Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
Duke University Libraries
Attraction of the Compass
A Romance of the
North, Based Upon
Fadts of a Personal
By £ DODGE
Dovk & Courtney
Long Beach, Cal.
BY E. DODGE
To all who are interested in this narrative of
my trip to the "Garden of Lden" I respectfully
dedicate this book.
I. On the Trail Above Skagway . . 11
II. Storm on the Lake 35
III. Landing in Dawson City, Y. T. . 43
IV. Three Months in a Gambling House . 57
V. Sworn by the Dictionary .... 73
VI. "Patent Plaster" 83
VII. Starting for Nome 95
VIII. Lost in the Yukon Flats 103
IX. The Mysterious Smoke . . . . Ill
X. On the Banks of the River . . .119
XL The Iron Mountain 131
XII. Northern Lights 143
XIII. On a Frozen Lake 151
XIV. Encounter with a Wolverine . . .161
XV. The Great Glacier 167
XVI. The Fatal Crevice 175
XVII. Crossing the Glacier 183
XVIII. The Trail of the Wolves 193
XIX. Reality of a Dream 201
XX. By the Light of the Lake . . 21 1
XXI. Entering a New Found Country 221
XXII. The City of Tyron 229
XXIII. The Chief 245
XXIV. Marriage Laws 259
XXV. The Lost Love 265
XXVI. Woman's Scorn 273
XXVII. Reading of the Parchment .... 283
XXVIII. The Wedding 291
XXIX. Leaving the Country 303
Attraction of the Compass
ON THE TRAIL ABOVE SKAGWAY
"Hey there, move on ! move on ! What's the trou-
ble ahead there? Do we have to stay here all
night?" This remark could be heard passing along
the line of people who were struggling their way
toward the summit, on the trail above Skagway.
Dogteams and horses, but for the most part peo-
ple pulling their own sleds, could be seen in a solid
line for two and a half miles, reminding one of a
parade — or perhaps of a funeral, for there was many
a groan, sigh and heartache on the Skagway trail in
the year 1897.
Every now and then a delay occurred, as a
sled upset or left the trail, or perhaps a horse died
from exertion, or someone was taken ill and had
to turn back. Possibly a horse fell over the cliff,
12 Attraction of the Compass
taking the sled with him. ''Dead Horse Canyon"
received its name from the fact that so many horses
died on the trail at this point. All of these things
caused blockades and delays.
Wet with sweat from pushing the load and driv-
ing my little dog-team up the steep trail, I sat there
on my sled waiting for the crowd to move on, for
there was no way of passing the other sleds with-
out wading into the deep snow and pulling my load,
which would have been impossible. A beautiful lit-
tle Scandinavian girl was wedging her way past me,
when suddenly her foot slipped, and she started
over the cliff. Grabbing hold of the rope which
lashed my load on the sled, I reached over with the
other hand and caught her, and pulled her back.
Of course the fall would not have hurt her much,
but at the foot of this cliff was a twenty-foot snow-
drift, in which she would have suffocated had she
In a joking way I said to her, "Where are you
going, my pretty maid ? Are you traveling or going
somewhere, or just coming back?" She replied, "I
tank I go to Dawson. I not know, but I tank so."
"If you had gone over that cliff, I don't tank you
would have gone any farther," I answered.
On the Trail Above Skagway 13
Just then we could hear the cry going up the line,
"Move on, move on ; night is coming and we'll have
to stay here over night without shelter" ; and sure
enough, a balky horse on ahead caused us to spend
the night on the trail. I stretched a tarpaulin that
I had between my sled and the one ahead of me,
which formed a little tent ; this was repeated by
others on up the line. We were in for the night.
It would not do to move on after dark, for at night
a snow-covered canyon looks like a prairie, and you
cannot keep the trail, and would not know what
minute you might get into the deep snow, or fall
over some cliff ; for it all looks white and level.
The little Scandinavian girl did not seem to have
any friends or anyone with her, so I invited her to
share with me, and my two dogs, the little shelter
which my tarpaulin afforded ; but it was very little
shelter, for through the White Pass Canyon the
wind has no mercy for any living thing, and that
night many a horse in the line perished ; and over
our heads we could hear the Russian raven screech-
ing with cold as he sought for shelter. But we sat
there huddled together, for to lie down meant to
perish with the cold and wind. If anyone has ever
gone through the White Pass Canyon above Skag-
14 Attraction of the Compass
way on foot, he will never forget the experience.
I kept up a constant conversation with the little
girl nearly all night, to keep her from falling asleep ;
for I could hear the groans of dogs and men in the
line and did not know what next might befall us.
During the night she told me a pitiful story of
how she had started for Alaska from Chicago in
search of her two brothers, who had gone there the
year before with the first big gold rush. They had
written her to come on and they would meet her in
Skagway, the first point reached in Alaska, as you
travel towards the Yukon Territory, perhaps known
to you, reader, as "Klondike." After waiting there
many weeks, during which time she had used what
little money she had, she decided to hit the trail, with
the rest of the crowd, for Dawson. She had few
supplies, but was blessed with a strong constitution,
a sweet, winning smile, and a wonderful determina-
She explained to me that her brothers were good,
honest men and were always anxious to do for her
as brothers should, but when liquor was placed in
their path their ways of honor and honesty were
The girl's story of her sorrows was a sad one,
On the Trail Above Skagway 15
and the night passed more quickly in conversation
with her, as she was very interesting, although she
could not speak English plainly. Towards morning
we fell asleep, in spite of the cold and discomfort.
Dawn came at last, and there was a stir all up
and down the line, men swearing and dogs barking.
Camp fires were started as far ahead as we could
see, but breakfast was a slow process, as snow had
to be melted for water, and one thing cooked at a
time. The girl and I did not light a fire, as there
happened to be no birch bark or wood near us, and
the snow was too deep at this point to leave the
beaten trail, so we made our breakfast of hardtack
and frozen chipped beef.
About half past nine the line moved on, perhaps
for a quarter of a mile, when suddenly one of the
horses ahead turned completely around in his har-
ness, and decided to come back. This upset many
sleds, and it was nearly twelve o'clock before we got
started again. After that there were one or two
short stops, and we reached White Pass, only to
find every stopping-place and roadhouse full to the
brim. It was impossible to even get into the door
of any place of shelter.
At this time ten thousand people occupied the
16 Attraction of the Compass
town, while today all that remains to mark the spot
are a few old tent frames, with remnants of canvas
flying in the air, giving it a ghost-like appearance
to anyone who had passed through the town in its
Away off at one part of the town I could see a
large tent-house, seemingly unoccupied, so leaving
the dogs to watch our outfit, the girl and I forced
our way through the snow to this tent-house, and
found it fastened up. We broke in the door and it
proved to be an unoccupied gambling house, so I re-
turned for the dogs and outfit.
We made our bunks on the gambling tables,
for the howling wind drifted the snow through
the cracks in the floor, in places, a foot deep.
There was no chance for a fire in this tent,
so we ate supper of frozen food, and although
wrapped up in blankets, with our clothing wet with
sweat, we suffered all night with the cold, and shook
like dogs on a door mat, until our flesh was sore
with shivering. Such are the pleasures of Alaska.
We were glad to get up in the morning and resume
As we started out, we met a packer with whom I
was slightly acquainted, who was to stay over
On the Trail Above Skagway 17
night at White Pass on his way back to Skagway
from the summit. He had an extra horse, which
I asked him to lend me to pull my outfit the re-
maining two and a half miles to Summit Lake, where
there was a road-house called Camp Rescue, with
the agreement that I would return the horse to him
that night ; for my two dogs were exhausted, being
green in the harness, and not natives of Alaska.
The rest of the way to the summit I walked
ahead and led the horse on the narrow trail, and
the girl kept the sled from upsetting by holding
the handles, which were on the back of the sled, like
She was always cheerful, although her breath had
frozen into icicles on her blonde hair, which clung
around her face, and now and then when she put
her shoulder against the load on the sled to steady
it, I realized what a helpmate a woman could be
after all, and only wished she were mine.
In this manner we struggled up the trail, until
we reached Camp Rescue about half past four in
the afternoon ; but when I had a look at the place,
I wanted to change the name to Camp Devil, for
every man there seemed to be drunk. It was a tent,
about 40x60 feet in size, in the middle of Summit
18 Attraction of the Compass
Lake, on the ice, and in it there were bunks, cook-
stove, long table and a bar ; dogs so thick under
foot one could hardly step ; men swearing, smoking,
and drinking, all in one room — but it was this or
nothing, so we ventured in, and were served with a
good hot meal, the first warm food we had tasted
for two days.
The bunks in this road-house were made of can-
vas stretched across poles, one tier above another.
I selected one of these for the girl, as far away from
the drinking crowd as possible.
"Now, little girl," I said, "I must return with the
horse, and will have to leave you here with this
"I tank I be all right, for when I come in they
don't swear no more," to which I replied, "Well, I
will come back tonight. You can depend upon it."
Just then a man stuck his head in the door, shout-
ing, "Who in h does this horse belong to? Are
you going to let him stand out here and freeze to
"No, sir," I said, "I'm going to return down the
trail to White Pass with him tonight."
"Then you'll stay down there tonight, will you?"
On the Trail Above Skagway 19
"No, I will come back."
"You may think you will, but you'll never get
back here again tonight, for tonight it will be thirty
below zero, and dark as a dungeon, and you'll do
well to make White Pass before dark, without try-
ing to get back here."
These last words I could hear in the distance, for
I had already hit the loose horse a cut, which
started him at a gallop down the trail towards
White Pass, I following close at his heels.
On my way down the trail, I met one or two men
who advised me not to undertake the trip so late,
for I would not be able to find my way back that
night ; but I was as good as my word. I had
promised to return the horse that night, so I hur-
ried on down the trail to White Pass, which was
easy. Finding the man, I returned his horse, and
told him I had to get back to Camp Rescue that
"You can't make it," said he. "You can't make it,
for it is so dark already that you cannot see the
trail, and you will surely get lost."
I told him that I must return, and return I would,
at the risk of my life, so to help me, he lit a lan-
tern and gave it to me. I had gone only a short
20 Attraction of the Compass
way when the lantern went out.
It seemed impossible to light it again, for the
wind was blowing a gale, so I threw it aside and
started on, as I thought that I must get back. I
had left my new-found charge in a den of drunk-
ards, and at their mercy, with no one to protect
her ; and I could see them insulting her, pulling
her out of her bunk, and forcing her to drink ; and
with this picture before me, I was bound to reach
the camp that night.
I had gone only a short distance when I found
myself in three or four feet of snow, and then
realized that I was off the trail. Looking around
me, I found that all was white and level, resembling
a prairie covered with snow. Seemingly, there was
no up hill, down hill, or trail. I could not tell
which was forward or backward ; in what direction
I had come ; or in what direction I should go.
A little distance from me, I saw a scrubby tree
that I thought I remembered passing on my trip
that day, and in attempting to reach it, I continued
to struggle through deep snow, without finding any
trail. But I soon found that I was going up hill,
and then remembered that the beaten trail was be-
low this tree, so started down hill again. A little
On the Trail Above Skagway 21
further on, the snow slipped under my feet and I
slid over the edge of a rock and fell about fifteen
feet, landing on one knee, Fairly screaming with
pain, I undertook to get up, but could not stand
on my right leg, so sat down and felt around me.
I found that by this accident I had landed on the
hard trail again, but was now crippled so badly
I could not stand, and there seemed nothing left
for me but to freeze to death on the trail, as many
had done before me.
I never did have courage to die, although I had
courage to do most any other thing, so I started
out on this trail, crawling on my hands and one
knee, dragging the other leg, and feeling along care-
fully for the trail.
Presently I could shove my hands into loose
snow all around me, yet a moment before there
was a good trail. This puzzled me, but feeling
ahead under the snow, I found it to be a
drift that the wind had blown across the trail. I
was convinced of this, for under the snow I could
still find the prints of the horses' shoes.
So I clambered over the snowdrift, in this crip-
pled condition, and crawled on, stopping now and
then, as the frost-fiend nipped my fingers, to whip
22 Attraction of the Compass
my arms around my body to keep from freezing;.
Once or twice I gave up, thinking it impossible to
reach the summit, but again I thought of the weak-
lings who often died on the trail. Was I one of
them, to give up like this? Must I lie down here
and fail? No, no, not yet, so I blindly groped along
in the dark, despite the wind and cold. Hour after
hour I felt my way along the trail with bare hands,
for I had taken off my mittens, as they were wet
and frozen. I slowly worked along a few feet at a
time, until in the distance I heard a dog barking;
and then I wished that I had brought my leader
dog with me, for he could find a trail day or night.
Suddenly I felt the snow slipping under my
hands and I again fell about twelve feet, and must
have landed on my head, for this time I was stunned
and lay in a stupor for I don't know how long.
When I became conscious, I found myself on a
sled, and the little Scandinavian girl, Minnie, driv-
ing my two dogs toward the summit.
She explained that as my leader dog kept up a
constant barking, she grew worried, and hitched
him up with the other dog and started to find me.
He came straight to me, although she tried to keep
him on the trail, but in spite of her he took the
On the Trail Above Skagway 23
"railroad cut," into which I had fallen.
Dawn was now breaking, and I looked up at her
as she stood on the back of the sled between the
handle bars, cracking the whip in the frosty air
and shouting to the dogs, "Mush on ! mush on !"
"You are surely a friend in need, and I owe my
life to you," I said.
"No, no, not to me," she answered, "but to the
dog, for if I did not come he come alone."
I closed my eyes again, my head being dizzy
from the fall ; and the two faithful dogs, with the
aid of the little girl, soon brought me in front of
Camp Rescue. The leader dog whined and jumped
on me, and licked my face, trying to show me that
he, too, was my friend, for at times he was very
jealous of little Minnie.
I found that anxiety about my little compan-
ion left alone at the road house was unnecessary,
as later on I learned that a woman is safer in Alaska
in the company of a drunken miner, than she
would be left alone with the average so-called gen-
tleman in a city.
After two days' careful nursing, I was able to
go on the trail again, so we headed for Log Cabin,
but my leg was stiff for the rest of that winter.
24 Attraction of the Compass
Being forced to use it constantly, by spring it was
as good as ever. As usual, on the trail before us
and behind us were long strings of teams and peo-
ple, working their way to the gold-strike. We had
not gone more than three miles when there came
another blockade, similar to the one on the summit.
We were forced to stay there until night, but it
was moonlight, and a little distance from us we
could see teams returning on another trail. 1 sug-
gested to Minnie, that as we had no horses, we
might work our way across through the deep snow,
until we reached the other trail.
When we started, one of the horses from a load
ahead broke loose and followed us like a dog,
and seemed to be afraid to leave us. Our load
was heavy, and the tired dogs wanted to stop,
which they did very often, and every time we
stopped the horse stopped also. At last we decided to
hitch him up to the sled, so pushed it to one side
of the trail as far as possible, and by a good deal
of effort got the horse past the sled, then hitched
the rope to the traces. I sat on the front of the
sled and held the traces apart with my feet, to keep
them from rubbing the horse's legs, and I tell you
we made camp fast, for all he needed was a driver.
On the Trail Above Skagway 25
The horse seemed to realize how careful he had
to be, with our little camp sled hitched close to his
heels. Every now and then one of his feet would
go through the beaten trail into the soft snow, and
he would fairly leap into the air, to keep from
floundering. He took us right through to Log
Cabin without a stop.
I did not know whose horse it was, but took it
straight to the stable and reported it just as it
happened, and the owner found him a few days
The next day we heard of the big strike in the
Atlin country, British Columbia. Instead of con-
tinuing our journey to Dawson, I persuaded Minnie
to accompany me to the Atlin country, which was
only a short distance of ninety miles, explaining to
her that we could at least make some money there,
as we were short of funds, and it would be best to
go down the Yukon River in the spring, when we
could go by steamer and pay our fare. She con-
sented, and we made our way from Log Cabin to
Atlin ; but took a new trail called the Toochi, that
came out at what was known as Windy Arm.
When we were half way to Windy Arm, there
came a big snow-storm, compelling us to lay over
26 Attraction of the Compass
until some heavy teams passed that way to break
the trail, for it was impossible for us to pull our
outfit through the soft snow. While there, several
other outfits caught up with us, and Minnie, the
only woman, did the cooking for the crowd, receiv-
ing one dollar for each man she served, for a wo-
man's cooking in that country is more highly
appreciated than any treat that could be offered
a man. We saw a grand opportunity here to ''make
a stake," so pitched our tents, then made a cabin of
logs and brush, and started a road house that was
afterwards nicknamed the "Dodge Inn."
We stayed there three months, buying our pro-
visions from passersby, and feeding the hungry
teamsters, as they worked their way to the big Atlin
strike. We made one kind of soup three times a
day for three months and it was always appre-
ciated, for there was a new man to eat it at each
The trail crossed Lake Toochi, which was a treach-
erous lake, sometimes freezing to the bottom and
overflowing, then freezing a thin layer of ice which
would not support the weight of a man. Often the
stampeders, getting lost from the trail, would break
through and their feet would be frozen before
On the Trail Above Skagway 27
help could arrive.
My leader dog must have been some relation to
the St. Bernards on the Alps, for he would always
set up a bark and howl if anyone was lost on the
lake, just as he did when he found me, stunned
and half frozen, on the summit. Many a night I
was awakened from a sound sleep to work myself
into a heavy sheepskin coat, or perhaps a parka,
hitch up the dogs, and start over the lake in total
darkness, trusting entirely to my leader to hunt up
some freezing man who was crying for help — and he
always found him.
This leader, Stub, as I called him, took delight in
this work, and always seemed to realize what it
meant. Many a frozen-footed man I have brought
into camp in the night, when perhaps my own feet
would be soaking wet, and frost-bitten. I would
bring them in, pack their feet in a box of ice, set
them close to the roaring fire in the Yukon stove,
and give them a big bowl of that famous soup. If
any of you who were there happen to be reading
this story, I wish to tell you that this soup was
made of canned horse. It was worth my life to
tell you at that time.
The temptation of money caused us to remain
28 Attraction of the Compass
on this trail too long, and the warm sunshine ate
holes in the ice, until it was not safe. In Alaska,
they say the "ice-worm is doing its work,'' and
many a newcomer believes it. However, there
really is a snow-flea.
The Chinook winds came early, and the trail on
the lake broke up so quickly that we were forced
to blaze a new trail through the woods, and pack
the outfits on our backs part of the way, but event-
ually we reached Caribou Crossing, a place well-
known to "sour-doughs," or old-timers.
Remember that this was in the days before rail-
roads existed in that country, even before Rackett
took possession of the trail out of Skagway and
made it into a toll-road, even before Porcupine Hill
was used for a trail — about the time that Soapy
Smith was shot in Skagway.
You don't know Soapy Smith? Why, he and
Concertine and Chancy were the originators of the
Order of the National Bird in Skagway; but the
Order of the Arctic Brotherhood, law-abiding citi-
zens, put them to flight by shooting the leader. Soapy
Smith. They buried him outside of the graveyard,
where his remains lie until this day, despite the
thousands and thousands of brother National Birds,
On the Trail Above Skagway 29
who promised to be loyal to the dead. There is a
little square post at his head, and it is always pointed
out to visitors with shame ; for a greater outlaw
was never known in Alaska than the leader of the
Soapy Smith gang; but none of them were ever
permitted to set foot on Canadian soil with the
knowledge of the mounted police, for these outlaws
had as bad a reputation as the Jesse James gang.
One hard day after another passed, and as the
warm summer days came, we at last landed safely
in Atlin. There were thousands of disappointed
and heartbroken people here, some of them with too
much outfit, and some of them with none. I was
never the person to give up when I had started
anywhere, so continued my journey seven miles up
Pine Creek to Discovery, and on my way was
forced to climb a long, steep hill, for at that time
the trail passed this way. At the top of the hill,
exhausted and thirsty — I was never so dry in my
life — I would have given a dollar for one drink of
water ; but there was none to be had anywhere.
There were hundreds of people passing this way,
each one with the same thirst. This gave me an
idea, so I decided to pitch camp again at the top of
this hill, and sell water, or lemonade.
30 Attraction of the Compass
I searched for the nearest watering place, and
found a spring about a quarter of a mile down a
steep hill. Catching a loose, abandoned horse, of
which there were plenty in this country, I made a
harness out of gunny sacks and ropes, and with his
aid, dragged some logs to a favorable spot on top
of this hill. Here I built my road-house, the lower
part being of logs, and the top of canvas. I then
rigged a windlass and tramway to hoist the water
from the spring to the top of the hill, so that it
would not have to be carried, and sold lemonade by
the glass for twenty-five cents, the smallest piece
of money ever used in that country. Like the non-
plussed milkman, when shown a cow and asked
what it was, if you had shown me a lemon at that
time I would not have recognized it, having
used citric acid.
We made money hand over fist that summer,
but pretty soon the country went to smash, when
the Alien Law was passed. The American people
would not appreciate the fact that what was good
for the goose would be good for the gander; and
when the British Columbia law said that an Amer-
ican had to become a Canadian in order to stake
mining property, they objected ; nevertheless, a
On the Trail Above Skagway 31
Canadian has to become an American to stake min-
ing property in the United States. The Americans
would not look at it in this way, and abandoned the
Storm on the Lake
STORM ON THE LAKE.
There being no more lemonade business for us,
we packed our remaining outfit, and Minnie and
I, with others, worked our way from Atlin to Daw-
son on a scow, which was built and owned by an
old sea captain, who had his own ideas about a
scow. He put on a large mast like a sailing vessel,
used the fly of a tent for a sail, and a rudder like
a canal boat, and after it was finished it looked
like a Chinese junk. The sail was made fast to
the sides of the scow with two blocks and tackles
at the lower corners. We sure could go some when
we had a fair wind, and the jolly old tar, with a
row of whiskers under his chin, stood at the rud-
der. We had another smaller scow hitched on be-
hind, towing it; and we sailed calmly across the
Atlin lake and floated through Atlin River into
Part way across Lake Bennett, we came to the
36 Attraction of the Compass
outlet of the lake, where it empties into Lake
Le Barge. We had no more than entered this lake
when a strong breeze sprang up, off shore, and the
old captain, with his grizzled face beaming, ex-
claimed : "Ah, lads, there's a fair breeze off shore,
and we'll make the thirty miles across this lake in
three shakes of a lamb's tail."
Of course none of us knew anything about this
lake, but we had our bearings. As we got out to-
ward the center, the wind blew harder and harder,
and riding ahead of the wind, reminded me of a
whaling vessel, when the crew would "split the
sheet." This is a term used by sailors when a sail
is thrown both ways, a very dangerous thing to do,
and only undertaken by expert sailors on cod-fish-
ing and whaling vessels.
Our big, square sail was as large as the scow, and
it creaked and groaned as the wind, in its fury,
fairly split the water and sent the spray dashing
over the sides of the scow.
Soon the wind became so strong that the old cap-
tain shouted, "Lower the sail !" but it was too late.
He had no more than said this when the ropes hold-
ing the sail to the scow on either side broke, and
the sail went into the air, and beat and whipped
Storm on the Lake 37
like a great flag, or sheet, over our heads.
I will never forget that beating sound, as the old
captain, for the third time cried out, "Lower that
sail !" but try as we might, it would not come down.
"Then go aloft and lower it !" he screamed.
So I scaled the mast in that terrible wind, and by
cutting one of the ropes, lowered the cross-arm and
sail with my weight. There was such a strain on
the sail, as it beat in the air, that even with my
weight the rings slipped but slowly down the mast,
and when my feet touched the deck again, I could
not stand from exhaustion. The force of the wind
was so great that it blew our scow the rest of the
way across the lake without a sail, and landed us
high and dry on the beach.
After two days' hard work, we succeeded in
launching it again, and entered the Yukon River.
We floated easily along until we reached Miles
Canyon, shot the dangerous White Horse Rapids,
and dashed our way through Five Fingers, all well
known places along the Yukon River.
So in the year 1898 we landed in Dawson City,
Yukon Territory, commonly called ''Klondike," an
Indian word meaning "rich find," and used by the
Indians of that country in the same manner as the
38 Attraction of the Compass
word "Eureka" was used by Christopher Columbus,
upon his landing in America.
An Indian always exclaims "Klondike" over any
new-found treasure, whether it be gold, moccasins
he may have lost, or a new sweetheart he had found.
Use being the law of language, "Klondike" was
eventually adopted to name the district of which
Dawson is the center, covering a space of only a
few miles. It is known to the people there as the
Yukon Territory, down to Forty Mile (which is the
dividing line between Alaska, which belongs to the
United States, and the Yukon Territory, which
belongs to Canada.
Landing in Dawson City, Y. T.
LANDING IN DAWSON CITY, YUKON TERRITORY.
Yes, we landed in Dawson, cold, wet, and hun-
gry, after floating down the Yukon River from
Atlin. It was in the fall of the year, and our scow
was one of the last down the river, and we daily
expected it to be frozen in, before we could reach
My complete outfit consisted of a sled and two
hundred pounds of provisions, my blankets and
three dogs ; for while stranded for several days on
the sand bar of an island in the Yukon River, we
had adopted a poor, starved dog, which had been
abandoned the winter before, or had strayed from
Upon landing in Dawson I had but two dollars
and a big responsibility. In those days two dollars
would not go far, for I have known of fresh pota-
toes selling for one dollar apiece, and other things
44 Attraction of the Compass
Just about dark, I met a man whom I had known
slightly in Skagway, Alaska, and he showed me an
empty log cabin, in which he said we might bunk,
until a more suitable place was found. At that time
I did not explain that the girl with me was not
my wife, and it would have made but little differ-
ence anyway, as very few couples in that country
were married. They would simply pick up a com-
panion and go on seeking a fortune, trying to stick
strictly to their own business. So, through the slush
and snow, we, pulling our outfits, followed our
When we reached the cabin and opened the door,
to our surprise, there were other occupants ; a young
Jew from New York, and a tall Englishman, com-
monly known as the "remittance man," usually an
undesirable citizen in that country. His allowance
from England had been suddenly cut off. His rela-
tives had sent him to Dawson to try and make a
fortune, or a living, or to get rid of him, it made
but little difference which.
We were about to withdraw, when the English-
man exclaimed, "Say, old chap, what's your hurry?
We have no more bloomin' right here than you, don-
cherknow. The blasted Irish landlord has gone
Landing in Dawson City, Y. T. 45
down the river, and, bah Jove, we've taken posses-
sion of the bally place. We're mighty glad to have
you stay, as it is beastly lonesome, doncherknow.
There's room for all of us," and sure enough there
was. With one bunk above another, made of poles
and covered with a thick layer of native moss, we
could spread out our blankets, and each one have a
The Yukon stove near the door kept the cabin
comfortably warm, but now and then a gust of wind
would sift the snow through a crack in the door.
The cabin had a sod roof and a dirt floor, with
the only window covered with a flour-sack. But
in spite of all this, I was never so happy in my life,
and with the Indians, I could say "Klondike" over
my new-found home. As I sat there on a box and
looked into the pretty blue eyes of little Minnie,
how I wished she were mine.
The next morning, bright and early, I was awak-
ened by Stub, the same dog who found me on the
summit, licking my face to see if I were alive; for
I was sleeping heavily. Realizing that a great
deal depended upon me, I arose, and as I did so,
the Jew crawled out of his bunk, and suggested, "If
you'll furnish the grub, I'll get breakfast for the
46 Attraction of the Compass
crowd," to which I consented.
There was a heavy fall of snow that night, and
we were not able to get any wood, as the remit-
tance man always put off until tomorrow what he
should have done today, and did not take the
trouble to gather any wood to get breakfast with.
So we hewed off some of the inside logs of the
cabin, soon had a roaring fire, a can of boiling
water, and with our evaporated potatoes soaked and
ready to fry, in less than half an hour we had a
good breakfast of fried potatoes and bacon, black
coffee and sourdough pancakes.
While we were eating our breakfast, the remit-
tance man informed us that he had been in and
around Dawson for over two months, and that all
the gold-bearing ground had been located and
staked. He continued : "The only opportunity for
a man in this blasted country at present, is to get
into some kind of business, or go to work at some
beastly job for wages, doncherknow, although there
is a jolly big gold strike at Nome, and you know,
I have chanced to meet an old miner, who has
plenty of gold and wants to make the trip in the
spring. Blow me if he isn't willing to furnish the
supplies for any parties who will go with him on
Landing in Dawson City, Y. T. 47
his grub-stake. So a capital plan is to find some-
thing to do until spring, and if all reports are true,
with the old duffer, Donovan I believe is his name,
we will follow the ice down the Yukon River to
Nome in the spring, doncherknow, and blast me if
I can't see a fortune ahead of us. It is easy, like
'getting money from home'."
The Englishman was a good talker, and soon
convinced us "Chee-cha-kos," or greenhorns, that
this was the proper thing to do; but Minnie, with
her sweet smile, said, "I tank I not go. I stay here
— I find my brudders, I not know, but I tank so.'
She then related her story to the Englishman
and Nathason, the Jew, whom we afterwards
called "Ike," for people in that country were not
known by their surnames, but by some peculiarity
of their clothing, or looks, dialect or nationality,
such as the "Evaporated Kid," "Nigger Jim," "Big
Aleck," "Crazy Charley," "Green Swede," "Curly
Munroe," "Gypsy Queen," etc.
The Englishman asked Minnie to describe her
brothers, which she did, and he exclaimed :
"Bah Jove, little girl, I know them, or did know
them. One of them has gone down the river to
Nome. They called him the "Big Swede." The
48 Attraction of the Compass
other chap, the "Little Swede," — it is deucedly
awkward, doncherknow, to repeat what your brother
told me — was frozen to death in an alley back of
Tom Chisholm's saloon and gambling house. He
wandered out of the back door unnoticed by the
bloomin' booster of the saloon, and met his death.
It was a beastly cold night, so I heard, and upon my
word it usually takes only about twenty minutes for
a drunken man to freeze to death in this country,
''Why," said I, "I always understood that whis-
key kept out the cold." I was trying to get up a
discussion, or conversation, to take little Minnie's
mind off the sorrow and grief which this knowledge
might bring her.
The Englishman answered by saying, "Bah Jove,
whiskey makes you think the cold is not there, but
my word, Jack Frost is getting in his work more
These remarks were apparently unnecessary, for
Minnie sadly smiled and said, in her broken way,
that perhaps it was best, for poor Augustus had
had a hard time in life, caused from a craving for
alcohol. Then she related some of the suffering
he had brought upon himself.
Landing in Dawson City, Y. T. 49
Upon opening the cabin door after breakfast, we
found the snow to be as high as the top of the door.
However, a tunnel was soon dug through the drift
of snow to the main trail ; and the Englishman went
to find the miner who proposed to grub-stake a
party to go down the river to the beach diggings
at Nome, in the spring.
Realizing that I had to get some money and get it
quickly, because the few supplies I had would soon
give out, I started to look for work. The Jew vol-
unteered to get some wood, of which we were
very much in need, and Minnie thought she would
try to make the cabin look more like home, which
she surely did.
Now, Dawson differed from any city in which
I had ever lived. There is no need of describing it,
for this has already been done by better writers than
myself, although perhaps I spent more time in that
country than they, and had more knowledge of real
hardships and mining life, but my descriptive abil-
ity is not equal to theirs, so I can simply wander on,
and tell plain facts of my personal experience, as
an honest, rough miner would do.
I was not a man who was used to going to
saloons or gambling houses. As I had often said, I
50 Attraction of the Compass
never visited churches or saloons, never prayed or
swore, but always did everything I could for the
benefit and welfare of my fellow-men ; and the good
I did was for the good it would do, not for the
sake of a reward, either here or hereafter.
As I had never drank or gambled, it seemed to
me very queer to come in contact with this class
of people ; but everybody in Dawson, except the
respectable women, who were few, visited the
saloons. Even Minister Pringle preached his occa-
sional Sunday sermon in a saloon. He covered the
bottles and glasses with a sheet, then used the bar
for a pulpit. It was against the law to sell liquor
on Sunday, and a saloon could be converted into
a church on that day without inconveniencing the
saloon-keeper. So, finding it was not uncommon
to visit such places, I, too, wandered into a big
saloon and gambling house, of which there were
plenty in those days.
This was a well-lighted room, about one hun-
dred feet long, and forty feet wide, with gambling
tables of many kinds down each wall ; and a
big wood stove, made from a fifty gallon coal-oil
tank, in the middle of the room, with a bar close
to the door on the left-hand side, as you entered
Landing in Dawson City, Y. T. 51
the saloon. A pile of four-foot wood, back of the
big stove, furnished a seat for some of the half-
Up in one corner, a long, lanky fellow played an
old-fashioned dance tune on a piano that sounded
more like a dulcimer than a piano ; nevertheless, his
music had sufficient hum-drum to keep the miners
in the place.
I visited several saloons, but did not see an op-
portunity to make any money around such places,
so went up a side street, where I found a tin-shop.
"Hello, boss," I said, upon entering, "can you
give me a job?"
"Are you a tinner?" he asked.
"Ye-es," I rather hesitatingly replied, for I real-
ized that if I should say no, I would not get a
chance, and trusted that he would put me at some
work I could do, for at one time I had worked at
the trade, although I had never finished it.
"Well, there is an idle bench, and you can go to
work making Yukon stoves and galvanized iron
buckets. The patterns are hanging up over there,
and your wages will be ten dollars a day."
Fortunately for me this was the class of work
I had done before, but as for the wages, it seemed
52 Attraction of the Compass
too good to be true — too much money. The last
time I had worked at the tinning trade, I earned
two dollars and fifty cents a day, and thought I
was doing well ; but ten dollars looked like a small
fortune to me, in my condition, so I went to work.
That night I went to the boss and told him I was
out of money, and asked if he would pay me for
my one day's work, which he did, on the promise
that I would return to work the next morning. I
did this partly to be sure I was not mistaken in the
amount I was to receive, but afterwards I found
that ten dollars was a mechanic's wage in that
I worked for this man about six weeks, during
which time Minnie cooked for the Englishman, Ike
the Jew, and me ; and a better little housekeeper I
never met. Our every want and need was attended
to. She provided a good meal out of almost noth-
ing, and kept out clothes washed and mended. She
entertained us by singing Swedish songs, although
most of my evenings were devoted to teaching her
to speak English, which she grasped readily, and it
was indeed one of the greatest pleasures of my life
to be able to give this help to one who was becom-
ing so dear to me. As I watched her lips repeating
Landing in Dawson City, Y. T. 53
the words I taught her, I only wished I could teach
her to love me as easily.
I had brought a large phonograph and a great
many records with me, and occasionally would give
the miners in our neighborhood a concert, which
helped them to pass the long winter evenings. When
I would get through with my work, and my
acquaintances would ask me to join them to take
in the town, I would always refuse, telling them
that I had a sweet little girl waiting for me, and
that they could not appreciate the pleasure and hap-
piness connected with knowing that a congenial and
adorable sweetheart was keeping a good supper
warm, while watching and listening each moment
for my coming.
They would laugh at me in a way ; but down deep
in their hearts, they surely recognized some of the
happiness that I enjoyed.
Three Months in a Gambling House
THREE MONTHS IN A GAMBLING HOUSE.
One evening, as we were all gathered around
the Yukon stove in our cabin, I said to the remit-
tance man, "What might your name be? I've
heard men call you 'Bill.' "
"My name might be Claude LaMotte," he
answered, "had it not been for a blasted miner for
whom I was pulling a sled on the trail. You see,
it was like this : It was a bloomin' hard trail, and
we had a heavy load to pull. In fact, we were
moving by hand, as we had no dogs. Blow me if
I wasn't hitched up to the sled pulling, and my pal,
you see, had hold of the handles steering and keep-
ing the sled on the trail, which was a deucedly hard
thing to do, doncherknow. It tired the patience
of my pal, until finally he shouted at me, 'Say,' says
he, 'what on arth be your name?'
"I, myself, was not in the best of humor, so
turned around in my harness and looked the
58 Attraction of the Compass
bloomin' buggar square in the face, and answered,
'My name is Claude LaMotte, if you please.' Blow
me if the drotted buggar didn't answer, 'That's too
nice a name for a horse, so I'll call you Bill; and
Bill, for God's sake stay in the middle of the trail.'
From that time on he called me 'Bill' ; so Bill it is,
and what's the bloomin' odds so you're 'appy?"
The next day was Saturday, and Bill suggested
to me, "I say, old chap, let's take in the town while
I have an opportunity, for tomorrow I am to take
a seventy-mile jolt to Henderson Creek, and God
knows if I'll ever see Dawson again, for it isn't
every man who returns from a bally trip of that
sort, doncherknow. Blow me if yesterday I didn't
see your friend Jack, the teamster, who brought
you up to this cabin. He just returned from Hen-
derson Creek, where he lost both of his feet, and
the poor beggar was trotting about on his knees
when I saw him last night."
"Why, what happened to him, Bill?"
"My word, but he was caught in a blizzard on
Stewart River, and frozen in for three days. He
was picked up by the mounted police, who were
patrolling the river, and taken to Stewart City, at
the mouth of Stewart River, where he had the
Three Months in a Gambling House 59
useless clay removed, doncherknow, and upon my
word, he can get around quite lively on his knees.
But for all that, blow me if the mounted police
haven't given him a blue paper, which means that
he has to leave the country on the first boat up the
river in the spring. You know, no bloomin'
cripples or charitable subjects are allowed to remain
in this country."
Bill continued, "He tells me they are paying
laboring men seven dollars a day and board on
Henderson Creek, where the jolly big strike is on,
so I'm starting in the morning, doncherknow.
Before I'll be off, I'd like to take one last good
look at Dawson by candlelight, for the fascination
it has for me I can't well shake off."
So Bill and I started out, although it was not
yet dark, and the real life of Dawson did not com-
mence until the candles were lighted.
On our way to the main part of town, from our
cabin, Bill, who prided himself on his knowledge
of Dawson, took a delight in showing me the points
of interest along our route.
The first one was a land-slide, under which he
declared a tribe of Moosehide Indians were buried.
It can plainly be seen as a background in any
60 Attraction of the Compass^
picture of Dawson.
Another was the deserted cabins on the hill back"
of Dawson, where ice could be seen coming out of
the stovepipe holes in the roof.
"What's the cause of that, Bill?" I asked.
, He told me that the ground freezes outside of
the cabin first, shutting off the seeping water from
the surface. Then the water finds its way through
the floor of the cabin, and freezing as it raises, fills
the cabin full of ice. Sometimes this ice raises so
fast in a cabin that the occupants cannot keep it
out, and have to desert their home.
"And then the cabins are useless?"
"Not so," said he, "they use them for ice-boxes
to preserve the bodies of poor chaps whose spirits
have gone outside. Their bodies will be taken out
in the spring, when so requested by relatives or
"Do you see this lad driving the slop-cart?" he
continued. "He has a five-year sentence at that
job.. He used to own the finest saloon in Dawson,
"What did he do?" I asked.
"He got into a game of black-jack one night with
'One-eyed' Riley, and lost thirty thousand dollars.
Three Months in a Gambling House 61
After that he lost heart, and allowed a bloomin'
woman of the town to support him, until the
mounted police found him out, and they gave him
that drotted job for five years."
"But what is that soldier with a gun following
"Oh, to keep him on the job."
Just then five good-looking women marched
down the street, followed by another mounted
policeman, with a rifle.
"What have they done, Bill?"
"Oh, they are doing a term, for pinching some
drunk's poke of gold."
"Why do they drill them along the main street?"
"They are marching them from police quarters
down to the barracks, to scrub up," Bill answered.
"I hear one of them is doing twenty years."
By that time we had reached the saloon district,
which was then the leading industry of Dawson.
It was dark now, and the candles and lamps were
glittering, with the miners walking to and fro, some
walking straight and talking crooked ; and others
walking crooked and talking straight, showing some
of the different effects that whiskey will have on
the human system.
62 Attraction of the Compass
Among other places, we went into one called the
"Exchange," well known to every man who has
ever been in Dawson. In this saloon was a fellow
trying to play the mandolin, but he was so drunk
he could hardly sit up, much less furnish music.
The proprietor of the place, Harley Edmonds,
spoke to me, although he did not know me, which
was no doubt his reason for speaking, in order to
make a new customer, what he called a "live one" —
the "dead ones" were those who had spent their
gold dust and were laid out in some corner.
Then he called Bill and me up to the bar to have
a drink, but I assured him that I had never learned
to drink, and was too old to learn new tricks.
At this, he seemed to admire more than to
dislike me, and asked me what I was doing. I told
him that I was out of employment just now. Then
I asked him if he didn't want a phonograph to put
in his place of business.
He answered, "It is impossible to find anyone
that would stay sober long enough to run it; and
besides, no one in this country seems to know any-
thing about a phonograph, anyway. There is many
a man here who has never heard one."
I explained to him that I had a large phonograph
Three Months in a Gambling House 63
and a lot of records, whereupon he offered me
twelve dollars a day to bring it there and run
it. My tinning job had given out, and I had been
making short trips to the different creeks, in the
hope of finding some open ground where I could
stake a claim, but not having met with success, I
decided to take up his offer.
The next Monday noon I started my big phono-
graph, with its six-foot horn, and thus excited the
curiosity of the old "sourdoughs" and native
Indians, who had never seen such a thing. For the
first time, the music of a phonograph was heard by
the people of Dawson City, and I received my
nickname of "Professor" ; and you could often
hear the cry, "Professor, come up and have some-
thing," but the "Professor" stayed on his job.
The music brought the miners into the saloon fn
droves, until the place was crowded. The Exchange
had never before had the business that the phono-
graph brought it.
At midnight, when I had put in twelve hours, I
went up to the cigar stand, which was in the front
part of the saloon, to receive my day's pay, as the
agreement was that I should be paid with gold dust
every night. The proprietor beckoned for me to
64 Attraction of the Compass
come to the bar, but I again shook my head and told
him that he must not expect me to mix with the
drinking crowd, for I did not associate with men
when they were drinking.
For three months I played the phonograph and
crowded the place.
The second day I was there a man came in, wear-
ing on his coat a large celluloid button, on which
was a picture of a woman and two little children
He walked over towards me while listening to the
"Hello, friend, is that a picture of your wife and
babies ?" I asked, pointing to his button.
"Yes, I left them outside, in the States," he
replied, as his eyes moistened with tears, and con-
tinued, "I have mortgaged my home to come to this
country, expecting to make a fortune ; but so far I
have not made any more than wages, which I send
regularly to my family."
"Yes, there are hundreds of men in this coun-
try like you, homesick for their families," I
While we were talking, a capper, or booster, a
man employed by the saloon to encourage men to
drink, asked him to come and have a drink, which
Three Months in a Gambling House 65
he refused, saying that he was not drinking. A
few days after that, when "Swiftwater Bill" had
invited everyone in the house to drink on him, I
noticed my friend with the large celluloid button
standing up to the bar having a smoke.
A little later in the evening, as I was running
my phonograph, I called him over to me.
"Have you forgotten your wife and two little
babies, waiting day by day for your return? With
or without a fortune they want you to come back
as good a man as when you left."
"Why do you say this to me, Professor?"
"Because I saw you whooping it up with the rest
of the drunks."
"I was only taking a smoke," he replied. "Be-
sides this, Professor, you are getting a living from
this place, and have no right to interfere with the
business of a place where you are employed."
What he said was the truth, and it found its
way home. I said no more, but shut up like a clam
and continued to grind my phonograph, trying to
stick strictly to my own business, although it was
impossible to shut my eyes to what was taking
place about me.
A few days afterward I saw this man taking a
66 Attraction of the Compass
glass of beer. Although there were crowds in the
place, sometimes as many as two or three hundred
on the floor, yet from the platform on which I stood,
my eyes involuntarily looked over the crowd in
search of the man with the celluloid button on his
coat. Until one night, after the crowd and smoke
had cleared away, I saw my poor friend lying in a
corner next to a pile of wood, with his face in the
sawdust, in a drunken stupor. I picked him up,
but he did not know me. The capper and whiskey
had done their work; the button was gone, and so
was the man, and I hurried away and tried to forget
the thing he was, and the man he used to be.
Before I left Dawson, this man was cleaning
spittoons and keeping up the fire in a saloon for his
drinks and meals. He was one of the men you
often meet who say, "A glass of beer will hurt
no man. I can take a drink when I want to, or let
it alone when I want to;" but when they get as
far as this, they never want to let it alone. Their
"want to" has been destroyed by alcohol, until they
have no knowledge of what they want. Theii
bodies act instead of their brains. He no longer
spoke of his family, and day after day I suppose
those little babies were awaiting the return of their
Three Months in a Gambling House 67
father, who would never come back; and even if
he should, they could not recognize him.
The next day I ground my phonograph, not heed-
ing the tunes it played. Time after time when I
would play a selection which the crowd was par-
ticularly fond of, they would applaud and cheer
me, shouting, "Three cheers for the Professor !"
and offer to "set 'em up" to me, but I always
refused. The proprietor had won several bets that
there was no power in that country that could get
me to drink ; but for all that, I was earning my
living entertaining a drinking crowd, the lowest
occupation on earth.
At this saloon they kept a man at the back door,
to prevent any of the drunks going out that way ;
for there was hardly a week passed that some man,
under the influence of liquor, did not freeze to
death in the alley.
In conversation with this booster one day, I told
him the story of Minnie and her brothers, and he
remembered her brother; that he had frozen to
death in the alley back of Tom Grisholm's saloon.
"Do you know where she is?" he asked me.
"Yes," I answered shortly, for I wanted to change
68 Attraction of the Compass
"Is she good looking?"
I scarcely answered, for I was sorry I had spoken
"A blonde, I'll bet," he continued, "most Scandi-
I could feel my face burn with rage.
"How do you stand with her, solid? Say, Pro-
fessor, why don't you get her down here? She
could make more money than you can. You could
afford to lay off. She can entertain the miners who
are drinking, and make as high as twenty dollars a
day in commission. She can get five dollars com-
mission on one bottle of champagne alone."
By this time I was furious, and felt like jumping
on the fellow and strangling him, but did not want
to show too much personal interest in her, so quietly
replied, "If she were your sister, would you like
to see her engaged in such an occupation?"
He answered, "If it were my sister it would be
a different proposition."
Then I said, "Would you like to see a pure, inno-
cent girl associating with a crowd of hooch-soaked
miners, ruining her womanhood for the sake of a
few paltry dollars?"
"Well," said he, "all these girls who are drink-
Three Months in a Gambling House 69
ing here on commission were pure and innocent
once, but got sadly over it just in time to make a
little money for themselves."
I asked him to go away from me. as I did not
want to hear his views on the subject any longer.
Next morning as I looked across the breakfast
table at little Minnie's beautiful, pure face, and
listened to her innocent words, I was ashamed to
even think of the conversation that had taken place
in the saloon, for I knew that she was innocent.
She had associated with me under many difficult
circumstances, and had proven herself honest, fear-
less, and a good woman, one whom no man could
speak ill of.
The saloon business commenced to have a horror
for me, and I wanted to get out of it. I thought
of a packing-house in Armourdale, Kansas, that I
had visited once, where they had an old buck sheep
that would go up the runway where they slaugh-
tered the sheep ; and when he went up, all the others
followed him. They were slaughtered, while this
old Judas had a feed of oats and was driven down
the runway again to bring up the next bunch to
So I figured out that I was this false leader,
70 Attraction of the Compass
receiving my feed to decoy a bunch of men into this
dive, to be slaughtered by the use of whiskey. It
was then and there I decided that come what might
I would change my occupation, even though twelve
dollars a day was a serious thing to give up when I
needed the money so badly.
When I told the proprietor of the place my inten-
tion he laughed at me, and said if I didn't furnish
music someone else would. I informed him that
I could not feel responsible for what somebody
else did, but that I personally would not have
anything more to do with such business. He then
offered to buy the phonograph, but I refused to sell
for that purpose, and picking up my outfit, went to
the cabin, where I found Long Bill had just
returned from Henderson Creek.
Sworn by the Dictionary
SW0RX BY THE DICTIONARY.
"Hello, Bill, did you get back?"
"Yes, but it was a beastly trip, doncherknow.
Upon my word it has taken me three days."
"Yes, Bill, but these winter days are very short,
not more than seven hours between daylight and
Xot heeding my remark, he continued, "I made
the trip last summer across the mountains from
Henderson Creek, which is sixty miles, in one day,
and would have continued to go out to the Forks,
which is sixteen miles farther ; but the blasted dog
I had following me gave out, and I had to stay in
Dawson that night."
"You don't mean to say you made sixty miles
in one day on foot, do you Bill?" I asked.
"I made it from daylight to dark," replied Bill,
"which was eighteen hours, for in the summer
time here it is daylight most all night, and all you
74 Attraction of the Compass
have to do to make sixty miles is to keep on walk-
"It's a mighty cold night, so draw yourself up to
the fire, Bill, and tell us how you made it on the
creek. Have good luck?"
, The fire crackled in the little Yukon stove, which
was kept at a red heat all day and during the even-
ing, but in spite of this the dirt floor of the cabin
was frozen, while beads of perspiration could be
seen on our foreheads.
"Yes," replied Bill, "it is deucedly cold. I see
the frost is half way up the bloomin' door. What
does it register?"
Little Minnie answered, "It is sixty-five below,
for the frost reaches the third mark on the door."
"I say, Professor, where is the bloomin' ther-
mometer?" Bill inquired.
"Oh, it froze up and busted, Bill."
"Bah jove, is it possible ! I missed it, doncher-
"Come, Bill, tell us, did you strike it rich on Hen-
derson Creek?" I asked.
"Well, hardly," answered Bill, "I did not get the
job I went after, so went out prospecting and staked
a claim which had been staked before, but aban-
Sworn by the Dictionary 75
cloned. I went back to the bloomin' recording
office to record my claim. My word, what do you
think happened ? I came blasted near having to
serve a sentence, on a charge of contempt, for
refusing to be sworn by the dictionary. A jolly good
"It was like this," he continued, "I went to the
recording office to record my claim. As usual, there
was a long line waiting to get to the window. The
chap who makes out the papers gets to be like a
bloomin' machine, from saying and doing the same
things over and over again, doncherknow ; and as
he dismissed one man after another, I heard him
tell them to 'kiss the book — fifteen.' "
"What did that mean, Bill?" asked Minnie.
"Oh, when you record a claim you have to be
sworn, kiss the Bible, and pay fifteen dollars to
record your claim."
"Did you refuse to do this, Bill — you, a good
British subject?" I asked.
"No, but blow me if I didn't remove the rubber
band from the supposed Bible which we were being
sworn by, and found it to be a Webster's dictionary.
When I asked the recorder what kind of a Bible
that was, he explained that they had lost their Bible
76 Attraction of the Compass
and were using Daniel Webster's dictionary. I bet
him all my holdings in the bloomin' country that
Daniel Webster never wrote a dictionary, or had
anything to do with one. At this, the rest of the
blasted miners who were waiting behind me threw
me out of line, telling me this was no place for an
"As I wandered away from the crowd," continued
Bill, "I could still hear the chap at the little window
crying out to each man as it came his turn, 'Kiss the
book — fifteen, kiss the book — fifteen.' Each poor
beggar would lay down his fifteen dollars; when
possibly it was the last cent he had, kiss the book —
or perhaps the back of his hand, which was cleaner
— for if the recorder could hear the smack of the
lips and see the fifteen dollars, all other mistakes
would be overlooked, doncherknow."
"Did they continue to be sworn by the dictionary,
Bill?" I asked.
"Yes," he answered.
"Well, Bill, isn't it generally thought that
Daniel Webster wrote the dictionary?"
"Yes," answered Bill, "by the same class of peo-
ple who apply the name of Klondike to this entire
country. The poor chaps don't know any better.
Sworn by the Dictionary 77
doncherknow. There is many a man who passes
his whole lifetime without knowing that it was
Xoah Webster who wrote the dictionary, and they
think they are bloomin' smart, too."
"What did you do about it, Bill?" I questioned.
"Oh, nothing, I just returned to my claim and
started to work. I thought perhaps the lad before
me didn't find the gold, doncherknow, but that I
"At once I began to thaw the ground with a
wood fire, and sink a prospect hole ; when, to my
delight, close by me if I didn't notice where a pros-
pect hole had been sunk a year before, filled with
water, and frozen solid.
"A capital idea overtook me, and I decided that
to dig this out with a pick would be much easier
than to build a fire and thaw the ground ; for every
foot I dug through the blasted muck and gravel I
would have to thaw, no matter how deep I sunk."
We all began to smile, and I said to Bill, "Did
you find anything when you got to bed rock?"
"Not a blasted thing."
"Why did you go down in the same hole, Bill?
Didn't you know if it was abandoned there would
be no gold there? Why didn't you sink in a new
78 Attraction of the Compass
place? Perhaps you would have found the pay
"Well," answered Bill, "it was easier digging."
When little Minnie thought we had laughed long
enough at Bill's expense, she inquired of me, "Why
did you bring your phonograph home ?"
Then I related my experience to the family ; but
not one of them agreed with me. The Jew called
me a fool, and asked me what I came to this coun-
try for if it wasn't to make money. I told him
if I had to earn money by assisting in the downfall
of humanity, that I preferred to remain poor, and
that I did not care to discuss the subject.
Next morning we all gathered around the table,
with that most remarkable appetite which man is
blessed with in that country, and of which Long
Bill seemed to have more than his share at all
times. There was never any waste from the table
when Bill was there, or nothing left over, although
his diplomacy or manners were never forgotten.
When all were through eating, he would pick up the
mush-pot from the stove, in which there usually re-
mained enough for an ordinary man, and passing it
to Minnie, he would say, "Won't you have a little
more mush, Minnie, please? It is delicious, you
Sworn by the Dictionary 79
"No, thank you, Bill, I have all I want.''
"You'll have some, my friend Nathason, won't
you?" addressing the Jew.
"No," the Jew would reply, "I've had enough,
"Ah, then it is left to the Professor and me.
He will never forsake me in time of need ; we'll
finish up the pot, won't we?"
"As much as I love you, Bill, and appreciate your
friendship, I have quite a sufficiency. In fact, I
"Then it is left to me," Bill would say, "and I
never have the heart or stomach to see food wasted,
and always have a capacity to hold an extra
And as he would empty the remainder of the
mush into his plate, he made a few remarks about
the little burnt part which he would scrape off from
the bottom of the kettle, and how the rest of us
were cheated out of the best part by having delicate
appetites ; and would assure us that there was no
necessity for us to remain at the table, as he would
excuse us if we were uncomfortable.
Long Bill always thought more of the comfort
80 Attraction of the Compass
and pleasure of others, than of himself. His gen-
erosity was displayed one day on a bitterly cold
trip to Bonanza Creek, when he took off his scarf,
cut it in two, and gave me half of it.
There was but very little honest business trans-
acted in Dawson ; it was all a run and grab and
take from each other. I do not mean to steal from
each other, for that was a crime. A man could
absolutely leave his outfit on the sidewalk for a
week and no one would touch it, but buying and
selling and cornering the market on certain supplies
was the biggest industry, outside of the drink
traffic. One Jew tried to corner the market on
matches in the middle of the winter, but failed.
Several times the market was cornered on fresh
potatoes, which would sell for a dollar a pound.
So I took it upon myself to start in this line of
business. I did not have the heart to try to sell
whiskey, but thought I would try my luck at selling
provisions. By this time I had a little money saved,
and would buy and sell potatoes at a good profit,
and did equally as well as I did with the phonograph.
84 Attraction of the Compass
One day, as I was buying some potatoes, I saw
underneath them a lot of patent stovepipe, crated in
bunches. I managed to buy all the man had, and
made forty cents a length on it, cleaning up two
hundred dollars in one afternoon, as this was the
only stovepipe for sale in the town.
This gave me the idea how to do it, and I started
out to find what there was a shortage of in the
There was no way to ship supplies or provisions
to Dawson in the winter, and if one could find any
shortage in the market, it was profitable to buy up
all of that article and hold it for a higher price.
One day I had an attack of toothache, and calling
on my friend, the dentist, said, "Hello, Scotty, are
you still fixing teeth ?"
"Oh, I'm doing a bit of filling, but can't make
any false teeth, for there is no plaster-of-paris to be
had in the country."
"Why, is there any great demand for plaster-
of-paris?" I asked.
"Indeed, it is absolutely necessary for all den-
tists and surgeons to use it. The false teeth busi-
ness is rushing right now, for the scurvy, with
which so many miners are afflicted, causes the teeth
"Patent Plaster" 85
to drop out like marbles, and the gums to dent in
I could hardly wait until the dentist got through
with me, when I started out in search of plaster-
of-paris, or some substitute for it. I called at one
of the big company stores, and found that they had
ordered three barrels ; but when it arrived, it turned
out to be patent plaster, so the clerk said.
I asked the clerk if he would not let me see it,
that I might make use of it. When he showed it
to me, I gathered up a small handful and went to a
drug store to ask what it was. The druggist told
me that it was plaster-of-paris, and asked me where
I got it.
Now, I did not want to tell this druggist where
it came from, for if I did, that would prevent me
from making any money on it, so I told him that I
had fifty pounds of it, and it was of no use to me.
He made me an offer of a dollar a pound for the
fifty pounds, so I returned to the Company's store
and asked them for fifty pounds of patent plaster,
which they sold to me at twenty-five cents a pound.
They did it up for me, putting it on my dog-sled,
and I returned and sold it to the druggist; then I
repeated this at the next drug store. There were
86 Attraction of the Compass
four drug stores in Dawson at that time, and every
one took fifty pounds of plaster-of-paris, each think-
ing he was buying all there was in the country.
After each sale I would return to the Company's
store and ask for some more patent plaster.
When I had finished the four drug stores and
had sold two hundred pounds, the clerk at the
Company's store asked me what I was doing with so
much of that plaster. I told him that a foolish
fellow down there was buying it from me, and that
probably he intended to make a statue of Chief Isaac
of Moose Hide.
As soon as I had supplied all the druggists in
town, it dawned upon me that they would sell it
to the dentists. Then I started out for the den-
tists, and supplied each of them with twenty pounds,
telling them a story similar to the one told the
druggists ; till I came to the last one, — the Scotch-
man, — who had told me of the demand for plaster-
Just as I was driving a bargain with him, the
telephone rang and a druggist informed him that
he had some plaster-of-paris now to sell, and that
he would take two dollars a pound for it.
The dentist replied, "There is a man here now
"Patent Plaster" 87
trying to sell me plaster-of-paris for a dollar a
They had a little more conversation over the
'phone, which I could not hear, but which spoiled
my last sale.
Altogether I had sold three hundred pounds, and
had cleared seventy-five cents a pound. I dare say
the druggists and dentists in that country are well
supplied with plaster-of-paris to this day. There-
after I was known in Dawson as "Patent Plaster,"
for the material I sold was plaster-of-paris, and
the mistake was on the part of the N. A. T.
Company's clerk, from whom I bought it, in not
knowing plaster-of-paris when he saw it. In a way
similar to this a great many people received their
nicknames. It was a rare thing to know a man's
true name in that country.
I made good money after that selling canned
goods, for most everything there was canned, even
to the music. They had canned music for phono-
graphs, canned potatoes, canned fruit of all kinds,
canned sweet potatoes, canned onions, and even the
butter came in cans.
So I put in my time buying and selling canned
goods for the rest of the winter, and made far more
88 Attraction of the Compass
money than I did while engaged in the illegitimate
business of the whiskey traffic.
All this time my heart grew more fond of little
Minnie, and apparently she grew more fond of me ;
for she always waited and watched for me at the
cabin door, and greeted me with her sweet smile
and caress, which paid me for all my efforts and
trials. I had never before known the real happi-
ness of a woman's love.
She had long since given up the hope of finding
her brother in Dawson, and all we talked of was
our trip in the spring; how we would go down the
river to Nome, meet her brother, and make our
Occasionally the old miner, Donovan, would
come up to our cabin, and tell us what he expected
us to do and what we were to get and wear; and
somehow his coming was always dreaded, for he
seemed not to know as much as he pretended to —
like a great many others in Dawson who, by mere
accident, made a lot of money, regardless of the
small quantity of brain they possessed. It isn't the
smart man who makes a fortune in a mining camp,
but usually the fool, who cannot keep it.
One evening as we sat in the cabin, there was a
"Patent Plaster" 80
rap at the door, and all shouted at once, "Come in."
A tall, lanky looking Swede, dressed in overalls
and a flannel shirt, with a corn-cob pipe in his
mouth, pushed the door open. He said, "I am
Charley Sanderson, and I tank I want to see Swede
girl lives here. I got one million dollars in gold,
and I tank I make her purty happy. I not know,
but I tank so."
Now I had heard of this Charley Sanderson, who
worked as a laborer for wages at one time in that
country, and managed to save eight hundred dollars.
He came to Dawson with the first big rush ;
some gamblers got around him, and while he was
drunk sold him a claim on the "Eldorado," about
No. 7, above the "Discovery."
The next morning after this purchase, when
Charley Sanderson woke up from his stupid condi-
tion, he realized with tears that his eight hundred
dollars in gold-dust were gone ; and that all he had to
show for it was the title for this placer claim.
As he was only a half-witted, green Swede, he
at once hunted up the gamblers who had sold him
the claim, and tried to force them to give him back
his money, which they refused to do. Even the
mounted police could do nothing for him.
90 Attraction of the Compass
Someone suggested that he go out and dig a hole
on his claim, and see if he could find the pay-streak ;
and after a good deal of persuasion he did this,
sinking the hole twelve feet deep to bed-rock. In the
first panful of gravel he washed, he found one
thousand dollars in gold-dust.
He continued this work until he took out one
million dollars, during which time he never changed
his underclothes or his overalls.
Just think of a man dressed in a flannel shirt
and overalls, with one million dollars, looking for a
wife ! It worried me a little bit. I did not know
what temptation it might be to little Minnie ; but
when she looked him over, in her sweet way she
dismissed him, and told him she was aiming for
something higher in life than gold. So the green
Swede returned to his claim, and later on married
a girl out of a dance hall.
He took part of his money and bought No. 12
above, on Eldorado, which yielded a similar amount
of gold to that of No. 7 above. Then he went to
San Francisco and bought a handsome residence ;
and between the dance-hall girl, her capper, and the
courts of San Francisco, Charley Sanderson was
forced to go back on the section-gang in the state
"Patent Plaster" 91
of Washington at one dollar and seventy-five cents
Starting for Nome
STARTING FOR NOME.
One morning in early spring, while eating break-
fast, Long Bill informed us that he had been too
long in Dawson ; that it was time to start on that
trip to Nome, where the big strike was on.
"I was down looking at the bally river yesterday,"
he said, "and the ice is all broken up, so that it
would be possible to start as soon as we can inter-
view Donovan and get our outfits together, doncher-
So in less than a week we were all packed up and
ready to start on our long trip ; and as we left our
cabin door, Minnie and I gave it one long, last look,
realizing that the happiness we had known in the
cabin would never be forgotten. I told her that
I would be quite willing to remain in that cabin for
the rest of my life if I could have her with me, re-
gardless of fortune or other pleasures. But it was
not to be, for her answer was, "No, dear, I feel
96 Attraction of the Compass
that I must make this trip. After that, I cannot
say; it may be that our lives will be united. Did
you ever have a dream of happiness just a little
way ahead of you, that seeemd for you, and yet
you could not realize just what it was? My ambi-
tion is to lead a grand life, as a lady of the land —
a princess, or somebody of note ; for I believe that
I have lived on this earth before, and filled that
position, and that I am now reincarnated, and
searching for my home."
I had heard her give hints before of her views
on reincarnation, but did not pay much attention to
it, thinking perhaps she had read it in some book ;
for she had been studying English day and night,
and reading every book she could get hold of.
Her remarks bothered me considerably, for I
knew there was no royal blood in our family. Long
Bill tried to make out sometimes that there was
in his ; but I was sure she never gave him any en-
couragement. If she ever expected to be a great
lady, I would either have to lose her, or she would
have to be greatly disappointed.
We hurried down to the bank of the river, where
our party, consisting of the old miner, Donovan,
Long Bill, Ike the Jew, little Minnie and myself,
Starting for Nome 97
waved a goodbye to Dawson ; and were soon on our
way floating down the Yukon, in a large rowboat,
equipped with enough provisions to last six months,
if necessary ; compass, guns, ammunition, field-glass,
blankets, dogs, etc.
"Down" in reference to the Yukon and other
rivers in that country means north, and there was
no exertion connected with floating down the Yukon
River in a rowboat, especially below Dawson. We
simply laid back in the boat and told one story after
another; listened to Long Bill's yarns of South
Africa, where he had served four years as a Cape-
mounted rifleman, talked of the riches we were
going to obtain, and what we were going to do with
them; how we were going to pass the rest of our
lives in retirement ; how much gold it takes to
weigh a pound, and how much we would have if we
had all we could carry.
We could listen to the gravel constantly rolling
on the bottom of the river, and gaze at the snow-
peaked mountains and high cliffs of rock on the
right and the left ; and the trees hanging with black
moss, with now and then a beautiful fall of water
over a high cliff, coming from some mountain
98 Attraction of the Compass
"Had we started on this trip two months later,"
said Long Bill, "the salmon would have been
running up the river, doncherknow, and it would
have been deucedly awkward, for they come in
droves so thick that they crowd each other out on the
banks, as they run up the Yukon and smaller streams
to the source, to spawn. The largest canning fac-
tories are usually at the mouths of the rivers, and
the bally fish are caught in traps or nets before
starting up the river; for on reaching fresh water,
doncherknow, they become blind, and are so badly
bruised by bumping against the bloomin' rocks, and
other obstacles, that they are not fit for use."
So in peace, and with pleasant prospects, we
floated along until night, when we landed in a little
clump of bushes, where we camped. As we were
about to sit down on the ground to eat our supper,
Minnie gave a jump and scream, which startled
all of us.
"What is it, Minnie?" we all asked at once.
"I thought I saw a snake," she replied.
"Never fear," said Bill, "for the blessed St.
Patrick visited this country, as well as Ireland,
doncherknow, and we have no snakes or toads here.
Even the Isle of Man could be jealous of Alaska,
Starting for Nome 99
for here not only the blasted cats are born without
tails, but the mice are bob-tailed, too."
The following morning we were early on our
way, and thus we drifted on past Fort Yukon and
a few smaller settlements until we reached the
Yukon Flats, where the old miner, Donovan, insisted
that we should keep to the right. At this point the
Yukon is many miles wide, and forms a large
While we looked upon Donovan as boss, instructor
and guide, nevertheless, there arose a hot discussion
between him and Long Bill as to which shore of
the flats to follow. The old miner declared the right
was the one ; Long Bill argued for the left, for it
was generally known that the left-hand side of these
flats was the main stream.
However, after lengthy argument and discussion,
we finally gave in to Donovan, and continued on our
way by keeping to the right.
After uneventfully drifting along for three days,
without finding a place to land, we commenced
moving very slowly, and began to get anxious, won-
dering why the Yukon did not flow faster at this
Long Bill remarked, "Drot it, we are not in the
100 Attraction of the Compass
Yukon River. 'Pon my word, the best thing we
can do is to throw Donovan overboard and return."
At this time I was not in for violence, but many
times later on wished I had consented, for the old
miner insisted he was right, and we continued on
down the slow-running stream.
By this time we were compelled to keep gloves on,
and our heads covered with netting, for the mos-
quitos were so thick we often had to brush them
away in order to see each other.
Lost in the Yukon Flats
LOST IN THE YUKON FLATS.
On the fifth day, we were surrounded by a vast
swamp of tall grass, growing in bunches, common-
ly known in that country as "niggerhead." Raise
what argument we might that we were going in the
wrong direction, our guide and grub-staker insisted
that we go on. On the sixth day, however, he did
consent that we should row back, but by that time
we were down in among the niggerheads, or tall
grass, so far that we did not know which way was
Now I had often prided myself on knowing east,
west, north and south without the aid of a compass,
but I could not think of contradicting the compass,
and it seemed to point nearly opposite to the way
I thought was north, so I gave up like a whipped
dog, and followed the compass. Who could do
Knowing that we had traveled north down the
104 Attraction of the Compass
Yukon, and northwest in entering the swamp, we
decided to travel southeast to get out of the swamp,
so we pointed our boat directly southeast. A little-
later we all got into an argument as to which way
we should go, and it ended by Ike, the Jew, and
Donovan both insisting that we should travel directly
north, where we would at least find land sooner or
later. Bill gave in and consented to go north, which
made three against me, so I gave up, but felt sure
we were taking the wrong direction. However, I
was in hopes we would at least find land soon. The
truth of the matter was that we were lost in a
swamp, and so frightened that we were confused ;
but at last we headed our boat, according to the
compass, directly north.
Little Minnie held the compass and told us when
to go right or left, so after that we called her "Our
Compass ;" and many times I hoped that I would
remain her attraction, and told her that I would
call myself the "North Pole" and her the "Compass."
One night a peculiar incident occurred. When
we had all rolled up in our blankets to go to sleep.
I felt a rocking of the boat, and on opening my
eyes, I saw little Minnie about to step over the edge
of the boat, as if she were reaching for someone.
Lost in the Yukon Flats 105
I grabbed her, pulling her back just in time to
"Minnie," I exclaimed, "what are you trying to
do, drown yourself?"
"No," replied Minnie, "I thought I was follow-
ing my prince, the hero of my dreams since child-
hood. He was beckoning for me to follow him,
strewing my way with roses, and he said he would
take me to his palace."
"Minnie, would you leave me for a prince?"
"Dearie, I am afraid I would if it were the prince
I have just seen. But it was only a dream." .
"I am very glad it was only a dream," I answered,
"for I could not give you up."
Nevertheless, this dream started me thinking, and
caused me to pass a restless night.
On the seventh day we seemed farther off than
ever. The boat was propelled by pulling on the
tall grass, growing in bunches on each side of the
boat, so dense that we could scarcely get through
at times. There were no mountains or trees to be
seen; in fact, we could not at any time see more
than five feet away from our boat, for these bunches
of grass which encircled us were from six to ten
feet high, and kept us from gaining any knowledge
106 Attraction of the Compass
of our surroundings. The only thing left for us
to do was to follow the compass north, with the
hope of finding land, or some river, even if it were
not the Yukon.
So, trusting to the compass, we hurried on for
days, awkward as it was for five people having to
cook, eat and sleep day after day, with no chance or
opportunity to get out of the boat; and the dogs
were becoming a nuisance.
To add to our discomfort, it poured down rain
every second or third day. We had one spell of
rain which lasted three days without stopping.
While it made us very uncomfortable, it gave us a
little rest from the mosquitos.
During some of this time, Long Bill lay on his
back in the boat, and slept with his blanket over him,
holding it up to a peak with a short stick so it would
shed the water. The only time he ever complained
was when he stuck his head out from under his
blanket one morning, and said, "I say, this is
deucedly awkward, doncherknow !"
The rest of us had our blankets over our shoul-
ders, which kept us warm, but not very dry. A
square coal-oil can served us as a stove, and we
used the dried grass for fuel.
Lost in the Yukon Flats 107
The water was from four to eight feet deep, and
in some places still deeper. With plenty of fish
and ducks, we fared well.
Days passed into weeks, yet nothing else could
be seen but tall grass surroundings, and we were
quite sure that we had traveled from eight to ten
miles a day, still forcing our boat along by pulling
on the grass, which was close up to its sides. We
tried to build, with our outfits, a platform to stand
on, so that we could see over the grass.
Bill mounted the platform, being the tallest in the
crowd, and tried to crane his long, lean neck above
the waving grass, but his despairing cry was, "Not
a blasted thing can I see but this bally grass!"
After one month had passed, and we had given
up in despair, I noticed that the dried blades of
the grass that floated on the top of the water all
pointed in one direction. This made me think that
the water was running that way, though if moving
at all, it moved very slowly. So we continued on
our way to the north, as we supposed, still follow-
ing the compass, also following the current of
water shown by the floating grass.
The Mysterious Smoke
THE MYSTERIOUS SMOKE.
About the end of the sixth week, we noticed
directly ahead of us in the sky, a terrific smoke,
resembling a great forest fire at a distance. The Jew
screamed with fear, "The grass has caught fire, and
we are doomed !" and we knew if that were the case.
we might as well give up hope. While we might
save ourselves for a time by getting into the water,
our outfits and boat would surely burn; and Bill
suggested that it would be better to drown than
burn; so the Jew began praying, and we all pre-
pared to die.
While we were waiting in suspense for our im-
pending doom, the sun sank slowly out of sight. It
was indeed a sleepless night, for now added to the
torment of the mosquitos and the aching of our
limbs, caused by our cramped position in the boat,
was the horror of thinking that at any moment the
fire might be upon us.
112 Attraction of the Compass
When day dawned, great was our astonishment
to see no trace of smoke, and we decided that the
fire had gone out; so we still kept on in the same
direction for another week. Finally an increase
in the current was noticed, enabling us to travel
faster. We occasionally saw the smoke, but for us
it had lost its terror.
One evening the smoke appeared more plainly
than before, and seemed to rise in great clouds to
the sky, then to die down again.
Long Bill immediately shouted, "It is the smoke
from an active volcano ! It must be !" Then he
explained to us that when a young boy he had
visited Vesuvius, and had seen that volcano in
On the fourth day after this could be seen, in
the distance, a barren mountain, high and black,
without a tree or any indication of foliage. Our
hearts leaped with joy, for we knew that where this
mountain stood there must be land, and what
happiness it would be to stand once more on land,
a privilege we had never before appreciated.
In two more days our boat was traveling as fast
as it did in the Yukon River, before we became
lost in the swamp ; and one morning we found our-
The Mysterious Smoke 113
selves at the mouth of a river, into which the swamp
We were now floating at a rapid speed and knew
that we must get out of the current, because as the
waters narrowed, we sped on and on faster and
faster, until we realized the prospective danger of
being carried over falls, or perhaps into some rapids.
We knew not what was ahead. An attempt was
made to land ; but row as we might, with all our
efforts it seemed impossible to get that boat out of
the middle of the stream.
The river was running so fast at this point that
it fairly rounded up in the middle. On ahead, we
saw a large hill of grass such as we had passed
through, which had drifted there from time to time ;
and the river, seemingly, ran directly under it, the
grass floating on top of the water.
Our boat was heading straight for this hill of
grass, and the water fairly made a whirlpool in
front of it, and we knew we could not avoid being
I stood in the bow of the boat with the rope in
my hand, ready to make a leap when the boat struck
the grass. We felt sure the boat and outfit could
not be saved from going under, but hoped to rescue
114 Attraction of the Compass
When I leaped onto the grass, it sank with my
weight, which caused it to start floating down
stream ; and turning around, it broke loose from the
Long Bill, Donovan and Ike remained in the boat
with Minnie, and took to the oars and the pole.
Shouting to them to save themselves, I floated down
the stream on the island of grass. But it soon
brought up to the bank of the river again, where I
made a leap for some overhanging moss and earth
on the edge of the bank, which gave way and buried
my legs and body under the water ; while the grass,
which was now in the seething current, went rolling
and tumbling down the river.
In the meantime, the boat had struck on the
sandbar, which had caused the grass to lodge and
accumulate there. Bill was soon out of the boat, and
seeing my danger, immediately snatched a rope
from the boat and ran along the bank to my rescue,
throwing me the rope, which I made fast around
my shoulders. Donovan and Ike were there by this
time, and Long Bill gave the end of the rope to Ike,
while he crawled down the bank to the water's edge,
where he tugged and pulled at me ; until, by the aid
The Mysterious Smoke 115
of the swift current, I was released from my per-
ilous, half-buried position.
My legs were almost paralyzed from the cold
water, and refused to carry me, so I was lifted by
the three men and landed safely on the bank of the
river, where they left me to recover, while they
brought the outfits ashore.
As soon as Little Compass found that I was safe,
she started a fire close by me to dry my clothes;
and when she patted me on the cheek and looked
into my eyes, I was sure that she loved me. Even
though her manner had been a little cool of late, I
had thought it due to the hardships and discom-
forts of our trip ; and I felt then, that I was willing
to remain in this desolate spot for life, if I were
sure of retaining her presence and love.
I was soon on my feet again, but fell with weak-
ness; and only after several efforts was I able to
assist little Minnie with our meal.
On the Banks of the River
ON THE BANKS OF THE RIVER.
There never was a woman who could, under sim-
ilar circumstances, prepare a meal with so little
effort as Minnie, our Little Compass. She would
squat down cross-legged by the fire, with pans and
kettles surrounding her, and give the men orders,
in her newly acquired English, which was very pre-
cise and correct.
"Long Bill, get a pan of water; and Professor,
hand me that molasses can, which contains the sour
dough. Now then, the salt and a little sugar. The
flour is in that farthest sack ; please pass that next,''
and so on until the batter was the right thickness
for pancakes ; after which she poured back the same
amount taken away from the sour dough, a custom
necessarily followed by all miners in Alaska. Put-
ting a little more flour in the batter, she stirred it
thoroughly, and started the pancakes going.
"Professor, turn the pancakes, while I soak the
120 Attraction of the Compass
dried potatoes. Bill, open the canned meat, then
bring more water."
Meanwhile Donovan and Ike were pitching the
tent, and cutting and preparing a brush bed.
In an incredibly short time Minnie announced
that the meal was ready, and never was food more
thoroughly relished and enjoyed than this, our first
feast on land.
We had almost forgotten how to walk, and
indeed it had required a great effort to bring our-
selves to realize that we were on land again. For
the first time since entering the swamp we were
able to remove our headgear of mosquito netting.
How well I remember that night. We could hear
the roaring of the river and see the smoke of the
volcano, which had frightened us so badly while
floating in the swamp, yet we could realize that it
was many miles away. The sun was visible all
night, with the exception of one hour and forty
minutes ; and what seemed remarkable to us, was
that it apparently set and came up again in the
We did not undertake to go any farther for two
days, but rested and tried to get our bearings, in
order to determine where we were ; but all that
On the Banks of the River 121
country was new to us. On one side was the vast
swamp, through which we had traveled so long;
on the other could be seen nothing but lowlands cov-
ered with shrubbery, mostly blueberry bushes, which
were loaded with fruit at this season. It is need-
less to say that we feasted on these berries, which
were a great treat ; in fact, the first fresh fruit we
had tasted for a year. Moss berries and salmon
berries were also plentiful.
One morning Long Bill went a little farther down
the bank, looking for firewood, when suddenly he
returned, exclaiming :
" Ton my word, Professor, I have made a wonder-
ful discovery ! Gravel filled full of gold ! Come
and let me show you !"
So we all ran to see his discovery, and sure
enough, the very gravel on which we were walking
was filled with yellow streaks.
Picking up one of these pieces of gravel, and
examining it, I noticed that the streaks were only on
one side of it, but did not say anything, for I was
not sure what had caused it.
Long Bill was very much excited, and immediately
began planning how he would return to England
and raise capital to build a railroad into this
122 Attraction of the Compass
country ; how immensely rich he would be ; how his
relatives would envy him, and how he would be able
to send them a remittance, thereby shaming them
for cutting off his allowance, etc.
"Professor, what would Swiftwater Bill say if
he could see this pay gravel ?"
I did not answer, but as I sat listening to his wild
dreams, I rubbed the yellow streak off the gravel
with my wet fingers. Turning to him I said :
"Bill, let me see the bottom of your boot."
"Why?" asked Bill.
Poor Bill ! It was just as I thought. There were
brass nails in his boots that had caused these yellow
streaks on the gravel.
Bill hardly spoke again that day, his entire hope
having sunk into the brass nails in his boots. We
all tried to cheer him, but with little result.
Donovan, who was supposed to be our guide, yet
had gotten us into all this trouble, insisted that it
would be perfectly right for us to get into the boat
and go on down the river which we had discovered,
and that eventually we would reach the Yukon or
some lake. This I positively refused to do, where-
upon he said that if I did not, he would take the
outfits, food and all, inasmuch as they belonged to
On the Banks of the River 123
him, and go alone.
I at once told him that if he were in civilization
he might do that, but where we were there was no
law, and that I might as well die preventing him
doing this as to die of hunger ; but Long Bill, Ike
and I agreed to give one-fifth of the outfit and the
boat to him and let him take a risk of the river,
if he saw fit to do so.
On the third morning he decided to go, so we
carefully divided the dried potatoes, rice and flour,
no longer having any bacon ; for the embalming
fluid, composed of arsenic and alum, used in em-
balming bacon in the American packing houses had
not been sufficient to preserve the bacon on the long
trip through the swamp. But it was a very easy
matter to kill game in that country, as the animals
had no fear of us whatever. A rabbit or fox, or
any animal there was perfectly tame, and acted as
if it had never seen a human being before, although
they did fear the dogs.
The old miner loaded the boat and pushed himself
out into the river again, near the point where we had
landed a few days previous. Waving our hands at
him, I realized it was goodbye forever. Experienced
as he was in mining, I thought I was more experi-
124 Attraction of the Compass
enced in rivers, and never would be willing to float
down a river at the rate of from twenty to thirty
miles an hour, not knowing what was ahead of me.
The next morning the rest of us had to pack the
outfits along the river bank. We put about ten
pounds on each dog, and each man carried from
thirty to fifty pounds on his back, for half a mile ;
then returned for another load, our Little Compass
staying by the outfit to keep away the animals until
we took the last load ; while at the other end we
left on guard our faithful leader dog, Stub.
In this way we traveled very slowly, passing many
weeks going along the banks of the river, down
which our grubstaker had gone before at such a
rapid rate. Day after day we looked for him,
thinking that possibly his boat would be lodged in a
pile of driftwood, but hoping that he had made a safe
landing. After all, this would be next to impossible,
and search as we might, nothing was ever seen
The river wound and bent in different directions,
until at last it passed through a canyon, and as we
looked over its high walls into the seething torrent
below and heard the roaring of the water, we
realized that no creature could pass through such a
On the Banks of the River 125
place and live. I had thought Miles Canyon and
White Horse Rapids were the worst known, but
there were three falls in this canyon, which made it
impassable. It was then we gave up all hope of
ever seeing poor old Donovan again.
Ahead, the barren mountain of black rock looked
larger and nearer, and we hoped against hope to
soon reach it, for life was becoming of little value
to us ; although through it all a sad word or a sigh
was never heard from anyone but the Jew, who
very often prayed in his way, remarking that life
was very sweet to him; that he would be willing to
do most anything if he could only be in old New
York again. The little Scandinavian girl, our Com-
pass, with her blonde hair streaming about her face,
her dress torn and ragged, never uttered a com-
plaint, but was always brightly smiling, bringing
a great deal of sunshine to our party.
On and on we worked our way down the river,
meeting many obstacles in the way of small creeks
to cross, and steep bluffs of rock to scale. Vege-
tation had long since ceased, and the earth was
entirely covered with iron ore. We no longer could
tell the time, for the three watches in the party had
stopped, and our real compass pointed directly
126 Attraction of the Compass
towards the mountain.
The nights were beginning to be very cold, and
although extremely tired and worn from pack-
ing our outfits, yet we were unwilling to leave
anything behind, for to lose it meant to shorten our
lives. While the provisions lasted there was hope,
but we knew what the outcome would be when they
were gone. We also realized that winter was
coming on and that we could ill afford to leave any of
our clothing or blankets, knowing that in that coun-
try the thermometer would fall to sixty or seventy
below zero, through a certain portion of the winter.
Our shoes were worn out and discarded, and in
order to keep our feet off the sharp pieces of
iron ore, we had whittled out and made a kind of
sandal from wood, covering the top with canvas.
Confident that we were nearing the mountain, we
worked harder than ever, relaying and carrying our
packs, going back again for another load. We con-
tinued to follow the banks of the river, in hopes
that it emptied into the Yukon or ocean, yet
understanding that it would have to go round the
mountain, as it was running straight toward it.
Our compass showed this mountain to be directly
north, and we hoped to climb it to a high eleva-
On the Banks of the River 127
tion, and with our field-glass locate the Yukon or
possibly some settlement nearby.
The Iron Mountain
THE IRON MOUNTAIN.
At last, late one day, our party came to the foot
of the mountain, to reach which so many weary
miles had been traveled and so many weary
All of our hopes perished ; there was no indica-
tion of life anywhere near it. and the river we had
followed ran into a cave in the mountain, which was
over three hundred and fifty feet wide, and sixty
feet high at the center of the arch.
The water was lower in the river at this point,
running as fast as the water from the nozzle of a
hose, but did not reach entirely across the cave,
thereby forming sort of a shore on each side. Bill
and I, taking candles and a rifle, went into the cave
along the shore of the river, and by jumping from
one boulder to another went so far into the cave
that we were compelled to light the candles.
The only things visible were boulders, water, and
132 Attraction of the Compass
overhanging walls of iron ore. The terrible roar
of the river sounded as if we were going over a
great fall, and there was a cloud of steam every
now and then that would fill the cave.
At last we came to a big opening, on the side of
the main cave, which formed a large, arched room.
Here the bank of the river seemed to be a gravel
deposit, yet the gravel was black, like the moun-
tain. We had entered the cave about four hundred
feet, so sat down to decide whether to return or
go farther in ; and while I was examining the gravel,
which was all as black as coal, I saw a few sparkling
pieces, and on closer examination I found they were
pure placer gold.
"Bill," I exclaimed, "our guide led us to the gold
after all, for surely this is the most gold I ever
saw in one deposit."
The very gravel we sat on was filled with gold,
but Bill answered, "Let's see the brass nails in
"No, Bill," I replied, as I passed him a nugget
that would weigh more than an ounce, "put that in
your hand, you can tell by weight what it is."
We gathered up some of the gravel and put in
our pockets, and hurriedly started for the mouth of
The Iron Mountain 133
the cave. On our way back, there was a terrific
gust of steam, which filled the place so that we
could not see even with the aid of the candles ; and
after it had lifted a little, I looked for Long Bill, but
could not see him. I heard a faint cry, following
which I found Bill clinging to a boulder, with his
body in the torrent, and the water trying to tear
I made a leap, never thinking of the distance, for
I know I could never have jumped it under other
circumstances. As if some supernatural power had
lifted me, I lighted upon the boulder to which he
was clinging, and by a great deal of effort got him
out of the water.
By that time the steam had cleared away, and we
again started for the mouth of the cave.
As soon as Long Bill was able to talk, he
exclaimed, "I have faced cannons and armies ; I have
been shot at in battle, but blow me if I ever before
felt as if I had met death and still lived."
"Bill," I asked, "how did it happen? Did you
"My word, but I was so bloomin' excited over the
gold, that, like Lot's wife, I was looking back and
slipped into the water. That blasted gold is a de-
134 Attraction of the Compass
lusion, anyway. Look at the drotted mess it has
gotten us into. Our greediness for mere yellow
metal has made us all outcasts from civilization."
We were so interested in relating our experiences
to Little Compass and Ike that we forgot all about
the gravel and gold that was in our pockets ; but
when we did think of it and showed the Jew, he
seemed to forget where he was. He grabbed at it
as if it were diamonds, and sure enough, gold does
have an appearance equal to diamonds when it is
first mined and brought to daylight; but after it is
kept in your pocket, or poke, overnight, it loses its
glitter, which never returns, no matter what process
it is put through. It is a well known saying
among miners, when someone finds a big nugget,
"Oh, we'll look at it in the morning, when it has
lost its glitter; it wont look nearly so large then."
The glitter of the gold when it is first mined is
the real fascination for the miner, and this is one
of the reasons he will pass his entire life seeking it.
It lures him on, and buries his youth into old age,
and from there into a grave all decked with gold.
No worms will bother him in his icy sepulchre; no
one will strew flowers on his grave ; but early In
the spring, before the snow leaves the ground, there
The Iron Mountain 135
is a little blue flower peeps through the snow; and
each month through the summer, a new wild flower
makes its appearance, filled with an odor that excels
any other flowers in the world. Even the linnaeus,
the king of flowers, grows here.
Nevertheless, the Jew tried to make a deal with
us to buy our interest in the discovery, and just for
a joke I asked him if he remembered that we were
grub-staked, and that one-half of all we found would
go to the man who supplied us with provisions.
He quickly reminded us that Donovan was dead,
but I insisted, "Now, perhaps he is lodged in the
cave somewhere and will come to light. He may
even now be in there working the claim." I knew
better, for no creature could enter the cave in that
torrent of water and remain alive.
While Ike was not so jubilant after this, yet he
still felt confident that he had found his fortune, and
declared that he would remain there.
That night we pitched our tent, although it was
impossible to find a level spot the size of a tent.
The ground was entirely covered with broken rocks,
too firmly imbedded in the iron ore to be removed.
So we pitched our tent on these rough chunks of
ore, and wrapping blankets around us, fitted
136 Attraction of the Compass
ourselves between the rocks in a sitting position, as
it was impossible to stretch out full length, and
soon fell asleep.
The next day, Long Bill, the Jew and I decided
to tie a rope to each other, and see how far into this
cave we could go. Little Compass, not caring to
stay behind, decided to go with us. We carefully
tied the rope around our waists, so if one fell into
the water the rest could pull him out.
On we started — climbing from one boulder to
another, and clinging to the overhanging walls cf
the cave, with the rushing river close at our feet;
until we safely reached what we will call the beach,
for such it seemed, in an offset from the main cave.
Upon careful examination, this room proved to
be formed from a deposit of frozen gravel, the only
part of it which was thawed being that upon which
we were standing. Now and then a boulder, or
small piece of gravel fell from the roof of this
room, showing it to be gradually thawing. At first
we did not understand why this was.
Presently could be heard a sound like a large
coffee-pot about to boil over, or as if the river were
emptying into a great fiery hole, causing the water
to boil over and run back. Just then the entire
The Iron Mountain 137
room and cave filled with a dense steam, and we
were compelled to lie down, with our faces nea'- the
ground, in order to breathe. In about ten miuutes
it had cleared away, but during this time wc had a
fresh shower of gravel, showing that the steam
caused the thawing.
Our first thought was to get out, but we stopped
to fill our pockets with the gravel, which contained
such an immense amount of gold, and with great
effort persuaded Ike to return. He seemed to
value the gold more than his life.
Upon reaching the outside in safety, we emptied
our pockets into the goldpan and started to pan out
the gold, as was the custom in other mining sec-
tions ; but. to our surprise, most of the gravel stuck
to the pan, and on examining it closer it was found
to be iron, magnetized. This mountain was so
strongly magnetized, that it had been the attrac-
tion of our compass for many months past; and
now we were puzzled to know which way we had
been traveling. The attraction of this mountain
was so strong that it had stopped our watches, and
pieces of this ore would stick to our knife blades.
We thought we had been traveling north; but
now, having learned that the real compass could
138 Attraction of the Compass
not be depended upon, where we were was more
of a mystery than ever.
We continued to carefully pick the gold out of
the pan, since it was useless to try to separate it
from the gravel in any other way ; although there
were a few pebbles which did not stick to the pan.
Upon examination, these were found to be brown
in color, about the size of an ordinary marble, and
to weigh the same as gold ; and Bill exclaimed :
" 'Pon my word if this isn't the same kind of a
stone that is caught in the riffles of the sluice-boxes
in Dawson. It has not received a name, no assayer
having yet been able to analyze it, doncherknow."
They are usually kept by the miners as pocket-
pieces. Not more than one hundred had been
found in Alaska, while here they seemed plentiful,
showing that they formerly came from this coun-
try, and had probably been carried to Alaska by an
active glacier, or possibly by a flood.
During our stay at this point, the fascination of
the gold again lured us into the cave ; and altogether
we carried out two coal-oil cans of nuggets, most of
which we were compelled to leave behind, much to
the regret of the Jew, who was really anxious to
leave a portion of the outfit in order to carry the
The Iron Mountain 139
The following morning, Bill and I tried to climb
up the side of the mountain, hoping to see where
we were ; but found it very dangerous, as the iron
ore would peel off, break and fall at the least touch,
and we were never sure of our footing. The smoke
of the volcano could be seen in the direction we had
thought was north, but we knew it could not be
anywhere near civilization, because we had never
heard of it.
Our first thought was to turn back, but then our
boat was lost, and to make one tight enough to pass
through that swamp seemed impossible, as there
was no material at hand ; besides, there were memo-
ries of too many hardships, and we all agreed to
meet death there, rather than to undertake to return
the way we had come.
Later, we decided to make the trip around the
mountain, and pulling camp, succeeded in reaching
the opposite side, after two days' hard travel.
Here the compass swung on its pivot, still point-
ing directly toward the mountain, proving to us
that it was not the North Pole which attracted the
needle of the compass, but either the magnetized
iron mountain which we had discovered, or that we
had passed into the area of the attraction of the
compass ; for, according to a theory I have always
maintained, the Xorth Pole, or attraction of the
compass, covers many thousands of miles, and when
once inside of that vast area, a compass is no longer
true. This is one of the main reasons why ex-
plorers can never exactly locate the north pivot ; for
to lose the usefulness of the compass, in a survey
outfit, is to lose the benefit of the entire outfit.
Being weary from the trip, we prepared our shake-
144 Attraction of the Compass
downs for the night. Just as we were about to
draw our blankets over our heads and say "good
night," Minnie exclaimed :
"Look ! look ! look at the Northern Lights !"
The surrounding country was lighted for miles
and miles, and plainly in the sky could be seen an
immense lake, with a city on both shores, although
it was impossible to tell in which direction it was
located, or what the city was.
We had never before seen buildings like these,
not even in pictures, so it could not be any city
known to us. The lake was beautiful, surrounded
as it was by trees and foliage. We talked about
this until late at night, and once Minnie said, "I have
seen that city before. I remember it well, but
cannot remember where I saw it. It seems to me like
a city I saw once in a dream. I have often had
these dreams of a peculiar, quaint city, with kings
and princes ; something like a fairy story, you know ;
and I always believed that some day my dreams
would come true. Yes, that's the city. Now I
remember it well."
In this manner she talked, seemingly to herself,
until finally she fell asleep.
Early the following morning, we could see, at
Northern Lights 145
what seemed to be a short distance, small timber, so
with renewed energy we started for these woods,
reaching there after nightfall. It was so dark that
we could not see to pitch camp. Being weary and
worn, we simply huddled together like a flock of
motherless chickens, and fell asleep. We awoke next
morning stiff and sore, but on the whole very
grateful for the shelter of the woods, which afforded
us an opportunity to camp, shoot game and properly
cook our food.
As it was getting late in the fall of the year, we
decided first to build a good warm cabin to winter
in; then I reminded them that we had three dogs,
and that sleds could be built with which we might
travel a great many miles, with little provisions. So
we made three sleds, and prepared to start on our
journey with the first snow. Xot knowing which
way to travel, we decided to continue in the direc-
tion of the volcano, as the smoke could be seen every
now and then, and we hoped to come across some
settlement of Indians; for in the Yukon country
they are all friendly to white men, never having
been imposed upon.
The snow came even earlier than we expected, and
was so deep that the dogs could not travel.
146 Attraction of the Compass
Compelled to wait a few days, during the interval we
made snowshoes and moccasins from raw furs,
turning the hair side in on the moccasins, which
made them very warm and comfortable.
At this stage one of our three dogs played an im-
portant part, presenting us with eight pups — again
delaying our start for a few days. But we took
them along, not having the heart to kill them, and
while rabbits were plentiful, the mother dog could
support herself and the pups with little effort, the
rabbits being very tame and easily caught.
Finally we started, traveling ahead of the dogs on
our snowshoes to beat down a trail, for the snow
was about three feet deep. Long Bill, Ike and I
had ropes around our shoulders, helping the clogs
to pull. The dogs were harnessed tandem to the
sleds, which were tied together. Our Little Com-
pass, Minnie, walked behind the rear sled, doing a
large share of the work by guiding and keeping
them on the trail ; for if a heavily loaded one slewed,
it usually meant an upset, and a hard task to get it
righted in the deep snow.
In this manner we made about ten miles a day,
for walking on snowshoes, pulling a load, is no easy
job. At night, we spread the blankets and furs
Northern Lights 147
beneath the shelter of some tree, and all piled in just
as we had traveled during the day, pulling fur caps
down over our ears. The last thing we would
know or hear would be Minnie's cheerful, "Good
night, boys, and pleasant dreams ;" and very often
our dreams were pleasant, so pleasant that when
we awakened it was with sorrow, for in such straits
as ours dreams were more pleasant than stern
We passed weary days and cold nights, one after
another, traveling in this manner.
Everything was frozen now. so no difficulty was
experienced in crossing small streams and rivers.
Very often we walked on the top crust of the snow,
at which time our snowshoes could be discarded.
At last we came to a lake about thirty miles wide.
On a Frozen Lake
ON A FROZEN LAKE.
After traveling about five miles on this lake,
Minnie was hitched up with Bill and me to help the
dogs pull the outfit, Ike holding on to the sled and
pushing. He had become snow-blind, and could get
along better by holding on to the sled. The rest
of us had smeared the soot from the bottom of
the frying-pan on our cheeks, under our eyes, which
prevented us from going snow-blind, but the Jew
would not do this until too late. In this condition
we resembled a band of comic minstrels, although
little Minnie was the only one of us who laughed.
Her cheerful disposition had no equal.
We made half the distance across the lake the first
day, there being but little snow on the ice, although
we were now facing a terrible wind, so strong that
it required a great effort to keep from being blown
Just ahead of us we saw what appeared to be a
152 Attraction of the Compass
ridge, or rise, in the ice, which proved to be about
ten feet high. It was getting late, and the dogs
seemed to know and understand that we were in a
dangerous place in the middle of a lake, with a wind
ahead of us. They crouched close to the ice, and
with a pitiful whine, threw their shoulders tight in
the collar, and made long scratches on the ice with
their claws, as they worked hard with us ; and at
last we reached this bluff of ice, which turned out
to be a crack in the lake.
When a lake freezes entirely over, the expansion
causes the ice to crack, and each side of the crack
lifts up, but instead of that being an obstacle to us,
I believe to this day that it saved our lives, for with
an axe we chopped a dug-out in the wall of ice, and
crawled in. For three days, from our shelter, we
watched the most terrific storm and blizzard ever
witnessed by any of us.
There were four people and three dogs, together
with the pups, in this small space. There was no
chance to get cold, neither was there any opportunity
to cook ; but we were somewhat prepared for such
an emergency, by always having cooked from three
to four days' provisions before starting on a trip.
in case our next stopping-place proved inconvenient.
On a Frozen Lake 153
In this country it wasn't like traveling near
Dawson on the trail, where the last traveler leaves
wood and kindling prepared for the next traveler,
who will pass that way. All over the Yukon country,
it is easy to find a camping place where some pros-
pector has camped before you. He will always leave
a can of water, some kindling, and dry pieces of
wood ready to touch a match to, for the next passer
that way ; and then they call it an uncivilized
country. It is very seldom that a man in a civilized
country will prepare a camp or home for a stranger
In preparing our food for a trip, we boiled beans
and put them out on the snow in a frying or baking
pan, left them for a few minutes, by which time
they were frozen. Striking the bottom of the pan,
the beans were knocked out and broken into chunks.
As soon as one panful had been frozen and broken
up, we put it into a flour sack and repeated the oper-
ation, until the sack was full. Then, when we
wanted cooked beans, all that was necessary was to
reach into the flour sack, take out a few pieces of
frozen beans (which resemble peanut candy), and
put them in the frying-pan. Throwing in a little
snow to take the place of water, we set them on the
campfire, and in a few minutes had a panful of nice
154 Attraction of the Compass
cooked beans, which we nicknamed "Alaska straw-
The same method was used for pea-soup or dried
apricots. This time, however, we were compelled
to eat the beans frozen, not having the opportunity
to make a fire.
We had plenty of canned corned-beef and horse
meat. It was very hard to tell one from the other,
the only distinguishing mark being the paper labels
on the beef, for there were none on the canned
horse. When the labels on the beef got wet and
came off, we called it horse ; because this meat,
brought for the dogs, was in the same kind of cans,
from the same American packing-house, looked and
tasted the same when the can was open ; so we
decided it was all horse — but nevertheless, it
The only way to quench our thirst was to melt
snow in our mouths, or eat ice, and Bill would
remark, "I say, isn't it a blessing to have ice to allay
our thirst, for jolly well I remember when our regi-
ment was crossing the desert in South Africa, ten
men died for want of water."
So, miserable as we were in that dugout, as Bill
often said, we were warm, dry and comfortable,
On a Frozen Lake 155
and could find something for which to be thankful.
The third day the storm cleared away and we
made preparations to leave camp, but in looking out
we found the incline too steep to get over. By
cutting steps in the ice, we reached the top, where
we found an opening too wide to jump across, so we
lashed our three sleds together, making a bridge.
By this means, with a rope tied to our bodies in case
of accident, we carried our provisions and outfit
across. After several hours of hard work, we
managed to get on the other side of the crack
in the ice.
At once I slid down the incline, and found
myself standing in three or four inches of water,
which had overflowed for about fifty feet. The snow
had covered it so that at first the water could not be
noticed. They lowered the sleds and outfit to me,
which I took across to hard ice. Then Bill held
the dogs on the last sled and I hauled them across
the water. I saw there was no time to waste, for
by this time the water was rising fast. Hurrying
back for Minnie and the Jew, I took them across
on the sled. By doing this no one had wet feet
Soon our packs were lashed to the sleds and we
156 Attraction of the Compass
started for the other shore, which could be seen in
the distance, and we knew it must be reached before
stopping for the night, as we would perish if we
remained on the lake without shelter.
Presently my feet became so cold and numb from
being wet that I could hardly walk. Finally, after a
great deal of urging from Minnie and Long Bill,
I climbed on the top of the load to ride. For the
first time on the trip I shed a few tears, for 1
realized that my feet were freezing and that I would
be a helpless creature, and it would be far better
to have met death than to be left in this plight.
Just then I heard one of the pups howling in the
box which was lashed on top of the load, and in
my irritable condition, caused by suffering and pain,
I wondered why we were so foolish as to pull a
box of pups that would never be of any use to us.
Suddenly a new thought came to me, and I put both
feet in the box with the pups. At first they shunned
my feet, but soon nestled down, and I could feel
the warmth of their little bodies penetrating through
my wet moccasins. It was then that I knew why
we had brought the pups. How grateful I felt
towards them, for they had saved my feet. As it
was, I afterwards lost my toenails, and the skin
On a Frozen Lake 157
peeled off my feet.
In less than twenty minutes I was off the sled
again, with my feet warm, pulling with the rest of
We crossed the lake with no further difficulty,
and to our joy and delight the opposite shore was
covered with thick timber, where we camped for
three days. Here we pitched our six by eight
sleeping tent, which we were not able to use except in
the woods, for if it should once get wet and covered
with ice we could not fold it to take with us.
Encounter with a Wolverine
ENCOUNTER WITH A WOLVERINE.
All felt happier now, even the dogs, excepting
our third dog, which was a white, short-haired bull-
dog, remarkable for his strength. He was all right
while working, but he would set up a howl from the
cold as soon as we stopped, which started the others.
We would put an old fur over his back and light a
candle, sticking it in the snow in front of him ; this
he would mistake for a fire, and could be kept quiet
until our fire was started. I usually had to blow out
the candle in order to get him to change his posi-
tion and come to the real fire.
This bull-dog caused a great deal of merriment
and laughter in our party. He had a small crooked
tail, which froze off an inch at a time, keeping it
constantly sore ; but he was bound to sit down on it,
which of course hurt him very much, and kept him
in a bad humor. He imagined either we, or the
dogs, were hurting him. It took every effort to keep
162 Attraction of the Compass
him from fighting Stub, our leader.
We had spent half an hour thawing snow for
water to make tea, when at this time the bull-dog
saw an opportunity, and seizing Stub by the throat
he hung on with a vengeance. We tried to choke
him off, but could not ; then pinched his sore tail,
but with no results. Seeing that something had to
be done, and done quickly or we would lose our
faithful leader, I seized the much-prized hot water
and let the bull-dog have it in the face. It brought
him to, and he let go. Poor Stub's neck was very
sore, but he managed to get in his work, for he left
the bull-dog on three legs.
After the dogs had had their supper, which con-
sisted of corn-meal mush, flavored with spoiled
bacon, they settled themselves for the night, while
we crawled into our little tent, where we had made
a brush bed, and I drew my combination rifle and
shot-gun close by me.
So we laid down to sleep, and there was one thing
that I will give that country credit for: it never
causes people to spend sleepless nights. I was soon
dreaming that we were carrying the oil-cans full
of nuggets down Broadway in New York, hunting
a place to sell them, when suddenly a slight noise
Encounter with a Wolverine 163
awakened me. There was a full moon and as I
looked down at my feet, I saw a sight that I never
will forget: the head of a wolverine, the most dan-
gerous animal in all of Alaska. He was licking
out the frying-pan, where we had warmed up some
A wolverine is an animal that will fight when he
is frightened, instead of running, and I knew better
than to move or make any sound. My first thought
was my gun, but how to get action on a desperate
animal like that at so close a range I could not at
first decide. However, moving my hand as slowly as
I could without making a bit of sound, I carefully
lifted the gun, until it rested on my toes. The
wolverine was within twenty inches of our feet,
and when I got range on him I let go both barrels,
and I sure got my game.
The report of the gun frightened Long Bill so
that he stood erect, with such force that he lifted
the tent from us bodily, he being much taller than
"Blow me," he said, "but that's shocking, doncher-
know. Drot it, what did you do that for?"
"Oh," I replied, "I was shooting a little game for
164 Attraction of the Compass
"Blast it, Professor, take the bloomin' tent off my
head. I can't see a thing, doncherknow."
"My word," continued Bill, "but can't a chap
dream fast? I thought I was in South Africa
fighting Kaffirs, and that one had just shot me with a
After the excitement was over, we settled down
and were soon peacefully sleeping again. The next
morning we skinned the wolverine, and the dogs
had a much needed feast.
A wolverine is an animal between a wolf and a
bear; its front paws and head are the same as a
bear ; its hind feet are like a wolf's ; its bushy tail
and marked back like an ant-eater's. The skin was
a great addition to our supply of furs.
On the fourth morning we packed again and
started on. After the three days' rest and feast we
were like new, for life out-of-doors gives one plenty
of appetite and muscle, and we had been next to
nature so long that each day we were prepared for
the worst. Long Bill used to say, "Never mind
today, Professor, it will be worse tomorrow."
The Great Glacier
THE GREAT GLACIER.
So on and on we went through solid woods for
two weeks, until we came to another lake about five
miles wide, on the other side of which there seemed
to be a very high mountain. It looked like a glacier,
which we afterwards found it to be. It seemed
impossible to pass over this glacier, so at first we
decided to remain in the woods until we died ; but
Little Compass encouraged us to keep on, with the
assurance that there was a bright future ahead.
To remain was sure death from starvation, but to
press on, there was a possibility and hope ; and it
required only a few words of encouragement to
start us on again.
There was no snow on this lake, and it was easy
traveling on the ice. After crossing the lake, we
found a solid wall of ice about twenty-five feet high,
as if the glacier had traveled into the lake, and
broken off square. The face of this glacier was
168 Attraction of the Compass
different from anything I had ever seen, for it abso-
lutely was formed in layers, about one-half inch
thick. Between each layer there was a streak of
black, resembling soot.
Try as we might, we could find no place to get
on the glacier, so as to continue our course toward
the volcano. We still had some hope of finding a
settlement of Indians, or some trapper who could
direct us on our course ; besides, our Little Compass
still urged us to keep on in the direction of the vol-
cano, saying that when we reached it. which she
felt sure we would, our hardships would be at an
"Minnie, why do you feel so positive that the
direction we are taking is the right one?" I asked.
With her sweet, winning smile, she answered
with that ever-famous woman's reason, "Because."
At last we decided to cut a sloping tunnel into the
side of the glacier, with our axes, hoping to reach
the top ; and as we cut our way through this ice, the
entire formation was found to be in layers.
It took us day and night for three days to reach
the top, and we used the mouth of the tunnel for
shelter during this time. At times we wondered if
we were trying to get on the glacier, or simply
The Great Glacier 169
rinding something to do to keep from going mad.
As we were struggling our way through this ice,
I felt like a prisoner fighting for freedom ; and
with new vigor and energy would sink my axe into
the ice and bring out larger chunks than ever, until
great drops of sweat would stand on my brow,
despite my being in an ice cave.
Finally it came my turn to rest, Long Bill taking
my shift at the axe. As I was losing myself in
sleep, like distant chimes the blows from the axe
seemed farther and farther and farther away, as if
it were all a dream. At last I knew no more,
falling into a deep sleep from exhaustion.
Once or twice during the night I awoke, and could
not remember where I was, until I recognized the
sound of chopping ice; for it seemed as if Bill
never tired, as he struck one blow after another.
Finally, early on the fourth morning, I heard him
tugging at something.
"Bill, what's the matter now?" I asked.
"I've lost my bloomin' axe through the hole.
Blast me if I don't believe I've struck top instead
Climbing up, I found that Bill was right ; he had
really struck daylight, and lost his axe through the
170 Attraction of the Compass
After breakfast, we all went up the sloping tunnel,
and clambering through the opening, stood on
top of the glacier, gazing back across the lake.
Looking in the opposite direction toward the vol-
cano, our hopes sank, for the glacier seemed to slope
upward, preventing our seeing any great distance.
No smoke was visible, making it impossible for us
to locate the volcano, or to determine the direction
in which it lay.
At this Ike actually laid clown and refused to go
farther, and cried and prayed that we might return
to the opposite side of the lake. I asked him, "To
whom are you praying? To Father Moses?" And
to aggravate him so as to work up his fighting
blood, I declared that Moses was not a Jew, and
was not the son of the servant of Pharaoh's daugh-
ter; but was the son of Pharaoh's daughter, who
was an Egyptian ; that it had simply been policy
to blame the servant. This fairly made him boil
with rage, and forget his fear.
Then Long Bill stood erect and related the story
of Napoleon crossing the Alps: how his soldiers
faltered, fell and clung to his garments, pleading
with him to return; how, heeding them not, he
The Great Glacier 171
pressed on to victory and did the things which
seemed to the world impossible ; and to this day,
Napoleon ranks highest in accomplishment.
Bill stood there in the real attitude of Napoleon,
though instead of being garbed in the uniform of a
soldier, he was draped in an old red blanket, like an
Indian chief, and as he repeated this story we forgot
the cold. Our hearts filled with the determination
to press on, even if it lead to death, for we expected
to die anyway, so why not die trying to live, even
in the face of death?
Nevertheless, the Jew did not appreciate senti-
ment, and still timidly suggested a return to the
woods; however, we told him if he went he would
go alone, so he decided to follow us.
Just then Minnie exclaimed, "Look, look, there
is the smoke now !" and sure enough, great rolls and
clouds of smoke raised toward the heavens, settling
again out of sight behind the summit of the glacier.
I grasped my compass and marked the course,
for fear we could not see smoke often enough to
keep in the right direction, although I realized the
compass was not true, as it would continue to point
towards the magnetized iron mountain which we
had passed. Regardless of this, I could mark my
172 Attraction of the Compass
course. So we packed our outfits ready to travel
again, knowing there was a long, hard trip before
us, which perhaps would be our last, but Long Bill
"Cheer up, while there's life there's hope," one
of his favorite sayings, and little Minnie added,
"While I am guardian and 'Compass' no harm
will come to us." Although I thought that down
deep in her heart she had but little hope ; for I knew
I had none, but did not speak of it to the others,
for fear of discouraging them.
The Fatal Crevice
THE FATAL CREVICE.
Anticipating the tedious trip across the glacier,
we prepared — as we supposed — a generous supply
of meat. A caribou, shot in the woods before cross-
ing the lake, seemed sufficient meat for ourselves and
Fastening on our creepers, a kind of spiked sole
for walking on ice, we started on a trip that we
might never finish. At night, we would put down
the robes and blankets and pile in, not knowing
whether we would ever awake again. The glacier
was constantly moving, causing a continual roaring
and crackling of the ice.
On the fourth day after we had started, there was
a heavy snow, which made our traveling very diffi-
cult ; for there were very often deep crevices in the
ice, calling for much watchfulness and care.
Reaching what proved to be the widest crevice
on the glacier, about six feet across, we decided to
176 Attraction of the Compass
lash our sleds together and make a bridge, just as
we had done on the lake ; but Ike said this was
nonsense and declared he could jump it. Just as we
were about to complete our bridge, to our surprise
and horror he made a leap ; but fell short of the
other side, and disappeared in the crevice. Down
and down he went out of sight. We could hear his
mournful groans, but could not see him. Minnie
wrung her hands, and Bill exclaimed, "My word,
Professor, what will we do?"
I volunteered to be lowered into the crevice,
although Bill and Minnie both declared it wa<=
useless, and tried to persuade me not to go. But in
my excitement I insisted ; so, tying together all the
ropes we had left, making in all about sixty feet,
we made fast one end to our bridge, and the other
end of the rope was tied around my waist. Bill and
Minnie lowered me about forty feet into the
crevice, to see if I could rescue Ike — and never in my
life did I endure such suffering from the bitter cold.
Not only this, but when I was lowered to the
fullest possible length, I saw a sight that curdled
the blood in my veins. Far beneath me was our
companion, wedged so tightly in the ice that it would
have been utterly impossible to have helped him out,
The Fatal Crevice 177
even if I could have reached him. As it was, I was
only half way to him; more than that, the action
of the glacier was closing the crevice, and realizing
my own danger, I shouted,
"Hoist me quick, or it will be too late !"
Then I called again to poor Ike, but received no
answer, only hearing a faint groan, which told me
that nothing could be done for him ; and my only
thought was that he might freeze before he was
crushed to death, in that way being spared further
As they were pulling me to the top, suddenly
there was a slip, and the rope seemed to give way.
Oh, the horror of it ! To feel myself falling and to
know that mine was to be the same fate as my
companion's below ! Then, no sooner had I given
up my hope of life, than the rope, with a jerk, be-
came tight. It was then I remembered that I had
made the rope fast to the sleds across the crevice,
but could it be possible that they did not have the
strength to pull me out? I knew it would be im-
possible for me to climb the rope, as my hands and
arms were numb with cold.
There was nothing left for me but to dangle at
the end of this rope, until the crack in the glacier
178 Attraction of the Compass
had closed and crushed my bones in an icy grave ;
or perhaps I would freeze before this would happen
— or would I bring it all to a sudden end? I
clutched for my belt-axe, to cut the rope and let
my body drop into the depths below, for what was
the use of struggling when life would be so short
anyway? But I found the axe fast between the
rope and my body, and could not get it.
I exclaimed aloud, "Fate is against me, I must
suffer!" when just then I heard Bill's voice as
though far, far away, for I was becoming numb
with cold, and was beginning to be drowsy :
"Keep up your courage, old chap, and we'll soon
have you out !"
After what seemed hours to me, in my frozen
condition, but in reality was only a few moments,
the rope began to move upward, and at last I was
landed on the top of the glacier; where Bill and
Minnie put blankets around me, and pounded and
rolled me for nearly half an hour, before there was
sufficient circulation of blood in my body to enable
me to stand. When I was able to stand on my feet,
Bill and Minnie hugged me and kissed my bearded
face. Then I was glad that I lived, for I saw that
both depended upon me.
The Fatal Crevice 179
As soon as I was able to speak, I asked, "What
happened to the rope. Bill?"
But it was little Minnie who answered, "It was
my fault. One of my creepers slipped off, causing
me to fall ; and if I had not brought up against Bill's
foot, solidly planted on the ice, I would have joined
you in the crevice below."
"Yes," continued Bill, "and no telling what
would have happened if the rope had not been tied
to the sleds and put across the crevice, for when
Minnie lost her grip, blow me if I was able to hold
it alone with my mitts on. We both pulled off our
bloomin' mitts at once, and took hold of the frozen
rope with our bare hands, and — here you are."
Dear little Minnie ! When I looked at her pale
face and bleeding hands, I began to realize what
she had passed through. Although she smiled at
me brightly, at the same time a tear trickled down
her cheek, which made me think that after all she
had not lost her love for me.
It was getting late. Being worn out, we decided
to rest there for the night ; so, after crossing the
crevice, which by this time had almost closed, we
fed the dogs and swallowed what food we could,
and camped for the night.
180 Attraction of the Compass
At dawn, which at that season was ten o'clock,
we were astir, and after eating breakfast, started
on ; but not without a sad thought for our lost com-
panion, Long Bill remarking,
" Ton my word, I suppose we'll all go that way,
one by one, doncherknow."
"Yes, Bill, we all expect to die ; but after all, the
greatest surprise in a man's life is when death
We knew not what fate held in store for us ;
but kept pushing on, expecting each night to freeze
to death. Before we fell asleep, we bade each other
goodbye instead of goodnight ; for as we advanced
farther on the glacier, it grew colder. But it is far
pleasanter to freeze than to starve or drown ; and
our only wonder was, which one of us would be the
first to go.
We had long since given up all hope of life, and
it made but little difference whether death came
today or tomorrow ; but in spite of this, we tied a
rope to each other as we traveled, so that we at least
would escape the fate of the Jew.
Crossing the Glacier
CROSSING THE GLACIER.
On and on we went. One night as we were trying
to sleep, wrapped in our blankets and fur robes,
with the dogs huddled under the sleds, hour after
hour I could hear little Minnie groan and shake and
chatter with the cold, for that night it must have
been seventy below zero.
At last Minnie said, "I cannot live. I am slowly
freezing to death. If such a thing should happen
that you ever get word to my brother, tell him I
died happy, although my body was very miserable ;
and continue in the direction of the volcano, for in
my heart something tells me that this is the right
Her courageous words, while at the point of death,
filled me with despair, for to lose my Little Com-
pass, the joy and sunshine, the only ray of hope left
in my life, seemed more than I could bear.
Necessity sharpened my wits, however, and I said,
184 Attraction of the Compass
"You shall not freeze !"
So I worked my hand from beneath the blankets
and reached under the sled, where I knew my ever-
faithful leader dog lay. He was a long-haired,
mixed spaniel and collie. I forced him out from
under the sled, and although he knew whose hand
it was, he nibbled on me hard enough to bring the
blood; because even the dog realized the danger of
being taken from the little shelter he had. I pulled
him down in the robes and held him there ; in a
short time our bed was comfortably warm, for in
a cold climate there is no warmth like the heat of a
Little Minnie never ceased praising and loving
that dog, often remarking that she owed her life
to her faithful Stub, and thereafter she bestowed all
her affections on the dog. Again I could see that
the hardships through which she was passing day
by day were killing all the love she had, or might
have had, for me. However, it made but little
difference now, for I was sure that we would all
die on that glacier.
At this time of the year the days in that country
were very short, and it became quite dark at four
o'clock in the afternoon. For that reason we could
Crossing the Glacier 185
travel no great distance in a day. An occasional
gust of smoke from the volcano kept us on the right
course, and was our only ray of hope.
We had now been on the glacier about seven days,
and our provisions were running low, for the pups
were eating almost as much as an ordinary dog. As
they had proven of so much value in saving my
feet from freezing I would not kill them. Besides
this, since we had learned how much warmth they
could furnish, we put them in our bunks at night.
We often wondered why we were trying to live,
when seemingly there was no hope before us, except
the smoke of the volcano, which could be seen more
plainly every day.
On looking over our food supply, we found barely
enough to last three days. Already we had skimped
ourselves and the dogs.
That day a flock of wild geese flew directly over
us. Long Bill grabbed the gun and shot both barrels,
never dreaming he could reach them (they
were very high), but to our surprise the rifle bullet
did get one of them, and it fell close by us. We
had no fire or opportunity to cook it, so you can
imagine our hungry condition when we absolutely
ate that goose raw. Upon opening it, we found
186 Attraction of the Compass
grains of wheat in the craw as large as grains of
corn. Now we were sure this flock of geese came
from the direction of the volcano, and it seemed
hardly possible that wheat grew in other than a
civilized country. And where could wheat that size
grow if not in a very warm climate? The grain
was but slightly swollen, and could not have been
eaten by the goose more than an hour before.
At once new hope arose in our hearts, and we
harnessed up our dogs and "mushed" on. We were
in that state where we seemed to be grasping for
life ; for, like a drowning man clutching at a straw,
we grasped at this little grain of wheat, feeling sure
now that land could not be far off.
We pressed on and on, and it became colder as
we traveled higher towards the summit of the
glacier. Before reaching this elevation, we noticed
that the smoke of the volcano constantly hovered
on this highest point, and the air was stagnant, at
times making us drowsy. As we neared the top of
the glacier, the ice looked black and was covered
While in camp, before starting to cross the glacier,
we had made several pairs of good moccasins
from bearskins and the hide of the wolverine, and
Crossing the Glacier 187
had it not been for these furs we never would have
been able to exist on this glacier.
We were entirely out of provisions, and so weak
from hunger we could scarcely walk, and the bull-
dog was so lame that we had to haul him on the
sled. After a long talk, we decided to kill the dog;
because it was useless, in our weakened condition,
to waste our strength pulling the dog when he
would have to die sooner or later — as seemed to be
the fate awaiting all of us.
Bill and I tried to forget our hunger and at times
refused to eat, in order that Minnie might have
more. After killing the dog we concluded that
dog-meat was about as good as horse-meat, so we
skinned him and kept the carcass. After dark, we
pulled off little strips of the lean flesh, and I helped
to eat my bulldog, forcing myself to forget what
kind of meat I was eating. Though this may seem
a hard thing to you, reader, to me it was easy ; for
after a human being has passed through such suffer-
ing and hardships, his senses are less acute. He
has a big appetite, with little or no taste, and in time
becomes much like a savage. The dog supplied us
with nourishment for two days.
That night we noticed a heavy fog over our
188 Attraction of the Compass
heads, which began to settle and condense, forming
great drops of rain. The weather turned warm,
making us most uncomfortable in our furs — in fact,
to us, it seemed like summer. Our clothes were
becoming damp, and at last we realized that if we
should get wet, and the weather turn cold, we would
surely freeze to death. As a last resort, we pitched
our tent between the sleds.
This half fog and half rain settled on our little
tent and froze, until it was weighted down, and
covered with ice. This continued all night.
The next day when the fog lifted, there were
nearly two inches of newly formed ice on the glacier.
The sleds were frozen firmly, and we had to cut them
loose. Our little tent had to be abandoned, because
it was a solid mass of ice, and there was no possible
way to carry it with us in that condition.
This new layer of ice was very clear, and when
we chopped our sleds out we could see the old ice,
which was much darker than the new formation,
with the black streak of soot between. Now we
could understand exactly how the glacier was
formed in layers, and it was quite plain why the
black streaks could be seen between them ; for we
had observed on the previous day that the smoke
Crossing the Glacier 189
of the volcano had settled on the summit of the
glacier, the point we had at last reached.
After the mist was lifted, the atmosphere was
clearer than it had ever been before. Ahead of us,
in the distance, could be seen a small growth of
stunted trees, such as usually grow above the timber
line on a mountain. Now we were sure, that unless
some accident befell us, we would get off the glacier.
The Trail of the Wolves
THE TRAIL OF THE WOLVES.
At last we reached the trees that we saw in the
distance, and Bill shouted, "Klondike ! we have
found land again !" The scrubby trees proved to
be spruce, and looked more like a bush than a tree,
with little or no foliage. This we knew must be
due to the smoke of the volcano.
We still had our snowshoes and put them on,
beating down a trail for the dogs for about two
miles ; when suddenly, in plain view, we saw the
blaze shooting from the mouth of the volcano,
which was on a level with us. The mountain grad-
ually sloped down from where we were, although
our sleds would not coast, because the snow was so
deep and the runners of the sleds were narrow.
Being very tired and hungry, we camped early,
in a little grove of small spruce trees. About dusk,
we heard a noise that sounded like a flock of quail
a short distance from us, which Long Bill imme-
194 Attraction of the Compass
diately recognized as Alaska ptarmigan. He hastily
caught up the gun, and shot wildly in the direc-
tion of the sound, and with two shots brought down
four of them.
Stripping some of the dry bark and limbs from
the trees, we started a fire, and for the first time
in weeks had a pot of coffee, and having boiled the
ptarmigan in the frying pan, we had a feast fit for
a king. Coffee, tea and salt being the only pro-
visions we had left, we would now have to depend
entirely on the game we could shoot.
Next morning Bill went back to the place where
he shot the ptarmigan, and found five more that he
had killed, but did not find the previous night on
account of the darkness. After enjoying the second
meal of ptarmigan, we pulled camp and started
on down the mountain in the direction of the
We had only gone a short distance when we came
to a beaten trail, now and then, to our astonishment,
seeing drops of blood on the snow. On examining
the trail closely, we saw tracks of a caribou and a
band of wolves. At first we decided to go in
another direction, for fear of meeting them. Again
we remembered that if wolves were on the trail of
The Trail of the Wolves 195
a caribou, by that time they had killed it and satis-
fied their hunger, and as the trail led in the direction
we wished to go, we followed on down the mountain.
When a band of wolves take after a caribou
they usually get him, for they follow close at his
heels, and at each opportunity bite his hocks, or
hind legs, near the hoof, until they so cripple him
that he is not able to travel. When his hindquarters
become helpless, they gradually climb on him from
the rear, until they manage to get him down entirely.
Sometimes these wolves will follow a caribou in this
manner twenty miles before they succeed in killing
him. and they leave a beaten trail in the snow, hard
enough for anyone to travel on. The only place a
caribou can be successfully attacked is while he is
in the deep snow.
Pretty soon the dogs began sniffing and the pups
to whine, so we knew we must be close to the end
of the trail, and that the dogs scented the blood of
the caribou. W r e found the prey exactly in
the condition we had imagined, except three good
sized grey wolves were still feeding on the caribou.
Bill lowered his rifle and put an end to one of
them — the other two fled.
So we pitched camp by the side of the dead
196 Attraction of the Compass
caribou, and cut off the choice pieces of meat for
ourselves, then turned the dogs loose on the rest of it.
Next morning the pups looked like tadpoles, being
mostly stomach and eyes. This was a timely treat
for the dogs — for they surely did need something
For four days we traveled down this mountain,
until we came to the summit of a lower mountain,
and I will never forget the sight I saw through the
field-glass: a steaming lake, like a great pond of
hot water, which, even with my glass, I was not
able to see across. Beside it was a beautiful valley,
extending for miles and miles, far beyond my range
of vision. There seemed to be towns and settle-
ments, and farms with fences, and now in reality
I saw the big lake and buildings which were shown
to us in the Northern Lights.
Poor Bill jumped and shouted and whooped with
glee, and Minnie exclaimed, "I knew it, I knew it!
I knew we would find this place. It has been
pictured to me in dreams all my life."
"I wonder if the rest of your dream will come
true?" I asked, to which she answered, "Never
fear, Professor, the rest of my dream is too good
to come true."
The Trail of the Wolves 197
We reasoned that this lake surely must be an
inlet from the sea, and what seemed to be steam
must be rising fog; but these cities— where could
they be — where were we? All we had seen for
months was glacier and snow, and to suddenly see
green trees and fields was almost more than we
could bear. I did not shout or jump with glee, but
leaned against my sled and slowly said,
"Bill, tell me if you can see the same things that
I see through the glass. Can you see a vast lake,
covered with mist? A city with a big tower in the
center? And all the green fields, and evidences of
a beautiful civilization? Bill, tell me, is it a mirage
— or am I losing my mind?"
"No, Professor, blast my eyes if I can't see all
you mention; but blow me if I know where we are.
I can see the big tower of stone on this side of
the lake in the center of the city, doncherknow.
Minnie, look again."
Little Minnie took the glass, scanning the scene.
Then we all looked again and again; the view did
not change, so we began to hope that our sufferings
were soon to end.
We decided to camp where we were that night,
and the next day to go on.
198 Attraction of the Compass
"Professor," said Bill, "blow me if I don't believe
this is the domicile of an order of monks, secluded
from the rest of the world."
"Oh no, Bill," said Minnie, "this city is not new
to me, although I do not know just where it lies.
It seems to me as if I had only been away from it
on a visit, and lost my way home."
"It's a bloomin' pity you didn't remember the
trail. It might have saved us a deucedly hard jolt,
Reality of a Dream
REALITY OF A DREAM.
As we sat there by our camp-fire after our meal,
all was darkness, except the little blaze of the fire
before us. Suddenly the heavens lighted and we
heard a sound like the roaring from the stack of a
blast-furnace. Looking toward the volcano, the
blaze could be seen leaping high into the air. Minnie
stood erect, facing the volcano with outstretched
"Beautiful, beautiful ! Thou art surely my friend,
for thy smoke has led me to my life's dream."
As I looked at her while she uttered these words,
her cheeks aglow, her figure so nobly erect, I won-
dered if she were some supernormal being, who
had charmed us out of our course simply to attain
her ambition. But these thoughts had no sooner
occurred to me than I exclaimed aloud,
"No, no, it cannot be true. This is surely the
little Swedish girl whom I met in the canyon."
202 Attraction of the Compass
Then hurrying to her side, I attempted to take her
in my arms, but she waved me away, asking me if
I could not see more beauty in nature than I could
in her love.
"Yes, dear, but I am jealous of nature, for the
nature you are now gazing upon seems to win your
love from me."
Just then Bill interrupted with, "Come, come, quit
your quarreling, and let's go to bed. Don't accuse
Minnie of not loving you, Professor, for I know she
does. Blow me if she hasn't proven it in every
Acting upon Bill's suggestion, I returned to the
camp-fire and sat down on the ground. Drawing
my knees up, I stared at the little blaze in deep
thought, for I could feel within me that my time had
been wasted, following a fanciful vision. After
all, she treated me kindly only for the service I
could render her.
Minnie continued to stand and gaze in the direc-
tion of the volcano, although the blaze had died
down and all was darkness now. When she
returned to the camp-fire, she sat down close by me,
and slipped her hand in mine, saying, "Look up,
dearie, and be happy, for as Bill says, 'Never mind
Reality of a Dream 203
today, it will be worse tomorrow.' "
I did look up at her, and by the dim light of the
camp-fire carefully scrutinized her, and in spite of
the long suffering and the exposure to the elements,
her face was marvelously beautiful. I thought of
the story of "Beauty and the Beast," placing myself
as Beast ; for I surely resembled one, dressed com-
pletely in furs, with long hair and beard. How
could I expect a beautiful woman to see anything
in me to love? So I smiled at her, saying, "I will
cheer up, Minnie, and try to remain so to the end
of our journey."
There was but little sleep for me that night, for
along with the aches and pains of my body, my
heart ached, too ; for I had never loved but once in
my life, and something within told me that I could
not retain this love — that she was not satisfied with
me. She seemed more spiritual than human, as no
human being could stand the exposure and hardships
this girl had suffered, and still have the appearance
of a stately queen.
The following morning I shot an ibex, on a cliff
about fifty or sixty feet above us. Wounded, it
jumped, landing on all fours in a snowdrift on a
level with us, and only a few feet away. We soon
204 Attraction of the Compass
had it skinned and cut up into quarters, then, build-
ing a fire of birch bark and spruce limbs, we roasted
pieces of ibex ; and like Indians, feasted all that day,
until we had practically devoured the animal.
The ibex is a species of goat or sheep, which
never goes below the snow line ; but feeds on twigs
and grasses, growing behind the shelter of rocks.
In the distance we could see another mountain,
covered with a grove of small spruce trees, from
eight to fifteen feet in height. Evidently it was as
high as the one we were on. Between the two
mountains was a broad valley which we must cross.
The crust on the snow was sufficiently hard to hold
us up, but we dared not coast, being prevented by the
trees and underbrush ; our effort now was not to
pull the sleds, but to hold them from going too fast.
We were again obliged to put our creepers on.
The farther we went down the mountain, the
rougher the crust became. The steam, or rain,
encountered by us on the glacier, most likely had
caused this crust on the snow. Though it was very
hobbly, yet it was as smooth as glass. After a while
it became necessary to tie a rope to our sleds and
wind it around a tree and lower the sleds, lodging
them behind another tree, then to creep down to
Reality of a Dream 205
where they were lodged. In this way we traveled
down the mountain.
The dogs were not in harness during this descent,
and devoted their time to catching rabbits, which
they enjoyed, but we could not bring ourselves to
eat them, because they were full of worms, and had
sore necks. All rabbits in Alaska get in this condi-
tion once in five years.
The second day we reached the center of the
valley, where we found a river, about two hundred
feet in width. This looked to be frozen over, until
we were half way across, where we found an open-
ing and a swift-running stream of water. We first
traveled down stream quite a distance, looking for
a place to cross, for it was not very deep; but not
finding any, we turned around and went up stream.
At last we found a place apparently frozen solid
all the way across, but as we walked out on the ice
it gave down with our weight. Minnie, seeing her
feet were about to get wet, jumped on top of the
load. I saw the ice was giving way under me, so
I let out a yell to the dogs.
Well knowing its meaning, they began to whine,
and I know that unless one has had experience with
a dog-team, he cannot realize how much a dog can
206 Attraction of the Compass
pull when he has to. They crouched down close to
the ice, ran out their claws into the ice like a cat,
and with a pitiful whine they surely did pull, and
did it in a hurry. Even a dog knows what it means
to get his feet wet on ice, but with all of our effort,
the ice broke through as we neared the shore on the
opposite side. The sled carrying Minnie upset,
and Minnie, landing on a cake of ice in the river,
in the attitude of the "Count of Monte Cristo,"
"Go on, I can swim ashore ! Don't stop the load
in the water !"
Here the river was shallow, being about eighteen
inches deep, so, obeying her order, we rushed for
In the meantime Minnie was being slowly carried
down stream on the floating ice. So far she was
quite dry, and I waded out to her rescue, carrying
her ashore on my back. We soon had a good fire
and were drying our fur suits. Dressed as we were
entirely in furs, we resembled modern Robinson
Long Bill, taking off his boots, which were made
of moose skin, with hair side in, put them by the
fire to dry. Pretty soon we heard one of the pups
Reality of a Dream 207
chewing on something behind a sled. Bill said to
me, "See what that blasted pup is chewing on."
I did, only to find he had stolen one of Bill's boots
and eaten the entire foot off of it. We had with us
so many of these raw furs for bedding and clothing
that it kept us busy watching the pups, to keep them
from eating our clothes.
The rest of the day was spent in drying our furs
and bedding, and making a new boot for Bill ; but as
he had been in the habit of wearing odd ones, he felt
quite at home with one moose skin and one wolf
By the Light of the Lake
BY THE LIGHT OF THE LAKE.
In the morning we prepared to ascend the
mountain. The crust on this side of the mountain
was not so hard, and very often we would break
through into three or four feet of snow. All the
way up we labored through just such difficulty as
this. At last the crust became so soft that we were
compelled to use our snowshoes, and by lashing
sticks on both sides of the sleds, we pushed them
ahead of us, in this way keeping the sleds from
going through the crust.
It was night when we reached the summit of this
lower mountain; but we had our reward, for just
then the flames from the crater shot high into the
air, lighting the country for miles and miles around,
then died down again.
I had ceased to be surprised at anything, expect-
ing each hour to look upon sights never seen before
by civilized man.
212 Attraction of the Compass
The steaming lake, upon which we had gazed in
such wonder three days before, through our field-
glasses from the high mountain, could now be seen
as distinctly as by daylight. The entire lake was
alight ; the waves were phosphorescent, giving it an
appearance of molten metal. This threw a brilliant
light, and again we could see the quaint city and
the high tower.
Here we camped for the night, and as we laid
our heads down to rest we no longer bade each
other goodbye, but simply, "Goodnight, and pleasant
Along in the night I was awakened by a slight
sound,as if two people were holding a conversation.
On opening my eyes, I saw the form of Minnie,
standing erect, with her hands outstretched towards
the lake, saying, "Beautiful lake of fire, give me
your secrets, and show me the love of my life,
whom I have sought for so many years. I have
suffered much and endured much, but again thou
hast given me strength to come. I will soon be
Her manner alarmed me, and then and there I
decided that she was either losing her mind, or was
some supernatural being, who in time might steal
By the Light of the Lake 213
upon us in the night and kill us, thinking herself a
great queen, and through with our services.
Calling to her, I said, "Come, dear, lie down. I
am afraid this hard trip has been too much for you,
and you had better rest until morning, when we can
resume our journey; for it is a long way to the
lake yet. If you expect to meet your sweetheart
there, you must rest, so that you can retain your
beauty and attraction."
She turned and looked at me in a wise way, then
came over and sat down, exclaiming, "This may
all be a foolish, fanciful dream, and after all,
perhaps you are the man whom I love ; for, dearie, I
do like you very much, and so far you have been
all in all to me; though I believe somewhere be-
yond this — yet perhaps not in this country — there
awaits the man of my dreams. I will know him
when I seen him."
"Well, Minnie," I replied, "when I met you I
thought that you were the girl of my dreams. Do
you think that my dream has deceived me?"
She left the question unanswered, and soon fell
asleep, but there was little sleep for me, so I
watched for the blaze from the volcano, which now
and then would belch forth tongues of fire, and die
214 Attraction of the Compass
away as quickly as it came.
The next day we pressed on with new hope and
vigor, for even if we had to be in this country the
rest of our lives and die here separated from the
rest of the world, we knew that we had seen a sight
that no other man in our country had ever seen or
even heard of, and there was some satisfaction in
The snow was not so deep now, and in places the
ground was bare. What puzzled us most was how
the weather could be moderating at this time of the
year, when we were somewhere in the Arctic
region ; yet it surely was. for we were becoming
uncomfortably warm in our furs, and it could not
be later than the middle of January. Little Minnie
had kept close track of the days, weeks and months.
In the morning we wound our way down the
hill, which was more of a gradual slope than the
mountains we had passed over. Our field-glass was
a very strong one, and enabled us to see small
objects many, many miles away ; but the most promi-
nent one was the immense tower, which resembled
a castle about ten or twelve stories high, and
appeared to be built of stone.
About three o'clock we located a good camping
By the Light of the Lake 215
place, and cut some of the small spruce trees to
build a kind of Indian tepee, for we took shelter
when we could get it.
Bill and I were not satisfied with the view we
had of the "Lake of Fire," as we called it; so
decided to go around on the opposite side of a rocky
bluff near by, in order to climb up and get a better
view, Bill taking the combination gun, in case we
might scare up some game. He, being much longer
legged than I, was some distance in the lead; when
suddenly, from a small cave in this rock, I heard a
familiar growl, which I very quickly recognized.
The only thing for me to do was to pick out a small
tree and "get there," which I did, without wasting
From my elevated position I saw a bear as large
as a small sized cow. He must have been a cross
between a grizzly and a polar bear, for he was white
and black, marked the same as a horse or cow, and
although I was much interested in this animal I
would much rather not have met him. The tree I
went up was too small for the bear to climb, but
with vigorous efforts he tried to shake me out. I
yelled for Bill and told him my trouble.
"I'll be there in a minute, Professor," he an-
216 Attraction of the Compass
swered, but Bill's minutes seemed very long, for
every time that tree swayed back and forth I ex-
pected it to be torn out by the roots. I knew if Bill
had forsaken me now, it would be the first time that
he had hesitated in time of danger, although we
had never met a bear before. But my fears were
needless. One faithful shot from Bill's rifle,
coming as it did from an entirely opposite and unex-
pected direction, ended the bear's career.
Sliding out of the tree, I asked Bill why he was
so long in coming, to which he replied, "I did not
want to shoot at the bloomin' animal until I could
catch him in the right spot, for to wound a grizzly
bear and not kill it is committing suicide (for one's
We went back for a sled and hauled the fellow to
camp, where we skinned him, and I know if I had
that pelt in the United States it would never be
credited as genuine. This bear supplied us all with
a big feast, and was appreciated, not only by us,
but by the dogs.
With two days' more travel we were entirely out
of the snow, but the moss was sufficiently slippery
to pull our sleds down the mountain. Here we
met with a new difficulty, unthought of before. For
By the Light of the Lake 217
the first time we had no water, and began to feel
very thirsty. At last we became so desperate that I
dug under the moss, hoping to find ice. Sure enough
I did ; and we melted some in the frying pan over
a fire, each taking a drink.
We had no more than swallowed it before we
threw it up, so took another drink; but it had
the same effect. We had noticed that the ice was
yellow from running through the moss, but had not
thought of it being poison. So, congratulating our-
selves that we had escaped what might have been
our finish, we hurried on down the mountain, still
looking for water, but without success.
However, we stopped to cook some bear meat,
and noticed one of the dogs digging behind a rock.
At last we went to see what he was after, and
found a nice big snowdrift in between two rocks.
So, melting the snow, we satisfied our thirst.
Entering a New Found Country
ENTERING A NEW FOUND COUNTRY.
As we were about finishing our meal, the dogs
began to growl, then set up a terrible barking, which
was unusual. They were used to coming in contact
with all kinds of game, but never made such a fuss
as this before. So I caught up the rifle, and pre-
pared for the worst. Suddenly there appeared,
through the bushes, two large, raw-boned men — the
largest I've ever seen — and walked up to the fire.
They spoke to us in a language we did not under-
stand — and this was saying a great deal, for Minnie
and Bill between them could speak seven languages.
Nevertheless, this was a new one. Bill remarked
once or twice that some of the words were Greek,
and Minnie said that they looked like Norwegians.
They appeared very friendly, and finding that we
could not understand them, motioned for us to fol-
low them, which we were glad to do.
We soon came to a beaten trail, about half a mile
222 Attraction of the Compass
from where we had been traveling ; and here we had
been working our way through the brush and trees,
when a good trail was so near.
While blazing our way through the brush — be-
fore reaching the trail — I heard one of my pups
howl, and saw it dashing towards me. Looking past
him I saw, in hot pursuit, a krugar, an animal
resembling a mountain lion.
"Look, Bill, quick! Where is the gun?"
I had no more than spoken the words until one of
the natives pulled from his pocket a small ball, half
the size of a door knob, and threw it in the direction
of the krugar.
It did not strike the animal, but exploded the
instant it struck the ground, with such terrific force
that the earth under us fairly trembled, and the con-
cussion nearly knocked us off our feet. We ran
toward the krugar, expecting to find him blown to
pieces. But not so ; he was dead, yet simply bleed-
ing at the mouth and ears. The explosive was so
powerful, that some of the leaves fell from the trees
in the vicinity.
By signs, we made the men understand that we
would like to see one of the bombs ; this was
granted, but the stranger did not let us take it from
Entering a New Found Country 223
his hands. It was a perfectly round ball, made of
material resembling melted lava or cinder, having a
small sealed opening, showing that the explosive
was put in after the ball was made.
After examining the ball and seeing the result of
its use, I was forced to a conclusion, which I hoped
could never, be, and remarked :
"Bill, it will be useless to pick a fight with these
fellows, for that is the most wonderful explosive I
have ever seen or heard tell of."
"My word," answered Bill, "blow me if I
wouldn't dislike to start trouble with a man that
size, even if he didn't have an explosive that would
kill a regiment of soldiers."
Little Minnie made several efforts to talk with
them, first trying Norwegian, then Swedish, Finnish
and Danish, German and French. They seemed to
understand some of the words in each language, but
not enough to carry on a conversation. Bill even
tried Greek, Latin and Siwash, but without results.
After our guides had walked with us about half
a mile on the beaten trail we came to an old, half
tumbled-down stone house, which they bade us
enter, and assisted us in taking in our outfits. Here
there were several men, women and children, and
224 Attraction of the Compass
as each member of the household saw us, they
looked in wonder and amazement.
The clothing worn by these men was made of
homespun wool, consisting of a coat and skirt, in-
stead of trousers. All the men wore long beards
and hair to their shoulders, so in that respect Bill
and I were right in style. They wore high-top boots
and a grass hat, and from all appearance had the
disposition and manner of a Dunkard, or Mormon.
The women wore loose robes belted in at the waist.
The attitude of these people towards one another
was apparently all kindness, and they treated us the
By motions they instructed us what to do.
We sat for some time in a large room, which we
thought to be the general assembly room of the
household, possibly the dining hall.
As we were wondering what they were going to
do next, a tall, angular girl entered and spread a
linen cloth on the sideboard, or wall table ; brought
out a large crock, made of a material which looked
like lava, also bowls and spoons of the same mater-
ial, and motioned us to eat. We did not require the
second invitation, and poor Bill hardly knew how to
get his feet under the table, we had been eating off
Entering a New Found Country 225
of the ground for so many months. We filled and
re-filled our bowls, for the soup was fine. None of
us had tasted anything like it before. Beside soup
we had boiled mutton with artichokes, and Swedish
bread, a kind of hardtack called "conecktybrude,"
and bananas. The women and children sat around
and kept their eyes steadily fixed upon us, for to
them we were peculiar looking sights.
We were still completely dressed in furs, and
these were not cured. In this warm climate the
skins were spoiling, creating a fearful odor, but it
was all the clothing we had. Minnie again at-
tempted her many languages, but finding words of
no use, by signs she made them understand that we
wanted clothing. These men seemed much ashamed
of themselves for not having thought to offer us
Bill and I were shown to a small swimming-pool,
while Minnie was left with the women, who
provided her with clean clothing and a place to bathe.
We spent the night in this tumble-down house,
which at one time had evidently been a famous
building, but through age and neglect there were
now but three habitable rooms.
The City of Tyron
THE CITY OF TYRON.
The next morning we had a good breakfast of
steamed cracked wheat and goat's milk, after which,
imagine our surprise to see standing before the door,
an old-fashioned two-wheeled cart, drawn by a
The morox is short-legged, with wonderful horns,
an animal claimed by science to be extinct. Never-
theless, these people had one hitched up and were
working it, proving to us that we were in an
unknown country, for Bill was a student of zoology,
and declared that the morox was not in existence
in any part of the known world.
Our outfits, sleds and all, were loaded on the cart.
By signs we were told to get on. We made no
effort to ask them where they were taking us, for it
was of no use. We were quite willing to give
ourselves into their charge, for surely we could not
fare any worse than we had for the past months.
230 Attraction of the Compass
To Minnie, everything seemed familiar. As we
would pass some old building, or a stone wall, she
would exclaim, "Oh yes, I remember that place
quite well. I was only ten years old when I first
"My word, Minnie," said Bill, "I fear for your
mind, doncherknow, for you were never in this
"Perhaps not, in this life," she answered, "but I
have had dreams of this country in my sleep, and
visions of it when I was awake. I was not sure I
would ever see it in reality ; but fate has brought
me here. I am surely charmed."
Even our dogs seemed to understand that this
was civilization, for they romped and played and
barked with glee.
The dogs had been accustomed to much faster
traveling than that afforded by an ox-cart. Becom-
ing impatient, they undertook to seize the morox by
the nose, until I was compelled to tie them behind
the cart. Immediately, they threw their weight in
the collar and started to assist in pulling the load,
for they imagined they were in harness, and knew
their duty. This seemed to amuse the natives.
The pups had never seen a cart before, and it
The City of Tyron 231
kept us busy seeing that they were not run over.
Even at this apparently slow gait we made
eighteen miles that day, for the lake furnished a hazy
light, which made it possible for us to travel early
and late. That night we arrived at a small village
of about two hundred inhabitants. The natives
here viewed us with curiosity.
Great beads of sweat stood on our brows and we
had to keep fanning ourselves, although the natives
seemed perfectly comfortable. We readily under-
stood that, for after living on glaciers so many
weeks our blood had thickened. We noticed also,
to our great discomfort, upon nearing the lake the
climate became warmer.
Xow and then as we traveled along we looked at
the great tower through the field-glass, and tried to
understand the guides when they attempted to tell
us what it was.
Once I remarked, ''Never mind, we'll find out
what it is. It may be our burial place, who knows ;
for these people never laugh ; they barely smile
over the antics of the dogs. They take things too
seriously to be safe."
They appeared to look upon us with great pity.
The guides took us to a stopping-place, which
232 Attraction of the Compass
from all appearance was an inn of some kind.
They showed us a place to keep the dogs, and
thinking some harm might come to them, Bill de-
decided to remain with them, and we managed to
make the men understand this. He was given a
portion of an unoccupied building adjoining, and
furnished with some food for the dogs.
In this room he found some whole wheat, the
grains of which were the size of grains of corn, so
running to me he exclaimed :
"I say, this is the country where the bloomin'
goose, which we shot on the glacier, found the large
After we had examined the wheat, he returned
to the out-building and finished cooking the dogs'
supper. In the meantime, the women were pre-
paring our supper, which they served in much the
same manner as it had been in the first stone house.
On the following morning, after a most refresh-
ing sleep, I sauntered into the court, where I saw
Bill giving an exhibition to a large company of the
natives. The two dogs, hitched to a sled, were
pulling him over the bare ground, thereby showing
their strength in harness.
"Hello, Bill, how did you sleep last night?" I
The City of Tyron 233
"I was so warm, dry and comfortable in the bed,"
replied Bill, "blast me if I could sleep. I got up
and found a broom and put it across the bed under
me, in order to feel natural, but it was of no use.
Then I decided to get off the bed and lay on the
floor with the dogs, where I soon fell asleep. Drot
it, I suppose I can never become accustomed to liv-
ing like a white man again."
After breakfast, we expected to continue our
journey in the cart drawn by the morox, but as wc
let the dogs out of their room they began to bark
and seemed very much frightened, tearing in and
out of the door, as if imploring us to protect them.
When I stepped out through the court I did not
blame the dogs, for one of the largest elephants I
had ever seen stood there. Our sleds and outfits
were packed on a platform upon its back, and we
were to mount by means of a ladder.
Our guides motioned us to ascend, and with great
sport and laughter we did so. In the meantime, all
the natives looked at us as if they were going to a
funeral, and we decided that they meant it, and that
we were to be the victims. Still we thought we
would enjoy life while we could, for after our ter-
234 Attraction of the Compass
rible hardships and the constant worry as to what
new and worse difficulty we were next to encounter,
this brief relaxation from concern for the future
was joy untold.
One of the natives led the dogs. This mode of
travel was much faster than the ox-cart, although
the tottering and swaying back and forth of this
great animal's back soon made us seasick.
In this manner we traveled two days, stopping
noon and night at some roadside house for refresh-
ments and sleep; until at last, just at dusk, we
arrived at the city seen many days before through
Here we were furnished a small stone cabin.
There were many cabins like this one, with now and
then a large one the shape of a crescent.
The inside of the crescent formed a yard and
playground, many families occupying apartments in
this crescent-shaped building.
The interior of the building was beautifully deco-
rated with lava tiling of many shades, and the
hangings were of richly colored woolens, somewhat
like Navajo blankets in texture, but not in design.
All the roofs were flat and made of lava, similar
to glazed tile. The lava tiles were cemented
The City of Tyron 235
together with a material like sulphur, used in the
place of mortar.
Minnie, when examining this cabin, found a mark
on the stone, which she said was an emblem of
Norway. This was apparently the mark of the
builder, and she declared at once that these people
were Norwegians, who had forgotten their own
language. She said she knew her people wherever
she found them ; even though they failed to recognize
the Scandinavian languages, they could not disguise
This cabin had the prettiest floor imaginable,
made from this same lava tiling. It was in different
squares and forms, and cemented in the same
manner as the roof.
We retired early that evening, and in the morn-
ing Bill and I arose long before daylight, and were
met at the door by the largest crowd of people we
had seen for a long time. All seemed to be there
to meet us, but not seemingly to greet us. They
looked at us in wonder and we returned their gaze,
for among them were men who looked like Nor-
wegians, others resembling Eskimos, and even one
who looked like a Jew ; one or two of Italian descent,
and several Russians. This proved to my satisfaction
236 Attraction of the Compass
that their ancestors had come from different
countries — but how did they get there? They all
spoke the same tongue.
"Bill, let's go down and have a look at the lake,
that we've been traveling so long to get to," I
"Perhaps these blasted people won't let us,"
answered Bill. "I feel like a prisoner, doncherknow."
"Well," I said, "we can start, and if they stop
us we can come back."
"Blow me, if that isn't a capital idea. I hadn't
thought of that, doncherknow. Drot it, there is
no use in asking permission, for they would not
understand us, so let's be off."
So, calling little Minnie, we started out through
the crowd, with our dogs. The people made way
for us, but continued to stare, some of them follow-
ing us toward the lake.
Before reaching the lake, we came to a most beau-
tiful park, about five hundred feet from the shore.
There was no vegetation closer to the water than
this park. The walks were shaded with banana
trees and all manner of tropical palms, which
appeared to be of natural growth.
We sat down in this park; for, nearing the lake,
The City of Tyron 237
the heat became unbearable. By this time the dogs'
tongues were out, and they were panting with the
heat. The pups kept on going until about half way
to the water's edge, when suddenly, howling and
running, they came toward us, holding up first one
foot then the other, having burned them to a blister
on the hot rocks. We could now see why vegeta-
tion grew no nearer the lake.
While sitting there, a man who looked like a
Russian came toward us, and shook hands. Minnie
spoke to him in German, saying, "Sprechen sie
Deutsch (do you speak German) ?" He shook his
head, not understanding.
"Kan de Tale Dansk (do you talk Danish) ?"
He still made no reply.
The next query was in Norwegian, "Snache die
Norsk?" This means, do you speak Norwegian?
"Sproke Svenske (do you speak Swedish)?" Yet
no reply. Then Bill jumped up, crying, "Parlez-
vous Francais?" The Russian took Long Bill in
his arms, crying, "Oui, oui. Monsieur. Oui, oui."
Then rattling on in French, he gave Bill no oppor-
tunity to reply.
I had a feeling that probably Bill's French was
limited, and that his question had exhausted it; but
238 Attraction of the Compass
not so. Presently Bill bellowed out something in
French to the Russian, which stopped his chatter
Then Bill began to talk. After talking about ten
minutes, he remarked to us in English :
"It cost my guardian about five thousand dollars
to teach me that bloomin' language, and blow me
if this isn't the first time I have ever had any use
for it. My word, this chap knows everything,
except how to talk without using his bloomin'
Then I said, "Well then, Bill, this is a grand op-
portunity to find out something about this country.
Ask him if the lake is going dry or why the water
is so far out, and where the darn trail is that leads
out of this country."
"I'll try to, Professor, but I am a bit rusty at this
Bill started in on him, nevertheless, and they
talked and talked to one another. Repeatedly I
asked Bill, "What does he say?"
Bill made no reply, and the Russian kept on
talking. At last I had to remind Bill that it was the
height of ill manners to speak a foreign language
in the presence of a person who did not understand
it. Bill took me by the arm, urging:
The City of Tyron 239
"Wait, Professor, this is a new discovery that
the world knows nothing of."
"Tell us what it is about Bill, and then I'll have
the patience to wait."
"It's the effect of the sun on the tide."
I remarked, "Go on, the sun does not affect the
tide, it's the moon. The sun has been useless ever
since Joshua stopped it."
At this he gave my arm a good shake and told me
to stop my bloomin' foolishness, for this conver-
sation was serious.
Finally they finished, and Bill turned around to
me, but did not speak at first.
"Well, what did he say?" I asked.
"Blow me if I can talk, for thinking. I asked him
if the lake was drying up, or what caused the water
to be so far out."
"What did he say, Bill?"
"He went into detail and explained to me a thing
I had never thought or heard of. He said the tide
was out, and blow me if he didn't say that it was
the sun which affected the tide instead of the moon."
"Oh, he is losing his mind," I said. "Those are not
"Orthodox ideas be blowed ! The extent of
240 Attraction of the Compass
knowledge of the average person is what they have
been taught, or what they have read. Their educa-
tion is artificial, doncherknow, and they have little
or no practical knowledge. All of their ideas have
been thought out by the thinking few, and handed
to them in print generations afterward."
"So this man is one of the thinking few, is he?"
"Yes," Bill answered. "He says that he is a Rus-
sian student, and was also educated in France,
doncherknow, but on account of certain socialist
opinions he was exiled from his country to Siberia.
From there he made his escape, and by accident
found this jolly country, where he is forced, by the
bloomin' laws existing here, to remain ; which he
says is not all unpleasant, for here there is every-
thing that man's heart could wish for.
"This Russian says that while it is generally
claimed that the moon causes the tides, since arriving
in this country he finds it to be the sun, doncher-
know, not the moon, that affects the tide.
"He tells me the name of this jolly fine country is
Tapond. It is located in a magnetized area, which
is the real attraction of the compass. This mag-
netized area covers many thousands of miles, and
The City of Tyron 241
upon reaching it the compass is no longer true,
doncherknow, and for this reason no man can ever
discover the north pivot by the aid of a bloomin'
compass. Besides this, the sun is the most power-
ful thing in the known universe. It draws this
magnetized area, and if the sun be on one side or the
other of this space, it slightly tips the earth towards
it. causing the change of tide all over the world."
"No wonder they exiled that fellow from Rus-
sia," I remarked. "Ask him, Bill, what he would
use in place of the compass."
"A glass tube of radium, so prepared that the
sun affects it, and points east instead of north.
Every twelve hours it swings upon its bloomin'
pivot, and by figuring out the time of day, and the
day of the year, a fellow can determine the exact
direction he is traveling."
After explaining this to me Bill then inquired
of the Russian, "What language do these people
use ?" and was told that they used an universal lan-
guage. Taking a small slate and a pencil, the
Russian began explaining it to us. Words occurring
most frequently in several languages were made
common to this one tongue, endings and syllables
being used in such a manner as to create a speech
242 Attraction of the Compass
wonderfully expressive and beautiful. Its main
charm to us, however, was the facility with which
it could be learned. In half an hour we were able
to use quite a few words.
The nouns, adjectives, and adverbs had endings
peculiar to themselves. All nouns ending in "o,"
and adjectives in "a." There was no plural, and
certain well defined suffixes and prefixes cleverly
modified the meaning of the original root, such as
f rat-o, boy ; f rat-in-o, girl.
We were told by this man that there was another
crater at the opposite end of the lake, not quite so
active as the one near us. About every three weeks
it threw forth a gas which curdled the moisture of
the air into rain.
The lake was covered with phosphorus, and we
could now understand why it looked like fire at
night. The sulphur in the water was so thick that
it washed up in ridges on the shore.
After Bill's conversation with the Russian, we
returned to our cabin, as we now called it, for it
had been assigned to us for shelter ; and our guides,
the two big Norwegians, brought us some boiled
wheat and goat's milk, also bananas and fruit of
many kinds. We were in a tropical climate now,
a veritable "Garden of Eden," and these natives
must have had instructions to give us the best the
country afforded, and make every effort to under-
stand our wishes.
"My word, but I do believe these people are can-
nibals," said Bill, "and intend to fatten us up and
have a pot-latch, like some of the tribes in South
Africa when they catch a tender-foot. When they
get us good and fat they'll put us in a bloomin' pot
and boil us up, and the whole city will have a feast,
"Well, Bill," I answered, "if they wait till you
246 Attraction of the Compass
get fat, we'll live a long time."
We remained in the stone cabin all clay, feasting
and gazing on this wonderful lake, which furnished
warmth and life to all of the surrounding country,
and created various climates, for by traveling a few
miles toward the lake or from the lake one could
live in any climate he desired.
All about us seemed to be high-peaked, rocky
mountains, covered with snow, excepting in the
direction of the volcano, the route by which we
entered the country. Ever since we had been in the
city we could see a thick grey smoke hovering over
the glacier and the mountains we had passed.
The next day we three, with our dogs, took a
stroll through the city, going in and out of shops
and stores, such as they were, and passing many
interesting and curious sights, until we came to a
great square. In the center was a large statue
of a man with high cheek bones, the true type of a
Carved on the face of the rock, under the statue,
was the picture of a viking ship, such as Eric the
Red might have used when he discovered America,
four hundred years before Christopher Columbus
touched the Indies.
The Chief 247
This boat was built like a large row boat, with a
square sail; the head of a dragon was carved on
the bow, a fish's tail on the stern, and the sides hung
with shields and armor of war. It was manned
by twenty men, ten on each side, each man with an
oar, and a man in the center of the boat, with two
mallets and a block in front of him. From all
appearances he was keeping time for the oarsmen.
On the pedestal under the ship was an inscription.
Suddenly Minnie stopped and clapped her hands
with glee, crying aloud, "I knew these people were
Norwegians, for here is a verse in that language."
As she read it aloud, first in Norwegian, and then
in English, the people who were still following us,
looked at her in wonder and amazement. It read
as follows :
"We know not whence we came or where we go;
Believe as we will, we do not know."
'"Sealed within this stone is a history of this
Just then a distinguished looking man, mounted
on a small elephant, came up.
Minnie, when she saw him, exclaimed in a low
voice. "My prince! I knew it! I knew I would
248 Attraction of the Compass
He spoke to us in his native language, which was
not yet very clear to us. Minnie at once tried her
many languages on him, and he seemed to under-
stand the Finland language fairly well. He asked
her if she could read the inscription on that stone,
and she replied by reading it, and translating it into
the Finnish, seemingly to his amazement.
Then he told her that she was the first stranger
coming to this country who had been able to read
that inscription. In fact, she was the only one since
the death of the great pirate chief whose statue
stood there, who had not been secretly taught by a
chief of the country, Tapond. He said the statue
represented the chief of a band of pirates, who dis-
covered the country in the fifteenth century.
After he had finished, Minnie translated his
words very rapidly to us, for she was an artist at
this. This man, as he turned away from us, gave
some instruction in his native language to our
guides. Minnie started right out to follow him, and
I had to call her, for our guides had motioned us to
follow them in another direction.
I asked Minnie why she had followed this man,
and she replied that she knew not. She seemed to
be attracted to him just as our compass had been
The Chief 249
attracted toward the great iron mountain.
"So after all, Minnie, I am not the real attraction
of my Little Compass?"
Her reply was, "I have known you only a day
in comparison with the length of time I have known
this man. For he has visited me in my dreams
since childhood. It was he that I was following
the night in the swamp when I nearly walked out
of the boat."
"Perhaps he will not recognize you, as you have
him," I replied, hoping that this might be the case.
We were then escorted to the palace of the leader,
as we eventually learned him to be, which proved to
be the tall, tower-like castle we had seen through
our glass as we entered the country.
This castle was ten or twelve stories high, and
covered about one block. It was of stone, deco-
rated and trimmed with different shades of tiling,
made from the melted lava that at times flowed
from the volcano.
We were shown into the palace, which was
decorated and draped like a Turkish salon, with
oriental rugs, statues and pictures. The tiled floor
resembled an ancient pavement of Roman Mosaic,
with its many designs and colors. For the first time
250 Attraction of the Compass
we saw several firearms hanging on the walls,
although none were of a modern type, most of them
being the old-fashioned blunderbuss, and some were
flint-lock rifles, evidently relics.
This leader, or chief, soon returned to the castle.
He furnished us a room for the dogs in his stables,
connected with the mansion.
After we had been guests in the castle for two
days, one of our guides, who was still with us,
brought to us an old man, with a long grey beard
and bowed head, who at once stepped up and shook
hands with each of us. He spoke in broken English,
telling us that he was an American who many years
before, had been aboard an ill-fated whaling vessel.
It was carried partly through the Northern Chan-
nel and crushed by an iceberg. After long suffering
and fearful hardships, he, with one companion, had
reached this country, in which he had been a
prisoner-at-large all these years.
He told us that he had been brought many miles
to meet us, and to see if he could translate our
language to these people.
Imagine our pleasure upon actually meeting a
person who spoke English, and who had at one
time lived in the United States. Knowing his
The Chief 251
English to be much broken — in fact, he had forgot-
ten many of the English words — he informed us
that we were the first English speaking people with
whom he had had an opportunity to speak his native
tongue since he had been in the country.
While he had much liberty, it was impossible for
him to leave the country ; in fact, he had no desire
to do so. The hope and longing to see his own
country and friends, who were no doubt all dead
by this time, had long since been abandoned.
We told him that we would like very much to
have him for our teacher and guide, as we were
anxious to learn the manners and customs of these
people, and to have explained to us the many things
we failed to understand.
He expressed his willingness and pleasure to do
this, and said that he would undoubtedly, for a while
at least, be with us most of the time; and that
there would be no hurry for us to learn from him,
as we had the rest of our lives in which to learn
the language and ways of the people. There was
no possible way for any of us to leave that country
again, for it was against the law. These people did
not want the outside world to have a knowledge of
their beautiful country, or of their honest people.
252 Attraction of the Compass
Anyone happening to arrive there by accident was
always well treated and protected, but never was
allowed to leave, for fear the rest of the world
would be told of their discovery.
I asked him if it were against the law for him
to give us this information, to which he replied,
"No, you are very much desired as citizens and
have been accepted as such, and clothed by the
people of this country. You will always be treated as
guests. It is not necessary for you to worry, or to
want for anything, except to return to your own
country. But that can never happen."
After half an hour's conversation, he told us
that he had been requested to ask us by what route
we had reached the country, and with as few words
as possible we reviewed our trip, and arrival there.
"I will tell our Chief what you have said," he
answered, "but I doubt very much that he will
believe you, for no living thing ever crossed that
glacier before. Many an expedition has attempted
it, always to perish ; if not from the cold, from the
poisonous gases. There never has been a time, to
our knowledge, when the top of this glacier is not
covered with gas and smoke from the volcano, inas-
much as the glacier is the same height as the mouth
The Chief 253
of the crater."
We assured him that we had come that way, and
had passed over this route upon which he claimed
all living things must perish. We then told him
that a very heavy fog, or steam, had settled on us
that night. He remembered it well, and said that
everyone in the city had noticed the steam from
the mouth of the crater. Such a dense steam at this
season of the year, had not occurred before within
the memory of even the oldest citizen.
"The great Supreme Power must have been with
you, and provided a way for you to pass over the
glacier alive, for some purpose."
At once I thought of Minnie and her dreams.
We asked where this hot water came from, and
he told us a great geyser, in the side of the volcano.
Then we told him something he had never heard.
That is, that the water supplying this geyser came
from a river flowing into a cave under the magnet-
ized iron mountain ; not appearing again until, after
being heated on its course through the base of the
volcano, it reappeared as this geyser. Besides this,
we told him that we had entered this cave and found
it to be very rich in placer gold.
"So that accounts for the gold we find near this
254 Attraction of the Compass
geyser," he replied.
"Your hot geyser also accounts to us for the dis-
appearing river," I said, "and the terrific noise heard
in the cave under the magnetized mountain. It
sounded to us as if a huge coffee-pot were boiling
over. Then a great gust of steam would fill the
cave, as if this river were pouring into an immense
fire ; which proves to us that the river flows through
the base of this volcano, where it receives its heat.
When the swamps we crossed freeze up, the river
ceases to flow into the volcano."
"And that is why we have winter and summer,"
said the sailor, "and why the geyser ceases to flow
in the winter, which causes a lowering of temper-
ature. There is no water flowing through it at this
time of the year, and the heat of the volcano and
the mountain is more intense, keeping the sur-
rounding country from freezing up."
"And if this volcano should cease to be active in
this latitude your country would freeze up alto-
"Yes," he conceded, "quite true."
"Some of our men," continued the old man,
"make a business of placer mining near this geyser.
This is only done, though, when the geyser is not
The Chief 255
active. From this gold jewelry is made, and also
We were then shown a national coin, on one side
of which was the picture of a viking ship ; on the
other, the face of the Norwegian, whose statue we
had seen in the middle of the square.
"This," he continued, "is our largest coin, and will
equal in value twenty dollars of American money.
As the coins grow smaller they bear the likenesses
of different men who have ruled this country in
honor, but never the face of one who has brought
shame to his office. There are smaller coins bear-
ing portraits of men who have served their country,
not for pay or graft, for there is none here, but for
the honor they won by faithful service during the
time they were in office. Now I must leave you, as
I have to report our interview to the Chief, but I
will see you again soon."
When he came next morning, we asked him to
accompany us to the lake. So, with the old sailor,
Bill, Minnie, and I, in our peculiar costumes, which
consisted of a coat and skirt and grass hat, again
visited the lake. Bill was not able to resist the
temptation to hold up his skirts in imitation of a
Seattle girl crossing a muddy street, but his long,
256 Attraction of the Compass
slim legs did not attract the bystanders.
Again we came to the beautiful park encircling
the lake. Some of the trees had perished during
the terrific heat of that dreadful night we had
passed on the summit of the glacier. This change
in conditions must have been especially provided
for us, as the old sailor said ; for we had escaped
the gas by being enclosed in a foggy vapor, which
in twenty minutes had turned the climate on the
glacier from sixty below zero, to temperate heat.
We stood and gazed toward the volcano, which
was belching forth blaze and smoke into the sky.
As we watched, the smoke gradually disappeared
beyond the mountain and glacier.
"Well, Minnie," I said, "I heard you crying once
to the blaze of this volcano, to give up its secrets,
and tell you of your prince. Do you think it has
listened to your call?"
"I believe I have met my choice, and I intend he
shall choose me."
"Were you looking for your prince when you
started with us down the river from Dawson ?" I
"I was always looking for my prince, but never
expected to meet him in this country. But love goes
where it is sent, they say, even to the North Pole."
"Well, let's forget it for the present, dear, and
look! there is the blaze from the volcano again. It
260 Attraction of the Compass
beats like the heart of the earth, for it appears every
so often, and gives life to this wonderful country."
After returning to the castle we were served with
a lunch, mainly of fruits. Fruit of all kinds was
plentiful in that country, from the hard winter apple,
to the banana, orange and pineapple. One won-
dered where all these varieties grew, but this coun-
try, as I have said before, had all the climates, from
the coldest to the warmest, for the closer to the lake
one went the warmer it became.
The Chief seemed to have a thorough knowledge
of his country, and I was surprised to find out later
that he also had an extensive knowledge of the
world, for among the prisoners escaped from Sibe-
ria who had found their way to this country, by
other routes, were two thoroughly educated students.
These men had traveled all over the world,
and had a general knowledge of all countries. They
had been selected as teachers of the leaders of
We saw little of Bill these days, as he spent most
of his time with the French-Russian, and each night
he would tell us what he had learned during the
"I say, Professor, what do you think? The Rus-
Marriage Laws 261
sian took me up to his home. Blow me if he isn't
married to a jolly fine little native."
"What! Is he married? Who did he find willing
to tie up for life to a horrid man?"
"Oh, no! not for life, doncherknow. Marriage
here is arranged hy contract, five years at a time."
Little Minnie then asked, "What is their plan
"Marriages, as explained to me by the Russian,"
Bill replied, "are all conducted by the government
for a period of five years, and if both parties are
going on well and satisfied at the end of that time
with their married life, blow me if they don't try
it over, renew the contract, and have another
wedding and a jolly good time. All of their lives they
continue to do this every five years; but if at any
time they have a hair-pulling, or first-fight, or dis-
agreement of any kind, doncherknow, they can fail to
renew their marriage vows, which frees them. And,
drot it, don't you see, this causes each party to make
a special effort to please the other, for fear his com-
panion will not be willing to renew the marriage at
the end of the contract. A capital plan, doncher-
"But," I asked, "in case there is a family of
262 Attraction of the Compass
children and both parties, or one party, is dissatisfied
and refuses to renew the marriage at the end of
the five years, what becomes of the children?"
"Oh, they are put in the public school, boarded,
clothed and educated away from the environment
of wrangling parents. Blow me if this school isn't
kept up by the marriage fees that have been paid
into the treasury for renewals."
Bill then added, "Children not only receive book-
learning in these schools, but a practical education
from experience, which is of benefit to them through
life. And bah Jove, there is some sense to that,
doncherknow, for I was educated in two countries
and learned three languages, and after passing
through Oxford I was compelled to go to work for
a man who did not have time or money to go to
college, but was forced by his limited means into a
practical education. By the by, I was soon dis-
charged for my limited knowledge, for my head
was crammed so blasted full of book-learning that
it had no room for the solid and substantial facts
of the business world."
The Lost Love
THE LOST LOVE.
The next evening Chief Eric called upon us in
our apartments, and catching sight of Minnie, he
stepped up and stroked her hair. She looked like
a different individual since taking a bath, changing
her clothing, and washing her blonde hair, which
without doubt was very beautiful. As he stroked
her hair, he looked in her eyes and talked in the
Finland language. He told her what little he knew
in Finnish was taught to him when he was a child,
by an old sailor who had been lost in the Arctic
ocean, and by accident had found this country,
where he lived to be an old man.
After he held a few moments' conversation with
Minnie, she told us that she was going with him to
look further through the palace.
A cold chill came over me, because I began to
see a light in her eyes that I had never seen there
before, and I realized that this man was not only a
266 Attraction of the Compass
chief in name but a prince in appearance. Tall,
with wavy black hair and a jet black mustache
and beard (ail men in this country wore beards),
heavy black eye-brows, long eye-lashes, and beauti-
ful teeth. This man answered the description of
the prince whom Minnie had dreamed about in the
boat. He was graceful in every way and seemingly
very kind at heart, and she being a decided blonde,
they seemed to act like the magnet and the nail. I
realized now that Minnie was the compass, but
that this Chief was her attraction.
I asked Bill if he noticed this; he assured me that
he had not, and that I need have no fear, for after
passing through the sufferings Minnie had experi-
enced with us, there was no possible chance for her
ever to forsake us or forget our kindness. But this
did not satisfy me and I paced the floor.
The country had no more charms for me ; I had
no further interest in it, and at once told Bill that
I would shoulder my rifle and fight my way out of
that country, and take with me the only woman I
had ever loved.
Well I knew the impossibility of what I was
saying, but in my rage forgot my situation.
I went out of our apartments and started to
The Lost Love 267
search the palace for her, and thought perhaps I
might show her the wrong of being separated from
us. I was afraid to trust them alone together, for
he seemed to have a great power, or influence, over
her. So I went through one beautiful room after
another, up and down winding stairs, through cor-
ridors and courts. At last, I pulled aside a heavy
hanging curtain, and there, seated upon a gold-
mounted chair, was the Chief, and on some beauti-
ful cushions at his feet sat Minnie, looking into his
eyes and repeating after him words he was trying
to teach her.
My feet seemed to be glued to the tile floor
where I stood, and I was speechless, for I had never
seen Minnie look like this. At last I found my
voice and cried aloud, "Minnie, you surely have not
forgotten — you surely haven't forsaken me. Come
She replied to me in English, which the Chief
could not understand, "I have come a long way,
through great suffering, to find the prince of my
life's dream. Now that I have found him you must
not interfere. Your mission has been fulfilled ; you
have been my guide to bring me to my prince. I
dismiss you with honors — what more can I do?"
268 Attraction of the Compass
I felt my knees weaken under me and I cried
aloud, "My God, why did I not freeze to death
out there on the glacier? Why have I lived to expe-
rience this great sorrow?"
I returned to my apartments and told Bill. He
did not believe me, so I led him back and showed
him what I had seen ; and when she saw both of us
looking at her, she came forward. Chief Eric
looked after her, but did not move. He stroked
his mustache, and seemed to be in deep thought.
Slipping her hand in mine as if to pacify me, she
turned and smiled goodbye at the Chief, and went
with us to our apartments.
When we were alone, Bill and I had a long talk
with Minnie, and asked her what the Chief had said.
"He told me that I was to occupy the seat of
honor in this country with him," she said, "because
I love him, and he loves me. His whole life long
he has dreamed a dream and had a hope that the
Supreme Power, which the people of this country
worship, would some day send him a beautful inter-
preter, who would not only interpret the legend on
the stone, but would also interpret the aching in
his heart, which gave him more anxiety. He said
we were destined for each other since the day of
The Lost Love 269
our birth, although born many thousand miles from
each other. This great power, whatever it may be,
and too deep for man's knowledge, has worked out
our fate, and brought me many miles across seas,
swamps and glaciers to share his happiness and his
"Did he not understand that you were mine?" I
"He asked me that question ; if by any law of our
country or people that either of you had a claim
upon me. I assured him that you had not."
"Then after all your pretension of love for me
you told him I had no claim on you?"
"My pretension of love for you? I did not know
that I had pretended to love you. I liked you, and
I think you have been a very good friend to me,
but you must not forget that I have gone through
a great deal of suffering in your company."
"Never mind, Professor," said Bill, "most all
men who have brought their wives or sweethearts
to Alaska have lost them as soon as they saw a
Minnie remained with us in our apartment, and
we sat by the window all night, talking and watch-
ing the action of the volcano and the lake.
270 Attraction of the Compass
The sulphur and electricity caused this lake to
look beautiful at night. I can think of no more
proper name to give to this substance, for it acted
like electricity and caused every ripple on the lake
to sparkle, which furnished a dim light over the
The next morning I expected Chief Eric to return
for Minnie, and was thinking how I would express
to him my love for her whom he was so cruelly
stealing from me. I intended to address him in the
universal language as best I could, but I was dis-
appointed again. He did not come near us or send
for her, nor interview us for almost a week.
During that time Minnie was very restless, and
went so far as to undertake to find him, but it was
of no use. She could not see him, nor hear from
him in any way, so I told her that perhaps he had
noticed my affection for her; that they were very
honest people, and would not interfere in any love
She stormed at me in rage, and for the first time
during my acquaintance with her she did not smile
when she spoke to me. Minnie, my Little Compass,
always smiled when she spoke to anyone. I had
274 Attraction of the Compass
never heard her speak ill of anyone ; I had never
known her to be sorrowful, or to tell an untruth ; I
had never known her to be downhearted ; but now
her whole appearance changed, and she met my eyes
with a stare that I will never forget. Bill, always
having a ready remark, warned me, "Be careful,
Professor, for there is nothing so deucedly shocking
in all this world as a woman's scorn — and snake
Bill was a fool in some ways, but a philosopher
in others, and understood a woman much better
Minnie left us and went out on the stone veranda
overlooking the lake, and looked wistfully down
the long boulevard by the lake. Nevertheless, she
did not see the object for which she was searching.
She returned, looking disappointed, and would not
speak to either Bill or me.
The next morning our American sailor friend
came to the castle, and said that he was now
at liberty to remain with us as long as we wanted
him. We were walking in the court after breakfast
when he arrived, and the first question Bill asked
was, "How did these men happen to find us on our
arrival in this country?"
Woman's Scorn 275
"The two men who brought you here were out
hunting at the time they came across you, and hear-
ing your shot became alarmed. It differed so from
our explosive that out of curiosity they went in
your direction, and seeing the smoke of your camu
were again very much surprised ; but they realized
that in their pockets they carried enough ammuni
tion to tear up a hundred square feet of earth, if
necessary. So they sought you out, and when you
were found to be strangers, they brought you ip
I was beginning to realize how impossible it would
be to carry out my plan of escape from the country
with my one little rifle, against such powerful
ammunition as was used in this country, and I knew
this man spoke the truth.
He continued, as if he read my mind, "There is
but one way of escape from this country, and that
is heavily fortified day and night. Armed men are
ready at any time to distribute a hundred of these
bombs into the midst of an enemy undertaking to
enter our country in a body. They have a spring
machinery that will throw these bombs half a mile.
"This way of escape is across a low divide near
the outlet of the lake ; for it has an outlet in a dis-
276 Attraction of the Compass
appearing river which flows through the base of a
second volcano, at the lower end of the lake, where
it empties into the sea. This undoubtedly creates
the warm current that flows through into the Arctic
ocean, and causes the open channel that so many
men have passed through in search of the North
Pole, simply to return by the way of Siberia.
"In a similar way all warm currents are caused
in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The water seeps
into the ground at some unknown place, passes
through the base of some underground volcano, then
empties into the sea at some point, and creates a
"This lake provides us," he continued, "with hot
bathing pools which we will visit later, and the
water is allowed to seep from the lake through the
earth, purifying it; but it still retains its natural
heat. The water drains into a large basin, built of
tile and surrounded by a wall. There are many
such bathing pools throughout the city, the largest
of which is in the private grounds of the castle.
"The faith the people have in this hot water for
bathing purposes cures them from all aches, pains,
and sickness. We have no other remedy. But
after all, it is the faith that cures them, not the
Woman's Scorn 277
Bill then asked the sailor if he was sorry that he
was an outcast from civilization, and was compelled
to remain here for the rest of his days. He replied
that he was for the first few years ; but when he
lived in civilization, he used to be an habitual drunk-
ard, and after each voyage he would go ashore and
squander, in drink and dissipation, his time, money
and health ; but as there was no liquor in this
country, he realized it was the best place for him.
"Have these people no beverage?" asked Bill.
"None whatever," he replied. "We know how to
make it, but have no use for it."
As the old sailor concluded, Bill's friend, the
Russian, was ushered into the court, and Bill now
directed his conversation to him, in French.
During their interview, I had a heart to heart
talk with Minnie, trying to plead my cause, but it
was of no use.
"What were you and the Russian talking about
this time, Bill?" I asked, as he joined us.
"That bloomin' chap keeps me in deep thought
all the time. He tells me that in this country they
have the mammoth. When I told him we had found
the tusk and skull of a mammoth, the head of a
278 Attraction of the Compass
morox, and some bones of the ibex, near Dawson,
the buggar tried to make out that this whole
country was once a tropical climate, caused by hot
geysers, hot lakes and volcanoes. Blast it, the
fellow convinces me, doncherknow ; for it's well I re-
member of a rotten palm-leaf that I dug out while
prospecting on Henderson Creek."
"Well, what of it, Bill? This was before our
time. Blessed is the man who does not think, but
lets other men think for him. A tired brain is more
apt to kill a man than a tired muscle, so quit
thinking. Bill. However, if the outer world knew of
this land, it could supply many a missing link in
socialism and science."
"Yes," said Bill, "I know of three links that have
been missing in all the studies of my life. One is
the location of the attraction of the compass, which
we have discovered on this trip ; another is the
source of the hot water, which causes the warm
currents of the ocean and the open channel of the
North Sea ; and the third, which is of most import-
ance, is that the sun, not the moon, influences the
"Yes, boys," said the sailor, who entered in time
to hear the last of our conversation, "this is a won-
Woman's Scorn 279
derful country, and that is why these people are so
careful to keep this intelligence from the rest of
Reading of the Parchment
READING OF THE PARCHMENT.
By this time we were told that dinner was ready,
and that we would eat in the main dining-room,
to which Minnie, Bill, and I were shown by our
sailor friend. The food was all on the sideboard,
and we helped ourselves and took it to the table,
which was spread in great style. Here we were
met by Chief Eric, with whom we ate.
This was the first time we had seen him since
he had the interview with Minnie. He shook hands
with Long Bill and me ; but when he came to
Minnie, he simply bowed, taking his place at the
head of the table.
When I saw this I was somewhat relieved, for
after all, perhaps his was a passing fancy for her,
and probably all my worry was for nothing.
Minnie kept watching him as he ate, as if to
hypnotize or influence him.
While we were eating, the Chief arrived from
284 Attraction of the Compass
the city of Kyron, on the opposite side of the lake,
so we had no farther chance for conversation with
Chief Eric, much to Minnie's disappointment.
To help pass the evening, the sailor took us to an
exhibition. Girls and men, in very scant attire,
were giving acrobatic stunts in a big bathing pool :
then morox were led in, hitched to carts, and a kind
of chariot race took place. Trained sea-lions gave
a performance, then two bears ended the show, by
doing a high dive in the water.
The next morning our old sailor returned bright
and early, as usual, to help us with the native lan-
guage, and to teach us as much as he could of the
ways of these people.
He spoke again of his entrance into this country ;
telling us of how their ship was crushed in the ice,
and out of sixteen men he and one other reached
this land of Tapond.
"Since my coming here," he continued, "there
have been more than twenty strangers arrive at
different times, and most of them, of late years,
were escaped convicts from Siberia. In a party
twelve years ago, there were five men and three
women from Siberia. Two of the women and
three of the men are still living."
Reading of the Parchment 285
Just then a native came to our door and told
us that the Chief of Tyron wished to see us. We
hastened to the council chamber, where, sitting on
the gold-mounted chair was the Chief of Kyron,
with young Chief Eric by his side. Although these
two men were no relation, and controlled entirely
different cities, they were the best of friends, and
worked for each other's interest in all things. Any
disputes arising between the two cities were settled
by arbitrators. These men did not believe in
settling their disputes by forcing their subjects to
shoot one another.
We were seated in front of them, and the Amer-
ican sailor acted as interpreter. Presently the Chief
of Kyron spoke to Minnie, and her face brightened,
because he spoke one of the languages she under-
stood, Finnish. They held a long conversation,
which neither Bill nor I could understand. Then
stepping down from the platform, he heartily shook
hands with Bill and me, and afterwards we all were
taken back to our apartments.
Thinking perhaps Minnie had been instructed not
to tell us what he had said, I asked, "I suppose he
told you not to tell us your conversation?"
"No, on the contrary, he instructed me to tell
286 Attraction of the Compass
you every word he had said, and regretted very
much that he could not speak English. Tomorrow
we are to open the sealed stone in the square. It
contains a manuscript, and if I am able to read It
to this Chief, I will receive great honor. I can
have one wish granted me, be it ever so much, for
no one within the memory of these men has ever
been able to read the inscription on the stone, or
the manuscript sealed therein."
"During her conversation I had not said a word.
Now she turned and asked me, "If you had your
greatest wish, what would it be?"
"That I might leave this accursed country and
take you with me, even if I died in the attempt."
"You have fulfilled your mission, and brought
me to the end of my journey. Do not hope to take
me farther, for within my heart I know that this
is the place I was destined for. Though this coun-
try and people may seem strange to you, to me it
seems like home, and I intend to remain here. I
shall marry Chief Eric, and be granted one great
wish, which will be, to provide a way for you and
Bill to leave this country."
In return, I asked, "If Bill or I did not exist,
what would your greatest wish be ?"
Reading of the Parchment 287
'That I might be the wife of Eric, the Chief,
and give up all thought of ever seeing any other
country but Tapond."
I saw it was of no use, our Compass had been
attracted by the Chief, and try as I might, it was
hopeless. So I told her to please herself, and only
hoped that she would be happy ; and when she wa.^
asked for her greatest wish, let it be that I might
be executed where she could see me die ; that Bill
might have his freedom from the country again,
and be given a guide, so that he would be sure to
reach the outer world safe and sound. To this
she made no reply.
The next day with much pomp and splendor,
amid a gathering of many people, the sealed stone,
standing in the center of the square, was opened.
A book written on parchment, was brought forth,
and with great care taken back to the palace. Little
Minnie, decorated in robes of ermine, with the
Chief of Kyron on one side and Chief Eric of
Tyron on the other, stood up behind a kind of
pulpit and read aloud from this ancient book. I
could not understand one word, and I do not believe
there was anyone there who did understand it,
other than the Chief of Kyron, until she translated it.
288 Attraction of the Compass
Little did I know this Minnie, or realize the
extent of her wisdom, as we braved the trail. She
was no longer the Minnie of old. In her beautiful
robes, what a contrast she was to the little figure
on the glacier, dirty, ragged, and unkempt.
Bill remarked, "You'll soon get over it, Pro-
fessor ; too much wisdom is not good in a woman.
She must be innocent and dependent in order to
retain a man's love."
Nevertheless, I realized only that I loved her. I
recalled her as she helped draw the sled on the
Skagway trail, and now to see her mounted behind
a pulpit reading to the leader of a country ! Such
a change was more than I could stand, and my head
seemed to whirl, and I reeled and fell — I don't
The next morning I awoke and started to lift
my head from the pillow, but found myself too
weak to do so. By my side was a strange girl,
young and beautiful, who was fanning me and bath-
ing my head. Bill soon came in and I had a talk
with him, and he agreed with me that I had lost
my Compass, and it had surely found its attraction,
for she did not so much as want to see me, and
intended to marry the Chief.
After a great deal of persuasion from Bill, I
promised to leave the country with him and go back
to the United States as soon as I was able, for
Minnie had told him that this would be her one
demand of the Chief.
Minnie never came to see me after that, although
I was ill for days.
As soon as I was able to be up again, the Ameri-
can sailor announced that Chief Eric wished to see
292 Attraction of the Compass
me. I thought at first that I would not see him,
but again I thought perhaps I might in some way
persuade him to give me back my Compass and
allow me to leave the country, on a promise that
we would never reveal any of its secrets, or the way
to enter it.
When I met him he treated me very kindly, and
asked me to come and sit by him. He had a lengthy
conversation with the sailor in the native tongue,
which the sailor translated to me, and now and
then he would ask me a question, such as :
"What country did you come from? What re-
ligion have you? Where did you meet this girl?
Were you ever married to her? Do you think
she loves you? Could you give her up without
much sorrow, providing it would give her much
happiness ? Would you do anything in your power
to make her happy?"
Then the sailor told me that the Chief had said
to him that he intended to marry our Little Com-
pass, not altogether because she was able to read
the legend, but because he loved her, and from all
appearances she loved him.
The sailor assured me that it was useless for me
to seek the love of Minnie, for she had been at-
The Wedding 293
tracted in an opposite direction, and like the story
we had told him of the iron mountain, no power
could draw her away. Even though the Chief had
avoided her presence for a long time, her mind was
made up. He said that I had better use good judg-
ment and leave the girl to her pleasant fate, for in
this world we are all born free, and we should be
able to retain that freedom throughout our lives.
It should not be interfered with by any person, and
for me to continue to seek the love and affection
of a woman who did not love me in return was
denying that woman her freedom.
"These are the words of the Chief," he continued.
"He also says that in this country there are many
beautiful women only too glad to make your ac-
quaintance, and perhaps you could win the heart
of some one of these, to supply you with the
affection you so much desire."
"Tell him," said I, "that there is no other woman's
love that could fill the place of my Compass, but
that now as he is the attraction of that compass
I will forfeit all interest in her, and do my best
to forget. My only request of him is, that I can
be removed to some part of this country where I
will never come in contact with her, in case I have
294 Attraction of the Compass
to remain here."
At this he dismissed us and placed around my
neck a chain, on which was a small gold medal,
which the sailor informed me was a pension and
pass to any part of their country, that I could go
unmolested and without expense wherever I saw fit.
When I returned to our apartment, I met Bill and
said, "Hello, Bill, where have you been?"
"Oh, I have been out in the bloomin' park, taking
a sunbath. A jolly fine place, doncherknow. I
say, Professor, while I was out there I chanced to
meet Minnie, and had a little chat with her about
the manuscript taken from the sealed stone."
"Did she tell you what it was all about, Bill?"
"Oh, yes, she told me that it was a history of the
first people who discovered this beautiful lake and
named the country Tapond, meaning "teapot," for
the spout of hot water which supplies the lake
resembles the spout of a teapot, doncherknow. They
were Norwegian pirates, fleeing from justice, who
passed through the Northern channel and, like many
others, their ship was crushed in the blasted ice.
The occupants of the ship, consisting of eight
women, who were prisoners, and fifteen men, suc-
cessfully reached this hot lake and remained here.
The Wedding 295
"After a time the pirate chiefs disagreed ; the
stronger one drove the weaker one to the opposite
side of the lake, where he established another city,
and for the rest of their lives they lived apart. From
time to time strangers arrived by accident in the
country, which helped to increase the population,
and these strangers each time brought news of the
advancement of the world.
"The fear of these pirates that justice would
overtake them caused them never to permit anyone
to leave the country during their life. When a
chief would die, a new one was selected, under oath
to carry on the laws of the country just as they
were started. They were always glad to have more
strangers arrive to help populate the vast rich land
that they had discovered. The rest of the bloomin'
book was simply the laws of the country."
"Did she ask for me, Bill?" I anxiously inquired.
"Not exactly," Bill answered, "but she asked me
to tell you goodbye for her, and she was a bit cold
about it, doncherknow. She said she never ex-
pected to see you again. Tomorrow, she said you
and I were to be removed from the country. A
jolly fine joke, doncherknow. My word, I don't
know whether I want to be off or not, for it is a
296 Attraction of the Compass
deucedly fine country. She says to take all the dogs
except the leader, and the way she says it you'd
think she owned the bloomin' country, doncher-
"It's a hard blow, Bill, and I'll need your help to
bear it. First we lost old Donovan, which was
very sad ; next we lost Nathason, the Jew. I
risked my life for him, for I had advised him to
continue the journey across the glacier with us.
It gives me a cold chill now when I think of that
crevice in the ice. I can still hear his groans far,
far beneath me. After that, there were left only
you and Little Minnie, our Compass, and me. Now
Bill, we have lost our Compass, and I scarcely can
keep my brain in the right course without her. Bill,
give me your hand and promise me that you will
stay with me until death, which won't be long; for
as I feel tonight, my life is short. I have lived but
for a mission, which she says is achieved. She is
through with me now, so what have I to live for?"
"Come, come, cheer up, old man," said Bill. "It
is a bit awkward to give you such a promise — but
here is my bloomin' hand, until death. We may
have a deucedly hard jolt out of this country, even
if they will allow us to go, and I dread the blasted
The Wedding 297
As the pale light from the waves of the lake
flickered through the room I hade goodnight to
Bill, who soon fell asleep ; but I still sat in deep
thought, wondering why fate should permit me to
meet one whom I should learn to love so dearly, and
yet have to lose so soon.
The next morning her wedding with Chief Eric
took place in the square, under the statue, and to
my surprise Bill and I were sent for by the Chief
to attend the ceremony. On nearing the square we
were ushered to a platform, erected and decorated
for the occasion. Here we were given choice seats.
Our friend, the American sailor, came and seated
himself by us. I asked him, "Why have I been
sent for? Does this Chief desire to inflict more
torment upon me, to force me to come here and
witness his marriage with the woman I love?"
"No, no," the sailor replied, "he requests me to
tell you of a great obstacle to the marriage, which
is yet to be overcome. It is positively against the
laws of the country to conduct any marriage without
the consent of a girl's parents, or guardian, who,
in the marriage ceremony, must give the maid to the
suitor. The Chief says he could hardly expect you
298 Attraction of the Compass
to give the hand of your sweetheart to another
man, so there is but one hope left, and that is your
friend Bill. He will be called upon to place
Minnie's hand in the hand of the Chief."
I immediately jumped up and told the sailor that
I had consented to every whim or desire of this
great Chief, but this last one. If Minnie must be
given away, I would do it myself. I had found
little Minnie on the Skagway trail, brought her safe
and sound all this distance ; and now that she was
to be presented to him, it was my place to perform
I asked the sailor not to tell the Chief, but to
notify me when the time arrived to perform this
act, which he did.
When I placed Minnie's hand in that of the Chief.
a great light of satisfaction stole over her face, and
she seemed to be herself again, happy and con-
After the ceremony was over, both Minnie and
the Chief put their arms around me, for in their
happiness they overlooked my sorrow.
There was no sleep for me that night. I walked
the floor of my apartment until the grey light of
dawn crept in at my window.
The Wedding 299
I was only too anxious now to start on the jour-
ney, for to leave this country was to get away from
the greatest sorrow in my life. It mattered little to
me if I should live to reach my destination or not,
for life had no charm left.
When Bill awoke, he looked at me and exclaimed,
"My word, Professor, what has happened to you?
Your beard! Your hair! Drot it, it is white!
What have you done? Blast it! Have I slept the
sleep of Rip Van Winkle, or has this bloomin'
change come over you in one night? By Jove,
twenty years has added to your appearance.
"No, Bill," I answered, "it has been only one
night, but you have slept, while I have suffered."
I looked in a small pocket mirror, and it was,
indeed, as Bill had said. My hair and beard were
white, and there were deep wrinkles in my face.
I had become an old man in one night. When I
saw this, I said to Bill, "We must be off early, for
Minnie must never see me again. She could not be
happy the rest of her life and know the blow she
has dealt me."
Leaving the Country
LEAVING THE COUNTRY.
Early as it was. we found, at the door, two of the
best guides in the country, with a large elephant.
Our dogs and outfit were all in readiness, and we
were soon on our journey.
We learned from one of our guides that Minnie
had promised to pay the penalty with her life, if
either of us ever revealed the secrets of the land,
or the true route to this country. This promise
secured for us our freedom, and a permit from
Chief Eric to leave the country, and be furnished
with guides to cross the divide to the Arctic
After traveling several days towards the Rockies,
the climate got so cold that the elephant, which we
had been riding, had to be exchanged with a native
for a morox and a cart, similar to the one in which
we entered the country of Tapond. We were taken
to the low divide in the Rockies, and here were
304 Attraction of the Compass
furnished a new guide, part Eskimo, who could not
speak to us, yet did all of our cooking and most of
the work for two months.
Before we started across the mountains, we saw
the great outlet of the hot lake, which flowed into
a cave ; and by signs we were given to understand
that this river did not appear again on the other
side of the Rockies, but continued underground
until it entered the sea.
We traveled now by means of sleds and our
nine dogs, for by this time the pups were in
harness, the mother being the leader. While the
journey was by no means pleasant, the hardships
were nothing in comparison to those endured on the
trip into the country.
After spending many weeks on the coast of the
Arctic Ocean, we sighted a whaling ship. Dividing
our outfit with the Eskimo guide and giving him
two dogs, we started him back to his country ; while
we hitched up our dogs and headed for the ship,
which we could see far in the distance across the
ice. We had a good supply of food, and after two
days' travel across rough ice, we reached the ship,
which was manned by Russian sailors — only to find
it frozen in the channel.
Leaving the Country 305
We remained on board of the ship all summer,
and floated with the ice through the channel to the
coast of Siberia. From there we went to Nome.
By that time the beach diggings had been stopped
by the American officials, and the mining claims
that had been taken up on the beach by the individ-
ual miner had been taken away from them by the
government and sold to syndicates. When I saw this
I recalled what the old sailor had told me, that
syndicates and capitalists would soon take their
beautiful country from them if its existence were
discovered. For this reason, and for Minnie's sake,
Bill and I decided then and there that we would
never give the public the true route to that country.
We stayed in Nome a few days looking for
work, when we heard the news of the strike of gold
on Candle Creek, eighty miles below Nome, dis-
covered by Blankenship.
"Professor, it is a blasted sight better to be in
this bloomin' country broke, than in the United
States with a hundred dollars in your pocket," Bill
So we decided to go to Candle Creek, for I was
personally acquainted with Blankenship, the dis-
coverer, and had on several occasions befriended
306 Attraction of the Compass
him the winter that I had stayed in the Atlin country,
British Columbia, and I was sure that if I
should meet him he would put me off right. We
still had about one hundred dollars in nug-
gets with us, brought from the cave in the iron
mountain ; so we bought supplies enough to take
us to the new discovery, and when we paid for the
supplies with these nuggets, the merchant looked at
us in wonder, and said :
"Boys, you did not get that gold around these
diggin's, did you?"
When we assured him that we had not, he made
several attempts to learn what part of the coun-
try we hailed from. Of course we did not reply.
The sight of this gold started a stampede, and the
next morning crowds of miners surrounded us, and
offered us one-half interest in all they could get
if we would tell them where this gold came from.
We simply told them that it was impossible to get
any more where we got this.
So Bill and I went to Candle Creek, and staked
a claim that made us both immensely wealthy.
Although each day our claim produced great
quantities of gold, it had no charms for me. I was
gradually failing, and I seemed in reality to be as
Leaving the Country 307
old as I looked.
At last Bill suggested that we sell our claim, and
go to Southern California for my health, which we
did. I soon found, however, that climate was not
what I was looking for. for here as I relate these
last words, with Bill's big. brawny hand across my
burning forehead, I know my end has come.
"Bill, my friend, in yon clothes-bag you will find
a diary of our trip. Add to it what I have for-
gotten, but be careful in all you say — don't give the
true route to that country. I place the medal and
chain of gold — given me by Chief Eric — around
your neck, Bill, in acknowledgment of a true
friend. I feel that my mission is achieved and I am
leaving little Minnie happy, with the dream of her
"To you, Bill, these are my last words : — The
measure of a man's power is the love in the heart of
him — a love that seeks not its own, but sacrifices his
love to the one she loves. This is true love,
"Bill, whip up the dogs ! The ice is giving down,
and it is a long way to shore. Mush ! Mush on,
308 Attraction of the Compass
there ! Look ! look Bill ! There is the Jew crawl-
ing out of the crevice ! I tried to save him !" — and
as he fell back on his pillow, his light went out.
I've done my bloomin' best with his diary, and
have placed my pal to rest in a little green spot in
the sunny state of California.
On a marble slab at his head, is this same in-
"We know not whence we came or where we go.
Believe as we will, we do not know."