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Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2010 with funding from 
Duke University Libraries 

Yours Truly, 

Attraction of the Compass 

A Romance of the 
North, Based Upon 
Fadts of a Personal 


Press of 

Dovk & Courtney 

Long Beach, Cal. 


Copyright, 1912 


To all who are interested in this narrative of 
my trip to the "Garden of Lden" I respectfully 
dedicate this book. 


Chapter Page 

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 



"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 
reached it. 

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 
booming days. 

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 
the journey. 

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 
drunken bunch." 

"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 
death ?" 

"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?" 
he asked. 

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 



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 
Lake Bennett. 

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. 



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 
some camp. 

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 
in proportion. 


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 
new-found friend. 

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 
separate bunk. 

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 
than ever." 

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- 
frozen prospectors. 

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 




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 
him for?" 

"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 
the subject. 

68 Attraction of the Compass 

"Is she good looking?" 

I scarcely answered, for I was sorry I had spoken 
of her. 

"A blonde, I'll bet," he continued, "most Scandi- 
navians are." 

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 
be butchered. 

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 



"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- 
ing, doncherknow." 

"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- 
know !" 

"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 
joke, doncherknow." 

"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 
feel crowded." 

"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. 

"Patent Plaster" 

"patent plaster." 

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 
like putty." 

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 
a day. 

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 



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 
save her. 

"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 



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 
apparently emptied. 

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 
sucked under. 

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 



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 
same place. 

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 
of him. 

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 




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 
weeks spent. 

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 
your shoes." 

"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 
him away. 

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. 

Northern Lights 



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 



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 
was good. 

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 
but me. 

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 



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 
canned horse. 

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 
the tent. 

"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 




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 
of bottom." 

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 



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 
the dogs. 

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 
overtakes him." 

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 



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 
dog's body. 

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 
with soot. 

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 



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 
to eat. 

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 




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 
arms, exclaiming, 

"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 
the shore. 

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 
skin boot. 

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 
with thee." 

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 
self,) doncherknow." 

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 



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 
clean garments. 

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 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 
saw it." 

"My word, Minnie," said Bill, "I fear for your 
mind, doncherknow, for you were never in this 
country before." 

"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 
wheat !" 

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 
our glass. 

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 
their features. 

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." 

"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?" 
I queried. 

"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. 

The Chief 



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 
find him!" 

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 
our money." 

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. 

Marriage Laws 




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 
of marriage?" 

"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 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 
back !" 

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 
brighter future." 

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 
entire city. 

Woman's Scorn 

woman's scorn. 

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 
than I. 

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 
with them." 

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 
hot current." 

"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 
the world." 

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 
know why. 

The Wedding 



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 
that duty. 

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- 
tented v 

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 




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 
life fulfilled." 

"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, 
after all." 

"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- 
scription : 

"We know not whence we came or where we go. 
Believe as we will, we do not know."