7)7 ~&^n^<f^LsL^C \qa<v Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2010 with funding from Duke University Libraries http://www.archive.org/details/attractionofcompOOdodg Yours Truly, Attraction of the Compass A Romance of the North, Based Upon Fadts of a Personal Experience By £ DODGE Press of Dovk & Courtney Long Beach, Cal. 1912 Copyright, 1912 BY E. DODGE To all who are interested in this narrative of my trip to the "Garden of Lden" I respectfully dedicate this book. Contents 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 CHAPTER I ON THE TRAIL ABOVE SKAGWAY "Hey there, move on ! move on ! What's the trou- ble ahead there? Do we have to stay here all night?" This remark could be heard passing along the line of people who were struggling their way toward the summit, on the trail above Skagway. Dogteams and horses, but for the most part peo- ple pulling their own sleds, could be seen in a solid line for two and a half miles, reminding one of a parade — or perhaps of a funeral, for there was many a groan, sigh and heartache on the Skagway trail in the year 1897. Every now and then a delay occurred, as a sled upset or left the trail, or perhaps a horse died from exertion, or someone was taken ill and had to turn back. Possibly a horse fell over the cliff, 12 Attraction of the Compass taking the sled with him. ''Dead Horse Canyon" received its name from the fact that so many horses died on the trail at this point. All of these things caused blockades and delays. Wet with sweat from pushing the load and driv- ing my little dog-team up the steep trail, I sat there on my sled waiting for the crowd to move on, for there was no way of passing the other sleds with- out wading into the deep snow and pulling my load, which would have been impossible. A beautiful lit- tle Scandinavian girl was wedging her way past me, when suddenly her foot slipped, and she started over the cliff. Grabbing hold of the rope which lashed my load on the sled, I reached over with the other hand and caught her, and pulled her back. Of course the fall would not have hurt her much, but at the foot of this cliff was a twenty-foot snow- drift, in which she would have suffocated had she 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- tion. 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 lost. 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 plow-handles. 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 night. "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 afterwards. 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 meal. 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 country. Storm on the Lake CHAPTER II. 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. CHAPTER III. LANDING IN DAWSON CITY, YUKON TERRITORY. Yes, we landed in Dawson, cold, wet, and hun- gry, after floating down the Yukon River from Atlin. It was in the fall of the year, and our scow was one of the last down the river, and we daily expected it to be frozen in, before we could reach Dawson. 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. 43 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, doncherknow." ''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 country. 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 Si CHAPTER IV. 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 57 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 friends." "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, doncherknow." "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 music. "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 replied. 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 CHAPTER V. SW0RX BY THE DICTIONARY. "Hello, Bill, did you get back?" "Yes, but it was a beastly trip, doncherknow. Upon my word it has taken me three days." "Yes, Bill, but these winter days are very short, not more than seven hours between daylight and dark." 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 .78 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- I 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 argument." "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 would. "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 streak." "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 know." "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, Bill." "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 supply." 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" CHAPTER VI. "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 town. 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- of-paris. 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 pound." 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 fortune. 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 CHAPTER VII. 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- know." 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 95 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 stream. 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 swamp. 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 point. 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 CHAPTER VIII. 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 back. 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 better? Knowing that we had traveled north down the 109 104 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 CHAPTER IX. 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 action. 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 ourselves. 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 shore. 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 CHAPTER X. 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 110 120 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 'OUR COMPA55' 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 129 CHAPTER XI. 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 slip?" "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 gold. 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 CHAPTER XII. 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 reality. 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 CHAPTER XIII. 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 back. Just ahead of us we saw what appeared to be a 151 152 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- berries." 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 them. 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 CHAPTER XIV. 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 breakfast." 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 cannon." 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 163 CHAPTER XV. 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 end. "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 opening. 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 said, "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 CHAPTER XVI. 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 175 176 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 suffering. 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 CHAPTER XVII. 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 course." 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 CHAPTER XVIII. 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- 1M 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 volcano. 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, doncherknow." Reality of a Dream 199 CHAPTER XIX. 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 respect." 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," shouted, "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 Crusoes. 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 209 CHAPTER XX. 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. ill 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 dreams." 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 discovery. 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 time. 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 CHAPTER XXI. 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 same. 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 227 CHAPTER XXII. 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 morox. 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. «2» 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 exclaimed. "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 suggested. "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' hands." 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 language." 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 CHAPTER XXIII. 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, doncherknow." "Well, Bill," I answered, "if they wait till you 245 246 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 Norwegian. 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 country." 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- gether?" "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 «57 CHAPTER XXIV. 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 queried. "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 259 260 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 Tapond. 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 day. "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- know." "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 CHAPTER XXV. 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 country." "Did he not understand that you were mine?" I asked. "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 CHAPTER XXVI. 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 affair. 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 273 274 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 bites." 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 water." 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 tide." "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 CHAPTER XXVII. 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 289 284 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 CHAPTER XXVIII. 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 801 292 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- know." "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 trip." 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 SOI CHAPTER XXIX. 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 Ocean. 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 remarked. 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." END.