
to the brim. Sawdust rots and ferments and smells
almost as badly as rice or wheat rotting in a ship's
limbers, and the odour of the place in a calm was a
thing to feel, to cut, even with an axe. It was a
paying property to Quin and Quin's brother, for
lumber costs next door to nothing at a mill, and
the rent came in easily, as it should when it can be
deducted from wages. It was a good clean property as some landlords say in such cases, meaning
that the interest is secure. Life wasn't; and as to
morality, why, what did the Quin Brothers care
about  their   renters  of the   shacks,   shanties,   and THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      25
keekwilly holes? They cared nothing about their
morals or their manners or the sanitation.
Chinamen lived there: they were Canton wharf-
rats mostly, big men, little men, men who lived
their own odd secret racial lives hidden away from
the eyes of whites.    White boys yelled—
I Oh, Chinkie, kihi, kiti mukhahoilo "
And it was supposed to be an insult. The
Chinkies cursed the boys by their Gods, and by
Buddha and by the Christians' Gods. " Oh, ya, velly
bad boy, oh, damn." Stones flew, chunks of lumber,
and boys or Chinamen ran. The Orientals chattered
indignantly on doorsteps. If a boy had disappeared
suddenly, who would have wondered ?
It was a splendid locality for nature, the nature
of Man, not for the growth of other things. There
were few conventions green in the neighbourhood,
a man was a man, and a hound a hound there, and
a devil a devil without a mask.    It had a fascination.
The Chinamen mostly worked in the yard: handling lumber as it came out, stacking it, wheeling it,
carrying it. But there were others than Chinky
Chinamen about. There was Spanish Joe in one
shack which he shared with Chihuahua, who was a
Mexican. Be so good as to pronounce this word
Cheewawwaw and have  done  with  it     Skookum 26      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
Charlie and his klootchman (he was from
S'Kokomish and was a Puyallop and she from
Snohomish and was a Muckleshoot) lived in another. There's no word for wife in Chinook but
only Klootchman, woman, so though there's one for
marry, malieh, the ceremony is not much thought
of. When a man's klootchman is mentioned it
leaves the question of matrimony open for further
inquiry, if necessary.    But is it worth while ?
A dozen Sitcum-Siwashes camped in other
shanties; they were from all along the coast, even
Metlakahtla and from inland, one being nearly a
full-blooded Shushwap. But the only pure-blooded
Indian about the place was Indian Annie. She was
a Hydah from the Islands and had been as pretty
as a picture once, as so many of the Hydah women
were. Now she was a hag and a procuress and as
ugly as a burnt stick and as wicked as a wild-cat
If she was ever washed it was when she was dead
drunk in a rainstorm. she was wrinkled like the
skin of a Rambouillet ram: she walked double and
screeched like a night-hawk. As to her clothes
and the worth of them, why, anyone but an entomologist would have given her a dollar to burn them—.
Faugh! Nevertheless it was in her shack that Pete
camped with Jenny. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      27
About nine o'clock that night, the night of Pete's
getting a job, it was wonderful at Indian Annie's.
If you don't believe it come in and see, tilikum!
There are tons of things you don't know, tilikum,
the same as the rest of us.
Oh, hyah, oho, they were enjoying themselves!
Such a day it had been, clear, clean-breathed,
splendid, serene, and even yet the light lingered in
the cloudless heavens, though the bolder stars came
like scouts over the eastern hills and looked down
on Mill and River.
But shucks, what of that in Indian Annie's ? The
room that was kitchen, dining room, hall and lumber
room was reeking full. A wood fire smouldered on
the hearth s a slush lamp smoked in the window
against the dying heavenly day. Pete was there
and Annie, and Jack Mottram, an English sailorman.
He lived next door with a half-breed Ptsean (you
can't pronounce it, tilikum) who was scarcely prettier
than Annie, till she was washed. Then she was
obviously younger at any rate.
Everyone was so far very happy.
I Hyu heehee," said Indian Annie. By which she
meant in her short way that it was all great
fun, and that they were jolly companions everyone.     Besides    Annie    there    were    three    other 28      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
klootchmen in the room and their garments were
not valuable. But it was " hyu heehee" all the
same, for Jack Mottram brought the whisky in;
Indians not being allowed to buy it, as they are apt,
even more apt than whites, the noble whites, to see
red and run ' Amok.'
" Here two dollah, you buy mo' whisky, Jack,"
said Pete, who was almost whooping drunk by now
and as happy as a chipmunk in a deserted camp, or
a dog at some killing, perhaps.
"Righto," hiccupped Jack, and away he went.
Pete sang something. There's bawdry in Chinook
Pete was a handsome boy if one likes or does
not dislike the Indian cheekbones. For the features
of the Sitcum-Siwash were almost purely Indian;
his colour was a memory of his English father. He
was tall, nearly five foot ten, lightly and beautifully
built. He was as quick on his feet as a bird on
the wing. His hands, even, were fine considering
he was one who would work. His eyes were reddish brown, his teeth ivory: his moustache was a
scanty Indian growth. Not a doubt of it but that
Pete was the best-looking " breed" round about
Westminster. And he wasn't as lazy as most of
Take his history on trust. It is easy to imagine
it He had half learnt to read at an Anglican
Mission. His English was not bad when he talked
to white men. In truth it was better and heaps
cleaner than Jack Mottram's. But talk on the
.American side of the water is always cleaner. "If
you don't like bawdry, we'll have very little of it,"
said Lucio to the Friar, who was perhaps .American.
Pete was a nice boy of twenty-three. But he had
a loose lip and could look savage. His mind was
a tiny circle. He could reach with his hand almost
as far as his mind went. He had a religion once,
when he left the Fathers of the Mission. He then
believed in the Saghalie Tyee, the Chief of Heaven:
in fact, in the Head Boss. Now he believed in the
head boss of the Mill and in whisky and in his
wife: all of them very risky beliefs indeed.
So far Jenny, Pete's little klootchman (and a
sweet pretty creature she was) hadn't yet showed
up in the shebang. She had been out somewhere,
the Lord alone knows where (Quin would have
wished he knew), and she was now in the inside
room, dressing or rather taking off an outside gown
and putting on a gorgeous flowered dressing-gown
given her by a lady at Kamloops. Now she came
She was a beauty, tilikum, and you can believe
it or leave it alone. She was little, no more than
five feet three say, but perfectly made, round,
plump, most adequate, which is a mighty good
word, seeing that she was all there in some ways.
She had a complexion of rosy eve, and teeth no
narwhal's horn could match for whiteness, and her
lips were red-blooded, her ears pink. She had
dimples to be sworn by: and the only sign of her
Indian blood (which was obviously Hydah) came
out in her long straight black hair, that she wore
coiled in a huge untidy mass. But for that she
was white so far as her body went. As for her
soul—but that's telling too soon.
Now she came out of the inner chamber in her
scarlet gown, which was flaming with outrageous
tulips, horribly parodying even a Dutch grower's
nightmare, and she looked like a rosebud, or a
merry saint in a flaming San Benito with flower
flame devils on it in paint And not a soul of her
tilikums knew she was lovely. They envied her
that San Benito!
Jenny was sober enough this time (and so far),
and if no one knew she was lovely she knew it, and
she eyed some of the drunken klootchmen disdainfully.      This   was   not   so  much   that   they  were THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      31
fahtlum but because they had but ten cents worth
of clothes and were not toketie or pretty.
" Fo! " said Jenny, stepping lightly among the
recumbent and half-recumbent till she squatted on
her hams by the fire.
" Where you bin, Jenny ? " asked Pete, already
hiccupping. And Jenny said she had been with
Mary, or Alice, or someone else.   May be it was true.
I Have a drink," said her man, handing her a
bottle. She tilted it and showed her sweet neck
and ripe bosom as she drank and handed it back
Then Jack Mottram, English sailorman and
general rolling stone and blackguard, came in hugging two bottles of deadly poison, one under each
I Kloshe," said the crowd, | kloshe, good old
The \ shipman' dropped his load into willing
claws and claimed first drink loudly.
I S'elp me, you see, pardners, I bro't 'em in fair
and square: never broached 'em. I know chaps
as'd ha' squatted under the lee of a pile o' lumber
and ha' soaked the lot.    S'elp me I do! "
It was felt on all hands that he was a noble
character.   Indian Annie patted him on the back.
f^ : ===== ^ = _,i~jg^g=Sgr^ra^g»CTsm^ 32      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
"'Ands off, you catamaran," said Jack. In spite
of being a seaman he believed the word was a term
of abuse.
He was a seaman, though, and a first-class hand
anywhere and anywhen. To see him now, foul,
half-cocked, bleary, and to see him when three
weeks of salt water had cleaned and sweetened him,
would surprise the most hopeful. He went passages,
not voyages, and skipped ashore every time he
touched land. There wasn't a country in the round
world he didn't know.
" I know 'em all from Chile to China, from Rangoon to Hell," said Jack, " I know 'em in the dark,
by the stink of 'em!"
Now he jawed about this and that, with scraps
of unholy information in his talk. No one paid
attention, they talked or sucked at the whisky. The
more Indian blood the more silence till the blood
is diluted with alcohol. Every now and again some
of them squealed with poisonous happiness; outside
one might hear the sound of the screams and singing and the unholy jamboree. The noise brought
others. Someone knocked at the door. The
revellers were happy and pleased to see the world
and they yelled a welcome.
" Come in, tilikum! " they cried, and Chihuahua THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      33
opened the door against one klootchman's silent
body and showed his dark head and glittering eyes
" Where my klootchman ? You see my klootchman ?   Ah, I see! "
She was half asleep by the fire, and nodded at
him foolishly. He paid no attention for he was
after liquor and saw that the gathering welcomed
him. He knew them all but Pete, but he had heard
of the row in the Mill and had seen the head that
Simmons put on Ginger and he knew that a tilikum
of Skookum's had been made wedger-off.
"You Pete, ah, I tinks."
I Nawitka, tilikum, that's me, Pitt River Pete.
You have a drink. Ho, Jenny, you give me the
bottle.    She's my klootchman."
Chihuahua took the bottle and drank. He looked
at Jenny and saw that she was beautiful.
" Muchacha hermosa," he said. She knew what he
meant, for she read his eyes.
"Your little klootchman hyu toketie, Mister Pete,
very peretty, oh, si," said Chihuahua.
"Mor'n yours is," hiccupped Jack Mottram.
I But—'oo's got a smoke ? "
The beady-eyed man from Mexico had a smoke:
a big bag of dry tobacco and a handful or pocket
full of papers. He rolled cigarettes for them all,
doing it with infinite dexterity. Drunk or sober
Chihuahua could do that His own klootchman
clawed him for one of them and without a word he
belted her on the ear and made her bellow. She
sat in the corner by the fire and howled as
lugubriously as if her dog or her father had just
" Halo kinootl, halo kinootl, mika tiki cigalette! "
I Oh, give the howler one," said Jack, as she kept
on howling that she had no tobacco and that her
man was angry with her. Pete gave her his, which
was already lighted. She giggled and laughed and
began crooning a Chinook song ■
'' Konaway sun
Hyu Keely
Annawillee !"
It was a mournful dirge: she sang and smoked
and wept and giggled and tried to make eyes at
Jack who must love her or he could never have
given her a " Cigalette." He was heaps nicer than
She set them off singing and more drink was
brought in, and still Annawillee said she was very
■ keely' or sad. Indeed, she was weeping drunk
and no one paid any attention to her, least of all THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      35
Chihuahua. Jack sang a chanty about Dandy Rob
of the Orinoco and a pleasing meal of boiled sawdust
and bullock's liver, " blow, my bully boys, blow! "
and wept to think of Whitechapel. An encore
resulted in " My rorty carrotty Sal, who kems from
W'itechapal," and then Jack subsided amid applause,
and slept the sleep of great success.
But Pete was now ' full' and could speak to
Chihuahua and to Spanish Joe and Skookum Charlie
who had come in together.
§ Why you come here, Pete ?" asked Skookum.
I They say you have a good jhob up to Kamloops."
* I tell you, tilikum," said Pete. " Me and Jenny
here was with Ned Quin, Cultus Muckamuck we
call him up alound the Dly Belt. Ain't he a son
of a gun, Jenny ?"
Jenny nodded and took a cigarette from Chihuahua
with a heavenly smile. They were all lying around
the fire but Pete and Jenny. The other klootchmen
were mostly fast asleep: Indian Annie was insensible. Pete went on talking in a high pitched but
not unpleasant voice. His English was by no means
so bad though not so good as Jenny's.
I Mary, my sister, she's Ned Quin's klootchman,"
said Pete, "and has been with him years, since his
white woman died.    I forget how long:  nika kopet
kumtuks, it's so long. So me and Jenny work
there: she with Mary, me outside with the moos-
mooses, wagon, plowin', harrowin', and scraper team.
Oh, I work lika hell all one year, dollar a day and
muckamuck I and old Ned he was Cultus Muckamuck, oh, you bet, tilikums: mean as mud. Him
and me don't hit it off, but I lika the place, not too
wet, good kieutans to ride, and, when I get sick and
full up of Cultus, Jenny here she fond of my sister
and when she was full up of Mary I just happen
to pull with Cultus, so that's why we stay. Sometime the old dog he allow a dollar a day too much
for me, and me workin' lika a mule. Oh, I work
alia time, by God, velly little dlunk only sometime
in Kamloops. And I say 'Look here, Cultus, I not
care one damn, I can go. I can quit—:you pay
me!' But when it came to pay out dolla he very
sick, for sure. So I say 'You be damn,' and he
laughed and went away, for I had a neck-yoke in
my hand, ha! "
Pete showed his teeth savagely, and the others
" We do that often: he damn me, I damn him,
and mebbe Jenny and me would be there yet if he
had not hit Mary with a club while I was away over
to Nikola bringin' in the steers that was over the THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      37
range. I come back and I find Jenny cryin' and
Mary sick and cryin', and sore all over, and Cultus
hyu drunk. So I ups and say to Cultus, ' You swine,
you hit my poor sister once mo' and I quit.' Then
he began to cry and fetch mo' whisky and we both
get drunk and very much friends, and I go to sleep,
and he get ravin' and fetch a long-handled shovel
and frighten Jenny here to death and he hit Mary
with the flat of the shovel, and say, 'You damn
klootchman, next time I give you the edge and cut
hell out of you.'"
" He say those same words," said Jenny.
" And when I wake up," Pete went on, " they tell
me, and I say it no good to stay for if I stay I kill
Cultus and no taffy about it. So next day I say
' Give me my money,' and he give me an order on
Smith over to Kamloops, and we came down here,
and now I get the job of wedging-off again and
that's better'n workin' for old Cultus. Gimme the
bottle, Skookum, you old swine."
They all had another drink.
" George Quin heap berrer'n Cultus," said
"'E lika peretty girls," said Chihuahua, leering at
Jenny. '"E look after klootchman alia day, eh,
Spanish Joe said that was so. ' Spanish' was a
real Castilian, as fair as any Swede and had golden
hair and lovely skin and the blue eyes of a Visigoth,
and he was a murderous hound and very good at
songs and had a fine voice and could play the guitar.
He had no klootchman, but there was a white woman
up town who loved him and robbed her husband to
give him money.
" All klootchman no good," said Joe scornfully.
" You're a liar," said Jenny, " but men are no good,
only Pete is good sometimes, ain't you, Pete ? "
" Dry up," said Pete thickly, for the last drink had
done for him. "You dry up. All klootchmen talk
too much.   You go to bed, Jenny."
■ I shan't," said Jenny, sulkily.
So he beat her very severely, and blacked her eye,
and dragged her by the gorgeous dressing-gown
into the next room. As he dragged her she slipped
out of the gown and they saw her for an instant
white as any lily before he slammed the door on her
and came out again. Joe and Chihuahua yelled
with laughter, and even Skookum roused up to
chuckle a little. He had been asleep, lying with
his head on the insensible body of an unowned
klootchman, who was a relative of Annie's. His own
klootchman still sat in the corner, every now  and THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      39
again chanting dismally of the woes of Annawillee.
Joe and Chihuahua spoke in Spanish.
" She's a beauty, and George Quin will want her,"
said Chiliuahua.
"And he'll have her too, by the Mother of God,"
said Joe. " But klootchmen are no good. My woman
up town she cries too much. And as for her husband "
He indulged in some Spanish blasphemy on the
subject of that poor creature's man.
They slapped Pete on the back when he sat down
again, and said he knew how to serve a saucy
muchacha. And Joe sang a beautiful old Spanish
love song with amazing feeling and then went away.
But the melancholy of the song haunted poor Pete's
heart, and he went to his wife and found her
crouched on the floor sobbing and as naked as when
she was born. And Pete cried too and said that he
loved her.
But she still cried, for he had torn the lovely
dressing-gown with its gorgeous garden of tulips.
She hugged it to her beautiful bosom as if it were
a child.
In the outer room they all slept, and even Annawillee ceased moaning.
The night was calm and wonderful and as silent
as death. 40
Nah SIKS, ho, my friend, let me introduce you to
George Quin: Manager and part owner of the Mill,
of the Stick Moola which ate logs and turned out
lumber and used (even as sawdust) the lives and
muscles of high-toned High Binders from Kowloon
and the back parts of Canton, and hidalgos from
Spain with knives about them, and gentlemen from
Whitechapel who knew the ways of the sea, and many
first-class Americans from the woods, to say nothing
of Letts, Lapps and Finns and our tilikums the Indians
from the Coast.
Quin was two hundred pounds weight, and as solid
as a cant of his fir, and his mind was compact, a useful mind when dollars were concerned. He was a
squaw-man and was always in with one of them, for
there are men who don't care for white women
(though indeed he had cared very much for one) and
so run after klootchmen just as water runs down hill. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      41
It is explicable, for the conduct of (or the conducting
of) a white woman for the most part takes a deal of
restraint Quin hated any form of it: he was by
nature a kind of savage, though he was born in Vermont and bred up in lower Canada. He went West
early (even to China, by the way) and only kept so
much restraint as enabled him to hang on and make
dollars and crawl up a financial ladder—with that
wanting he might have been—
A Hobo,
A Blanket Stiff
A mere Gaycat,
and have ended as a " Tomayto-can Vag! " These
are all species of the Genus Tramp, or Varieties of
the species, and the essence of them all is letting go.
We who are not such vagabonds have to hold on
with our teeth and nails and climb. But the blessedness of refusing to climb and the blessedness of being
at the bottom are wonderful. We all know it as we
hang on. Now Quin, for all his force and weight
and power of body and of mind was a tramp in his
heart, but a coward who was afraid of opinion, where
want of dollars was concerned. He turned himself
loose only with the women.    He hated respectable 42      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
ones.   You had to be civil and gentlemanly and a
lot of hogwash like that with ladies.
" Oh, hell," said Quia " Great Scott, by the Holy
Mackinaw, not me! "
The devil of it all is that we are pushed on by
something that is not ourselves, and for what? It's
by no means a case of " Sic vos non vobis " but " sic
nos non nobis," and that's a solid fact, solid enough
to burst the teeth out of any Hoe that can cut teak
or mahogany, to say nothing of the soft wood of the
Quin compromised with the Mournful Spirit of
Push and gave his soul to dollars on that behalf, and
his body to the klootchmen.
It wasn't often that he slung work and took a
holiday, but in latitude 49.50 N. and longitude 122 W.,
which is about the situation of New Westminster, so
far as I can remember, Mills themselves take holidays
in frost time, and when the Mill was shut down the
Christmas before, he had taken a run up to Kamloops
to see his brother Ned or Cultus Muckamuck.
There he saw Jenny, the sweet little devil, who
hadn't been married to Pete for more than six months
and was just nineteen. He made up his mind
about her then, but there were difficulties. For one
thing Ned was always wanting him, and Indian Mary, THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      43
Ned's klootchman, was a good woman and heartily
religious in her own way, and she had a care for the
pretty little girl when the Panther, or Hyas Puss-
Puss, called George Quin, came nosing around. And
Pete was but newly wed and hadn't beaten Jenny
yet. And Jenny, the pretty dear, was fond of her
Sitcum Siwash and loved to see him on horseback,
all so bold and fine with one hand on his hip and a
quirt in the other. Given favourable circumstances
and enforced sobriety there's no knowing what the
two might have been.
I shall have to own it wasn't all George Quin after
all: I couldn't help liking George somehow. It's
the most mixed kind of a world, and though the best
we know, it might have been improved by a little
foresight one would think. There's always something
pathetically good in blackguards, something that
redeems the worst.   What a pity it is!
George Quin loved one woman who lived in far off
Vermont. She was his mother. He sent her dollars
and bear skins more than twice a year. He had his
portrait taken in his best clothes for her. He looked
so like a missionary that the good old lady wept.
There was something good in George one sees.
But he kissed Jenny behind Ned's old shack before
he went away.   It might look like a coincidence for
Pete to come down to the Mill to work for George
after getting the Grand Bounce by Ned, if it hadn't*
been for the kiss.    Women are often deceitful.
" I'll tell Pete," said Jenny in the clutches of the
Hyas Puss-Puss laughed.
" You tell him, you sweet little devil, and I'll blow
a hole through him with a gun! " said he.
If he played up, that is! Sometimes they don't,
you know.
" You give me a kiss without a fight, and I'll give
you a dollar," said the Panther. Jenny still kicked.
But she didn't squeal. Mary was inside the shack
and would have heard her, if she wanted help.
" Not for two dolla," said Jenny, hiding her mouth
with the back of her hand, with the nails out claw
" Three then," said Hyas Puss-Puss. He was as
strong as the very devil, said Jenny's mind inside,
three times, four times, ever so many times stronger
than Pete.
" Oh, no, not for three, nor four, nor five," said
Jenny, laughing.
He got it for nothing. But he got no more. Indian
Mary came outside and called—
George sat down on a log and filled his pipe while
Jenny went back. She ran fast so that her colour
and her tousled appearance might be accounted for.
George Quin saw it.
"The deceitful little devil, but I kissed her! "
He got no more chances. When he had hold of
her with that immense strength of his she was as
weak as water, as was only natural, but she wanted to
be good (Mary and the missionary had told her it
was right to be good, and Mary said that Ned was
going to marry her some day, so she was all right)
and she was really fond of Pete.
However, when Quin was going down to the Coast
again he got a moment with her.
" If you want to come down my way, I'll always
give a first-class job to Pete, my dear. Don't forget
He's a good man in a Mill. I saw him over at the
Inlet before he married you. I wish I'd seen you
before that, you little devil. Ah, tenas, nika tikegh
mika!    Oh, I want you, little one! "
When she and Pete pulled out from Cultus
Muckamuck's six months afterwards, they naturally
went on a Howling Jamboree in Kamloops, and it
ended in their being halo dolla, or rather, with no
more than Jenny had secreted for a rainy day. She
was a little greedy about money, it must be owned. 46      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
Some wanted Pete to go up to the Landing at
Eagle Pass as the Railroad was getting there from
East and West, though he wasn't a railroad man by
nature, but a lumber man. The railroader is always
one and so is the lumber man. Jenny suggested the
Coast and New Westminster.
In the meanwhile Pete had beaten her several times
and many had told her she was very pretty.    She
wasn't quite the little girl she had been at Cultus
Muckamuck's ranche.      She missed Mary, and her
morals did, too.    She remembered all about George
QuWs, " I'll give you two dollars for a kiss! "    For a
kiss only, mind.    She could take care of herself, she
said.    But they went to the Coast by way of the only
way, Savona and the Cafion.     At Savona, Jenny's
eyes got a pass to Yale out of Mr. Vanderdunk, who
had beautiful blue eyes and was a very good chap,
take him all round.    Jenny lied to him like sixty and
said her mother was dying at Yale.    Her mother was
as dead as Washington long years before.    She died,
poor thing, because Jenny's father became respectable
and renounced her and married a white woman in
Virginia.    He was a shining light in a church at that
very time, and was quite sincere.
" Give the pair a pass down," said Vanderdunk,
" of course they're lying but " THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      47
Eyes did it as they always will. So they went
down to Yale and by the Fraser steamboat to New
Westminster, and they put up at Indian Annie's as
aforesaid and the row in the Mill happened and Quin
saw Pete and he knew Jenny had come, and he smiled
and licked his lips.
The very next day after Pete's swift acceptance of
that noble position in the hierarchy of the Mill, the
Wedger-Off-Ship, and after the drunken jamboree at
Indian Annie's, Pete and Mrs. Pete hioved the torn
dressing-gown, etc, into Simmons' vacated shack.
For Simmons had gone to Victoria in the S.S. Teaser,
that old scrap-heap known to every one on the Sound,
or in the Straits of Georgia or San Juan de Fuca, by
her asthmatic wheezing. Pete's and Mrs. Pete's etc.
comprised one bundle of rags, and a tattered silk of
Jenny's, and two pairs of high-heeled shoes (much
over at the heel) and a bottle of embrocation warranted to cure everything from emphysema to a
compound fracture of the femur, and a Bible. Pete
had knocked Jenny over with that on more than one
The traps that Simmons left in his shack he sold
to Pete for one dollar and two bits, and they were
well worth a dollar, for they comprised two pairs of
blankets of the consistency of herring-nets and a
 r-'-*iTTfT—-r —
lamp warranted to explode without warning. He
threw in all the dirt he hadn't brushed out of the
place during a tenancy of eight months, and made
no extra charge for fleas. But Jenny was pleased.
It was her first home, mark you, and that means much
to a countess or a klootchman. Pete had wedded
her at Kamloops and taken her to Cultus Muckamuck's
right off, for there were no other men around there
but old Cultus, and his Mary looked after him if he
needed it.
So now Jenny grew proud for a while, and felt that
to have a whole house to herself and her man was
something. She forgave him her black eye, the poor
dear, and she mended the tulips carefully in a way
that would have given the mistress of a sewing school
a fatal attack of apoplexy. She worked the rent
together with gigantic herring-boning like the tacking
of a schooner up some intricate channel with a shifting wind.
Then she swept the shack and set out her household goods the boots and the Bible. The boots had
been given her by a Mrs. Alexander, sister to the
donor of the dressing-gown, and the Bible (it had
pictures in it) was the gift of a Methodist Missionary
who saw she was very pretty. So did his wife, so
everything was safe there. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      49
The bed belonged to the shack, that is, to the Mill,
to the Quins, and as it was summer there was no
need to get better blankets. Jenny laid the precious
tulips on it and the bed looked handsome enough for
Helen, she thought, or would have thought if she
had ever heard of her, and Pete admired it greatly.
They set out to be happy as people will in this
world. Jenny had a piece of steak cooked for Pete's
dinner and she laid the newspaper cloth very neatly,
and put everything, beer, bread and so on, as well as
some prunes, quite handy.
"By gosh, I'm hungry, old girl," said Pete, as he
marched in at noon.
" It's all ready, Pete," she said, smiling. The smile
was a httle sideways, owing to last night. " Sit down
and be quick."
There was need, for the Mill only let up for the
half hour.
" This is work here, Jenny," said Pete, " by the
Holy Mackinaw, I almos' forgot what work was at
old Cultus'.   Now she goes whoop! "
But he felt warm and good and kind.
" I'm sorry I hurt you, gal," he said, " but you was
very bad las' night. Drink's no good. I won't drink
no more."
"You  very   good  to   me,"   said  Jenny   meekly.
"Whisky always makes me mad. I'm glad we're
here.    Indian Annie's bad, Pete."
" Cultus' ole cow," said Pete, with his mouth full,
" but now we have our home, Jenny, my gal, and
plenty work and forty dollar a month. I'm goin' to be
a good man to you, my dear, and buy you big
shelokum, lookin' glass."
Jenny's eyes gleamed. There was only a three-
cornered fragment of glass nailed up against the wall,
and it was hardly big enough to see her pretty nose in.
" Oh, Pete, that what I like. Oh, yes, Pete, a big
" High and long," said Pete firmly.
"Very high," screamed Jenny joyfully.
" So you see all your pretty self," smiled Pete. " I
see one two yard high.    I wonder how much."
" One hundred dolla, I tink," said Jenny, and Pete's
jaw dropped.
I Never min', we get a good one for five dolla,"
said Jenny, and she kissed Pete for that five " dolla "
one just as he filled his pipe. Then the whistle of
the Mill squealed " Come out, come out, come out o'
that, Pete, Pe—ete! " and Pete gave his klootchman
a hug and ran across the hot sawdust to the Mill.
" Pete very good man, I won't kiss no one but Pete,"
said Jenny.    " I almos' swear it on the Bible." THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      51
She was a human little thing, and Pete was human,
poor devil. And so was George Quin, alas! And
the worst of it is that we all are.
" I almos' swear it on the Bible!"
The sun burned and the water glared, and the Mill,
the Stick Moola, howled and groaned and devoured
some twenty thousand feet of logs that afternoon,
and over the glittering river rose the white cone of
Mount Baker and up the river shone the serrated
peaks of the Pitt River Mountains, where Pete came
from, and all the world was lovely and beautiful.
.And that poor devil of a Quin sat in his office and
tried to work, and had the pretty idea of Jenny in
his aching mind.
" I almos' swear it on the Bible! "
Even George wanted to do the square thing, very
often. But Jenny's " almos' " was hell, eh? Tilikum,
we both know it! 52
But for the fact that there was too muchee pidgin
for everyone, as the Chinaman said, or hyu hyu
mamook as the Siwashes said, many might have run
after Jenny.
" One piecee litty gal velly hansum, belongy Pitt
Liber Pete," said Wong, who was the helper at the
Chinee Trimmer. He said it with a grin, "Velly
nicee klootchman alia samee tenas Yingling gal my
know at Canton, Consoo's litty waifo."
She was as pretty as any Consul's little wife, that's
a solid mahogany hard wood fact. But with twelve
hours work of the sort of work that went on in the
Mill who could think of running after the " one litty
piecee hansum gal" but the man who didn't work
with his hands?
Wong was a philosopher, and, like all real
philosophers, not a good patriot—if one excepts
Hegel, who was a conservative pig, and a state toady
and hateful to democrats. Wong had fine manners
and was a gentleman, so much so that the white
men really liked him and never wanted to plug him,
or jolt him on the jaw or disintegrate him, as they
did most of the Chinkies. He returned the compliment, and sometimes quarrelled with his countrymen about the merits of the whites, as one might
with Americans and others about the children of the
Flowery Kingdom.
" My likee Melican man and Yingling man," said
Wong. " Velly good man Melican: my savvy.
Some velly bad, maskee oders velly good. If
Chinaman makee bobbely and no can do pidgin,
Melican man say ' sonny pitch'; maskee my can do,
my savvy stick-mula mamook, so Melican man and
Yingling man say,' Good Wong, no sonny pitch, velly
good.' Melican gentleman velly good, all plopa.
What ting you tinkee ?"
Wong was an enigmatic mask of a man, wrinkled
wondrously and looking sixty, though nothing near it,
as hard as solid truth, fond of singing to a mandolin,
great at Fantan, but peaceable as a tame duck.
He had a kind heart, " all plopa that one piecee
man " from Canton, and one day (not yet) he has
his place here, all out of kindness to the " litty han-
§um gal belongy Pitt Liber Pete."    May his ashe? 54      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
go back to China in a nice neat " litty piecee box"
and be buried among his ancestors who ought to be
proud of him. Blessed be his name, and may he
rank with Konfutse! I preferred him to Hegel.
And if any of you want to know why I refer to him,
you must draw conclusions.
But, as we were saying, who could have full time
to run after the " litty gal" but Quin ?
To make another excursion, and explain, it may
be as well to let Pappenhausen talk. There were
two Germans in the Mill, and both worked in the
Planing Shed. One was a man of no account, a
shuffling, weak-kneed, weak-eyed, lager-beer Hans
with as much brains as would have qualified him to
be Heir Apparent to some third-rate Teutonic Opera-
House Kingdom. But Pappenhausen was a Man,
that is to say, he didn't compromise on Lager, or
weep because he drank too much. And he could
'work like three, and he wasn't the German kind as
regards courage. German courage is very fine and
fierce when the Teutons are in a majority, but when
they aren't their courage ranks as the finest discretion,
that is, as cowardice nine times out of ten. Pappenhausen would fight anyone or any two any time and
any where. He could fight with fists or a spanner,
or a pickareen or a club, and he took some satisfying. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
He was an amazing man, had been in America
thirty years. He said he was a " Galifornian" and
fought you if you didn't believe it. Once he stood
up to Quin and was knocked galley-west, for besides
Long Mac there wasn't a man in Saw-Mill Town
that could tackle the Boss. Quin got a black eye,
but Papp had two and lay insensible for an hour.
Quin was so pleased with that, that he put him to
work again and stood him drinks. He actually did.
After that Papp, as he was called, stood up for, and
not to, George Quin, and said he was a man, and he
asked what it mattered if he did run after the
klootchmen ?
" Dat's der Teufel," grunted the native ' Galifornian,' " dat's der Teufel, we all run avder der klootchmen, if we don'd avder trink. I'm a philozopher, I,
and I notizzes dat if it arn'd one ding it's anoder.
And no one gan help it, boys. One man he run
avder dollars, screamin' oud for dollars, and if you
zay a dollar ain'd wort' von 'ondred cents of drubble
he tink you grazy. I zay one dollar's wort' of rest
wort' a dollar and a half any day. On'y I cain'd
help workin'. If I don'd I feel I braig somedings
mit mein hands. Oders run avder klootchmen; if
dey don'd dey feels as if dey would also braig some-
dings.    I tinks the welt a foolish blace, but in Sher-
many (where my vater game from) I dinks it most
foolish. And Misder Guin he run avder Pete's
klootchman and bymby Pete gill her as like as nod
and then Mr. Guin very sorry he spoke. I dell you
I knows.    Life is a damn silly choke, boys."
But it was (and is) only a joke to a Democritus
of Papp's type.    Even Papp said	
"Bymby I ged a new sood of glose and fifdy
dollars and I go back home to Galifornia."
He said it and had said it
" Bymby "
Poor Papp!
It was no joke to Jenny presently that " Misder
Guin " ran after her. But then it is no joke at any
time to be the acknowledged belle of any place, even
if it is a Saw-Mill Sawdust Town, and the truth is
that Jenny shone even among the white women,
gorgeous in their pride and occasional new frocks
from San Francisco, the Paris of the Coast. There
wasn't a white "litty gal" in the City who was a
patch on her: she was the " slickest piece of caliker "
within long miles. Folks who were critical and
travelled, said that there was her equal over at
Victoria, but that was far off, and much water lay
between. From the mighty white-peaked summit
of the Rockies, and the wonders of the Selkirks, THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.       57
down through the Landing and Kamloops and Yale
at the end of the Canon away to Westminster, she
was the prettiest.
Think of it and consider that she lived in a two-
roomed shack with a decent-looking wedger-off
who was a Sitcum Siwash! She got compliments
on the street as she went up and down town.
I Great Scott, she's a daisy! "
" By the Great Horn Spoon, and also by the Tail
of the Sacred Bull, she knocks spots off of the hull
Such things said openly have their effect. But
the tulips on the dressing-gown did even more, and
the high-heeled shoes. She hankered after things
in the streets to which the dressing-gown was but
a faded flower. Quin spoke to her once as she
glared into a window.
"You like that, Jenny? "
" Oh, my," said little greedy Jenny.
Quin didn't care a hang if he spoke to the Httle
klootchman in public. He wasn't in society, for
even in the River City there was Society. They
drew the line at squaw-men who went to dance-
houses and so on. But for that, the Manager and
Owner of a Mill (or half one or even a quarter) could
have had entrance to the loftiest gaieties and the 58      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
dullest on earth. He didn't "give a damn," not a
"continental," for the "hull boiling," said Quin.
Jenny was his mark, you can take your oath.
She was worth it in looks only, that's the best
and worst of it.
" Oh, my," said Jenny.
"I'll give it you: it's my potlatsh," said the
Manager, who cared little for dollars when the girls
came in.
It was a " potlatsh," a gift indeed! To get Jenny,
Quin would have done " a big brave's potlatsh " and
given away all he owned, horses, mill, house, and
all. That's a fact, and it must be remembered as
Papp said, that " dey also veels as if dey would braig
some dings! "
She got the gorgeous silk of tartan stripes that
flared in the window like a light lightening the darkness, for Quin went in and bought what is known
as a dress length and sent it down to her by his
Chinese 'boy' When he met Pete in the road at
noon that day he stopped him.
"Oh, Pete "
" Sir," said Pete respectfully, for the Tyee was so
big and strong besides being a Tyee, which always
"I have given your wife some  stuff to make a THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      59
dress. She was very good to my brother and to
Mary," said Quin.    " She's a very good little girl."
He nodded and walked on. He wished Pete
would get killed on the top of a log, but his face
was inscrutable and calm as that of any full-blooded
Siwash. Pete was as innocent and as unsuspicious
as any child. If he feared anyone it was Spanish
Joe, with his guitar and his songs. He went home
as pleased as Punch by the condescension of the
Boss, and found Jenny laying out dinner.
The trouble came as quick as it could come. It
came right there and then, when both were as happy
as they could be. Jenny fairly shivered with
pleasure to think of the silk she had hidden inside
the inner room. Real silk it was and new, not a
cast-off rag from Mrs. Alexander, of the Kamloops
Hotel. The tulips of the dressing-gown faded clean
out of sight: they died down in their monstrous
array. She saw the Dress, saw it made up, saw the
world admire it: heard the other klootchmen clicking envious admiration. But how was she to
account for it to Pete? She had been kissed by
Quin, and she knew he liked her, wanted her. The
big man flattered her senses, he was a white man,
rich and strong. She wouldn't have almost sworn
on the Bible that she wouldn't kiss him, now that 6o      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
this silk filled earth and heaven for her gaudy little
mind.    She would have to think how to tell Pete.
So in came Pete in excitement.
" Show me what Mr. Quin give you," he demanded.
And her unlucky lie was ready. It fell from her
lips before she had a moment to think.
" He give me nothing; why you say that ? "
Pete's jaw fell and his eyes shut to a thin line.
"You damned liar, kliminiwhit," he said. " I
" It's not true, you dam' liar you'self," said Jenny.
■ What for you tink the Tyee give me tings ? You
tink me a cultus klootchman like Indian Annie ? "
On his oath he would have sworn one happy
moment before that he had never thought so. Now
he thought too much.
"You show it me or I kill you," said Pete. "I
know Mr. Quin he give you some stuff to make a
In his rage his words grew more Indian, and his
taught English failed, his r's became l's. So did
"Damn lie, I have no dless," screamed Jenny.
"You no give me noting, you make kokshut my
dlessing-gown. I dless like one cultus klootchman,
in lags." THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      61
He ran at her and she fled round the table. The
newspaper and the dinner went on the floor, and
she screamed. Then she slipped on the steak, and
went down. As chance had it the table came over
on top of her and she held it tight, so that he could
not get at her to hurt her much. But he kicked her
legs hard and then went into the inner room.
"No, Pete, no," she screamed. She knew that he
must find the dress, the precious silk, and she forgot
all else in her great desire that it should not be
harmed.   " I tell you the trut', Pete."
She crawled from under the table: her hair was
down to her waist, her wretched every-day gown
torn from her back: her bosom showed.
" Oh, Pete, oh, Pete! "
Her lips hung piteous for the lovely thing that
Pete had found and now held up in horrid triumph.
The roll unrolled: he had the crumpled end in his
hand. It was a flag of blazing silk, a tartan to appeal
to any savage.   Now it cried for help.
"You damn klootchman, you," said Pete. "What
for Quin he give you this ? "
He kicked the roll with his foot. The stuff unrolled more and Jenny cried aloud as though it was
her papoose that her savage man ill-used.
"I don' know why he give it me," she squealed. 62      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
" Him velly kin' man always. Oh, don' tear it, Pete,
oh, oh!"
With his hands he ripped the silk in fragments.
"You damn bad woman, mesahchie klootchman,"
he roared. "You no take such a ting from Mr.
Quin! You look at him lika you look at Spanish
Joe the other day: I see you."
" You no see me do anyting wrong," Jenny cried,
weeping bitterly. " I don' lika Spanish Joe. 'Tis
a lie, Pete. And I no can help if Mr. Quin give me
tings. I a very good woman, on the Bible I swear
it. I quite virtuous; Mr. Quin he no touch me, I
swear it.    Don' tear it no more.    Pete, oh, don'! "
He set his foot on the silk and ripped full twenty
yards into fragments. The room was full of shining
stuff, of red and yellow and green: the floor was
gorgeous with colour, and as he exhausted his rage
upon what he had found and was quite pitiless, her
little flower of love for him seemed to die in her
outraged heart, which loved beautiful things so much.
Now she had nothing left, her visions passed from
her. She sat down on the floor and howled aloud,
keening over the death of the beautiful dress. She
was no longer full of pride, and conscious of her
beauty: she was no more than a poor dirty ill-used,
heart-broken little klootchman, no more thought of THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      63
than dirty old Annie and Annawillee, who mourned
so sadly the other happy night.
" Aya, yaya, hyaalleha," she cried aloud. " Hyas
klahowyam nika, very miser'ble, aya! "
And Pete ran out of the shack leaving her
" That make her know what, eh ?" said Pete. He
worked furiously at the Mill, without any food, and
was very unhappy, of course, though he knew he
had done quite right in tearing the silk to pieces,
and in knocking thunder out of his klootchman.
He didn't believe she had been ' real wicked,' but
when it came to taking presents from Mr. Quin, and
lying about them, it was time to look out.
" I teach her," said Pete-; " give her what for, eh ? "
But he Wasn't mad with Quin. It was quite
natural for Quin to want Jenny. Pete knew all the
men did. She was so pretty. Even the Chinamen
knew it and said so. Pete was proud of that
" Velly hansum litty klootchman," said Wong. Why
should a man be angry because another man wants
his " litty gal" ? No need to " makee bobbely 'bout
that" surely. But the litty girl had to be taught.
" I give her the stick by-by," said Pete, and he used
the wedges and the maul as if he were giving poor 64      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
wretched Jenny the stick then. He worked that day
though he hadn't an ounce of muckamuck inside him.
Ginger White said he was as quick as the devil:
worth ten of that swine Simmons. White's nose
was gradually resuming its natural shape, but when
he thought of Simmons his hand went up to it
Oho, but they all worked, worked like the Bull-
Wheel, like Gwya-Gwya and "him debble-debble,"
said Wong.
" No Joss in British Columbia," said Wong;
" spose wantee catchee Joss catchee Debbie-Debbie.
Bymby Blitish Columbia-side an' Californee-side him
alio blong China, then Joss he come, galaw! "
The " debble-debble" was in Pete's heart for
hours, but there's nothing like work to get him out,
and by four o'clock he was getting sorry he had kicked
Jenny and torn up the ' dless.' The little klootchman
had been good, he was sure, and she cooked for him
nicely and didn't get drunk often. If she did get
too much, it was his own fault, he knew that.
" I tell her I'm sorry," he said.
Aya, yaya, what a cruel world it is, Pitt River
The little klootchman was " dying " now and telling the old hag Indian Annie all about it. And it's
only four o'clock and the Mill runs till six.
Poor Jenny, with bare shoulders and bare bosom,
howled upon the gorgeous floor of silken rags for
a long hour after Pete ran out in a rage.
"Aya, yaya, nika toketie dless kokshut, no good.
Pete him wicket man, aya! "
Oh, think of it! That beautiful green and yellow
and red silk so fine and thick and soft and shining!
That " dless" which it contained as a possibility,
that her natural woman's eye put on her pretty self!
Aya, Yaya! Even a dear white woman would be
very cross indeed if her man came in and said, " You
damn person, you have a roll of silk given you by
Smith or Brown or Jones," and then tore it up. Aya,
Yaya! How sad for poor Jenny, only nineteen, and
so sweet to look at and with a love of colour. Aya,
as I speak I feel ' hyu keely' I could mourn with
Jenny and say I'd get her another roll of silk, for a
kiss, perhaps, for the devil's in such a pretty dear.
Tut, tut, it's a sad world and a wicked, and the pretty
ones are the devil, aya, yaya!
It was quiet enough in Shack-Town in the afternoon and a continual aya, yaya-ing soon attracted
the attention of Indian Annie when she came from
begging up-town past Pete's shack.
" Alia, oho," said the bundle of wicked rags, once
a beautiful  klootchman  and   a  white   sea-captain's
5 66
darling, and yet another's and another's, ay de mi,
as Chihuahua said when he was sad, and others still
in a devil of a long diminuendo and degringolade
and a sad, sad fall, just as if she had been an improper white. " Oho, why Jenny cly, kahta she
In she went, for she knew Pete was wedging-off,
and in the inner room she found the pretty one half
naked on the silken rag carpet.
" Oh, my toketie Jenny, kahta cly ? Oh, Lejaub,
the pretty stuff all tole up, yaya ? Who done it,
Jenny, real kloshe silk all assame white klootchman
have in chu'ch?    Who give him, aya?"
She was down on her knees gathering up the silk
in whole armfuls.
" Dis Pete ?    Eh, Pete, pelton Pete, fool Pete, eh? "
Jenny sobbed out it was Pete who had torn it all
up, and Annie nodded cunningly as she stuffed a
good bundle of it into her rags.
"Aha, pelton Pete mamook si'k kokshut, but
klaksta potlatsh mika, nika toketie, who give him
you, my pretty ? "
" Mr. Quin give him, and my bad man he say I
mesahchie, no good, a cultus klootchman alia same
you! " howled Jenny open-mouthed
Annie showed her yellow fangs in a savage grin.
" Cultus, alia same nika ? Oho, pelton Pete, fool
Pete! "
" And he say," roared Jenny like any baby, " that
I no good, not virtuous, and he beat me, and taka
silk and tearum lika so! And I think I make a dless
so pretty and now the pretty dless is all lags, all
She roared again and shook with sobs, and Annie
got her by the shoulder.
" Pete is Lejaub, the devil of a bad man, my
pretty. I get you ten new dlesses for that. I hear
Pete no go to mamook but go up town and
dlink whisky at Spanish Joe's white woman's.
By-by he come back and beat you, Jenny."
Jenny clutched her.
" Oh, he kick me bad, see, nanitch! "
She showed her pretty knee with a black bruise
on it.
" That nothin', tenas toketie, by-by Pete come
back pahtlum and knock hell out of you, Jenny," said
Annie. Then she bent and whispered in Jenny's
" Oh, no, no," said Jenny. She clutched at Annie's
skirt as the old wretch got upon her feet. But Annie
turned on her and twitched her rags away.
" You pelton, too ?    Much better be live and with
rich good man than dead with Pete and Pete with
a lope on him neck. I go tell Mr. Quin, him very
good man, kloshe man."
But Jenny implored her not to go to him. And as
she sobbed that she was afraid of Quin the old hag
gathered up more and more of the silk until she
had nearly all that poor Jenny wasn't sitting on.
" You stay. I go see, go think what I do for you.
I no go to Mr. Quin, I promise, tenas toketie."
And she got away and went straight to the office
in which Quin was to be found, and asked to see him.
" Quit, you old devil," said the young clerk, " pull
your freight out of this. No klootchmen wanted
She had her ugly old face inside the door and the
boy threw the core of an apple at her.
" I want see Mr. Quin," she cried as she dodged
the missile.
" I want see him. You no kumtuks. Mr. Quin see
me, I tell you he want see me.    Ya, pelton! "
The boy knew very little Chinook and missed half
the beauty of what she went on to say to him. But
she told him much about his parents and a great
deal about his sisters that would have been disagree-
able even if translated with discretion. By the time
she came to a climax, her voice rose to a shriek that THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      69
might have been audible in the Mill itself, and Quin
came out in a rage.
" Get to thunder out of this, you old fool," said Quin,
" or I'll have you kicked off the place! "
She looked at him steadily and held up a long
fragment of the silk before him.
" Mika kumtuks okook, you know him ? " she asked
with a hideous leer.
And Quin came off the step and went up to her.
" Where you get it, Annie ? "
" You know," said Annie. " Tenas toketie have
him, you give him, ah. But who tear him, makum
" Pete ? " asked Quin with the devil of a face on
him. But Annie walked a little away and beckoned
him to follow. She got him round the corner and
he went with her like a child. He thought he understood.   Annie put out her claw and took his coat.
" I give you klootchman often, now you give me
tukamonuk dolla, one hundred dolla, and I give you
pretty Jenny."
Quin blew out his breath and bent down to her.
"You old devil," he said with a wavering grin.
" Me Lejaub ? Halo, no, I give you pretty young
squaw, that not like Lejaub. You give me one
hundred dolla, see." 70      THE ?REY OF THE STRONGEST.
Quin sighed and opened his mouth.
" I give it.    How you do it, Annie ? "
" Now she hate Pete, him pelton," said the witch;
" he beat her, kick her knee, kick her back, kick her
belly too, and tear up si'k in tenas bits, Mr. Quin.
She cly like any papoose, she scleam and make gleat
latlah. He tear up si'k and tear her dless, now she
half-naked on the floo'. That bad, and she pretty
and say Mr. Quin give me dless, kloshe Mr. Quin.
She love you, she tikegh mika, cly kahkwa the si'k
yours. You come: she go with you. I make so no
one know tings, if you take her yo' house."
His house was on the hill above them. There he
lived with not a soul but his Chinese boy.
" How you make no one know ? " he asked.
"Kloshe, I do it," said Annie. "1 say to Pete
she say to me she lun away, and not come back,
But as Quin explained to her, the first person Pete
would think of would be the man who had given
her the dress.
" Oh, ya, I know," said Annie. " Kloshe; I very
clever klootchman, I know evelything. She lun
away with Shipman Jack this very day and came
tell me so I tell Pete. How that do, Mr. Quin? You
tink, eh ?" THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      71
But Quin was doubtful. Annie urged her scheme
on him and still drew him further down the road.
" Pete him once jealous, hab sick tumtum about
Jenny with Shipman Jack, because Jack pinch her
behind and she cly out and Pete hear it. That the
other night. I know, I know evelything. I tell him
mo'. I say she often meet Jack befo'. Now you
have fire Jack, and he goes away this day and he
now go in Teaser piah-ship to Victolia, I see him.
Ah, velly good, she go with him. I say klahowya to
them. I get Annawillee for a dolla say she say
klahowya to them. And alia time Jenny in yo'
house. I bling her this night. You see, all light.
You give me one dolla now ?"
"You'll get drunk, you old harridan," said Quin,
who was all of a shake, "and if you do you'll mamook pelton of me and no get the hundred dolla.
No, I give you all to-night"
And knowing that it was true that she might get
drunk if she had that dollar she went away without
it, back to Jenny. 72
It was true enough that Jack Mottram, ' Shipman'
or sailorman, had been fired that day a little before
noon. To be ' fired' is to get the Grand Bounce, and
to get that is to get what everyone understands when
the sack is spoken of. Another way of saying it is to
mention that " he got his time," or perhaps his Walking Ticket. So now it is understood. Before getting
all these qualifications as a free unemployed seaman
he had got drunk early in the morning. This is
nearly always a fatal error and brings trouble anywhere. In a Stick-Moola running at full time it is
liable to bring death. For death stands handy with
his scythe, or perhaps his pickareen, uplifted in a
Mill. Indeed, Jack the Shipman very nearly sent
back to Bouddha, or maybe to Posa, one poor native
of the Flowery Kingdom by landing him one on the
"ear-hole." Poor Fan Tang (or something like it)
up-ended and disappeared down a chute, and was so
sadly disgruntled that he limped to the office and THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      73
denounced Jack to Quin in a fine flow of Pidgin
English and mixed Chinook.
" Muchee bad bad man belong Tlimmer pukpuk
my! My fallee down chute alio same lumber.
My muchee solly, you look see bluise! "
He exposed his awful injuries to Quin's view. He
had parted with many patches of cuticle in his tumble
down the chute.
" Dat shipman bad man, muchee dlunk," said Fan
Tang spitefully, and when Quin went over to the
Mill he found that Jack was indeed " muchee dlunk,"
and full of insolence and whisky.
" All ri', Mr. Quin, I quit. I'm full up of this work.
You give me my money and I'm off to sea. What
the 'ell I ever came ashore for, I dunno!    What ho! "
Tom Willett, a young Englishman, went from the
Chinee Trimmer to the Big Trimmer, and Wong the
philosopher took the Chinee Trimmer.
" Out of this," said Quin, "or I'll smash your jaw."
That was to Jack, who wasn't so drunk as to take
up the challenge. He went to the office quite meekly
after all. He was almost as meek as one ' Dutchman' among ten English.
" Righto, I'm off to Victoria this very day," said
Jack. He drew fifteen dollars and three bits, rolled
up his dunnage, and went to the wharf where the 74      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
Teaser steamboat, or "piah-ship," was lying. He
bade farewell to Sawmill Town with much contempt.
But Indian Annie saw him go. He goes out of this
history on his way to Hong Kong with lumber. He
got well man-handled by an American mate and lost
much insolence before he sighted Mount Stenhouse.
Annie went back to Jenny, now moaning sadly
with a dirty face, striped with tear-channels, and told
the poor pretty dear a dreadful tale. Pete was uptown, having got drink in spite of his being a Siwash,
and was ready to kill, said Annie.
" Aya, I'm very much flightened," said poor Jenny.
I What shall I do, Annie ?"
The procuress stole a little more silk and dragged
at Jenny's arm.
"You klatawa, go away, chahco with me. I hide
you, toketie. Pete wicked, bad man, and get hang if
he see you.    Come hyak, hyak! "
She got her into her own den, and hid her in the
inner room. Then she hobbled off to Annawillee,
while Jenny sobbed herself to sleep on the dirty bed.
Annie and Annawillee were old friends, for Annie
liked her. When Chihuahua beat Annawillee too
much she took refuge at Annie's till her man calmed
down. For love of Annie and a dollar Annawillee
would do anything. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      75
" I say I see Jenny klatawa in piah-ship with Jack
the shipman. Nawitka, I say it, and you give me
"Ha, one dolla, and one dlink, Annawillee," said
Annie, grinning. " Pete he much solly, and get
pahtlum to-night, for I take Jenny away to Mista
Quin.   By-by I ask mo' dolla.    Nanitsh ? "
Oh, but indeed Annawillee was no fool and saw
quick enough. To get money for helping Quin to
Jenny and to get more for not telling was a fine
business!    ' What you tink, eh ?'
At five o'clock Jenny, dressed in a horrid yellow
dress Delonging notoriously to Annawillee, and with
her head bound up as if she were indeed Annawillee
after Chihuahua had booted thunder out of her in a
jamboree, crawled with Annie up the hill, and sat
behind a big stump close to Quin's house, which stood
alone. Poor Jenny was scared to death by now, for
Annie said terrible things of a drunken Pete, who
was supposed to be sharpening a knife for a pretty
I You very good klootchman to Pete," said Annie,
" and he bad, oh, bad to you, tenas toketie.
Mista Quin him good man, rich and very skookum.
Pete kwass, afraid of Mista Quin. You alia same
white klootchman, good dlesses, very pretty.     You 76      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
il f
no forget poor Annie: you give her dless and dolla
when you alia same white woman in chu'ch, in
Jenny wept bitterly. She still thought she loved
Pete, and she was conscious that she was no beauty
in her dirt and the dreadful yellow rags of Annawillee.
" I wicked klootchman," said Jenny, " no mo'
virtuous, I have shem see Bible. And I not toketie
now, very dirty.    How I look now, .Annie ?"
"You always toketie, tenas," said the old witch
truly enough. " I do up yo' hair, tenas. By-by you
mamook wash yo' face, and be very pretty. Mista
Quin mamook wash every day, him gleat man,
skookum man, very lich, very lich, plenty dolla. Him
love you mo' than one hundred dolla."
She did up Jenny's mass of tumbled black hair, and
wiped her face with a rag.   She wetted it in her mouth.
" Now you clean," said Annie. " What time Mista
Quin come to him house ? "
She peered from behind her stump, and presently
saw Quin come up the hill. As he passed her she
called to him in a low voice.
" Yahkwa, here, Mista Quin."
And Quin came across the brush to them. Jenny
buried her face in her hands and her shoulders
trembled. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      77
" I bling her," said Annie. " She much aflaid, hyu
kwass, of Pete. He say he makee her mimaloose,
kill her dead, she muchee aflaid, and she tikegh you,
love you always."
Jenny shook and trembled like a beaten dog.
" She now very dirty and bad dless, but you
mamook wash, and she hyu toketie. No klootchman
here like Jenny. Now, tenas, you klatawa in house
She dragged the trembling child to her feet, and
then held out her hand to Quin.
" You give me the dolla ?"
.And Quin gave her the money in notes. She knew
well enough what each one was worth.
" Now I tell Pete she klatawa with shipman Jack
to Victoly, ha!"
She scrambled down the hill and Quin took Jenny
by the arm.
" Come, tenas," he said in a shaking voice.
But it was a kind voice after all, and Jenny burst
into a torrent of sobs and clung to him.
11 have much shem," she said, " I have much
Even Quin had some too, poor devil.
They went into the house. 78
By the time that the evening sun, slanting westwards
to the Pacific, which roared on wild beaches sixteen
miles away, shone into the western end of the Mill,
Pete had worked the anger out of his heart as healthy
children of the earth must do. The song of the Mill
was no longer angry or menacing: it became a harmony and was even sweet. Work went beautifully:
the logs were sweet-cutting spruce for the most part,
or splendid pine, or odorous red-cedar, and one
precious log of white cedar. The saws ran easy and
their filed teeth were sharp: the Hoes said " We can
do, we can do," and the Pony Saw piped cleanly and
clear, while the Trimmers, though they cut across the
grain, cut most swiftly and said, " Gee whiz, gee whiz."
Young Willett was pleased to get the Big Trimmer
and Wong most proud to run the Chinee one, which
by its name certainly belonged of old to some Chinaman, perhaps now in the country of Green Tea and
Bamboos, and forgetful of his ancient toil in alien THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.       79
lands. The engines, too, ran well and the sawdust
carriers did not break down, and no belt parted, and
nobody but Ginger White said much that was uncivil,
and if he went no further than that no one minded
him any more than they minded the weather or the
So as things went sweetly, Pete's heart grew sweet
and he was sorry he had kicked at Jenny's legs as
she lay under the table, and sorry he had torn up the
pretty silk. After all it was natural enough that Quin
should give her something, and it was natural he
wanted her. But of course he couldn't get her, for
she was virtuous and had a Bible, and knew religion,
and believed that Lejaub, or the diable, would take
anyone who was not virtuous. Both the Catholic
and the English priests said that, so it must be true
And, if she had denied having the dress, he owned
that he had often frightened her and it was natural
for her to say she hadn't got it, poor toketie Jenny.
He nobly determined to forgive her and say no more
about it.
And then the exultant whistle declared with a hoot
that the work was over for the day, and the engines
stopped and the saws whirred and whined and
drawled and yawned and stood still while the workers
clattered out, laughing and quite happy. 8o      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
Oh, but it's good to be strong and well and to have
work, but to have none and thereby to get to cease
to love it is very bad, oh, very bad indeed. Let the
wise know this, as the unwise and ignorant who labour
know it in their hearts and in their hands.
" Oho," said Pete as he strode across the yard,
He was nobly determined to forgive. He would
go in to Jenny and say, " Look here, Jenny, I forgive
you because you tell that lie, that kliminwhit. I
forgive you, but you be good, kloshe, tell your man
no more kliminwhit"
He came to his silent shack and didn't notice that
no smoke, no cooking smoke, came from its low
chimney. He marched in bent on forgiveness, and
found the front room empty.
" She still cly about that silk," said Pete uneasily.
He hesitated a moment before he opened the inner
door and called to her.
"Jenny, Jenny."
Silence answers you, Pete, silence and two empty
rooms with a table upset, and some few rags of dirtied
silk still left by the predaceous fingers or claws of the
vulturine Annie.
" She velly closs, go out with some other klootchman," said Pete.    " Damn, I beat her again."
Vm      . i-illl    = THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      81
It was very hard indeed that he, the Man, should
come in ready for forgiveness and good advice with
regard to future lies, and should find no one meekly
ready to accept pardon and to promise rigid truth in
future: it was very hard indeed, and Pete's brows
contracted and his heart was outraged.
" Now I not forgive," said Pete. " She not here,
no muckamuck ready and I so olo, so hungry."
He saw the steak that poor Jenny had cooked for
his dinner. It lay upon the floor, as she had lain on
it. It was trodden and filthy and Pete kicked it
spitefully. He saw an old rag of a dress that was
Jenny's. It was the one she had discarded for
Annawillee's horrid yellow rag of quarantine, which
said, "I'm Annawillee, be wise and don't come near
me." She had changed at Annie's, but Annie brought it
back and put it in sight.    For she was a spiteful devil.
" What for ? " said Pete. A dull fear entered his
heart which did not dispossess his anger. "What
for: kahta she leave dless ? "
It was a " dless " indeed. But she did not need it
then. There were certain beautiful garments at
Quin's house, and there would be more.
" I'll kick her when I find her," said Pete. He ran
out and went straight to the next shack, to Indian
Annie's den. 82      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
He found her and Annawillee, and both were drunk,
but not yet too drunk for speech, or for the discretion
of the arranged lie.
" You see Jenny ? " he demanded.
Annie lifted her claws to heaven and moaned.
" I so sorry, Pete, Jenny bad klootchman! "
I What you mean, you old devil ? " roared Pete, in
horrid fear.
"1 tell you delate, I tell you, Pete. She klatawa
with—with "
His jaw dropped.
I She go with Shipman Jack to Victoly in piah-
ship," said Annie, hiccupping. " I see her, Annawillee
see her."
" I see, nika nanitsh Jenny klatawa with Jack,"
puked Annawillee. " She klatawa in piah-ship, she
go Victoly."
She was hugging a bottle to her pendant breasts
as she told her lie. But she believed it by now, and
kept on repeating " to Victoly, an' to California in
piah-ship with Shipman Jack, inati chuck; acloss
I Oh, God," said Pete. He was a dirty white colour.
His lips hung down.
I She tikegh Jack velly much," said Annie, " love
him very much, and cly and say him good man, not THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      83
beat her and tear her dless.   She much aflaid of you,
Pete.   She cly and go away."
"She cly and go away," chimed in Annawillee,
weeping tears of awful alcohol. She was so sorry for
everyone, and for herself and Jenny and Pete and all
the world.    "I cly, I cly!"
She sobbed and drank, and still Pete stood there,
very sick at heart.
" My pretty tenas klootchman," he murmured, " oh,
hell, what I do ? "
" You hab dlink,'' said Annie, holding him up the
bottle. He took it, put it to his mouth, and drank
half a pint of fiery stuff that nearly skinned his throat.
He dropped the empty bottle on the floor and turned
away back to his empty shack.
" I will kill Jack," he said, " I, I, kill Jack! "
He saw the world in a haze: the Mill danced darkly
before his eyes, dark against a golden sunset, his
brain reeled, and when he came to his own door he
fell inside and lay insensible.
" Pete dlink too much, he gleedy beast," said Annie.
But Annawillee nursed her empty bottle to her
bosom and said foolishly—
" I see—nika nanitsh Jenny klatawa, oh, hyu keely
And the night presently came down, and as the
shacks lighted up it was told among all the Siwashes
and the Chinkies and the White Men of ten Nations
that Jenny, pretty Jenny, tenas toketie Jenny, had
' scooted' with Shipman Jack across the water to
Victoria, to California, to China, oh, to hell-an'-gone
"To Hell and Gone out of this," they said. And
Spanish Joe sang to the guitar a bitter little song
about someone's senora who fled across the sea, and
Chihuahua grinned at Jack's luck (Annawillee did
not tell him the truth), and the Whites, Long Mac,
and Shorty Gibbs and Tenas Billy and even young
Tom Willett, who knew nothing about klootchmen,
though some had their eye on him hopefully, said
there was no knowing what any woman would do.
They understood that men would do what they had
a mind to.
I Anyhow," said Shorty, " she was a dern sight too
pretty for a golderned Siwash like Pete. Someone
wuz sure to kapswalla her sooner or later. If I wuz
given to klootchmen, which I ain't, thank the Lord,
I'd ha' put in for her myself."
But to think of such a coyote as Jack Mottram
picking up the Pearl of the River!
" It would sicken a hog," said Shorty Gibbs. 85
QuiN might be a Squaw-Man (as indeed he was in
his irregular way) but he Hved in comfort, and Sam,
his "boy," aged twenty-five, was a wonder, worth
more dollars by far than the days of the longest
months and all he could steal as well. Sam was good-
looking and as clean as a fresh-run quinnat, and he
had the most heavenly and ingratiating smile, and
the neatest ways, and a heaven-sent gift of cooking.
He was pleasant to the world and to himself, and he
sang little Chinese songs as he worked and made
Quin's house as clean as heaven after rain. He didn't
" hit the pipe," which Wong did, of course, and he
only smoked cigars. They were Quin's and good
ones. Not that opium is so bad as liquor, by the
way, though the missionaries say it is. It is better
to " hit the pipe " than to " dlinkee for dlunk," and
that's an all-solid fact.
Sam was discreet, and he let no one rob Quin but
himself.    Indeed, he  almost loved  Quin,  for  Quin 86      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
had good qualities. For example, he rarely swore
in his own house, and he had a way of making little
presents to Sam which were very encouraging.
I Boss he makee alio tim' litty cumshaw my," said
Sam. I He givee my cigar: he givee my dolla. He
givee my close: makee stlong cutsom givee me all
ting he no wantshee. My catchee alio tim' good
close, boot, tlouser, and he speakee my velly good:
neber makee bobbely. Massa Quin velly good Boss,
no can catchee better. Supposee klootchman no
good, makee bobbely, he say 'hyack klatawa:'
supposee klootchman good klootchman alio same
wifo dat velly good: Massa Quin velly good and
makee mo' cumshaw my."
And now there was a new klootchman.
" Ho," said Sam Lung, " ho, he bling 'nodder
klootchman. My tinkee 'bout time he catchee new
klootchman. He velly lestless, like he got water topside, clazy.   What she like this new klootchman ? "
He put his eye to the key-hole, and then drew up
in disgust.
" Fo, velly dirty, cly alio tim'. She velly litty young
gal. After las' wun he likee catchee young gal. Ha,
my tinkee bymby she catchee wash and look velly
pletty. She whitee gal my tinkee when she catchee
But poor Jenny was on the floor, still crying as if
her little heart would break. She was not yet able
to look up and see the wonder of a nice clean house,
such as she had never been in, in all her life.
" You're all right, Jenny my dear," said Quin,
" don't you cry. No one shall hurt you, my girl.
I'll give you a good time, my dear. Now get up,
Jenny, and look at your home, and then I'll take you
into another room and find you a new dress. Come,
tenas Jenny."
He spoke quite tenderly and touched Jenny's
" Oh, but I have shem," she said.
"You come and mamook wash," said Quin, "and
by-by we'll have muckamuck and then you'll be all
right.    Come now."
He lifted her to her feet, and when she felt his
strong hands on her she felt a little better. It was
like fate, though she knew not what fate was. He
was strong and kind, and he said he loved her. She
caught his hand
" You no beat me ? " she cried in a sudden passion
of fear and helplessness. "You no beat me, Mr.
"No, Jenny, no," he said. He turned her tearful
dirty face round and kissed her. 88       THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
" Oh, I too much dirty," she exclaimed in great
distress.    " No bebee me till I mamook wash."
She caught sight of herself in a big glass over the
" Oh, Mr. Quin, I have shem: I so dirty. You forgive me, Mr. Quin ?"
And Quin laughed a little uneasily.
"Of course, my dear, now I make a lady of you;
you are so pretty, Jenny."
He went out of the room and told Sam to make a
" plenty hot" bath in the bedroom. And he put out
some clean clothes for her, which he took from a
locked cupboard. Some were new. Most of them
had been got for a Haida girl who had died of consumption two years before. But Quin had forgotten
her. He spoke to Sam when the "boy" brought in
the bath and water.
" Sam, you no fool, I think," he began.
" That same my tinkee, Sir," said Sam.
" I bring another klootchman here, Sam."
" Where you catchee ?" asked Sam with great
" You mind your own pidgin," said Quin. " Now
look, Sam, I no wantshee anyone know who she is.
When they ask you, you say she white woman, alio
same wife, from San Francisco.    If you tinkee that THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      89
not true, that all right, but if you say so I fire you
and give you no dolla. While she stay here and no
one know who she is I give you five more dolla,
moon-pidgin, every month.    Now you savvy ?"
Sam stood with his head on one side all the time
his master spoke. He looked as intelligent as a sharp
Chinaman can look, and he answered with decision
and a perfect gravity.
" My savvy that plenty! You catchee one litty
gal and no wantshee man savvy. Dat light, I plenty
savvy. My say she numpa one pletty litty gal from
San Flancisco. I savvy plenty and if litty gal stay
you givee my mo' five dolla moon-pidgin. My savvy
plenty.    Now you washee her ? "
" Fill the bath, you damn fool," said Quin.
I All li', savvy plenty," said Sam. " My cookee
good dinner for Missus. Five dolla mo' velly good.
My cookee velly good: makee litty gal stop alio same
And he went back to the kitchen, solemn and satisfied, but very curious to see the litty piecee gal when
she was washed.
It was all an amazing dream for poor Jenny. If
it had not been for the black bruise on her knee she
would have thought herself in some new world. For
the house was beautifully built and lined inside with 90      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
red cedar. The furniture was as good as any in the
City, for the tragedy of Quin's life was, that he had
met a white woman, and had fallen in love with her
three years ago. They were to have*been married,
but the woman found out about his past history, his
character as a squaw-man, and threw him over. He
had prepared the house for her. The dead Haida
girl Lily had come instead Jenny dreamed and
wondered and half forgot that she was not good to
be there. Quin was very strong, 'hyu skookum,'
and his house was to be hers, and he would prevent
Pete killing her. As she got into the hot water the
tears ran down her face. But the bath was pleasant,
and she was not too degraded to enjoy the cleanliness
of things; and the hot water eased the tension of her
mind, and it seemed suddenly as if her life with Pete
was something very far off, hardly to be remembered.
And then she handled the clothes she was to wear,
and the mere woman woke in her heart. Here was
linen far better than that she had helped to wash for
Mrs. Alexander before Pete had come and taken her
from Kamloops! It was beautiful linen to her eye,
and in spite of everything the pleasure she found in
it was wonderful, for though she did not know it, her
skin was tender and delicate and had always suffered
from the stuff she had worn. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      91
There were silk stockings!
" Mista Quin he very gleat man," said Jenny, awestruck. "Much better than any I ever see, never
nanitsh any like 'em."
When she got them on she took up the dress. It
was also silk, but not Hke the monstrous tartan the
cause of all her woe. It was a dark red and fine and
supple, for Lily had seen it in her last days at Victoria
and Quin had bought it for her, knowing that she
would never wear it She died with it on her bed:
her dead hand touched it. It made another klootchman nearly happy.
" I aflaid to wear it," said Jenny as she held it up,
" it too beautiful for poor me. I don't know where I
am: I feel silly, all like a dleam."
She looked at the big glass and saw herself white
clad, and with the red silk in her hands. Her
shoulders were white: her sun-tanned neck showed
how white they were.    And the red was lovely.
She put it on and she almost screamed with pleasure.
" I 'most Hke a lady, like Missis Alexander," she
cried. And indeed there was no prettier lady within
a hundred miles.
She stood and looked at herself and trembled.
" Oh, oh," said Jenny. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
And then she found that the dress fastened up
the back.
"I no savvy how can do it," said Jenny in great
trouble. " If I do um up firs' I no get in and if I no
do um up it fall off. How can white lady do, when
she have no one help her ? "
It was an awful puzzle which she could not solve.
A worse trouble was at hand, however, for when she
tried to put on the shoes meant for her they were
too small.
" What I do ? " asked Jenny of herself in the glass.
" My ole shoes no good and my foot too big for this
little shoe. I have shem go without shoe and with
dless undone. I wis' I had someone help me. But
alia same I very pretty I tink, but I have shame of
everything.    I no more good, no more virtuous— "
Her lip hung down preparatory to her bursting
into tears.    But Quin knocked at the door.
"Muckamuck ready, tenas Jenny," he said. And
Jenny murmured that she would come directly.
" He very kind man I tink," said Jenny, " I ask
him through the door if he mind I no have shoe."
The door led straight through into the sitting-room.
In her turn she knocked' on it timidly and opened it
an inch.
I Mista Quin, I have shem— " THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      93
" Why, tenas Jenny ? " asked Quin.
"I no can put on shoe," she said. Quin laughed
and she shrank back.
" Come in, never mind," he said as he came to the
door and pushed it open.    She bent her head.
" And please, Mista Quin, I no can do dless up at
back.    I much aflaid it fall of."
Quin came into the room as Sam brought in the
dinner. He shut the door and caught her in his
" I have shem," she murmured, but he kissed her
neck and mouth.    " I have shem."
He did the dress up at the back and held her away
from him at arm's length.
"By the Holy Mackinaw, you are a pretty girl,
Jenny," he said thickly.    "You bebee me now?"
The slow tears rolled down her face as she lifted
it to him.
" Yes, Mista Quin, but I have shem," she said simply.
Sam banged on the door.
" Chow-chow, Sir and Missus," said Sam, who was
much interested in the " love pidgin; " " Chow-chow
all leady, Sir and Missus."
It was an amazing dinner for Jenny. She had
never seen the like save in the kitchen of Mrs.
Alexander's hotel, and if she had eaten anything half 94      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
as good, it was when she was a tenas klootchman
and sat outside on the wood-pile with a plate of food
given her by the hotel cook.
But that Chinese cook wasn't a patch on Sam, who
had been nerved to unwonted efforts by the new
situation and by the extra five dollars while the new
' Missus' stayed. He put out Quin's best cutlery and
polished the electro-plate till it shone indeed. The
glasses were like crystal and there was a bottle of
champagne, made in San Francisco (and perhaps very
little the worse for that, seeing the quality of western
imported wines), on the full table.
Jenny gasped and sat down very humbly. But if
she looked up she could see herself in a mirror opposite. It was a very strange and pretty and abashed
creature that she saw, a creature who " had shame"
but was too dazed to feel it greatly. For everything
was so fine, and Quin was a big strong man and white-
clad Sam was so polite. "You hab dis, Missus," or
" my tinkee, Sir, Missus hab mo' wine." And the floor
had a carpet, and there were red curtains at the
window, through which she could see the shining
mighty river and the far faint hills of Sumass, lighted
by the sinking splendid sun.
" Oh, my dear, you are very pretty," said Quin when
Sam was out of the room. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.      95
" I tink so too, Mista Quin," she said; " but I have
shem to be here. I know not'ing. I velly foolish
klootchman, cultus and halo good; I tink I very
wicked to be here, but I like it alio same, Mista Quin."
He gave her more wine and her eyes began to
sparkle. The world of yesterday, nay, even of to-day,
was far off, further off than the pure faint hills.
" You be good to me, Mista Quin ? "
His hard heart was touched.
" You bet, Jenny, I'll give you all you'll want."
" Ah, you very big boss," said Jenny. If he could
give any human creature all she wanted he was a very
big boss indeed.
" Yes, my kiddy, you forget all about everyone but
me, and I'll act square to you, on my oath I will," said
Big Quin. He pulled her towards him and kissed her
mouth.   She flamed scarlet.
" I lik' heem better'n Pete," she said. " Pete duel
to me; tear my dless.    Now I have better, ah! "
The dinner came to an end and Sam brought in a
lamp as the evening light faded.
" That will do, Sam. I don't want you any more,"
said Quin.
And when Sam had washed up he went down to a
compatriot's in the City.
I My tinkee he makee love-pidgin now," said Sam, 96      THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
as he went. " Litty piecee gal velly pletty alia same
lady, maskee she no savvy what for do with knife and
fork. Dat not plopa: my tinkee her savvy velly
littee. Bymby my talkee how can do with Missus.
My tinkee she no flom San Flancisco. She makee
hair not plopa, alio same lope. My tinkee my talkee
her how can do, my savvy plenty."
But he told his gossips down below that Mista
Quin had got a white woman up from San Francisco.
Indeed he did not know that Jenny was no more than
a quarter-breed Siwash, though he wondered at her
knowing so much Chinook, of which Sam himself
was very ignorant, though he savvied even how to do
The world of the little Shack-Town by the Mill
believed that Jenny had really fled with Shipman Jack
and Pete got very drunk again that night. 97
" The Siwash'll be on Jack's tracks," said the Men
of the Mill, " for sure he'll be after him, hyak koolie!
What the thunder did the little klootchman see in
Jack! Oh, hell, he warn't nothin' but a special kind
of sea hobo, boys, allers on the go: a blanket-stiff
at sea, that's what. And drink—we should say so!
And mean, oh, there ain't words! If Pete runs into
him "
Pete wanted blood, that's a fact, but when a man
wants blood and gets liquor the blood stays unshed
unless the victim is right handy. That is also a fact,
all wool and a yard wide.
Another fact was of great importance, and that is
that Pete owed the Mill dollars instead of the Mill
owing him any, and to get across to Victoria in the
Island took silver, t'kope chikamin, in the shape of
dollars. And Pete couldn't swim, not so much, as
a hundred yards. He was no Fish Indian. And
the Straits are some miles across.
Pete woke out of his drunk early in the morning
and saw three facts in the light of dawn, saw them
come out of the darkness and stand up before him,
just as the Mill did and the tin-roofed shining Cannery across the River, where Chinamen wallowed in
shining salmon for Eastern consumption. Pete saw
the array of facts and at the back of his Indian brain
he had a notion of destiny, as they all have. Jenny
had run: he had "halo dolla," and it was a long
swim across the Straits of Georgia, in spite of all
the islands a man might rest at.
" She hyu bad klootchman," said Pete. " I no
care one damn. I take another by-by. She too
much pletty, no sit down, klatawa with Jack."
There wasn't a drink for Pete that morning,
but he lighted a fire and made some " caupy" or
11 go work at Moola alia same," said Pete. " I no
dlink, I make dolla: I get another good klootchman.
By-by Jack go to sea, leave Jenny, she go hell. That
all light    She damn bad klootchman."
So when the Whistle, the great prophet of the
strenuous life, yelled the " Get up" in quick time,
he was ready, and as determined as any Blackfoot
at a Siwash stake to show nothing of his torment.
The second whistle that shrieked " Get out" sent THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
him off, and the day began with the usual preliminary
jawing-match in the Engine-room where fiery monsters ate sawdust.
" Ha, Pete," said Skookum CharHe, whose big bulk
was spread on a sawdust pile where the glare of an
open furnace shone on him. " He come to wuk' alia
Long Mac with the blue eyes and keen clean
American look was there. And next him was black-
a-vised, beady-eyed Chihuahua, far more ancient
Mexican than Spanish, and then Hans Anderssen
and Johann Smit, both seamen. And with them
showed the fair and devilish face of Spanish Joe with
the beautiful voice and a soul fit for hell. And the
Engineer, a little Scotty from Glasgow, went about
his work with one Chinee helper as if they were not
there, and only said " damn your jaw " if they got in
his way.
The crowd looked at Pete, who swung in boldly
enough with his head up.
" Hullo," said the crowd with sympathy. But Joe
"You' klootchman she pulled up her stakes and
quit, eh ? " he asked with a sneer.
" That so," said Pete quietly. " I tell her to go
night befo' las' night.      She no good in fac', bad
tmWBsA     -;^] 100    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
klootchman, get dlunk, no savvy cook Thlow my
muckamuck on the floo'. I say go. I tink no
klootchman any good. Jack Shipman soon tire of
"Perfectamente," said Joe, "you spik truth. .All
women are bad."
Scotty managed to jam Joe in the pit of the
stomach with the handle of the huge wooden shovel
with which he was feeding the greedy fires.
" Beg your pardon," said Scotty with a grin, " but
they arn't all bad."
" Every damn one," said Joe, writhing.
" All klootchmen no good, I say," Pete cried once
"You had a mother, lad," said the Engineer
Pete shook his head.
" That all light, Mr. Engineer, but she no good
neither. She sell my poo' damn sister to the man
at Kamloops that had the ranche Cultus Muckamuck
Quin got now, sell her for two dolla, I tink. And
now Cultus got her too."
Scotty having no more remarks to make, yanked
the whistle lanyard.    It was six o'clock.
' This is a hell of a country for a mahn wi' ony
releegion in him," said Scotty.
He turned savagely on his Chinese helper.
" Now then, Fan, you wooden image, get a move
on you: hump yersel', man, or I'll scupper you."
The gift of work to unhappy mortals is that they
cannot work and be wholly unhappy, and Pete sucked
a grim kind of pleasure out of the labour that was
his, and found some anodyne in it for the aching
wound he bore in his foolish childish heart. That
day the labour was great, for Ginger White had a
mind to set the pace and make it fiery. It was, as
the men knew, one of his bad, his wicked days, such
a day as that on which he had driven Pete's predecessor to a standstill. When Ginger's face was
tallow against his fiery beard they knew what to
expect, and got it every time. It was said that on
these occasions he had quarrelled with his wife, but
the truth is he had a vicious nature and a love of
work together. It gave him pleasure to see the great
saws do their work, and a greater pleasure still to
see a man turn white and fail.
But now he had Pete, not Simmons, and the devil
himself at the Saws would not have broken Pete
that day. For there was a hard devil in his heart,
and he grinned savagely as he saw White's motions
get every minute quicker and quicker. He nudged
Skookum Charlie.
" This Ginger White have one bad day. The
debbel, how he go.    You see! "
They saw. He cut them wicked slabs, slabs that
had an unholy weight, with all of it in the butt:
When they fell they dropped between the skids and
got up and kicked. One struck Skookum on the
nose and made it bleed, another threw Pete. But
though they both knew that Ginger gave it them
hot and heavy and wasted wood in slabs to do it,
they made no sign. This was a day that no one
would be beaten. All the men knew by instinct
and by knowledge that this was to be a day of hell,
when the cut would be great and Ginger would go
home half dead with his endeavours to work them
up. They set their teeth, even as the saws' teeth
were set in another fashion, and prepared to chew
the lumber that he hurled to them.
The atmosphere was strange, charged, electric,
strained. There were days when the Tyee Sawyer
left them slack, and went easy. Now they jumped,
their eyes were bright, they sweated, got alive, moved
like lightning. Each was an automaton; each a
note struck by the Player. And he played, oh,
tillikum, he played!
This was work, tilikum, such as even the Stick
Moola hadn't known.    The engines knew it, and the
steam gauges told it and the fires, and the sawdust
carriers. Chinamen knew it and shrieked horrid
oaths at each other. The belts knew it and squealed.
Scotty knew it and groaned, for he alone, bar
accidents, could stop Ginger's drunken debauch of
But the men he played on knew it best and almost
cheered him when they got the pace and found it at
first so easy. They were all young, not an old man
among them, Ginger White himself was the senior
of them all. They could love and work and fight
and play hell, for they had youth in them. They
had to show it to the song and dance of the Saw,
the song and dance of the flying dust. The engines
ran easy, and their muscles played beneath a glistening moist skin as with open shirts they did what
came to their hands. " Go it, you devils," and " Let
her scoot," and " Oh, hell," they said.
They smiled and were happy enough, but as the
hum increased and the great skids got full over
against the Pony Saw, you might have seen Long
Mac's smile die down into a good settled seriousness,
quite worth seeing. Long Mac had a way of dreaming as he worked, for he had a power of thought and
was sadly intelligent, but when Ginger started trying
them high, he had no time to think, well as he knew 104    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
all things a saw-mill man may and shall know.
The skids were piled high, you shall understand,
you greenhorns, and he knew how it would rejoice
Ginger White to see that they would take no more,
while everything the wedgers-off tried to sHng on
the pile rolled backwards to the very rollers. That
would please White:  he would give a shrug of his
shoulders as if to say	
"What   a   damned  loafing  lazy  lot   I've   to   do
with! "
" To hell with Ginger," said Mac. He set his
teeth. The lumber flew: he took risks: for swift
running in a Mill means risks. Some of the lumber
was shaky, ring-shakes and wind-shakes were in it,
and in some of the wet-shakes fine white gum. When
the saw strikes a shake the loose pieces work out:
some are like to touch the teeth of the saw and get
picked up! What that means is that the helper to
the Pony Saw is shot at by jagged lumps of wood:
they come by whizzing like a horrid bullet. Mac
and his man watched and at times Mac lifted his
hand and his helper ducked as the Saw said " Phit,
phit," and threw things at him. It was exciting, it
made the blood run fast in his veins to know
that at any moment he might be killed, and be so
This was the battle of the lumber: for saws kill
men and logs, kill them and maim them, oho, but the
day was fine and the fight long! Down in the boom
the man of the Boom, the man with the long pole,
who made the logs swim to their ascent to the
Temple, whence they were dragged by the Bull-
Wheel, had his work cut out, but worked. If he
kept Ginger waiting, Ginger would skip over the
skids and come to the open way that led down to
the Boom and use sulphurous language.
"What the—how the—why the—oh, hell, are we
to shut down and go home? Hump yourself, Paul,
hump yourself."
And much worse if it hadn't been that Paul, a thin
silent dark man, was reputed dangerous, and was
said to have killed a man in Texas, somewhere in
the neighbourhood of El Paso, where not a few pass
up the golden stairs on an unholy sudden. But the
atmosphere down there is fine, in its way: you shall
not believe otherwise, I entreat you.
It was towards noon when Mac had Ginger beat
or near it. Or if not that, he saw that Mac wasn't to
be overcome. The Trimmers, Wong, the Chinee,
and Willett, the Englishman, had the thing down
fine, for Wong knew his business and Willett was
as hard as a keg of nails or a coil of barbed wire. 106    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
He could claw and sling and work and sweat with
And still Ginger sent the thing going and again
spurted, for Quin came in!
I Stand back, clear the track for Mr. Josephus
Orange-Blossom," said the nigger, the coon, the
" shiny" (not a Sheeny, by the way) of the song.
That was the way Quin felt. He felt like someone
in particular. Indeed he always did, but now with
Jenny at his house, clad in beautiful clothes and
looking " a real daisy," he was very proud of himself.
That's a way the male has, if the truth be said, men
or moose or wapiti, or a lion or a tiger for that
matter: or, let us say, a tom-cat.
He was full of himself! And all he wanted to
do now was to ' fire' Pete and get him out of the
place, as was natural.
Some men would have done it even without excuse,
though that is difficult, but George Quin had some
natural or unnatural notion of justice and couldn't go
so far. He watched Pete with critical half-savage
eyes. Was there a glint of pity in them ? Perhaps,
tillikum, for a man is hard to know.
If this was Ginger's day and Ginger's hour when
Quin looked in, it was Pete's day too, for he threw
his poor outraged Indian soul into labour and did, THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     107
oh, he did very well. Quin saw that he did, he was
pleased with the man, and seeing that he had to pay
him, the work pleased him. Pete's face was hard
now and his eyes glittered: his muscles stood up:
his face and neck were wet: they glistened. He
went like a machine: and never made a mistake. He
climbed a five-foot log on the carriage close to the
teeth of the saw (the sawdust was in his hair and it
looked white and wooUy) like a cougar, at one bound.
He worked up Skookum Charlie in like manner and
made the Siwash like it.
" Oh,  he's  good,"   said Quin approving  and yet
savage.    " Oh, he's ," and then Scotty yanked the
whistle lanyard and the whistle said, " Knock off, you
galoots, galoots, galoo-oots! "
The men threw up their heads, and most wiped
their brows as they straightened their backs and said
" Oo!" They breathed and filled their lungs and
then thought of their empty bellies and started for
the Hash-house. But White, always polite and
obsequious, stayed a while with Quin.
"We've cut a lot, Mr. Quin," said White; "the
boom's nigh empty."
I More in to-day," replied Quin. " How's your
wedger-off doin'? If he don't suit you, fire him,
f! i ■
" He's the best man I've had this year," said White.
He did not understand why Quin grunted and turned
his back on him. If he had known Pete would have
gone that day.
"What's wrong?" asked White. "Well, I made
'em skip to-day."
So the men thought as they piled into the hash, and
said what they thought of him and grubbed in anticipation of an afternoon the equal of the morning.
" He's a swine but a first-class sawyer, and no mistake, no fatal error, eh, what ? He "made us skip
and sweat to-day, but never piled us up! That was
what the tallow-faced swine was after, eh ?"
" You bet! Here Fan Tong, or Hang Chow, more
chow this way! White's a swine; oh, he made us
" 'E's a 'oly terror," said Willett.
"A tough from Terror Flat! "
"No razor in his boot, though! There ain't no
real fight in Tallow-Chops.    Pass the mustard."
What a good life it was! And the chewing was
good enough for a boss hobo, death on three fine
squares or set-downs, and don't you forget it!
But Pete grubbed silently in Indian Annie's, who
moaned to him about Jenny.
I Damn klootchman, I forget her," said Pete.
Yet many days passed and he did not forget.
When they were all out of the Mill, Quin stood
and stared at the dead saws without seeing them.
" It's hard lines: but I can't fire him," said Quin. no
FOR the workers, these Bees in a Wood Hive, the
days passed swiftly. Oh, it was wonderful how they
passed! The dawn broke up night's massed army
and chased it into the Pacific Ocean, and round the
quick little world, and again fled. The days went
round like a wheel, like a saw. They came up and
flowered: they died down and were not. Only Sunday stayed like a monstrous month, an oppression as
all workers find it, an unnecessary day when every
muscle and nerve ask for the habit of big work. We
cursed and groaned on Sunday, tilikum, and if you
don't like to believe it, there's no one will plug you
for doing the other thing. Sunday wasn't an Oasis,
it was a desert. On Monday it was, however,
desirable I Tuesday pined for it: Wednesday yearned
for it: Thursday screamed for it: Friday sickened for
it and Saturday hallooed joyfully with it in sight.
And by ten on Sunday the Workers loathed it.
But the swift days of work were the days.    They THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST,    m
streamed past like a mountain torrent. Even sad
and sorry Pete found it so. He smote his wedges
with his maul and, lo and behold! a day was dead;
and the stars sang above the hills and the starlight
gleamed on the Fraser's shining flood. He laid his
head, his cabeza, on a pillow (unwashed) and it was
day.    Again it was night.
Yet for one the hours were strange and slow. She
looked out from the house on the hill-side and saw
the slow sun wheel his team into the West, as if his
horses drew innumerable thousands and hundreds
of the world's big freight. Poor Jenny, now plump and
sweet and beautifully clad, and learned in the delights
of hot water (of which Sam was a kind of prophet,
for he loved baths as if he were a Japanese), found
the days slow in spite of baths and clothes and cleanliness. The poor dear pined a little, as one might who
had lived wildly, for the ruder joys of her earlier life.
Things were onerous. She wanted at certain hours
to sit down, to " squat upon her hunkers " and suck at
a pipe, perhaps. A yarn with wretched Annie or
Annawillee would have been pleasing. She even
thought of Pete, though she was getting very fond of
her conqueror Quin, who dominated her wonderfully.
That was her nature; for if some conqueror of Quin
had come along she would have gone with him, very H2    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
likely, as a wapiti hind will follow a conquering wapiti.
And yet who can say? I cannot; for I think she
loved Quin very well indeed, though he denied her
the trivial consolations of Indian bawdry with Annie
or mournful Annawillee.
Somehow I think Jenny was very good. One
can't say. She grew prettier and gentler every day,
every hour. Sam admired her frankly and was very
polite. It was his nature. He told Quin quite openly
what he thought, and sometimes gave him good
" My tinkee Missus heap pletty, Mista Quin," said
Sam, " evely day mo' pletty, maskee my tinkee she
velly sad, hab noting to do. Missis wantche flin,
Mista Quin, t'at what she wantchee. No can lead,
no can lite, my tinkee, no can makee dless alio tim'.
T'at velly sad. No likee cookee chow-chow, she
He shook his head. She wanted a friend (' wantchee
flin'), that was a fact, and all Quin could do was to
order her more dresses and linen from Victoria. He
got her picture-books (for, as Sam said, " she no can
lead ") and talked to her about what she saw there.
When he was with her she was happy.
"I velly happy at night-tiftie, Tchorch," she said
meekly.    " But daytime velly keely, very sad."
'Tchorch' Quin picked her up in his arms and
set her on his knee.
" Litty gal, I love you, tenas," he answered, mixing
the lingoes. Perhaps he did love her. Quien sabe ?—
as Chihuahua said about everything uncertain.
'You love me,   Tchorch?"' she  asked   flushing,
"velly much?"
I Tenas, hyu, hyu, very much indeed, little one."
" I not mind if the day is sad, then," said Jenny.
She regarded him with big sad eyes, and then looked
" But I not a good woman, Tchorch."
Quin frowned and grumbled.
" Damn nonsense, tenas."
But it wasn't damn nonsense to Jenny.    And most
especially it wasn't so on Sundays, though on that
day she had George Quin  all to herself  and  the
greedy MiU stood quiet    On Sundays she heard the
tinkling church bells, and when the wind blew lightly
from the east the sound of distant singing came up
to her  as   she  stood at  the open  window.      She
remembered what the good Missionary, the "kloshe
leplet," had said about goodness, and badness, and
the Commandments.    There were ten of them, Jenny
remembered, though she had been to no service ever
since she lived at Cultus Muckamuck's ranche.
" I velly wicked, Tchorch," she said mournfully. " I
blake the Commandments! "
" Humph," said George Quin, " don't cry about it,
kiddy. I've kicked 'em all to flinders myself. If
you go to Lejaub's hyas piah, I go with you, tenas."
He kissed her. His bold and ready undertaking,
to go to hell with her was really very consoHng. His
statement that he had broken all the Commandments
comforted her: it showed his good faith. Jenny had
a wonderfully material view of hell, and her imagination showed it to her as a sawmill in flames. She had
seen the Mill at Kamloops on fire, that is why. Now
George Quin was the Manager of the Mill and the
owner and a big strong man. She had a kind of
dim notion that he would be able to manage a good
deal even in hell.
And besides she loved him really. There's no
doubt about it, and even he knew it.
The big strong brute of a man was very gentle with
her, and let her " cly" a little when she thought of
the good missionary (who happened to have been a
very bad man, by the way, though many of them were
splendid) and the wood fires of the diabolical sawmill of which Lejaub the devil was manager.
But he never knew how her feelings worked on
her when he was away, and indeed if he had known THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     115
there might not have been the trouble that there was.
And he had entirely forgotten that he had a Bible in
the house: the gift of his old mother who still lived
in Vermont, far away to the East.
The Bible was the source of all the woe that
followed when a big deal in lumber took Quin over
to Victoria and kept him there three days. He had
more than half a mind to take her with him, and if
her speech hadn't betrayed her origin he would have
done it like a shot. And when he went Jenny cried
as if he were going to cross the Big Salt Chuck or
the Pacific. Though her mother had been a Hydah
she knew nothing of the waters.
" I much aflaid of Pete," she thought.
But Quin gave great directions to Sam and he
believed he could trust him.
" My look see evely ting," said Sam. " Missus all
Hght: my givee good chow-chow, hot wata, blush
dlesses, t'at all light. My no lettee Missus go out ? No,
good, my no lettee."
But he played Fan-tan of course, and couldn't be
expected to stay in all the time, or to understand that
the Missus was upset in her mind about morality. And
he knew nothing and cared less about the Bible.
There wasn't the making of a rice Christian in him
unless rice was very scarce indeed, and now he lived
on the fat of the land of British Columbia.
So the day after she had cried herself to sleep, she
came across the Bible.
It was not quite a family Bible, and only weighed a
pound or so, but it had a biblical cover of sullen
puritanical leather which suggested that the very
bookbinder himself was of the sourest disposition, a
round-head, a kill-joy, with ethics equal to the best
Scotch morality. This binding alone, however, would
have had comparatively little effect on the childish
mind of Jenny. But the book had in it dour and
savage pictures of so surprising a lack of artistic merit
that they struck her down at once, poor child. In
spite of the lack of colour the dreadful draughtsman
made very effective curly-whirly flames in a hell which
was remarkably like a study of a suburban coal-
cellar, and the victims of his fire and ferodty expressed
the extremest anguish as they fried on eternal grids!
Oh, horrors, but the pictures brought back to the
fearful mind of the tenas klootchman all the dread
with which the good (or bad) minister, Alexander
Mickie, had inspired her when she attended Sunday
School at Kamloops and heard him preach in Chinook.
For Chinook is no more than a few hundred words
and most of them are very material. So was Mickie's
mind, whether he preached openly or drank in secret,
and the hyas piah of Lejaub, or the great fire of the
Devil (Lejaub being equal to Le Diable), was a hot
wood fire to Jenny. She believed naturally enough
in Lejaub much more than in God, for her Indian
blood helped her there, or rather hindered her, and
the English God was a far-off notion to a mind not
given to high abstractions.
So Jenny when she got the picture Bible sat with
it in her lap and trembled.
"la bad woman, I go to hell; very wrong for me
to love Tchorch!" was her mind's commentary
as she turned the blind pages for some other picture.
And every now and again she turned back to the
curling flames and elaborate grids of hell. She
traced in some anguished lineaments a remote likeness to herself. Then she fell to weeping, and weeping Sam found her. He was sympathetic. On the
whole Sam was a very good sort.
" Why you cly, Missus ? "
It was in vain for her to say she wasn't crying.
" Oh, yes, you dy, Missus, but what for you cly ?
Mista Quin he come back to-molla."
He might even be back that night, as Sam knew,
though he would not be till late. But Jenny sobbed
and the Bible slipped from her knees upon the floor.
Sam picked it up and recognised it at once. He
snorted as he gave it her back. n8    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
" My tinkee no good lead dis," he said solemnly.
" My tinkee all the stolies in it lies, Missis. My savvy
one, two, tree, piecee Joss-pidgin-man China-side,
what you callee leplet, my savvy Yingling word,
miss'onary, and he talkee no good. My tinkee him
got wata topside, dazy, pelton you say."
Out of this difficult hishee-hashee of words Jenny
extracted the notion that in Sam's opinion missionaries
were fools, for "leplet" and "pelton" put together
mean that.    She shook her head and sobbed.
| My tinkee no good makee littee Missus cly," said
Sam. " T'at book makee nicee litty gal cly alio time.
My see um. No good littee gal cly: my say it damn
foolo book. Mista Quin him velly good man: plenty
chow-chow, dlesses and Sam for washee evelyting.
Missus, you no lead Bible. Him no good. Damn
foolo stoly, my savvy."
But what good was it for a Chinaman to tell her
I Him velly good book, I tink, Sam," she said
" My no tinkee," returned Sam.
" It belongs to Mista Quin," urged the ' Missus.'.
"Him never lead hini," said Sam triumphantly.
"My putty him away and Mista Quin him never
savvy." THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     119
Perhaps that was true. But then was not' Tchorch'
wicked too?
Her lips trembled and she opened the book again
at the fiery picture.
" What t'at picture ?" asked Sam, quite eager to
" It's hell," said Jenny, trembling.
" .All," said Sam, " t'at Debelo's house. T'at all
light. Wong him velly clever man, him say Debbie-
Debbie here all light, but only China-side belong God.
My tinkee too. Wong say one time no food, no licee,
and evelybody hungly, and makee player to Posa,
alio same God, and nex' day one foot licee all over.
T'at China-side, galaw. But my no can stay: my
cookee chow-chow: Missus no cly, Debbie-Debbie
never take litty gal, Missus."
But the fact remained that even Sam believed the
devil was in British Columbia (and all America, of
course), even if God only thought of China. On the
whole Sam's cheerful intervention did harm rather
than good. Jenny did put the book away and tried
not to think of the " hyas piah," but as the evening
came on there was a gorgeous sunset and even that
brought fire to her timid mind. When it was dark
she shivered and was glad to see a light. Then she
got out the book again. 120    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
She was Hving a very wicked life, oh, yes, the missionaries would say that. She was Pete's wife and
was living with Tchorch! That was very wrong, it
was against the Commandments.
What ought she to do ?
What was right ?
If only George were back! That is what her heart
said, for now she hungered for him very bitterly,
because she felt she would see him no more. The
little girl had gone so far on the burning path of
repentance. She must see him no more: and what
she saw in the gloom was the glow of the Pit itself.
She ran to the window and looked down on the quiet
world and the few shining lights of the quiet city and
the star-shine on the great river. But all these were
as nothing to her loneliness and her sudden fear and
all the awful threats of hell that came back to her in
such an hour. She fell upon her knees and tried to
pray and found herself murmuring, " Tchorch, dear
Tchorch." He was coming back to her that night
and was glad to come back, for he had no notion, no
adequate notion of what a bad man he was. He
loved the tenas klootchman, loved her far better,
perhaps, than the white woman who had scorned him
because of dead Lily's predecessors.
But Lily was now no more than a dead flower un- THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.    121
remembered in some spring garden. He was going
back to Jenny.
She cried as she prayed to God and said " Tchorch! "
George was the little foolish woman's prayer, and it
may be a good one. The name of the Beloved is for
ever a prayer, tillikum.
It was nearly ten o'clock when Sam looked in. He
did not think Quin would come now. It was late for
the S.S. Yosemite.
" You all light, Missus ? " he asked.
And she said that she was all right and Sam went
away down to Wong's shack for an hour's Fan-tan.
He hoped to make a few dollars easily, so that he
could go back China-side and buy one " litty piecee
waifo " for himself so that he could have children to
attend to his ashes and his kindly paternal spirit.
But Jenny saw her spirit, her soul, her body, in the
She must go back to Pete, and ask him to forgive
her. He would beat her badly, she knew, and he
would tear her " dless" from her and speak things
of shame.
"I have shem," she said. She heard Sam go down
the path singing a high-pitched quavering Chinese
song. When he was quite gone she began to weep,
and wept until she was ill.      She stumbled blindly 122    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
round the room, and went into the bedroom and
kissed things of George's and the very bed itself, and
then went out into the darkness. In that hour, the
poor child forgot how beautifully she was dressed.
She stumbled in Hght shoes down the path, and as
she went she wished she were dead. For Pete would
be cruel.   He would beat her and take her back.
"I'm very wicked," she said, weeping. George
would be unhappy. She turned with her empty arms
outstretched to the hill above her, to the empty house.
George had been very good to her.
She passed Wong's shack. Sam was in there with
half a dozen others, and they were hard at it gambling.
After Wong's came Skookum Charlie's and then
Indian Annie's. The next shack was Pete's She
sank down in the darkness between the two shanties
in a state of fear and stupor. In front of her was
shame and cruelty and behind her the fires of hell.
But she wanted to be good.
There was no light in Pete's shack. When she saw
that, she hoped for one despairing moment that he
had gone away. Yet she knew that if he had gone
George would have told her. Most likely he was with
Indian Annie. He would be at least half-drunk. She
felt dreadfully beaten. There was a roar of bestial
silly laughter from Indian .Annie's, THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     123
From down the river almost abreast of Lulu Island
there came the sound of a steamer's whistle. It meant
nothing to her and Sam did not hear it. Annie's door
opened and Annawillee ran out reeling. She was
going home to Chihuahua and had to pass Jenny,
crouching on the sawdust in silks and fine linen.
" Oh," groaned Jenny as Annawillee came along
crooning in mournful tones her old ballad that said
she was " keely." When she was close to Jenny she
reeled and recovered and stood for a moment straddle-
legs. She hiccupped and in the clear darkness saw
Jenny without knowing her.
" Who you ? " she hiccupped.
Then she saw who it was, and burst into idiotic
" Oh, Jenny klootchman," she screamed. And Pete
came out of Annie's to go home.
" What's that, Annawillee ? " he asked in the thick
voice of liquor.    " What you say, eh ?"
Annawillee forgot there was money and drink in
Pete's not knowing, and she stood there laughing—
laughing as if her sides would split.
"Your klootchman Jenny she come home," said
Annawillee. And Jenny groaned as Pete came
Before he spoke a word, he kicked her. 124    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
"You damn klootchman," he said. He took her
by the hair and dragged her along the ground while
Annawillee still laughed.    And Jenny screamed.
" Where's your man now, ha ?" said Pete, thickly.
" I tink I kill you now."
The Yosemite came alongside her wharf as if it
were bright day and Quin leapt ashore.
As Pete dragged her, Jenny got upon her knees
and fell. And again she half-rose and again fell,
and under his brutal grip of her hair her scalp
seemed a flame of agony. She was sorry she had
determined to be good and to repent. She screamed
dreadfully and many heard. Some shrugged their
shoulders, for screams in Shack-Town were only too
common. Yet some came out of their houses.
Among them was Chihuahua. Indian Annie came
too, and before Pete had got his wife to his own door,
there were others, among them two Chinamen from
an overcrowded shanty further up the road. And
still they did not interfere. Jenny was Pete's klootchman and she had run away. Like a fool she
had come back, and must suffer. There was none
among them that dared to interfere: for they feared a
And as George Quin carhe ashore he heard Jenny's
screams.    "Another drunken row," he said carelessly THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     125
as he faced the hill to his lonely house. He was very
glad to get back home to his tenas klootchman, for
he hated loneliness. He said "poor little Jenny" as
he walked.
There was now a crowd about poor Jenny, for more
came running, more Siwashes, among them Skookum
Charlie, and more Chinamen. But still no one interfered, though Annawillee shrieked even more than
Jenny. She implored Chihuahua to kill Pete. But
Chihuahua booted Annawillee and made her howl on
her own account
" She run way and come back," said Chihuahua.
" If she mine I kill her, carajo! "
And Pete started kicking Jenny. Once and again
she cried out, and then the last of all who looked on
came like a fury at Pete. The bleared and haggard
and horrible old Annie was the one who had the
courage, and the only one.
"Aya, you damn Pete," she screamed. She got
her claws in Pete's long black hair and pulled him
down. She was a bundle of flying rags with a savage
cat in them. If Jenny were killed she would be
nothing to Annie, but while she lived she was worth
drinks. And perhaps Annie loved the little klootchman.    Who can tell ?
She and Pete rolled together on the dusty road, 126    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
and the onlookers shrieked with laughter. Quin
heard it as he climbed.
" The row's over," said Quin.
More came out of the huts, and this time Wong,
old Wong, the philosopher was among them. And
with him came Lung and Wing, and at last Sam. The
Chinamen stood outside the circle of the Siwashes
and chattered. The first told the others that Pete
had killed his wife, and now was killing someone
else. The devilish twisting bundle in the dusty road
revolved and squealed. But Annawillee howled by
the side of Jenny, who lay insensible. Skookum
struck a light, and it shone upon the poor girl. It
showed her dress of scarlet, and Sam's quick eyes
saw it. He ran in quickly towards her, though the
wise Wong held him back. Chinamen never join
in alien rows if they can help it. It is wisest not to,
and they have much wisdom. Skookum's match went
out.    Sam lighted another and knelt beside Jenny.
" 'Ullo, Chinaman," grinned Skookum, " you tink
she dead, you tink mimaloose ? "
Oh, said Sam, this was Mista Quin's Missus right
enough. What did she want here? He called to
Wong, who came calmly, unhurriedly. Sam spoke to
him in their own tongue, and then Sam, who was as
quick to catch as Wong was wise to suggest, cried out THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     127
suddenly that the tenas klootchman was dead. He
took her in his arms and ran with her to Wong's
shack. And as he ran Pete got up from Annie, whom
he had choked into stillness. But his torn face bled
and one eye was nearly on his cheek. He kicked
Annie as she lay, and then turned to where he had
left Jenny.
" Where my klootchman go ?" he demanded.
They told him in a dreadful chorus that she was
dead, and he staggered back against his shack.
"Where is she?"
" Wong take her."
They believed wise old Wong a physician, for
Chinamen have strange gifts.
" I go see," said Pete.
"No, you run 'way," said Skookum urgently. He
believed Jenny was dead.
" Mus' I run ?" asked Pete with a fallen jaw.
"Dey hang you, Pete," screamed Annawillee joyfully.   Old Annie sat up in the road.
" Where I go ? " asked Pete. " I wis' I never see
He burst into tears. They brought him a bottle,
and told him to " dlink." They gave him advice to go
down the river, up the river, to the Inlet, to the
Serpentine, oh, anywhere from the Police. 128     THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
" I go," said Pete.    He drank.
" I—I—go," said Pete. He drank again, and fell
and lay like a log.
" Now they catch Pete and hang him," screamed
Annawillee. Annie staggered across to him and
kicked him in the face.
" Pig Pete," said Annie.
Quin came to his empty house and called to tenas
Jenny. And then to Sam. When no answer came
he ran through the hall into the empty room where
the lamp was. On the floor he saw the Bible. He
understood.    He quite understood. 129
THERE was no doubt at all in George Quin's mind
as to what had happened, and perhaps he was not
wholly surprised. What did surprise him was his own
ferodous anger, and the wave of pity that even
swallowed up his wrath.
" My God! " said Quin.
There wasn't a man in the City who knew him a
Httle but was prepared to swear that Quin was a
brute, and a devil without any feelings to speak of.
It was said that he had killed Lily, the Haida girl,
when, as a matter of fact, it was his brother, Cultus
Muckamuck as the Siwashes called him, who had
done a deed like that He had treated Lily well.
Her people said so. He had treated them well, the
greedy brutes!
Now Quin was full of pity, and of jealousy. This
Bible had hurt her poor weak mind, no doubt of
that: and it had driven her back to Pete, perhaps.
" My God," said Quin again, " where else ? "
He remembered the screams he had heard coming
from Shack-Town as he landed. .And as he remembered he found himself running down the hill in the
starlit gloom. He wasn't a very young man either.
Quin was nearly forty: hard and set: at times a
little stiff.    Now he went recklessly.
1 if Pete "
It didn't bear thinking of, so Quin wouldn't think
of it. He was jealous, hideously jealous. He could
have torn Pete asunder with his powerful hands. He
felt his nerves in a network within him, and in his
skin.    They thrilled like fire.
" My poor little Jenny! "
Why, the fact was that he loved her! When one
comes to think of it, this was a monstrous discovery
for him to make. He had really never loved anyone, certainly not dead Lily, more certainly not that
white woman over in Victoria, though he thought
he had. What he felt for Jenny was a revelation;
it made him a saint and a devil at once, as passion
does even the best and worst of men. And Quin
had force and fire, and bone, and muscle and a big
heavy head and hands like clip-hooks. Now passion
shook him as if he were-a rag in the wind.
He came down to Shack-Town, and stopped.    He THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     131
was hot but again he sweated ice.    He looked down
the road and saw figures moving.
" Which is his shack ? " he asked himself.
He went past Wong's house, where Jenny lay on
a table with ten jabbering Chinamen around her.
He heard the high-low sing-song of their chatter
and cursed his boy Sam for leaving the house as he
had done.
" I'll kick the damn stuffin' out of him," said Quin
He passed Indian Annie's and saw the group
beyond it, standing about Pete's recumbent body.
Skookum Charlie was almost in tears to think that
Pete would be hanged Annie wiped her bloody
face with her skirt. Annawillee, howling curses at
Pete, sat by her.
" What's all this ?" said Quin, coming out of the
darkness. He saw Pete, or rather saw a body. He
spoke hoarsely.
" Mista Quin, oh! " said Skookum, scrambling to
his feet.
"What is it?" asked Quin again. "Kahta
mamook yukwa ?   What do you do here ? "
" Pete him kill Jenny," screamed Annawillee.
Quin staggered back.
"He, he "
He pointed at the drunken man.
"Not  mimaloose,   him   dlunk,"   said   Annawillee,
I Jenny with Chinaman."
Skookum  led   Quin,  the   big   Tyee,   to   Wong's
"If she's dead ," said Quin, looking towards
Pete.    He opened Wong's door.
The room was eight feet by twelve by ten I   it
reeked of  fierce  tobacco  and  the   acrid fumes of
' dope.'     Some   of   them   ' hit  the   pipe,'   smoked
opium.    The smell was China; Quin, who had been
there, knew it.      With the odours of Canton were
the odours of bad oil.    Three lamps ate up the air.
Quin saw a row of whitish masks about the table:
some excited, some stupid, one or two villainous.    At
the head of the table was the quiet majestic head of
the old philosopher Wong.    He had a great domed
skull and a skin of drawn parchment over wide bones.
With a sponge he wiped blood from Jenny's face.
Sam held a bowl of water.    He looked anxious and
strained.      And Jenny's body, in white linen and
crimson silk,  fouled with sawdust  and  blood,   lay
there quietly.
" Is she dead ? " asked Quin.
The philosopher, whose shiny skin  declared his
love of opium, said she was not dead. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     133
" My tinkee she all light bymby," said Wong.
" She belongy you, Tyee ? "
"Turn the others out," said the Tyee, and at
Wong's word they fled out of the door, and stood in
the dark jabbering about Quin having taken Jenny.
Quin turned on Sam."
" Why did you leave the house, Sam ? My tell
you stop, you damn thief! "
Sam, now as pale as Jenny, threw out his hands
in urgent deprecation of Quin's anger.
" My no go out," he lied, " my stay alio tim' with
Missus, maskee she go out and my no findee. I lun
down here, Mista Quin, lun queek, findee damn Pete
hurtee Missus. T'at tlue. My tellee Missus no cly:
maskee she lead Bible and cly.    My no can do."
He wrung his hands. Perhaps what he said was
true. Quin felt Jenny's pulse and found it at last.
He saw she breathed.
" I'll have her home," he said.
They took the door off its hinges, and Sam with
the others carried her up to the house. Wong went
into town to ask the doctor to come to Quin's at
once, ' chop-chop,' and Dr. Jupp came. He found
Jenny on the bed moaning a little.
" What's this, Quin ? " asked Jupp, who knew Quin
well enough. i34 THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
Quin answered sullenly and told the truth.
"Tut," said Jupp, "some day you'll get knifed,
Quin; why can't you get married and leave the
klootchmen alone ? "
He was a white-bearded old boy, who knew how
ignorant he was of medicine. But he knew men.
He went over Jenny carefully.
" Two ribs broken," he said, " and the small bone
of the left arm. And a little concussion of the brain.
I think she'll do, Quin."
" Thank you," said Quin.
Between them they made her comfortable after
Jupp had sent for splints and bandages.
§ She's very pretty," said Jupp. For Pete hadn't
kicked her face.    " She's very pretty."
" She's as good as gold, by God! " said Quin.
"Humph," said Jupp. "I'll come in to-morrow
morning early.    Shall I send you a nurse ? "
"I'll sit up with her," said Quin. "You'd only
send some cursed white woman with notions."
"Maybe," said Jupp, "they frequently have 'em
Quin's face was white and hard. He stood up and
looked across the bed.
"I tell you this little girl is as good as any
white woman in town, Jupp." THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     135
Jupp took snuff habitually; he took some now.
" Who the devil said she wasn't ?" he asked drily.
He left the room.
It was early morning before Jenny became conscious, and even then Quin had great trouble with
her. For she was very sick. There was no end to
his patience. Nor was there any to Sam's. The
boy sat outside on the mat all night.
" My askee Missus no tellee Boss my go playee
Fan-tan," he said nervously.
At bright dawn Jenny found Quin half-dozing
with his head on the quilt under her hand. She
touched his hair tenderly, and he woke up.
" Tchorch," she said feebly, with a heavenly smile,
" Yes, Httle girl," said George.
" I tink I no go away again, Tchorch. I no want
to be good, I want to stay with you. What you tink,
The tears ran down George's face. That's what
he thought.
" I'll kick that damn Pete's head in," said George
to himself.
" I no want to be good. I jus' want Tchorch," said
She closed her eyes and slept. i36
His friends, even including Skookum Charlie, left
Pete where he lay. If a man killed his klootchman
and then got pahtlum, or ' blind-speechless-paralytic'
on something cousin-german to methylated spirit,
what could be done with him but let him alone till
the police came for him by daylight? Don't forget,
tilikums, that none of the officers of the law could
come in Sawdust Shack-Town after dark. They
would as soon have gone to Cloud Cuckoo Town.
It was as much as their cabezas were worth, and
that's a hard-wood truth, without knots or shakes.
The last time a constable (under the influence of a
good but uninstructed superior and some bad whisky)
did go into Shack-Town after dark he stayed there
in a pool of blood (or what would have been a pool
but for the convenient sawdust) till it was broad daylight, and he took much patching-up before he got
into running again.     After dark we had it to our- THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
selves, Whites, Reds, and all colours who were of the
order of the Mill, or the disorder of it. The " bulls "
or " cops " or " fingers," as hoboes say, kept order in
the orderly up-town streets.
Skookum ' quit' and went home. So did -Anna-
willee, whom Chihuahua hauled off as he was doubtful of her morals in the dark. But Annie, whose windpipe was exceedingly sore, went out several times and
booted Pete in the ribs where he lay, as a kind of
compensation or cough lozenge. However, she let
up on him at last and went home to ' pound her
ear' in the sleep of the just and virtuous. It never
even occurred to her that Pete didn't know anything
whatsoever about Quin being the man who had
kapsuallowed or stolen his dear Jenny. Everybody
else knew, Chinamen, Swedes, Lapps, Letts, Finns,
Spaniards and a number of whites of the rougher
kind who camped in Shack-Town. I knew myself.
But the man who ought to have known didn't. It
was a sign that life is the same everywhere.
Pete woke up before dawn, as it seems to be a
revenge of nature to make drunken men wake when
they can't find a drink, and when he woke he hadn't
the remotest notion of what had happened to him.
He knew that he had a thirst on him of a miraculous
intensity, and when he moved he was aware that he 138     THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
had a pain in his side which almost made him forget
his thirst. For Annie wore a man's shoes, with heavy
soles to them. And when a man is helpless and his
ribs open even a woman's kicks can do mischief.
" Oh," said Pete, "ah!"
He rolled over and groaned, poor devil. And, just
as the secret dawn began to flame, so the red deeds
of the night before began to come up to him. He
sat up and his jaw fell.
" Ah," said Pete, " I tink I—I kill Jenny! "
There's a crowd of virtuous ones who will imitate
Annie and boot him in the ribs, poor devil. He
drank and gambled and played hell and beat his wife
and drove her into the arms of Quin. Even a missionary, who ought to know something about such
humanity, would disapprove of him. And those
whites of high nobility and much money and great
station, who are ready, in like cases, to drag their
own wretched women by the hair of the head through
the bloody sawdust of the Divorce Court, and who
hire (at so many guineas and one or two more) some
gowned ruffian to boot her in the ribs, will objurgate
Pete perhaps, poor chap. He had no chance to know
better and now the terrors of the rope and the gallows
had hold of him.
Pete was brave enough, even if he did kick klootch- THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     139
men. As Ginger White knew, he was the best
wedger-off thereabouts, and could have got a job at
any of the big Mills of the Sound or the Inlet. He
could ride a horse and fight a man of his own weight
quite well enough. Indeed there was nothing wrong
with him but the fact that he was a Sitcum Siwash
and given to drink when it was handy. Up at Cultus
Muckamuck's, where it wasn't handy, he was as sober
as any judge and a deal more sober than some out
West.    He was brave enough.
But when he thought of being hanged he wasn't
brave. He sat up and wondered why he wasn't in
the Calaboose or cooler or jail already. He looked
round fearfully as if he expected to see Jenny's body
there. Then he groaned and felt his ribs. It was
odd he should be so sore. But the oddest thing was
that he wasn't already jailed.
" I don' b'lieve I kill Jenny after all," said Pete.
.And as soon as he didn't believe it, he very naturally
determined to do it as soon as possible He staggered to his feet, and made for his shack, thinking
that Jenny perhaps was there. Of course it was as
empty as an old whisky bottle, and Pete scratched
his head. Then the dawn came up, and just about
the time that Jenny was murmuring that she didn't
want to  be good but only wanted " Tchorch," he 140 THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
went out again and ran against Annie, who had also
waked up with a thirst and with an idea that it would
ease her throat and her mind if she went out and
had another go at Pete's ribs.
"Yah, you pig Pete," she said with her jaw out
at him and her skinny throat on the stretch.
" Why you call me pig, you damn Annie ?"
demanded Pete, savagely.
" Because you halo good, no good, damn bad man,
try to kill you tenas klootchman," yapped Annie
raucously as she spat.
" You a damn fool," said Pete. " Jenny she been
away from me  "
" Yah," yelled Annie, " she find a good man, and
Mista Quin, he give her good dlesses, he velly kind to
It was a blow between the eyes for Pete, and
he staggered as if he had been struck. His jaw
" Mista Quin, kahta mika wau-wau, what you say ? "
he stammered.
" I say she now Mista Quin's klootchman: he veUy
good to her. By-by he come and kiU you, because
you kick his klootchman. Las' night he say he
mamook you mimaloose, kill you dead, you pig
Pete," she squealed, withdrawing into her house, so THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     141
that she could slam the door on him if he made a
rush. But truly it was the last thing he thought
I The Tyee take my klootchman!" he said with a
fallen jaw, " the Tyee "
The boss had taken Jenny!
" Dat tlue, Annie ? " he asked weakly.
" Dat tlue, you pig," said Annie.
Pete made a horrid sound in his throat like a
strangled scream and Annie slammed and bolted
her door and got a bar of iron in her hands as quick
as she could move.
"I kill Mista Quin," screamed Pete. "I kill
heem! "
He ran to his shack on the instinct to find something then and there to kill the boss with. But he
had no weapon, not even a good knife.
" I kill him all same," said Pete. As the men in
the South would have said he was "pretty nigh off
his cabeza,"
He started to work on his shack, and smashed the
windows and their frames and then all the wretched
furniture in both rooms. By the time the house was
an utter wreck he felt a little calmer. But though
many heard him none came near. It might be
dangerous.    Then at last it was daylight: there was 142     THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
a pleasant golden glow, and the river was a stream
of gold. The tall Mill chimneys began to smoke, for
Scotty's helper fed the fires early
" I go to work all same," said Pete, " and I see
He ground his teeth and then took a drink of
water, and spat it out. There was nothing that he
wouldn't have given for some whisky, but who ever
had whisky in Shack-Town early in the morning ? He
had to do without it. And at last the whistle spoke
and the sun shone, and the working bees came out
of their hives and went to the Mill.
There was a devil of a wau-wau going on that
morning in the Engine-Room, for the place was
crowded. Some Chinamen even were allowed to
come inside, for they had news to give. The
patriarch and philosopher Wong was interrogated by
Mac and Shorty Gibbs and Tenas Billy (white man
in spite of Tenas).
" Quin—eh, what ? " said Tenas Billy with open
"He took Jenny! Well I'm damned," said
"I never reckoned that slabsided cockeyed roustabout Jack Mottram took- her," said Long Mac.
" But I own freely I never gave a thought to Quin." THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     143
" Oh, he was always a squaw-man," said Ginger
White. " What was that talk of a gal called Lily ?
Warn't she from Coquitlam ? "
" She was a Hydah, but I never seen her," said
another.    Papp the German intervened.
" She was a bretty gal. I zeen her mit Quin at
Victoria ; no, at Nanaimo. She died of gonsumption,
They had heard Quin had killed her, kicked her
when she was going to be a mother.
" It ain'd drue," said Papp. " Thad was the odder
Quin, him dey galls Gultus Muckamuck. When I
was ub to Gamloops I saw her grave. Gultus kigged
her in the stomag, poor thing, and she died."
" Is it true Pete killed Jenny last night ?" asked
young Tom Willett, who had just come in.
Wong had told Long Mac all about it and he had
told the others. They all told Tom Willett all about
it at once.
"Pete hadn't better run up agin Quin this day,"
said Ginger. " I've lost the best wedger-off I ever
He saw Skookum Charlie grinning in a corner.
"And now I've got to put up with Skookum. I
guess Pete has lighted out."
"Pulled his  freight for  sure,"  said Tenas  Billy. 144    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
Then Scotty yanked the whistle lanyard and the men
sighed and moved off.
And as they moved Pete came in.
" Oh, hell," said those that saw him. They scented
trouble quick.
There was no doubt there would be trouble. By
all accounts Pete had only just failed to kill the little
klootchman, and that he showed up afterwards, when
he knew that Quin had cut him out, was proof
enough of coming woe.
Ginger White didn't like it. He had no nerve for
rows, in spite of his nasty temper, and to have a
murderous struggle between the wedger-off and
Quin, with guns shooting it might be (though gunplay is rare in B. C), made him shake. Even if no
" guns " came in there would be blood and hair flying,
and mauls and wedges and pickareens, and perhaps
a jagged slab or two. Ginger remembered the huge
nose with which outraged Simmons had decorated
"I ain't goin' to let Quin come in ignorant," said
Ginger. At the very first pause, while they were
rolling a mighty five-foot log on the carriage, he
shoved his head through the wall to the Engine-
"Say, Scotty, send over to the Office and let Mr.
Quin know that that swine Pete has turned up to
Scotty nodded.
" And say he looks mighty odd, likely to prove
fightable," added Ginger. He went back to the
It was one of his off-days, when he couldn't drive
the Mill or the Saws for sour apples It's the same
with everyone. It's no sacred privilege of artists to
be off colour. And yet in his way Ginger was an
artist. He played on the Mill and made an organ
of it: pulled out stops, made her whoop, voix celeste,
or voix diaboHque. Or he waved his baton and
made the Stick Moola a proper old orchestra, wind
and strings, bassoon, harp, lute, sackbut, psaltery and
all kinds of raging music. Now he was at a low ebb
and played adagio, even maestoso, and was a little
flat with it all.
"The quick men of the Mill loafed. Long Mac
flung off the tightener and put new teeth into his
saw with nicely-fitting buckskin. He took it easy.
So did everyone. The very Bull-Wheel never
groaned. Down below the Lath Mill chewed slowly.
The Shingle Mill, though it had all the cedar it could
eat, said at slow intervals, " I cut-a-shingle, ah," ending with a yawn instead of a " Phit."
The truth was that everyone was waiting. They
loafed with their hands but their minds were quick
enough. Tenas Billy of the Lath Mill every now
and again climbed up the chute to see if bloodshed
was imminent. Shorty Gibbs, the Shingle Sawyer,
did the same. The very Chinamen sorting flooring
underneath bobbed up like Jacks out of Boxes.
Only Pete never raised his head from his work.
When he drove a steel dog into a log he did it with
vim and vice.
He smashed Quin's big head every stroke. Quin's
head was a wedge under the maul. And it was nine
o'clock. Before ten Quin always came into the Mill
and stood as it were on deck, looking at his crew as
they sailed the Mill through forests, making barren
the lives of the green hills fronting the Straits.
As ten drew on the work grew more slack and
men's minds grew intense. But a big log was on
the carriage, one nigh six foot in diameter. The slab
came off, and Pete and Skookum Charlie handled
it. Ginger set her for a fifteen-inch cant and sent
her at it. Just as the log obscured the doorway Quin
came in and no one saw him but Skookum. Pete
drove a wedge, and reached out his hand for a loose
one. Then he saw Quin. As he saw him he forgot
his work, and the saw nipped a little and squealed THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     147
uneasily. Ginger threw up his angry head and
stopped her and saw that Pete saw Quin.
" Here's trouble," said the men. The Pony Saw
stopped dead. The Trimmers ran back into their
casings. There was silence. The Lath Mill stayed
and the Shingle Saw and men's heads came up from
below.    They heard Quin speak.
" Get off that log," said Quin.
Pete dropped off on the side away from Quin, as
quick as a mud-turtle. As he fell upon his feet he
grabbed a pickareen lying on the skids and ran round
the end of the carriage.
" Look out, Sir," yelled Ginger. A dozen men
made a rush.
Long Mac came over two skids at a time. The
only man who was near enough to do anything was
Skookum Charlie, but he feared Pete and had no
mind for any trouble. He was safer on the top of
the log. Ginger took a heavy spanner in his hand
and went round the other end of the log. He was
in time to see Pete rushing at Quin, who had nothing
in his hands. Quin was the kind of man who
wouldn't have, so much can be said for him.
Now Quin was standing at the opening of the great
side chute, down which big cants and bents for bridge-
work were thrown sideways.      It was a forty-foot
opening in the Mill's wall. It was smooth, greasy,
sharply inclined. At the foot of it were some heavy
eighteen-foot bents for bridge repairing.
"Ah," said Pete. It seemed to Quin that Pete
came quick and that the other men who were running
came very slow. Perhaps they did, for Pete was as
quick on his feet as any cat or cougar. He weighed
a hundred and fifty pounds of musde and light bone.
Quin weighed two hundred at the least. He wasn't
quick till he was hot.
But Pete's quickness, though it caught Quin, yet
saved him.
Had he been less quick Quin would have stopped
his sharp downward pickareen. But Pete deHvered
his blow too soon. He aimed for Quin's head, but
Quin dodged and the blow was a little short: instead
of catching him inside the collar-bone and penetrating his lung, the steel point grazed the bone and
came down like fire through the pectoral muscle.
And Quin struck out with his right and caught Pete
on the point of his left elbow. The Sitcum Siwash
went back reeling and Ginger White flung his spanner
at him. It missed him by a hair'sbreadth and Pete recovered. Before he could make another rush Mac
within a yard of him. But something passed Mac
and struck Pete on the side of the head.    It was an
iron ring from an old roller. The philosopher Wong
had flung it. Pete went over sideways, grabbed
at nothing, lost his pickareen, caught his feet on
the siU of the chute and pitched out headlong. He
shot down the ways into the bents below and lay
there quiet as a dead man.
" Are you hurt ? " asked Ginger White. Quin's
hand was to his breast.
" A bit," said Quin, as he breathed hard.
" It was a close call," said Ginger. The men stood
round silently.
Skookum clambered down from the log. He was
a dirty-whitish colour, for he wasn't brave.
" Pick that chap up," said Quin, " and see if he is
hurt. If he is some of you can carry him up to the
Though he pressed his hand tight to the open
wound in his breast he bled pretty fast, and presently
sat down on one of the skids.
" I'll help you over to the Office," said Ginger White,
ever ready to be of service to the Tyee. They went
across together while Long Mac and some of the
boys picked up Pete. If it had been a close call for
Quin it had been even a closer one for the Sitcum
Siwash. He was as near a dead man to look at as
any man could be.    The iron ring had only caught
him a glancing blow and cut his scalp, but when he
slid down the chute head-foremost his skull came
butt on solid lumber. Then he had turned over and
struck the edge of a bent with his arm. It was
broken. When Long Mac and three Chinamen
carried him to the hospital, on a door borrowed from
the Planing Mill, the surgeon there found his left
collar-bone was in two pieces as well. He had
serious doubts as to whether his skull was fractured
or not. On the whole, when he had made his examination, he did not think so. But he had every sign
of severe concussion of the brain.
" How did it happen ?" asked Dr. Green when
they had turned Pete over to the nurses.
Mac told him.
" Humph," said Green, who knew something about
Quin, "it is lucky for Quin that the chap went for
him first"
"You think he'll die then? " asked Mac.
"He might," said Green. "But he has a skull
that's thicker than paper. They can stand a lot,
some of 'em. .And others peg out very easy. It's
diseases fetch 'em, though, not injuries."
So Mac went to the Mill again, leaving Pete on
his back in a fine clean bed for the first time in his
life.    He was very quiet now. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     151
While Mac was at the hospital they had sent for
Dr. Jupp to look after Quin. When the old doctor
heard what had happened he shook his head.
"What did I tell him?"
He found Quin pretty sick, but smoking all the
same. He was partiaUy stripped and he had
plastered the wound till help came with a large pad
of blotting paper, which was nearly as primitive as
spiders' webs.
" Well, I got it, doc'," said Quin.
Jupp shook his head again.
"You'll never learn sense, I suppose. Let's look.
What was the weapon ? "
They showed him a pickareen, a half-headed pick
of bright steel some six inches long.
" Lucky for you it wasn't an inch nearer," said
Jupp, " or you would have had froth in this blood! "
Quin knew what he meant. In any case it was a
nasty wound, for part of it was ripped open. Nevertheless Quin smoked all the time that Jupp washed
and dressed it, and said " Thank you" pleasantly
enough when the job was over.
" Go home and lie down," said Jupp. " I'll be up
in an hour and see the cause of the war."
So Quin, with the help of a clerk in the office,
found his way home to Jenny.    As he went he saw 152    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
Mac coming down the road with long strides and
waited to hear what they said of Pete.
" Will he go up the flume ? " asked Quin, using a
common Western idiom.
"Mebbe," said Mac. "The doc' allowed he
couldn't give me a pointer. He said it was a case
of might or mightn't."
" Damn," said Quin.
When he got back to Jenny he never told her he
was hurt. He didn't even squeal when she rose up
in bed and put her arms about his neck and hurt his
wound badly.
" I love you, Tchorch. You are velly good to me,"
said Jenny. 153
In a place like the City on the Fraser, the time being
years ago, years I count mournfully, one can't expect
to run against genius in the shape of surgeons and
physicians. But most of the medidne-men had queer
records at the back of them, even in B. C. Now
Green, for instance, though he had some of a doctor's
instincts, didn't really know enough to pass any
English examination. He read a deal and learnt
as men died or got well under his hands, and the
hands of the nurses. As a result of this Pete had a
long solid time in bed. Even when he apparently
came to there was something very wrong with him.
He didn't know himself or anything else. It took
Green part of a month to discover that he had better
ask old Jupp to come and see his Siwash patient.
As the result of the consultation they put Pete on
the table and shaved his head and trephined him and
raised a depressed patch in his skull.    It was the bit «■
with which he had put a depressed place in a bridge
bent. And then true intelligence (of the Sitcum
Siwash order) came back into Pete's dark eyes, and
he was presently aware that he was Pitt River Pete,
and that Jenny his klootchman had run away with
Quin and that he had gone for Quin in the Mill. So
far as Pete was concerned this had happened a minute
ago and he was very much surprised to find himself
opening his eyes on two strange gentlemen in white
aprons, and his nose to the scent of chloroform, when
an instant before he had seen Quin in front of him
among the finer odours of fresh sawdust. Pete made
a motion to get up and finish Quin, but somehow he
couldn't and he closed his eyes again and went to
When he woke once more he was in a nice bed
with a white lady looking after his wants. He wondered vaguely what a white klootchman was doing
there and again went to sleep. On the whole he was
very comfortable and didn't care about anything, not
even Jenny.
When he woke again, he made the white klootchman explain briefly what had happened to him. The
white klootchman did her best to follow his wau-wau
and gave him to understand that he had had an
accident  in   the   Mill and   an   operation.      And it THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     155
gradually dawned on Pete that all these occurrences
had caused a lapse of time almost miraculous. Nothing
that the white klootchman said convinced him, however : it was the scent of the keen autumn air coming
down the river from his own home mountains, the
Pitt River Mountains. It was now October and
nearly the end of it, and there was already a winter
garment on the big hills. From his window he could
see the far cone of Mount Baker, white and shining.
When he looked a little round the corner he saw his
own hills. The air was beautiful and keen, fresh as
mountain water, tonic as free life itself. To smell
it brought him strength, for there is great strength
in the clean scent of things. He snuffed the air of
the upper river and recalled the high plateaus of the
Dry Belt.
" By-by I go back to Kamloops," said Pete, as he
sat in a chair by the window with a blanket round
him. He was still weak, and didn't feel jealous about
Jenny.    " By-by I go to Pitt River or HalHson Lake."
He used to work when a boy for an old storekeeper at Harrison Lake. That was before he took
to the Mill: before he had been to Kamloops. Old
Smith was a pioneer, one of the Boston Bar Miners,
one of those who had hunted for the mother and
father of Cariboo gold in Baldy Mountain.    He had w
been rich and poor and rich again, and even now,
though poor enough, he grub-staked wandering prospectors on shares of the Dorado Hole they set out
to find.
" Not a bad old fellow, old Smith," said the grubstaked ones.    Pete said the same.
" Jenny she can go to hell," said Pete. .And when
he was well enough to leave the hospital he took a
month's wages from the Mill, or nearly a month's,
and went up-river to Harrison Lake. He never
asked for Quin, and didn't even know that he and
Jenny had both been laid up.
" She can go to hell," he told himself. " I go to
Hallison Lake and by-by to Kamloops, see my sister
Maly. Cultus Muckamuck much better man than
Shautch Quin."
After all Cultus had never stolen his klootchman
and smashed his skull.
Pete was still very weak when he left New Westminster behind and paid a doUar or so to go upstream to the mouth of Harrison River's blue waters
And Smith gave him " a jhob" at small wages but
with good hash.
Then the East wind blew out of the hills, from the
serried dark Cascades, and from the monarchs of the
Selkirks on the Big Bend of the Columbia and from THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     157
the gi,ant Rockies beyond that swift clear stream.
Nature closed up her wonderful store, and the Mills
shut down, for the Lower Fraser was fast in heavy
ice from way-up down to Lulu Island and even
beyond, and no man and no Bull-Wheel, though it
grunted in its frictions, could get logs out of the Boom.
So Long Paul of the Boom as well as Long Mac of the
Pony Saw and Ginger White of the Great Hoes and
all the whole caboodle shut up shop and took to winter
work, which meant growling and groaning and gambling and grumbling and playing Old Harry, and
raising Cain and horrid crops besides, till frost unlocked the stream and booms again.
Oh, but the days when the East wind held up and
the frost was clean and clear! The cold clean sun
shone like pale fire in a pale blue sky and the world
was hard and bright and white with fierce snow. It
was fine enough in the City, and the boys went coasting down the hill streets across the main one, and
the kiddies thought of Christmas with such joy
as those elders, who had heaps of kids and little
cash, could not feel. Nevertheless even a burdened
father of many hoped while he could when the frost
burned in the still air and fetched the blood to his
face. There was health in it: health for Jenny, determined to love ' Tchorch' always, and health for "■"■
' Tchorch,' whose poisoned wound healed up though
it left a horrid scar on his left pectoral. If only it
hadn't meant health for Pete too!
But it did. If it was fine in the City, how much
finer, how much cleaner, how much more wonderful it
was by the edge of a frozen lake, full of trout, and
under the snowy feathery foliage of the firs and pines
and the high pagodas of the majestic antique spruces.
Pete sucked in health and strength like a child and
ate his muckamuck with the determination of a bear
at a discovered cache. He put on muscle and fat.
and could leap again. .And as he fattened, his mind
grew darker. He missed his klootchman and woke of
nights to miss her. The smile, that was his when he
was weak, left him; it was put out by darkness. And
under old Smith's wing in a Httle shack there was
another Sitcum Siwash, one called John, who had a
young klootchman of his own, and his young klootchman had a young papoose, and they were all as fat
as butter and as happy as pigs in a wallow. This hit
lonely Pete very hard. He was 'solly' he hadn't
killed Quin, and took to telling John his woes.
These woes on being told grew bigger, till they
became huge once more. They were Hke a drift in
a bitter norther, where a log can begin a mountain
that stays all progress.
■ri* 1
" I tink I burn his Mill," said Pete as he lay awake.
It was a great idea. It grew like a fire, and would
have come to something undoubtedly if by an accident
old Smith hadn't put a pail of cold discouragement
upon the flame as it twisted and crackled in the hot
mind of Pete. The news came that Thomas Fergus-
son's store at Yale had been burnt down, and Smith
explained to John and Pete and some store loafers
(there always are store loafers everywhere: if there's
a cracker cask at the North Pole some loafer holds it
down against any South wind) that possibly Fer-
gusson had made money out of the fire by the means
of some very queer magic known as insurance, or
" insoolance " as John and Pete said They scratched
their heads, for they knew nothing of " fire-bugs," not
having read the comic New York papers. But the
fact remained that according to old Smith, to burn
down the Mill might mean to make Quin richer.
" I won't burn down his damn Moola," said Pete
Yet couldn't he do something else? Pete lay
half one Sunday thinking over it, and came to the
condusion that there was a very reasonable revenge
to be had fairly cheap. When he worked at the Mill
at Kamloops he had been told of what one man had
done at Port Blakeley.
" I do it" said Pete savagely. He heard John's
klootchman laugh, and thought again of Jenny. The
stronger he grew the more bitterly he missed her.
And yet if she had come back to him now he would
have thrust her out into the frost
In this unhappiness of his heart it was natural he
should turn to his sister Mary, up at Kamloops or the
back of it who was Cultus Muckamuck's klootchman.
And after all old Cultus wasn't such a bad sort
Hadn't they got drunk together, as 'drunk as boiled
owls in a pan of hot water' ? Cultus was a mean old
hunks, and a bit rougher than his younger brother,
but there was none of the high-toned dandy about
Cultus. He would sit on a log with a man, and yarn
and swap lies, and fetch out a bottle and say, " Take a
drink, Pete." Oh, on the whole Cultus was a good
sort. If he did whack Mary, perhaps Mary deserved
it. The klootchmen wanted hammering at intervals
and a good quirting did them good.
" Firs' I go down to the Moola," said Pete, " and
then I go back to Kamloops. I make it hot for
George Quin when the Moola start up. I spoil heem,
ah, I spoil heem and Shinger White."
The hard frost lasted a month and then a quiet
and insidious  Chinook came  out of the Pacific, a
andering warm west wind, and the ice relented and THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     161
released the River. It was not very thick and soon
departed on the ebb and flood of the tides, swaying
in loose floes back and forth. And then the rain
began and it looked like a strange soft winter for a
little while.
"I go now," said Pete.    He spoke to old Smith,
asking for a day or two to go down to the City.
" You ain't thinking of killing Quin or your klootchman, sonny ? " said Smith, who knew all about it.
" Not me, Mista Smith," said Pete. " She no good,
by-by he velly solly he have her."
He got an old dug-out and paddled down to the
City, and past it in the dark, when the town was
nothing but a gleam of lights in the heavy rain. In
the dug-out Pete had a few things borrowed from
Smith's store that Smith did not know he had
" I fix heem," said Pete savagely, as he touched a -
bag  which  held  many  pounds  weight  of ten-inch
spikes.    " I fix heem and his logs! "
He went past the City with the ebb, and taking the
South Arm was soon abreast of Lulu Island. There
he knew that a big boom of logs for the Mill was
anchored to the shore, ready to tow up when the
MiU boom was cut out.    Besides his spikes he had a
heavy sledge-hammer.
" Dat fix heem," said Pete. He knew what he was
" I hope it cut Shinger's beas'ly head off."
He knew that Ginger had thrown a spanner at him
that last day in the Mill, and, indeed, he believed that
it was Ginger, and not old Wong, who had keeled him
over and chucked him down the chute.
Now the rain let up and some stars shone out. He
got close inshore and felt his way in the shadow of
the trees. He let the canoe float, for he came near
where the boom should be. A big patch of sky
cleared and a wedge of the new moon glimmered
under rack. His eyes were keen, and presently he
saw the darker mass of the assembled boom of logs
anchored in a little bay. He grinned and went alongside and made the canoe fast. Then he filled his
pockets with spikes and, taking the sledge, scrambled
on the boom.
Outer log was chained to outer log with chains and
heavy clamps. Inside, an acre of water was covered
with round logs, all loose, logs of fir and pine and
spruce. Some were six feet and more in diameter:
some less than a foot. As he trod on one it rolled a
little and then rolled more: he stepped upon it lightly,
balancing himself beautifully, as if he had been a
driver on the Eastern Rivers of wooded Wisconsin or THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST. 1163
Michigan. The motion he gave to one log as he
sprang communicated itself to others. The logs
seemed uneasy: it was as if he had waked them. He
looked for the best, the biggest, with a pleasure akin
to that of the hunter, or some trapper sorting peltry.
He found a splendid spruce and stood on it in triumph.
" I make heem bad," grinned Pete. He took a
spike and set it into the log with a light tap of the
sledge held close to the heft. Then he stood up and
swung the sledge double-handed. He had driven
spikes on a raikoad once, though he hated railroading,
being by nature a millman or a ranche hand. The
sledge fell on the spike clean and plumb. The dim
forests echoed and he stood up as if the sound
startled him. But after all no one could be near and
the City was far off. He drove the deadly spike
home into the beautiful log and smiled.
Into that one he put three spikes, then he leapt
lightly on another, a Douglas Fir, and spiked that too.
He grew warm and threw off his jacket. It was a
great pleasure to him to work, to feel that his strength
had come back, to feel himself active, lithe, capable.
And revenge was very sweet.
" Mebbe the saw cut off Quin's head," he murmured.
He knew what he was doing and what would happen.
He saw it quite clearly, for once in a saw-mill, when
he was a kiddy, he had heard what happened
when a saw cut on a hidden spike. The
wedger-off had told the others how the great
saw struck fire with a horrid grinding squeal.
With the sawdust from the cut came fiery sparks, and
then the saw, split in huge segments, hurtled from the
cut One piece went through the roof, another
skimmed through the Mill like a piece of slate hurled
by some mighty arm.
Pete knew what he was doing as he killed the logs.
He spiked two dozen before he let up upon them.
" I fix heem," said Pete.    " I fix heem lik' hell! "
He put on his jacket again and with the sledge in
his hands went towards the dug-out. There were
still many spikes in his pockets, for twice he had
renewed his supply of them.
" I think I drive one" more," said Pete, who was
drunk with pleasure.    " I tink one more for luck."
He set the spike in and started to drive it home.
Now he was careless and suddenly he slipped. As
he tried to recover himself, the sledge flew one way
and he flew the other. He dropped between two
logs: the one he had been standing on, and one
on the boom logs. That is, one of the boom
logs saved his life, for the heavy spikes would have
pulled him down if he had had to swim for a minute. "1
As he let a yell out of him and felt a sudden fear of
death his hands caught a chain between two of the
outer boom logs. He pulled his head out of the water
and hung on. The stream was bitter cold, for there
was still ice in it. He gasped for breath, but presently
got a leg across the chain. With a great effort he
clawed the upper edge of the log and clambered back
to safety.
" Oh," he grunted, as he lay flat and caught his
breath, " that a very near ting, Pete."
It was a very near thing indeed.
But before dawn, as he paddled hard on the flood
tide, he was back at Smith's and fast asleep.
Next day there was a mighty row about the missing
" I tink some damn thief kapsualla heem," said Pete.
That week the frost returned once more. This
time it lasted till the early spring.
■llTr—rn 166
B. C, as the boys call it, or British Columbia, is most
undoubtedly a wonderful place, a first-class place,
even if the bottom falls out of it periodically and
booms die down into slumps and the world becomes
weary. But the odd thing is that it is a country
which is, so to speak, all one gut, like a herring. The
Fraser Canon is the gate of the lower country and
the gate of the upper country. There's only one
way up and down, tilikum, unless you are a crazy prospector or a cracked hunter. Though the great
River itself comes from the North past Lillooet and
by, and from, Cariboo, yet the main Hne of men and
railroads and wanderers to and fro lies rather by the
blue Thompson than the grey Fraser.
You meet Bill and Charlie and Tom and Jack and
Dick and Harry on the road. You liquor with them
at Yale, where the Carion opens: you toss for drinks
with them at French Charlie's, you dimb Jackass THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     167
Mountain with them (or meet them there) and again
discuss work and railroading and sawmills and Mr.
Vanderdunk, the Contractor, at Lytton. You run
against your partner or the man you quarrelled or
fought with at Savona. You see Mrs. Grey or
Brown or Robinson at Eight Mile Creek. Very
likely you get fuU up at Oregon Pete's with the man
you last met at Kamloops, or the son of a gun who
worked alongside you at the Inlet. On the Shushwap you tumble up against your brother, maybe, in
a sternwheeler, and at Eagle Pass you give cigars
(5 cents Punches!) to a dozen whose nicknames you
know and whose names you don't.
Properly speaking there are few ways into B. C.
Perhaps there are none out. It is a devil of a
country for getting to know every man jack in it.
From the Columbia Crossing, or even from the summit of the Rockies down to the Inlet, and the City
of Vancouver (in Pete's time mere forest and as
thick as a wheatfield), it's the Main Street.
The fact of the matter is that the whole of the
Slope, the Pacific Slope, is only one Main Street. It
begins to dawn on a man on the Slope, that in a very
few years he might know everyone from the Rocky
Mountains down to Victoria and to Seattle and
Tacoma  and   Portland  and   San  Francisco.      Men 168     THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
wander to and fro like damned souls or migratory
salmon or caribou.
Pete, you know, knew everyone in B. C. by sight,
more or less. There wasn't a shebang on the road
he wasn't familiar with. He came on chaps here or
there who said " Klahya " or " What ho! " or " Hell,
it ain't you?" or "Thunder, it's old Pete, so it is."
He felt familiar with the road, with the Canon, with
every house, every loafer, every bummer, every
' goldarned drifting son of a gun' who went up and
down like a log in the tideway, or round and round
like one in a whirlpool, betwixt the Victoria
beginning and the Rocky Mountain End. When he
had been full of Mills and Canneries he used to
mosey off up-country. When he was soaked by the
Wet Belt and the wet rains he pined for the Dry
Belt. When the high dry plateaus of the Dry Belt
dried him up, he thought of the soft days lower
down, or higher up in the Upper Wet Belt of the
Shushwap. One can swap dimate for climate in a
few hours.
Now the frost of the lower country, of the lower
Fraser, with its intervals of warm Chinook wind and
rain, sickened Pete. He put in a lot of time at old
Smith's, but by the end of February he was keen on
climbing higher.    Old Smith got on his nerves, good THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.    169
old soul though he was, and of course Pete couldn't
stick to one 'jhob.' Old Cultus seemed so good a
chap, and Pete thought it would be a fine thing to
put his legs across a cayuse once more and go a-riding,
whooping hell and thunder out of the steers. And
he had come nigh to forgetting Jenny. When he
thought of her his face looked devilish, but he
thought of her seldom.
" She bad klootchman, yah," said Pete. But he
couldn't go yet. He waited for the harder frost to go,
for the big ice, then two feet thick, to break again
in the lower river. Then the Mill would start, and
he would hear of the spiked logs.
" That make Quin sick," said Pete. So he hung
on and waited, knowing he would hear. It
couldn't be long. Men from the City said that
things had been tough that winter in Shack-Town.
He heard at intervals about this chap or that: about
Skookum, good old Skookum, and Chihuahua, who
had been jailed for a jag which was of portentous
dimensions, leading him to assault a policeman Up
Town. The 'bulls' yanked Chihuahua in and he
got it hot, officially and otherwise, as a man will in the
Then the River cracked loudly: the ice roared
and broke, and piled itself up in bars and ridges and 1
grumbled and swung and went away with the ebb
and up with the flood, roaring all the time.
" Now they start up the Moola queek," said Pete,
as day by day he saw less ice. The rain poured down
and the river was almost in flood already, though
the winter held up-country, of course. When the
frost broke in the wet Cascades and up in Cariboo,
and in the head waters of the forking Thompson,
there would be a proper amount of water in the
And still he waited.
But in the Mill they started at last, and came nigh
to the end of the Mill boom before they could get
a steamer to tow them up the new boom. Then they
got it, and Pete heard that it was there
" I make heem sick," said Pete, still waiting. And
the spiked logs waited.    Their time must come.
It came at last, and of that day men of the Mills
still speak.
It was one of Ginger White's devilish days, when
he hated himself and his kind and was willing to
burst himself if he could make others sigh or groan.
He ran the crew of the Mill almost to death, and
death came at last as the-day died down and found
them running and the saws screaming in logs still
cold within.    For the winter left the men soft: they THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     171
had been half-fed, many of them: they had lived
idle Hves, and found work hard on their hands, hard
on their muscles. But Ginger never failed when the
devil was in him. The winter was over: he wanted
to work, for he was all behind with money.
" I'll make 'em sweat, I'll make 'em skip," said
That day Quin was much in the Mill, and he was
there when the lightning struck Skookum Charlie:
when the saws spouted fire. He, too, was glad to get
back to labour: to the doing of things. And he
loved the Mill, as many did.
It was a great log of spruce that carried death
within it High up above the Saws hung a lamp so
that Skookum and his partner could see the cut as
well as feel it. The whole Mill squealed and
trembled: every machine within it ran full blast:
the song of the Mill was great.
" Oh, heave and roU," said the Bull-Wheel. They
got the log on the carriage, drove in the dogs and
Ginger sent her at the eager saws. He cut the slab
off, and then set her for an eight-inch cant, and got
her half through, when the lightning came.
There was a horrid rip, a grinding, deafening crash
and streams of fire came out of the cut log. On top
of it was Skookum driving home a wedge.    He drove 172     THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
it deep and deeper, and as the crash came, Quin stood
where he had stood when Pete went for him. There
was another horrid scream as the smashed saw broke
and hurled a jagged quadrant upward from the cut.
" Oh, Christ! " said those who saw. At Quin's red
feet, a bloody corpse lay, for the saw had sliced
Skookum nigh in two, shearing through flesh and
bone, ribs and spine. For one moment he was helped
to his feet by the thing that cut his life out, and he
stood upon the log, with a howl torn out of his very
lungs, and then pitched headlong on the floor.
There came screams from the far end of the Mill,
for another segment of the saw had flown out straight,
and, striking a roller, came up slanting from it, and
disembowelled a wretched Chinaman. He stood and
squealed lamentably and then looked at himself and
lay down and died.
And all the Mill ceased and men came running
even from below.
" My God," said Quin.
But Ginger said nothing. Terror had hold of him.
He leant against the deadly log and vomited. Every
lamp in the Mill was held up in two circles, one
about Skookum and the other about the Chinaman.
Faces as white as the dead men's looked at the
That night Skookum's klootchman sat with loosed
hair howHng over the body of her good and stupid
man.   And by her Annie and Annawillee mourned.
And many thought of Pete. Among them were
Quin and his klootchman Jenny, who understood
the nature of the man who had been her man and
was now no better than a murderer.
" I done it, I," said Jenny; " if I stay with Pete this
no happen! "
She cried all night and ' Tchorch' could not comfort her. Nor could he sleep till in his rage he
cursed her, and came nigh to striking her. Then
she crept into his arms and tried to soothe him, and
wept no more.
The next day Pete started up-country, for Kamloops.
"I never mean to kill Skookum," he said with a
white face. " I never mean keel him. I lik'
The poor fool cried.
— 174
THE story of the disaster at the Mill followed Pete
and passed him as he made his way to Yale, having
screwed a dollar or two out of old Smith. Indeed he
got more than he had a right to, for old Smith wasn't
a man to squeeze a dollar till the eagle squealed, by
any means. The day after the news came of the
split saw Pete had boarded the boat for Yale and was
put out at the mountain town in a storm of rain. And
Pete hated the wet as a sawmill-man must, or as one
who had worked in the Dry Belt where rain is scarce
and the fattening grasses dry.
At this time the Railroad, the Railroad of all Roads,
the longest on earth, gentlemen, partners and tillikums,
was being put through the hills, through the Rockies
and the Selkirks and the Eagle Range. The woods
were full of Contractors, small and big, good and
measly, generous and mean, men and pigs. But above
them all towered the genial, blue-eyed Andy. The
men said "Andy" here and "Andy" there.    Andy THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     175
was responsible if the bottom fell out of the sky, or
if the earth blew up. He was held to account for
floods and wash-outs, for land slides and snow slides,
and he took 'em all as they came. The men said
"damn Andy" or "Andy's all right." They got
drunk and denounced him, and perhaps got sober and
blessed him. On the whole they loved his blue eyes
even if they damned them. But while he held the
road which he had built, and before it was turned over
to the men in Montreal, the good men and the great
scoundrels (there always being talk of railroad
boodlers) who thought the thing out and financed it,
he charged a devil of a rate for passage on it. So
everyone who went East or West went to Andy or
some underling for a pass. Pete did it. There was
only one tale to tell.
" I want to go up to Ashcroft to get a job, Mr.
Vanderdunk," said everyone. Pete said it, and Andy
being in a heavenly temper (as he wasn't when I
struck him for a pass) let the Sitcum Siwash through
easily, just as he had done before when Jenny was
with him.
" I want to wu'k on the railroad, Sir," said Pete.
When he went off with the pass he said he didn't want
to "wu'k" on any railroad. He spent a dollar in
drink and went on board the train drunk.    It was the f f} ■
i iii in
first time since the night when he had nearly killed
Jenny that he had been very 'full.'    The smoking
car was crammed with men who had passes: men who
wanted to work at the Black Cafion and those who
didn't.    Some were bound for Kamloops, some for
the work on the Shushwap, some for Eagle Pass and
Sicamoose   Narrows,   and   there   was   one   farming
Johnny or mossback for Spallumcheen.    They were
all lively—some full up, some half-full.    They yelled
and laughed and yarned and swore and said—
" Oh, what are yer givin' us, taffy ? "
They declined to swallow taffy—but they swallowed
whisky.    An old prospector gave Pete drink.    Then
he heard them tell the tale of the accident at the Mill.
" Some rotten son of a gun spiked the logs," said
the man behind Pete.
" I heerd they'd found ten logs spiked," said another.
" They bin over 'em with an adze."
" If they corral the kiddy wot done it, he'll wear
hemp," said another.
" Serve him right, damn his immortal," returned the
first speaker.
Pete begged another drink and drank so heartily
that the old prospector said he was a hog. Pete was
indignant, but he was nearly speechless and saw two,
nay, three, prospectors, gaunt and hairy men, who THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     177
looked very angry. He decided not to fight, and
went to sleep, and slipped down on the floor. The
prospector wiped his boots on him and expatiated on
hogs in a whining monotone for forty miles.
They dragged Pete out at Ashcroft and put him
and his bundle on the dry prairie, where the depot was.
He woke late at night and found his throat so parched
that he could not speak to the darkness that closed
about him. There wasn't a soul in the depot, and not
a shack or shebang handy. The dread collection of
wallows described as a town was a mile off across the
prairie, and Pete groaned as he set out for the lights
of the biggest grog shanty there. He hadn't a red
in his sack, to say nothing of a dime or two-bits, but
some charitably disposed railroader, a Finn it was,
gave him a drink, and he sat down in a corner along
with a dozen others and went to sleep. In the morning he raised another drink, and set off for Kamloops,
just as the railroad work began. He was asked to
stop a dozen times, but he wasn't keen. " I go to
Kamloops," he answered.
He humped himself and got to Savona's Ferry in
quick time, for someone gave him a lift on the road.
He found a sternwheeler on the point of starting for
Kamloops, and knowing the engineer and the fireman,
who was a Siwash too, they shoved him in the stoke-
hold and made him work his passage. Two hours of
mighty labour with billets of firewood sweated the
drink out of him, and by the time they were alongside the Kamloops shore he was something of a man
He found some tillikums in the town and recited his
woes to them, telling them all about Jenny having
quit him to go with Quin, who was Cultus Muckamuck's brother. He asked about his sister Mary, and
about old Cultus.
" Cultus pahtlum evly sun, dlunk all the time now,"
said a Dry Belt Indian named Jimmy. " Nika manitsh
Mary, I see Mary.    She very sad with a black eye."
Pete was furious. Mary was older than he by five
years and had been a mother to him when their
mother went under. If he loved anyone he loved
" I wish I had a gun," said Pete. " I tell Cultus if
he bad to Mary I kill heem."
He was almost bewildered by a sense of general
and bitter injustice. Hadn't he been a good man to
Jenny? Hadn't he been a good worker in the Mill?
But Jenny had left him for the man he had worked
for. Then instead of killing Quin or Ginger White
he had killed poor old Skookum. He hadn't meant
to kill him, but if the law knew he would be hanged THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     179
all the same. And now poor Mary was having a bad
time with old Cultus. When Cultus got mad, he was
very dangerous, Pete knew that.
" Mary's a damn fool to stay with heem," said Pete.
" I tell her to leave heem. I get wu'k here, in the Mill.
She live with me."
He went to the Kamloops Mill to look for work.
They were full up and couldn't give him a show. But
one of the men who knew him gave him a dollar and
that made Pete happier. He raised a drink with it,
a whole bottle of liquid lightning, and he didn't start
for Cultus's ranche that day.
It was an awful pity he didn't. For Cultus had
been in town that morning and had taken two bottles
back with him. He had been drinking for weeks and
was close upon delirium tremens. He had horrid fits
of shaking.
Ned Quin was ten years George's senior, and had
been in British Columbia for thirty years. He had
been married to a white woman, whose very name he
had forgotten. For the last ten years, or eight at
least, he had lived with Mary, whom the previous
owner of his ranche had taken from the kitchen of the
Kamloops Hotel when she was twenty. Now he lived
in a rude shanty over towards the Nikola, ' nigh on' to
twenty miles from Kamloops.      He had a hundred
and fifty steers upon the range, and made nothing out
of them. The Mill, in which he had an interest, kept
him going. He wanted nothing better. He was
very fond of Mary, and often beat her.
Mary was a tall and curiously elegant woman for
an Indian or for a half-caste. By some strange
accident, perhaps some inheritance from her unknown
white father, she was by nature refined.
She had a sense of humour and a beautiful smile.
She talked very good English, which is certainly more
than her brother did, who had no language of his own
and knew the jargon best of all. Mary was a fine
horse-woman and rode like a man, straddling, as many
of the Dry Belt women do. She could throw a lariat
with some skill. She walked with a certain free grace
which was very pleasant to see. And she loved her
white man in spite of his brutality. For when Ned
was good, he was very good to her.
" Now he beats poor me," she said. Perhaps she
took a certain pleasure in being his slave. But she
knew, and more knew better, that she lived on the
edge of a precipice. More than once Ned had beaten
her with the flat of a long-handled shovel. More
than once, since Pete left, he had threatened to give
her the edge and cut her to rags.
It was a great pity Pete had that dollar given him THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.    181
at the Kamloops Mill. He got drunk, of course, and
only started for the ranche a little before noon next
It was a clear and cloudless sky he walked under as
he climbed the winding road up from the town by the
Lake. There was a touch of winter in the air and the
road was still hard. The lake was quite blue, beyond
it the hills seemed close: the North Fork of the
Thompson showed clear: the Indian reservation on
the other side seemed near at hand. But of those
things Pete thought nothing. He wanted to see
his sister, he groaned that he hadn't a cayuse to ride.
He was five miles out of Kamloops and on the upper
terraces of the country, when he saw someone coming
who had a cayuse to ride. Pete could see the rider
from afar: he saw the cattle separate and run as the
man came nearer to them. He saw how the steers,
for ever curious, came running after him for a little
way as the rider went fast. The man was in a hurry.
Indeed he was in a desperate hurry. Pete, who knew
everyone between the Thompson and the Nikola,
wondered who it was, and why he was riding so fast.
"He ride lik' hell," said Pete as he stopped and
filled his pipe.
Every man has his own way of riding, his own way
of holding himself. 182    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
"He ride Uk' Cultus," said Pete curiously. "Jus'
lik' Cultus."
For all his thirty years in a horse country Cultus
Quin rode Hke no horseman. He worked his elbows
up and down as he went at a lope. He usually wore
an old ragged overcoat which flew behind him in the
" It is old Cultus," said Pete. " What for he ride
A Httle odd anxiety came into Pete's mind, and he
held a match till it burnt his fingers. He dropped it
and cursed.
" What for he make a dust lik' that ? I never see
him ride lik' that! "
The rider came fast and faster when he reached a
pitch in the road. He was a quarter of a mile away,
a hundred yards away, and then Pete saw that it was
Cultus, but no more Hke the Cultus that he knew.
The man's face was ashy white and his eyes seemed
to bolt out of bis head. As he* swept past Pete he
turned and knew him, and he threw up one hand as if
it were a gesture of greeting. But it might be that
it was rather a gesture of despair, for he threw his
head back, too. He never ceased his headlong gallop
and disappeared in dust on the next pitch of the descending road THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST      183
Pete stood staring after him.
" What for he ride lik' that ? " he whispered. He
wouldn't speak to himself of Mary. He walked on
with his head down. Why did Cultus Muckamuck
ride like that ?    Why did he ride like that ?
The answer was still miles ahead of him, and if
there was any answer he knew it was to be found
where Mary was. There was no light in the sky for
him as he went on.
And the answer came to meet him before an hour
was past.
He saw others, on the far stretched road before him,
and he wondered at the pace they came. They did
not come fast but very slow. As he held his hand
above his eyes he saw that there were many men
coming. They were not on horseback but on foot.
Why did they come so slow ?
" Why they walk lik' that ? " asked Pete. He sat
down to think why a crowd of men should be so slow.
There were eight or ten of them. If they went so
"It lik' " said Pete, and then he shaded his
eyes again. The men in front were carrying something.    It looked like a funeral!
But Pete shook his head. There was no burial
place nearer  than Kamloops,  and if a body were
. I Pi
being taken there they would have drawn it on a
" They're toatin' something on their shoulders,"
said Pete, with a shiver. It was as if there had been
an accident, and men were carrying someone to the
hospital. Pete had seen more than one carried. He
turned a Httle sick. Was Cultus riding for the doctor ?
Was there anyone the old devil would have ridden to
" When he wasn't pahtlum he was very fond of
Mary," said Pete shivering.
He started to walk fast and faster still. Now the
melancholy procession was hidden behind a little
rise. He knew they were still coming, for a bunch of
steers on a low butte were staring with their heads all
in one direction. Pete ran. Then he saw the bearers
of the burden top the hill and descend towards him.
His keen eyes told him now that they were carrying
someone on a litter shoulder high. He knew the
foremost men: one was Bill Baker of Nikola Ranche,
another was Joe Batt, and yet another Kamloops
Harry, a Siwash.    He named the others, too.
And some knew him. Pete saw that they stopped
and spoke, turning their heads to those in the rear.
One of the men, it was Simpson of Cherry Creek,
came on foot in front of the others.    Pete watched THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     185
his face. It was very solemn and constrained. He
nodded to Pete when he was within twenty yards.
When he came up he put his hand on Pete's shoulder.
" We're takin' your sister to Kamloops, Pete," said
Pete stared at him.
"Mary?" he asked.
Simpson nodded and answered Pete's wordless
" No, she ain't dead "
Pete turned towards Kamloops.
" Ole Cultus passed ridin' lik' hell, Mr. Simpson."
The procession halted within a few yards.
" Damn him," said Simpson, " he's cut the poor gal
to pieces with a shovel." 186
They said to Pete	
" Come into Kamloops with us."
Pete shook his head and said nothing. But his
eyes burned. Kamloops Charlie urged him to come
with them, and talked fast in the Jargon.
" You come, Pete, no one at the house now, Pete.
By-by she want you. She often talk of you with
me, want to see you."
Charlie had worked for Cultus since Pete went
" I come by-by," said Pete. They left him standing in the road. When some of them turned to look
at him before they came where they would see him
no more, he was still standing there.
" Tell you Pete's dangerous," said Simpson. He
was a long, thin, melancholy man from Missouri, with
a beard like grey moss on a decayed stump.
" He'll hev' a long account with the Quin brothers,"
replied Joe Batt. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     187
" Many has," said Bill Baker. Cultus owed him
money. Baker chewed tobacco and the cud. He
muttered to himself, and the only audible word was
" dangerous." Above his shoulder the hurt woman
And even when they had disappeared Pete stood
staring after them. They had time to go more than
a mile before he stirred. Then he walked a little
distance from the road and cached his bundle behind
a big bull-pine. He started the way his sister had
come, and went quick. He had seen some of his
sister's blood on the road.
In two hours he was at the ranche, and found it as
the others had found it, when Kamloops Charlie had
come to tell them that Cultus had killed Mary. The
door was open, the table was overturned, there was
broken crockery on the floor. There was a drying
pool of blood by the open fire which burnt logs of
pine. Scattered gouts of blood were all about the
room: some were dried in ashes. The dreadful
shovel stood in the corner by the fire. Pete took it
up and looked at it. Many times he had heard old
Cultus say he would give Mary the edge. Now he
had given her the edge. Pete's blood boiled in
him: he smashed the window with the shovel. Then
he heard a bellow from the corral in which some of 188    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
the best of Cultus' small herd were kept up, some of
them to fatten for the railroad.
" I do that," said Pete. In the stable he found
Mary's horse, a good old grey, but past quick work
save in the hands of a brute, or a Mexican or an
Indian. Pete put the saddle on him and cinched up
the girths. He found a short stock whip which he
had often used. He led the horse out, and going to
the corrals, threw down the rails. Going inside he
drove thirty cows and steers out. On the hills at
the back of the ranche about fifty more were grazing.
Pete got on the horse and cracked his whip. He
drove them all together up the hills and into a narrow
valley. It led towards a deep canon. There was
little water in the creek at the bottom, but there
were many rocks. From one place it was a drop
of more than two hundred feet to the rocks, and a
straight drop too. The mountain path led to it and
then turned almost at right angles. The valley in
which the cattle ran grew narrow and narrower and
Pete urged them on.
Cultus loved his steers and had half-a-dozen cows
that he milked himself when they had calves. Whenever Pete came near one of these he cut at her with
the whip, and urged them all to a trot. They were
lowing,  and presently  some of the  rowdier  steers THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     189
bellowed. They broke at last into a gallop, and then
Pete shrieked at them like a fiend and raced the old
pony hard.
" I fix 'em," said Pete.
Now they were in thickish brush, with no more
than a big trail for a path. Pete lashed the grey till
he got alongside the very tail of the flying herd and
made them gallop faster still. They were all dreadfully uneasy, alarmed, and curious, and as they went
grew wilder. They horned each other in their hurry
to escape the devil behind them, and the horned ones
at last fairly stampeded as if they were all wild cattle
off the range in the autumn. They went headlong,
with a wild young cow leading. Pete screamed
horribly, cracked with his whip, cut at them and
yelled again. The brush was thick in front of them
on the very edge of the canon. The little thinning
trail almost petered out and turned sharply to the
left. The leader missed it and burst through the
brush in front of her. The others followed. Behind
the maddened brutes came Pete. He saw the leader
swerve with a horrid bellow and try to swing round.
She was caught in the ribs by a big steer and went
over. The ones who came after were blinded, their
heads were up in the crush: they saw nothing till
there was nothing in front of them.      They swept
fi ii
over the edge in a stream and bellowed as they fell.
On the empty edge of the canon Pete pulled up the
sweating grey, who trembled in every limb. Below
them was a groaning mass of beef. They were no
longer cattle, though one or two stumbled from the
thick of the herd and the dead and stood as if they
were paralysed.
" I wis' Ned was there," said Pete, as he turned
and galloped back down the beaten, trampled trail.
" I wis' I had him here.    I serve him out."
He rode as hard as the wretched grey could go
to where he had left his bundle. He picked it up
and turned the horse loose. Perhaps it was hardly
wise to ride it into Kamloops. It was night before
he got there. He found Kamloops Charlie in town,
drinking, and reckoned that no one would find out
for days what had happened to the cattle. He told
Charlie that he had stayed where he was left, and
had at last determined to come into town.
I Kahta ole Cultus ? " he asked.
But Cultus had taken steamer, having caught it
as it was on the point of leaving. Pete saw Simpson
at the hotel and spoke to him.
"Your sister says as it warn't Cultus as done it,"
said Simpson. " That's what she says: she allows
it was a stranger, poor gal! " THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     191
They said she would live. But those who had
seen her said it would be best if she died. One side
of her face was dreadfully injured.
" She must ha' bin' mighty fond of Ned Quin,"
said Simpson. " She's the only one araound ez is, I
He stood Pete a drink. Pete told what he had
told Kamloops Charlie.
" I tho't you'd kem along bymby," said Simpson.
" I'm sorry for the poor gal, so I am. There's them
as don't hanker after any of you Siwashes, Pete, but
I maintain they may be good. But dem a nigger,
anyhaow.    You'll be huntin' a job, Pete ? "
Pete owned sulkily enough that he was hunting a
" Then don't you stay araound hyar," said Simpson. " Barrin' sellin' a few head o' measly steers
there ain't nothin' doin'. When the railroad is
through, the bottom will fall out of B. C. fo' sewer.
You go up to the Landing: things is fair hummin'
up to the Landing, an' Mason hez gone up there
to start up a kin' o' locomotive sawmill at what
they calls the Narrows. You hike off to the Landing and tackle Mason; say I named him to you,
Pete, and if he ain't full-handed you'll be all
hunkey." 192     THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
He stood himself another drink, and grew more
"A few measly steers in a Gawd-forsaken land
like B. C.! Don't you hanker arter revenge agin
Ned for mishandling Mary. Revenge is sweet to the
mouth, Pete, but it's heavy work on the stummick,
ondigestible and apt to turn sour. If it hadn't been
that I hankered arter revenge (and got it) I'd ha' bin
now in Mizzouri, Gawd's kentry, whar I come from.
A few head o' weedy miserbul steers! You leave
Ned alone and I'll be surprised if he don't leave you
and Mary alone. To half cut off a gal's head and
her not to squeal! I calls it noble. Ned will be
sorry he done it, I reckon. You go up to the Landing, boy."
And Pete did go up to the Landing.
And Ned, the poor wretch, was very sorry " he
done it."
Ned Quin hadn't been down in the coast country
for years. Indeed, the last time he had been in New
Westminster he had gone there by coach. Now it
was a new world for him, a world of strange hurry
and excitement. B. C. was in a hurry: the people
of the East were in a hurry: the very river in the
roaring Fraser Canon seemed to run faster. And
he, of all the world, was the one thing that seemed
to go slow, he and his train. He was sober now,
and in terror of what he had done.
" By God, they'll hang me," he said. They hanged
men for murder in British Columbia, hanged them
quickly, promptly, gave them a short quick trial, and
short shrift.
"I wish I was over the Line," said Ned, as he
huddled in a corner seat and nursed his chin
almost on his knees. Across the Line they
didn't hang men quick, unless they stole horses and
were exceedingly bad citizens who wouldn't take a
clean cut threat as a warning. " I wish I was over
the Line."
And the 49th Parallel wasn't far away. Yet to
get to it wasn't easy. He had galloped from what
he believed a house of death with no money in his
pocket. He had borrowed from the skipper of the
sternwheeler, which took him from Kamloops to the
Ferry, enough to pay his fare down to Port Moody.
He must go to George's to get more.
" They'll catch me," said Ned Quin, " they'll catch
me: they'll hang me by the neck. That's what they
say—' by the neck till you are dead'—I've heard Begbie say it, damn him! "
Yes, that was what Judge Begbie said to men who
cut their klootchmen to pieces with a shovel.
"I—I was drunk," said old Ned.    "Poor Mary."
She had been as good a klootchman as there was
in the country, sober, clean, kind, long-suffering. He
knew in his heart how much she had endured.
" Why didn't she leave me ? " he whined. Whenever the train stopped he looked up. He saw men
he knew, but no one laid his hand on his shoulder.
Few spoke to him: they said that it was as clear as
mud that he was rotten with liquor and half mad.
They left him alone.    He wanted them to speak to THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
him, for he saw Mary on the floor of his shack. He
saw the shovel.
" Pete will find her," said Ned. " He said he'd kill
me if I hurt her. He'll take her horse and ride to
Kamloops and tell 'em, and they'll telegraph and
catch me, they'll catch me! "
At Port Moody he saw a sergeant of police and
felt a dreadful impulse to go up to him and have it all
over at once. He stopped and reeled, and went
blind. When he saw things again the sergeant was
laughing merrily. He looked Ned's way and looked
past him.
" They don't know yet," said Ned. He got a
drink and took the stage over to New Westminster.
A postman with some mail-bags sat alongside him.
A postman would naturally hear anything that anyone could hear, wouldn't he ? This postman didn't
speak of a murder. He told the driver bawdy
stories, and once Ned laughed.
" Good story, ain't it ? " said the pleased postman.
They came to the City late, and as soon as they
pulled up Ned slipped down on the side away
from the lights, and went down the middle of the
street towards the Mill. He knew that George now
lived in a new house and wondered how he should
find it.    He didn't like to speak to anyone.   But by
the Mill he found an old Chinaman and spoke to
" Boss live up there," said the Chinaman. " You
see um, one plenty big house, velly good house."
He pointed to George's house and Ned followed
the path he indicated. Ten minutes later he knocked
at the door and it was opened by Sam. But he was
not let in till Sam had satisfied himself that this was
really the brother of the Boss. He went to the door
of the sitting-room, opened it just enough to put his
head in, and said	
" One man, alia same beggar-man my tinkee, say
he wantee see you, Sir. My tinkee him velly dlunk.
He say your blother.    My tinkee t'at not tlue."
But George ran out and found the beggar man
shivering on the steps.
" Ned, why, what's brought you ? "
The hall was dimly lighted and he couldn't see
Ned's face. But by his voice he knew he was in
trouble.    He trembled.
" George, I've—I've killed Mary," he said in a
dreadful whisper, " help me to get away."
"You—my God," said George. He took the
wretched man by the sleeve.    " You've done what ? "
"Killed Mary," said Ned shivering. "For God's
sake help me over the border or they'll hang me." THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     197
He broke down and wept. George stood and
looked at him in the dim light. Sam could not pass
them to go back to the kitchen, and waited.
The sitting-room door was ajar. Someone inside
"Who's with you?" asked Ned.
He knew nothing about Jenny. But George forgot that he knew nothing.
" Go in," he said, " it's Jenny."
He thrust Ned inside and turned to Sam.
" Sam, boy, you savvy no one has come. If anyone ask you say no one.   You savvy? "
" My savvy all light, my savvy plenty," said Sam
doubtfully. " My tinkee him your blother all light,
Sir ? "
"Yes," said Quin. He stood with his hand on
the handle of the door after Sam had returned to
the kitchen.
" My God," said George again. He went into the
When Ned had gone in he failed to recognise
Jenny, and thought she was a white woman. She
was nicely dressed, and now her hair was done very
neatly. Sam had taught her how to do it. When
she stood up, in surprise at the unexpected entrance
of Ned, it was obvious even to his troubled eyes i %
that she was near to becoming a mother. She gasped
when she saw him.
"Oh, Mr. Ned," she cried. He looked dreadful:
his clothes were disordered, ragged; his grizzled
beard and hair unkempt and long. He looked sixty,
though he was no more than fifty, and his eyes were
" Who are you ? " asked Ned sharply.
" I'm Jenny," she murmured, looking abashed and
And then George came in. When Jenny saw him
she cried out—
" What's the mattah, Tchorch ? "
There was matter enough to make her man pallid.
But he was master of himself, for he had to look
after the poor wretch who now fell into a chair by
the fire and sat huddled up in terror.
" I'll tell you by and by," said George. " Give him a
drink, Jenny girl, and give me one.  I've got to go out."
She brought the whisky to him. He poured some
out for Ned, who swallowed as a man, who had
thirsted for a tropic day, would swallow water.
George took some himself.
" Sit quiet, Ned," said' George. " I'll be back in
half an hour, Jenny! "
She followed him to the door.
" Don't let him move. If anyone calls, say I'm
out, dear."
"What's the mattah, Tchorch? He looks very
ill," she murmured, with her hand on his shoulder.
George told her what Ned had told him, and Jenny
trembled like a leaf.
" Poor, poor Mary! " she sobbed. " Oh, the cruel
man! "
" Oh, hell," said George, and Jenny controlled her
"What you do, Tchorch?"
" I'm going to get someone to take him across the
other side," said George.    " I must, I must."
He ran out and down the hill path, and Jenny
went back reluctantly to the room where the
murderer sat. He was shivering, but the liquor had
pulled him more together for the time. He wanted
to talk. How was it that Jenny was here? He
remembered he had seen Pete on the road.
" I saw Pete to-day," he said suddenly.
Jenny stared down at the floor and answered
" I'm a wretched man, girl," said Ned; " did George
tell you ?"
Jenny did not reply, and Ned knew that she knew.
He burst into tears. f fl
" I've killed Mary," he said. His face was stained
with the dust of the road and the tears he shed
channelled the dirt. He looked dreadful, ludicrous,
pathetic, hideously comic. "I—I killed her with a
shovel. She was a good woman to me, and I got
mad with drink.    I'll never touch it again."
He looked eagerly towards the bottle on the table.
He had taken some more when the others were out
of the room.
"I've killed her, and they'll hang me, Jenny!
Where's George gone ? "
The tears ran down Jenny's face.
" He's gone to get someone to take you away, Mr.
Ned! "
They might come any moment and take him away!
There was quite a big jail in the City.
11—I saw Pete this morning, no, yesterday. I
don't know when," said Ned. " When did you come
here, Jenny ?"
Jenny said it was long ago. She dried her tears
for shame was hot within her. .And yet joy was
alive within her.    She loved Tchorch!
"I couldn't leave Tchorch now," she said to herself, as Ned went on talking. "I'd rather he killed
me.    Poor Mary! "
If Pete had been brutal, Mary had always been
kind.    She hated Ned suddenly. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     201
He took another drink and sat crouched over the
fire. Every now and again he looked round. At any
noise he started. Perhaps the police were trying to
look into the house. Jenny could have screamed.
It seemed hours since George went away. Ned muttered to the fire.
I Mary, Mary," he said in a low voice. He and
Mary had been lovers once, for when she first went
to him he was a man, and she was quite beautiful.
Across the dark years he saw himself and her: and
again he saw her as she lay in blood upon the
earthen floor of his shack, what time he had run
out and taken his horse for flight.
" They'll hang me," said Ned, choking.
And there were steps outside. He sprang to his
feet and hung to the mantel-shelf.
" What's that ? " he asked. The next minute they
heard George enter the house with some other man.
"It's the poHce," screamed Ned thinly. He
believed George had denounced him. And George
put his head inside the room and beckoned to him.
Ned ran to him stumbHng. The door closed on
them and Jenny fell upon her knees. Then she sank
in a heap upon the floor.    She had fainted.
In the hall was someone Ned did not know. But
George knew him and knew that he was a capable I
strong man. He was Long Mac of the Pony Saw,
as strong as he was long. In the winters he hunted,
and knew all the country round about.
" Take him across the river to-night, and away by
Whatcom to-morrow, Mac," said George; 1 do your
Mac never did less, whether it was for evil or for
good. On the balance he was a good and fine man.
But he cared nothing for the Law and had a curious
respect and liking for George Quin.
" I'll do that," said Long Mac. He took Ned by
the arm, and Ned without a backward glance shuffled
into the darkness.
George went in to Jenny and found her unconscious
on the floor. He sprinkled cold water in her face,
and she moaned.
" Poor little woman," said George. " Oh, but it's
hard lines on these poor squaws. If I died what'd
happen to her ?"
He knew their nature and knew his own.
"But Mary's dead," said Quin.    "Better for her."
Yet Mary wasn't dead, though Mac was dragging
a whining, puling -wretch of a man on a dark trail to
a country where there's a very poor trail indeed cut
for the slow and burdened army of the Law. 203
NEXT day the Pony Sawyer was wanting at the Mill
and no one knew what had become of him, the finest
and steadiest man in the place. George White was
pleased to hear of it, for it was always his notion that
Quin would some day fire him and put Long Mac at
the lever of the Hoes.
" Ah," said Ginger, " we never can teU: some
crooked business, I dessay! They crack up M'Clellan
'sif he was a gawd-a-mighty, but to my tumtum he
ain't nothin' extra."
He put Shorty Gibbs from the Shingle Mill in Mac's
place, and found his usual pleasure in piling poor
Shorty up. For of course Gibbs, though he understood the Pony, couldn't run that lively animal at
Mac's pace. When Ginger stood up and groaned
publicly at Shorty, the new man was cross. It led to
a scene at last, but one which only puzzled the others.
For Shorty Gibbs was one of the very quietest men 204    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
who breathed. He said he hated rows Hke "pison."
When Ginger came round to him the second time and
said " Oh, heU," Shorty had had enough. He stopped
the Pony carriage and walked over to Ginger. He
nodded to him and said—
" Say, see here, Ginger! "
Ginger was an uninstructed man, he was very hard
to teach.
" Get on with your work," said Ginger.
Shorty was up to his shoulder. He lifted an ingenuous face to the sawyer.
" Ain't you bein' rather hard on a new hand,
Ginger ?" he asked politely. And Ginger White
mistook him, altogether. He swore. What happened
then the other men missed: it was all so quiet.
" Look here, you red-headed bastard," said Shorty
in a conversational tone, or as near it as the clatter of
the Mill would allow, "look here, you slab-sided
hoosier, if you as much as open your head to me agin
I'll rip you up from your fork to your breast-bone.
And Ginger saw.
"You can't bull-doze me," said Shorty, becoming
openly truculent, " any more than you can bull-doze
Mac, you white-livered dog! "
White was never brave, but since the saws had killed THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     205
Skookum his nerve was bad indeed. There were
spikes in every log for him by now. He went back to
the lever without a word and ran so slow that Gibbs
got a chance to clear the skids.
By the time Gibbs knew what was what with the
Pony, Mac returned. He had taken Ned somewhere
to the neighbourhood of Seattle and left him there.
He went to see George Quin the moment he got into
town. And by that time there was news from Kamloops.
" I've planted him with an old partner of mine that
runs a hotel back o' Seattle," said Mac. "Jenkins
will keep him away from too much liquor. I rely on
George thanked him.
" But after aU," said George, " I hear that the
woman isn't dead, Mac, and what's more she lets on
that it wasn't my brother that hurt her."
He looked at the sawyer.
" Good girl," said Mac, " but he did it right enough,
Sir; he talked of nothing else all the way across."
" But if she dies what she says won't be everything,"
said George. " It's best he should stay. Thank you
for going with him.    Gibbs is taking your saw."
"Hell he is," said Mac pensively; "has he had
trouble with White ? •' 2o6    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
But Quin hadn't heard of it. Just of late White
hadn't gone to the office with so many complaints.
Since the spiking of the logs Quin had been less easy
to deal with. He was troubled in his mind about Pete,
and about Jenny. If Pete had spiked the logs, as
Quin believed, he was capable of anything. -And poor
Httle Tenny was about to be a mother. It wouldn't
be more than a month or two now.
Until Jenny had come into his life in real earnest,
the Mill, the Stick Moola, had been the man's whole
desire. He loved it amazingly: there wasn't a plank
in it he didn't love, just as there wasn't a job in it
that he couldn't do in some fashion, and no fool's
fashion either. He had run the old Moola 'good and
strong,' caring for everything, seeing that it had the
best of everything. There wasn't a makeshift in it:
it was a good Mill and Quin was a good manager.
An acddent of any kind hit him hard. For accidents
there must and will be when saws are cutting lumber.
To have a man killed troubled him, even if it were
a sheer acddent But to have a man killed by a
spiked log was very dreadful to him. It was the
more dreadful that he had provoked the spiking. It
shook Quin up more than he had ever been shaken.
It broke his nerve a Httle, just as it had broken
Ginger's.   And by now he was very fond of Jenny, THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     207
even if he cursed her, as he sometimes did. He
dreaded this devil of a Pete, who wasn't the kind of
Siwash that one found among the meaner tribes, the
fishing, begging Indians. He had some red and ugly
blood in him.    He got on Quin's nerves.
And then Mary was Pete's sister. If she hadn't
been he would never have known Jenny, and if he
had given Pete a job it would have been like giving
it to any Siwash. Now Pete would be more than
ever down on them both. George began to think it
worth while to find out where Pete was. He sent up
to Kamloops to ask. At the same time he sent word
to the hospital that Mary was to have anything she
wanted. There was a deal of good in George Quin,
and somehow little Jenny brought it out.
The poor girl in the hospital knew there was good
in him. And in the old days there had been good in
Ned. Even now she loved him. When they asked
her how she had come to be injured, she declared
that it was not Ned who had done it. She said that
as she lay swathed in bandages before she knew how
much she had been hurt She said it with white lips
that trembled when she had seen herself for the first
time in the looking-glass. Perhaps few women would
have been so brave, for she knew that henceforth no
one would look on her without strange white bandages
to hide the wound which her madman had made.
For she had been beautiful, and even now there was
beauty in her eyes and in the sunken cheek and
curved chin that had been spared. But henceforth
she went half covered in white linen, since none but
a doctor could bear to look upon her without it
" It wasn't Ned that did it," she said to the Law
when it came to her.    " It was a stranger."
And everyone knew better than that, unless indeed
too much Hquor had made Ned a stranger.
" I want to see Ned," she murmured. And yet she
was very strong. A weak thing would have died.
But she loved Hfe greatly, though she wondered why.
She made one of the nurses write to her man saying
that she wanted him. That brought Ned back from
Seattle. George received him sullenly. Jenny
refused to see him.
" Watch out for Pete," said George when his
brother went up-country.
" Pete, oh, to thunder with Pete," replied Ned.
" Look out for him," repeated George.
"You ain't wanting me to be scared of a Sitcum
Siwash, are you ? " asked Ned angrily. " Perhaps
you're scared of him yourself. You took his klootchman anyhow.   It's mor'n I did."
George Quin was afraid of him.    Many who knew
j . ;
his record would have said that he was alike incapable
of fear or love, but some might have known that love
for the mother of his first and unborn child took the
courage out of him and made him full of fears. Now
he was always " watching out."
14 2IO
Difficult to think of anything at the Landing, Sir,
but what was going on! Give you my word it was
hurry; it hummed, and hissed and sizzled and boomed.
The forest fell down before the axe and saw: felling
axe and cross cut; and shacks arose, shacks and
shanties and shebangs, drinking shanties, gambling
shanties, stores which sold everything from almonds
to axes, and all that comes after A right down to Z.
The Landing's in the Wet Belt. It rains there, it
pours there, the sky falls down. Sometimes the
Lake (it's on the Shushwap, you know, close to the
head of it) rises up in dancing water-spouts. It was
once a home and haunt of bears (and is again by now
likely), but when Pete stepped ashore from the hay-
laden lake wagon called the s.s. Kamloops, it
wouldn't have been easy to find a bear or a caribou
within earshot. The Street, the one Street, was full
of men.      There  were English,   French, Germans, THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     211
Dutch, Swedes, Norwegians, Russians, Finns and
Letts, mixed with autochthonous Americans with
long greasy hair (Siwashes who lived on salmon)
and other Americans of all sorts. It was a sink, a
pool, a whirlpool, it sucked men up from down
country: it drew them from the mountains. To go
East you had to pass it: going West you couldn't
avoid it.
Men worked there and drank there and gambled
there. There were Chinamen about who played
the universal Fan-tan. There were Faro tables:
Keno went there: stud-horse poker had its haunts
and votaries. The street was a mud channel: men
drank and lay in it. By the Lake they lay in piles,
and more especially the Swedes did. They are
rousing drinkers ' and no fatal error.'
There was night there, of course, for the sun
couldn't and wouldn't stay to save them oil, but as
to peace or quietness, the peaceful quiet of a human
night, there was no such thing. Sunday was rowdier
than other days, if any day could be rowdier. If a
man wanted work he could get it. Devil doubt it,
work was to be had at fine prices. Bosses employed
men to come and pretend even for two and a half
a day. They dragged men in and said, " Take my
dollars, sonny, and move some of this stuff."    Men
p         •■•
worked and took the dollars and gave them to the
stores and gamblers. It seemed impossible that there
could ever be a lack of work. You could get work
on the grade, tillikum; you could have a little contract for yourself, my son. You could drive a team
if you could handle horses and mules over a toat
road that would make an ordinary driver weep: why,
there were all kinds of work, with axe and saw and
pick and shovel, and bar and drill and wedge and
hammer, and maul and all sorts of other tools. It
was a concert truly, a devil's dance of work, and of
hurry and scurry and worry.
Why, tillikum?
Because the railroad was being put through and
coming to an End, to two ends, to two Ends of
Track, now closing up rapidly. Once the work had
been spread over four thousand miles, away by Montreal and Quebec and the Lake of the Woods and
the Great Lake Side, and away to Winnipeg and
Medicine Hat and Calgary and the Rockies. Now
the work narrowed to a few hundred miles, to a
hundred ; to-morrow, perhaps to fifty. All the world
of the road was rammed and jammed and crammed
into a little space, as if it were but the Gulf of
Athlone. Men thrust each other aside, it was elbow
work, jostling, it was a high old crowd.    B etcher life, THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     213
tillikum, it was a daisy of a time and place that dark-
eyed Pete stepped into out of that old scow of a stern-
The Town scooted: she hummed: she sizzled.
What ho, and let her rip! That was the word. The
soberest men grew drunken on mere prospects:
there was money in everything: no one could miss
it: dollars grew on trees: they lined the roads: they
could be caught swimming in the Lake. Men lived
fatly: hash was good and none too dear, after all.
" For hayf a dollar" one could get piled up, get
stodged, pawled.
" Oh, come in and Eat," said one house.
I We give the best Pie," said another. Pie fetched
the men every time. Your worker loves his pie:
there's a fine lumberers' song about Pie which is as
popular with the men of the Woods as " Joint Ahead
and Centre Back" is with Railroaders. They aU
gave good pie at the Landing.   You bet, tillikum.
Pete, in all his born days, had never seen or heard
or dreamt of such an astonishing hubbub, such go,
such never-let-up, as he saw at the busy Landing.
He was a stunned, astonished Siwash for a while and
wandered around with his eyes out of his head, feeling lonely, stranded, desolate. And then he found
that he knew men here and there and everywhere. ! (
Some of them slapped him on the back: some said
"Howdy": some said "Hev a drink, sonny!" Men
were generous: they felt they were millionaires or
on the way to be: it was a fine old world. Pete
smiled and smoked and drank in this house and that
and forgot for awhile all about Mason, who was supposed to be running a little saw-mill in the woods,
that Missouri Simpson had told him of. Pete put
his woes into the background; he couldn't hear or
see them at the Landing for quite a while. There
was truly a weakness of revenge in him. If either
or both of the Quins had followed him up and
" Look hyar, Pete, come and hev a drink and let's
talk about these klootchmen "
Why, it is at least possible that Pete would have
drunk till he wept and have taken dollars to forgive
them about Jenny and Mary. He had a weakness
in him, poor devil, as so many have.
But when finally he did get work in a big stable
helping the head stableman who looked after some
of the C. P. Syndicate's horses, he found many who
remembered or had heard, or had just learned all
about Jenny and Mary. That's the best or the worst
of B. C, as I said some - time ago, everyone knew
everyone and all about them.    They talked scandal
like a lot of old or young women: told you about
this man's wife or that: they raked up the horrid
true story of Ned Quin's killing one poor klootchman
by kicking her. They asked Pete for information
about Mary. When some were drunk they mentioned Jenny. They never gave poor Pete a chance
to forget, and over and above the mere mischief of
drunken scandalous chatter, there were one or two
who hated the Quins. Neither of them hesitated
about downing a man by way of business, though of
late years Ned had been no more than a shooling
no-good-sort of man all round. So one or two
" Say, Pete, you ain't let up on them Quins, hev
you ? Them Quins are two damn smart-alecks,
that's what they are! I say they're mean, oh, mean
ain't the word. I hear Ned Quin cut your sister to
slivers with an axe.    Is it true ? "
They got him crying about Mary and Jenny, and
presently it was understood that Pete had forgotten
nothing. All he was after was a few dollars. Why?
I Well, to tell the trewth, tillikums, I believe, straight,
that the boy's idea is to kill one or both o' them
Quins and then skip across the forty-ninth Par'lel and
They put that into Pete's head: told him it was i
easy to skip out. They knew better. But one man,
named Cumberland, who had been done in a deal
by George and done pretty badly, cheated, in fact,
and outfaced, egged the boy on daily. Cumberland
had all the desire to be " a bad man " without the
pluck, or grit, or sand to be an imitation of one.
But he never forgot.
In all the fume and roar of this short-lived Town
it was easier to get money than to save it. Everything cost money, cost dollars; " two bits" was the
least coin that went, and that's a quarter of a dollar.
Pete had an Indian's thirst, and drank more than was
good for him. If it hadn't been that the rush of work
handling hay-bales, sacks of oats, maize, flour, mats
of sugar, cases of dynamite, and tools and all the
rest, sweated the alcohol out of him he would have
got the sack promptly, the Grand Bounce. As it
was he stayed, being really a worker, and as nice a
boy to work alongside as one could wish.
" Pete's a clever boy for a Sitcum Siwash," said the
Boss. For clever in the vernacular of the West
means nice. They quite liked him, even though the
real white men looked down on him, of course, as
real Whites will on everyone who isn't White. But
he had his tillikums even* there, an Irish Mike who
hadn't learned to look down on anyone and would
have actually consorted with a nigger, and another
half-breed, originally from Washington Territory and
by his mother a D'wamish, or Tulalip, of the Salis-
han, but educated, so to speak. They both looked
down on the Indians of the Lakes, who caught salmon and smelt wild and fishy, like a bear in the
salmon-spawning season. Oh, yes, Pete had his
friends. But no friend that was any good. For
D'wamish Jack was a thick-headed fellow and
the Micky always red-headed for revenge on everyone.
" I'll stick 'um," he used to say. He was going to
stick everyone who disagreed with him. He had an
upper lip almost as long as an American-Irish caricature. When he was drunk he moaned about Ireland
and Pete's woes and his own.
With such partners in the hum of the Town it
wasn't a wonder that Pete didn't accumulate the
shekels, or pile in the dibs, or the dollars, or the t'kope
chikamin. He had as many cents to his name by
the time it was high summer as when he came to
the Landing. And then he struck a streak of luck,
as he said, and as D'wamish Jack said and as the
Mike said. He went one Sunday into a Faro lay-out,
run by an exceedingly pleasant scoundrel from
Arizona,   who   was   known   as  Tucson   Thompson, 218    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
You will kindly pronounce Tucson as Tewson, and
There wasn't another such a man as Tucson in the
Town, or the Wet Belt, or the Dry Belt, or all B. C.
He was born to be a gambler and was really polite,
so polite that it was" impossible to believe he had
ever killed anyone when you were with him and quite
as impossible to doubt it when you went away and
thought of him. He was nearly fifty, but as thin as
a lath, he could talk Hke a phonograph, tell stories
like an entertainer, and the few women in the
town held the belief that he was exceedingly handsome. He wasn't, but he had a very handsome
tongue. When he lost, if he did lose, he didn't seem
to mind. When he won, he appeared to take the
money with some regret At the worst he did
it as a pure matter of business: he gave you so
many cards, and you gave him so many dollars. He
said he ran a straight game. There wasn't a man in
the Town equal to saying he didn't, and when one
understands that no one is allowed to kill anyone
else in British Columbia for saying he is a Har, it will
be understood that there was more to Tucson Thompson than lay on the surface. He inspired respect,
and required it with a politeness which was never
urgent but never unsuccessful. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.    219
He had his lay-out in the back-room of the Shushwap House, where they sold " Good Pie," and said so
outside in big letters.
It was there that Pete acquired what he looked on
as a competency. It was two hundred and fifty
dollars, a very magnificent sum. Whether Tucson
really ran a straight game, or thought it was about
time to give himself a great advertisement, cannot
be said, but this time Tucson or the straight cards
let Pete in for a mighty good thing, which turned
out a bad thing, of course. The only point about it
was that Tucson didn't get the cash back again, as
he might very reasonably have expected, seeing that
gamblers are gamblers, and that a Sitcum Siwash
doesn't usually hang on to dollars till the eagles on
them squeal in anguish.
And the reason of this was that someone from
Kamloops, a storekeeper on the look out for business
at the Landing, was in the gambling shanty when
Pete raked in his pile. He slapped Pete on the back
first of anyone and took him on one side.
" Say, Pete, old son, hev you heard about your
sister? " he asked.
"Heard what?" asked Pete.
I She's outer the hawspital."
I Have you seen her ? "
The storekeeper nodded.
" She's dreadful hurt, Pete," he said with horrid
unction. "I saw her the day she kem out. She's
wropped up all one side of her face, like a corp, all
in white. They say Ned Quin cut half her face
Pete's face was as dreadful as his sister's.
" Where is she ?"
" She's gone back to Ned," replied the storekeeper.
" She would go back: it warn't no good arguin' with
her. Mrs. Alexander offered her a job in her kitchen,
bein' a good old soul, but Mary would go back to
him, she would."
Pete stood him a drink and then took one himself
and then another. He flatly refused to play any
more. But he spent ten dollars on the crowd. The
more he drank the soberer he seemed to grow. The
liquor hid the tension in him, and the excitement of
the game. Mary was cut to bits and was back with
Ned! He chewed on that as he drank. The storekeeper got hold of him again.
" Some enemy o' Ned's got home on him, Pete, and
no fatal error," said he, with his eyes fixed on the
young fellow; " some enemy got home on him and
no fatal error."
"What? ".said Pete, THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     221
" They ran his cattle, some fine fat steers and a
few good cows, into the canon back of his place, and
killed most of them."
Pete grunted and looked on the floor.
" He allows you done it, Pete. But there ain't no
evidence you done it, boy. The men araound Kamloops allows it sarves him right, Pete. Ned Quin
ain't a single friend araound Kamloops. The poor
girl! She used to be so pretty. I reklec' her as a
little girl: there warn't a tenas klootchman araound
ez' could hold a candle to Mary, bar your wife Jenny.
I heerd George Quin hez give her dresses and rides
her araound in a carriage, Pete."
There were many times when the Kamloops
steamer left the Landing at night. She couldn't
keep to times: she came and went when she was
full or empty. The owners of the cranky old scow,
turned into a sternwheeler, coined money out of
her, though her steam-chest leaked and she shook
as she went. Now she tooted her horn, blew her
whistle. It was nigh on to midnight, but there was
a high white moon above the hills, and on the quiet
lake a moon's wake shone. Pete thrust the storekeeper aside and went to the door.
"Hullo, Pete, old chap, where you goin'? Halo
klatawa, you son of a gun! " said many.    But Pete 222    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
paid no attention. His wife was riding around in
carriages with George Quin, and Mary had gone back
to Ned. He ran down to the wharf where the steamer
lay and jumped on board as she backed off the
He saw the fairy lights of the Landing die down,
and then the steamer rounded a point and the Landing saw him no more.
" I'll kill em' both," said Pete. He could not see
the quiet wonder of the night and the glory of the
moon above the peaceful pine-clad hills. He saw
poor Mary in a shroud, and Jenny laughing at him
from the side of George Quin, who also smiled in
triumph. 223
WHAT the storekeeper told Pete was true enough,
but such a man as that could know nothing of the
deep inside of things, and the heart of such a strange
woman as Indian Mary was hidden from him and all
like him. It was hidden from herself, even when she
knew she was maimed and disfigured, for still in spite
of her bitterness and grief she yearned to go back to
him who had hurt her and made her very dreadful to
see. She had given herself to him once for all, and
her heart was steadfast to the man he seemed to be
when he took her to his house. Even then she had
known his history, and had not been ignorant of his
cruelty to a little dead woman who lay with an unborn
child in the cemetery at the back of Kamloops town.
When they first met he was grieving, as even such as
Ned must, for the deed that made him lonely, and he
was doing his poor best to keep away from drink.
In those days he was a handsome man, taller and
finer looking than his brother, and he captured Mary's 224    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
heart She was taken, as women can be taken, by
seeing a strong man grieving, and she believed that
he was more unfortunate than evil. For ten years she
had hoped against hope, and now knowing that it was
almost hopeless, was yet faithful rather to the dead
man within him than to the wretch that he was.
" I must go back to him," she said. She could do
no other.
And yet when he came to the hospital, and asked
for her, she fell into a deadly tremble of sickness and
would not see him. He had made her hideous, for
though white linen hid her face, she could see beneath
it, and knew. The man would hate what he had done,
and hate her to whom he had done it. He went away
mournfully, and for once went out of Kamloops quite
sober, carrying no Hquor. But before he went he was
spoken to by the same sergeant of police whom Pete
had feared after he had destroyed the cattle, and Ned
was sick of heart to be so spoken to.
"It's lucky for you the gal didn't die, Quin," said
the sergeant. " We'd ha' hung you high for it. She
allows you didn't do it, but we know better. Run
straight and keep sober, or we'll have you yet. You're
a disgrace to a civilized community, a disgrace
to a dvilized country, Sir, that's what you are, you
damned cayoot! " THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     225
Ned Quin had to take that and chew on it. And
once, as he knew, he had been a man. He cried as
he rode back to his ranche. He met old acquaintances
who would not know him, and when he got back home
to find it lonelier than his worst imagination, he feared
to face it. Even the corrals were empty. The cattle
that he had loved were dead: the canon stank
with them. One solitary cow lowed near the shack:
Mary's horse was on the hill behind it with horses
that belonged to Missouri Simpson, one of those who
that day had met him on the road without the salutation that any stranger would get in a hospitable and
kindly land.
He ' hung it out' for days without drinking. He
worked all he could: he rode over to the Nikola and
rounded up a few head of steers that hadn't been
handy when Pete drove the rest to death. He
mended the broken fences of his corrals: he cleaned
up the cold, neglected house. He cleaned up Mary's
blood, and shivered as he scraped the earthen floor of
the signs that were so nearly those of murder and of
He suffered agonies at night-time and still struggled,
perhaps in his last fight, against alcohol.
And when he had been alone a week Mary came
back.    She could not help coming: her heart was a
mother's, seeing that she had no children, and the poor
thing she loved was her child.    She was lonely without him.    Perhaps he would be kind now, perhaps he
would forgive her for being so hideous.    For one side
of her face was still beautiful: both her sorrowful eyes
were lovely.    She left the hospital, and never entered
a house in town.    She went out at night lest they
should see her, and faced the hill-road, as it wound up
the hills at the back of the town, in a starry darkness.
Her strength was not much, but she had enduring
Indian blood in her veins, that blood that helps poor
squaws to carry loads their lordly men will not touch:
that blood that helps them to suffer uncomplaining:
that blood which, in  their male  children, helps  to
endure, if need be, the dreadful torture of the hostile fire and stake.    She went swiftly through the
night,  and  long before  dawn  came  over  the last
hill  in  the  trail which led to  the  desolate  ranche
where   her  steadfast  heart   lay.     Under  the  stars
and   a   faint   fine   glow   that   was  the   dawn,   she
saw   the   little    shack,    and   then  her   heart   and
limbs failed her.    She sat down and cried softly for
her sad life and her tortured love, and her lost beauty
under the shroud of white linen over her right cheek
and jaw.    Would he be kind to her, or would he hide
his eyes and drive her from him ?    She knew nothing
but that her sad heart needed him, even him, rather
than any kind and gentle man that lived. She rose
up trembling but set forward on the trail, and at last
came to the house. A little chill breeze blew down
from the hills and a cloud hid the faint rose of dawn,
so that it was full night as she crossed the threshold.
For Ned, sleeping uneasily and afraid of the very
house, had set the door open. She stayed and heard
him move in the bed. She reached out her empty
arms, but not to any God. She reached them to her
wretched child, her man.    And then Ned woke.
" What's that ? " he cried aloud.    He saw a dark
figure against the lucid night beyond the door.
" What's that ? " he cried again.    His voice shook.
" It's Mary," said the ghost he saw and feared.
" Oh, vou " he cried.    She heard him shake.
" Have you come back ? "
She fell upon her knees by the bed.
I Yes, Ned."
He reached out a hand to her.    It was cold as ice:
for the blood had gone to his heart and brain.
" You've come back—to me ? "
He knew it was a miracle, and, brutish and besotted
as  he   was,  he felt  the   awful  benediction  of  her
" To me!"
To him, to a man who had cursed her life at its
springs, who had given her no joy, who had cut her
to pieces by their bed and warm hearth! She had
come back.
" If you want me," she murmured.
He shook and trembled. If he wanted her! He
wanted nothing but her: she was the world to him.
" If I want you! "
He clutched her hands and kissed them. She felt
the hot tears run on them. He wept for her, the poor
man wept. She dragged herself close to the bed and
tried to speak, tried to tell him that she was so altered.
She spoke as if he had nothing to do with it: as if
she had been smitten by some strange accident, by
some disease, by some malignant and most unhappy
fate.    He heard her whisper.
" I'm, I'm not pretty now," she sobbed dryly. " Ned,
I'm not toketie any more! "
For once, perhaps, he suffered more than she did:
for that time he exceeded her grief, because this was
his deed.    He groaned.
" But if you want me! "
" I want you, Mary," he screamed suddenly, " no
one else, dear Mary: oh, what a wretch lam!"
The best of him, long hidden, long concealed, in a
drought of tears, came up at last    He hid his head THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     229
in the pillow and cried like a child. She sat upon the
bed in an urgent desire of maternal help and held his
head between her hands.
" Poor Ned! "
She took him at last in her arms and murmured to
him gently.
" Oh, oh, my man, my Ned!"
Pie felt the linen on her face and shivered, but
spoke no more. She lay down by him and, overcome
by her strange pure passion and the fatigue of the
miles she had travelled to come to him, she at last
fell asleep.
Then the slow dawn grew up over the clouds, and
came in colour across the sunburnt hills and entered
their home. Ned sat up in bed beside her and saw
her dear face covered by its shroud.
" Help me, oh, God! " said the man.
And perhaps help might come, not from any God,
but from the deep heart that prayed to the spirit
of man which hides in all hearts and only answers
to prayer, if it answers at all to any pleading. **■"»*■
THOUGH the railroad, the mighty railroad, the one
and only Railroad of the Big Admiring World, was
the chief topic of talk from Montreal to the Pacific,
and not least so in little Kamloops by her blue river
and lake, yet there was time for talk of other things
even there. The men cackled and chattered in
saloons and out of them, as is the fashion in sparsely
inhabited countries as well as in suburbs, of all the
windy ways of men. Like dust was the talk lifted up,
like dust it fell and rose again. And the boys often
talked of Ned, who, it seemed, had struck a new
streak of virtue and avoidance of liquor.
" 'Twas nip and tuck with him and the law," said
one, " and he's still scared."
" True 'nough, Indian Mary nigh payssed in her
checks. One more cut and she'd ha' bin mimaloose.
They say so at the hawspital," said another.
" I wonder if he's done with Pitt River Pete, yet," THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
wondered a third. " D'ye think he druv them steers
into the canon ? "
"Who else? No, Ned Quin ain't through with
Pete. Now I Hke Pete, he's a first-class Siwash, not
bad by no means. And I never cottoned to Ned.
He's got religion now, eh?    Oh, shucks!
So the fates and men disposed of things even at
the time that the Kamloops sternwheeler came sweeping west through the quiet waters of the lakes and
the quick stream of the connecting river, bearing Pete
and his strange fortunes.
He fell instantly among such thieves of reputation,
such usual slanderers of hope in sorrowful men, and
heard the worst there was to hear, made better by no
kindly word. Perhaps they knew well in their hearts
that reformation was a vain thing: they scorned Ned's
efforts to be better, and made the worst, as the world
is apt to do, of all he had done. They drew frenzy-
ing pictures of Mary with the half-hid face: they told
Pete of her sad aspect, and related, in gross passages
of bloody words, exaggerations construded out of
stories from the hospital of mercy.
As if their incitements were insufficient, the coast
talk of George and Jenny came up stream to him.
" Him and her's havin' a hell of a good time, Pete.
He took your pretty klootchman over to Victoria as 232     THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
bold as brass, as if he was Lord High Muckamuck
and she my Lady Dandy oh! Druv her araound in
carriages, little Jenny as we knowed in Mis'
Alexander's kitchen: she ez praoud ez any white
woman, dressed to kill, and no fatal error. He's giv'
her silks and satins like as if she wuz his wife, and
she gigglin' happy. I say it's a dern shame for a
man to kapsualla a chap's klootchman. Bymby he'll
throw her over, chuck her out. And they say she's
got a kid now, and it ain't yours, Pete."
There was love of offspring deep in Pete's heart,
hidden from himself till this moment. He ran out of
the shanty into the street.
I There ain't no need to fill the boy up the way
you're doin'," said one of the loafers uneasily. " It
ain't no good to make him so ez he'll murder them
The others laughed.
" None of us is stuck on the Qudns," they declared.
I And if Pete is burro enough to bray too loud and
kick up his heels, forgettin' he's only a Siwash, they'll
fill him up with lead. And even in this yer British
Columbia, which is a dern sight too law-abidin' for a
man, we reckon that self-defence is a good defence
sometimes. Here's the worst of luck to Judge
Begbie, anyhaow." THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     233
Next morning Pete rode on a hired horse towards
the Nikola, being full of liquor ere he set out with a
bottle in his pocket. He had tried to buy a gun, a
six-shooter, but there are few in most British Columbia
towns, and those who wore them by habit, in spite of
the law, were not sellers. When a man has carried a
' gun' for years he feels cold and helpless without it.
That's one of the facts that are facts, tillikum.
But Pete didn't care. There were such things as
shovels, said Pete furiously.
It was a heavenly bright morning, and the far
distance of the warm hills, rising in terraces above
the Lake, shone clear and warm. Such is the summer
there, so sweet, so tender, so clear, and every day is
a bride of kindly earth.
Pete rode hard and saw nothing but the wan
aspect of his sister, and the giggling jeer of Jenny,
clad in scarlet and bright shame.
The good brown earth with the lordly bull-pines
scattered on rising hills was very fair to look upon.
On the higher levels of the terraces were pools of
shining lakes: some shone with shores of alkali and
some were pure sweet water.
Pete, riding a doomed man however he wrought,
drank no pure water with his heart. He sucked
bitter water from the bitterest lakes, poor fool, going
to do his duty, as his Indian blood said, and as much
white blood would have said as well.
The sun, unclouded as it was, shone without the
fierceness of the later summer. The grass, though it
was browned, had still sap within it.
Pete rode half-drunken, with fire within him.
And then at last he topped the rise that hid
Ned's shack. He saw a woman by the shack, and
with his eyes discerned even from afar that she wore
white linen on her head. But he could not hear her
sing. And yet poor Mary sang: it seemed that out
of her sorrow there had grown so great a joy that
song would come from her wounded healing heart.
Pete rode down the trail. So in fine weather
among the hills a storm may break. So may a
cyclone, a tornado, approach a city. So may fire
burst out at quiet, sleepy midnight In one moment
there was horror in the happy and repentant and
praying home where Ned and Mary had come together
once again.
" Oh, Mary," said Pete. He came riding fast.
She looked up, did not know him, and looked again,
and knew him. She called to Ned, who came out at
the sound of galloping.
" It's Pete," she cried, but Ned stood there stupidly.
In his great repentance and his new found peace he
could  not  believe in  bitter enemity, in  war or in
There is a power of strange madness in the Indian
blood, diluted though it be. Under the maddening
influence of liquor the nature of the Indian flowers in
dreadful passions, forgetful of new circumstances,
oblivious of punishment and of law. None knew
this better than Ned Quin, and yet he stood there
foolishly, with a doubtful smile upon his face, a smile
almost of greeting. He was even ready to forgive
Pete for what he had done. He felt his heart was
changed, and without a touch of religion or creed this
was a natural and sweet conversion. But Mary
tugged at his arm, for she knew.
The whirlwind came down on them: Pete rode at
him and, ere he awakened and turned, rode him down.
Ned fell and was struck by the horse, reluctant to
ride over him, and Pete leapt from the saddle. He
saw Mary with her hands up, but chiefly saw the white
shroud on her face. He forgot her, forgot his horse,
and only remembered that one of the brothers he
hated lay sprawling before him, half stunned, raised
on one hand. With a club, a branch of knotted fir,
that he seized on, he went for the man and battered
him. Mary flew at him, and he sent her headlong
with a backward motion of his left arm.    She reeled
and fell and got upon her knees, screaming with bitter
rage at her brother. But she was weak, and though
she got to her feet again, she fell once more. She
saw Ned bleeding, saw him fall supine, saw his empty
hands open and shut: she heard the blows.
" Oh, God," she cried. Within the shack there was
a shot-gun. It stood in the corner, there were
cartridges handy. She crawled for the house, and
got on her feet again and staggered till she reached
it. She found the gun and the cartridges, threw the
breech open, rammed one in and closed it. The
possession of the weapon gave her strength. She
ran out, and Pete saw her coming, saw the gun go to
her shoulder. With the club in his hand he ran at
her as quick as he had been in the Mill. And as he
nearly closed with her she fired. He felt the very
heat of the discharge, was blinded by it and by the
grains of powder, and fell unhurt, save for a burnt
and bloody ear. Mary struck him with the butt and
knocked him senseless: he lay before her like a log.
She dropped the gun and ran to Ned and fell upon
her knees. She lifted his battered head and prayed
for his life, and even as she prayed she believed that
he was killed. There was no motion in him; her
trembling hand could feel no heart-beat. She heard
her brother groan.
" He's killed him," she screamed, " he's killed him! "
She laid her man down with his head upon a sack
that lay near by. She turned to Pete with blazing
eyes and saw the man she believed she had slain sitting up and staring about him foolishly. From one
ear blood ran: his white face was powder-scorched.
" You devil," said his sister, " you've killed my man,
the man I loved; oh, you wicked beast, you cruel
wretch, you pig "
She screamed horrible abuse at her brother, dreadful abuse and foolish.
" They'll hang you, hang you, hang you! "
She yelled this at him as she stood before him
like a fury. The words went by him like a breeze:
they entered his ears but not his brain: he was still
stupefied, half unconscious. He turned away and was
violently sick. She pitied him not and was remorseless. She took him by the shoulder and shook him.
He turned a foolish and wondering face at her, with
some dawn, a very dim dawn, of consciousness in
" I'll get you hanged," she said. He heard the
word "hanged" and again "hanged" and wondered
sickly what it meant. She ran from him and he
watched her. She went to the horse which stood
some twenty yards away.    The animal started and iii
walked away and she stopped and spoke soothingly
to it, using low words and bidding it be gentle. She
went round in a circle and got upon the other side
of it, and at last the horse stood still and let her grasp
the bridle. Pete wondered what horse it was and
why she was catching it. She brought it to the shack
and slipped the bridle reins over a post.
He saw her use incredible strength and drag Ned
Quin into the house. She cried aloud and sobbed
most dreadfully. She put her man in the shadow,
laid his head upon a pillow and covered his wounded
face with white, even as her own was covered. She
shut the door and came out. Pete still sat upon the
ground with both hands outspread behind him. She
said that he would be hanged, again she said it.
He saw her get upon his horse and ride away towards
the road. Where was she going? Who was it that
was going ?   What was this woman going for ?
These were horrible problems, but he knew, as a
man knows things in a nightmare, when he cannot
move, that their solution concerned him. They concerned him seriously. He struggled to solve them.
It seemed that he spent years, aye, centuries, in the
bitter attempt and still he saw the woman astraddle
on a horse go up the rise to the north. This was a
woman, oh, God, what woman ?—a woman with a THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
white cloth on her face, a ridiculous fierce figure who
had said " hanged!" What was " hanged " ? What
did it mean ? And why did she say it to him ?
What was he for that matter, and who was he? He
struggled hard to discover that. So far as he could
see, he was an unnamed, peculiarly solitary speck of
aching, struggling matter in a world of pain. So they
say the disembodied may feel. His senses were
numbed: they sent foolish messages to him, messages
that warned him and alarmed him without being in
He  knew that he was  in some great
danger. He saw a house, but did not know it; a
gun, but could not say what it was and why it lay
there in the pounded, trodden dust. Something wet
dripped from his head: he put his hand up and saw
blood upon it. Whoever he was, he was hurt in some
way. He sighed and still saw the woman. Now she
disappeared. It mattered very much. Why was she
leaving him?    He spoke suddenly.
" What's my name ? " said Pete.
If he could only get that. On that point hung
everything: he felt sure of that. Now he knew he
was a man; he had got so far.
man he could not tell. How silly everything was!
He groaned and grinned.    Then he started.
" My name's Pete," he said suddenly,    " It's Pete! 240    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
This was the clue: this the end of the tangled
cord of things. It was, he felt, utterly idiotic and
alarming to know so much and no more. It was
infinitely annoying. He said "I'm Pete, am I Pete,
I'm Pete, eh! " and then sat staring. He wanted some
kind of help, but what help he did not know. The
task of discovering what all things were from what
seemed the primal fact of all, that he was called Pete,
appeared hugely difficult. He cried about it at last.
And then some chickens came round the corner of
the shack, and pecked in the dust. A big rooster
came after them and stood upon a log, and whooped
a loud cock-a-doodle-doo! It was a natural sound.
Pete knew it and stared with sudden intelligence at
the brilliant bird upon the log. Of a sudden the
whole veil over all things was lifted. He knew who
he was and why he was there and what he had done!
Above all he knew what the word ' hanged' meant.
It was his sister who had said it. He got upon his
knees and staggered till he could hold on to the
house. It was a help to hold on to something while
he thought.
"Hanged," said Pete. He had killed a man.
Where was he? It was Ned Quin. But if he had
killed him how had he got away ? "
" I won't be hanged," said Pete. " I won't.    She's THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
gone to tell 'em I've made Ned mimaloose, killed him.
I'll stop her! "
That was a very clear idea, and the notion satisfied
him for a while as he swayed to and fro. But
how ? The woman with the white linen had taken
his horse. It was again a hard problem, but since
he knew who he was, things were very much easier,
though they were still a struggle. He didn't know
how he got there, but presently he found himself
in the stable, leading out Ned Quin's horse, a lean
and old, but still sound, sorrel. It was wonderful to
find that he had a horse already saddled and bridled.
He didn't know that he had put the saddle on and
cinched up the girths himself.
'" Now I'm all right. That kloshe," said Pete. He
almost forgot in his satisfaction what he wanted the
horse for. But presently he remembered that he
had to stop that woman (his sister, was she?) from
going somewhere. Was there such a place as Kamloops? Very likely there was. Then he saw the
" She shot at me," he said with feeble indignation,
" I'm bleeding."
He wept again.
And suddenly he saw all things as clear as day
He had killed Ned: she had shot him and then she
had said she would go into Kamloops and denounce
him. There wasn't any time to lose. He 'hung
up' the horse and picked the gun from the ground.
He went to the house and opened the door. It was
very dark inside and the outside sun was now burning bright. He stumbled across something and only
saved himself from falling with great difficulty.
What had he stumbled over? He peered on the
ground and as the pupils of his eyes dilated he saw
a body stretched out with a white cloth over the face.
He trembled.
I It's—it's Ned," he said, shaking. " They'll hang
He wanted to lift the white cloth but dared not.
He went round the body to the shelf where he
knew the cartridges were kept. He put a handful
in his pocket and then went out with his eyes straight
before him. But he still saw the white cloth. When
he was outside he loaded the gun in both barrels
and clambered on the old sorrel with great difficulty.
As he rode he swayed to and fro in the saddle.
But he had to catch Mary, had to stop her. That
notion was all the thought in him. It helped to
keep him from falling off. Yet he rode like a
drunken man, and the landscape reeled and shifted
and danced.    The big bull-pines swayed as if there THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     243
were a great wind and the road was sometimes a
double track. Yet far ahead of him he saw a figure
on a horse. It must be Mary. He clutched the gun
and the horn of the saddle and spurred the old sorrel
with a solitary Mexican spur which he had borrowed
in the town. And as he rode the world began to
settle down before him at last. Though his head
was splitting he rode without his hat. It lay in red
dust by Ned's house.
At first he went at a walk, but presently he urged
the sorrel to a reluctant lope. The figure before him
loped too. He saw he made little headway. He put
the sorrel into a gallop and knew that he gained on
her who now hated him. It was unjust of her:
what he had done was for her, not for himself. Ned
had hurt her horribly. Pete couldn't understand
her. She appeared to love the man who had cut
her down.    It was foolish, strange.
And she meant to have him " hanged." That was
the last spur to him: his vision cleared and became
normal. The shifting planes of the terraced land in
front of him sat down at last. He drove the spur into
the sorrel brutally and set him at a furious gallop. He
knew the horse that Mary rode was tired: it was not
much of a cayuse at any time. He saw her plainly
And then she looked round and saw a horseman
coming furiously. What horseman it was she knew
not. Yet it might be Pete, though he was disabled.
She made her horse gallop: she flogged him with a
heavy quirt that hung to Pete's saddle.
But the man behind her gained. She saw him
coming in front of a cloud of white dust. She looked
back through dust.    But perhaps it wasn't Pete.
Then she knew the action of the old sorrel, and
panic got hold of her. It was Pete. Yes, that was
certain. She screamed to her horse, and struck him
hard. Now she heard above the sound of his hoofs
upon the road the following echo-like thud of the
sorrel as he crept up to her. She topped a little rise
and raced down hill recklessly. Behind her now
there was a moment's cessation of the following sound.
Then she heard it again and looking back saw Pete
come down the hill. He was within a quarter of a
mile of her and she was not yet half-way to Kamloops!
She was his sister and an Indian. She was usuaUy
merciful to animals in spite of that: merciful and
kind. But now she feared for herself, and the deep
nature within her flowered as it had done when she
sought Pete's life. She flogged the horse till she was
weary and then pulled out a little knife she carried
and stabbed it through the hide just behind the saddle. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     245
It was a bitter and cruel spurring. Under the dreadful stimulus her tired horse responded and galloped
furiously. But the old horse behind her was the
better animal: he answered that gallop of his own
accord and was emulous, eager.
She heard Pete's voice, she turned and saw him
creeping up to her: she saw he had the gun. She
looked at him over her shoulder as they galloped:
his face was dreadful to see: part of his ear was hanging loose: the blood was on his neck and shoulder.
She saw him open his mouth: he was speaking: telling
her to stop!
But he had killed her man! She believed it! She
would not stop.
Now he crept further up to her, and her old horse
was urged on by the following thunder of near hoofs.
She turned from her pursuer: he saw nothing of her
face but the white cloth. She heard him cursing
awfully. He called her foul names: he screamed
insults. Though she kept her eyes upon the road she
saw dimly that he was ranging up alongside her.
" Stop," cried Pete. She answered on her horse
with the quirt: she had dropped her knife a mile
back. Behind the saddle there were blood marks.
She was in a whirlwind: the sun burnt: the dust rose:
she saw cattle run across the road.      Beyond that 246    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
slope Kamloops lay: through a fold of one of the
terraces she saw a patch of the lake away to the east:
yonder was the crystalline and azure Thompson. In
front, the dark stained hill beyond the river and
beyond Kamloops rose more clearly. Then her
face, saw the blood again, the flapping cartilage of his
she heard nothing of what he said: she saw his furious
face, saw the blood again, the flapping cartilage of his
ear, and then she saw him lift the gun. This then
meant death! But when the explosion burst upon
her like a blow, she felt the horse throw up his head,
and knew that they were both falling. She saw, even
as she fell, the one clear picture: the horse with his
bleeding neck outstretched and his legs failing: the
white road : the radiant prairie: the tall brown trees:
the splendid river. Then the earth rose at her: she
pitched headlong, and rolled over motionless.
On the road the wounded horse lay, lifting up his
head as one aghast at death. He made no sound:
the blood poured from the burst arteries and his head
sank back.
Pete never looked behind him as he threw the gun
away and went at a merciless gallop for the last level
mile before the uplands-opened on the valley ofthe
Lake. He cursed his sister and Ned Quin and himself.    How could he get away ? THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     247
Before he got to the pitch of the road he turned in
his saddle and looked back. He saw the dark patch
that the dead horse made. He saw the cattle coming
to find out what the unusual spectacle meant, for
their curiosity was insatiable. Some already stood,
staring and tossing their heads, in a half-circle round
Mary and the horse.
Soon all the world would be in a drcle round the
victims! Where was he to go and how was he to
act ? He pulled up suddenly and put his hand to his
aching head. If he went into Kamloops as he was,
with a horse all flaked with foam, and with his own
ear bleeding, all the little world of the town would be
agog to know what had happened.
And yet if he hid till dark, some would find Mary,
perhaps dead, upon the open road. Someone might
go to the shack and discover Ned. It was hard to
know how to ad. He remembered for the first time
that he had a bottle in his pocket. He asked advice
of that: it sent him flying down the road to Kamloops.
It was best to risk things, best not to wait, not to
dodge or to hide. His only chance was to get down
to the coast and out of the country. To get north
to the Columbia and then to Sand Point through
Kootenay, practically the only alternative route out,
was impossibly dangerous.    And as he rode he saw a I
1  j    ;|
steamboat coming down the river from the Lakes.
If he rode hard he might catch it and get away
before a word was said. As he rode he bound
up his head and ear with a big coloured handkerchief. It was red enough to hide the oozing
It was an hour or more after noon when he rode
into Kamloops. He came in at a lope and took on a
careless air, calling "Klahowya" to some of his
tillikums as they passed him. He even saluted a
mounted policeman and went by him singing till he
came to Alexander's, where he had got his horse from.
He had to explain how he came back on Ned Quin's
instead of the one he hired. But the stableman, who
knew he had hired out a wretched crock, was easy
enough to satisfy.
" That damned kieutan fell with me," said Pete,
swaggering, " fell at an easy lope and burst my ear. I
left him at Ned Quin's, sonny, and Ned'U bring him
in to-molla and fetch out this old sorrel. Here's four
bits for you."
He had paid the hire before he took out the horse
that now lay dead upon the road. He heard the
steamer's whistle at the nigh wharf and ran to catch
her. In ten minutes he was on his way down stream
to the Ferry.
He knew it would be, or so easily might be, ' a
close call' for him. And yet there was nothing else
to do but to risk it. As the cool air of the river struck
him he shivered. For he thought he had killed Ned
Quin and, now that the heat went out of his blood,
chilling the fever of revenge in him, he began to be
very much afraid.
But he took a drink.
Far back upon the road the cattle ringed round
Mary's body and the body of the horse, and a million
flies blackened the pool of blood and drank against
the dust that soaked it up. The cattle to leeward,
smelling the horror of a spilt life, tossed their heads
uneasily and challenged strange death, that horror of
which their instincts spoke to them. Some to windward came closer and blew at the flies. They rose in
black swarms and settled again. From a distance
other cattle marched to the wavering ring about this
wonder. Some came running. One of the inside
steers touched Mary's body with his horn. She
moaned and lifted her hand. The steer ran backwards, snorting, backing on others, who horned each
other angrily. Then j:he steers crept up again to
Mary and blew at the dust in which she lay.
But this time she rose to a sitting position, and the ■*?•>
ring of cattle with their lowered heads retreated from
She wondered where she was, and how she came to
be there. Then she saw the dead horse, and the gun
that a cow smelt uneasily. She remembered that
Pete had killed Ned, and that he had perhaps tried
to kill her. She scrambled to her feet and the cattle
jostled each other to get away from her. She
staggered as she stood: for she had no strength, and
all desire of life had gone out of her. And with that
there came a sickness of the notion of revenge: it
would only be trying to revenge herself on the inexorable destiny which was hers. Pete had killed her
man and had gone.    She would go back to her dead.
Overhead the sun burnt as she staggered on the
road, (the long, endless, wearying road, so like to life.
She went at a foot pace, and the miles were weary
endless spaces without hope. For her man was dead,
and Pete was a cruel madman, and there was nothing
left for her. Yet still she walked, like some painful
hurt creature returning to its lair. She ached in every
limb: her head seemed splitting: the physical torture
of her being dulled her mind. And as it seemed to
her only the sun of all things moved swiftly. It was
drawing on towards evening when she came to her
house   and   stood   outside   the   door.      Her   knees THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     251
trembled: she clutched at the latch and door-post to
prevent herself falling.
Inside was her man dead: her man who had been
so good and so cruel. She began to weep and opened
the door, letting the westering sunlight in. The next
moment she screamed dreadfully, for the place where
she had left him was vacant!
" Oh, Ned, Ned! " she cried in a most lamentable
voice. And yet within her murdered heart there
sprang a faint poor flower of hope even as she cried.
If he had been moved was it not that someone had
come and taken him away? Then—then, oh, God,
perhaps he was not dead! Her brain turned: she
reeled again and clutched at the table and held to it.
" My God, listen to me, be merciful, where is my
man, the man I love ? "
She wrestled with the dark gods of fate whose
blinded eyes knew not, nor cared, whom they trod
down upon the dusty roads of earth.
And then she heard a rustle in the room, as of
something stirring! She prayed that this was true:
that she did not hear amiss and that when her eyes
opened she would see Ned once more.
She heard a groan and ran to it blindly and found
her man there, on the bed, their bed, still alive, though
half blinded, blood-covered and hardly conscious!
-*■■----■( 252     THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST
" Ned, Ned! "
In her mad desire for revenge she had left him,
believing him dead. She fell beside him with a
scream that was no more than a sigh, and when she
became conscious again after that awful shock of
joy, she found his wounded hands seeking hers. She
heard his hurt mouth whisper for water. For the
little good that came with all the evil she thanked
her God very humbly and brought the man water.
He spoke to her and did not know that she had been
away from him. He knew not how he had reached
the bed, or come back to life and to her. He was
very weak and gentle.
| My dear," he said feebly. She washed his
wounds and bound them up. She cried softly over
his pain, which was so much less than her own.
" I've been a brute to you," he mumbled. " But
God help me I'll be that no more."
"You've always loved me," she said. It was true
in spite of everything.
"Yes," said old Ned. Then he fell asleep and
woke in an hour and wandered a little in his talk.
But she soothed him into peace again and he rested
quietly. Yet she could not leave him to get help till
next morning, and when she went over to their
nearest neighbour, Missouri Simpson, he was away
- j,. i. ni. -
from home. It was noon when he returned and rode
into Kamloops for the doctor. He told the police
what had happened, and found that someone had
already brought into town Ned's gun and told them
of the horse. They telegraphed to all stations to
the Coast to hold a certain Sitcum Siwash, known as
Pitt River Pete. But by that time Pete was in
hiding on the south side of the Fraser, over against
the Mill, with a canoe, stolen from a house near Ruby
Creek, where he had left the train. For it seemed
to him that he could not escape if he went further.
That he had not been arrested yet was a miracle.
" They'll catch me and hang me," he said with a
He felt sure they would and he had something to
do before they did.
As he lay in the brush, across the river, he tried
to pick out the lights of the house, high upon the
hill, in which Jenny and George Quin lived 254
The news that one Pitt River Pete was wanted by
the police, by the 'bulls,' spread fast through the
town and into Shack City As soon as they heard,
and as soon as Indian Annie was chuckling grossly
over the possible delight of seeing Pete hanged, the
police came down and searched every hole and
corner in the sawdust swamp. They routed out
.Annie almost the first of the lot, and she screamed
insults at them as they searched her den.
" Kahta you damn plisman tink I hide Pete ?" she
yelled. " Pete hyu mesachie, him damn bad Siwash; if
him come I say ' mahsh, klatawa, go, you damn thief.'
Oh, you damn plisman, what for you make mess my
house? You tink Pete him one pin I hide him lik'
They bade her dry up and when she refused they
took her by the scruff of the neck and bundled her
outside. She sat in sawdust and yelled till they left
her shack and  searched the others.      They found THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     255
nothing, of course, but they found out one thing, and
that was the readiness of most of the men of the Mill,
Siwashes or Whites, to give away Pete with both
hands. For they, at any rate, were certain that it
was he who had spiked the logs and killed poor old
Skookum Charlie. And since he had killed a Chinaman, too, all the men from the Flowery Kingdom
were ready to do the same. Old Wong said so to
the I damned plismen." But as the Chinamen relied
on the police to save them from abuse and injury,
they were even readier to help than the Siwashes.
" Supposee we savvy Pete, we tellee you alio tim',"
said Wong. " My tink Pete damn bad man, spikee
logs, killee my flin Fan. Fan velly good man, my
flin, and Pete spoilum ' tumach,' killee him dead. All
light, we come tellee."
There wasn't a doubt about it, that if Pete turned
up in Shack-Town he would be given away, and
though the police went away empty-handed they had
high hopes of nailing him shortly.
They had had a considerable pow-pow that
morning in the Engine-Room before work started
up and there wasn't a soul found there to say a word
for Pete.    This was natural enough.
"A man that'll spike logs ain't a human being,
boys," said Long Mac seriously. 256    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
"Killing his own tillikums," said Shorty Gibbs.
" It was horrid seein' pore old Skookum! "
"The Chinky was horridest," said Tenas Billy.
11 picked him up."
I So you did," said Shorty. " But what d'ye think
Pete's doin' ?"
" He'll be on the scoot."
" To be sure, but where ? "
" Oh, to hell and gone out of this."
" That's your tumtum. It ain't mine by a mile.
If he's been spoilin' Ned Quin's face what'll he do
'bout George, eh ? "
Mac intervened.
" Waal, boys, these Injuns are a rotten crowd. You
can't bet on what they'll do. Some o' them don't
care a damn if their klootchmen quit I know,
for I've run with 'em on the Eastern Slope o' the
Rockies and on the plains. Sometimes they will
He told a ghastly tale.
" Pete's a holy terror, that's what," said Tenas Billy.
"I never give him credit for sand, I admit, but he
has it."
" Sand be damned," said Long Mac; " he hasn't
sand. It's only Injun temper. I know 'em. They
ain't sandy in the way we speak of it, boys.    Bein'
sandy is bein' cool. Pete don't do nothin' unless he's
mad. None of 'em do, at least none of these fish-fed
coast Injuns.    They's a measly crowd."
The men chewed on that.
" Nevertheless," said Shorty, considering the
matter fully, " I'd rather be me than George Quin
with Pete loose on the tear. The man that spiked
our boom and hunted old Cultus Muckamuck's steers
into a dry canon and then hammered him to pulp
with avclub mayn't have sand, but he's dangerous."
" He's the kind of Johnny that'd fire the Mill," said
Ginger White, who so far had held his tongue.
"White's on the target," said Mac as the whistle
blew. But he forgot about it when the song and
the dance of the day commenced. There's fine for-
getfulness in work.
Quin was as foolish as the rest of them. That is
to say, he talked to the police and came to the conclusion that Pete wasn't likely to be on hand now
and for ever after. He knew what Mac knew and
despised the average Coast Indian. It was true
enough they weren't up to much unless they were
'full,' full, that is, of liquor. And a man like Quin
knew by instinct the weakness there was in such as
Pete, in spite of his new bloody record. For Quin
had a fine square jaw and Pete hadn't.      But then
Quin was incapable of underhand night work. And
he didn't know that Pete was like a rat in a trap,
as a criminal is in British Columbia. And there was
another thing. He knew that Ned wasn't dead, by
any means. It never occurred to him that Pete
believed he had killed Cultus and must be desperate
if he wasn't out of the country.
"I wish the swine was dead," said George Quin.
" I believe I'd marry Jenny."
She had twined herself round his heart, and when
he saw her nursing the one child he had ever been
father of he was as soft as cream with her. Not a
soul about the City would have believed it was
George Quin if they had seen him with his naked
boy in his arms. Only the Chinamen knew about it,
for Sam told them, being delighted, as they all are,
with male offspring. They really sympathised with
the big boss as they thought of their own wives far
away in " China-side " and the children some of them
hadn't seen. Old Wong wept secretly, for he had
worked and gone home to marry a wife, and she had
died. It wasn't likely he would ever make enough
money to buy another, unless he got it by gambling.
He was as bad at that as old Papp, the German, who
still hadn't made sufficient to go home to " California," in spite of all his work, and those muscles THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     259
which made him feel as if he would " braig dings "
if he didn't toil.
Yes, tillikum, George Quin, 'Tchorch,' was happy,
as happy as he could be.
And Jenny was nearly as happy as she could be.
Her child was a gift from heaven, even if heaven
frowned as it gave her the beautiful boy. She never
saw the Bible or the horrid pictures and she saw
instead the scripture of the child's pure flesh hourly
and read the dark language of her man's heart. He
adored what she had given him, and she knew, as
a woman may know, that underneath his awkward
roughness and his careless ways, sometimes not
wholly gentle, there was real love for her and the
wish to be good. And when he sat with her and
smoked, she caught the paternal look of full satisfaction that he feigned to hide from himself. What
a boy it was!
He was as fat as a prairie chicken, and as full of
life as a fresh-run salmon. How pink he showed in
hot water: how he squealed like a dear little pig and
kicked his crumpled dimpled legs! Was there ever
such a boy before ?
" Oh, Tchorch, see," said Jenny. She showed him
the baby's thick dark hair. The child was a garden
of delight that she cultivated all day long.
But she never forgot 'Tchorch,' who had been so
good to her, and had taken her to Victoria and driven
her about in a fine carriage: who had showed her the
world. If she had only been his wife the whole earth
could have offered her nothing.
And yet behind her was the dark shadow of Pete.
George never spoke of him, and if he had known
that Sam did he would have kicked the Chinaman
from the house to the Mill. Yet it wasn't Sam's fault,
though he was a chatterbox and always ready for
' talkee' at any time. Jenny asked him about things.
She knew that men said it was Pete who had spiked
the logs. Sam told her of the death of his poor
countryman. She wept bitterly about Skookum, who
had always been a kind, thick-headed chap, very good
to his klootchman. She had now taken up with
another who wasn't good to her.
" Poor old Skookum," said Jenny. Oh, it was
dreadful of Pete.    And yet it was her fault.
But she had her boy! Oh, not for anything, not
for life or heaven or all the round world contained
of good, would she have parted with her child and
George's. She hadn't lived before. And now
' Tchorch' loved her so much more. He was so
satisfied, so content to sit and smoke. Her Indian
blood was happy to see her man sit solemnly and puff
the clouds into the air without a word. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.    261
Now she knew of the search for Pete, and knew
what he had done, just as she knew what wicked Ned
had done to poor Mary. She hated Ned, and was
sure he was utterly bad. Nevertheless, Mary had
gone back to him.    That she knew was natural.
"Poor Mary loves him," she said, "but she has
no baby!"
If the sky was clear, it was for her little boy: when
the breezes blew they were for him: the beauty of
the river was his: the loveliness of stars and the goodness of her milk were the gifts of God, who was not
angry with her but only sorrowful because she was
not married.
" He would marry me if "
Oh, yes, if Pete were dead! She could not say it,
but could not help the bad thought rising within her.
To be married to George! She trembled to think
of it.
In her heaven Pete was the dark cloud. Perhaps
her constant thought of him put it into George's head
to say, as he did say very suddenly that same night—
" I wish I could marry you, tenas! "
She crept to his knee, and laid her head on his
hand. She got more beautiful every day, more
gentle, more tender.
" There's not a spark of vice in the little woman," fnr
said her man, with tears in his eyes. He said he was
a damn fool and spoke gruffly next time. But she
understood her Chief, her great man, and was pleased
to serve his gruffest speech.
I If only that cursed Siwash was dead," said George.
But if he wasn't he would either be in the " pen "
for years or would be seen no more on the Fraser
River.    That seemed certain.
And still George was uneasy. It was impossible to
say where the man was. The belief of the police
that he had escaped out of the country went for
nothing. British Columbia might be a mouse-trap,
but it was a handy place for holing up in, and the
brush alongside the river would have hidden a
thousand. George had a talk about the matter with
Long Mac, who was the only one of the workers in
his Mill who had brains beyond his daily task.
"What do you think, McClellan?" asked the
Mac's eyes showed that he could think.
" He's a dangerous skunk, that's my tumtum, Mr.
Quin," said Mac. He told him what Ginger White
had said and Quin frowned heavily.
" Fire my Mill! "
The Mill was his life, and till Jenny had borne him
a  child  it had been his  true and lasting passion. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     263
There was a fascination about it and the work of it
that he loved. The scent of the lumber: the sound
of the saws: the rush of the work: the hustling of the
men, made something beyond words. The Mill was
a live thing, warm, strong, adequate, equal to its work.
It filled Quin's alert, strong mind.
" Fire my Mill! "
That was Long Mac's 'tumtum,' his thought, his
" If he ain't really skipped out, that's what a cuss like
Pete would do to you, Sir," said Mac. "He's made a
holy record for himself, ain't he? We know he
spiked the logs and killed poor Skookum, and there
ain't the shadder of a doubt he fixed your brother's
cattle. And then he's laid him out, and started off
down here. They traced him to Ruby Creek, and
it's tol'ble sure he kapsuallowed a canoe there. But
no one's got on his tracks. It's bad luck there's been
such a mighty poor salmon run this year, or he'd ha'
been seen on the River."
As it was, the lordly tyee salmon, the quinnat, had
been making a poor show in the Fraser that year, as
he will at intervals, more or less regular. The
Canneries were fairly frozen out and shut down. The
river was empty of boats and men.
"I'll set another night-watchman on," said Quin. 264    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
" There's something in what you say, McClellan. The
poHce are damn fools, though."
" 111 take a night or two at it myself, if you like.
Mr. Quin," said Long Mac.
"You're the very man," replied Quin.
That night Pete got his hidden dug-out into the
water.   But his chief thoughts were not of the Mill 265
IT was all very well for George Quin, who had brought
all the trouble on himself by running after other
people's klootchmen, to say the police were fools, but
as a matter of fact they had done as much as could
be expected of them, and perhaps more, seeing that
Quin wasn't very popular with them. His Mill with
its Shack-Town gave them more trouble than the
whole of the City, and within a year two " damn
plismen," as Annie called them, had been laid out
cold with clubs in its vicinity. And nobody had gone
into the penitentiary for the murderous assaults.
Nevertheless they had searched every likely hole and
corner for Pete, from his old native hang-out, Pitt
River, down to the Serpentine and beyond it. They
had beaten the brush along both sides of the Fraser,
North and South Arm and the Island. .And, indeed,
they came within a throw of the dice of catching Pete.
One of them missed him and his canoe by a hair's- 266    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
breadth, and the Sitcum Siwash had been about to
cave in and show himself when the man turned aside.
As it was, the very search for Pete worked him
up to desperation just as he was beginning to
get cold on revenge and to think rather of escape.
If the police were so keen as to search the brush and
go up and down the river, how was he to get away?
Like most of his sort he didn't know the country, and
would have been puzzled to get even as far as
Whatcom. And even if he did there would be someone waiting for him. And to go down stream in the
dug-out would be to run right into a trap, like a
salmon. His rage began to burn in him again, and
to this was added hunger. He had over a hundred
dollars in his pocket but hadn't eaten for four-and-
twenty hours. He would have given his soul for a
square meal and a long drink, and as hunger bit him
he knew that if he lingered any longer mere famine
would induce him to give himself up. Then he would
be hanged, and get nothing more than he had got
already as the price of his neck. When the second
night fell he was wholly desperate.
" I fix heem to-night, or they catch me," said Pete.
" One ting or the other, Pete, my boy! "
If he only could get a drink! With a drink inside
him he would be equal to anything.    He wondered THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     267
if he dare trust any of his old tillikums of the Mill.
He thought of Chihuahua and of Chihuahua's klootchman, Annawillee, and then of old Annie. They would
give him away for a dollar; he knew that, and very
likely there was a price on his head. If poor old
Skookum hadn't been killed he would have done
anything for him. Pete was very sorry he had killed
Skookum, very sorry indeed.
But he kept on thinking about that drink. If
there was one woman or man in Shack-Town who
always managed to have liquor in her shanty, it was
old Annie.
"I'd choke her for it," said Pete, as he shoved off
in his dug-out and paddled lightly against the last of
the flood coming in from the great Pacific. "I'd
choke her for it."
The night was moonless and cloudy and as dark
as it ever gets on the Fraser in summer. There was
even a touch of an easterly wind about, and the faint
chill of it made him shiver. Without a drink he felt
almost hopeless.
" I try," said Pete in sudden desperation. The
lights were out all over the town. Hardly a soHtary
lamp starred the opposing darkness of the hill above
the river. The world was asleep. There was only
a moving lamp in the Mill.    He knew it belonged to 268    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
the night-watchman, a sleepy-headed old German,
once a worker in the Planing Mill with old Papp. But
since he lost his hand he had been made night-
" I give heem plenty light by-by," said Pete. He
slanted across the river and came to an old deserted
rotten wharf a little above the Mill There in the
black shadow he ran his canoe ashore and stepped
into the mud He crept silently to where the shore
shelved, and, climbing up, thrust his head out between
some broken flooring of the wharf. The world was
quiet as a tomb. There was even peace in Shack-
Town. Whether he got that drink or not he had
business there that night. Though Chihuahua most
likely wouldn't give him a drink, Pete meant to make
the Mexican help him. For at the back of
Chihuahua's shanty, which was only a one-room
hiding hole, there was a little outhouse. In that
Chihuahua always kept some kerosene.
Pete slipped across the road like a shadow, dodging
among the piles of lumber as he went. His senses
were as alert as a cougar's. And the sawdust under
foot made his steps soundless. On the other side of
the road he waited to be sure that no one moved
There was only one light in Shack-Town, and it was
at Annie's.    That meant that she was either awake THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     269
or had fallen asleep drunk on the floor, forgetful of
her lamp. Perhaps she had a bottle, said Pete
thirstily. He felt cold and nervous and forgot about
the kerosene. He ran lightly across the road and
came to Annie's. He had a sheath knife in his belt.
It had once belonged to Jack Mottram, but Pete
had stolen it. He had no intention of using it on
Annie, that is unless he had to, of course. He carried
a heavy stick in his hand.
He looked into Annie's window, which was
naturally enough foul within and without. He saw
nothing at first but the dim light of the lamp, but
as everything was quiet he rubbed the glass of one
pane with his cap. Then he saw that Annie was
lying on the floor, a mere bundle of rags. Was that
a bottle by her ?
You bet it was, tillikum! Pete knew a bottle when
he saw it. Perhaps by good luck it wasn't empty.
He shortened the club in his hand and tapped lightly
on the door with it. Annie never moved. He
pushed the door open, and still she didn't move. He
crept in like a cat until he could reach out and touch
the bottle. It lay on its side and the cork was out.
Nevertheless, a bottle can hold quite a good drink
in it even on its side. It was as full as it could be
in such a position, and careless of the silent woman 270    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST,
he drank it to its fiery dregs. Hot life ran through
his veins. It was fire: such fire as makes murder
light and easy. He grinned happily and put the
bottle down again by Annie's limp hand.
His life ran warm within him and all his desire of
vengeance grew in alcohol as grass will grow in a
warm rain of spring.
He found the kerosene in Chihuahua's little den,
and started, not for the Mill, but for George Quin's
" My klootchman, ha," said Pete fiercely. " She
have a papoose! "
The papoose slumbered in his loving mother's arms.
By her side big George lay. The night was so sweet
and quiet. If George could marry her he would.
Oh, wonderful, sorrowful world that it was. And
here was the world within her arms and within her
" I just love Tchorch and baby! "
She woke and slept. Oh, heavenly night and
heavenly day when baby slept, or waked, or stared
solemnly, as Indian blood will and must, at the
strange hard world that meets its wondering eyes.
The summer had been warm and rainless, everything was dry with the good warmth of summer.
The brush  showed brown: the paths  were  white; THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     271
the lumber, whether in stacked piles or in framed
houses, was ready for fire. A spark would light
it: a single match might cause a conflagration as it
would in a dry forest of red cedar or the resinous
And Pete carried kerosene. He drenched a
southern wall of boards with it and laid against the
wall dry brush and pieces of sawed lumber that lay
about from the building of the house. He knew the
wood must flame like tinder. If it ran unchecked
for a minute it would take the river to put it out.
And it was high above the river. He grinned and
lighted a match.
The next minute he was running down the hill
like a deer. In less than a minute he dropped, still
carrying the half-emptied kerosene can, through the
hole in the wharf. Then he waited and saw a warm
blaze high upon the hill.
" That fix heem and her," said Pete, intoxicated
with his deed and with the alcohol. "That teach
heem, damn Shautch Quin, heh! I kill his blother,
heh, and burn his house! "
His heart was warm within him as fire. It seemed
so good to be revenged. Now they would wake, and
perhaps would not escape. All the world would
wake and go up ttiere, and then the Mill would be —
left alone. Already the flame on the hill was so
fierce that many must see it.
And, indeed, many saw it, and some came running
and there was a growing sound of men, and far off he
heard men call. And then from up above there came
the sound of firearms, used as an alarm. By this he
knew that Quin was up.
"I fix heem and now I fix his Mill," said Pete
hoarsely. He had forgotten all they had told him
of the scheme by which a man pays a little so that
he shall not lose all. What did it matter? The Mill
was Quin's, and he loved it.    Pete knew that.
As all the town woke he dropped down stream in
his canoe and came to the Mill.
It was built, as all such are when they border on
a river or any water, partly on the land and partly
on great piles sunk in the river bed. The wharves,
where scows and steamboats and schooners loaded
the lumber, were even further towards the deep
water. At high tide a boat could pass underneath
them all, and get beneath the deep shadow of
the Mill. There fish played constantly, schools
of little candle-fish, the oolachan that the fur-seals
love, that is so fat that when it dries it drips
oil. And there were places in the Mill that dripped
oil, as there are in all works where machinery moves THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.    273
swiftly, and bearings are apt to grow hot. For
many years the Mill had never ceased to rim, save
when heavy frost fixed the moving river in thick-
ribbed ice, and it was saturated with all that burns.
In every crack dry sawdust lay that was almost explosive : the bearings of belts were fat with oil. Pete
knew it would burn like tinder, like dry, dead,
resinous spruce, like the bark of red cedar.
As he moved in the darkness, over the sound
of the lapping water he heard the sound of the waking
city. Where so much was built of wood, fire was
dreadfully interesting. He knew the world would
wake and be upon the hill. Now he saw the glimmer
of the fire he had lighted show a gleam upon the
water under the sky. He laughed to himself quietly,
and, holding on to a pile, listened. Was there anyone above him on the floor of the Mill ? Or had even
the watchman run to Quin's house to help? He
knew how fire drew a man, how it drew all men.
There was no sound above him. He ran his canoe
into deeper darkness and left it on the mud and
climbed straight among crossing interlaced timbers
to the first floor, where the Shingler worked and
lathes were made. He moved lightly, his feet in
silent mocassins, and entered the dark hole under
the Chinee Trimmer.   Above him was the chute by
which matched-flooring came down to the Chinamen,
who carried it to the Planers and the machines that
worked it. He heard the hum of a far-off crowd
and saw the light of the burning house. He climbed
into the upper Mill. And as he thrust his head
out of the chute at the left hand of the Trimmer,
then idle in the casing, he saw the house itself
through the great side chute of the Mill, down
which he had fallen the day he struck Quin with the
The Mill was empty. He looked round cautiously
and then leapt out upon the floor. There was sufficient light for him to see by, and he saw that some
man had at least taken precautions against him.
There were buckets of water here and there: there
was even a hose-pipe with a pump, a force-pump.
There was another hose coming from the Engine-
Room. These things showed him he had been
feared: they showed him it would be hard to get
away. But he had no time to think. With a savage
grin he pulled out his knife and sliced the hose into
pieces. He capsized the buckets as they stood.
Then he fetched his oil-can from where he had put
it, close to the Pony Saw, and emptied it at a spot
which he chose, because the oil would run upon the
sawdust carrier and go down past the fine cedar dust
from the Shingler. Below the Shingle Mill was the
water. He knew exactly where to find the spot
where the oil would drip into the river. He ran
back to the chute by which he had ascended and as
he slipped into the chute he heard someone call.
" Hallo, Dutchy, Dutchy! " said a voice.
But Dutchy, the old one-handed German watchman, did not answer. Pete heard him who spoke
break out swearing.
" Goldarn the old idiot, I believe he ain't here,"
said the voice. It was the voice of Long Mac, a
man to be feared, a strong man, a keen and quick
man, a man with brains and skill and grit.
Pete heard him enter the Mill and run upstairs,
and he knew that in another moment Mac would
know someone had been there, although old Dutchy
had done what he should not have done, and had
left the Mill to go to the other fire. There was no
time to lose. He went silently for the canoe, and
found it, got into it, and worked his way to the space
under the Shingle Mill. Now the light of the burning house was bright upon the lip of the river, running on the first of the ebb against a warm Chinook
He heard Mac burst out into blasphemy.    He had
found no Dutchy, but cut hose instead.    And then
old Dutchy came running. He heard Mac curse
"What did I tell you, you old fool? Didn't I say
look out lively here! That swine's about now, by
God! He's cut the hose, maybe lighted the Mill
already! "
" Ach, mein Gott, mein Gott," said Dutchy, " I haf
not been afay von minute."
" Oh, to hell," said Mac.
He found the capsized buckets and burst out again.
He spoke rapidly, and Pete, as he clutched at a pile,
caught but a word or two.
" Run—police—boat! "
He understood what this meant: if he didn't do it
now, he would have no time. At the sound of old
Dutchy's steps on the boards as he ran overhead Pete
struck a match and lighted dripping kerosene. The
flame drcled on a patch of board, and burnt blue and
flickered, drawing upward through a crack. The Mill
was fired!
" I fix heem," said Pete; " if they catch me I fix
heem all the same."
He thrust his canoe for the open water and then
stayed aghast. It seemed that the world was very
light. His lip fell a little: And he heard a voice speak
overhead, a voice which was like a bow drawn at a
"I know you're about hyar, Pete," said Mac in
a roar like that of a wild beast. "I know you're
He didn't know, but his instincts and his knowledge
told him the truth. Underneath him somewhere lay
the incendiary. In some dark hole or corner the
beast of fire was hidden. Pete's heart stood still and
he knew what a fool he had been to meddle with
aught on the upper floor.
And he heard the light crackle of his new fire.
" Come out, you hound," cried Mac. And then the
flame caught the sawdust carrier and Mac saw the
creep of light under a crack and knew the Mill was
fired—fired irredeemably and beyond hope. He
pulled his gun and shot down through the floor at
a venture, and by a wonderful chance the bullet
cleared any beam and struck the water close by Pete.
The Siwash let go and thrust the dug-out into the
And in the Mill the fire was like an explosion. It
ran along the carriers and the ways of the belts and
reached out into inaccessible corners where lay the
warm dust of years and grew up through a thousand
cracks like red-hot weeds at the breath of spring in
a tropic garden.
" Oh, my God," said Mac.    The breath of the fire I
1 II
choked him: he ran back from it: it burst up about
him: to escape he leapt over it, but before he got to
the great Chute the flame spurted from beneath the
Big Hoes and licked at the teeth of shining steel.
Then it played about the Pony Saw and far off under
the Bull-Wheel it grew up and danced. Then it went
like a fiery creeper, like a red climbing rose, and
touched the dusty roof. In the next moment the
body of the Mill was fire. Mac went back, missed his
footing and slipped headlong down the chute, even
as Pete had once fallen. He rose with a shout which
was half a shriek, for he had dislocated his shoulder,
and folks running in the road to the lesser fire, turned
to the greater and saw the Mill ablaze.
And out in the river Pete was paddling hard. But
the lamp that he had lighted was a very bright one,
that made the river suddenly a golden pool and shone
afar off on the other side of the white roof of the Big
Cannery. One man on the wharf saw him and called
to Mac, who came fast.
"By the Lord, that's Pete," said Mac, "that's Pete
and my shoulder's out. Get a boat, boys, get a boat!
There's one under the wharf at the other end. Get
a boat and go after him! "
But to go out on the river at midnight after a killer
and an incendiary from mere love of the law or even THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     279
of hunting was beyond those who heard the man from
Michigan speak.
" Oh, hell, not me! 'Tain't my funeral," they said.
-And then Quin came running to them. He was
white as the ashes of his house would be on the
morrow, but he saw what Mac and the others saw.
That must be Pete on the river!
" He's got us, Sir, he's got us," said Mac.
Even in that moment Quin saw how he held his
"You're hurt?"
" I fell down the chute, Sir, the fire almost caught
The flames roared now. The inside of the Mill
was a furnace. Fire played fantastic games on the
high sloping roof.
"There's a boat "
" I know," said Quin.
" These hoosiers ain't game," said Mac
A bigger crowd of those who weren't game to
tackle wild beasts gathered round them. Faces were
white in the glow of the fire.
" At the house, Sir "
" They're all right. I'll go after him," said Quin.
He ran, and Mac cried—
" Take my gun, Sir— " 280    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
But Quin did not hear him. He ran round the
end of the Mill and was lost.
In another moment they saw him in the boat out
upon the river. Pete went out of sight. The crowd
watched till Quin was out of sight, too.
" What's the bettin' we'll see either of 'em again ?"
asked a man in the crowd.
The odds were against it.
11 fix heem all right," said Pete.
1   III
^-Sg^-__ 281
It was Jenny who first wakened in the house on the
hill, for she slept lightly as a young mother does. And
yet when she woke, sleep was not wholly out of her
eyes and mind, and it seemed to her that it was morning, and that Sam, her good Sam, was up betimes in
the kitchen. She heard the fine crackling, at first a
mere crepitation, of the crawling flame, and felt comfortable as one does at the notion of the good creature
fire, the greatest servant of man. Deep in the hearts
of men lies the love of it, for fire has served them
through the innumerable generations of their rise from
those who knew it not. A million ancestors of each
have sat by brave flames in dark woodlands and have
warmed themselves and found comfort in all the
storms of the open world. For the house is the fire,
the covering of the fire, and the hearth is the great
altar, where a daily sacrifice is made to the gods.
She fell asleep again. 282    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
And then she smelt smoke and roused herself
suddenly and saw a strange light outside in the darkness. The fire flickered like a serpent's tongue, and
she saw it, and her heart went cold. For the servant
becomes the tyrant, and the god is oftentimes cruel
to his people. She clutched the child, and with her
other hand caught hold of George. She cried to him
aloud, and even before he was awake he stood upon
the floor, knowing that some enemy was at hand.
And even then the red enemy looked in at the window
and there was the tinkle of broken glass.
" Oh, this is Pete's work," he said. But he said it
not aloud. " Get up, girl. Corne, tenas," he cried.
He opened the door and found the house full of
smoke. Below, he heard the work of the fire. And
the outer wall below the window was one flame.
" This is Pete's work," he said. And he said to
"What of the Mill?"
Jenny clutched the baby to her bosom, and he
slammed the door to. It was not the first time he
had met fire and he understood it. He wetted a
handkerchief and tied it over his own mouth. There
were some who would have wondered at his swiftness,
and the cool courage of him in so threatening a fight.
He bound wet rags across the brave lifted mouth of THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.    283
Jenny, and the child cried as he did the same for
him. Then he caught her in his arms and rushed the
stairs, and as he ran he called aloud, " Sam, Sam! "
The smoke was pungent, acrid, suffocating, and
the heat of the air already cracked the skin. Out of
the smoke he saw licking tongues of flame, flame
curious and avid, searching, strenuous, alive. One
tongue licked at him and he smelt, among all the
other odours of the fire, the smell of singed hair. He
heard the crying of the child, its outraged mind working angrily. Jenny whimpered a little. Her hand was
steel about him. He rushed an opaque veil of blinding smoke, interpenetrated by lightnings, and bull-
headed burst in Sam's door. He heard the boy cry-
out. But they were saved, if it were not that Pete
stood outside to kill those whom he had driven from
their shelter. That might be; Quin knew it. And
yet he could not go first.    Sam caught his arm.
"Oh, oh, Mista Quin!" he cried, "oh, oh, velly
dleadful, my much aflaid."
Sam had pluck enough, as he had more than once
shown when some white young hoodlums of the town
had small-ganged him. But when fire is the master
many are not brave.
" Open the window," said Quin. Outside to the
ground was a drop of twelve feet.   But the ground 284 THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
was hard Quin put Jenny down by the window and
got a blanket from the boy's bed.
" Out you go first, Sam," he said.
But Sam, though not "blave" and "velly much
aflaid," knew it was the right thing for the ' Missus'
to go first.
" Oh, no, Mista Quin, my no go first Missus she
go and litty chilo.    My not too much aflaid"
He trembled like a leaf all the same.
" Get out of the window chop-chop," said Quin in
a voice that Sam had only heard once before when he
had dared to be insolent. He sprang to the window,
and, dutching the blanket that Quin held, he slid to
the ground.
" Now my catchee Missus," he said exultantly. And
with the fire beneath the boards of the room, Quin
had no choice. He tied a quilt round Jenny's waist
and lowered her and the child till Sam could touch
her. He let go, and sliding down the blanket, which
he had made fast to the frame of Sam's bed, he, too,
reached the ground safely. And people came running
up the hill. Whether this was Pete's work or not they
were safe. But their house was a torch, the flames
soared above the gambrel of the roof.
Jenny sat upon a rock, dad only in her nightgown,
with the quilt thrown about her shoulders.     Her THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.    285
home was burning and all her beautiful things were
destroyed. She could not cry, but her heart wept,
and the child was her only comfort. She knew well
enough that this was Pete's work, she felt it in her
And a crowd gathered. There were many from
the City: those whose work it is to put out fires, and
some of the police. There was a fat saloon-keeper
whom she knew by sight and the old boss of the
Farmers' Home. With them were many Siwashes
from Shack-Town! among them the wedger-off who
had replaced Pete. She saw old Papp, the German
from ' Galifornia,' and Chihuahua, with his beady eyes
flashing, and his teeth all a-grin. With him came his
klootchman, Annawillee, the one who always sang the
song of the mournful one, also called Annawillee.
Then there were Chinamen in wide flapping pyjamas,
old Wong, the wise man, and Fan-tan and Sam Lung,
and Quong. They made a circle about her and the
fire, and chattered in Chinese, in Chinook, in Spanish,
for now Spanish Joe, the handsome man, came up and
palavered with Chihuahua. She felt their eyes upon
her. She had ' shem' that they should see her, for
she was not Quin's wife, and his child cried upon her
knees. She hid her bare feet under the nightgown.
Sam stood by her.    She saw Quin speak to the police, 286    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
to the firemen. .Any help was vain. Then Long
Mac ran up the hill, as light as a wapiti on his feet.
He said but a word and ran back. But it was a wise
word, though too late.
" Send someone down to the Mill, Quin. If this is
Pete, it won't satisfy him. I'll get a boat and go on
the River."
" Do," said Quin. " I'll see this through and be
with you in a minute."
But the swift minutes passed, and before they gave
up all hope (though Quin never had hope) and before
he could say what should be done with Jenny, someone cried out suddenly—
"The Mill, the Mill!"
As if they had been turned on their heels by some
strange machinery the big crowd turned and saw a
running light in the Mill. It was as if the crowd of
workers danced with lamps: as if there were some
Chinese Feast of Lanterns in its dark floors. Then
the flickering, dancing lights coalesced and they saw
flames flow out, and flow down and climb up.
"The Mill!" said Quin.
Bad enough to lose his house, his home, which now
he loved, but to lose the Mill was a thousand times
worse. The house was but a new thing and the Mill
was old.    Thousands of days he  had watched the
work and heard its song: not a board of it, not a
rafter, not a stud or beam or scantling or shingle
that wasn't his delight. It was part of himself, the
thing wherewith he worked, the live muscles with
which he toiled: his spirit extended to it \ he ran it
with his steam, with his belts, with his mind, his
"Oh, my Mill!"
Barefoot as he was, being clad only in his shirt and
trousers, he leapt down the hill and never felt his
wounded feet. Jenny saw him go, saw the crowd
break and waver, saw it turn and flood the lower hillside, moving down. Their lighted faces turned from
her, she saw them run.
" Oh, Tchorch, oh, Tchorch! "
But George never heard her feeble cry in the
torrent.    He had forgotten her and the boy.
And when she could again see for her tears she
was alone save for Sam, her faithful Sam, and Annawillee and Indian Annie, the last to climb the hill.
Even Chihuahua had gone and all the Chinamen.
She saw Wong departing last of all. The fire drew
even the philosopher. She heard Annie speak to
"Ho, tenas Jenny, toketie Jenny, dis your man,
mesachie Pete.      Evelybody  savvy  Pete done um, 288    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
Jenny.    Oh, what peety toketie house mamook piah,
all bu'n, all flame."
" Oho, hyu keely, hyu keely," moaned Annawillee,
"pletty house mamook piah. Mamook nanitch you'
papoosh, Jenny, let me see papoosh."
These were foul and filthy hags, and now Jenny
knew it. She cried and Sam did not know what
to do.
" Missus, you no cly," he said despairingly. But
still she cried, and Annie sat down by her.
" Where Mista Quin klatawa? Ha, Moola mamook
piah all same yo' toketie house, tenas. Now you got
halo house, you come mine, Jenny."
And Annawillee lifted the quilt from the baby and
saw it.
" Hyu toketie papoosh, hyu toketie, ha, I love
papoosh, Jenny's papoosh."
" What I do, Sam ? " moaned Jenny. The Mill
was in a roar of flames. It lighted the town and the
river and the white canneries across the wide red
" Oh, you come down to sto'e," said Sam. Where
else could she go but to the store? Why hadn't the
big boss told him what to do ? For everything outside the house Sam was as helpless as the very
papoose.    He hated and loathed the Siwashes and THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     289
their klootchmen. They were dreadful, uncleanly
people. It was his one great wonder in life that
' Missus' was a Siwash klootchman.
I You come down to sto'e," he said.
"You come my house, Jenny," said Annie, who
thought if she gave Jenny shelter she would get more
dollars from Quin, who lately had refused her anything.    " You come my house, tenas."
But Sam held her tight and helped her on  the
difficult path.    Her feet were bare and so were his.
Neither Annie nor Annawillee had mocassins on, the
soles of their feet were as hard as horn.
They went down the hill slowly, and still the old
hag said	
"You come my shack, tenas, bad for papoose to
be out night."
Every stick and stone of the path was lighted for
them. Jenny's heart was in ashes for the grief of
' Tchorch,' who so loved his Mill and his house. All
her beautiful clothes were burnt. Perhaps Pete would
kill him even now.
" Oh, where is Tchorch ?" she cried as they came
to the bottom of the hill.    And the wavering crowd
kept on saying where he was.
" The boss is on the river."
"Went in a boat, pardner "
" Oh,  but   he   was   mad!      I   wouldn't   be   the
Siwash "
" I don't hanker none to be Quin if Pete gets him.
Pete's a boy, ain't he ?    Solid ideas, by gosh "
"See, there's the Planin' Mill goin' up the
flume! "
" 'Tis a mighty expensive fire, this.    Eh, what ? "
" Licks me Moolas don't burn mor' off'n, pard! "
"Well, we're out of a job, tillikums."
The crowd moved and swayed and moaned. They
cried " Oh! " and " Ah!" and " See 1" The Mill was
hell. Old Dutchy sat on a pile of sawed lumber with
his lighted lamp on his knees; the poor doddering
fool trimmed the wick and cried. Jenny heard old
Papp speak to him in German.
" Sei ruhig, alte dummkopf."
And Papp went on in English.
" Dain'd your vault, old shap, iv so be Pete wanded
to purn ze Mill, he vould purn it all same. If I had
him I vould braig him lige a sdick, so! "
There was no pity for the man who had spiked
the logs. They would have hung him if they had
had hold of him. They would have thrown him on
the fire. Then the front of the Mill fell out. The
crowd surged backwards, and Jenny was near thrown
down.     Old Papp fell against Sam and both went
down. Annie and Annawillee caught hold of Jenny
and her papoose, and dragged her to their shack.
" That all light, tenas. You come. I give you a
dlink, tenas.    Here Annawillee, you hold papoosh."
She snatched the baby from Jenny's weakening
arms and Annawillee ran on ahead with him.
When Sam recovered his feet Jenny was gone.
" Oh, where my Missus, where my Missus ?" roared
Sam, blubbering.
" What's the infernal Chinaman kickin' up such a
bobbery about ? " asked the scornful crowd.
19* 292
The canoe in which Pete had set out in his great
adventure was both heavy and cranky, and no one
but a Siwash of the river or the Lakes would have
paddled it a mile without disaster. But he had been
bred in the sturgeon-haunted water of Pitt River,
and knew the ways of his craft and could use the
single-bladed paddle with the same skill that he
showed with the maul and wedges on a great sawlog. Now as he left the light of the fired Mill behind
him he knew (or feared) that he had not left his
enemies behind him as well. The whole of the Mill
would be his enemies. That he was sure of: he
remembered poor old Skookum Charhe. He understood the minds of those he had endangered as well
as the heart of such a man as Quin. And if Quin
himself had escaped from the fire of the house he
would be on the river.! That Pete was sure of in
his heart   And his heart failed him even as he swept THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     293
outward on the first of the ebb, which ran fast, being
now reinforced by the waters of the big river fed by
the melting snows of a thousand miles of snow-clad
This was, indeed, the nature of the man, as Long
Mac knew it. He was capable of fierce resentment,
capable of secret though unsubtle revenge, but he
was not capable of standing up like a man at the
stake of necessity; not his the blood of those nobler
Indians of the Plains who could endure all things at
the last. His blood was partly water, of a truth, and
now it melted within him.
" They catch me fo' su'e," said Pete. His muscles
weakened, his very soul was feeble. What a fool, a
thrice-sodden fool, he had been to cut the hose in
the Mill. But for that they might not have known
he had fired it But Long Mac knew, and perhaps
Long Mac himself, who had nerves and muscles of
steel, was out after him in the night. Oh, rather even
Quin than that man, whom Quin himself treated
with a courtesy he denied to all the others who
worked for him.
But now the light of the Mill faded. On both
sides of the river were heavy shadows: the great
moving flood was but a mirror of darkness and a few
stars that flicked silver into the lip and lap of the 294    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
moving waters. Pete knew the ebb and current ran
fastest in the middle of the stream, and yet to be out
in the middle meant that he would be seen easier,
if indeed he was pursued. He could not make up his
mind whether to chance this or not. He sheered
from the centre to the banks and back again. And
every now and again it seemed to him that it would
be wisest to run ashore, turn his dug-out loose and
take to the brush. And yet he did not do it. He
was weak, now that fear was in him, and the alcohol
died out of him, and he felt renewed pangs of hunger.
To wander in the thick brush would be fatal. They
would renew their search on the morrow: every
avenue of escape would be guarded. And hunger
would so tame the little spirit he had within him
that he would give himself up.
" They hang me, they hang me," he said piteously,
even as Ned Quin had said it. But there was none
to help him. The very men who had been his
brothers, his tillikums, would give him up now.
He cursed himself and Jenny and Quin and the
memory of Skookum Charlie. He took the centre of
the river at last and paddled hard. It was his only
chance. If he could but get out to sea and then run
ashore somewhere in the. Territory, among some of
the Washington Indians who knew nothing of him, THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     295
he would be hard to find. The very thought of this
helped him.    He might escape after all.
And then his ears told he was not to escape so
easily. He heard the sound of oars in the rowlocks
of a boat. Or was it only the beating of his own
heart? He could not locate the sound. At one
moment it seemed to him that after all it was but
someone further down the river and then it seemed
behind him. If it were down stream it might be
only some stray salmon boat doing its poor best in a
bad year. Even they would say they had met him.
He ceased to row and sheered across towards the
darkest shadow of the bank.
And, as he sheered inwards, from behind the last
bend of that very bank there shot a boat which was
inshore of him. For Quin knew the river below the
City as Pete did not, and he had kept in the
strongest of the stream, which sometimes cut its
deepest channel close to the shore. He was but a
hundred yards from Pete when the Sitcum Siwash
saw him and knew it was Quin.
Here the great river below the Island, where North
and South Arms were one, was at its widest. And
by the way his enemy came Pete knew that his hour
had arrived. Though he paddled for awhile in sheer
desperation he knew that his wretched heavy dug- 296    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
out had no chance against a light boat, driven by
the strongest arms in the City, perhaps the strongest
in the whole of the country. And Quin was an
oarsman and had loved the water always. The
wretched fugitive changed his tune even as he strove
in vain.
" He fix me, oh, he fix me ! "
Hot as he was with paddling, the cold sweat now
ran down his brow and cheeks. He felt his heart
fail within him: he felt his muscles fail. Yet still he
strove and kept a distance between himself and Quin
that only slowly lessened. For now Quin himself
slackened his pace. He was sure he had the
man, and yet he knew it needed coolness to secure
To Quin, Pete had become the very incarnation
of the devil, and he was wholly unconscious now that
he had ever wronged him. The fact that he had
stolen Jenny from him was but an old story. And
Pete had brought it upon himself. No one but Quin
in the whole world could have known (as Quin did
know) that any kindness, any decency of conduct,
in Pete would have secured Jenny to him against the
world itself. She was pure faithfulness and pure
affection, and malleable, as wax in any warmth of
heart.    But Pete had been even as his fellows.    He
should have wedded some creature of the dust like
Annawillee, to whom brutality was but her native
mud. And Jenny was a strange blossom such as
rarely grows in any tribe or race of men.
It was not of Jenny that Quin thought. He forgot
her very danger that night and forgot his own. He
even forgot his child. He remembered nothing but
the burnt Mill, nothing but the spiked logs. Oh, but
he ' had it in' for Pete!
" He's burnt my Mill," said Quin. In spite of any
help the loss would be heavy, but it was not the
loss that Quin thought of: it was of the Mill itself.
So fine a creature it was, so live, so quick, so wonderful. Rebuilt it might be, but it would no longer be
the Mill that he had made: that he had picked up
a mere foundling, as a derelict of the river, and
turned into something so like a living thing that he
came to love it. Now it was hot ashes, burning
embers: the wind played with it.    It was dead!
There was no sign of red fire behind them now,
but the fire burnt within Quin. The fire was out in
Pete. He wished he had never seen Jenny, never
seen the Mill, never played with fire. He went blind
as he paddled, ever and ever more feebly. If Quin
had called to him then the Siwash would have given
in: he would have said	 298     THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
" All right, Mista Quin, I'm done! "
That was his nature: the nature of the Coast
Indians, as Long Mac knew it. There wasn't in him
or his tillikums, pure-blooded or 'breeds,' the stuff
to stand up against the bitter, hardy White, who had
taken their country and their women, and had made
a new world where they speared salmon, or each
other.    He knew he had no chance.
But Quin never spoke, even when he was within
twenty yards of his prey.
The terror of the white man got hold of Pete, and
the terror of this silence maddened him anew. There
was not so much as a grunt out of his pursuer. Pete
saw a machine coming after him. It was not a man,
it was a thing that ran Indians down and drowned
them. So might a steamer, a dread " piah-ship," run
down the dug-out of some poor wild Siwash in some
unexplored creek. Quin was not a man, or a white
man, he was the White Men: the very race. There
had always been a touch of the wild race in Pete:
an underlying hint of the wrath of those who go
under. He had avenged himself, but it was still in
vain. The last word was, it seemed, with the deadly
thing behind him.
Of a sudden Pete howled. It was a horrid cry:
Hke the cry of a solitary coyote on a bluff in moon-
light on a prairie of the South. The very forests
echoed with it, as they had echoed in dim ages past
with the war-whoops of other Indians. It made Quin
turn his head as he rowed. It was just in time, for
with one sweep of his paddle Pete had turned his
canoe. The next instant it ran alongside the boat,
and Pete with one desperate leap came on board
with his bare knife in his hand. He fell upon his
knees and scrambled to his feet as Quin, loosing his
oars, got to his. The capsized dug-out floated side
by side with the boat.
" I fix you," said Pete. Even in the darkness Quin
could see the white of his eye, the uplifted hand, the
knife. The boat swayed, nearly went over, Pete
struck and missed, staggered, threw out his left arm
and Quin caught it. The next moment they were
both in the river, fighting desperately.
"I fix you," said Pete. They both mouthed water
and Quin got his right wrist at last. But not before
a blow of Pete's had sliced his ribs and cut a gash that
stung like fire.
Both of the men could swim, but swimming was in
vain. Both were strong, and now Pete's strength was
as the strength of a madman who chooses death in a
very passion for the end of all things. He seemed
as if made of fine steel, of whip-cord, of something
agjBsr,- -	 3oo    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
resilient, tense. There was in him that elasticity
which enables the great quinnat to overcome the
awful stream of the Fraser in its narrow Cafion. It
was with difficulty, with deadly difficulty, that Quin
held the wrist that controlled the knife. He knew
that he must do that even if he drowned. It was his
last thought, his last conscious thought, just as Pete's
last thought was to free himself and find Quin's
They sank, as they struggled, far below the surface
of the flood. Quin held his breath till it seemed that
he would burst. His lungs were bursting with blood:
his brain fainted for it. He struggled to preserve his
power of choice, for it appeared better to be stabbed
if even so he could breathe. But even as he fought he
was aware in some cool and dreadfully far-off cell of
his brain that though he let go he would not yet rise.
It was a question of who could last longest. As he
was drowning he remembered (and recalled how he
had heard the saying) that the other man was
probably as bad. He even grinned horribly as he
thought this. Then he saw Jenny and the child.
The vision passed and he saw the burning Mill. He
heard Mac speak, heard the roar of the flames, and
the murmur of the crowd. Then he came to the
surface and knew where he was, knew that he was
alive but at handgrips with Death himself. He
sucked in air, filled his lungs and rolled over, and
went under once again.
When consciousness is past there is a long space of
organized, of purposed, instinctive struggle for life
left in a man. So it was with Quin. He knew not
that he slipped both hands to Pete's right wrist: he
was unaware that when they once more rose Pete
howled as his wrist snapped. Even Pete did not
know it: he knew that he was a fluid part of nature,
suffering agony and yet finding sleep in agony, sleep
so exquisite that it was a recompense at last for all
the woes of the world. And he was all the world
himself, one with the river, one with the night and
the great darkness which comes in the end to all.
Pete sighed deliciously and sank, and rose and sank
again, into the arms of one who was perhaps his
mother, perhaps his dear Jenny whom he now loved
so tenderly.
And a blind creature, still unconscious, unknowing,
hung on to Pete's wrist. That was what Quin
thought. But what he hung to was the boat, capsized
but still floating, which had gone down stream with
them. He was in a cramp of agony: if he could have
let go he would have done so, but something not himself, as it seemed, made him hold on.    He still fought 302    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
with the dead man who rolled below him at the
bottom of the river.
Then he came back to the knowledge that he
was at least alive Yet at first he was not even
sure of that He was only sure that he suffered,
without knowing' what it was that suffered. It seemed
monstrous that he should be in such agony, in all his
limbs and body and brain. But he could not distinguish between them for a long time after he was
able to discern, with such curious eyes as an infant
may possess, the fact that there were lights in the
dim sky.    That was the first thing he named.
"Stars!" he said doubtfully.
And then he knew that there was such a creature
as a man! He gasped and drew in air again and
with it life and more far-off knowledge. He
remembered the Mill which was burnt in some ancient
day, and Jenny, long since dust, of course. And
then the past times marched up to him: he knew they
were the present, and that he had lost Pitt River Pete
in the river, and that he hung feebly to a capsized
boat The rest of his knowledge of himself was like
an awful flood: it was overwhelming: it weakened
him and made him cry. Tears ran down his face as
he lifted his chin above the water.
And still he floated seaward THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     303
A huge and totally insoluble problem oppressed
him. He was aware now that water was not his
element. This dawned on him gradually. At first
all his remembered feelings were connected with
water. He had, it seemed, been born in it. It was
very natural to be floating in it. There was at least
nothing to contradid its being natural. But now he
felt for something with his feet, for he was consdous
of them. What he wanted was land. Men walked on
land. Houses, yes, houses and Mills were built on
That was land over there! It was a million miles
off. How did one get so far? To be sure, one
swam! He shook his head feebly. One couldn't
swim, one would have to let go the boat! He forgot
all about the land for a very long time. When he
remembered it again with a start it was much nearer,
very much nearer. He saw individual trees, knew
they were trees. Branches held out their arms to
him. Though swimming was impossible it was no
longer wholly ridiculous. He remembered doing it
himself. He even remembered learning swimming.
He had won a race as a boy in Vermont.
" To be sure," said Quin. The current swept him
closer inshore. Something touched his feet. He
drew them up sharply and shuddered.     Pete was 304    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
down there somewhere. Oh, yes, but he was dead!
Dead men were disagreeable, especially when they had
been drowned and not recovered for days in hot
weather. He touched bottom again. It was very
muddy. It was easy to get stuck in mud. One could
drown in it.
" Why, I may be drowned yet! " said Quin. It
was very surprising to think of!
" No, I won't be drowned," said Quin. " I'll hang
on to this boat.    Why not ? "
Nevertheless the water was cold. It came down
from the mountains, from much further off than
Caribou and from the Eagle Range. There was
snow there.
" I am cold," said Quin. " I ought to get ashore."
The boat itself touched a mud-bank. Quin felt
bottom again and just as he was deciding to let go
the boat swung off. Quin cried and was very angry.
" I'll do it next time," said Quin. But he didn't.
He was afraid to let go. And yet the shore was very
close. Once more the boat touched and his feet were
quite firm in the mud. But there was a bottom six
inches down. He thought he prayed to something,
to God perhaps, and then he saw the boat swing
away from him. He was quite alone and very solitary.
To lose the boat was Hke losing one's home.     He THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     305
staggered and fell flatling and found bottom with his
hands.    He hung to the very earth, but was dizzy.
He waited quite a while to be sure of himself and
then   scrambled   with  infinite   and   most   appalling
labour to the shore.  His limbs were as heavy as death,
as lead.    He dragged them after him.    He ached.
But at last he came out on the land.
It was earth: he had got there.    Was there ever in
all human experience such a pleasant spot to lie down
on, to sleep in?     He just knew there wasn't.     He
forgot he was wet, that he was cold, that Pete was
dead, that he was alive, and he went on his knees
and scrabbled like a tired beast at the ground.    And
then he went to sleep, holding himself with his arms
and making strange comfortable little noises.
Sleep rolled over him like a river. Artillery would
not have awakened him, nor thunder, nor the curious
hands of friends or the hostile claws of creatures of
And within a few minutes of his going to sleep
other boats came down the river and passed him.
They picked up the capsized boat.
" Quin's dead then," they told each other.
It was quite possible Quin's body believed that, too.
But his warm mind knew better, of course. He had
got earth under him, and he warmed it.
20 306
" Oh, oho, the toketie papoosh: I love the papoosh,
Jenny's papoosh," said Annawillee, as she held the
baby. The shack was lighted by the burning Mill
rather than by the stinking slush lamp on the foul
table. Jenny cried for her baby, but Annawillee was
after all a woman and loved children in her own
way. For years she hadn't handled one. Her only
child had died.    Its father was not Chihuahua
" Oh, give him me, Annawillee," said Jenny. He
was George's child, and now she knew that
' Tchorch' was out on the great lonely river, hunting unhappy Pete. Men said they would never
come back. Her soul was burning even as the Mill
burnt. 'Tchorch' loved her and yet had forgotten
" Give him to me."
But Annawillee sat on the floor and sang about
the papoosh, a song of a poor Klootchman deserted
by her man and left with her child : THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.    307
p Oh, nika tenas
Hyas nika klahowyam,
Hyu keely,
Konaway sun,
Nika tenas.
"Ah, my little one,
Sad am I	
I mourn and weep,
Ah, still must cry,
Ah, my little one, every day ! "
Annie screamed at her.
" Pelton .Annawillee, halo mamook Jenny keely,
make her not mournful, pelton, oh, fool! "
" I love papoosh," said Annawillee. She burst into
" Take heem, Jenny, take yo' papoosh. Mine
mimaloose, is dead."
Jenny took the baby to her bosom, and sat down
desolately on the edge of Jenny's bed. Her body
shivered at the foulness of things, even as her soul
shivered for fear about George. An hour ago she
had been happy, happy, happy!    Now	
" Oh, God," she prayed.    But she could not weep.
" Jenny, you have dlink, you tak' one dlink, tenas
toketie ?" said Annie. What else was there but
' dlink' for misery, for the loss of a home, for the
loss of her man?
But Jenny shook her head.
" I got one," said Annie. For she remembered she
had not finished the bottle before she went to sleep
by the fire. She hunted for the bottle and found
it.   It was empty!
" Some dam' tief stealum," screamed Annie. Who
could it have been but Annawillee?
" I never takum," yelled AnnawiUee when the old
hag got her by the hair and tugged at it. " You old
beast, leggo me.    I never tak' um."
Jenny cried out to Annie. It was awful to see
this in her agony of grief.
" I get mo'," said Annie. " I got dolla. I find
Chihuahua, he buy bottle whisky! "
She went out Annawillee wrung her hair into a
horrid coil and knotted it clumsily at the back of her
neck. She cried about her dead papoosh. The tears
ran down her dirty face.
Outside the hum and murmur of the crowd still
endured. Every now and again there was a crash,
as some of the great Mill fell in. Piles of lumber
caught: they roared to the skies in wavering columns.
The crowd laughed and moaned and roared and was
silent, as the sea beach is silent between great
.And George was on. the river hunting Pete!
Jenny clutched her baby to her bosom.    Annawillee THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     309
went on crying. Then the door opened and Annie
came back.
"I send Chihuahua. He get dlink. Dlink velly
good for you, Jenny. By-by Shautsh Quin come
back and say I good to you, and he be good to poo'
old Annie, who get you for heem, tenas! "
But Jenny only heard her words as part of the
sounds of the night. If George did not come back!
She moaned dreadfully, and shivered in spite of the
heat of the great fire, which made itself felt even in
the shack.
"Tchorch, Tchorch!"
She felt him in her arms, as she had held to him
when he bore her through the fire. He was a man, a
real man. She saw poor Ned, who wasn't one. She
saw Mary. But Mary had no child. Poor Mary and
poor Annawillee!
The door opened and Chihuahua came in with a
"You dam' thief, you open um and dlink," said
Annie furiously.    Chihuahua laughed.
" Hey, hermosa Annie, why you tink I no do dat ? "
He was half drunk already.    He saw Jenny.
I Hallo, Jenny, peretty Jenny! Peretty womans
make mischief. All for dis Pete burn the Moola, and
we all out of jhob! " 3io    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
That was true enough, and Jenny knew it But
Chihuahua was a beast He came over to her and
put his arm about her waist and hugged her.
"I love you, peretty," he whispered; "if de boss
no come back, I kick .Annawillee out and have you
for klootchman!"
It was as if he had struck her down and dragged
her in the mud She turned cold with horror. Oh,
if George didn't come back what would she do: what
would she do ?
"I love you, peretty Jenny!" said the hot breath
of the beast And Annawillee mourned upon the
floor, but heard not   Annie took a drink.
" Now, toketie, my own tenas Jenny, you have
dlink," said .Annie. She spoke in Chinook, .and Jenny
answered in it It was the first time she had used
the Jargon since she went to George.
" Nika halo tikegh, I no want it" said Jenny.
"You have it, pelton," said Annie "What for,
kahta you so fool ?   Him velly good whisky."
"Take it, Jenny," said the hot breath in her
" I won't" said Jenny. She knew all it meant now.
Again Chihuahua put his arm about her. She
wrenched herself away from him and Annawillee saw
what her man was doing, and scrambled to her feet
" Oh, you dam' man you do dat," she screamed
jealously, forgetting her dead child and its dead
" You s'ut up, dry up," said Chihuahua, " or I keek
you, Annawillee."
He took the bottle from Annie and drank.
" I lov' Jenny, toketie Jenny; Jenny mia hermosa
muchacha, and she lov' me."
He caught at her again, and Annawillee came at
him with her claws. He knocked her down, and she
lay where she fell.    Annie screamed at him.
" You no do dat, Chihuahua. You leave Jenny
alone, man. When Shautch Quin come back he keel
Chihuahua grinned.
" He no come back no more. Pete fix him on the
river, I sure of dat, Annie. Jenny she be my klootchman, eh, Jenny!"
Jenny was as white as death. She had lived for
more than a year with George and this was hell for
her. And if George didn't come back! Chihuahua
came staggering to her. She caught the empty
bottle by the neck and stared at him with blazing
eyes.    He stopped.
" You peretty devil," said Chihuahua. " I lik' kees
you all same, Jenny." 312    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST
" I'll keel you," she whispered. There was murder
in her eyes, and drunk as he was he knew it. And
Annie had picked up a burnt bar of iron that served
her as a poker.    Chihuahua quailed before them.
" I on'y jhoke," he said. " My klootchman she
Annawillee, very good woman, Annawillee. You
geeve me one mo' dolla I get mo' whisky, Annie."
But all Annie had to give him was the iron bar.
" You bad man, you beas', you go! "
And Chihuahua whitened, as he had done more
than once before when Annie got mad. He went
out like a lamb, and Jenny sat down on the bed, and
sobbed for the first time as if her heart would break.
And the fire still burnt, but without great flames.
Some of the crowd went home. It was past two
o'clock and soon would be dawn.
I You no tak' my man, Jenny ?" moaned Annawillee.
" No, no, no," said Jenny.
" Chihuahua him a beas' to me," said Annawillee.
" I hat' heem, but I hav' no other man now and I no
more a pretty klootchman. What I do if he tak'
other klootchman ? "
" I rather die, Annawillee," said Jenny.
" Him no so velly bad," said Annawillee, " but easy
for young and toketie gal lik' you fin' nodder man."
She murmured, snuffling, a song that the Siwash
women often sing:
" Kultus kopet nika,
Spose mika mahsh nika,
Hyu tenas men koolie kopa town,
.Alkie wekt nika iskum,
Wake kul kopa nika.''
" Tis naught to me,
If you act so,
For I can see,
Young men who go
About the town, and when I can
I soon will take another man.''
" You soon fin' a man, you," said Annawillee. " All
men say you toketie. S'pose Shautch Quin mima-
loose any man tak' you, Jenny."
" Dat so," said Annie soothingly. " I fin' you
Shautch, Jenny, and I queek fin' other one, my pretty
And Jenny's heart was cold within her. For her
child's sake perhaps	
And then there came a knock at the door, and her
heart leapt again like a babe. Annie opened the door,
and outside stood Sam.
" My Missus here, oh, where my Missus ? " he cried
dolorously.    " My loosee my Missus in the clowd! "
Jenny cried out to him.
" Oh, Sam, Sam! " 314    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
He had always been good and kind and was clean
and bright.
" Oh, Missus here, my heap glad, Missus. What
for Missus stay inside house like t'is, no good for
Missus, no clean, bah!"
She cried out for George, and Sam shook his head
" Boss no come back, Missus, Moola-man say Boss
low boat in liver, looksee t'at tief makee fy in Moola
and house. Bymby boss catchee. You come,
But Annie had no mind to let her go.
" Dam' Shinaman, klatawa, you go. Jenny she
stay wit' Annie."
She stood in the doorway, and Jenny was behind
her. Annawillee went on with her song. "Soon
Jenny get another man.    That easy for Jenny! "
" Oh, where I go, Sam?"
" My tinkee you go Wong's, Missus. Him velly
good man, house heap dean."
" She no go dam' Shinaman," roared Annie.
" I will go," said Jenny.
But Annie slammed the door in Sam's face. The
boy was furious.
"All light, Missus! .One Moola-man, him Long
Mac,   wantshee   you.    My tellee  Wong  and  him.
Bymby my comee back. Yah, old cow-woman,
He ran to Wong's shack and told the old man he
had found the ' Missus' By the time they came
again to Annie's, Chihuahua and Spanish Joe had
gone there and, being more drunk than ever,
Chihuahua had burst the door in. Joe tackled Annie
and took the iron bar from her. She screamed like
a wild-cat in a trap. Both the men went for Jenny,
who stood in the corner and shrieked for George and
" 'Ole your tongue, peretty one," said handsome Joe.
" I always lov' you; now you be my woman "
Chihuahua trampled over Annie to get to Jenny.
" She mine, Joe, she mine! "
Joe turned on Chihuahua with a very evil smile,
and spoke to him in Spanish.
" I take her, see, Chihuahua! "
Outside, Wong knocked at the door. Perhaps he
was not a very brave man. It is not wise to be very
brave in an alien country, but he owed a good deal to
George Quin and liked him. Sam stood behind him
wringing his hands and crying out, " Missus, Missus! "
Joe had her round the waist. Annawillee screamed
and held to Chihuahua's legs He kicked her hard,
and panted furiously at Joe. 316    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
" You say you help me, Joe! "
"I help myself, you fool," said Joe. Chihuahua
had been a mat for him to wipe his feet on for years.
" I wait for her; now I have her."
Chihuahua kicked Annawillee again and got free.
Annie got up and ran to their end of the room. She
caught Joe by the arm: he sent her headlong and
she fell against the table. It went over and the lamp
fell on the floor. The only light in the room came
from the live embers of the great dead MiU.
And suddenly Jenny felt Joe loose her. He made
an awful sound, which was not a cry, and something
hot and warm gushed upon her bosom. She saw him
stagger, saw his arms go up in the air, and heard a
growl from Chihuahua.
" Fool," said the Mexican. He had sliced Joe's
throat right open and cut his voice and his cry
asunder. The Castilian reeled again and fell, and
then the door was burst open. Long Mac stood in
the opening.
"Jenny, my girl," he cried. But Jenny did not
answer. She lay insensible on the bed: she was dyed
crimson.    Her child screamed, but she heard nothing.
" Long Mac! " said Chihuahua. He feared him
always, and now feared all men.
I Jenny here," he said in a quavering voice.   .And
e$^s m
Mac strode in. He stepped across Joe and found
Jenny and her child. He took them in his arms,
though he ached dreadfully in his set shoulder, and
carried them out.
" Missus, oh, Missus," said Sam. Chihuahua crept
out after them and then ran into the shadows, casting
away his stained knife. Annawillee had lost her man,
and the police found him the next day. A poor fool
of a white woman in the City shrieked about the dead
Castilian.    No one but that poor fool was sorry. 3i8
MAC carried Jenny into Wong's shack, and laid her
on the bed. Though the house smelt of China and of
opium it was clean as fresh sawdust They washed
the blood from her and the child, while Sam cried,
fearing she was hurt And she came back to con-
sdousness.    Mac was very solemn.
" Where the boss, you tink ? " asked Wong.
The men who had followed George Quin down the
river were home again by now. They brought back
with them the empty boat
"I reckon he's dead," answered Mac Sam cried,
for he was ' heap solly.' Quin had been a good boss
to him and there are many Chinamen who understand
that after aU, whatever we may say about them.
"Oh, the Missus, the Missus," said Sam. He sat
down and sobbed. Jenny opened her eyes and saw
old Wong, with a milHon wrinkles on his kindly face,
inscrutable in every feature. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.    319
" Tchorch," she murmured. The tears came to
Mac's eyes, though he was hard to move and knew
much of the bitterness of life.
Wong's face was like that of some carved god who
sits in the peace which is undisturbed by human
prayer. And yet his hands were kind and his voice
gentle.    He murmured to himself in his own tongue.
"Where is Tchorch?" asked Jenny. Now she
saw Long Mac, whom Quin trusted. She appealed to
the strong man.
" He has not returned, ma'am," said Mac. She was
no longer a little Siwash klootchman to him, but a
bereaved woman.
She looked at him long and steadfastly, and read
his face. She was an Indian, after all, and could
endure much.
" My baby," she said. Sam had the boy. He gave
it her. She murmured something to the fatherless,
and lay back with him in her arms. She motioned to
Mac and he came nearer.
"Is Tchorch dead, Mister Maclan? J
She could not speak his name.
" I'm afraid so, ma'am," he answered.
" Have they found him ? "
I Only the empty boat."
Then no one spoke.    She turned her head away. 320    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
Outside the dawn came up and looked down on ashes.
In the distance they heard .Annawillee mourning.
She sat in the road with dust upon her head, like an
Indian widow.
"I loved Tchorch," said Jenny. Then she rose in
the bed and shrieked awfully.
" I want Tchorch, I want Tchorch! "
She was like steel under the powerful hands of the
man who sat by her.
" Oh, ma'am," said Mac. He said—" I've lost
The tears ran down his face. Sam was like a reed
shaken by the wind. Old Wong stood by the window
and stared across the river, now open to the view,
since the Mill was gone.
"My poor girl!"
She held his hand now as if it was life itself. And
yet it might have been as if he were Death.
" He was so good," she said.
It wasn't what many would have said. But Mac
understood: for he had lost many, and some said that
he, too, was a hard man.
She lay back again. Wong stiU stood by the
window without moving. He, too, had lost one he
loved; she, who was to have brought him children
who would have honoured his ashes and his ancestral THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     321
spirit, was dead in child-birth far away across the
long, long paths of ocean.
But now he looked across the river as the dawn
shone upon its silver flood. Perhaps he looked at
something. It seemed so to Sam, who rose and went
to him. The old man spoke to him very quietly.
They both went outside.
" Tchorch is dead," said Jenny.
But Tchorch was not dead. Something spoke of
hope to Mac, something he didn't understand.
Perhaps the wise old Wong could have explained it.
He and Sam stood by the wharf and looked across
the river to the further bank. His eyes were strong,
they were the eyes of an old man who can see far.
Now he saw something on the other bank, something
moving in the half darkness of the dawn. As the day
grew, even Sam saw that a man came stumbling along
the bank of the shore.    Who was it ?
" Oh, even yet he may not be dead, Jenny," said
Mac. It was as if some dawn grew in him because
the dawn grew in the East: some hope within him
because there was hope in the heart of a poor serving
boy and a wise old man.    She dutched his hand.
" Tchorch was very strong," she said.
And Sam came walking to the door.
" Wong wantchee see you, Sir," he said.    He came
in without raising his eyes. Mac pressed Jenny's
hand and went out.
" Oh, Missus," said Sam.
His heart was full.
Though the river was wide the day was now
bright. A strong man's voice might reach across it
in a windless time. But strong men may be weak, if
they have struggled.
Wong stood still as Mac came up to him. Though
he could see so well he was a little deaf.
" What is it, Wong ?" asked Mac. Even as he
spoke it seemed to him that he heard a faint far-off
"My tinkee t'at Mista Quin," said Wong as he
pointed across the river. He spoke as quietly as if
he had said that he thought he could see the rosy
cone of Mount Baker shining in the rising sun.
" You think—oh, hell! " said Mac.
He smote Wong on the shoulder and the old man
turned to him. There was something like a smile
upon his face at last.
" T'at the boss fo' su'," he said; " my can see."
Mac ran a little way up-stream, past the burnt
wharves, and came to one where there was a boat
He thrust it down the shore into the water and forgot his aching shoulder, bad as it was. THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
"Oh, poor Jenny, poor Jenny!" he said. He
heard the call again.
' That's Quin's call. By the Holy Mackinaw that's
him," said Mac Now that he knew, the ache came
back to him. He pulled in one oar and sculled the
boat from the stern with the other.
And George Quin sat down on the edge of the
water and waited.
" If he says ' How's Jenny ?' first of all, I'll reckon
he's worth the little klootchman," said Mac. He saw
Quin rise up and stand waiting. He was torn to
rags and still soaking, but his face was strong and
" That you, Quin ? " asked Mac.
" That's me," said Quin.    Then he spoke aright.
" How's Jenny, old man ? "
" All hunkey," said Mac. " But we tho't you was
"Pete is," said Quin. He climbed into the boat
stiffly. His wound smarted bitterly, but he said
nothing of it
" You must have had a close call, Quin."
"Tol'rable,"    said    Quin.      "Where's   the    litde
woman <
" Old Wong's lookin' after her.    'Twas him spotted
you over here." 324    THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.
" Wong's all right," said Quin. " 'Tis a clean sweep
of the old Moola, Mac."
"That's what," said Mac. They came to the
shore. When they were both on dry land Mac held
out his hand.
" Shake," he said.
They ' shook,' and walked up to the road.
"You and the little gal kin hev my house till
you've time to look araound," said Mac. " It's not
dandy, but I reckon you can make out in it."
Quin nodded.
" Right," he said. He stood still for a minute
and looked at the open space where the Mill had
■ You and me and the boys will build the old Moola
up again, Mac," said Quin.
" Oh, I reckon," said Mac.
And Quin went across the road to Shack-Town
and came to Wong's. The old man saluted him
" You're all right," said Quin. What more could
any man say ?
He heard a cry inside the shack, and Sam came
out with the papoose in his arms.
"Oh, Mista Quin, my heap glad you not dead, my
heap glad!" THE PREY OF THE STRONGEST.     325
"You damn fool," said Quin with a smile. He
went in and found Jenny.
" Tchorch! " she said.
" Jenny, my girl!-"
He held her in his arms and she laid her head upon
his heart.
" Tchorch! " she murmured.
" Oh, but you've had a time," said George.
" I jhoost want Tchorch," said Jenny.
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